ear (2006-31)

Imus on WNOX

Debt De-emphasized?

Hurry Up and Wait

Don’t Screw with Thunder

Times Change

Bug in Our Ear

Imus on WNOX

Hill had U.S. Senate candidates act as guest hosts during the week, while he was on vacation. Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is a frequent guest on Don Imus’ radio show. So when Ford had host duties he called Imus and the WNOX show was effectively simulcast on MSNBC and hundreds of other radio stations, including across Tennessee, for most of a half hour.

Most of the candidates spent their time with local elected officials as in-studio guests talking about how great they are. Ford had Knox County Clerk Mike Padgett and state Rep. Joe Armstrong as guests.

Imus frequently promotes Ford’s candidacy and has confidently predicted he will be the next senator from Tennessee.

Debt De-emphasized?

After McCullough left, the board pushed through two rate increases before the new nine-member part-time board took office.

New board member Dennis Bottorff gave an interview to the Tennessean last week in which he seemed to downplay the TVA debt, noting that the agency has a AAA credit rating. “Why does TVA have AAA debt? It has a defined marketplace. It has customers that have to buy from it. What they buy is a necessity; they can’t do without it. TVA has the flexibility to charge whatever it needs to provide that service.”

Bottorff, a former banker, said “if you accelerate (debt) payment today, those (customers) today are paying the burden for those that will have lower rates later.”

In fact, TVA may be assuming more debt. The board is considering constructing a new nuclear plant for more generating capacity. Bottorff said TVA is buying power elsewhere during peak demand, and TVA ought to be a “net seller” of power by having more generating power.

The new board has announced a rate cut of 4.5 percent. It appears that the new board no longer sees paying down the debt as a high priority.

Hurry Up and Wait

For those crossing the narrower cross streets, like Clinch and Church, the numbers count down to when the light for parallel vehicles turns yellow. That’s prudent and probably sensible, allowing a couple of extra seconds of safe passage for pedestrians who are willing to dare the countdown but misjudge their walking speed.

But the lights that cross four-lane Gay Street don’t count down to the yellow light—they count the 12 seconds down to some point about 20 seconds before it’s actually unsafe to cross. So in extra-careful Knoxville, the urgent-seeming flashing-red countdown is really just a 12-second warning before a puzzlingly long Don’t Walk period—that comes before the yellow proceed-with-caution warning for traffic comes on.

Isn’t that defeating the purpose of the countdown? Prudence is admirable, but we suspect that when pedestrians catch on to the lights’ rhythms, and that the prohibitive red hand may be on for half a minute before it’s literally unsafe to cross, the new signals will be ignored just as consistently as the previous overlong red-hand signals were.

Don’t Screw with Thunder

Johnson is now running for District Attorney. His opponent’s financial disclosure form reveals contributions of $1,000 from Thornton, $1,000 from Thornton’s wife, and $1,00 from Mike Ross , a partner in Thornton’s development.

Times Change

Abortion has been a big topic in the U.S. Senate race. The national Republicans under Karl Rove have been pushing a prohibition on gay marriage as a mid-term election issue. A straw poll on issues among the 400 conservatives at the Reagan Day dinner revealed that border security and national defense were of most concern, at 21 percent and 16 percent respectively. Abortion ranked 3.7 percent and gay marriage was at 2 percent, indicating a disconnect between campaign strategies and the voters.

Daugherty and chief of staff Kelvin Moxley host a local talk show that has been critical of the courthouse establishment, pushing term limits and providing a forum for dissident candidates. The only elected official in the courthouse to attend the Reagan Day dinner was Circuit Court Clerk Martha Phillips .

The Republican U.S. Senate candidates addressed the group, and a straw poll had Ed Bryant at 38 percent, Bob Corker at 32 percent and Van Hilleary at 30 percent.