Aug 17 2007

County Commissioner Scott Helton injected partisan politics into last night's meeting by attacking Commissioners Wendy Pitts Reeves and Bob Proffitt, apparently in retaliation for questions raised during a previous meeting regarding another commissioner's ties to a bank that does business with the county.

The Maryville Daily Times has this report. The Knoxville News Sentinel also has a report.

Reeves expressed her previous concerns in an appropriate and respectful manner. Her question was legitimate. These new "allegations" against her and Dr. Proffitt are laughable, as anyone with a lick of common sense can readily see. It does not reflect well on the accusers or their motives. If they're going to play it this way, they ought to bring their "A" game.

This kind of stuff is par for the course over in Knox County. It needs to be kept out of Blount County government.

And just in case it needs to

And just in case it needs to be spelled out, neither Reeves nor Proffitt are contracted directly by Blount Co. to provide client/patient services in relation to their professional work.

If they counsel/treat someone who happens to be a Blount Co. employee who also happens to have insurance through the county, that is not a business agreement between Blount Co. and Reeves or Proffitt, Blount Co. Attorney Rob Goddard's legal "opinion" notwithstanding (did he and Knox Co. Law Director John Owing go to the same law school or something?).

That would be like saying there's a conflict of interest any time a county employee frequents any of the other commissioner's businesses because the employee's salary is paid by the County.

What are they supposed to do? Ask every customer to sign an affidavit that they aren't a Blount Co. employee, and if they are tell them to go shop in Knox County?

Give us a break, please.

How on earth does any one

How on earth does any one commissioner know who goes to what doctor?
Better yet- what right does a commissioner have to know which county employees go to what practitioner?

Excellent questions.

Excellent questions.

Hey, the attack served its purpose

It took attention off the fact that Commissioner Mike Lewis (VP of Green Bank) was being appointed to the County's budget committee -- which directly impacts the county funds stored in said bank. Will that budget committee not be making decisions on where present and future monies be stored? Do they not directly impact Dave Bennett's care of the finances? If Goddard said Proffitt and Reeves were in a conflict of interest and he says something different about Lewis, I think it is time to reconsider the installation of a Law Director as opposed to the system of County Mayor attorneys in Blount County, because it would be clear that Goddard is acting only as the Mayor's mouthpiece. Which, by the way, is exactly what Scott Helton is. Gee, I wonder who wrote the statement he read about Reeves and Proffitt??

And partisanship -- don't forget that they were actually deleting only ONE member of the former Finance committee in the formation of the Budget Committee: Democrat Commissioner David Ballard.

Remember Otto Slater?

He was a Commissioner last term and a maxiofacial (sp?) surgeon. He used to pull teeth for prisoners being housed by Berrong at the Jail. He and Berrong were good friends and partners in the Harmony Properties development up on Chilhowee Mountain: Overlook at CAMP Montvale. He used to take direct payment from the county for that service he gave Berrong, as I understand it. This is different from what what Proffitt and Reeves do with the HMOs. I'm not sure, but it seems like Slater was on the Insurance committee and the Budget committee. Do you remember whether that is so, R. Neal?

When people cried foul then, it was ignored. Now the same team he was playing for want us to believe that would be wrong. Funny the double standard for Dems vs. Reps in Blount. But it always has been that way. Used to be, you couldn't even get a job in the school system unless you could say your people were Republican.

The Blount Co. Attorney is

The Blount Co. Attorney is not the attorney for the Commission. He is the Attorney for the mayor. That mess was settled back when the former mayor was out sick.

Starring: Dean Stone as Roger Ailes

Is it just me or is the Maryville Daily Times intentionally duplicitous. Articles like this make me wonder.

In my opinion, last Friday’s front-page story “Allegations irk officials, audience at meeting” failed to bring out a significant amount of available information on this story.

The Times should have pointed out that Commissioner Lewis is not merely employed by a bank . Rather, Commissioner Lewis is a Senior Vice-President at the GreenBank. The GreenBank is not merely another business doing business with the county. It is the primary banking institution for most of Blount County finances. Tens of millions of county dollars flow through this bank every year. So for the Times to print the conflict of interest issue is “the county conducts business with Commissioner Lewis’s employer” completely understates the issue.

To Commissioners Lewis’s credit he followed appropriate protocols and the issue is now at the state AG office pending review. As it should be. Note: The Times was careful to include this in their article.

Where’s our County Director of Finance in all this ? Why isn’t The Times asking Dave Bennett questions regarding Commissioner Lewis and county banking practices ?

In my opinion the county could simply change banks. End conflict. But there may be reasons changing banks is off the table right now.

Let’s digress for a second…

We need to think out of the box for a moment. Let’s review, Dave Bennett (Co. Dir. Accounts & Budget (slash) Asst. Mayor (slash) Co Fin Dir (slash) BM in BC) funnels most of the county money through Mike Lewis’s bank. Millions and millions of Blount County dollars. When Bennett runs for Mayor in 2010 (you didn’t know ?) who’d be the perfect replacement for Bennett? Think hard now… ML maybe ? No “quid pro quo” there !! No sirree (LOL). Because I’m certain maintaining a $30M account at GreenBank would never make anyone (much less ML) grateful and beholdin’ to DB in any way (other than making his bank a friggin’ ton of money). Nor would a well connected newly elected mayor find a beholding Co. Fin. Dir. advantageous in any way. Never !

Meanwhile the current Mayor replaces the sole Democrat on the Budget Committee. With whom you ask ? Commissioner Lewis of course. Come on Dean Stone where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where are you when the County needs you !

Like I said , a little out of the box … But back to the Daily Times and unasked questions that need answers.

In the same article the Times quoted Commissioner Helton saying Commissioners Reeves and Proffitt as independent health care providers have a conflict of interest related to county health insurance presumably because both accepted payments for treatment of Blount County employees. Certainly this should be substantiated and policy clarified. But I believe there’s a bigger question and it’s the question The Times should be asking… how did Commissioner Helton develop this information ? I thought there were strict laws guarding health care records. No?

IMHO, comparing Commissioner Lewis’ situation (with the state AG involved) to the allegations made by Commissioner Helton is simply ridiculous and patiently partisan politics. But yet, isn’t that exactly what The Times is facilitating when they don’t ask the obvious questions or print all the known facts?

Let us review

The County returned to the Budget and Purchasing Acts of 1957. In case you are confused, the Budget Committee is one committee and the Purchasing is another. The County just likes to keep the same people on both committees so no one has to get out of their seats when the first committee adjourns and the second one commences to spending.

David Ballard was on the prior version of the Finance and Purchasing Committees as the sole Dem and was replaced with Samples.

When the full commission went to vote on the appointment on July 19th it was presented as the Budget Committee and Purchasing Committee- two committees being handled by one single vote.

At that time Commissioner Reeves made a motion to amend that the vote on the Purchasing Committee be subject to an opinion of the attorney for the County Mayor on possible conflict of interest of Mr. Lewis. Commissioner Ballard seconded the motion.

Interestingly enough, Commish Helton voted against waiting for an opinion from the Mayor's attorney yet it appears from the MSM articles he had no trouble running to the county attorney after he voted.

For the record those Commissioners who were not interested supporting the Reeves amendment were Burchfield, Farmer, Harrison, Hasty, Helton, Hargis, Keeble, Lail, Melton, Ramsey and Samples.

Those voting to wait on the appointment pending an opinion were Ballard, Graham, McCulley, Murrell, Proffitt and Reeves.

Absent were French, Kirby, Lewis and Walker *

I am pointing this out because this week you will have the opportunity to watch via cable the commission meeting. The bulk of the comments will be toward the end of the meeting. Listen to see which of those who were not interested in waiting for a local opinion on the purchasing appointment suddenly claim interest. This interest comes after someone dared to ask a question.

* votes shown are as recorded in the county minutes which are available on the Blount County website.

The Daily Times

Why be surprised that the Daily Times doesn't report the whole story? Why doesn't the Daily Times do some investigative reporting on the Sheriff's Department's spending, vehicle accountability, etc.? Because the Daily Times does zero investigative reporting - zero. Nothing but a prop for the republican party.

I want my dog back

Seems to be a lot of issues with lost dogs on this site. Is one of them named General Fund? This dog seems to always be around a certain group downtown, but appears to especially like Mr. Lewis. It follows him where ever he goes. Odd behavior, but that damn dog has done this for years.

Come on Dean Stone where there’s smoke there’s fire. Where are you when the County needs you !

Oh, leave ol' Dean alone. He has books to sell.., err, I mean ads to sell for his book. Funny I was in the library the other day and saw a lot of books, and none had ads. I guess when your on the gravy train it's hard to get off. People of Blount beware, you're being sold down the river a quarter page at a time.

With the exception of Bonny, I think most Daily Times readers have figured out that the DT crew are good little protectors of the status quo.

DT Crew exceptions

Maybe we could get that Rick Laney to follow the money. He did a good job getting the county repaid for those diploma mill bills:


Our man Slash

We need to think out of the box for a moment. Let’s review, Dave Bennett (Co. Dir. Accounts & Budget (slash) Asst. Mayor (slash) Co Fin Dir (slash) BM in BC)

Is he no longer our homeland security, security? Instantaneously, I feel less safe. If his job is only to count and not protect and serve, shouldn't he give the sheriff his car back? Tell us Dave, is our financial mismanagement at level orange or are we heading toward level red?

Are his titles just titles or he drawing a check for each?

BTW - the blog owner missed the boat with his post title. The Republican commissioners who don't "get in line" get the same treatment as the Dems.

THE or IN people's business?

Which, by the way, is exactly what Scott Helton is. Gee, I wonder who wrote the statement he read about Reeves and Proffitt??

Sure was interesting to see him have trouble reading his “own” words. Dr. Proffitt has been around much longer than any ill conceived County organized health plans. Being one of Jimbo’s lapdogs, Helton must get his healthcare the old fashioned way – at the back door, off the books work performed by Dr./developer/former commissioner Slater.

County employees – THIS IS AN AFFRONT TO YOU! Speak up – or drive to Knoxville for your care. The least you should do is find out where the information “he wrote” was obtained.

new quotes

A few new quotes are in Blounttoday


Fairview Angel wroteIt

Fairview Angel wroteIt follows him where ever he goes

Wasn't Mr. Lewis at the First Tennessee when the general fund was there? Isn't the bank that holds the general fund up ever two years? I think this is done by sealed bids. Anyone know how to access those bids? What exactly does the bid entail? Certainly looks like that certain group at First Tennessee/Amercian Fidelity/Green Bank has the bid process nailed.

This is exactly the kind of

This is exactly the kind of stuff that we see in Sevier County. Keep a close eye on your commissioners.

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