Thuggish Instruction

Thuggish Instruction

What are they teaching the kids, these days?

Former Knox County Commissioner John Schmid is still a little bitter about the way he was replaced when term-limited out of office. He is one of the leaders in promoting the Knox County—One Question ballot initiatives that, among other things, would prevent county employees serving on Commission.

Schmid teaches government at Webb School and has explained to the class his problems with the Knox County Sheriff's office, alleging spending without proper authorization. One of his students reported to his parents that Schmid called their family friend and Commission candidate Lee Tramel "a thug." Schmid acknowledges using his class to educate the students on problems in county government. He also says he might have made such a comment to a student, but didn't say it in front of the entire class.

Tramel is an assistant chief deputy in the Sheriff's Department and is running for County Commission in Schmid's old district. Schmid wrote a piece for the News Sentinel attacking Tramel for voting to fund the pension for county deputies and voting against an indigent care appropriation. Tramel says he voted to fund the pension because it was approved by county voters in a referendum and against the indigent care provision because he felt the entire budget should be considered, rather than voting for appropriations piecemeal. Tramel voted for the complete budget at a later meeting.

Commission All Atwitter

It was a pregnant moment in Monday night's County Commission meeting when Greg "Lumpy" Lambert referred to fellow Commissioner Mark Harmon, a UT professor, as an "arrogant little university twit" and asked how Harmon could make decisions affecting poor people. "At first I was a little annoyed," Harmon says. "Besides the inelegant word choice, it suggested I couldn't relate to working people, and I grew up in a working class family, and we were...well...almost poor. Then I laughed it off as just Lumpy being Lumpy." He says he chalked it up to "Ph.D. envy" in an aside to another colleague.

Harmon says he never considered jumping up and getting in Lambert's face to challenge the intemperate assertion, even though he doesn't believe the Lumpster brings his vaunted firearms into Commission meetings. Don't think we'd bet that Lumpy wasn't carrying, though, just in case.

Carl Sublett, 1919-2008

Last week, Knoxville had to bid farewell to a good-hearted friend, and one of its best-known artists. Born in Kentucky, Carl Sublett moved to Knoxville in 1954 after serving in Italy in World War II, working originally for an advertising firm. By the early ‘60s, he was well known as a fine artist, and one of the original Knoxville Seven, a group of accomplished artists that included influential UT art professor Kermit Ewing. Sublett was best known for his watercolors, which offered intuitive interpretations of nature. His art was awarded and praised all over the world, exhibited from Switzerland to Taiwan to, occasionally, Knoxville, where he also taught at UT.

In the mid-1980s, one of the 11th Street Victorian Houses that had been renovated for the World's Fair was refitted to feature his work as the Sublett Gallery. Run by his son, artist Eric Sublett, and musician/poet R.B. Morris, the gallery became the scene of several memorable art, poetry, and musical events. It closed after a few years, but Carl Sublett opened another Sublett Gallery in Union, Maine, where he spent much of each year. It was there that he died last week, just a few days before his 89th birthday, which would have been this coming Monday; raise him a toast.

Haynes Duncan Pick

The family of Congressman John Duncan will be supporting Ryan Haynes, of Farragut, to replace state Rep. Parkey Strader, R-Knoxville, representing deep west Knox County. Strader has announced he does not plan to seek re-election.

John Duncan III, the son of the Congressman, had been urged to run for the seat, but took his name out of contention. He supports Haynes for the seat and will serve as the young candidate's campaign chairman.

Haynes, who graduated at Farragut High School and the University of Tennessee, works at the Regions Bank branch at Cedar Bluff and is a member of First Baptist Church of Concord, one of the largest congregations in West Knoxville.

Congressman Duncan's sister, Becky Duncan Massey, was also urged to run for the seat. She is the director of the Sertoma Center.