Friday, September 30, 2011

Harmon won't contest mayoral election

There was word going around that Knoxville mayoral candidate Ivan Harmon, left, was thinking about asking for a recount of Tuesday night's election.

He came in third, losing by 53 votes.

Apparently, he won't do that.

I talked to him Wednesday about whether he would endorse anyone, and at this point, he's not committed to either of the two remaining candidates. He said that he'd like to meet with both of them at a future date and decide then.

In the meantime, he told me that hunting season starts soon, so that's what he'll be doing. That and spending more time with his family.

Personally, I want to wish Ivan the best of luck in the future. He's a nice guy.

Here's the note he sent out this morning:
I want to thank my wife Jane, for all of her love and support, not only during this campaign, but my entire married life, and to my children and their families as well. Furthermore I would like to thank my entire staff. These dedicated people worked hard, and many hours and were all volunteers.

After giving this considerable thought and prayer, I have decided that it is in the best interest of not only me, but most importantly the citizens of Knoxville, to concede the race for Mayor. The American way of voting for our elected officials, although not perfect at all times, is the best way in the free world to elect our leaders. The voters have spoken, and I will neither delay nor prolong the process.
I want to also offer my congratulations to both Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett for their well-earned victories. I wish them the best as they run to fill the City of Knoxville mayor’s office. I love this city and serving its citizens and that is why I decided to run for mayor, to continue moving the city forward. I will be taking a few days to think and pray about what my next step is and which candidate most mirrors my values. That will be the candidate that I will endorse and ask my supporters to do the same.

Ivan Harmon

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Padgett, Rogero on new administration

OK, so we know that the two Knoxville Mayoral candidates - Madeline “Mad Dog” Rogero and Mark “The Plan” Padgett – will keep police Chief David Rausch when one of them takes office.

But what about senior director of policy and communications Billy Lyons and Larry Martin, deputy to the mayor?

I'll start with Rogero, because that one's pretty quick. Because she didn't say much.

“I don't really want to talk about it at this point,” she said. “But I've worked with a lot of them (city employees) for years, and I know the people and I know their talents. I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.”

No mention that, uh, a few of them over there are helping her out.

Now for Padgett.

He said he'd ask them “a lot of question.” He was referring more to how the city works and gauging their ideas. He said “I'm not sure who will stay.”

Then, he said this: “But to have someone who has been raising money against you everyday and talking negatively about you every day – well, it's hard to reconcile that.”

I then asked him if he meant Lyons and Martin. Cause, you know, I wanted to make sure he heard the question clearly. He said: “Well, I don't know, but there's people in the city who have been doing that.”

Uh, OK. But there's probably people in the city who “have been doing that” to Regero, too.

I specifically asked him about Lyons and Martin again and he said “there's a lot to learn from them”

He added: “There's definitely people there who would stay. There's definitely people I'll ask to stay. You won't see me come in and slash and burn. That's not something I want or plan to do.”

As he put it: “That's really an important thing (about electing a mayor) because when you think about me and Madeline, you have to think about what type of people will we'll surround ourselves with.”

Finally, he noted that – no matter whether it's him or Rogero in office – it might not even be up to them who stays.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

School board to vote on Carter design only

Just got off the phone with county purchasing director Hugh Holt a little while ago. Actually, it was several hours ago, but I got elections tonight, so I'm doing nothing right now. Yeah.

Anyhoo, he said he talked to someone who's name I can't remember, but he's high up in the school system food chain - not as high up as Lord McIntyre, but up there - and he said the Board of Education only needs to approve the schematic designs for Carter Elementary School.

They are not voting on anything else. This should take place Oct. 5. For all the talk, this should pretty much be a slam dunk, as the designs are comparable to Gibbs and some other schools that meet the so-called standards that have never quite been explained.

From what I understand, a vote against the designs would be a vote against the designs of other schools. That's just my impression.

Also, there's been some talk that because the project will use a different developer, then the BOE has to - again - vote on it. That's not the case. They never voted on an actual developer back in August. They voted only to accept a school from the county.

Also, there are some folks out there who think the project should be rebid because the bids supposedly called for a design-build, lease-back, whatever thing. That's also not the case. All of the developers - in their bids - said they would accept a lump sum payment.

So, essentially nothing has changed.

Finally, there's been some talk about the real cost of the school. The actual brick and mortar building is supposed to cost no more than $13.9 million - the same as the county planned to pay The Devon Group before they pulled out for reasons the governor knows. Er, that's what I hear anyway.

(Oh yeah, the new developer by they way, if you've been under a rock, is Partners Development. But, I digress.)

Officials think they can actually get the $13.9 million price tag down a little bit. However, there are some other costs. They call them "FF&E's." This is the crap that goes inside the building. (Fixtures, furniture and equipment.) That is not included in the price.

Initially, it was going to cost $2 million for this stuff when Devon was going to build the school. It's now supposed to cost $1 million. I can't remember why. It was explained to me; it made sense; I've now forgotten.

That's on the county, also.

So, there you have it. Presumably, the county's industrial development authority will sign off on this on Oct. 11 (and the school board on Oct. 5.) Technically, the county had until Oct. 17 to turn in the schematic designs, but that stage wrapped up well before then, so the proposal can go before the two bodies on time.

Groundbreaking - if Partners doesn't pull out - should take place in November.

However, with all that has happened, I'll believe it when I see it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Did commissioners violate Sunshine law?

On Saturday, Brian Hornback posted this – click right smack here about Commissioner Amy Broyles and what he – and quite a few people at the Deathstar today who read his blog – felt was a possible Sunshine law violation.

You know? That little rule you’re supposed to follow when you’re a commissioner and you want to hang out with your buds and not get in trouble.

Here’s the deal I got from talking to commissioners: Broyles, who was in the hospital recently, wanted to catch up on some of the recent audit committee discussions. So, she sent some folks this email:

“Commissioners Amy Broyles and Ed Shouse will meet at Panera Bread in Bearden (4855 Kingston Pike) on Sunday, September 25, at 3:00pm. Other Commissioners may be present. The public and press are invited.”

(Shouse, by the way, is a member of the audit committee.)

I got the email at 4:52 p.m. Friday, according to my delete folder where I dug it out of because that’s what I do with those things. Because I’m immature that way. Heh. (OK, that wasn’t fair. I have actually gone to one of Broyle’s meetings.)

It appears Amy sent that to me personally. Going back through the junk box of bad boys I also found the exact same email sent to me again, but this one was at 8:18 a.m. Saturday. It also included a bunch of other email addresses. So, lots of people got it. On Saturday.

At issue is whether the meeting was adequately publicly noticed. I don’t recall seeing it on the county’s Web site, but who checks that thing anyway?

I asked Joe Jarret, the county’s law director, about it during today’s commission luncheon and he said Tennessee Code says officials need to give “reasonable public notice.”

And there is the problem. What’s reasonable? Jarret felt 48 hours was a good number.

He also emailed me this during the luncheon:

Mike, here's the latest analysis:

What constitutes adequate public notice depends on the totality of the circumstances. In Memphis Publishing Company v. City of Memphis, 513 S.W.2d 511, 513 (Tenn. 1974), the Tennessee Supreme Court declared that, "[a]dequate public notice means adequate public notice under the circumstances, or such notice based on the totality of the circumstances as would fairly inform the public." See also Neece v. Paris Special School District, 813 S.W.2d 432 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1990).

Mike, based upon the above, the courts have issued inconsistent rulings. If a court ruled that notice was inadequate, then any action taken by the members present, presuming they had a quorum, would be considered void and of no effect.

Hornback got a similar email. Check it out right smack here. Jarret also reiterated to him the 48-hour thing.

Oh yeah – almost forgot. Broyles and Shouse did meet for several hours. They were joined by Commissioners Richard “The good doctor” Briggs and Dave Wright. In addition, radio talk dude Hubert Smith and Dan “the man” Andrews were there.

The group talked about audit stuff and then the proposed Carter Elementary School.

Anyhoo, I talked to Wright about the meeting and he said “it wasn’t kosher” that Broyles didn’t give more than 48 hour notice. He said “someone” called him Saturday to give him a heads up about the meeting.

Commission Chairman Mike Hammond agreed.

“I want to talk with Joe Jarret about this,” he said. “We need to get some clarification. When we do these things, someone has to take notes and there has to be an agenda. It’s probably time to have Joe weigh in on this again and refresh us.”

He also said he wants to put it on the chairman’s luncheon next month. (The commission meets for lunch between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. on commission meeting days. Yes, they are adequately notified.)

Commissioner Jeff Ownby, who was with Wright and Hammond when I approached them about this, said he didn’t get a notification until 7:50 p.m. Friday, but he didn’t see it until Saturday.

Shouse said he got his some time Friday but he’d “prefer a 72-hour” advance notification.

None of the commissioners I spoke to said they felt there was a violation, but they weren’t exactly thrilled at the timing of the email.

I also talked very briefly with Amy about it. She didn’t seem concerned, and said that she had a number of email addresses on hand, so she sent them out as soon as she could Friday; and then later that night – when she had rounded up all her other addresses – sent out another email. (She also made a comment during the luncheon that the meeting was "sunshined".)

So, you can decide whether the commissioners violated the Sunshine law. Keep in mind that it wouldn’t just be Broyles. Although she sent out the email, three other commissioners attended the meeting.

I’m just glad they didn’t vote.

Credit goes to the rogue for pointing this out. Also, Dan Andrews has a video of the meeting but was having problems uploading it to Youtube, since it was too large of a file. He said he might be able to upload it later. If so, I'll post a link to it.

If it's as riveting as most commission meetings, I'm sure you'll all watch it.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Follow election results on your phone

The Knox County Election Commission won't provide phone apps this year to catch the unofficial results as they come in Tuesday night, but they will make it somewhat easy if you want to use your phone to watch the show.

I can't remember why they won't use apps. Second-in-command Scott Frith explained it to me but I really wasn't listening. Something about a screw-up or confusion last time they used them. Can't recall. I might be wrong. Whatever.

Anyhoo, if you have a phone or pad produced by Apple (I refuse to acknowledge such inferior devices by their names), a kick-ass Droid or a lame Blackberry, then log on to or by clicking right smack here, and then find the link to whatever device you're going to use.

It will look a lot nicer if you do, since the results will be formatted for the specific mobile device and show the results customized for it.

For those of you still living in the early 2000s who don't have a real cell phone – and you do have a computer with Internet connection – you can also go to the Web site and just watch the scores scroll down the screen.

Also, according to a news release, After all precincts have reported, the Election Commission will also provide an online “Election Analysis Tool” after all the precincts have reported. This will provide unofficial election results sorted by precinct or candidate name. This analysis tool will be available at

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Public emails, calls about sex offender ban

I got curious about public reaction to county Mayor Tim Burchett's new ban. You know, the one where he officially kicked sex offenders out of county libraries.

And no, I didn't want to read what the knuckleheads thought about it over at the KNS comment section. Most of those notes are the same people just posting under different names, anyway. No, seriously, check it out. Visit the site around midnight when a story gets posted and then watch two people start arguing. Love how the syntax is the same. And they just coincidentally are up at the same hour. All the time. Always picking fights with each other.

Damn, I'm rambling.

Anyhoo, I sent in a request to the administration. Apparently, since Monday – when King Tim announced the new policy – and as of yesterday morning, 16 people have phoned his office, according to the call log.

Another 10 folks emailed the office.

That's not too bad, I suppose. Communications Manager Michael “Big Sexy” Grider said “it's close to being the most” in regards to feedback.

He said the Carter Elementary School debate probably takes the cake, but feedback for that issue continues to trickle in all the time.

They also got some feedback on the budget. I'm assuming it was from the seniors who were upset that the mayor hates them and took away their free bus rides.

And, they also got quite of bit of correspondence late last year when the mayor wanted to hold public hearings for the proposed Midway Business Park project that he still won't publicly say he wanted done, but – yeah – he did. Heh.

Course, the county was soliciting feedback for that one, so let's just say it doesn't count.

Soooo, if you're interested, you can click right smack here for the call log. And you can click right smack here for copies of the emails.

Please note that I have the originals but also requested that the county redact the email addresses and phone numbers, so the crazies that post over on the KNS site don't get a hold of them. (I know my people wouldn't do that.) I only mention it in case someone wants to talk about transparency on behalf of the county. It was my call.

Based on the records, it appears that two out of the 16 callers didn't like the ban. One said she would not vote for the mayor again. Wow. For banning dirty old men and women from a library? Pretty sure she has bigger issues than that.

The other wanted proof that a sex offender in the library had ever molested a child. Wow. I think the idea behind Burchett's plan is to make it to where a sex offender never does molest a child.

Others pretty much said they supported the move, and one person said: “They can have two options – castration or stay out of the library.”

Most people who sent emails to Big Tim were in favor of the ban, although about half of them don't live in the county. One person sent some bizarre response, so I'm not sure what side of the fence he is on.

He probably doesn't know either.

Anyway, have fun.

I just figured I'd post something today.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Hutchison legal bills tabled; more appeals

Herbert S. Moncier just won't quit.

Not that, that is necessarily a bad thing.

But in this case, I think it might be time to throw it in. Because Knox County taxpayers could be looking at a bigger bill. Or maybe not. He could win.

Yeah, I know. What am I talking about? Rambling here.

OK, in August the legal team for Tim Hutchison asked the county commission to reimburse it $134,000 for (so far) successfully defending the long-time Knox County sheriff against a number of ouster lawsuits.

All which were filed by Moncier on behalf of residents. Heh. Really, this was Herb filing these bad boys on behalf of himself. Cause he doesn't have much love for the old sheriff. And vice versa.

Anyhoo, the commission tabled the request in late August. Then yesterday tabled it again.

Apparently, Moncier is trying to appeal what the court's already dismissed, but - just in case - county Law Director Joe Jarret asked officials to hold off until the October meeting when he expects the courts to wrap up everything.

In the meantime, if Herb doesn't win, figure that the law firm will tack defending this appeal onto its final bill.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Knox library's letters to sex offenders

So, are you tired of the whole sex offenders in the libraries issue thing yet? Yeah, me, too.

So here's some more.


I asked the county for copies of the letters they sent to the two sex offenders that are library cardholders. Don't forget there was a third but the dumb ass didn't update his address, so they charged him with a felony and threw him in the county clink.

And county Mayor Tim Burchett - who either gets sole credit or blame - was last seen fist-bumping everyone around him and saying: "Another dirt bag off the street."

'Course he forgot to give the Man with the Badge credit for that line.

But, I digress.

Anyhoo, I asked the county for copies of the letters.

Click right smack here if you want to read.

Also, the county for some reason scratched out the addresses. You can find them at the state's sex offender list by clicking right smack here for that bad boy.

Or, I can just tell you:

A letter was sent to James Hodge, 56. He committed aggravated sexual battery in June 1986.

The other was sent to Brian Leonard, 45. He committed aggravated sexual battery and statutory rape: with prior conviction for statutory, mitigated or aggravated in June 2003.

In the meantime, this has been a pretty controversial issue. About whether the mayor should have banned the sex offenders, or just some of them, or all of them. Or whatever.

Personally, I think Burchett should ban smelly people from the libraries.

Commissioners to talk about talking

Looked through the county commission's work session agenda for Monday. Glad there's nothing about homelessness and hillside/ridgetop. I might get out of there by midnight.

Anyhoo, the Carter Elementary issue is obviously back. This will probably be the meeting where we all find out specifically where everyone stands. Well, until the following week when some folks stick their finger in the political wind and change their minds.

The board also will talk about whether to reimburse former Sheriff Tim Hutchison's law firm for its legal bills.

And we got another interesting little gem: Commissioners will talk about how much they talk.

Chairman Mike Hammond was telling me the other day that the board doesn't exactly follow Robert's Rules of Order. (If you don't know what it is, then Google it. Heh.) Apparently, when commissioners are talking about an issue, they only get one go-around. At times. Not always. Sometimes. Whatever.

Hammond, though, lets everyone talk for as long as they want and as often. So long as they get in line. I'm talking about commissioners here - not the public. The public talks too much, anyway. Heh.

Soooo, Commissioner Mike Brown asked the top dog about it, saying maybe he should limit the amount commissioners yap. Pot calling the kettle black and all. And Hammond acquiesced.

Still, the chairman pointed out that a commissioner might later have a "good question" and - if Brown has his way - they won't be able to ask it.

I'm betting nothing changes.

New rat-screw ordinance a pain for some

Back in August, the county commission – without a whole lot of discussion – passed an ordinance (second reading) that compels county employees to rat out each other if they suspect fraudulent, illegal, wasteful, blah, blah, blah activity in their department or by their fellow co-workers.

If they don't – and something bad goes down and they get caught not reporting it – then they face disciplinary action, even termination.

It's probably not a bad rule, except it doesn't provide whistleblower protection and there are no repercussions for rat-screwing an employee when you know they haven't done anything wrong, yet report something anyway.

And, yeah, that happens ALL the freakin' time in the Deathstar.

Anyhoo, we've beat this to death. Rebecca Ferrar (may she retire in peace) reported on it and the editorial board pontificated – or whatever they do – on it. So, consider this a short update, so I can feed the blog beast.

A number of department heads have told me that they do NOT like this ordinance and feel the county already has enough protections. There's the audit committee's tattletale line (where folks like to call up and accuse county Mayor Tim Burchett of getting drunk and using inmate labor to mow his lawn); and folks can yap to the toothless Ethics Committee.

Sooooooo, department heads now have employees in fear for their job, and they're reporting every stupid little rumor they hear. You know, just in case. Or they're just making crap up. I've seen/read some of the accusations. They're as asinine as the ones that come out of the tattletale line.

And there's no repercussion for reporting BS.

Good thing the commission really dove into this issue.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

We need a cage fight, not a PBA audit

At some point, the county commission should just throw PBA top dog Dale Smith and local developer Sandy Loy into a steel cage and let the two go at it.

I'll get to what I'm talking about in a minute.

Earlier this week, I covered the county audit committee, but the big story that came out of it was the release of the Beck Cultural Exchange Center investigation. You can find that right smack here.

Anyhoo, I didn't get around to writing or talking about the Public Building Authority audit. Or proposed one. Or lack thereof. Or whatever.

The commission in July authorized the audit committee to authorize an audit of the PBA and the financial aspects that led to the construction of the $50 million Hardin Valley Academy. (That's a lot of authorizing.)

Sooooo, on Tuesday, the audit people talked briefly about it. The problem that chairman Joe Carcello brought up, however, is that the commission wants the internal auditor to go back six years. That's a ton of work. And a ton of dead trees to go through. I'm pretty sure the commission had no idea what six years entails. A lot of work. And work done by the county's small internal auditing department. But, again – whatever.

I'm rambling here, I know.

But Carcello knows this, too.

“The Hardin Valley one is at least more limited in scope,” he said. “The PBA? This is ambitious.”

In the end, the committee asked auditor Richard Walls to examine the Hardin Valley issue.

Carcell said “if it comes though squeaky clean then I don't know if it's the best use to use the limited resources we have to do a six year audit of the PBA. If it comes back clean, we can say: 'Do you really need an audit of the PBA?'”

Walls said by mid-November, the next time the committee meets, he should almost be done with the investigation.

In the meantime, Carcello also, albeit very, very briefly, talked about the deal between Loy and Smith.

You see, these two do not like each other. For years, Loy has beat Smith over the head in news columns about some supposed mischief that went on in the construction, bidding, building, whatever process of Hardin Valley school.

It culminated awhile back when Smith talked about the issue in front of commissioners and then Loy threatened to sue him for slander.

You can read that bad boy right smack here.

On Tuesday, Carcello asked rhetorically whether the two have ever been in the same room together to hash out the allegations. He talked about how one says one thing; then the following week, the other answers. Or how their attorneys will do the talking.

I say: Screw that!

Either get them in a public forum to debate.

Or get them in the cage.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

IDB approves Carter school negotiations

To the surprise of no one, the Industrial Development Board voted today to let the county enter into formal negotiations with Partners Development, which hopefully for them doesn't have any connections to Big Bill that - you know - could maybe cause them to pull out.

or not.

(Like maybe the last developer did.)

Er, just saying.

Oddly enough, the spin release - issue by Michael "Low" Grider - was titled: "Plan to build new school on schedule."

I'm thinking it should have been more like: "Plan to build new school inches closer to getting shot down by school board later on next month."

Or, whatever.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Burchett thwarts 9/11 conspiracy theorists

I’m all about free speech, so long as you’re not a dumb ass about it. Or classless.

So, you know, if you’re at a 9/11 memorial, don’t try to pass off a brochure and DVD to someone interviewing a person who lost a family member in the attacks 10 years ago on the World Trade Center.

Yeah, that’s what happened this morning. I’m talking to a mother who lost her son, and there’s this guy lurking in the background, trying to get my attention. When I was done with the interview, the guy handed me a DVD (called “Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth”) that insinuates that explosives planted before the planes struck – and not the planes – destroyed the towers.

Anyhoo, county Mayor Tim Burchett is standing there mumbling about the situation (they tried to give him some stuff earlier – he refused). Finally, he walks over to the two and asks them to leave.

Don’t get me wrong, he’s polite about it, but he’s pretty pis, er, upset.

He tells them to he’d appreciate it if they left. He goes on to tell them that his dad served in WW II, that there were a number of other vets there (we were on the lawn of the Deathstar), and “out of respect for the families” they should go.

“I’m going to ask you to leave,” he said.

They talked about how they were on “public land” and threw the free speech card at him.

Burchett nodded his head and said: “Yeah, that’s cool, I understand. I’d appreciate ya’ll getting the hell out of here.”

They did.



Thursday, September 8, 2011

Update on Carter; Sandy Loy's letter

I talked to Emperor Dean Rice yesterday and he said the administration is on track with its plans to have the No. 2 developer building the Carter community a new elementary school.

That is, if the county commission and school board go along with it.

There's been some talk around the Deathstar about whether the county needs the board of education's approval. Regardless of whether it does, it's just plain smart to get it. At any time, the school board could renege the go-ahead it gave the county last month if the right members decide to bring the issue up for vote again.

You know, the whole parliamentary procedure thing.

Anyhoo, in the meantime, local developer Sandy Loy this morning sent the administration an email that pretty much takes a shot at everyone. (It was addressed to emperor Dean.) Along with the email, he had some fancy attachments (those are the underlined things you can click on. Heh.).

Here's his note:


Attached is a PDF of a newsletter from the CMAA explaining the CM types which seem to be constantly confused by people with an interest for the topic to stay confusing.

I hope you will read it and keep it for reference.

I don't know the status of the Carter deal but I think the attempt to take the Devon design to Partners as second bidder is a mistake. I think you have opened the door for the BOE to take another look at it and it will get killed.

Maybe I'm wrong, in any regard I hope that the day will come when Tim steps up and actually does something to start saving the County money while building schools. Spending 13mm for an elementary school is not a good start no matter who builds it.

I talked to Cindy Buttry at length this week and she is still being lied to by Dillingham and McIntyre about the schools I built and their respective costs. They keep telling the BOE "That Paulette school in Union Co. isn't up to Knox Co Standards", and it isn't, BUT I DIDN'T BUILD THAT SCHOOL! They don't mention the Claiborne Co. High Schools which they toured and admitted were indeed equivalent or superior to Knox Co Standards.

So when they start this with you and Tim make sure you call them out on it, Union Co CHEAP, Claiborne Co INEXPENSIVE BUT COMPARABLE IN DESIGN AND QUALITY.

Also note the Sweetwater Primary data sheet which I built for 660 kids for 7.6mm!

I am also attaching a letter from the Director of Schools in Claiborne Co stating his opinion as well as a project sheet with pics.


Sanford C. Loy, CCM
Construction Plus Inc.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Screams from the Porch endorsements

This post marks the first time Screams from the Porch endorses a political candidate(s). Yeah, real objective, I know.

If you don't like it, go cry to your mamas. I don't cover these people anyway.

For Knoxville mayor, SFTP picks Big Bo Bennett. Why? Why not? It would be funny if he won.

“Now what,” he'd ask.


For City Council, at large Seat C, SFTP endorses that lady. I like Finbarr Saunders because he complemented me on my scraggly beard in a no-doubt attempt to suck up to me. I like Ron Peabody because whenever I post about him and the homeless, a handful of people comment lots and lots of times on the blog. I think there's another person running. Not sure. Heck, I don't even know the woman's name SFTP endorsed. But who cares? Right? I mean you all vote blindly along party lines anyway. Screw qualifications.

For City Council, at Large Seat A, SFTP endorses Michael McBath. Why? See the mayoral race.

For City Council, at large Seat B, SFTP endorses the one with the funniest haircut.

For Municipal Court Judge, SFTP endorses John R. Rosson Jr. Why? Cause he's unopposed. And he's the freakin' judge right now. And SFTP doesn't want to pi--, er upset, the judge.

For 6th District State Senate, SFTP endorses Mike Donila as a write-in candidate. He doesn't vote, he doesn't live in the district and he really doesn't care what you think. He'd be perfect for the seat.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

One year in, Burchett says he delivered

Click here for today's story on Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's first year in office. My editors gave me 60 inches. In newspaper terms, that's about half of an empty page. I wanted more. But, whatever.

Here are some of the quotes from the mayor that didn't make the story.

On the overall past year:

"I think we've accomplished a lot of things that we set out to do - transparency and restoring a great deal of trust back to Knox County. People worked really hard in this administration and I've enjoyed it immensely."

On the transition from a legislative body to the executive branch:

"There really wasn't any honeymoon. We immediately went to work, starting to implement things. I was used to dealing with the executive branch (as a member of the state House and Senate), so I knew the role from the other side."

On what he would do different:

He said early on he didn't meet regularly with commissioners and other public officials, but he's since changed that. He said he took it for granted that they were up-to-date on all the issues, but then realized that because a commissioner job is part-time and most have other jobs, then that's not always the case.

On whether he would change anything:

"I don't know if I'd change anything. We accomplished our major goals from putting together a budget and paying down the debt, and things that are important. They're not sexy and don't make headlines but that's what we do."

On the hardest part of the job:

“Having to tell friends that I can't find them work. I can't create a job and you have to go through the process. There's a set of procedures in place. I refuse to make this a good ol' boy system up here.

On the best part of the job:

"The people I work with – all of the departments."

On a campaign promise to improve education:

He said he thinks he has.

"I've given them the funding they've asked for. I meet regularly with them, I've visited numerous schools and I go to lunch with the kids – not the teachers and principals. I want to find out what's going on with the schools. You have to give them the funding to support"

On his battles with other elected officials:

"It's not my role to be a cheerleader for office holders. When I talked about a 'new direction' (during the campaign), I meant it. People are tired of the same old stuff."

On the fee office controversy:

"When we came to a disagreement with the fees office, we still accomplished everything we want to do. We just had to get our heads together and discuss it and that's what we did. We got the transparency we're looking for and they kept their autonomy."

On not filling an MPC position with someone from the south side of the city/county:

"I just looked for the best person that I think would fit the job. I wanted someone with a business background."

On his plan to not fund the area's "save the homeless initiative" because the campuses allow booze:

He said he did include the county's $50,000 in this year's budget to help with the office's transition.

"But I still stand by my original (statement). I'd revisit it with a new city mayor, but my position hasn't changed.

But, he added, he doesn't "want it to be one against the other."

On the safety center:

"I'm against it, although I never said I was publicly against it. It's a funding issue."

On the Midway Business Park:

Now this is the interesting one. Don't kid yourself: The administration wanted the business park. Note how members never took a stand one way or another for it. But, Burchett didn't like how the whole thing was handled.

"I inherited that. I think it was mishandled. I think there was a distaste in the public's mouth on what appeared to be an inside land deal with connected people. They had it three years and dropped it in my lap but the damage was already done. I think if you go out to the public and tell them what you'd like to do and get their ideas, then it goes a long way. Don't be disrespectful about it."

He then said: "I'd like to see something out there . . . and I don't want to see a bunch of apartments."

On the Ridgetop and Hillside Protection Plan:

"I'm a property rights person and I think ultimately we have good laws in place and the ultimate goal is enforcement."

On why he pushed so hard for Carter:

He said his father taught him to support the underdog and that's always stuck with him.

"I think the people out there have been misled and it's the right thing to do. I have a place in my heart for the underdog."

He also said he "got caught up a little in their enthusiasm," and liked how the East Knox County residents tend to stay to themselves, but thoroughly research an issue when it affects them. It was a great quote, but I don't have that part of my notes on me, and most people would probably read it the wrong way. It's all in the tone. But it was pretty funny what he said.

Burchett also pointed out that during his campaign he never promised to build a new school, but rather, he "would look into it."

On the Carter opponents:

"People don't like it because I ruffled some feather and I understand that. Or people are upset that I don't want to put us in 20 to 30 years of debt."


On the severance packages:

"It's been rehashed a 100 times. I established a no severance policy so the issue won't come up again. It was done by executive order."

On his attendance:

"I've been attending more meetings. You've seen me in there."

That's true.

On his next budget:

"It's all on the table. I caught a lot of heat because we didn't give raises and the county employees haven't had raises in four years. But, if you talk to some folks in the private sector, some of them haven't had raises in 6 years. If I can, I'd like to do it but not with a tax increase."

He also said that he's "not looking at a tax increase right now. My directors know to bring me other solutions. A tax increase is too easy."

On future concerns:

"It's always the budget."

But, he added: "I want to continue to restore confidence and transparency in county government and continue to provide services that we're constitutionally mandated to do."


This was from Commissioner Amy Broyles:

"I think local government works best when everyone is encouraged to participate, to bring their best ideas and collaborate with their colleagues. There has been a definite shift away from that in the past year, which I attribute to the current administration. I have been very disappointed in the adversarial rhetoric and lack of honest communication. Keeping a tally of ‘wins’ and ‘losses’ shifts one's focus from where it ought to be - on the citizens of Knox County.

“We have all worked very, very hard since the 2008 elections to restore the public's trust, and we have made great strides towards a more respectful, transparent, and responsive government. I think we have one of the most effective, most progressive legislative bodies in Knox County history. We work well together, and Mike Hammond has done an excellent job of keeping us focused and moving forward. He is sensitive to everyone's right to be heard - public figures and private citizens alike.

“Community organizations and other non-profits provide valuable services to the people of Knox County, and I am pleased to see the administration is acknowledging that by restoring some of the funding they cut. I think it shows sincere growth, and I am very proud of the Mayor. I also admire his willingness to consider out-of-the-box solutions to stubborn issues, and his perseverance. One on one, it is obvious he cares about people and wants to make a difference in their lives. I think he will continue to develop as he settles in and finds his balance as an executive. I look forward to that. Working together, the Commission and the administration have the potential to do some truly great things for Knox County over the next few years."

Commissioner Ed Shouse said the following:

"I think it's been a pretty good year for the mayor. Certainly, there's a learning curve from working the halls of the Legislative Plaza to the nuts and bolts of running a county with 450,000 people and a budget of $650 million. He's had some missteps but that's expected for anyone, but I'd certainly say it's been a good year.

"He followed through on his campaign promises to reduce government and no tax increases and run it as efficiently as he saw fit, and I think that's what he's attempting to do. I think that sometimes the communications can probably be improved upon but I believe he's gotten better at that in the last six months than he was in the first."

Knoxville Chamber President and CEO Mike Edwards said the following:

"I think he's had a successful first year. I've watch from the peripheral other mayors – city and county – in my tenure and the learning curve that first year is steep regardless of your background. And everybody that I could cite has come in with some degree of knowledge and there's always a learning curve, but I think he mastered it relatively quickly. I think he's been able to work with the commission, but they're not necessarily a rubber stamp. But he has been able to get important agenda items through, not the least of which was his budget, which was not easy."

Edwards added: "He also took home the Carter school deal. And he has not been afraid to take on a tough issue. He worked Carter extremely hard and had success. He's not done yet, but he has gotten it a pretty good ways down the road."

Edwards also said Burchett "made a very good stand with no tax increase and he kept public education No. 1. He kept (the school system) as a priority when there's a lot of pressure to go in a whole lot of different directions.

"I think he has maintained a high level of integrity. There's been no instances of impropriety. You can tell if a guy's heart is in the right direction, so I think he's had a great first year."

Register of Deeds Sherry Witt:

"I think he's had some great ideas and it's just implementing those great ideas. I hoped we helped with doing that. We sure tried to.”

She said the fee office debate "was a true compromise. It wasn't ever that I was trying to be a radical. But me being here as long as I have, I knew there were certain duties I couldn't give someone else.

"We look forward to working with him in the future."

Superintendent Jim McIntyre:

"From my perspective, the mayor has really always been a friend to public education going back to his years in the Legislature and I think that continues today. Part of his educational background was his parents – they were both educators – and I think he understands the importance of public education, and more particularly, high-quality public education for the future of our community.

"I think we've developed a good working relationship over the past year and I meet with him every other week. I think we've really worked to establish that working collaborative relationship around supporting the children in our community."

I asked him to characterize the mayor's approach to Carter Elementary School.

"It's really the same. I believe over the past year we've worked to build a collaborative relationship, and I think the mayor has tried to be creative in working through his interest and the Carter community's interest, and I think that he has tried to be respectful of the (school) board's authority . . . . One example is that early on the board of education had voted several times for renovations, and I think the mayor really listened to the board when they said if they were to consider a proposal for a new school it would have to come out of resources that wouldn't impact the school system. I think the mayor listened to that, took it back and really tried to respond."

He added: The good news is that he shares our priority in ensuring that we provide a great education to our children. He has really engaged with us. For example, over the last two weeks (McIntyre has been touring the schools), the mayor has been to probably eight or 10 of them with us and observed instructions with me. He generally seeks to be supportive of the work we've done. He cares for the children, he's good with kids and has a heart for public education, and I look forward to working with him."

Chief of Staff Dean Rice:

"I think it's been a great year. I've thoroughly enjoyed working for the mayor. I learned a lot and look forward to doing a lot more. My favorite part of the year was watching an elected official actually do what they said they were going to do. You may not win every time, but I think the people and the voters appreciate him and what he's trying to do, and I look forward to doing anything I can do to help him for as long as he wants."

Rice added: "If you look at what he's done coming into office this year, I think you'll continue to see a mayor who is pushing for those core things – more transparency, efficiency and fiscal responsibility. They may be broad things, but they have real consequences as far as policy goes."

He also said: I truly enjoy working with a lot of talented people and getting to know many of the county employees who get to do a tremendous job for the taxpayers."

Communications Manager Michael "Big Sexy" Grider said:

"Huh, what? What are you asking me for? I just work here."


Yeah, I made up that last one.