Monday, February 21, 2011

Commissioners plan to talk. A lot.

The Knox County Commission hosts its monthly work session 2 p.m. tomorrow at the City County Building (that's 400 West Main St. for those who wants to take advantage of Mapquest, which I don't recommend)

The agenda is nine pages long and - on first glance - it looks like the 11 members could quickly run through it. Until you get down to those discussion items.

  • Commission Chairman Mike Hammond told me last week that some folks want to talk about the Karns Volunteer Fire Department and its subscription-based service plans. Apparently, the department, which serves Northwest Knox County, is hurting for money. Much of its funding in the past has come from donations and grants, but the well is running dry (so to speak).
  • Commissioner Amy Broyles wants to talk about the structure, function and funding of the Knox County Drug Court. This is a discussion item that the commission had planned to talk about previously but - for reasons I no longer remember - tabled it. I say this because the discussions started before the TBI investigation in Judge Richard Baumgartner, although I'm sure his name will come up tomorrow.
  • Commissioner Mike Brown plans to ask his peers for input into the "scope of authority and oversight" of the Public Building Authority. The word I'm hearing around the county is that folks aren't quite so sure we need the PBA anymore. Officials there, of course, will tell you otherwise.
  • Commissioner Richard Briggs tomorrow will continue his efforts to shake-up the county's Ethics Committee. Briggs, who also serves on the panel, wants it to consist solely of county residents to avoid conflicts of interest among elected leaders. He also wants to more clearly define just want the panel is supposed to preside over. The committee's chairwoman, Elaine Davis, however, says the panel should include at least one commissioner with institutional knowledge to serve as a liaison between the panel and the commission.
  • Commissioner Briggs also wants to talk about whether to pay former Commissioner Paul Pinkston's legal fees he incurred while defending himself in a 2008 ouster lawsuit. That's a lawsuit he won, by the way. Pinkston told us in January that former Law Director John Owings told him that the county would pay the fees if he won the case. I talked to Paul last week and he told me it was about $20,000.
  • Chairman Hammond also wants to talk about the area's Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. Officials earlier this month decided they wanted to "restart" it, whatever that means. About the only thing that really happened is that TYP Director Jon Lawler and his right-hand-man, Robert Finley, said they would step down. Officials also put on hold off on any efforts (which there weren't any at this point) to pursue additional permanent supportive housing under the plan. In the meantime, a committee is looking into how to tweak the program's efforts. It's hard to say what will happen. My guess? It will probably be taken out from under the auspices of the city and county.

The county commission at 4 p.m. tomorrow (or following the work session) will host a workshop to go over the Knoxville Knox County Hillside and Ridgetop Protection Plan. I've written all I plan to on that today. Here's a copy of the MPC's plan.

Until tomorrow . . . .

No comments: