In 30 years of covering local news and politics, I have occasionally sparked the ire of those I have written about. Sometimes it is been about things people would prefer the public not know, sometimes things hidden in the public records or actions that someone took and later regretted.
Usually those have been irate phone calls but rarely are they the kind of phone calls like the one I received from Crossville councilman Jesse Kerley on November 9. The phone call came in and Mr. Kerley said, “You've sure got some gall telling people a bunch of lies on me.”
He preceded to complain about comments I had made on the radio the evening of the election. I had been asked about Kerley's non-attendance at the October city council meeting and I commented that while Kerley did not attend the meeting, I'd had two eyewitnesses tell me they had seen his GMC-SUV that he drives for Swisher, the company he works for, in the parking lot of the law office across from city hall. One witness also reported that Kerley was in the vehicle.
Mr. Kerley said that I needed to get my 'damn eyes checked” because he claimed he was in Indiana all that week.
Then the conversation soon took a darker tone and Kerley made comments that I considered threatening. After a short time I simply hung up on Mr. Kerley.
In addition to the phone call, there was the outrageous accusation that Kerley had made against me in an email to Crossville police on October 5 concerning the allegations of sign theft related to signs put up by council candidate J. J. Brownstead.
The story at the link mentions that Kerley had emailed a list of “suspects” to Crossville police officer O'Neal even though the alleged theft occurred in the county. I will not share other names on the list at this time, but one of the “suspects and known accomplices” in Kerley's email was listed as “Jim Young Reporter.” At the time I wrote the story at the link above I had not seen the list of "suspects." Kerley's email also states that the theft was done to provoke him and the signs posted in public to "boast."
Of course the signs were returned to Mr. Brownstead after proof was presented that the signs were never Mr. Kerley's property nor did the signs in question come from his father's shed as he falsely claimed.
The point of this editorial is to shine the light into the backroom of local politics and hopefully citizens can see that there are issues that still need to be addressed in a way that takes the city forward in a professional direction and not continue to make it a laughing stock.
In addition, I wanted to let readers know that I do not bow to intimidation and will continue to report the news as I always have, truthfully.