Ear to the Ground: Term Limits Reset?

Term Limits Reset?

Call it the law of unintended consequences.

The passage of charter amendment #3 (reducing County Commission from 19 members to 11) means County Commission districts will be redrawn for 2010; new districts will be created, occupied by one commissioner instead of two, and two countywide positions will be created.

Since they are new positions and new districts, and there is a countywide option, does that mean term limits hit the reset button? Might some commissioners who would normally be term limited, like Tank Strickland and Ivan Harmon, be allowed to run again for two more terms? How about a term-limited district commissioner—can they run for a countywide post?

Inquiring minds, especially around the City County Building, want to know.

County Law Director Bill Lockett, when queried, said there will probably be a task force to handle all the issues in the transition and the term-limits question will have to be researched. He said it would be a matter of a legal opinion, given the uniqueness of the situation, since there is no case law or specific act that governs. The new district lines will be drawn for 2010, but the federal census will be in 2010 and lines might have to be redrawn again, according to Lockett.

Don't Be a Weenie

If you are going to compete in the Southeastern Conference you have to have a jumbo and not a weenie.

It may be true that the University of Tennessee Athletics Department has a lot of expenses in the coming year, what with paying one football coach to leave and another one to come, but there is one major expense that can't be avoided.

Other SEC football powerhouses have a JumboTron that is widescreen and hi-def. The vertical screen in Neyland Stadium is so far behind the times, in the world of SEC football, it is now called a "Weenietron." You can't ask top recruits to come to UT and play football when their replays are not on a wide screen and in hi-def.

Look for a new installation next summer in time for the 2009 season.

No Job Security

The Democratically controlled state Legislature has meant a Democratic majority on local election commissions, even in heavily Republican counties. The five county election commissioners have been three Democrats to two Republicans, which usually means the elections administrator is a Democrat.

With the Republican takeover, the Knox County election commission will soon become three Republicans and two Democrats. Whither election administrator and Democrat Greg Mackay?

You might assume Mackay will be replaced forthwith. But maybe not.

When Mackay was hired, he was approved by the election commission on a 3-2 vote—but it was with the two Republican commissioners voting for him. State Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, had proposed another candidate for the job. The Republicans, knowing they didn't have the votes to make a pick, sided with a Democrat to hire Mackay.

Mackay has gotten high marks from Democrats and Republicans for administering elections without some of the problems that have plagued the office in previous years. Mackay's future depends on who the new Republican election commissioner will be and whether any politically connected Republican wants the administrator job. Mackay may still be out, but it is not automatic. The Republican members of the Knox delegation will hash it out.