Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Some haven't filed campaign forms

UPDATE: I've slightly tweaked this blog since it was posted yesterday.

Apparently in all the confusion a few elected officials forgot to file their campaign financial disclosure statements that were due today. Yes, due at 12:01 p.m. on Jan. 31, 2012. And yes, I was kidding about the confusion thing. Whatever.

Here's the apparent list of slackers:
  • County Clerk Foster Arnett
  • County Commission Chairman Mike Hammond
  • County Commissioner Vice Chairman Brad Anders
  • County Commissioner Amy Broyles
Note, that I said the “apparent list.” That's because officials also had the chance to mail in their forms. So, if one arrives at the Election Commission and it's certified and postmarked by Jan. 31, then it's still considered timely, according to head election honcho Cliff Rodgers.

County Trustee John Duncan III sent me a note, letting me know that he mailed his in.

Still, it really doesn't matter that some folks were late. All it does is create fodder for political opponents and Screams from da Porch.

The rest of the world, including the state lawmakers who could actually implement strict punishments, doesn't care.

Anyhoo, these latest disclosures cover July 1, 2011 through Jan. 15.

Here's a list of other top county officials and how much cash they have on hand:

(If you want more – like school people, judges, whoever, then click right smack here and start searching.)
  • County Mayor Tim Burchett: $12,587
  • Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones: $10,457
  • Register of Deeds Sherry Witt: $6,838
  • Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey: $8,724
  • Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist: $4,451
  • Property Assessor Phil Ballard: $53,693
  • Law Director Joe Jarret: $9,855
  • County Commissioner Dave Wright: $1,065
  • County Commissioner R. Larry Smith: $7,223
  • County Commissioner Jeff Ownby: $91.69 (big spender)
  • County Commissioner Ed Shouse: $6,206
  • County Commissioner Tony Norman: $2,149
On a side note, here's some county race candidates:
  • Property Assessor John Whitehead: $27,104
  • Law Director: Richard “Bud” Armstrong: $16,879

On an additional side note, the following elected officials didn't file Tuesday, but didn't have to because they have closed their campaign accounts:

  • County Commissioner Sam McKenzie
  • County Commissioner Mike Brown
  • County Commissioner (and good doctor) Richard Briggs

Carl Cowan Park to get new playground

In light of the recent lunacy, how 'bout something a little softer?

The county's parks and recreation department is building a new playground at Carl Cowan Park off S. Northshore Drive in west Knox County. It will replace some old crap that dates back to the 1980s. (Wow, that doesn't seem so old now that I think about it. But I digress.)

“The playground at Carl Cowan was the oldest in our system,” parks and recreation director Doug Bataille, Senior Director said in the latest spin release. “With the number of visitors the park gets, especially during the summer months when the splashpad is open, an upgrade was needed for safety reasons.”

The playground is for children up to age 12. It has some swings, slides, a climbing wall, a climbing web, some agility stations and activity panels, and it sounds way, way, freakin' cooler than anything I got to play on when I was little.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Hubert Smith talks Stacey incident

So, this whole Stacey Campfield thing has really taken off, huh? (Click right smack here for an earlier post on the incident.)

Heh. Funny stuff. 

Anyhoo as you may or may not know, the good state senator was a guest on Hubert Smith’s talk show before he headed over to the Bistro for what wasn’t lunch. Hubert along with local comedian Spanky Brown and Dan “The Man” Andrews went with him.
Here’s part of Hubert’s take on what happened:
Brown and I rode together for the five minute ride and park. Andrews and Campfield drove separately. We all met at the entrance of The Bistro. Campfield and Andrews went inside to get a table and I waited outside and talked with Spanky while he finished his cigarette.
It took two minutes or less for Spanky to finish his smoke and we walked in to join the others. When we walked through the door the exchange between Campfield and the owner of The Bistro, Martha Boggs was in progress. I didn’t hear it all obviously, but less than 30 seconds later I knew brunch wasn’t going to happen here, and Spanky and I turned around and walked out. We waited outside for Dan Andrews and Stacey. Stacey didn’t need me to defend him and there was nothing I could say to Martha to change her opinions either.
An owner of a business has the right to serve whomever they please and far be it from me to tell them otherwise, but Campfield was there on my invitation as an extension from being a guest on my radio show and to support a sponsor. I regret the whole ordeal. Considering the online buzz this has generated seemingly around the world, I felt compelled to offer this background information to those concerned and interested.
To read his entire post, click right smack here.

Bistro at the Bijou boots Sen. Campfield

I see there’s been somewhat of a fallout for Stacey Campfield over those comments about gays, bullies and AIDS. (You know, because they were so brilliant and insightful.)

Apparently, the owner of Bistro at the Bijou gave the good state senator the boot yesterday afternoon.

Campfield, local comedian Spanky Brown, reporter Dan “The Man” Andrews and radio talk show host Hubert Smith went to the restaurant to eat, when owner Martha Boggs pretty much told Campfield to get the $&%* out.

(From what I understand she called him a homophobe, but there was also a choice word that preceded it. Heh.)

Anyhoo, Dan told me that as they were exiting, Brown said: “Wow, this is the first time I’ve ever seen two black guys walk into a restaurant and a white guy gets thrown out.”

(What’s that expression? You shouldn’t crap where you eat?)

For his part, Stacey was “very calm, very professional and very understanding,” Dan said.

They ended up having lunch at Latitude 35 on Market Square.

UPDATE: The Metro Pulse talked to Martha this morning: Click right smack here for it it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Stacey defends comments on Huffington

Ah, nothing like a good ol' dose a Stacey Campfield. I know a lot of people – even some of my peers in the media – don't like the guy. I, however, do. He makes me laugh.

Anyhoo, the good state senator gave an interview to the Huffington Post about bullies, AIDS, and gay people, and whatever. (Click right smack here for the link.)

Here's just one classic Campfield:
"Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community -- it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall."

"My understanding is that it is virtually -- not completely, but virtually -- impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex...very rarely [transmitted]."
Now, he's busy responding on the message board, defending his facts.

And he should. Anyone who know anything about AIDS will tell ya, Stacey, that it wasn't a pilot who spread the disease, it was a steward.


On a side note, I kind of chuckled today when I saw that a story (as of this posting) about a guy who fell asleep while guarding key ingredients to a nuclear bomb now has about six comment under it while a story about the KTSC chairman and his email has more than 50.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Larry Smith, Sherry Witt bonus battle

Commissioner Rrrrr. Larry Smith (left) has been somewhat on a roll lately, calling out the county's trustee and his father, the good local Congressman.

Now, he's got his sites set on Register of Deeds Sherry Witt. In fact, the good commissioner sent Sherry a note, taking her to task for accepting some incentive payments, yet wanting to meet with her to discuss the issue.

Witt's response?

“The letter is at the bottom of my bird cage,” she told me.

Heh. Now, that's funny.

Soooo, what's going on?

If you haven't been living in a cave lately (or a jerk like someone who would post comments under a stupid name like “YankeeinDixie”), then you know that county Trustee John Duncan III is under fire right now because he paid himself and some staffers a bunch of coin for doing work they didn't really do.

At the same time, Witt and a number of other elected fee officers also accepted such payments, but they actually did do the work.

(Now, to get the payments you have to get designated as a “certified public administrator.” I've written about this; no point rehashing it. To keep your certification, you have to do 16 hours of coursework, or whatever each year. Then you're allowed up to $3,000 in coin.)

Argghh Larry, however, questions whether local officials should take the money, even if they've done the work.

So, he's been checking around the state, asking other folks whether they participate in the education program and collect the coin. He apparently talked to the Hamblen County trustee, yet thought he talked to the Hamilton County trustee.

So, he goes around telling people he talked to someone from Hamilton County and says that they receive only $200 in bonuses.

Now, Sherry (right) did some checking on her own.

She called Hamilton and learned that Our Larry never talked to anyone from the Chattanooga area. So, she called out the commissioner during Monday's work session, pretty much insinuating that he was full of crap.

Then, Larry did some checking and realized his mistake. (He had actually talked to Hamblen and they get $200 in bonuses.)

So, he then gets in touch with Hamilton County (for real this time) and the trustee there tells him that he gets $0 in bonuses.

Larry, then calls out Sherry and accuses her of telling half-truths.

Good stuff.

He then pens her a note – click right smack here for that bad boy – and says that her “personal attack on my character (was) absolutely uncalled for, discourteous, and beneath your position as an elected official.”

He also says that accepting the incentive payments “is an affront to the taxpayers we serve.”

(I'm not sure if other fee officers who also get the incentive payments got a similar letter. Probably not.)

Sherry, though, isn't having any of this. And she probably won't be meeting any time soon with R. Larry.

“It's all about media attention for him,” she said, noting that the reason the Hamilton County trustee doesn't take the money is because he isn't certified. “I'm sorry he's offended but he should check out the validity of his statements.”


Like I said: good stuff.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Audit finds 'deficiency' in Trustee's Office

As expected, Knox County’s external auditor KPMG identified a “significant deficiency” in the financial reporting of the Trustee’s Office.

It’s not the end of the world, but it just doesn’t look good. Of course, if you ask the good folks in the tax collector’s office, they’ll tell you it was no big deal and that it was all the computer’s fault.

Dog ate my homework. That kind of stuff.

Click right smack here for KPMG's management letter, which talks about the issue and read what Trustee John Duncan III’s office had to say about it.

As I said, KPMG said this would probably happen. You might recall that back in October I wrote about a $6 million mistake that the auditors discovered in the some of the numbers the office provided them.

(Oddly enough, the good Trustee folks didn’t really seem to care all that much about the screw up when I asked them about it – they were more interested in who provided me the information. Strange. But I digress.)

Anyhoo, there was some back and forth and kicking and screaming, but they finally got the math right. In between that time, however, some stories changed.


That sounds familiar.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Pension plans to cost Knox more this year

Knox County will probably have to contribute between $5 million and $5.3 million to the Uniformed Officers Pension Plan, or UOPP, this upcoming fiscal year in order to keep it healthy, according to projections released this morning to the pension board.

That’s as much as $1.3 million more than the $4.1 million the county put in last summer. And that doesn’t include the $4.1 million in bond coin the county will also have to pay.

The Sheriff’s Office pension plan, however, isn’t the county’s only problem. Two closed plans – one for county officials and the old teacher’s plan – also need a cash injection. The county plan is expected to cost taxpayers another $600,000 to $800,000 and the Board of Education plan will cost an extra $150,000 to $250,000.

Last year the county plan cost about $1.5 million and the school plan cost $1.046 million.

The pension board plans to meet later in February to discuss the UOPP. At that time, members will talk about the plan’s liabilities, assumed rate of returns on investments and possible changes.

“We want to focus on the magnitude of the problem and what can get changed and what can’t,” said county Commissioner Richard Briggs, who also serves on the pension board.

Zoinks! It's old man Baumgartner!!

It’s funny how pictures can jog old memories, oddities of the past, blah, blah, blah, whatever.

Anyhoo, not too long ago I stumbled across this photo of former Judge Richard Baumgartner (on the KNS website taken by Michael Patrick).

It reminded me of something. Then I remembered: Scooby-Doo. Or a Scooby-Doo bad guy. So, I Googled it. And up pops “The Creeper.” And he’s exactly who was stuck in my head. Cause, you know, you might look like the creeper after eating 30 pain killers a day, having sex in your judge chambers with your pill supplier and then taking the bench while pilled out of your mind and screwing up (potentially) thousands of cases.

Remember how whenever Scooby and the gang would unmask the villain? They’d be like: “Zoinks, it’s old man Jenkins.” Heh.

Well, apparently, the Creeper was old man Baumgartner. Yeah, I couldn’t resist.