Ear to the Ground

Money in Film

There is a possibility the East Tennessee Television and Film Commission will get additional funding in Knox County's final budget. The budget presently allocates $90,000 to the agency, the same amount as last year. But the group got an additional $20,000 last year from County Mayor Mike Ragsdale 's discretionary fund and the budget request for this year included the additional amount as well, but it was rejected.

The extra appropriation last year funded a very successful student film project that generated scholarships for local students. Commissioner Greg â“Lumpyâ” Lambert , a member of a local independent film group known as TiPTOE, said he has asked and has received support from Commission Chair Scott Moore to increase the funding to last year's levels because the student film competition resulted in $85,000 in scholarships.

Which Haslam?

Jimmy Haslam , the CEO of Pilot Corporation, was chief fund-raiser and a close adviser to his friend Bob Corker in the successful U.S. Senate race last year. Haslam was credited in playing a key role in the victory and observers say he enjoyed the experience.

This has created some buzz among big donors that Haslam would be a great candidate to run for governor in 2010. There has been more speculation that his brother Bill, Knoxville's current mayor, might run.

Some of Jimmy Haslam's close friends, however, say if he were to run it would shock them.

What's the Score?

So how's your neighborhood school doing?

Go to http://www.k-12.state.tn.us/rptcrd05 and select a school system, like Knox County. Then pick your school. There are four screens with data on each school, so be sure and click through. You can get test data, dropout rates, minority scores, qualified teachers in core courses and a wealth of information about language, reading, science and math.

Last year's scores are the latest posted. Test results from this past year will be posted later this summer.

Hell No!

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander , R-Tenn., came home for the Memorial Day recess and did some community meetings opening his campaign for re-election. The program called for viewing a video and then taking questions.

Bloggers Bear Creek Ledger and Blue Collar Muse, via Bill Hobbs , report that the meeting in Cookeville was â“swarmedâ” with people protesting the comprehensive immigration bill. Questions started coming before the program could get underway and all of them were negative. Observers said Alexander and his staff seemed surprised at the depth of feeling on the issue.

Alexander voted against the bill when it came up for a vote last week. He has since offered an amendment that border state governors have to certify enforcement success before a â“pathway to citizenshipâ” begins.

Sales Tax Rebates

House Republicans handed out â“sales tax rebatesâ” at the Capitol this week to publicize efforts to use a budget surplus to remove sales tax on groceries for two months of the year. Legislators handed out $1,000 in Kroger gift cards of $5 and $10 denominations to people who presented grocery receipts. The money came from Republican caucus funds. The stunt was announced on Steve Gill 's radio show in Nashville on Monday.

Later that day the House and Senate passed the Democrats' version of the bill, which removes a half-cent of the sales tax on groceries year-round.

Life after Beer Cup Death

If you've ever had the misfortune of walking through Market Square roundabout 10:30 p.m. on a Sundown in the City Thursday night, you've surely beheld the aftermath of Hurricane Budweiser, a downtown disaster area of discarded plastic beer cups, paper plates and other random trash left over from the crowd. This year, though, the city is doing something about it, by way of its decision to hand the clean-up reins over to Keep Knoxville Beautiful, the Knoxville affiliate of the nationwide initiative Keep America Beautiful. Since then, the organization has been diverting more than half of the trash produced by the event from the landfill. Last week, for instance, of the 445 pounds of total garbage produced on the square, 260 pounds were recycled and 47 pounds were composted.

During the event, recycle stations are set up around the square, making it easy for concertgoers to give their empties an environmentally-friendly burial ceremony. But we've seen rubber-glove wearing KKB volunteers digging through regular trash bins afterwards as well, searching for the ones that got away.

KKB Executive Director Tom Salter says the organization has since been approached by the organizers of Saturday Night on the Town, Brewer's Jam and Knoxville Track Club races about helping to create comprehensive recycling and waste control programs for their events as well. â“It's turning into something,â” Salter says. â“If we just put out the bins, I think people are ready to recycle.â”

Bug in Our Ear

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