Apr 24 2008

From the Knoxville News Sentinel, Mayor Cunningham names County Commissioners Wendy Pitts Reeves, David Graham, and Monika Murrell.

According to the aricle, Mayor Cunningham says they accompanied a "citizen activist" to Nashville yesterday for a meeting with the State Comptroller's office to discuss "perceived irregularities" regarding county finances.

UPDATE: Edited to correctly identify David Graham and "citizen acitivist." Follow the link to the article by Robert Wilson for full details.

UPDATE: WBIR has more:

"They completely side-stepped the legislative process," Cunningham said. "It's a vigilante witch-hunt process. I'm angered by it."

When asked what he thought would come of all of this, Graham responded "Nothing, because it wasn't a meeting."

UPDATE: The Maryville Daily Times files this report, with more details and comments from several individuals involved in the controversy. The article also quotes state law on meetings coverted by the open meetings act. The article fails to mention this part:

Nothing in this section shall be construed as to require a chance meeting of two (2) or more members of a public body to be considered a public meeting. No such chance meetings, informal assemblages, or electronic communication shall be used to decide or deliberate public business in circumvention of the spirit or requirements of this part.

As was debated ad absurdum in the Knox County case, the key part is "deliberate."

Reigning King of Hypocrisy

Interesting that the only local paper without coverage of this story is the Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times. Maybe the Sheriff had them too busy typing up one of his press releases.

Here's another place the Mayor "press released" his little story: (link...) What a steaming pile of horse hockey.

And the horse hockey is decorated with big smelly seeds of irony from our hypocrite Mayor:

“I’m sure, based on mood of the commissioners who have found out, they will want to look into it. There’s talk among commissioners about some possible condemnation or censure of the action or a vote of 'no confidence' in their fellow commissioners,” he said.

Was this talk among commissioners about an official action of the full commission done on email? In a private meeting? Over the phone? Where, exactly, was it done and was that listed in the paper? Certainly not in the sunshine.

There are many occasions in which commissioners or other elected officials appear at the same event: education seminars at the library (such as those put on by the Planning Commission, or GMAC, or CAPPE, or the Raven Society); or the Blount Education Initiative held a meeting that several officials attended. Those could all be loosely described as having to do with the business of the county. Certainly, they all involve the county's well-being. Or you might see several at a show at the Palace Theatre.

The key is whether or not they discuss the agenda or commit votes in upcoming issues in their official capacity. Sort of like how the Mayor's Commissioner friends who are already working out exactly how they will "punish" their fellow commissioners for attending a presentation on their own nickel, each apparently in separate vehicles. And apparently discussed no item relevant to the current budget.

And tell me, how many times have you been at dinner at Aubrey's or Sullivan's and witnessed a few Commissioners/elected officials eating together? (OR drinking?)

"Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference." --Voltaire

Interesting bit

I thought the quote where the mayor said "I’ve got 18 other commissioners..." was particularly interesting. The mayor has commissioners? I was under the impression that the County Commission was supposed to be independent of the Mayor's office. You know, that whole checks-and-balances, separation of legislative branch and executive branch thing...

Too bad the mayor doesn't seem to know about that.

I’ve got 18 other commissioners ...

"I’ve got 18 other commissioners ..."

Do you think those eighteen will all show up at the next Commission meeting driving each, one of the missing cars, waving banners reading "We've Found Them!" as they circle the Courthouse ringing Bells and Blowing Horns?

viva Evo Morales

Jerry Cunningham = tool What

Jerry Cunningham = tool

What an embarrassment for Blount County. Is he Blount Counties new "Ragsdale"?

The next blockbuster

As for the sunshine law violations; blah, blah, blah

What was in that presentation?


If it's anywhere near as informative as the Tale of Two Counties, I'll bet it's it dandy!

Of course the other 18 commissioners probably won't think so.

Sounds Hypocritical To Me!!!

From Blount Today:

“I’m sure, based on mood of the commissioners who have found out, they will want to look into it. There’s talk among commissioners about some possible condemnation or censure of the action or a vote of 'no confidence' in their fellow commissioners,” Cunningham said.

This sounds hypocritical to me... How would he know the mood of the commissioners unless he has talked to them outside of an "open meeting"???

You know just about 60 years ago the citizens of Blount County would have carried Cunningham out on a rail. He is the W of Blount County, the wanna be "King", the man that own and controls all aspects of government. If he hasn't ever violated the Sunshine Law than I'm Richard Nixon.

for consideration

two quotes from the 4/25 KNS article

Berrong called the Blount commissioners' action a "clear and flagrant violation of the sunshine law" and that the constant criticism of his department by certain commissioners and citizen activists only serves to "distract us on a day-to-day basis."

A clearly agitated Blount County Mayor Jerry Cunningham identified the commissioners Thursday

When a citizen seeks answers to questions not answered on a local level the local officials become distracted and clearly agitated?

Now why would the mayor be clearly agitated? I would think he would be sitting back chuckling over the event since the "unqualified" audit got a gold star from the state.

Yesterday the stories were centered on the who got there and how they traveled to Nashville.

Too damn bad they all had to take separate cars. What a waste of gas. They should have contracted with a bus company. I have no doubts that they could have filled all 50 some seats.

Who asked Berrong?

Why was Berrong asked anything about Commissioners going to Nashville? If everything in Berrong's camp is above reproach, he should not be concerned. Was Berrong informed about context of the Commissioner's trip? Once again, I am not sure why he was even quoted.

1 of the Mayor's 18 commissioners

Here's a terrific example of not following one's own advice:

In the Knoxville News Sentinel (link...)

Commissioner Holden Lail said he "would like to have my facts lined up before I start spouting off."

Evidently, lack of facts were no hurdle his "spouting" to WBIR, though (link...)

Commissioner Holden Lail is backing up the mayor on the matter and said censure was on the table. He also wondered if those commissioners might be excluded from budgetary discussions as a result of whatever was discussed at the comptroller's office.

They must not believe that they have the votes to give the Sheriff whatever he wants in this upcoming budget cycle to so quickly jump on the bandwagon to eliminate 3 of the most thoughtful, analytical and conservative budget voters. But that would be a very arbitrary "punishment" and one that I'm sure isn't legal.

Back to the News Sentinel, it sounds like the Comptroller may follow up on some of the items brought up in the presentation:

Details of the Nashville meeting remain unclear, but Richard Norment, assistant comptroller for county audits, confirmed that three commissioners were among those in attendance. He declined to elaborate on the subject of the meeting but said it was a presentation "that we might consider for our use in future work."

"Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference." --Voltaire

He's still talking....


...and it still makes Cunningham look oh-so-obvious in his rush to judgment as he put the media on speed-dial. Yes, he CALLED them. And, the favorite quote from Cunningham so far is from Blount Today:

“I defy anyone to show one dishonest thing we’ve done, just one,” Cunningham said. “We’re the most open and transparent of the 95 counties in this state.”

I have read somewhere that

I have read somewhere that David Bennett used to work as a state auditor. Was it in that same Nashville office? Maybe he still has some friends their who felt that a quick defense was needed to distract from the facts of Jim Foltz's presentation.

I had a flash of memory,

I had a flash of memory, which is not all that common at my age. I remembered there being some pronouncement from Mayor Cunningham that reads like an invitation for anyone with remaining questions about the cars, etc., to take it up a level. Sounds like Folts just took him up on his offer:


Cunningham has declared the issue a closed matter.

"From this day forward, each person should do his or her research on the vehicle questions from what is online," Cunningham wrote. "Again, every possible piece of data we possess is online. At this point, if you feel there are still irregularities, you will need to address it with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have advised my Accounting Department to move on with the business of the county and to spend no more time on this matter."

Also, if you notice, in one of these articles, Cunningham says he knew beforehand that a commissioner had made an appointment with the Comptroller's office. In another place, he claims he didn't know anything about it and didn't know what the topic was, although he seemed just certain that it was about the upcoming year's budget. You know, it is a whole lot easier to keep up with what your position on a subject is if you just tell the truth consistently.

"Men are equal; it is not birth but virtue that makes the difference." --Voltaire

Obviously the "Mayor" has

Obviously the "Mayor" has not read the law. Nor has he done the legal research on the subject. The law and the courts have clearly said that "fact finding and information gathering" are NOTviolations of the Open Meetings Act. I would prefer my commissioners find out the facts and get to the truth before they make decisions. The Open Meetings Act was not put into place to prevent officials from finding out the facts.

I certainly would not want the "joke" of a mayor representing me as an attorney because evidently he doesn't read the research before he shoots off his mouth.

He keeps on talking and won't shut up

Jerry obviously missed the lesson about getting the facts before jumping to conclusions. His knee JERK reaction reminds me of people who have done something wrong but get angry and blame others. The only good thing about this is that Jerry continues to talk so his stupidity and immaturity are out there for everyone to see! For an elected official, he sure is ignorant.

As a tax payer, I appreciate Commissioner Pitts-Reeves and Commissioner Graham taking time from their jobs to travel to Nashville. I would like to hear from the commissioners as to the reason for their journey.

Jerry is the modern boy who cried wolf. From my perspective, if Jerry's lips are moving, he is lying. How much longer is this goof ball in office?

The Rest of the Story

Hello, everyone!

Thank you, all of you, for your incredible support- not for me, but for the many Citizens of Blount County who demonstrate outstanding courage every day by their steadfast determination to hold their Government accountable. This is our sacred duty as an American citizen, and I applaud every one of you.

I thought you might be interested in reading my response to recent events. If so, click here to visit my blog.

And of course, let me know what you think. I always enjoy hearing from you.


Wendy Pitts Reeves, L.C.S.W.
Blount County Commissioner, District 4, Seat C

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