Friday, December 27, 2013

Smith set to run for school board

Miss me? Bet you did. I’m on vacation, but couldn’t help chiming in on this one. Heh.

In its never-ending effort to remind everyone that term-limited county Commissioner R. Larry Smith will run for school board, the Sentinel again today published another article. Reminding folks just that.

Anyhoo, it really comes as no surprise. Smith for more than a year has told people that he’s mulled running against Sherry Witt for the Register of Deeds post and against Congressman Jimmy Duncan Jr for his seat. When it finally got through to him that he had less than a snowball’s chance, he opted to take his chances on the school board.

(Incumbent Kim Severance has said that she will not seek re-election.)

So far, two other potential candidates have picked up nominating petitions. Both are male, so that could potentially bode well for R. Larry, who doesn’t seem to think that women’s issues are all that important. Heh. Ha ha.

What’s going to cause some potential problems, however,  is that – as the article points out (sorry, I'm not linking to pay walls) – Commissioner Flip Flop said he would vote against extending Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s contract. Well, BS.

Smith voted to approve it during a commission meeting earlier this month. Now, it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but – as I noted here – he could have symbolically opposed it, like Commissioner Mike Brown.

Instead, he voted to add it to the commission consent agenda, and then he approved the agenda.

So, technically R. Larry voted to extend the contract twice, rather than once, like the school board.

As someone pointed out on the KNS message board, maybe R. Larry should go back to school rather than serve on the school board.

Heh.

To check out who picked up and turned in nominating petitions, click right smack here.

Friday, December 20, 2013

McIntyre says 'Happy Holidays' to county teachers in an odd video

In a seriously bizarre video, an uncomfortable looking Knox County Superintendent Jim McIntyre wishes teachers a happy holiday.

Really, it’s odd. I suppose he means well, but did he really have to remind everyone how his $222,800 a year contract was recently extended? Talk about rubbing salt into the wound. And next time you read a script, tack it up a little higher on the ol’ laptop so it looks like you’re actually talking to the teachers. 

Not, you know, reading one of Melissa Ogden’s scripts. Heh. 

You can find the video, right smack here.

UPDATE: Well, apparently, Lord McIntyre and his disciples on the school board "are showing appreciation to teachers and staff for their hard work at all our schools," according to an Ogden email.

She added that no public coin was used.

"The money is left over from a contribution to the Partners in Education program for the annual parent conference, so it is not being funded with taxpayer dollars or using money out of the general purpose budget," she wrote.

The flowers, which will be dead by this weekend, cost $936, and the cookies totaled $1,552.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

County audit report to show problems

Knox County is expected to receive a clean bill of health from its auditor, but some departments will have problems that will need to be quickly fixed, officials said Tuesday.

If not, they could jeopardize the county's bond rating.

"There will be some findings," said Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell, who declined to elaborate. "A government our size will have some findings, but at least everything from 2012 has been cleared."

As it stands, the county's external auditor, Pugh & Company, should finish the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, or CAFR, by the end of the week. Auditors will then issue local leaders a management letter that provides more insight into the report and list any deficiencies and weaknesses in the county's overall organization structure for fiscal year 2013, which ended June 30.

The rest of the story, right smack here.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Knox County sales tax revenues down

Knox County Finance Director Chris "Money Bags" Caldwell told commissioners today that county sales tax revenues are down big time.

He said at this point they're down by about $560K in folding paper for the general fund; another $400K for the public works and engineering department and about $4 million for schools.

That means, he told officials, don't start planning a spending spree. Heh.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Superintendent contract before commish for perfunctory vote

County Commission meets on Monday. They’ll consider a resolution to approve the contract between the Knox County Board of Education and Superintendent Jim McIntyre.

My guess is it’s a pretty quick rubber stamp. The commission, while it controls the county’s financial purse strings, can’t tell the BOE how to spend its money once allocated. And at some point, the county has to allocate money to pay the superintendent’s salary, whoever he or she is.

(It’s also not worth the headache to a number of commissioners to keep battling the BOE over management anyway.)

However, there could be a few holdouts as Commissioner Tony Norman or Mike Brown might now approve it. More curious, though, will be what Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith does. Rumors once again making the rounds are that he’s again thinking about running for a school board seat (good luck with that one), but the only way to separate himself from an incumbent would be to take an anti-McIntyre stance.

We’ll see. Expect officials to initially place it on the consent agenda, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s taken off for an outright vote.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Whether teachers can run for BOE

In the wake of Yellow Monday, some school teachers have started looking into whether they can run for a seat on the Board of Education.

Well, probably. Maybe. If that makes sense.

The charter states that “no member of the Commission or any other public official or employee of the Board of Education shall be eligible for appointment or election to the Board of Education.”

HOWEVER, state law might trump the ol’ charter, according to Mark Goins, state coordinator of elections, and Elizabeth Henry-Robertson, assistant coordinator of elections.

They issued an opinion back in late 2011 on a similar matter. You can read it right smack here.

If, not, well, I’ll try to explain. Essentially, if you’re a teacher you can run for a school board seat and the Knox County Elections Office will put your name on the ballot.

Having said that, it doesn’t mean an opponent won’t take issue and file a lawsuit, which would then get the courts involved. Now the courts will probably take the Goins’ letter into consideration, but it’s certainly not the be-all-end-all.

So, at this point, the letter tells local election folks what they should do, but the legal issue could certainly continue.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Knox Sheriff's Office travel records

OK, now that Yellow Monday is over and a couple of school board members officially committed political suicide yesterday, we can get onto more fun stuff.

Like travel records.

Now, the reality is these rarely yield what you want them to. Heck, just ask Commissioner R. Larry Smith (speaking of political suicide).

Anyhoo, Bobby Waggoner, a retired assistant chief over the detective division who is running for sheriff, asked the finance department for “copies of all travel expense reimbursement summaries,” and blah, blah blah for the following folks:

  • Eddie Biggs
  • Rodney Bivens
  • Butch Bryant
  • Clyde Cowan
  • Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones
  • Mike Ruble
  • Lee Tramel

I know this because I’m a smart guy. (And occasionally, I do record requests for copies of records request.)

You’ll note that Waggoner did not ask for his own records.

I’ve since received a copy of all these docs, including ones on Waggoner. They cover a three year period from Sept. 1, 2010, when Jones’ current term began, through Nov. 30, 2013.

Now, this is a ton of stuff, but not a whole lot to show.

So, let’s break it down from stingiest to costliest. Remember, this is for three years.

Chief Deputy Eddie Biggs: $1,859. Well, it looks like he took some trips to Nashville for various functions, and he also went to the U.S. Border Patrol Special Operations Expo in El Paso, Texas in 2011. It appears that he sought reimbursement for meals only once.

Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones: $2,096. Now, you hear all these stories about Jones set-setting and globe trottin’ but that doesn’t mean a whole lot when one of the trips was a personal vacation to Scotland and another – to Taiwan – was paid for by the Taiwanese government. (Someone fancy from Atlanta was invited to a Knox County luncheon and then invited the Sheriff’s Office to go over there.) Here’s some info about it right smack here. That said, it looks like the sheriff made three trips to Nashville, one to Sevierville and another one to El Paso for that Border Patrol thing. Jones did not seek any reimbursement for food or mileage other than the plan ticket to Texas.

Look, I don’t really feel like going through this whole entire thing. So, let’s throw out some numbers then skip ahead. Since I did the lowest two in some detail, I’ll also do the top two.

Lee Tramel: $3,662.41

Butch Bryant: $3,795.24

Mike Ruble: $5,032.34

Clyde Cowan: $6,192.03 (By the way, Cowan, who is over the detective division and SWAT, has some FBI academy stuff he has to go to, so that cost a few coins.)

OK, final two:

Bobby Waggoner: $7,250.01. Waggoner went on about 10 trips to Nashville (these are Tennessee Sheriff’s Association meetings); a couple to Sevierville, one to Tampa (Cold Case Investigations & Interviews) and another to Orlando (International Homicide Training Symposium). He also took trips to Washington, D.C. and to New Orleans to attend the International Homicide Investigators Association Annual conferences (That actually sounds kind of cool). Waggoner accepted per diem for meals for the out-of-state trips, but not in-state.

Rodney Bivens: $14,579. OK, now Bivens runs the jail, which is accredited, which means he’s got mandatory conferences that he needs to attend every year. And, no, they don’t hold these conferences locally and they’re not one or two-day events. Sooooo, that meant a mandatory jaunt over to Potomac, MD to attend the U.S. Dept. of Justice PREA training; the ACA’s 142nd Congress of Correction in Denver; Phoenix for another ACA Conference; another one in San Antonio; one in Kissimmee, Fl; and there was something in Sweetwater, TN. So, when it’s all said and done, that’s a little under $5K a year in trips for Bivens.

It’s a good thing Chief Bivens didn’t go to a women’sconference or he’d have R. Larry after him.

Heh.

In the meantime, all these trips were budgeted and approved by top county officials, including the sheriff and the mayor.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Superintendent contract the talk of tonight. What's going to happen?

So, the school board tonight will talk about whether to extend Superintendent Jim McIntyre’s contract through the end of 2017.

It’s part of his annual performance review. He currently makes $222,800 and gets an $800 per month travel allowance and almost five weeks of paid vacation. His contract runs through late 2016.

A number of things could happen:

  • The board extends the contract and subsequently turns the matter into a major election issue.
  • The board opts to set aside the extension part of the discussion  for up to another year. (Members possibly suggest another review a little after the elections.)
  • McIntyre, after the performance discussion, suggests to the board to set aside talks about an extension, thus not making the matter a major election issue.
  • The board votes to not extend the contract, thus giving them a shot at re-election. (Smart money is not on this one.)

My guess is that the school board approves the extension. It will probably be 7-2 vote. Mike McMillan and Pam Trainor will probably cast the dissenting votes. I say this only because – and you can take this to the bank – if Pam supports it, she is done in the election.

The meeting is at the AJ Building, which means there are like three seats available because the County Commission is holding court around the same time in the Main Auditorium of the City County Building. So, get there early.

I’m saying this to anti-McIntyre people and pro-McIntyre people.

Obviously, one of the big things to come up tonight will be focused on McIntyre’s classroom, or lack thereof, experience.

I blogged about it here, and Eleanor had a story on Friday night about it here.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lunch with mayor set for Friday 13th

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is hosting his final Lunch with the Mayor event of the year next Friday, and he hopes the community will come out to support another great local business, according to the latest from Big Sexy Michael Grider.

The next Lunch with the Mayor will be Friday, Dec. 13, at the Fountain City Diner, 3029 Tazewell Pike, from 11:30 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Fountain City Diner is owned by Dennis and Penny Wagner.  The diner will offer Lunch with the Mayor specials, including chicken pot pie and two sides for $7.99 (regularly $9.99) and all cakes, pies and cheesecakes will be $3 per slice (regular price $4.99) – and it’s all made from scratch.

The public is invited and other elected officials may be in attendance.  As always, this event is “Dutch treat.”

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Just the fact, ma'am: A look at McIntyre's classroom experience

Superintendent Jim McIntyre
I’ve been following this teacher thing closely.

I’m posting this blog entry because there’s some information out there that isn’t correct (and there’s a lot that is correct) about the time Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre spent in the classroom. I just wanted to throw out a few facts. 

It's not to give any side a voice. 

Anyhoo:

FACT: McIntyre is in charge of the county’s more than $400 million educational budget, its 89 schools and a 7,500-person workforce that includes 4,800 teachers.

FACT: Of the state’s 15 largest school districts, 13 superintendents spent between seven and 33 years as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal. 

FACT: Only two superintendents who oversee the state’s largest school districts have fewer than seven years’ experience. Jim spent one year in a school, and Dorsey Hopson, a long-time attorney, who took over one of the state’s most troublesome school districts – Memphis-Shelby County – has no classroom experience. 

FACT: About 20 years ago, Jim taught only one school-year at Vincent Gray Alternative High School, a private academy in East St Louis, Ill that touts class sizes of eight to 10 students “who live on the margins of poverty,” and graduates an average of 20 students per year, according to its website. You can find that information right smack here.

FACT: Jim taught English, anatomy and physical education. He said he took the job as part of an endeavor similar to “a domestic Peace Corps kind of thing.”

FACT: After the school year, Jim returned home to Boston. He built on his education, earning a master’s degree in urban affairs at Boston University, and a doctorate in public policy at the University of Massachusetts.

FACT: In 1997, Jim joined the Boston Public Schools’ finance office in 1997 where he worked as an intern, according to one of his letters of recommendation written by John McDonough, then-BPS chief financial officer and the systems’ current superintendent. Jim was quickly promoted to budget director and deputy chief financial officer where he helmed a school district of roughly 56,000 students, 9,000 employees and budget of more than $800 million,according to his resume, which you can find right smack here. (On a side note,there are typos in his resume. But I digress.)

FACT: In 2006, Jim took over as BPS chief operating officer.

FACT: Knox County hired in him the spring of 2008 in a 5-4 vote. Initially 40 people applied for the job. The final candidates were Jim, Brian Bingelli, an assistant superintendent in Virginia’s Fairfax County Public Schools, and Bob Thomas, a Knox County assistant superintendent. Bignelli had 22 years’ experience as a teacher and principal, including eight in the classroom, according to his resume. Thomas had 12 years as a teacher and principal, including nine in the classroom.

FACT: Jim earns an annual salary of $222,800 and an $800-a-month travel allowance. He started in early July 2008. The board has since then renewed his contract, which runs through 2016. The board will talk about extending his contract another year on Monday.

SEMI-FACT: The board does whatever Jim tells it to do.

FACT: Graduation rates have increased during Jim’s tenure, from 79.3 percent in 2008 to 87.8 percent in 2013 – though they declined slightly from the all-time high of 90.2 percent in 2012.

FACT: Test scores aren’t as rosy as some folks paint them to be.

FACT: This information is not new.

FACT: No one has actually reported it in detail. 

A look at classroom experience for top 10 districts:

Memphis-Shelby County Schools
Superintendent: Dorsey Hopson
District size: 153,000 students
Teacher/Principal experience: none

Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools
Director of Schools: Jesse Register
District size: 83,000 students
Teacher/Principal experience: 13 years

Knox County Schools
Superintendent: Jim McIntyre
District size: 57,700
Teacher/Principal experience: 1 year

Hamilton County Schools
Superintendent: Rick Smith
District size: 42,000 students
Teacher/Principal experience: 13 years

Rutherford County Schools
 Director of Schools: Don Odom
District size: 41,000
Teacher/Principal experience: 31 years

Williamson County Schools
Superintendent: Mike Looney
District size: 34,000 students
Teacher/Principal experience: 9.5 years

Clarksville-Montgomery County School System
Director of Schools: B.J. Worthington
District size: 31,400 students
Teacher/Principal experience: 19 years

Sumner County Schools:
Director of Schools Del R. Phillips III
District size: 28,000
Teacher/Principal experience: 9 years

Wilson County Schools
 Director of Schools Timothy R. Setterlund
District size: 15,750
Teacher/principal experience: 33 years

Sevier County Schools
Superintendent Jack Parton
District size: 14,670
Teacher/Principal experience: 7 years

Jackson-Madison County School System:
 Superintendent Verna D. Ruffin
District size: 13,375
Teacher/Principal experience: 22

Funny Twitter handles to check out

In the past couple of years, some really, really funny local Twitter handles have popped up. Here are my favorites in no particular order:

@Knoxvillebear

Slogan: I’m just a bear. Official twitter account of the laziest bear in Knoxville. 

The bear is fun because he/she always responds. Sometimes the bear goes off the grid, but he/she will return. 

Last post: Nov. 4.

@AckerMoxley

Slogan: Parody account of Ackermann PR and Moxley Carmichael. Putting a positive spin on everything.

Likes to crack jokes about the high costs of hiring PR and how fun it is to shill for certain companies.
Last post: Sept. 13.

@ExJudgeRichard 

Slogan: I was a judge in Knox County. Now, I’m a felon. (Also includes a link Hustler Magazine Vs. Falwell case.)

This is a parody account about Richard Baumgartner who loved to pop pills. Recently a local private investigator began following the account. It’s no secret that Baumgartner wanted to sue the person who runs this Twitter handle. I hope he does. If you think he’s a disgrace to the human race now, just wait until the lawsuit gets filed and the media crap-storm that ensues.

Last post: Dec. 3.

@YellowCardJim

Slogan: Satire. Not the real Jim McIntyre, who is a public official in Knox County, Tennessee.

This one popped up last night after folks took Jim to task about his leadership style. At one point a student took the podium and talked about how years ago he received a yellow card for not paying attention. He then held up a yellow card and told Jim that it was for him. Personally, I would have called this account TattleTaleJim. Heh.

Last post: Today

And of course, you can always follow me on twitter @mikedonila

Monday, December 2, 2013

Today is last day to sponsor local 'Wreaths Across America' event

The other day I had a post about Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett's initiative to get wreaths placed on the graves of all local veterans.

The sponsorship cutoff date is TODAY. Here's the update, according to the latest news release form his office:

On Thanksgiving Day, many East Tennesseans showed appreciation for our fallen veterans by sponsoring wreaths that will be placed atop veterans’ graves in Knox County.  Yesterday, fundraising topped $5,000 since Mayor Burchett launched his local Wreaths Across America effort earlier this week.

Pilot Flying J made a generous contribution to Team Burchett for Wreaths Across America, matching the $5,000 raised so far with a $5,000 wreath sponsorship of their own.  In all, enough money has been raised to place just more than 1,000 wreaths.  However, there are 6,200 veterans buried at the two East Tennessee State Veteran Cemetery locations in Knox County, so even more sponsorships are needed.

A $15 sponsorship pays for a wreath made of live greenery to be placed on a veterans’ grave at either the Lyons View Pike or Governor John Sevier Highway East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery locations.

Anyone wanting to sponsor a wreath can do so by visiting right smack here. The organization is also offering a “three-for-two” sponsorship special, which means they will donate a wreath for every two that are sponsored.

Visit http://www.wreathsacrossamerica.org for more information about the organization.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, folks! Stay safe

Well, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and all that happy stuff. Heh.

Also, I should note that the 18th annual Mission of Hope Blue Barrel Christmas Campaign has kicked off, so if you got a cople of coins or a little folding paper, why not send some over. To them, not me.

We did a story about it the other day. Right smack here for that bad boy.

The program, which helps children in rural Appalachia, runs from November 22nd through December 9th. Big blue barrels are set up at participating Food City, Chick-Fil-A, Kmart, Home Federal, Knoxville TVA Employees Credit Union, Sears and CVS locations in East Tennessee. The Mission of Hope could use donations of non-perishable food items, as well as new and unopened clothing items, toys and hygiene items.

Right smack here for more on the non-profit Mission of Hope.

And, in the meantime, I couldn't resist:


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Teen seeks $50K for wrongful arrest

Well, it was bound to happen. Apparently, problems stemming from the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office have potentially led to a lawsuit.

And yeah, the kid who is demanding $50K from the county was picked up right about the time Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey went on a cruise.

No, really? Crap is fallen down all over the place and she gets on a boat. Whatever.

Anyhoo, you can find the documents and the story, right smack here.

Burchett looking to raise coin for wreaths for veteran cemeteries

The latest release from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett:

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is launching a Wreaths Across America team in an effort to raise funds to place as many live wreaths on the graves of veterans buried at the two East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery locations in Knox County. 

 A $15 sponsorship will pay for a wreath made of live greenery to be placed on a veterans’ grave at either the Lyons View Pike or Governor John Sevier Highway East Tennessee State Veterans Cemetery locations.

“I can remember how much it meant to my mom seeing these wreaths placed on graves at the Lyons View cemetery where my dad is buried,” said Mayor Burchett.  “I hope that the community will join me in showing the families of our fallen heroes that their service to our nation is appreciated and will never be forgotten.”

There are more than 6,000 veterans buried at the two East Tennessee State Veteran Cemetery locations in Knox County.

Anyone wanting to sponsor a wreath can do so by visiting right smack here and clicking on the Wreaths Across America banner.  The organization is also offering a “three-for-two” sponsorship special, which means they will donate a wreath for every two that are sponsored.

Pilot Flying J has also agreed to help out with a sponsorship grant of up to $5,000.

The wreath sponsorship cutoff deadline is Dec. 2, and the wreaths will be placed on the graves on Dec. 14.

Visit right smack here for more information about the organization.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hornback asks judge to toss libel case, files all sorts of ct stuff

Well, it looks like rogue blogger Brian Hornback came out swinging today, pretty much answering (and denying) the allegations made in the lawsuit filed against him by Ruthie Kuhlman, the county’s GOP chairwoman.

Hornback, who was sued for like a $100K in folding paper awhile back, argues that not only is Kuhlman a public figure, but the statements made by his sources were in fact accurate. He also provides affidavits by those sources attesting that what they told him was accurate.

(Oh yeah, and there’s a phone message in there from Kuhlman.)

All this stems from allegations that Brian made up stuff - or printed stuff that wasn't true - in a couple of entries on his 9-year-old blog Shock and Awe.

Brian says it's all a crock and in today’s legal filings seeks to have the case chunked, and also asks for a summary judgment.

Additionally, he identifies some of his sources and turns over affidavits they provided, including those from bad a$$ Bo Bennett, Jacob Swisher, former county property assessor John Whitehead and Ray Meade.

I don’t have a lot of time today to get into it, but it’s some pretty interesting stuff, and it looks like $&!# is getting real.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Almost 40 folks picked up petitions to run in county races next year

Almost 40 residents on Friday picked up a nominating petition to run in the Knox County primary election, although more than half were incumbents who have already said they plan to seek re-election.

The deadline to qualify is noon on Feb. 20.

Pretty much every county seat, except for a handful of county commission and school board posts, the law director position and the property assessor seat, are up for election.

On Friday, incumbents in most of the bigger seats, including Mayor Tim Burchett, interim Trustee Craig Leuthold, Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey, Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Shanks (formerly Cathy Quist), Public Defender Mark Stephens, and Clerk Foster Arnett Jr., picked up petitions.

All are Republicans.

Of those seats, three potential candidates – Charles “Sam” Hammett Jr, Bobby Waggoner and Donald Wiser – picked up petitions to run for sheriff. Wiser also picked up a petition to run as an independent for the register of deeds seat.

Randy Nichols, the current district attorney general and a Democrat, does not plan to seek re-election. Charme Knight, a Republican in his office, does. 

Candidates need to meet certain qualifications to run for office. In addition, they need 25 signatures from registered voters who can vote in that particularly race.

The primary is May 6. The general election is Aug. 7.

So far only three people picked up petitions to run for County Commission seats. Bo Bennett, who ran for the city mayoral post a few years ago, got a petition for the seat currently held by R. Larry Smith, as did Steve Rogers, who challenged Smith in  2010.

(Smith, the commission vice chairman, is term-limited.)

In addition, Bob Thomas plans to seek the at-large seat held by Mike Hammond, who has announced his intentions to run for the criminal court clerk post.

Three incumbent school board members – Gloria Deathridge, Lynne Fugate and Pam Trainor – picked up petitions. Newcomers Terry Hill and Tamara Shepherd got petitions for the seat currently held by Thomas Deakins, who has said he doesn’t plan to seek re-election.

The school board seats are non-partisan.

You can find the entire list right smack here.

County election season starts today

Today is the first day for a candidate to pick up a nominating petition to run in the Knox County primary election. The deadline to qualify is noon on Feb. 20.

The primary is May 6. The general election is Aug. 7.

Pretty much every county seat, except for a handful of county commission posts, the law director position and the property assessor seat, are up for election.

Click right smack here for what you need to do to qualify.

And right smack here to check out who has picked up petitions.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stokes to run for Circuit Ct Judge

Knoxville lawyer Billy Stokes today announced that he will seek the office of Judge, Knox County Circuit Court, Div. 1, bringing the total of Republican candidates at this point to three.

"My career as an attorney has enabled me to serve both in private practice and government service," Stokes said in a statement. 'there is no more important, responsible or accountable position in our justice system than the position of Judge. After consulting my family and members of my firm, I believe I can do the best job in this role for the people of Knox County."

According to the rest of his release, Stokes has practiced law in Knox County for more than 30 years, with most of it at the Circuit Court level. He was a Captain in the U.S. Army, Judge Advocate General's Corps (JAGC) and served in the Tennessee governor's cabinet and on senior staff.

Early in his career, he work for the Knoxville Police Department, the Knox County Juvenil Court and the East TN Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

He is currently a shareholder in the firm, Williams, Sharp, Davies, Cope & Mann, P.C.

In addition to Stokes, local attorney and former county GOP Chairman Ray Jenkins and attorney Kristi Davis, who represented the family that got yelled at by a judge for naming their kid "Messiah," are running for the seat.

Also, from what I understand Knox County Assistant Attorney General Leland Price will run as a Democrat for a Criminal Court Judge seat (different race).

And, of course, I’ll be running as a write-in candidate because, quite frankly, I think it would be bad a$$ to get that gig and then walk around the Death Star all day in the black robe like freakin’ Lord Vader. (Not to be confused with Lord McIntyre of course.)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Davis to run for circuit ct judge

Local attorney Kristi Davis today announced her intentions to run for the Knox County Circuit Court Division I seat to succeed Judge Dale Workman who recently announced his plans to retire.

Davis, a partner with the firm of Hodges, Doughty & Carson, will hold a kickoff fundraiser in early January.

According to a release:
She grew up in the Karns community and received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Tennessee, with honors. She represents both plaintiffs and defendants in employment law, workers’ compensation, general civil litigation, and appellate matters. She has been active in the community, serving on the American Heart Association’s Circle of Red, the Board of Directors for Friends of Literacy, and an Advisory Committee for Pellissippi State.
Knoxville attorney and former county GOP chairman, Ray Jenkins, also will seek the position.

The Republican Primary is set for May, and the general election is set for August.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Workers game system for free parking; county looking to charge everyone


If you haven't seen it, we did a story last night touching on allegations that some county employees are "gaming" a system to get handicapped hangtags, so they can park for free inside the City County Building.

Folks, this is an awful thing to do. Man, seriously. There's a nice hot place for you in the afterlife if you do stuff like this by the way.

Anyhoo, there's a ton of elements to the story.

Here's the beginning, and you can find the rest of it right smack here.
A number of Knox County leaders suspect government workers are cheating a system that allows them to obtain and keep handicapped hangtags so they can park for free inside the downtown City County Building.

Now local leaders want to discourage that by changing state law to allow them to charge disabled employees for parking privileges.

They say the move would add dollars – at least $43,000 annually – to the coffers and prevent some workers from jumping ahead of employees who park elsewhere and have waited years for the coveted garage spots.

It also would be more equitable, overall, for the employees who work in the City County Building, the headquarters of local governmental operations.

Poster to R. Larry: 'Get over it'

Woo-hoo, oh boy, ol R. Larry Smith had another good one in today's News Sentinel.

After last night's meeting, in which the board talked about travel, KNS reporter Gerald Witt asked Smith why he drove to Nashville twice (which cost taxpayers $416 when - presumably - he could have picked up a phone and called).

According to the article (right smack here), Smith "said "he went to the state comptroller on a whistle-blowing trip that led to the ouster of former Trustee John J. Duncan III."

Ummmmm. No.

That office has nothing to do with CTAS payments, which were the cause of Duncan's downfall.

Further, R. Larry got almost all his information from the articles I wrote. Whistle-blower. Sure.

I broke the story, I first reported that someone else took tests for Duncan, and I was the first to write about the TBI investigation into the office.

I am not bragging. That's just what happened.

Along with the way WBIR also did some good reporting. They even had a scoop or two in there. Also, I think WATE reported about a showdown between Smith and Congressman Duncan, which Smith probably blew out of proportion, but whatever.

Anyhoo, I say this because, well, someone has to tell the truth. The investigation originated from the local District Attorney's Office. Not R. Larry Smith.

In the meantime, there were some fireworks from last night. You see, after Commissioner Amy Broyles nominated someone other than R. Larry to lead the board, he got upset. Right around that time he started trying to sell his story to the press that she traveled more than any other commissioner. (Another lie by the way.) A few news outlet bit.

But it didn't work out the way R. Larry anticipated. As noted from the pic below (taken during last night's meting.)

On a side note, Amy had the best line of the night when she told R. Larry: “Since being elected to commission, I have survived a shooting, two brain surgeries, a concussion, five cerebrospinal fluid leaks, viral meningitis, eight kidney stones, a tumor removed from my upper chest, a uterine hemorrhage and the beginning of menopause. I don’t think I’m going to succumb to one of your temper tantrums.” (Thanks for writing all that down, Gerald.)


Monday, November 18, 2013

Burchett outlines solar energy thing

Chris, Hugh Holt, and Tim stare at solar panels
I'm just going to run this one straight because, well, quite frankly, this crap bores me. (Your welcome, Grider.)

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett today outlined a solar energy initiative that will soon go before the Knox County Commission and the Knox County Board of Education for their consideration.  He was joined at the announcement by Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre.

If the initiative is approved by the Board of Education and the Commission, it will create a revenue stream for both the Knox County Schools and Knox County Government while also generating solar energy that would be used on TVA’s power grid.

“We all understand the importance of green energy and protecting the environment, but it is the financial return that is realized using this model that is the key to making this work,” said Mayor Burchett.  “I look forward to discussing this initiative further with the Commission and members of the Board of Education as they consider whether to approve it.”

“We continually seek ways to effectively manage the resources of the Knox County Schools,” said McIntyre, “and this solar initiative is attractive because it will guarantee significant financial savings, as well as provide a unique educational opportunity for our students and an important environmental benefit to our community.”

As part of the project, Knox County and the Knox County Schools would partner with Efficient Energy of Tennessee to install solar panels on top of several Knox County and Knox County Schools buildings.  The panels will collect solar energy, which Knox County and the Knox County Schools will sell to TVA. 

The initiative is similar to one implemented in Campbell County several months ago.  Since the panels were installed on a dozen Campbell County schools, the revenue generated has outperformed estimates. 

Since 2011, the average price of solar panels has dropped by 60 percent, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. 

Knox County and the Knox County Schools would issue bonds to purchase the panels.  The bonds would then be paid with revenue generated by the panels and sold to TVA.  There would also be a 15-year performance guarantee backed by EETN, which would guarantee a minimum annual revenue amount to the County and the Schools.

Currently, several Knox County Government and Knox County Schools buildings are being evaluated for solar installations.  Any facility identified and approved for installation would be fitted with a 49.5 kilowatt array.

(All this comes up in the December meetings.) 

Common Core encouraging truancy?

Apparently that whole Common Core thing isn't as rosy as Lord McIntyre wants everyone to believe.

Parents around the country are protesting Common Core by keeping their kids home from school today.  You can find the bad a$$ article right smack here.

In New York, the first state to implement the program, state education leaders are already beginning to back off their support for it after complaints and a big drop in test scores.

Then there was the wisdom of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan who over the weekend dismissively indicated that concerns about Common Corer were primarily from white suburban moms finding out that their kids were not as smart as they originally thought.

Heh. Reminds me of a certain commissioner.

Burchett to discuss solar initiative

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett has set up a press conference today to talk about a "solar initiative" that's supposed to be discussed during today's County Commission luncheon and by the Board of Education.

There's not a whole lot of details other than it will take place at 10:30 a.m. at Knox Central.

It's somewhat curious as the mayor doesn't typically call press conferences. But, then again, he is up for re-election. (Not that anyone is going to beat him. Yeah, take that to the bank.)

Thursday, November 14, 2013

City takes over McClung Warehouses

The City of Knoxville today formally assumed control of six properties on West Jackson Avenue, including the historic McClung Warehouses, according to the latest spin job coming out of the Death Star.

Under an agreement signed by the bankruptcy trustee for the properties, Knoxville paid $1.45 million to settle an outstanding lawsuit and acquire the land and buildings.

The properties, on West Jackson between Gay Street and Broadway, were formerly owned by Mark Saroff and have been in receivership since 2010. The total area of the six lots is about 1.7 acres.

City Council approved the terms of the agreement in July, and U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Marcia Phillips Parsons approved it on Oct. 25.  The titles are now legally held by Knoxville’s Community Development Corporation (KCDC), the City’s redevelopment authority.

“This day has been a long time coming,” said Mayor Madeline Rogero. “I am very happy that the City can now move toward stabilizing these historic buildings, and seek proposals from private developers to return these prime downtown properties to productive use. The Jackson Avenue corridor is one of the gateways to our downtown, and this gives us the opportunity to revitalize it.”

The City will soon issue a bid for short-term stabilization of the buildings, to protect them from further water damage and trespassers. City officials will also begin the process of developing a Request for Proposals from private developers, with the goal of returning the properties to private ownership sometime in 2014. 

Audit panel picks two to take over

Kington, left, Williams, right
After two hours of interviews, the Knox County Audit Committee on Thursday picked two potential candidates – both work for the Tennessee Valley Authority – to take over the county’s internal auditing department.

The committee selected Andrea Williams, a compliance advisory support senior manager, as the top selection, and Cindy Kington, who serves as the eastern region manager of distributor compliance.
The recommendations will now go to the Knox County Commission later this month for final approval. The committee suggested a salary of $114,100.

Roughly 20 candidates applied for the job, but the committee picked only four to interview publicly on Thursday.

The new internal auditor will oversee a $257,000 a year operation that includes three employees, and routinely looks into and analyzes county finances and various county departments. The auditor reports directly to the County Commission, but also answers to the Audit Committee.

The new auditor will replace Richard Walls who stepped down in August after accepting a severance fee that covered four months of salary.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Waggoner versus Jones for sheriff

Well, looks like the Man with the Badge - Sheriff Jimmy "J.J." Jones - will have an opponent in his re-election bid.

Bobby Waggoner, a retired chief of detectives in the sheriff's office, officially announced today his intentions to seek the office. He will talk more about it tomorrow at 1:30 p.m. on Market Square (at the women's suffrage statue) when he holds his campaign kickoff.

That's about all I got. The news release wasn't really that long.
 
In October, Jones held his kickoff in front of like a gazillion people at Lakeside Tavern at Concord Marina. The guy is a political powerhouse. I don't really expect this one to be close. But well, who knows . . .

Anyhoo, both are Republicans, so they'll face off in the May primary. The general election is set for August.

Jones took office in 2008 and won re-election in 2010. If he wins, this will be his final term.

Quick glimpse at county travel coin

So all these media folk are drowning the county finance department in record requests, asking to look at travel for departments, elected officials, your mama, whoever.  

 (Mostly this all has to do with Commissioner Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith who likes to target the lone traveling female on the commission because – according to some – he’s vindictive and she nominated someone else for the board chairmanship, but I digress.)

Anyhoo, figured I’d get in on this. The reality is, people freakin’ travel and you’re going to pick up the tab. It’s typically for continuing education. And yeah, every now and then you get someone who wants to be a little sneaky, maybe play a round to two on the links. Go to the bar. Go to wherever.

Heh. 

Whatever.

So, click right smack here for a list of more than 30 departments and how much they spent on travel and education in fiscal year 2011 through FY 2013, and so far this current fiscal year, which started July 1.

Note, that these are just the raw numbers, and the expenses include all sorts of stuff, like certification fees, etc. (Also, it’s actually travel AND education.)

Again, feel free to browse; I’m not breaking it down for ya.

Other than to say that overall costs have dropped each of the past four years, and the public defender’s office still continues to hold the top spot. 

It also looks like (currently) the folks over in circuit court, the county clerk’s office, and the criminal court judges are keeping it real at ZERO. (That’s just so far this year. I’m sure they’ll drop some coin later. Heh.)

The property assessor is up there at almost $11,000 along with the attorney general ($9,000); Planning & Development ($9,000); Purchasing ($6,700); County Mayor ($6,650), Juvenile Court Judges ($6,500) and . . .  I gave you way too much.

Again, click right smack here.

And remember, the Knox County Commission approved these budgets. Without asking questions.

Heh.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Commissioner Smith says pretty much nothing about disparaging remarks

Knox County Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith sort of issued an apology to fellow board member Amy Broyles tonight. He kind of muttered something anyway.

(For the background, click right smack here.)

I tried to get clarification from him, but he ran like a chicken (bawk, bawk, bawk), first to the bathroom, then to his cell phone, then to a group of people (who ignored him) before finally stopping and saying “not to you,” when I asked if he’d comment.

Heh.

Later he told another reporter that he’d make a comment about his weak apology and the disparaging remarks he made about women’s issues. But, only out of earshot of me! 

That’s funny.  

But, look, if you don’t want to tell me why you hate or don't hate women, that’s cool. I don’t care. It makes my job waaaay easier to say “declined to comment.”

But, maybe you can answer the almost 30 people who emailed the commission office about the comments. (Right smack here for the emails. Heh.)

Whatever.

The board next Monday will take up the matter of commission travel. R. Larry, who proposed it, didn’t want to talk about it tonight. He wanted to wait until Commission Chairman Brad Anders was there. 

That’s kind of funny.

Awhile back, Anders asked to move a commission meeting because he knew he would be able to attend. Smith sent an email to the commissioners, saying that it would be the job of the vice chairman to take over.

Guess that’s not the case anymore.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Smith could have to answer critics for recent remarks about women

Now, word going around is that folks – or R. Larry at least – should expect some fireworks. You know, cause he insulted every woman in Knox County.

Already, Kim Lauth, president of the League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County, wrote a letter “strongly” disagreeing with some of the good commissioner’s assertions; and then more than a dozen residents sent emails to the board’s office expression their disapproval.

From what I understand some more folks are going to stick to him tomorrow during the public forum.

(I also heard the League was, too, but I have no faith in them. A few years ago they were supposed to raise hell during an elections commissions hearing when the panel fired then-administrator Greg Mackay and they didn’t do crap. But I digress.)

We’ll see, I supposed. Tuesday's work session starts at 2 p.m.

Shepherd to seek school board gig

Well, looks like Knox County school system rubble rouser Tamara Shepherd has announced her intentions to run for Board of Education 6th District seat.

The spot is currently held by Thomas Deakins, a former board chairman who has said in the past that he will not run again.

Shepherd announced made the announcement over at Randy’s place. You can find it right smack here. (Damn hippie.)

I think I’ve met Tamara. I know I’ve talked to her on the phone. I know I don’t always agree with her, and I think in her research she goes down the wrong rabbit holes, albeit, always with the right intentions.

That said, she does actually research the issues, she cares about local education and she will NOT be a yes-woman for Lord McIntyre, school superintendent.

She is going to ask some serious questions in public and call him out in public. If she wins during the 2014 election. And that’s a big “if.” 

The beautiful people will no doubt field a candidate and pump a bunch of money into that person’s campaign. They do not want someone like Shepherd on the board. It’s bad enough Mike McMillan doesn’t toe the line. One more? That means it’s worse. Three more after that? Well, we all know what happens then.

District seats 1, 4, 7 and 9 also are up for re-election. School board seats by the way are not term-limited. They also are non-partisan.

Veterans Day: Remember those who served, honor those who serve

Today is Veterans Day. Try to remember why we honor it.

In the meantime, Randy over at Knoxviews gave me this idea: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has the history of today's holiday on its website.

You can find that right smack here.

Also, check out this link for a list of where, locally, veterans can get free meals, haircuts, car washes, etc. today.

And, as a reminder, Knox County offices (non-essential ones) are closed today. City offices are open.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Knox County closed for Veterans Day

Photo by Mike Donila
This is what the Death Star main floor looks like at 3 p.m. on a Friday right before a Monday holiday. Heh.

It’s like: Hey, we don’t have to work on Monday, so let’s just not work from 3-5 p.m. on Friday, either. Heh.  There are some folks around, but really, you’re more likely to run into tumbleweeds.

Anyhoo, the county will be closed Monday for Veterans Day. The city is open. Not sure how that works.

Criminal Ct Clerk 'cruising' along

So, uh, what do you do when you’re under fire for running what officials believe is a shoddy shop and you’ve managed to pretty much tick off the kinds of people in life you don’t really want to – you know, judges, law enforcement, prosecutors, etc?

Well, you take off on a cruise! Yup. Apparently, the worst kept secret – or one of them – in the ol’ Death Star is that embattled Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey left today on a 10-day cruise. Technically, I think she quit showing up for work on Thursday, but left today. (insert your own joke.)

Now, you can say: Well she booked that sucker in advance, so she should go. Well, yeah. You can say a lot of things. And hey, I’m not judging anyone. Especially someone who’s missed pretty much every other Friday this year.

Heh.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Tech in short supply in Criminal Ct Clerk Office, key fund untapped

Yeah, they don't believe in computers. Heh.

A short-supply of technology and training inside the Knox County Criminal Court Clerk's Office has created a series of problems that's led to wrongful arrests, cases set aside due to errors and residents temporarily losing their right to vote, officials and former employees say.

Now, the Knox County Commission wants to look into what role it can play to help solve some of the problems.

Officials during the board's Tuesday's work session plan to talk about auditing the office, and whether to use technology reserve funds to cover the costs. The account, according to county Finance Director Chris Caldwell, has gone uptapped for at least three years and has roughly $132,000 in it.

Click right smack here for last night's bad a$$ story.

Inconsistencies in auto allowances

Last night we did a story about the inconsistencies in Knox County’s auto allowance travel program. Some 18 people get allowances that cost a combined $81,200. Yet, some 160 people can fill out travel reimbursement forms (using the federal system’s template) and cost about $82,000.

And don’t even get me started on the school system. That city stuff is odd, too. We’ve got links over there. You got at least one person who lives downtown and walks to work, but that person gets an allowance. Heh.

Anyhoo, right smack here for the story.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Emails calling out Commissioner Smith

Well, looks like those comments made by Knox County Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith aren’t going away.

You may recall that yesterday, the good commissioner questioned fellow commissioner Amy Broyles’ travel expenses.

She attended the Tennessee Economic Council on Women in Nashville and Smith said to the News Sentinel: “How’s women’s issues going to better Knox County’s government decision making?”

Hahahahahaha. Yeah, he did.

So, folks have been emailing the county commission office, expressing their dismay. Folks are calling the remarks “appalling,” and “lame and insipid,” and etc.

“Your self-indulgent ignorance is stunning,” a person said.

And, in one bizarre instance, Smith responded: “(Broyles) is spending all her time going to conferences, but has the worst attendance record BY FAR of any Commission (sic). Do your job at home then in your free time go to conferences.”

Good Lord.

Well, he wanted a story when he stooged some media outlets into covering it. I just don’t think this is the story he wanted.

You can find nine of the emails, right smack here. More continue to come in to the county and the media, but I don’t have time to put those up. And, well, you probably get the point.

In the meantime, tune in tonight. We'll have a story about travel that's actually relevant, and something Smith thinks is a good idea. Heh. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Women's voting league not pleased with Commissioner Smith's remarks

Photo by Dan Andrews
Yeah, I kind of figured that there would be some push back after County Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith made that remark about women. Heh.

I blogged earlier today about it, right smack here.

Now, Kim Lauth, president of the League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County today has issued the following statement: 

A recent comment by Commissioner Larry Smith challenging Commissioner Amy Broyles’ attendance at the Tennessee Economic Summit for Women, hosted by the Governor’s Economic Council for Women, was more than surprising.

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Commissioner Smith characterized the meeting as a “women’s conference,” and questioned how women’s issues will improve government decision-making.

The Economic Council includes state senators and representatives and members of the Governor’s cabinet, presented research at the Summit demonstrating that Tennessee spends more than $885M annually as a result of violence against women -- a significant impact on taxpayers.

The Council released the report following public hearings held around the state, which Commissioner Broyles attended along with District Attorney Randy Nichols, the TBI, local law enforcement, and others.

The League strongly disagrees with Commissioner Smith’s implication that having the lone woman on Commission attend a State-sponsored Summit on women’s economic issues would have no bearing on county government decision making.

With women representing 51.3% of the County’s population, we believe that the information Commissioner Broyles was able to obtain to be highly relevant to decision making in Knox county government.

The League stands on the principle of good government. We believe that we only have good government if we have well informed officials who continue to educate themselves on important issues throughout their terms of office.

McCroskey, judges hold meeting

So, we talked to Sessions Court Judge Andrew Jackson VI yesterday about the problems in the Criminal Court Clerk's Office. Jackson and the other four sessions court judges met with clerk Joy McCroskey to listen to her game plan.

You can find the story, right smack here.

In the meantime, I'll believe it when I see it.

Broyles goes to conventions. Yawn.

Photo by Dan Andrews
Well, credit to Knox County Commission Vice Chairman R. Larry Smith for tooling a couple of media outlets into reporting that Commissioner Amy Broyles – one of his political foes – goes on trips.

Yes, trips that he as a commissioner approved when he blindly – like most commissioners – approved the budget.

(Course R. Larry managed to chalk up some folding paper for a trip to Nashville when he probably could have just picked up a phone, but who’s counting?)

Now, before I really get into it, this entry isn’t to disparage R. Larry. It’s just a look at the inside baseball of politics and how it works sometimes. I don’t really have a dog in this fight. Personally, I never saw the story in the story. Hell, I told R. Larry that months ago.

In fact, we reported the real story. It wasn’t what Broyles attends, but rather what she doesn’t: meetings. Now THAT was the story.

Anyhoo, I digress.

Back to R. Larry.

Politically, it was an interesting move. On one end it was savvy that he convinced some reporters to   That’s usually smart politics.

Photo by Dan Andrews
Politically, it was an interesting move. On one end it was savvy that he convinced some reporters to (in my opinion) cover a non-issue, so he can use that as ammo when he talks about it during Tuesday’s work session. (R. Larry put this on the agenda to discuss. No, really.)


But, not this time. This time he pretty much insulted women everywhere.

According to the News Sentinel:  Broyles “the lone female commissioner, went with Knoxville’s first female mayor, Madeline Rogero, to hear her speak in Nashville at the Tennessee Economic Council on Women.”

The Sentinel quotes Smith: “How’s women’s issues going to better Knox County’s government decision making?”

(Wow! Freakin’ wow! He really said that? Holy $%*!)

Also, credit to KNS reporter Gerald Witt. In his lede sentence, he notes that Smith “is targeting” Broyles. WATE’s story made it out like there was some huge uproar of officials. No, folks. It was one official.

Smith’s move pretty much killed any chance he had at a school board seat. Most teaches are women. Yeah, they vote.

The good commissioner, according to Witt, also said commissioners “should enter office ready to do the job.

“If I decide that I want to run for County Commission,” he told the paper, “I know what it all entails. I know there are large budget items.”

Smith also is rumored to run for the Register of Deeds gig next year. I wonder if he – or anyone else who is thinking about challenging Sherry Witt (no relation to Gerald) – knows what it entails.

Does he know how to oversee $2 billion in real estate transaction each year? What about $4.5 billion in lending?

Again, not to disparage R. Larry. But rather to point out what is no doubt going to be political ammo when he decides to run for office next time.

It’s also probably a lesson to Broyles (not that she will care): Next time the commission chairmanship is up, don’t nominate someone other than R. Larry.

Heh.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Arrest reports still not adding up


I always forget to put these things up. Anyhoo, the county's IT Department yesterday publicly released a series of audit trails for seven specific cases that Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey turned over to commissioners last Monday. Find the story along with links to the reports, right smack here.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Criminal Court Clerk info not adding up, contains mistakes, admissions


On Monday, embattled Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey turned over some mumbo jumbo to the Knox County Commission that was supposed to defend herself against the mean ole media that's been picking on her. I guess she didn't expect anyone to vet the BS she gave the board.

Well, we did. You can find last night's story right smack here. And let me tell you, time stamps don't lie. When you change information in the system, it tells who did it and when.

The 47-page she provided contains mistakes, bad data and misleading information.Supposedly, she and her teams spent a week putting it together. But it looks like it was done in a night.

Bad guys, scofflaws owe Knox $158M

Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey has been telling everyone that the county is owed about $18 million in arrears. Heck, that information was even included in the bid documents for the new company the commission just selected to go after outstanding debt. (You know, cause the last one was operating under an illegal contract. Seriously???)

Well, anyhoo, according to KNS reporter Jamie Satterfield, bad guys and traffic scofflaws actually owe Knox County $158 million! Yeah, big freakin' difference. Click right smack here for the story, so long as you're a millionaire and can afford the new pay wall subscription. Heh.

So, what's the deal with the $18 million? Well, that only represents the debt from one court. (McCroskey oversees three - criminal, sessions, Fourth Circuit.) I suppose then, she didn't actually lie. But rather told a one-third truth.

But, seriously, with that amount, the County Commission should probably get at least two debt collectors, rather than just the one.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Funeral services for Officer Munson set, public welcome to show support

Officer David Munson
The funeral service for Knoxville Officer David Munson will begin at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, November 1, 2013, at Chilhowee Hills Baptist Church, 4615 Asheville Highway.

Interment will follow in Atchley’s Seymour Memory Gardens, 122 Peacock Court (behind Atchley Funeral Home in Seymour).  The procession is expected to leave the church at approximately 12:15 p.m. and will take the following route:
  • West on Magnolia to Hall of Fame
  • South on Hall of Fame to Howard Baker Jr. 
  • East on Howard Baker Jr. to Hill Ave.
  • South on Hill then across the South Knox Bridge to Moody
  • West on Moody to Chapman Hwy
  • South on Chapman Hwy to grave site
Members of the community are welcome to show their support during the procession.  Knoxville Police Department employees who are unable to attend the service will show their support as the procession passes by the Safety Building.

The Knoxville Fire Department will display the American Flag from their ladder trucks behind the Safety Building on Hill Avenue. The community also needs to be advised that traffic will be briefly stopped to allow the passing of the procession. 

Jenkins to run for Circuit Ct judge

I'm a little late on this one, but Knoxville attorney and former Knox County GOP chairman Ray Jenkins announced that he will seek the office of Judge of the Knox County Circuit Court - Division I to succeed Judge Dale Workman who recently announced his plans to retire.

“I have a varied and diverse practice as well as an extensive background in business and government service," Jenkins said in a released statement. "I believe this experience uniquely qualifies me to serve as Circuit Court Judge.  Judge Workman has established a legacy of public service to Knox County that not only includes 24 years on the bench but also as Knox County Law Director.  His example is one I hope to emulate if elected to succeed him.”

Jenkins in a news release said he will file the necessary paperwork to name a treasurer and qualify for the race at the appropriate time.

The Republican Primary is set for May, and the general election is set for August.

Friday's 'Lunch with Mayor' at Kay's

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett continues his quest to eat everyone with everyone. The office will host another lunch with the mayor on tomorrow, this time at Kay's Ice Cream at 6200 Chapman Highway in South Knoxville, from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Obviously, El Cheapo isn't paying, so bring your own coin. And also note, that Kay's doesn't accept checks, credit or debit cards. kay's, which is locally owned, will offer specials during the luncheon.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Trustee stage set: Leuthold v Shouse

Two long-time local leaders on Wednesday set up the beginning stages in a fight for the county’s top tax collector seat.

Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse announced his intentions to seek the Trustee seat, and interim Trustee Craig Leuthold turned in his paperwork to appoint a campaign treasurer.

“The main role of Trustee is collecting and investing the county’s tax dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so having someone with a business and financial background, like myself, makes sense,” said Shouse, an at-large commissioner, and former Knoxville City Council member.

Shouse, who serves on the county’s audit committee, pension board and investment committee, spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 17 years in the shortline railroad industry.

He will face Leuthold in the May republican Primary. The general election is set for August.

Leuthold is a former a two-term commissioner, who spent 16 years in the Trustee’s Office and more than two years in the Property Assessor’s Office.

“I’ve got 19 years experience in the property tax profession and I think that when people call in and have concerns they want someone with knowledge and experience, and I can help with questions and concerns,” he said. “I think that’s invaluable.”

The Knox County Commission in late July appointed Leuthold to fill out the remainder former Trustee John Duncan III’s term, which ends Aug. 31. Duncan resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct in early July.

Leuthold and Shouse were among 26 applicants who applied for the job. But Shouse pulled out, saying he didn’t want the community to feel that he got the job because he was on the commission.
The board then selected Leuthold.

The Trustee is the county’s top tax collection. The position pays about $113,000 annually and is responsible for 30 to 45 employees depending on tax season.

Commish Shouse to seek Trustee seat

Ed Shouse
This is going to be a good one. Knox County Commissioner Ed Shouse just announced his intentions to see the county Trustee seat.

“The main role of Trustee is collecting and investing the county’s tax dollars, hundreds of millions of dollars a year, so having someone with a business and financial background, like myself, makes sense,” said Shouse, an at-large commissioner, and former Knoxville City Council member.

Shouse, who serves on the county’s audit committee, pension board and investment committee, spent 20 years in the banking industry followed by 17 years in the shortline railroad industry.

He is expected to face interim Trustee Craig Leuthold in the May republican Primary. The general election is set for August.

Shouse expressed interest in the position in July when he initially applied for the job along with 25 other applicants to replace John Duncan III, who resigned and pleaded guilty to official misconduct.

Although a frontrunner for the spot, he eventually pulled out saying he didn’t want the community to feel that he got the job because he was on the commission.

The Knox County Commission then selected Leuthold, a former commissioner, who spent years working in the trustee's office and the property assessor's office.

The Trustee is the county’s top tax collection. The position pays about $113,000 annually and is responsible for 30 to 45 employees depending on tax season.

Visit Knoxville to host open house, display Gustin photos this Friday


Knox County bad a$$ photographer and county IT guy Jon Gustin's photos will be on display at the Visit Knoxville Offices, starting Nov. 1. The display is part of the open house kick off event hosted by the tourism group, beginning on First Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Stop by and check them out!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

No wonder some folks want to audit the criminal court clerk's office

Bad a$$ expensive chair
So, I keep hearing all these rumors about how Knox County Criminal Court Clerk Joy McCroskey doesn’t have enough coin in her budget to replace some office chairs. 

Well . . . . .  maybe if someone in that office wasn’t out buying $1,400 chairs there would be enough money. 

Yeah, no kidding. You see, according to county receipts, someone laid down almost $2,840 for two Keilhauer Response 865 office chairs.

They were ordered in February 2012. You can find the receipts, right smack here

In addition, someone in the office earlier this year opted to spend roughly $2,000 on a Maytag refrigerator.  

Now, I’m no expert in chairs, but $1,400 sounds like a bunch. Can’t you buy like a whole “room” at Rooms to Go for a couple grand?

Anyhoo, I saw these bad a$$ Leather Executive Massage Chairs with a 5-Motor Massage – right smack here – for $141.95 each. 

But, if you buy three or more you can get them for $131.95. Now, discounting taxes, that’s like 21 chairs. And they massage!

Now, perhaps someone in the office needed an ergonomic chair because they had back surgery. OK. Point taken. Now why do you need two of them? - That's your one freebie Gervin.