The Drama Continues

With WVLT TV Channel 8, the News Herald and other media (me) in attendance, City Court with Judge Vann took on a bit of an Anna Nichole feel at Thursday's hearings. In fact there were more of us there to watch the court proceedings than defendants appearing before the court. Of course what prompted all we on lookers was Judge Vann's abrupt cancellation of last week's court when City Treasurer/Recorder/Court Clerk, Debbie Cook, was absent from the office and refused Judge Vann's demands to come to court. In fact in a letter/memorandum to Ms. Cook dated February 21, the Judge gave an explanation for last weeks cancellation and requested that Ms. Cook be in court on the 22nd. Ms. Cook declined the Judge's request.  Alas, the fifteen minute court hearing was generally uneventful. There was some action before court and after court but in my view of a personal nature and at this time irrelevant to the real issue.

There are a number of issues at city hall not unlike you might find in any office setting. Dissention between staff and management, grievances being filed and clashes of personalities. There are policies in place to address personal matters and should be handled in the appropriate manner.

However the big issue that most directly concerns the citizens is the on going debate of how much money in fines and court costs are actually outstanding and why those fines and costs have not been collected. While the totals vary somewhat, no one disputes that there is a substantial amount of money outstanding, but the big dispute is why those funds are outstanding. The Judge contends that Ms. Cook has blatantly failed in her capacity to collect those funds. Ms. Cook maintains that she has taken all steps available to her to collect those funds. Somebody's wrong. I have seen both the report referred to by Judge Vann and the report cited by Ms. Cook and they are essentially the same. Many if not most of the cases of the outstanding debts shown on the report have notations indicating the disposition of the cases which explain the reason for the outstanding debts.

This seems a simple matter to me. Bring both sides to the table in a calm civilized manner, lay the facts out and see who's right. Then when the facts are clear and the problems identified, everyone work together to solve the problem. Both Judge Vann and Ms. Cook are duly elected officials and thereby enjoy a great deal of autonomy in the performance of there jobs. However both must be able to work with the other for the benefit of the citizens. The first step in the process should be an apology from Judge Vann to Ms. Cook for his surprise attack on her at the last council meeting. Nothing could justify his unprovoked, cold turkey approach to the issue that had no intent but embarrass Ms. Cook in a public forum.

I will obtain a copy of the report, it's a public record, and I will research the report and I will report what I find. So one way or the other, we will know who is right and who is wrong.