Ear to the Ground

Seeking an Office

Former Knox County Trustee Mike Lowe has taken an interest in the operations of the Tax Assessor's office. Last week he asked the county payroll department for a list of all permanent and part-time employees and their salaries.

After being term limited Lowe went to work as the chief deputy in the Trustee's office. His former chief deputy Fred Sisk was appointed Trustee. Lowe is known to be searching for another elected office. Tax Assessor John Whitehead is term limited and his office is up in next year's election. The Tax Assessor and the County Law Director are elected in the â“off yearâ” cycle between all other county offices. Should Lowe run for Tax Assessor next year and win he would be an officeholder come the County Mayor's race in 2010. He could run for County Mayor and retain his Tax Assessor job should he not win.

Meanwhile, County Commissioner Phil Ballard , elected last year, has announced he is running for Tax Assessor. He has the backing of current assessor Whitehead. Ballard is also considered an ally of County Mayor Mike Ragsdale on commission.

The Tax Assessor and County Law Director posts are up for election next year normally and are four-year terms. Other county offices, like Trustee, Register of Deeds, Clerk and Sheriff will be on the ballot as part of a special election for two-year terms to replace the officeholders found to be ineligible to serve by the state Supreme Court. These posts are currently being held by people chosen by the Knox County Commission.

Party Gridlock

The Knox County Democratic Party may be in gridlock following a meeting of the Board of Governors last week. New chair Don Daugherty , elected by a wide margin at the county convention last month, had his first two proposals voted down by the board. He first proposed the board position normally filled by the immediate past chair of the county party remain vacant. The last elected chair of the county party was Jim Gray , who resigned last year to support an independent candidate against Democratic County Commissioner Billy Tindell . The board voted to place Gray on the board anyway.

The state Democratic Party has weighed in that Gray should not be allowed to hold any position in the county party because he opposed a Democratic office holder.

Daugherty then proposed the planned Truman Day dinner at the Jacob Building at Chilhowee Park in June be turned into an appreciation dinner for local party members and that the Truman Day dinner, a major fundraiser, be reset for the fall at the Knoxville Convention Center. Daugherty argued the fall date would serve to kick off the campaign season and the election in February. The board then voted to go ahead and have the Truman Day dinner in June at the Jacob building because the previous administration, under interim chair Betty Reddick had done a lot of work in anticipation of the event. Some black board members argued Daugherty was trying to move the event out of East Knoxville.

There are several factions within the local party. One faction objects to Gov. Phil Bredesen being invited to the Truman Day dinner; he was snubbed last year even though he was leading the statewide Democratic ticket. The board did vote to invite him this year. Others object to several traditional dinner venues because they are not â“labor friendly.â”

Daugherty is said to be frustrated because fighting between factions may prevent a cohesive effort in county elections next year.

Tax Break

If you have been thinking about buying a computer you may want to get out and shop this weekend. It's a sales tax holiday Friday, Saturday and Sunday for a broadly defined category of â“school supplies.â” It includes clothing, clothing accessories, sports equipment, and school supplies costing less than $100. Computers are included as long as the total is under $1,500. It includes keyboards, monitors and cables if purchased with a computer.

You don't have to be a student, but the computer cannot be for a business.

Some computer stores may offer sales in conjunction with the sales tax holiday. This sales tax holiday is the only such spring period currently authorized. The law allows a back-to-school sales tax holiday each August.

Go to tntaxholiday.com and click around for the list and additional information.

Suttree Stagger

It's been a few years since the last literary pub crawl known as the â“ Suttree Stagger,â” but we hear a rumor that one is afoot for midday this coming Saturday. In honor of local star Cormac McCarthy's latest novel, The Road , which won the author the Pulitzer earlier this month, the pilgrimage will trace some of the routes of his earlier, Knoxville-based novel, Suttree . The urban hike will be open to the public, but not widely advertised. Pilgrims will commence at Market Square Kitchen with a brunch around 9:30, then leave sometime after 10 for about six hours of walking, reading, and reveling in authentic locales, including the historic Bistro and the legendary Corner Lounge. Check metropulse.com for further developments in the schedule.

The famously elusive author lives in suburban Santa Fe, but is a frequent visitor to his hometown. Two days before the Pulitzer announcement, he was spotted eating a steak in the window table of the Bistro on Gay Street. Every time there's a sighting, we always get there just afterward.

Bug in Our Ear

Hear a juicy tidbit of local gossip or lore? Give us a call at 522-5399, ext. 33, write to Metro Pulse Ear, 602 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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