Ear to the Ground

She Was Serious!

Congratulations to former Metro Pulse Editor Leslie Wylie, who left our full-time employ in July with the only excuse weâ’ve never heard before, to become a professional equestrian. In short order, she proved she didnâ’t just come up with that bizarre story to keep from hurting our feelings; in a major competition in Chicago earlier this month, Leslie and her horse, Rowdy Intentions, placed fourth among 50 competitors in her classâ"nationwideâ"in the American Eventing Championships. Sheâ’s presently living on a horse farm in East Knox County; look for her byline to return to these pages in the near future; when she finds time between horse shows, sheâ’ll continue to contribute her inimitable prose.

In Your Face

The 4th County Commission District, centered in Bearden, will most likely be the most competitive race in the coming election year with two appointed incumbents. Democrat Elaine Davis, who ran last year, is running an aggressive campaign. Her supporters are bombarding Finbarr Saunders with phone calls urging him not to run against Davis in the Democratic primary.

When incumbent Republican Commissioners Richard Cate and Lee Tramel had a community meeting and breakfast at Rocky Hill last Saturday morning, Davis and her supporters showed up to demand who was paying for the event. The meeting was billed as a non-political community forum. Tramel told the group he paid for the breakfast out of his own pocket. Davis and her supporters were the largest group attending.

City Council member Marilyn Roddy also attended and suggested the county Commission adopt strict ethical rules like the city.

Tramel and Cate took the leftover muffins and biscuits down to the Deane Hill soccer field and gave them to the young people playing Saturday.

Whoâ’s Who Event

Cortney Piper, a Democratic candidate in the 2nd County Commission district, kicked off her campaign with an event last week at the Unite building on Broadway with a Whoâ’s Who of local Democratic heavyweights among the crowd of 80-100 people.

Former County Clerk Mike Padgett and a large collection of other Padgett family members attended, as did current County Clerk Billy Tindell and Democratic Clerk candidate George Stooksbury.

Also attending were big Democratic Party donors like Jim Jennings and Sid Gilreath. Jonathan Wimmer, who was also a candidate last year and who turned down a deal to get an appointment to the seat, endorsed Piper, saying a new baby prevented him from running for the post.

Piper is running in the primary against Amy Broyles, who ran against Tindell as an independent last year. Broyles is a member of the â“progressive wingâ” of the local Democratic Party, which is often at odds with Democratic office holders who get elected with independent and Republican support. She is supported by Commissioner Mark Harmon, who holds the other seat in the district, as well as labor leaders Harold and Sylvia Woods.

The winner will face Chuck Bolus, the Republican appointed Jan. 31 to replace the term limited Tindell.

More Sunshine?

If Knox County commissioners are to be held to a strict no-contact Sunshine Law as a result of the News Sentinel lawsuit, procedures may have to change. There are two proposals that will be introduced by Commissioner Greg â“Lumpyâ” Lambert.

Lambert proposes the Commission meet every week and have committee meetings and workshops for the first three Mondays of the month leading up to the regular Commission meeting the last Monday of the month. That would allow for discussion of issues in each district in a public forum. One of the meetings could be devoted to zoning issues. This would replace commissioners talking among themselves about issues prior to the meeting. The meetings would be in the evenings for more public participation.

If commissioners canâ’t lobby each other it would give the county mayor an advantage in being able to lobby individual commissioners on issues. Lambert will propose a county ordinance forbidding the mayor and his staff from lobbying individual commissioners outside a public forum.

No Report Planned

Last week we noted that former state Rep. H.E. Bittle got a boat donated by Sea Ray some years ago in order to do water quality assessments on the Tennessee River but never produced a report. A spokesman for Bittle tells us he never intended to issue a report on water quality, but instead has been collecting samples for storage in the state archives. The goal is to establish a baseline of data on water pollution so people some time in the future can use the data. The spokesman said Bittle has collected samples on hundreds of miles of river front and does not use the boat for his personal use.

The first group of young people taking a hunter safety course will be at Bittleâ’s lodge in Cumberland County next week. The News Sentinel reported over $900,000 collected from a special Sportsmanâ’s license plate has been turned over to Bittleâ’s Sportsmanâ’s Foundation and has been used to buy property and build the log cabin. Bittleâ’s family members comprise the board.

State auditors will begin examining the books of the foundation beginning Monday after House Majority Leader Gary Odum called for an investigation of the license plate revenue.

Hear a juicy tidbit of local gossip or lore? Give us a call at 522-5399, ext. 33, write to Metro Pulse Ear, 602 S. Gay St., Mezzanine Suite, Knoxville, TN 37902, fax us at 522-2955, or send an email to editor@metropulse.com to let us in on the latest. We're all ears.

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