She Doesn't Care
|To make a long story short, myself,
Mayor Buddy Bradshaw and three lawyers made the trip to Wartburg, Morgan
County, Friday morning to hear Ms. Niles request for another $57,000.00
in raises for her current employees. The judge agreed with attorney Joe
Ford, who represents the county, that Niles request at this point was
not proper. That no such request could be made till the final order on
her previous law suit had been filed with the court. But that after the
final order is filed, she can then come back and ask the judge for more
money. Doesn't necessarily mean she'll get it but she can ask.
Wouldn't you think her attorney should have known the appropriate legal procedures before everybody had to go all the way to Wartburg? But what does he and she care? Doesn't cost them anything. In fact her attorney's clock just keeps ticking and the tax payers are paying his bill.
If there was any doubt left in anybody's mind that Ms. Niles could care less about the tax payers of Loudon County, this should put an end to that.
I'm sure she'll have the tax payers back in court in the next few weeks. I'll keep you posted.
Niles case remains open
After meeting for a brief court hearing Friday morning at Morgan County Courthouse, Chancellor Frank V. Williams III has asked for legal documentation showing General Sessions Court and Circuit Court Clerk Lisa Niles’ request for pay increases for all current employees under her supervision.
“A judgment will go down, which is just a document that says judgment on it, and it summarizes his (Williams) findings in that memorandum opinion,” Joe Ford, legal counsel for Loudon County Mayor Rollen “Buddy” Bradshaw, said after the hearing. “It’ll be entered most likely by next Friday. It’s already prepared, so it’s just a matter of signing it and getting it to him in Kingston, getting it to the courthouse in Loudon to be stamped. Once it’s filed, either side has 30 days to move to alter or amend the judgment, which is going to happen.”
Ford said both parties planned to file a motion to alter or amend once the judgment was submitted to the court.
“That stalls the 30-day appeal period,” Ford said. “When you file a motion to alter or amend, you’re 15 days into your appeal time. It just stops it right there until there’s an order entered on that.”
In December, Williams ruled in favor of Niles’ attempts to seek additional deputy clerks and more funding for existing and future employees, specifically four new employees that included a deputy clerk-bookkeeper at a salary of $32,000 and three deputy clerks at $25,500 as issued in a memorandum opinion.
Retroactive pay covering the county’s 2 percent raise during the last two fiscal years was also required. Per the memorandum opinion, Niles has the ability to start new employees out at a lower pay and then make “graduated increases” in their salaries based on ability and performance.
Niles, through her Knoxville-based attorney Zachary Tenry, filed a motion for a pretrial conference seeking clarification regarding the memorandum opinion earlier this month. Niles sought clarification on whether she would be able to give $57,000 in raises for current employees.
During the court hearing, Williams asked for documentation outlining Niles’ salary increase request for current employees. He also requested the pretrial brief, closing arguments and any excerpts for the case.
“There’s really not much to add until a judgment has been filed,” Tenry, speaking on behalf of Niles, said after the hearing.
Bradshaw said he would have liked for the case to be “put to bed” after Friday’s hearing, but he respected Williams’ decision and Niles’ request for clarification.
“I’m ready to get it behind us, and let’s move forward and put this thing to bed and get on about business,” Bradshaw said.
Resolution in the works
For the second year in a row, Loudon County Commission will vote on a resolution that asks state legislators to take action to repeal or amend current state law that could protect Loudon County taxpayers from footing the bill for future lawsuits similar to Niles’ litigation.
“It’s a commission matter. Mr. (Van) Shaver’s kind of spear-headed this for two years in a row now and last year it went unanimous, 10-0 commission voted to approve to send it to state, and so we’ll know come the next commission meeting the vote on it again,” Bradshaw said.
County commissioners are scheduled to meet Feb. 1 at the county office building.
Per the resolution document, “... salary suits brought by other elected officials of the county could have a negative effect on county government and put a financial burden on the taxpayers of Loudon County.”
Commissioner Van Shaver drafted the resolution and presented it to commission early last year but the resolution did not come up for vote in the state legislature. Shaver presented commission with an updated draft Tuesday during a workshop meeting.
“We were already in the throws of this,” Shaver said. “She (Niles) had filed her suit but way before where we’re at now, and this will not have any impact on the current legal situation, but going forward, if it were to be amended or eliminated or altered in any way, it could certainly have an impact on the future on not just us but all 96 counties in the state of Tennessee.”
Shaver said the county will ask for the law that is “so outdated and so unnecessary” and nearly 100 years old to be amended through state legislature. Currently, fee officers can sue their respective county for any amount.
“All this resolution does is ask the legislators to take some form of action,” Shaver said. “What they would ultimately do, that would be totally up to the state legislature. We would hope it would go away. It’s nearly (a) 100-year-old law that is so obsolete, and as we can see now thoroughly abused. But what the legislature would choose — which route they would choose to do, last year they went for full repeal, and it didn’t get out of committee.”
Steve Harrelson, Loudon County Commission chairman, said one of his main concerns was that fee collection officers can use current state law to compel local governments to supply more money to departments than their budgeted amount and then ask taxpayers to cover the related legal expenses for both plaintiffs and defendants.
“That’s my main holdup and hope the state will at least look at the legal fee part of it,” Harrelson said. “... If they’re liable for their own attorney fees, maybe folks will think twice about filing these lawsuits.”
News Editor Jeremy Styron contributed to this report.