That county surplus – what’s happening with it?

So the county has some extra scratch hanging around after the 2013-14 fiscal year wrapped up, nearly $3 million.

And we got a few items into the main story earlier today, but here’s the full list:

  • Circuit Court Clerk $10,237 – This request is for expenses with the relocation of IV-D Child Support moving to Division Street.
  • Senior Picnic $5,522 – This request is for additional supplies.
  • Health Department $55,000 – This request is for dental office upgrades, and $15,000 for the indigent care program.
  • Equipment $100,000 – This request is for KRONOS Employee Time Clock Systems for numerous County Departments.
  • Non-Departmental $1,916,640 – This request is for the health insurance rebate, elected officials office furniture, special events through the County, for a behavioral risk assessment for all County employees for insurance related purposes, and the renovations to the Ben Atchley Nursing Home parking lot.
  • Law Department $18,000 – This request is for tablets for the office.
  • Attorney General $92,268 – This request is for the Tennessee Consolidated Retirement System adjustment increase.
  • Sheriff’s Department $88,000 – This request is for DNA testing; additional building expenses for the New Narcotics office, and for Taser video cameras for patrol cars.
  • Engineering and Public Works $1,162,803– This request is for compliance with EPA requirements, foreclosed bonds, and facility renovations.
  • Defined Service Contract $50,000 – This request is for the Beck Cultural Center.

We’ll be talking with Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett about the extra money later today, so expect more info on this later. The spending plan comes from budget requests that weren’t honored in the 2014-15 budget. And, according to county communication people, the bonus will extend to all employees – Sheriff’s Office employees included.

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An historic win: 18th district and Martin Daniel

Victor Ashe has a few salient points about Martin Daniel’s win over incumbent Steve Hall earlier this month for a state house seat in the General Assembly. Reprinted, from the Shopper:

Martin-bio-pix

Martin Daniel

First, Daniel invested $85,000 of his own money into his campaign, which allowed him to do the mailings, yard signs and phone calls needed to win.

This money only matched what Hall had accumulated in PAC donations over four years.

Second, Daniel committed his personal time going door to door for more than 60 consecutive days, becoming known to voters during the hot summer.

Hall had others going door to door for him.

Third, Hall did not realize the aggressive force coming onto the field against him until early voting was well underway. He was caught flat-footed.

Fourth, Hall handed Daniel three issues that only Hall could have created and caused voters to abandon Hall.

Those issues included legislation to sell Lakeshore Park, which is the most used park in the city.

Hall also sponsored legislation to allow Tennova to build a high-rise hospital on Middlebrook Pike without checking with the neighborhood as to their views while accepting significant campaign donations from the Tennova PAC.

Hall then endorsed Stacey Campfield for state senate on TV when Campfield was politically toxic.

Fifth, the two appearances Hall and Daniel made together on TV assisted Daniel, whose performance was more polished and informed while Hall was clearly on the defensive and visibly distressed in front of the camera.

Sixth, the margin of victory for Daniel came from the Rocky Hill county precinct and Deane Hill Recreation city ward.

Ashe goes on to do a little finger-wagging and hand out advice to pols, which is, basically: Make sure the legislation you introduce actually reflects your constituency.

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Observations from 2nd District forum

A forum for the 2nd District school board seat was held last night up in Fountain City. Here are a couple observations from the evening:

  • No clear winner emerged. Yeah, forums aren’t exactly set up to declare winners, but usually one can tell who pulls ahead. Last night, most of the folks who spoke looked liked they belonged up there.
  • Not many members of the public came. Probably about 50 people, most of them with a direct reason to be there, were present. Nearly all of Knox County Commission was there, and a few incoming commissioners too. Counting them, the applicants and the staff who pulled the forum off and you’re pretty close to 20 folks already.
  • Here’s your group that showed up for the 2nd District: Juanita Cannon, a retired Knox County Schools teacher and principal; Charlotte K. Dorsey, retired Knox County Schools administrator; John N. Fugate, vice president with Commercial Bank in Fountain City; Diana Ray, former community development manager with the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians; Jennifer Searle, board member with Knox County Schools Clothing Center PTA and volunteer; Rick Staples, a former Knox County Sheriff’s Office deputy who oversaw inmate rehabilitation programs.
  • Ray and Searle both have children in public schools. Staples ran for office against Nick Della Volpe for city council last year – and nearly won. Dorsey and Cannon both used to work in Knox County Schools.
  • All of them said they weren’t interested in running for the November election, with the exception being Staples, who was undecided.
  • Generally, Fugate and Ray appeared supportive of charter schools or need more information about how they are working (it’s too soon to tell), Cannon and Doresey said they robbed resources from public schools Searle, but also advised a watch-and-see approach, and Staples said he would’ve voted against Emerald Academy.
  • Some folks out in the rumorsphere are saying that pro-McIntyre and anti-McIntyre camps have put up applicants for the 2nd District seat. The veracity of those rumors has not been substantiated.
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Broyles term-limited? No. But ask her …

Really, all 2nd District Commissioner Amy Broyles wants is a strong female voice on Knox County Commission.

Broyles is one of a handful of commissioners who would have been on commission for eight years at the end of this term, but are eligible for another term.

She said Monday that eight years would be tantamount to two terms of four years, and by that logic, she and other commissioners have served two terms. By well-known rule around here, folks on Commission and elsewhere can only hold an office for two terms.

Thing is, Broyles and a couple other commissioners were appointed for the first term to finish a vacated term, way back from Black Wednesday fallout (here’s a primer from the fantastic NY Times writer Dan Barry on that day). In Broyles case, she got two years on a term. Then Knox County voters chose to narrow Commission down to 11 members, with staggered terms. When Broyles won her first elected term, after the appointed term expired, she won for a six-year position. The two extra years were added to her second term – her first elected term, however – to stagger the terms.

Keep in mind that this appointment, the reduction in commission size and the staggered terms all came from a voting public working under a “throw the bums out” mentality.

So she could run for office again. Because she hasn’t been elected twice to Commission. But she’s already been there for eight years, across two terms. At this point, Broyles isn’t sure if she’ll run for office again. She said she would like to step down, but wants a strong female voice on Commission.

“I have served eight years, which is technically two full terms, but I am not term-limited, so I do have the option of running again,” she said.

She is the only woman on the elected body, and in terms of diversity elsewhere, there’s just one African-American – 1st District Commissioner Sam McKenzie.

“I am trying hard to recruit among the district. At this point, my options are open,” she said. “

Asked if that means she’s looking for a qualified female to follow in her footsteps in the 2nd District, she said yes.

“We need more women, more African-Americans, more Hispanic people, more Asian Americans,” Broyles said. “The greater diversity you have in any group, the better decisions and actions come out of that group.”

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Notes from Amy Broyles about the 2nd District school board appointment

We reported this already (here’s a link), and Broyles sent out the following note on Sunday to follow-up in detail on how an appointment process would work.

A little bit of context to keep in mind, as well – this forum is for the public, but it’s commission who will be selecting the person for a three-month spot. This (I think) will be the last act of outgoing commissioners such as Tony Norman and Mike Hammond, so keep in mind that these are the folks who are being lobbied – and you can bet that they are being lobbied pretty hard by people who want the 2nd District – even for three months.

Another couple points – and I’m thinking out loud here:

- Three months is long enough to initiate and terminate a contract for an individual in the government process. And in September there will be new incoming school board members. Watch for those with anti-establishment/administration sentiments among the 2nd District applicants, and how that could play out on the school board.

Commissioners Sam McKenzie, left, and Amy Broyles.

Commissioners Sam McKenzie, left, and Amy Broyles.


– In a possibly-related note, commission is picking a chairman, and Brad Anders wants it, and so does Dave Wright. Broyles wants to be Vice Chair(wo)man in her last year on Commission before being term-limited*. The vote-counters who want Wright/Broyles or Anders/Broyles could be trading favors for getting in the person that Broyles may want in the 2nd. I’ve heard (unconfirmed) that Sam McKenzie is interested in the V.C. spot too. In a side note, Broyles and McKenzie are the only Democratic commissioners on the elected body.

- Anyone who takes the appointment for the 2nd District has a head start on the November special election for that seat. They’ll have three months of free campaigning on the school board, and the public backing of commission. Whether that individual says they won’t run for office (which Commission typically favors when making an appointment for a placeholder), could be irrelevant. Politicians will and typically do say anything to get into office.

- That last point is why covering local politics is both delightful and infuriating.

Here’s Broyles’ note from yesterday:

Dear Second District Residents,

This Thursday evening, August 14th, there will be a Public Forum at 6:00 pm in the auditorium of Gresham Middle School to introduce you to the candidates who have submitted resumes for the three month interim appointment to the Board of Education, representing our district. At this point, ten resumes have been submitted.

The Forum is being sponsored by the League of Women Voters and the Knox County Education Association, and Beth Haynes of WBIR will be moderating. It will be professional and very informative. It is absolutely critical that as many residents as possible of the Second District attend.

The format is as follows:
Candidates will draw numbers for seating and question order. Beth Haynes will introduce them, providing a brief summary from their biographical information. Questions will follow a rotation, with 90 seconds for answers. A timer will keep them on track. Beginning questions will come from a League and KCEA committee, and subsequent ones will come from the audience. At the end, each will have two minutes for a closing statement. Keep in mind that this is a forum, not a debate, and is intended to inform the residents of the Second District, as well as any County Commissioners present, of their qualifications.

If you miss the Forum on the 14th, there will be another opportunity for you to hear from the candidates – the County Commission will be interviewing the applicants at 3:00 pm on Monday, August 18th, following our regularly scheduled work session, and the public is welcome to attend. However, only the Commissioners will be able to ask questions of the candidates at that time. We meet in the Main Assembly Room of the City County Building, 400 Main Street.

I have also attached the resumes of the candidates to this email, so you may have as much information as possible as you consider the candidates, or if you are unable to attend either the Forum or the Commission interviews.

The appointment will be made the following Monday, August 25th, during the Commission’s regularly scheduled voting meeting at 2:00 pm. The appointee will represent the Second District until a new representative is elected in the Special Election on November 4th.

Between the Public Forum on the 14th and the appointment on the 25th, I respectfully request that you contact me, and/or your neighborhood/community leadership, if available, regarding your top choices for this appointment. I will be in close contact with neighborhood and community leadership to see if we can reach a consensus on the top candidates.

Please contact me by email at amy.broyles@knoxcounty.org, or by replying to this email, to express your preference(s), and include your neighborhood or community affiliation and your street address. ONLY INPUT FROM VERIFIABLE RESIDENTS OF THE SECOND DISTRICT WILL BE CONSIDERED.

This is a very important appointment, and the best outcome can only be achieved with maximum participation from residents of the Second District.

Please forward this email to as many of your neighbors as possible.

In service,
Amy Broyles

Here is a previous story on the process.

*cwg from MP says that she’s not term-limited. This is true. Broyles, however, considers herself to have served two terms on commission. Here’s cwg’s note on the 2nd District appointment.

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How early voting returns can show you who will win

If you want a good idea of how your candidate is doing before all polls are in, look for early voting returns tonight.

People are increasingly using early voting to get ahead of dealing with Election Day lines (which, in turn, makes it easy for day-of voters like myself), and in this election the number who vote early could be 50 percent or more. Thing is, we don’t know how much early voting comprises the overall balloting until all the results are counted.

Thaaaaaat said, you can get some info from early voting returns.

If a candidate has a runaway margin in early voting returns – say 2 to 1 – it would stand to reason they would retain the win once ballots are counted and posted from polling places. That said, an election day push for a candidate could gain ground lost for someone who was hit pretty hard in early voting.

If a candidates are closer, then that sets up some Election Day drama – and a headache for reporters. To quote a former colleague of mine: I don’t care who wins, as long as it’s a landslide.

Early voting results will come in after the last voter casts a ballot, shortly after 8 p.m. Most likely before 8:30 p.m.

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Under three hours left to vote – confident Briggs, and steady voting

Richard Briggs, as he told one of our reporters in the field and me on the phone, said he feels confident about his odds at unseating TN 7th District Sen. Stacey Campfield.

“Our last polling looked very good,” Briggs said. That poll was on the first day of early voting, he said.

Otherwise, he’s hit as many precincts as possible, and has two campaign workers at each of the 30 in the 7th District, which has stretches includes Farragut, Fountain City and the University of Tennessee.

Briggs said he’s bumped into both opponents – Campfield and Mike Alford – while going around today to polls.

And, win or lose, he and Campfield have discussed decorum once results come.

“You’re not going to have any poor sportsmanship,” Briggs said. “We both talked about how we’d like that to be done.”

Knox County’s Elections Administrator, Cliff Rodgers, said that he’s not heard of problems at polling locations, either.

“Just the usual craziness,” Rodgers said. “You may have an e-slate machine go down, and you’re going to have a few of them go out.”

But a triple-redundant vote counting method keeps the machines from compromising ballots, he said.

As for voting, he said that voting at polling places has been steady – from those places that he’s spoken with, anyway.

Weather has been good to polling places, too. Rain is a sure-fire way to keep people inside and away from polls, he observed.

Looks like there’s little chance for storms to come, though it might be a little soggy this weekend.

“Haven’t had time to look at the weather,” Rodgers said, “Hopefully, the thunder-boomers are holding off. If anything, it’s been a little hot.”

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