Adding more bureaucracy seems like a questionable approach in general.

Doesn't the current health board already get input from the types of folks listed as comprising the new committee?

Taking an existing apolitical process and making it political. Are there proven instances in history where that has improved things?

Knox Co. Commission votes to form public health committee separate from Board of Health

PM Parris's picture


Good questions. One this I find odd about this is that there has been this ongoing drum beat about "unelected boards" who are somehow trampling everyone's rights (note that I don't agree, to be clear). Isn't this just forming another "unelected board" that seems duplicative? The meeting recap had a couple of interesting side notes that may answer this.

First off were the comments about the state limiting the power of the current board so "the mayor will still need an advisory board". The state has already tried and failed to do so, but don't be surprised if there's another try. Secondarily, one of the commissioners said something like "we don't need this new board, this is a prelude to shutting down the current one and saying 'see, we have a replacement'". That would not be surprising either although it's not clear to me that the current board can be replaced with another one per the state law governance. If not, this just seems like a competing group providing "guidance", when we already have a well qualified group serving this role.

j.f.m.'s picture

The difference is that this

The difference is that this is just an advisory group, it won't have any power to create regulations like the Board of Health has been.

Another thing about all of this that I feel like keeps getting lost is that Knox County's current reliance on the Board of Health to guide its pandemic policies is unique in the state and was mandated by the county Law Department in June (three months into the pandemic). It remains unclear to me why the Law Department believes this is required when no other county with an established Board of Health is using it the way we are. (I have asked the Law Department this question, and suffice to say that after their explanation, it still remains unclear to me. Because they say so, basically.)

PM Parris's picture

Good to Know

Thanks, that helps clarify. Based on that, this new "unelected board" appears to be at least partially an attempt to respond to the protest side of things by "taking action". And getting qualified folks to sign up for some time consuming unpaid controversial board will be interesting.

Since you mentioned lost things, I think another thing that does not get enough play, although is is surfacing again now, is that a real problem here is overrunning the hospitals to the point where routine and emergency issues, non-COVID, can be managed adequately. Something that comes up is creating "emergency beds", but that doesn't solve the real problem which is staffing. Beds can be bought and set up, but trained doctors and nurses aren't just hanging around for the coach to send them into the game. And if you are a medical professional and already working personally to capacity, saying "work harder" is not really a solution. Some locales are already at this point and it would not be surprising to see it here, given the growth rate. When the hospitals shut down elective work, that's a good sign we are at a break(ing) point. And just a few hours ago, WBIR posts comments from local hospitals warning of this situation. It's not clear what county government or the freedom caucus will be able to do about this aspect of COVID with winter coming on. Presumably not much.

AC's picture

The interesting twist about

The interesting twist about the "unelected board" spin on things is that many of the elected officials who are pushing this are more or less on record saying that they don't feel that it is their role as leaders or governments role in general to make these decisions.
So, the real push here is to be free to do nothing know...freedom...even others get sick or die as result.
But the real my that this is the result of a philosophy that wants to weaken government at all costs and therefore doesn't want our government to be perceived as a solution to any problem.
In that sense, the freedom that is actually being championed is for the strong and powerful to be able to do whatever they want to do without regard for the consequences inflicted on others - whether bad air and drinking water or COVID.

PM Parris's picture

My Recollection

I recall that Mayor Jacobs is a libertarian. While that is a multi-faceted political model, there's certainly a strain of it that equates "freedom" to "minimal state power" in daily activities of living for your average human. So that would align in this local case. That said, in today's world, that's not a model that works on an equal footing between (randomly) Shell Oil and your or my personal interests about pollution and such. But those that adhere to libertarianism as a model have been pretty successful in getting it sold as equality of freedoms on all levels, particularly between corporations and actual persons.

Ergo, a freedom to "ignore COVID" is equal to a freedom to "not catch COVID" and public health is not an issue because there is no public health as an interest; thus, we all just do what we want seems to be the model here. The limits of that becomes apparent when the medical community is overrun, although there's the added complexity here that that group is being painted as profiting from COVID in some quarters. I guess I'm still not over Mayor Jacobs and that video implying the medical community is among "malevolent forces seeking to destroy our society" or whatever the verbiage was along those lines. But that mantra fits the model of making expertise some sort of liability not to be trusted.

R. Neal's picture

Compass report: (link...)

Compass report:


R. Neal's picture

Citizens of Knox Co. should

Citizens of Knox Co. should set up a shadow Committee for Leadership and Public Policy Based On Science, Logic, Reason, Safety and Sanity, independent of county commission and the mayor.

cwg's picture

Maybe that can be the PAC

Supporting a sane Knox County candidate to run against Jacobs, just a thought

Treehouse's picture

Good idea


R. Neal's picture

Betty Bean

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