Sun
Jan 14 2007
03:21 pm

Gray Sasser, son of former U.S. Senator Jim Sasser, takes over the reins of the Tennessee Democratic Party.

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Sun
Jan 14 2007
11:51 am

From time to time, I've read the blog comments about the South Waterfront project. For those who intend to participate in the process, the MPC will consider making a recommendation on the SW Code at their February 8th Regular Meeting. City Council will not consider the SW Code at their Jan 16th meeting, as had been tentatively scheduled. As the SW Senior Director, I intend to continue addressing any issues raised, and to seek resolution if possible. If MPC does not postpone the SW Code and passes it on to the City Council, then City Council will likely begin its formal review of the code on February 13th. We'll post any new public meetings on the city's website (www.cityofknoxville.org\southwaterfront).

Throughout the South Waterfront process, we have endeavored to provide any information available to any interested citizen. We have also listened to public input and made sincere efforts to reflect what we heard, not only during the development of the Vision Plan, but also through many revisions to the five drafts of the SW Code that have been generated thus far.

The point I want to make is that public debate of the SW Code is welcome and will improve the final product. All participants in the process are serving their interests well, including waterfront property owners, neighborhood residents, Oversight Committee members, members of the general public, MPC Commissioners, and Citiy Council. And yes, I would venture to say that city administrative officials and the SW consultants are also performing well. Although there have been some tough choices and a few emotional disagreements, never once have I felt that any participant did not have sincere concerns about the future health of the South Waterfront.

For all the rhetoric and philosophic discussions, I have a few comments. First, the South Waterfront project has a 20-year life and will be continually monitored to avoid placing any additional burdens on city taxpayers. Existing industrial sites may continue to operate for as long as they like, and may rebuild or expand their current operations. This will remain the case until such time as the property owner decides there is a compelling economic agrument to relocate and either sell or redevelop their property. The same is true for neighborhood property owners - it will remain a private decision to stay, sell, improve, expand, or redevelop their own property. We will also work to develop Homeowner Assistance programs for residents who face financial challenges and want to stay. While we have released a Draft Financial Strategy for South Waterfront Public Improvements, we have never said that we have all the money we need, nor have we said that all needed funds would come from city taxpayers. Several different funding sources have to be aggressively pursued, including state & federal grants and private donations. Many cities have enjoyed considerable implementation success using private donations. The financial monitoring referenced above will include a side-by-side comparison of private vs. public investment. There will be some front-ending of public improvements as stand-alones or through development agreements, but certainly not to the extent of "If we build it, they (private investors) will come."

The South Waterfront has never been portrayed as a superior lifestyle choice as compared to suburban or rural locales. It's ability to capture no more than (and typically less than) 2-3% of the regional market share for different land uses shows that it is more of a niche market than it is a dominant shift in urban lifestyle preferences. I believe the creation of another lifestyle choice enriches our entire community.

The final comment I have is that of trying to reach public concensus. I have a different perspective than others. My advocacy position (and job) is to facilitate open debate and public decision-making. I want to be able to say that a realistic plan has been adopted that will not become a shelf document. I'd like to be able to say that we have assembled an array of tools, including a TIF district, the SW Code, and capture of grant funds and private donations that enable high quality, market driven redevelopment of the South Waterfront. The challenge is that I have not said that every person's concerns will be resolved to their own satisfaction. I truly respect everyone's right to express and advance their own interests, and whenever possible, we have made changes to the better. The decision to present the current version of the SW Code to the MPC and City Council is derived from a judgement call, and I never said that either myself or the SW consultants are the sole arbiters in the process. We try to listen to all the comments, debates, and arguments, which in several cases are conflicting - and try to exercise proper professional and ethical judgment. That's why MPC and City Council are properly positioned to receive professional recommendations and public hearing comments before making their final decisions - democracy in action.

I will continue to defend the South Waterfront process as a good one - public input has been consistent throughout. My only ask is that we maintain civility and don't assign questionable or rotten motives to those who disagree with us. I'm amazed at the things people can say to each other when they are not talking face to face.

14
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Sun
Jan 14 2007
11:38 am

A few questions I was pondering...

- Since the Tennessee Supreme Court didn't mandate a timetable for appointing replacements, could County Commission drag their feet right up until the Aug. 2008 elections, leaving all term-limited officials in office until then?

- If someone is appointed and then stands for election and wins, does their appointed term count against the two-term limit?

- Should replacement candidates take a pledge to not seek election in order to reset the playing field and eliminate the incumbency advantage?

- What about Indya's suggestion in comments below that now would be a good time for Knox County to go on a staggered election cycle for County Commission, thus providing better continuity under term limits?

- How long before someone petitions for a referendum to abolish term limits, or at least restrict them to County Mayor and County Commission?

UPDATE: Michael Silence weighs with his thoughts, including his answers to these questions.

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Sun
Jan 14 2007
11:09 am

Scott Emge, who ran a successful primary campaign to oppose term-limited Register of Deeds Steve Hall in the general election, has issued a press release calling the term limits ruling "a victory for Knox County voters."

Scott also says "One thing that I’m afraid of is that these positions will be filled with cronies, friends or family members through backroom deals rather than people who legally qualified, ran campaigns, and received thousands of votes from the people of Knox County."

Scott argues that the candidates who received the second highest number of votes in the last general election should be appointed to fill the vacancies until an election can be held.

That's an interesting argument, given that the Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that their term-limited opponents are not qualified to hold office, raising the question as to whether they were qualified to be on the ballot in the first place. The ruling does not explicitly say it is retroactive to election day, but I suppose one could argue that it is.

Read the full text of Scott Emge's press release after the jump.

Continued...

215
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Sun
Jan 14 2007
10:22 am

Check out Replacements.com out of Greensboro NC. We've bought several replacements for chipped or broken china, coffee cups, you name it, and a few add-on pieces. Their service is great and their inventory is amazing. If they don't have it, you can sign up for an e-mail alert and they will let you know if it shows up in their inventory.

Alas, they do not have any Pigeon Forge Pottery. We had a nice set of coffee mugs, creamer, etc. from there. Over the years we broke a couple of the coffee mugs, so we checked on getting replacements a while back. They told us that when founder Douglas Ferguson passed away and the family sold the business (now Pigeon River Pottery), the new owners agreed to break all the molds. The new ones are similar, but just not the same. I guess these are all collector's items now, so we don't use them any more.

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6
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Sun
Jan 14 2007
09:31 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Here's an interesting article by Stephen Lyn Bales about what birds like to find in your feeders. Conclusion: stock up on black-oil sunflower seed, ditch the milo.

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9
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Sun
Jan 14 2007
08:55 am

Knox County Registrar of Deeds Steve Hall says in the Knoxville News Sentinel that he and other fee officeholders are considering a federal lawsuit opposing the Tennessee Supreme Court term limits ruling that removes him from office.

It's not clear what the basis for such a lawsuit would be, or if there is a federal issue involved. Presumably it would be based on violation of due process under the U.S. Constitution as asserted in the original lawsuit.

This might not get much traction, however, because the case has had plenty of process, and the Tennessee Supreme Court ruling clearly states that "it is our conclusion that the term limits amendment meets due process guidelines," and that the "term limits amendment, enacted under the de facto charter, meets standards of due process and must be upheld as a component of the governmental unit."

But there is, of course, precedent for the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and overturn state supreme court decisions on similar 14th Amendment grounds.

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Sun
Jan 14 2007
08:29 am

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, there is a County Commission proposal in the works to 1) take resumes from candidates wishing to fill the offices affected by term limits, 2) hold a week of public hearings with candidates, 3) vote to fill the vacant offices.

All of this would be accomplished by February 20th according to a proposal Commissioner John Schmid will submit to the intergovernmental and finance committee next week.

According to the article, Commissioners Phil Guthe, John Griess, Mike Hammond, and Mark Cawood are calling for a special election. Lumpy Lambert says he will nominate Mark Cawood's wife to replace him. The article also mentions that former write-in candidates Amy Broyles and Elaine Davis are both seeking appointments to County Commission.

See the article for more details and opinions from County Law Director John Owings.

215
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Sat
Jan 13 2007
04:48 pm

In today's Washington Post:

President Bush fought back at lawmakers opposing his new plan for Iraq today, charging that simply being against the strategy without suggesting alternatives was "irresponsible." He challenged them to come up with a better plan.

Excuse me for pointing out one little item a few little items, Mr. Responsible:

Continued...

Topics:
100
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Sat
Jan 13 2007
12:11 pm

Amy Broyles throws her hat in the ring and makes a case why she should be appointed as a replacement commissioner. See the full e-mail press release after the jump.

There are probably some other previous write-in candidates who could make a case, too. The question is, can they get a fair hearing in whatever process is about to unfold?

Continued...

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According to The Maryville Daily Times, the City of Alcoa, with the huge population of approximately 8,000, is voting to update their animal control laws. The AKC has done a lot of research and found that some of these laws are not a solution to any problem and can possibly add to the problem. The AKC has extensive information on why pet limit laws are not that effective.

My main concern has to do with an apparent existing law, "It allows an officer to enter a person's property without a warrant or even probable cause to ensure the animal control laws are being followed. Even if its just to check an animal's registration, an officer has the authority to enter private property without permission, Dunn said." Dunn is a City of Alcoa Police Captain.

City of Alcoa pet owners beware! Apparently law enforcement officers can enter your residence without a warrant or probable cause. It appears to me this is unconstitutional, but what do I know. It sure is hard to interpret citizen's rights these days.

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Fri
Jan 12 2007
05:11 pm

I'm blogging from the 6th floor of the City County Building where people are gathered for the anticipated mayoral news conference about the Supreme Court decision. Most talk has centered on the issues related to what is meant by serve until their replacements are named. I'm pushing for a quick, public, and open process. Let's get these offices and office seekers before voters as soon as possible. --Mark Harmon

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Fri
Jan 12 2007
03:39 pm

Stamina, that's one element to preserving a neighborhood. Fifteen Metropolitan Planning Commissioners meet once a month to vote on the fate of tracts of land around the City of Knoxville and Knox County. These individuals are appointed by the City (7) and County (8). They perform their task free of charge.

Rezoning applications (primarily developers) and rezoning opponents (primarily private citizens) sit around waiting for their agenda item to be called for review. The MPC staff (paid employees) have already spent time reviewing the rezoning requests and submitted their recommendations, approve or deny. In this session, it was very rare for the MPC to vary from the staff recommendations. This was my first MPC meeting, so I have no idea if this is the norm. Our group was one of the lucky ones.

Residents of Lakemoor, Timberlake, and Maloney Road West of Alcoa Highway stood up and were heard. Approximately 10-15 residents attended the meeting. Four residents spoke in opposition. Most of the people attending in opposition to this rezoning request arrived around 1:30PM. The rezoning agenda item #81 was heard at approximately 6:45PM, over 5 hours of waiting. Based on previous Agenda Minutes (available on-line), this was the longest MPC meeting since 2/2006 (maybe longer, no earlier agenda minutes were on-line).

More after the jump...

Continued...

185
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Fri
Jan 12 2007
02:41 pm

Placeholder for discussion of erupting news due out at 3:00 PM. If ny sources are at any meetings or pronouncements and want to phone in a play-by-play let me know and I'll live blog it.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Michael Silence reports that the word around the KNS newsroom is term limits are valid, and they apply to everybody. Developing....

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that the Knox County Charter is INVALID (but in force), and term limits are VALID. Full text of the ruling here. More as events unfold...

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The Beanster reports that County Mayor Ragsdale will hold a news conference at 4 PM. General consensus at the moment is that the ruling means all term limited officials (including the Sheriff) must be replaced.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: The Knoxville News Sentinel files this report:

Sheriff Tim Hutchison, eight of 19 county commissioners and other officeholders must leave office under a ruling issued today by the Tennessee Supreme Court.

The court upheld two-term limits approved by voters in 1994 for all government officials except court clerks and school board members. Politicians who have served more than two terms therefore must leave office.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: From a comment by CL below on replacement of term limited officials:

"Article VII, section 2 provides that “[v]acancies in county offices shall be filled by the county legislative body, and any person so appointed shall serve until his successor is elected at the next election occurring after the vacancy is qualified.” See State ex rel. Winstead v. Moody, 596 S.W.2d 811, 812 (Tenn. 1980)."

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: From the KNS report cited above on the Knox County officials affected by the ruling:

Affected officeholders include [Sheriff Tim] Hutchison, Register of Deeds Steve Hall, Trustee Mike Lowe, County Clerk Mike Padgett and commissioners Mark Cawood, John Griess, John Mills, Diane Jordan, Larry Clark, Billy Tindell, Phil Guthe and John Schmid.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: By way of KAG in comments, WBIR files this report with interpretation of the replacement process.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Betty Bean files this report from the scene of County Mayor Ragsdale's press conference (or more accurately on her way to the Bistro with Frank Cagle after the press conference, with apologies if I misquoted her):

- No time frame has been set for appointing new officials to replace term-limited officeholders, but the intent is "sooner rather than later."

- There is some question as to the order of the appointments, i.e. all at once or County Commission first. The thinking is that it is appropriate for County Commission to appoint the new County Commission and let them appoint the other replacement officeholders.

- Rumor is that outgoing commissioners have already lined up political allies or relatives as successors. It is also believed that there are already deals in place to replace Democrats with Democrats and Republicans with Republicans.

- Mayor Ragsdale had his personal attorney Bud Gilbert at his side instead of Knox County Law Director John Ownings.

- The biggest dogfight will revolve around replacing Sheriff Tim Hutchison. The two names that have surfaced as leading contenders are JJ Jones and Tom Spangler, with Spangler possibly having the better shot.

Betty Bean will have lots more with full and complete coverage in the upcoming Halls Shopper.

BREAKING NEWS UPDATE: Knox County Administrator of Elections Greg Mackay says that the August 8th August 2008 election would be the "the next election occurring after the vacancy is qualified" mentioned in state law re. filling vacancies. Meaning that officeholders appointed to fill vacancies created by the term-limits ruling would presumably hold office until then, and then there would be an election.

COUNTY MAYOR REACTION: Message from the office of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, text of Mayor Ragsdale's remarks at yesterday's press conference.

BLOG COVERAGE: Michael Silence, Terry Frank, Linda Noe, Scott Emge,, David Oatney, Gene Patterson, CE Petro, Brian Hornback. And over at the Blab. BONUS: County Commissioner Mark Harmon blogs from the Sixth Floor.

SATURDAY LOCAL MEDIA ROUNDUP: Knoxville News Sentinel here and here, WATE, WBIR, WVLT.

BACKGROUND: Previous articles and discussion of charter and term limits controversy at KnoxViews.

Summary of ruling:

"In this expedited appeal, the primary issue presented for review is whether Knox County, Tennessee, has a valid governmental charter. A secondary issue is whether a term limits amendment to the county charter should be applied and, if so, to which of the elected county officials. We hold that while Knox County failed to comply with the enabling legislation for instituting a charter form of government, since September 1, 1990, Knox County has been governed under a de facto charter with a county mayor, county commissioners, and other de facto officers. For the reasons set out in this opinion, it is our conclusion that the term limits amendment meets due process guidelines and applies to all elected Knox County Government officials except for the court clerks and the school board member, each of whom is protected by either the state constitution or statute. The judgment of the Knox County Chancery Court, which invalidated both the charter and the amendment, is therefore affirmed in part and reversed in part."

227
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Fri
Jan 12 2007
02:23 pm
By: WhitesCreek  shortURL

This old boy is a friend of mine.

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Fri
Jan 12 2007
01:23 pm

Remember a while back when I talked to Atmos meter reader Laura Snyder about her Segway? Well, today she showed up with her boss and a video crew to make a video for their employees about meter readers on Segways in Blount Co. They wanted to film it at our house and for me to be in it.

Apparently it's for a quarterly company-wide employee broadcast that features different divisions and things going on in the company. The theme was "Spirit of Service". Laura rolls up, and we have a short conversation about the Segway and I ask her if I can ride it and she says no, only trained employees are allowed to ride them but there are openings for meter readers if I'm interested. There was a script and everything, but we mostly blew it off. We got it after about five takes due to problems with the wireless mics.


Getting wired

More photos after the jump...

Continued...

16
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Fri
Jan 12 2007
11:18 am

The Sandhill Cranes are arriving at the Hiwassee Wildlife Refuge (map in PDF format) on their way to Florida from their summer breeding grounds in Wisconsin and points further north in Canada. We ditched work Wednesday afternoon and went down to see them.

TWRA will host the 15th Annual Cherokee Indian Heritage and Sandhill Crane Viewing Days at the Hiwassee Refuge on Feb. 3 and 4, 2007. Bill Lishman of Operation Migration will be the keynote speaker.

You can go any time between now and then (we had the refuge viewing platform to ourselves on Wednesday afternoon) and see plenty of cranes. There will likely be more cranes and they will be closer to the viewing area during the festival when they cut the corn fields to draw them in. For best viewing from the platform, take a good pair of binoculars (and a long telephoto lens if you want pictures).

You may also be able to get a closer look along Blythe Ferry Road. We happened along a large gathering in a cut corn field and were able to get a close-up view.

We didn't see any Whooping Cranes, but there are reports that three have been spotted among the Sandhills.

Directions: I-75 South to Exit 27, right/West on Sgt. Paul Huff Memorial Highway to Highway 60, right/North on Highway 60 to Highway 58, right/North on Highway 58 to Blythe Ferry Rd., left/West on Blythe Ferry Rd. to Priddy Rd., right/North on Priddy Rd. to the viewing area. The route is well marked with signs along the way. (If you're coming from the South, take exit 25 and go North on Highway 58.)

Photos after the jump...

Continued...

54
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Fri
Jan 12 2007
09:39 am

The upcoming meeting dates for the Knoxville Asperger Support Group are:

  • January 22, 2007 (Please note this is the 4th Monday, not the 3rd, as the library is closed on January 15th)
  • February 19, 2007
  • March 19, 2007
  • April 16, 2007
  • May 21, 2007

The support group has a Yahoo Group which can be found on http://groups.yahoo.com/ by searching for Knoxville_Aspie_Support. It meets the third Monday of every month unless there is a conflict or holiday (such as this month) at the West Branch of the Knoxville Public Library (map) at 100 Golfclub Rd from 6pm to 7:30pm.

17
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Thu
Jan 11 2007
09:55 pm
By: rikki  shortURL

The Wall Street Journal ran an interesting article on earmarks on Dec. 26. It's interesting partially for what it says about earmarks and partially for what it says about the WSJ.

More...

Continued...

4
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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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