Ear to the Ground: NIMBY Moment

NIMBY Moment

Residents of North Knoxville view an empty St. Mary's Hospital as a ticking time bomb, fearing some sort of public low-income housing that will hurt neighborhood property values. Mercy Health plans to relocate the hospital to the newly acquired Baptist Hospital site in South Knoxville.

The two Democrats who represent the 2nd District on County Commission moved to scotch one possibility at Monday's meeting. Commissioners Mark Harmon and Amy Broyles amended a $250,000 grant to renovate the Fifth Avenue Hotel into housing for the homeless contingent on the group not locating any other such facilities within a two mile radius of the 5th Avenue/Broadway axis. The St. Mary's site is 1.7 miles away.

The commissioners were reacting to neighborhood meetings in which residents voiced concerns about the re-use of the high-rise hospital. The conglomeration of homeless shelters and housing at the north end of downtown has been a matter of concern for residents in Fourth and Gill and Old North Knox, as the neighborhoods have been plagued by panhandlers.

Any Surprises?

Is there an Upset Special on Tuesday's election menu?

Things seem pretty cut and dried on most races, incumbents win, yada yada yada. We don't expect any surprises. But if you have to pick one, look to the 8th District Commission race to fill the seat vacated by Phil Ballard. Ballard was elected property assessor in August. The 8th is located on the east end of the county and doglegs around Halls to Raccoon Valley. It is usually reliably Republican and the party nominee, Richard "Bud" Armstrong is favored. He is supported by the east-side political establishment and newspaper publisher Steve Hunley.

But there are hundreds of new houses on Tazewell Pike, new voters who may be Republicans or Democrats. The demographics of the district may be changing. Leon Daugherty, who has run a vigorous campaign and bombarded the district with mail pieces, is the Democratic nominee.

The wild card in the race is Russ Huckaba, who is campaigning as an "independent Republican." Should Huckaba split the Armstrong vote, it will benefit Daugherty.

Armstrong should win. But it may be closer than anyone expects.

Another Opinion

We hear former Knox County Commission Chair Scott Moore plans to appeal his ouster. Moore was accused of lying under oath during the Sunshine lawsuit trial last year when the News Sentinel and a group of private citizens sued to overturn appointments made on Black Wednesday.

Attorney Herb Moncier and his clients sued to remove Moore and Commissioner Paul Pinkston. The judge did not remove Pinkston, but ruled Moore should be removed from commission.

Knox County Commission has put off replacing Moore for 30 days in the event he does appeal.

Famous Faces?

The Daily Show, on Comedy Central, has launched a new feature making fun of the stream of talking heads on cable news shows—pontificating on behalf of candidates 24/7. It's called "Who the F@#k is that guy?" It has had some familiar faces.

Host Jon Stewart says the shows can't always get the top-drawer pundits, so they make do. But it makes you ask yourself: Who the F@#k is that guy?

Featured prominently in the first installment was Chip Saltsman, former chair of the Tennessee Republican Party and campaign manager for Mike Huckabee. A clip features Saltsman saying they "should let McCain be McCain and focus on the states that matter." Then there is a succession of faces on the screen identified as "strategists" and "pollsters" and there he is: Tyler Harber, former aide to Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale who left town after an e-mail hacking incident and now works for a Washington PR firm.