Ragsdale's game of dodge 'emFor a very long time now, local radio talk show host Terry Frank and myself have both been reporting about the allegations of Tyler Harber. Harber is a former political operative for Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale who was placed on the Knox County payroll so that he would be available to work as one of Ragsdale's political henchmen-his real job was to find whatever dirt he could on Ragsdale's "enemies" so that Ragsdale could use that information against those who were opposed to him-most of these are fellow Republicans.
Harber first stated his case in a series of reports in the Halls Shopper to controversial reporter Betty Bean. Ragsdale's reaction to the reports was to simply call Tyler Harber "a troubled young man" and to dismiss the reports as rubbish. The Knoxville News-Sentinel completely ignored the Harber story, and it became the province of the local blogosphere alone. I strongly suspected that may be the case when I became aware of the story's existence several days before it broke in Halls-and my source was not Ms. Bean. The only person connected with the mainstream press who dared to write anything about the Harber Affair was WATE-TV news anchor Gene Patterson, who wrote of it on his blog. Even then, the story didn't appear on television for quite some time after the blogs and the Shopper put it in print.
When the story festered for several days and then weeks in the blogosphere and the mainstream press began to examine Harber's allegation that he had hacked into internal Republican private e-mails to spy on potential Ragsdale foes, the Knox County Mayor's Office said that Harber did this on his own and that Ragsdale and his minions had nothing to do with it. When Harber persisted in saying that Ragsdale and his deputy Mike Arms put Harber up to hacking e-mails and ultimately obtaining the medical records of Tennessee Conservative Union President Lloyd Dougherty and Vice President Kelvin Moxley, Ragsdale and his supporters proceeded to say that Harber never tells the truth.
The issue is not whether Harber is ethically challenged-there is little doubt that he has a history of being less-than-trustworthy. The issue at-hand is that if any of Harber's allegations are true, it would raise the question of whether Mike Ragsdale should stay in office at all, not merely whether he is qualified for higher office. Many of Ragsdale's supporters are well-meaning, but they are ignoring the fact that Ragsdale's administration has shown itself to lack moral rectitude and good judgement. If Mayor Ragsdale is as innocent as he claims, he should welcome every opportunity to investigate these allegations. A clean Ragsdale would come off smelling like a rose. Instead, Ragsdale and his supporters have spent considerable time trying to dodge questions over Harber and concern themselves with Tyler Harber's ethics rather than their own. This is a pattern for Ragsdale: When he comes under scrutiny, he doesn't deal with the charges against him, he plays a game of dodge and deflect.
Labels: Local politics