Monday, July 28, 2008

William Daniels Op-Ed in Sunday's News-Sentinel

As a researcher on the Brian's Blog team, I requested to take the op-ed piece that Appointed Commissioner William Daniels had written and was published in Sunday's News-Sentinel and research his take on the early swearing in of the Commissioners. Here is the temporary Commissioner's column. Here is my take.

William Daniels is entitled to his opinion on swearing-in of Knox County Commissioners. Unfortunately, he confesses what he thinks is "tradition" with the law. His July 27, 2008 News-Sentinel opinion piece is full of inaccuracies which illustrate his lack of knowledge on state law.

Daniels quote: "The tradition has been for elected officials to take oath of office the month following the election cycle. I am unsure if this tradition is based on history or simply a courtesy for the existing officeholders. Perhaps it is just common sense."

Fact: Swearing in of elected officials is not done by tradition. It follows state law. County Commissioners, as are consititutional officers, are sworn into the office to which they are electedon September 1 following the August general election. This is clearly spelled out by state law and applies to all counties and all constitutional officers who have elected to serve 4-year terms. Daniels does not know the constitution he has sworn to uphold.

Daniels Quote: "The law states that ceritification takes place within 10 days of the election, and the new commission may be sworn in then."

Fact: This law applies to commissioners elected to fill a partial term. Ironically, this law applies to this election for county commission seats that are filled by commissioners who have been appointed by county commission, not elected. This law clearly states what should happen. What part of this Daniels not understand?

Daniels Quote: Is the Mayor's office really going to swear in new commissioners while the Intergovernemental Committee is in progress?

Fact: What is Daniels talking about here? Clearly, again, he presents his own lack of knowledge of the law. The Mayor does not swear in any elected officials. Judges swear in. Judges administer the oath of office. The new commissioners will decide when and what judge swears them in. The mayor's office may organize ceremonies and receptions but the mayor does not swear in and has never sworn in a county commissioner.

Daniels Quote: "How would the new commission even know the issues?"

Fact: The new commissioners have attended commission meetings. They have also been campaigning and staying in touch with citizens in their districts. Mr. Daniels, do you think you know more than them? Remember the citizens in the 4th district rejected you in the February primary. These same citizens will elect their commissioner next week.

Daniels Quote: "...I would suggest that it would be more appropriate to follow traditiona nd not disrupt the process...."

Fact: This issue is not about following tradition but about the law. The law says the commission seat belongs to the individual elected by law. Furthermore, Mr. Daniels is entitled to his opinion piece "use common sense for swearing in." Does it not make common sense that an individual elected by the district 4 citizens begin service on county commission instead of someonealready rejected by the same citizens contiuing to serve?

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