ear (2007-47)

Ear to the Ground

Does That Come With Ice Cream?

The Nov. 8 issue of the well-known London-based weekly The Economist ran an interesting short feature called â“Dollywood Values: What the Backwoods Barbieâ’s theme park says about America.â”

â“People do not fly to Dollywood; they drive there in big cars full of squabbling children,â” the reporter observes. â“East-coast accents, let alone foreign ones, are rare. The park is thus an excellent window on what people in this part of the American heartland like. One thing they appear to like a lot is their country....â” After the U.S.A., Dollywood attendees like God and â“their own folk culture and music.... In Europe, exhibitions of traditional music and crafts tend to be subsidized and unpopular. At Dollywood, they are neither.â” The article outlines Dollywoodâ’s religiousness, but also its tolerance. â“Ms. Parton has many gay fans, who hold unofficial get-togethers at her park. Her grandfather was a hellfire preacher, but Ms. Parton has an empathy for sinners....â”

â“Sophisticates sneer at Ms. Partonâ’s theme park,â” the article concludes. â“The Daily Express, a British paper owned by a man who also peddles pornography, calls it â‘tacky.â’ But the values it represents are as American as a three-pound slice of apple pie....â”

Honor System

During discussion at the County Commission meeting this week on efforts to repeal the $30 wheel tax, acting County Clerk George Stooksbury revealed that being exempt from paying the tax is on the honor system.

Chair Scott Moore, who proposed repealing the tax, asked Stooksbury what the clerkâ’s office did when a resident came in and said they were over 62, made less than $12,000, or were disabled. Stooksbury said the clerk just asked the applicant to sign a form.

Under questioning Stooksbury said there is no verification process to ensure those being exempt from the tax are eligible. Moore said at the meeting he had â“heard a rumorâ” some people in the clerkâ’s office had exempted themselves from the tax.

Commissioners are also requesting copies of a state audit to see of there is an organized process to keep up with the affidavits and record who has an exemption.

Commission voted not to repeal the wheel tax.

Back to Court?

The 4th County Commission district has been without representation since its two Commissioners were removed in the wake of the Sunshine suit, though the district, centered in Bearden, pays the highest per-capita property tax in the county. A total of 15 percent of all county property taxes are paid by residents of the 4th District. Only the 5th District, with 20,000 more people, pays more total tax.

We understand there is a bipartisan effort being organized to have an attorney ask Chancellor Darryl Fansler to issue an order to enforce his Sunshine law decision, which called for County Commission to appoint new members. Commission voted this week to delay making the appointments until Feb. 20, leaving the district without representation for another three months.

Rather than file a new and time-consuming lawsuit over the lack of representation, the legal maneuver would be to make a request to Fansler to enforce an order already in place.

Was Nancy a Tri-Delt?

Knoxville bartenders might need to learn to recognize a new drink which we suspect will become popular. Tennesseans have a proven track record for conforming to stereotypes.

On last weekâ’s episode of the politically incorrect NBC comedy 30 Rock, Jack, the network executive played by Alec Baldwin, asks a bartender for a â“white rum with diet ginger ale and a splash of lime.â” A Democratic congresswoman played by guest star Edie Falco remarks, â“Wow, I would have never pegged you for a University of Tennessee sorority girl.â”

The bartender returns with the drink, saying, â“Sir, hereâ’s your Nancy Drew.â” Baldwin responds, â“For men, itâ’s called a Hardy Boy.â”

If we know our sorority girls, Cumberland Avenue bartenders are already fielding requests for Nancy Drews.

Bug in Our Ear

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