Who's information is it anyway?
While we are on the subject of Sheriff Dan Gilley, there's a story bubbling under the surface that the Sheriff may have difficulty keeping the lid on. It concerns the alleged self defense shooting death of Brandon Miller by Sheriff's Deputy, David Harper. Let me say up front that Miller was not a squeaky clean choir boy. He had a history of trouble with the law but was apparently going straight at he time of his death.
The People News readers will likely be reading more of the shooting in upcoming months as there seems to be anomalies that should be investigated. It may be that the whole story has yet to be told, but this commentary is not about the shooting, it's about a serious flaw with Gilley's unwillingness to release public information if it could be damaging to his career or popularity with the voters.
Attorney for Miller's family, John Wolfe has requested information on the shooting from both the Sheriff's Office and the District Attorney's Office and has yet to receive all he has asked for. Just before Christmas, Wolfe petitioned the court to order the information released.
You may ask yourself why this paper is concerned over the death of an ex-con and would consider siding with a family who are likely to sue the county. Well, it's all about doing what is right. A few years ago, this paper printed a front page story on the surprisingly early release from the Bradley county jail of Travis Bess, who subsequently robbed and murdered Golden Gallon clerk William Burl Cooper. Cooper was killed at a time when Bess should still have been behind bars.
Gilley's information officer Chip Bryant, expressed Gilley's dissatisfaction after the story was run and made it perfectly clear that if I didn't toe the line, my publication would not receive any information from his office and it would also likely effect our ability to get advertising customers. It wouldn't be professional to repeat my reply but let me say Gilley has never answered repeated requests for information, so it is not just the Miller family being ignored.
Unfortunately for Gilley, Tennessee law doesn't allow for a sheriff to limit pubic information because he is miffed at the press or wants to hide facts. His continued effort to ensure his department runs in secret is placing him dangerously close to the wrong side of the law and could prove his eventual undoing. For a sheriff or one of his men to make a mistake would not in itself drive away supporters, even if a hefty lawsuit settlement followed, but for a sheriff to be so arrogant as to think he is above the law of Tennessee and the US Constitution is unforgivable.
What do you think?
I'm about to praise Mayor Tom Rowland, and I hope the praise is not misplaced. Mr. Rowland graciously spoke up against Tim Gobble's forced transfer to the Washington Secret Service Office. He officially confirmed what Cleveland residents knew all along, that Gobble's relationship with the Cleveland Police Department was a healthy and cordial one. The only disagreement was with Chief Lee Reese who later resigned in disgrace.
If only Rowland had shown this level of support to Gobble when he was asked by his boss to resign as councilman, Cleveland could have been spared a string of connected scandals and Gobble would still be representing Cleveland voters. We won't question Rowland's new motives but instead question those of Gobble's Nashville boss, Secret Service Agent in Charge, Sara Beth Pulliam.
It seems to me that Ms. Pulliam needs a short, sharp shock of reality to dislodge her from her throne in that Nashville ivory tower. Ms. Pulliam needs to savor the wrath of the good people of Cleveland. Don't bother to call her office, it is posible you would be wasting your time, instead call John Gill, Secret Service Public Affairs Agent in Washington (202) 406-5114 and express your dissatisfaction of Pulliam's actions. And while you are about it, make a call to President Bush's office (202) 456-1111 or 1414, just in case the Secret Service think they are untouchable. Or you can e-mail the President at:
If there is going to be vindictive retaliation let it come from the people of Cleveland.
What do you think?
Website Survey Results