Mayes will seek election to the office of Circuit Court Clerk

Tyler Mayes

Tyler Mayes

Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Tyler Mayes has announced that he will seek to retain his position in the 2014 election.

Mayes was appointed in October 2012 to fill the term of former Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari.

In a press release, Mayes said the top issue for the office is accountability to taxpayers and the courts.

“During Mayes’ first year in office, he has aggressively pursued new policies and procedures that have resulted in record collections and has made the office more efficient in its daily operations,” the release said. “The aggressive pursuit of bond forfeitures, the installation of new software, and the increased collection of court costs has made the Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office a standard of excellence across Tennessee.” [Read more...]

Democratic Party honors volunteers Monday

The Anderson County Democratic Party will honor and thank volunteers who worked in the campaigns of all Democratic candidates in 2012 elections with a free dinner and party at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 28, at the Clinton Community Center.

Volunteers throughout the county worked in campaigns ranging from President Obama’s re-election campaign to the campaigns of state and local candidates in 2012.

[Read more...]

After week of debate, Beehan re-elected mayor, Miller vice mayor

Tom Beehan

Tom Beehan

Jane Miller

Jane Miller

After a week of spirited public debate, the Oak Ridge City Council re-elected Tom Beehan to a third term as mayor in a 4-3 vote on Monday.

He narrowly beat Oak Ridge City Council member David Mosby, who announced his candidacy this past weekend.

Council also re-elected Jane Miller to a third term as vice mayor—or mayor pro tem—on Monday. She received four votes, and Mosby, who hadn’t sought the position, received three.

[Read more...]

Letter: Time to try a new mayor in Oak Ridge

Note: The following is a copy of a letter sent to Oak Ridge City Council.

Dear City Council Members,

Over the last decade, while he was vice mayor and mayor, Mr. Tom Beehan accomplished some very noteworthy things.

Oak Ridge completed a major upgrade to its high school. The west-end turnpike was modernized. The Guest House (Alexander Inn) was preserved. And Oak Ridge was selected to host a brand new Kroger Marketplace store.

Despite these accomplishments, it’s time to recognize that the clock is ticking on our city’s economic problems and move to a fresh new approach.

[Read more...]

Baughn asks for mayor’s travel records for past five years

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

After asking Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan to consider resigning, new City Council member Trina Baughn requested trip and cost information for all of his city-related travel in the past five years.

She asked Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson for the trip information in a Wednesday afternoon e-mail.

Baughn requested the mayor’s travel records for the dozen boards and committees she knows about, as well as any she doesn’t. She asked Watson to also give the total cost of each trip, including mileage, per diem, hotel expenses, entertainment, and other charges, as well as the funding sources.

[Read more...]

New council member asks mayor to consider resigning, mayor says ‘no’

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

Tom Beehan

Tom Beehan

New Oak Ridge City Council member Trina Baughn has asked Mayor Tom Beehan to drop his bid for a third term as mayor and consider resigning.

In a column posted on her website and submitted to local media, Baughn lobs accusations at the mayor that range from his alleged public encouragement of “backroom meetings” on the high school debt to the alleged benefits he received from the $30 million Kroger Marketplace shopping center.

“An overwhelming percentage of Oak Ridgers have lost all confidence in Tom Beehan’s leadership abilities,” Baughn said. “They elected me to be their voice, and with this letter, I am keeping the only campaign promise that I specifically made: I will not cast my vote for Tom Beehan as mayor.”

The seven-member council is expected to appoint a mayor to serve a two-year term during a Monday, Dec. 10, meeting.

It’s Baughn’s first major move as a new City Council member, and Beehan dismissed it with dismay this week.

“If you had to fact-check that whole column and label it, it would be ‘pants on fire,’” Beehan said. “It’s mostly fiction.”

[Read more...]

Anderson County mayor hires part-time fiscal analyst

Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank announced today that she has hired local businessman Thomas Shope as her part-time fiscal analyst.

“When I campaigned for office, I pledged to internally audit the books to look for efficiency on behalf of the taxpayer,” Frank said. “Hiring Tom is part of keeping that pledge.”

Frank was elected to her first four-year term as county mayor on Aug. 2.

[Read more...]

Official results: Liquor referendum fails in Oliver Springs

Voters in Oliver Springs have rejected a liquor referendum that would have allowed retail package stores to sell alcoholic beverages.

The proposal failed 488-520, according to official certified results released after the Nov. 6 election. That’s a 48 percent to 52 percent vote margin.

[Read more...]

Letter: Micromanagement or good government?

To the Editor:

I am very saddened by the loss of Ellen Smith from the Oak Ridge City Council. I have told her that she will have my support for running again in two years. We will be greatly impoverished by her absence until then.

There are those who blame long meetings on Ellen’s dedication to detail and asking many clarifying questions. The devil is always in the details, and it has been Ellen’s interest, talent, incisive mind, and dedication to the details that has made her so vital to the maintenance of good government and to ensuring the people’s right to accountability of how their money is being spent. It has been her dedication to scientific principles of actual verifiable proof of bald assertions that has made her the guardian of the people’s best interests.

[Read more...]

Rep. Fleischmann appointed to House Appropriations Committee

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, an East Tennessee Republican, has been appointed to the House Appropriations Committee.

Fleischmann, re-elected to a second term on Nov. 6, is one of six new members appointed to the powerful committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. The appointments were approved by the House Republican Steering Committee on Thursday.

Fleischmann’s district includes Oak Ridge. In a press release, he said the committee does critical work to ensure that tax revenues from hardworking Americans are spent wisely.

[Read more...]

Letter: School board campaign educational, financial default remains

To the Editor:

I would like to personally thank each of you, the nearly 4,300 citizens that supported me in my campaign to change how our Board of Education deals with its major problems.

Many of you may have noticed that from the beginning of this campaign I elected to run a very unconventional political campaign that was intended to inform rather than just win votes. My campaign was designed to inform the general public about a little known financial default. A default that the BOE has not wanted to even admit exists and explains as a simple misunderstanding.

But this default is as real as the daily sunrise. In spite of that, it has received little public press and no open discussion by either the BOE or the current City Council members.

When I began this campaign, I understood full well the major difficulties that I faced in operating a political campaign based on informing the public. In August, less than 10 people knew a default had occurred. By Nov. 6, about 18 percent of the voters knew about the default. Political campaigns are rarely based on informing anyone or on any real facts. Even fewer campaigns are won based on real facts or principles.

Today, the same disagreement and financial problem exists following the election that was created by the BOE over a year ago. A problem that has resulted in a $766,470 reduction in the 2013 school budget, reducing the Oak Ridge city transfer from $14.6 million to $13.86 million.

This major 2013 reduction has yet to be dealt with by the BOE, and the school budget remains unbalanced. This reduction will also reduce all future city school transfer funds because it establishes a new base from which all future increases grow.

Now, the same people that created the problem and poor relationship must correct it. Members of the BOE have threatened both state and legal action to retain the previous budget, but none of these threats have yet taken place. Also, nothing has been done to improve the situation.

I wish both the BOE members and the school staff well in dealing with the reality of this unaddressed significant budget reduction and their self-created poor relationship. Should this situation remain uncorrected, both will impact staffing and program content in our fine school system.

Citizens, thank you again for your support and your committed concern to both our quality of life and everyone’s’ efforts to improve Oak Ridges’ competitiveness as we move to the future.

Leonard Abbatiello

Oak Ridge