Knox Co. Commissioner Jeff Ownby was arrested for indecent exposure during a police surveillance operation at Sharps Ridge, according to a WATE report.


Micah's picture

When it's not a shame to be gay...

Gay men won't hide in the woods. Equality Now.

mld's picture

I am all for equality, but I

I am all for equality, but I am also for doing what is morally right. Ownby is married with children. He did them wrong. He is a loser. Being gay, I don't care and really don't give a s... because it does not matter. Being all about yourself without any regard to family is selfish and wrong.

HornyBack's picture

Might lose his job?

One story is that he was in a work (Comcast) van.

Prayers go out to his wife and kids.

whats funny's picture

on Da man

on Da man

fischbobber's picture

Comments are disabled at KNS.

So much for cheap entertainment in bad taste.

rikki's picture

don't stop believin

So much for cheap entertainment in bad taste.

The Commission meeting was postponed today, so there's still time.

rikki's picture

Sad news

Sad to hear. Prayers to him and his family.

Nelle's picture


I pray for his wife to find a top-notch divorce lawyer.

michael kaplan's picture

anyone know the details of

anyone know the details of the so-called "surveillance operation?" was the city police or sheriff's office involved in the arrest?

Hildegard's picture

Yeah they are taking a bite

Yeah they are taking a bite out of nookie. There are women being trafficked a few blocks away, but we really need to round up these consenting adults and humiliate the shit out of them. This is America.

Rachel's picture

I'm fine with the consenting

I'm fine with the consenting adults part, but I'd prefer that we keep all overt sexual behavior out of public parks.

If it's not too much trouble.

michael kaplan's picture

the "overt" behavior might

the "overt" behavior might have taken place well behind the NO TRESPASSING signs installed during the previous mayoral administrations. and if the "overt" behavior was in the woods in front of undercover agents posing, say, as cruisers, that might change things ...

that's why it would be interesting to know the details of the arrests.

Rachel's picture

that's why it would be

that's why it would be interesting to know the details of the arrests.

I suspect we'll know a lot more details than I have any interest in hearing soon enough.

This is just a sad story.

Hayduke's picture

This. If they were reasonably

This. If they were reasonably secluded and seen only because KPD was looking for them, the whole 'crime' is bullshit. Would a mixed-sex couple have even been charged? I suppose there are people here who've never had any kind of sex in a place where privacy wasn't 100% assured, but I can't claim a good stone-throwing angle on this one.

Rachel's picture

If they were reasonably

If they were reasonably secluded and seen only because KPD was looking for them,

The police report said that they made no effort not to be visible to the public.

bizgrrl's picture



Tacamo01's picture

Could it have waited?

The new date for the commissions vote on the budget is 4 June. A lot of time to research the issues. Not the time to get caught with your pants down. I hope the others are taking this budget seriously.

Hildegard's picture

I wish this weren't news.

I wish this weren't news.

logic's picture


Sad that on the same day, you have a well qualified potential candidate ruled ineligible to run for office due to bipartisian judicial activism, while a commisioner gets busted for indecent exposure. Sad day for Knox Co.

marytheprez's picture

And the real 'sad' part is this:

Voters who believed in this man's good character ("moral values", family man, etc.) will now be powerless to remove him from office. And I am NOT saying his morals were wrong, only that his facade he lived and keeping it secret...that was wrong. He won this seat under false pretenses with no criticism from his party leaders (only prayers and requests for counseling). So in order to get a qualified candidate in his seat, he will HAVE TO resign. And it would be in his best interest as well as his family and Knox County Commission for him to do the right thing and quit.
But with the Knox County Election Commission and Legal Department backing the selection of a Mr. McNutt, who is a confessed, but not convicted, voter felon who admitted to voting in the wrong precinct 7 (seven) times. (And then he blamed his 7 'mistakes' on the poll workers!)
And what is going on with the investigation into the KC Trustee's office? I haven't been paying attention to local carryings on lately.

Anonymouse's picture

I feel for his family. He has

I feel for his family. He has a wife and has raised 12 or more foster children.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

Why was he not at work or at least in the 4th District?

How do we get people like this out of county government?

I'd bet it was city of Knoxville surveillence, can't imagine the Sheriff's Office taking out a commissioner unless it was just downright unavoidable

Pam Strickland's picture

I don't agree w/ his

I don't agree w/ his politics, but this is a complete surprise. Prayers for him and his family.

Betty Bean's picture

I would be more sympathetic

I would be more sympathetic to him if I hadn't heard that he's been crowing about the North Carolina gay marriage ban, which also applies to civil unions.


AnonaMoose 's picture


Bean- a more useful link would show Ownby being against it rather than describing what it is...unless I missed his quote somewhere in the article.

Bbeanster's picture

Bean- a more useful link

Bean- a more useful link would show Ownby being against it rather than describing what it is...unless I missed his quote somewhere in the article.

Pretty weak sarcasm, anona. Google 'Shit Jeff Ownby says.'

R. Neal's picture

WATE article linked to above

WATE article linked to above updated, Hammond calls for his resignation.

Mike Cohen's picture


Hammond called on him to resign after he has his day in court. He did not call for him to resign immediately.

Rachel's picture

Ummm, last night on

Ummm, last night on television Hammond said Ownby should resign if the story is true. Then he added that Ownby deserved his day in court. So it was a bit of a muddled message.

I really don't see how Ownby can survive as a Commissioner. Bill Phillips tried to stay on the School Board after his brush with the law and see how well THAT worked out.

I mostly feel sad about this. And I certainly won't condemn the Commissioner for his sexuality, whatever it may be.

I'll just repeat that I'd prefer not to see sex acts in full view in public parks.

Donald Patton's picture

"Bill Phillips tried to stay

"Bill Phillips tried to stay on the School Board after his brush with the law and see how well THAT worked out."

How is a B Misdemeanor the same as a serious felony? Comparing this to the Bill Phillips deal is stupid. Phillips threaten his wife with a gun. Ownby decides his future on Commission. He has four years left. Bill Owens and Victor Ashe didn't quit after their misadventures. You act like this was a felony violent crime. Get a grip.

Bbeanster's picture

Bill Owen's "misadventure"

Bill Owen's "misadventure" happened after he left office.

I have no idea what you are referencing in regard to Victor Ashe.

Bbeanster's picture

Bill Owen's "misadventure"

Bill Owen's "misadventure" happened after he left office.

I have no idea what you are referencing in regard to Victor Ashe.

But I agree that Bill Phillips' situation was different from Jeff's, at this point. Phillips is clearly mentally ill. Jeff's just a hypocrite.

Rachel's picture

I didn't say that Phillips'

I didn't say that Phillips' and Ownby's issues with the law were the "same." I was in no way equating the two men.

My point was that any very visible and publicized arrest makes it really difficult for a public official to stay in office - especially if the arrest is for something many consider "sensational," and this qualifies.

I'm with Bean - what the heck are you talking about wrt Victor?

Average Guy's picture

(link...) David Hawk, the


David Hawk, the state's latest "family values" politician to go to jail, returned to the House last night to a surprisingly warm welcome from his colleagues. There were hugs and claps on the back and even a fist-bump for the accused wife-beater.

Do you really think he will get hugs and fist bumps should he return?

Ownby didn't choose to be gay, but he chose to be a Republican. A party that runs candidates that believe you can "pray gay away" and sex should only be for procreation. You're kidding yourself if you think he wouldn't be better off if he had threatened his wife.

Democrats just see him as a hypocrite, it's his party that sees him as a sinner.

michael kaplan's picture

I'd prefer not to see sex

I'd prefer not to see sex acts in full view in public parks

i didn't read anywhere that these acts were taking place "in full view" of anyone except an undercover agent. i assumed - by the trespassing violation - that the acts were taking place in the woods demarcated by NO TRESPASSING signs.

R. Neal's picture

News reports said the police

News reports said the police report indicated no attempt to conceal activity from public view. Trespassing charge was added for one subject when he stepped into the no tresspassing area, possibly just before or during the arrest, the report wasn't clear on that.

Factchecker's picture

Made his bed, it would seem

You addressed my question, Betty. Good thoughts toward his family as I too hope wife gets a good divorce lawyer.

Treehouse's picture


I do not have sympathy or prayers for him. It is disgusting to see the good old boys crowd around him in support. But my biggest concern is for his children and foster children. What kind of model parent is he? I'm not afraid of homosexuality until the homosexual denies himself and cannot control his sexuality. This may be harsh but I am about protecting women and children first.

trobinson's picture

Details are out. (link) Not

bizgrrl's picture

TMII wonder why the other


I wonder why the other guy was charged with criminal trespass, in addition to indecent exposure, and a $1,000 bond, whereas the commissioner was not charged with criminal trespass and only had a $500 bond.

redmondkr's picture

You've summed up my thoughts

You've summed up my thoughts very well Betty as you often do.

The closet is still a necessary tool for gay, bisexual, or curious men even here in today's 'enlightened' Tennessee. And probably most of them in the public eye turn to verbal gay bashing in order to reenforce their closet in an attempt to throw the hounds off the scent.

I can't find any sympathy for them when they get caught doing something this stupid.

Betty Bean's picture

Here's another thing: Sharps

Here's another thing:
Sharps Ridge is in my neighborhood.
You know, the neighborhood that Ownby has routinely bashed -- "If you don't like it, you wouldn't have moved there..."

And one more point that Katie Granju brought up this morning -- she gets viciously bashed in the comments section whenever there have been stories concerning her family situation. Comments have been disabled on the Ownby stories from the get-go. I don't understand how those decisions are made.

I doubt the comments would be that bad, however, since the most vicious anonymous regulars are people who are pretty much in agreement with Ownby.

reform4's picture

I agree

The inconsistency of KNS comments being disabled is really troubling. A poor black kid being shot to death, the field is open for logs of REALLY ugly comments. KAG's situation, the field is left open for really nasty cruel things. Jeff gets a hummer in a public park? Got to close it down!!


I'm not saying the comments should be open for this. I'm saying KNS needs to close comments for ANY kind of personal tragedy of anyone (death, illness, or arrest), no matter how powerful or powerless they are. It's a very simple line to draw.

As far as sympathies go, generally my heart goes out to anyone in this kind of situation. Jeff's a nice person at the surface in person, but he holds some ugly political views, and I could not abide the continuous lies about the 'rain tax' during the Rogero campaign. So, as Samuel Jackson said at the end of Pulp Fiction, "I'm trying.... real... hard..." He's a human being wrestling with some difficult things, and I hope the situation makes him a better person, more empathetic to the plights of others, at the end of it. So I pray for him and his family.

If there's anything I could do for him personally, I would. If I could say anything to him now, I would say that perhaps the most tragic thing is to spend one's life denying who you are. If he is gay, there's absolutely nothing wrong with that (and there's plenty of gay Republicans to boot, not that I understand THAT mindset). But living a lifetime in a world of self-hatred, I would not wish that on *anyone*.


Hildegard's picture

Most online publications (I

Most online publications (I think) are linking comments to more transparent social media, like Facebook. Well, actually, only Facebook as far as I can tell. That's what KNS should do. And I think if there is any question as to the authenticity of the commenters' ID, they should be disqualified from commenting. Except Tater the Cave Girl. She is real.

reform4's picture

Well, that didn't take long.

Retained Greg Issacs, will be going "into therapy". I'm sure he'll be "cured" in a month or two.

I guess God isn't listening today. :(

Hildegard's picture

I've been seeing some

I've been seeing some ridicule about the counseling on Facebook. Look, when you are a local leader who gets arrested in a known cruising zone for indecent exposure with another man, you might need to see a counselor, for lots of legitimate reasons. Such as, you might have reached a low point in your life. Or, you might need to talk to somebody about why you did something that is dangerous, illegal, and injurious to your family. I don't know why everybody is jumping to the conclusion that this is "ex-gay" therapy. The article in the paper just says "counseling." Also, Ownby has a right to hire a lawyer, he SHOULD hire a lawyer, and he has hired a good one. I would have chosen somebody less eager to pursue the spotlight, but whatevs.

Average Guy's picture

It's sad closets are still

It's sad closets are still needed.

But let's point out only one political party is still strying to force people in them.

It was today's "enlightened" Tennessee Republicans that voted for Santorum. As long as they maintain their bigoted stance, they'll have plenty of Foleys, Craigs and Ownbys to spew their hate.

rikki's picture

Unless Ownby resigns, he will

Unless Ownby resigns, he will still be in office for the school budget vote. If he does resign, Commission must vote to replace him, and it may not be legal nor possible to do that in under two weeks, which could leave the 4th district without a vote on the budget.
I think he owes it to his constituents to continue to represent them unless and until an ouster has run its proper course. This is not a serious crime. It's a crime of morality, and it's not the government's place to enforce morality. I'd rather see him apply his small-government philosophy to his dilemma so that his juvenile politics can mature and make him a better advocate for the citizens he represents.

R. Neal's picture

It's a crime of morality, and

It's a crime of morality, and it's not the government's place to enforce morality.

Isn't the theory here public nuisance? Same as at Broadway and Central?

Somebody's picture

Well, that's the thing. This

Well, that's the thing. This guy was outspoken in judging others, and launched his political career on an effort to prevent or seriously limit efforts to give other people a second chance on life. He wanted to keep people cordoned off in the Broadway corridor and away from 'good, wholesome neighborhoods.'

rikki's picture

Yep, it's a minor offense

Yep, it's a minor offense that does not rise to the level of disqualification from office. He may opt to resign, but I hope he instead finds the strength to confront himself and learn from this.

fischbobber's picture

Fundamental Disagreement

As one of Ownby's constituents, my position is that he has perpetrated fraud on all of us since the day he declared himself a candidate.

Would he have been elected had he advocated consensual sex between ANYONE for any reason in a public park? I'm tempted to expound on his position on the homeless, but I'll leave this comment where it's at.

I went door to door in my neighborhood, and lies work. As long as folks aren't held accountable, and people honestly trying to endorse competent government are left stuttering for a response that is more palatable than, "You DO know that your boy is nothing more than a lying bastard, don't you?" elected officials like Ownby have a civic duty to be hung out for the vultures. I don't care that he's homosexual. I defended his right to be so in the election he won. I do care that he used public parks. I advocated for public parks when he ran for office. I don't care that he needed a private spot to be with the man he loved. I am an advocate for the homeless. The problem is that Ownby is the antithesis of everything he advocates.

He should resign. He should also be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Just because I believe in a person's right to live his life as he see's fit, doesn't mean he should be able to use the park system to exhibit his choices to the rest of the free world.

rikki's picture

Your representative, your call

I believe the people of the 4th district have the right to be represented by someone they have confidence in. They elected someone whose brain is clearly much smaller than his ideals, and that seems appropriate for the 4th district. fischbobber notwithstanding, they are superficial people whose attention span is challenged by a Memorial Day furniture sale. They have the power to do something about this politically, and I suspect they'll just deform their moral and political compasses as needed to minimize fuss.

No disrespect to fischbobber, but he is going to find himself among a crowd easily distracted by shiny things and not especially interested in who is sucking who where. This will be last week's news in Ownby's district before gas prices go up or down a dime.

fischbobber's picture

You've got me there.

Me and the four other Democrats in the fourth..........

Dude I got to go. The sun is hitting the backyard orb and I've got to go see.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Bless your heart.

Bless your heart.

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

Rikki's opinions of 4th District

As a resident of the 4th District, I'm thankful that Rikki has taken the time to educate me about my mindset.

Rachel's picture

Rikki, I think you're


I think you're seriously mischaracterizing the 4th district here.

That Ownby won the last election was an anomaly (created IMO in part by the R landslide in 2010 and in part because the Democratic candidate didn't campaign hard enough).

I didn't expect him to be re-elected before any of this happened. He's too Tea Party for his district.

Bbeanster's picture

Also, Finbarr really offended

Also, Finbarr really offended a bunch of potential supporters with his support of the Midway Business Park. I covered a 4th D. Dems meeting that ended up in a screaming match. I remember thinking that this wasn't a prudent course of action for him.

redmondkr's picture

I would expect most of those

I would expect most of those phantom KNS comments to run along the lines of church ladies prayin' for the relatives. Believe me there are worse things in life than finding out a loved one is queer. It's not a terminal illness, for God's sake. Several of us have had relatives with church ladies prayin' for them on that account.

Of course he could have chosen a better way to come out.

Pam Strickland's picture

My prayers are that he can

My prayers are that he can find strength and come to peace w/ himself. And that his family can be protected as much as possible from the social stigma and humiliation.

rikki's picture


Is anyone adequately familiar with the ouster and recall processes for county commission to give us all a primer?

My recollection from the city recall effort is that an ouster is a formal court proceeding that must meet standards of evidence and proof, whereas citizens can initiate a recall for pretty much any reason, and the question gets on the ballot if sufficient signatures are gathered. In other words, public officials have limited power to remove Ownby, but citizens of the 4th district are constrained only by their ability to organize whatever sentiment may exist for getting a new representative.

R. Neal's picture

One of the news articles

One of the news articles quoted Hammond and Jarrett as saying commission couldn't remove him, only censure, but voters could bring an ouster suit, possibly on grounds of "moral turpitude" as suggested by Jarret.

Bird_dog's picture

as I remember from the Bill Lockett fiasco...

recall had a very long timeline (months to years) and organizing to collect the large number of signatures in a short time (60 to 90 days?) made it a nearly impossible hurdle...

Tamara will remember better, but I hope she will stay focused on the school board and budget decisions.

I am always aghast at the amount of hubris possessed by public officials that allows them to show their face in public after a shameful episode such as this. I'm thinking they wanted to get caught to give up whatever secrets they have been hiding.

Bird_dog's picture

County Commission rides herd on KCSO and KCSB

Commissioners should AT LEAST be generally law-abiding and educated.

Tacamo01's picture

More sad News

It was just reported on the 4pm news that the foster kids were removed from his home. I have very mixed feeling about this. I do not condon his behavior in a park, but why is his preference for the same sex an issue with regards to being a good parent? Sounds like this is getting very political before he goes to court. This is not a Penn State like issue where he was having sex with minors. And being a role model does not justify this action.

Somebody's picture

Gender preference has nothing

Gender preference has nothing to do with it. DCS would have removed the foster children if the arrest had resulted from engaging the services of a female prostitute. If DCS learns of an arrest of a foster parent resulting from an alleged crime of a sexual nature, takes no action, and it is later found that there was also sexual abuse of the children, there would be hell to pay, and rightfully so. Foster parents are people acting as parents on behalf of the state. The state still holds responsibility for the welfare of the foster children.

Treehouse's picture

Thank you somebody

DCS absolutely has responsibility to ensure the welfare of (all) children and this probably means taking the children away until their safety has been confirmed. I don't like the state telling parents what they can do with their children most of the time but this is a sexual crime.

Hmmmm's picture

Knoxville police park surveillance

Knoxville police park surveillance? An undercover officer? Sounds like the KPD have everything they need. I mean since they were keeping the park under surveillance I am sure they will be able to show the video tape they have. It is great that we have the resources we do to be able to put these criminals away. The days have come and gone where these people can say the officer is lying now that we have all this technology. Personally, I always record a video when I see something illegal taking place. Since we all have a cell phone and they all have cameras now, there is just no excuse for an officer to not have proof. Thank goodness for our highly trained professional police who will bring in the proof and not rely on "believe me because I am a police officer".
I can’t wait to see these harden criminals brought to justice.
Thank goodness forest rangers have more brains, last week I went fishing with a buddy. We both had to go to the restroom and there was nowhere to go. I had to number 1 and he had to number 2. Can’t imagine what KPD would have thought we were doing.

fischbobber's picture


Are you suggesting that Ownby and his partner were ingesting each others excrement? That's both gross and too big a stretch of the imagination.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


...recall had a very long timeline (months to years) and organizing to collect the large number of signatures in a short time (60 to 90 days?) made it a nearly impossible hurdle...

Tamara will remember better, but I hope she will stay focused on the school board and budget decisions.

I would have no interest whatsoever in participating in any recall or ouster effort focused on Jeff Ownby, even if I were his constituent in the Fourth Commission District.

I participated in the Bill Lockett recall effort not because he was alleged to have bilked his former employer, but because--after the time he won his seat in the primary--he was alleged to have been soliciting multiple "loans" from prominent developers he barely knew.

A public interest existed in that Lockett appeared poised to sell off the county's future revenue stream (with regard to TIFs he might recommend) to pad his own pockets.

That public interest became all the more pressing when media informed us that the legal community's three-member Board of Professional Responsibilty that was to review allegations against Lockett was a panel Lockett himself had previously served on.

So a concern also existed that the BPR might treat the allegations in a manner more friendly than you or I would treat them.

Jeff Ownby's arrest, though, raises no such concern that he might perform his official duties in a manner detrimental to the county.

I do think that, since Ownby serves on the body charged with enacting local law, his constituents are reasonable to expect that their representative on that body will also uphold local law. For that very general reason, I would not find his constituents unreasonable to ask for his resignation.

I don't suggest that with any sense of rightous indignation, though.

Really, I feel for Jeff now what I felt for Bill following the accidental shooting death of his son just prior to his hearing with the BPR. In a manner both consequential and coincidental, both men were experiencing tremendous upheaval in every aspect of their lives--professional, familial, and financial. I couldn't revel in their anguish.

You'll understand, then, if I don't link any text from the Knox County Charter or the Tennessee Annotated Code...

Tamara Shepherd's picture


I should have added last night that I expect he will resign.

Or maybe I should say "expected." It's not clear to me at this juncture why he's hired such a high-dollar attorney to defend him in what is really a rather inconsequential crime (just $500 bond, I mean)? Does his having hired Issacs mean that he doesn't intend to resign?

Steve, I didn't quite follow a thread you opened yesterday on the subject of the TN Sexual Offender Registry. Have media reported somewhere that Ownby's misdemeanor will cause his name to land on that list? Did he hire Issacs in the hope of avoiding this possible consequence?

Somebody's picture

The only punishment for the

The only punishment for the listed charge is $500, according to the TCA. Not sure why the high-priced lawyer, unless he hopes to get a plea-bargain to some lesser offense that won't look so bad when filling out the "have you ever been convicted" portion of some future job application.

He ought to resign from Commission, but perhaps that's his only source of income at the moment. I read a report somewhere in all this that a Comcast vehicle had been towed from Sharp's Ridge subsequent to the arrest, so one might imagine his day job is in jeopardy.

Tacamo01's picture


Tks for the info. Did not realize that. It must be hard on the kids involved.

Tacamo01's picture


According to the TN sex offender registry that lists all possible convictions-39-13-511 (ii) reasonably expects the acts would be viewed by others (a) will offend an ordinary viewer
There could be room with a good lawyer to get the charges down to a lesser offense IMO.

michael kaplan's picture

will offend an ordinary

will offend an ordinary viewer

ordinary, like someone who has never viewed pornography on the internet?

kag's picture

My response to Jack McElroy on News Sentinel comments

Just published this on my blog this afternoon. I think it's time for the Sentinel to offer clear, consistent policies on how they decide to publish, delete and disable comments on each story.


- Katie

rikki's picture


I agree with Katie that McElroy's explanation for disabling comments on the Ownby story is pathetic, but I disagree that KNS is doing the right thing in this case. Certainly there are cases where anyone can see the racist or homophobic mobs assembling to spew cowardly hate, and disabling comments is a simply way to prevent such ugliness. And there are cases where private citizens have a right to privacy when unwittingly thrust into the news.

In this case, however, Ownby is not only a public figure but the elected representative of 1 in 9 county residents. There is a real need for his arrest to be discussed and for citizens to be able to contemplate courses of action as they look ahead to the upcoming budget vote and to four more years of Ownby representing them, since he holds a six-year term.

By disabling comments rather than monitoring them for salacious and cruel posts, KNS is depriving the 4th district of its most useful forum for a conversation that clearly needs to happen. Presumably there will be a news story aimed in that direction following the Tuesday chairman's luncheon and KNS will allow the critical conversation they have so far suppressed.

A lame explanation such as the one McElroy offered suggests two possibilities. The editor is either too wishy-washy to formulate a coherent policy or the actual policy is one he'd rather not say out loud, that deference to power is their prime motive for who gets protected and who does not.

reform4's picture

Best sound bite from my conservative brother

After hearing this story, and we had moved on to arguing another issue (health care), I wouldnt let my brother interrupt my argument. UntIl he stuck this one-liner in:

"Steve, just because I'm a Republican, doesn't mean I have a **** in my mouth and I can't talk about the issue."

Couldn't hear what he said next, laughing too hard.

KPD's picture


Did anyone hear the rumor that the Ownby arrest was a setup by the KPD watch commander on duty the night the arrest went down? An information request could show that Ownby had been followed for weeks using KPD officers, to find out if there was anything that could be used to damage him politically. Would it be an abuse of power for a watch commander to use his position on the KPD to follow and entrap a fellow commissioner for political gain?

How many people have been arrested for indecent exposure on Sharps Ridge this year? It is a bit strange that sting operation, with cameras only netted two people. It is also strange that there were two sitting Knox County Commissioners involved in this drama, be it opposite sides of the law or not.

Anyone hear the rumor that there is a commissioner that works for the KPD that would like to be the next Knox County Sheriff?

Some officers may have heard that after the arrest, the watch commander bragged, “we finally got him on tape.”

Following people without cause is against KPD policy and is against the law.

Is there such a thing as political profiling by police officers under orders from their watch commander?

SnM's picture

If the arrest "went down" @

If the arrest "went down" @ ~4:30 in the afternoon, would the rumor involving the night watch commander appear to be false?

LEO's picture

McNutt, since when did you

McNutt, since when did you become an expert on KPD? In 25 minutes you can find out Anders is the night watch commander? When does the watch change smart guy?

SnM's picture

I know nothing about the KPD

I know nothing about the KPD work hours. Since your friend and now you are making the allegations, I assume you can give specifics on the shift change. When does it occur?

KPD's picture


Only to someone not interested in the truth.

LEO's picture

"Is there such a thing as

"Is there such a thing as political profiling by police officers under orders from their watch commander?"

KPD is a good unit. Except for a few bad apples. This isn't the first or last time this kind of bad law enforcement has gone down. This was a setup. Lt. Anders did this on his own. KPD should investigate the unapproved surveillance of Ownby. How many manhours were wasted on this while Knoxville has one of the worst pill problems in Tennessee. Real cops don't abuse the code.

reform4's picture

To what motive???

OK, let's take this nutty theory for a second... what benefit would Anders have from hurting Ownby or getting him out of the way?

They are from the same party, and tend to vote more alike than many other pairings in Commission. Why would Anders want to damage someone who is probably more of a political ally than anything? Is there some bad blood between the two I'm not aware of?

Or is this just grasping at straws (and in doing so, demeaning Commissioner/Officer Anders and his professionalism and the professionalism of the KPD in the process??)

Rachel's picture

I wouldn't be slinging

I wouldn't be slinging accusations like that around unless I could prove them.

And the bottom line is that Ownby was there, doing something he shouldn't have been doing.

Somebody's picture


"Entrapment" involves tricking someone into doing something illegal (that he wouldn't othrwise do) and then arresting him for it. That seems to be a bit far-fetched in this case, doesn't it?

rikki's picture


So what you are saying is that Ownby is up on Sharp's Ridge often, and KPD has been watching him so long they finally figured out his schedule, had cameras in the right position and busted him. And because it took them so many tries to get solid evidence, it's really their fault Ownby was on Sharp's Ridge engaged in homosexual acts in front of their cameras.

Am I understanding correctly? KPD lured him into this by letting him get away with it so many times.

Shannon S's picture

find some dirt

IMO the meaning of KPD’s post was not to defend the public exposure charge. It looks to the issue of following a person to try and find him doing something that could be used to damage him politically. If they have a tape of the charge then it must be true. The steps leading up to the making of the tape is what KPD was commenting on. If officers indeed were instructed to follow an individual and see if they can find some dirt to use against him politically, then there have been more laws broken than indecent exposure in a public place.

cafkia's picture

There have been times in my

There have been times in my life when one LEO unit or another appeared to not like me very much. They could well have watched Sharps Ridge, I.C. King, and a thousand other parks for all of my 56+ years and would have never caught me having sex with a man.(I'm into being comfortable so sex in the park with a female is not especially likely in my case either)

So, how long would they have to follow you to catch you in such an act? How many pretty members of your gender would the KPD have to parade by you to get you to, uh, bite? Should we put up a poll(pole?) to inquire with everyone here about how long the cops would have to watch them to catch them engaged in behavior contrary to their stated moral values in a public park?

Even if every word you posit is absolutely true, it does not change the Commissioner's hypocrisy. It does not change the fact that he misrepresented himself to the voter of his district. It does not change the fact that a company vehicle was used in an (I'm assuming) unauthorized manner. The KPD did not make him what he is. They MAY be unable to successfully prosecute him for being what he is. But in the final analysis, this is all about him being what he is.

As Richard Nixon could tell you, the crime is in the cover up. Or in this case, the crime was caused by the coverup.

Tacamo01's picture

Sharps Ridge

It would be interesting to find out exactly where along the 1.5 mile 111 acre park the surveillance
was set up. Lots of side roads and paths from what I read. If he was targeted it will make his defense that much easier. From reading about Sharps Ridge it kind of reminded me of the movie Deliverance with Burt.

fischbobber's picture

This is too good to not comment on

Dear Randy,

I wish to apologize in advance for what I am about to do. I will likely be accused of not being a real American as well as being homophobic. It is inherent with being a humorist. If one truly has the ability to cut to the chase and hit nerves, eventually, everyone is offended.

That being said, the notion that is somehow the fault of the police commissioner that Jeff Ownby got caught during the spawning run of his trouser trout is so ludicrous that I have to explore it at length.

Thank you in advance for your consideration. This could well be the most fun I've had in a while.



Bbeanster's picture


This is a hell of an explosive accusation, and one that's been circulating since the arrest.

I have no knowledge or opinion as to the truth of it, but that buzz started immediately, and not from Ownby.

* But I spoke to my primary source just now and he says that Ownby was unlucky enough to justcome along at the wrong time, stumble into a prostitution sting and get busted...

fischbobber's picture


It's a shame about the buffalo.


Sholandra's picture

how man prostitutes

Did your primary source tell you how man prostitutes they arrested on Sharps Ridge that day? How many did they record on tape and arrest that week?

sandy's picture

Yikes, I will never go to a

Yikes, I will never go to a public park in Knoxville again. The local police may be recording me. Last year I spent time by the lake in Sequoyah Hills, reading and tanning. I had my top off to get some sun when I thought no one was around. Could the police have been hiding and looking, or worse yet, recording me?

Min's picture

I'm beginning to think...

...that everyone in the Republican Party is gay.

fischbobber's picture

Just because

Just because you are hiding a major moral deficiency, it does not stand to reason that one is homosexual. In fact, homosexuality is not the problem, the problem is that Republicans tend to lie about the core of what they profess to believe in. Their sexuality is only the tip of the iceberg.

While I cannot state this as a proven sociological fact, I can say that the homosexuals that I have dealt with in my life that are upfront about themselves, tend to be a refreshing break from the social norm. But, you know, I'm an asshole and I'll tell you that up front if that's what you want to know. That doesn't make me a liar, it just means I am what I am.

LEO's picture

" But I spoke to my primary

" But I spoke to my primary source just now and he says that Ownby was unlucky enough to justcome along at the wrong time, stumble into a prostitution sting and get busted... "

McCracken is still in the detention center. McCracken wasn't in on it. It wasn't a sting. There were no other arrests. It was a setup to pressure Ownby on the school vote. Or to take him out.

Anders wants to be the next sheriff. And supports the school budget. Ownby was and maybe still is the swing vote to prevent a veto over ride. They found a way to get over on Ownby. No cop wants to be forced to do greasy private PI work. That is a morale killer in law enforcement. Hopefully someone will come forward and expose what happened. Anders bragging about having him on tape is worst than what Ownby did. And that was bad stuff. But Ownby's stuff is a misdemeanor. Surveillance without a warrant is serious bad law enforcement.

Somebody's picture

"McCracken is still in the

"McCracken is still in the detention center."

There's nobody by that name listed as being in the jail, and there hasn't been for days.

rikki's picture

In just a few posts, this

In just a few posts, this little cadre of anonymous cowards have made several false claims:

  • McCracken is still being held
  • The arrest occurred at night
  • A warrant is required to do surveillance on public property where numerous signs are posted warning of ongoing surveillance

These "KPD" and "LEO" characters are obvious frauds, and their claim about what some officers "may have heard" Anders say is likely as fabricated as the rest of their tale. While their execution has been poor, I do have to give our third-rate propagandists credit for sheer audacity. "The police tricked me into anonymous sex acts in a public park" is a pretty funny pitch no matter how you look at it.

Donald Patton's picture

"A warrant is required to do

"A warrant is required to do surveillance on public property where numerous signs are posted warning of ongoing surveillance"

That isn't what LEO or KPD wrote but you can read and you know that. Where was it reported that McCracken bonded out? Nobody said the arrest was at night. McNutt said night watch commander. You and your buddy McNutt are first rate propagandists.

Anyone who can read knows there was no sting. It is pitiful you both are defending bad policing. Hope KPD follows you and McNutt and see what shakes out of the tree. You know Randy Nichols won't do anything so you feel you can say anything. I hope Ownby shows up and votes. I'd like to see Anders face then. Nothing is worse than police who do this. This wouldn't be possible if we had an honest DA. Randy Nichols is the worst DA this county has ever had.

rikki's picture

Your credibility was

Your credibility was challenged, and your response was angry and hypocritical personal attacks and further demonstration that your grip on the facts is so loose you must be lubed up with K-Y jelly.

To wit, KPD's post says, "a setup by the KPD watch commander on duty the night the arrest went down." Anyone who can read can see you are lying about McNutt being the one who mentioned night. Likewise, anyone who has read this thread can see Somebody's link to the KCSO roster of inmates and see that McCracken is not listed. It strains credulity that a person close enough to law enforcement to be quoting Lt. Anders does not know how to find out whether someone is in jail. Of course, that's a subtle tip-off to your dishonesty, and we've got a set of blatant lies for more solid proof.

"LEO" accused the KPD of doing "surveillance without a warrant." I pointed out that Sharp's Ridge park is posted with warnings of police surveillance, and since it is public property there is no need for a warrant anyway. This apparently overwhelmed your limited reading skills.

You would have been wise to either acknowledge and correct your errors or provide better proof of your contentions. Instead you just underscored how little credibility you have. "Third-rate" may have been too generous. I'm glad you've found a forum where you can speak while KNS comments are disabled, you're a good reminder that there are people in this community with habits even sadder than going to public parks for oral sex.

Donald Patton's picture

Reading skills?

"LEO" accused the KPD of doing "surveillance without a warrant." I pointed out that Sharp's Ridge park is posted with warnings of police surveillance, and since it is public property there is no need for a warrant anyway. This apparently overwhelmed your limited reading skills."

That makes no sense. Who are you taking to? I talked about Randy Nichols and what a corrupt jerk he is.

Neither LEO or KPD was talking about surveillance at Sharps Ridge. You keep spinning that but it misses the point. What KPD wrote was, "An information request could show that Ownby had been followed for weeks using KPD officers, to find out if there was anything that could be used to damage him politically."

That is the whole point about Anders bragging "we finally got him on tape."

The only reason a guy like Randy Nichols could stay in office so long is people like you allowed it.

Average Guy's picture

Hopefully someone will come

Hopefully someone will come forward and expose what happened.

I thnk you've done the "exposing". What you need is someone to investigate and if you think that will come from local authorities, I've got two words for you: Richard Baumgartner.

If it happened as you claim, take the officers you say were "forced to do greasy PI work" and have them give their account to a reporter in one of the local press outlets.

Otherwise, you're pissing in the wind.

Donald Patton's picture

Randy Nichols

I'm thinking a different two words. No investigation. As usual.


fischbobber's picture


These guys just want to fluoridate our water and educate our children and they'll stop at nothing to achieve their goals. It's big government I tell you. Next thing you know they'll want to build roads and parks.

Barker's picture


A couple of thoughts on some of the comments so far.

Ownby, if convicted, will not be put on the sex offender registry. According to the sex offender registry law, a person isn't put on the registry until a third offense for indecent exposure (unless the observer is a juvenile).

There is no expectation of privacy in a public park, or anywhere else on public property. Police are allowed to observe anyone on public property. I didn't cover this story, obviously, but it sure seems like KPD was set up in the park waiting for whoever came along. If there is credible evidence that they targeted Ownby, contact the KNS news desk at 342-6397 or

If Ownby resigns or decides not to vote on the school budget vote, it doesn't change the math. Six votes still will be needed to pass the budget proposal and seven still will be needed to override a veto.

Average Guy's picture

While the claims made by LEO

While the claims made by LEO seem incredulous, the known facts of the Baumgartner saga should at least give pause in thinking they're impossible.

Sandra Clark's picture

Pressure cooker

Agree with Scott's post (above). And am reminded of Lady Bird Johnson's comment when LBJ aide Walter Jenkins was arrested with another man in a Washington restroom. This was the 1960s so Jenkins promptly resigned, after failing to suppress the story.

LBJ distanced himself from the family friend, but Lady Bird spoke about the pressures and stress of his job.

Until you've been there you can't know the pressure a vote like the school board budget can bring on an officeholder. Jeff is pulled between vocal district supporters and his own connections with West High School (where principal Greg Roach left this year for a $10K raise in Maryville) versus his Tea Party political buddies who say no tax for no thing, no how.

No opinion, no solution -- just an observation.

Tylissa's picture

The voters in the fourth

The voters in the fourth district apparently thought Finbarr Saunders was the wrong person for the job.

Could it be that someone who is the wrong person for the job would be elected?

reform4's picture

That election was determined by turnout.

The County General was held at the same time as the gubernatorial primary. The GOP primary was contested, so they came out in droves. The Dems stupidly kept their candidate unopposed, so Dems sat home. Ownby was elected by a tiny % margin, if the TNDP in Nashville didnt have their heads up their butts, It would have been a blowout.

Knox Co's loss was the City's gain.

cafkia's picture

Rather obviously, we do not

Rather obviously, we do not wish for law officers to walk, bike, or drive around with their eyes closed. Neither do we generally wish them to ignore crime when they see it. So the question, if there is indeed one, becomes what is the legal difference between "saw" and "surveilled". I know of no restrictions on police officers being in public parks so, if one is there doing general checking and notes a crime taking place, they are obligated to act.

An individual who has sought a taxpayer supported position of public responsibility cannot possibly believe that they have an expectation of privacy in a public park.

Barker's picture


My mention of the expectation of privacy was in response to Sandy's comment about public parks. No one, public official or not, should have an expectation of privacy in a public park -- not Ownby, not Sandy, not you, not me. Public parks are, well, public.

Police often do surveillance of public places and make arrests of anyone they see who is breaking the law. There's nothing unusual or illegal about it.

Up Goose Creek's picture

Occupy Fort Dickerson

Yikes, I will never go to a public park in Knoxville again. The local police may be recording me. Last year I spent time by the lake in Sequoyah Hills, reading and tanning. I had my top off to get some sun when I thought no one was around. Could the police have been hiding and looking, or worse yet, recording me?

There have been times in my younger years I would go up to Sharps ridge to look at the mountains and it was nice to not worry about being hit upon. Sure some guy would come over and chat but after he figured I was a real female the interest waned.

I'm wondering if it might be time for some of us S Knoxville women to integrate Fort Dickerson. Stage a sit in as it were. What next? --It might pave the way for families with children.

P.s. Sandy, topless sunbathing may not be a good idea in our local parks - we ain't France. Otherwise why not enjoy the parks. You're just hurting yourself by staging a boycott.

sandy's picture

I just need to drive further

I just need to drive further away from campus, to parks out west, away from the crime and perverts in the city.

Thank God “we ain’t France,” but thanks for the advice.

Rachel's picture

Cause everybody knows there's

to parks out west, away from the crime and perverts in the city.

Cause everybody knows there's no crime or perverts in West Knoxville.


fischbobber's picture

Crime and perverts

Cause everybody knows there's no crime or perverts in West Knoxville.

But out here we have western crime and perverts. It's a huge tourist draw for us.

Rachel's picture

Ok, seriously? We're voting

Ok, seriously? We're voting to hide sarcasm now?

jbr's picture

I think it would be good if

I think it would be good if some regular organized events were in the parks. Music, astronomy clubs, outdoor movies, plays, etc. Get some regular traffic there. Maybe an organized, announced location to see Boomsday at Dickerson. That sort of thing.

Bbeanster's picture

That would be a great place

That would be a great place to watch Boomsday, but they close the gate at nightfall (or did, the last time I looked).

I agree that we ought to do something to take back that park.

*Oops. I'm talking about Sharps Ridge, not Ft. Dickerson, although both would be good vantage points to watch fireworks. Ft. Dickerson would be primo.

fischbobber's picture

Sharp's Ridge

In 1981 I went to used car night at the K-Jays game.(I like baseball, but I may be coming across as a bigger baseball fan than I am, but I digress). Carlos Delgado was the catcher and the drinking age was still eighteen. A contingent of 77 Farragut male graduates were present and there was a malted beverage or two consumed. A batter took offense to a pitch he felt was to close to his person and neglected to leave his bat in the batting box before heading to the pitchers mound to discuss the situation with the pitcher. The opponents catcher neglecting to position his glove in such a manner as to prevent a sinker from catching him in the apparently metal cup that was held in place in his groinal area by the elastic strap commonly known as a jock and the deep resounding sound that was so reminiscent of a far away church bell signaling the end of lunch hour is both a humorous and painful memory to this day. Between innings we would fill out entry blanks for used cars. It wasn't heaven, but it was a good night for twenty year old Knoxiousvillians.

I won a 1966 Cadillac Calais with four tires that were all a different size and standard. I don't remember which were radial and which were standard or which were steel belted and which were whatever the hell they were but I do remember the guy at the tire store telling me the likelihood of a bad accident and probable death were pretty high if we were to do what we'd already done by the time I sought his opinion.

Well, myself,Steve,Ed,Bob,Julie and Lindsey decided that it would be a good idea to cruise this vehicle around the community to get an idea of just exactly what this machine was good for. It didn't just shake at high speeds, it shook in a funny way. We knew the tires didn't have much tread, we just didn't understand the whole radial, non-radial steel/nylon belt snow standard tire dynamic. We were young. So we decided to go to Concord since there was no Farragut then and we were headed west. We ended up at Mike's house (Mike was old. He was fixin to go through a divorce. We were fixin to see one of the arguments that lead up to that. He was pacing around his front yard using the word "bitch" a lot. It was a tough time to be 25.) We, on the other hand, were in possession of a brand new used 1966 Cadillac Calais and had a sense of urgency about the productive use of our time. So as true west Knoxville pioneers, we headed to Sharps Ridge at a rate of speed that was below that guaranteed to cause a fatal incident. We got there in short order.

Upon our arrival at Sharp's Ridge, (it was after dark and there may have been a misdemeanor involved, but laws have changed so don't quote me) Bob and Ed decided it was a good idea to climb one of the radio towers. I don't particularly care for heights so I declined the invitation to climb with them. Steve declined for reasons that I always assumed had something to do with intelligence since he is a smart guy. We said we were going to look out for the girls. Bob and Ed got far enough up the radio tower to where if they stood still against the vertical supports it was really hard to see them on the tower. It was about that time the cops pulled up.

Up until I read this thread, I've always assumed that my meeting with the police on Sharp's Ridge that night was a coincidence. Now, I'm convinced it was a conspiracy.

The police told us that the park closed at dark and that we were breaking the law. Julie surrendered. She held up her hands for the cuffs and said, "Arrest me." She was not happy about our whole adventure at this point, and clearly preferred putting her compatriot, who was on the radio tower, on the spot, rather than looking out for the good of the entire group, which included me. Lindsey smiled and Steve and I looked like two guys who were in the company of two smoking hot chicks, who were in way over our heads, which we probably were, except they weren't "our" girls. We were just in over our heads. Then the cops left, Ed and Bob climbed down from the radio tower and we all went home.

So don't accuse me of being unsympathetic to Jeff Owenby's plight because I've been there, toe to toe, facing Knoxville's finest on top of Sharp's Ridge. I got lucky and he didn't.

Hayduke's picture

For certain values of "got

For certain values of "got lucky."

reform4's picture

Just out a Starbucks up there.

That will "Westernize" it.

rikki's picture

hey booboo

KTOS has birding walks up there, especially during spring migration. There will be mobs of thirty, all with binoculars, plus random stragglers chasing down this warbler or that thrush. It makes for some pretty sullen Comcast-van drive-bys and seriously complicates the pre-work rush hour.

The turnaround at the end of the road would be an outstanding place to put up telescopes on clear, moonless nights. I like that idea. And the sit-in idea. Picnic protests!

4th district chumps ought to get busy organizing picnics before something shiny distracts them.

fischbobber's picture

Chumps in the fourth

We don't have picnics, we have wine tastings and fundraisers.

LOOK! Out there in the field! What is that?

CathyMcCaughan's picture


Oh, dah-ling. This conversation is SO yesterday. You simply must get the new hotness tinfoil hat.

Tacamo01's picture

Just tired of this Mess

Since moving here from the D.C. area in 2007 (early retirement) there has been the Black Wednesday fiasco, a new Superintendent for schools hired that promised excellence for all children, the judicial system screwup, a trustee that pays out bonuses for course work not completed (what was completed was by someone else), trustees in court for hiring and paying ghost workers, and the KTSC board that does not know how much the CEO is making and getting credit for events they didn't book.
County government has never quite been the same since that Wednesday night. Seems that it brought out more arrogance in our politicians. We have a councilman now that may or may not have been a target of the police department.

I have to wonder about just two things WRT this latest fiasco, 1) Knox county taxes will be increased if the commissioners approve the school boards request. The likely vote to oppose this request looked like it was coming from Jeff Ownby. 2) JJ (KPD) did not propose an additional pay raise for all his people until he saw the school board request for extra funding. He just got a pay raise 6 months ago. But being a smart politician, knowing that there was a possible tax increase in the works, why not ask for twice as much and see if you can get half. (rule of thumb in the D.C. Area)

Just food for thought! This place has been messed up politically since I moved here and it does not seem to get any better as time goes on.

fischbobber's picture

You ain't seen nothing yet.

Just food for thought! This place has been messed up politically since I moved here and it does not seem to get any better as time goes on.

Stick around brother, this is relatively mild. You should have been here when the medical examiner was drugging the children of his friends to engage them in his tawdry sexual fantasies.

We're a regular Flannery O'Conner story.

Somebody's picture

A couple of points of

A couple of points of clarification regarding city and county governments:

- County legislators are called Commissioners. A Councilman would refer to a legislator in city government. Ownby is a Commissioner.

- JJ Jones is Knox County Sheriff. He is not KPD, or the Knoxville Police Department. The Sheriff is an elected county official. The KPD Police Chief is a different person, and serves in a professional position, appointed by the city mayor.

Just trying to avoid some confusion.

redmondkr's picture

Pre-verts in ten gallon hats?

Pre-verts in ten gallon hats?

Tacamo01's picture

Food for Thought

Fischbobber, I'm sure I left out a few things LOL. Will be interesting to see how things pan out between now and June 4th. Not to mention if Leno or Letterman picks up on this like they did with our legislature!

japanjack's picture


Ownby and McCracken should of gone to Timberfell..... BTW i wonder how long the officers watched the pair and what were they doing ???

Pam Strickland's picture

Out west you have heavily

Out west you have heavily populated by families. Topless sunbathing not advised.

redmondkr's picture

I would think there would be

I would think there would be too much light pollution for a telescope but I bet there are some good opportunities for night photography.

The last time I saw the city from there after dark was, I think, about 1967 or '68. We took a Pizza Palace Pizza and ate it as we enjoyed the view.

Ye gods, I was driving a '64 Grand Prix at the time and you couldn't pour gas onto the ground faster than it would flow through the carburetor on that thing. A slightly inebriated Sylvia S. (last name withheld to protect what is now a wrinkled old grandma) yelled "Stop the car", on the way up there while she climbed out, put her ear on the rail at the crossing, got back in and declared it safe to cross.

Oh, I'm sorry, I'm retrogressing again. We were discussing more recent photographic opportunities in the park.

After seeing the photos of these miscreants in the paper, I do have one piece of advice for Republicans who get caught diddling in the park. If it's gonna possibly cost you your career, you owe it to yourself to at least make it worth the risk by picking up some cutie instead of getting caught with an ogre.

Carry on.

Gregg Lonas's picture

KNS left the comments turned on for this story in 2010.

KNS left the comments turned on for this story in 2010. One of the arrested was a youth pastor.


Bbeanster's picture

thanks, Gregg

thanks, Gregg --
Surprisingly, most of those comments weren't all that bad. The majority of deleted posts were Powell Voter's, and he's about as wingnutty as they come. There were some pretty thoughtful posts.

fischbobber's picture


I didn't get the reference either and upon following the google, I can certainly see how how a less than progressive person might be offended, but really?

Folks, a child didn't die here. Owenby's life is likely in upheaval, but when you get right down to it, his life was likely in a state of upheaval to begin with. I don't wish ill will on anyone, but.......

Banning obtuse humor is not the answer to whatever you six down votes saw as the problem.

Factchecker's picture

Seriously it is, but there are differences

Cool story, bro. Really. I thought the Caddy was going to fly apart on Kingston Pike and the whole escapade reminded me, as it probably did most around here, of my own similar misadventures in my youth. You were lucky indeed you didn't spend a night learning a life lesson in the drunk tank.

But acts of such youthful indiscretions are not really in the same league as Owenby's arrest. They'll always be youth shenanigans, but our parks being overrun with sex offenses is a more serious and chronic problem, I would think. And leniency or lack of it by law enforcement has changed over the years too.

redmondkr's picture

I bought my first house in

I bought my first house in 1971 and the neighborhood kid who cut my grass, while hitting on me for a $5 loan to go to the prom, asked me if 'they' had a Sharp's Ridge when I was young. I told him I hoped he meant the park 'cause I'm sure Sharp's Ridge itself has been there a while.

rikki's picture

no show

Ownby did not attend today's Commission meeting, and despite a long roster of people speaking during public forum, no one addressed Ownby's arrest. If the subject came up at all, it would have been during the chairman's luncheon, which is not televised and I did not attend.

Mike Cohen's picture


I believe it was discussed at the Chairman's lunch.

Truth is, it is largely up to Ownby. He has to decide what to do, or not do. He's not accused of anything for which Commission could remove him.

I think almost all of Commission is hoping he will resign and soon, but there is no way of knowing and I don't know anyone who has heard from him.

rikki's picture

plead the 4th

It is also up to the people he represents. They could initiate a recall, but with KNS comments disabled on all the Ownby stories, no one has heard from them either. Well, we've heard from fischbobber, but he seems to be an anomaly among his peers.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

Up your dosage Rikki

I don't know what you have against the teachers, firemen, police officers, retirees and working class people in the fourth. The conversations we've had in the neighborhood generally agree that two consenting adults did something in public instead of in private and he will probably step down to focus on his personal life.

rikki's picture

my beef with the 4th

Ownby won with 5,189 votes in a district of approximately 40k. That means 1 in 8 4th District citizens voted for him. Approximately 1 in 8 voted against him. That leaves 3 out 4 who are worthless.

fischbobber is the only person who responded to my insults with any humor. For the rest of you, I am the shiny thing keeping you from discussing whether you wish to be represented by Ownby. None of you has responded to my post about KNS suppressing your ability to discuss how to proceed by disabling comments (and by neglecting to run a story on today's Commission meeting), but you are eager to reply to perceived insults. Maybe you should ask yourselves, "Am I worthless?" before you get distracted by another shiny thing.

CathyMcCaughan's picture

I don't care if KNS disables

I don't care if KNS disables ALL comments on ALL stories.

fischbobber's picture

To be fair

Most of my comments have fallen within the "smartass" range. I didn't feel like doing yard work in the heat and the fruit was hanging to low in the trees to pass up.

The point about the election Ownby was originally elected in was apropos. It was an election for republicans with a republican turnout. We keep putting up doormats to run against Campfield and, much as I personally liked Sam, union officers, even those with a conservative side, don't generate much support in the fourth.

It would take a full time staff to generate enough turnout to recall Ownby. I don't know of anyone with the will and time to do it.

Mike Cohen's picture

4th District

Yes, Rikki....residents could start a recall or seek an ouster suit. I was just addressing the issue regarding Commission, which doesn't have a role in either of those.

Nota sure I would judge how people in the district feel based on anonymous web comments or lack of same.

Tacamo01's picture

KNS Disabled Comments

I for one have tried using other articles to solicit comments about this mess. News from sports and another but they were taken down fairly fast. A few stayed up but did not generate much. I find that a lot of comments just tend to generate insults between a few and usually end up off topic.

Pam Strickland's picture

I live in the 4th, having

I live in the 4th, having moved there after Ownby was elected. I would like to see him resign, but don't see the efforts of a recall at this point. I could be wrong. My problem is that he is being a hypocrite, and that he chose to carry out a private act in a very public place. I don't care what happens Bettendorf to consenting adults, but I do care that the selfishness of the act was not considered. The marriage vows were still in place. There were children to consider. Anyone who wouldn't think about all if that, who apparently also put his job in jeopardy, appeared to be asking for the boil of his personal pain to be lanced. Otherwise, it seems he selected a much less risky way of getting his sexual needs met.

I have never liked his politics, but I am praying for his race and for his family. and I hope he realizes that he needs to just focus on that right now and doesn't need to be playing at public service at the same time.

Somebody's picture

"I have never liked his

"I have never liked his politics, but I am praying for his race and for his family. and I hope he realizes that he needs to just focus on that right now and doesn't need to be playing at public service at the same time."

Praying for his race? I guess if you think that'll help, go for it.

rikki's picture

Given "what happens

Given "what happens Bettendorf to consenting adults," I'm gonna guess auto-correct (which is easily the worst software to be unleashed in years).

Pam Strickland's picture

autocorrect. At that was

autocorrect. And that was early this morning, and frankly I don't know what the original word was. It could have been "life" or "grace" or... I'm not going to second-guess what I was thinking earlier. Maybe it was his sanity, but that word is too long. You get the idea.

alan swartz's picture

"I have never liked his

"I have never liked his politics, but I am praying for his race and for his family."

That is the most bizarre thing I have ever read on KnoxViews. I can't even begin to understand what it means. The human race? Caucasians? And what does that have to do with his family?

R. Neal's picture

I think Pam's using an iPad

I think Pam's using an iPad or something and autocorrect is the culprit. Same with "I don't care what happens Bettendorf to consenting adults."

I'm seeing this all over the internets these days. Sometimes you can't even understand what people are saying. I'm sure Pam will clarify.

Barker's picture


Autocorrect is anvil. I mean, evil.

Pam Strickland's picture

I was on the iPhone and it

I was on the iPhone and it was some autocorrect nonsense. I should know to double check, but I was in a hurry and I didn't And like I said above I don't have enough memory to say exactly what I meant to say at the time. My apologies for not proofreading, and for not checking back while it was fresh enough for me to say what was on my mind at the time.

Gertie's picture


"I should know to double check, but I was in a hurry and I didn't And like I said above I don't have enough memory to say exactly what I meant to say at the time."

You just need to run your mouth Pam. Maybe you need to take some Ginkgo Biloba to increase brain function and memory before you post. Over and over you plea that you are just in a hurry when you make stupid mistakes and aimlessly lash out at someone. You do that to many people here. You seem unhappy. You are the Yammer Queen.

Tacamo01's picture

June 4th Vote-Could be wrong

IMO I do not think that anything will happen before the commission vote on the 4th. I believe that there will be enough votes to pass a tax increase for the school boards request along with half of JJ's request for his requested funding and a few of the other additions. I also believe that now there will be enough votes for the veto. After that it will be up to the 4th district and Jeff to determine the best for all. I say this because I have only lived in the area since 2007 and have seen and read about the politics that goes on in this county. I've posted many comments on the KNS website WRT the school budget and my opinion of the superintendents 5 star "excellence for all children" brief given in 2008 and the lack of any positive results for the K-3rd graders. IMO, what is going on behind closed doors right now will be demonstrated on the 4th of June. Politics as usual but I could be wrong!

wonder why's picture


Has anyone heard the rumor that the KPD does NOT have a video tape showing the public exposure on Sharps Ridge?

One would wonder why they claimed to have a video tape if there is not one.

Did the KNS verify there was a video tape before printing in the paper that there was?

Barker's picture


We didn't report anything about a videotape.

rikki's picture

A for effort

First anonymous rumor monger "Hmmm" shows up and suggests the police must have videotape, then further anonymous rumor mongers further affirm there is "film," and now an anonymous rumor monger surfaces to say the absence of videotape calls KPD credibility into question.

That's a pretty clever misinformation strategy. My hat's off to whoever thought they could pull it off. Too bad you made a bunch of amateur mistakes that gave you away.

Johnny P's picture

Good question.

"One would wonder why they claimed to have a video tape if there is not one."

Hal Hill talked about a video tape when he went on his hour and a half rant about Ownby last week. I thought one of the tv stations also talked up a video tape. So did KPD try to make a video and couldn't pull it off? Or was the tape just a bluff to make Ownby quit? Without Ownby Mayor Burchett might have trouble with his veto. This is as dirty as it gets.

Mayor Rogero has a test now. She has to prove KPD didn't setup an elected county official to change the school board vote. Is Anders a straight up police officer? Or did he go off and do some secret policing?

Barker's picture


There's a problem with this conspiracy theory. If Ownby doesn't vote on the budget for whatever reason, it doesn't change the math at all. Supporters of the budget still would need six votes for passage and seven to override a veto.

I don't know if KPD has a video. The indictment did not mention one, and KPD didn't give other details of the incident. However, officers routinely make arrests for crimes they witness personally and don't need a videotape.

CT's picture


"Supporters of the budget still would need six votes for passage and seven to override a veto."

If Ownby quit and was not there, the veto override becomes one vote less. Read your Roberts Rules.

Somebody's picture

It's actually the county

It's actually the county charter, not Robert's rules that applies here. The charter says "In order to become effective, any ordinance or resolution shall receive a majority vote of the membership..." and "The affirmative vote of not less than a majority plus one (1) of the membership of the Commission shall be required to override the veto of the Mayor of Knox County."

In an eleven member Commission, a majority vote is six, and a majority plus one is seven. In a ten member commission (with one seat vacant) a majority vote would still require six, and a majority plus one would require seven.

If Mr. Ownby is considered a firm "no" vote in the budget proceedings, then his resignation from Commission would have no bearing on the threshold required for passage or for the override of a mayoral veto.

So, refer to the correct document and do the math.

CT's picture


"In a ten member commission (with one seat vacant) a majority vote would still require six, and a majority plus one would require seven."

Nice try. That doesn't work.

Somebody's picture

Let me make it more clear for

Let me make it more clear for you: "In a ten member commission (which means one seat vacant) a majority vote would still require six, and a majority plus one would require seven."

50% of ten is five. Add one to that, and you get six for a majority. For a majority-plus-one for a veto override you have 6+1=7.

CT's picture


"Let me make it more clear for you:"

You don't get to make it clear. You arent't Joe Jarret. He makes that call. And seeing how he is wrong on Super Majority at 7 members, he will be wrong on this. Logic is irrelevant. It is what Jarret says it is. He will do what Hammond wants and Hammond whats to get McIntyre the money. By any means needed.

Nelle's picture


Logic is irrelevant.

Boy, you can say that again.

Average Guy's picture

Not unreasonable to think video exist.

Police video surveillance at traffic stops. Police video surveillance at shopping malls. Police video surveillance at football games. And TWRA uses video surveillance in poaching cases.

According to WATE, this was a police "surveillance operation".

If video wasn't involved, it would seem to be the exception. Especially since the LEO contact wasn't casual where video may not be expected, but was part of an "operation" on Sharps Ridge, as stated by the KPD.

It would be ideal if only people living in the 4th District could get the information and spare everybody else, but if Ownby doesn't resign, they should know the circumstances of the operation however the information is delivered. Will this be a matter of taking the word of the officer(s) against Ownby's or is there hard evidence beyond the he said - he said eyewitness testimony? District 4 residents deserve to know if this guy is how he promoted himself, and determining the existence of unbiased, apolitical video is the best way to find out.

rikki's picture


Ownby was arrested for indecent exposure. McCracken was arrested for indecent exposure and trespassing. A Comcast vehicle was towed.

One possible explanation for this set of facts is that the violation occurred on Comcast property or property Comcast can access. As a Comcast employee, Ownby was not trespassing and was not charged. There are several small, fenced areas near and around the transmitter towers in the park.

There are also paths and areas where no-trespass signs have been posted to curtail the longstanding, ongoing use of the park as a sexual meetup spot for all genders and permutations, so this hypothesis is merely possible, not certain. It is consistent with what is known.

fischbobber's picture

All I've got to say

If this kind of stuff is going on with a lot of white guys, I, for one, am glad someones praying for our race. We can certainly use all the help we can get in these dark times.

See if you can leave Mitt Romney out though with some kind of Mormon loophole that only a southern evangelical could push through an ecclesiastic request such as this. The Methodists seem to be questioning the sincerity of my faith so God only knows what the Baptists are saying.

Let's all pray together so we can make it a majority rule thing and marginalize whatever direct influence I might be having (or not, just in case the Methodists are right) on God.

R. Neal's picture

Mayor Rogero has a test now.

Mayor Rogero has a test now. She has to prove KPD didn't setup an elected county official to change the school board vote. Is Anders a straight up police officer? Or did he go off and do some secret policing?

Bullshit. Mayor Rogero doesn't have to do a damn thing. This whole conspiracy theory business is ridiculous and y'all need to knock it off or take it somewhere else.

In fact, if you have evidence you should take it to the DA. Oh, right, you don't trust him either. So take it to the TBI. Or better yet the DOJ. Police misconduct in the form of malicious prosecution is a federal crime under civil rights law. Up to you guys to prove it happened, not KPD or the mayor to prove it didn't. Sheesh.

Tacamo01's picture


I think there is much more to this story that we don't know yet, however, to suggest that Mayor Rogero had anything to do with it? She is one of the politicians that is the least likely to be corrupt in Knox IMO. Just have to wait for the June 4th vote.
Interesting article in the KNS about the Pond Gap's community school project today. Briggs and Hammond were in attendance and stated more of the commissioners should have attended.

Tacamo01's picture

Clear to Me

LMAO, And I wonder why I have a hard time convincing people the importance of education in the K-3rd grade.

Mike Donila's picture

After reading through all

After reading through all these comments, I don't think anyone should complain about the numb skull crap often left on the KNS site.

Brad Anders conspiring to have Ownby arrested? That is the dumbest statement I've heard this week. But, also typical of a coward who hides in anonymity.

On a side note, the reason John "Release the" McCracken was charged with the trespass crime was because he had been caught at Sharps Ridge before and told not to come back.

Now, back to the regularly scheduled program.

Dave Prince's picture

"All these" comments...

...the most contentious of which seem to be coming from anonymous or otherwise non-registered aliases with little to no documentable previous posting history here. I'll leave speculation as to the source and intent behind these comments to others, but it's obvious to regular readers that they are about as indicative of the overall atmosphere of discussion on KV as your average illegitimate pharmacy site spammer.

rikki's picture


That rules out my Comcast-property hypothesis. Since police are familiar with McCracken and his vehicle, it was probably him, not Ownby, under surveillance. Remote video feeds are typically stationary; if KPD has video, it probably shows both vehicles passing the camera but not the tryst itself.

The detective who swore out the warrants may have been dispatched to arrest McCracken after his vehicle was seen entering the park, and Ownby was just the sad sap caught with his pants down.

Barker's picture

let's get real

KPD described the incident as the result of a "surveillance operation." The warrant states that the officers were "on patrol" in the park. Basically, according to both the brass and the officers, they were there looking for illegal activity. Nobody has said this was some sort of elaborate, high-tech, TV-show-style operation with listening equipment and multiple video cameras. It could have been something as casual as a sergeant telling the guys to swing through Sharp's Ridge Park a couple of times during their shift to check things out.

KPD has not said, to my knowledge, that there was a videotape of the encounter the officers witnessed. There doesn't need to be. When officers witness activity they believe to be illegal, they are authorized to act. For god's sake, they don't have to have a video to stop someone on the suspicion of public drunkenness (which, like indecent exposure, is a misdemeanor). The police also didn't say they were dispatched to investigate McCracken. His extra charge could have been tacked on after they ran his information during the arrest and discovered his previous activities on Sharp's Ridge.

Bottom line is, according to the warrant, which is a sworn statement, the officers witnessed two men having oral sex in a public park and arrested them. As they should have done. They didn't need to know one of alleged participants was a county commissioner and the other had been banned from the park.

B Harmon's picture


When the KNS disabled comments, all the loonies came here to post their dribble. I would prefer they all stay at the KNS comments and leave this site to more intelligent discussion. However, it has been amusing to see misinformation bantered about and the depth of the conspiracy theories.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


(Breathlessly) Tune in your ham radio, CT!

Brad's on there right now reportin' that he's trackin' Tony Norman through Tyson Park and Tony ain't wearin' nothin' but a weldin' helmet and a pair of hip waders!

Brad don't know what he's up to, but says Tony's a-draggin' a shop vac around behind him...

Tacamo01's picture

Resignation - not

Just released by KNS that he does not plan to resign. Foster kids removal false.

Will 's picture


"Also today, commission Chairman Mike Hammond directed Knox County Law Director Joe Jarret to fax a letter to Isaacs, asking whether Ownby would resign. Hammond said officials wanted to know whether they would have to replace the seat."

Yeah, no conspiracy there. If it doesn't matter about Ownby voting, then what's the big deal with Hammond? Seriously, why else would Hammond have Jarret fax a letter to Isaacs? They are counting votes.

Tacamo01's picture


As skeptical asI am about politics in Knox, he is the chairman, and as such needs to know who will be present for the vote. Not saying that others have not talked to Ownby.

Factchecker's picture

Light push-back, with all due respect

After reading through all these comments, I don't think anyone should complain about the numb skull crap often left on the KNS site.

Yes they should. I don't think most of the comments you're referring to come from usual KV contributors. I'd bet they came over here from KNS because this thread is not closed.

And has any stupid comment at KNS been challenged by a KNS editor the way Randy did here?

Barker's picture


Yeah, I've challenged commenters on their facts. Used to challenge Number 9 all the time because he was wrong on his facts so often. I rarely read the comments nowadays, though. If I do challenge someone, it likely will be a comment on an editorial for which I'm responsible.

Factchecker's picture

Good for you! I do not

Good for you! I do not normally read them, but might see the first few if I read an online article.

Barker's picture


I commented on comments (?) more often when I was a reporter than I do now. It's time-consuming and I've got a job to do -- editing, researching and writing editorials, meetings, etc. Also, every day I have to greet the black helicopter that delivers the directives from the Illuminati.

Factchecker's picture

You weren't supposed to admit

You weren't supposed to admit that last part, but yeah--I understand. Reminds me of a story a friend told me many years ago. A co-worker of his who was a conspiratorial type (working for the federal government in Oak Ridge, of course--added irony) referred to the KNS as having a left-wing bias and pointed to the Scripps lighthouse logo on the front page stating something like, "That's all you need to know about this paper." Heh.

(This was long after the demise of the Journal and the known shift of your paper from left of center, as it was once considered to be. Guess I should have stated that first.)

fischbobber's picture

I just realized

It will be against the law for high school students to discuss the implications of this act and how it affects local government in civics, history, critical thinking, sociology, American government as well as a plethora of other approved and taught classes in Knox County.

The "Don't Say Gay" legislation has effectively precluded any discussion of whether or not Ownby's personal behavior interferes with his ability to effectively govern.



I need a beer to ponder the deeper implications of just exactly what we are pulling off in the fourth. It would appear that Stacy Campfield has legalized right wing exhibitionist , non-conforming public sexual behavior. I knew that wasn't a wrestling mask. I saw Snuff (and, I might add, was deeply disturbed by the movie), but I never thought Campfield's motivation for his bizarre political behavior was just a front to legalize and socialize his deviant sexual proclivities. It boggles my mind.

Somebody's picture

Tea Party Tribalism

The running commentary on the tribualtions of Mr. Ownby offer a fascinating window into the right-wing Tea Party Fox News movement. It appears that the movement is far more about tribalism than it is about a coherent political philosophy. Ownby came into office on a conservaitive small-government family values platform. These are the common themes on conservative talk-radio and on Fox News, helping define the core audeinces of these media. These are the same themes that drove unwavering support for State Senator Campfield as he pushed the 'don't say gay' bill, and made inaccurate pronouncements about the transmission of HIV. This is the same set of central themes that have driven things like the recent North Carolina one-man-one-woman marriage referendum.

Then suddenly Ownby is caught in an action that is seemingly anathema to the central underpinnings of the whole conservative movement. Surprisingly, the reaction from within is not what would be expected from a truly puritanical conservative movement. There has perhaps been some bewilderment and even a little dismay, but no shunning. Were the stated vaules of the movement truly central, Ownby would have been treated most harshly by those most closely affilited with him. Instead, he is defended. Conspiracy theories of a setup are proffered, and Bill Clinton's foibles are brought up. The supposed values of the gay community are even offered in attempts to deflect criticism from the left.

The phenomenon is similar to what happened after Rush Limbaugh was caught in deception and law-breaking as he fed his presciption drug addiction. His core audience, accustomed for years with harshly judging others based on a black-and-white worldview, suddenly discovered nuance in efforts to explain away the cognitive dissonance.

The only explanation is that the core values of the conservative tea-party movement has far more to do with tribalism than it does any particular stated political position. Adherents are more concerned about holding firm against declared enemies than they are about achieving the goals of their own stated agenda.

It is quite possible that Ownby could ride out the controversy, because it is more important to his supporters that they have "one of their own" in office than anything else. He may simply apologize for his actions, staing that he has sought counseling to correct his error. He could then try to paint himself as a victim of the slings and arrows of the liberal elite, and later charge forward, once again loudly proclaiming the supposed conservative values aganeda. Facts and consistency will be far less relevant than simply being a member of the tribe.

Mike Cohen's picture


Such obvious lies. A helicopter. We all know the Illuminati have put implants in your head.

GDrinnen2's picture

I always thought the

I always thought the helicopters were an elaborate decoy for a guy driving by in a Plymouth K Car delivering the instructions.

Come to think of it....isn't it Cohen??

Barker's picture


There are multiple channels of communication - in addition to the aforementioned helicopters, implants and K-cars, we use TV towers on Sharp's Ridge with lights blinking Morse Code, certain words in crossword puzzles, smoke signals (why do you think the mulch facility is so close to the News Sentinel building?), homing pigeons and that guy in front of you in line at Pilot who buys 15 different kinds of scratch-off lottery tickets.

fischbobber's picture


" that guy in front of you in line at Pilot who buys 15 different kinds of scratch-off lottery tickets."

Now that you've blown my cover I hope you know my salary demands will be extreme if you expect me to go back to hanging around the bathrooms. Or Sharp's Ridge.

Damn the bad luck's picture

Ownby Parody

"Hey, the helipad for black helicopters got shut down at knoxnews so they were diverted to knoxviews":

As for exposing lewd behavior on video, the KPD outsources that:

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