reporter apologizes to county over e-mail reporter apologizes to county over e-mail

February 5th, 2011 by Staff Report in News

A reporter for the website apologized to County Commissioner Tim Boyd for e-mailing an off-color joke to Boyd's county e-mail account, according to e-mail records maintained by the county.

Dennis Norwood, a former Chattanooga Police Department employee who covers East Ridge government, Catoosa County courts and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball and football, sent the e-mail to several people on Jan. 27, including state Rep. Vince Dean, R-Chattanooga, according to e-mail records.

Boyd and Dean said they did not read the e-mail.

The joke with the subject line "Splinters in her Crotch" concerns a woman described as a "tree hugger, a Democrat and an anti-hunter" who climbs a tree and gets splinters. The punch line is a doctor denying the woman medical care because he "had to get permits from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management" and because "due to ObamaCare, they turned me down."

Later that same day, Norwood sent Boyd another e-mail saying he had "inadvertently" copied Boyd's commission address on the e-mail, but he did not discuss its contents. He apologized to Boyd for the mix-up.

Norwood told the Chattanooga Times Free Press via a Facebook message that he accidentally copied Boyd on his e-mail and said the commission office did not contact him about it. He said he and Dean are old friends and trade jokes routinely.

"None of these were sent in any regards to my capacity as a journalist, but were well within my 2nd Amendment [sic] rights as a citizen and as a personal friend to these gentlemen and others," Norwood wrote.

The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution refers to the right to keep and bear arms. The First Amendment is the one that guarantees freedom of speech.

John Wilson, the publisher of, hung up on a reporter seeking comment.

Boyd said he has instructed commission staff not to forward such e-mails to him in the future.

Dean doesn't remember the e-mail, but said he typically does not read forwarded e-mails.

"I can just about guarantee you if I saw one with that subject line I deleted it and didn't even read it," Dean said.