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Are elected and appointed officials held to different standards?

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By Susan Sharp

The city of LaFollette seems to be a land without consequences.

From avoiding the most basic of traffic laws to wrecking a city owned vehicle those employed by the city and elected or appointed to serve LaFollette seem to be above consequences.

In recent months the LaFollette City Court traffic judge Wes Hatmaker was arrested for driving on a suspended license. He immediately owned up to not having a license, which he should have done because it had been suspended for 14 years.

That means he sat on the bench in city court dolling out consequences for those cited for the same offense he committed on a daily basis. While the council and mayor may not have known about Hatmaker’s negligence up to that point there was no denying it following the arrest. Yet they failed to take any action.

In fact, the council and mayor have yet to publicly address the situation.

Hatmaker’s failure to satisfy a 14-year-old traffic violation demonstrates that he had a disregard for the very laws he was sworn to uphold.

The council’s failure to take action shows they have little interest in holding people accountable.

This was further evidenced when LaFollette Councilman Hansford Hatmaker and interim LaFollette City Administrator Cade Sexton wrecked a city owned vehicle in Jackson. The duo was on what best could be described as an unofficial excursion to the Mark Luttrell Women’s Correctional Complex.

It has been confirmed the two attended a graduation ceremony in which a Campbell County woman was taking part. It should be noted that Hansford Hatmaker is on the approved visitor’s list for that same female. Hansford Hatmaker and Sexton have since claimed they met with prison officials about a halfway house being established in Campbell County. The department of corrections was unable to confirm an official meeting.

Nonetheless on the way home the city owned SUV was totaled with Hansford Hatmaker at the helm.

From the city’s insurance provider’s point of view, Sexton is allowed to take his city assigned vehicle wherever he chooses. This could include trips not sanctioned by the city.

Fair enough.

But after the crash, they rented a car with a city credit card. The total cost of that taxpayer funded ride was over $300, according to the records provided by the city. Taking the city vehicle may have been permissible but using taxpayer money to finance their passage home is a complete disregard for the laws, policies and reasonable actions they expect of others.