Arts Group Cabal Plots Takeover!

The kerfuffle over Gloria Ray's compensation heading the non-profit Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp. has rocked the city's establishment and frayed friendships. It's also been fomenting unlikely conspiracy theories.

A board member sent an e-mail accusing two prominent Sequoyah-area residents of destroying confidence in the KTSC, and it says some arts groups in town are behind the criticism to enhance their ability to get the hotel/motel tax money. "I hope you both think it was worth the price of a 30-year friendship."

The e-mail defends Ray's compensation and the "200 percent" effort by her and her staff that exceeds benchmarks and earns the bonuses and says "it has been a cheap shot on the part of the local media to try and discredit" Ray and board members.

"I don't appreciate the fact that the criticism has been so malicious and was used to try and enhance the credibility of another organization" at the expense of the KTSC. "There are some in the community that have turned this into a personal attack… I am sure both of you knew that would happen."

Meanwhile, Ray defended her $405,000 pay at Monday's County Commission meeting, noting Knox County's higher tourism numbers than Hamilton County's. This was met with skepticism by Morelock Music owner Matt Morelock: "But how the heck can KTSC take all the credit for that?" He also told Commission that he believes Ray and KTSC "do not deserve all the money they receive. ... They are out of touch with what happens in Knoxville. ..."