Dumping Out The Notebook: signs, fireworks and seniors at commission

Broyles, a high school, Smith, an auditor and a few more odds and ends popped up in the Knox County Commission meeting Monday …

Let’s crack open the notebook and see what we find.

The signs.


Those who were upset with some of R. Larry Smith’s comments in KNS about Amy Broyles’ travel, and women’s issues, were there and they were not happy.

Kim Lauth, president of the League of Women Voters for Knoxville/Knox County, spoke before the meeting in a public comment period. Some comments:

“This entire incident has been mislabeled a women’s issue.” Lauth said it was matter of good government. “Commissioner Broyles did not miss a meeting to attend a quilting bee.”

According to Lauth, the problem here is not that Smith questioned the issue of Broyles attendance at a Nashville conference focusing on the state of women in Tennessee, but that the importance of women as a part of government and the society is somewhat glossed over. Further, a women’s issue is everyone issue, since they are half the population that are governed by elected officials (that’s my paraphrase).

But you all probably just want more signs. Here’s a roundup of tweets on Storify:

Oh, and h/t to Donila for the props on KNS work.

High School

There was more debate outside of commission than inside of the meeting room, it seems. We reported the resistance by the neighborhood, the support of elected officials, and what happened yesterday.

Our sister publication, Metropulse, also wrote on the matter.

There’s a boatload of opinion on this, but let’s try to simplify it here. There was an RFP by Knox County for a historic building. Bidders submitted. The one with the highest points won. The winner offered cash, while the 2nd place company did not. The recommended bidder went to commission, which followed the recommendation of the RFP process.

… that’s about as pure as it gets. But politics is the art of conflict resolution (or something to that effect), so the nuance comes out …

Fourth and Gill and North Knoxville residents and business owners have said, with increasing frequency, that they believe the area has an abundance of services for homeless, the downtrodden, recovering addicts, halfway houses and help for the mentally ill. Off the cuff, there’s some truth to that argument – KARM, VMC, a few rehab centers, the McNabb center, and other smaller missions and charities are clustered in the area of Broadway/Central/Fifth/Magnolia that borders Fourth and Gill and Old North Knoxville. Also bordering these historic neighborhoods are some of the less-wealthy sections of town, and industrial areas.

Some of the fear among residents nearby is that the senior project is a veiled home for poor old people, who may not contribute to the neighborhood in the same way as those who have worked to restore homes and help abate the troubles of 37917 (which reminds me of the t-shirt for Central Flats & Taps – one of my favorite watering holes – that says, “37917 Lock your #$& up” – or thereabouts).

Some of the immediate neighbors and business owners nearby, which include an architect, real estate and a design specialist, didn’t seem to have much trouble with the redevelopment for seniors. Others weren’t so happy with the project, and were outspoken in a handful of meetings for the neighborhood. The perception, again, is that it would be something that would not add to the area. That mixed-use projects would be better.

Where do I lie on this – and I’ve been asked – is this: I don’t care, as long as the process works right. The story isn’t about me or what I think. It’s about you. But KNS will be watching what happens here. And for those who want to talk about their neighborhoods, development and so on.

But, thinking ahead, here are a few observations:

Knox County was in an area that usually is guided by city folk, who have layers and layers of special use plans for an area – particularly Downtown North. The county and the city have different ways of doing things. Which is the way of the world.

Some – many – opponents questioned the process of awarding points in an RFP. Perhaps it might be time to revisit the way in which the point system is used to evaluate a project of this type? Maybe a weighted average would be more effective than a cumulative figure? Could certain design elements be capable of receiving more points than other considerations?

Finally – money talks. The winner had cash. I don’t know of many people or governments that give out property for free.

Nearing 800 words here, and we still haven’t gotten to the auditor.

Andrea Williams

Those of you may remember when the previous auditor was essentially pushed out of office. We wrote at length on that matter as well.

Andrea Williams

Andrea Williams

The ouster, resignation of an audit committee member, and Mike Brown’s reaction.

A blog post about the details from that matter, with audio of Brown’s tirade against audit committee chairman Joe Carcello.

The office is a (well-paid) tough job. The staffing is tight, political implications play out across the auditor’s desk with the shifting whims of politicos and the person in charge is expected to be accurate, efficient and timely. (Sounds like I entered the wrong profession.)

The auditor is also a person who is capable of – despite the outside influences, and sometimes in concert with them – doing the kind of good that saves taxpayer dollars and potentially even lives. Think about it – government touches nearly every part of our lives, regulating how we drive, where we can eat and how we decide to spend our collective efforts. The auditor isn’t responsible for that all, as that would be impossible. But that person is one more layer of making sure those in power are wielding it in the best way possible for the good of many.

Good luck.


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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