Thursday, April 17, 2014

BOE member's pal destroys newspapers, then brags about it in public email

Well, this is certainly an interesting development. Well, not really. It's election time and silly season is in full gear.

Cari "Mean" Gervin on some campaign shenanigans (yes this was absolutely political), and the ridiculousness that follows local elections:
You might remember the name Kristi Kristy from a couple of months ago, when she filed an ethics complaint with the Knox County Schools Board of Education because board member Mike McMillan had forwarded an email that Kristy had sent to board member Pam Trainor with instructions to send it to the entire board, which meant it then became public record -- anyway, it was a mess. Kristy eventually withdrew her complaint, which makes sense because McMillan didn't do anything wrong to begin with. Now, however, it looks like Kristy might be the one on the wrong side of ethics -- and, possibly, the law. 
You can find Cari's complete story, and - wow - it's been a talker recently, right smack here.

In addition, someone over at the hippie's blog, posted a link - right here - regarding newspaper theft and why it's not a good thing to destroy them even if they're free. And apparently - right here - you will find some federal case law regarding newspaper theft.

Davis releases ad, stresses values

Just got this one in from the Kristi Davis camp. She's running against Billy Stokes and Ray Jenkins in the May 6 Republican primary for the Circuit Court Judge (Div. I) seat. No Democrats qualified, so it's winner take all next month.

Here's what her camp had to say (video below):

Kristi Davis released her first campaign advertisement today, focusing on her life-long connection to Knox County and the values she would bring to the bench.

“I am very excited to be able to get my message out to the voters of Knox County. My campaign has tremendous momentum, and being able to speak directly to the voters will keep the campaign moving forward,” said Davis.

Check out her website right smack here.

Early voting began on April 16 and runs through May 1.


Brooks endorses Jenkins for judge

Ray Jenkins
OK, so everyone gets one free post for an endorsement. Heh. This one is from the Ray Jenkins camp. Ray is running against Billy Stokes and Kristi Davis for the Circuit Court Judge (Div. I) seat in the May 6 Republican primary.

There are no Democrats, so it's winner take all next month. Early voting started Wednesday and runs through May 1.

Representative Harry Brooks (R – Knoxville) today announced his endorsement for Ray Jenkins for Knox County Circuit Court Judge.  Brooks says Jenkins’s wide breadth of experience with a proven track record of successes qualify him as a strong candidate for the position.

“Ray Jenkins is the best person for the job,” said Harry Brooks, four-term state representative and chairman of the House Education Committee. “He is a constitutional conservative with experience as a lawyer, a community leader and a business leader. We have been long-time friends and he has had impressive successes in every position he has held.”

In addition to successful stints in business and politics, Jenkins has a wide variety of legal experience, representing all levels of clients from Fortune 500 companies to families and everything in between. 

These experiences have prepared Jenkins to be Circuit Court Judge, as these judges have a heavy role in the general jurisdiction of a variety of legal matters.

Jenkins expressed appreciation for Representative Brooks endorsement and said, “The support of Representative Brooks means a great deal coming from a legislator of his caliber. He has done a great job for Knox County and for Tennessee,” he said. “I’m excited for the opportunity to serve Knox County and to apply the law to real people in real situations in our community.”

A Knox Co. native, Jenkins is a graduate of Tennessee Tech where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, Jenkins took an analyst position with the Navy in Virginia after graduation, returning to his home state three years later for a job with the Air Force at Arnold Engineering Development Center where he continued to work while attending law school at the Nashville School of Law. 

Check out his website, right smack here.

BOE candidate responds to editorial

Tamara Shepherd
The Paywall Paper, which is always predictable in its election endorsements, endorsed Terry Hill for the Dist. 6 Board of Education seat.

Hill by the way apparently supports creationism being taught in high school. Good, Lord. Heh. But I digress.

Anyhoo, last week one of her opponents, Tamara Shepherd sent the media and some other folks her thoughts on the endorsement. I meant to post this awhile ago, but like other things, I was working on some scoops. Heh. (I should mention that the other two candidates in this race are Bradley Buchanan and Sandra Row-Your-Boat-Cliff.)

Here's what Tamara had to say:

This morning’s endorsement by the Knoxville News-Sentinel of my opponent Terry Hill was not unexpected and that they offered the comments they did on my own candidacy is fine with me, too.  Really, I appreciate the contrast they drew between Ms. Hill’s candidacy and my own.

I think that this level of discontent among teachers, parents, and students calls for solutions and I'm pleased to tell you that I've spoken with several prospective constituents who've told me--as recently as at the Concerned Citizens forum last Thursday night--that I am the *only* candidate in this race they've heard actually suggest any.

Yes, my position that it is now necessary to sue the State Board of Education over a faulty teacher evaluation model is "extreme." However, given that this law may be changed by only the legislature or the courts AND given that we have waited over three years to see it changed by the legislature, it is not unreasonable to now turn to the only other remedy available to address the problem. In fact, teachers have now beaten the BOE to the draw and begun filing their own lawsuits, which TEA assures they will continue to do.

I therefore continue to challenge my opponents to tell me how they will address the problem--and they'd better not answer "with a Teacher Work Group," because that's a fantasy. A Teacher Work Group is unable to change a state law, period.

And yes, I have called for Dr. McIntyre's dismissal (and I did so again in this morning's Inside Tennessee segment, if you watched). What I said in my response to the Metro Pulse questionnaire is this:
“He has used Knox County Schools as a conduit for the experimentation and profit of others whose interests are not the school system's students and teachers. He has farmed out the district's strategic plan to the Chamber of Commerce, its employee compensation plan to Battelle for Kids, and its resource allocation plan to The Parthenon Group. It is not clear why these plans were not produced internally by system staff and it is doubtful that the system can afford to repeatedly pay such costs going forward.”
You will note that at least two of these actions--to have delegated the KCS strategic plan and to have delegated the KCS "resource allocation" plan--were not the result of any state or federal mandate to do so, but were the result of Dr. McIntyre's independent decision to do so. Really, he was likely able to have deviated as well from Tennessee's promise in our RttT grant app to use an entity like Battelle for Kids, had he chosen to do so.

I therefore continue to press that these and other of Dr. McIntyre's policy and procedure decisions (like excessive testing, too) are NOT rooted in state or federal mandates but are instead rooted in his own vision for "corporate reform" locally, contrary to the vision it appears teachers and parents embrace.

So again, I appreciate this opportunity afforded me by the KNS to distinguish my candidacy from that of Ms. Hill’s, I do not shrink from my assertion that it's time for someone to offer viable solutions, and I'll be asking voters to discern who it is that's offering them.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Burchett says no to all pay raises

Mayor Burchett
I meant to put this up yesterday when we first reported it, but I was out of town working on a big scoop. Heh.

WBIR's John Henry talked to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett about the school system's request to fund a 2.5 percent increase for teacher pay raises, which would cost about $4.5 million.

There's all sorts of stuff to say about this, but, really, I think everyone sees that the school board is trying to use teachers as political pawns in a financial game of tug-of-war. (I'm all for teacher pay raises by the way.)

Burchett notes that the school system could find money in its own budget to pay for the raises. (He's also said he doesn't plan to give general county employees raises, either.)

That's an interesting point. The school system's budget includes funding to tack on two additional days to the school calendar, an odd move since a state study recently said there's no proof that a few extra days really helps students (read: It doesn't).

Anyhoo, certainly something to think about. Here's John's story:
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is reacting to Knox County Schools' proposed budget.

The Knox County Board of Education approved a $432 million budget Monday night.

The school system made way for a 2.5 percent raise for teachers, but in order for that raise to happen, the board must receive more money from the county commission.

Mayor Burchett questioned why the school board failed to reorganize the budget to make the raise happen without having to ask the county for more money.

"There simply isn't enough revenue to fund the school's request this year. Of course we can't dictate how the school administration spends its money, but out of the $427 million in revenue that the school system is expecting, surely they could find 2 or 3 percent of that to fund the raises," he said.

Under the current board budget for raises, the school district needs another $4.5 million.

County commission must ok the budget. They have until the end of June.

18 workers get $143K in sick leave, now McCroskey wants in on the fun

Embattled Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey is seeking as much as $10,000 from the county for unused sick leave she accrued before taking office more than five years ago.

The request stems from a county policy that took effect last July. So far, 18 employees have been paid a combined $143,140.

Another four workers, including McCroskey and her chief deputy, Janice Norman, have submitted payment requests. Norman, who joined the county in 1968, said her last day is Aug. 29, and McCroskey is leaving Aug. 31.

County leaders, however, say the neither should be eligible, based on the ordinance that established the policy to pay for unused sick leave. Some officials also took McCroskey to task, saying her attendance in recent years is already suspect at best.

The ordinance was approved by the Knox County Commission last spring. At the time, its sponsors, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Commissioner Amy Broyles said they created it to increase productivity and reward long-tenured workers.

For the complete story, right smack here.

Early voting today through May 1

How about a little something to get the blood flowing this morning, the first day of early voting, which runs through May 1. Click right smack here for a list of early voting locations. Get out there and write my name in the ballot. Heh.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Register of Deeds candidate Wiser writes letter to 'Mayor Tim.' Heh

So, uh, er, heh. Donald Wiser, who is running as an independent for the Knox County Register of Deeds seat, sent out an email today to a bunch of local leaders, the county mayor, the media and your mama. (Kidding on that last part.) Anyhoo, like I've always said: Send me your election stuff and I'll post it.
Wiser will face Sherry Witt, a Republican and the current Register of Deeds, in the August election.

You know, sometimes I comment on these things and even call people out when they make mistake or they're completely inaccurate. But, I'm just going to let this sucker speak for itself. Unedited.

The email subject line was "Open Communication to Mayor Tim." 


Honorable Mayor Burchett:

I have documentation from the Election Commission that Ms. Witt and Mr Jones have been elected to their office in two consistent elections. Now they have taken out petitions for a third term, solicited signatures of Knox County voters ,and had their name in nomination in violation of the Charter of Knox County and the will of the citizens. Term limits have been under attack by the Tim Hutchinson/Scott Moore group since its enactment with this gang armed with an  A.G. opinion term limits didn't apply to them. Then came BLACK WEDNESDAY!
Jones has had a hard time with the truth as we've discussed at best' or might be his disdain for the will of Knox Countians: he has decided his first term did not count[ Jones needs to read the Campbell Co. bondman's Courts  statement of law about A.G. or Law Director opinions] The only ones to benefit from this cavalier decision is Jones himself, and his close friend, the current Register of Deeds. Jones as you should recall tasted one of K.C.S.O.s' Finest [also a State Representative] with sneaking into a Bill an amendment removing the Sheriff and close associate Resister of Deeds from term limits. If you remember, we talked, and you took the right action: you kill the bill in the Senate which made us proud[also income tax] that you believe in the will of the people as C.B. taught you.
Tim, you ran on a platform of being a Stewart of the taxpayers money, transparency and increase  accountability. Now is the time for you to purge the deadwood in your office and clean up your own backyard. Thank you for the school in Carter and any help to stop busing of school kids but while you have been kissing babies and cutting ribbons the foxes have been robbing the chicken coop. We the people have a right to know the involvement of office holders under your  purview;

1.Involvement with Buumgartner by A.G. and Sheriff:
  a. Join with News-Sentinel  and the parents to investigate and have the T.B.I. Report made public.
  b. Answer, Who, What, When, and How. To paraphrase Fred Thompson during Watergate, What did [they] know and when did they know it. The source of Richards drugs needs to be known [history has shown a police agency is a great source. No Chain of Command in the drug section answering directly to Jones]..
2.The Police pension that Jones along with a Register of Deeds aid conspired to award this benefit to many undeserving ex-sheriff,lawyers,at least five ex commissionaires many voting for Jones and Witt on BLACK WEDENDAY, and who knows who else. Remember Herb told you so.
3.You have knowledge about the abuse of vehicles in the Sheriffs Department even talking about the black Mustang that uses 7$ a gallon gas[after denying now test driving].

4.Why is  Knox. Co. allowing a Office Holder that didn't pay his child support, pays no property tax, after a golf trip over seas [ who paid for this] along with A.G.,Mental Health official, and a D.U.I. Lawyer who's kin works the same try to sell a concept for a non-feasible program at $17,000,000 and a building. Who is it for the intoxicated, the drug addicted, or mental ill and who will decide. Maybe this person can receive bonus as large as the tourist bureau or maybe a job after retirement.

5.The Police is to protect our children but this sheriff must have a problem . We know he was a dead beat Dad according to past reports of the Knoxville News-Sentinel now one of his Officers is charged with sex crimes involving a 13 year old  which  brings to mind a K.C.S.O. Officer  assigned to be one of the very few to  patrol in our neighbors that was fired for sex and authority crimes with a child while working an undercover assignment in our schools by the previous sheriff but rehired by Jones. This individuals daddy  working there is alleged to be doing chores for Jones[ laundry, grocery shopping but not the quart of vodka]. The fired Officer was placed on diversion by the same A.G. that took the trip overseas with Jones.

Tim I know my great friend C.B. Placed in your heart to do right so make him proud.                       

Donald M. Wiser

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Jenkins reception set for Monday

Mario Azevedo II and John D. Lockridge Jr will host a reception for Ray Jenkins, who is running for the Circuit Court (Div. I) judge seat, at Doc’s All American Grill tomorrow (Monday, April 14) from 5-7 p.m.

The event is open to the public.

In a prepared statement, Azevedo said “Come out, have a cocktail or two, some good grub, and meet Ray Jenkins, a gentleman I think should be the next judge of the 1st Circuit Court for Knox County. He comes from a family with deep roots in the legal community and has practiced law in and around Knox County for the last 15 years. He's former chairman of the Knox County Republican Party, a selfless public servant, family man, and an all-around great guy. Come meet him, show your support, and don't forget early voting starts on the 16th of April!”

Jenkins is running in the Republican primary against Billy Stokes and Kristi Davis to replace retiring Judge Dale Workman, who is retiring after 24 years on the bench. No Democrats are running.

As always, send me your election stuff and I’ll post it.

Good luck to all the candidates.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Board to talk about hiring lobbyist

Amy Broyles
The Knox County Commission during its work session in a couple of weeks will talk about whether the board needs to hire a lobbyist to keep it informed of the comings and goings in Nashville.

The proposal, spearheaded by Commissioner Amy Broyles, is designed to make officials more aware of laws that can affect local governments. Broyles said the position would probably earn $30,000 to $40,000 annually.

“There’s so much stuff going on in the state that’s affecting local government and there’s a lot to keep up with,” she said. “If we had a lobbyist who was an employee of the commission they could keep us up to date on the issues going on at the state level.”

Broyles said years ago the county had one, but it caused problems when the administration and the commission didn’t agree on an issue. (This person, by the way, would work only for the commission.)

suggested that the proposal probably wouldn’t pass.

“There are some people on the commission who want to be better informed and there are some who are fine with the way things are,” she said, adding that maybe someone would have a better idea.

“That’s fine with me but I want to feel like we’re doing everything we can,” she said.

Commission Chairman Brad Anders said he, too, would like to bring in a lobbyist, but only under certain conditions.

“It would have to be a monitoring contract – not a heavy contract – but something to monitor the bills going forward and how they affect county government,” he said.

Anders, though, added that the proposal would have to be given to Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett to include in his annual budget, and it’s probably too late to do that for this year.

Speaking of Burchett, I asked him about the proposal and, as expected, he was against it.

He said to get a decent lobbyist "you have to get into at least the $40,000 range or you'll end up failing."

"You can pay your third cousin $20,000 but they'll probably spend it in some bar in Nashville and you'll never know what's going on," he added

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Finance dept. wants commission to create rules tied to reserve funds

Chris Caldwell
Knox County finance officials have long said that they don’t want to use reserve funds on reoccurring costs, like employee raises.

Now they want it in writing.

The county’s finance team has asked the County Commission to create a formal policy that sets the rainy day fund at 25 percent of the county’s general fund – the account that typically covers much of the day-to-day operations.

Right now that would mean setting the floor at $40 million, which would cover the county for four months if things went bad – real bad. (The fund now sits at a just over $50 million.)

Top county finance guru Chris “Money Bags” Caldwell said the county has long kept “an informal policy,” regarding how it would use reserve dollars, but its external auditors recently suggested that officials should set it in stone.

The bond rating agencies also like when local governments do this, he said.

The timing, however, is interesting. The school system is asking the county to foot the bill for teacher raises, since it supposedly doesn’t have the money. (And not to mention that Gov. Big Bill declined to give raises, so that throws things even more out of whack.)

Since, the county isn’t going to raise taxes to cover any salary bumps, the only other place to go is the reserves.

Put it in writing that you can’t mess with the rainy day account, and the commission has a semi-easy out for why it won’t support raises and why the responsibility should go back to the school system to fund.

Caldwell, though, says it’s all a coincidence. I’ll take him at his word. He’s always been a standup guy.

Attorneys for ex-Trustee Mike Lowe, former employees back in court

Mike Lowe
Attorneys for ex-longtime Knox County Trustee Mike Lowe and two of his former so-called ghost employees were in court Thursday to finalize trial dates and provide all parties with an update on when each side will get the information it's requested.

As it stands, Lowe will go to trial on Dec. 1; Ray Mubarak's will begin Nov. 5 and Delbert Morgan's will start on Aug. 18. The trials could last up to two weeks each.

Assistant District Attorney General Bill Bright noted that the dates have been changed a number of times because of "the massive amount of information" involved in the case. The defendants were initially set to go to trial in late 2013, and then later this summer.

On Thursday, he told Knox County Criminal Court Judge Steven Sword that his staff has turned over most of the data requested by the defense attorneys, but still has to provide and verify some cell phone records, and secure an expert witness.

He suggested that it would be a "very quick" turnaround.

Attorneys for the defendants declined to comment after Thursday's status hearing on the case.

Rest of the story right here.