Update: As the Courthouse Turns…

Here is the text of the letter in which Commissioner Steve Mead requests answers from Mayor Terry Frank.

Please provide an official written response to the following actions/inactions on your part.

1. NOT signing contracts approved by the Commission with no legal reason to do so.
2. NOT signing checks for lawfully approved sums owed by the county which have been reviewed and approved by the full Commission with no legal reason to do so.
3. NOT signing the resolution for a Private Act overwhelmingly approved by the County Commission for three years with no legal reason to do so.
4. NOT taking action on significant criminal acts by a county employee who reports directly to you.
5. NOT getting the Oak Ridge General Sessions Court Room lease extended, or arrangements made for other accommodations as agreed to at the commission meeting in November.
6. Spearheading, recommending, or forcing legal actions against the county or its employees likely costing the county taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Steven J. Mead”

These questions could be taken up and discussed by the Operations Committee in January.

Monday, we reported on the latest kerfuffle in the Anderson County Courthouse, this one involving Mayor Terry Frank and County Commissioner Steve Mead. During last week’s Commission meeting, Mead tried to present Frank with a list of six questions he says need to be answered on the record and publicly on subjects including, but not limited to, the mayor’s refusal to sign off on contracts approved by commissioners and whether or not she was involved in the failed ouster suit against Law Director Jay Yeager. Frank refused to answer the questions and a heated exchange ensued. The matter of the list of questions was passed along to the Operations Committee for discussion when it meets on January 11th. Mayor Frank told the News-Sentinel Friday that she would answer the questions if and when Mead took a drug test and explained why he had been let go from Y-12 in 2012 “following his trips to the Soviet Union.” Mead says he took a comprehensive drug test on Saturday but Mayor Frank in one of the many e-mails exchanged over the weekend, indicated that she wanted a hair follicle test to check Mead’s drug history. Mead for his part maintains he has never had a drug or alcohol problem and said he had been let go from Y-12 as part of a cost-cutting move in 2012, several years after his last trip to what is now simply Russia as a treaty compliance officer in 2001. Mead wrote in a Saturday e-mail to his fellow commissioners, the mayor, the media, the law director and the DA’s office that “it is noteworthy that my background investigation for my “Q” clearance…was redone twice after my trips to Russia” and said that his bosses justified letting him go in layoffs by saying he was spending too much time on issues related to his role as a county commissioner and his role in the Tennessee National Guard on company time. Frank says she wants documentation of the details of his separation from Y-12. Mayor Frank, in a Monday morning e-mail, told Mead “I’m done being knocked around and harassed and bullied and lied about.” In one of the several replies Monday, Mead says he simply wants what is best for Anderson County and said that the mayor is “launching unfounded personal attacks against me.” The e-mails that WYSH has been made privy to are posted along with this story on our website at www.wyshradio.com.

Editor’s Note: The ONLY editing done on these emails was to remove email addresses and one citizen’s name who really is only very loosely involved in this dispute.

(Mayor Frank to KNS)

From: Theresa E Frank
Sent: Friday, December 18, 2015 9:36 AM
To: Fowler, Bob

Bob/-I am not in office today. I havent even bothered to read meads questions. I might consider answering his questions if he passes a blood and urine drug test, produces the paperwork and all documents showing why he was fired from y-12 following his trips to the Soviet Union, and what role Jay Yeager has played in his family’s purchases and negotiation and flipping of delinquent tax properties. By the way,[a] citizen…said he witnessed yeager hand Mead the questions. So, Bob—there you go. T

(Mead to commissioners, et al)
From: Steven Mead
Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2015 3:17 PM

Forwarded for information and clarification. Please no discussion or commenting as to avoid any deliberation.
The Mayor sent the email [above] to Bob Fowler of the Knox News Sentinel yesterday which was quoted in the Knox News Sentinel today. In it the Mayor implies some pretty outlandish things about me so I find it necessary to supply a little bit of factual information to clarify just how outlandish she was.

She implies I have drug and alcohol problems. While I would not have to defend this with anyone who knows me, I had a 12 panel alcohol and drug screening samples taken at certified clinic in Knoxville this morning so there will be no room for any doubt. I spent 46 years in sensitive government positions with some of the highest clearance levels that exist and was subject to frequent unannounced drug and alcohol testing the whole time. I have never had drug or alcohol use problems and the Mayor knows it. She and her family were huge supporters of my election to the Commission 5 years ago.

She implies that my leaving Y-12 over three years ago somehow was related to my making trips to Russia for the Department of Energy. My last trip to Russia was in February of 2001 … about four years before I went to work at Y-12. It is noteworthy that by background investigation for my “Q” clearance (up to Top Secret) was redone twice after my trips to Russia. Those investigations include significant investigation into my conduct, complete record reviews, and asking a significant number of people that know me a lot of questions … including whether I have any indication of drug or alcohol problems, or any other issues that could affect my loyalty to the U.S. or impact my performance.

In regard to my leaving Y-12, I was one of about 12 to 18 mid-level managers that were let go as part of a cost-cutting maneuver just before negotiations for the Y-12 management contract. The wrong-doing they pointed out for me was using too much time for County Commission and TN State Guard issues at work. They recovered 7 years of email and telephone calls, printed them and put them in a stack. Just a few emails or phone calls a week over 7 years looks like a big stack. It is noteworthy that for the preceding 7 years I was given specifically approved paid time off to support my volunteer work with the TN State Guard and for County Commission meetings scheduled during the workweek. I received glowing approval in my annual performance reports for my work with the TN State Guard and being on County Commission. My level of e-mail use and phone use during the seven years did not change much , and Y=12 annual training made it clear that some use of the e-mail and phones for non-Y-12 related activities was allowed and that the strictly prohibited uses were accessing unlawful materials or conducting paid outside businesses activities. My annual performance evaluation about a month before put me in the highest rankings and stated that I got all of my projects done on time (or early) and that I required no supervision.

All of you, accept a few, remember that the deal with my daughter and her husband buying land at the county delinquent tax sale involved a burned out house on two lots. My Daughter and her husband bought a lot that was presented as not having any structures… just overgrown and covered with trash. However , it ended up that half of a burned out house was on the lot they bought, and half was on an adjacent lot that had belonged to the county for years because no one would buy it. The only advise my daughter got from me, the Law Director or his staff, was that she needed to talk with the mayor. The mayor later took the sale of the second lot to the Delinquent Tax sale Committee and described the deal as a “no-brainer” for the county. After Committee approval, the Mayor presented the deal to the full commission recommending approval. She did not know that the buyer was my daughter until I declared that I would not vote for the deal because it was for my daughter. All the documentation for this is available.

The allegation that the Law Director gave me the questions after he came into the meeting is totally untrue. The document (3 pages) he handed back to me was the copy of the Pain Clinic draft resolution which I had been working on and was approved during the meeting I showed him. I had already given copies of the question letter to several Commissioners (including the Chair) before Jay even showed up. I brought 18 copies with me to the meeting.

The Mayor is simply going after me and the law Director with whatever she can make up and thus demonstrating her ethical standards and how she does business. Note that the Mayor started right off with what we know is just not believable…. she hadn’t even read the questions. I am sure the Mayor and her operatives will continue to show-case their willingness to use intimidation and threats to destroy our lives if we oppose her in any way…. just as she has done to the Law Director, Mary Murphy, Kevin Rice, etc.

I feel pretty bad about having to take this stand…..as just couple years ago I was one of the Mayors major supporters. But the taxpayers deserve better.

So, Commission— there you go.

Thanks for your support,
Steve Mead

(Mead to KNS)
From: Steven Mead
Date: 12/21/2015 11:34 AM (GMT-05:00)


In response to your email asking for my comments on the Mayors e-mail below.
She says “my allegations” of her attack are “patently false”. She alleged that I have drug and alcohol problems when there has been no indication ever in my life of such. I readily went down within 24 hours a got a full drug and alcohol screening done and now she insists this test is not good enough for her… that is but another attack. As to me not emailing her about some issues, she takes anything said and makes it into a media circus. She also goes after anyone that might be possibly involved to punish them. As she is demonstrating again. And her vague allegation that my leaving Y-12 had something to do with some misbehavior in Russia…. My last trip to Russia as a DOE treaty compliance inspector was in February 2001…..about four years before a started work at Y-12 and about twelve years before leaving Y-12. During this period my Security Clearance background investigation was subject to two 5-year reinvestigations which looks carefully into these kind of things.

As to the appropriate nature of my bring questions to the meeting. There is a specific section for Commissioners to question the Mayor on issues affecting County Government. My questions were not about her personal life…I was asking questions directly involving the operation of county government which are well documented. She has refused to sign checks, refused to sign contracts, and not taken action when individuals under her have had serious conduct issues. All failures to do the job she was elected to do. There was nothing out of order with my questions. And what made it sound like “British Parliament” was her screaming to block my presentation when I had the floor and she had not been recognized by the Chair. Most of the questions I ask in writing had been asked in Commission meetings but never got answered.

She says she defended herself against my attack. No she never answered any questions as I have been, she just launched a personal attack against me on issues that have nothing to do with my conduct as a commissioner or impacting the operation of county government. All this to avoid the legitimate question I asked. In this new email she refers to my “erratic behavior” … not sure what that is supposed to mean (other than be an attack on me personally again). I think she needs to be discussing and explaining her behavior.

Her going back to the delinquent tax sales issues. Again her handling the deal with my Daughter is public record. Other properties my daughter and her husband bought were all done in public actions the same as any other person can.

The only help on had on the Questions was asking my lawyer if the was anything that was not appropriate. I however did not get the response before the meeting. I did not have any help with my response (accept my wife checking for spelling errors). I also did not have any help with this email.

The resolution of every question I ask her was for the betterment of Anderson County and to help repair the hostile work environment she has created. Her attacks are simply personal attacks to destroy anyone who opposes her.

Steve Mead

(Mayor Frank to Mead, others)
From: Terry Frank
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 9:06 AM

Commissioner Mead,

Your allegations of “my” attack would be funny if they weren’t so patently false.

You know how to email me, how to call me and how to come into my office. On 2nd Amendment issues, you seem to find me all the time. Email after email after email after email after email. Or visits to my office. Or chatting with me in the hall. Or showing me how the weapons signs haven’t been properly flipped on the third floor. Shortly before the meeting, you even emailed me about the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce. But then, bam! I have nothing on the agenda and you come with allegations where you would manipulate the forum for me to stand there and be derided. And doing so claiming you have questions. Well, how about you start with me first? But then there is no camera if you communicate with me first, is there?

There is nothing in the rules that allows for what you did. As I stated at the meeting, you think you are Congress or that this is British Parliament. This isn’t the case. My authority comes from the same place yours does—the state legislature. We only exist as their grant. And we are each elected by the citizens—in my case county wide. You seem confused, as if this is Oak Ridge City Council. If you wish to have a regular British Parliament style question and answer, I’m more than willing to oblige. Just set the time. We can do it monthly. But please know, in question time, I actually get an opportunity to respond.

I defended myself against YOUR attack. Plain and simple. And now you seem shocked.

And given your strong statements here, I’ll guess you’ll have no problem then passing the tests, which I would like to include a follicle test, and producing all the documentation I asked for from Y-12. And I’ll help sort through the Delinquent Tax deals as it’s a messy deal.

Please don’t try to paint a picture of you as me “turning on you.” You stopped supporting me long ago, which is completely your prerogative—and given your erratic behavior, a favor. And despite what you believe, I continue to attempt to work with you where we agree. But I will not be bullied by you as you wrap yourself in the eagle and the American flag, shouting the Pledge of the Allegiance at each and every meeting as if you are the most patriotic man in America. The theatre is overkill.

So, let me know when I can get those documents and also set up a test. And by the way, I haven’t hosted a radio show since 2009.

Just out of curiosity, did you have help on this email, like the questions? Why the cut and paste font change? How about you open up your computer where I’ll GUARANTEE you had help. And we all know from where it comes.

the the

I’ll reiterate what I did at the meeting. If you have something, anything, that you would like to work on for the betterment of Anderson County—let me know. I truthfully will be happy to work on it with you. But I’m done being knocked around and harassed and bullied and lied about. I’ll defend myself until you stop—or until you realize you’re being used by other parties as a proxy. So over the holidays, try to think about something productive you’d like to accomplish and I’ll be here waiting. I forgive easy—but until then, my defense will be strong…


P.S. Jay has two email addresses? And did he tell you to include the DA on this email? Hmmm.

(Mayor Frank to KNS)
From: Terry Frank
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 10:37 AM

Dear Mr. Fowler,

I read your news article and noticed this quote about Commissioner Mead where it says, Mead “late Friday denounced Frank’s accusations” saying that he said that he was laid off, as quoted in your article as a “cost-cutting measure.” But now, in his own email where he included you, he says,
“The wrong-doing they pointed out for me was using too much time for County Commission and TN State Guard issues at work. They recovered 7 years of email and telephone calls, printed them and put them in a stack.”
First elected in 2010, he says on our county website he retired from Y-12 in 2012. http://www.anderson-county.com/commission/commissionerdirectory/steve-mead/
Mr. Mead used the words wrong-doing, not me. I guess I’ll just wait for the documents.


(From Mead to Frank, others)
From: Steven Mead
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 1:02 PM

I did retire from Y-12 in 2012. I get a check every month. You only had to have 5 years service at Y-12 and be over 62. I also retired from K-25 before I ran for the State House back in 2001, but was rehired immediately on an hourly contract. And the “wrong-doing” was doing too much for my county and state in volunteer service which y-12 had specifically approved and supported up to that point and I had been given no warning whatever. It also had not impacted my job performance. They wanted to cut costs and there was a bunch of us let go. Again… just personal attacks. No answering the real issues.

Other than my questions she refuses to address, not sure what any of this has to do with the betterment of Anderson County. I am pretty sure the Mayor did not get any help writing her emails.

Steve Mead

(Mayor Frank to Mead)
From: Terry Frank
Sent: Monday, December 21, 2015 1:17 PM

Commissioner Mead,

So you admit using Y-12 resources, benefits, salary and time to do personal work because you felt it was for a good cause? I don’t believe that was your decision to make, sir. But again, we’ve yet to see the proof here. Let’s be clear, I haven’t alleged anything—I’m only asking questions and for documents, Mr. Mead. Just like your claim to be asking questions.


(Mead to Mayor Frank)
From: Steven Mead
Date: 12/21/2015 5:14 PM (GMT-05:00)

Mayor Frank,

In my case I was getting all of my work done on time (or early), and being praised for finding problems to solve without even being asked. I had “implied consent” to work public service (not personal) business because I was told all of my calls and emails were being tracked from the time I started at Y-12, and I did that public service work openly and it was never questioned until they needed to cut payroll. In your case the question is simply why you refuse to do your job, and things that are not getting done for Anderson County. I am focusing on what is best for Anderson County. You are just evading it and instead launching unfounded personal attacks against me and others.

Thanks for showing everyone how you do business and have a nice Christmas.

Steve Mead

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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