Jan 27 2007
11:12 am

Looks like North Carolina is taking tips from China re: censorship...

Raleigh | Citing the controversy surrounding the Dakota Fanning film Hounddog, the leader of the state Senate Republicans says he wants the government to review scripts before cameras start rolling in North Carolina.

That system, said state Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, would apply only to films seeking the state's lucrative filmmaker incentive, which refunds as much as 15 percent of what productions spend in North Carolina from the state treasury.

I realize that it would only apply to studios that want to get a "refund"/tax credit but I think the Puritans taking over the country are pushing the envelope with this idea.

Jan 27 2007
09:38 am

Sheriff Tim HutchisonSheriff Tim Hutchison has released his final report on the Tyler Harber affair. According to reporters, a spokesperson from his office distributed the report last night at the City County building in two-inch thick three-ring binders containing hundreds of pages of documents, interviews, and investigative reports.

The media says it will take a while to wade through all the documents, so more reports will coming out over the next few days. The Sheriff's Office says more documents will be released next week.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, the records "list possible violations of several laws, but they give no indication that Harber will be charged..."

Here are some highlights from the first round.

Knoxville News Sentinel updated report:

But a Sheriff's Office summary of an analysis of his Knox County-issued computer indicates investigators found documents related to various political campaigns, as well as contracts and invoices for his side job as a political consultant that were entered into the system during regular business hours.

"When Harber's office was thoroughly searched as part of the investigation, no evidence of any Knox County Probation employment was found," the summary states.


The overall tone is accusatory. [..]

The criminal offenses section also addresses how Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale came to possess copies of a GOP leader's emails. "If Ragsdale's intent in issuing the false statement was to protect Tyler Harber," the report reads, "then Ragsdale was obstructing or hindering, at that time, the location of a person suspected of committing a crime."


The report also plainly states that Harber used his Knox County computer for a variety of political activities and did very little Knox County work.


This a lengthy report and we are going to take some time to sift through the documents before we share them with you.

It must have been a long night for local reporters. Betty Bean has probably been up all night and her report ought to be interesting, although it's doubtful it will make Monday's edition of the Shopper. Early reports seem to corroborate some of what Tyler Harber said in his exclusive series of interviews with her for the Halls Shopper.

Does this report close the books, or open a new chapter?

UPDATE: Blogger Terry Frank has apparently had a look at the report and has some more choice excerpts.

(NOTE: For background, see this KnoxViews collection.)

Jan 26 2007
08:42 pm
By: Andy Axel  shortURL

White-throated Sparrow, Radnor Lake.

Picture after the jump...


Jan 26 2007
07:06 pm

From Michael Silence's blog:

Yesterday (Thursday) for about 2 hours and this morning (since about 8:30am), Mike Lowe, Steve Hall and Mike Padgett have been meeting in Steve Hall’s Office on the 2nd Floor of the City County Building. Apparently from sources, the three are considering filing for a FEDERAL INJUCTION preventing their removal of office despite having been deemed term limited by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Mike Lowe apparently believes that because he receives state monies from the state for the county, he is in fact a STATE official not a county official.

Jan 26 2007
06:26 pm

Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison speaks out, says "he supports [his top officer's] choice of Administrative Deputy J.J. Jones."

Jan 26 2007
05:47 pm

Word on the street is that Sheriff Tim Hutchison is set to release his final report on the Tyler Harber affair at any moment. Developing...

(KnoxViews prediction: "Nothing to see here. Move along." Unless Sheriff Tim decides to take a parting shot at Mayor Ragsdale?)

(KnoxViews prediction #2: Betty Bean will be busy this weekend, and the Halls Shopper will have to stop the presses!)

UPDATE: Word on the street is that the news will be huge, and that prediction #1 above is way off the mark (i.e. more like the speculation in the second part about a parting shot). Reporters are gathered at the City County Bldg. awaiting word...

OBSERVATION: The timing is certainly interesting, what with Sheriff Tim set to be replaced next week and all. But even more interesting is that if this is really big it could push Knox County government replacement news right off the front page, and focus all the attention on Mayor Ragsdale instead of the County Commission back room maneuvering.

UPDATE: Hutchison releases Harber investigation. No charges against Harber. Article is otherwise a rehash of stuff previously reported in the Halls Shopper, with gratuitous Lumpy Lambert quotes. There will probably be more after reporters have time to wade through reams of documents. Apparently there's no executive summary, other than "no charges against Harber." In the time they spent printing the "two inch thick document" they could have posted it on Shurf Tim's website and we'd know what it says by now. Pretty lame. But typical, I guess.

Jan 26 2007
05:02 pm

Dear Friends and Neighbors,
A quick note that the candidate forum scheduled for Monday at 6pm is still on, but the location has moved to Whittle Springs Middle School's auditorium, 2700 White Oak Lane (the corner of Whittle Springs and White Oak).
Great thanks to Whittle Springs Principal Benny Perry who responded quickly and favorably to house the event when Fulton High officials forgot to include the academic banquet on the auditorium calendar and did not notice the conflict until this morning.
The schedule of events will be:
6pm to approx 7 pm, County Commission, District Two, all candidates seeking appointment asked to give a three-minute statement, followed by audience questions.

Approximately 7pm to 8pm, county-wide candidates (sheriff, county clerk, trustee, register of deeds) same format.

Approximately 8pm to 8:30pm, any candidates from other districts, same format.

Mark Harmon, County Commissioner, District Two

Jan 26 2007
04:52 pm

Public Forums:

So far we are aware of two ad hoc public forums for replacement candidates to meet with the public:

According to the KNS, commissioners Leuthold and Hammond are holding an open public forum for 5th District candidates, Saturday Jan. 27th from 10:00 AM to 12 Noon at the Cedar Bluff library branch.

Commissioner Mark Harmon has organized an open public forum scheduled for Monday, January 29th, starting at 6pm in the Fulton High School Auditorium. UPDATE: EVENT MOVED TO WHITTLE SPRINGS MIDDLE SCHOOL AUDITORIUM, 2700 White Oak Lane (the corner of Whittle Springs and White Oak). "Public, candidates, commissioners, and all interested parties are invited." More details here.

If you are aware of any other public forums, meetings, discussions, etc., please let us know in comments and we will post updates.

Local TV News:

The KNS, WBIR, and WNOX are hosting a one hour program on WBIR Channel 10 TV At 7 PM Monday, Jan. 29th, to "explain who's in contention and to offer perspective from journalists, public officials and others."

If you are aware of any other local TV broadcasts for discussion of/with replacement candidates, please let us know in comments and we will post updates.


Online, the Knoxville News Sentinel has this website with a list of persons seeking appointments, including letters and resumes where available.

(KNS writers are posting frequent background/updates at Michael Silence's blog.)

WATE has compiled this list of candidates.

WBIR has this site with a news archive and candidate lists with letters and resumes. (Thanks, Katie!)

KnoxViews has compiled this list. Please let us know of any updates or additions in comments on that post.

KnoxViews also has this extensive, up to date archive on the controversy.

Jan 26 2007
01:38 pm

In the case of Della Volpe v. Jordan and the Knox County Election Commission:

The only issue before this Court is whether or not the election involving Mr. Della Volpe and Commissioner Jordan is to be certified as a valid election, and I think the Supreme Court by virtue of declaring vacancies in these offices has already declared that it is a void election, and this Court doesn’t need to take any additional steps in that regard. I think the controversy that was before this Court has been rendered moot by the decision of the Tennessee Supreme Court. I think they have already made that ruling.

So if you want to certify something to the Commission, Mr. Della Volpe, you may prepare an order to the effect that this Court finds that the decision has already been made by the Tennessee Supreme Court that the election in August 2006 involving term-limited officers in Knox County was in fact a void election...

Does this mean the runners-up in those elections are the rightful officeholders? It could also seem to affect whether term-limited commissioners currently serving get a vote, or whether it is up to the remaining commissioners, or whether the runners-up (where there was opposition) automatically fill the vacancies.

But, this would be in conflict with the Tennessee Supreme Court order that current officeholders will continue to serve until they are replaced, and that the County Commission will replace them.

Sounds like this could get interesting. Or maybe I'm reading it all wrong?

(Here's a PDF of the ruling, courtesy of Scott Emge.)

Jan 26 2007
01:26 pm

Former Senator and current Presidential Candidate John Edwards now has the largest and most valuable home in his county boasting a home that is over 10,000 square feet as quoted in the New York Post and 28,000 square feet in the Carolina Journal. Either way it is really big.

Mr. Edwards is famous as the Vice Presidential Candidate of 2004 who mesmerized America with his famous “Two Americas” speech during the campaign and debates.

Maybe Mr. Edwards was right, maybe there are “Two Americas”. Which one does he live in?

Jan 26 2007
12:33 pm

Check out what Chris Wage found on his new computer hard drive.

Jan 26 2007
11:52 am

There's got to be a country music song somewhere in all this.

(More details here.)

Jan 26 2007
11:22 am

TVA is complaining that the warm winter (so far) has lowered consumption and reduced power sales by about $95 million.

They are hoping for colder weather over the next few weeks and for an unusually warm spring to get "power sales humming along with air conditioners."

It seems like they should be happy about lower consumption, which means less pollution.

Jan 26 2007
10:30 am

Former Knox County Commissioner Madeline Rogero recalls a controversy surrounding a School Board vacancy several years ago.

Being new on the County Commission, Rogero was surprised that a presumed nominee was selected to fill the vacancy without consulting commissioners in the district. She notes "backroom politicking was in full swing."

She mobilized residents in her district and organized a public forum which was widely attended and got significant media coverage. As a result, Dr. Paul Kelly emerged as the only nominee, and was appointed with the unanimous support of the community and County Commission.

Madeline Rogero concludes: "I respect my fellow commissioners who, fifteen years ago, listened to the will of the voters. They had the authority to make an arbitrary, expedient, political appointment. They chose instead to open the process, participate in our forum, listen to the potential candidates, and then pick the best qualified. Should we not expect the same of our county commission today?"

Read her full account after the jump...


Jan 26 2007
09:57 am

WBIR has coverage on the new Cumberland Avenue plan.

More here.

After months of planning and public input, the group working to redesign the Cumberland Avenue Corridor unveiled the nearly finalized plans Thursday night.

The proposal calls for shrinking Cumberland from four to three lanes of traffic. There would be a center turn lane and room for bikes to share the road.

Planners say one of the drawbacks is it could take about a minute longer to drive through the area.

But overall, the people who saw the designs were pleased.

"Looking at the plans, they look pretty cool, and there's a lot of potential there," said James Smith, a UT student studying urban design.

The next public meeting is set for Feb. 22. After that, the proposal will go to the city council for approval.

"We're very excited about the opportunity to very rapidly change the shape of the corridor, and there's some strong excitement from the city on a political level that I think will move this forward very rapidly," said Ed McKinney, the project leader.

Public Meetings

Public meetings will be held in the University Center at the corner of Cumberland Avenue and James Agee Street/Phillip Fulmer Way with free parking in the parking garage adjacent to the building. Enter the parking garage from Phillip Fulmer Way, the top level has direct access to the University Center.

Thursday, January 25. Public Meeting # 4. 6:00 pm, University Center Ballroom.
Thursday, February 22. Public Meeting # 5. 6:00 pm, University Center Ballroom.

Jan 26 2007
01:45 am
By: CL  shortURL

I couple of days ago, someone put up a poll about which knucklehead would file a federal suit to block the appointments replacing the term-limited office holders. I didn't vote because the one person I thought might do it was Herb Moncier and he wasn't on the list. Then I thought he wouldn't do it because what reason would he have.

I was wrong. He did. WVLT story

Jan 25 2007
06:06 pm

California has banned the purchase of electricity from coal-fired power plants.

According to the article, there are practically no coal-fired power plants in California but they get up to 20% of their electricity from coal-fired plants in other Western states.

Jan 25 2007
02:09 pm
By: Johnny Ringo  shortURL

Harold Ford, Jr. has become Chairman of the DLC:

WASHINGTON — Former Memphis congressman Harold Ford Jr. today accepted the high-profile post of chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, the moderate policy group that a little-known Arkansas governor named Bill Clinton led to national stardom and the presidency.
The announcement was made this morning at a Washington hotel breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor, but had been anticipated for days.

Ford accepted the post, calling it "one of the most important organizations on the think tank landscape. "


Charles S. Giles II forwards his letter (PDF format) seeking appointment to County Commission for the 6th District:

I intend to be an active member of the Knox County Commission and have the desire to represent the residents of Knox County by opposing any annexation efforts by the City of Knoxville or any other government agencies outside the boundaries of Knox County.

I pledge to be conservative with the taxpayer dollars, but at the same time to make sure that essential services are available to all Knox County residents.

I am a proponent of good educational values and hold education as one of my top priorities. Investing in the educational values of our community will reap benefits that will help to strengthen our society as a whole.

Giles says crime and seniors' issues are also priorities. He says he is an Independent and not a member of either the Democratic or Republican party. He pledges to serve only on an interim basis, but does not rule out seeking future office.


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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