ear (2008-02)

Ear to the Ground

Power Struggle

UT-Knoxville Chancellor Loren Crabtree was out front voicing the concerns of the faculty and the deans about the structure of the UT-system and the lack of local control of the institution. Many faculty members are incensed that the popular Crabtree was shunted aside for his efforts. They say he had to sign a gag order to get his severance pay and cannot state his case.

It is unlikely Crabtree would have been pushed out by UT President John Petersen without a tacit nod from the trustees and the governorâ’s office. Crabtreeâ’s complaints about his lack of control of facilities, the athletic department, and the ORNL contract werenâ’t the only things that angered the powers that be.

Crabtree also recently called for expansion of the UT-Knoxville campus to 33,000 students, which would have resulted in a corresponding demand for more facilities to handle almost a one-third increase in the size of the university. This came just before the opening of a new session of the General Assembly, and Gov. Phil Bredesen has his own budget and agenda for the session. He didnâ’t need a major proposal for higher education in the middle of a debate over the state lottery surplus and a re-vamp of the scholarship program.

Downtown Treats

Marble Slab is coming to Market Square. The ice cream shop will be next door to Tomato Head, and Allen Grady, who holds the Knoxville-area franchises, says this one will be special. â“We want to create an old-fashioned home-made ice cream store,â” he says, that will not be at all typical of existing Marble Slab shops. He says the chainâ’s corporate headquarters has given him the go-ahead to come up with a design that fits the Market Square culture. He wants local art displays in the windows and on the walls, and an ambience that reflects the downtown nature of the square. He expects â“crazy hours,â” he says, opening earlier and closing later than other ice cream outlets and adjusting to the squareâ’s events calendar. Grady says he hopes to have it open by April.

Just to the north, in the front room of the World Grotto, Taste of Havana is opening a second outlet, serving Cuban coffees and deserts along with Cuban sandwiches and side dishes, according to World Grotto owner Susie Dew, who says the shop will offer delivery with minimum orders and should be open for lunch next week.

Also in the works is a Gridiron Burgers outlet in leased space at the north end of the Regal Riviera cinema on Gay Street. Itâ’s proposed to be a burgers and beer restaurant serving lunchers and diners and the movie crowd. A restaurant has been planned for that location since the building was designed.

Date Certain Sought

Knox County Chancellor Darryl Fansler tried to schedule a hearing this Monday on a motion to force the Knox County Commission to replace 12 office holders removed as a result of the Sunshine lawsuit in his court. Fansler retains control of the case, and four local citizens, led by Knox County Democratic Party Chair Don Daugherty, filed a motion asking him to intervene. But lawyers for various plaintiffs and the county had scheduling conflicts. The matter will likely be held over until the following Monday, Jan. 21.

If the scheduling conflicts continue the issue may be mootâ"the County Commission has set a date in late February to make the appointmentsâ"after the county primary on Feb. 5.

The net result of the motion, should it prevail, may be Fansler just issuing an order giving Commission a deadline of a day certain to prevent any further delays.

Meanwhile, a case is still being prepared that may take the matter of the 4th Commission district having no representation to federal court. The argument is that the district, which pays 15 percent of county taxes among nine Commission districts, should not have â“taxation without representation.â”

Scientists Make the Best Tourists

Just when we were about to propose that the Knoxville Convention Center be renamed the Victor Ashe Memorial Wedding and High School Reunion Rec Center, itâ’s good, once or twice a year, to see the big, expensive place looking something like it did in the architects drawings. That is, busy. And with lots of well-dressed, smart-looking people browsing in its vicinity. This week, the KCC hosted the annual conference of the National Science Foundationâ’s Civil, Mechanical, and Marketing Innovations Division. About 800 people, scientists and engineers from all over the world, attended. We hope they found their way into downtown Knoxville for a high-tech beer; signage and visible attractions remains a problem. Maybe they can fix the Regions Bank thermometer and clock while theyâ’re in town.

Bug in Our Ear

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