So, I sat down and penned this e-mail to Steven Menzel, the IACC Director:
I've looked at your on-line character cities list and found two Tennessee cities, Elizabethton and Hohenwald listed there. After reading a story on the Arizona State Treasurer, David Petersen, who was or is under investigation for taking commissions from the "Character Cities" organization, I wanted to follow up with you to ask if any public officials at the local or state level here in Tennessee have received such commissions from your organization. Also, I was wondering about the nature of the relationship between the two Tennessee cities listed on your site and your organization: have they adopted your "Character First!" education programs or are the local police using "Police Dynamics"* programs? Are there any officials here in Tennessee whom I might contact to follow up on these questions?
Here is the response I got back from IACC Director of Character First! Business, John Burnett:
Steven Menzel, Director of IACC, is in Peru and asked if I might respond since I work with our authorized CF! representatives. We do not have any public officials that I am aware of in Tennessee who represent CF! or receive commissions from us.
Regarding communities that have made resolutions to be a "City of Character:" we provide networking, training, and strategy planning for character councils who desire to have a character emphasis in their community. You would have to contact the communities directly to get specific information on the level of implementation in the educational and law enforcement sectors. There is quite a variety in the implementation of the 200 plus communities that have passed resolutions.
We do have materials and training for education, law enforcement, business, government, and families. If there is a way we could help you be successful with a character emphasis in your community, business, family. or even just personally, we would be honored to discuss it with you.
Two weeks ago, I sent the following e-mail to Hohenwald's City Hall:
I noticed that Hohenwald has been listed on the IACC's on-line character cities list. I followed up with IACC to find out more information about the nature of the relationship between cities and the IACC. They were helpful, but they also referred me back to the cities for more information.I am still awaiting an answer from Hohenwald (which is 100 miles outside of Nashville), but I have been made aware of this emerging investigation of a County Commissioner affiliated with IACC by an Ohio anti-cult group.
So, could you please send me answers to the following questions?
1) What kinds of assistance does Hohenwald receive from IACC? School curricula? Police training programs?
2) Is there a "character council" that resulted from Hohenwald's ties to IACC?
3) What are the future plans for character-based programming for Hohenwald?
4) Is there any local public debate over Hohenwald's relationship to the IACC?
5) Do any of Hohenwald's local public officials receive commissions from the IACC for any programming or trainings?
The checkered history of public officials who are in bed with IACC and the latter's emphasis on submission to authority is worth more investigation for possible illicit financial relations in our state. However, keeping an eye on Tennessee officials is also necessary in case they are using IACC-support to sneak a cultic, religious agenda in the backdoor of municipal governments.
*More on the "Police Dynamics" program, which is described by proponents as "biblical wisdom packaged into a law enforcement message."