Monday, February 29, 2016

Porch election predictions/guesses

I suppose it’s time roll out the ol’ Porch’s annual Election Day predictions.

Now, I can’t stress enough that my picks are not endorsements, recommendations, whatevers. These are just the folks I think will more than likely win in the contested primaries.

I should note that I’ve enjoyed meeting with all of the candidates. You also can check out their guest segments on Inside Tennessee RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Anyhoo, here ya go:


County Commission 2nd: Michele Carringer over John Fugate

I think Michele has campaigned harder. Also – and this is key – when she ran for the countywide seat some time back against Ed Brantley, she apparently beat him in her district. That’s a big deal. Ed is known widely throughout the county and is more recognizable than Fugate, so I figure if she beats him, then she can beat John. That said, John is a damn nice guy based on the conversations I’ve had with him.

County Commission 4th: Hugh Nystrom defeats incumbent Jeff Ownby and Janet Testerman

Why: Hugh has really worked this campaign and knows a ton of people. Jeff obviously has that past issue, which is going to cost him, and, quite frankly, I just haven’t heard a lot about Testerman. That said, Jeff is a good commissioner who takes constituency services very seriously. He answers his phone and enjoys meeting with the people in his district.

County Commission 6th:
Brad Anders easily handles John Ashley

Why: Seriously? That said the community is always better off when there are contested races because it typically creates debate. So, shout out to John for running.

Law Director: Richard “Bud” Armstrong defeats Nathan Powell

Why: Flat out, more people know Bud. And that commercial/political advertisement that Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett did for him was the killer. That said, Nathan would probably not have a problem doing the job.

Property Assessor: John Whitehead barely, barely defeats Jim Weaver. Third candidate Andrew Graybeal garners few votes.

Why: This is the toughest one for me to call, and I might change my mind tomorrow before early voting results come in. Both Weaver and Whitehead know the office. But a lot of folks know the “Whitehead” name from his time as assessor (2000-08). Early on, local polling actually put Whitehead far ahead of the other two candidates. Since then, Weaver has spent a ton of coin and current Property Assessor Phil Ballard (who is term-limited) has started to get out the word. Weaver has caught up and, I believe, some polls even had him neck-and-neck with Whitehead or even ahead. Still, with gun to my head I think Whitehead narrowly edges him. That said, I suspect if Whitehead does win, there may be a spot for Weaver if he wants it.


County Commission 1st: Rick Staples easily defeats Evelyn Gill

Why: On paper, Gill looks like a great candidate. But, she’s not working it like Staples is. The guy is everywhere and he has name recognition from previous campaigns. That said, he might have some problems in the general election.

County Commission 2nd: Laura Kildare beats Cheri Siler

Why: Siler suspended her campaign in December and hasn't done anything to get her name out. That said, she's told supporters if she wins, she'll run in August.


District 2: Grant Standefer defeats Jennifer Owen

Why: Grant has more money and more name recognition. Also, Superintendent Jim McIntyre is no longer a factor, since he’s stepping down in July. Candidates in the past were able to use him – good or bad – as an election platform. They can’t do it this time and I think that hurts Jennifer. That said, she could do the job as well.

District 5: Susan Horn and Buddy Pelot force a runoff. Lori Ann Boudreaux comes in third

Why: I just don’t see Horn or Pelot, who each have more name recognition and coin than Boudreaux, getting the 50 percent plus one vote. One of them might come close, but I expect it to go to the runoff in August. That said, I could be wrong. Heh.

On a side note, I’m pretty sure Tennesseans to give Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton the presidential nods.

Knox GOP/Dems to host watch events

The Knox County GOP on election night (that's tomorrow for all you still under a rock) will hold its annual shin dig once again at the Summit Ballroom of the downtown Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The event is free.

The election returns will be shown in real time on a large screen.

A majority of the Republican candidates appearing on the ballot will attend and more than likely make nomination acceptance speeches.

The Democrats will hold a similar event at the downtown Knoxville Marriott.

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. tomorrow.

The two events start around 7ish.

Tune in to WBIR 10News for the most comprehensive coverage of the event and check out for more Tuesday night.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Marco Rubio stopping in Knoxville

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images, 2016 Getty Images
GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio is scheduled to make a campaign stop in Knoxville on Monday.

Tennessee's presidential primaries are held on Super Tuesday, making the Monday stop in the Scruffy City very timely.

The rally will be held at TAC Air Knoxville. The event page says doors will open 8:30 a.m., with the event beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Gov. Bill Haslam endorsed Rubio on Thursday. A spokesperson for the governor said he will be at the Monday event in Knoxville.

“To win in November, conservatives need a candidate who inspires Americans from all backgrounds,” said the two-term governor in a statement. “With Marco standing next to Hillary Clinton on a debate stage, the choice between the future and the past will be clear to every American."

Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., also announced Thursday that he is now backing Rubio.

No word on who current Tennessee Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker will endorse.
Rubio is a Florida senator perceived as appealing more to the mainstream GOP.

John Kasich will also make a campaign stop in Knoxville, though he will be here on Saturday at a closed event for the Knox County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

On the other side of the aisle, Hillary Clinton is slated to campaign in Nashville this weekend. She is the heavy favorite to win the Democratic primary in the Volunteer state.

Tennessee to play big role Tuesday

Just days before Super Tuesday, political experts weigh in on Tennessee's role.

The state has already tallied up historic highs in early voting, and more presidential candidates are set to visit.

"We've had Ben Carson. We've had Jeb Bush. We've had Ted Cruz, Donald Trump. Now we've got John Kasich," Knox County GOP Chairman Buddy Burkhardt said. "East Tennessee is definitely in play in this presidential election."

Hillary Clinton is heading to Nashville on Sunday, and John Kasich will be in Knoxville this Saturday.

Donald Trump is stopping in Millington, north of Memphis, on Saturday.
Marco Rubio will make a campaign stop in Knoxville on Monday morning as well. Gov. Bill

Haslam announced his endorsement of Rubio Thursday.

"Endorsements are important in a lot of cases, but I don't think that's the tell all end all," Burkhardt said.

"The personal visit does make a difference, not a huge difference," Mark Harmon, UT journalism professor, said. "But it's important everything from fundraising to rallying your supporters to showing you care."

Many gathered at Scruffy City Hall to support Sanders Thursday.

"The more people that get out to vote, the higher the turnout, the better it's going to be for Bernie," Tyrrell said. "We're really encouraged by the higher voting numbers."

"Tennessee's going to go Republican," Burkhardt said. "It's which candidate's going to get the most delegates out of it."

No matter who wins what, it's clear Tennessee has a heavy hand in nominations this year.

"We give a substantial number of delegates," Harmon said. "As long as we do, and as long as the polls aren't terribly lopsided, the candidates will come here."

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Lawsuit filed to stop Midway park

A local activist group has filed a lawsuit to stop the proposed Midway Business Park, saying it will endanger the water underneath the proposed East Knox County site.

The move comes two months after county leaders officially paved the way to get the project up and running.

The complaint, filed in Knox County Chancery Court, says the more than 300 acres just off I-40 near Strawberry Plains sits directly above an aquifer that the nearby residents use and any intense development will jeopardize it.

“We all drink out of that aquifer and they don’t care,” said Bob Wolfenbarger, president of the 8th District Preservation Association. “It will destroy the aquifer no matter what they do there.”

The non-profit group filed the lawsuit Friday against the Development Corporation of Knox County, the county, the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission and the Knox County Commission.

The lawsuit notes that the area is composed of “high undulating terrain containing numerous sinkholes” and is “unsuitable for large-scale development, as reflected in the East Knox County Sector Plan of 1995.”

On Tuesday, Wolfenbarger told WBIR 10News that “nothing in the area has changed.”

“This just happens to be a bad site and they don’t want to believe it,” he said.

MORE: Copy of the complaint

Knox County Law Director Richard “Bud” Armstrong declined to comment, saying his office received a copy of the lawsuit late Monday and he hasn’t had time to review it.

Todd Napier, president of the Development Corporation, said: “We’re very disappointed. We continue to have some individuals who are working to delay or stop a project that will ultimately be to the benefit to Knox County. We will vigorously defend the actions that have been taken and move on.”

The Knox County Commission in December voted to change the sector plan that governs the zoning for the property to allow for an industrial park.

Officials with the Development Corporation, which bought the land in 2006, say the project could attract a large-scale manufacturer or distributor, and bring in $200 million in wages.

Business leaders stress that the property is among the last large tracts available that can be used to promote business park developments.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Task force seeking public input on Knox County safety center proposal

Knox County leaders want the public to weigh in on a plan to combat issues of chronic mental illness, substance abuse and jail overcrowding.

For years, officials have engaged in talks to build a safety center that houses and treats the mentally ill who are arrested for nonviolent crimes. The current proposal is to create the Knox County Safety Center.

Vivian Underwood-Shipe is the community representative on the safety center task force. The group is comprised of county commissioners and members of the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney General’s Office.

RELATED: Take the safety center survey

RELATED: Knox County leaders meet to discuss Safety Center
She is overseeing a survey to get the public's input.

MORE: Knox County to revist talks about safety center for mentally ill

“I just wanted to put together something brief so that the community would have a way to provide us input,” she said. “The safety center is something we definitely need. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but we have to do it right.”

She said the task force will talk about the results of the survey when it meets again at 1 p.m. on March 14 in the Large Assembly Room of the City County Building.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Commissioner Thomas starts own blog

Knox County Commission Vice Chairman Bob Thomas (many say future mayor Bob Thomas) has started his own blog.

"I am proud to announce the first issue of my monthly blog to keep the citizens of Knox County up to date on the latest meetings of the Knox County Commission and other items of interest," he said in an email to the ol' Porch.

You can find that bad boy RIGHT SMACK HERE.

(For the record, it's called "Bob Thomas Knox.")

Projections: Knox BOE budget on pace for $14M increase for upcoming FY

Chris Caldwell address the BOE
The Knox County school system’s upcoming budget could jump by as much as $14 million when officials put together next fiscal year’s spending plan, according to revenue projections.

During Wednesday’s Board of Education meeting, county finance director Chris Caldwell told school leaders that property and sales tax revenues are up, as is the Basic Education Program allocation from the state.

The school system currently operates on a $438 million budget.

Caldwell said property tax revenues project a roughly $1.6 million increase, raising total collections to $96.8 million. He noted that sales tax collections are on pace to bring in an additional $5.1 million, which would raise those collections to $143 million.

In addition, officials are expecting an additional $11.4 million in BEP funding form the state, which would increase that total to more than $194 million.

Caldwell said “other revenue sources” would eventually lead to an overall $14 million increase if “everything remains on pace.”

If the projections hold steady, that could lead to a $452 million spending plan for the school system’s upcoming fiscal year, which begins July 1. The overall difference amounts to about a 3.2 percent increase from the current budget.

BOE to pick interim leader in April

The Knox County Board of Education on Wednesday agreed to pick an interim superintendent to oversee the school system by the first week of April and then have that person in place on July 11 – the Monday after current Superintendent Jim McIntyre officially steps down.

The board unanimously agreed to let member Terry Hill oversee the vetting process. Board members and the public who wish to submit names should send them to Terri Coatney, the board’s executive assistant.

Hill will interview the candidates and then submit a recommendation for the board to discuss during an April 4 workshop. Members would then vote on the appointment April 6.

After that, the BOE’s chairman, Doug Harris, would have until April 17 to negotiate a contract with the selection.

McIntyre, who was hired in spring 2008, agreed in early January to step down on July 8 in exchange for a one-year severance. The move came a little more than a month after he agreed to a two-year contract extension that pays him $227,000 annually.

As superintendent, McIntyre oversees a $438 million budget, 90 schools and a 7,500-person workforce that includes almost 5,000 teachers.

Board members during Wednesday’s discussion said they were looking for someone familiar with the school system’s budget, schools and staff.

Vice Chairwoman Tracie Sanger also suggested that the interim superintendent “already have a good relationship” with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, and the board members.

Burchett, who first took office in 2010, and McIntyre often butted heads over finances.

Board members said at some point later in the year they will talk more about putting together the process to pick a permanent replacement. The interim candidate cannot hold that position, members said.

After the brief meeting to talk about the interim selection process, a number of officials said they heard that some board members are interested in nominating Buzz Thomas, the president of the Great Schools Partnership, a local tax-exempt organization that serves as an advocate for the KCS and help raise money to support a number of programs for the system.

KCS expected to receive additional $11.4 million in state BEP funding

Knox County Schools is expected to receive additional $11.4 million in Basic Education Program funding from the state.

The Governor's Office will begin allocating the extra money beginning next fiscal year, which starts July 1.

The school currently receives about $182 million a year, according to Knox County finance director Chris Caldwell, who said the additional funding is tied to a 1 percent student enrollment increase during the 2015-16 year.

MORE: BEP budget for FY17

The governor's office is expected to allocate an additional $26 million in BEP funding to Shelby County Schools, which is a public school district in Memphis, Tenn.

The BEP makes up a good portion of the school system’s annual more than $438 million budget.

For years local officials have fought for an increase in the county’s portion from the state.

The windfall comes at a time when county and school officials have been at odds for the past few years over the school system’s funding.

Here's a list of other East Tennessee school districts receiving more than $1 million in additional BEP funding (rounded two decimal places):
  • Anderson County: $1.38 million
  • Blount County: $2.91 million
  • Maryville City: $1.15 million
  • Cocke County: $1.28 million
  • Cumberland County: $1.57 million
  • Grainger County: $1.23 million
  • Greene County: $1.26 million
  • Hamblen County: $3.71 million
  • Hawkins County: $1.91 million
  • Jefferson County: $2.41 million
  • Monroe County: $1.36 million
  • Rhea County: $1.19 million
  • Scott County: $1.11 million
  • Sevier County: $1.31 million

Monday, February 15, 2016

Voting begins for TDOT sign contest

Voting begins tomorrow (Feb. 16) to choose the winners from the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s Dynamic Message Sign Contest, according to the state.

TDOT received nearly 3,000 entries for possible safety messages for the overhead signs located across Tennessee. The entries were narrowed down to 15 messages that cover safety issues such as distracted driving, seatbelt usage, impaired driving, speeding, and aggressive driving.

To vote, click RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Voting ends March 1.

The winning messages will be posted online the following week, and will be placed in rotation to run on the overhead Dynamic Message Signs statewide throughout the year.  Some of the entries were modified slightly to fit guidelines for the signs.

A total of 190 Dynamic Message Signs are located in the state’s four urban areas (Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, Nashville), and in some rural areas across the state.

The main purpose of the signs is to alert motorists of incidents, lane blockages, hazardous road conditions, or Amber Alerts.

In 2012, TDOT became the first DOT in the nation to display roadway fatality numbers on the overhead signs. In addition to the fatality statistics, safety messages are displayed during off-peak travel times.

Friday, February 12, 2016

School groundbreakings rescheduled

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, along with Knox County Schools Superintendent Jim McIntyre,and a bunch of other officials, will formally break ground at the sites of the new Gibbs and Hardin Valley Middle Schools on Feb. 19, with the Gibbs event happening at 11 a.m. and the Hardin Valley event at 1 p.m.

Parking for the Gibbs Middle School groundbreaking will be very limited on-site, so members of the public planning to attend are asked to park at Gibbs Ruritan Park, 7827 Tazewell Pike, and take a shuttle to the event location.

Shuttles will begin running at 10 a.m. Members of the media may park at the end of the cul-de-sac access road behind Gibbs Elementary School off Tazewell Pike.

Property assessor candidate claims degree from UT but school says no

Knox County property assessor candidate Andrew Graybeal says he earned a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Tennessee, but the college has no record that he ever took a class there.

In addition, UT officials say the university does not accept transferred credits from a technical college Graybeal says he attended.

“We searched for Andrew Graybeal . . . and could find nothing,” Amy Blakely, a spokesperson for the University of Tennessee, told 10News Thursday morning. “We’re happy to keep checking but we’ve checked everything we could think of at this point.”

Blakely said two people in her office performed a number of searches for various spellings for Graybeal’s name.

When asked bluntly by a WBIR reporter whether he earned a degree in engineering from UT, he said: “I graduated from ITT University with a degree in engineering and those credits were transferred over to UT.”

He said this occurred in 1993. He said he was at UT for two years but couldn’t recall what classes he took.

Rest of story RIGHT HERE.

MPC working on new zoning option

The Metropolitan Planning Commission is working to propose a new kind of zoning option for Knoxville and Knox County developers.

MPC discussed "mixed use" zoning at its meeting Thursday, where residents came to listen to the commission's yearly zoning plan update.

“There is a proposal right now in the works to create a zone that allows the mix of uses," MPC Senior Planner Michael Brusseau said. "The Bearden area has kind of asked for that, and Duane Grieve on City Council asked us to take a look at it.”

Brusseau said that right now businesses and living areas tend to be more separated, but this new zoning class could combine them.

“This would allow, for example, a commercial business with residential units on top, similar things that you see downtown," he said. "Downtown is really the only area that uses mixed use zoning right now, and we’re hoping to change that.”

Those who attended the meeting expressed interest in the new potential planning options.

“I think it's interesting," said Charlotte Davis, who regularly attends MPC meetings. "I was sitting there thinking there was a gentleman with MPC for years, Mike Carberry, and he has since retired. He was talking about this years ago, and at that time, unfortunately, there just wasn’t a lot of interest in pursuing. But now it’s coming to the forefront."

MPC plans to have that on its agenda for consideration within the next two months.
It's also encouraging residents to come to meetings so they can make decisions based on the community's desires.

2nd suit filed over fair's gun ban

A second Knox County lawsuit has been filed against the city of Knoxville and Mayor Madeline Rogero over their decision to ban guns from the Tennessee Valley Fair in Chilhowee Park.

Liston Matthews and Kimberly Bergeron filed the action Thursday in Knox County Chancery Court.  The lawsuit had been expected.

Other defendants include Police Chief David Rausch.

Matthews and Bergeron argue their rights as permit carriers were impeded and they suffered because the city refused to let carry permit holders bring firearms last fall onto the fairgrounds.

For decades, the fair has operated in September at Chilhowee Park in East Knoxville.

Although it's commonly referred to as a park, the city argues Chilhowee Park is actually an entertainment venue. As a result, a state law that allows permit holders to bring guns onto public park grounds does not apply, the city argues.

Matthews and Bergeron, however, argue they had a right to bring their weapons to the fair because it is a park and they say they suffered because they weren't able to attend while armed.

In October, a Loudon County woman filed a similar lawsuit in Knox County Circuit Court.

The Tennessee Firearms Association on Thursday hailed the court action.

According to Rogero, no one challenged the ban at the gate during the fair. Several people were found to have weapons. But they put them away before entering the fair, according to Rogero.

According to Rogero, fair organizers had asked that gun-carriers be prohibited from bringing weapons into the fair.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Williams seeking GOP delegate seat

From Susan Williams: As you know, the Tennessee primary for selecting the Republican nominee for President of the US is on March 1 and early voting begins this week, Feb. 10.

It is a long ballot with the presidential candidates all listed first and then the delegates who are running for the candidates are listed below those names, beginning with the delegates running statewide first and following those names you will find the names of folks running in the Second Congressional district as delegates.

I am one of those! Since I am running as a delegate committed to Jeb Bush, I think my name is fourth under the Second Congressional District list.

The really interesting thing is that you don't have to vote for Jeb Bush (even though I would like you too) to vote for me as a delegate.

You can vote for Kasich or Trump or Rubio or anyone who's still standing on March 1 and still vote for me for delegate.

I would greatly appreciate it! I've been to 7 Conventions and feel very qualified to represent Tennessee well. Thanks for your help!

(As always, shoot the ol' Porch your political stuff for publication consideration.)

Officials to turn dirt on schools

A number of Knox County leaders, including the mayor, schools superintendent, commissioners and school board members, will formally break ground at the sites of the new Gibbs and Hardin Valley middle schools next week.

Both groundbreakings will take place Tuesday with the Gibbs event happening at 11 a.m. and the Hardin Valley event at 1 p.m.

Parking for the Gibbs Middle School groundbreaking will be very limited on-site, so members of the public planning to attend are asked to park at Gibbs Ruritan Park, 7827 Tazewell Pike, and take a shuttle to the event location. Shuttles will begin running at 10 a.m.

The Hardin Valley Middle School groundbreaking will take place in the north parking lot, behind Hardin Valley Academy, near the baseball field. Attendees are asked to park in the parking lot between the baseball field and the retention pond. 

If schools are close that day because of bad weather, the groundbreakings will be rescheduled.

Knox Co. Democratic Party to host March 5 delegate selection caucus

The Knox County Democratic Party will host its Democratic Party County Delegate Selection Caucus on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at West High School’s Gym on Sutherland Avenue.

This caucus will elect Knox County delegates who will then join candidates from the other counties in the second congressional district on March 19 to elect the delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

The doors open at noon and the event is open to all registered voters in Knox County who support the Democratic Party, and those who agree to support the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 2016 Presidential election.

Information about becoming a DNC delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia and the rules governing the DNC Delegate Selection process may be obtained from Additionally, the Knox County Democratic Party has more information on the process RIGHT SMACK HERE.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Hensley to face Kane for House seat

Democrat Heather Hensley today announced her candidacy for the 89th District state House seat currently held by Republican Roger Kane.

Primaries are set for August. The general election will be held in November.

Her release below:
I have lived in Knoxville for over 15 years. I have been a Registered Nurse for almost four years, and I have been married to my loving and supportive husband Chris for a little more than 7 years. As a nurse, I have been honored to care for many individuals and their families, and I am troubled by the fact that so many of our citizens are struggling to find primary care providers because no one accepts the type of insurance they have. Receiving degrees from Pellissippi State Community College, Tennessee Wesleyan College, and Tennessee Tech University, along with being a former nursing clinical instructor at TN Wesleyan, I recognize how important education is to our young people and their families. Across the educational spectrum, teachers need our support! They are the trained experts in their field and we should be listening to what they have to say.

Furthermore, we need to encourage individuals to pursue opportunities outside of the traditional four year degree. We need welders, electricians, plumbers, and members of other trades as I believe the secret of improving and empowering individuals to rise above circumstance is to give them the tools to do so. Additionally, our Knoxville economic system has two of the greatest assets of the Southeast with the Tennessee Valley Authority and the University of Tennessee, yet we still have a 6% unemployment rate when the national average is dipping under 5 1/2. My plan is to bring appropriate funds back to us for our health, schools, jobs, environment & growth.

I would be honored to serve as your next State House Representative of District 89 because I acknowledge that many individuals feel like they have nothing to contribute to the decision making process. Please feel free to contact me to give me your comments as I look to hear your concerns firsthand. Take care, God bless, and Go Vols! 
As always, send you political stuff for publication consideration.

BOE candidates raising big bucks

Contested races for the part-time Knox County school board seats are again drawing big bucks from many of the candidates’ supporters.

At this point, though, the contests probably won’t set any local Board of Education fund-raising records.

Still, two candidates raised well over $20,000 headed into the March 1 primaries and secured donations from some of Knoxville’s biggest players, including local politicians, businessmen and developers.

As it stands, four of the nine Board of Education seats are up for election this year, but only two are contested. The part-time seat pays roughly $21,500 a year, and members are tasked with helping the superintendent oversee an annual budget of more than $420 million.

The reporting period for the financial disclosures, which were due Monday, covers July 1, 2015 through Jan. 15.

Here’s a snapshot of the races:

2nd District: In what is billed by a number of political observers as a “David and Goliath” contest, candidate Grant Standefer has raised the most of any candidate – $29,600.

His opponent, Jennifer Owen, has secured only $525, which is less than 2 percent of the total Standefer took in.

More than half of Standefer’s contributions are for more than $1,500, and come from a number of well-known local names.

For example, his supporters include Raja Jubran, CEO of Denark Construction; Pilot Corporation founder Jim Haslam and his wife, Natalie; PetSafe CEO and state economic and community development Commissioner Randy Boyd and his wife; and David Schmid of RLS Logistics.

In addition, outgoing school board member Doug Harris and his wife each donated $1,500.
Standefer has spent just under $3,200 during the filing period with most of it paid to Targeted Strategy for consulting and campaign photos.

Owen has spent $122, most of it on a voter database and postage.

5th District: Buddy Pelot has raised the second most of any candidate, bringing in $23,750. He has not spent any of it so far. Most of the same big names that contributed to Standefer also donated to Pelot.

One opponent, Susan Horn, raised $5,105 and spent $1,262. The third candidate in the race, Lori Boudreaux, has raised almost $3,300 and spent $2,340.

No one challenged Tony Norman, a retired biology teacher and former Knox County commissioner, for the 3rd District seat.

He reported raising $3,550 and spending no money, according to his finance summary. Yet, he recorded disbursements of almost $2,700, including payments for a reception and advertising.

In addition, no one challenged Mike McMillan, also a retired teacher, for the 8th District seat.

McMillan, the only incumbent seeking re-election, raised only $450, the least amount of any of the candidates.

The most amount raised and spent in a Knox County school board race, according to a WBIR 10News analysis, was in 2014 by Tracie Sanger – a whopping total of $57,200.

Prior to that, Doug Harris raised and spent $46,600 in 2012.

Burchett named honorary member to Vol. State Veterans Honor Guard

The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard today recognized Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett as an honorary member of the organization. 

A small group of members presented him with a plaque and patch in his office.

According to their website, “The Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard was assembled to offer our last tribute of respect and affection to our departed comrades by providing military funeral honors to all East Tennessee county veterans who are honorably discharged, without regard to rank, sex, color, creed, or national origin.”

The honorary membership the mayor received is for members of the community who don’t qualify to join the group, but are outstanding supporters and advocates for veterans, officials said.

(Photo by Michael Grider. From left, Joyce LeTellier, Herb Kraehmer, Bob LeTellier, Tim Burchett, Dave Caldwell and Carl McCarter.)

Ed & Bob Show heads to Corryton

Knox County commissioners Ed Brantley and Bob Thomas are headed back to Corryton for their next "Ed & Bob Night Out in Knox County" hob-nob event on Feb. 17.

The two will be at Henry's Bakery & Deli at 7231 Tazewell Pike, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. to meet the people of north Knox County and listen to their concerns.

According to their release:
Ed and Bob feel that going out TO the people eases the strain on those who, because of work, commitments, financial situation or the distance to the City-County Building, cannot attend regular commission meetings. All elected officials, media and public are welcome to attend. This is not a commission meeting. There is no agenda. There will be no votes taken. And while you're there join Ed & Bob as they have one of Henry's Famous "Build Your Own" deli sandwiches!

PBA review: Courthouse doors wrongly locked early, barring registrations

An investigation Tuesday showed the doors of the Old Knox County Courthouse were locked early by a Public Building Authority officer, preventing voter registration applications from being filed before deadline.

As a result of the "very unusual set of circumstances," according to Knox County Administrator of Elections Cliff Rodgers, the 13 voter registration applications that were to be submitted Monday afternoon will be accepted for review.

Also, authorities will "preserve evidence" in the case should the registrations later become an issue in any election, Rodgers said.

Previous story and more detail RIGHT HERE.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Knox County to revisit talks about safety center for mentally ill

The Knox County Commission is again revisiting plans to develop a safety center that houses and treats the mentally ill who are arrested for nonviolent crimes, and this time local leaders say they expect something to get done.

For years, officials have engaged in on-again-off-again talks to build such a facility, but proposals often have fallen through because of funding.

However, a handful of commissioners and several representatives from the Knox County Sheriff’s Office plan to hold a short public meeting on Friday to iron out some of the details. Then on Feb. 16, the full commission will talk more during a special meeting.

A week later – and during its regular monthly voting meeting on Feb. 22 – the board is expected to start the bidding process to determine who could operate such a facility.

“This is something that the commission wants to do but we need to get this right,” Commissioner Randy Smith said. “We only get one shot. If we throw something together and it falls on its face and fails, then we will lose the trust of the public. “

County leaders have long talked about building a facility to combat jail overcrowding at the Maloneyville Road detention center, and help those with mental health issues get the care they need. But, commissioners say they need the county, state and city to each chip in $1 million to get the operation up and running.

The county set aside its share several years, but the state and city have often hesitated to commit.

The county years ago even accepted bids to build and operate a center but only Helen Ross McNabb submitted a proposal. No action was taken regarding that submission.

Officials, however, say it will be different this time around.

“I would be shocked if we don’t move forward on this,” commission Vice Chairman Bob Thomas said. “I have stressed to everyone that we need to get it done and I think everyone agrees. I feel confident that in the coming 12 months we’re going to move forward.”

Rest of story HERE.

Johnson to seek state House seat

Former state Rep. Gloria Johnson today announced that she plans to run for the 13th District state House seat she held for two years prior to Republican Eddie Smith defeating her in 2014.

In a news release issued today, Johnson, a Democrat, focused, in part, on some 280,000 Tennesseans who don't have health care and roughly 100,000 students who "woke up again as special interests try to cut funding form public education."

She said:
Our neighbors deserve a Representative who will wake up every single day, committed with dogged determination to stand up and fight for Tennessee's working families who deserve better. Our children deserve fully funded public education where all kids have an opportunity to succeed, Tennessee's women deserve equal pay for equal work, and our 280,000 uninsured neighbors should not lose everything they have worked hard for just because they get sick.
The state primary is set for early August.

As always, send your political stuff to the ol' Porch for publication consideration.

Monday, February 1, 2016

John Kasich to serve as keynote speaker as GOP Lincoln Day Dinner

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla, 2016 Getty Images)
Presidential candidate Ohio Gov. John Kasich will be the featured guest speaker for this year's Knox County Republican Party's annual Lincoln Day Dinner.

The fund-raising event is set for Feb. 27 at Rothchild Catering & Conference Center on Kingston Pike, according to Knox County GOP Treasurer Nick McBride.

Tickets are $35 and reserved tables, which can seat 10, are $1,000. The center can hold 1,200 people.

Tickets will be available on a first come, first serve basis starting Thursday, and folks can buy them from Republican office holders and GOP party leaders.

The Lincoln Day Dinner is an annual Knox County GOP fund-raising event.

“To be able to do this before the Super Tuesday primary, I’m just excited to do it,” said Knox County GOP

Chairman Buddy Burkhardt.” Even if Kasich is not in the race by then, he will be able to stump for the man he supports."

Burkhardt said he expects an appearance from a  "big name" like Kasich  to help generate interest here in Tennessee for the state’s March 1 election.

Last year, the Lincoln Day Dinner featured Haley Barbour, former chairman of the Republican National Committee and former Mississippi governor.

The event also has featured former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Illinois), former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tennessee), former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Georgia) and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina).