ear (2005-48)

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Nickels and Dimes

Old Saint Nick

It Sounded Good

Anyway the Wind Blows

Appeal Not Appealing

Issue Has Wheels

One Will Come Back

Bug in Our Ear

Nickels and Dimes

But the small, angry group of KAT patrons who showed up for the forum made a case for the increases’ financial impact on low-income riders whose sole transportation to and from minimum-wage jobs is the city’s bus system. Representing the KTA Citizen Advisory Board, Hubert Smith asked, “Who can afford it the most? Who can afford it the least? I’m here advocating for those who cannot be here to speak for themselves. Let’s not put this on the backs of people who can afford it the least.”

Commissioners John Sibley , David Booker and Chris Woodhull echoed the concerns, suggesting that action not be taken until an additional plan was on the table to account for low-income riders. They noted that the possibility of additional resources, such as County funding, had not been fully explored. Ultimately, however, other Board members’ eagerness to begin the budget-mending process prevailed. The final vote was unanimous, if reluctant.

 

Old Saint Nick

 

It Sounded Good

Former state Sen. Tommy Burks , D-Monterey, who was assassinated by a deranged office-seeker, had a long time dream of seeing drunk drivers on the side of the road picking up litter and being embarrassed in front of the local community. His widow, and successor, state Sen. Charlotte Burks , D-Monterey, has been trying to pass the same bill since she arrived in the state senate. She had been stymied by anti-drunk driving groups like MADD that preferred that drunk drivers stay in jail for 48 hours. But this year, for some reason, there was little resistance to the change and Sen. Burks’ colleagues deferred to her by passing a bill that splits the 48 hours in jail time into 24 hours in jail and 24 hours picking up litter. Gov. Phil Bredesen , listening to MADD, refused to sign the bill, but let it become law without his signature.

Members of the Knox County delegation are steamed about the unfunded mandate criticism from County Commissioners. They say they never heard an objection from anybody back home and that neither the county lobbyist nor the sheriff’s office raised an objection. The “fiscal note” on the bill said the cost would be minimal. So now Knox County is buying vans and assigning supervisors to take DUI offenders out for litter pickup. Three eight-hour shifts per drunk driver satisfy the 24-hour requirement.

 

Anyway the Wind Blows

 

Appeal Not Appealing

The Tennessee Court of Appeals ruled last week that term limits do not apply to county offices created by the state constitution even though local referendums in Knox and Shelby counties approved them overwhelmingly in 1994.

The state Supreme Court is likely to let the Tennessee Court of Appeals decision stand. A Shelby County judge had ruled that the term limits referendum could limit terms of the county mayor and county commissioners. When the appeals court overruled that decision, Knox County Law Director Mike Moyers said the decision also applies to Knox County.

Since county offices are specified in the constitution, the ruling holds that the legislature would have to change the constitution to enact term limits.

 

Issue Has Wheels

The Knox County wheel tax is likely to be revived as an issue in the county elections as two leaders of the anti-tax movement have picked up papers to run for County Commission. Greg “Lumpy” Lambert is running for the seat now held by Commissioner Larry Stephens , who has said he doesn’t intend to seek re-election. Ragsdale can probably be counted on by a Lambert opponent for support and fund-raising.

Gary Sellers , who organized the petition drive to get the wheel tax put to a referendum, is running against incumbent Commissioner John Mills. Mills has said he voted for the wheel tax in exchange for support for a new Gibbs Elementary School. There had been some question as to whether Mills would run again, but he said his concerns about caring for his 91-year-old mother in South Knoxville have been relieved by her decision to move near his home in East Knox County.

Mills may have more than one opponent and that usually helps an incumbent by splitting the anti-vote.

Ragsdale lost a voting majority on County Commission after the wheel tax campaign stirred up a political firestorm. Not having an opponent, he will be free to help elect a friendlier group of commissioners.

 

One Will Come Back

The potential face-off from two political heavyweights getting back into public life has drawn a lot of attention. But friends say Clabough will not get into the race.

Cunningham was the top federal prosecutor, based in Knoxville, during the last years of the first President Bush’s administration, but was replaced with the election of President Clinton. Clabough was a rising star in the Republican Party and was being groomed for a leadership role in the waning days of the Sundquist administration. He was defeated in a low turnout primary by state Sen. Raymond Finney , who had the strong support of Tennessee Right to Life.

Clabough has been very active in supporting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is more likely to get involved in conservation and environmental issues than return to politics.

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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