Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

August 29, 2012

City calls for probe in election Robocalls

City manager to pen request

CROSSVILLE — Crossville officials reacted one week after Crossville residents received computer-generated mass calls targeting Councilman Boyd Wyatt, angry that caller IDs showed the calls coming from an assigned city of Crossville phone number and with a woman identifying herself to listeners as calling from "city hall."

Thursday, council meeting in special session, asked for a state and local investigation into the source of the calls, and a resolution presented to council by Mayor J.H. Graham III would have ordered all city employees "to cooperate fully and completely with all lawful inquiries and investigations ... "

The motion was prepared by City Attorney Kenneth Chadwell at the request of Graham.

That motion, however, did not pass and was tabled by Councilman Danny Wyatt's motion, who objected to acting on the resolution because he had just been presented a copy of it ten minutes before the meeting.

Danny Wyatt said he thought council had an agreement to not vote on anything presented without time to study the issues involved. His comment sparked a lively exchange.

"You have acted on numerous items, on things plenty of times," countered Boyd Wyatt.

"I disagree. Name one," Danny Wyatt responded.

Danny Wyatt then went on to state he felt it was the job of City Manager Bruce Wyatt to handle the issue and make the request to District Attorney General Randy York's office for an investigation into the incident.

Councilman Earl Dean seconded Danny Wyatt's motion and both voted to table. Graham and Boyd Wyatt voted against tabling the motion. George Marlow first abstained from the vote, and then asked, "What is the real reason for this?"

Marlow agreed that the city manager should write a letter to the DA, asking for the investigation, and voted with Dean and Danny Wyatt to table the motion.

Graham then made a motion for the city manager to take whatever action he deemed necessary.

Residents throughout the city received Robocalls on Aug. 16, asking a series of questions that were posed with discrediting Boyd Wyatt.

An Internet definition of Robocalls is as follows, "Robocall is a term for a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot, hence the name. Robocalls are often associated with political and telemarketing phone campaigns, but can also be used for public-service or emergency announcements. Some Robocalls use personalized audio messages to "simulate" an actual personal phone call."

Graham said after the meeting that he had received numerous calls from citizens who were upset that their caller IDs showed the calls were coming from the city.

Earlier in the week, Boyd Wyatt, told the Chronicle, "It's sad that the party or parties conducting the robo call stooped so low as to use city hall's phone number and caller ID," Boyd Wyatt said. "I feel it's highly unethical and probably illegal."

He added that he received one of the calls at his home.

The Truth in Caller ID Act of 2010 amended the Communications Bill of 1934 makes it illegal "to cause any caller ID service to transmit misleading or inaccurate caller ID information, with the intent to defraud and deceive." The law applies to land lines, voice-over-IP networks and any other "real time communications service, regardless of the technology used."

Chadwell and Graham suggested that as the calls were represented as coming from or being generated by the city, identity theft and identity fraud might be laws violated by the placing of the calls.

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