Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Boycotts, Ethics and The Blog

Ever wonder what goes thru an elected official's mind as they help craft policy? Some very revealing snapshots of what happens in those seldom-seen committee meetings can be discovered at the web log of Hamblen Co. Commissioner Linda Noe. Here is a sample from Monday's Audit Committee meeting -

The main agenda item was a letter that had been prepared by Chairman Osborne and that was addressed to Finance Chairman Herbert Harville. The letter remarked on the difficulty (impossibility?) in getting answers to 2004 audit questions from the County Mayor or Finance Director. It said that the Audit Committee is at an impasse and noted that County Mayor David Purkey had "willfully" encouraged other elected officials and departments heads not to respond in writing to the Audit Committee and not to attend Audit Committee meetings.

The Mayor's statement urging officials and departments heads to boycott Audit Committee meetings a couple of months ago was very effective. No one attended the Audit Committee then, and no one attended the Audit Committee today. Today, as the Audit Committee prepared to meet, the Mayor told county employee Jeff Atkins and local news person Paul Meador, "let's go," and they did. They skeedaddled out of there, so you probably won't hear anything about what happened at the Audit Committee on tomorrow's radio news."

You can also take a peek at the state legislature thru the web log for State Rep. Stacey Campfield, and I'm pretty sure he's the only TN rep trying out the blog approach. He's been outspoken on the "Ethics" debate in the Legislature -

"I still believe Lois Deberry should step down from her leadership position in the House and in her party. If she can't see that stepping down from those positions is the right thing to do, then I call on all ethical democrats to ask her to step down.

This would be a good first step in showing Tennesseans that it isn't just Republicans, but Democrats who want real ethics change.

As the old saying goes, all it takes for evil to rule is for good people to do nothing. In the continuing wake of the Tennessee Waltz, silence speaks volumes."

Silence is the rule in TN, I'm afraid.

The Internet and it's Many Wonders can provide anyone with lots of information the sound-bites and coordinating cheerleading press releases seldom provide. Want to know more about the 2003-2004 state audit in Hamblen County? It's right there on the Comptroller's pages. Look for your county audit information on the state map.

Finances and auditing are as Dry as Mummy Dust to most of the public. However, you don't have to be an accountant to see that there were findings that caused the state some concern about financial issues in Hamblen Co. government -

B. The county’s budgeting policies provide for the finance director to post certain transfers of appropriations between major categories without County Commission approval. This policy appears to conflict with Section 5-9-407, TCA, which requires that all transfers of appropriations between major categories be approved by the County Commission. The county has no authority to adopt policies that circumvent state statutes.

C. Expenditures exceeded appropriations in various major categories (the legal level of control) for the General Fund, Highway/Public Works Fund, Special Debt Service Fund, General Debt Service Fund, and Hospital Debt Service Fund

I told a friend just yesterday that the best thing about the Web and the World 'o Bloggers is it provides a chance to view events Unfiltered by "mass media" and instead allows readers to learn and discover all on their own.

More on this later, but also worth noting is that the TN Senate race already boasts the first nationwide Web Log advertising. Pith In the Wind has the details.

2 comments:

Tennessee Jed said...

I have been involved in the weblog scene for about a year. I enjoy being able to anthologize all the perspectives and find my own. The best part is I have some control over my intake as it is not thrust down my gizzard. Now if I could only afford xm radio and only watch dvd.

I believe that many in East Tennessee are inarticulate and aphonic as a part of their lineage. I have always attributed it to the lonely hillbilly with corn squizzins hiding on his property. If you want to make a living in rough country, you have to play dumb and diffident(e.g., Afghanistan folks play a rude game too.

Linda said...

There is at least one other state legislator a-blogging. Roy Herron.
www.royherron.blogspot.com