Knox Commission censures Jeff Ownby for Sharps Ridge arrest

Knox Commission censures Jeff Ownby for Sharps Ridge arrest

Posted:
Jeff Ownby represents the 4th District. Jeff Ownby represents the 4th District.
Commission Chair Tony Norman voted no for the censure. Commission Chair Tony Norman voted no for the censure.
Commissioners Tony Norman and Brad Anders exchange words after the meeting. Commissioners Tony Norman and Brad Anders exchange words after the meeting.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Knox County commissioners voted Tuesday to reprimand one of their own after his arrest for having oral sex with another man in a public park.

The vote to censure Commissioner Jeff Ownby, a Republican representing the 4th District, was 7-1.

The censure of Ownby has no legal recourse, but it does send an official statement of disapproval for his actions.

"As a body, as a board, we need to hold our members accountable," said Commissioner Brad Anders. "If we're arrested and convicted of a crime, we need to at least make a public censure. This is nothing more than a disagreement of public actions that day."

Commissioner R. Larry Smith abstained from the vote and Commission Chair Tony Norman voted no.

Commissioner Amy Broyles was absent.

"I think enough is enough," Norman said. "I admire his courage for staying here, for coming to meetings, and for withstanding the barrage of repeated assaults on him."

The one dissenting vote led to some drama between the commissioners. Commissioner Sam McKenzie who called out Norman during the meeting. 
                    
"To vote 'no' and have our chairman vote on this is disturbing to me," McKenzie said. "I think this is something that we have to do."

Norman said there were a lot of circumstances going on around the time of Ownby's arrest. 

"I do not think there were coincidences. I do not have accusations towards anyone's involvement, but there are a lot of questions about how this took place, when it took place, and it made me very uncomfortable," Norman said.

It was these comments about the arrest that Commissioner Brad Anders took issue with.

Anders is a Knoxville police officer who happened to be working the day of the arrest.

Anders initially thought Norman's comments implied that Anders was behind the "questionable" circumstances behind the arrest.

The two confronted each other in the hallway after the meeting to clarify those comments with Law Director Bud Armstrong present.

Anders says Norman told him no implication toward him was intended in Norman's public comments.

"I took it personally and Tony explained it wasn't personal," Anders said. 

This isn't the first time the commission has voted to censure one of its own.

In 2009, Commissioner Greg "Lumpy" Lambert was censured for disruptive behavior at meetings of the Ridge, Slope and Hillside Development Task Force.

Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 WorldNow and WATE. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.