BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
A complex sequence of events surrounded the conflict-of-interest allegations that have surrounded Commissioner Tim White for the past three months.
The matter was brought before the commission on Monday as a potential conflict-of-interest and possible violation of either the County Code of Ethics or state law. (See related article.)
White is part-owner of A&W Excavating & Hauling, LLC, which performed $22,190 of work in March for the Greene County School System, following a formal bid process, by installing the sewer system at the new Chuckey-Doak High School Fieldhouse.
White has called the timeline of the matter into question since the issue was first brought to public notice, suggesting that the timing implies a political motivation surrounding his "swing vote" on the 20-cent property tax increase that County Mayor Alan Broyles opposed.
The two officials went head to head on the timeline once again on Monday, with each providing his own narrative. Further details were made available through a document trail presented by the county's substitute attorney, Benjamin Lauderback, of Knoxville.
According to the officials' narratives and the documents presented, the events occurred in the following timeline:
* May 21, 2007: the Greene County Legislative Body adopts a Code of Ethics Policy, as recommended by the Greene County Ethics Committee, of which White was a member;
* Feb. 16, 2012: White submits a sealed bid to W&W Engineering for the cost of a sewer line installation at Chuckey-Doak High School that is opened in a public bid opening and declared the lowest bid of four by nearly $10,000;
* Feb. 21: White votes as a county commissioner to allow the Greene County School System to transfer money from the General Purpose School Fun to the system's Capital Projects Fund to cover to the cost of site work and the sewer work his company would later complete;
* Feb. 23: The Greene County Board of Education approves A&W Farms Excavating & Hauling, LLC, of which White is partner, as the low bidder on the sewer work;
* March 19: White votes as a county commissioner to allow the Greene County School System to transfer money from the General Purpose School Fund to their Capital Projects Fund to cover to the cost of the remaining portions of the Chuckey-Doak fieldhouse project, which did not include his company's involvement;
* April 19: an article runs on A-3 of The Greeneville Sun following a precautionary evacuation of Chuckey-Doak High School when workers with A&W Farms hit a gas line while performing the sewer work. Neither the company nor White was named in the article;
* May and June: A&W Farms receives a total of $31,100 for work completed for the Greene County School System;
* Aug. 13: White acts as the "swing vote" on the 20-cent property tax increase, first voting against it but later giving it the final vote needed to pass after his proposed smaller increase did not receive majority support.
During a recess, Broyles said he overheard for the first time an indication that White had preformed work for the school system, which he confirmed later through warrants in County Trustee Dan Walker's office;
* Aug. 15: Broyles receives a response from the County Technical Advisory Service (CTAS) advising him that a county official cannot perform work for the county and to consult the county attorney;
* Aug. 16: County Attorney Roger Woolsey recuses himself from the case, citing a conflict-of-interest because of being White's neighbor and constituent. Broyles contacts Attorney Tom Kilday, who has performed work for the county in the past. Kilday advises after research that a possible violation may have occurred.
Broyles requests that the county operate with expenses only at 1/12 of the prior year's budget until Kilday offers an opinion concerning whether White's "swing vote" would remain in good standing if he should be found to have violated the Code of Ethics.
"That was the question that I had to have answered before money was spent. It would have been a train wreck," Broyles explained. "That was the opinion I had to have quick - really quick."
Shortly thereafter, Kilday opined that case law suggests White's votes would remain in good standing, even if he was serving "illegally" because of a possible ethics violation;
* Aug. 17: Kilday and Broyles call White into the mayor's office to address the matter, suggesting that he could either resign or seek counsel as the case moved forward to an unforeseen end, with the potential of a future ouster suit.
Kilday later stepped back from the case, citing a potential conflict for his firm, and Broyles contacted Lauderback to serve as substitute county attorney;
* September: Lauderback accepts the case and communicates with Broyles throughout the month as he researches White's potential conflict-of-interest.
White informed Broyles three weeks after their meeting that he would not resign but would instead fight any allegation of wrongdoing;
* Oct. 2: Broyles submits a formal complaint to the Greene County Ethics Committee;
* Oct. 10: The Greene County Ethics Committee decides in a 5-3 vote to send the matter before the full County Commission for consideration;
* Nov. 19: The Greene County Commission votes 11-7 that White did not violate the ethics code.