Thu
Feb 7 2008
10:23:am

The Daily Times apparently does not have room to tell its readers that the state's Attorney General has issued an opinion exonerating Wendy Pitts-Reeves and Bob Proffitt from a conflict of interest regarding their providing professional services for county employees. The Knoxville News-Sentinel managed to find room to let us know.

Old News

Must be old news...

I wonder what it costs taxpayers each time we get an "opinion" born out of sheer politics?

Guess who requested the AG Opinion?

Guess who requested the AG Opinion?

Tennessee House Representative

JOE McCORD
R - Maryville
District 8 - Parts of Blount and Sevier counties

Thomas F. Mabry
P. O. Box 52385
Knoxville, TN 37950

Fax 1-888-215-3119
Phone 1-865-271-9224

Conflict of Interest

Concerned Citizen
Taken from the story in the Knoxville Sentinal

Commissioners may provide health care to Blount County workers

Attorney General says careers don't present a conflict of interest
By Robert Wilson

MARYVILLE - Two Blount County commissioners who are also health-care professionals are not in violation of Tennessee's conflict-of-interest regulations in providing their services to county employees, according to a recently released opinion by the state Attorney General's Office.

The opinion, requested by Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, was rendered Jan. 30 and said that Wendy Pitts Reeves, a licensed clinical social worker, and Dr. Bob Proffitt, a general practice physician, are not engaged in a conflict of interest when they treat county employee patients covered by the county's health care plan.

The Jan. 30 opinion makes much the same distinction, saying that as long as Reeves and Proffitt contract with a third-party administrator and are not themselves officers or owners of the company, the activity represents no conflict of interest.

Suggestion

SeeJaneRide
Reeves & Proffitt should copy that opinion and make sure all commissioners get one! Better yet, they should send it INSIDE a Valentine card to Bennett & Cunningham. Hugs & kisses, boys!

News Sentinel link

I had trouble with the link above. But found the article here: (link...)

I'm glad to see this. I just could not see how this could be a conflict of interest. Most doctors I've talked to didn't even know what insurrance they took.

Terry

Consistency is lost.

But Reeves does believe there is a conflict of interest regarding Mike Lewis. Can you say consistency?

Lester

Lester

Reeves never said there was a conflict with Lewis. She ask IF there was a conflict. A simple question.

We on the other hand, now we have said we see a conflict with him, his bank and the county's millions....

She ask IF there was a

She ask IF there was a conflict

... to see if she could avoid having Mr. Lewis break the law.

As you will remember, the AG came back and let Mr. Lewis know he could avoid breaking the law by using the ever popular "give it to your wife" clause.

Nice reasoning

If I got pulled over for a DUI and stated, "I'm shitfaced, but my wife's OK" - do you think the officer would let me switch seats?

No, but it is still legal in

No, but it is still legal in Tennessee to pass the beer can to the passenger...

(Not that I'm advocating any change to the "it's OK for passengers to drink in the car on the way to a tailgater party" law.)

an empty can?

Beer is ......... here

while the can is over ...............there

Regarding Mike Lewis.

Concerned Citizen
It is my understanding that Mrs. Reeves was referring to the following wording found in Tennessee Code 5-14-114 “ Neither the county purchasing agent, nor members of the county purchasing commission, nor members of the county legislative body ... shall be financially interested, or have any personal beneficial interest, either directly or indirectly”

Therefore, by Mr. Lewis actions of transferring his shares of his bank stock to his wife, it would appear that he would still benefit indirectly from the interest or the sell of these shares, and therefore he would be placed in the position of having more of a conflict of interest than a health provider who accepts the patients from the same insurance companies that the county employees utilize.

It is also my understanding that Dr. Ramsey does not accept payments from any insurance company and that he leaves it up to his patients to get reimbursed from their insurance company, after payment is made for his services.

The article also says that

The article also says that Ms. Reeves has stopped seeing Blount Co. employees as patients. Nice work, GOP machine.

interesting

Because if you play with the BCBS website long enough this data comes up under providers

Ramsey, Robert Lee
331 W Broadway Ave
Maryville TN , 37801

BCBS website disclaimer- The information listed in this directory is subject to change.

To be fair, unlike the machine, Dr Ramsey may be on that list of providers and never see a county employee. And he did feel the need to abstain when the county voted on the new dental contract- just like Reeves abstained from voting on the new health care contract.

Update Allow me to make it easier for you to check this out. Just use the County's own data http://www.blounttn.org/hr/BCBS%20Provider%20Network%20(Mini).pdf

Oh, I see.

"Reeves never said there was a conflict with Lewis. She ask IF there was a conflict. A simple question."

Oh, I see.

Reeves was looking out for the well-being of Mr. Lewis. She had an innocent concern for the legitimacy of his character portrayal. She probably told you this during your journey with the tin man down the yellow brick road.

hehehe

Lester

In today's Daily Rag

It seems the times can't read as well as not report.
(link...)

I'm boiling!!

Terry

Looks like the Maryville

Looks like the Maryville Daily Times had a different read of the opinion:

Commissioners violated conflict of interest statute

Frankly, that's the way I read it, too, that there was no direct conflict but there was an indirect conflict (which I think is wrong unless somebody's going to connect the dots between every elected official and employers or businesses that indirectly do any business with Blount Co.), and the last part of it was confusing and had more questions than answers.

I think Robert Wilson only read the first sentence or something...

Confusing enough to ask the GOP leader

I'm glad Boxley got his legal summation from Vice Mayor/Finance Director/GOP Chairman Bennett. He's not qualified for any of his titles - so why should he not be giving legal advise?

He's good for one

GOP Chairman

You can bet your ass he is definately qualified for that one.

RNeal, you read it wrong

RNeal, you read it wrong because the whole premise of the AG's opinion was wrong and if you didn't know the dates involved, you'd reach the wrong conclusion. The AG's opinion was based on his understanding that Blount County operates on the County Purchasing Act of 1957. Well, it does NOW (as of July 1, 2007). It did not at the time the budget was passed (June of 2007), nor at the time Reeves/Proffitt were elected. Their agreements with the healthcare provider, by the way, would have predated their election - in other words, they didn't get these agreements as a result of their position as commissioners. Just as commissioners are permitted to keep their county employment if it predates their election, but may not be hired AFTER their election because it would look like a favor.

Consider for a moment the enormity of what the lame duck commission did in that one last commission meeting in August 2006 after Mayor Cunningham and 3 democrats were elected to the commission in the first week of that same month. They, most of whom would not even be on the commission anymore, conspired to take the budgetary power back from the commission and put it back on the mayor.

As a wise Blount Countian said recently, this is a lot similar to a lame duck congress making a law that black men cannot become president after the time Obama is elected and before he is sworn in. Given the differences in 57 and Act of 81, the net effect is that it makes it complicated for professionals already elected to make a living while serving on the commission.

But I digress.

I don't think I'm overstating this when I say that the Daily Times and their two reporters Boxley and Davis are guilty of journalistic malfeasance in a.) entitling the article "Commissioners violated conflict of interest statute" when the content clearly shows they understood that the statute in question wasn't in play at the time the vote for budget came up and b.) not identifying Dave Bennett as the Chairman of the Republican Party. He is clearly NOT acting as Finance Director in this article - but as the leader of the party opposite Reeves and Proffitt.

Fourth Estate - know your role

are guilty of journalistic malfeasance

Sounds like grounds for a retraction. Anyone know a good lawyer?

Let's face it

The Daily Times knows no boundaries when it comes to what can be said about a Democrat, it being the official newsletter of the Republican Party and all. I'm sure if they ask their attorneys (leading GOP contributors), they will be told it was a fine article and congratulate the offending reporters. It's an article sure to inspire ample party pride in their boss, Dean Stone.

yea, I know a "retraction" lawyer

Well? the plethora of information derived from blountviews has afforded me ample knowledge of the intricacies of BC politics. But perhaps I do not qualify. Maybe someone can call a law firm in Knoxville and ask if anyone knows someone who is familiar with wringing retractions from the DT. I will not name names to protect the guilty, oops, I mean innocent (I do believe in the rule of law . . .)

Tom

PS: If only they would allow Rick Laney to write these articles-they would be correct "ab initio" (that's lingo for getting it correct the FIRST time).

Thomas F. Mabry
P. O. Box 52385
Knoxville, TN 37950

Fax 1-888-215-3119
Phone 1-865-271-9224

RNeal, you read it

RNeal, you read it wrong

Hey, I read what it said. I also said I didn't agree with it.

How to get the AG Opinion you want

How to get the AG Opinion you want, Lessons by the Blount County Good old Boy political machine.

1. Only ask questions which you know will be answered in such a way to work to your benefit.

2. Do not include all the details.

3. Hope that the citizens do not understand that this is an opinion and only an opinion and many opinions do not hold up under the court of law.

4. Go to the patio and laugh with Lark or Mance or whomever the flavor of the week is.

opinions are like

I hate that the paper took the approach to embarass good people.

We have an expression in Minnesota that says opinions are like butt holes. Everyone has one.

Are You Surprised?

Is anyone surprised that the DT swayed their article to hint that there is still a conflict of interest? Who owns this paper? Should we all get a petition for the owner to clean house?

it is personal

If Wendy were not so effective at representing the citizens of the Blount County then the local political machine would never have turned the heat on her.

My simple question still remains unanswered. (link...)

Paging Dr Ramsey

Does the Daily Times know there are three medical providers on the commission? I guess with only two reporters, they couldn't get around to the Republican Cariten provider. Or has he recently just dropped off the list? Good thing I felt like that was something worth printing. I would hate to think the chairman is playing politics.

Does anyone know who suggested McCord get this opinion? Was it Papa Keith (Cunninghams other lawyer)? (link...), Aunt Peggy? (link...) (way to look out for Laney DT), or cousin Jimbo? (link...)

Question for the Daily Times; What are you going to do when Dean finally leaves and these A-listers have all retired and moved to Colorado to destroy a little town there? Will you stay on the payroll and move with them? Someone will have to keep the citizens there like mushrooms: in the dark and surrounded by shit.

Ramsey and Samples

Ramsey would have been on the Dental list, not the health care list. The county website links to BC/BS but that site is screwy so it is hard to find out just which plan you would look under to find out if Ramsey is on their panel.

Side note that I missed earlier. From the Nov 2007 Full Commission Meeting Minutes. Samples abstained from the vote on the contract with Caritian just like Reeves did.

IN RE: CONTRACT WITH CARITEN AS THIRD PARTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR BLOUNT COUNTY.
Commissioner Farmer made a motion to approve the contract. Commissioner Keeble seconded the motion.
A voice vote was taken with Chairman Ramsey declaring the motion to have passed. Commissioner Samples requested that the record show that he abstained from the vote due to a business relationship with Cariten. Commissioner Reeves previously announced that she was abstaining.

In September of 2006, Ramsey abstained from voting on the County Dental Contract with BC/BS

Oh, and by the way...

If memory serves, I recall that Wendy Pitts Reeves actually voted NO on the Budget in June of 2007. It would be hard to say this vote was of any financial benefit to her even if Purchasing Act of 57 had been in play.

Maryville to vote on property tax hike

I'm still waiting for the local press to print something on the Maryville City Council Mtg from 2/5. (link...) Did I miss it? What's the shelf life for a story concerning the city's public schools?

This is more like it!

See the more fair and balanced summation in today's Daily Times: ((link...))

The County Purchasing Act of 1957 was not in effect in Blount County until July 1, months after they took office. In November, when the Blount County Commission approved a contract with Cariten Healthcare to administer the county’s self-paid health insurance program, Reeves abstained from the vote.

I don't see it as such

In fact, today's article needs its own thread- In Dentists we trust, all others pay cash. Joel missed again but I guess details are not the strong suit of the DT.

Well...

I did think he could have gone a step further and even pointed out that the one and only time a budget passed the commission since Reeves and Proffitt were on board was STILL before Purchasing Act of '57 took place.

But still, it was a heck of a lot more accurate than: "Commissioners violated conflict of interest statute."

Feel free to post it to a new thread. I was surprised to hear that dentists were handled differently under the law than doctors and counselors.

I was surprised to hear that

I was surprised to hear that dentists were handled differently under the law than doctors and counselors.

He must be once again going back to the old dental plan of 2005
(link...)

"Our employees can go to any dentist they want to," she explained. "There are no preferred providers on the dental side."

That was then, this is now. One more time. Blount County now has a full blown dental insurance carrier, not a third party administrator. The county's own website lists Dr. Ramsey. The county's own website tells county employees that when they use one of the listed dentists the dentist will bill BCBS and payment comes from BCBS not the employee. Feel free to read it yourself at (link...) under How the program works and Network Dentists.
It is page three.

Deep Sigh. What still remains is that the DT is more interested in making our Commissioner who speaks up and asks questions look bad and allowing those who go with the flow to be excused from any serious scrutiny.

There is no excuse for the DT do this. Fair? No. Sorry, it is what it is.

Ramsey's been consistent.

good catch

?What I?d been told before is that we are under contracts individually with the patients,? Ramsey said. ?We?re not under contract with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. If that?s the case, there is no reason that I shouldn?t be able to represent my constituents on a full range of decisions over county government

I guess Dr. Ramsey should have to show the Commission his contract with BC/BS- just like Jerry showed the 'contract' between Reeves and Highlands to the TN AG.

I don't think any of us who are upset with this whole situation think that a County employee should be restricted from using ANY doctor or dentist whether or not that provider is on the County Commission or not. The reporting this week simply shows the bias in the reporting by the DT and the political spin Jerry's machine is using.

If there are conflicts of

If there are conflicts of interest, why doesn't somebody from the public file an ethics complaint?

If you call a goose a duck - is it a duck?

Cunningham said the county's financial situation "frightened" him when he took office -- and that the general fund was down to just $800,000. He said the general fund now has over $3 million and should be around $6 million by the end of this year.

(link...)

Ummm, the general fund is over $37 million. What he referring to is our reserve account - which will be substantially less when we pay out at least $3 million to a couple of guys with broken arms (Thanks Sheriff) and other lawsuits.

Anyway, it's good to see the mayor still is a bigot (link...) when it comes to those who weren't born here and still a bully (link...) on toxins people don't want in their water.

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