Ear to the Ground

TV Announcement?

The Los Angeles Times reported this week that former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson has scheduled a visit to the Tonight Show with Jay Leno â“in June.â”

The newspaper notes it was Leno 's show where California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced his run for office in 2003. Thompson is widely expected to announce a run for president and the likely betting is that he will announce in June.

The Law & Order actor has been running an unconventional campaign, making speeches, posting internet commentary and making himself visible in the media.

Outing Outdoor Art

A mural painted by high school students will be unveiled tonight (Thursday, May 24) across from Krutch Park. Students from Austin East, South Doyle, West, Fulton and Central High School painted the mural on the AmSouth building. It will be unveiled at 5:30 p.m.

The project was developed by members of the Leadership Knoxville class of 2007, and it was supervised by local artist Kathy Brown.

The idea behind the mural is to bring together Knoxville's â“next leadersâ” to articulate their shared values and collective aspirations for Knoxville. The group said the goal is to â“contribute a work of public art to Knoxville's urban landscape that will give its young creators and all Knoxvillians a permanent visual metaphor of what people can do when they come together for a common goal.â”

Pork- or Ed-fest

School foundations may be getting a little additional boost in this year's state budget.

To sweeten the chances of passing Gov. Phil Bredesen's budget, which includes a 40-cent-per-pack tax increase on cigarettes, it contains a provision for $100,000 to be spent in each House district at the discretion of the legislator. The amount jumps to $300,000 per Senate district. It comes to $20 million.

House members are being asked to each add an amendment to the budget bill directing how the money is to be spent. Many House members have decried the measure as â“porkâ” and have tried to get it taken out of the budget, though it doesn't appear likely.

At least three House members, Republicans Susan Lynn, Beth Harwell and Brian Kelsey , have refused to offer amendments. Kelsey actually put a piece of bacon in an envelope and turned it in as his â“porkâ” request. Lynn is writing an op-ed piece for The Tennessean explaining to the home folks why they won't be getting any of the money. But most of those who oppose it argue their district's share will be diverted to other districts or put in the rainy-day fund, no tax cuts being in the offing.

Conservative state Rep. Bill Dunn , R-Knoxville, is still trying to get a tax cut, but turned in an amendment to split his district money between the Interfaith Health Clinic and the Great Schools Partnership. Other members of the Knox delegation are considering contributions to the school foundation as well.

The state Senate is considering â“poolingâ” the money to have groups like volunteer fire departments apply to the state for grants.

Info Incentive

When Knox County Commission committees meet Thursday, May 24, for budget discussions there is likely to be a provision to establish a $10,000 reward fund that can by tapped immediately by the Knox County Sheriff's Department in the event of a horrific crime that needs immediate public attention.

Commissioner Greg â“Lumpyâ” Lambert said the measure is prompted by the carjacking, rape and murder of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom . The couple's car was found on a Sunday morning and Lambert said it would have been helpful if deputies had been able to immediately go door to door in the neighborhood seeking information with a sizeable reward in hand.

The case has prompted white supremacists to plan a rally in Knoxville to protest â“black on whiteâ” crime. A Commission committee approved Monday a resolution put forth by County Mayor Mike Ragsdale asking the group, which plans to rally in front of the City County building, not to come.

Guv Helps Out

Gov. Phil Bredesen will be in Kentucky on June 2, but his schedulers are trying to work his itinerary to have him in Knoxville that night to keynote the Knox County Democratic Party's Truman Day dinner.

The dinner will be at the Jacob Building in Chilhowee Park, and tickets for the 7 p.m. party fundraiser are $50. Chair Don Daugherty is setting up a $100 per ticket reception for the governor at 6 p.m.

Daugherty is hoping the event will raise funds to field candidates in next year's county elections to replace term-limited officeholders. Twelve positions were temporarily filled in January by the Knox County Commission, the subject of much controversy and a lawsuit by Ne ws Sentinel editor Jack McElroy alleging Sunshine Law violations.

Vallee a Vol?

On an interesting Sunday NPR feature about efforts to preserve old Movietone films, the pioneering sound films of the 1920s, some might have noted one of the examples played featured pop idol Rudy Vallee , apparently speaking to the camera, with a very familiar tune in the background. Yes, it was â“Down the Field,â” one of the most familiar UT fight songs, but played in jazz style, with lazy clarinets and cornets. The clip was brief, and the context wasn't clear, but the recording was made around the time of the Vols' original rise to prominence under young Coach Robert Neyland . We can't assume that Vallee was a UT fan, though. Vallee was actually a Yalieâ"his first band was the Yale Collegiansâ"and â“Down the Fieldâ” was more famous, then, at least, as the Yale fight song.

Bug in Our Ear

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