POLL: Power Struggle

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January 17, 2011 at 10:08am
I really appreciate this poll. I believe if the County Commissioners had openly debated the value of constables --- then an educated electorate would be able to fairly give direction to their elected commissioners. However, the County Commission moved forward without informing the public of their intentions – without a fair debate – and without an opportunity to not only educate themselves, but to allow the people they have been elected serve to be educated about constables. I would hope that regardless of the outcome of this poll, that the County Commission let the people decide the issue of constables at the next election rather that usurping the vote of 2210 citizens who elected five law enforcement officers to help make Cannon County a safer place to live.
January 17, 2011 at 12:43pm
our police officers go through extensive training for thier jobs the constables get what 40hrs. do we really want someone who got elected simply because they ran unoppsed to have a gun with a legal right to shoot someone because that person may have violated the law according to thier limited training? if the constaples want to enforce the law then they should be held to the same training standards that regular law enforcement is. now if they want to serve subpoenas are guide traffic then i have no problems with that. but as the law go ethier train them or get rid of them!
January 17, 2011 at 2:05pm
Whether these people are constables or not they will be carring handguns because they went through the handgun class to get their carry permit so I dont see where that is a valid argument. With the way budgets have to be set this day and time to make departments work it only makes sense to have free help available to the departments. I believe we now have an intelligent sherriff that can find positive ways of using these elected individuals. What concerns me is the way this issue was basically carried under the table to get passed. If this is happening on something as trivial as a constable then what is happening on the important issues?
January 17, 2011 at 2:37pm
What about the constable that has MORE training than the sheriff and MORE training than the chief of police? Why do you want to take away that valuable service to the tax payers that voted him into office? All Cannon County Constables have ALL TRAINING REQUIRED by law --- Also for your information – be it constable, police or citizen --- carrying a gun does not give anyone a right to shoot someone just because they violated the law. Each constable and 300,000 other Tennesseans have a right to carry guns to protect themselves. Taking law enforcement powers from constables will not change that.
January 17, 2011 at 3:55pm
Who wants job that does not pay anything or can afford it.The people that want to be in law enforcement that are constables can run for sheriff or become a deputy.Sheriff has enough to do without a bunch Barny Fife running around he can not be in touch with or not there to back him up.Constables have had there day and it is over move on into 21st century.Let sheriff handle it.
January 17, 2011 at 4:07pm
"...a bunch Barny Fife running around"

So much for lowering the rhetoric level. Constables are elected officials. They live in our community and have the respect of their neighbors and fellow citizens. Whether they are needed or not, they don't deserve to be disrespected and belittled.
January 17, 2011 at 4:09pm
I don't believe that it matters if a constable has "more" training than any law enforcement officer. If it's not the required training under POST, they shouldn't be enforcing any sort of law any more than any other citizen. You weren't using any law enforcement powers before hand, what's it matter that it may be stripped away? It's a vestigial power, therefore, I don't see the point in complaining.
January 17, 2011 at 4:21pm
dmm49 it's called volunteer work. That is what the strength of this country used to me made of before everyone got greedy and turned the current economy to the state that it is in now.It's a shame that you have elected officials willing to put their safety at risk to help the community without being compensated for it. People with this mindset of helping get their gratification from a simple "Thank you". It's a shame that there are narrow minded individuals in the country that can't appreciate this and has to make these individuals seem sub par to everyone else. I for one do appreciate individuals that donate their time and spend the money out of their pockets to do the unappreciated jobs. If we are going to do away with the constables then maybe we should look at the volunteer firefighters and members of the rescue squad. What would it cost to replace these volunteers. All I can do is say Thank you to all of these volunteers. No one knows how needed they are until you put yourself in their shoes or until they are not there when you need them.
January 17, 2011 at 5:01pm
To -- jwf2t --- Personally, my training includes P.O.S.T. certification – in fact I am a P.O.S.T. certified instructor. (P.O.S.T. stands for Peace Officer Standards and Training) I was also the Valedictorian of my P.O.S.T. certified academy. I have used my law enforcement powers to make Cannon County a safer place to live. I also volunteered to teach an Anti-Gang, Anti Bullying program for the schools at no charge --- To qualify to teach the program, I needed to be a law enforcement officer --- The school district chose to teach a lesser program at tax payers expense ---- BUT ---- the point is we have been using our law enforcement powers to make Cannon County a safer place to live.
January 17, 2011 at 5:56pm
All other elected people are paid why do you choose not to pay constable simple because he is no longer needed.Or county could just make every elected job a volunteer job.
January 17, 2011 at 6:31pm
Commissoners do not have explain how they vote no more than I do . If you do not like how they vote then vote for some one else next time.Maybe if they were not paid or free as you call it they would have voted your way.Next it will be audit committee did not vote your way.
January 18, 2011 at 3:03am
"Commissoners do not have explain how they vote"

The same holds true for state house, state senate, U.S. House and U.S. Senate members, so I'm sure you will take that into consideration if any of them start casting votes in favor of legislation (such as health care repeal) that you oppose.
January 18, 2011 at 9:45am
To set the record straight there are a few constables that ARE to be respected. However I must wonder at the qualifications for the office that allows people that can't seem to even interpret the laws that govern the office they hold correctly "specificially tennessee code 8-10-120 that describes the vehicle they are to use" to try and enforce the laws on everyone else. Several people in the county can testify to a constable who has lights on his truck attempting to pull people over for various reasons and I for one cannot blame people for failing to stop for someone not properly identified.
What about the constable who pulled a gun on some county workers for mowing the county right of way and then demanded they get off "his" property. What kind of background is ran on the canidates for constable?
Thankfully the people WE elected as commisioners have the power to step in and correct the problem. Anyone interested can go to http://www.michie.com/tennessee/lpext.dll?f=templates&fn=main-h.htm&cp=tncode for all the requirements of tennssee constables and decide for yourself if the constables are doing there job correctly
January 18, 2011 at 11:25am
Let me begin with saying I am sorry for the length of this post, but in order to convey the information I received about this it is necessary.

While at the CCHS basketball game last night I was able to corner Kevin George who was kind enough to allow me to ask him questions about the Constable issue and with his consent write here what we talked about.

I know a snow job when I see it and I never felt like this was the case when he and I talked. I did not feel that this was a personal issue with him, nor did I feel like he was out to "get" any particular Constable by removing their powers. He assured me the opposite and I believe him to be truthful.

To me this felt entirely about the liability that comes with the Constables performing duties not in conjunction with the Sherriff’s office.

For example: A Constable has the power to pull you over if you run a stop sign. I am not sure of their ability to give you a ticket, but they can pull you over. That is something I was unaware of and to be honest, not something I am sure I am comfortable with. And here is why.

My personal view was that the Constables should be utilized to HELP the local Police and Sherriff’s offices if called upon to do so. I never thought of them working as independent agents or acting alone without the knowledge of our Sherriff’s office.

So here is the argument presented to me. If a Constable pulls an individual over for a routine traffic stop and during that process someone gets hurt for whatever reason then the County and the Commissioners could be held liable for that accident.

With that being said, I will say that I understand better and think there should be more debate on the subject between the Commissioners, the Constables and the Sherriff. I think if everyone could lay aside their personal differences and actually talk, then perhaps a mutual agreement could be found.

I see the Constable role as one that is under utilized. However, I also see where it could become a problem when a Constable starts to act independently from the Sherriff’s office.

In my opinion, I see the Constable role as one a community could use to help as extra eyes for a Neighborhood Watch program or one where they could patrol the area they are elected for to spot drunk drivers, speeders, vandalism, etc. However, this is where working in conjunction with the Sherriff’s office should take place. If they notice something wrong, then they could call it in and let those paid officers take care of it.

I could also see them working at the request of the Sheriff’s office to help serve subpoenas, eviction notices, or help with traffic if needed. I do not see them working as independent agents. That in my opinion, with all due respect, is too subjective.

I mean no disrespect to any of our Constables. I am sure they are all fine individuals and are just trying to improve their districts, which I applaud. I think it is great to see people who are active vs. people who simply complain.

Kevin also assured me that the intent of this proposal was not to do away with the office of Constable, but to simply limit the powers the Constables currently have.

Since most of our Commissioners believe that we only have enough business in our county to justify meeting every three months, then I would strongly suggest the Constables and the Commissioners get together and discuss some of the issues prior to the meeting in April.

Thanks Kevin for taking the time to explain it. I don't believe it was handled in the best possible way, but I think there is room for compromise on both parts and I sincerely hope it comes to a resolve. I would hate to see people trying to make our community better turned away because we couldn’t communicate.

Solutions require effort, not blame.
January 18, 2011 at 12:51pm
And now the world can start turning again that mr C got what he was looking for but still did not agree with you have my vote for being biggest complainer.What we have here is failure to communicate.Need cross that bridge into 21st century .
January 18, 2011 at 1:00pm
Let me think here, do I want FEWER law enforcement personnel in my community or MORE? If the sheriff's department is (at last) adequately staffed then WHY do they call Woodbury PD for assistance at a crime scene while transporting prisoners? While I am willing to believe Sheriff Young to be an effective lawman I feel obligated to point out that this happy turn of events is NOT guaranteed to remain in effect under prospective successors and was CERTAINLY NOT the case less than a decade ago. I may be past middle aged(54)but I recall a time when the sheriff couldn't be "bothered" with enforcing the law outside the Woodbury voting districts. I remember a murderer being held by shotgun toting private citizens while authorities were summoned by CB radio. I remember waiting times for deputies to take statements being hours long. I remember when the northernmost district of the county felt a dire need to create the position of Town Marshal in order to have law enforcement available AT ALL. I remember people I wouldn't trust with a burntout match wearing deputy uniforms and badges(and guns). The day has yet to arrive when I go to sleep without a loaded gun within arms reach and until that day comes I'll support Constables having police powers.
January 18, 2011 at 4:39pm
Anyone interested in viewing the county commission meeting of January 15,2011 please go the the following site: vimeo.com/cannonwire. This will give you a perspective on the constable issue, as well as everything that happened at the meeting. It is quite lengthy, but well worth your time.
January 18, 2011 at 7:04pm
I have always had a great deal of respect and admiration for Mr. Stoetzel, not only when he was a law officer in Cannon County, but even more so in the years that followed.

He probably brings more knowledge and experience to this discussion than all the rest combined and that isn’t to say Mr. Gibbs is not well versed on the issue also, but he has an axe to grind, so his view point would seem somewhat skewed. Those deciding the issue should pay a great deal of attention to Mr. Stoetzel suggestions.

The reference to Barney Fife would led one to believe there may be at least one person holding a position as constable in the county that should be allowed only one round and that one to remain unchambered.

Curious–did the present Sheriff or Police Chief or any of the other past law officials have an opinion?

After a reread (and that was not really needed) it does appear from the length and number of posts, someone is in dire need of a sagacious Sancho Panza to guide them thru this journey as an activist. I am sure there will be other windmills out there.
January 18, 2011 at 7:52pm
If nobody cares to know what government officials are planning on doing before they do it, I guess it makes me wonder why they care after the fact. They might as well meet and act in secret.
January 18, 2011 at 8:26pm
Thank you for your service Tnconstable, you are appreciated!
January 19, 2011 at 12:55pm
Above, Corey says, after talking to Commissioner Kevin George, that "most of our Commissioners believe that we only have enough business in our county to justify meeting every three months...."

However, the video link that Minn provided for the last meeting (http://vimeo.com/cannonwire) is 3 hours and 15 minutes long. In the video, the very first thing County Executive Mike Gannon does after the roll call is to state the following:

“Before we go on, I would like to inform the Commission that I’ve had a couple Commissioners speak with me in the last couple of weeks about trying to keep the meetings more in order, so don’t be offended if I call you out of order. They’ve asked me to, once there is a motion made and a second, we need to limit our comments to as few words as possible because we need to go ahead and vote at that point.... We need to limit our comments as much as possible….”

Democracy with limited debate is uncomfortably close to tyranny.

It sounds like the Commissioners need to meet more frequently--perhaps once every month or two instead of every three months?--so they actually have time to discuss and debate these issues rather than acting hastily and failing to adequately discuss differing opinions and long-term repercussions of actions decided by a quick vote with as little discussion as possible. My hypothesis is backed by the Commissioners’ collective reactions in the video. Almost every time new business that is not on the agenda is brought up, many of the Commissioners react as if they’re more eager to get out of a 3+ hour meeting than continue discussing county business. Their body language clearly expresses they have been in a meeting that has gone on far too long.

Keep in mind also how difficult it is to stay focused for 3 hours. A movie is typically an hour and a half long, and how often do we miss a joke, a subtle twist in the plot, or a hint of foreshadowing? Do you watch movies again and notice things you missed the first time around? Movies are designed to be entertaining and hold our attention, but they can’t hold our complete and undivided attention for an hour and a half. But if we miss a plot point or joke in a movie, we can just rewind or choose to move on: there are no lasting consequences if our minds wander for a couple seconds over 90 minutes, and we are the only person affected by our attention lapse.

But the stakes are higher in government. If your mind wanders in a Commission meeting and you miss an important but brief bit of information (and some Commissioners have cell phones going off during these meetings so they’re being distracted by incoming text messages and whatnot), it’s not like you just missed a bit of entertainment from a movie: how a Commissioner votes affects every person in Cannon County. Commissioners need to be completely and totally focused on what they are voting for or against, and it is not humanly possible to maintain complete and total focus for 3+ hours.

Limiting public discussions among government officials only serves to promote private discussions among government officials, which is a violation of the Sunshine Act and excludes the public from the governing process. I'm not claiming someone has unquestionably violated the Sunshine Act (although there are certainly accusations being made by others on the Cannon Courier in the comments and in a recent letter to the editor), but the current conditions created by the Commissioners meeting once every three months certainly creates an environment that encourages these violations--much like a rusty nail is a breeding ground for tetanus.

Case in point: the first words out of Gannon’s mouth in this most recent meeting were “Before we go on, I would like to inform the Commission that I’ve had a couple Commissioners speak with me in the last couple of weeks about trying to keep the meetings more in order.” Are we to believe that “a few commissioners,” independently of prompting from one another and/or Gannon, came to Gannon to discuss how the quarterly meetings needed to be conducted in a more orderly fashion just a couple weeks before the most recent meeting? Or was the intersection of both topic and timing, from multiple commissioners bringing the matter to Gannon’s attention, purely coincidental?

The stench of illegal backroom dealings/politics--be it among Commissioners alone and/or Commissioners and Gannon--lingers around the first sentence Gannon uttered in opening this last meeting like someone quietly passing wind during a Sunday church service.

County Commission meetings clearly need to be held more frequently than once every three months, and what constitutes “enough debate” should not be dictated to the Commissioners: their job--and their duty to the citizens--is to debate the issues that affect the people in this county. And to do so in the light of day in front of the public.

We get a bank statement once a month. Why do we settle for a local government that meets/reports only once every three months to discuss how our taxes are being spent and issues that affect our freedoms?
January 19, 2011 at 2:05pm
I may have an additional comment later, but I'll start with this: I found it more trying reading through that post than I did sitting through the three-hour meeting. Brevity is beautiful!
January 19, 2011 at 2:55pm
I will have to agree with KH I thought was a C comment his get a bit long kind like old preacher used to put you to sleep in church.GET ER DONE and on move on survey says do not need constables with power .Therefore should have voted to do away with job.I dont know if could stand meeting every month I laugh hard enough when I get my bank statement.
January 19, 2011 at 4:39pm
It was a little long, but I am actually more confused with what dmn49's comment meant.

Diogenes, I think we agree that the commissioners need to meet more than four times a year. That is a lot of the reason why they have eight things listed under "Other Business" every meeting that no one knows about until it is brought up.

Would it be that hard to meet once a month and walk in and decide you have no business and leave or wait every three months and have a three hour and 15 minute meeting?
January 19, 2011 at 5:01pm
The meeting would have been the average two hours, not unreasonable, if the speeches made by Gannon, Parker and Bedwell were eliminated. I would rather have a separate meeting each January for "State of the County" and "State of the Schools" reports than having a meeting every month with an agenda that has little on it other than budget amendments.
January 19, 2011 at 6:09pm
If they meet more than 4 times year that would go against your republican party rule of less government and it would cost taxpayers more money.Might be a case in which audit committee may rule.Since we are dealing with county that is small four times a year is fine.
January 19, 2011 at 6:19pm
Fiscal conservatives want government that works, at a reasonable cost. If paying another $1,000 per year for two additional commission meetings would accomplish that objective, it would be a cheap investment that would return huge dividends.
January 19, 2011 at 6:51pm
Government been working fine for me and county government and I have not heard of county employee not getting his check.If it aint broke dont fix it.This 1000 dollars and money audit committe will cost could be used to give county workers a raise or help with it government is not perfect .Should start jobs committee what you need are there want be anything to audit
January 20, 2011 at 3:29am
There is a "jobs committee" its called the Industrial Development Board."
January 20, 2011 at 6:43am
LOL you are too funny dmn49 with the hatred you harbor for Republicans. You really should run for office, you would fit right in Washington.

Complain about everything, against everything and offer no solutions. Yep, you could be on every committee they offer for either side.

The Audit Committee is free and costs you and the county NOTHING! ZERO! ZILCH! And could possibly save you money. As you love to point out about the Health Care Law, the only one complaining about an Audit Committee is Y O U!

And please, let's keep everything like is has been since 1950 because we wouldn't want to change anything. That might disrupt some tradition that someone's daddy started way back when.

Isn't it funny how 94 other counties in Tennessee meet once a month but the 95th county can't seem to find a way to do it?

Doesn't it seem funny that the City of Woodbury government meets once a month, but the county just can't seem to find enough business to justify it?

Perhaps if they did meet once a month dmn49 they could find time to start a jobs committee as you suggest. Not a bad idea for once.

This is way off topic to the article above. Perhaps you have another poll to start Kevin.
January 20, 2011 at 1:36pm
A commission meeting cost $50.00 per person. A called meeting cost $20.00 per person This saves the county $300.00 per meeting.
January 20, 2011 at 7:43pm
The how about we just call a meeting every month and save the county the $30.00 and tell everyone we are meeting quarterly?

If you divde that extra $300.00 by the total number of people in Cannon County (13,860 according to the recent census)it works out to be 22 cents per person per meeting.

Multiply that by the extra 8 meetings each year and it works out to $1.76 extra for our local government to meet and discuss county business more than four times a year.

I will throw in an extra $100.00 and pay for some of those who can't afford it if they will meet once a month. Sounds fair to me since I am all for them meeting once a month.

Or we could just meet once a quarter and be the only county out of 95 in the State of Tennessee who does that. And we could continue to have three and a half hour meetings with four and five things under Other Business no one knows is there until the day of the meeting.
January 20, 2011 at 10:50pm
Looks like the county commisoners which already working for peanuts are going to come out in the hole.I want contract to sell popcorn cold drinks looks like even longer meetings.GOP will furnish headache pills at the door.
January 20, 2011 at 10:52pm
That will be right up your alley dmm49 ... comments from the peanut gallery.
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