Knoxville and records requests

Let me start by saying that I’m not really a Knoxville homer – that is, I don’t care how things get done as long as they get done the right way (publicly, etc.). This is your public property, your tax dollars. My experience has been that folks in the city generally share a similar attitude – this is just observing the trend. I live here, so my interest is in seeing the best stewardship of the resources at hand, and making sure they are understood.

Not much of a conspiracy theorist, either, I’ve plenty other things to think about.

Bill Lyons took to the blogosphere (Is that still a word in 2013?) to talk about the open records process that the city has undertaken regarding media requests on World’s Fair Park. He’s spot-on about how our interactions have been, so for those of you who care, his words are accurate on these records requests as far as I’m concerned.

For those who care about the insider info (of which there is little), my interaction with the mayor’s office regarding information requests has always been a prompt, thorough, reply. And this is coming from someone who has had the door slammed in his face many, many times (professionally and, sadly, personally). You get a feel for when you’re getting juked or fed a line.

That said, the city generally has been speedy and thorough getting back to info requests we did last year with the mulch fire, and it happened again with the request we did for World’s Fair Park.

A few thoughts:

The piece of property they’re talking about at World’s Fair Park isn’t a tremendous expanse. I’m a layperson, just a guy with a blog, but engineering a large structure such as a residence hall could prove challenging there.

I didn’t detect that what, if anything, would go there is a foregone conclusion. I found it interesting that many of the stakeholders in the Cornerstone Foundation survey were some of the people on the World’s Fair Park working group, but there are only so many people to pull from with the working knowledge, experience and resources to do big things in Knoxville. It’s a city of less than 200,000. And if some of the ideas have come from the survey, it would stand to simple logic that those are the ideas for the park. The link is evident.

The general result of the World’s Fair Park records request, I found, was how THIS idea came together. How other plans happen is unique to the respective situation. This is different, indeed, and once the public-private partnership (if any) gets underway we’ll definitely be watching, and reporting, the best, most accurate information we can find.

I’ve never seen such an open kind of statement (open letter?) from someone high in an administration for an elected body or institution discuss publicly the way in which media inquiries are made. (Do not misinterpret that last statement for opinion. I just noticed that it’s not a typical practice.) In general, info requests and the responses are pretty wonky, boring stuff. As for what goes in the paper, it’s generally the best, most interesting information. It’s not sculpting as much as it is a process of finding a sentence in a pile of 200 pages. Or a number from a database, and so on.

Anybody who has any questions about how I work is invited to contact me or my editor directly.

Have a good weekend, people.


About Gerald

A journalist in Knoxville, TN. Work (mostly) inside and play (mostly) outside. I'm a part of the X or the Y generation. None of us claim the other.
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