Ear to the Ground

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Investigate Whose Ethics?

What was behind that sharp exchange between Commissioner Paul Pinkston and Mayor Mike Ragsdale at the Knox County Commission meeting Monday?

Pinkston and Commissioner Mike Hammond are the two commissioners who serve on the Ethics Committee with various citizens. Pinkston accused the Ethics Committee of having â“leaksâ” and asked if the Ethics Committee's ethics ought to be investigated. Hammond took offense and demanded Pinkston provide an example.

Pinkston said the committee chair received a letter making an allegation against a public official and when the committee met, that individual was there to defend himself when the full committee hadn't even seen the letter. During the give and take of the debate, Pinkston made a reference to the official being â“the mayorâ” at one point. Ragsdale shot up out of his seat and took the podium to say he resented an ethics lecture from Pinkston, â“the poster child for nepotism.â”

After acrimonious debate, the Commission voted to allow the Ethics Committee to develop an ethics policy and recommend a policy on nepotism. The recommendations would come back for a vote of the Commission. Chair Scott Moore objected to the proposal, saying if the Commission didn't rubber-stamp whatever the Ethics Committee recommended, he and other commissioners would be hammered by the News Sentinel . The newspaper is already suing the Commission for Sunshine Law violations.

Flip Flop

How quickly they learn.

Running for office, Knox County Commissioner Greg â“Lumpyâ” Lambert was a strong proponent of property rights, damning the use of eminent domain to seize private property. He was especially critical of the city of Knoxville and its efforts to force development of the McClung Warehouses.

At a Commission meeting this week Commissioner Paul Pinkston proposed the county take a $150,000 promise from the city and add up to $50,000 to purchase the Lariat Lounge on Asheville Highway to build a park next to the new library. Lambert objected, saying the property appraised for $170,000 and he opposed the $200,000 cap. Pinkston argued the residents had been trying to get the property and an adjacent tract cleaned up â“for yearsâ” and the Commission needed to get it done. Pinkston argued no one wanted a park next door to a lounge.

Lambert argued the county didn't have to negotiate for the higher price because they could use eminent domain to condemn the property and pay a lower price.

Commission voted to buy the adjacent tract from a willing seller and to continue to negotiate for the Lariat Lounge.

It's Formal

In a memo to skateboarders this week, Pluto Sports announced a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Knoxville Skatepark at Tyson Park to be held 10:30 a.m. Aug. 8. The park is to be completed by November.

The e-mail memo notes the groundbreaking will include the usual â“suitsâ” awkwardly wielding shovels and predicts coverage by newspapers and television stations. â“So please wear a clean T-shirt.â”

A â‘Historic' Party

Knoxville-based Jupiter Entertainment had a launch party Friday night at Koi on Market Square for Bill Duff 's new television series for the History Channel. Duff was a co-captain of the SEC champion 1997 Vol football team and was a professional football player. He hosts the Jupiter produced Human Weapon each Friday at 10 p.m.

Duff, who has been a wrestler and a stunt double, travels around the world with co-host Jason Chambers examining various fighting styles and martial arts disciplines. Chambers and Duff learn each style with the finale being of one them fighting a master of the style.

About 100 people attended the East Asian-themed launch party to watch the first episode, about Muay Thai, a martial arts style that originated in Thailand. Guests could also play Mortal Kombat on a Nintendo Wii while waiting for the show to premiere.

Jupiter also produces the long-running show City Confidential , the Oxygen Network show Snapped , and A&E's Biography . Duff couldn't attend the premier party because he was on his way to catch a flight to China for another round of Human Weapon filming.

Suit Follow-up

Last week we reported that two condominium owners on West Church Avenue have filed suit against downtown realtor Kimberly Dixon Hamilton , alleging that she misrepresented the size of the units in question at the time of sale. Complainant Adam Doiron asserted that his unit was presented as consisting of 1,250 square feet, but that he discovered after purchase that it was only 1,002. Complainant Parker Ariail made a similar claim, saying his unit represented as 1,316 square feet was in reality only 952.

In response, Hamilton's attorney has included copies of the appraisal reports that were originally filed for both units; the Doiron unit is listed by the appraiser at 1,248 square feet, while the Ariail unit is listed at 1,316.

Dolly's Bra Gets New Support

The cranes lately arrived at the site of the Tennessee Amphitheatre aren't there to tear down the World's Fair relic, discolored with rust and lately fenced off from the otherwise spic-and-span park. Knoxville's Senior Director of Policy Development Bill Lyons says it's the beginning of a city project to repair the roof of the structure. Questions about the building's safety have kept it off limits for a few years.

It's not the major renovation of the unusual building that modernist architects like Bruce McCarty, a strong supporter of the building, one of Knoxville's few truly unique structures, have hoped for, with a new sound system to get past the building's famously problematic acoustics. But the structural reinforcement will save it, for the time being, and make it available for some uses. â“This will let people use it as a public amenity,â” Lyons says.

The project, the cost of which is estimated in the mid six figures, is paid for by the sale of the Candy Factory nearby, which is in the midst of redevelopment for residential condos.

Lyons expects the amphitheater project will be complete within a couple of months. â“This fall, anyway.â” Maybe even by the 25th anniversary of the Fair's end.

Bug in Our Ear

Hear a juicy tidbit of local gossip or lore? Give us a call at 522-5399, ext. 33, write to Metro Pulse Ear, 602 S. Gay St., Mezzanine Suite, Knoxville, TN 37902, fax us at 522-2955, or send an email to editor@metropulse.com to let us in on the latest. We're all ears.

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All content © 2007 Metropulse .

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