Wednesday, August 31, 2011
I'll have a story this Sunday that looks back on his first year in office. I'm sure his supporters will say it's too negative; and his critics will say it's too soft. Whatever.
Also, on Sunday, I'll update the blog with interview comments I didn't get to use.
In the meantime, here's a picture (above) that school spokeswoman Melissa Copelan sent me. I was interviewing Superintendent Jim McIntyre for the story and he mentioned that Burchett has been touring the school with him. He said they got a nice picture of the mayor hanging with some students at Powell Elementary School.
Burchett is the one in the middle by the way.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Apparently the guy (or gal) was pretty peeved about the money-grabbing tactics of the young Democrat who claimed to once be homeless and has now somehow managed to raise somewhere north of like ten billion dollars for a job that pays around $150,000.
Here's the email right smack here. (Way to sign your name by the way.)
In the meantime, Padgett's spin doctress, Laura Braden, who tells everyone she once worked with the Governator (obviously she's not from around here), sent the media an email, saying the candidate has launched his ad campaign and it stresses job creation.
It's really pretty silly, but I've picked on this guy so much that I'd be remiss if I didn't at least link to it. So, click right smack here if you dare.
And just so you know (and you know who you are), I do not care who wins this race.
So, before you start saying that you know who I support, just know that you are wrong.
Here's the official release from the administration:
Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, along with other public officials and representatives from area emergency service agencies, will mark 10 years since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks took place. A memorial ceremony is planned for Friday, Sept. 9, 2011 at 9 a.m. on the front lawn of the City County Building.
Following the ceremony, there will be a tree planting in honor of local families who lost loved ones on Sept. 11, 2001.
The public is invited.
Friday, August 26, 2011
He said the folks in the Deathstar "came out in force to show their support for our beloved coach, Pat Summitt."
In case you've been under a rock these past few days, the Hall of Fame Lady Vols coach said she has been diagnosed with early onset of dementia.
Today, people donned orange to show their support for her.
News Sentinel columnist Sam Venable recently wrote a nice piece about her and what she means to the community (and beyond). You can read it right smack here.
In the meantime, the folks who bring you Screams from the Porch (that's me) wish her the best.
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Hammond said he plans to talk with commissioners – yes, they'll be (or have been) sun shined – about staying on as the board's top dog.
His term ends Aug. 31. But, if members want, he's willing to hold onto the spot for one more year.
But, that's it, he promised.
“I'm going to term-limit myself,” he said. “But if I stay (as chairman) another year, then I'm done. I won't seek any more leadership positions.”
When members voted to put him in charge last year, he said at the time that “if I did a good job, I'd consider another year.”
The commission will hold a special meeting at 4 pm. On Sept. 1 to talk about the possible reorganizing. The vice chairman's seat, currently held by Brad Anders, also will be discussed.
Once again cutting into happy hour.
Or maybe not.
Elections Administrator Cliff Rodgers said it's going to be “pretty much your basic routine meeting before we get our elections cranked up.”
Of course that could all change if new board member Dennis Francis decides to raise some heck.
(No word yet on his plans.)
Click right smack here for the agenda.
My favorite item: They have to intentionally misspell the name of Charles Thomas, a write-in Knoxville City Council candidate.
That's in case the voters misspell it. It's all got to be on the legit list in order to count. Or whatever.
Anyhoo, I asked Rodgers about the timing of the meeting.
He said they have to be scheduled later in the day to accommodate board member Rob McNutt because of his job.
“No one objected,” Rodgers said. “I wasn't trying to punish you. I was just trying to accommodate his request. I would do it for anybody.”
OK. That's cool. I just hope McNutt shows up at the right precinct. I mean meeting room.
In the meantime, here's my request: Schedule these suckers earlier.
It looks like the Big Dog and the Emperor have been on the horn this morning, trying to wheel and deal his way into a new Carter Elementary School.
This time, the administration plans to use Partners Development, the No. 2 bidder after the Devon Group chickened out last week because big bad Commissioner Amy Broyles scared them off.
Under county Mayor Tim Burchett's proposed time line – and if the county's school board and industrial development authority give the go head – the plan could be back in the commission's hand in late October for the closing decision.
The county would turn to the No. 2 bidder, Partners Development, and the process would take the same route officials took with the Devon Group, the initial developer.
The administration would need the industrial development board to sign off on it, in what they hope would be a special called meeting in early September. County and school officials would start negotiations with the Knoxville-based developer and at the end of the month ask commissioners to approve a resolution in support of funding the elementary school, in part, by selling other county property.
The plan then would go to the county board of education in early October and back to the industrial development board for its blessing. Commissioners would further discuss it during the Oct 17 work session and make a final vote the following week.
If any of the three boards vote down the plan, then it more than likely dies for good, and the school system is expected to only renovate the historic East Knox County school.
My guess is someone is going to say "no," but, you know, this is Knox County politics. So who knows?
I thought about making a smart-ass comment about how folks should be nice to him today. Cause, you know, he's had a rough past week or so, with the Devon Group withdrawing from the Carter Elementary School project.
But, i figured I'd be nice.
Anyway, happy birthday, man.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Then again, maybe not.
As the News Sentinel reported (click right smack here) a week or so ago, the city’s pension board or its officials or whatnot are looking into a proposed charter amendment that would require that all votes on board action take a majority of all seven board members to pass.
Who knows if it will pass. Politics are involved. You know how that goes.
Anyhoo, the county’s financial minister, John Troyer, wants the county pension board to look into the same proposal.
But, when he suggested it during the board meeting this past Monday, other members met with some blank stares.
(Yeah. I’m not too sure this one is gonna fly.)
Troyer was upset because board members are talking about moving the office from the Deathstar’s third floor over to Landmark Plaza, which is at the corner of Papermill and Northshore drives.
Last month, the board, in a 4-1 vote, agreed to let pension board Executive Director Kim Bennett look further into the proposal.
The county pension board, though, has 9 members, including four commissioners. It also includes county Mayor Tim Burchett, but let’s face it, he doesn’t like meetings, so Mad Dog John is his official stand-in. ANYWAY, as I was saying, last month, the four commissioners bolted early from the meeting to grab some grub at commission Chairman Mike Hammond’s monthly luncheon. That left JT and four others.
And when Troyer voted against the proposal to move, he thought he had won. (JT figured you needed five “yes” votes to get something approved.)
Pension board attorney, former county law director and (newly appointed) nemesis to the county’s administration Richard Beeler (because Burchett doesn't want his firm to be the county's bond counsel) said it takes a majority of a quorum to approve a board action – not five.
JT didn’t like that.
One a side note, Bennett said it would cost about $50,000 to move the office and about $32,000 (at least) a year more to maintain operations.
She handed out a worksheet, listing the four “cons” and the 11 “pros,” which made me chuckle.
I agree that her office needs more space. It’s like a matchbox right now. And, it’s not very accessible to the seniors who make up 91 percent of the office’s clientele.
But her other reasons?
“More flexibility in future needs for office.” Really? We hiring more people in that pension office?
“Free up floor space in the (Deathstar) for expansion.” Really? Is The Man with the Badge finally going to get that intake center he always wanted?
“Participants perception of independence.” Come on. Just go to a board meeting. The attorneys like to remind the administration every ten minutes that the board is independent.
“Larger board room available for board meetings.” Huh? There’s like a 100 big rooms in the Deathstar you can use.
OK, I’m rambling.
Count on the board approving this next month.
Count on Burchett, I mean JT, voting against it. (And maybe a few other folks.)
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I mean the releases. I don't mind Ivan. (I'm still laughing about the shout out he gave his opponent Bo Bennett when the media stiffed him during the televised debate a few weeks back.)
Anyhoo, it appears that Harmon pretty much based his statements on the information/opinions Ron Peabody released last week. Click right smack here for that post.
The spin is also Ivan's opportunity to say "screw the homeless." But, you know, in a nice way. And it's a chance for him to tell everyone - once again - that he's held every elected office in the area at one time or another. Although I went ahead and cut out his resume. Cause I'm a jerk.
Oh yeah, one more thing. In the interest of fairness, I should mention Harmon's other opponents. There's Rogero who loves the homeless; there's Padgett who tells everyone he was homeless; and there's some other guy who may or may not be homeless.
Here's Ivan's spin (my comments, as always, are in bold):
Knoxville citizens participating in Compassion Knoxville, had the opportunity to come up with a community based solution to chronic homelessness. (Yup, and they did.) Despite the noble intentions from which Compassion Knoxville sprung, the process was sabotaged with the involvement of special interest groups. It's unfortunate that these special interest groups would hijack this process for their own gain. What began as a healthy exchange of community ideas was impeded by the self serving stance of these these special interest advocates. (You just said the same thing in three different ways, yet gave no examples.)Out of 44 recommendations in the final report less than half are fully supported by the public comments. (Shout out to Ron Peabody - Thanks buddy for doing all the work for me!) The recommendations included in the report that were not inspired by comments from the community can be distilled down to two related ideas: more bureaucracy and additional government spending."I do not believe that increasing bureaucracy is a compassionate response to the issues facing our homeless" said Ivan Harmon. (In other words: You people suck!)Citizens have repeatedly stated they do not want a scattered site approach or permanent supportive housing, which is not economically sustainable. (We want shotgun shacks instead!)Harmon has long advocated that we need a substantive solution the the homeless problem, not just a temporary ascetic fix. Unfortunately, the heavily special interest group influenced report we have received is just that, an ascetic fix of more government without ever addressing the base issues causing chronic homelessness. (Let God sort 'em out!)"I want to thank every person that engaged in this process and contributed ideas and suggestions. As Mayor of Knoxville I will listen to your ideas and suggestions and not those of special interest groups." stated Harmon. (Thanks for wasting my time, fellas!)
Saturday, August 20, 2011
But, I imagine some folks might bring up county Mayor Tim Burchett's plan to dole out $41,000 in coin that was left over from last year's budget to five local non-profits.
The big dog said he wants to divvy up the money (using defined service contracts or whatever) for the Alzheimer’s Association, Sertoma Center, Cerebral Palsy Center, Shangrila Therapeutic Academy of Riding and the East Technology Access Center.
Apparently they were on “the list” to get some scratch, but didn't. I asked Burchett about his choices and he said Broyles specifically asked him about the cerebral palsy center and he thinks Chairman Mike Hammond also mentioned the organization.
“These were groups that had applied in the past and they're reputable and do great work, and I was glad we were able to (provide the money),” he said. "The sertoma center employs special needs folks who probably wouldn't have another chance in another work environment.”
Yeah, that's cool, I said to him, but aren't you always talking about paying off the boogie man? (That's the county's debt to you new readers.) You stiffed the old folks who wanted to ride the bus for free. Why not use this money for something else?
He responded: “These are worthwhile organizations that actually do work that other groups don't. And they take care of our neediest population. If there's any one segment of our society that government should look after, these are the groups that are helpless. And I'll defend that position every day. To go out and see these groups – the people who work with these groups have a gift and I'm glad there are people in our community who look after people like that."
The mayor also said that “in the scheme of things” the $41,000, in a more than $600 million annual spending plan, “is a very small percentage.”
“Yes, that's a whole lot of money, but it's a whole lot of more money to these groups,” he said. “And if we didn't spend the money, then the taxpayers in some shape, form or fashion would probably have to pay more.”
OK, sounds fair. But, I just know that someone is going to complain.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Apparently Ron Peabody doesn't like the final report released by Compassion Knoxville, which happens to be the same group he bailed on to run for a City Council seat.
He issued a statement this morning. You can read it right smack here.
In it, Peabody, for five pages, lists a number of initiatives the group put on its suggestion or to-do list, or whatever. Then he says why they shouldn't be on there. Or whatever.
Compassion Knoxville responded. You can read the group's statement right smack here.
In it, officials tell Peabody to get a life. Or something like that.
Hey, I'm just the messenger.
I don't really care one way or another.
But, these releases make for good blog fodder on a slow (knock on wood) Friday afternoon.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Of course it's only Wednesday and the folks who sit on the Deathstar dais won't make a decision until Monday, and by then this post will probably be moot.
But, in the meantime, more than a few county officials say they're not quite so sure that a majority of the commission will sign off on the mayor's plan (the same plan the school board surprisingly passed) to build East Knox County a new elementary school.
Personally, I don't buy it, but stranger things have happened. I suppose.
Anyhoo, a few commissioners not named Tony Norman, Amy Broyles, Sam McKenzie or Richard Briggs say the vote should be close.
There's some thought – based on their comments during Monday's work session – that the aforementioned foursome will vote to instead renovate the school. (Yeah, that tired argument again.)
There's also talk that, perhaps, Mike Brown could join them. I also spoke to another commissioner – one who didn't care that I write down his thoughts, but didn't want his named used – who is on the fence right now. In fact, he said it would have been nice if the school board had voted down the mayor's proposal.
I also, talked to the big dog on the board – Chairman Mike Hammond – and he's hearing the same thing.
“I think it's real iffy right now,” he told me. “Frankly, I was surprised at some of the comments from the other commissioners. I didn't expect to hear them. It leads me to believe that Carter is a toss up right now. It could go either way, but if I was reading the tea leaves, I'd say it's a toss up.”
Hammond, by the way, says he'll vote in favor of the plan to build the new school.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Someone sent this to me. Couldn’t resist.
Actually, the way it was described to me was: “Did someone drop a rock on Duncan’s head?”
I’m like: “Huh?”
Then I was told to go check out job listings on the Deathstar's Web site.
Soooooo . . . . Here goes:
County Clerk Foster Arnett Jr. and county Trustee John Duncan each are hiring for what appears to be pretty much the same job (processing payments), although Foster’s job description is a little more long-winded.
And Duncan is willing to pay a little more. Actually, almost twice as much.
(Campaign contributions are optional. I hope.)
Anyhoo, Arnett pays $9 an hour for part-time work and Duncan is paying $17 an hour for what he calls "seasonal" work, although it looks more like 37.5 hours a week for bout nine months out of the year, which I’m pretty sure means you have a chance at getting that gooood county health insurance.
You’ll need at least a GED and a year in “a customer service driven field” and you must be able “to deal with irate and emotional customer(s) in a courteous professional manner."
(That last one automatically rules me out.)
UPDATE: Trustee just sent an email and said the job does not include insurance.
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Apparently, Knoxville is ranked No. 5 in some poll that rates the "top value in a place to live."
The report didn't exactly get all the numbers right, but it's still pretty cool to make the "good" list.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
So, what's Act II?
I'm up for the property assessor's office.
The administration is going to need the intel in there when other areas of the county come knocking on the door, asking him to sell more property to buy them a new school.
“Wright” or wrong, though, the mayor and Emperor Dean Rice really worked hard for this one. So, in the sense that they got what they wanted and made good on their promise to East Knox County residents – congratulations go out to them.
And I do mean that.
Still, I can't help but think that the mayor is now standing between a dog and a fire hydrant.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Apparently, one of my co-worker's pals (a freelance photographer) shot this pic. (UPDATE: Randy Sartin took the pic.)
We have a new system we're using (our editor blogged about it awhile back - I'm too lazy to find the link - so I'm not giving away any secrets here). But, it's a system that operates in the "cloud," or whatever.
Sooooo, the photog shot the pic of a cloud over the metal shed. Oddly enough, I just read a story yesterday (click right smack here) that includes the "cloud" in its list of "5 ways technology is actually getting worse."
Monday, August 8, 2011
Here's something that hasn't been reported yet. Because, the sixth floor Deathstar spin squad hasn't really gotten this out. Not sure why. But, I figure it's worth mentioning.
All this talk about selling land to build a new school? Naw. They don't really have to do that. Not entirely. The county says it needs $13.9 million to replace the busted-up East Knox County elementary school.
But, if you count the $2.5 million that it still expects the school system to cover, then we've pretty much got $9.7 million in the bank. Sooooo, that means we've got two years to raise the other $2 million or so.
Here's the breakdown:
$2 million: The sale of the Solway land and Commissioner Tony Norman's BMX track. (Yeah, the deal hasn't officially closed, but whatever. The sale has been approved)
$900K: Young-Williams Animal Center. You see the county has an agreement with the city to jointly operate the animal center as 50-50 partners. The county – along with some private coin – built the building and the city has been paying its share over the years. Well, the city fulfilled its commitment toward the building this year, according to the county's czar of finances, John Troyer. (I think the city actually paid up early, but who's complaining? Money spends the same.)
$3.4 million: This scratch represents E-911 money the center owed to Knox County for financing the construction of its building. E-911 recently bid out what amounts to a re-finance, thus paying off its obligation to the county. The E-911 board has approved the mortgage – which has been bid, but not closed yet – but it should close this month.
$900K: This beauty comes from a legal settlement (Class action, SEC v. JP Morgan). Click right smack here for the details. Or, if you want the easy to understand version, then here it is: Say your college roommate stole $20 from you a few decades ago, then felt bad about it and decided – out of the blue – to give it back to you. Well, you didn't really miss it because you didn't know about it, but it sure is nice to have. Except think about it actually being $900,000. So, really this is money we shouldn't have lost in the first place, but whatever. At this point it might as well be free money.
$2.5 million: The county issues bonds on behalf of the school board, which actually affects the school system's debt service. This is how the two sides were going to renovate Carter anyway.
There you have it. If the school board doesn't want the coin, then the mayor will use it to pay down the county's $1 billion debt (that includes the interest), which is pretty much a drop in the ocean.
Actually, the spin says he's raised another $45,015 and now has over $183,000 cash-on-hand of which $132,900 can be used for the primary which he is not expected to win, but could maybe, possibly force into a runoff.
Once again, the man who has run on his business-like acumen doesn't really talk about that business.
According to a quote which was no doubt written by Laura Braden, who bombards me daily with this minutiae, Padgett says he is “humbled and grateful by the support I have received from the community.”
In other words: “Thanks for the money, suckers! Wooooooh.”
He, I mean, she, goes on to say: “The financial support is needed, but more important is the growing number of Knoxville voters joining our campaign to keep Knoxville moving forward.”
In other words: “Damn I got a lot of coin, but I'm not too sure I got the votes.”
Finally: “With just thirty days until voters head to the polls, I urge everyone to encourage their friends, families and colleagues to register to vote.”
In other words: “The next time you see me I'll be on MTV answering questions about whether I wear boxers or briefs.”
Friday, August 5, 2011
Well, sort of.
Attorneys for former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison want the county to pay up - to the tune of some $134,000 in scratch for successfully defending the long-time sheriff during a series of ouster suits that began in 2007.
(It's not actually known if Hutch paid the attorneys and they're collecting for him or if they were waiting for the county - former county law director John Owings hired the firm - to just flat out reimburse them. Not sure if that sentence even made sense.)
Click right smack here for the memo and the itemized statements from the law firm.
The county (that means taxpayers) paid for former Commissioner Paul Pinkston's legal fees ($24,000), and plan to pick up the bill ($4,300) for Commissioner R. Larry Smith's tab for some Ethics Committee related crap that didn't have anything to do with ouster suits.
I'll have a story in Saturday's paper with more detail.
Have a good weekend.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I have to admit I'm surprised. I told Emperor Dean Rice the other day I didn't see this happening. You know - cut the nose off to spite the face. Or whatever.
In the meantime, thanks goes to Shock and Awe for bringing this to my attention. Click right smack here for his post and more links to the Carter stuff.
He sent me a twit or a tweet or whatever that Twitter stuff is called last night, but I was catching up on Breaking Bad, which is a kick-ass show, so I didn't see it until just now. I typically don't write about the school board, but any time I can can call the good doctor "Lord" and the chief of staff "Emperor" I jump.
You know. Cause I'm mature that way.
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Brief history lesson: When county Mayor Tim Burchett took office last September there was a big ol' mess about severance packages, and who knew what and when, and whatever. In the end, Bruce Wuethrich (public works and engineering), Larry Frank (top dog librarian) and Susanne Dupes (communications director) quit.
The mayor then put Black in charge of the library system as acting director, and Van de Vate (former county Mayor Mike Ragsdale's chief administrative officer or something like that) over public works.
Somehow Michael “Spin Doc” Grider got Dupes' old job, but it has a different title and pay and he has to carry the chief of staff Dean “the Emperor” Rice's bags wherever he goes. (Rice also requires him to walk three steps behind him wherever they go. Kidding. Not really.)
Anyhoo, I think they mayor this afternoon finally got sick of me asking him when he'd make permanent appointments. He then said he'd call Black and Van de Vate today and let them know they could drop the “interim” label from their business cards.
Course the mayor is so cheap, I mean frugal, that he'll probably just tell them to grab a pen and cross out the title rather than order new cards.
And no, they don't get a pay raise.
I blogged about it right smack here. Funny, stupid stuff.
Anyhoo, internal auditor Richard Walls on Friday fired Cox for sending the emails although that wasn't the official reason. It something to do with not being able to maintain objectivity or something.
Rebecca Ferrar wrote the story. Click for the brilliance right smack here.
So, where does that leave Salter? Some folks wonder why county Mayor Tim Burchett hasn't done anything about him.
First off, Walls answer to the county commission – not the mayor. Second, the Salter incident didn't happen under Burchett.
It happened under then-county Mayor Mike Ragsdale (back in May 2008). So, really, it's his choice. Or was.
Here's Burchett's response when I asked him about Salter: “All that happened prior to me being in office. (Salter) just needs to continue doing the job that he's supposed to. It was under a different administration and the things that went on then, aren't permitted. now.”
Monday, August 1, 2011
The same guy, left, former county Mayor Mike Ragsdale let quit before Tim Burchett came in and was (possibly) about to axe him? Then there was that whole severance package snafu.
Well, he got a job. Then he quit. After ONE WEEK!
Here's the story right smack here.
The story doesn't mention whether Frank will repay the $15,000 moving stipend the Grand Haven system gave him.