Friday, October 24, 2008

Democracy Inaction

Well this is it. The last installment of this series reviewing the proposed charter amendments to Knox County Government. (Though I may be back Monday for a little A la Carte action on some of the other issues on the ballot).

In this final installment we deal with changes to the Mayors office in Knox county. As we are all aware, the current Mayor is not exactly the worlds most popular guy. He's been hit with scandal after scandal and hasn't exactly been the picture perfect executive. These changes would make for some rather drastic increases in his and future mayor's influence over county government. Like with Question 3 (see the previous entry in the series) this amendment has multiple parts which I will address... now:


#1 We lose our right to vote for, but stand to gain a better run set of offices. Law Director, Trustee, County Clerk, and Register of Deeds all disappear as separate individually elected offices.

At first this is worrisome, I mean it's always better to have more people voting to hold individuals accountable. I believe that completely, I am a big fan of accountability in the system and having as many people in government constantly concerned that their positions are only temporary, because I think that's how it's supposed to work.

But we live also in a time of great transition in Knox County. It's not that I don't want to vote for my register of deeds, it's that #1 far to few know what these fee offices actually do (though that's not a good enough reason in and of itself) and #2 Knox county government needs to stream line.

We currently have, from my understanding, some of the longest and most complicated ballots in the country during our elections. There's always some new referendum on top of the 18 different offices that are up for election. With two governments the voters of Knox county need the chance to streamline a portion of their government if they feel so inclined.

These offices will become answerable to and appointed by the mayor, who will have hiring and firing ability. The mayor will be able to select those who operate many of the day to day positions, not unlike a the presidential cabinet, and will be able to fire them, subject to approval from the commission of a 2/3 majority. This provides a system of checks and balances and encourages wise choices from the mayor about who he would put in those positions.

#2 The position of County Auditor would be eliminated and a 6 year term for Inspector General would be created. This will provide a voice in the mayors office that can report truthfully about the internal workings of all departments without fear of reprisals or loss of job.

#3 In a similar way on the changes to County Commission there is a provision to add a conflict of interest clause, requiring the mayor and appointed staff to disclose when they stand to make personal gains from decisions they make in their positions as county officials.

Whew, I know that was alot, everybody take a deep breath.

It's a difficult situation we find ourselves in. There have been many upheavals in county government over the past two years and now we are continuing that trend by making some dramatic changes. There are portions of these changes that I am not crazy about, but overall the changes, I believe, are in the best interest of all Knox County residents and will enable us all to move froward with a stronger, more responsive, and better structured local government.

So for the final Charter Amendment the Pol says:


The Modern Gal said...

Hey Pol, would we be voting for the inspector general?

I really don't like the fact that these last two amendments are so multipronged. Where's the line-item veto?

Anonymous said...

you guys need to stop telling people what to vote for. this shouldn't be a political blog, and its turning people off.

The Pol said...

First to Our Lovely Modern Gal:
No we wouldn't be voting for the Inspector, that positions too would be appointed.

Secondly to Shmoopies: This blog deals with issues relating to Knoxville, from the beginning I have encouraged discourse on this topic. If you have another opinion let's all hear it, but don't just tell people to stop expressing opinions simply because you don't like them.

Anonymous said...

the pol, I got your back, I voted yes to all charter amendments and 3 and 4!

stan said...

how dare you try to encourage intelligent discussion of issues relating to local government! the nerve. i come to this blog for one thing: mind-numbing gossip...and i thought this blog was voted second best knoxville blog in the meteropulse's readers poll. consider this reader disappointed.

ck said...

i voted yes for all four amendments, pol. i hope that makes up for my other voting that you might not like so much.

Anonymous said...

When the petitions where out for signing I signed it but the petition was misrepresented. There is nothing good about takeing the power out of the peoples hands and putting it in the goverments. If we need to be that worried about not getting the truth from our elected officals than maybe we need to vote some new people in :) I like havin the option to vote for who I think will do the best job. If the jobs are appointed then they will be given out as favors people who vote for this bill are just stupid and the peopel who made this bill need to be exposed we have washington politics going on in our small town. It just really ticks me off that we cannot do anything good for our country , county, city, state without some people turning a good bill into something bad. " Well if you really want this to happen or change then you are just going to have to swallow the smelly sh** that goes along with it" Then you have your people who are not informed and just vote yes on all charter amendments without research. Vote NO and save our right to VOTE. Sometimes you do not know what you are missing till its gone