Ear to the Ground: Ruby Thursday

Ruby Thursday

The town is abuzz over the Ruby Tuesday parking lot take-down.

Seems someone called the estranged wife of a local politician and told her the husband had parked his car in the lot of a Broadway restaurant on a recent Thursday night and then left with one of his staffers. The wife went to the parking lot with a friend and waited.

The staffer pulled in to let the husband out to get his car and a confrontation ensued. Photos were taken. Friends of the wife say he jumped in his car and drove off leaving her there to argue with the female staffer through a locked car door. Acquaintances of the politician say the couple just decided to have dinner at her house to avoid going into the public restaurant and causing gossip.

Journey to Calhoun's

What a star wants a star gets, especially if he's being entertained by the Regal movie chain. Brendan Fraser and Josh Hutcherson, stars of Journey to the Center of the Earth, came to Knoxville last week in a Regal jet for the movie premiere and to raise money for charity.

The event was catered by Flemings, an upscale steak house in West Knoxville. But Fraser observed he was somewhat disappointed not to experience some of that Southern barbecue he had heard so much about. Shortly thereafter, $250 worth of Calhoun's barbecue ribs with all the fixings arrived in a doggie bag for the plane.

The stars went back to the Regal jet, which already had a catered meal on board for the flight, and we doubt anyone was hungry when they arrived in Miami for the next leg of the tour. The premiere at Pinnacle Stadium 18 at Turkey Creek raised over $300,000 for charity.

Retroactive Certification

The Knox County director of solid waste has certified the safety of a county mulch facility in 2003, 2004 and 2005 even though he was only hired by the county in December.

Questions are being asked in the current litigation over awarding the Knox County mulch contract about safety certifications at the Solway facility. Documents on file at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation certifying the safety of the facility in 2003, 2004, and 2005 are signed by Tom Salter. The document certifies under penalty of law that the facility meets requirements and "this determination has been made under my direction and supervision…"

In a letter to County Commissioner Mike Hammond, Salter says he was asked to sign the documents by TDEC and that if he didn't the facility would not be in compliance. There has been no explanation why the TDEC file doesn't have the certifications from those years signed by the former solid waste director, the late John Evans.

What Would Marshal Andy Do?

Public-television fans have gotten an early taste of what the post-analog TV world is going to be like. Sometime last week, on rabbit-ear televisions across the region, WKOP-TV, channel 15, turned into pure fizz.

Public TV has always been ahead of commercial TV in some regards, and WKOP has lately been running public-service ads about switching to digital. But WKOP, the Knoxville broadcaster of East Tennessee Public Television, is not deliberately nudging their viewers out of the analog nest early.

"Due to equipment problems, ETPtv is currently unable to broadcast an analog signal on WKOP, channel 15," goes their statement. "Given the expenses involved, we are unsure if it will be possible to return the analog transmitter to service before the federally mandated DTV transition date of Feb. 19, 2009." (An FCC site says the transition date is Feb. 17.)