Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Chancellor's power

At last, Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore and myself have come to a key point of agreement:

“This process, we said, would not be a perfect process,” Moore continued. “If the chancellor is not strict on what he wants us to do, you’ll see chaos.”

Chairman Moore is absolutely correct. In terms of the best option for how to deal with the present crisis, the News-Sentinel lawsuit was decided five months and three days from a Primary election (February 5) that would provide the perfect legal and constitutional opportunity to have the election needed to fill the eight vacant seats without special permission from the General Assembly (or at least to begin the process via a Primary). It makes sense for Chancellor Daryl Fansler to simply return the original term-limited office-holders to their old offices until an election that is called at the earliest legal date should replace them.

Fansler may rule on how the Knox County Commission's violation of the Sunshine Law is to be remedied as early as today.

However the Chancellor should choose to remedy the situation, he must be so clear that the Commission knows exactly what it must do to remain above board and within the confines of the law. This will not only prevent further litigation, but may have the effect of allowing the Commission to move on with its immediate business.

If the remedy ruling is not so clear that Commissioners know exactly how to proceed, we are likely to see another process tainted by allegations of cronyism, favoritism, and violations of the Open Meetings Act. If that occurs, more time in Court will likely bog down the Commission further as questions of legitimacy dog them all the way until the election. It is in the Chancellor's power to resolve the controversy of how to replace the original term-limited officials with a single ruling. He must decide in a way specific enough that it leaves no room for error on the part of the Knox County Commission.



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