Phooey On Public Notice

Notice in Daily Edition, Thursday November 15

Yet again we see local officials thumbing their collective noses at the law. Once again ignoring the public notice requirements for public meetings. This time, the Lenoir City Utilities Board. LCUB officials have warned for some time that water and sewer rates were about to increase drastically due to needed upgrades of water and sewer lines. Some estimates for sewer rate increases have been as high as 150%.

According to the public notice above, LCUB officials called a special meeting for Thursday, November 15th to discuss water and sewer rates for the next five years. Unfortunately for anyone who didn't happen pick up a Daily Edition early Thursday, November 15th, there was no way to know of the meeting. The public notice ran the same day of the meeting. A meeting to discuss your water and sewer rates for the next five years. Just an over sight? Accident? Not likely.

With the Overholt twenty million dollar TIF plan DOA, LCUB has lost it's last hope of a bail out of their problems. Now it appears that years of neglect and mismanagement by those responsible, will have to be paid for by the rate payers.

Adequate Public Notice of meetings is not just a phrase nor is it just a common courtesy to the public, it's a real life, honest to goodness law.

8-44-103. Notice of public meetings.

(a)  Notice of Regular Meetings.  Any such governmental body which holds a meeting previously scheduled by statute, ordinance, or resolution shall give adequate public notice of such meeting.

(b)  Notice of Special Meetings.  Any such governmental body which holds a meeting not previously scheduled by statute, ordinance, or resolution, or for which notice is not already provided by law, shall give adequate public notice of such meeting.

(c)  The notice requirements of this part are in addition to, and not in substitution of, any other notice required by law.

While the law does not specify exactly what constitutes Adequate Public Notice, the courts have on numerous occasions ruled that, Adequate Public Notice can be determined by the totality of the circumstances. Essentially, the more important the meeting to the public, the more more adequate public notice required. But at all times, "the notice must be posted at a time sufficiently in advance of the meeting to give citizens an opportunity to become aware of the meeting and to attend."

What seems to be getting more and more frequent from our local officials especially in Lenoir City, is to post meeting notices the day of or maybe one day before before a meeting and then most times only in the Daily Edition, cutting out the News Herald all together. These actions are illegal and any action that takes place at an illegal meeting is null and void. Problem is, who will enforce the law? No one. Unless a private citizen is willing to use their own money to take the violators to court. In some communities, like Knoxville, a local news paper, like the News Sentinel,  is willing to take up the cause. Unfortunately, in our community, the local paper, the News Herald, enjoys thumping it's chest, and writing stirring editorials, yet they gutlessly stand by and do nothing.

As long as we continue to elect dishonest, corrupt and self serving  individuals, decisions for you and on your behalf will continue to be made behind closed doors.