ear (2008-03)

Ear to the Ground

In the Next Round

State Rep. Parkey Strader has said he doesnâ’t plan to seek re-election to his post representing Republican-deep West Knox County and few names have surfaced as possible candidates to replace him. John J. Duncan III, son of the congressman, has resisted efforts to draft him for the job. But what about Aunt Becky?

Becky Duncan Massey, long-time executive director of the Sertoma Center, is being urged to seek the post. Massey has a political background, helping in her brotherâ’s congressional campaigns and lobbying legislators on behalf of the mentally ill and the disabled for the Sertoma Center.

Perhaps he was just thinking out loud, but Mike Arms, chief of staff for County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, has told at least one person he was considering the race. Arms served on County Commission for the remainder of his term after being named as Ragsdaleâ’s chief.

Arms and his boss have been embroiled in a series of controversies over audits of the mayorâ’s office and in an ongoing battle with a faction of County Commission.

Legislative primaries are in August and have received little attention given the current focus on county races for the upcoming Feb. 5 primary.

Monster Commuter Rally 2008?

Parking rates have always been pretty high near the lawyering and banking district of downtown along Cumberland Avenueâ"$10 a day and up at the bank garagesâ"so weâ’re not surprised about two or three dozen cars that have been parking daily in the grass that was once the site of the News Sentinel building, near Cumberland and State Street.

Well, it used to be grass, anyway. Lately itâ’s looked something like the site of a monster truck rally, or the Bonnaroo campground on Monday morning. We assume theyâ’re doing so with the permission of the Devon Group, which owns the property and promises to break ground later this year on a 21-story skyscraper.

However, the convenience-seekers are making a bit of a mess, especially on wet days, driving over the State Street sidewalks and strewing clods of mud thereon, and in State Street itself.

If dog owners have to pick up after their pets downtown, maybe property owners should pick up after their rootinâ’ tootinâ’ four-wheelinâ’ pals.

Play Down Coverage

Cynthia Finch, community services director for Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, went before the Knox County Commission and the press to complain last Wednesday about racism being a factor in investigations and coverage of her office. The highest-ranking African American in county government sounded off about her photograph and large headlines at the top of the News Sentinelâ’s front page day after day concerning grants from her office.

News reports and a HUD audit have questioned grants to organizations connected to Finchâ’s family.

The result of her efforts? A photograph of Finch and County Commissioner Greg â“Lumpyâ” Lambert and a large, two-line headline at the top of the News Sentinelâ’s front page on Thursday morning reporting her outburst.

Getting Treatment

County Commissioner Tank Strickland, who is also a department head in the administration of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, is taking dialysis up to three times per week for kidney disease.

Strickland, who represents the 1st District, will eventually need a kidney transplant, but is using dialysis and losing weight in the mean time.

The popular Strickland is in good spirits, friends say, and feels â“pretty goodâ” after the treatments. He goes Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday for treatments and continues to go to his office and attend Commission meetings.

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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