Ear to the Ground: Hateful Letters

Hateful Letters

Staff at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church (TVUUC) were sifting through the daily mail when they came across an envelope of three letters containing racial and derogatory comments, according to an Aug. 13 Knoxville Police Department report. The TVUUC complainant said the group felt like the correspondence was intended as a form of intimidation. Police could not identify the sender, according to the report, nor were those the only negative letters received by a house of worship recently. On Aug. 17, police reported a complaint filed by the First Baptist Church on Main St., saying it had received letters with similar content.

Judge Recovering

Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner is expected to return to the bench Sept. 2 after taking a month to get over some health problems. A recurring bout of diverticulitis led his doctor to prescribe 30 days of antibiotics.

Baumgartner has been visiting relatives out of town to avoid stress and is progressing well, according to friends.

There is certainly some stress coming to the Knox County Criminal Court system. During Knox County Commission budget hearings, Baumgartner requested and commission approved additional money for the courts because they face four capital murder cases this year in the deaths of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, a young couple carjacked, raped, and murdered in January of 2007.

Step Away

You may have noticed the line-up for WBIR's Sunday morning Inside Tennessee talk show has been different of late. Knox County Commission has hired attorney Don Bosch to examine the hospitality fund audit of Mayor Mike Ragsdale's office. The station asked Bosch to step down until the matter is completed to avoid any appearance of a conflict of interest.

War Room for 2010

Don Daugherty withdrew from the race for criminal court clerk after the county election, in which most Democrats went down to defeat by wide margins. Daugherty has announced formation of a political action committee to raise funds to help Democrats in future races, especially 2010.

A "War Room" will be opened and money will be raised to help Democrats be competitive in 2010. They were outspent in the recent county election and a unity ticket of Republicans swept all the offices except for three commission seats.

In a letter to Democrats, Daugherty said the Democratic Resource Center will be open six days a week, accompanied by a website, a fundraising drive, and a grand opening. He said Democrats, after Aug. 7, need to "stop the bleeding... The GOP may envision that its most recent victories have rendered the Democratic Party meaningless in some areas of Knox County. But the truth is that when Democrats vote, Democrats win... we simply didn't vote in large numbers to elect anyone countywide."

GOP Continues Unity Theme

Local Republicans continued their unity theme at a convention last Saturday. They picked Joy McCrosky by acclimation as the candidate for criminal court clerk. Some county commissioners and former Republican officeholders were said to be interested in the post, but were quietly told to forget it.

Some Democrats who considered a run for the post dropped out because, after the Aug. 7 results, potential campaign contributors closed their checkbooks saying a Democrat doesn't stand much of a chance to win a county wide office at present.