Ear to the Ground

Campaign Derailed?

Robert Bratton has been touring local Democratic clubs of late to announce his bid for Knox County Trustee next year. Bratton has been a successful Democratic candidate in a Republican county. He has served on County Commission and is in his second term on the school board.

He is one of the best prospects the Democrats have had to capture a countywide office next year, capitalizing on the disarray within the Republican Party in the wake of term limits and a Sunshine Law violation lawsuit.

That was before the school system revealed an investigation of sexual harassment allegations against Bratton from a South Doyle Middle School custodian. Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, Bratton has been damaged by the allegations. Friends say they think he will defend himself against the charges and will probably continue to campaign for the office.

A school system security videotape, posted on the News-Sentinel website last weekend, is open to interpretation (depending on your view of Bratton and the young woman on the tape). The investigation is continuing.

Republican Fred Sisk , the former chief deputy in the Trustee's office named to the post when his boss, Mike Lowe , was term limited, is expected to run for the job.

Popular Post?

John Owings , appointed to the post of County Law Director after Mike Moyers was elected chancellor, is expected to run for the office in the Republican primary and be opposed by Bill Lockett .

Owings is perceived to be close to the majority faction on Knox County Commission led by Chairman Scott Moore and Sheriff Jimmy â“JJâ” Jones . Lockett is in the same law firm with former state Sen. Bud Gilbert , who has been an unofficial adviser to County Mayor Mike Ragsdale during the controversy over term limits and the appointment of an ethics panel.

The Democrats are trying to recruit local attorney and radio and television commentator Dennis Francis to run. If there is a bitter Republican primary fight, it will help Francis, a popular figure at the courthouse and with the media, in running for the post. Francis is a former member of the Knox County Election Commission and has long been active in the party.

What's Standard?

County Mayor Mike Ragsdale 's administration is faced with a sticky situation in its investigation of the misuse of procurement cards. The only investigation thus far is of an African-American woman with an African-American boss.

Requitta Bone is an executive assistant to Ragsdale's community services director, Cynthia Finch . She is represented by Ursula Bailey , an attorney who ran for Sessions Judge last year. Bailey had previously worked for attorney Herb Moncier , known for his vigorous lawsuits against the county and Sheriff Tim Hutchison .

Ragsdale's assistant, Margie Loyd , paid back $900 for a cruise charged to her county purchasing card, which was defended as an oversight. The card was supposed to have been used to reserve the ticket, but was mistakenly charged, according to the administration. She was given a written reprimand.

The county says Bone has been suspended from her job, with pay, for using the card on more than one occasion for various airline tickets.  

iPhone Frenzy

Last Friday evening's launch of the iPhone transformed the common area in front of West Town Mall's Apple Store into a holding cell for salivating techies. Upwards of 100 people waited patiently for the 6 p.m. release while store employees handed out bottled water, and Starbucks poured free coffee from a cart. The atmosphere was electric and mostly friendly. (One rain cloud of a reporter from WNOX criticized a woman in line for plunking down $600 on the expensive gadget and continued to harass other folks relentlessly. Bad form, radio lady.) Just before iPhone time, the black curtain obscuring the store's innards dropped to resounding applause from the geeks. Apple placed a two-phone purchase limit per person, but enough stock was on hand that everyone in line went home with a smile and a fancy, hard-to-use cell phone.

Privatization?

What would you think if the big boss came to town and didn't stop by to see how you were getting along?

U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson came to town last week to visit a Habitat for Humanity house, and attend a press conference with local politicians, then left town. He didn't visit the Knoxville Community Development Corporation, the local HUD agency, where he could have gotten a glowing report on some HUD success stories, like the revitalization of Mechanicsville.

The Bush administration invested $697,000 through the Self Help Homeownership Opportunity Program for infrastructure and land to be used by organizations like Habitat for Humanity.

Qirko in Cyberspace

Glenn Reynolds , the indefatigable proprietor of the internationally known weblog, Instapundit, has Knoxville guitar virtuoso Hector Qirko 's music streaming from his blog at http://instapundit.com/archives2/006666.php , in the company of several other big-name musicians. It's free for every surfer to experience, and it includes some of Qirko's unique stylizations. Log on and listen to the man.

Clarification

Natalie Nichols ' movie review, â“Nancy Drew v.2.0.,â” published in volume 17, issue 25 of Metro Pulse was reprinted with the permission of Los Angeles CityBeat .

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