Fri
Nov 23 2007
12:57 pm
By: WhitesCreek

"Mike Hooks' advocacy for higher standards for Constables is something that could be applied to all public offices, including his own..."

Raymond R. Murray(From the Letters to the Editor, Roane County News)

It seems that sentiment is running very strongly toward eliminating the position of Constable in Roane County. We missed a good old fashioned shouting match at the County Commission meeting and wonder when our County Fathers are going to move into the current century by making the meetings available for public viewing on the Internet Tubes via podcast.

We could then watch the brouhaha at our leisure when we needed a bit of a laugh.

You missed no such thing.

I was there. There was no shouting match. Nothing approaching it. There was no brouhaha for you to watch on the internet or anywhere else.

The County Commission is not attempting to keep anything it does at its meetings secret. The meeting was publicized in the RCN and on the Roane County government website. There was plenty of room for both sitting and standing at the meeting. I sat on a benc empty save for myself.

There was nothing to laugh at.

I haven't read Raymond Murray's comments, but based on what I'm reading here, it sounds as if what he had to say may have been... exaggerated.

His name was placed in nomination. The Commission voted. He lost. Strayer won. Could Mr Murray's grapes be a trifle sour?

Speaking of higher standards for constables, the one who was elected has significant qualifications and meets state POST standards far higher than those required of a constable by state law.

RB

Good to have your view, RB

This from the Roane County News was what I based my comment on:

Commission Chairman Troy Beets had to shout Olsen down at one point when Olsen insisted on having a debate about getting rid of constables.

You agree with that or not?

No, sir, I do not.

It was obvious Olsen WANTED to discuss whether or not the office of constable should be allowed to continue to exist in Roane County. That is absolutely true. Olsen made his point several times, and was allowed to do so by Chairman Beets.

The item on the agenda, which was under "Special Orders", was to elect a constable to fill the vacancy created by Mark Patton's resignation. Under "Special Orders" there are some limitations on what can be done with that item of business. It was on the agenda as an election, period. There was no other agenda item that night allowing for the discussion Olsen wanted to have. Whether or not it is appropriate to have such a discussion was not the issue on the agenda. The issue was to fulfill their legal duty, as specified by statute, and fill a vacancy in an elected position.

At one point Chairman Beets asked Commissioner Olsen if he had done as he had been advised in taking up some of these issues with a couple of people (I forget who, exactly). Olsen said that he had. When Beets asked, "And?..." Olsen had no reply. Olsen, as a Commissioner, has equal rights with any other Commissioner to place an item on agenda for either discussion or vote. Olsen apparently had not done so, as there was no place on the agenda calling for a discussion that night as to whether or not constables should be abolished in Roane County.

Chairman Beets let Olsen make his point that he thought the existence of constables should be discussed prior to a vote. Alhough Olsen is well known for his temper, having been involved in cuss-fights in the halls of the courthouse with county employees ion one of the court clerks' offices, and having been arrested for driving off without paying for gas in a fit of anger (this was reported publicly in the RCN when it happened), that did not happen on this night. Chairman Beets then simply retook control of the discussion and said they would vote as the agenda called for. Olsen did not want to do that, but once Beets took control as Chair, Olsen acquiesced and they proceeded. Beets raised his voice no more than enough to make himself heard while Olsen was talking; it was definitely not a shout nor a shouting match.

Beets did NOT "shout down" Olsen. He spoke at the same time - after a fairly extended time Olsen had been allowed to voice his objections - but only loudly enough to assert control of the discussion (as is the duty of the chair when an agenda item is side-tracked).

There was no shouting. There were no outbursts. The RCN reporter - a serious and talented, and zealous fellow - chose to describe the discussion in a way that I, as a journalist, would not have chosen. I HAVE done journalism before, albeit broadcast journalism. I actually won a few awards in many years past from both AP & UPI. I'm not saying that by way of bragging, only to establish that it is valid for me to make that judgment and statement. I have described the way that Beets regained control of the flow of the meeting, and it was exactly that. Beets was firm and decisive, but only loud enough to make sure everybody, including Olsen, understood that they were moving on and that the existence of the office of constable would be discussed on a different occasion, but not this one. That they disagreed is beyond question. That Beets shouted is an inaccurate exaggeration that does an injustice to the tenor of the entire meeting.

And please don't mistake me for a member of the Troy Beets fan club. It's been less than two weeks ago that he asked my opinion on something, and I told him I thought he'd screwed up and missed an opportunity. I have a good idea about what objective reportage is, and saying Beets had to shout down Olsen is NOT it.

RB

Hmm...

I'll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and say that this points out the need for Roane County to move into the 21st century and put the meetings up on the internet. It's easy and relatively cheap, so?

Benefit of the doubt is good...

... especially if you were not there.

At this point I must ask: Given the empty or near empty nature of the room on most nights the Count Commission meets, why should they go to the expense of making such a feed available? I would think that stewardship of the very limited funds they have would lead them to say something like: "When our Commission Room is so full and people cannot get in because there are that many regularly wanting to be directly observe the county doing its business, then we'll consider the extra expense of making it available by means of other media."

Easy and relatively cheap? I'll not argue too hard with that.

But what is relatively cheap? And from whose budget does it come, based on funds not committed to other things? How easy? Who currently working there knows how to do it? Or how much would it cost them to hire it done? And whom would they hire? They don't have a budget for a technology person for county government. Should they? It'd be nice, for sure. It'd be nice if my car was paid for, too, but it won't be until I make all the payments. What payments should Roane County not make in order to provide this? And for how many people would they actually be providing it?

Does this not get back to some of the issues Corvus mentioned about the work to get Broadband to provide service for rural southwest Roane County? Seems that ticket was $150K plus and rising.

Given the lack of interest regularly demonstrated (demonstrated by the amount of room available in the Commission Room), even when it was well known that this issue was going to be voted on, just how much do they have to do in order not to be subject to implied or direct accusations of not making their business widely enough known?

I have been the head of a volunteer organization. When people said they they're interested and wanted to work with us, I said, "Fine! Come on in!" And we waited, often. We wound up with a policy of remind would-be volunteers that, regardless of what they say verbally, zero participation equals to zero commitment equals to zero interest. I'm thinking a nearly empty meeting room damn near equals zero interest. How much is a government required to spoon-feed its constituents?

I simply reiterate, why should they spend money on a project they have no way of measuring success in when they have no heightened interest to base such a decision on? They could spend a quarter of a million dollars on webcasting the Commission meetings to the furthest reaches of Roane County, while 5 people in each rural district watched. What sort of stewardship and fiduciary responsibility would that be? What kind of due diligence would show they would have enough viewers?

RB

RB,

I would argue that your original premise is false so the rest of your post may be off base. Sure there are empty seats but going to those meetings is a pain. You sit through a bunch of housekeeping for a very short meal. If the meetings were posted in clips, we could just observe the parts that concern us.

But even with all that peopla also have this feeling that their voice won't be heard for another, so why bother?

RoaneViews is an attempt to change that.

Knox County has their meetings on cable TV, and we could do that too but some a lot of folks would be left out because our cable contract doesn't require cable to serve everybody.

Wireless broadband to everyone in the county would be a huge asset. Sure there is a price but there is a benefit. We've been given an estimate of $150,000 for West Roane County but let's say it's ten times that amount for all Roane County, for a cost of $1.5 Million.

That is still cheap for the return and more and more municipalities are figuring this out. This would still be a Million Dollars less than what we plan on spending on an Industrial Park that won't return a penny in direct tax revenues.

I propose that we ask the Commissioners to have an overview or preliminary study conducted, preferably by one of the University groups and not by a mercenary.

Is it the case that there is no apathy?

I think not. I think the Commission believes - accurately - that intelligent and interested people such as you and OneT are in the minority, and that the vast majority DO demonstrate the degree of their interest in their attendance practices.

I agree that much of attending those meetings is a pain in the arse. It's the nature of the beast. I don't really know what to say. That's the way all government is. Truthfully, I think there are compelling arguments on both sides. OneT mentioned those who would love to attend but are unable. That's a real issue. I mentioned apathy, and it's a real issue, too. It's a hard decision to make, especially when money is tight, about how far you should go as a government to spoon-feed government meetings to a largely apathetic populace. That RoaneViews is here to help change that is commendable, without a doubt. Yet I feel - and would welcome real evidence to the contrary - that apathy is still on the heavy side of the scales in Roane County.

"But even with all that people also have this feeling that their voice won't be heard for another, so why bother?"

That's a perennial feeling. It's ubiquitous, regardless of the location of the governmental subdivision involved. It's also often a wrong assumption, an assumption born out of the fact that it's easier to play the victim of government than to take an active part. The recent celebration of the first class of Roane County Treasures is a perfect example. I was at the County Commission THIS year when that idea was brought to the Commission by one person. She handed some papers directly to the County Executive. And a couple of weeks ago it happened. Almost every recent commission meeting I've attended, I've seen someone bring something to Commission, and have seen evidence that it is not only received and welcomed, but taken seriously and acted upon to the extent possible. So I have a real problem with that assumption. People are making a difference every month.

"That is still cheap for the return and more and more municipalities are figuring this out."

Let me state first that I'm not against any means of making the meetings available to the public. OK?

So explain the return you're talking about. Especially how it's cheap There's obviously no financial pay-out as with some kinds of investment. Must be one of those wonderful intangible returns on investment. A well informed populace is good, to be sure. The question becomes how to afford it, and where the funds are coming from given the county's finances and need to build some schools.

Doing a study sounds like a good idea. The obvious group to do it would be the CTAS of the University of Tennessee.

Interested but unable?

I wonder how many people in Roane County are interested in a meeting but are physically unable for one reason or another to go to it in person?

At any one time the number may be high: folks with COPD, asthma, or other breathing problems; the homebound; the ill; folks who can't afford to risk catching--or spreading--the flu or a cold; folks with unbreakable commitments during meeting times; folks too poor to afford the drive back and forth to Kingston; folks otherwise without transportation during meeting times; folks who must work in the evenings.... The list could go on and on. I know I have been one of these folks for near 20 years now. :(

Considering the very low dollar cost of holding a virtual meeting (with everyone online) and the very low dollar cost of a webcasted meeting--both less than the ever-increasing cost of transportation of all those people to Kingston and back--web meetings are an option that it might benefit us to consider.

Factor in the costs of the physical meeting room such as heating, air conditioning, cleaning, and security, and a virtual meeting room looks really good.

A virtual meeting room, done in text only, doesn't even require broadband; plain old dial-up will do. AOL members were happily attending meetings in virtual auditoriums way back in the early 90s. :)

I love virtual meetings. Of course for a virtual meeting to be fair in this context we would need near-universal Internet and literacy. Or at least we would need more people who could or would go to a virtual meeting than currently make it to the in-person ones.

Lacking good Internet penetration here in Roane County, though, so that an in-person meeting would still be required, a podcast/webcast would do for increasing access. And the cost is very very low. The incremental cost of each new cast is comparatively near zero. I'm not sure where you got that quarter-million figure, although I suppose one could find someone to bid that much without too much trouble.

However, a little imagination can bring the cost way down. If someone is truly interested I might be persuaded to volunteer to work up a plan. :)

-- OneTahiti

That's a very good point, OneT

Are you talking about a virtual meeting like the EdWeek thing I attended a while back? If so, I don't understand who's gonna do all the typing. If not, I need further information about how that would be accomplished. Also - holding ONLY a virtual meeting would be problematic as it touches on how the meeting must be conducted in public, public attendance at the meeting live and in person, etc.

Talk to me some about the podcast issues you raise.

I got the quarter million dollars out of the thin air: We know it would cost $150K PLUS to do it just in rural southwest Roane County. DOing it everywhere GOTTA cost more than that, so I just picked that figure out of the thin air. Bo basis for it whatever, other than it would be significantly more than $150K.

Talk more about podcasts and recording, etc. I presume you're talking about a post-meeting podcast of a recording in some sort of sound file?

RB

RB

RB,

I'm not sure where you got that $150k figure, or what you were buying with it exactly. It seems sky-high. :(

The web meeting or podcast could be either live or post-meeting, as desired.

It would take some time to do a detailed technical analysis, and that would be premature anyway without an operational need statement, etc.. However, I can throw a few things on the table.

(link...)

(link...)

(link...)

These are paid services, just a sampling; there are many others. It would cost less to do your own setup rather than pay someone else, especially if you are relying on volunteer labor.

At its simplest, you need some microphones, webcam, a laptop with sound card, decent memory and disk space, and an Internet connection. If there is no connection in the meeting room, the cast would have to be post-meeting. Otherwise even live meetings are possible. The hosting costs very little per month, tens of dollars rather than thousands, and older casts could be served for free from archive.org or other place.

-- OneTahiti

Where I got the dollar figure...

That was in Corvus's posting about bringing wireless internet to southwest Roane County. I was talking about the fact that a webcast has to go somewhere - on the web. Folks not on the web can't get it. And WC had been talking about making the web available to the masses, as it were. Broadband, the company working in the rural area below Rockwood, said it had already spent $150K, and there is more to spend before broadband internet wireless becomes a reality just in that portion of the county. My reasoning was that if it cost that much in that corner, it would cost a lot more to do it everywhere in the county - all the corners.

As I type this I'm just responding to your question about where I got the figure. I haven't looked at your links, yet.

Will do that, fer sure, and digest your post. You always provide good material to think about.

RB

RB

Thanks, RB! :) Your posts are full of good material too. :) :)

-- OneTahiti

Uploading Public Meetings

In Knox County, local cable companies are required by contract to to carry Commission meetings. Using the cable feed, someone started posting the County Commission meetings on YouTube.

At the end of a lengthy, lengthy discussion of copyright issues, KnoxViews poster Andy Axel provided the following instructions on how a private citizen could put video of a public meeting onto the Internet without relying on the cable television transmission:

2) Buy a mini-DV.
3) Attend public meetings.
4) Take the mini-DV that you bought in step 2 with you and film the proceedings. A tripod and directional mic might also be helpful.
5) Dump the DV capture onto your computer.
6) Render the DV into a suitable format for YouTube.
7) Upload.
8) Go to step 3

I'm assuming this is what WC and OneT were referring to as podcasts. The process is beyond my technical capacity, but it looks like it would not be that expensive for someone that had the time and interest. Much, much less than $150,000. I would wildly speculate that it would be $1,500 plus time and effort.

Now, this just gets the public meeting on the Internet. It doesn't let people onto the Internet to access it.

Yes, this is the kind of thing I meant

Thanks, Mark! :)

The exact details (webcam vs. DV, etc.) may vary, but the big picture is all the same: very low cost.

-- OneTahiti

Yes, Mark & OneT -

This is helpful info and the kind I was talking about needing! I, for one, shall look over it carefully and see what I can learn from it about what can be done feasibly. Always open for an education!

RB

Apples and Oranges

the $150k figure was in bringing wireless broadband to my end of the County so we could watch those Youtubes in real time.

A webcam based webcast is essentially free.

Absolutely right, WC...

That's exactly what I was referring to: the introduction of broadband wireless internet to the masses. And the company named Broadband is the one that has been working on providing that down in WC's & Corvus's end of the county.

RB

Roane Governmental Meetings on the Air

Have Roane County Commission Meetings ever been broadcast on BBB Cable Channel 12 or any other television or radio channel? Are they currently?

It looks like City Council meetings for Kingston, Harriman, Rockwood and Oliver Springs are on BBB Cable Channel 12's Monday night lineup. What is the arrangement between these municipalities and BBB?

No cable available out here, can't answer.

We don't get over-the-air TV either because of the ridges around.

Maybe someone closer into town knows about cable? :)

-- OneTahiti

I can answer at least part of that, Mark...

They are not on BBB. I think it was brought up, and BBB wanted to charge X amount of dollars to do the thing and make it available (at least at that time - I don't know if that is still the case or not). Several of the City Council meetings have been there on an on-and-off basis because of the same issue. Part of the answers as to the "Why?" question lies in the fact that there are fewer cable subscribers out in the distal portions of the county than there are cable subscribers within the hubs and cities (so it's an economic issue for the cable companies).

BBB is essentially a private company providing content to a public access type channel on the Comcast system for Roane, Anderson, and Morgan counties. Again, however, it is limited to viewing where the cable company has decided it is economical to run cable. So it's far from ubiquitous.

It may be (and I don't know this for sure - I'm surmising) that the county feels that enough county residents (by that meaning non in-city residents) have cable available to them for it to have much of an impact on really making the proceedings of the Commission available to many more people.

The response of WC and others because of not having cable access is illustrative of that issue.

If something has changed - or CAN change - perhaps it's an issue worth re-visiting.

RB

Let's not go into the name

Let's not go into the name calling, Anon, because a number of our Constables don't fit any part of that description. We can have this discussion pretty much on the merits and come to the same conclusion.

I've tried to make sense of the Tennessee code regarding Constables and I find it confusing to say the least. Troy Beets stated that we can't do away with them, but I'm not at all sure that's correct.

I am pretty sure we can eliminate their law enforcement duties and powers with a Commssion vote. Russ Johnson has already efectively done that on the prosecution end but that still leaves folks open to a lot of harrassment from certain folks toting a badge and a log.

I would like to see the County Commission take such action as they can and still have the Constables in service for other duties.

First of all...

"I wonder if the constables rights have been infringed per the 14th Amendment."

Which 14th amendment rights of constables? Constables aren't really a protected class.

The DAG can decide which misdemeanors he wishes to prosecute. That is not infringing anybody's constitutional rights. The DAG exercising the authority of HIS office IS the "due process" with regard to these issues.

RB

NO county is included by name, Anon...

You need to read the entire section, I think.

There are counties where the population exceptions apply.
not less than nor more than
13,625 - 13,675
30,500 - 30,800
31,100 - 31,400
47,000 - 47,500
67,600 - 67,900
73,500 - 73,900
85,800 - 86,100
in the 1990 OR ANY SUBSEQUENT federal census. Well, in the latest federal census, Roane County's population was outside that range by being at 52,000 or 53,000. To be excluded, the nearest exclusion ranges are 47,000-47,500 or 67,600-67,900. Neither of those fits Roane County in 2007. None of them fit Roane County in the SUBSEQUENT census to 1990.

That happens to be the same county population classes excluded by statute from both abolishing the office of constable, or removing the law enforcement powers of constable. Roane County is not excluded from EITHER of those statutes by population.

Indeed, the County Commission can do EITHER of the things in question - either remove law enforcement powers OR abolish the office altogether.

Do you have a law degree, Anon, that tells you more than the CTAS lawyers know about what the County Commission can do?

RB

Legislation By Population Range

I haven't looked at this particular statute, but I will say that legislation by population bracket is a particularly obnoxious Tennessee institution.

My understanding is that legislators do this because if they name a specific County in their public acts, then the legislation must be passed as a private act (a totally different type of legislation). Therefore, instead of naming counties, legislators specify a population range that actually affects only the desired counties. In order to leave open the possibility that other counties may qualify for the same treatment (and avoid the private act system), legislators add the "or any subsequent federal census" language you emphasized in bold.

Legislators probably hope that no other county ever actually falls within the range they put in the legislation. However, due to inevitable population change, every census, each county faces a risk that it will be thrust under some statutory regime which was never intended for that county.

Of course, an even bigger problem caused by the population bracket style of legislating is that it turns otherwise understandable statutes into complete mumbo-jumbo (until you get out your census population tables and decipher the code).

Mark, you're right on the money!

That's exactly what they do.

8-10-101. Election of constables — Term of office — Reapportionment of districts — Abolition of office. —
(a) (1) Two (2) constables shall be elected by the qualified voters in the civil district of each county which includes the county town, and one (1) in every other civil district of the county, each of whom shall hold office for two (2) years, and until the qualification of a successor.
(2) All constables elected to a four-year term, as permitted by the procedure established in this subsection (a), before July 1, 1983, are declared validly elected and shall have the powers and duties established in this chapter and otherwise established by law.

(3) (A) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, a county legislative body may, by adopting a resolution by two-thirds (2/3) vote at two (2) consecutive meetings of the county legislative body, abolish the office of constable for that county or set the term of office for the constable at either two (2) or four (4) years. Any change would not be effective until the end of the current term being served by the constable.
(B) This subdivision (a)(3) does not apply in counties having a population of:

not less than - nor more than

  • 13,625 - 13,675
  • 30,500 - 30,800
  • 31,100 - 31,400
  • 47,000 - 47,500
  • 67,600 - 67,900
  • 73,500 - 73,900
  • 85,800 - 86,100
  • according to the 1990 federal census or any subsequent federal census.

    That's what the statute says. Roane County's census does not fall under any of those classes. The last census ("any subsequent federal census") said Roane County had a bit over 53,000 population. That isn't in one of the prohibited classes.

    I do agree. This section of the law is awful! It is clumsy at best, intentionally deceptive at worst, and the legislature ought to clean the whole thing up!

    RB

It certainly is clumsy

But the legislature can do nothing about this general practice. At least, not by itself. The "problem" is Tenn. Const. Art. XI, Section 8. So, for the legislature to stop using the "population brackets" in its public acts, the Tennessee Constitution would need to be changed.

Having looked at the statute, I'm going to have to disagree with you, RB. T.C.A. 8-10-101(a)(3)(B) says that T.C.A. 8-10-101(a)(3)(A), which is the statute allowing for county commission abolition of the office of constable, does not apply in "counties having a population of ... [not less than 47,000 nor more than 47,500] ... according to the 1990 federal census." Roane County's census according to the 1990 federal census was 47,227. So T.C.A. 8-10-101(a)(3)(a) does not apply in Roane County, and county commission cannot abolish the office of constable under T.C.A. 8-10-101(a)(3)(a).

Your argument is that Roane County's population is not within the brackets for a later census. That is irrelevant. The language "or any subsequent federal census" in (a)(3)(B) allows for the possibility that additional counties may be prohibited from using (a)(3)(A). It does not allow for the possibility that Roane to be "unprohibited" from using (a)(3)(A).

For example, Henry County's 1990 federal census population was 27,888, but its 2000 federal census population was 31,115. Until the 2000 census, Henry County fell outside the exclusions listed in 8-10-101(a)(3)(B) and therefore, the County Commission could have abolished the office of constable. However, when the 2000 census came out, Henry County fell into one of the exclusions in (a)(3)(B), specifically, the one for "counties having a population of ... [not less than 31,100 nor more than 31,400] ... according to the 1990 federal census." So, after the 2000 census, Henry County could not abolish the office of constable under (a)(3)(A).

This is the effect of the "or any subsequent federal census" language, not that Roane can somehow jump out from under the effect of (a)(3)(b) after being placed under its effect by the results of the 1990 census.

I haven't looked into Henry County's constable situation, but the above example illustrates how a County can unintentionally be affected by "population bracket" legislation. That is a bad thing.

I hope my explanation made some sense of the admittedly clumsy statute.

Mark -

I must stand corrected.

The wording is clumsy, and seemed clear to me. Yet you are the lawyer - and I am not. Education and license to practice law trumps even what seems clear in my opinion. That seems exactly backwards from what it ought to mean, but you've been down that road in your education, and I haven't had that education :-)

Your explanation helped, indeed. It was clear - far more so than the statute.

I don't have a citation from the CTAS lawyers. I remember being told by one of the county officials - I forget which one - that someone in CTAS opined that they could do it. I assumed it was an attorney (since it was a legal question). Obviously it was not a lawyer.

OK - thanks for clearing that up for us!

RB

I'm a lay person too, when it comes to the law...

Anonymous... and you interpreted it right and I got it wrong, based on what a real attorney (not just somebody who slept at Holiday Inn Select last night) said. I'm glad Mark cleared up the question.

Given their experience of the last few months, do you not believe that the County Commission will ask our legislators for a private act to abolish the office that has caused them so much grief? I bet they will.

RB

CTAS

What did the CTAS lawyers say about the statute? Is there a link?

Ok, so can we or can't we?

Reading the statute it looks like Roane County has a window of opportunity to deal with the Constable office. I would suggest not abolishing it but following Russ Johnson's lead and remove the enforcement powers.

You Always Can

Just, in this situation, we cannot do it at the County levl under T.C.A. 8-10-10(a)(3)(A). See my post above.

If Roane's General Assembly members want it done, though, then it can be done at the State level.

"It"

To be clear, the "it" I was referring to in the last post was abolishing the office altogether by Commission vote under T.C.A. 8-10-101(a)(3)(A). I haven't looked into the law on stripping constables' law enforcement powers.

I did look at it, Mark -

I don't have the section citation with me, but it referred to exactly the same tables of population classes excluded by the 1990 census. So I believe the Commission would be prohibited from eliminating the law enforcement powers, as well.

That said, Anonymous had said that the DAG refusing to prosecute warrants/citations sworn by the constables was a violation of the 14th Amendment - presumably the due process part - depriving the constable of his "rights." My contention was that the decision by the authority of the DAG on what to prosecute and what not to prosecute WAS the due process of law in that case. I'm not aware of the constable having rights regarding law enforcement other than what is granted by statute - not the constitution.

Or did I miss out on that day of class, too? :-)

RB

14th Amendment and Lawyers

I certainly haven't heard of a 14th amendment right of constables to have their warrants prosecuted by the DA. There may be an argument about whether the DA has the power to simply refuse to enforce any constable warrants, but if there is, it is probably one of mandamus, not 14th amendment constitutional rights.

That said, I am by no means the authority on any of this, which is why I asked what CTAS had to say. I would look at it a lot harder before I pressed the above position if CTAS took the opposite position.

Actually, I would be curious

Actually, I would be curious to know if there has been a recent Constable warrant?

Most of these guys are reasonable people, serving papers and helping when needed. As we have seen, there is the potential for abuseof this position as it now stans, so why don't we get with our state Legislators and make a change?

State law does not even

State law does not even mandate training for the Sheriff expect a leadership course... Now those of you that say the code states that the Sheriff needs to have POST training, look again. Their is a subsection that states notwithstanding a person may run without training, however, yes they will receive less compensation than those with POST training.

The way I read it is they can run but they have to obtain POST certification in their first term. If they don't, they can't run again.

TCA 8-8-102(d)(1):

Notwithstanding any provision of subsections (a)-(d) to the contrary, a current and valid peace officer certification issued by the peace officer standards and training commission or training that is approved by or meets the standard on minimum hours required to be certified by the peace officer standards and training commission is not a requirement for a person to initially qualify for election to the office of sheriff. However, if such a person qualifies to run for the office of sheriff and is elected to the office, such person shall be required to enroll, within six (6) months after taking office, in the recruit training program offered by the Tennessee law enforcement training academy. Any cost associated with obtaining such peace officer standards and training certification shall be paid by the county. For such person to qualify for the office of sheriff in any subsequent election, the person must have completed such recruit training program and have obtained peace officer standards and training certification during such person's first term of office as sheriff.

Good work R Neal

Those extra details are good to know.

RB

Well, Anonymous, you may have something there...

I would imagine if the office continues to exist in Roane County, there would be local support for that option. But I don't think education requirements could change without a change in the statutes governing the office in general.

Your self-education isn't doing too bad for you, so don't feel bad about that! You got it right when I got it wrong (I'm no lawyer either).

RB

There were probably a few prior to the ruling...

Even misdemeanors generally require the officer making an arrest or a citation for them to swear a complaint/warrant. In the case of a citation, an arrest warrant isn't served (unless the cited individual fails to appear). So it seems likely that there were a few - particularly if the then Constable Patton made any misdemeanor arrests/citations. It is possible same occurred for some of the others, but I don't know. It wouldn't really have been an issue at that time, so it wouldn't have made headlines for it to have happened.

I, like you, WC, know some good folks who serve (and have served) as constables.

I would opine that the legislators will be happy to make whatever private act the Commission requests a reality - be it recission of law enforcement powers, or elimination of the office in Roane County. My educated guess is that, given the grief the existence of the office has put them through recently, and the financial burden the existence of the office is about to put them through, the Commission will ask the legislators for a private act to abolish the office.

I know you'd prefer to keep the office and limit the LE powers, and, truthfully, I'm just not sure how I feel about that. But I really think the Commission is just over it and would like to make sure there is no possibility of it ever happening again.

RB

Good points, Anon.

"I think the general law should be amended to mandate further training for the constable."

I think you're right - if the office is to continue to exist and the general public and full-time law enforcement officers are to have much faith in it.

"I have heard an argument that Gov. Ray Blanton did not properly ratify the amendment to remove the constable from the TN Constitution."

That may be true. He certainly screwed up enough while he was there and tarnished the office of Governor in Tennessee. Wouldn't surprise me one bit!

"However, having said all that I do believe that Constable Patton did doom the office and it's existence in the county."

I think you have done gone and hit the nail square on the head!

RB

I wasn't aware of Constables

I wasn't aware of Constables (haven't had them in any county I lived in that I know of).

I'd favor a change to the TN Constitution that abolishes the elected office of Sheriff (and Constables where there is such a thing -- is the Constable elected?) in favor of an appointed and confirmed top cop who is non-partisan, non-political, and qualified according to certifications, experience, and resume. Same thing for Judges. Law enforcement and justice should not be political.

But that's just me.

Constables are elected. As

Constables are elected.

As for partisanship, I agree with you but I don't have an answer. Appointing and confirming has gotten us a rotten bunch of Supremes. When Scalia points at Thomas and calls him a "Nut" you know we can wind up with just as bad a group of "public servants" that way as any.

It's even worse in a local arena.

In theory I agree with appointment...

As far as reality goes, I agree with WC...

There ain't a good way, it seems (sadly).

RB

Dang!

There's not much apathy on the subject of constables but when it comes to an education plan for our county the subject seems to go dark.

If only our school needs got people as invested!

No harm intended, just my observation and I know there is much on this site about education. It just doesn't excited folks as much. Any one read this story?

(link...)

Thanks for the Head's up

Interesting concept from a Mayor that is already pushing education. But can we actually ask our local business community to help fund education when we are pushing business into adjacent counties rather than our own?

Is it true that our commitment to the Cumberland County Industrial Park is more like $10 million than the $2.5 million already committed?

WC

I can't comment factually on the park, as I have no information. I think common sense would indicate RC has only invested 2.5ml to date on a concept (site) in its infancy. Most babies/projects grow up with many needs and by the time they are self-sufficient, many dollars have been invested getting them there. Time will tell if it was a good investment but it seems to be a reasonable risk. Plus, I'm all for developing regional partnerships. I'm thinking this is a safe LONG TERM bet. But, we will always have to keep an eye to these partnering details. The devil is in the details, as you know WC.

As for Ragsdale's suggestions of strengthening education and noting it is the single most important key to future quality employment development, I agree. I'm not suggesting the business community shoulder local education's finances. I'm pointing out Ragsdale is taking a leadership position on promoting our educational needs and the dividends that can be generated from giving the effort. RC doesn’t have Knox Co. resources but we do have the responsibility to care for our children’s educational needs.

So, while the future super (1000+ acres) industrial park is probably a good business move on the county's behalf, I'd like to the same entrepreneurial spirit invested in our much needed school facilities and academic programs.

The kind of proposal Ragsdale made...

could tie in to some of the "out of the box" suggestions (good ones!) that OneT has made on this forum. OneT would make a good consultant to help implement such a volunteer corp and make sure there was good educational value in the process rather than just feel-good fluff.

RB

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