Sat
Feb 3 2007
08:14 pm

I have been overwhelmed with kind words and expressions of support since Monday’s forum and Wednesday’s county commission meeting. Please let me take this opportunity to thank all of those persons for being active citizens and demanding better government, one that is accountable and responsible, as well as open and honest. We all may come up short on some occasions, but it is nice to be recognized for trying to move in the proper direction.

The hundreds of posts on the commission’s actions, expressed in several threads, almost always have been informed and polite. I have learned from them and thank the authors, though I do want to address certain points:

1) The Forum. I called all eight candidates for the second district position. Seven showed up, and all did well. Regrettably, the commission chose the one candidate who did not show or participate in much public process. Charles Bolus was co-treasurer of Chairman Scott Moore’s campaign and has a rather thin resume beyond his assistant principal duties at Gresham Middle.

2) Operation of the Forum. The thirteen commissioners who attended were invited to sit on the stage and take notes. Several did. Some chose to remain in the audience or the back of the room. I followed the same procedure for all contests, one I announced in advance on several listserves and this blog: three-minute speeches from candidates followed by audience questions. For the second district and county-wide seats we went in alphabetical order. When I called the other districts to the stage, they sorted themselves out as to who went first, etc. The timekeeper was a volunteer with the League of Women Voters. Generally candidates kept to the time; I recall only three incidents when I asked them to wrap up—and in each case the Stop card had been up and swinging. Two volunteers from the mayor’s office helped me identify raised hands during the early Q&A periods. This became unnecessary as the forum progressed. The questions were few, but generally direct and revealing. We shortened the time to minute-and-a-half speeches for the other districts, and still just barely kept the forum under three hours in length.

3) The Preference Poll at the Forum. No one had advance notice of my intent to do this. The only clue to anyone was my very open advocacy for a non-binding referendum as a way to squeeze greater public input into commission’s process. A commission secretary helped me photocopy it, sometime between 3:30 and 3:45 the day of the forum. I still wasn’t certain I’d use it, but when the forum began it looked like I had just enough volunteers to distribute it so I decided to do so. Two volunteers with LWV tallied the results at the end of the forum. I sent those results to this blog, several listservs, and news organizations—all with stated cautions about the reliability and value of the measure, and noting that other factors such as candidate qualifications and quality of responses should play a role in decision making. Most respondents were from the second district and most followed the directions to indicate a preference only in their own district and the county-wide offices. Some did mark in more than one commission district, accounting for an overall number that initially seems larger than the attendance (if one were to add all votes cast for commission candidates together, as one sharp-eyed blogger apparently did).

4) The Votes on Wednesday. I followed a pattern of nominating and sticking with the candidate of my choice until that candidate was eliminated. Then I’d go to my highest-rated choice left in the field. In the clash in the Fourth District, my choice was Elaine Davis, but the options narrowed down to a less-than-appealing choice between developer Scott Davis and sheriff-envoy Lee Tramel. I opted for Scott Davis only because of his public vow only to serve the interim period until the election. The 9-9 deadlock on this set off waves of re-votes and recesses. I thought of passing because I did not like the choices, but could not in good conscience switch one candidate to the other. During one break I met Bolus for the first time and was underwhelmed. Our district’s reward for the noble behavior of not dealing to swing another district (also see the newspaper article on Jonathan Wimmer’s refusal to deal) was the Bolus ascendance--which succeeded after likely arm-twisting and the selective swearing-in plan later used. It should be noted that my first choice, Amy Broyles, was still on the table when the pressured switches to Bolus began. Even if I’d abandoned past practice and cast a vote for Wimmer (and somehow Schmid’s vote followed me) that would not have gotten him to ten; and by then both those choices were verboten because they didn’t advance the apparent “you’re in, but you must be sworn in early and break the tie in our favor” plan.

5) The Days to Come. The past few days have seen many more disturbing revelations about some of the commission’s choices and practices. I hope we can keep the conversations focused not on personal attacks on the people, but the repugnant procedures and poor policy choices made. I encourage people to contact the County Commission office (commission@knoxcounty.org, 215-2534), to sign up for the public comments section, and to show up at the next meeting (Feb. 26th, 2pm). Find and support good candidates. Point out when commission violates the spirit and possibly the letter of any law or our newly approved ethics code.

Sorry for the long post, but there was a lot to cover. –Mark Harmon

152
like

The Blount Co. Mayor knows how to deal with annoying citizens who think they ought to have a say in public affairs.

This is the same guy who wanted to ban the public from addressing county commission meetings and now wants cameras removed, and who wouldn't debate his opponent in the last election.

He's a real statesman.

UPDATE: SayUncle has a different term for "statesman." He's also ready to head down there with his "red Sharpie."

90
like

I was looking through the paper this morning and I saw that the owner of American Accessories had a statement published addressing this issue.

The article is in response to a previous News Sentinel article regarding the city workshop in which this issue was discussed. Also, noticed he published an email address in which to be contacted about this issue.

FROM: The Knoxville News Sentinel:

Company standing firm on bus transfer site
By ERIC ZEANAH, AAI-KAT@aai-tenn.com
February 3, 2007

Writing on the building process of the new bus center in the Jan. 26 story, "Council unenthused about bus center site," the News Sentinel states, "That delay is Eric Zeanah," in reference to the desire of Jeff Galyon to expedite the approval process.

If I may, I would like to clarify the reasons for my persistent stand.

[Ed. note: read the rest at the link above.]

55
like
Sat
Feb 3 2007
08:58 am

All 18 endangered young whooping cranes that were led south from Wisconsin last fall as part of a project to create a second migratory flock of the birds were killed in storms in Florida, a spokesman said.

19 people died, many homes destroyed, Florida has had a bad couple of years.

52
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
10:05 pm

This is my last post for a while.I'm not mad.I want to reflect on what has come out today.I did not talk to any of the commissioners aboat the appointments.I thought they were hearing enough noise & I didn't want to add to the volume.I have known former Commissioner Diane Jordan for many years.I do not know Commissioner Josh Jordan.The Bible speaks of the power of redemption:"Bless the Lord;who redeems your life from the Pit" & forgiveness:"For if you forgive men their trespasses,your heavenly Father will also forgive you."I pray that Josh has left behind the sins of his youth.Right now,the words of John Lennon come to mind "See how they smile like pigs in a sty..I'm crying"

50
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
09:54 pm

Word is that ex-County Commissioner John Mills is going to work for Ragsdale.

52
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
07:49 pm

Man, the crap is flying faster than feathers at a Newport cockfight. I hope the late Friday bad news cycle is over and things will settle down*.

We've got backroom deals, strong-arm tactics, nepotism, double-reverse patronage, sex, drugs -- the only thing missing is... cockfighting!

OK, then.

(*Oops. Guess not. Just saw Mark Harmon's post at the same time as this one. Looks like there will be more drama this weekend.)

56
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
07:48 pm

County Commission's actions certainly will get some TV attention this weekend.

DTV tonight will be a live show. I will be hosting as usual. The program is from 9:30 to 10:30 pm. Sharon Cawood is confirmed as a guest; others are possible. Call-in questions welcome, 215-2288.

WBIR's Inside Tennessee (the station's website indicates it airs at 9:30 a.m. Sunday with likely replays on the Ten News 2 channel). It taped Thursday night. First segment: Commissioners Greg Lambert and R. Larry Smith and former commissioner John Greiss. Second segment: Randy Tyree and Me, as you might expect I blast the process followed by the commission. Third Segment: Sharon Cawood, Sherry Witt.

WATE's Tennessee This Week. The station website indicates Noon airing, and streaming video likely earlier on the station website. Guests include: Commissioners R. Larry Smith and Greg Lambert, as well as Amy Broyles.

--Mark Harmon

54
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
07:33 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Sheriff Tim Hutchison gave out pay raises of up to 22% "just five days after learning that the state Supreme Court's term limits decision meant he would soon be forced from office."

But wait, there's more. The report confirms that term limited commissioner Mark Cawood was hired by newly appointed Sheriff J.J. Jones the day after Cawood voted to appoint Jones. It also says that Cawood first talked to the Sheriff's department about a position last fall, and that a Sheriff's department spokesperson says Hutchison hired him two weeks ago.

237
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
07:25 pm

The spirits are about to speak. I don't have the sources that Betty does for her prognostications (thank you Firefox 2 for that spell checker), but I will make this prediction anyway. After wading through the maze of threads related to the rape that occurred this week, I will predict here and now that Knox County will adopt Diebold voting machines before the next election. Surely that will be the only way these rascals can retain their ill-gotten seats.

Of course the fact that practically nobody bothers to vote may help them a little, too.

55
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
06:59 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

In 2004, a federal jury awarded $250,000 to a woman who "alleged she was fired after ending a consensual romantic relationship with the nursing home’s owner." The owner listed in the case is Richard Cate. Is this the same newly appointed Knox County Commissioner Richard Cate? Details of the case can be found here (pg. 7, "Sexual Harassment").

282
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
05:22 pm

The Orlando Sentinel has dramatic photos of the devastation left behind by tornadoes that ripped through Central Florida early this AM. Here's the wire report.

Michael Silence's in-laws live in one of the hardest hit neighborhoods. Thankfully he reports they are OK, but he is not sure about damage to their home.

Topics:
49
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
05:16 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

"At least two commissioners who voted for him said they didn’t know about Jordan’s past Wednesday but hope he’s put it behind him.

Here is the court document referenced in the article.

214
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
05:07 pm

I think we all need a diversion. How about stupid people from somewhere else? How about Portland? I am not sure even Knoxville drivers are this bad in snow.

Hat tip to Brittney at NiT.

51
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
04:34 pm

From a comment below, WBIR reports "New Knox County Trustee Fred Sisk announced Friday that [former Trustee Mike] Lowe will remain on staff as Deputy Trustee. Lowe will replace Sisk, who was making $75,000 annually for the same job."

243
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
12:56 pm

You may have noticed that on active topics with lots of comments (such as the commission meeting live blog post) clicking the new comments link under "latest comments" doesn't take you to the new comments, but instead to the first page of comments for that thread.

Here's a workaround. At the bottom of any post with comments, you should see a "comment viewing options" tool. Set the number of comments to be displayed per page to the max (300), or some number greater than the number of comments in the thread, and click "save settings".

This should show all comments on one page, and take you to the "new" comments if you use the latest comments link.

Topics:
59
like
Fri
Feb 2 2007
12:20 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Expect some news over the next few days regarding some commissioners appointed this week and back taxes, and maybe some other things. And don't forget Pinkston saying he couldn't support a nominee who had outstanding taxes.

It doesn't appear County Commission went to much effort to vet the nominees or do much in the way of due diligence. All of this would have been aired if there had been a special election, or at least an official series of public meetings.

234
like

City of Alcoa Resident Alert!
Animal Ordinance Proposed Changes before City Commission
February 13th, 2007, 7PM, at the City of Alcoa Municipal Building, 223 Associates Boulevard, Alcoa, TN

Please attend.

** UPDATE: The City of Alcoa has graciously considered our suggested changes to the ordinance and is making changes to better meet the needs of a progressive community. Attendance may not be required, except to thank them.

Read more about the opposition and suggested changes after the jump..

Continued...

Upcoming events:

Lost Medicaid Funding

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

TN Progressive

TN Politics

Local Media Blogs

Local News

News Sentinel

State News

Wire Reports

Site Statistics

Last 7 days:
  • Posts: 23
  • Comments: 248
  • Visits: 10,657
  • Pageviews: 24,335
Last 30 days:
  • Posts: 95
  • Comments: 1231
  • Visits: 42,709
  • Pageviews: 104,693

TN Progressive

Nearby:

Beyond:

At large: