Ear to the Ground: Job Bank

Job Bank

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe is expected to be back living in Knoxville come spring. President-elect Barack Obama has notified all non-career foreign service ambassadors (translation: political ambassadors) that their services will no longer be required after Inauguration Day on Jan. 20. Some presidents take their time filling plum ambassadorial posts, but the smoothly efficient Obama transition team is wasting no time. Ashe has been ambassador to Poland since being appointed to the post by his friend and Yale college classmate President George W. Bush.

There isn’t any speculation on the fed grapevine at this point as to when the incoming president might replace U.S. Attorneys. The office in Knoxville is being held by Russ Dedrick, a career federal prosecutor who has been acting U.S. Attorney three times in Knoxville between presidential appointments. Dedrick got the permanent position when the previous U.S. Attorney was elevated to a federal judgeship. He was also acting U.S. Attorney in three other jurisdictions during his career.

Should the U.S. Attorneys be fired, as is usually the case, Dedrick has over 30 years of service and can retire. As to local Democrats who might be in line for the job, the two most prominent are Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols and Knoxville Vice-Mayor Mark Brown. Brown, who supported Obama’s election, would be a groundbreaking choice as a black U.S. Attorney in Knoxville.

RINO Hunters

Conservatives have spent years trying to get Republican control of the state House of Representatives. Having accomplished that goal, a new group has been formed to help elect conservative Republicans and eliminate RINOs. That would be “Republicans in Name Only,” the moderate Republicans in the House who are not sold on the conservative agenda.

The group is attempting to find 15 founding donors good for $20,000 each for each election cycle ($10,000 annual) and other donors to achieve a $375,000 annual budget. The acting chair of the group is Steve Gill, a Nashville radio talk show host. A founding document prepared by the group lists major Republican Party donors like Lee Beaman, A.J. McCall, Jimmy Wallace, and James Peach. Legislative members on the list include Republican state Reps. Frank Niceley, Donna Rowland, Glen Casada, and Bill Ketron, among others.

The group has a list of 18 conservative positions having to do with opposition to a state income tax, Second Amendment protections, pro-life, traditional marriage, pro-business, repeal of the Hall Income Tax, strict border enforcement, and pro-drilling for energy independence.

The poster boy for the RINO hunters is state Rep. Steve McDaniels, proposed to be Speaker Pro Tem in the incoming Republican leadership. McDaniels was a co-sponsor of the income tax and a supporter of Democratic Speaker Jimmy Naifeh, but has pledged to vote for the Republican speaker, a vote the Republicans need to get to a 50-vote majority.

Retirement Jitters

Local teachers, University of Tennessee faculty and staff, and state employees may be a bit unnerved by the volatility of the stock market lately. Their $31 billion pension fund has dropped $6 billion to $25 billion as of November.

Officials say current obligations can be met and if the market turns around in the coming months it will only be “paper losses.” But if the market stays down next year, more contributions may have to be made by state government and members to keep the fund solvent.

Pension funds at DOE, TVA, and city and county government have also suffered major losses, though they are not expected to cause problems in the short term.

Huge losses in the state pension fund could be an issue as the legislature meets to hire a new state treasurer, expected due to the Republican takeover of the House. The state treasurer is elected by members of the House and Senate in joint session.

© 2008 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Comments » 3

Rep_Brian_Kelsey writes:

This is Rep. Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown). The statement that I am a member of any so-called "RINO Hunters" group is 100% false. Please remove my name from this posting immediately. I don’t have anything to do with this group (if it even exists) and haven’t been contacted even once by anybody who does.

repdunn writes:

This is Rep. Bill Dunn. I am not a member of a RINO hunting group either. Ear to the ground messed up on this one.

cturczyn writes:

The names listed in the "RINO Hunters" item were taken from a founding
document prepared by the group itself. It now appears that this was more of a
"wish list" on their part, so I have removed Reps. Kelsey and Dunn from the
story, and reworded that particular sentence.

Coury Turczyn, ed.

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.