May 29, 2013
Mr. Craig Garrett
Blount County Mayor’s Attorney
607 Smithview Dr.
Maryville, TN 37803
This is in response to your letter to Jerome Moon, Blount County Commission Chairman, dated May 15, 2013, which was read at the May 16 Commission meeting.
It is disappointing that your letter contains a number of factual errors, false accusations and false statements. I shall take them in the order they are presented in your letter.
You speak of “a request from Commissioner Jim Folts to be furnished the resume of Jason Holt”. This is wrong. The video record of the Agenda Meeting clearly shows that Commissioner Monika Murrell made the request for that information.
You refer to a request I made in March of 2011, for the resume of a candidate for Judicial Commissioner by the name of David French. You say that I “published a link to Mr. French’s resume on his (my) website”. You go on to call attention to a statute and say that I wrongly made Mr. French’s address and phone number available to the public. Wrong again. Mr. French’s resume, including his address and phone number, was made public, as part of the Commission meeting information package, on the County website, on March 16, 2011. It remained there, unchanged, for more than two years, until the address and phone number were deleted this month. It was Circuit Court Clerk Hatcher, who may have violated the statute by failing to redact Mr. French’s phone number and address, before the resume was placed on the County’s public website.
Nearly two weeks after the material was published on the County Commission’s public website, I copied the pages from the Commission’s website to my own website. I did this so that my readers would not have to wait for the full, 400+ page, Commission “packet” to download, in order to review a single page. The name of the file on my website, ‘pages from CC110317.pdf’, clearly reveals its source. ‘CC110317.pdf’ is the name of the Commission information packet file, located on the Commission’s public website, for the meeting held on 3/17/2011. Anyone who is familiar with Commission packets, like yourself, should have recognized that fact.
You also make the false accusation: “After Commissioner Folts’ post on his website, Mr. Hatcher pointed out to the Commissioner the above law and his potential violation of the same, yet Mr. French’s resume remained on Commission Folts’ website for many months and may actually still be on the website today”. This statement is flatly untrue. Circuit Court Clerk Hatcher never communicated any such concern to me. How can you, as a presumably responsible attorney, state this as a fact, when you have no supporting documentation for this statement? An astute attorney might also have asked Mr. Hatcher why he was not concerned about the resume continuing to be available on the County website, for more than two years, complete with phone number and address.
If you had the courtesy to call me on this matter, before making these unfounded accusations, you might have saved yourself a great deal of embarrassment.
Your conclusion that copies of resumes should be withheld from the Commission does not pass the common sense test. Are all twenty-one Commissioners supposed to visit Hatcher’s office to get information about the qualifications of a candidate who must be approved by the Commission? Simply providing the job application, or resume, with personal information redacted, would be a far better solution.
The timing of the delivery of your letter seemed designed to prevent a review of the claims you made. It was placed in each Commissioner’s paper in-box shortly before the start of the meeting. (The Commission has been trying to save money by using email for most matters.) Commissioner Caylor, who obviously did not bother to check the truth of the claims, was then used to read it into the public record at the at the Commission meeting. In contrast, a second letter from you, concerning your failed attempt to draft a resolution regarding prayer at Commission meetings, was also delivered shortly before the meeting, but was sent to all Commissioners by e-mail so they would have time to review it. Why email for one last-minute letter, and not for the other?
As the Mayor’s Attorney, you are often asked for opinions on matters that are of great concern to our citizens. The factual errors and false statements in your letter, must inevitably lead thoughtful members of the Commission, and the Mayor, to question the credibility of your work.
I also note there is no signature block your letter. Do you often send important documents, unsigned?
As men of presumed integrity, I trust that you, Mr. Hatcher, and Mr. Caylor will take appropriate steps to correct these factual errors, false accusations and false statements.
James R. Folts
Blount County Commissioner – District 7
Cc: Mayor Ed Mitchell, Blount County Commissioners, Blount County Clerk – Roy Crawford, Circuit Court Clerk Tom Hatcher