Video Shows Some Putnam Commissioners Meeting Privately - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Video Shows Some Putnam Commissioners Meeting Privately

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by Marcus Washington

COOKEVILLE, 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.

"At that point I contacted Ms. Blaylock, the county executive, and had her come down and take a look at it," said Nabors.

The time 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 nearly 16-cents.

County 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.

"It's 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.

Ironically, 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.

Commissioners 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.

With questions still unanswered, many of commissioners said the trust and respect as been broken.

"I will 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.

Email: mwashington@newschannel5.com

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