Let's face it, these so-called meetings to discuss the Hillside Ridgetop Protection Plan (older story about it right smack here) are nothing more than dog and pony shows.
You got one side sending out bogus emails, riddled with untruths.
And you've got a few on the other side posting under fake names on message boards across the county, making it look like they have more support than they do.
Then you have 11 commissioners on the dais – all of whom more than likely know how they're going to vote.
Let's get this over with.
Now supposedly, the commission isn't going to hold a public hearing during its work session next Monday to talk about it, but we all know how well that worked during today's so-called workshop.
Turned into a public hearing.
So, even if they make it through next Monday – without everyone saying the same thing over, and over, and over, and over and whatever again – there's still April 25.
That's ostensibly when they'll vote.
But, let's be real.
There will be a public hearing. Then it gets tabled. Commissioners will want to hold a workshop with their counterparts in the city. Then there will be more workshops.
Eventually, this sucker is going to get shot down. At least by the commissioners. (I don't cover the city so I don't care what the council does. And yes, they can approve different plans.)
Once it's voted down, the commission will then amend the whole plan, or rather have county law director Joe Jarret do it.
Or the board will form a subcommittee.
Actually, that makes more sense. The commission – and the mayor for that matter – they all just love these subcommittees.
By the way, how is that subcommittee charged with coming up with alternatives to the business park in East Knox County working for you?
Anyhoo, here's my predictions on how the commissioners are going to vote on the hillside protection plan based on comments made today at the workshop.
And remember: I'm never wrong.
Because if I was, I wouldn't admit it.
It's going to flop, more than likely 8-3.
Here ya go:
Sam McKenzie: He votes for the plan. During the meeting, McKenzie said he figures “something will happen, but I'm not sure what.” He also stressed that he's tired of the opponents complaining about how long the plan took to create (three years) and how much it costs (something like $350,000). “If it's a quality plan then it's going to take some time,” he said.
Tony Norman: Oh man, I don't even have to respond to this one. It's his freakin' baby. He's voting a big “Hell Yeah!” against those “rascals”. (In other words, he votes for the plan, too.)
Jeff Ownby: He's voting against the plan. Ownby is a big “property rights” guy. Plus he made some comments questioning whether the county needs more regulations.
Richard Briggs: The good doctor votes against the plan, too. He said there are “plenty of laws in this country (or county – can't read my handwriting) and it's just a matter of enforcement.” He also suggested that developer put up a “significant bond requirement” when a project starts, so if the builder “does go bankrupt or something untoward happens . . . then there's a way to compensate the people or communities that have been harmed.” He added: “I'm not necessarily in favor of more rules, but I am in favor of more enforcement.”
Mike Hammond: The chairman votes against the plan. He was already hinting at it today. Just the manner of his questions to Metropolitan Planning Commission officials. He wanted to know if had to be voted up or down. And whether it could be amended. He was told yes for both questions. He smiled. He's ready to say no.
R. Larry Smith: Ha ha. As easy as Tony Norman. But the opposite. Put him down for a big “Hell No!” In fact – in between taking shots at the developers for “leaving the table” during negotiations and the MPC for including what he described as misleading pictures in the plan – he said so. “It's a property rights issue,” he said. “I'm not going to beat around the bush. I'm going to vote against the plan. But I'm going to vote 'yes' for more enforcement.”
Dave Wright: He's voting against the plan even though he said “I have been extremely on the fence on this.” He said most of the people affected under it live in East Knox County. Those are his folks out there. And a lot of them don't want it. Plus, a lot of them know that one day they might want to sell all that land out there and a developer isn't going to buy something he/she/it can't build on. He was, however, curious about what the current administration wants to do. Which, I overhead someone say what Wright really meant to say was: “What does Steve Hunley (mortal enemy of county Mayor Tim Burchett and publisher of The Focus) want the current administration to do.” (Burchett is against the plan by the way, but he doesn't vote, so what does it really matter.)
Mike Brown: He's voting against it. He stuck his finger in the air; felt the direction public opinion is blowing (at least vocal public opinion) and decided he's against it. “The No. 1 solution to the problem is better enforcement,” he said, adding that 95 percent of the phone calls and emails he's received have been from folks against the plan. (Of course, the same people are sending the same emails over and over and over and whatever again. But I digress.)
Amy Broyles: She's voting for it. Broyles wasn't at the meeting. I'm going through experience on this one. She likes to go against the grain on major issues.
Brad Anders: The vice chairman is voting against it. Anders wasn't at the meeting. He's a big “property rights” guy, too.
Ed Shouse: He's voting against it. Shouse also wasn't at the meeting. He had a prior appointment. I can't remember what it was. I also can't remember why I said he's voting against it. But he is.
By the way, here's a link to the MPC plan, so you can make your own decisions about it.