Letter to the Editor: Jasper exhibiting troubling trend

As with all Letters to the Editor, Marion County News neither agrees or disagrees with the contents of the letter and does not corroborate, or not, content of such letters.

Dear editor,

Jason Turner was alderman until he was elected Jasper City Mayor on 11-6-20 and sworn in 12-15-20.  As alderman, he knew or should have known about issues within Jasper City government.   State of Tennessee audit FY 6-30-19 to 6-30-20 reported nine problems within Jasper City administration including violation of state law TCA 12-4-101.  Jasper City hired a relative to build a wall in the city hall.  Jasper City pled guilty and said they will obey the law in the future.

On 6-30-20 WTVC reported that taxi driver Keith E. Webb filed a law suit against the Jasper Police Department for attacking him and falsely accusing him of running a stop sign on College Street.  The lawsuit claims that Jasper Police Officer Brian Davis “without any provocation by Mr. Webb, pulled open the car door, snatched Mr. Webb out of the car, threw Mr. Webb up against the car and handcuffed him.”  Webb was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and a traffic violation.  Webb reported that he had never been arrested before in his 50 years of life.  Webb accused Officer Davis of treating him in this manner because he is a Black man.  Police Chief Billy Mason supported Officer Davis actions.  Webb’s law suit called for $400,000 in damages which if awarded, would have been paid by Jasper taxpayers.  When faced with the law suit, Jasper City dropped charges against Mr. Webb.  Jasper City took no corrective action with the Jasper Police Department.

January through March 2021 Mayor Turner’s water plant did not monitor for Total Trihalomethanes and Total Haloacetic Acids. In July 2021, they did not monitor for Coliform Bacteria. Trihalomethanes in drinking water can cause bladder and colon cancer and birth defects. Haloacetic Acids in drinking water can cause bladder, rectal, and colon cancer as well as adverse developmental effects during pregnancy. Coliform Bacteria in drinking water can cause upset stomach, vomiting, fever, diarrhea, and flu-like symptoms. People with weak immune systems and the very young or very old may develop severe or possibly fatal illness. Mayor Turner admitted that Jasper Water Systems, for which he is responsible, was guilty of this breech of public trust.

Tennessee State Audit for 6-30-20 to 6-30-21 of Mayor Turner’s administration uncovered that they violated Tennessee State Law TCA  6-56-203 when they overspent the general fund by $326,534, street aid by $6,623, and drug fund by $3,055. Mayor Turner pled guilty to these findings indicating that he would try to do better in the future.

Mayor Turner is responsible for the proper administration and supervision of the Jasper sewer plant. In 2021, the City of Jasper was cited by the State of Tennessee for exceeding permitted sewer plant pollution discharges. In April 2021, Tennessee River Keeper Inc. filed notice to sue Jasper City for polluting the Tennessee River. Mayor Turner pled guilty. Jasper taxpayers paid $7,675 in fines plus up to $30,700 if Jasper fails to correct the violations. Jasper City attorney Mark Raines also recommended that Jasper City hire a special lawyer to defend them in the lawsuit at $460/hour with a $5,000 retainer. The motion passed.

How much of your tax money is being spent on salary for Jasper Mayor Turner?   The Town Of Jasper City Budget shows 2020-2021 estimated budget of $765,550 of your tax dollars to be spent to fund Jasper’s police?  Government does one thing.  It taxes you and it spends your money.  Is this the way you want to see your tax money at work?

John Christof

Jasper, TN

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