Tag Archives: roane

Bill Would Exempt Some Planning Commission from Ethics Reporting

A bill that could exempt planning commission members in six East Tennessee counties from disclosing their financial interests has been introduced by Sen. Ken Yager and Rep. Kent Calfee.
Calfee, a freshman Republican lawmaker from Kingston, said HB15 was introduced at the request of Roane County Mayor Ron Woody.
The measure also would apply in Campbell, Fentress, Morgan, Pickett, Rhea and Scott Counties which are included along with Roane in Yager’s state Senate district. Yager said the other counties were added because of a “communications error.” The senator said he has written officials in the other counties and will amend the bill to delete those counties where an objection is raised.
Planning commission members were not required to file the disclosures until last year, when the Legislature enacted a bill adding them.
The disclosure statements in question require public officials to list their financial holdings and sources of income, but not the amount of income. Planning commission members were not on the list of those required to file the statements until the General Assembly added them in legislation approved last year with little debate and by almost unanimous margins.
The first disclosure reports since the new law took effect are due on Jan. 31, according to the Tennessee Ethics Commission.
Woody said in an interview that the new law is “kind of intrusive” and a deterrent to finding people to serve on the commissions, which typically pay very little or nothing for their services. They are in a different situation than elected officials such as himself, he said.
“It may have been adopted for good reasons and this is an unintended consequence. Or it may have been adopted for bad reasons… (with the intent of) killing our planning commissions. I don’t know. But I’m a firm believer in the need for planning commissions,” Woody said.
The bill approved last year was sponsored by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, who was not available for comment. A spokeswoman, however, said it was the senator’s own idea. In a committee meeting last year, Tracy said the bill was “just common sense” and that those overseeing development should have to disclose potential conflicts of interest.
Woody said the Roane County Planning Commission has “ethical members,” including some who retired in the area after a business career “up north” and who may have substantial stock and real estate holdings.
By making their holdings public, he said, “you get to the point where people don’t want to serve.”
Yager said he basically agrees with Woody.
“In these rural counties, they (planning commissioners) are essentially volunteers – in Roane County, I think they get $50 a month – and it’s hard to attract people anyway,” Yager said.

Candidate Who Killed Himself Faced Scrutiny Over Jobless Benefits

J.T. Woods, the Roane County property assessor candidate who killed himself in the yard of his former boss, shouldn’t have received $16,913 in jobless benefits, an unemployment appeals hearing officer has ruled.
From the News Sentinel report:
A hearing on Assessor Teresa Kirkham’s appeal of Woods’ jobless benefits occurred May 30. On May 31, Woods shot himself in the head with a .357-caliber handgun outside Assessor Teresa Kirkham’s Kingston condo.
A ruling dated June 6 by state hearing officer Barbara Ligon stated Woods had improperly drawn benefits. It was made public this week.
The ruling states Woods gave “an incorrect reason for his separation” from his job as a field appraiser, and the jobless benefits he received must be repaid.
Woods was fired from his job in 2010 after saying he was sick when he was actually golfing in Florida with the doctor who signed his medical excuse, according to the ruling.
After he was fired, Woods filed a jobless claim saying he had been “separated due to a lack of work.”

Roane County Candidate Kills Himself in Opponent’s Yard

A candidate for Roane County property assessor fatally shot himself this morning in the yard of the current assessor, his former employer, reports the News Sentinel.
James T. Woods, 56, shot himself in the head, according to authorities.
Gary Nelson, assistant police chief for the Kingston Police Department, confirmed the shooting this afternoon.
Woods shot himself outside Teresa Kirkham’s condo at 1010 Brentwood Way in Kingston, according to fire officials.
Bowden R. Ladd, an investigator with the district attorney general’s office, confirmed that Woods died from the self-inflicted gunshot wound.
District Attorney General Russell Johnson said he was told Kirkham had pulled into her driveway, and she had called an employee to come to her residence.
The employee saw Woods “sitting on a wall and realized he had a gun in his lap,” Johnson said. “He was sitting there telling her what he was going to do,” the district attorney said.
“As she turned away, she said he shot himself once in the head.”
Woods was among several people running against Kirkham, the longtime assessor, for the post.
Johnson said a .357-caliber revolver that was fully loaded with one spent shell in the chamber was found at the scene
.