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Judge Won't Dismiss Case Against County Law Director

Anderson County, Tennessee, is comprised mostly of four small cities and a dozen coal-mining communities. One, Heiskell, is little more than a post office.

But the county government boasts that it has evolved into "a world-leading technological powerhouse." That's the mayor talking, of course.

The thing is, as sometimes happens in small towns, politicians can overstate the case. That's what happened in a legal battle between two county directors, and it's not over.

"Political Smear Campaign"

David Crowley, the county's public works director, is suing the county's law director, Jay Yeager. Crowley says Yeager intentionally smeared him during a political campaign.

But this is not a "he said, he said." The mayor -- she who said the county is a "technological powerhouse" -- is also tied up in the political mess.

Mayor Terry Frank was running for reelection in 2014 when Yeager told the county prosecutor that Crowley broke the law by carrying out uncertified buidling inspections. Crowley was acquited of the charges, and then sued Yeager over it.

The local press, which has made the story front-page news, pointed out that "Frank and Yeager have been political foes throughout Frank's tenure." You may need a chart to keep the connections straight, and don't be surprised if DNA testing shows everybody is related.

"Ongoing Political Battle"

Meanwhile, Judge Travis McDonough has to make some sense of the legal muddle. In the latest filing, he refused to dismiss Crowley's complaint.

He reviewed Yeager's motion to dismiss, trying to sort out more political intrigue. "Crowley alleges that Yeager was engaged in an ongoing political battle with Mayor Frank and that Frank's attorney was informed at some point that 'if Mayor Frank agreed to appoint Ms. Crumpley (to the position of) Anderson County Building Commissioner, (Crowley's) indictment would 'go away,'" the judge pondered.

In case you're wondering, Lisa Crumpley filed a wrongrful termination lawsuit against the county and called the mayor a liar. That case settled after Crumpley's personnel file and inspection documents disappeared from the county files.

It would have been enough for a lesser judge to throw everybody out of the courtroom, but McDonough has decided to hold on to the Crowley case for a while longer. What else would people have to talk about in those small towns?

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