The Focus has abstained from taking an official position on the proposed James White Parkway Extension while many other civic groups, news organizations, and elected officials have spoken out against it. We began our coverage in the weeks prior to the public forum held on December 6th with the intention of presenting both sides of the intensely controversial subject in a fair and balanced way. After the public forum, it became abundantly clear that the voices of those who supported the extension were either not being heard or drowned out by that of the opposition. In the effort to maintain a balanced public dialogue, we then made the executive editorial decision to present their side of the story.
We became extremely concerned this week when we learned the following information. On December 7th Appalachian Mountain Bike Club president, Brian Hann, posted the following on the “Citizens against James White Parkway” Facebook group page: “Drinking a beer with the TDOT officials upstairs at Barely’s after meeting was a very enlightening experience. Did you know the man with the long white beard is a sierra club member?? And the lady, well, she belongs to this little organization known as the International Mountain Bike Association…..” (To view the page click here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/178865708832034/?fref=ts)
According to TDOT policy 101-02: POLICY: As a condition of employment, all TDOT employees shall abide by this policy.
1. Employee Responsibilities. Each employee shall avoid any action, whether or not specifically prohibited by statute, regulation, or this policy, which might result in or create the appearance of:
i. Using public office for private gain;
ii. Giving preferential treatment to any person;
iii. Impeding government efficiency or economy;
iv. Losing complete independence or impartiality;
v. Making a government decision outside of official channels;
vi. Affecting adversely the confidence of the public in the integrity of the government.
(To view TDOT’s complete policy click here: http://www.tdot.state.tn.us/documents/Ethics101-02.pdf)
Many “concerned citizens” have reached out to the Focus about this potential violation of TDOT’s own policy.
The Focus will continue to follow the story as it develops both in print and online.