Open Letter To Loudon County Commissioners And Citizens:
Commissioners, please do not discourage citizens from seeking information. Our role as citizens is to participate in open, honest government based on democratic principles. Citizens have constitutional rights and freedoms.
At the last workshop meeting and with NO public discussion, Mayor Doyle Arp presented his latest seven-page public records resolution. This policy differs very little from his first policy.
This is not the first time that a mayor and commission have tried to strip citizens of their rights. Back in the 1990’s commission tried to impose fees for actual personnel costs related to time spent retrieving, accessing and supervising public records based upon each involved employees effective hourly rate of pay including benefits. This was stopped dead in its tracks and your involvement made this possible. The policy was also determined to be illegal.
Last fall, Commissioner Bob Franke requested Mayor Arp follow the Open Records Law and that Arp appoint a public records commission, as required by state law. To date, Mayor Arp has refused to do so.
The Open Records Act states, “All state, county and municipal records… shall at all times, during business hours, be open for personal inspection by any citizen of Tennessee, and those in charge of such records shall not refuse such right of inspection to any citizen, unless otherwise provided by state law.”
The mayor has complained about citizens requesting to see official records. What does he fear? The records belong to the people, not the office holder. “Unless public records are well organized, compliance with public records requests is difficult, undermining public confidence in government and hindering a county office’s relationship with the citizens it serves.” SOURCE: County Technical Assistance Services- University of Tennessee (CTAS, UT)
The mayor proposes outrageous fees for copies to discourage the free flow of public information. Copies at the local copy store are five cents a copy. Why does the mayor feel that he has to gouge taxpayers? Taxpayers now pay about ninety percent (90%) of a county employee’s insurance benefits while people in the private sector either have no insurance, pay higher premiums, reduced benefits and more out of pocket expenses.
Please commissioners, do not play follow the leader or violate the freedoms and rights of the people of our community. Thousands of brave service men and women have died on foreign land to spread democracy and to protect and uphold our rights and freedoms.
As Americans, we must stand up for the principles set forth by our Founding Fathers. We must speak out when administrations seem set on an agenda to systematically dismantle our rights and freedoms, one by one. Officials that abuse their power and governmental authority keep secrets and endeavor to control the lives of others for private gain.
Your involvement CAN make a difference. Please contact ALL commissioners and voice your concerns about Mayor Arp’s latest public records policy, which will do away with your freedoms and rights. I am requesting that a list of commissioner names, phone numbers and emails be provided to readers. Please come fill a seat and see your commissioners in action. YOUR elected representatives will vote for or against closed government on Feb. 5, 2007 (Monday), Annex (Loudon) at 6:00 pm.
Loudon County Elected Representatives 2006-2007 Contact List
Mayor Doyle Arp Phone: 458-4664 office, 458- 3980 home
Nancy Marcus, Phone: 458-8581, Email: email@example.com
David Meers, Phone: 458-2414, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Earlena Maples - Phone 986-6772, Email: email@example.com
Shirley Reno - Phone 986-1256, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3rd District - Bob Franke Phone: 856-0303, Email: email@example.com
4th District Roy Bledsoe (Chairman) Phone: 458-2829
Harold Duff - Phone 988-6647, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chris Park - Phone: 986-1229, Email: email@example.com
6th District - Wayne Gardin, Phone: 988-4433 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
7th District - Don Miller, Phone: 458-0658, Email email@example.com