Wednesday, December 19, 2007

For transparency before they were against it

Just when people here in East Tennessee thought the flawed appointment process of January 31 for Knox County's vacant term-limited offices had been remedied by the ruling of Chancellor Daryl Fansler and the decision of the Knox County Commission to wait until after the County Primary on February 5th to appoint new officeholders (to allow for maximum transparency), some of the loudest whiners over the flaws in the original process now want the Knox County Commission to appoint new officeholders immediately.
The 12 elected offices have been vacant since Oct. 5, when Fansler ruled the officeholders occupying those seats had been appointed in January in violation of the state's Open Meetings Act. The January appointments had been required after the state Supreme Court upheld the county charter and its previously unenforced term-limits provision. The Supreme Court ruling forced out anyone who had served more than two consecutive terms.

Fansler removed the appointees immediately and ordered the seats to be filled again, this time through a process open to the public. Commissioners have voted to wait until after the Feb. 5 primary before making appointments, in order to give voters some say in the process.

Joining Cain in the motion demanding more immediate appointments are Don Daugherty, a resident of the 5th District and chairman of the county Democratic Party, and Judith Mallory, a resident of the 2nd District.

The local Democratic Party in Knox County was among the loudest of public complainers over the process of January 31, saying (with much of the rest of the citizenry) that the process reeked of backroom dealing and corruption at the highest level. What Knox County Democratic Party Chair Don Daugherty and his compatriots seem to be saying now is that they want whatever they believe will give them a political advantage.

Daugherty and the Democrats were against appointments without public input before they were in favor of them. Perhaps they were in favor of secret agreements before they were against them and now support them once again. Whatever mental disorder the Knox Democrats seem to be suffering from, they need to make up their minds about just how open they want their government to be. At this point in the game, no method that is used to appoint replacements is going to be a perfect method. Waiting until February 5th seems to be the most logical way to insure that the voice of the people is taken into account-unless these "citizens" just want another secret deliberative process.



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