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					          Vol. 71                                                                                    JANUARY 2008                                                                                           No. 7



    Winter Convention coming soon                                                                                                                                                          DETAILS
                                                                                                                                                                                      WINTER CONVENTION
                                                                                                                                                                                    Who: TPA members, newspaper staffs
       BY ROBYN GENTILE                                                                                                                                                             When: Wednesday through Friday,
      Member services manager                                                                                                                                                                 Feb. 13-15
  Take your pen and                                                                                                                                                                 Where: Sheraton Nashville Downtown
mark your calen-
dar for Feb. 13-15.                                                                                                                                                                 How much: $139 plus tax per night
Plan now to be in
Nashville for the                                                                                                                                                                   Deadline: End of day, Friday,
2008 UT-TPA Press                                                                                                                                                                                     Jan. 18
Institute and Winter
Convention.
  Go ahead and
make your reser-          Overton
vation with the
Sheraton Nashville
Downtown Hotel
while it’s on your
mind. Call 1-800-
447-9825 or (615) 259-
2000. The deadline
                                                                                                                                                                                       Yeomans                  Goetz
is just around the
c o r n e r — F r i d ay,  Sherrer
Jan. 18.
  Here is what you
will receive from the
convention:
  •The opportunity
to meet and recruit
some of the best and
brightest journal-                                                                                                                                                                      Morgan                 Sasser
ism students in the
state                     Bredesen
  •A morning with
newsmakers
  •Face time with
legislators as one
body representing
the newspaper in-
                                                                                                                                                 CYNTHIA TANKSLEY | NASHVILLE CVB
dustry                                   The Legislative Plaza in Nashville at night
  •Networking with                                                                                                                                                                      Ramsey                  Smith
colleagues and that                      for you to be a part of another ‘first’ for       and this association know it is vital to     “In addition,” Sherrer said, “Kevin
one tip that could        Flanagan       our press association. Our committees            our industry to attract bright, savvy,     Slimp’s technology classes will be             portunity by just attending the Winter
pay for your conven-                     have really gone beyond what could               young, computer-skilled, energetic         based on advanced InDesign skills for          Convention.”
tion registration as                     ever have been expected when plan-               minds that believe the public has a        Mac and PC computers. People from                Also urging TPAers to make the
soon as it is implemented.               ning the Winter Convention and Press             right to know how your government is       states all across the U.S. traveled many       convention a priority is Tom Overton,
  TPA President Pauline D. Sherrer,      Institute. You must be there for the job         using their tax dollars and how schools    miles to be in one of Kevin’s technology       publisher of the Monroe County
publisher of the Crossville Chronicle,   fair to converse with the many college           are planning to educate and keep our       classes at the Institute for Newspaper
urged members to participate. “We need   students who will be participating. You          children safe while in their custody,      Technology. Your people have this op-               SEE CONVENTION, PAGE 4



  Some suggested changes to ‘sunshine law’ fit for circular file
  When I started out as a young                     the same treatment.                                         would do. The consensus when the TCOG and TPA              There’s more at stake here. The public’s right
reporter years ago, a city edi-                       Sen. Joe Haynes pushed successfully for some              boards met in November was that we lose more             under representative government to know what
tor told me one of my stories                       changes that would improve the “sunshine” law,              than we and the public stand to gain.                    its elected officials are doing with their money
was so bad he would have                            and Sen. Randy McNally and Rep. Steve McDaniel                “We didn’t sign on to weaken the ‘sunshine law,’”      should not be subject to compromise. There’s
to rewrite it before he could                       supported changes that would make the public                Tom Griscom, TPA’s vice president for dailies, said.     certainly more at stake than in the fight among
throw it away.                                      records law better, but in the end, McNally was the         Griscom is executive editor and publisher of the         AT&T, the Tennessee Municipal League (TML)
  With all due respect to legis-                    only legislator who voted to do no more harm to the         Chattanooga Times Free Press.                            and the Tennessee County Services Association
lative members of the special                       “sunshine” law. The report goes to the legislature            Even though we didn’t ask for the study commit-        (TCSA) over cable franchising.
“study” committee on open                           when it reconvenes Jan. 8.                                  tee, some lawmakers will view the committee’s              As improvements, the panel recommended
government, some of the          Gibson               The bottom line is whether the possibility of             recommendations as political compromise. Local           discretionary legal fees for citizens who prevail in
proposed changes to the “sunshine” law that         modest improvements to the open meetings law                government got what it wanted and the press got
emerged at its final meeting on Nov. 28 deserve      are worth the damage other recommendations                  something, too.                                                        SEE GIBSON, PAGE 5


               SHERRER                       2    20 UNDER 40                         7    HINES                          8    NEW AD FEATURES                 9                                     Phone: (865) 584-5761
 INSIDE        PUBLIC NOTICE SITE            3    SERIAL STORIES                      7    NIE - BALDWIN                  8    SLIMP                          11          IN CONTACT                   Fax: (865) 558-8687
                                                                                                                                                                                                    Online: www.tnpress.com
2                                                                                                               The Tennessee Press                                                                                                            JANUARY 2008




                                                                                                                               Every day brings challenges
                                (USPS 616-460)
                           Published monthly by the                                                               Did you make a good, ole fashion hand-written                            important than attending that meeting where it
                      TENNESSEE PRESS SERVICE, INC.                                                             list of things you wanted to accomplish in the new                         really didn’t matter if you were there.
                                     for the                                                                    year of 2007? Of course not. No one writes with pen                          We have a new family member, Publisher Gizmo
                    TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION, INC.                                                           in hand these days. It is much faster and the words                        Nobelgold Midnite Run. At times, he occupies
                              435 Montbrook Lane                                                                are spelled almost correctly when your thoughts                            space in the publisher’s office and get hugs and
                          Knoxville, Tennessee 37919                                                            are typed on your computer screen.                                         treats from the newspaper staff. Gizmo, a small
         Telephone (865) 584-5761/Fax (865) 558-8687/www.tnpress.com                                              So get out your computer-produced list to see all                        14-week-old black Havanese, sits, stays, turns
                                                                                                                the great things you were going to accomplish in                           around, dances, lies down on command, and also,
                                Subscriptions: $6 annually                                                      2007. Can’t find your print out? OK, you did not print                      “Hurry,” on command. The word hurry is used
                         Periodicals Postage Paid At Knoxville,TN                                               it out; just saved it somewhere on your computer. YOUR                     outside and is so important that this act occurs
                                                                                                                Chances are you will find it within the hour.                               outside. As we have late-night press runs at the
         POSTMASTER: Send address changes to The Tennessee Press,                                                 Look and see what is left on your 2007 list of         PRESIDING Chronicle office, so do we have a late-night run
                435 Montbrook Lane, Knoxville,TN 37919.                                                         things you wanted to accomplish. You see there
                                                                                                                are several items not completed and a couple not
                                                                                                                                                                         REPORTER at my home. Husband John is in charge of these
                                                                                                                                                                                           midnight runs at home.
    The Tennessee Press is printed by The Standard Banner, Jefferson City.                                      even started.                                                                I wish I had read those two dog books before I
                                                                                                                  Oh, you accomplished different things than Pauline D. Sherrer had children. I think I would have been a better
                Greg M. Sherrill.....................................................Editor                     what was on your list? You realized some things                            mother during the raising of my children. Now,
                Elenora E. Edwards.............................Managing Editor                                  on your list were not really that important after all. The grandchildren are different. These precious little ones only
                Robyn Gentile..........................Production Coordinator                                   choices you made in 2007 brought a sense of security to you get what they want when they want it.
                Angelique Dunn...............................................Assistant                          and your family, yet you did not accomplish what you had          I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas, sharing the
                                                                                                                hoped. Looking at your list, do you feel somewhat a failure love of God with your family and friends.
                                                                                                                by not being able to check off most of those things that you      2008 holds many opportunities and challenges for our indus-
                                                                                                                listed as real important a year ago? I would say the answer try. As a united team, TPA’s voice will continue to be strong
                                                                                                                to that would be, “No.” Your accomplishments range over as we fight for issues affecting the public’s right to know.
                                     Member
                                                                                                                many different avenues of service to your employees and           Mark on your calendar that you will be out of the office
            20                       07                                            The Tennessee Press
                                                                               is printed on recycled paper
                                                                                                                your community. You worked on many different projects Feb. 13-15 attending the TPA Winter Convention and Press
          Tennessee Press Association                                                and is recyclable.         that were not even a possibility in your mind 12 months ago. Institute. This convention will have another first for our
                                                                                                                And, looking at your list, you might even be saying, “Why association, a job fair for college students. It will give publish-
                                                                                                                would I put that on my list?”                                   ers, editors and staff members the opportunity to interact
                                                                                                                  Every day brings forth new challenges and more oppor- with young journalists and share some of your exciting

        www.tnpress.com
                                   The Tennessee Press can be read on
                                                                                                                tunities than could ever have been imagined. In today’s newspaper stories.
                                                                                                                business world, we have to be willing to accept the fact that     Your association needs help with the judging of the Ne-
                                                                                                                our daily lives will consist of constant change; changes that braska contest on Friday (Feb. 15). Please put an X on your
              OFFICIAL WEB SITE OF THE TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION                                              are brought forth by factors over which we have no control. convention registration denoting that you will be able to
                                                                                                                Many newspapers are owned by large corporations and must help on Friday with the judging of the Nebraska contest,
                                                                                                                function within strict guidelines, and the corporate initatives or give Robyn Gentile a call today at (865) 584-5761. Through
                         TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION                                                            that are added monthly, or sometimes weekly, to your own your involvement in the process, you will garner great ideas
    Pauline D. Sherrer, Crossville Chronicle.......................................... President                already planned advertising promotional calendar create that can possibly make you become a winner of many TPA
    Tom Griscom, Chattanooga Times Free Press............................Vice President                         changing lines of travel by the sales staff many different contest awards.
    Victor Parkins, The Milan Mirror-Exchange.................................Vice President                    times during each month. Accepting changes in a positive          See you in February!
    Bill Williams, The Paris Post-Intelligencer...........................................Treasurer             attitude has built a resilient, progressive sales staff.          Smile, because those of you reading this made it through
    Greg M. Sherrill, Knoxville....................................................Executive Director             Has your family life also experienced changes in 2007? 2007 and have begun making 2008 a better year both person-
                                                                                                                Has your family added a new baby or grandbaby? All those ally and professionally.
                                        DIRECTORS                                                               things on your list that included many more hours away
    Art Powers, Johnson City Press...........................................................District 1         from home or out of town somehow just weren’t important, PAULINE D. SHERRER is publisher of the Crossville
    Kevin Burcham, News-Herald, Lenoir City...........................................District 2                and you chose to accomplish something far more important. Chronicle.
    Tom Overton III, Advocate and Democrat, Sweetwater......................District 3                          Bonding with that precious new life somehow became more
    Linn Hudson, LaFollette Press..............................................................District 4
    Hugh Jones, Shelbyville Times-Gazette...............................................District 5
    Ellen Leifeld, The Tennessean, Nashville..............................................District 6
    John Finney, Buffalo River Review, Linden.........................................District 7
    Brad Franklin, The Lexington Progress.................................................District 8
                                                                                                                  Tennessee Press contains lawsuit section, contests insert
    Joel Washburn, Dresden Enterprise.....................................................District 9              This issue of The Tennessee Press               find the eight-page section immediately             tions and registration is Jan. 18.
    Eric Barnes, The Daily News, Memphis..............................................District 10               contains a special section and an                 after this page, and one can pull it out             In general TPA business, watch for the
    Steve Lake, Pulaski Citizen......................................................................At large   insert. The special section is a study of         for reading.                                       usual first of the year mailing of press
                                                                                                                the Knoxville News Sentinel’s lawsuit               The insert is the annual State Press             cards, auto decals, calendars and the
                                TENNESSEE PRESS SERVICE                                                         against the Knox County Commission                Contests folder containing details such            2008 Tennessee Newspaper Directory.
    Dale C. Gentry, The Standard Banner, Jefferson City.........................President                       to nullify its actions Jan. 31 in violation       as categories, how to enter and the
    Pauline D. Sherrer, Crossville Chronicle......................................Vice President                of the Open Meetings Act, or “sunshine            deadline—Feb. 8.
    W. R. (Ron) Fryar, American Hometown Publishing, Franklin.............Director                              law.” It includes the decision, based on            In the main section, be sure to keep
    Bob Parkins, The Milan Mirror-Exchange...............................................Director               a jury verdict, by Chancellor Daryl R.            handy the program of the Winter Con-
    Mike Pirtle, Murfreesboro.......................................................................Director    Fansler.                                          vention coming up Feb. 13 through 15
    Michael Williams, The Paris Post-Intelligencer......................................Director                  Because of the printing format, you’ll          in Nashville. The deadline for reserva-
    Greg M. Sherrill............................................................Executive Vice President


                                                                                                                                                              Tennessee Press                                                    In memory of
                 TENNESSEE PRESS ASSOCIATION FOUNDATION
    W.R. (Ron) Fryar, American Hometown Publishing, Franklin............President                                                                           Service handled this                                          Robert L. (Bob) Childress
    Gregg K. Jones, The Greeneville Sun..........................................Vice President
    Richard L. Hollow, Knoxville....................................................General Counsel                                                         much advertising for                                            Former publisher of
    Greg M. Sherrill....................................................................Secretary-Treasurer                                               TPA member newspapers:                                       The Mountain Press, Sevierville,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      by

                        CONTACT THE MANAGING EDITOR                                                                                                                                                                   R. Jack Fishman, Morristown
    TPAers with suggestions, questions or comments about items inTheTennessee                                                                          November 2007: $590,911
    Press are welcome to contact the managing editor. Call Elenora E. Edwards,                                                                                                                                        Jeffrey Fishman, Tullahoma
    (865) 457-5459; send a note to P.O. Box 502, Clinton, TN 37717-0502; or e-mail
                                                                                                                                                  Year* as of Nov. 30: $6,593,286                                     and R. Michael Fishman,
    ElenoraEdwards@Comcast.net. The February issue deadline is Jan. 11.                                                                                                                                                Morristown
                                                                                                                                       *The Tennessee Press Service, Inc., fiscal year runs Dec. 1 through Nov. 30.
JANUARY 2008                                                                                The Tennessee Press                                                                                                    3


   Thousands of ‘legals’ on TPA’s public notice site                                                                                                                                  FORESIGHT
                                                                                                                                                                                                  2008
                                                                                                                                                                                                 JANUARY
          BY HOLLY CRAFT                                                                                                                   There is no cost to upload notices to      1: TPA offices closed for
   Public notice Web site coordinator                                                                                                    the site. The only thing that needs to         new year holiday
                                                                                                                                         be spared is the few moments it takes        18: Deadline for registering for
  Tennessee Press                                                                                                                        to post the notices. Tennessee already         the Press Institute and Winter
Association is into                                                                                                                      ranks 12th out of the 19 states repre-         Convention
its fourth month of                                                                                                                      sented, with more than 2,500 notices in                FEBRUARY
signing up news-                                                                                                                         its database. In a two-month span from       1: Ideas Contest deadline
papers across the                                                                                                                        October to December, TPA’s participat-       8: State Press Contests dead-
state to participate                                                                                                                     ing member newspapers were also able           line
in the posting of                                                                                                                        to upload the fifth most notices with         9-13: Southern Classified Ad-
public notices on                                                                                                                        1,099. This is already a significant suc-       vertising Managers Associa-
tnpublicnotice.com.                                                                                                                      cess and it shows that our newspapers          tion, Dallas, Texas
The site was de-                Craft                                                                                                    are willing to help our cause.
veloped to create a                                                                                                                        We are working hard to gain 100
central repository for all public notice                                                                                                 percent participation from our member
advertising in order to maximize public                                                                                                  newspapers. Georgia recently accom-          13-15: TPA Winter Conven-
access. TPA and its member newspapers                                                                                                    plished this feat after four years of          tion, Sheraton Downtown
are providing this service without ad-                                                                                                   diligent work.                                 Hotel, Nashville
ditional cost to advertisers or the State                                                                                                  “We have been very pleased with            15: TPA judges the Nebraska
of Tennessee.                                                                                                                            member newspapers’ willingness to              Press Association Better
  Several press associations from                                                                                                        help us get this site up and running           Newspapers Contest
other states have already developed                                                                                                      in near-record time,” said Sherrill.                     MARCH
centralized online public notice sites.                                                                                                  “Thanks to the Tennessee Press Service       5-7: NNA Government Affairs
Tennessee has put forth a valiant ef-                                                                                                    Board allocating resources to make this        Conference, Westin Washing-
fort to catch up to those states, already                                                                                                project happen, quick work by Kevin            ton Hotel City Center, Wash-
uploading thousands of notices. There                                                                                                    Slimp in getting the technology in place,      ington, D.C.
are many advantages to having a central                                                                                                  and continued efforts by Holly Craft to      10-12: Newspaper in Education
repository for public notices. As an                                                                                                     encourage newspaper participation,             Week
association, we can provide one more                                                                                                     we hope to be posting the majority of        16-22: Sunshine Week
avenue of public information via our                                                                                                     Tennessee public notice advertising on       TBA: National Freedom of
member newspapers. We can also allow                                                                                                     www.tnpublicnotice.com within just a           Information Conference
access to those who may prefer to use                                                                                                    few months. That clearly shows that                       APRIL
the Internet to search for notices. By                                                                                                   our members embrace this effort and          10-11: TPA Ad/Circ Conference,
developing a site that represents the                                                                                                    understand its importance.”                    Gatlinburg
newspapers of Tennessee, TPA hopes to                                                                                                      Sherrill added, “We ask for all member     10-12: American Copy Editors
prevent the departure of notices from                                                                                                    newspapers to assist us in this project to     Society 12th National Con-
newspapers.                                                                                                                              help provide public notices where the          ference, Denver, Colo.
  “TPA, in conjunction with the news-                                                                                                    public notices—in newspapers!”               12-16: 2008 Capital Conference
papers across the state, believe that                                                                                                      The following newspapers currently           (NEXPO, Newspaper As-
printed public notices are the best                                                                                                      have usernames and passwords to                sociation of America Annual
vehicle for delivering access and ac-                                                                                                    participate. If you do not see your            Convention and American
curacy,” said TPA Executive Director                                                                                                     newspaper on the list, please contact          Society of Newspaper Edi-
Greg Sherrill.                                                                                                                           Holly Craft at (865) 584-5761 ext.119 or       tors Convention), Washing-
  “Notices that appear in print news-            TPA and TPS are concerned that             lication has worked at its own pace to       pubnotice@tnpress.com to get your              ton, D.C.
papers are an independent record of            recent attempts by private groups and        learn the simple steps to uploading          login information to start participat-                     MAY
important government action. They              state legislatures to remove public          their notices. The Standard Banner in        ing.                                         20-23: Southern Circulation
cannot be changed or altered, and by the       notices from print and provide them          Jefferson City was the first officially          Ashland City Times, Bledsonian-              Managers Association Con-
very nature of newspapers are archived         only on private or state-run Web sites       on board, volunteering to upload the         Banner, Bristol Herald Courier, Buf-           ference, Baton Rouge, La.
indefinitely. We are now happy to ex-           will be detrimental to the notice process.   notices.                                     falo River Review, Camden Chronicle,                      JUNE
pand that access to another segment of         Among the reasons that we believe pub-         Kim Cook of the Standard Banner said       Carthage Courier, Chester County             TBA: 10th Great Obituary Writ-
the population who may wish to search          lic notices should remain in print:          she was able to do the whole process is      Independent, Citizen Tribune, Cleve-           ers’ International Conference
for public notices on the Internet.”                 •Print is the most efficient archival   less than five minutes.                       land Daily Banner, Courier News, The         19-21: TPA 139th Anniversary
  In the near future there may be bills            source.                                    Lee Belamy from the Kingsport              Leader, Crossville Chronicle, Daily            Summer Convention, Carn-
that come before the legislature request-            •Web site content may be stored        Times-News also expressed the ease           Herald, Memphis Daily News, Daily              egie Hotel, Johnson City
ing to broaden access to public notices.           and archived on media which may          with which he has been able to post          News Journal, Daily Times, Dresden           25-28: Association of American
But, that may in turn create less access           be unreadable by more modern             notices on a daily basis.                    Enterprise, Dunlap Tribune, Elk Val-           Editorial Cartoonists Annual
in the future. Newspaper print is still            equipment in as little as 10 years.        “The entire process start to finish         ley Times, Erwin Record, Expositor,            Convention, The Contessa,
the best form of media in which to                 A hard copy newspaper archive will       is maybe 10 minutes,” said Belamy.           Gazette, Giles Free Press, Greeneville         San Antonio, Texas
place notices. It is still the best archival       be around for generations.               “Depending on the number of notices,         Sun, Harriman Record, Herald-Citizen,                      JULY
source and most readily available to the             •Online sources riskbeing deleted      it could be five minutes.”                    Humbolt Chronicle, Johnson City              18: (Tentative) TPA Drive-In
majority of citizens.                              with one touch of a button and they        All member newspapers are strongly         Press, Kingsport Times-News, LaFol-           Training and State Press Con-
   Placing public notices only on the              are subject to routine service inter-    encouraged to assist in the association's    lette Press, Lebanon Democrat, Lewis           tests and AP awards event,
Internet can be a disadvantage to many             ruptions.                                effort. The site is compiled solely of no-   County Herald, Manchester Times,               Nashville
people. This could include the elderly,              •Newspapers do not miss issues,        tices printed in Tennessee newspapers.       McKenzie Banner, Millington Star,            22-24: SNPA Traveling Cam-
minorities, the poor and rural citizens,           but there is a possibility that Web      Each notice is accompanied by the name       Monroe County Advocate & Democrat,             pus, Memphis
all of whom have the right to be publicly          sites could be down, preventing          of the publication that printed it, along    Morgan County News, Mountain View,                     SEPTEMBER
informed but may not have the means to             citizens from accessing the informa-     with the date of publication.                Newport Plain Talk, News-Democrat,           9-11: SNPA Traveling Campus,
reliable Internet access. TPA wants to             tion they need.                            TPA, along with 18 other state press       News-Herald, Overton County News,              Chattanooga
make sure the public is informed now                 •A significant amount of Ameri-         associations, has decided to work            Paris Post-Intelligencer, Pickett County     12-13: (Tentative) TPA Adver
and in the future as well.                         cans do not have Internet access.        with publicnoticeads.com to create           Press, Polk County News, Portland              tising/Circulation Managers’
  The public has a right to view all                 •Newspapers are the only printed       its Web site. These states are Arizona,      Progressive, Pulaski Citizen, Roane            Retreat
notices, whether they are meeting an-              publications that appear frequently      Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky,       County News, Robertson County Times,         14-16: SNPA Workshop for
nouncements, foreclosures, bids, etc.              enough and are distributed widely        Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts,             Rockwood Times, Smithville Review,             Smaller Newspapers,
Notices have always been posted where              enough to reach the general pub-         Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New          Standard Banner, States-Graphic,               Crowne Plaza Hotel, Knox-
the majority of the public would be                lic.                                     Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon,         Tomahawk, Union City Daily Mes-                ville
able to see them. Originally posted in           TPA’s notice Web site officially went       Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.          senger, Westmoreland Observer, Your          25-28: NNA 122nd Annual Con-
town squares, notices eventually were          online in September and currently            Many other states use other services         Community Shopper.                             vention & Trade Show,
printed in newspapers.                         has 57 papers participating. Each pub-       as well.                                                                                    St. Paul, Minn.
 4                                                                                                             The Tennessee Press                                                                                                        JANUARY 2008




  To connect with youth, TPAers CONVENTION                                                                                                                        this year’s opening reception...,” TPA
                                                                                                                                                                  Executive Director Greg Sherrill said.
                                                                                                                                                                  “The reception is the great way for
                                                                                                                                                                                                              interns and employees for their news-
                                                                                                                                                                                                              papers.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                Kent Flanagan, MTSU distinguished
 can use any of three free stories                                                                             FROM PAGE ONE                                      members to network with their elected
                                                                                                                                                                  officials to discuss topics central to our
                                                                                                                                                                                                              journalist in residence and executive
                                                                                                                                                                                                              director of the Tennessee Intercol-
                                                                                                               Advocate & Democrat, Sweetwater,                   industry, such as protecting the public’s   legiate Press Association (TNIPA), is
  Serial stories can help                                                                                      Winter Convention chairman for the                 right to open records and meetings.”        working to bring students to be a part of
newspapers connect                                                                                             second consecutive year. He said,                  Thursday morning                            TPA’s convention activities. Flanagan
with young readers.                                                                                            “It’s important for our business. It’s               The Public Notice Committee will          will coordinate the job fair and panel
Studies show that young                                                                                        important for our communities. Our                 meet.                                       discussion. Students will be invited to
newspaper readers con-                                                                                         strength as an organization comes from               Following the format of last year’s       attend the Legislative Planning Session
tinue to read newspa-                                                                                          the collective experiences we share in             successful Legislative Planning Ses-        and also to the reception prior to the
pers as adults and are             Reading Across the Nation                                                   our profession. It is our responsibility           sion, the Associated Press and TPA are      Governor’s Banquet. The TNIPA will
more civically engaged.            Join young people inside their newspapers                                   to be a part of the process, to remind             sponsoring another half-day event.          hold separate events on the 15th to
Currently, three serial                  Newspapers across America are coming together this school
                                         year to offer young readers the opportunity to improve their
                                                                                                               our elected officials that we will                   “The Legislative Planning Session is a    conduct business of the newly formed
stories are available                    reading skills, learn about history and connect to the
                                         communities where they live through a national reading
                                                                                                               remain vigilant in our defense of the              must-attend event for editors, reporters    association and to offer training to its
to TPA member news-                      campaign sponsored by the National Newspaper
                                         Association.                                                          public’s right to know. It is a reunion            and publishers,” said Adam Yeomans,         members.
papers free of charge.                   Your newspaper will publish “A Familiar Face,” an
                                         eight-chapter serialized story, which will introduce young
                                                                                                               with friends old and new. A chance to              AP’s bureau chief for Tennessee and           Don’t miss InDesign training with
These can be used on                     readers to Harry S. Truman, the 33rd president of the
                                         United States.
                                                                                                               network with our peers.                            Kentucky, based in Nashville. “It’s a       Kevin Slimp.
their own or to comple-                  A homework assignment leads Scotty Brown to discover
                                                                                                                 “We find ways to do our jobs better               great opportunity to meet with top            TPA’s Nominating Committee will
ment a Newspaper in                      “A Familiar Face” in the pages of history and to learn
                                         about the role a boy from Missouri had as an adult                    and become more profitable. You really              newsmakers and quiz them about their        meet.
                                         in international decisions of humanitarian aid, war and
Education program.                       racial equality. Scotty takes from the lesson a new
                                         appreciation for the top job in America and the
                                                                                                               can’t afford to miss it.”                          priorities for the upcoming General         Thursday evening
  The available stories                  realization that even he could someday be president
                                         of the United States.
                                                                                                                 Here is the breakdown of the con-                Assembly.”                                    Tradition follows, with the reception,
are as follows:                          Written by Kay Hively                                                 vention:                                             Yeomans is coordinating the ses-          banquet, address by Gov. Bredesen and
  •“A Familiar Face,”
                                         Produced by the Missouri Press Foundation
                                         Offered through the National Newspaper Association                    Wednesday morning                                  sion, to which the following have been      dessert reception.
an eight-chapter story             Read “A Familiar Face” beginning soon only in your newspaper.                 The Tennessee Coalition for Open                 invited:                                    Friday early morning
by Kay Hively, offered                                                                                         Government, an organization associ-                  Gov. Phil Bredesen                          The TPA Foundation Board of Trust-
by the Missouri Press                                                                                          ated with TPA, will meet.                            Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist               ees will meet.
Foundation and the                                                                                             Wednesday afternoon                                  Former U.S. Sen. Howard Baker Jr.           Then, judging of the Nebraska Press
National Newspaper                                                                                               The Freedom of Information and                     Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey                       Association newspaper contest will
Association.                                                                                                   Government Relations committees                      Comptroller John Morgan                   take place. All TPA members partici-
  In the story, Scotty Brown is assigned a                                                                     will meet jointly, followed by the TPA               Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz           pating in the State Press Contests are
research paper and learns the role Presi-                                                                      Board of Directors Meeting and the TPA               Democratic Party Chairman Gray            asked to send a representative to serve
dent Harry S. Truman in international                      ‘Some students are having their                     Business Session. The TPA leadership               Sasser                                      as a judge. One does not need to be
decisions of humanitarian aid, war and parents buy the paper because they                                      encourages all members to attend these               Republican Party Chairman Robin           registered for the convention to serve
racial equality. Scotty takes from the can’t wait until Monday to see what                                     meetings.                                          Smith                                       as a judge.
lesson a new appreciation for the top happens. Thanks for your support in                                      Wednesday evening                                    Other state leaders also are ex-            TPA’s group rate at the Sheraton is
job in America and the realization that my classroom.’                                                           Opening Reception—The reception is               pected.                                     $139 plus tax per night.
even he could someday be president of                                                                          attended by a majority of the members              Thursday afternoon                            Jan. 18 is also the early registration
the United States.                                                                               Ruthie Hunt   of the Tennessee General Assembly.                   Transitioning from newsmakers             deadline with TPA. Contact TPA for
  The story includes activities and a                                                                          “TPA looks forward to welcoming                    to new journalists, members will            registration information or visit www.
teacher’s guide.                                                                                               all newspaper members, associate                   meet with students from journalism          tnpress.com for the forms.
  The deadline to request the story is                     Targeted grade level: third through                 members and the state legislature to               programs around the state to recruit
March 1 and all eight chapters must seventh grades
be published no later than eight weeks                     Deadline: The story must be pub-
after March 1.                                          lished in the 2007-08 school year.                          Maskless raccoon story on NewsSwap                                                          Training on demand
  One can find more details at www.nna.                     Find details at www.tnpress.
org or by contacting Sara Dickson (573) com/libertypole.html or by contact-                                      A raccoon makes                                  The Giles Free Press, Pulaski. They are
                                                                                                                                                                                                                in 10 minutes or less
882-5800 or saradickson@nna.org.                        ing Robyn Gentile (865) 584-5761 or                    a nuisance of itself.                              available for download by TPA member
  •“The Liberty Pole” is a 16-chapter se- rgentile@tnpress.com.                                                What is so unusual                                 newspapers in the NewsSwap section of         Need some training in InDesign,
rial story offered by the Tennessee Press                  •“Robyn Reports: The Nutty Neighbor-                about, that you                                    www.tnpress.com.                            PhotoShop, or Quark or help with OSX
Association and sponsored by the Ten- hood Block Party” is a 10-chapter story                                  ask? This raccoon,                                   Share your stories about odd occur-       or PDF files? Training videos created by
nessee Press Association Foundation.                    sponsored by the Newspaper Associa-                    caught by a local                                  rences with other TPA member newspa-        Kevin Slimp, TPS technology director,
  This story teaches history while it tion of America Foundation.                                              woman in Giles                                     pers. Need the user name and password?      are available to TPA members on the
entertains readers. It is based on a                       The story revolves around a girl                    County, doesn’t have a mask. This                  Call TPA at (865) 584-5761.                 TPA Web site at www.tnpress.com/
true event that took place in Holmes named Robyn, the force behind a weekly                                    story and photo were submitted by                                                              training.html. Videos last 10 minutes or
Hole (present-day Tisbury), Martha’s neighborhood newspaper. She and her                                                                                                                                      less. More than 35 videos are currently
Vineyard, Mass., at the beginning of intrepid reporters set out to cover the                                                                                                                                  available. Contact TPA for user name
the Revolutionary War (around 1776). neighborhood block party so they can                                         Tennessee Press Association - University of Tennessee                                       and password information.
Tisbury was neutral in the early years write about it for that week’s edition.
of the war, so the women of the town The story takes place in one day, with                                      2008 Press Institute & Winter Convention
staged their own “tea party” and other each chapter focusing on an event at the
acts of defiance as time went on. Little block party and a related mystery. Each                                 Wednesday, February 13                            1:00 p.m. InDesign Computer Lab
                                                                                                                                                                                                               Board approves Legal
is known about the Liberty Pole event chapter ends with a cliffhanger leading
except that three young girls blew it up to the next mystery. The last chapter                                  10:00 a.m.TCOG
                                                                                                                                                                  2:30 p.m.Panel discussion: The future of       Hotline funding
rather than see it commandeered by a is “The Robyn Report,” which reveals                                                                                                    newspaper journalism
                                                                                                                1:00 p.m.FOI/Gov. Relations committees
British Man-of-War.                                     how Robyn and her friends covered the                                                                     3:30 p.m.Job Fair                             TPA’s Board of Directors approved
  The story was written by Jackie events of the day.                                                            2:30 p.m.TPA Board of Directors meeting*                                                      Legal Hotline funding for 2008 at its Nov.
                                                                                                                                                                  4:00 p.m.TPA Nominating Committee
French Koller and illustrated by Josh                      Written by Stacy Tornio, the story was                          TPA Business Session*                                                              17 meeting in Knoxville. This marks the
Mills. Materials includes artwork for illustrated by Roel Wielinga. Artwork                                                (*meetings flow in succession)         6:00 p.m.Reception                          fourth year that blanket coverage has
each chapter and a teacher’s guide.                     and a teacher’s guide are included.                     5:30 p.m. Opening Reception                       7:00 p.m.Governor’s Banquet                 been provided for all members. Initially
  A Tellico Plains Elementary School                       Targeted grade level: kindergarten                                                                     9:00 p.m.Dessert Reception                  the service was subscription based.
teacher using “Liberty Pole” from the through sixth                                                             Thursday, February 14                                                                           Richard L. (Rick) Hollow, TPA’s
Monroe County Advocate & Democrat,                         Deadline: The story does not cur-                                                                                                                  general counsel, provides the hotline
Sweetwater, wrote the editor, Mia rently have a restriction on when it                                          8:00 a.m. Public Notice Committee                 Friday, February 15                         service. It is designed to provide answers
Rhodarmer:                                              can be published.                                       9:00 a.m. Legislative Planning Session            8:00 a.m.TPA Foundation Board of            to general questions such as, Is this story
  “Thanks so much. My students love                        Details: Find details at www.naafoun-                11:30 a.m.Technology Committee                                 Trustees meeting               libelous? Is a local public official correct
this story. Some students are having dation.org or by contacting Jim Abbott                                                                                                                                   when telling me a record or meeting is
                                                                                                                12:30 p.m.Working lunch during                    8:30 a.m.TPA members judge the
their parents buy the paper because at (571) 366-1006 or james.abbott@naa.                                                                                                                                    closed? Does this political ad need a
                                                                                                                           Legislative Planning Session                      Nebraska Press
they can’t wait until Monday to see org.                                                                                                                                                                      disclaimer? The number of the Legal
                                                                                                                                                                             Association’s Contest
what happens. Thanks for your support                      Newspapers can offset space costs                    1:00 p.m. Importance of Public Notice                                                         Hotline is on your TPA-issued press card
in my classroom.                                        for serial story chapters by finding                                                                                                                   and may be obtained by contacting TPA
                            Ruthie Hunt” advertisers or sponsors.                                                                            Schedule and program subject to change.                          at (865) 584-5761.
JANUARY 2008                                                                               The Tennessee Press                                                                                                          5


                        GIBSON: Some suggested changes to ‘sunshine law’ fit for circular file
FROM PAGE ONE                                            standard from “two” to three because it sometimes       deleted to avoid confusion.                           community meetings or social functions together,
                                                         takes all night “hashing things out.” The one              Another exemption would allow local boards         sharing rides to conferences, and there would be
“sunshine” litigation. It also approved procedures       dissenting vote wanted an even higher number.           of education to close the doors “to discuss and       nothing wrong with “district mates” (members
requiring public explanations before elected bod-        Sounds like instead of having open committee            evaluate the job performance of the director of       who represent the same district) exchanging
ies go into “executive session.” And, at Haynes’         meetings, they want private committee meet-             schools with a written evaluation from the discus-    information on matters affecting their district.
insistence, Municipal Technical Advisory Service         ings.                                                   sion that would be made public.” That would be a         Instead the study panel recommended: “(B)
(MTAS), County Technical Advisory Service                               ‘Executive sessions’                     public record anyway, but this would let a school     (2) Meeting means more than three (3) members
(CTAS) and various associations of public officials         Equally as dangerous as lowering the “chance          board withhold it until after members fired the        or a majority of members of a governing body,
would be asked to “develop programs to educate           meeting” standard was the committee’s decision to       superintendent on a secret ballot.                    whichever is less, is present and public business
public officials about the Open Meetings Law.”            recommend doubling the number of reasons local             We recognize there are situations that warrant     within the jurisdiction of that governing body is
                   More secrecy                          bodies can meet, debate, deliberate and vote behind     “executive sessions,” but there must be compel-       being deliberated or decided.
   In the final analysis, efforts to provide flexibility   closed doors. The legislature and the courts had        ling reasons and reasonable limits. Doubling the        “A governing body shall not hold a series of
and convenience for honorable public officials will       added four exemptions in 33 years, but the study        number of exemptions simply multiplies the            gatherings with less than the required number of
lead to more secrecy and abuse by those whose            committee recommended six more. One duplicates          opportunities for abuse.                              members present as described in (b)(2) where the
intentions may not be so honorable.                      an exemption on the books for 28 years.                    Procedures we suggested for going into “execu-     purpose of the gatherings is to avoid compliance
   Recommendations posing the greatest threats             More troubling was the way the panel went about       tive session” were recommended and would be a         with this chapter.
would do the following:                                  adding exemptions. They were chosen from a two-         major improvement and maybe end situations              “This section shall not be construed as prohibit-
   •Increase the number of county commissioners,         page laundry list photocopied out of the Alabama        where reporters are being kicked out of attorney-     ing discussions or the mere communication of
city council, school board and public utility board      state code without any documentation of need.           client meetings where there’s not even a lawyer       factual information between individual members
members who could discuss public business in               We attempted to have them referred to an advi-        present.                                              of a governing body where the purpose is to educate
private.                                                 sory committee for a more reasoned study, but that         We attempted to include the attorney-client        members on specific issues.
   •Double the number of reasons a public body           was voted down by government representatives.           privilege as it was recognized by the Supreme           “Nothing in this section shall be construed as to
could legally close its doors.                             The panel cherry-picked from the Alabama              Court 23 years ago, but the Hamilton County           require a chance meeting of more than three (3)
   The standard has been “two or more,” but the          exemptions but sent a subcommittee proposal             attorney got language removed that banned             members or a majority of members of a governing
committee recommended the law not apply unless           to adopt Alabama’s penalty provision off to the         discussions and votes. The issue of whether to        body, whichever is less, to be considered a public
four or more members are involved in the discus-         advisory panel for more study. We had pointed out       write it into the law was referred to the advisory    meeting. No such chance meetings, informal
sions. Haynes fought hard to reduce the number           that 38 states have penalties, from a misdemeanor       committee for more study.                             assemblages, or electronic communication shall
after a subcommittee recommended a “quorum,”             to removal from office as an ethics violation.                      Abandoning ‘two or more’                   be used to decide or deliberate public business
but instead of playing a numbers game, the public          The process included simply editing down the            Local government lobbyists claimed that             in circumvention of the spirit or requirements
and public officials would have been better served        Alabama code to include what lobbyists for local        members of city councils, county commissions          of this part.”
with simple definitions of acceptable conduct             government said they wanted, at one point chang-        and school boards fear being seen with another          We had suggested the “mere communication of
outside an unannounced meeting.                          ing a reference to the Alabama Ethics Commission        member in public and running the risk of being        factual information” language but the commit-
   The quorum standard was championed by state           to read Tennessee Ethics Commission.                    accused of discussing public business outside a       tee added “discussions,” which means members
Rep. Ulysses Jones of Memphis. He is on record             Two or three of the approved exemptions ap-           public meeting.                                       could deliberate away from their constituents’
saying his plans to file separate legislation to          peared on a list of exemptions local officials told        The fear seems unfounded because the present        ears and eyes.
make it a quorum received the support of the             the Supreme Court they needed more than 30 years        “chance meeting” provision provides immunity            The panel also rejected our effort to incorporate
Shelby County Commission after he proposed it.           ago. The court referred them to the legislature.        unless someone proves the meeting was to “delib-      into the law a general description of “adequate pub-
He chairs the large and powerful House State and         The fact they waited three decades to ask is the        erate” toward a decision. The public has a right      lic notice.” It was based on guidelines from various
Local Government Committee, where the legisla-           best proof that they really aren’t needed.              and does get suspicious when such sightings           Tennessee appellate court decisions handed down
tion is expected to go.                                      Some states place restrictions on “executive        immediately precede controversial votes where         because the courts noted that the legislature had
   The subcommittee recommendation for a quo-            sessions” and include measures to police compli-        there were no open discussions and the public         never done that. A former TML attorney objected
rum standard was reversed after the press reported       ance, but the panel recommended only one, that no       was not allowed to speak.                             and the issue was quickly dropped.
it would have allowed 26 members of the Nashville        other topics can be discussed while the meeting            We found only two cases—well, three if you                           Not all news bad
city council to meet in private. A quorum there is       is closed. An Associated Press survey of Virginia       count the Knox County Commission—where such             The bill that created the study asked the commit-
two-thirds of 40 members.                                public officials last year showed officials used          “one-on-one” discussions were cited in lawsuits.      tee to examine how well open government laws are
   Both proposals—meeting standard and a slew            meetings closed under one exemption to discuss          The Roane County Commission was found not             serving the public. We made recommendations, as
of new exemptions—were recommended on 10-7               other business in one out of four meetings.             to have violated the law when a commissioner          we were asked to do, but we did so in a spirit of
votes and could seriously undermine the public’s           The personnel exemption the panel recom-              called members individually and asked for their       suggesting a reasonable solution to a problem. To
constitutional right to open government. Only            mended says “the salary, compensation, and job          support before being appointed to a county trustee    their credit, three of the four lawmakers on the
McNally joined the four media representatives,           benefits of specific public officials or specific           vacancy.                                              panel listened.
Common Cause and the League of Women Voters              public employees may not be discussed in execu-            In Shelby County, courts found violations            We didn’t get everything we suggested, but the
in voting against both.                                  tive session,” but there is no requirement that a       where commissioners discussed privately among         lawmakers supported our suggestion that the office
   Unfortunately, the recommendations, if ap-            record be kept to verify that doesn’t happen. With      themselves their votes on a commission vacancy. In    of open government be created in statute. Gov. Phil
proved by the legislature, would create more             no record of what happened in the meeting, how          Knox County, it was like loading Noah’s ark—you       Bredesen got funding for it this year and said he
distrust in government. A statewide poll last year       is the public to know that someone with a conflict       know, the discussions were two-by-two until the ark   would support more if needed.
showed 56 percent of voters already believe more         participated or not?                                    was full of people of the chairman’s choosing.          It’s an opportunity to provide real public support
public business is conducted in secret now than            In Georgia, the chairmen of governing bodies            The “sunshine law” now says: “Meeting means         down the road. A proposed advisory committee
in the open.                                             must swear an oath that nothing was discussed           the convening of a governing body of a public         would be created to advise the ombudsman, but
   The former director of the county commission-         in the executive session beyond what the law            body for which a quorum is required in order to       more important, it is a way we can continue to
ers association told the study panel last year that      allows. Some states require minutes of “execu-          make a decision or to deliberate toward a decision    study and knock down other barriers to public
under new local ethics ordinances citizens would         tive sessions” be made public once the need for         on any matter.” The next two sentences make it        access.
be able to file complaints about “sunshine” viola-        secrecy passes.                                         clear a meeting between two commissioners is not        The panel also endorsed protecting the public’s
tions with the local ethics committee. He said if          They get worse. They could close the doors “when      a meeting unless it is used to make a decision.       rights under the public records act despite local
the complaints were valid, the committee could           expressly allowed by federal law or state law, to          “Nothing in this section shall be construed as     government efforts to stall any changes.
forward them on to the local district attorney,          consider the discipline or dismissal of, or to hear     to require a chance meeting of two (2) or more          Now, we have to ask our representatives in the
but the “sunshine” law is nowhere mentioned              formal written complaints or charges brought            members of a public body to be considered a           General Assembly to support continued funding
among the 22 statutes listed in the model ordinance      against a public employee.” There’s no require-         public meeting. No such chance meetings, informal     for the open government office and to support
developed by CTAS.                                       ment that the body specify the law.                     assemblages, or electronic communication shall        the first revisions to the records law proposed in
   Local officials from suburban Shelby County              The committee recommended one “to discuss             be used to decide or deliberate public business       a quarter of a century.
to Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga and parts           strategy in preparation for negotiations between        in circumvention of the spirit or requirements          The governor has come out against weakening
in between broke ranks with the TML and TCSA             the governing body and a group of public employ-        of this act.”                                         the “sunshine” law. It’s up to you and the public
by suggesting the law not be changed—certainly           ees” despite a 1979 “sunshine” amendment that             The first sentence makes it clear that public of-    to ask lawmakers to support the governor in his
not to a quorum standard. That sentiment is not          today states “Nothing contained in this section         ficials can talk to one another without violating      opposition to weakening the open meetings law.
reflected in the committee’s recommendations.             shall be construed to require that planning or          the law, but local government lobbied to remove the
The county commissioners association is already          strategy sessions of either the union committee         word “deliberate” and to allow a higher number        FRANK GIBSON is executive director of the
mounting an orchestrated campaign to push their          or the governmental entity committee, meeting           to communicate with one another before votes          Tennessee Coalition for Open Government. He can
changes through.                                         separately, be open to the public.” Inexplicitly, the   are taken.                                            be reached at fgibson@tcog.info. For a copy of the
   The Dyer County Commission in West Tennes-            panel left in present law other language that says         We proposed to make it clear there is nothing      study committee’s full report, go to www.tcog.info.
see voted 18-1 on Dec. 11 to endorse reducing the        strategy sessions are open. We had flagged it to be      wrong with two or more members attending
6                                                                                  The Tennessee Press                                                                                  JANUARY 2008




                                          ADVERTISING • AWARDS • IDEAS • SINGLE COPY • CIRCULATION • NIE • CLASSIFIEDS • TRAINING • NETWORKING • ONLINE




                                                        ELENORA E. EDWARDS | TPS
Henry A. Stokes, left, and Chris Peck unveil the portrait of Richard Ahlgren,
who was inducted into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame Nov. 16.
Stokes is a retired editor of The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, and Peck
is editor. Ahlgren was editor of The Commercial Appeal.

                                                                                                                        Gina Stafford of UT unveils the portrait of Willis C. Tucker, former director
                                                                                                                        of the UT School of Journalism (see inset).




                                          CIRCULATION • AWARDS IDEAS • SINGLE visit before the Hall
                                        (Above, left) Sam Kennedy, left,• and Walter Pulliam COPY • NIE • CLASSIFIEDS • TRAINING • NETWORKING • ONLINE • ADVERTISING

       How does
                                        of Fame Banquet (Right, above) TPA President Pauline Sherrer greets ban-                                        DOUG DEZOTELL | SHELBYVILLE TIMES-GAZETTE
                                        quet attendees. Hank Dye, representing UT, makes remarks. Chris Peck Liberty School fourth graders, from left, Brooklyn Martin, Ashley Neeley,
                                        and Henry Stokes talk with Harry Moskos, former editor of The Knoxville Taylor Jones, Dylon Ely and Casey Henderson have been reading the serial
      your paper                        News-Sentinel, who has moved back to Knoxville.                          story “The Liberty Pole” in the Shelbyville Times-Gazette every week.


     measure up                           ADVERTISING • AWARDS • IDEAS • SINGLE COPY • CIRCULATION • NIE • CLASSIFIEDS • TRAINING • NETWORKING • ONLINE

    to Nebraska’s                                                                  Challenges and Changes:
        finest?                                                                    Newspapers are Still the Core
                                                                                                          Tennessee Press Association
     Find out on                                                                                          Advertising/Circulation Conference
                                                                                                          April 10-11, 2008 • Gatlinburg
    February 15!                                                                     Make plans now to attend the TPA Advertising/Circu-
                                                                                   lation Conference, April 10-11, 2008, at the Edgewater
                                                                                   Hotel in Gatlinburg.
    Volunteer to help
                                                                                      Conference plans include Joe Bonura, a popular speaker,
    judge Nebraska Press
                                                                                   who will present an advertising session and a joint session
    Association’s contests              Joe Bonura is the featured ad-             for advertising and circulation personnel. Idea sharing will
    on the last day of the              vertising speaker for the confer-
                                        ence. He works with newspaper
                                                                                   also be a component of the conference with a hot ideas
    Press Institute and                                                            luncheon and prizes for the best ideas.
                                        industry leaders that want to grow
    Winter Convention.                  their business. Joe is known as a             Roundtable sessions also are being planned, with topics
                                        “real world” speaker who will share        covering online, special sections, single copy, E-Z pay,       The Edgewater Hotel, Gatlinburg
                                        ideas you can apply immediately            home delivery, classi eds, local advertising and Newspaper     (800) 262-0362
    Please contact                      to increase sales and improve ser-
                                        vice. He is the author of: Throw the       in Education.                                                  TPA group rate: $80 plus tax, per night
    Robyn Gentile at                    Rabbit…The Ultimate Approach to              Awards in the 2008 Ideas Contest also will be presented
    (865) 584-5761 for                  Three-Dimensional Selling.                 at the conference.
    more information.
                                          CIRCULATION • AWARDS • IDEAS • SINGLE COPY • NIE • CLASSIFIEDS • TRAINING • NETWORKING • ONLINE • ADVERTISING
JANUARY 2008                                                                           The Tennessee Press                                                                                                           7


                                                                                                                                20 Under 40
                                                                                                                  Speaking up, speaking out
                                                                                         Every year, Pressstime, the magazine of the Newspaper Association of America, selects 20 people under the age of 40
                                                                                       who represent the enthusiasm, talent, hard work and innovation that’s needed to carry the newspaper industry into the
                                                                                       future.
                                                                                         This year, one of those 20 is Stacey Martin, vice president of operations at The Tennessean, Nashville.
                                                                                         Earlier winners fromTennessee were Mike Machaskee, Chattanooga Times Free Press; Mark Stevens, The Erwin Record;
                                                                                       and Wendi Thomas, The Commercial Appeal.
                                                                                         The following is what Presstime’s December issue carried about Martin.
                                                                                             BY LaSHELL STRATTON
                                                                                                      Presstime

                                                                                         Think of any job in the newspaper in-
                                                                                       dustry, and Stacey Martin has probably
                                                                                       had it. She’s been a graphic artist, page
                                                                                       designer, copy editor, IT systems project
                                                                                       manager and is now vice president of
Barry Jarrell, right, TPS advertising director, accepts the Employee of the            operations.
Year plaque from Greg Sherrill, TPS executive vice president.                            “I know when people see my resume
                                                                                       it looks a little frantic on paper,” says
                 TPS names Jarrell                                                     Martin, 38. “But it certainly feels like
                                                                                       one thing led to the other.”
                employee of the year                                                     Martin says she can remember always
                                                                                       dabbling in the creative and technologi-
                                                                                       cal aspects of the business, even when
  Tennessee Press Service (TPS) em-        improved advertising scheduling, de-
                                                                                       she was high school yearbook editor
ployees honored Barry Jarrell as the       livery and tearsheeting while working
                                                                                       and the ad-hoc IT support for the staff ’s
employee of the year. Jarrell is TPS       in conjunction with accounting staff to
                                                                                       Macintosh computers.
advertising director and has been on       significantly reduce the amount of time
                                                                                         Decades later, Martin’s ability to grasp
the staff since June 1999.                 TPS is taking to pay invoices. Barry has
                                                                                       all sides of newspaper operations led to
  Greg Sherrill, executive vice presi-     encouraged his department to work
                                                                                       positions such as IT project manager
dent of TPS, commented, “I was glad to     together to make this happen.”
                                                                                       for a $72 million press installation at
see that TPS chose Barry as employee         The award recipient is picked by
                                                                                       The Indianapolis Star and director
of the year.                               co-workers, and the honoree received
                                                                                       of production systems for Gannett’s
  TPS is the business associate of the     an engraved plaque as well as a $50
                                                                                       Newspaper Division.
Tennessee Press Association.               award.
                                                                                         “The corporate progression was a
  Barry has worked hard over the past        Jarrell received his plaque at the TPS
                                                                                       good way to meld my newsroom, IT and
few years in building a strong advertis-   employees’ luncheon Dec. 11 at Amerigo
                                                                                       production background,” Martin says,
ing team that has garnered a reputation    in Knoxville.
                                                                                       adding that she could not have done any
among state press associations, clients      Past recipients include Pam Corley,
                                                                                       of her jobs without her diverse experi-
and advertising agencies as being          Beth Elliott, Kathy Hensley, Linda
                                                                                       ences in the newsroom and with IT.
trustworthy and efficient.”                 Johnson and Kevin Slimp.
                                                                                         Martin’s most recent promotion to
  He continued, “The department has
                                                                                       vice president of operations came only
                                                                                       a year after she joined The Tennessean
                                                                                       in Nashville, but Publisher Ellen Leifeld
           Craft becomes supervisor                                                    says she was confident that Martin
                                                                                       could do it. “I hired her, so I knew what
                                                                                                                                    Stacey Martin of The Tennessean, Nashville
                                                                                                                                                                                                              PRESSTIME


            of TPS Clipping Bureau                                                     I was getting,” she says. But Leifeld
                                                                                       suspects that others might not have
                                                                                                                                    current position will change over
                                                                                                                                    the next five years?
                                                                                                                                                                                Grew up in: New Palestine, Ind.
                                                                                                                                                                                Personal: Married, Jorgen Valkaer;
                                                                                       been as confident.                              I think our potential to grow even      son, Daniel, 11 months
  Holly Craft has                          Notice Web Site coordinator. Since she        “Operations is a very male-oriented        more as a commercial printer/mail           Pets: Dogs Humuhumunu-
been promoted to                           has been with the Clipping Bureau for       field,” Leifeld explains. “So I’m sure        house will add a more outside customer-   kunukuapua’a (Hawaiian for “fish
supervisor of the                          almost three years, she has proven her      there were a few men over there who          focused element to this role.             with snout of a pig”—and Huma for
Tennessee Press                            strength as a reader and has already        lifted their eyebrows at this 38-year-old      4. What’s the best career advice        short), Jackie and Marcus
Service Clipping                           been handling some of the bureau’s          woman from IT with a ring in her eye-        anyone ever gave you?                       Hobbies/diversions: Amusing my son,
Bureau. The bureau                         management duties over the past two         brow. They were probably wondering if          There is something to be learned        avid reader, fervent fish memorabilia
provides news clips                        months. Holly will be working to develop    she’d be up to it. But I’m guessing that     from everyone, everywhere. Don’t walk     collector
to more than 200                           new clipping customers in the coming        within 48 hours, they figured out that        into new situations with preconceived       Education: 1991, B.A., journalism,
clients. Originally                        year,” said Greg Sherrill, executive vice   she had it covered.”                         notions, and you’ll see.                  Indiana University, Bloomington
hired as a reader          Craft           president of TPS.                                                                          5. What three things would you            Career: 1991-93, graphic artist and
for the department,                          Craft continues to coordinate the         Five questions
                                                                                                                                    change about the newspaper in-            page designer for the Asbury Park Press,
Craft took on the additional duties as     public notice Web site along with            1. What’s the most challenging              dustry?                                   Neptune, N.J.; 1993-98, graphic artist,
coordinator of the Public Notice Web       her new duties as supervisor of the         aspect of your job?                            • Make us stop feeling sorry for our-   designer, copy editor, page one designer
site in August.                            Clipping Bureau. One can reach her            Given the fact that my two areas of        selves and get moving ahead. There        and systems editor, The Times, Shreve-
  “We’re very pleased to promote           at (865) 584-5761, extension 119 or         responsibility are essentially service       are still so many people mourning the     port, La.; 1995, loaner on Life copy desk,
Holly Craft to manage the TPS Clipping     pubnotice@tnpress.com.                      departments—systems and produc-              ways of the past that it weighs down      USA Today; 1998-2002, systems manager
Bureau operations as well as Public                                                    tion—the most challenging aspect is          the whole industry.                       for production, online and editorial and
                                                                                       trying to meet or exceed the expecta-          •Our perception of ourselves and our    IT manager, The Indianapolis Star; 2002-
                                                                                       tions of all the different customers we      products. We are still the best, most-    05, director of production systems, Gan-
            TPA board OK’s associate member                                            support every day.                           trusted source of news and information    nett Co. Newspaper Division, McLean,
                                                                                         2. What’s the most rewarding part          out there.                                Va.; 2005-present, vice president of IT
  The TPA board of directors accepted      ance and retirement plans. Tennessee        of your job?                                   •Increase investment in the technol-    and vice president of operations at The
the associate membership application       Press Service, TPA’s business affiliate,       Getting No. 1 right! Actually, for me,     ogy infrastructure and the people         Tennessean, Nashville
of Shaw, Lawrence and Associates of        is a one of its clients.                    the most rewarding part of my job            needed to propel us ahead.                  Connections: The Tennessean, 1100
Hendersonville at its Nov. 17 meeting.       W. E. (Buddy) Shaw is the contact         is being able to solve problems and                                                    Broadway, Nashville, Tenn. 37203, (615)
Shaw, Lawrence and Associates serves       for Shaw, Lawrence and Associates.          bring folks with different priorities to     Personal data                             259-8807, stmartin@tennessean.com
as a consultant for benefits programs       He can be reached at (800) 847-2322 or      consensus.                                    Date of birth: Jan. 18, 1969
                                                                                                                                                                                      (Used with permission)
including health insurance, life insur-    info@weshaw.com.                              3. In what ways do you think your
8                                                                                         The Tennessee Press                                                                                              JANUARY 2008




                                 Great new year’s resolution for newspapers
  Several studies during the fall of 2007 reflect a        get reported to anywhere from five to                       fall—perhaps carried in your business        clear guidelines on how to report any corrections?
growing trend Tennessee newspapers must recog-            11 times as many persons. That’s infor-                    section—calculated that the value of         Is it easy to determine your policy for submitting
nize about a trusted source. No, it’s not television,     mation all advertising and circulation                     word-of-mouth advertising approached         letters to the editor, whether online or print editions?
magazines or online information. (And the word            employees already know.                                    $1 billion (not a typo) for 2007. Although   Does your online product encourage submissions of
“trusted” rules out that despicable anonymous               GolinHarris launched its Trusted                         more media attention has been created        photos and video from readers? How quickly does
source.) Despite the popularity of new media tech-        Media Index this year and came up                          recently in the WOM arena, it’s not a        someone reply to e-mail inquiries?
nology and the growth of mobile communication,            with similar results. Word of mouth                        new issue. The Word of Mouth Mar-              Are you out and about in your community? Do
there’s a fundamental tool that’s more influential         (or WOM in the trade) was surpassed                        keting Association, for example, was         you have a presence at festivals and parades? What
than all the newfangled devices.                          only by direct experience as the most                      formed back in 2004.                         about a proactive speakers bureau, where your
  It’s word of mouth. Nielsen’s Online Global             trusted source of information. Its TMI PRESSING               So if Tennessee newspapers want           employees can provide programs for community
Consumer Study ranked recommendations from                findings determined:                                        residents talking about their products       clubs and organizations by sharing their skills
consumers as the top influencer prior to making a            “Across every demographic subset, ISSUES                 and buying more of them, perhaps they        and hobbies?
purchase. Its score of 78 percent was far ahead of        and for every different category of news                   need a WOM campaign. Such an effort            If your staff is still looking for a new year’s
the second place score of 63 percent. Runner-up, the      examined, personal experience and Randy Hines will involve the entire newspaper orga-                   resolution, there’s nothing better than to be warmly
Tennessee Press Association will be proud to hear,        WOM rank at the very top of trusted                        nization, from news and advertising to       endorsed by your community in a positive word-of-
was newspapers, which edged out online posts and          information sources.                                       circulation and delivery.                    mouth campaign.It may sound old-fashioned, but it
brand Web sites. Traditional media followed: TV and         “WOM is the next best thing to experiencing        Do you have a pleasant-sounding person an-         should effectively encompass new media technology
magazines at 56 percent and radio at 54 percent.          something personally. It ranks second to direct swering your phone or an annoying automated             at the same time.
  “The recommendation of someone else remains             experience as a highly trusted information voice? (Actual live voices can also be annoying,               Good luck.
the most trusted source of information when con-          source.                                            of course. I once advised a higher education cli-
sumers decide which products and services to buy,”          “WOM from a trusted source is an accepted ent to replace its experienced receptionist, for            DR. RANDY HINES, former Tennessee educator,
said David McCallum, the global managing director         substitute for direct experience because it allows example. Every phone call was greeted with a         consultant and author, teaches in the Department
for Nielsen’s Customized Research Services.               an individual to borrow the direct experience long, loud sigh, as if you were interrupting her          of Communications at Susquehanna University in
  When consumers experience good service they             of others.”                                        computer games. Try listening to your own re-        Selinsgrove, Pa. 17870. He can be reached at (570)
spread the news, but when they encounter lousy              An eye-opening study released late this ceptionist as an anonymous caller.) Do you have               372-4079 or randyhinesapr@yahoo.com.
service, they tell the world. Negative experiences



           Cherokee Review students take in Communication Day
             BY BARBARA FORAKER                           ducted by Dr. Wesley Buerke, assistant                   the ETSU Division of Broadcasting                The grant is made available each year for middle
             and LU SHEP BALDWIN                          professor at ETSU; Public Relations,                     along with Josh Smith and Selena               and high schools, colleges or universities with
                                                          conducted by Margie Shealy, vice pres-                   Wiles, with WJHL-TV.                           school newspapers at risk or in need of materials
  On Friday, Nov. 9, the Cherokee Review Con-             ident of public relations for Christian                    Accompanying the Cherokee Re-                to enhance their publications. Foraker was made
nection school newspaper staff from Cherokee              Medical and Dental Association in                        view Connection school newspaper               aware of the grant through the Rogersville Review’s
Comprehensive High School in Hawkins County               Johnson City; Advertising, conducted                     staff were Barbara Foraker, school             Newspapers In Education program. The Review is
traveled to East Tennessee State University in            by Clay Pruitt, designer with Tombras                    media specialist and the sponsor of            owned by Jones Media. The Rogersville Review and
Johnson City for Communication Day. The event is          Advertising; Theatre, conducted by                       the school newspaper, and Lu Shep              East Tennessee State University agreed to partner
sponsored annually by the university. The theme for       Pat Cronin, ETSU theatre professor                       Baldwin, director of educational               with Foraker on the grant. The Review prints the
the program was “The Construction Zone,” because          and a well-known actor; Journalism,                      services for Jones Media. Foraker              Cherokee High school newspaper once a month as
the Culp Student Center, where the event was held,        conducted by Carmen Musick, feature NIE                  and Baldwin also attended sessions             part of a section of the Review.
                                                          writer for the Kingsport Times-News,                                                                      The Cherokee High students evaluated their day’s
is being remodeled.
  As students arrived for registration they were          and John Osborne, news reporter for
                                                                                                  CURRENTS with the students.
                                                                                                                     Lise Cutshaw, instructor of journal-         experience by saying that they came away with a
asked to pose with their peers for a group photo          the Times-News; Yearbook, conducted                      ism and public relations at ETSU, had          positive attitude toward the program, and most
in the construction area. They were asked to wear         by Danny Boring, a representative of Lu Shep Baldwin extended the invitation to the students            want to major in some area of communication.
hard hats and pretend to be using mock construction       Josten Yearbooks; Communication                          to attend and participate in Commu-            They stated that the knowledge that they gained will
equipment such as chainsaws, drills and hammers.          Jeopardy, presented by ETSU’s Public Relations nication Day. Students also met Brandy Miley, a          help them be more productive when composing the
The photographers urged the students to “clown            Student Service Association; Photojournalism, Cherokee High graduate, who will be graduating            school newspaper.
around” while the photos were being made.                 presented by Dave Grace, a photographer with from ETSU with a degree in journalism.
  Students attending for the day had the opportunity      the Times-News; Putting out a Publication,         Expenses for the trip were paid for through          LU SHEP BALDWIN is educational services director
to attend two interactive sessions and a workshop         presented by Martha Milner of East Tennessee the Newspaper Association of America Foun-                 for Jones Media, Greeneville. She is based in Athens.
with other students from 10 East Tennessee schools.       Offices; and Broadcasting, conducted by Tom dation grant that Foraker has received after                 One can reach her at lbaldwin@xtn.net.
Session choices included the following: Speech, con-      Headley, Tammy Hayes and Candy Bryant of competing nationally.


                  Get down to the business of contests
  It’s time to dig through those tearsheets     Group Two: Paid combined weekly           staff members are very involved in
of stories and photos to prepare your en-     circulation of 5,001 to 15,000              the contests. Once the call for entries
tries for the 2008 University of Tennes-        Group Three: Paid combined weekly         has gone out and the judging has been
see (UT) -Tennessee Press Association         circulation of 15,001-50,000                completed, UT provides and coordinates
(TPA) State Press Contests. Somewhere           Group Four: Paid combined weekly          the production of plaques and certifi-
in your publisher’s inbox should be an        circulation of 50,001-200,000               cates for winners, produces the contests
entry packet that was mailed Dec. 17.           Group Five: Paid combined weekly          winners presentation and coordinates
The contests rules brochure has been          circulation of 200,001 and up               the presentation of the awards at the
inserted in this edition of The Tennes-         UT has been the contests sponsor          annual event.
see Press.                                    since 1940.                                   Presentation of the 2008 awards will
  Get started now, because the deadline         “We are particularly proud of our         be in conjunction with TPA’s Drive-In
for entries to be received is Friday, Feb.    longstanding relationship with TPA          Training sessions, tentatively sched-
8, at 5 p.m.                                  and our role in the annual contest,” said   uled for July 18 in Nashville.
  A major change in the State Press Con-      Karen Collins, director of media and          The Contests Committee chairman
tests divisions has gone into effect. The     internal relations for UT Knoxville. “We    is Victor Parkins, TPA vice president
contests will have five divisions instead      especially appreciate the opportunity       and editor of The Milan Mirror-Ex-
of four, and the divisions will be based      to honor the best work of journalists       change.
on total weekly paid circulation.             and photojournalists from across the           If you need the entry packet, please
  The new divisions are as follows:           state and being the first to offer our       call TPA at (865) 584-5761 or download a
  Group One: Paid combined weekly             congratulations at the ceremony.”           packet from the TPA Web site at www.       Cherokee students in a photo in the Communication Day theme,
circulation of 5,000 or less                    Collins and other public relations        tnpress.com/spcontests08.pdf.                               ”
                                                                                                                                     “Construction Day.
JANUARY 2008                                                                              The Tennessee Press                                                                                                          9



                TPS plans new features                                                                                                TRACKS
                                                                                                                                      Robinson grandson joins Elizabethton Star
                 for TnScan, TnDAN                                                                                                      Nathan Goodwin
                                                                                                                                      has joined the staff
                                                                                                                                      of the Elizabethton
                                                                                                                                      Star. He will serve as
                                                                                                                                                                                  accomplished musician and occasion-
                                                                                                                                                                                  ally fills in as a member of the Charles
                                                                                                                                                                                  Goodwin Orchestra.
                                                                                                                                                                                    Goodwin will be the third generation
         BY BETH ELLIOTT                                                                  the sales rep with the highest points
      Network advertising manager                                                         will receive $300. The sales rep with       executive vice presi-                       of the Robinson family to work at the
                                                                                          the second highest points will receive      dent, as well as pro-                       newspaper. “When I left for law school,
  On your mark—                                                                           $200, and third place will receive $100.    vide legal counsel                          I knew I wanted to return and serve the
Get set—GO!                                                                               Who couldn’t use some extra cash after      for the newspaper                           people of my hometown. I’m excited for
  It’s a brand new                                                                        the holidays?                               and Star Printing                           the opportunity to continue that goal at
year, and Tennessee                                                                         TnScan and TnDAN have grown               Corp.                      Goodwin          the Elizabethton Star. I’m honored to
Press Service (TPS)                                                                       tremendously over the past couple             Goodwin is the                            be a part of the newspaper and a mem-
has some exciting                                                                         of years. Newspaper participation in        son of Fred and Carol Goodwin of            ber of the Elizabethton community,”
new events planned                                                                        TnScan has increased 14 percent and         Elizabethton and the oldest grandson        Goodwin said.
for the Statewide                              January and February only.                 17 percent in TnDAN. The last rate          of Star Publisher and Mrs. Frank              Frank Robinson, in making the an-
Classified (TnScan)                               TPS has new TnScan/TnDAN bro-            increase was in August 2005. Because        Robinson.                                   nouncement, said, “I’m very happy
and Display (Tn-              Elliott          chures. Each participating newspaper       of the growth in participation and            He is a graduate of East Tennessee        Nathan has decided to join the Star. He
DAN, formerly TN                               should have received several in the        that the last increase was more than        State University, where he earned a         has much to offer to the newspaper and
2x2) Advertising Networks.                     mail. Please hand these out to potential   two years ago, TnScan and TnDAN             bachelor of business administration         can only make us better.”
  Our first ever contest for sales reps         advertisers. We would love to hear that    will have a modest rate increase effec-     degree with a concentration in finance.
started this month. For each new ad
sold into TnScan and/or TnDAN, the
                                               you need more brochures, so let us
                                               know if you do.
                                                                                          tive the week of Jan. 7. Participating
                                                                                          newspapers should have received the
                                                                                                                                      He received his doctor of jurisprudence
                                                                                                                                      degree from Cumberland School of Law
                                                                                                                                                                                    Sunshine Week soon
sales rep receives one point. At the end         Are you asking yourself, “Who is a       new rates along with the contest infor-     at Samford University in Birmingham,          The Sunshine Week alliance has
of March, the three sales reps with the        potential advertiser?” It’s any business   mation, winter special and brochures.       Ala. Recently, he was with the Elizabeth-   begun a Sunshine Campaign to bring
most points will receive cash awards.          with multiple locations or any company     If you did not receive the latest packet    ton law firm of Dugger and Cole.             discussion of open government to
Read the next issue of The Tennessee           considering ad placement in several        of information, please contact TPS at         Goodwin and his wife, the former          election campaigns. Sunshine Week
Press to see which sales rep is in the         newspapers. Now, are you asking your-      (865) 584-5761, extension 117, or e-mail    Keely Richardson, are members of            is March 16-22. For information, see
lead.                                          self, “How does one go about selling a     belliott@tnpress.com.                       First Baptist Church, Elizabethton,         www.sunshine week.org/sunshine-
  In order to help sales reps build points,    TnScan or TnDAN ad?” All it takes is         If your newspaper does not partici-       where he serves as a deacon. He is an       week/toolkits.
TPS is having a winter special in Janu-        three steps: 1) Identify your potential    pate in these networks, contact TPS to-
ary and February. If an advertiser buys        advertiser. 2) Collect the payment. 3)     day to find out how your newspaper can
three consecutive weeks, he will receive       Send the ad to TPS. Your newspaper         benefit from participating. This is an
the fourth week free. We don’t have many       keeps 40 percent commission. Send          exciting time to be a participating news-
stipulations on this special except that       the remainder to TPS. We do the rest of    paper! Keep reading The Tennessee                                         TPA wishes
                                                                                                                                                                  to thank these
all four weeks must be ordered at the          the work. Plus, if a new ad is sold, you   Press for upcoming announcements,                                 individuals for serving as
same time and the special is valid in          receive a point. At the end of March,      because we have more up our sleeve!                           judges of the Hoosier State Press
                                                                                                                                                     Association’s Better Newspaper Contest.
GAC opening reception will be at the Newseum                                                                                                                Ron Bridgeman, The Courier News, Clinton
                                                                                                                                                               John Carney, Shelbyville Times-Gazette
                                                                                                                                                             John Carpenter, The Herald-News, Dayton
  The Newseum will open in early 2008          concrete sections of                       encouraged to invite their congres-                                            Jim Charlet, Brentwood
                                                                                                                                                           James Clark, Southern Standard, McMinnville
and the National Newspaper Associa-            wall, each weighing                        sional delegations and staffs and other                                   Steve Coffman, The Jackson Sun
tion will be there. The NNA 47th An-           about three tons.                          Washington area policymakers. The                                          Helen Comer, The Jackson Sun
nual Government Affairs Conference,            A three-story East                         event will conform to the new Senate                            Katrina Cornwell, The News Examiner, Gallatin
Wednesday through Friday, March 5-7,           Ger man guard                              and House ethics rules.                                                     Jason Davis, LaFollette Press
opening reception for friends of the                                                        The reception will be held from 6:30                                 Toni Dew, The Tennessean, Nashville
                                               tower that loomed                                                                                              Meg Downey, The Tennessean, Nashville
association, including members of              near Checkpoint                            to 8:30 p.m. in the Newseum, 555 Penn-                       Elenora E. Edwards, The Tennessee Press, Clinton
Congress and their staffs, will be held in     Charlie-Berlin’s best-known East-West      sylvania Ave. During the reception,                                    Kent Flanagan, MTSU, Murfreesboro
the soon-to be-opened Newseum.                 crossing-stands nearby.                    the winner for the Benjamin Franklin                                   J. Todd Foster, Bristol Herald Courier
  The Newseum is a 250,000-square-foot           GAC participants and their legisla-      Community Newspaper and Postal                                 Rose French, The Associated Press, Brentwood
                                                                                                                                                               Dave Green, The Tennessean, Nashville
museum of news with unique architec-           tive guests will enjoy refreshments as     Partnership Award of Excellence will                                John Gullion, Citizen Tribune, Morristown
tural features including a 74-foot-high        they participate in interactive news       be named.                                                    Jimmy Hart, The Daily News Journal, Murfreesboro
marble engraving of the First Amend-           and ethics games. NNA members are                                                                          Rob Heller, University of Tennessee, Knoxville
ment and an immense front wall of                                                                                                                               Amelia Hipps, The Lebanon Democrat
                                                                                                                                                            Jennifer Horton, The Wilson Post, Lebanon
glass through which passers-by will be
able to watch the museum fulfilling its
                                                                        Other NNA news                                                                    Mark Kennedy, Chattanooga Times Free Press
                                                                                                                                                                          Ron Leifeld, Nashville
mission of providing a forum where the         Benjamin Franklin Award                    newspaper’s entries must arrive before                               Marjorie Lloyd, The Gallatin Newspaper
media and the public can gain a better           Tennessee newspapers that are NNA        March 10 to be eligible. Each newspaper                         Rick Locker, The Commercial Appeal, Nashville
understanding of each other.                   members can nominate a postal em-          will earn one chance to win, no matter                                Jack McElroy, News Sentinel, Knoxville
                                                                                                                                                               Alex Miller, The Daily Herald, Columbia
  NNA participants will enjoy the New          ployee for the 2008 Benjamin Franklin      how many entries are submitted.                                           John Molley, Johnson City Press
York Times-Ochs-Sulzberger Family              Award for Tennessee. Go to www.nna.        Entries must be postmarked by March.                                   Heather Mullinix, Crossville Chronicle
Great Hall of News where guests are            org/PDFFiles/Ben2008FlyerFinal.pdf.        However, you may want to mark your                        Shirley Nanney, Carroll County News-Leader, Huntingdon
surrounded by a soaring, 90-foot-high                              |                      calendars to send in your entries early                              Bob Parkins, The Milan Mirror-Exchange
atrium, showcasing breaking news               Better Newspaper Contests                  so you can get those entries postmarked                            Buddy Pearson, Herald-Citizen, Cookeville
                                                                                                                                                          Darrell Richardson, The Oak Ridger, Oak Ridge
on a giant electronic window on the              It’s time for member newspapers to       by March 1 and won’t miss out your                             Chad Roedemeier, Associated Press, Brentwood
world screen; the latest headlines are         begin making a list and collecting their   chance at winning this year’s early                              Michael Sheffield, Memphis Business Journal
constantly updated on an electronic            best issues, columns, ads and photos for   bird drawing.                                                            Jody Sliger, The Expositor, Sparta
zipper. Suspended from above are two           entry in the 2008 Better Newspaper Con-    Participation is limited to NNA member                            D. Frank Smith, The Daily Herald, Columbia
                                                                                                                                                                    Mark Stevens, The Erwin Record
icons of modern newsgathering and              test and Better Newspaper Advertising      newspapers in good standing published                          Richard Stevens, The Leaf-Chronicle, Clarksville
transmission-a satellite replica and a         Contest, the premier national contests     Jan. 1 through Dec. 31, 2007, with one                                       Henry Stokes, Germantown
Bell helicopter.                               for community newspapers.                  exception: Web site categories, which                              Daryl Sullivan, The Daily Times, Maryville
  Sections of the Berlin Wall exhibit will       Early contest entries translate into     are judged “in place.” There is no limit                         Frank Sutherland, The Tennessean, Nashville
be on view in a gallery telling the story of   a chance to win a prepaid debit card       on the number of entries that may be                                Christan Thomas, Kingsport Times-News
                                                                                                                                                              Frank Trexler, The Daily Times, Maryville
how news and information helped top-           loaded with $300 and one free registra-    submitted to the contest or in any one                             Stan Voit, The Mountain Press, Sevierville
ple a closed and oppressive society. The       tion and “Toast to the Winners” ticket     category.                                                     Adam Yeomans, The Associated Press, Brentwood
exhibit contains the largest display of
portions of the original wall outside of
                                               to the annual convention Sept. 25-28 in
                                               St. Paul, Minn. valued at more than
                                                                                          Updated rules and forms are available at
                                                                                          www.nna.org/Contests/bncmain.html                                              Thank
Germany. It features eight 12-foot-high        $400. Entries must be postmarked no
                                               later than March 1 to qualify. All of a
                                                                                          and in Publishers’ Auxiliary.                                                   You!
10                                                                                       The Tennessee Press                                                                                                    JANUARY 2008




WORTH REPEATING

                    Bredesen saw the light, is happy to let the sunshine in
      BY LARRY DAUGHTREY                       You would have learned that Bredesen      miss a session, the video is stored          a state income tax, imploding schools,        talk about hiring and firing, pay raises
       The Tennessean, Nashville             sides with his Department of Environ-       prominently on the state’s Web site.         or the highest sales tax in the nation.       and scandals.
                                             ment and Conservation against the             Not too many years ago, the process of     It ended up being the latter, a $1 billion      A legislative study committee has
  If you were seriously bored and sitting    independent Tennessee Wildlife Re-          preparing the state budget was a secret      package of new taxes.                         recommended loosening the state’s
in on Gov. Phil Bredesen’s budget hear-      sources Agency in a dispute over the        as closely guarded as the gates at Oak         Elected that year, Bredesen opened          open meetings law to permit three
ings last week, it might have seemed like    flooding of 850 acres of delicate West       Ridge. Faceless bureaucrats put the          up the state budget process, and it is no     public officials, including city council
a game of Trivial Pursuit.                   Tennessee bottomland.                       pieces together in locked rooms.             longer a big issue on Capitol Hill.           members, school board members and
  You would have learned that, if the          No big headlines in any of that,            Even the printing was done in secret,        When Bredesen became mayor of               county commissioners, to thrash out
Wolf Creek Dam in Kentucky failed,           but it was a remarkable scene in its        with the final copies numbered and            Nashville, he told reporters the other        public policy in private.
most of the state’s computers in Nash-       own way.                                    kept in vaults.                              day, “I was flabbergasted and appalled at        It’s going to be a hotly contentious is-
ville would be under 12 feet of water.         Bredesen is in the process of putting       Then, in one 24-hour period, a flood        how you had to do business (in public).       sue in next year’s session of the General
Next year taxpayers will be asked to         together a plan for spending close to $30   of numbers was dumped into the               It just seemed to me almost impossible        Assembly, pitting some local officials
fund a plan to move the computers to         billion in taxpayer money for the fiscal     usual legislative chaos in a way that        to hire people and do business.               and their taxpayer-funded lobbyists
drier ground.                                year beginning next July 1. The view        left lawmakers, the news media and             “I’ve come to realize you can work in       against most of the state’s news media
  You would have heard that the state        couldn’t be plainer.                        interested citizens—and sometimes            this environment.                             and good government groups.
now saves $1.2 million a year by not mail-     It happens in a ground-floor Capitol       Cabinet members—dizzy and confused.            “Yes, it has a substantial load attached      Which brings up the question: If
ing paycheck stubs to its workers when       conference room, and the doors are          The end result was often only a cursory      to it in terms of how efficiently you can      Bredesen can hammer out a $30 bil-
their salary is electronically deposited     open to the public.                         examination of the budget by the leg-        make decisions, but in the end govern-        lion budget in full public view, why do
in a bank. Instead, workers can print          If that is inconvenient, you can watch    islature, hardly a textbook example of       ment just works better if you come down       three county commissioners in Morgan
the stubs online.                            online in streaming video. In case you      good government.                             on that side of it.”                          County or three school board members
                                                                                           All that led to a near meltdown of           What is a big issue on Capitol Hill these   in Crockett County need to spend your
                                                                                         state government in 2002, when voters        days is an effort by some local officials      money in secret?
                                                                                         seemed stuck with an unexplained             to go in the other direction, to change                    (Dec. 9, 2007)
                                                                                         budget crisis that offered as choices        state law so they can meet in secret to

                                                                                          TRACKS
                                                                                           R. Michael                                   Chad Roede-                                 supervisor in Nashville, will serve as
                                                                                         (Mike) Fishman                               meier, news editor                            interim news editor for Tennessee until
                                                                                         has been named                               for The Associated                            a replacement is named.
                                                                                         publisher and editor                         Press in Tennessee                                               |
                                                                                         of the Citizen Tri-                          since 2003, has been                            Valerie Shaver has been promoted
                                                                                         bune, Morristown.                            named assistant                               to advertising director of the Citizen
                                                                                         He joined the news-                          chief of bureau for                           Tribune, Morristown. Since 2005
                                                                                         paper’s staff in                             New York.                                     she had served as retail advertising
                                                                                         1988, most recently                            The appointment                             manager, and before that she was a
                                                                                         serving as assistant       Fishman           was announced Nov. Roedemeier                 sales representative.
                                                                                         publisher for 11 years.                      9 by New York Chief                             Shaver has been with the paper since
                                                                                           His father, R. Jack Fishman, who           of Bureau Howard Goldberg.                    July 29, 1998.
                                                                                         founded the newspaper in 1966, is the          Roedemeier, 36, joined the AP in At-                           |
                                                                                         former publisher. R. Jack Fishman            lanta in 1999 and spent four years there        Harry Porter has joined The Daily
                                                                                         retains the title of president and is        as a reporter and day supervisor.             Times, Maryville, as retail advertising
                                                                                         chairman of the board of Lakeway Pub-          Born in Paducah, Ky., Roedemeier            manager.
                                                                                         lishers, owner of various newspapers         graduated from the University of                                 |
                                                                                         and other properties. Both R. Michael        Virginia and worked at newspapers in            The Humboldt Chronicle has hired
                                                                                         Fishman and R. Jack Fishman have             Vidalia and Dalton, Ga. before joining        David Roach as a reporter. He gradu-
                                                                                         served as president of TPA. The new          the AP.                                       ated in 2007 from Union University
                                                                                         publisher’s brother, Jeffrey, is publisher     Nashville Chief of Bureau Adam              with double majors, journalism and
                                                                                         of The Tullahoma News.                       Yeomans said Teresa Wasson, the day           sociology. Earlier he interned at The
                                                                                                            |                                                                       Jackson Sun in sports.




                                                                                                                                          !Contests!
                                                                                                                      Now is the time to find that masterful feature
                                                                                                                      story, that genius of a photo and that compelling
                                                                                                                      ad published in the past year.

                                                                                                 Contests deadlines fall early next month. Ideas Contest
                                                                                                 entries should arrive at headquarters no later than Feb. 1,
                                                                                                 and State Press Contests entries must be in by Feb. 8.
                                                                                                                     Set aside those potential entries now!
JANUARY 2008                                                                            The Tennessee Press                                                                                                  11


      Now you can open Publisher in InDesign                                                                                                                                    HOW TO CONTACT US
                                                                                                                                                                                Tennessee Press Association
                                                                                                                                                                               Mail: 435 Montbrook Lane,
         BY KEVIN SLIMP                   most often is from newspapers trying                                                      from scratch. To be fair, though, most     Knoxville, TN 37919
        TPS technology director           to figure out what to do with all those                                                    Publisher files newspapers receive are
                                          pesky Microsoft Publisher files they                                                       more like the newsletter, a combination    Phone: (865) 584-5761
  Are you sitting?                        receive. Windows-based newspapers                                                         of graphics and text. The calendar was a
Don’t read any fur-                       can open the files in Publisher, then                                                      tough conversion due to all the overlap-   Fax: (865) 558-8687
ther unless you’re                        make a PDF of them. Still, that isn’t a                                                   ping text frames and lines.
sitting. The news                         perfect solution. Mac-based newspapers                                                      It seems that most Publisher files that   Web: www.tnpress.com
I’m about to share                        have been at a total loss. There has not                                                  end up in newspaper inboxes are ads
requires that you be                      a program (till now) that can open a                                                      created by “agencies” that don’t have      E-mail: (name)@tnpress.com
in a seated position                      Publisher document on a Mac.                                                              access to professional layout programs
before reading any                          Then, on Friday, I received a gen-                                                      such as QuarkXPress and Adobe InDe-        Those with boxes, listed
further. OK, ready?                       eral announcement from Mary Gay at                                                        sign or Illustration applications like
                            Slimp                                                                                                                                              alphabetically:
You can open Mi-                          Markzware, something about opening                                                        Adobe Illustrator and MultiAd Creator.
crosoft Publisher                         Publisherfiles in InDesign. She had                                                        These ads normally consist of a simple     Laurie Alford (lalford)
files in InDesign.                         my attention.                                                                             graphic or two, plus some text.
  Whoa! I can hear the sounds of pub-       I’ve become a big fan of Q2ID and                                                         It was interesting to see how PUB2ID     Pam Corley (pcorley)
lishers, editors and designers falling ID2Q, plug-ins that allow Quark users                                                        worked. Immediately upon opening a
out of their chairs from Tiptonville to to open InDesign files and InDesign                                                          Publisher file in InDesign, the plug-in     Holly Craft
Mountain City. Now, aren’t you glad you users to open Quark files. When I have                                                       created a folder on the hard drive that    [pubnotice@tnpress.com]
were sitting?                             the chance I tell every newspaper they                                                    held all the links to the page. I found
  You heard me right. I just received should have one of these, depending on                                                        individual files for each graphic. These    Angelique Dunn (adunn)
an e-mail from Markzware. You’ve which application they use for layout.                                                             files could be opened and edited in
probably bought their products before. I couldn’t help but wonder if PUB2ID                                                         Photoshop, if desired. They also ap-       Beth Elliott (belliott)
They’re the folks behind FlightCheck, would work as well as these.                                                                  peared in the Links panel (or palette)
ID2Q (InDesign to Quark) and Q2ID           Well, there’s good news and bad             Immediately upon opening a Pub-             in InDesign. Once the file was open, it
                                                                                        lisher file in InDesign, a folder                                                       Robyn Gentile (rgentile)
(Quark to InDesign). They have a new news. The good news is InDesign will                                                           was an InDesign document. I could do
plug-in for InDesign called PUB2ID (Mi- open Microsoft Publisher files with              containing graphic links is created         everything to the text, graphics and
                                                                                        on the hard drive.                                                                     Earl Goodman (egoodman)
crosoft Publisher to Adobe InDesign). PUB2ID. The bad news is that they don’t                                                       photos that I could do to anything cre-
PUB2ID provides an easy method to open as cleanly as Quark files open in                                                             ated from scratch in InDesign. Quite       Rhonda Graham (rgraham)
migrate Microsoft Publisher content InDesign using Q2ID. I can’t fault the              right, and I was able to adjust, using      impressive.
into Adobe InDesign documents. The folks at Markzware for this. There are               the standard InDesign tools, items            We’ve been waiting a long time to have   Kathy Hensley (khensley)
conversion is enabled with a single plenty of notices on their Web site to let          that had shifted or otherwise needed        an option for dealing with these pesky
click using the InDesign File->Open potential buyers know that Publisher                adjustment.                                 Publisher files and now we have one.        Barry Jarrell (bjarrell)
menu. No more re-creating documents files opened in InDesign will have to be               I used the handy find/change tool to         To learn more about PUB2ID, visit
from scratch; PUB2ID gives you a big adjusted. Things move around. Fonts,               convert missing fonts to fonts on my sys-   Markzware.com. Both Mac and PC             Brenda Mays (bmays)
head start.                               if the Publisher fonts aren’t loaded on       tem, and I had a newsletter that looked     versions are available. The list price
  OK. Take a breath. It caught me by your system, change.                               like I had designed it in InDesign.         is $199. System requirements include       Amanda Pearce (apearce)
surprise, too. One of the questions I get   Still, Microsoft Publisher files open in       The calendar, however, didn’t convert     Mac OS 10.4 and higher, InDesign CS2
                                                         InDesign! For now, that’s      as well. Everything was there. All the      or CS3, 128 MB of available RAM and 250    Greg Sherrill (gsherrill)
                                                         good enough for me.            text, clipart and lines were on the page.   MB of free HD space (Mac) or Windows
                                                           I contacted Mary and         But it required a lot of work to get        2K, XP or Vista, InDesign CS2 or CS3,      Kevin Slimp (kslimp)
                                                         asked if she could send        things where they needed to be. In fact,    128 MB of available RAM and 250 MB
                                                         a copy of PUB2ID to me.        I wondered if it wouldn’t be just as fast   of free HD space (PC).                     Advertising e-mail:
                                                         Upon downloading and           to create a new calendar in InDesign          OK, now you may stand up.
                                                         installing the software,                                                                                              Knoxville office:
                                                         I was faced with a di-                                                                                                knoxads@tnpress.com
                                                         lemma. I didn’t have any
                                                         Microsoft Publisher files.                                                                                                 Tennessee Press Service
                                                         I’ve gotten in the habit of
                                                         discarding problematic                                                                                                Knoxville area—
                                                         files as quickly as pos-                                                                                               Mail: 435 Montbrook Lane,
                                                         sible, so I don’t keep these                                                                                          Knoxville, TN 37919
                                                         lying around.
                                                           Fortunately, I remem-                                                                                               Phone: (865) 584-5761
                                                         bered that a colleague
                                                         does her company cal-                                                                                                 Fax: (865) 558-8687
                                                         endar in Publisher, and I
                                                         know a church secretary                                                                                               Nashville area—
                                                         that produces a newslet-
                                                         ter in Publisher. After a                                                                                             Phone: (615) 472-8259
                                                         couple of quick calls, I
                                                         had two .PUB (Publisher)                                                                                              Fax: (615) 472-8260
Page 2 from a church newsletter designed in Mi- files in my inbox.
crosoft Publisher and opened in Adobe InDesign             I quickly went to Adobe                                                                                             Web: www.tnpress.com
with help from PUB2ID                                    InDesign CS3 (PUB2ID
                                                         works with the CS2                                                                                                           Tennessee Press
                                                         and CS3 versions of In-        While all the necessary information can be found to fix this calendar,                      Association Foundation
                                                         Design) and selected           users will find that some Publisher files convert better than others using
                                                                                        PUB2ID.                                                                                Mail: 435 Montbrook Lane,
                                                         File>Open. After saying                                                                                               Knoxville, TN 37919
                                                         the magic words and

                                                                                                 Have a job opening?
                                                         sprinkling pixie dust on                                                                                              Phone: (865) 584-5761
                                                         my keyboard, I selected
                                                         the Publisher files to                                                                                                Fax: (865) 558-8687
                                                         open. To my surprise,
                                                         the six-page newsletter          Post your open positions and review resumes in                                       Web: www.tnpress.com

You can see how nicely this ad converted from opened up very nicely.                                  the employment area of
Publisher to InDesign on a church newsletter Things were in the right                                                                                                           Read The Tennessee Press
page.                                                    place. Most fonts looked                        www.tnpress.com.                                                          —then pass it on!
12                                                                           The Tennessee Press                                                                                       JANUARY 2008




                                                                                                                                                                Newspapers’
                                                                                                                                                                assignment:
                                                                                                                                                                help us POP
                                                                                                                                                                   BY HENRY A. STOKES
                                                                                                                                                             Chairman, Mission Statement Task Force
                                                                                                                                                                         Germantown
                                                                                                                                                               TPA President
                                                                                                                                                             Pauline D. Sher-
                                                                                                                                                             rer inaugurated a
                                                                                                                                                             new task force with
                                                                                                                                                             a “pop.”
                                                                                                                                                               “A newspaper
                                                                                                                                                             must be the POP
                                                                                                                                                             of the day,” she told
                                                                                                                                                             10 members who
                                                                                                                                                             gathered on Fall            Stokes
                                                                                                                                                             Board Meeting weekend to begin work
                                                                                                                                                             on a mission statement for TPA. Her
                                                                                                                                                             statement was a goal for the task
                                                                                                                                                             force: to find a way to help us “Protect
                                                                                                                                                             Our Presence” in the future.
                                                                                                                                                               “Our print industry will survive if
                                                                                                                                                             WE believe it will and get off the balls
                                                                                                                                                             of our feet, lean into the present time
                                                                                                                                                             and reach into the future.”
                                                                                                                                  ELENORA E. EDWARDS | TPS     Since its founding well over a cen-
Members of the family of Col. Thomas Boyers gather with his portrait. Boyers was inducted into the Tennessee Newspaper Hall of Fame on Nov. 16.              tury ago, TPA has worked to represent
Owner of The Gallatin Examiner, he was the founding president of the Tennessee Press Association.                                                            newspapers of the state and promote
                                                                                                                                                             the industry and its interests. But TPA
                                                                                                                                                             has never developed a mission state-
                                                                                                                                                             ment, Task Force chairman Henry A.
                                                                                                                                                             Stokes told the group. He said today
                                                                                                                                                             news media formats have created new
                                                                                                                                                             competition for traditional newspapers
                                                                                                                                                             and many TPA members are branching
                                                                                                                                                             into electronic delivery, free delivery
                                                                                                                                                             and other models in order to keep up
                                                                                                                                                             with customer expectations and remain
                                                                                                                                                             competitive.
                                                                                                                                                               Such changes create difficulties for
                                                                                                                                                             TPA without a clear statement of who
                                                                                                                                                             the organization represents and what it
                                                                                                                                                             needs to do, he added. More flexible than
                                                                                                                                                             a constitution and bylaws, a mission
                                                                                                                                                             statement can be adjusted less formally
                                                                                                                                                             to meet new challenges and opportuni-
                                                                                                                                                             ties. More importantly, it focuses on an
                                                                                                                                                             organization’s core values and directs
                                                                                                                                                             energy and resources of both members
                                                                                                                                                             and staff to actions and results.
                                                                                                                                                               The task force meeting was a brain-
                                                                                                                                                             storming session intended to inventory
                                                                                                                                                             (1) core values our members hold, (2)
                                                                                                                                                             reasons and needs that comprise a
                                                                                                                                                             foundation for TPA’s existence, and
                                                                                                                                  ELENORA E. EDWARDS | TPS
                                                                                                                                                             (3) things we expect to see TPA do and
Members of the family of Ralph L. Millett Jr. with his portrait. Millett, editor of The Knoxville News-Sentinel, was inducted into the Tennessee News-       accomplish.
paper Hall of Fame on Nov. 16. He was a strong proponent of the state’s Open Meetings and Shield Laws. (See more photos on page 6.)                            The brainstorming continues be-
                                                                                                                                                             tween now and the Winter Convention,
                                                                                                                                                             where the task force will meet again
                                                                                                                                                             to refine these lists into content for a
                                                                                                                                                             statement of our mission. Participants
                                                                                                                                                             in November should have received the
                                                                                                                                                             brainstorming list by e-mail and are
                                                                                                                                                             encouraged to add and refine ideas by e-
                                                                                                                                                             mail. Staff and members will share ad-
                                                                                                                                                             ditional research, including examples
                                                                                                                                                             of other state newspaper associations’
                                                                                                                                                             mission statements.
                                                                                                                                                               Any interested member is welcome
                                                                                                                                                             to join the online discussion. Simply
                                                                                                                                                             send a message to Henry Stokes at
                                                                                                                                                             stok9742@bellsouth.net. You’ll get the
                                                                                                                                                             latest version of the brainstorming
                                                                                                                                                             board and we’ll add you to the “reply
From left, Dr. Kelly Leiter, Marvin West, Stephen Dorris and Dr. Dwight Teeter were presenters at the Hall of Fame Banquet.
                                                                                                                                  ELENORA E. EDWARDS | TPS   all” discussion.
Special section                                                                                                                                                                         January 2008


News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission
                                                                                      A study
                                                                                             News Sentinel chose to sue
                                                                                            BY JACK McELROY                                           with a front page letter to readers promising not to back
                                                                                            Editor, News Sentinel                                     off. Public support was overwhelming; thousands of letters,
                                                                                                                                                      e-mails, Web postings and personal comments poured in,
                                                                                     (Special to The Tennessee Press)                                 urging the newspaper to hold its ground.
                                                                                    The News Sentinel had a simple choice to                            As the legal process unfolded, the county law director,
                                                                                  make after the Knox County Commission                               John Owings, contended that the Open Meetings Act was
                                                                                  meeting of Jan. 31: sue or accept the fact                          unconstitutionally vague and, if valid at all, required a
                                                                                  that the Open Meetings Act had no real                              quorum of a public body to meet in secret for a violation to
                                                                                  meaning in the Knoxville area.                                      occur. The newspaper’s attorney, Richard Hollow, who had
                                                                                    The newspaper chose to sue.                      McElroy          helped author the “sunshine law” decades ago, refuted the
                                                                                    There were signs that the commission was ignoring the             arguments, and Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler allowed the
                                                                                  Sunshine Law within days of the Jan. 12 Supreme Court               suit to proceed. In time, a separate lawsuit by a group of
                                                                                  ruling that term limits applied in Knox County. The deci-           citizens led by attorney Herbert S. Moncier was joined to
                                                                                  sion removed from office 12 of the region’s most entrenched          the News Sentinel’s.
                                                                                  politicians.                                                          Jury selection began on Sept. 11, 2007, and the trial started
                                                                                    Scores of candidates of all political stripes declared interest   the following day. Jurors heard 13 days of arguments and
                                                                                  in the vacated seats. The newspaper editorialized vigorously        testimony that put dozens of public officials, candidates
                                                                                  for an open process, and many community leaders called for          and journalists on the witness stand. The newspaper was ac-
                                                                                  public forums. But behind the scenes, the powers-that-be            cused, again, of filing the suit to sell newspapers and prop up
                                                                                  were scrambling to maintain the political structure they’d          advertising sales and of conspiring with one political faction
                                                                                  built up over decades. The commission opted against public          against another. The jury apparently didn’t buy it.
                                                                                  hearings, and soon word was leaking out that one insider              Under the rules of Chancery Court, jurors were charged
                                                                                  after another already had sewn up appointments.                     with answering 29 interrogatories. Then, based on those find-
                                                                                    The newspaper chased the reports of violations of the             ings of fact, the chancellor would make the final judgment.
                                                                                  sunshine law, and surprisingly, several commissioners made          It took the jury just four hours to complete deliberations
                                                                                  no bones about deliberating outside of the public eye. “They        and answer all 29 questions in favor of the newspaper and
                                                                                  can’t expect any government to go into a meeting and not            the citizen plaintiffs.
                                                                                  know what’s going to go on,” commented Commissioner                    “This is the first time in the history of Tennessee that a
                                                                                  Ivan Harmon. The morning the appointments were to be                jury has been asked to sit in judgment of its government,”
                                                                                  made the newspaper’s lead headline read: “Politicos reveal          said Hollow after the verdict. “It is a tremendous victory for
                                                                                  secret talks.”                                                      the people of Tennessee.”
                                                                                    The meeting itself was a textbook violation of the law. No          Three days later, the chancellor presented his ruling.
                                                                                  public comment was allowed and debate among commis-                 The 12 appointees were removed immediately from office,
                                                                                  sioners was forbidden. Nominations were simply made and             and the remaining commissioners were ordered to begin
                                                                                  voted upon. When a deadlock occurred, a recess would be             the process from scratch, this time in compliance with the
                                                                                  called, and the commissioners would adjourn to back rooms           Open Meetings Act.
                                                                                  and hallways to iron out a solution. The final stalemate was           “It is the hope of this Court,” wrote the judge, “that this
                                                                                  broken after one new appointee sneaked off to be sworn in           lengthy trial, the findings of fact by the jury and the conclu-
                                                                                  early and returned to seize a seat and end the tie.                 sions of law by this Court will be instructive to the members
                                           CLAY OWEN | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE     Discussions of a lawsuit began that afternoon at the              of the Knox County Commission enabling them to effectively,
Sept. 19, 2007 - News Sentinel attorney Richard L. Hollow, left, confers          newspaper, but it took until the following week to finalize the      efficiently and collegially, go about conducting the business
with Editor Jack McElroy.                                                         details. The case was filed Feb. 5 under the name of Editor          of Knox County in public.”
                                                                                  Jack McElroy. Commissioners and other politicians decried             A few days later, a local sign maker, unsolicited, brought
EDITOR’S NOTE: I could scarcely      out over the next nine months,               the move, accusing the News Sentinel of acting out of self-         a banner to the News Sentinel. It read:
believe my eyes when I picked up     and the newspaper and the people             interest. Ire mounted after fresh stories disclosed that one                                    THANKS
the Feb. 1 edition of the News       were vindicated.                             of the new appointees was a former drug dealer and another                          The Light from the Lighthouse
Sentinel, Knoxville, and saw the     Your managing editor has put                 was responsible for a $250,000 sexual harassment judgment.                       has brought Justice to Knox County
fiasco that had occurred the day      together this special section                As the newspaper broadened its coverage into nepotism and                             -- Citizens of Knox County
before in the meeting of the Knox    of The Tennessee Press so that               featherbedding in county government, one commissioner                 It hangs now in the newsroom above the conference table
County Commission. How could a       people in our state and others               threatened to pull legal advertising from the News Sentinel.        where the daily news meetings are held.
public body whose members were       can see clearly what took place              Publisher Bruce Hartmann and Editor McElroy responded
elected to represent the people be   and perhaps be able to use it in
so brazen? What a contradiction:     situations in which they may find
being so in-your-face about hiding
what they were doing. And that
was naming fellow commission-
                                     themselves some time.
                                     You’ll find articles by Jack McEl-
                                     roy, News Sentinel editor, and
                                                                                                            Term-limits chronology
ers and other office-holders by       Richard L. Hollow, First Amend-                       BY SCOTT BARKER                     tive-term limits for all county officials.    (now mayor), sheriff, trustee, register of
the you-scratch-my-back-and-I’ll-    ment attorney who represented                            News Sentinel                    The provision is never enforced because      deeds, clerk and property assessor.
scratch-yours-but-only-under-our-    the News Sentinel; a summary                                                              a state attorney general ruled it was          March 29, 2006 Tennessee Supreme
shirts method.                       of the trial; Chancellor Daryl R.              1988 Knox County voters approve a          unconstitutional. Candidates subject         Court upholds term limits in Shelby
I doubted that the News Sentinel     Fansler’s decision; and other                charter, which allows the county more        to term limits are never challenged          County, which, like Knox County, oper-
and other news media in Knox         items.                                       autonomy from state government.              in court.                                    ates under a charter with a term-limits
County would ignore it, but I won-   Thanks to the News Sentinel for                1990 Knox County’s charter goes              February 1995 The state attorney           provision.
dered about the citizens. Turned     allowing the use of materials by             into effect.                                 general says term limits can’t be              March 30, 2006 Knox County Law
out, there was broad and deep in-    various reporters and photogra-                Nov. 8, 1994 Knox County voters            imposed on offices set up by the state        Director Mike Moyers tells the Knox
dignation about the Commission’s     phers, McElroy and Hollow for                by a 3 to 1 margin approve a charter         constitution, including the Knox
action. The matter played itself     their contributions.                         amendment instituting two-consecu-           County Commission, county executive               SEE CHRONOLOGY, PAGE 2
                                                    —Elenora E. Edwards
2 - News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission                                                The Tennessee Press                                                                                                    JANUARY 2008




CHRONOLOGY
FROM PAGE ONE

County Election Commission that a Su-         June 21, 2006 Senior U.S. District         Open Meetings Act, also known as
preme Court ruling means term limits,       Court Judge James H. Jarvis announces        the Sunshine Law, by holding private
at least for county commissioners, are      he will ask the state Supreme Court to       discussions before and during recesses
valid. Twelve incumbent Knox County         rule on the charter’s validity so he can     from the Jan. 31 meeting. Term-limited
commissioners would be ineligible to        hear a case challenging Knox County’s        Commissioner Mark Cawood goes to
hold office under that interpretation.       adult business ordinance.                    work for the Sheriff ’s Office as a court
  March 31, 2006 The Knox County              June 28, 2006 Weaver grants the            security officer.
Election Commission declines to re-         county’s request for a delay of 180            Feb. 9, 2007 Gov. Phil Bredesen
move from the primary ballot the names      days or until appeals are exhausted.         writes Knox County Mayor Mike
of the 12 commissioners in danger           The county subsequently files an ap-          Ragsdale to tell him a special election
of losing their seats because of term       peal and later asks the state Supreme        to replace the recently appointed 12
limits. The state election coordinator      Court to expedite the case. Meanwhile,       county officeholders appears out of
told election commissioners that they       Jarvis officially asks the state Supreme      the question because it doesn’t meet
had no authority to alter the ballot less   Court to determine whether the charter       constitutional muster.
than 40 days before the election.           is valid.                                      Feb. 20, 2007 Commissioners vote
  April 3, 2006 Lawyer Herbert S.             Sept. 6, 2006 The state Supreme            10-8 with one abstention against Rags-
Moncier asks the state Supreme Court to     Court hears arguments for and against        dale’s effort to ask the state Legislature
rule on whether Sheriff Tim Hutchison       the charter’s validity.                      for help getting a special election for 12
is subject to term limits. The high court     Nov. 7, 2006 Voters approve changes        term-limited county offices.
declines to intervene, and Chancellor       to the charter proposed by the Charter         Feb. 28, 2007 A new state attorney
John Weaver sinks Moncier’s attempt.        Review Committee to address Weaver’s         general’s opinion opens the door for
In his ruling, Weaver questions the         concerns.                                    the Legislature to allow an early elec-
validity of the Knox County charter.          Jan. 12, 2007 The state Supreme            tion for Knox County officeholders if
  April 11, 2006 Weaver rules that          Court rules that the charter and its         their appointments are invalidated.
the primary ballot would remain             term-limits provision are valid, despite     Term-limited Register of Deeds Steve
unchanged.                                  their flaws. The high court directs           Hall is hired by his successor, Sherry
  April 19, 2006 Five county commis-        County Commission to replace 12 of-          Witt, as a $69,000-a-year administrative
sioners in danger of losing their seats     ficials who must lose their posts because     assistant.
because of term limits, Diane Jordan,       of term limits, appointment being the          May 25, 2007 Moore says he will run
David Collins, Billy Tindell, Phil Guthe    standard procedure for filling vacancies      for county clerk.
and John Griess, file a lawsuit in          when an officeholder dies or otherwise          Aug. 1, 2007 Commissioner Sharon
Weaver’s court challenging the validity     leaves office in the middle of a term.        Cawood says she will resign her county
of the Knox County charter.                   Jan. 22, 2007 County Commission            job as a court clerk effective Aug. 17.
  May 2, 2006 An unprecedented              rejects three proposals: one for a special     Aug. 3, 2007 Commissioner Tony
number of write-in candidates vie for       election to fill term-limited offices,         Norman says he will retire as a Knox                                                             CLAY OWEN | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE
several offices in the county primary.       which would require action by the            County schoolteacher.                        Sept. 20, 2007 - Knoxville News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy on the
So many paper ballots are used that it      state Legislature; one for a nonbinding        Aug. 14, 2007 Chancellor Daryl R.          witness stand
takes more than a day to count the votes.   election to guide appointments; and          Fansler rejects the county’s request
Three commissioners at risk because         a public forum where candidates for          for summary judgment in the News             Owings’ proposal that commissioners          that a settlement would save money.
of term limits lose; the nine others win    the four countywide offices could be          Sentinel’s lawsuit and discounts the         redo the Jan. 31 meeting and possibly        Commissioner Mark Harmon ques-
their primary contests.                     interviewed.                                 county’s argument that commission-           head off a trial. “I don’t feel like we’ve   tioned the legality of bringing back
  June 9, 2006 Weaver tosses out the          Jan. 31, 2007 County Commission            ers can deliberate privately so long as      done anything wrong,” said Commis-           term-limited commissioners to vote.
charter. He rules the charter “incom-       meets to replace 12 term-limited of-         a quorum isn’t present.                      sioner Paul Pinkston, who voted no.                    (News Sentinel,
plete, invalid and ineffective.” He also    ficeholders. Members of the public are          Aug. 27, 2007 County Commission            Commissioner Lee Tramel countered                 Jan. 13 and Sept. 9, 2007)
says the term-limits provision is too       not permitted to speak. When voting          votes 10-8 against Law Director John
broad and notes that the charter wasn’t     stalls, commissioners take breaks, then
properly filed with the state.               return and change votes. Chairman
  June 12, 2006 Knox County Mayor
Mike Ragsdale announces his plan to
                                            Scott Moore’s campaign co-treasurer,
                                            Charles Bolus, is sworn in early, then
                                                                                          McElroy: Here’s how we’ll cover the lawsuit
ask Weaver for additional time so the       breaks a deadlock by voting to appoint
county could revise the charter to ad-      sheriff ’s employee Lee Tramel to a                   BY JACK McELROY                     reporter, will be the lead writer. Read-     them — and other bloggers commenting
dress issues raised in the ruling.          contested seat. Other new appointees                  Editor, News Sentinel               ers familiar with Jamie’s work know          on the trial — through our own Michael
  June 12, 2006 School board candidate      include one outgoing commissioner’s                                                       of her vigorous, no-holds-barred style.      Silence’s “No Silence Here” blog on
Thomas Deakins challenges runoffs in        son, another’s wife and the father of          We journalists are supposed to keep        She translates legalese into common          knoxnews.com.
school board elections. State Election      a sitting commissioner. The longest-         ourselves out of the story. We’re trained    speech, which annoys some people,              On occasion, we may also publish
Coordinator Brook Thompson rules that       serving commissioner, Billy Tindell,         to be neutral observers, reporting what      particularly attorneys involved in the       excerpts from these blogs in the print
runoffs can go forward as scheduled.        is named county clerk. The offices of         we see with aloof objectivity.               cases she covers. But it also makes her      edition.
  June 13, 2006 Ragsdale names a 19-        sheriff, trustee and register of deeds         But what do we do when the story is        copy highly readable.                          Here’s what McBee posted in accepting
member Charter Review Committee to          are filled by deputies from within those      about us? How do we cover that news            In any event, she is an experienced        the challenge to cover our coverage:
draft amendments to the charter that        offices. Of 19 commissioners, five now         while maintaining credibility?               and skilled journalist with a reputation       “This outreach to local bloggers seems
address Weaver’s concerns.                  have full-time county jobs and eight           That’s a dilemma the News Sentinel         for integrity.                               to me to be based on two ideas: first, it ap-
  June 14, 2006 Knoxville lawyer            others have immediate family members         has faced since February when we filed          She also has had no direct involvement     pears that McElroy wants to ensure that
Gregory P. Isaacs challenges the            on the county payroll.                       suit against the Knox County Commis-         in our coverage of county government,        his paper covers the trial objectively by
commission’s February appointment of          Feb. 1, 2007 Candidate Jonathan            sion, accusing it of violating the Open      and she happens to be a resident of          enlisting ‘civilian’ outsiders as watch-
General Sessions Court Judge Jimmy          Wimmer says Commissioner Greg                Meetings Act.                                Sevier County, not Knox.                     dogs. Second, it seems like an effort by
Kyle Davis. A panel of General Ses-         “Lumpy” Lambert privately offered              I believed then and believe as strongly      To provide independent scrutiny of         McElroy to integrate the print edition
sions Court judges dismisses Isaacs’        to get him appointed if Wimmer               now that the lawsuit was an appropriate      our coverage, however, we also put           of the paper with the local blogging
motion.                                     would vote for Tramel. Wimmer says           — indeed, necessary — extension of our       out a request among local bloggers for       community. ... I fully support both of
  June 19, 2006 County Commissioner         he refused. Lambert says he couldn’t         watchdog role.                               volunteers to monitor our reports.           those ideas, which is why I volunteered
John Schmid files a notice to appeal         have guaranteed anything.                      However, it has opened us to accusa-         Three bloggers stepped forward. Hap-       to participate in watching the coverage
Weaver’s decision minutes after his           Feb. 2, 2007 Term-limited Trustee          tions of biased coverage. After all, we      pily, they span the political spectrum.      and providing feedback.
colleagues vote to endorse Ragsdale’s       Mike Lowe is hired by his successor,         are a party to the lawsuit on which we         Dave Oatney, http://oatneyworld.             “Stay tuned. This will be interest-
approach.                                   Fred Sisk, as an $85,000-a-year deputy       are reporting.                               blogspot.com/, is fairly conservative.       ing.”
  June 20, 2006 Knox County law             trustee.                                       That dilemma will become more prob-        Rich Hailey, http://shotsacrossthebow.         That may be the one thing all parties
director’s office formally asks Weaver         Feb. 5, 2007 News Sentinel Editor          lematic this week as the lawsuit goes to     com/weblog/, is basically libertarian.       in this case can agree on — it will be
for a 180-day window so the county can      Jack McElroy files a lawsuit alleging         trial. So I thought I’d take a moment to     Russ McBee, http://russmcbee.com/de-         interesting.
revise the charter.                         commissioners violated the state’s           outline our coverage plans.                  fault.aspx, is pretty liberal.                            (Sept. 9, 2007)
                                                                                           Jamie Satterfield, our regular courts         You will be able to find links to all of
JANUARY 2008                                                                            The Tennessee Press                                       News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission - 3


 Decision for plaintiffs sends signals to officials, citizens
 BY RICHARD L. HOLLOW                                 existing County Commission, including eight             tions taken were forbidden in the open meeting           At a hearing on this motion, Chancellor Fansler
  First Amendment attorney                            term-limited members, would be voting upon their        portions. Therefore, if impasses were to occur, as     ruled that the act was not unconstitutional and that
          Knoxville                                   successors and the successors to the term-limited       they did, any debate or discussion had to occur in     a quorum was not required for violation, thereby
                                                      countywide offices.                                      a nonpublic, behind the scenes setting.                adopting the position taken by the Tennessee Court
          (Special to                                    The entire sequence of events unfolded between             Many thought election prearranged                of Appeals and rejecting the challenge of the law
    The Tennessee Press)                              Jan. 12, 2007, when the Supreme Court’s decision          Public uproar was significant after the meeting       department. It was upon these legal theories and
  This litigation was filed in                         in the Jordan case was announced, and Jan. 31,          of Jan. 31. According to public sentiment, there       others that the matter proceeded to trial.
February 2007 by John [Jack]                          2007, when the commissioners met to fill the term        seemed to be a substantial number of citizens             Testimony elicited during the trial of the case
McElroy II against the Knox            Hollow         limited vacancies.                                      who felt that the entire process had been arranged     clearly showed that the majority or a quorum of
County Commission as an                                 The Commission was divided regarding the              prior to the meeting and that the meeting, except      the Commission had participated in the approval
entity and the individual commissioners in their      procedure best used to complete the task of fill-        for two notable lapses in discipline among the         of the nonpublic meeting call letter of Jan. 19 and
official capacity. The lawsuit sought relief under     ing the vacancies. A segment of the Commission          commissioners, was nothing but an orchestrated         there were other violations of the Open Meet-
the Tennessee Open Meetings Act also called the       wanted to have an informal nonbinding vote of           formality. Those two lapses occurred in District       ings Act surrounding that event. Admissions of
“Sunshine Law.” This statute is codified in TCA        the people which was referred to as a plebiscite,       Two and District Four, where somehow the               commissioners under oath on the witness stand
§8-44-101, et seq.                                    another segment of the Commission wanted to             agreements made by commissioners either were           established that two or more commissioners had
  The Open Meetings Act was passed in 1974. It        hold a special election, and yet a third segment        not followed or not properly implemented. This         made decisions about the filling of vacancies in
has been subject to numerous constitutional           of the Commission, and the part backed by the           open controversy resulted in McElroy’s decision        six of the eight commission districts prior to the
challenges. Each of those constitutional chal-        dominant faction on the Commission, favored the         to file his lawsuit.                                    meeting of Jan. 31. Admissions of witnesses and
lenges has been resolved in favor of the act. The     appointment process which more closely followed            The position of the Knox County Law Depart-         the evidence also clearly established that, during
three most prominent challenges were filed on          the provisions of the Tennessee Constitution. A         ment, which represented the individual commis-         the meeting of Jan. 31, deliberations and decision
behalf of local boards of education. These chal-      lively debate ensued in committee meetings on           sioner defendants and the Commission itself,           making were carried out by two or more commis-
lenges were decided in 1974, the first year of the     Jan. 16. As a result of those meetings, it became       was that there could be no violation of the Open       sioners during recesses in the meeting with regard
Act’s existence, 1976 and 1984.                       clear that the special election process, which would    Meetings Act unless a quorum of the Commission         to seat vacancies in District Two and District
   McElroy’s lawsuit challenged the actions of the    have required special legislation by the Tennessee      was present. This ignored the clear mandate of         Four where no consensus or unanimous opinion
Knox County Commission arising out of their           legislature, was not going to work and the plebiscite   T.C.A. §8-44-102(c), which states:                     had been reached prior to the meeting. In short,
attempts to fill vacancies on the Commission           was ruled out because it was too expensive and too         No such chance meeting, informal assemblages,       there were violations of the Open Meetings Act
itself and in four countywide offices existing as      difficult to implement. That left the commissioners      or electronic communication shall be used to           by a quorum prior to the meeting, by two or more
a result of a decision of the Tennessee Supreme       with the appointment process.                           decide or deliberate public business in circumven-     commissioners acting together before the meeting,
Court upholding the validity of the Knox County                 Some called for citizen input                 tion of the spirit or requirements of this part.       and by two or more Commissioners acting together
home rule charter and the term limits provisions        A number of commissioners made public state-             Since that section applied to two or more           during a recess in the meeting of Jan. 31.
contained in it.                                      ments favoring citizen input in the appointment         members of the Commission, it was the position            The jury was submitted a series of questions
   About a decade before the McElroy lawsuit          process. They called for public hearings and            of McElroy that there were numerous violations         called jury interrogatories, which is standard
was filed, the citizens of Knox County had, by         nominations to be received by the citizens. In fact,    before and during the meeting of Jan. 31 where         Chancery Court practice. The jury, after less than
referendum, amended their home rule charter to        no official public hearings were ever held. There        two or more commissioners either deliberated           four hours of deliberation and the hearing of more
provide that no elected official could hold office      were at least two informal hearings conducted by        toward or made decisions in violation of the Act. In   than three weeks of testimony, answered every
for more than two terms. This was subsequently        portions of the commissioners which, although           responses to written discovery made by McElroy,        question in favor of the position of the plaintiffs
interpreted by Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler, Knox      well attended, fell short of being true commission-     at least five county commissioners admitted delib-      and against the defendants. This to me indicated
County Chancery Court, Part 2, as meaning two full    sanctioned public forums.                               erations or decisions by two or more, but less than    that the jury agreed with the position of the plain-
terms of office. This interpretation was made in a        After the Commission committee meetings on           a quorum, of the Commission. These admissions          tiffs and accepted their testimony.
lawsuit filed by then Knox County Law Director         Jan. 16, the Knox County mayor made a call for          were made in writing and under oath in response           This decision, which was not appealed, stands
Richard Beeler seeking the court’s approval to run    a special meeting for the purpose of conducting         to pleadings filed on behalf of McElroy.                as a ratification of the Open Meetings Act and a
for a second full term. The decision of Chancellor    the appointment process. This letter was largely           The commissioners and the Commission,               clear demonstration to the State of Tennessee that
Fansler was never appealed, so it remains the bind-   ignored by the Commission, whose majority at            through counsel, filed a motion under Tennessee         the act can be used to redress a significant viola-
ing law as to the interpretation of the two-term      that time did not favor the county mayor or his         Rule of Civil Procedure 56 seeking a summary           tion of the public trust by public officials. It is a
limit provision in Knox County.                       position. Instead, a letter was drafted by a Commis-    judgment dismissing the lawsuit. Among the             historic decision because members of the public
   Knox County government officials were              sion employee at the request of the Commission          challenges raised in that motion were the quorum       actually sat in judgment of their government in a
never comfortable with term limits. Former Knox       chairman calling for a Jan. 31 meeting to conduct       argument and the theory that the Open Meetings         forum provided for them by the government. This
County Commissioner Bee DeSelm instituted liti-       the appointments. No public notice was given of         Act was unconstitutional because of ambiguities        is exactly what our constitution is supposed to
gation attempting to enforce the term limits. This    this action, no minutes were kept of the action         regarding whether a quorum was required before         support.
litigation prompted a series of lawsuits and legal    taken pursuant to this called letter, and the entire    there could be a violation.                               Because the decision was so overwhelming in
maneuvering, resulting in an opinion by Knox          matter transpired through a series of nonpublic            Significantly, four decisions of the Tennessee       favor of the plaintiffs, because it will send a clear
County Chancellor John Weaver in 2006 that the        telephone communications among Commission               Court of Appeals, which were handed down in            signal to public officials statewide that they need
Knox County Charter was invalid. In his lengthy       staff and various commissioners who, by tele-           the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, interpreted the act        to be attentive to their responsibility to the public
opinion, Chancellor Weaver ruled that the charter     phone, allegedly gave their approval to the Com-        with respect to the quorum issue, specifically          to make decisions in the public view, and because
was invalid because of a number of errors in          mission staff member to place their signatures          finding that a quorum was not required for vio-         this position is not a popular one statewide, there
the processes surrounding its adoption and the        on the letter calling for the special meeting by an     lation and that the “two or more” provisions of        will probably be attempts made legislatively to
completion of formal steps required by law.           electronically generated process. The agenda of         TCA §8-44-102(c) were enacted by the legislature       restrict the act. The plaintiffs achieved a notable
         Opinion said charter was valid               the meeting, contrary to the Knox County Charter,       as a “loophole closer” to avoid “crystallization       success, but that success comes with the price
  That opinion was appealed, and the Tennessee        was never submitted to the agenda committee,            of opinion in a nonpublic meeting just short of        of increased vigilance to protect the act which
Supreme Court reached down, bypassing the Court       nor was there any vote by Commission members            ceremonial acceptance.”                                provided its basis.
of Appeals, and took the case for decision. The       approving the agenda.                                            Act ruled not unconstitutional
lawsuit, styled Jordan, et al vs. Knox County            On the Jan. 31 meeting, the rules of the Commis-
as filed by then First District Commissioner           sion made it impossible for anyone, even a com-
Diane Jordan, resulted in the Supreme Court’s         missioner, to speak for or against a candidate. The                                         The suing citizens
decision that the Knox County Charter was valid       rules of the Commission made it impossible for
and that the Knox County government had been          Commission members to debate a candidate’s                Herbert S. Moncier pointed out in the early days     objected to how it was being carried out
operating as a de facto body, but that there were     qualifications or their views with regard to sup-        of the News Sentinel vs. Knox County Commis-             •Gerald Bone, a retired social worker and
12 term-limited positions within the Knox County      port or opposition toward a candidate during            sion trial that it was nine citizens who first sued     activist
government. Eight of those term-limited positions     the public meeting. Even though citizens could          over allegations that commissioners broke the            •James Gray, a leader in the Knox County
were on County Commission, and the remaining          nominate persons for the vacancies, they were           sunshine law in the process to replace term-limited    Democrat party
four involved countywide officials which included      forbidden to speak for or against the nominations,      officeholders. News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy          •Alfred Ackerman, a retired physicist. His
the sheriff, the register of deeds, the trustee and   and the nominees themselves were forbidden to           later filed a separate lawsuit, and Moncier’s clients   wife, Margo Ackerman, is a retired journalist
the county clerk. The Supreme Court ordered these     make any statements in support of their own             were allowed to intervene.                             and educator.
term-limited positions, which were, therefore,        nominations. In short, the Commission rules, as           So, who are those nine citizens?                       •Donna J.G. Brian, a professor at the University
vacant, filled in accordance with the Tennessee        adopted by the Commission and apparently pro-             •Bee DeSelm, a long-time commissioner who            of Tennessee
Constitution, which required the appointment          mulgated by its chairman, only allowed a process        stepped down from her post in 1998                       •Robert Cunningham, also a UT professor. His
of successors by the County Commission until          of making nominations and then immediately                •Mike Whalen, a Knoxville attorney and activist      wife, Mildred Cunningham, is a retired attorney.
the next general election. This meant that the        voting during the open meeting. Any other ac-           who attended the Jan. 31 meeting and publicly                          (Sept. 24, 2007)
 4 - News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission                                                   The Tennessee Press                                                                                                    JANUARY 2008




  IN THE CHANCERY COURT FOR
KNOX COUNTY, TENNESSEE
                                                 tory end of the story – the butler did it
                                                 – without the deliberations and analysis
                                                                                             statutory prohibition on informal
                                                                                             gatherings used to deliberate public
                                                                                                                                          Wisc.2d 77, 398 N.W.2d 154 (1987). The
                                                                                                                                          Showers court noted that “they [the
                                                                                                                                                                                                    The d
                                                                                                                                                                                        this practice of deferring to a consensus
                                                                                                                                                                                        of “district mates” as “respecting” or
  JOHN McELROY, II, Plaintiff,                   leading up to the deed denouement”.         business subjects all gatherings of two      legislature] did not choose to trigger the    “yielding” to the recommendations of
  BEE DESELM, ET. AL.,                           Ann Taylor Schwing Open Meeting             or more members of a public body to          statute by automatically applying the         those Commissioners. The facts of this
  Intervening Plaintiffs,                        Laws 2d, §6.18.                             scrutiny and effectively makes Ten-          law to any deliberate meetings involving      case show that indeed, with the excep-
  ALFRED AKERMAN, ET. AL.,                        It is apparent to the Court that if        nessee a non-quorum state. Schwing,          governmental business between two             tions of Districts 2 and 4, that happened.
  Intervening Plaintiffs,                       the Open Meeting Act is to be broadly        supra at §6.12(b).                           or more officials. This point is most          Thus, the two Commissioners in a
  Vs. No. 168933-2                              construed to promote openness and              A majority of the states expressly         critical. Were this their intention, the      district exposed themselves to the deci-
  THOMAS STRICKLAND, ET. AL.,                   accountability on the part of the            adopt a quorum as the test for               legislature had only to phrase this           sion making process on business of the
  Defendants.                                   government that simply exposing the          applications of their Open Meetings          statute to read: ““Gathering of any two       parent body there was some occurrence
       MEMORANDUM OPINION                       activities of a governing body only in       Laws to gatherings of the members            or more members of a governmental             that formed an open or silent agreement.
                AND ORDER                       those instances where a quorum, or           of public bodies. Id. at §6.10. Also, see    body … this they did not do”.”                When the whole body convened on Janu-
  The jury in this case completed the           so-called “walking quorum”, is pres-         Dewey v. Redevelopment Agency of               The Wisconsin Supreme court                 ary 31, 2007, this persuasive matter was
jury interrogatories forms consisting           ent only leaves the public with the end      Reno, 119 Nev.87, 64 P.3d 1070 (2003). A     had considered the “two or more”              not presented to the public. Yet, that
of twenty-nine (29) questions designed          of the story without insight into the        minority of the states expressly applies     requirement eleven years earlier in           persuasive occurrence compelled an
to develop facts from which this Court          deliberative process that led up to the      their Open Meeting Act requirements          State ex rel Lynch v. Conta, 71 Wisc.2d       automatic decision through the votes
could make conclusions of law. The              ultimate decision.                           to meetings of fewer than a quorum           662, 239 N.W.2d 313 (1976). Therein the       of the participants.
Court approves those findings of fact              It would appear to this Court that         of the particular body. Some, such as        court said:                                     Additionally, there was extensive
and adopts them as if set forth herein.         Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-102(c) effectively     Kansas and Illinois, define a meeting as         The sham used to conceal the existence     testimony about certain factions
Pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-106,          addresses the issue and reveals just how     a gathering of a majority of a quorum.        of a privately–meeting quorum does not       amongst Commission members. Ap-
the Court makes these conclusions of            much of the deliberative process the         Connecticut, by judicial interpretation,      require that the Open Meeting require-       parently those factions do exist. There
law based upon those facts.                     General Assembly intended to expose          has held that a quorum is not required.       ments be applied to all private confer-      is a difference, however, amongst some
  From the outset of this case, the             to public view. “Nothing in this section     Other states, such as Colorado and            ences involving less than a quorum. It is    Commissioners as to whether these
central issue has been to what type             shall be construed as to require a chance    Virginia, provide for application of          certainly possible that the appearance of    should be labeled “sheriff ’s” factions
                                                meeting of two (2) or more members of                                                      a quorum could be avoided by separate
of meeting does the Open Meetings                                                            the open meeting requirements to              meetings of two or more groups, each less
                                                                                                                                                                                        or “mayor’s” factions. Other Commis-
Act apply. In support of the motion for         a public body to be considered a public      gatherings of fewer than a quorum                                                          sioners preferred to describe them as
                                                meeting. No such chance meetings,                                                          than a quorum size, who agree through
summary judgment, defendants argued                                                          in certain circumstances. Colorado            mutual representatives to act and vote       factions with different philosophies.
that pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §8-            informal assemblages or electronic           applies its open meetings law to all                                                         In reference to one of the factions
                                                                                                                                           uniformly, or by a decision by a group
44-102(b)(2) the Act only applied when          communications shall be used to decide       meetings of two or more members of                                                         it appears that Commissioner Moore
                                                                                                                                           of less than a quorum size which has
a quorum of the Commission met in a             or deliberate public business in circum-     any state public body at which public         the tacit agreement and acquiescence         is a most influential, if not the most
private meeting. The Court previously           vention of the spirit or requirements of     business is discussed or at which any         of other members sufficient to reach a        influential, member of that so-called
reviewed unpublished opinions from all          this part”. Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-102(c).    formal action may be taken. Schwing,          quorum. Such elaborate arrangements,         faction. Additionally, he serves as the
three sections of the Tennessee Court           This is the so-called loophole closer        supra, at §6.12(b) (citations to state        if factually discovered, are an available    Commission Chair. It does not take a
of Appeals and rendered a decision              discussed in Matthews and Littleton          cases omitted).1 Florida courts have          target for the prosecutor under the simple   stretch of the imagination to envision
from the bench regarding that issue.            v. City of Kingston Springs, 1990 W.L.       held that the sunshine law indicates          quorum rule. Id. at 331.                     that private agreements between
That opinion is adopted herein as if            198240 (Tenn. Ct. App.).                     that the decision making process of a          The Wisconsin Supreme Court in              Commissioner Moore and another
set forth verbatim.                               It is clear that this section begins by    duly appointed committee of a public         Conta noted the problems that arise           member of the faction would result
  Cases such as Matthews v. Shelby              telling us what is not to be considered      body composed of more than one               when members of a governmental body           in an automatic decision through the
County Bd. Of Commissioners, 1990               a public meeting. That is, no chance         member of that body must be in public        intentionally expose themselves to the        votes of the faction. If that particular
W.L. 29276 (Tenn. Ct. App.) convincingly        meeting of two or more members.              even though such members constitute          decision making process on the business       faction constituted a quorum then
established that the Act can be violated        The second sentence in §102(c) is a          less than a quorum of the public body.       of their parent body. Although the court      there would be little difference between
under circumstances where a quorum              limitation on the first. It states that “no   Bigelow v. Howze 291 S.2d 645 (Fla. App.     was discussing a meeting of sufficient         two members conferring and deciding
is not present at the same time. The            such” chance meetings shall be used to       1974). In that case, the court held that     numbers to compose a quorum, those            and the entire faction conferring and
Commission continued to argue though            decide or deliberate public business in      “unless the decision making process of       comments are equally applicable to            deciding.
that in order for the Open Meetings Act         circumvention of the spirit or require-      a committee composed of two or more          any discussion wherein members of a             Carried further, if a faction did not
to be violated the number of Commis-            ments of the Act.                            members of a public body appointing          governmental body receive evidence, ad-       have a quorum then a conference and
sioners meeting at separate times had             Admittedly, the second sentence            the committee is made in public the          visory testimony and the views of each        agreement between two influential
to be of sufficient number to constitute         beginning with “no such chance meet-         salutary objectives of the Sunshine Law      other. In that regard, the Conta court        members of different factions could
a quorum.                                       ings” does not explicitly prohibit two       will have indeed become clouded.”2           noted that in those circumstances             result in automatic decisions of the
  It is well accepted that the formation        or more members of a public body                1
                                                                                                  The open meetings laws in the various       … an invasion of the law is evident.      separate factions to effectuate a major-
of public policy and decisions is public        from deciding or deliberating public          states vary greatly from state to state,     Some occurrence at the session may           ity. As stated in Conta, “the possibil-
business and shall not be conducted in          business in chance meetings, informal         have been frequently amended and have        forge an open or silent agreement. When      ity that a decision could be influenced
                                                assemblages or by using electronic            been divergently construed by judicial       the whole competent body convenes, this
secret. Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-101(a).                                                                                                      persuasive matter may or may not be
                                                                                                                                                                                        dictates that compliance with the law
Tennessee recognizes that the Sunshine          communications. It does, however, say         opinion. Authority from other states                                                      be met”.
                                                that “no such chance meetings” shall          is never more than persuasive author-        presented in its entirety to the public.
Laws are remedial in nature and, as                                                                                                        Yet that persuasive occurrence may             As previously stated, the Florida court
                                                be used for those purposes. Without           ity but because of the vast differences
such, should be broadly construed to                                                          from state to state, decisions from other    compel an automatic decision through         in Bigelow v. Howze took judicial notice
promote openness and accountability             reference to the first sentence, the                                                                                                     of the fact that “committee recommen-
                                                                                              states are of little value in construing     the votes of the conference participants.
on the part of the government and to            second sentence containing the phrase                                                      The likelihood that the public and those     dations are often accepted by public
                                                no such chance meetings is meaning-           Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act except
protect citizens from private delibera-                                                       for statements of general purpose.           members of the governmental body ex-         bodies at face value and with little dis-
tions at all stages in the political process.   less. “No such meetings” alone means                                                       cluded from the private conference may       cussion”. The court stated “Therefore
                                                                                              Schwing, supra, §3.22,3.24.
Metropolitan Air Research Testing               nothing.                                        2
                                                                                                   It should be noted that Florida’s       never be exposed to the actual controlling   unless the decision making process of
Authority, Inc. v. Metropolitan Govern-           In The American Heritage Dictionary,        statute §286.011, F.S.A did not provide      rationale of a government decision thus      a committee composed of two or more
ment of Nashville and Davidson County,          “such” is defined as “of this or that          a “numerical trigger”. There was no          defines such private quorum conferences       members … is made in public the salu-
842 S.W. 2d 611, 616 (Tenn. App. 1992)          kind; being the same as that which            reference to “two or more” nor was there     as normally an evasion of the law. The       tary objectives of the Sunshine Law will
(citations omitted); Souder v. Health           has been last mentioned or implied;           a reference to a quorum.                     possibility that a decision could be influ-   have indeed become clouded”.
                                                being the same”. Thus, the phrase              The Wisconsin Open Meetings Act             enced dictates that compliance with the
Partners, Inc., 997 S.W.2d 140, 145 (Tenn.                                                                                                                                                While the Tennessee General Assem-
                                                “no such meeting”, given the proper          contains no “numerical trigger” and           law be met”. Id. at 330, 331.
App. 1998) (citations omitted).                                                                                                                                                         bly has not been quite as direct as the
                                                definition for “such”, can only mean          the Wisconsin Supreme Court declined           Even though the Wisconsin Supreme
  Simple knowledge of the final acts                                                                                                                                                     Showers court might have preferred, it
                                                that two or more members of a public         to adopt a “two or more” approach as         Court was discussing quorum meetings
or vote seldom provides the public                                                                                                                                                      is inescapable, after applying statutory
                                                body shall not use chance meetings,          a trigger to the Open Meetings Act.          in the previously quoted section of the
an understanding of governmental                                                                                                                                                        construction and the plain and ordinary
                                                informal assemblages or electronic           Instead, in considering serial meetings      opinion, that rationale, when applied
activities.                                                                                                                                                                             meaning to the words contained therein,
   Understanding of governmental activi-        communications to decide or deliber-         and walking quorums, the Wisconsin           to the facts of this case, show that the
                                                                                                                                                                                        that Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-102 (c) does
 ties requires at least knowledge of the        ate public business in circumvention         Supreme Court held that the act applied      same principles are just as applicable to
                                                                                                                                                                                        contain a “two or more” trigger.
 decisions made and actions taken by            of the spirit and requirements of this       to any meetings or deliberations where       meetings of two or more. For example,
                                                                                                                                                                                          In responding to jury interrogatories
 public bodies. That knowledge alone is         part. This construction of the statute       enough members were present to pass          plaintiffs in this case argued that the
                                                                                                                                                                                        I, 1 through 5, the jury found that two
 often not enough to provide meaningful         is consistent with that of the Tennessee     a particular piece of legislation or to      decision by two or more Commission-
                                                                                                                                                                                        or more Knox County Commissioners
 insight into the operation of government.      Attorney General set out at Tenn. Op.        block it (negative quorum). State, ex        ers from the same district to support a
                                                                                                                                                                                        deliberated or decided outside of a
 Simple knowledge of the final action            Atty. Gen. 82-48 and 88-169. Tennessee’s     rel Newspapers, Inc. v. Showers, 135         candidate violated the Open Meetings
                                                                                                                                                                                        public meeting toward a decision to take
 or the vote is often only the unsatisfac-                                                                                                Law. Some Commissioners referred to
 JANUARY 2008                                                                                   The Tennessee Press                                          News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission - 5



cision
 the actions set out in the January 19,
 2007, letter. That letter, of course, was the
                                                 entity concerned.
                                                   Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-106 provides
                                                                                                 apply to void appointments. Accordingly,
                                                                                                 the Knox County Commission currently
                                                                                                                                                discourse regarding the Court’s opinion
                                                                                                                                                of the law. These comments are not to
                                                                                                                                                                                            the people”. Dorrier at 893.
                                                                                                                                                                                              It has been said that “members of a
 call for a special meeting on January 31,       as follows:                                     consists of eleven (11) members with           be construed as part of an order to the     public body may freely discuss their
 2007, for purposes of appointing persons          Enforcement – Jurisdiction – (a)              eight (8) vacancies.                           County Commission, nor is the County        grandchildren, the price of a cruise, the
 to fill the vacancies in the twelve offices.      The circuit courts, the chancery courts,          §2.08. VACANCY., of the Knox County          Law Director ordered or compelled to        weather, events occurring in the former
 Applying the law to those facts, the            and other courts which have equity              Charter provides that in the event of a        agree with these comments. The Law          Soviet Union, books and movies, their
                                                                                                 vacancy in the office of a member of the        Director has asked for guidance from
 result is that the January 19, 2007, call       jurisdiction have jurisdiction to issue         Commission, the remaining members of
                                                                                                                                                                                            vacations and a host of other topics of
 for a special meeting was a nullity.            injunctions, impose penalties, and                                                             this Court and this Court has offered it    interest to their personal lives or their
                                                                                                 the Commission shall fill said vacancy.         for what the Law Director deems it may
    Some statutes, such as Connecticut’s,        otherwise enforce the purposes of this          §2.05 of the Knox County Charter defines                                                    professional lives”. Schwing, supra, at
                                                                                                                                                be worth. The Court stands ready to ad-
 expressly provide that the term “meet-          part upon application of any citizen of         quorum as a majority of the member-            dress any other issue properly brought
                                                                                                                                                                                            §6.24. They may not discuss, however,
 ing” does not include “communication            this state.                                     ship of the Commission. Membership             before the Court.                           the items set on the next agenda for
 limited to notice of meetings of any pub-         (b) In each suit brought under this           is commonly understood to mean the               4
                                                                                                                                                    The term “re-do” has often been         the public body on which they serve,
 lic agency or the agendas thereof ”. The        part, the court shall file written findings       total number of members in a group. At         referred to as a possible remedy for an     nor subjects within the jurisdiction or
 result would normally be the same if for        of fact and conclusions of law and final         present, with eleven members, a quorum         Open Meetings Act violation. Unless         scope of responsibility of the public
 no other reason, as a matter of common          judgments, which shall also be recorded         of the Knox County Commission would            the Neese criteria are met, a “re-do” is    body. Items that can properly appear
 sense. Schwing, supra, at §6.86.                in the minutes of the body involved.            be six members.                                insufficient and could result in an action   on an agenda of the public body and
    Generally, inquiries by individuals            (c) The court shall permanently                 This does not mean that for purposes         for contempt.                               subjects on which it is empowered to
 to a public entity as to when the entity        enjoin any person adjudged by it in             of conducting business a quorum would                                                      act or advise are similarly forbidden
                                                                                                                                                   Unlike the majority of states,
 would meet to act upon a particular             violation of this part from further             be the majority of those present. When                                                     for non-complying discussion by the
                                                                                                 a seat is filled, the person holding the       Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act pro-
 matter do not constitute a violation.           violation of this part. Each separate                                                         vides for no penalties against those         members of the public body. When
                                                                                                 seat is a member of the body. When the
 Southern Valley Grain Dealers Assoc.            occurrence of such meetings not held            seat is vacant there can be no member. It     violating the act. However, a violation      the topics for discussion and decision
 v. Board Of County Commissioners, 257           in accordance with this part constitutes        would be an absurdity to treat the vacant     of this injunction which will become         are such as would appropriately be
 N.W.2d 425 (N. Dak. 1977). An individual        a separate violation.                           seats as if they were held by a phantom       effective at 12.01 p.m., Friday, October     addressed at a meeting of the public
 member of a public body would not                 (d) The final judgment or decree              member for purposes of determining the        5, 2007, may result in a prosecution for     body, then the Open Meetings Act is
 violate the law by communicating items          in each suit shall state that the court         majority of the membership. Addition-         criminal contempt which, if proved,          applicable to the subject matter of the
 to be added to the agenda to the person         retains jurisdiction over the parties and       ally, defining a quorum as a majority of       could result in punishments of impris-       discussion. Id. at §6.24.
 in charge of assembling the agenda              subject matter for a period of one (1)          nineteen in these circumstances would         onment for a period not to exceed ten           Consent or acquiescence of, or agree-
 and sending copies to other members.            year from the date of entry, and the court      in effect render the Knox County Com-         (10) days and/or a fine of fifty dollars        ment by the individual members acting
 Schwing, supra, §6.86.                          shall order the defendants to report in         mission ineffective inasmuch as it would      ($50.00) for each violation.                  separately, and not as a body, or by a num-
    However, when the discussion regard-         writing semi-annually to the court their        require ten votes of the eleven remaining                                                   ber of the members less than the whole
                                                                                                                                                 Additionally, the Knox County
 ing the time and place of the meeting           compliance with this part.                      members to conduct business.                                                                acting collectively at an unscheduled
                                                                                                                                               Commission pursuant to Tenn. Code             meeting without notice or opportunity
 or the agenda to be established, goes             The jury in this case found certain            Nothing precludes Commission from            Ann. §8-44-106(b) shall record this
                                                                                                re-appointing the same individuals ap-                                                       of the other members to attend, is not
 beyond such purely procedural issues,           facts as set forth in its response to jury                                                    Memorandum Opinion and the Final              sufficient.” Webster v. Texas and Pacific
 then the Open Meetings Act may be               interrogatories from which this Court          pointed on January 31, 2007. However,          Judgment in this case in the minutes of
                                                                                                should Commission decide to do so,                                                           Motor Transport, Co., 166 S.W.2d 75 (Tex.
 violated. It is substantive issues that         concludes that all twelve appointments                                                        the Knox County Commission. Further,          1942).
 are covered by the Open Meetings Act.           made on January 31, 2007, were done in         that decision must be based on a new           the Commission is ordered, pursuant to
                                                                                                and substantial reconsideration of the                                                         The Court is not unmindful of the
 Once the discussion goes beyond the             violation of Tennessee’s Open Meetings                                                        Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-106(d) to report       burdens imposed upon part time citizen
 purely procedural matters of when to            Act. Accordingly, pursuant to Tenn.            issues involved in which the public is         in writing semi-annually to this Court
                                                                                                afforded ample opportunity to know the                                                      legislators by the Open Meetings Act.
 conduct the meeting and delves into a           Code Ann. §8-44-105 those actions are                                                         of its compliance with this part.            It has been argued that the act should
 discussion of the merits of substantive         hereby declared void and of no effect          facts and to be heard pertaining to the          The Court will retain jurisdiction over
                                                                                                action taken. It was not the legislative                                                    not apply to conversations between two
 issues then the requirements of the act         and pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §8-                                                           the parties and the subject matter of this   district mates. The Court has pointed
 are invoked.                                    48-101(4) those offices are vacant, to be       intent to allow a body to ratify a prior       case for a period of one year from the
                                                                                                violative act in a subsequent meeting                                                       out that it is the Charter of Knox County
    In this case, there was substantial          filled by the county legislative body in                                                       date of entry of the final judgment.          that must comply with the Open Meet-
 direct and circumstantial evidence              accordance with Article II, Section 2 of       by a perfunctory crystallization of its          The jury in this case found certain
                                                                                                earlier action. Neese v. Paris Special                                                      ings Act and not the contrary. Thus,
 from which it could be inferred by the          the Tennessee Constitution.3                                                                  facts as set forth in its response to jury   if it is difficult for the Commission
 jury that two or more members of the               3
                                                      Counsel involved in this case and in      School District, 813 S.W.2d 432 (Tenn.         interrogatories from which this Court
                                                                                                Ct. App. 1990).4                                                                            to conduct its business in compliance
 Knox County Commission did more                  particular the Law Director has urged                                                        concludes that all twelve appointments
                                                                                                  In accordance with Tenn. Code Ann.                                                        with the Open Meetings Act with two
 than just discuss a time and place for the       the Court to specify the method by which                                                     made on January 31, 2007, were done in
                                                  the County Commission should go about         §8-44-106(c) the Knox County Commis-                                                        representatives from each district then
 meeting. In fact, the deliberations found                                                                                                     violation of Tennessee’s Open Meetings       it is within the power of the Commission
 by the jury to have occurred resulted in         filling these vacancies. The Court advised     sion and its members are permanently
                                                  counsel from the bench on October 2,
                                                                                                                                               Act. Accordingly, pursuant to Tenn.          to remedy this issue.
 a decision regarding the action to take                                                        enjoined from further violation of             Code Ann. §8-44-105 those actions are
                                                  2007, that this issue is not before the       Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-101, et. seq..                                                           In rendering this decision, the Court
 to fill the vacancies. This decision was          Court but the Court would respond to any                                                     hereby declared void and of no effect        is uninfluenced by any motive, intent,
 made while two resolutions were to be                                                          More precisely the Knox County                 and pursuant to Tenn. Code Ann. §8-
                                                  appropriate motions or actions calling        Commission and its members are                                                              scheme, or the lack thereof on the
 reported out to the full Commission on           upon the Court to issue an opinion in                                                        48-101(4) those offices are vacant, to be     part of any individual Commissioner
 the next business day from the date the                                                        enjoined from engaging in any chance           filled by the county legislative body in
                                                  that regard. Nevertheless, because of                                                                                                     or group of Commissioners. Compli-
 call was issued. The effect is that these        criticism of the courts for failing to
                                                                                                meetings, informal assemblages or              accordance with Article II, Section 2 of
                                                                                                electronic communications consisting                                                        ance with the Open Meetings Act is
 deliberations resulted in a decision             specify how the original appointments                                                        the Tennessee Constitution.3                 demanded regardless of one’s motive
 by more than a quorum of the Knox                should have been made and at the urging       of, or between, two or more members            CONCLUSION
                                                                                                of the Knox County Commission for                                                           or intent.
 County Commission to choose one                  of counsel involved in this case, the Court                                                    During the course of this trial,              It is the hope of this Court that this
 of three possible courses of action              will, by way of obiter dictum, make the       purposes of deciding or deliberating           members of the Commission have
                                                                                                public business in circumvention of                                                         lengthy trial, the findings of fact by the
 that were then being considered by               following observations.                                                                      expressed various opinions about
                                                    Under the Open Meetings Act, the            the spirit or requirements of the Open                                                      jury and the conclusions of law by this
 the Commission. There is rarely any                                                                                                           the obligations imposed by the public        Court will be instructive to the mem-
 purpose to a nonpublic pre–meeting               Court is required to nullify the action       Meetings Act.                                  meetings act. The purpose of the act
                                                  taken by the County Commission on                It has been said that statutes must be                                                   bers of the Knox County Commission
 conference except to conduct some part                                                                                                        is clearly set forth at Tenn. Code Ann.      enabling them to effectively, efficiently
                                                  January 31, 2007. Accordingly, each            construed “with the saving grace of com-
 of the decisional process behind closed          and every appointment made on that                                                           §8-44-101(a):                                and collegially, go about conducting the
                                                                                                 mon sense”. Our courts have repeatedly
 doors. Sacramento Newspaper Guild v.             date has been declared void and of no                                                           The General Assembly hereby declares      business of Knox County in public.
                                                                                                 held that absurdity should be avoided;
 Sacramento County Bd. Of Supervisors,            effect, thereby creating a vacancy in          that the courts should not place upon a
                                                                                                                                                it to be the policy of this state that         Plaintiffs in this case are ordered to
 263 Cal. App.2d 41 (1968).                       those offices pursuant to Tenn. Code                                                           formation of public policy and decisions    post an injunction bond in the amount
                                                                                                 statute a construction which would work
              NULLIFICATION                       Ann. §8-48-101.                                                                               is public business and shall not be
                                                                                                 to the prejudice of the public interest and                                                of $500.00. Counsel for the plaintiffs are
           AND ENFORCEMENT                          Where the election of persons who                                                           conducted in secret.
                                                                                                 a construction which impairs, frustrates                                                   instructed to prepare a final judgment
    Tenn. Code Ann. §8-44-105 provides:           had succeeded to occupy an elected                                                             This Court agrees with the statement
                                                                                                 or defeats the object of a statute should                                                  incorporating this Memorandum Opin-
    Action Nullified – Exception. – Any            office was adjudged void a vacancy ex-          be avoided. State ex rel Maner v. Leach,      in Dorrier v. Dark, that “members
                                                                                                                                                                                            ion and Order as if set forth verbatim
 action taken at a meeting in violation           ists and the former incumbents are not         588 S.W.2d 534 (Tenn. 1979).                  of public bodies will face very few
                                                                                                                                                                                            and taxing the costs to Knox County.
 of this part shall be void and of no             considered de jur or de facto officers            The aforementioned comments are             situations, if any, in which they cannot
                                                                                                                                                                                               Filed and entered this fifth day of
 effect; provided, that this nullification         and are not entitled to resume office.          made without the issue currently pend-        be aware of … whether or not they are
                                                  Tenn. Juris., Counties, §13. Shumate v.                                                                                                   October, 2007.
 of actions taken at such meeting shall                                                          ing before this Court. Additionally, they     in the course of deliberation toward a
                                                  Claiborne County, 191 S.W.2d 441 (Tenn.                                                                                                               Daryl R. Fansler, Chancellor
 not apply to any commitment, otherwise                                                          have been made without argument of the        decision on policy or administration
                                                  1946); Southall v. Billings, 375 S.W.2d 844    counsel and the opportunity to engage in      affecting the conduct of business of
 legal, affecting the public debt of the
                                                  (Tenn. 1963). The same reasoning should
6 - News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission                                                 The Tennessee Press                                                                                                   JANUARY 2008




EDITOR’S NOTE: The following                not get seated.” Owings also asserted
                                                                                   The trial
                                                                                          does that stack up with the concept of      appointments to be made by the Com-           out of John Valiant’s hand, didn’t it?”
information was compiled from               that his clients could not get a fair trial   public transparency? How does that          mission were decided before the Jan.          Bolus said he did not remember. The
the News Sentinel, Knoxville, and           because of their being biased and that        stack up with the idea that all power       31 meeting. He recalled a conversation        chancellor shot down a bid from the
www.knoxnews.com.                           the chancellor should kick them off the       lies in the people?” Moncier said that      with Commissioner Thomas Strickland           Commission to have the suit tossed out.
             —Elenora E. Edwards            panel. “In these lights, in this setting,     a government that conceals its work no      about who might fill the term-lim-            Stackhouse argued that McElroy and
                                            with these (commissioners) watching,          longer represents its citizens. “Secrecy    ited seat of Strickland’s 1st District col-   nine citizens had fallen short of prov-
  Sept. 10 Jurors deciding the lawsuit      what did these people say?” Hollow            and speed equal a political machine,” he    league, Diane Jordan. He testified that        ing their case. Her request came after
would be kept in the dark about certain     asked. “(They answered) we can let            said. Owings said the key word might be     there are three distinct groups among         lawyers for the editor and citizens had
topics, with the commissioners filing        everybody start even, and we can put          “deliberation.” He said, “There may be      commissioners—“pro-Hutchison” be-             ended their case. Hollow insisted there
the most requests with the chancellor       aside any feelings and serve. They are        a lot of politics in this case. Sometimes   ing in the majority; some considered          was plenty of evidence. “Four commis-
and attorneys Herbert S. Moncier,           competent jurors.” Four women and             politics are unpleasant, but this case is   loyal to Ragsdale; and a group aligned        sioners have admitted they engaged in
representing nine citizens, and Richard     eight men were picked as jurors and           not about politics. At the close of this    with no one, and he included himself in       deliberations. The vast majority admit
L. (Rick) Hollow, representing the News     two people as alternates.                     trial, you’ll be asked to decide if the     this group. He said he believed the meet-     conduct just short of deliberations. The
Sentinel, also filing requests.                                                            plaintiffs have proven by a preponder-      ing “was done with speed and secrecy          (open meetings) act says any conduct
                                              Sept. 12 A third alternate was picked.      ance of the evidence whether Knox           to make it less likely that other options     violating the act voids the meeting.
  Sept. 11 Knox County Law Director         The jury was seated just before noon.         County Commission deliberated—key           would get a fair shake….” Stackhouse          We have direct evidence by virtue of
John Owings and Deputy Law Director         Opening statements began. Moncier             word—in private.”                           hinted that Harmon’s testimony was            sworn admissions they violated (the
Mary Ann Stackhouse complained that         said in a beginning statement that the                                                    sour grapes, since he lost every vote         law),” Hollow said. Moncier said, “The
the pool of potential jurors was light on   “sunshine law” was first violated Jan.           Sept. 13 The Commission’s secretary       on Jan. 31.                                   commissioners got together on Jan. 19
residents from the predominantly black      19 when County Commission Chairman            confirmed that she polled 14 commis-                                                       in secret and deliberated to change the
1st District. Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler   Scott Moore told the Commission’s             sioners about whether they approved of        Sept. 20 In cross-examination, Stack-       purpose of the meeting. They made a
nixed that argument. The law directors      secretary to get approval from fellow         both having a meeting and making the        house accused McElroy of filing the            decision.” Fansler denied the county’s
complained that the News Sentinel’s         commissioners for a specially called          appointments at that meeting.               lawsuit to drive up advertising rates.        motion with little comment. Stackhouse
coverage of the case was tainting the       meeting, since the public was not                                                         She also accused him of exploiting the        began her defense by calling newly ap-
jury pool, but Fansler said, “If the        notified the polling was taking place.           Sept. 14 Moore defended the decision      school shooting at Columbine High             pointed Register of Deeds Sherry Witt
newspaper was not a party to the case,      Referring to pretrial statements that         to hold a special meeting to appoint        School to curry favor with jurors. McEl-      and newly appointed Trustee Fred Sisk
we wouldn’t be having this discussion.      brokering and lobbying took place             12 new commissioners. Scott Emge            roy was managing editor of the Rocky          to the stand. Both were employed by
(The judge will) make sure that any         outside public view, Hollow, represent-       recounted a conversation he said he         Mountain News in Denver, Colo. at the         their term-limited predecessors and
juror that has been influenced does          ing the News Sentinel, asked, “How            had with Commissioner Greg (Lumpy)          time of the Columbine massacre. She           both hired their ex-bosses after winning
                                                                                          Lambert on Jan. 12, that the appoint-       read from a speech McElroy had given          appointment. Both said they talked to
                                                                                          ments were already decided. Moore           at UT. “You said, ‘Journalistically it        commissioners individually to solicit
                                                                                          said he proceeded as he did because         was the greatest experience I ever had,’      support but were never promised ap-
                                                                                          of a letter from the state Election Com-    didn’t you?” Stackhouse asked. Hollow         pointment.
                                                                                          mission saying a special election could     called the question a cheap shot and
                                                                                          not be held. The News Sentinel learned      asked McElroy if he sought to “profit            Sept. 24 Commissioner R. Larry
                                                                                          that Owings had given Lambert a letter      from the suffering of others.” “No, sir,”     Smith testified that Moore made it
                                                                                          advising him to seek “private counsel.”     McElroy answered. Stackhouse then             clear that a plan had been hatched to
                                                                                          Earlier he had acknowledged lobbying        countered, “Mr. McElroy, the reason           get Bolus into his Commission seat
                                                                                          fellow commissioners and striking           you brought up Columbine was to win           to break a tie between Moore friend
                                                                                          deals with some of them for votes. Lam-     favor in front of this jury, wasn’t it?”      and former Hutchison employee and
                                                                                          bert was the only commissioner who          Hollow stood and said, “Objection.            loyalist Lee Tramel and Ragsdale
                                                                                          had failed to turn over phone records       That’s absolutely reprehensible….”            ally Scott Davis. Smith’s testimony
                                                                                          to Hollow as part of the lawsuit.           “I think a newspaper should step up           had tongues wagging about whether
                                                                                                                                      and stand up for public access,” the          Moore and Bolus perjured themselves
                                                                                            Sept. 17 Hollow and Moncier asked         editor said. Testimony showed that            on the witness stand and what, if any,
                                                                                          the chancellor to enter a default judg-     after Moore’s campaign treasurer was          prosecution might result. Stackhouse
                                                                                          ment of guilt against Lambert as            appointed, Moore called a recess, and         was able to use Smith to show jurors
                                                                                          penalty for not turning over the phone      Valiant escorted Bolus to be sworn            an example of a commissioner who did
                                                                                          records requested months ago. The           in early so he could vote for another         not deliberate or strike deals. But after
                                                                                          records would have involved phone           candidate Moore supported. Moore              Smith learned from that Hollow that
                                                                                          calls made in January. Stackhouse           was asked what he talked with Valiant         the commissioners never met with the
                                                                                          said Lambert had attempted to get the       about in four phone calls during the          potential appointees, Smith said, “That
                                                                                          records but was told his cell phone pro-    Jan. 31 meeting. Moore said he couldn’t       was not how it was represented to me.
                                                                                          vider maintained records for only six       remember, and Moncier pointed out that        To me, that’s not fair to the applicants.
                                                                                          months. Fansler ordered Stackhouse          Valiant was in the audience at the time.      A piece of paper doesn’t tell you a
                                                                                          to get a written response and file it by     Moore told jurors that Moncier had sued       thing. Interviewing the candidates,
                                                                                          the next morning. As an exhibit filed by     the county 75 times. “You wouldn’t take       seeing them face to face, that really
                                                                                          Hollow and Moncier, the jury viewed a       a call from me during a meeting, would        helps you,” Smith said. He said he was
                                                                                          videotape of the entire Jan. 31 meeting     you?” Moncier asked. Moore responded,         disappointed with other commissioners
                                                                                          at which the replacement commission-        “I probably wouldn’t take a call from         at the meeting. “It was like they were
                                                                                          ers were appointed.                         you any time.” Fansler declined to sanc-      in a hurry to get out. I was like, “We
                                                                                                                                      tion Lambert concerning his failure           need to take the time.’” He said there
                                                                                            Sept. 18 An analysis of Moore’s           to provide phone records and said he          were five or six commissioners trying
                                                                                          phone records showed Moore spent a lot      would instruct jurors about that and          to do the right thing. Moncier asked,
                                                                                          of time on the phone in the days before     that they could infer that Lambert had        “Who do you think owns your seat on
                                                                                          the Jan. 31 meeting. It showed calls        something to hide.                            Commission?” “The 7th District,” Smith
                                                                                          to Charles Bolus, Moore’s campaign                                                        responded.
                                                                                          treasurer, Sheriff Tim Hutchison, Lee         Sept. 21 In testimony, Bolus denied
                                                                                          Tramel, an employee of Hutchison’s,         there was a plan for him to be sworn            Sept. 25 Commissioner Paul Pinkston,
                                                                                          and Scott Davis, linked to Knox County      in early Jan. 31 to cast a vote in a dead-    on the witness stand, took swipes at
                                                                                          Mayor Mike Ragsdale and Knox County         locked race for another commissioner.         Ragsdale and McElroy. Dubbing the pair
                                                                                          Commission lobbyist and attorney            He testified that he decided on his own        “M and R,” Pinkston told jurors it was
                                                                                          John Valiant. Fansler said he would         to do it. He said at first he did not have     Ragsdale and McElroy who were after
                                                 SAUL YOUNG | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE
                                                                                          wait before deciding what if any sanc-      the paper to be signed when he started        power on the Commission. But rather
Sept. 24 - Attorney Richard Hollow questions 7th County District Knox
                                                                                          tion to impose on Lambert.                  to the first floor to take the oath, but        than there being a Hutchison faction,
County Commissioner R. Larry Smith and shows copies of Smith’s personal
                                                                                                                                      when he went into Fansler’s office to          he said that one side is the people’s side
notes on County Commission candidates he interviewed prior to the Jan.
                                                                                           Sept. 19 Commissioner Mark Har-            be sworn in, he did. Moncier asked,
31 appointment of Knox County commissioners.
                                                                                          mon testified that “a majority” of          “Did it just come out of heaven? It came             SEE THE TRIAL, PAGE 7
JANUARY 2008                                                                               The Tennessee Press                                           News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission - 7


                                                                                                 Venable: A victory for the people
                                                                                                    BY SAM VENABLE                                                 Actually, there are a lot more words. And I’ve been saving
                                                                                              Columnist, News Sentinel, Knoxville                                them for this very moment.
                                                                                                                                                                   In a dusty corner of my desk is a stack of e-mail print-
                                                                                             To paraphrase Lumpy Lambert, you                                    outs and phone messages I received in the wake of Black
                                                                                           couldn’t swing a dead cat anywhere in                                 Wednesday. They’re an accurate reflection of how cheated
                                                                                           the courthouse Tuesday without hitting                                the people of this area felt when the hoodwinking occurred.
                                                                                           a violator of the sunshine law.                                       A few excerpts:
                                                                                             And for that, the residents of Knox                                   •“If it weren’t so infuriating it would be funny to watch.”—
                                                                                           County—indeed, the state of Tennessee                                 Marilyn Read
                                                                                           and beyond—should be grateful.                  Venable                 •“Perhaps someday, with a little hope, effort and divine
                                                                                             Unless you just returned from a three-week sabbatical               intervention, our community will have a legitimate and
                                                                                           to Jupiter, you’ve surely heard the news by now: Jurors in            professional government.”—Bill Johns
                                                                                           the Tennessee Open Meetings Act lawsuit sided with News                 •“What a circus. What a disgrace.”—Angelyn Campbell
                                                                                           Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy and nine citizens, right straight          •“This whole debacle has taught me one thing: vote, vote,
                                                                                           down the line.                                                        vote. Rain, snow, sleet or shine. VOTE! I will make my voice
                                                                                             Their decision was clearer than branch water flowing from            heard.”—Candis Hobby
                                                    CLAY OWEN | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE   the highest reaches of the Great Smokies.                               •“I have lived in several major cities and have never
Sept. 12, 2007 - From left, attorney Herbert S. Moncier, Knoxville News                      No ifs. No ands. No buts. No questions. Busted on all               witnessed such a spectacle of insider deals.”—Dennis
Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy and News Sentinel attorney Rick Hollow                        counts.)                                                              Garrison
confer during jury selection.                                                                Meaning that Knox County Commission’s infamous                        •“When you turn foxes loose in the henhouse, do you really
                                              was concerned there’d be a perception        “Black Wednesday” meeting of Jan. 31—during which 12                  expect them to order corn bread and pinto beans?”—William
       THE TRIAL                              of nepotism,” Craig Leuthold said. But
                                              Moncier pressed him on whether his
                                                                                           appointments were made to county offices—was 100 percent
                                                                                           phony baloney. As one of my colleagues aptly (if nonathleti-
                                                                                                                                                                 Varnell
                                                                                                                                                                   •“You don’t have to go to Cuba to find a dictatorship.”—
FROM PAGE 6                                   father’s formidable reputation helped        cally) happily declared, “This was a slam-dunk, grand-slam            Randy Webb
                                              him win election in the first place. Craig    touchdown!”                                                             •“Do they actually think we are that stupid not to see what
and the other is M and R. He said the two     Leuthold voted for his father at the           With the decision, John and Jane Q. Citizen were vindi-             went on?”—Patsy Fox
had an agenda. Pinkston’s wife worked         Jan. 31 meeting. Craig Leuthold said         cated—big time. Strike the Liberty Bell loud and long.                  Apparently they did, Patsy.
for Hutchison. Pinkston defended the          he floated his own name as a candidate          Sure, McElroy and the other nine took the legal steps to              But, thankfully, the jury didn’t buy it.
work of the seven-person committee            for the term-limited trustee’s office but     expose this sham for precisely what it was: a fake, a railroad
that formulated a list of candidates.         withdrew himself when he learned Fred        job, a setup, a shell game of the highest order—or lowest, as         SAM VENABLE can be reached at (865) 342-6272 or
In a surprise move, Stackhouse sent           Sisk, then deputy to Mike Lowe, wanted       the case may be.                                                      venob@knews.com. His latest book, Someday I May Find
Josh Jordan, son of Diane Jordan, to          the post. Hollow noted that Sisk awarded       But their victory is the people’s victory, right out of the         Honest Work: A Newspaper Humorist’s Life, is available at
the witness stand, asked him to state         Craig Leuthold a promotion and $17,000       textbooks of American history and Civics III.                         bookstores, the University of Tennessee Press and online from
his name and to confirm that he had            raise soon after Sisk won appointment.         You didn’t have to be a political scientist to understand           the News Sentinel.
been named to fill the term-limited            Leuthold denied it was payback. Com-         just how angry Knox Countians were with the commission’s                                     (Oct. 3, 2007)
seat of his mother. Then she sat down,        missioner John Schmid told jurors            trickery. The word “livid” comes quickly to mind.
exposing Jordan to cross-examination          their seats were snatched from their
by Hollow and Moncier. Fansler told           control in a power struggle between          was no back room at the Commission
her she must “live with whatever comes        two commission factions. His seat went       meeting place.
up.” Earlier she had asked that the           to Hutchison supporter Richard Cate.
information that he had been a drug           “The way I view it, (the Jan. 31 power         Sept. 28 Fansler declined to take a
dealer in earlier years not be revealed       play) exposed county government for          decision in the case out of the hands
to the jury. However, he continued to         what it was,” Schmid testified. “I am         of the jury. He turned aside a bid by
shield Jordan.                                ashamed to say I participated in some        the Knox County law director’s office
                                              of it in my eight years.”                    to dismiss the case and shot down
  Sept. 26 Commissioner Phil Guthe                                                         requests by Hollow and Moncier to
testified that he had favored a special          Sept. 27 Commissioner Mike Ham-            declare their clients victors. “I’m going
election to fill the commission vacancies      mond, a representative to the county         to let all these issues go to the jury,” the
but that it became clear that not even        ethics committee, denied his involve-        chancellor said. The two sides argued
10 commissioners would support it. He         ment in backing consensus candidates         on the legal instructions to be given to
said he then decided the Commission           for term-limited offices, though he          jurors. Stackhouse asked Fansler to
should put into place its longstanding        admitted he did vote for all of them.        remove the office of sheriff, trustee,
“gentleman’s agreement” that would            He denied supporting the gentleman’s         county clerk and register of deeds
allow each outgoing commissioner to           agreement. He conceded that he is            from the suit. Hollow argued that the
decide who the appointee to replace           considered a Ragsdale ally and con-          law doesn’t allow Fansler to pick and
him or her would be. He said he thought       fessed shame at how the meeting was          choose among the appointments made
the public should not have a say in the       carried out. “That was not our finest         Jan. 31. “If the meeting itself is void,
matter. “For the public to think their        hour, no,” he said. “Were you able to        then everything done at that meeting                                                               CLAY OWEN | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE
voice is going to be heard in that ap-        look in the mirror the next morning          is void,” Hollow said. In asking that          Sept. 21, 2007 - Chancellor Daryl R. Fansler speaks to attorneys.
pointment process, it wasn’t going to         and say what was done was right?”            the chancellor declare their side the
happen. Ultimately, the decision was          Moncier asked. “No,” Hammond an-             victor, Hollow said, “Every one of
mine as to who I would vote for. As           swered.Commissioner Tony Norman              those seats, there had been a decision         judicial eloquence in calling it silly, but   nothing wrong. “The nominations were
unsavory as that is, that’s just the way it   said he is a reluctant member of the         made by two or more of the govern-             occasionally I am completely overcome         conducted in public. The voting was
was,” said Guthe. He continued that he        “dysfunctional” governmental family.         ing body. It was implemented at that           by common sense.”                             conducted in public. The Knox County
learned that a group of commissioners         He said the process on Jan. 31 had left      meeting. It was adopted. What better                                                         Commission met publicly on Jan. 31 at
was pushing Chief Deputy Lee Tramel           him disillusioned. He said he was not a      proof do you need?” Fansler said he              Oct. 1 In closing arguments, Hol-           the City-County Building…adequate
for his seat, disregarding his choice.        member of a political faction and was        would have jurors decide office by of-          low said his client wasn’t looking for        public notice printed in the Knox-
He said he was so angry at one point          largely left out of the lobbying loop. He    fice whether the law was violated. He           a lawsuit victory. “Are we looking for        ville News Sentinel…politics isn’t
that he walked out of the building.           said he believed Tramel won his seat in a    asked Stackhouse, “Why are we having           something to notch a gunbelt here?”           always pretty. Legally, it doesn’t have
Guthe backed Jim Smelser to take his          “rigged” process. The defense ended its      this conversation?” She answered, “I           Hollow asked. “No. What we’re look-           to be.”After closing arguments were
seat in the 4th District. Commissioner        case in the afternoon. A brief rebuttal      don’t know why, your honor.” “Yes, you         ing for here is a message to tell these       concluded, Fansler in the afternoon
Craig Leuthold’s testimony indicated          by the plaintiffs’ lawyers followed. Hol-    do,” he countered. “We’re having this          defendants—comply with the law…only           instructed the jury on the law. They
he did not participate in deliberating,       low and Moncier called Lambert to the        conversation because somebody didn’t           you (the jury) can do that.”Moncier           retired for a short time and chose to
deal-making or district-backing. Term-        witness stand. Speaking of Jan. 31, he       want to answer the mayor’s call (for a         said the people were robbed. “It’s a fix.      return Oct. 2.
limited John Greiss said it was Frank         said, “The sun was shining. There were       special meeting) and wanted to do their        It’s a setup. It’s a robbery of the offices
Leuthold’s reputation and experience          reporters in the hallway. You couldn’t       own. It’s like—you can’t fire me because        by the sheriff ’s department that has           Oct. 2 After four hours of delibera-
that prompted him to decide to nominate       swing a dead cat without hitting a re-       I quit. Silliness is why we’re having          maintained control of Knox County for         tion, jurors awarded McElroy and nine
him to fill his seat, the same district        porter that day.” He said there was no       this argument, it seems to me.” Later,         years. They stole your government. Ow-
represented by the younger Leuthold. “I       “back room deal-making” because there        he added, “I apologize for my lack of          ings said the commissioners had done                 SEE THE TRIAL, PAGE 8
8 - News Sentinel vs. Knox Co. Commission                                                 The Tennessee Press                                                                                                JANUARY 2008




                                                                         SAUL YOUNG | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE                                                                         CLAY OWEN | NEWS SENTINEL, KNOXVILLE
Oct. 2, 2007 - News Sentinel attorney Richard Hollow, left, speaks with News Sentinel Edi-                       Oct. 2, 2007 - Knoxville attorney Herbert S. Moncier, center, hugs citizen plaintiffs Bee
tor Jack McElroy after jurors awarded McElroy and nine citizens a victory against the Knox                       DeSelm, left and Margo Akerman after jurors returned the verdict.
County Commission.

                                                      Statewide effect likely from verdict
         BY SCOTT BARKER                    state Supreme Court ruling upholding           “We have an orientation session when      meet privately in “executive session”       records,” Shoopman said. McFarland
            News Sentinel                   the Knox County Charter.                     City Council members are elected,”          with legal counsel to make decisions        said Tuesday’s “sunshine law” verdict,
                                              Knox County Chancellor Daryl R.            Swanson said. “One of the things we do      about those cases. But Shoopman said        coupled with mandatory ethics policies
  This week’s jury verdict against the      Fansler is expected to issue a final          is go over the Open Meetings Act and        he and his colleagues on the Clinton        established by county and city govern-
Knox County Commission over Open            ruling today applying the jury’s deter-      what council members are allowed to do      City Council don’t even go into ex-         ments across Tennessee, should usher
Meetings Act violations should have         mination to the “sunshine law.” Several      and what they are not allowed to do.”       ecutive session. They deliberate legal      in a new era of openness.
an effect statewide, Roane County At-       local jurisdictions train newly elected        Other municipalities also advise          decisions in regular meetings. “We            Elected officials, he said, need to
torney Tom McFarland said Wednesday.        officials in state laws pertaining to         newly elected officials. In Clinton,        actually discuss the lawsuits publicly,”    recognize the changed atmosphere and
“I think it’s going to be healthy for our   public access. Charles Swanson, who          council members receive the municipal       Shoopman said.                              be careful not to break the law.“We’re
whole state,” McFarland said.               represents the Knoxville City Council,       code and copies of applicable state           Shoopman said the city has made a         entering into a new age of accountabil-
  “Accountability to the people has         said he advises council members not          laws, Mayor Winfred “Wimp” Shoop-           similar effort to allow residents access    ity with the “sunshine law” and the new
come to the forefront. The effect of this   to discuss upcoming votes. “In my            man said.                                   to municipal records.“We revised our        ethics policies that have gone into effect
case will be felt from the Tri-Cities to    opinion,” Swanson said, “they should           One exemption to the Open Meetings        policies on our Open Records Law            statewide,” McFarland said.
Memphis.” On Tuesday, the jury in News      not talk about any pending matter that       Act is a meeting to discuss pending         to make it easier to get those public                    (Oct. 4, 2007)
Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy’s lawsuit      could come up for a vote.”                   lawsuits. Public panels are allowed to
found that the Commission violated            To make sure council members
the Open Meetings Act, also called
the “sunshine law,” by deliberating
                                            are up to speed on the law, Swanson
                                            trains them in the “sunshine law’s”                                  Open meetings help considered
privately to fill 12 offices vacated by a     intricacies.
                                                                                                   BY ERIK SCHELZIG                  responsibilities need to be expanded.“If    several relatives of retiring or sitting
                                                                                                     Associated Press                open meetings need to be included in        commissioners.
                                            situations in our history related to our
      THE TRIAL                             county government. The people of
                                            Knox County have spoken through this
                                                                                           Gov. Phil Bredesen said Wednesday
                                                                                                                                     some fashion in that, I’m willing to take
                                                                                                                                     a look at that,” Bredesen said.When told
                                                                                                                                                                                   “I thought the newspaper should have
                                                                                                                                                                                 won the lawsuit from what I knew about
                                                                                         that he hopes a newly created om-           of Tuesday’s verdict in the Knox County     it,” Bredesen said. “It seemed to me the
FROM PAGE 7                                 jury, and we will do our best to honor the   budsman position will help avoid the        case, Bredesen said he was pleased          actions were fairly egregious and kind
                                            verdict.” Hollow asked the chancellor        need for lawsuits similar to the News       with the ruling that the commission         of outside the road of what seemed to
citizens a sweeping victory by ruling       to declare the Jan. 31 meeting void as       Sentinel’s successful action against the    violated the state’s Open Meetings Act      me to be reasonable behavior, and I’m
that commissioners violated the Open        required by law.                             Knox County Commission.Bredesen,            when members privately discussed            actually glad the newspaper won.”A
Meetings Act in setting in secret the                                                    a Democrat, said that while the om-         how to fill a dozen appointments for         special committee has been meeting
specially called Jan. 31 meeting. The         Oct. 5 Fansler nullified the appoint-       budsman was originally envisioned to        term-limited offices before casting a        this year to propose improvements in
jury also opined that the Commission        ments from the Jan. 31 meeting. His          handle disputes about public records,       public vote in January.The verdict nul-     the state’s open government laws.
did nothing to rectify the violation. The   order contained a permanent injunc-          he said he will consider whether those      lifies the appointments, which included                   (Oct. 4, 2007)
jury officially discredited testimony        tion barring commissioners from
from Bolus that there was no plan for       deliberating in private. The county
him to be sworn in early, which would       was given 90 days to appeal, and Ow-                                       Other views of sunshine lawsuit
enable him to be a tie-breaker in a         ings said he would not recommend an
hotly contested appointment. “The           appeal. In his ruling, Fansler warned          The following are recent editorials       cronyism and become back room deals,        sunshine.
jury’s verdict upholds the validity and     of the need to establish a process of        from Tennessee members of The Asso-         when the public should hear every point       The (Knoxville) News Sentinel spent
importance of the ‘sunshine law,’ and       openness for the future. For the time        ciated Press. In some cases, the editori-   made. The battle for open government        many thousands of dollars of its
more importantly, delivers a strong         being, the Commission was to operate         als have been edited for length.            should continue. Laws may be outdated,      company’s money to battle the Knox
message to officeholders that the public     with 11 members, and chief deputies            The (Nashville) Tennessean,               but recent events show that problems        County Commission’s inept and im-
wants its government to operate openly      would fill the countywide offices until        Oct. 7 - Members of the Legislature         are very much alive.                        proper handling of the appointment of
and with full citizen participation,”       their replacements are named. Fansler        looking at open government laws in            The (Sevierville) Mountain Press,         new members earlier this year. This was
McElroy said. “This is the first time        wrote, “It is the hope of this Court that    Tennessee should bolster those laws,        Oct. 5 - Sometimes people assume that       not a win for the news media. This was a
in the history of Tennessee that a jury     this lengthy trial, the findings of fact      and a jury verdict in Knoxville last        the media are the only ones who care        win for the people these commissioners
has been asked to sit in judgment of        by the jury and the conclusions of law       week is an example of why the issue         about and push for open meetings and        and other elected officials represent.
its government, Hollow said. “(The          by this Court will be instructive to the     is so important.                            open records. Not so. It’s hard for aver-     Government business conducted in se-
trial itself) is a tremendous victory       members of the Knox County Com-                Local government representatives          age citizens to challenge government        cret creates suspicion and resentment,
for the people of Tennessee.” Moncier       mission enabling them to effectively,        have tried to make the case that there      when government hides behind closed         besides being illegal. We don’t need that
said, “I’m elated for the people of Knox    efficiently and collegially, go about         should be more opportunity to have          doors. It often takes a business with       and we don’t deserve that. Thanks to this
County. I’m thrilled the people won         conducting the business of Knox              closed-door meetings, often called          deeper pockets to fight the court battle     ruling, we will have less of it.
today every single issue.” Owings com-      County in public.”                           “executive sessions.” Government deci-      to bring records and meetings into the        (News Sentinel, Oct. 14, 2007)
mented, “This is one of the most unique                                                  sions in private settings tend to lean on

				
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