Note: This story was updated at 11:57 a.m.
CLINTON—An Anderson County committee on Monday agreed to conduct a third-party review of the county law director’s office. But the move didn’t appear to be enough to satisfy those who have sought to have the law director removed from office.
The review was unanimously approved by the Legal Services Advisory Committee on a voice vote after hearing from a handful of residents, including the man who has helped lead the ouster effort. Some of those who spoke continued to raise concerns about Anderson County Law Director Jay Yeager, including some charges that appeared to be new, while others said they supported Yeager and have not been persuaded by the arguments or complaints against him.
The third-party review was proposed by Anderson County Commissioner Myron Iwanski.
“I’m not accusing Jay of anything,” said Iwanski, who modeled his proposal after a recent resolution to review turnover, morale, and administrative policies in the Oak Ridge Police Department. “It’s not an investigation. We’re just getting a review of practices.”
Echoing the sentiments of at least several other commissioners, Iwanski said he “has not seen anything in the information provided so far that is significant enough to warrant action on our part, but that there is no problem with looking at ways to improve county government.”
Some of the allegations against Yeager are already included in an ouster suit that was dismissed by a special judge but then appealed. Iwanski said the third-party review couldn’t get into those issues, but it could look at others, such as a tax sale that has been challenged in a lawsuit. Iwanski said the review could look at evidence but not hearsay.
The Legal Services Advisory Committee is next expected to select an independent third party to review the policies, procedures, and practices in the Anderson County law director’s office. The review will be conducted within 30 days after the party is selected. A report of the review will be delivered to the Legal Services Advisory Committee for any necessary actions.
Under Iwanski’s proposal, the selected third party will be a County Technical Advisory Services consultant or, if CTAS cannot perform the review, an independent person recommended by CTAS. The chairman of the Legal Services Advisory Committee (Steve Mead of Oak Ridge) is authorized to make the arrangements for the third-party independent review.
Mead said CTAS does that kind of work at no cost to counties.
Oak Ridge Today was not able to reach Yeager for comment later Monday night or Tuesday morning, but he has previously called the ouster suit “baseless and unwarranted” and a character assassination.
Anderson County Lynn Byrge, who has helped lead the ouster effort, said the review approved by the county committee wouldn’t satisfy the ouster suit petitioners. But the suit would “go away” if county officials remove Yeager from office, Byrge said.
Greg Brown, attorney for the petitioners, said the ouster suit was dismissed only on the question of whether Yeager is a public official or employee, and the underlying allegations still need to be investigated.
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank said the review is also expected to identify and address citizen concerns.
More information will be added as it becomes available.