Jul 7 2013
06:37 am

So, who should be chosen as Knox County's next Trustee? A caretaker? Someone with aspirations to run? An insider? Outsider? Politician? Banker? Jack McElroy weighs in (with a backhand to a couple of possibilities). (link...)

I'm interested in a discussion of the candidates and selection process.

Mdonila's picture

I wrote this story days ago,

I wrote this story days ago, and have since put up several blog posts or at the Porch.


Mike Cohen's picture

To Donila...

Dude...posting here is your idea of a vacation?

Mike Cohen's picture


While your idea may make a lot of sense, I don't believe that is something Knox County can unilaterally do. It's a constitutional office.

And remember, by law the Trustee handles the money until it is distributed to government agencies. So for periods of time, say a month, that office controls a lot of money. Not sure the citizenry would want the decision about how that money is handled outsourced to a bank.

It absolutely could be a function of the Finance Department under the Mayor, who is obviously elected.

But all that would require a constitutional change, I'm told, and doesn't seem likely.

Mike Cohen's picture

Fee offices

I'm probably with you on consolidating the fee offices.

But your suggestion of jailing the Haslam's couldn't be more off base.

I'm not sure much good has happened in this town in the last 40 years without the active support, financial and otherwise, of the Haslam family.

Mike Cohen's picture


You are simply someone who hates the rich and want to believe they are evil no matter what. People they don't agree with your view don't have a different view, they are evil.

It's sad because you have a great mind but on some matters it is incredibly small.

Roscoe Persimmon's picture

Much of the bad can be placed with Haslam as well

Lamar Alexander, President of the University of Tennessee, following by a trio of incompetent presidents, boobs, stooges, and embarrassments to the University; loss of the Knoxville minor league baseball team to Sevierville only to have them purchase it after the new stadium made sense after all; support for an unneeded and overpriced Knoxville Convention Center; refusal to locate their offices downtown, but supporting crass politicians which spend tens of millions in public money trying to redevelop downtown as a business destination, installing Mike Edwards as the chairman of the SuperChamber and the Development Corporation, and . . . well . . . . we continue to watch other communities attract and relocate good jobs and good employers to their communities adding additional businesses to their communities which can make a difference. Maybe that is what the Haslam's prefer, the size of the pie to remain the same or possibly shrink, who knows.

Rachel's picture

I'm not sure much good has

I'm not sure much good has happened in this town in the last 40 years without the active support, financial and otherwise, of the Haslam family.

Well, I can think of a FEW things. And a few dogs, including at least one UT President and the Convention Center (which I keep suggesting be officially named after Victor and Big Jim, but somehow nobody wants to take me up on that :) ) And then there's the current St. John's mess, which doesn't appear too community-minded.

Look, the Haslams are well known for their philanthropy. And it's no secret I was (am, I hope) on good terms with Bill & considered him a good Mayor (although I've been a lot less happy with his performance as governor).

But that doesn't mean that they're not capable of doing bad things as well. We don't know how the Pilot/Flying J thing is going to come out yet.

I do know that nobody should get a free pass when it comes to the law because of their last name.

Mike Cohen's picture



I reacted to the statement that the Haslams, plural, should be put in jail.

I see an investigation involving a grand total of one person. One.

As you put it, their philanthropy is well known. Nobody deserves a pass on anything just because of that, but they do deserve some credit. And which you give.

Andy Axel's picture


bizgrrl's picture

But your suggestion of

But your suggestion of jailing the Haslam's couldn't be more off base.

I'm not sure much good has happened in this town in the last 40 years without the active support, financial and otherwise, of the Haslam family.

That doesn't bode well for Knoxville.

If there is a crime that calls for incarceration, someone who has big bucks should not go to jail?

Southern Able's picture

I hear Brian Hornback's name being kicked around

The name I keep hearing being mentioned is Brian Hornback. He is someone with both the business experience and political experience we need. Politically, he has been a leader both for the Republican Party and was an instrumental leader on the Knox County school board. He has a far greater understanding of finances then Baby Duncan ever had. Mr. Hornback is a well respected leader in the Primerica Financial Service industry. When it comes to integrity, honesty, and respect...well with the exception of his recent personal issue of whatever happened in private... he has been an outstanding member of the community. Sure, people might remember this post right smack here (link...) or the Tyler thing... But in the end, Brian is the Elliot Ness of Knox County! He does not bow down to anyone! He has time and again been spot on with his sources (especially when Tim has Gris tip him off...(thanks Knoxnews for the Open Records Act which shows us they email each other almost 1,000 times) But we need a Rogue! We need someone who is not an insider. We need someone who has never taken a government job (he was elected not handed a position, we need someone with his passion, commitment, and dedication towards making Knox County, an honest town!

redmondkr's picture

I seem to recall that the

I seem to recall that the Knox County Republicans didn't fare very well financially during his tenure.

Nelle's picture

thanks for the laugh this morning, Abel

I sure needed it.

Bbeanster's picture

"When it comes to integrity,

"When it comes to integrity, honesty, and respect...well with the exception of his recent personal issue of whatever happened in private... he has been an outstanding member of the community. "

I presume this is a reference to the widely-circulated email written by his former BFF Bill Phillips accusing Hornback of, well, something pretty ugly?
That of course came after Hornback got butt-whipped for state executive committee.
I would hope a college degree would be one of the minimum requirements for this job.

reform4's picture

Please don't do that...

... I laughed so hard I snorted scotch out of my nose and that BURNS. Ouch.

FocuslyFocused 's picture

SouthernAble is DA, not

SouthernAble is DA, not dumba$$ but initials of a picture taker

Bbeanster's picture

Wow. If you are right, that's

If you are right, that's not a good career move for the picture taker.

Tamara Shepherd's picture


But we need a Rogue! We need someone who is not an insider. We need someone who has never taken a government job (he was elected not handed a position, we need someone with his passion, commitment, and dedication towards making Knox County, an honest town!

Every now and then, the Trustee might need to issue a press release of some sort.

Don't we also need someone who can write a grammatically correct sentence?

And remember how Brian earned that "318" handle?

Local Citizen's picture


"The name I keep hearing being mentioned is Brian Hornback"


Andy Axel's picture

The Truth Squat is always

The Truth Squat is always with us.

ShockAndAwe's picture


IF appointed or elected I will not serve. hanks Lyndon B. Johnson for that quote. It speaks for me today.

Local Citizen's picture

Sherman quote?

The term derives from the Sherman pledge, a remark made by American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman when he was being considered as a possible Republican candidate for the presidential election of 1884. He declined, saying, "I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected."

President Lyndon B. Johnson famously invoked the pledge in his March 31, 1968, national address announcing that he would not seek a second full term, saying "I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

ShockAndAwe's picture


Thanks for the history lesson, I was 2 in 1968. I am glad you remember the 1884 pledge.

Local Citizen's picture

You are welcome

You are welcome. I am not as concerned about your lack of knowledge about history as I am about the history you have made.

ShockAndAwe's picture

it seems

a lot of folks are interested in all things Brian Hornback, it is appreciated as the blog is gaining advertisers all the time.

what about the author of this thread throwing his name in the hat for Trustee, he worked there for awhile. So, he has experience. I have stated I have no interest in it. How about Chadwick B Tindell?

Mike Cohen's picture


I was wrong about abolishing the office.

Someone who knows sent me a message correcting me.

Apparently, given that we are a Charter County, we could in fact do away with the office.

I apologize for posting something that was wrong.


R. Neal's picture

Actually state courts have

Actually state courts have ruled both ways on this.

Earlier they said home rule charters could not eliminate the offices because they are spelled out in the state constitution.

In the Knox Co. term limits lawsuit, they said the offices could be eliminated as long as somebody was made responsible for performing equivalent functions.

No telling what they would rule if somebody tried it and a fee office holder sued to stop it.

Anyway, I agree with Metulj. All these offices should be eliminated, along with sheriff.

R. Neal's picture

I am advised by Scott Barker

I am advised by Scott Barker at the KNS via email that it was a lower court ruling that local charters could not eliminate fee offices, but it was the state Supreme Court that ruled they can be eliminated in the term limits case, thus overriding the lower court ruling so it is now the law of the land.

Rachel's picture

ok, CBT asked for serious

ok, CBT asked for serious discussion. Hornback ain't it.

I basically favor appointing a caretaker, and as best I can see, Sisk might be the best for that.

If Commission wants to appoint somebody who's going to run, then they should choose Ed Shouse, who would bring both professionalism and integrity to the office.

I hear R. Larry wants it. Ummm, no.

(And I agree with metulj; I'd love to see the fee offices go away. However, I acknowledge how difficult politically that would be to make happen.)

Local Citizen's picture

Getting worst!

Might as well have Bornback. Time for a change. New blood is needed in Knox County and the city government. None of the names being kicked around should be considered because for any of them to even be mention means they are connected to the political cesspool.

SnM's picture

Sisk is a bad idea, even if

Sisk is a bad idea, even if he promises he'll only suck on the government teat for a little while. His ties to the Lowe Trusteeship ought to disqualify him immediately.

Anybody currently in office needs to disavow interest. If they express interest, by definition, they don't need to be in the pool.

And anybody still angling to be influential in their precious political party ought to as well. A true, nonpartisan caretaker is needed so the true party hacks can fight over the real election smorgasbord, not this little morsel.

Rachel's picture

Victor is putting Tommy

Victor is putting Tommy Schumpert's name forward in his Shopper-News column (sorry, too lazy to go get the link). Haven't heard that Schumpert is interested, but he'd certainly be a good pick.

ShockAndAwe's picture

Oh, Rachel

they love me. They gotta talk about me and distract frrom any real discussion. But here is that rare ocaasion where you and I agree. Carry on, Rachel

Local Citizen's picture


"Anyway, I agree with Metulj. All these offices should be eliminated, along with sheriff."

Yea, let's just do away with all elective offices and let everyone be appointed! What an original idea. Hey, wait a second. Isn't that the way the communist do it?

Tamara Shepherd's picture



CBT's picture

No, I'm not throwing my hat

No, I'm not throwing my hat in the ring. Though, I could do a good job. I know the office pretty well, the good and bad. In 2 years, I increased delinquent tax collections $8 million (that's more than half an elementary school), organized and lead a statewide association of tax attorneys and collectors (which passed huge tax sale reform bill in Nashville this past session) and changed the way Knox Co sells tax sale property (to improve vacant and blighted properties). Not much of that made the news. But, I digress...

You can talk all you want about changing the Charter and appointing these offices. It won't happen. It's not because it's not an idea which merits discussion. It won't pass the voters.

Let's stay in the present. Commission has an appointment to make. And, voters will elect someone next year. What qualifications should they look for? Who should get it?

Local Citizen's picture

Tell us

Inform us, in your opinion, what qualification(s) they should look for in a potential trustee and the major changes that should be made in the office.

Rachel's picture

The biggest talking pt would

The biggest talking pt would be "you're taking away our right to vote." Never mind that most people (including me) have no idea how to judge whether candidates are qualified to be property assessor or law director or county clerk. Never mind that it makes more sense for these to be appointed officials chosen for their qualifications who are answerable to the County Executive (sorry, but I despise the term "County Mayor" - it makes no sense).

That will be their story and they will stick to it. That and they don't trust the County Executive to make the appts.

Chad is right about this one. Just another of the many disfunctionalities of Knox County govt that aren't going away anytime soon.

SnM's picture

"...maybe in a way that's the

"...maybe in a way that's the key to the paradox: If you expect government to be terrible, then terrible government is a sort of comforting confirmation of your worldview...

"...Based on the yammerings of the yammerers for keeping the 'independence' of the fief offices, it would appear that that the sense is that electing these offices directly makes them more accountable to the pebble's will.

"If they can choose each of these officers individually, then that helps ease the fear of the terrifying, overarching, big-brother super-centralized gov. That seems to be the knee that's jerking.

"...this way the people are free to choose the balkanized, greedy, overpriced and inefficient fiefdom overlords that rule them.

"freedom's just another word...for something worse to choose..."

Law-Abiding Citizen's picture

Qualifications for temp Trustee

Here's my list:

1. no criminal record
2. no involvement in any local scandals
3. a non-politician (you can grandstand next year)
4. somebody who knows how to run a collections office

There are probably at least 10,000 people in Knox County who have these credentials. KNS has given us our 4 choices in articles over the weekend and all of them don't fit the first 3 qualifications that I've listed. Since this will be a political appointment by a political body, we can be assured that it will come down to getting the next-to-be-groomed candidate in the office temporarily for whatever party is currently holding the most cards. Most likely this temporary officeholder will not have the experience necessary to do their job and will let the office run itself while squandering taxpayers money and time. If we're lucky, they may even appoint one of their own GOB's so that we can watch the trainwreck slowly unfold in the newspapers over the next couple of years again as we have for the past 10 years.

p.s. - Wouldn't it be great to know the specifics of the on-going criminal cases against the Trustee's office workers before selecting a replacement boss crook?

CBT's picture

I would add a college degree

I would add a college degree and some experience in finance and/or accounting, investments, banking and real property.

The Trustee's office does far more than collect taxes. It works hand in hand with the Finance Department to account for funds and the Assessor's office. It also invests the county's money while it sits 'idle' and works with local banks to hold those significant funds.

The Trustee's office is also responsible for the nuts and bolts work for tax sales and the eventual sale of property purchased at tax sales.

CBT's picture

Why it won't pass... The bulk

Why it won't pass...

The bulk of voters who go to the polls are likely (frequent) voters. So, you're trying to convince people who diligently vote to 'vote not to vote' for certain offices. These people obviously believe voting is important.

There are about 180,000 people inside the city. 230,000 in the county. I am probably off some. But, 'the city does it' isn't much of a sell in the county. It won't be universally popular in either. But, more likely to be unpopular in the county. The county has more votes.

There will be political forces against it. Some will view it as putting more power in the hands of a few, a Mayor or eleven commissioners.

Consolidated government has failed miserably each time, despite all the arguments of how much better it would be. Changing county offices to appointments is a much more difficult sale.

CBT's picture

This is off topic, but I do

This is off topic, but I do wish commenters would use their real names instead of anonymous screen names. Some do. All should.

redmondkr's picture



Bird_dog's picture


allows for discussion of personal situations - like mental illness and incarceration of a family member - without violating the trust of confidence by that member. Not saying that's my situation, but the safety center is a very personal issue for me. Otherwise, I would be Judy B, your old friend who made you into a verb, as in "to be chadded" :)

CBT's picture

Victor weighs in for

Victor weighs in for Schumpert on page A-4. Schumpert is a good man. (link...)

One issue a 'caretaker' (and Commission) will have is what changes will they make? Will they make significant staff changes? In other words, what potentially 'permanent' changes would they make. Would they continue using the law director's office for delinquent tax work? Would they close satellites? Hire friends? There are lots of possible changes.

sclark426's picture

R. Larry is out

R. Larry Smith says he won't seek the appointment or run for the office of Trustee in 2014. Our brief interview is on A1 in various editions of Shopper News. -- s.

Rachel's picture

Thanks for the update. I

Thanks for the update. I always check out the online version of the Shopper on Sunday evenings - but usually only the columns, not the articles, so I missed this one.

Local Citizen's picture


He must have another office on his mind. Guess which one.

Pam Strickland's picture

That's about KUB and tree

That's about KUB and tree cutting.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, it was a link from last

Yes, it was a originally an on-topic link from a week ago. Maybe you missed it then?

Anyway, as mentioned today on another discussion and previously, Halls Shopper links become unrelated to the then current discussion after a week because of how their website works.

Maybe you could talk to your buds at Scripps about fixing that?

Pam Strickland's picture

I would think that the

I would think that the Shoppers buds at Scripps would be the folks who should fix it, not my buds. In case you hadn't noticed, my buds are at a different publication.

R. Neal's picture

OK, then. Thanks for the

OK, then. Thanks for the info. Guess I was confused about the local Scripps publisher's role in overseeing the local Scripps publications.

Pam Strickland's picture

No, you were confused about

No, you were confused about my influence over the local Scripps publisher. I write remotely and have never even exchanged so much as an email with the publisher. I deal with an editor of another publication, which is where I am contracted. And have no dealings with the other Scripps publications.

It's my understanding that the various Scripps publications in town are editorially independent, and that would include in how their websites are managed.

Your comment was misdirected and you knew that. If you have a problem with Shopper's website, you should complain to them yourself. And stop posting links that you know aren't going to be evergreen.

EconGal's picture

Some advice to R Neal

And stop posting links that you know aren't going to be evergreen.

R. Neal,

You will be pleased and relieved to know that I give you permission to post anything you damn well please on your own website.

R. Neal's picture

KNS says six have applied...

R. Neal's picture

Donila has resumes, and says

Donila has resumes, and says Shouse is running:


(Apparently he's working harder while on vacation than the KNS staff on the job. Heh.)

Rachel's picture

Shouse is running in the next

Shouse is running in the next election, but hasn't applied for the interim appt.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, that's what Donila said,

Yes, that's what Donila said.

cwg's picture

the KNS had the

the KNS had the as-yet-submitted resumes in today's paper. But maybe you don't read it anymore bc they just never report anything?

R. Neal's picture

Didn't see them when I looked

Didn't see them when I looked earlier. My apologies to the Scripps rapid response blog monitor team.

EDIT: just looked again, didn't see any resumes. Did I miss something?

Factchecker's picture

Go ON!

I had no idea this thread would be so entertaining.

R. Neal's picture

Donila: Knox Trustee

Donila: Knox Trustee applicants now up to 12

Applicants include Fred Sisk and Bill Curtis...

mwester37922's picture


The Nepotism Policy clearly states that Commission can't appoint, advocate or hire relatives, but could that be construed that they couldn't appoint themselves?

Sec. 2-5. - Nepotism.

No elected or appointed official or employee of the county shall advocate, recommend, supervise, manage or cause the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement of his or her relative to an office or position of employment within the county government.

Rachel's picture

Perhaps the two Commissioner

Perhaps the two Commissioner who have applied for this position will refrain from voting on who fills it?

mwester37922's picture

Can Shouse vote?

Rachel, do you think that Commissioner Shouse can vote or would he need to recuse himself from the vote because of conflict of interest?

And then if only 10 Commissioners can vote, what happens if they tie? Because I remember that on WBIR's "Inside Tennessee" which aired on 07/14/13, Commissioner Hammond stated that simple majority (6 votes) was all it took.

Rachel's picture

Commissioner Brown has also

Commissioner Brown has also applied.

I don't know if they have to recuse themeselves. Just wondering.

Guess that's a question for Bud Armstrong.

amybroyles's picture

That was a different Mike

That was a different Mike Brown, rather than the Commissioner. Out of 25 applicants, only 12 showed up to introduce themselves to the Commission, state why they are the best candidate, and answer questions. One of those was disqualified for not currently residing in Knox County, and one was the father of the candidate, who is out of town.

My understanding is that Ed Shouse will have to recuse himself.

Mustang Sally's picture


"My understanding is that Ed Shouse will have to recuse himself."

How can Ed Shouse apply for the interim Trustee office? The conflict of interest charter amendment we voted for in 2008 prohibits that.

Amy, would you vote for a sitting Commissioner after all the pain of Black Wednesday?

reform4's picture

My understanding...

.. from a very brief conversation with Ed is that he wouldn't continue to hold his Commission seat (and hence the suggestion that he wouldn't be just a caretaker, that he would probably want to run for the permanent position). I'm not speaking for Ed and can't say for sure, but that was the impression I got.

And, BTW, I think Ed would be an excellent choice, based on his experience and character. I'd hate to see him leave Commission, but he'd make a great Trustee.

In that case:
(1) He wouldn't vote on his own appointment, and might even recuse himself from voting on all appointees

(2) If he was appointed & resigned his Commission seat, CC would take applicants and vote to appoint his replacement on Commission for the remainder of his term.

But AFAIK, there's not a conflict of interest in applying.

mwester37922's picture


On Brian Hornback's blog,, he states that Frank Leuthold is Briggs' campaign manager and therefore creates a conflict for Briggs in the vote for Interim Trustee.

All Briggs needs to do is disclose the relationship prior to the discussion and the vote. Briggs obviously has confidence in Leuthold's integrity and financial acumen or he wouldn't have appointed Leuthold as his treasurer.

Have to agree with Betty Bean about "oneself". Can't get any more closely related than oneself.

reform4's picture

Eh, I still disagree

Have to agree with Betty Bean about "oneself". Can't get any more closely related than oneself.

I analyzed using the analogy of a private company. If a VP of IBM hires his son, daughter, or idiot son in law as HR director, or backs him as COO, that's clearly nepotism. Anyone will tell you that.

If that same VP finds that the COO position is suddenly open, and applies for that position (and will vacate his VP position if accepted), no one in the world would call that nepotism. He certainly knows people in the company, but we don't call that an unfair advantage against other applicants, because all applicants are reviewed and, supposedly, the one hired is hired based on his/her merits.

It's not nepotism.

And again, Shouse has a *disadvantage* from other applicants because is the ONLY applicant that can't lobby other Commissioners to vote for him. All the other applicants can talk to the Commissioners.

CLARIFICATION: I'm not going through all this because Ed would be my #1 pick. He's certainly qualified, and there are, fortunately, lots of good, qualified applicants we have to pick from. I think Bill would be a fine pick, too, and honestly, I'd have to say I'd prefer they appoint Bill and keep Ed Shouse on Commission, because I think he's a great Commissioner and I'm a bit worried about who they would appoint as a replacement.

But I can't stand by and listen to people say it's unethical or Black Wednesday or nepotism. Go after the salary/pension angle, that's more of a fair criticism if you're looking for one.

Rachel's picture

It's Craig Leuthold (the son)

It's Craig Leuthold (the son) not Frank (the dad) who's applied for the Trustee job. How is it a conflict of interest for Briggs to vote for Leuthold (supposing he wants to do so)?

fischbobber's picture

The middle one

Actually there are three Leutholds now involved in local politics. Craig's son works at Dicks and is considering politics.

He seems like a decent kid, but I really didn't feel like talking policy at the time.

Time will tell.

Rachel's picture

Thanks, Amy.

Thanks, Amy.

Observer's picture

Black Wednesday again

Three very qualified applicants said they would be caretakers. Bill Curtis, Mike Manning, and Fred Sisk. All of them have more experience than Ed Shouse.

Yet Commission looks to want Ed Shouse. Shouse will not be a caretaker. And this will be Shouse's third government pension.

How can Shouse apply for the office? As a sitting Commissioner doesn't the charter forbid that?

Any Commissioner who nominates Shouse is no better than the Black Wednesday crowd.

reform4's picture


I don't believe it would be a third pension. Whether he works for the County as a Commissioner or a Trustee, it's still just years of service for Knox County, and would all be the same pension.

I disagree. As long as Ed doesn't vote for himself (and even if he was allowed, knowing Ed, I think he'd voluntarily recuse himself), it's not a conflict, assuming he resigns his Commission seat as part of the process. He would be simply moving to a new position, and IMHO, one that we badly need someone like Ed. And I think Ed has more than enough experience with his private sector experience and work on the Pension Board.

I'll add another point of consideration: someone who can guide modernization projects, like online payments, online records access, etc.

Observer's picture

Splitting hairs

Technically, it would be the third contribution to Shouse's retirement from the taxpayers.

Ed Shouse can run after the interim period. It is unfair to the other applicants to have a sitting Commissioner apply for this office. Shouse has friendships with the other Commissioners. It is unethical for him to apply and unethical for any Commissioner to appoint him. How is it any different than the first Black Wednesday?

Shouse's resume and experience are no better than Bill Curtis, Mike Manning, or Fred Sisk and they all have committed to be caretakers.

If Black Wednesday was bad the first time, how is it not bad now?

reform4's picture

Apples and Oranges, my friend.

Methinks you need to read more about Black Wednesday. Laws were broken on Black Wednesday, that's quite a difference.

In fact, Shouse is at a DISADVANTAGE, since he is barred by the Open Meetings Act from discussing the appointment with other Commissioners. Meanwhile, Curtis, Sisk, and ALL of the OTHER applications can call up Amy, R.Larry, Hammond, etc and lobby to their heart's content.

(You're not really very good at this, are you?)

amybroyles's picture

Charter Amendment

Whether or not to appoint a "caretaker" or someone who intends to run for that office is a very good question and worthy of discussion. Whether or not a sitting Commissioner should be appointed by the Commission to another elected office is also a very good question, worthy of discussion. But the 2008 Charter Amendmect regarding Conflicts of Interest doesn't prohibit it, nor does it prohibit Commissioner Shouse from applying for the job:

Sec. 9.08. - Conflict of interest.
F.   No elected or appointed official or employee of Knox County shall advocate, recommend, supervise, manage or cause the employment, appointment, promotion, transfer, or advancement of his or her relative to an office or position of employment within the Knox County government.
For the purposes of this policy, "relative" means parent, step-parent, foster parent, parent-in-law, child, spouse, brother, brother-in-law, foster brother, step-brother, sister, sister-in-law, foster sister, step-sister, grandparent, son-in-law, daughter-in-law, grandchild or other person who resides in the same household. A court-appointed legal guardian or an individual who has acted as a parent substitute is also included within this definition.

mwester37922's picture

Whether or not a sitting Commissioner should be appointed by the

On Black Wednesday, Billy Tindell (sitting Commissioner for District 2) was appointed to the Clerk's office on Black Wednesday. His removal from commission created an even number of commissioners.

If Shouse is recused from the discussion and the vote, this creates an even number of commissioners. What happens if there is a tie?

Still confused about the conflict of interest. It just foes to follow if you can't appoint family not sure how one could justify appointing themselves.

reform4's picture


If Shouse is recused from the discussion and the vote, this creates an even number of commissioners. What happens if there is a tie?

Then the person(s) on the slate with the lowest number of votes drops off, and they vote again. And that process continues.

Yes, it could get down to two candidates and a split Commission. In which case, technically they just keep voting until someone budges.

Believe me, I know the process well. :)

Bbeanster's picture

Perhaps the word "oneself"

Perhaps the word "oneself" should be added to the nepotism definition. Pretty hard to get more closely related than that.

Average Guy's picture

I prefer politicians trying

I prefer politicians trying for higher office. Seems to me, if you really want to serve the public, you should attempt it at the highest levels possible.

Elwood Aspermonte's picture

What? Ivan Harmon has not applied for this position?

In my opinion, if Shouse is looking for another job on the public payroll, surely Ivan Harmon is in the mix as well. Last time I saw my main man Ivan, he was driving a van full of detainees from the county jail downtown to the court hearings.

Got to hand it to them, they love to lap at the public trough, particularly the strong flowing trough being vacated by an up and coming lapper, John J. Duncan, III.

Rachel's picture

I'm not a fan of all this

I'm not a fan of all this Black Wednesday talk. Most of that was from Commissioners conferring outside the public view, which violates the Sunshine Law.

There's no evidence they're doing this here. If those of you babbling about it have evidence that they are, let's hear it. Otherwise, it's unfair to accuse Commission of shenanigans.

I would definitely vote for Shouse for Trustee. I have mixed feelings about whether or not this appointment should go to a caretaker.

And I can't imagine that Shouse won't recuse himself from this vote.

P.S. And yeah, the pension thing is silly. The county would just continue to contribute to his current county pension fund.

Observer's picture

ethics, you have them or you don't

So this Black Wednesday is fine because you like the man?

If Shouse can't nominate a relative for the office, how can he himself apply for the office? In the law, you are related to yourself. Bud Armstrong should tell Shouse to back down. Any Commissioner who would nominate Shouse has no ethics.

This is why a caretaker should be selected. Period.

There are no shenanigans unless a Commissioner nominates Shouse. Right now, only Shouse has acted unethically.

Rachel's picture

So this Black Wednesday is

So this Black Wednesday is fine because you like the man?

Dude, can you read? Black Wednesday was mostly about violating the sunshine law, which meant discussions among commissioners out of the public eye - which meant the fix was in. They didn't even pretend to hide it - hell, they did it right in front of god and everybody during a recess in the meeting.

There's no evidence that sunshine law violations are happening here. If you have some, we'd all like to see it.

And here's a newsflash: applying on an office is not the same as nominating yourself. Nominations would come from the floor, from Commissioners at the meeting, and would be voted on. I fully expect Shouse to recuse himself from that process.

But don't listen to me - go ask Bud Armstrong if Shouse has "acted unethically."

And I'm going on to something else - this is just silly time.

mwester37922's picture

- which meant the fix was in

Just because there's no taped recorded conversations doesn't mean there isn't some Blago-style horse trading going on.

Especially if Shouse gets the Trustee appointment because then Commission gets to appoint another commissioner. And since it's a district-wide seat that's huge. It's EXPENSIVE to run county-wide and whoever received the appointment would have an enormous amount of name ID and free press.

It seems curious that there's $ in the budget for a Senior Center out in Karns but not enough for Seniors to ride the bus or provide them meals through CAC's Mobile Meals program.

The Karns area is pretty much the spot in the county to not have such a center. It will probably cost at least $1.2 million to build.
Posted by Mike Donila at 6:13 AM

reform4's picture

Especially if Shouse gets the

Especially if Shouse gets the Trustee appointment because then Commission gets to appoint another commissioner. And since it's a district-wide seat that's huge. It's EXPENSIVE to run county-wide and whoever received the appointment would have an enormous amount of name ID and free press.

Agreed. No small potatoes. Need to check when that seat is re-elected, probably just 1 year.

Rachel's picture

I agree with this as well.

I agree with this as well. But it doesn't make Shouse unethical.

reform4's picture

And, it's Commission

It's Commission that will get to appoint that so-called powerful seat. Shouse would have no hand in voting for or nominating his replacement.

As a Commissioner, Shouse is one of nine votes. As Trustee, he probably feels he can accomplish more. If I were in his shoes and had his background, I'd feel like I could help restore trust in the office and, I'd throw my name in the ring, too. I don't see how any of this is remotely suspect.

And as far as "friends" on Commission... I don't see that Shouse being a Commissioner gives him any more of a leg up than any of the other candidates. In fact, being a 'politician' is probably a negative.

Rachel's picture

Small correction - one of

Small correction - one of eleven votes.

reform4's picture


Right, 9 + 2 at large. Brain not engaged yesterday.

Bbeanster's picture

Accomplish more as

Accomplish more as trustee?
Shirley, you jest. Don't you?
That office can run itself, business-wise. Actually, it has been doing exactly that.
What he can accomplish is getting a bigger paycheck.

i generally believe that people who run for office make an implied promise to serve out the term that is gifted them by the people – not use it as a steppingstone to something bigger. Might make an exception for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like, say, a congressional seat, but not much else.

And back to the sunshine law thing -- open records laws are not sacred in and of themselves – they are procedural. They are simply a means to keep government from cutting deals that are not in his best interest.

Rachel's picture

i generally believe that

i generally believe that people who run for office make an implied promise to serve out the term that is gifted them by the people – not use it as a steppingstone to something bigger.

Well, me too mostly. But the reality is that what you mention happens all the time (although of course that doesn't make it good). Since I've been pilloried for saying Haslam was a good Mayor, I'll point out that I was none too pleased he spent the 3rd year of his second term running for governor and didn't serve the 4th year.

I've also seen folks leave appointed seats (e.g. MPC) before their term is up to run for elected office. Not really crazy about that either. Makes it look like they were serving only to raise their profile.

reform4's picture

Good point.

True, from "accomplishing", you have little true decision-making power as Trustee compared to Commission. You manage the office and employees, and run for re-election. But you can do things to modernize the office/procedures, and there's the blighted property stuff CBT was working on, so I think there's a fair amount a Trustee can "accomplish."

I can't imagine it's just for the salary, though. If you're retirement age, and you already have two pensions, why would you want a full-time job.

Then again, JD3 showed us it's not a full time job. Or even a part-time job. Or that you even need to show up for work.

(One joke going around is that TBI searched the office for JD3's fingerprints and DNA and couldn't find any).

Mustang Sally's picture

I am disappointed that seven

I am disappointed that seven years later our elected leaders are thinking about a second Black Wednesday. I don't see how any Commissioner could nominate Ed Shouse. I will never support anyone who forgets Black Wednesday. They will be pariah.

Why do we have charter amendments if they don't mean anything?

Average Guy's picture

Is there something wrong with Ed Shouse?

If there’s a political problem with him, I hope the naysayers here lay it out.

A politician seeking higher office is nothing new or original.

And if you’ve followed politics, you know how advantagous it is to get an appointment than it is to run for office. It also makes getting elected to the position easier.

But it’s not illegal or unethical.

It would be great to hold special elections every time curruption knocks out an office holder, but there is no way in hell Knox County could afford the frequency for which it happens.

Felix the Dog's picture

hold a special election

"It would be great to hold special elections every time corruption knocks out an office holder, but there is no way in hell Knox County could afford the frequency for which it happens."

City of Knoxville wants a 3 million dollar pedestrian bridge right next to a perfectly good bridge. Knox County has the bloated sheriff's pension. Let them spend the money for a special election. Shouse has an unfair advantage over the other people applying. It is completely unethical. And it gives Shouse an unfair advantage in the next election for Trustee.

Anyone who supports this supports the old ways. Ragsdale and Hutch would love this. And the battle for Shouse's Commission seat will be just as bad. Bet anything that a sheriff's stooge will get that seat. Then they will run county wide. Maybe become Mayor in nine years.

Screw Shouse. If he wants it let him run in a fair election.

Rachel's picture

City of Knoxville wants a 3

City of Knoxville wants a 3 million dollar pedestrian bridge right next to a perfectly good bridge.

Umm, no. KMA wants the bridge and started the ball rolling. The City is looking into the possibility. No funding exists at present time, and it has been stated that part of it would have to be from private donations.

Might happen. Might not.

Anonymousish's picture

"If he wants it let him run

"If he wants it let him run in a fair election."

Lobster half off this week at Publix.

Rachel's picture

Please, folks, for the love

Please, folks, for the love of God, and for your own credibility, stop the Black Wednesday references.

SnM's picture

It's intentional. It's not

It's intentional. It's not about the substance, it's about establishing the associated negative connotation through repetition.

Good luck trying to make it stop with appeals to reason.

Rachel's picture

I get that. I'm just trying

I get that. I'm just trying to provide a counterweight. I don't really expect to stop them.

Observer's picture

another coverup at the Pilot News Sentinel

KNS flunkie to deny what everyone can see.

For all the deniers. Black Wednesday was about corruption. You don't get to define Black Wednesday. Go back to protecting Pilot, Brad Anders, and the many others.

I agree with the statement about Charter Amendments. If they are so easily ignored, what good are they? This charter amendment came from the Orange Petition. People worked very hard to get that on the ballot.

Rachel's picture

Karma finally catching up

Karma finally catching up with the Trustee's Office.

Read more the headline and the lede. When I read it, I thought the references to past criminal charges were about the interim trustee. NOt the case.

R. Neal's picture

Yes, that was confusing.

Yes, that was confusing.

EconGal's picture

Gentlemen prefer bonds

I hadn't considered this. After speaking with a reinsurance underwriter this afternoon, the choice of the appointed triustee could impact an insurance company's willingness to write coverage. Or it could cause the county to select a weaker carrier.

The selected trustee will certainly influence the pricing of the bond.

Observer's picture

don't screw this up Commissioners

The safest bet is to select someone who is not a current or former County Commissioner.

Safe bets would be Bill Curtis or Mike Manning. Both have pledged to be caretakers only and not run for office. Both are qualified in both resume and work experience.

Will Commission play a game of chicken with the Hartford Insurance Company?

Tamara Shepherd's picture


After speaking with a reinsurance underwriter this afternoon, the choice of the appointed triustee could impact an insurance company's willingness to write coverage.

Yes, EconGal.

I don't profess to know a lot about the bonding process, but I am someone who was bonded for many years in my previous employment in first banking and then state government.

In those settings, the bonding company covered my employer for my any job related "errors and omissions" (accidental mistakes) and "unfaithful performance" (purposeful and dishonest actions).

The bonding company wrote my coverage on the basis of what I reported on my lengthy 12 or 15 page application, which detailed my own criminal background and my own record of financial stability/credibility.

In my experience, then, my bonding was extended after the insurer evaluated me, not my employer.

Therefore, I don't understand why Ms. Phillips is bearing the brunt of her predecessors’ lack of credibility?

To the extent that she is, can't Ms. Phillips appease the bonding company by documenting for them that she has put in place the office policies and procedures to preclude such unethical behavior in the future?

Alternatively, can't Ms. Phillips (or the Finance Department) simply seek coverage from another carrier?

I'm not getting this...

mwester37922's picture

I'm not getting this. . .

I have to agree with you on this. It seems to me as though this is some sort of power play to eliminate certain candidates or promote the "right" candidate.

Average Guy's picture

Hey, now there’s a good slogan!

“Knox County, we’re as insuarable as a 16 year old with ten tickets and four wrecks!”

R. Neal's picture

Plus the keys to dad's liquor

Plus the keys to dad's liquor cabinet AND his car.

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