Ah, that sneaky Joe Jarret. Last night he sends me a text at 6:04, saying his last day would be March 30. There had been some rumors going on earlier in the day that he would rescind his initial proposal to step down, so I asked him about them. But, this morning, Jarret said, he talked with some more people and his wife and opted to stay. Here's the story:
Knox County Law Director Joe Jarret on Saturday morning withdrew his letter of resignation and said he’ll continue to serve through the rest of term which ends in late August, according to an email he sent to county commissioners.
Jarret submitted his submitted his resignation effective for March 31 a few days after losing to Richard “Bud” Armstrong in the March 6 GOP primary. He said he wanted to give Armstrong, who faces no opposition in the August election, a chance to come in early as the interim director and walk the charter review committee through the process.
Armstrong, though, declined.
In the meantime, the County Commission began taking resumes to fill the position. Local attorney David Buuck, former attorney for the town of Louisville, and former Law Director Richard Beeler applied. The county commission on Monday was supposed to interview them.
Now, however, members aren’t so sure.
For example, commissioner Vice Chairman Brad Anders said members may decide to just ignore Jarret’s original resignation letter and let hi stay.
“I think it will be a better transition to have Joe stay until September and have Bud ease into the job,” he said “That way we have consistency and don’t have to appoint someone to a five or sixth month term.”
In the next few months, the person in charge will have to represent the Charter Review Committee, which will meet through the summer, look over the county's governing documents and decide whether voters in November should make changes to them.
In his email to commissioners, Jarret said he first proposed stepping down to give Armstrong the chance to “become involved with the Charter Review Committee during its formative stages. But because Armstrong declined and “coupled with the fact that most elected officials and a large number of citizens have asked me to serve until Aug. 31” Jarret said he would stay.
He said during Monday’s work session, though, he would like permission to retain outside legal counsel to help advise the review committee on “those issues that raise any potential conflicts of interest, thereby de-politicizing the process.”
He also said he would encourage Armstrong to spend time in the office during the next few months “thereby ensuring a seamless transition come September, 2012.”
Jarret told the News Sentinel on Saturday that during the past weeks "citizens and elected officials told me that they wanted my expertise and asked whether I would continue to serve." He said he reached the decision Saturday morning and then sent the email to commissioners.
"I only had a single reason (to leave) and that reason is gone," he said.
The job pays $156,800 a year and oversees a budget of $1.7 million and 15 employees, including seven other attorneys.