Friday, July 01, 2011

Governor Bill Haslam(R)Tennessee~ Tennesseans, You Wanted a Republican Governor~You Got Him ! Satisfied ?

Haslam spoke too little, Knox Employees wrote too much!
By Pam Strickland
Friday, July 1, 2011

Gov. Haslams e-mail addy > <

Ethics and basic manners have gone by the wayside in local politics and government based on news this week about Gov. Bill Haslam's financial dealings while he was mayor and regarding the email activity of two county employees.

Thanks to the reporting of Nate Rau of The Tennessean, we learned this week that Haslam failed to disclose that he guaranteed a $5.5 million loan for developer Budd Cullom, who is most closely associated in the public eye with the Northshore Town Center project. Haslam did report payback of the loan as income in 2010 through the development firm Holrob, which was his co-guarantor of the loan. Funneling the payback through Holrob feels like money laundering. Cullom did disclose the loan in corporate papers filed with the state in Nashville at the time the loan was initiated. He told The Tennessean that he never borrowed the full amount and has paid back most of it. In the meantime, Haslam, as mayor, oversaw City Council meetings where zoning matters on Northshore Town Center were decided. He thinks that was fine because the mayor only votes on zoning matters in case of a tie, and there was not a tie in this case. And he thought that if he excused himself from the meetings, he would have sent a message that he had a stake in the decision. Oh, please. He did excuse himself for meetings involving his personal residence and those involving Pilot Corp., the family business. Haslam, whose first official act as governor was to roll back ethics disclosure requirements for his cabinet, seems to think he can have it both ways. He needs to know that amending the disclosure forms after the fact isn't adequate. At this point, nothing is. Bottom line: The people of Tennessee can't trust him to disclose when he's getting a financial gain from government decisions or even to maintain an appearance of propriety. I won't even get into the issues around stock in Value Financial Services, a chain of pawn shops, an incongruent thought if ever there was one. Haslam may look like a grown-up Opie, but he sure wasn't raised by Andy. And apparently neither were David Cox, an employee of the Knox County Auditor's Office, and Tom Salter, Knox County director of solid waste. Both of these men have been abusing email. Cox, rather infamously, sent three anonymous, harassing emails to County Commissioner Amy Broyles. In two he used a curse word to describe her. In all three he made fun of her religion. The commissioner and her family are active members at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church, and were present the day in 2008 when a gunman burst in and killed two worshippers and injured several others. I've personally heard Broyles describe realizing that the victims' blood was on her and her youngest child. She rightly asked for an investigation into the emails, then when Cox was identified sought only for him to be reprimanded. He has been placed on administrative leave and could face termination. In 2008, Salter opened an email account pretending to be Brad Mayes, who runs a private mulching business, and sent a flaming email to David Draper, the attorney for Natural Resources Recovery of Tennessee, the county's mulch operator. Salter, who is suing Mayes for libel, thought it was a joke. The only thing funny about it is, well, nothing about it's funny. Mayes is fancied by some as a whistle blower; others aren't so sure. Either way, the entire county mulch operation soap opera needs to end with a coda that features Salter's firing.

Pam Strickland writes a weekly column that appears each Friday. She can be reached by email at
Editorial : Tennesseans, you wanted a Republican Governor. You got him ! Satisfied now ?

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