Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

July 5, 2013

Editorial: City council needs to take search into the Sunshine

Crossville Chronicle

— It's a busy time for the city of Crossville as it moves forward with the downtown infrastructure improvement project, works on industry recruitment and looks for ways to keep community services strong while respecting budget constraints. Right now, it's taking these projects on without a permanent city manager.

The city has been conducting a search for a new manager, soliciting résumés from around the country. More than 40 résumés were received by city hall and distributed to council members for review.

On June 21, the council narrowed that number to seven candidates and then down to three finalists with a June 28 vote.

Those votes, however, were taken without knowledge of the citizens of this community in ballots that were subsequently destroyed without an opportunity for the public to be made aware of each council member's vote and to provide input or comments to their elected representatives.

The shroud of secrecy used to conduct the city manager search does nothing to restore the community's faith in a council that has been the subject of rumors and political intrigue. Council members find they must endure questions of their integrity and at least one councilman has said he's fielded multiple calls regarding "deals" he supposedly made to support one candidate over another.

Would taking those votes in public quiet the rumors? No one can know because that's not the route that was taken.

Now, the council is at an impasse. There are three candidates who received three votes on the second ballot; however, two councilmen cast only two votes in the second ballot. That, too, has caused the community to doubt its elected representatives are moving forward in an honest and truthful manner to find the candidate that would best serve the citizens and employees of this city, as well as the thousands that come into the city each day to conduct their business.

The state's Sunshine Law provides a remedy in this situation. The action taken outside of the public view, those two ballots, can be nullified. That would return the council to the beginning, with 40-some résumés to consider with discussions and deliberations taken in full view of the people who will be affected by their choice.