Demoted because she made Haslam angry?


In October 2017, Davenport announced her decision to opt out of a proposed plan to outsource facilities management, saying it was "not the best option" for the university campus after having conversations and receiving "volumes" of mail form people concerned about the issue. Davenport's five-year projections on the back of that decision indicated an additional $3.3 million in savings. The United Campus Workers group thanked Davenport for her decision.


Mark Harmon's column in the News Sentinel

Opinion | Far-right ideas come to Knox mayoral race

"We even have an extremist InfoWars guest in our election for Knox County mayor. Glenn Jacobs, Republican candidate and former wrestler, once popped up on Jones’ program for a chummy and bizarre 22-minute chat about “the state’s monopoly on currency,” police state tyranny of the Transportation Security Administration, persecution of homeschoolers, and globalist monetary scheming."

Mar 22 2018
09:04 am

Do most mass shootings happen in "gun free zones?" Mark Harmon has done the research to prove otherwise.

Research, incredible students make case for gun restrictions

Former state senator Stacey Campfield recently blurted on a Knoxville radio program that most mass shootings occur in gun-free zones. This falsehood has been promoted by Sean Hannity and President Donald Trump, and has bounced around the right-wing echo chamber for years.

PolitiFact generously rated the statement half true, but the only true part is that you can find a pro-gun group that came to that conclusion by cobbling together a tally based on some dubious definitions. For example, the tally called Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard gun-free zones despite the presence of armed guards (and lots of other weapons).

If you are unable to connect to the link provided to see the whole column, send me a PM.

Dec 14 2017
10:57 am

Let's huddle up and learn how to write right ... alright?

This is the column that gets written at the end of a semester of teaching news writing!

From the Not-So-Farfetched File

“Welcome to College Football, Battle of the Writing Programs. I’m your announcer Merriam Webster. The play here is like football, but yards gained and lost derive from the rules of good writing. Today we have a clash of collegiate composition titans,” declared Webster. “University of Missouri grinds out yards through solid journalism. Coach Strunk N. White likes punchy, direct sentences. Northwestern’s Creative Writing Program, on the other hand, relies on fancy exposition. Count on Coach Faulkner Steinbeck for elaborate plot twists.”

“I’m joined in the booth by Earnest Penn,” continued Webster.

“The kickoff goes into the end zone. Missouri starts on the 20,” reported Penn. “Fullback Tap Keyes pulls out an I-Phone and writes, ‘The transportation bill was passed by Congress.’ He is slammed for a loss of two yards. Merriam, what happened there?”

“Well, you’re not going to get anywhere in this league writing in passive voice,” responded Webster.

If you are unable to see this column in its entirety on the KNS site, send me a PM.

Mark Harmon: 'Backpack Full of Cash' warns of charter school dangers

The documentary "Backpack Full of Cash" was in Knoxville last month for three showings before hundreds of people — some politicos, but mostly teachers and parents. The League of Women Voters and its co-sponsors did a community service by arranging these showings.The documentary details how vouchers and charter schools do not live up to their promises, sometimes attract scam operators, and lead to massive disinvestment in public education.

"Backpack," released in 2016, showed how 19 Philadelphia charter schools were under fraud investigation, all while several public schools closed. The film relayed how school privatization largely has failed New Orleans. Tennessee is high on the privatization target list; 59 privatization lobbyists are working our state Legislature.

Nov 30 2017
10:07 am

Add common sense to things endangered by Trump

Common sense joins democracy, decency, humanity and elephants as being threatened by our current administration.

Nov 8 2017
06:23 pm

We need better conspiracy theories

A secret and sacred text, known as the Scaramouchi Code, reveals a hidden plot with religious and political overtones. Kremlin-backed oligarchs decided one of their debtors, known to them as Dopus Mei, should be the U.S. president. Dopus, following a meeting in the Moscow Ritz Carlton with the Pee Masons, agreed to be their front man.

One billionaire family funded the evil Not-So-Bright-Bart based on its resume of creating “Birth of a Notion,” a unification of Klansmen, Nazis and anti-immigrant Know Nothings.

Nov 2 2017
07:40 am

Mark Harmon: Call Corruption by its Name

At the close of the 2016 election ABC News and the Washington Post commissioned a survey on the most important issues driving voters’ presidential choices. The economy/jobs led at 29 percent, but second place at 17 percent was corruption in government.

Voters also seem to have pegged campaign money as a key component. A Bloomberg survey last fall found nearly two-thirds of respondents strongly agreeing with the statement “campaign finance should be reformed so that a rich person does not have more influence than a person without money.”

Oct 19 2017
07:44 am

Erik Prince reminds us of Catch-22

"In a democracy, the government is the people," Milo declared. "We're people, aren't we? So we might just as well keep the money and eliminate the middleman. Frankly, I'd like to see the government get out of war altogether and leave the whole field to private industry."

How far from that amoral doublespeak are the recent machinations of Erik Prince, founder of controversial private security firm and military contractor Blackwater? Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, recently promoted a massive plan to create an army of private contractors and their aircraft to take over much of the war in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump was talked out of his initial support for the idea, but the revelation we came that close to outsourcing our war should scare all of us.

Oct 11 2017
06:02 pm
By: B Harmon

Candidates James Mackler, Lauren Rider rise above shiny object stories

Mackler last week was in Knoxville the same day that Gov. Bill Haslam announced he was not running for the Senate seat, and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced she was. All three local TV newscasts were reminded of this opportunity, but none supplemented their Senate seat stories with a Mackler interview. If any had shown at the Blue Dots meeting that night, they would have seen a crowd roaring approval when he contrasted himself to Blackburn, presenting himself as a “servant leader who is not a career politician.”

The shiny object syndrome also can be seen in Knoxville’s District 4 City Council race. Lauren Rider secured 43.51 percent of the primary vote in a five-way contest. Her 889 votes were the most for any candidate in any district. Our system puts the first- and second-place finishers in a citywide runoff, but that distant second-place spot featured a tie. City Council broke that tie, but voters should ignore that distraction and stick with the district’s choice.

Oct 4 2017
04:55 pm

Here is Mark Harmon's column for this week.

Secretary Zinke nevertheless recommended that President Donald Trump shrink the borders of four national monuments and open six others to mining, drilling, commercial fishing and logging — often endangering Native American cultural artifacts. The changes to millions of acres constitute what the Sierra Club described as “the largest-ever reduction of protections for public lands and waters in U.S. history.”

Sep 21 2017
10:08 am

Rep. John Duncan Jr. proven wrong on environmentalists

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. ended his latest constituent newsletter with this broadside: “Far-left environmentalists almost always come from wealthy or upper-income families who don’t have trouble paying their utility bills.”

Let’s test that assertion.

I took four published polls from 2016, three by Pew and one by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Each had a question about family income and an environmental concern.

(If you are unable to link to the column, send me a message.)

Aug 31 2017
08:39 am

Hold the line against media oligopolies

When Ben Bagdikian wrote "The Media Monopoly" in 1983, he was aghast that the holdings of only 50 companies accounted for more than half of U.S. mass media. Today it takes only six transnational mega-corporations to account for ownership of the vast majority of our mass media.

That’s why we must stop the sleazy machinations underway in Congress, the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission.

If you cannot link to the column, send me a PM.

Apr 9 2017
08:13 am

I just read this article in The New Yorker that explains my frustration. I am stuck in anger and disbelief that Trump is our president and by all of his actions, everyday a new outrage.

What is worse? His constant unfounded lies leveled at the previous administration? The fact that he has surrounded himself at the White House with known conspiracy theorists and white supremacists? That he has made nepotism in the highest political office commonplace and it is accepted by Congress? That his sons are openly currying favor and making deals around the world using the office of the presidency to enrich the family? What will the investigations into his campaign's connections to Russia show us? Will we ever get to see his tax returns so we can understand the extent of his conflicts of interest? Now he is saber rattling with Syria and North Korea, will he get us into another protracted war?

How do we fight this, keeping it from becoming the norm? We all know that Alexander, Corker, and Duncan will do nothing but should we be putting the pressure on them?

Dec 29 2016
05:03 pm

Obama Issues Sanctions for Alleged Russian Hacking

President Obama has expelled 35 Russian nationals and sanctioned five Russian entities and four individuals for an alleged cyber assault on Democratic political organizations during the 2016 presidential campaign, the White House announced today.

Read Report: Malicious Russian Cyberactivity Interfered US Election

Read Full Executive Order

Aug 18 2016
10:33 am

Does anyone else have an odd fascination with the crazy antics of the Trump train? On the one hand, I am worried that this man is this close to the presidency so I need a constant flow of data to show that it is highly unlikely for him to win. On the other hand, it is just amazing to see how this campaign his playing out with such a wild card in the engine room.

The recent changes in management are alarming because it shows what Trump has been reading and who he trusts to be his advisors at this point. His campaign will be much of what is seen on Breitbart/Drudge and I am sure it will be quite ugly. Since he has no real policies, he will go purely negative trying to take out Clinton with every conspiracy theory no matter how old or proven to be false.


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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding. (Source)

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