Friday, December 21, 2007

Big lump of coal for Knox County Government

Both Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale and the Knox County Commission have received the Lump of Coal Award from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research:

This year, no one deserves more to wake up on Christmas Day to a stocking
filled with coal than Knox County’s elected officials, according to Tennessee
Center for Policy Research President Drew Johnson.

After the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled in January that the term-limited
Knox County Commission could not serve once their terms expired, commissioners
voted to fill 12 soon-vacant commission seats with friends and family members.
Among the new appointees were the son, wife, father, campaign treasurer and
chief deputy of the council members.

The biggest lump of coal goes to Big Mikey himself:

Following the vote, it was revealed that Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale
had threatened to withhold funding to districts of commissioners who did not
vote for the mayor’s preferred candidates. The mayor and commissioners were
later found in violation of the Tennessee Open Meetings Act for the closed door
vote-trading that occurred during the selection of the new commissioners.

In July, it was discovered that members of Mayor Ragsdale’s staff and
county commissioners made questionable and unapproved purchases at taxpayer
expense on county credit cards. This led to the resignation of the Knox County
finance director, the mayor’s executive assistant and an administrative
assistant. Among the dodgy expenses were a cruise and a $227 lobster lunch for

Santa may not be visiting the houses of prominent Knox County officials at any point in the forseeable future.

“The nepotism, waste and abuse of power by many of Knox County’s elected
leaders earned them not only the Tennessee Center for Policy Research’s third
annual ‘Lump of Coal’ award, but also likely earned Mayor Ragsdale and the
County Commissioners a permanent place on Santa’s ‘naughty’ list,” said Johnson.

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