Video Shows Some Putnam Commissioners Meeting Privately
by Marcus Washington
Tenn. - A group of county commissioners in the mid-state could be in hot water
after video shows many of them meeting privately before a big county vote. The
meeting in question has many wondering if a state law was broken.
A trip to the
post office for Putnam County Clerk Wayne Nabors was anything but normal when
he received this letter sent to him with no return address. Inside were a DVD
and a letter reading, "To whom it may concern. This CD contains some
important information that needs to be brought to the attention of the citizens
of Putnam County," said Nabors.
Once back at
his office, Nabors watched the DVD that shows 9 of the 24 county commissioners
coming out of Commissioner Bob Duncan's Cookeville office.
In each one
of the commissioners' hands, was the highly debated county 2012-2013 budget.
point I contacted Ms. Blaylock, the county executive, and had her come down and
take a look at it," said Nabors.
stamp on this video showed it was recorded on August 18 around 11 a.m.,
just two days before the commission voted to raise property taxes by
Commissioner Marsha Bowman said if business concerning the county budget was discussed,
the Tennessee Sunshine Law would have been broken. The law basically states
that public business cannot be discussed by elected officials in private.
made the people in our districts question us now, if we're all breaking the
Sunshine Law. Are we having secret meetings? Are we making decisions before we
come to the public? It shouldn't be like that," said Bowman.
the same nine commissioners caught on video attending the meeting, voted
against an act in February to stop all work sessions unless they are called by
the county executive or commission chair.
Bob Duncan, Jim Martin, Tom Short, Scott Ebersole, Ron Williamson, John Ludwig,
Sue Neal, Jonathan Williamson and Mike Atwood were at the August 18 meeting.
questions still unanswered, many of commissioners said the trust and respect as
question every decision they make now. Have you had another meeting and set
this up and not doing this correctly," said Bowman.
A petition is
scheduled to be signed tomorrow by concerned commissioners, and sent to the
Putnam County Ethics Committee.
At least two
of the five member committee will not vote on the matter, because of their
relation to county commissioners in question.