Knox County Commissioners Lose Suit

Knox County Commission lost the law suit brought against them for a blatant violation of the state's sunshine laws. That's not surprising given that a five year old could have figured out what was going on each time commissioners went behind closed doors during the meeting. It was on TV for everybody to see. I have followed the case closely but never felt the need to report on the story on my site. There has been plenty of coverage in all the Knoxville media.

Seems to me, the bigger story for us locally is how the Knox County Commission was brought to accountability for their illegal activity. The Knoxville News Sentinel, for them selves and on behalf of the citizens of Knox County, took up the cause almost immediately and relentlessly pursued the matter to conclusion. Knox County residents should be thankful for the actions of the News Sentinel. Unfortunately, here in Loudon County we have no advocate for the citizens except the citizens themselves when local governments break the law.

The Tennessee Sunshine laws are broad and very demanding and were enacted to hold government accountable to it's citizens and to prevent dishonest and corrupt officials from using their positions to enrich themselves and others. Unfortunately, in Loudon County, violations of the sunshine laws also take place.

By far Lenoir City is the most frequent violator by giving no or very little notice to public meetings. One of the requirements in the Sunshine Law is "adequate public notice" of a meeting. Lenoir City officials have consistently posted their meeting notices in the Daily Edition on the day of the meetings. This is a violation. County government has also been guilty of failure to give public notice. And of course there is the attempt by Mr. Arp to shut the public out of public records.

Fortunately for Knox countians, they had the News Sentinel to hold local government accountable. In Loudon County the citizens are on their own. Our predominate news paper, The News Herald, has not and will not address violations within our local governments and on occasion through their own editorials have been critical of others who have taken government to task.

It is unfortunate for the citizens of Loudon County that The News Herald has become no more than a tabloid or social register and that though fully aware of the attempts of a number of local officials to subvert the law, they tend to just look the other way. I suppose the nick name given to the paper by many,  The Newsless Herald, is well deserved. It's sad that either for financial or political reasons, our local paper has lost the back bone to step to the plate and advocate for the people. Years ago every edition of their paper carried the moniker boldly at the top of the paper that stated, "What The People Don't Know Will Hurt Them". They would be well advised to once again embrase this as their mission.