Ron Woody Requested Ethics Rule Exemption Bill

Submitted by WhitesCreek on January 26, 2013 - 7:41am.

Calfee, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Kingston, said HB15 was introduced at the request of Roane County Mayor Ron Woody.

Ron, I'm a supporter but this is a bad idea. Yager says including all the Counties in his Senate District was an oversight in communication. This just doesn't look good guys.

You wanted Roane County to be the only county in Tennessee where the Planning Commission doesn't have to disclose personal holdings in land it would be rezoning? Every other County seems to be able to cope with this. What's going on here?

Link...

Previously


Private Act?

I really believe in disclose or discharge and casting a much wider net when looking for persons to fill these commissions. Really, no one else wants a seat on the planning commission who is willing to disclose?

If this really is only about removing Roane county from filing requirements it won't be done on this current bill. I am pretty sure that a Public Act can not be done for just one county. Isn't that the purpose of a Private Act? And if so, will the County Commission ask for this then vote to approve it if it clears the state legislature?

and any act of the General Assembly private or local in form or effect applicable to a particular county or municipality either in its governmental or its proprietary capacity shall be void and of no effect unless the act by its terms either requires the approval of a two-thirds vote of the local legislative body of the municipality or county, or requires approval in an election by a majority of those voting in said election in the municipality or county affected.

The way round that...

... is the well-precedented use of very tight county population brackets, as we have already seen discussed. Look, for instance, at the use of this tactic time after time in the history of legislation regarding constables. Never a county named by name. But county after county whose census numbers at the time of legislation could apply only to the desired county or counties.

RB

only as long

Only has long as more than one 'locality' is involved.

onetahiti's picture
How are Planning Commission members chosen?

I have yet to see a published call for volunteers. Who gets on such a commission, anyway? :)

-- OneTahiti

Just Woody?

I just wondered if Woody did this of his own accord, or did he have County Commission support? Planning Commission support?
And I would also like to know how they are chosen, as One Tahiti pointed out.

onetahiti's picture
WC: "Ron, I'm a supporter

WC: "Ron, I'm a supporter but this is a bad idea."

I agree with WhitesCreek. I like Ron Woody, and have been a supporter. I even follow his argument about the difficulty of getting Planning Commission members. However, this doesn't seem like the way to go.

One question: how hard have they really tried to find folks for the Planning Commission? For example, no one ever asked me or my mom if we wanted to do it.

Also, are the meetings disabled-friendly? Is virtual attendance allowed, say by web or conference call? Is asynchronous attendance allowed, with the meeting by message board like this one, so the folks can participate remotely at the time of their choosing? If not, why not?

-- OneTahiti

Hi, One T! I can answer SOME of those questions...

... but I'm sure not all. I'm not what you could call a real expert about this Commission, but I'll share what I THINK I know...

I don't believe they have provisions for virtual attendance, and I doubt the subject has come up. One reason they feel the need for in-person meetings, I'm pretty sure, is that from time to time folks need to come before the Commission with requests, appeals, and the like. And they want the meetings to be face to face. I think there are also meetings between the Commission and the employees in the Zoning Office and such.

I don't know if virtual attendance is specifically disallowed, but I'm pretty confident of the above reasons they feel in person meetings are good.

I imagine voting sometimes requires synchronous meetings, but that some voting could be done by email asynchronously.

I'm not really trying to advocate for or against anything in this reply - simply giving responses I think you might hear if you asked them. And NONE of them have asked me to speak for them. :-) As you could well imagine!

Happy full moon night!

RB

onetahiti's picture
RB

Thanks, RB! :)

Not allowing virtual attendance and asynchronous meeting discriminates against the elderly, against the disabled, even against those with small children and against those who are caregivers.

I do not find the arguments about the supposed advantages of "face-to-face" at all compelling. "Face-to-face" sounds to me more like "business as usual."

Disclosure: I have participated with success in thousands of virtual and asynchronous meetings in both business and education since the early 1980s.

Virtual and asynchronous meetings are meetings of minds, not bodies. Rather than exempt the commission from ethics rules, why not try widening the pool from which members are drawn?

-- OneTahiti

WhitesCreek's picture
Almost all of the Boards I

Almost all of the Boards I sit on currently have recently changed their bylaws to allow digital attendance and voting or are in that process. I say almost because there are some who are not yet comfortable with it. Having done both in person and digital, I do have to say a good bit is lost in the digital translation. It's not quite there yet but I support the transition. Roane County is a long way from "There" yet.

Having said all that, I go back to the point here. When someone says they can't get members of a commission who would disclose their finances, what they are really saying is that someone they want to put on the commission has a conflict they don't want us to know about.

I understand what you're saying, OneT, and don't disagree

And I hope you didn't take my unsolicited injection of words as being argumentative. My intent was more in the lines of simply discussing other aspects of the issue.

I have no doubt about your "disclosure," and I know also that such meetings can work.

I agree with what WC commented about virtual meetings. I sit on a statewide Board of Directors, and I have experienced the need for and utility of virtual meetings as well as electronic discussion of issues and motions, and voting thereon. We have done that for several years, and still opt - when possible - for face to face meetings as in person does provide some benefits not available in virtual meetings such as phone or video conferencing. One CAN indeed get necessary business done in the virtual and/or asynchronous mode.

At least in our organization, we still, after several years of working with it, view the face to face as the optimum mode, with virtual or asynchronous meetings as a way to get needed business done when there are reasons we cannot meet together. I suppose that the preference can be a subjective judgment rather than objective. Our opinion is that getting business done and objectives accomplished is more important than all the effort needed to get together people who have to meet from as far as Memphis to Bristol. But when we are able to get together, we prefer it, even from distances as wide as this state is. For us "face to face" meetings are not merely about "business as usual" in the sense of "good ole boys/gals", etc. We honestly see advantages in it - at least for us. We could not presume to speak for all organizations.

All that said, I can find nothing wrong with the virtual or asynchronous meetings per se. I think WC has a point when he says Roane County is "not there yet." I think Ron Woody is a relatively progressive sort of guy (not using that word in the political sense), but I'm not sure he is the one in control of that issue. Truth be told, I don't know who would ultimately control that issue.

And I certainly could find no reason to object to having as broad a base as possible for a pool of candidates for the Planning Commission (that's a misleading name - shouldn't it be Zoning Commission?). Someone of your integrity and ability would be an asset.

I always enjoy it when you feel like interacting here, OneT, as I always learn something.

RB

Hurley

I know this site was not a fan of Hurley, but I wonder if she would have agreed to introduce this bill? One of the big complaints about her was she didn't do the bidding of various commissions, and Yager was certainly hands off where she was concerned. Perhaps Mr. Calfee is more co-operative...and that can often not be a good thing.

Chelsea

I would never have allowed one of my allotted 15 bills to be used on taking away transparency in any government, local or otherwise.

Every bill that is filed is thousands in taxpayers dollars that could be used for filing bills that do matter and do make a real difference.

I see now, that previous statements by Mr. Calfee to do whatever is in his power to represent the Commission stands true. We shall see what the rest of this years legislation brings.

I do hope that each of you take a serious stand against this kind of government. I made many personal mistakes that I can only hope you will forgive over time, but I carried and wrote legislation that I knew would help the people of our district.

Julia

It's good to see you on here

It's good to see you on here taking part in the discussion! It's a shame you didn't see fit to do discuss anything with us when you were supposed to be representing us.

Now, to me it looks like you are here as a sore loser trying to put down the person who beat you in the election. You had your chance and you blew it big time. It don't think your will find much sympathy here.

WhitesCreek's picture
Now, CC

That didn't add much to the conversation. Keep it to yourself. Let's find the good in folks and work on changing minds so that we all work for the common and greater good.

I will keep my opinions an

I will keep my opinions and comments to myself. At the rate you are going it's not going to be long before you will be the only one making comments on here.

WhitesCreek's picture
CC

Just don't get personal. It's fine and encouraged to go after ideas with fact based reasoned opinion but not people themselves. Think about the difference. Sorry if I was a bit short in my first comment. I'm chasing the first rain leak in our house in over ten years. I'm not saying the weather is bad, but woman just flew by on a bicycle.

WhitesCreek's picture
Ms Hurley appears to be

Ms Hurley appears to be against the bill on one of her facebook pages. Finally we have an area of agreement, she and I.

Steve

It seems we do agree my friend. I hope it is not the last time we can find common ground.

Julia

Withdrawn, wonder what is up?

Don't know if he will reintroduce a similar one, but as of today Calfee has withdrawn HB15
Link...

Yager SB27

Sen. Yager has withdrawn his bill to exempt the planning commissions. We will have to be watchful and make sure it doesn't resurface as an amendment on another bill.
Link...

There's no way to know for sure, Chelsea...

... but their withdrawals could have been in response to knowing of objections to it such as those voiced here. Ya never know. I certainly don't have any insider information on that, to be sure. At least right now, it seems as if they've thought about it and decided it's best not to go that direction. Time will tell.

I just really can't see a Planning Commission (I still hate that name - it's a Zoning Commission) having people on it who are somehow afraid to file disclosure about their property interests. I don't thing we necessarily need to know everything about their personal finances, but for that kind of body, we should know about potential conflicts of interest.

RB

Based on what I see in RCN, Ron Woody requested...

... that the legislation be withdrawn.

He cited that it didn't make sense to add more people to lists of those already not complying with disclosure requirements. He also noted that he wanted ethics legislation for such people that would reveal conflicts that were germane to the body being served upon, rather than revealing everything about their financial lives. For example, he said for Planning Commission people he felt they should disclose their real estate holdings locally, but he couldn't care less about whether or not they held GM stock or had a house in Maui, as those facts were not germane to the issues of conflicts regarding what the Planning Commission rules on.

I've had my strong differences with County Executive Woody, but this makes good sense to me.

RB

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