Larsen Jay’s PROPOSED changes to Merit System & Merit Council for KCSD Employees

On Friday February 12, 2021 Commissioner Larsen Jay met with Knox County Sheriff’s Department Merit Council Chair Gina Oster, Member Jim Wright, Jr., Merit Council Executive Director Paula Taylor, Merit Council Employee Nina Walker and KCSD Lt. Krystal Gibson. As an internet blogger BrianHornback.com I sat in at the invitation of Oster, she invited me out of an abundance of caution, so to both she and Mr. Wright being present.

You can check this post out, to watch a video of the meeting. My apologies for the angle of the camera.

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The changes Jay would like to implement are:

  1. new section (m) in Section 4.2 Merit System Council’s Responsibilities and Duties

Merit Council representatives will be given ample and adequate time during orientation of all classified employees. It is the responsibility of the Merit Council and its staff to properly educate each new classified employee of the purpose, roles, responsibilities and resources available to them through the Merit Council.

  1. Editing section with new language in 6.1.1 Filling Vacancies

(e) It is the sole responsibility of the Knox County Sheriffs Office administration to conduct all aspects of recruiting, including advertising of positions, job fairs, promotions and other such recruiting tools in order to attract qualified applicants.

Edit section 3.1 Structure and Qualifications (a) with new language

(a) Seven (7) persons appointed by the Knox County Commission to serve a term of three years with no member serving more than two consecutive terms. One member shall be elected by the Council to serve as Chairman, one member to serve as Vice Chairman and one member to serve as Secretary. The Knox County Term Limits in Sec. 9.17 apply.

Members shall include:

One (1) Member of the Knox County Commission (term on Merit Council not to exceed term of service)

One (1) Member having professional law enforcement or corrections experience.

One (1) Member having professional experience in the legal and/or Human Resources profession.

One (1) Member having professional financial experience.

Three (3) Members having experience in community service (served on a professional group/nonprofit board, on a neighborhood HOA, extensive volunteer experience, etc).

Nominations for Merit Council Members will follow Knox County Commission Rules (Section M. (2) Elections or Appointments).

NOTE: The problem with this change is the three members and one alternate all fall on the category of the new three positions. It seems the alternate, an African American lady retired Educator would be eliminated. Why would Knox County Commission eliminate an African American Educator? 

Edit section (d) with new language

(d) No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of the Council of he has previously been employed by the Sheriff’s Office within ten (change from five) calendar years preceding his appointment by the Commission, or of any member of such person’s immediate family is or becomes employed by the County Sheriff’s office at any time during such person’s term of service as a member of the Council. For purposes of this section, “immediate family” shall include wife or husband, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters, mother-in-law, father-in-law, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law and sister-in-law.

In Section 4.2.1 Meetings

Changes that a quorum consists of 5 members instead of the current language of 2 members.

Assuming the change from a 3 member 1 alternate council is replaced by a 7 member Council.

Section 4 – Authority and Responsibilities

edit Section with new language

4.2.2 COUNCIL LEADERSHIP Responsibilities

The Chairperson shall:

a. Determine the order of business and preside at all meetings and hearings of the Council.

b. Decided all points of oder or procedure.

c. Perform all dutied required by these policies and procedures.

d. Be the principal interface with the County Commission. 

** Include New Section **

The Vice Person shall:

a. Perform the duties of the Chairperson in their absence. 

The Secretary shall: 

a. Certify the accuracy of the meeting minutes prepared by the Executive Director and present them to the Council for adoption. 

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