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Public Notices

April 23, 2014

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County Commission To Address
Thompson Allegations Tuesday

Originally published: 2014-02-14 23:37:59
Last modified: 2014-02-14 23:45:54
 


BY SARAH R. GREGORY

STAFF WRITER

During a meeting on Tuesday morning, the Greene County Commission will consider a resolution calling for the appointment of a county attorney pro-tem in response to allegations against County Clerk David Thompson.

Commissioners will also consider a resolution authorizing County Mayor Alan Broyles to enter into an agreement for a third-party operator for Kinser Park and a separate resolution that would require the display of the national motto, "In God We Trust," in all public buildings, offices, schools, classrooms and other gathering spaces.

A number of resolutions pertaining to budgetary items will also be considered.

The meeting begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Greene County Courthouse following caucus sessions at 9 a.m.

County Commission meetings are typically held on Monday. However, Greene County government offices will be closed Monday in observance of the Presidents Day federal holiday.

COUNTY ATTORNEY PRO-TEM

If the commission chooses to appoint an attorney pro-tem, that individual will have the final decision whether or not to undertake an ouster suit against Thompson.

Thompson is formally under investigation by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after a former employee alleged that he sexually coerced, discriminated against and retaliated against her.

Other women have also stepped forward with affidavits alleging complaints against Thompson.

Last week, the Greene County Ethics Committee voted 4-to-3 to recommend approval of the resolution to appoint a county attorney pro-tem after attorney Suzanne Cook said her investigation revealed "reasonable basis to indicate" a "breach of public trust" and "the potential opportunity for improper, unethical and/or illegal activities" in Thompson's office.

Cook was hired in 2013 by the County Commission's Insurance Committee, which monitors any issues which could expose the county to financial liability, to determine whether there had been any misconduct by Thompson.

She has said that she has communicated some of her findings to the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury. She has also emphasized that her investigation is continuing.

Cook told the Ethics Committee on Wednesday that, so far, her investigation has revealed ethical issues that should be addressed separately from the EEOC investigation, law enforcement or consideration of civil or ouster lawsuits.

The resolution to be considered by the full Greene County Commission on Tuesday calls on the commission to appoint Cook, an attorney associated with Hunter, Smith and Davis of Johnson City, as temporary county attorney since County Attorney Roger Woolsey has requested to recuse himself from the investigation.

Woolsey has said his request to recuse himself from Thompson's investigation is due to the fact that, in his position, he is the legal representative for all county officials, including Thompson.

In January, the commission declined to suspend normal operating rules to consider an off-agenda item that called for consideration of hiring Cook as the county's attorney pro-tem.

At that time, commissioner John Waddle proposed the resolution, but votes to enter closed session and to suspend the rules to consider the off-agenda item failed.

The resolution that will be considered Tuesday is sponsored by Commissioners Waddle, a Democrat, and Bill Moss, a Republican.

KINSER PARK AGREEMENT

Commissioners will also consider a resolution to authorize Broyles to sign documents to enter an agreement with a third-party operator for Kinser Park.

In May 2013, the town and county requested proposals for a third-party manager or company to oversee all of the park's operations.

Two sealed proposals were received.

In the months following, the proposals were reviewed by the mayors of Greeneville and Greene County, Greeneville City Administrator Todd Smith and Kinser Park Commission chairman Lloyd "Hoot" Bowers.

Negotiations with the selected operator have been underway. However, details about the operator and agreed-upon proposal have not yet been made public.

Because Kinser Park is a joint-venture of Greene County and Greeneville, the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen must also vote to authorize Smith to sign the agreement before it can take effect.

Additionally, because Kinser Park is operated on land leased from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the agreement is also subject to approval by that entity.

TVA has approved the concept of a third-party manager for Kinser Park, but the specific agreement negotiated with the selected operator is under review.

Smith said Friday that he hopes TVA will approve the agreement in the coming days so that the Greeneville Board of Mayor and Aldermen can consider taking action during a March meeting.

If County Commissioners approve Tuesday's resolution, Broyles will have authorization to sign any documents necessary to enter into the agreement.

'IN GOD WE TRUST'

A resolution sponsored by Commissioner Ted Hensley that would require display of the national motto "In God We Trust" in all public buildings, offices, schools, classrooms and other public gathering areas will be considered.

The resolution calls for such display "to help promote awareness of, respect of and in celebration of" the motto.

April 22 will mark the 150th anniversary of the motto appearing on coins and elsewhere, even though the phrase was not officially adopted as the national motto until 1956.

The resolution to be considered by the commission indicates that federal courts have ruled that displaying the motto "passes constitutional muster so long as the purpose of the display is to advance or endorse the national motto rather than a particular religious belief or practice."

The resolution, if approved, would direct all county officials to prominently post the "In God We Trust" motto in all public spaces.

BUDGETARY RESOLUTIONS

Commissioners will also consider several resolutions related to budgetary matters.

An amendment to the general fund to purchase nine computers for the Clerk and Master's office will be considered.

Another resolution would budget for a State of Tennessee Department of Health grant increase of $15,000 for the Greene County Health Department, while yet another resolution would amend the general fund for carryover funds the health department received last year.

Another resolution pertaining to the health department would budget $60,000 from the Tennessee Department of Health for a tobacco settlement project grant.

A resolution to budget funds from the Greene County Highway Department's unassigned balance to fund various accounts as mid-year adjustments will be considered.

Another resolution, if passed, would budget funds from the Greene County general capital project fund for the emergency purchase of a gas furnace at the Election Commission Office.

 
For more information and stories, see The Greeneville Sun.

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