York resigns, Smith re-appointed to election post
The Tennessee State Election Commission made and approved appointment by the state to the Cumberland County Election Commission for the 2011—2013 term. Democratic party representatives Bob Austin and Lisa Phillips were reappointed; and Republican party representatives Jim A. Petty, Linda Baehr-Caldwell and Tim Claflin were newly appointed.
Petty, Claflin and Baehr-Caldwell replaced Calvin Smart, Thomas Henderson and Denver Cole, who served for one term from 2009—2011.
Just prior to the first meeting of the newly appointed election commission members, Cumberland County Administrator of Elections Sharon York resigned her position with the county election commission as of 4 p.m. Thursday, April 14.
The Cumberland County Election Commission met for a special-called meeting at 4 p.m. Thursday and received York's resignation by a letter that was hand delivered by Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey. Carey delivered the letter to the election commission about five minutes before the meeting was scheduled to begin.
Nearly two-weeks later the election commission rehired past county election administrator Suzanne Smith to her former post. Smith had served for more than 30 years in the position.
The action came two years after Smith was unceremoniously replaced in a movement orchestrated by state Republican officials and despite the objections of all of the locally elected Republican office holders.
Supreme Court reverses Smith Mountain ruling
In December, the Supreme Court of Tennessee reversed the ruling of the Court of Appeals and Chancellor Ronald Thurman in the case of Dave Brundage, Black Cat Lodge and several other residents of Smith Mountain versus Cumberland County and Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC.
The ruling means that the case filed against the county is back to square one and will be heard by Chancellor Thurman as it was supposed to in the beginning.
The original suit seeks a judicial review by writ of statutory certiorari by Chancellor Thurman regarding resolution 0609-12 adopted June 15, 2009 by the Cumberland County Commission and/or Cumberland County. The approved resolution allowed Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC to construct a coal ash landfill on Smith Mountain.
Thurman ruled in November 2009 in favor of a motion to dismiss the suit because those who filed the suit did not file their petitions within the allotted time period. The basis for Thurman's decision was that a verified petition was not filed by the plaintiffs within a 60-day time period as required in Tennessee Code Annotated (TCA) 27-9-102.
The case was appealed up to the Tennessee Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case in February of 2011. The case was heard in June of this year by the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court ruling states, "... The fact that the residents' petition did not satisfy the formal requirements for a writ of certiorari does not necessarily mean that the petition must be dismissed. In other land use planning cases, the courts have consistently been lenient with regard to their construction of the petition ... "
Two prior cases are then given as examples and the ruling continues, stating, "the body of the petition reflects unmistakably that the residents were seeking judicial review of the Cumberland County Commission's decision under the Jackson Law to authorize Smith Mountain Solutions, LLC to construct a coal ash landfill on Smith Mountain."
A new trial date has not yet been scheduled.