Thu
Apr 12 2007
11:36 am

Unfortunately, many parents and students will look at the KCS rezoning plan from a neighborhood, or personal, point of view.

What is at stake here is larger. It is about quality of education for all of our students enrolled in public school.

Large megaschools are not as effective as smaller schools. So says the research, including the ground-breaking book, "High Schools on a Human Scale: How Small Schools Can Transform American Education."

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates and his wife Melinda have a foundation that has committed more than $400 million in the past three years to making American high schools smaller, according to the Washington Post.

But unfortunately, Knox County only approaches these issues from an infrastructure and growth planning issue, not from the perspective of valid educational benefit to the students.

We have one high school in Knoxville sitting empty (Rule) while a new one is being built (Hardin Valley). We have growth throughout the county. Rule sits on only 7 acres of land, thus excluding it from consideration under the megaschool paradigm that is reflected in the leadership within the Knox County School System.

Using simple reasoning, if we have growth throughout the county, one megaschool built every 10 or 15 years will result in catastrophic rezoning every 10 or 15 years.

Do we want to shift 20% of our student population every 10 years, or do we want to bring the resources to their communities? That is the fundamental question.

The alternative: Build more, smaller, cheaper schools throughout the ever-growing Knox County, better personalizing the educational experience.

According to the author, several studies show "that high schools are more likely to be successful when they are small and personalized -- when they have four to five hundred students and stress long-term relationships between students and teachers, individualized attention, extra help for struggling students, and an adult advocate for every student. Smaller schools encourage stronger bonds between students and teachers and generate a level of genuine caring and mutual obligation between them that's found far less frequently in comprehensive high schools."

"Students and teachers, as a result, tend to work harder on each other's behalf. Student and teacher attendance and student involvement in extracurricular activities are higher in smaller high schools. Teacher turnover and disciplinary problems are lower. So are dropout rates. There's less tracking in smaller schools. And a wide range of studies reveal that average student achievement is as high as and often higher than that in large schools, particularly among students from impoverished backgrounds."

154
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
09:54 am

Sad Day for Sevier County
By James J. Wilson

The Cove Mtn. project (High Bridge PUD) was approved by the Sevier County Planning Commission (PC) last night by a 7 to 4 vote.

There were many questions about the legality of the documents the developer (Kenneth Whaley, also a county commissioner) submitted.

Specifically, the developer presented a 1971 deed that just turned up yesterday that, they say gives them the 50 foot Right of Way (ROW) necessary to access their project.

You may recall that the PC voted to deny this same permit last month because of just that ROW question.

There was an overflow crowd waving signs and being very vocal, as you might imagine. Both commissioners from the district that this PUD is forced upon were pleading with their fellow commissioners to defer the vote until such time that the legality of the documentation could be verified.

Remember that this same commissioner, Kenneth Whaley and his partners at Southern Design are the same ones whose last PUD went belly up and has left scars across Webb Mountain that is causing severe erosion of a pristine waterway even today.

The commissioners had a motion (and second) on the table with a recommendation for approval from the County Planer, Jeff Owenby, before they accepted any public comments.

Five people spoke against the project and raised many questions.

The County Planner did not choose to amend his recommendation and it was hastily passed.

(more after the break)

Continued...

51
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
09:29 am

I posted this to Reality Me but it should have been posted here to reach the masses. As a reminder, if you do not have children, this decision by the school board could impact your property value. If you have young children, they will be in high school sooner than you think, and this rezoning will likely be a model for the middle school and elementary rezoning which will follow soon.

On Aug 3 2006, Sam Anderson ran unopposed for the School Board 1st District, Dan Murphy ran unopposed for the School Board 4th District, Thomas A Deakins beat H Lee Martin by 372 votes for the School Board 6th District, Rex Stooksbury ran unopposed for the School Board 7th District, and Robert Bratton ran unopposed for the School Board 9th District. I am not sure about the other districts.

According to two commenters on No Silence Here, at least one school board member's neighborhood seemed to escape rezoning. (can anyone verify this? are there others?)

Isn't it amazing that Karen Carson's neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods are no longer in the rezoning area????????? Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Gee, what a coincidence. [Source]

I noticed that Chairwoman Karen Carson's neighborhood did not get rezoned to either Bearden or Hardin Valley even though the area is sandwiched between those being rezoned. Just curious if any school board members' neighborhoods are being rezoned? [Source]

Are we, the people, being properly represented by our elected officials or have these elected officials found an easy way to serve their own best interests? Seems to me that if I had the foresight to want to greatly influence this rezoning that I should have simply run for the School Board. If the majority of the people do not want this rezoning approved and it happens anyway, then the democratic process is failing and we, the people, need to remove the elected officials from their duties and replace them with officials that will better represent the people's wishes.

Now we beg the question, what does the majority want?

126
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
09:11 am

A bomb exploded in the Iraqi parliament's cafeteria in a stunning assault in the heart of the heavily fortified, U.S.-protected Green Zone Thursday, killing at least two lawmakers and wounding 10 other people.

GOP presidential candidate Sen. John McCain has not commented on this latest example of how safe it is in Baghdad.

Topics:
50
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
08:20 am

That's what this otherwise well-written and well-researched editorial in the student run Tennessee Journalist says regarding victims of computer virus attacks. The comments are uh, interesting, too.

51
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
07:33 am

A Tennessee blogger is being threatened with a lawsuit by a job placement outfit over a post she made about her and her husband's experience with them. Nashville is Talking has the background and a roundup. Newscoma has an extensive catalog of links.

Free speech does not mean freedom to libel, but...

Continued...

153
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
06:39 am

Breaking news out of Alabama about an amazing new technological discovery:

Some of Alabama’s nastiest coal-fired power plants may be cleaning up their act with some new technology called a "scrubber" that was unveiled by Alabama Power Company executives Wednesday.

The mechanism, expected to be operational in 2008, is designed to strip some of the worst pollution out of power plant emissions.

Dangerous sulfur dioxide, called SO2, is stripped from the plant's emissions through a scrubbing process that works like a shower. Pollution is mixed with limestone powder and water, which strips gases out of the plant's emissions before they're released into the air.

Wow, I wonder if TVA has heard about this new "scrubber" technology?

Wait a second. This sounds familiar. Oh, yeah, now I remember:

Most modern power plants — and all plants built after 1978 — are required to have special devices installed that clean the sulfur from the coal's combustion gases before the gases go up the smokestack. The technical name for these devices is "flue gas desulfurization units," but most people just call them "scrubbers" — because they "scrub" the sulfur out of the smoke released by coal-burning boilers. [..]

In most scrubbers, limestone (or another similar material called lime) is mixed with water and sprayed into the coal combustion gases (called "flue gases"). The limestone captures the sulfur and "pulls" it out of the gases.

Maybe the mule train hauling the mail got waylaid by bandits and the news about this technology has just now reached Alabama.

But seriously, it's hard to say which is worse -- Alabama Power Company executives trying to suggest this is "new technology" when in fact they should have installed it 30 years ago, or a "senior TV news reporter" who just transcribes what they say without bothering to check it out.

42
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
05:47 am

Kurt Vonnegut, the satirical novelist who captured the absurdity of war and questioned the advances of science in darkly humorous works such as "Slaughterhouse-Five" and "Cat's Cradle," died Wednesday. He was 84.
...
"We probably could have saved ourselves, but we were too damned lazy to try very hard... and too damn cheap," he once suggested carving into a wall on the Grand Canyon, as a message for flying-saucer creatures.
...
"My father, like Hemingway, was a gun nut and was very unhappy late in life. But he was proud of not committing suicide. And I'll do the same, so as not to set a bad example for my children."

What a great writer. Books that make you think.

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110
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Thu
Apr 12 2007
12:30 am

The U.S. Senate passed the latest stem cell research bill, 63-34 (with Senators Dodd, Landrieu, and Johnson not voting). Do the veto math.

Senator Alexander (R-TN), voted Yea. Senator Corker (R-TN), voted Nay.

[Recall that Senator Frist last voted in favor of funding the research.]

So we're apparently stuck one vote short with a freshman senator who opposes funding research. Wonderful.

57
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
08:37 pm

Last night Pink sung her song "Dear Mr. President" on Jimmy Kimmel. She told Jimmy that he was the first talk show host who had allowed her to sing that song and that the radio announcers wouldn't touch it. Its a folksy sounding song similar to the Dixie Chicks sound and mostly asks legitimate questions, "how could you take your daughter's rights away, would you hate her if she were gay?" Questions about Katrina, "Hard work" etc. The only nasty party is "you've come along way from booze and cocaine." Not anything that should make it forbidden IMO. On Imus again, I still think him saying what he did is not on the same level as if Tim Russert had said it, as a conservative blogger said, people should consider the source and move on. On Limbaugh, what he said about Michael J. Fox was horribly mean but he was not called to be fired by Jackson or Sharpton. I totally agree with Rush that folks like Jackson and Sharpton are part of the "industry of the offended," who would be out of work if folks like Imus didn't work people into a hysteria.

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This is a really quirky, beautifully written article about Costco's recent decision to sell caskets along with their TVs and pillows.

(link...)

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48
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
05:29 pm

MSNBC will no longer broadcast the simulcast of the Imus radio program.

54
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
01:12 pm

Taking a break from monitoring the mortgage meltdown (which is now seeping into the Alt-A level, BTW), I came across this neat doohickey on the NYT site for measuring renting vs. owning. Related story, radio bit.

It seems to confirm my own prejudices (and deep-seated resentment...I'm a renter) that home ownership is often overhyped and oversold as a financial solution for all circumstances, and is part of the reason the bubble is bursting. Thoughts?

106
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
01:02 pm

Blount County Commissioner Wendy Pitts Reeves thanks the public for their participation and speculates about what might happen next.

48
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
12:02 pm

Gene Patterson has some great World's Fair stories and seeks yours for an upcoming retrospective on the 25th Anniversary of the 1982 Knoxville World's Fair and Energy Expo.

52
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
11:54 am

Joe Lance, who blogs at Tennessee Ticket, has a column on the proposed state-wide cable franchise bill in the latest edition of the Chattanooga Pulse: "Guard your local cable franchise like it's your remote!"

The latest status of the bills: HB1421 re-referred yesterday to the Utilities, Banking, and Small Business subcommittee of the Commerce committee, SB1933 deferred yesterday until 4/17 by the Commerce, Labor & Agriculture committee.

45
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
11:00 am

Fred Thompson has announced that he was diagnosed with lymphoma two years ago. I guess he needs to get it out there now for his run (maybe) for President. Good for him and I hope he remains healthy. As for his chances for President, I'd offer 7 to 1 right now.

50
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
10:10 am

The Knoxville News Sentinel has a package on the Knox County schools rezoning. KnoxViews contributor Tamara Shepherd is quoted. The right side bar has links to maps and more, including this article about a proposed sales tax increase.

155
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
09:56 am
By: Bill Pittman  shortURL

For any & all interested, Fourth & Gill will be hosting their "Historic Home Tour" on April 22nd. All pertinent information may be found at:

(link...)

Topics:
53
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Wed
Apr 11 2007
08:47 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Here's my letter on the subject, published today in the Knoxville News-Sentinel:

To the Editor:

By stating that "the pact leaves the bulk of the revenues with the company," your editorial supporting the red-light cameras (March 22) offers the best reason for opposing the system. The millions of dollars Redflex will take in over the next few years are, in most cases, hard-earned dollars that will not remain in Knoxville but rather find their way to corporate headquarters in Arizona or Australia. Whatever the city hopes to gain will be offset by a net loss to our local economy.

As for accident prevention, the red-light camera locations provide a 'worst' list of the poorest-designed intersections in the city where accidents continue to occur. For example, the intersection at Western Avenue and Henley is so wide that I've actually seen an 18-wheeler make a U-turn within it. The one at Clinton Highway and Tillery Road has a turn-light sequence so out of sync with traffic conditions that it's nearly impossible for a driver to complete a turn on a green light, if you're lucky enough to get the chance to turn. What we need is better street and traffic light design rather than the band-aid fix that the cameras provide.

Finally, in a town filled with tourism-related traffic and tourist-drivers unfamiliar with the street system, it is hard to understand why the city would install the cameras in and near the downtown. A ticket resulting from a camera 'catch' can only serve to make a few bucks for the city, while alienating Knoxville's guests. Why would they ever want to return?

Michael Kaplan
Professor of Architecture, Emeritus
University of Tennessee

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49
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Lost Medicaid Funding

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

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