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Clarksville Montgomery County Regional Planning Commission debate reveals more unanswered questions

Hank Bonecutter

Hank Bonecutter

Clarksville, TN – The current controversy surrounding the hiring of a new Regional Planning Director has revealed yet another unanswered question.

Just who DOES hire the director?

Like the “conflict of interest” debate, and the Clarksville Department of Electricity power board/city of Clarksville relationship, we’ve now learned that we may not know how to properly hire the regional planning director.

Here’s what we do know:

In January 1962, the city and county passed a resolution establishing a regional planning commission.

The resolution said;

“The County Judge be authorized on behalf of Montgomery County to join with the Mayor or other appropriate officials of the City of Clarksville in executing an agreement for the establishment of Regional Planning Commission for Clarksville and Montgomery County, which agreement would provide for the employment of a full-time planning engineer, a drafts-man, an office secretary and appropriate office facilities equipment; that the County Judge be authorized on behalf of Montgomery County to join with the Mayor or other appropriate officials of the City of Clarksville to make application in the proper manner for matching funds from the Federal government on a 2 to 1 basis to be used in the establishment and operation of said Planning Commission.”

Since that time, every Regional Planning Director HAS BEEN hired by the Regional Planning Commission.  The commission is made up as follows:

  1. City Mayor/designate
  2. County Mayor/designate
  3. City Council Member, chosen by City Mayor
  4. County Commissioner, chosen by County Mayor
  5. Three appointments made by the City Mayor
  6. Two appointments made by the County Mayor

As with most political appointments, they are ALWAYS people who are “in step” with who appointed them, always.  They are an extension of whoever is in power.  Right or wrong, agree or disagree, that’s just the way it is, and make no mistake, whenever ANYONE sees an opportunity to strengthen their position, politically, well…you know.

Both Mayors control the Regional Planning Commission.  It’s just the way it is.  Like it or not.

Recently, the Montgomery County Attorney was asked by Montgomery County Mayor Carolyn Bowers to research the Regional Planning Commission.  Mayor Bowers was not happy with the process of screening and selecting a replacement for David Riggins, who just retired.  She felt that RPC Chairman Mike Harrison (appointed by former mayor Johnny Piper) was trying to “force” his selection on the planning commission.  Harrison and others felt Mayor Bowers was trying to “force” her selection on the commission by bringing other applications to the table, after they had already screened and interviewed numerous candidates, and had agreed to offer the job to one of those candidates.

Guess who’s going to win this debate?

The county attorney discovered that the Tennessee Legislature had passed a new law in 2010 that stated in part:

“Any provision relating to the appointment of a planning director contained in any metropolitan or county charter or private act or Interlocal Agreement must be used in appointing a planning director.  In the absence of such a provision, the County Mayor, county executive or metropolitan mayor or executive shall, in accordance with the law, have the authority to appoint a planning director.”

Therein lies the rub.

There is no Interlocal Agreement.

Never has been.

Never been a need for one.

Well played.

Mayor Bowers told me she doesn’t want to be solely responsible for the selection of the new director.  She wants the best for the planning commission, and I believe her.

Others think it’s a “power grab.” Wow.  What a concept.

I’ve had so many emails and calls since I broke this story, and there IS concern about change, but  I believe their “concern” is more about who’s in charge than what’s actually being done.

Why do we hate change?

So, once again we’re faced with another debate, one that may or may not be resolved.  Much like the conflict of interest, power board questions that STILL remain.

When will these questions be answered?

Film at 11.

About Hank Bonecutter




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