Thursday, July 21, 2011

Jeff Roth new MPC commissioner

There's been quite an uproar about Mayor Big Dog's appointment to the Metropolitan Planning Commission – a group of folks who are nothing more than a RECOMMENDATION panel.

A panel, I might add, that the county has pretty much dismissed in recent months. You know, the Midway business park proposal. Or that Ridgetop/Hillside protection plan thing. (I'm not saying it's a bad panel, but it makes makes only recommendations.)

Anyhoo, Big Tim Burchett decided he wasn't going to reappoint Rachel Craig, who was serving out the remaining two years of City Councilman Nick Pavilis' term. Craig posted her thoughts on "that obscure liberal blog," which you can read right here. She's not mad about the mayor stiffing her. But, she – and a lot of folks – are upset that Burchett didn't appoint someone who lives south of the river.

We wrote a story about the issue (click right smack here) and county Commissioner Mike Brown stopped just short of calling the mayor a D-bag. The Metro Pulse wrote a story about it (click right smack here) and pretty much put a dunce cap on the mayor's head and sat him in the corner.

Of course it didn't help that, according to the story, the mayor admitted to getting a list of “potential South Knoxville replacements for Craig” and then “looked at the list but chose to ignore it.”

Personally, I don't think he ignored the list. I bet he looked at it; thought what a great paper airplane it would make and then threw it at Dean “The Emperor” Rice's head.

But, here's what's been bothering me: So far, no one has bothered to call the mayor's pick – Jeff Roth. So, he doesn't live in south Knoxville anymore. But, doesn't anyone want to hear what he has to say? Apparently not.

Sooooooo, I got bored, like I often do when I eat horse tranquilizers, and I called the guy last night. He was out, but he got back to me early this morning and we talked about his appointment and ties to south Knoxville.

Let me say that first off, sometimes tone gets lost in the printed word. So, if some of his comments seem sarcastic, they weren't. The guy was funny, sincere and a tad humble. Also, this post isn't about taking a side or not on Burchett's appointment, but rather a chat with Roth. (And as a disclaimer, I live in South Knoxville and do think that in the past few years local government has treated it like a turd.)

“It's a little funny that there's so much controversy about this – I didn't realize being a volunteer would bring that out,” said Roth, 47. “It's the MPC. We're not raising taxes or redistricting property lines. We're just a recommendation body.”

Roth said he was born in Baptist Hospital and attended South Knoxville Elementary (and spent sixth grade at Galbraith Elementary School).

His parents divorced when he was five. When his mom later remarried, they did move out of South Knoxville. After high school, he joined the Army and then went to UT where he earned a degree in business administration and marketing.

Yes, he has lived in Karns since 1985, he said, but “I'm not completely out of touch with South Knoxville.”

His uncle was the owner of Gravely Tractor, off John Sevier Highway, for more than 30 years. He has a cousin who teaches South Doyle (forgot to ask whether that was the middle or high school).

“I want to represent the whole county – that will be my goal,” Roth said. “I certainly don't want to go into any situation with a biased opinion or predisposition about how I'll vote on a particular issue. I want to walk in with an open mind.”

I asked why he'd want a thankless job like that.

He gave me the typical “I want to contribute and serve the community" answer.

“The bottom line is, I think, the reason Mayor Burchett appointed me is that he has faith in my ability to make decisions that are non-biased and based on what we hear in our meetings,” he said. “I don't think geography has a lot to do with that. I feel Knox County is all one group of people, so I don't tend to make a distinction between people who live in one area or another. I'm looking forward to serving. I told Tim I'd do a good job and do the best I can and do what needs to be done up there.”

I also asked him his thoughts on whether it's important – in his opinion – to have representatives (what are there? 15 on the MPC?) – from all parts of the county.

He responded: “Up until my appointment, I never gave it a whole lot of thought. The quick answer is 'no I don't think it's necessary.' It's set up so that the mayors make the appointments and I think you have to give those guys the benefit that they'll do a good job. I know several people on the commission and it's a good group, and I think we can make decisions based on education and not about being biased.”

Roth owns Knoxville-based Quality Machine and Welding Co, Inc., which his grandfather founded in 1966 and his father took over 10 years later. He grew up in the business and said at one point it employed 130 people, but is down to 66, mostly because of the economy. (Not the best time to be in construction, I suppose.)

Finally, I asked him his thoughts on the ridgetop/hillside issue.

“I'm going to have to educate myself a little more about the details,” he said. “Certainly, I'm not as familiar with the details (as other people are), but development is important in bringing businesses to Knoxville. My employees depend on us to do that – to have jobs. But having said that, we need to be cognizant of the communities, subdivisions, people and of the environment. We don't want to go paving paradise. But we also have to keep in mind that development is good for economic growth.”

So, those are Roth's thoughts.

I'm not saying Burchett was right or wrong about not appointing someone from the south. (Remember, the glass is always half-empty. He was probably wrong.) But, maybe there's still some South Knoxville in the boy.

I mean at this point, everyone will be squarely focused on what decisions he makes because it will reflect on the mayor.

Roth is in the spotlight right now.

And so is South Knoxville.

And that might not be a bad thing.


Anonymous said... sound like an scorned former MPC commissioner.

Cross-posted from another post's comments:

Rachel ain't from 'round here. People care more about philosophical differences than geographic ones, and the only geographies Rachel's philosophies match up with are california's, Chicago's and New York's -- liberal, big government strongholds.

Anonymous said...

"Cross-posted from another post's comments:"

What does that even mean? Jesus, that is a triple negative.

Seriously, wth?

The point is to make clear whatever the hell you are trying to say.

Anonymous said...

As I've said elsewhere, I feel bad for Mr. Roth. He's done absolutely nothing wrong, and may turn out to be an excellent Commissioner.

This controversy isn't about me or him; it's strictly about MPC no longer having even one person from south of the river.

That part about MPC being a "recommendation only" body? That's not strictly true. MPC recommendations on rezoning and plan amendments DO have to be ratified by the appropriate legislative body. But MPC approvals on Use on Review applications are final, unless appealed. Same thing for concept plan approvals and subdivision approvals. One of the first things Mr. Roth will need to learn. (And even with a Planning degree and two years on the body, I was still learning things, so that's not to imply that he should know it already.)

To whomever wrote that I "ain't from around here", buddy, those are fighting words. I think I've said before I'm a 8th generation Knox Countian. I defy you to find anybody who loves Knoxvillle more than I do. I may not agree with your political views (and here's a hint: not everybody "around here" does; check the results for some recent elections -e.g. Harold Ford v. Corker, where the City went for Ford) but I do share what most of us have - a fierce independence and the ability to state my mind and stand my ground when necessary.

Rachel Craig

Anonymous said...

P.S. And BTW, I think a diversity of both philosophical and geographical folks should be on MPC. It's like that now, and it's led to excellent discussions and pretty good decision-making.

If you just want 15 people who all think exactly like Tim Burchett, you might as well abolish MPC and let Burchett make those decisions. Whoops, probably giving some people ideas with that one.

Alan Swartz said...

This was a perfectly legal appointment by the county mayor.

There is nothing sinister here.

His elected position gave him the choice using his personal judgment.

Anonymous said...

Hey, Brian, when are you going to getting around to fixing those posts about a city council candidate that you've been told are factually incorrect (and that you can verfity bylooking at public records)?

Anonymous said...


Nobody is saying that Burchett did anything remotely illegal. Yes, he used his own judgement.

It's ok if citizens have questions about that.

Anonymous said...

It's not illegal to be dumb. Elsewise Burchett would be under the jail. It's also kind of sweet that Brian has forgiven Burchett for supporting Ted Hatfield.
Whatta guy!

Brian Hornback said...

Reading comprehension appears to be a difficult thing. Marshall Stair has not voted in City of Knoxville PRIMARIES! In addition, he has stated that he voted in federal elections in 2003 and 2005 in Texas. Guess what, federal elections are in even numbered years 2002, 2004. If he voted in the city of Knoxville General election in November of 2005, but as he states voted in a federal election in Texas in 2005.then he did not inform Knoxville to rescind his Texas registration.

Stair has told me he will email me his Knoxville voting record which he has not done. I have requested that he email me his Texas voting record. The lady that works with the clerks office in Tyler County, TX that maintains the voting records of registered voters informed my source that Stair registered to vote in 2002 and was purged for NOT voting in 2006. When he registered to vote in TX he did not disclose a previous voting registration in TN. Upon returning to Knoxville, he didn't disclose his previous registration in TX.

As for Burchett supporting Hatfield, it's a free country. However, your facts are slanted you see Hatfield and myself live in District 6 (Jamie Woodson) and Burchett lives in District 7. I spent ZERO dollars and received nearly 39 percent of the vote. Hatfield spent nearly $20,000 for his winning margin. A volunteer once a quarter job ain't worth fleecing my friends for.

Hatfield and I are friends. We were together at So. Knox Republican Club on Thursday. It's all good.

Now, you grow a set or a backbone and sign your name to your anonymous posts next time.

Anonymous said...


Your'e changing your stories now. Your posts said Marshall had never voted in a city election. That's not true and you know it. He voted in both the 2005 and 2009 city elections. He acknowledges not voting in the 2007 election, and has said he regrets it. Prior to 2005 he was either too young to vote or not living in Knoxville.

G. Vines looked into this and found no there there. Give it up.

Brian Hornback said...

I haven't changed the story. I explained this to Marshall and to Gary Drinnen. I had this story before G. Vines.

I realize for several people reading comprehension is difficult. But he never voted in the PRIMARY. His timeline qotes of a federal election in 2003 & 2005 don't match. The difference in me and Vines. I don't just take the candidates word, I have information from the holder of his voting record in Texas

Anonymous said...

This SHOULD BE be a cross-posted comment from a Brian's Blog post attacking me personally. I post it here because my experience tells me that the comments I make to his blog never get published:

I did not attend the south Knoxville constituent meeting because I was attending the joint Commission/Council Hillside/Ridgetop meeting.

And BTW, the Mayor had better consider racial diversity in making his appts. State law requires that.

Also, there are 2 city appointees with terms that expire next year, but also 2 COUNTY appointees. So Burchett will have a chance to address this at the very same time that the new City mayor does. I'm surprised he doesn't know that.

If you want to meet me, come to the next Hillside/Ridgetop meeting on 8/4. Or come to the south sector plan meeting at Ijams on 7/16. I plan to be at both of 'em.

And BTW, as I keep saying repeatedly - there's not any reason to attack me. I'm not mad about not being reappointed. I'm concerned that south Knoxville no longer has representation on MPC; that's the issue here.

Again, I ask you to post this in fairness to me. Again, I don't expect you to do so.

Anonymous said...

The sentence below is from a Brian's Blog post (still up if anyone wants to check). I couldn't find a date but it's timestamped 9:04 p.m. and titled "It's the Dishonesty and Coverup That Will Get You Every Time":

"Brian's Blog was the first to report (here) on Friday June 24, 2011 that City Council Candidate Marshall Stair has NEVER voted in a Knoxville election."

There's nothing wrong with my reading comprehension. There IS something wrong with your honesty.

Brian Hornback said...

If anonymous is really Rachel Craig, the only comment you have ever posted to Brian's Blog was published.

I have not attacked you personally, you on the other hand have posted negative comments about me without us ever having met. So, I just hope you can find peace and contentment in your life. Being bitter, negative, condescending and self righteous in your online presence is just hurting you. I will likely see you at an upcoming meeting, so we can meet.

BTW, how can I meet you at a meeting on 7/16 when today is 7/23/2011? Just asking

Brian Hornback said...

Again, Rachel life is too short and precious to harbor the bitterness, negativity, condescending, self righteous online presence you have. Let it go! From the Disney movie "don't worry, be happy"

Anonymous said...

Also, there were not just 2 media people covering the Mayor's constitent meeting (although I do wish the KNS had been there). A journalism student from UT was there, and he posted a pretty durn good report here:

And now I am officially finished with talking to Hornback through Donila or through his blog. If he wants to talk with me, I'm in the phone book.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, type. The south sector mtg is 7/26.

Brian, will you now correct you incorrect blog entry about Marshall Stair? I did send you a comment on that and it was not published, nor was a correction made.

Also, sorry I forgot to sign my name to the previous posts to Brian.


Brian Hornback said...

I have told Gary Drinnen, Marshall Stair and NOW Rachel Craig. If there were something to correct, it would be corrected. Stair has NOT voted in a City of Knoxville PRIMARY election.

His quotes to Georgiana Vines complicates the story. I have had contact with the government employee in Texas that has the voting record of Marshall Stair. I will take her testimony or an aspiring politician or his campaign staff.

Anonymous said...

Brian, for God's sake, check the post I reference. Read the first sentence. It says what I said it says. And it's wrong. Just fix it and move on.

Ok, sorry - really am going this time.


Anonymous said...

Donila's comments section becomes a forum for critics of Brian Hornback whose comments are not allowed on his blog.
Hilarity ensues!

PS: Donila, cannot believe that you link, quite and cite Hornback. One has to wonder if you left your BS meter at your old job?

And Brian, how is it that you are taking Burchett's talking points before he talks 'em? Are Burchett/Rice/Grider using you the way Ragsdale/Arms used to? Is it hard work being a tool?

Brian Hornback said...

Rachel says she's going this time, but that was before this time. Kinda liek John Kerrey, I was for it before I was against it. Being liberal you don't have to think, you just throw up what other liberals throw up. Gross,

Anonymous said...

Rachel Craig says she is an 8th generation Knox Countian. But her Facebook page says she graduated from Warren County High School. Hmm. Seems she doesn't know where she's from?