Judge objects to recent headlines

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Cornish calls them 'misleading' and 'tactic' to sell newspapers

By Ben Carlson

Judge-Executive Steve Cornish is objecting to what he calls “misleading” headlines in the past two editions of The Anderson News.

In an e-mail to the paper, Cornish takes issue with a headline on an article about a recent audit of the county’s finances, and a headline about a fiscal court vote to pay down debt on the county park.

The audit headline, “County audit shows problems” appeared in the March 3 edition of the paper. The debt headline, “Fiscal court tells judge to pay park debt,” appeared in the March 10 issue.

“I understand your need to sell papers and understand some of the tactics used to do so,” Cornish wrote in the e-mail. “However, I ask that you not be misleading with your headlines.”

Cornish said the county received “at the very worst a B-plus” grade for its audit, and there is “no follow-up on the auditor’s part, no penalty, no fine and absolutely no investigation.”

The audit, released earlier this month, pointed out several issues, including several bills not paid on time, negative balances in several line items and a $300,000 deposit not insured or collateralized.

Cornish said the park debt headline “would indicate the park debt is not being paid,” Cornish wrote. “It should have read ‘Court orders judge to make extra payments on park.’”

That article came several weeks after Magistrate Forrest Dale Stevens questioned why rent money received from the Extension District wasn’t being used to make principle payments on the debt at the county park.

Stevens pointed out that the fiscal court in 2008 unanimously passed a resolution to do so.

Cornish contended at the time that the resolution required the advance debt payments to be made “if we have the money at the end of the year,” and insisted he needed to wait until that time to see if it could be paid.

During a meeting March 2, Stevens reiterated that he wanted the rent money used on park debt, and made a motion that his fellow magistrates unanimously approved.

Cornish abstained from voting.

“For the most part I have no problems with the articles, but there are people who will purchase the paper and not get past the headlines,” Cornish said in the e-mail.

“This is not a complaint that I am making just because I am running for re-election, but one I would make no matter if it wasn’t an election year,” Cornish wrote.

E-mail Ben Carlson at bcarlson@theandersonnews.com.