The colorful use of language by local elected officials is an issue that refuses to die. The latest installment in his comedy of errors involves the Coffee County Jail Review Committee and its chairman, Chris Bird. Toward the end of a seemingly mundane meeting, commissioner Mark Kelly asked chairman Bird if he would email him a copy of preliminary jail plans for review. After this request was refused a subsequent discussion ended abruptly with Chairman declaring the conversation “b***s**t” and that Mr Kelly was simply being an “a**”.
These implosions are usually saved for Tullahoma Caucus meetings, where Mr Bird has told the Tullahoma delegation to “go f**k themselves” on at least one occasion, but the issue here isn’t merely one of decorum, but of systematic double speak. Often, when members of governing bodies voice questions or concerns in open meetings they’re treated as though they have broken some unspoken rule, even though the job of an elected official is to speak through the minutes of the general assembly. Those upset with this faux breach of protocol often cite that officials simply don’t attend the appropriate committee meeting to become better informed.
Here, we have a case where a commissioner asks for specific information so that he can make a more informed decision and then is summarily denied the information he seeks. How “informed” is he after a committee meeting, other than there is apparently certain taxpayer informationthat is purview of commissioners and tax payers, and some that is not. The fact is this is just another chapter of the jail saga that will no doubt be redacted to fit the whims of given administration or circumstance.
Case in point would be that it was but a few years ago that the “information” given to the public at large was that we urgently needed to purchase the property now known as The Koss Center so that we may have sufficient space to build a new jail on the current site, rather than the current plan to purchase 44 acres for the project. What might we be “informed” about concerning additional costs to the project after its completion. Time will tell, but we feel the need tell our readers, “caveat emptor”, because in our county “information overload” usually means that the information will end up overloading your