Commission Meeting Preview: Separation Of Powers
Tuesday, March 13, 2012 6:30 am
A separation of powers battle appears to be taking place in Cannon County Government.
On one side is Bob Stoetzel, Chairman of the Cannon County Commission.
On the other is Mike Gannon, Cannon County Executive.
Stoetzel heads the legislative branch of local government, selected to do so by his fellow commissioners. Gannon, elected by popular countywide vote, leads the executive branch.
The first salvos in the battle took place in the form of letters sent out by first Stoetzel and then Gannon to commissioners and the media in advance of tonight's monthly commission meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at the courthouse.
Following is Chairman Stoetzel’s letter:
Monies owed the county.
The money that was fraudulently taken from the county by the R.E.A.C.H Director according to the State Comptroller’s Office will be returned to us in the form of our liability insurance carrier. I have talked to Travis Hancock and asked him to put in motion the remittance of the money stolen by a dishonest employee. He had contacted his main insurers and they acknowledged they would be responsible for the loss. Travis advised me that they would then go after those responsible and get their money back.
The State Comptrollers Auditors stated in their report that there was money stolen from the county in the form of iron and metal that was taken and redeemed by recycling for the sole purpose of monetary gain for that individual. I would like for someone to conduct an investigation locally about how much was cased in.
Also with the help of Representative Mark Pody the department of Revenue has contacted me to help the county to start receiving mineral tax from the quarry located just outside the Woodbury City Limit and across from the Arts Center.
Jason Wells is the owner of the quarry and he says that he has applied for his mineral tax number about 3 weeks ago now and is awaiting the tax number to start sending money to the state that will in turn send it to our Road Department. His company goes by the name Community Stone. Wells says that when the project for the state (the new 70 hgihway) ends at Elkins Church he will be shutting down his operation. He will be leaving the gaping hole to just sit there for us to see.
The Bond rating request has hit a snag. As you may remember that we ordered/authorized the County Executive to fill out the necessary paper work to obtain our Bond rating. The Moody company will be getting the filled out paperwork and determine if we are worthy enough to received a bond rating. A good Bond rating at this time will immediately save us $10,000.00 a per year on insurance savings and will help us in the future of borrowing money at a really good interest rate.
The County Executive did not complete the necessary paperwork as you have seen in the electronic report (e-mail). We had assigned his job to Mike and he hasn’t done this so I am asking permission to go ahead with it. We allotted $5,000.00 to get this done and we don’t need to lose this money.
Following is County Executive Gannon’s letter:
March 9, 2012
Mr. Bob Stoetzel
112 Houston Lane
Woodbury, TN 37190
The intention of this letter is to clear up some misstatements you made in the package you sent to the County Commissioners for the March 13, 2012 meeting. I also want to assure you that the County Executive’s office desires to cooperate with you as Chairman of the County Commission for the smooth operation of county business. However, you have gone far beyond your official duties and responsibilities as Chairman of the Commission. You should know that it is the responsibility of the County Executive to sign all contracts, insurance claims, proclamations and any other documents pertaining to county business. For you to contact the insurance company arbitrarily is far beyond the scope of your responsibility. I have contacted the county’s insurance carrier and instructed them to not discuss insurance matters in the future with anyone not associated with the County Executive’s office. The purpose of my instruction to the insurance carrier is to protect the county from possible lawsuits in the future.
In your letter to the County Commission, you stated that funds were taken fraudulently by a dishonest employee of the REACH Program. The employee you were referring to was replaced almost one and a half years ago upon me being notified that there was the possibility of fraud. As of this letter, any evidence of fraud has not been presented to the Grand Jury for indictment. Therefore, the charges in the audit are alleged at this time. Your premature statement puts Cannon County in danger of a lawsuit and could hamper the chances for the reimbursement of funds to Cannon County that might have been taken.
Concerning your statement that iron and metal was taken by an employee of the Solid Waste Department, the audit clearly states that the policy at that time was to allow employees to take items “given to them” by patrons of the Convenience Center. That policy was stopped sometime in 2010 after auditors advised against it.
Concerning your statement regarding the Bond Rating, I was never consulted on this matter and therefore did not contact the bond rating company in any manner. Therefore, the person responsible for the application is the logical choice to fill out the necessary paperwork. I have very little knowledge of the application due to the fact it was handled by someone not associated with my office.
Concerning your statement that you ordered/authorized the County Executive to do certain things, with all due respect, I remind you that I answer to and work for the citizens of Cannon County. As Chairman of the County Commission, you have no authority to order/authorize the County Executive how to perform the duties required of the office. It would be beneficial for you to learn the duties and responsibilities of chairman of the County Commission to avoid future misunderstandings.
In the spirit of cooperation, I hope in the future you will discuss any matter with me that concerns the County Executive’s office.
cc: County Commissioners