editorial (2006-43)

Sleuth Not

County Commission should stick to its legislative role, leave law enforcement to the ‘laws’

MP Endorses:

Sleuth Not

This political maneuvering that has a couple of Knox County Commissioners frothing at the mouth should be put to a stop.

Common sense and the realities of county government dictate that the now-stalled movement to investigate the machinations of Tyler Harber, a former county employee and political operative here, would take us nowhere if it were continued by the Commission.

County Commission is not Congress. Its members do not have staff capable of performing an investigation. Its meetings are not venues for persons to be subpoenaed and placed under oath. Not all of its members are doofuses. Far from it, but those who advocate such an investigation are acting the part.

Leave the criminal investigations (and the political recriminations) outside the City County Building’s Large Assembly Room. It’s true that Harber, who was hired and fired by county Mayor Mike Ragsdale’s administration, was a disruptive force in county government and politics. But he was hardly a loose cannon; he was more like a loose popgun.

He has admitted taking possession of emails from the computer of former Knox Republican Chairman Chad Tindell and turning them over to Ragsdale’s office. If he stole those emails, he should be prosecuted. But it’s up to legitimate law enforcement officials—the sheriff and the district attorney general—to make the determination as to whether his comic opera included crimes. If political dirty tricks were subject to prosecution, there would be a lot of pols in jail.

Sheriff Tim Hutchison and District Attorney General Randy Nichols have been apprised of the situation for two years. Sheriff Hutchison, whose office investigated the claims against Harber, says he has been convinced that a crime, probably a misdemeanor, has been committed, but he has yet to arrest Harber or anyone else. D.A.  Nichols has been mum on the subject recently. No warrants have been taken out, although Tindell has said he’s considered that.

In any event or eventuality, it is none of Commission’s business, and that legislative body has neither the resources, the skills nor the temperament to be conducting investigations.

When new Commissioner Greg “Lumpy” Lambert withdrew his resolution for Commission to pursue such an investigation this week, what it showed was that a Commission majority would neither vote for it, nor believed it necessary or appropriate. Lambert and Commission Chairman Scott “Scooby” Moore should let the idea of investigating any such complaints on their part rest for good. Lambert could as well go back to selling used cars and giving away guns with them, as he once did. His heralded gun advocacy is as close to law enforcement as he should ever be allowed to get.

If the sheriff and the D.A. determine that a crime has been committed and that they have the evidence to prosecute it, they should prosecute whoever is responsible. That’s their duty. It’s in their job descriptions. It is not, however, in the job description for county commissioners.

The commissioners should get back to their duties as legislators and stop wasting their and the public’s time. They were elected to serve on a legislative body, not as a board of gumshoes.

MP Endorses:

Constitution Amendment #1 (Marriage) — No

U.S. Senate — Harold Ford, Jr.

U.S. House of Representatives 2nd District — John J. Duncan, Jr.

Tennessee Senate 5th District — Randy McNally

Tennessee Senate 7th District — Tim Burchett

Tennessee House of Representatives 13th District — Harry Tindell

Tennessee House 14th District — Park M. (Parkey) Strader

Tennessee House 15th District — Joe Armstrong

Tennessee House 16th District — Write-in your choice

Tennessee House 17th District — Write-in your choice

Tennessee House 19th District — Harry Brooks

County Charter Amendment

City Charter Amendment