More e-mails have been obtained by WYSH detailing the ongoing and escalating feud between Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Commissioner Steve Mead. This latest dust-up began during the December 17th meeting of the County Commission when Mead presented the Mayor with a list of six questions (detailed in our previous story ) that he wanted her to answer, including why she has not signed off on contracts and a Private Act approved by the Commission, among other issues. Mayor Frank responded by telling the News-Sentinel’s Bob Fowler that she would answer the questions when Mead took a drug test and provided documentation about his separation from Y-12 in 2012. That has led to a furious flurry of back-and-forth e-mails involving Mead, Frank and the rest of the Commission, and following Mead’s appearance on Ask Your Neighbor Tuesday, Budget Director Chris Phillips.
Mayor Frank’s Chief of Staff Richard Burroughs e-mailed WYSH on Wednesday and provided us with more of the correspondence, including Commissioner Mead’s late-night e-mail following the meeting on the 17th—which we had not previously been made privy to. That e-mail and several others can be read in their entirety at the bottom of this story on our website.
In his first e-mail, Mead stated that his letter had been submitted to the Operations Committee “for review with only two commissioners voting against it.” Burroughs disputes that claim in an e-mail sent December 18th to County Clerk Jeff Cole, whose office is responsible for keeping the minutes of Commission meetings, stating that he (Burroughs) had attended the Operations Committee meeting and that Mead’s letter was never discussed.
In a reply to the final e-mail included in our previous story, Mayor Frank attached a partially-filled out Privacy Act Information Request form seeking the details of Mead’s separation from the plant in 2012.
Wednesday, following his Tuesday appearance on Ask Your Neighbor, Mead received an e-mail from Budget Director Chris Phillips in which he incorrectly attributed a quote about the release of e-mails in a public records request to longtime WYSH listener and frequent critic of the Mayor, Kevin Rice, who last year filed an ethics complaint against the mayor. When Rice called in, his only question to the commissioner was about the long-debated East Wolf Valley convenience center and said nothing about e-mails or Phillips.
In his missive to Mead, which was subsequently forwarded to the rest of Commission and members of the media, Phillips writes “I find it amusing that Kevin Rice, a mumbling, barely understandable, [uninformed] fool, is being used as the front man by the “Legion of the Miserable” to ask such stupid questions and to make Commission meetings a joke. Is suspect that he were put up to just about anything, he’d do it hoping to be accepted by you folks.”
Again, all of the e-mails cited above are posted on our website wyshradio.com. We will continue to follow this story for you in the new year.
(Mead to commissioners 12/17)
Voters county-wide have been asking me questions on issues that cannot be discussed by commissioners except in public meetings. That is simply part of the stringent open-government (“sunshine”) law in TN and is a good thing people don’t like back-room dealing. This was the last meeting of this year and I felt these issues needed to be formally put on the agenda for next year. If you watch the video you will see that the Major repeatedly and angrily disrupted the meeting without being recognized by the chair and did everything she could to keep these questions from being presented to the public. My letter was sent to the Operations Committee for review with only two commissioners voting against it. It will be part of the minutes of the 17 December 2015 Commission meeting. There just wasn’t any desire to have the meeting going on and on with the Mayor disrupting the meeting continually. Attached below is the text of the letter I provided the Mayor at the meeting. I look forward to her written response… that I am sure will require a significant review by her team of lawyers. I do not look forward to the certain attacks on me personally…. which are expected by anyone who dares to question this mayor. I expect she will be slamming me in her blog, on the radio show she hosts, and having letters sent to the papers.
Because I have copied the County Technical Assistance Service (CTAS) legal team, I have also copied the Mayor and her chief of staff so CTAS legal won’t have to forward her/or her Chief of Staff a copy of this email as required by Mayor’s public information requests to CTAS for copies of any correspondence between them and Anderson County officials.
(Burroughs to County Clerk 12/18)
I just received this e-mail after returning from lunch (as my e-mail access was down all morning). It was sent late last night by Commissioner Mead.
I’m sending you this, as it is my understanding that the Commissioner has requested “his” questions be included in the minutes from last night’s meeting. He apparently justifies that request by saying that he sent “his” questions to the Operations meeting with only two commissioners voting against them.
Jeff, I was at the Operations meeting Monday night. The mayor was not in attendance as she had two Christmas parties to attend. I have attached a copy of my notes that I wrote on the agenda for the meeting, as well as a list of those in attendance at the top of the page. Not only were Commissioner Mead’s questions not on the agenda, they were not brought up or discussed, let alone approved with a vote.
I also spoke with the mayor this morning. She is spending the day with her son who just arrived home from college for Christmas, but; Commissioner Mead has yet to present “his” questions to her and she has not seen them.
I think I should also inform you that the source of Commissioner Mead’s questions is in question. It is my understanding that a citizen witnessed the questions being handed to Commissioner Mead just prior to the meeting with a request that they be entered into the public record. Surely that is not the kind of “back-room dealing” Commissioner Mead is referring to in this letter to the media.
Chief of Staff
(Burroughs to WYSH 12/30)
I returned from the Christmas break this morning to find the post of the e-mail exchange between the Mayor and Mr. Mead on the WYSH website.
I note your comment that the only editing that has been done to the e-mails is the removal of e-mail addresses. Well, that is not quite correct and I am forwarding to you the original e-mail sent by Mr. Mead at close to midnight after the commission meeting on Thursday. The e-mail that started this whole “kerfuffle” as you call it.
Please note the sentence I’ve highlighted in yellow where Mr. Mead says that the only reason he is sending the questions to Mayor Frank is so that she will not have to contact the legal department of CTAS to obtain a copy of “his” questions.
Jim, if I were to hazard a guess, I’d say that Mr. Mead did not provide you with the most important e-mail in this whole exchange, the one attached to “his” questions. I’m thinking your audience might deserve the full context of this story.
It also appears that there are other exchanges between the Mayor and Mr. Mead that he did not provide you with. I will forward another exchange of e-mails that you might be interested in.
Chief of Staff
(Frank to Mead 12/22—reply to final email in story 1)
I only asked questions, and you have protested my questions, saying that you were laid off, as quoted in your article as a “cost-cutting measure.” Of course, I am hopeful that is accurate, as I’m only asking questions, just like you are. To help you put all this to bed, I’ve attached a form for you to fill out. All you have to do is complete the social security and date of birth fields on the request form and Exhibit B, and then date and execute Exhibit B. This form will enable us to put all of this behind us and help get all the answers to the questions that will verify everything. The form is attached.
(Mead to commissioners, media after AYN 12/29)
I was interviewed on WYSH today for about an hour and a half. I believe a lot of truth was revealed. While I expressed the hope that Mayor Frank would cease her policy of personal destruction and instead get back the serious business of lawfully and morally running the county government, it appears that at least for today the policy of personal destruction continues. Here is the link to her blog today (29 December).
http://iloveandersoncounty.com/ Please read her blog and decide for yourself. I do somewhat agree with her quote from Sir Winston Churchill, but don’t think you have to be loud at first to be heard when you speak the truth. I also believe the Mayor sounds very confused.
This blog is the face she gives to Anderson County.
Particularly In the Christmas season we need to be asking ourselves, “What Would Jesus Do?”.
I can’t seem to find Him seeking the destruction of anyone, even the sinners, … using false or deliberately misleading statements.
Watch the video of the 17 December meeting and decide who violated Robert’s Rules of Order.
Who had been formally recognized by the Chair during the part of the meeting entitled “County Mayor – Any Questions from Commissioners”? (see attachment above). I will also note that the Commission Chair had already reviewed the letter (with the questions) that I was submitting to the Mayor, prior to the meeting and all members of the Commission were provided copies before I spoke. All of my questions referred to recent or pending problems impacting county government… including significant legal liabilities.
I hope the Joy of Christmas stays with you all throughout the coming New Year.
I hope that all of Anderson County government becomes as harmonious and honorable as the relationship of the current 16 Commissioners.
Commissioner Steve Mead
(Frank to Mead 12/30)
Please note, I did not place questions for the Mayor on the agenda on my report.
That is the area for the Mayor’s agenda submissions (whether it’s me, or another Mayor), not yours Commissioner. May I add questions for the Commissioners as I have all the rights and privileges as you do? May I inject questions for fill in the blank on any area of the agenda I wish? I encourage you to read the rules–including your own oft repeated rule that all must go through a committee. And like I said at Commission, I guess that rule is just for me?
And yes, I do encourage everyone far and wide to watch the Commission meeting. And start with the Pledge of Allegiance.
Though your constant emails to me border on harassment, I’m glad you keep talking, Mr. Mead. If the Commission Chair reviewed the questions with you prior to the meeting as you stated below, would that be a violation of the Open Meetings Act? The Act you so righteously claimed at the meeting you could not violate? I believe it is.
And regarding what would Jesus do? I can’t believe you would go there. But since you did, I’ll note, perhaps you should have asked that question before Commission Meeting? Your last email was comparing me to Hitler, now you’re challenging my faith and morals. Wow. Just wow.
(Phillips to Mead 12/30) Obtained by WYSH 12/30
I didn’t get a chance to listen yesterday, I didn’t realize you’d be on or I would have. Someone who did listen told me that Kevin Rice called in and stated that I provided the e-mails from Mary to the citizen who asked for them within an hour of her giving me her request. This person didn’t say, but for some reason I suspect you didn’t correct him. The fact is I wasn’t able to fulfill her request until exactly a week later. I had no idea the request was coming, and certainly didn’t bend over backwards to get it completed. Anyone with a 5th grade education (maybe that rules out Kevin) should be able to realize that it takes time to compile something like that. But Kevin is so truly ignorant that he believes since he thinks it, everybody else does to. This situation isn’t without its funny side though. I find it very amusing that Kevin Rice, a mumbling, barely understandable, uniformed fool, is being used as the front man by the “Legion of the Miserable” to ask such stupid questions and to make Commission meetings a joke. I suspect that if he were put up to just about anything, he’d do it hoping to be accepted by you folks.
What some of you forget is that I’ve worked under 4 different Mayors, very successfully (you may view our financial awards at http://www.gfoa.org/2014-results-certificate-achievement-excellence-financial-reporting-program. And yes, that is correct, Anderson County is one of only 6 counties in TN that do the work it takes to receive this award.) You assume that my positions on financial issues are taken in an effort to further the agenda of the current Mayor, and that my recent disgust for you, Chuck and a few others is out of some blind loyalty. Untrue, although she has been a great boss and mentor. My disgust comes from watching once decent men become blabbering fools based on the direction of one man. And we all know who that is, don’t we Steve? If only you folks knew what a lot of good people here in the courthouse have endured because of this one man. But yet, we continue to do our jobs, hoping that you folks will rise above and become sane again. Maybe soon, maybe soon.
So you fine folks just keep pushing the 1981 act, trying to change what currently works like a German clock, all in the name of “we got her”! Just ignore those pesky drug issues, the aging infrastructure, the citizens’ wants and needs for more/better parks and quality of life, and keep on the current agenda you’re on. We’ll all be so proud of you and your legacy will be etched in stone.
Happy New Year and may 2016 bring unity in government back,
(Mead to commissioners, media)
The emails below are forwarded for your information. Please do not comment or respond to avoid any appearance of deliberation. Commissioners, you should have already received the first two emails in the chain below. Mr. Rice asked me to release this email to the full Commission, the Law Director, and John Huotari of Oak Ridge Today.