Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Sheriff fires back at media critics

Sheriff Jones
Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones last night fired back at the local paper's March 17 editorial entitled “Public officials should be clear on sunshine law.”

In the unsigned opinion piece, the writer(s) suggest that Jones and Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch violated the sunshine laws when they discussed in emails an E-911 radio contract.

The editorial stated: “They cannot work out a backroom deal on a proposed communications system contract, as happened in this case.”

Well, the sheriff, who’s never been one to mince words, responded on his department’s official website.

Here ya go:
It’s Sunshine Week and the News Sentinel wants its readers to know that it’s time for “a clearing of the skies.” The editorial in Tuesday’s paper isn’t talking about the weather, but the Sunshine Law. A law that the newspaper trotted out when it failed to cover sixteen months’ worth of E-911 meetings concerning a contract for a new digital emergency communications system. The paper had obviously deemed the meetings not worthy of coverage until it was alerted by lobbyists and politicians who had a stake in the radio system.

The editors at the paper believe a “backroom deal” was brokered between Knoxville Police Chief David Rausch and me. I hardly call it a backroom deal when the Police Chief and Sheriff of the third largest law enforcement agencies in the state cannot talk about the safety and security of their officers and citizens.

I am fully aware of the Sunshine Law and that’s why I contend there was no violation between Chief Rausch and me. The newspaper, however, is clearly hiding behind the Sunshine Law to distract from its failure to report on an issue that affects the entire community. I believe the law does need to be revisited when a major media outlet manipulates it to cover up its own inadequacies.

No comments: