The War Room

"The War Room"

Knox County's Democratic Party has leased a building in Fountain City to be used as a "war room" to support Democratic candidates in the August county election.

Local Democrats have a larger than usual slate for county elections in the wake of the turmoil in the local Republican Party and faction in-fighting in county government. The Democrats have fielded Randy Tyree for sheriff, Robert Bratton for trustee, Amy Vandergriff for county clerk, Scott Emge for register of deeds, and Andrew Graybeal for property assessor; County Commission candidates include Sam McKenzie, Chuck Ward, Steve Drevik, Finbarr Saunders, Amy Broyles, and Kathy Bryant.

A grand opening will be announced next week prior to the annual Truman Day Dinner. The 1,000-square-foot building is on Rennic Drive, off Broadway, according to Chair Don Daugherty. There will be a showing of the campaign documentary The War Room at the grand opening. The movie is about the Bill Clinton campaign for president in 1992 and features political strategist James Carville, the featured speaker at the Truman Day Dinner, Thursday, May 15, at the Knoxville Convention Center. The headline event is to raise funds for Democratic candidates in the upcoming election. There will be a private reception before the event for big donors.

Information on the headquarters and the dinner events is at 694-7075.

Uh Oh

Two weeks ago the Knoxville Journal had a lead story containing explosive allegations about the employment history and alleged family legal problems involving Cynthia Finch before she joined the administration of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, implying she was hired without being vetted.

This last week, the newspaper's page-one lead story was a 25-inch retraction in which Finch's attorney refutes the allegations, including explanations that she never owned a day-care center, she doesn't have a desperado nephew named in the story, and she doesn't have a female relative arrested for soliciting.

The story ends with the reporter's explanation that she "was led down a path and I made the decision to trust 3 people who were not trustworthy. I have totally learned my lesson. Other people want me to step out and say the things they want said, but, they do not want to fess up to having told me to do it. So, I feel used, but, I should have known better."

Ya think?

Coal Jam

It's hard to imagine a more eclectic group of speakers than the participants in Webb School's "Peace Jam" forum on mountaintop coal removal last week. There was Marie Cirillo, the former nun who founded Clearfork Community Institute, a land trust dedicated to fighting poverty in strip mine-ravaged Campbell County. And then there was Bill Caylor, aka "Ol' King Coal"—the global warming-denying president of the Kentucky Coal Association who once ate a bite of coal waste to prove it wasn't toxic—who said flattening mountaintops to get at the coal is a great way to create flat land for subdivisions and shopping centers.

He was there to refute the arguments of Dawn Coppock, aka "The Church Lady," whose religious faith led her to draft the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Act and lobby it in the Tennessee General Assembly. The bill is likely dead for this session, but Coppock went toe-to-toe with Caylor, pointing out that in Tennessee, tourism paychecks outnumber coal mining paychecks 80,000 to 327.

"We're not craving flat land. We can site an airport without blowing the top off a mountain," Coppock said.

A Tale of Two Toddy's

First, a correction: In our 2008 Best of Knoxville readers' poll, we erroneously awarded "Best Neighborhood Bar" to Toddy's. We got the right place but the wrong name.

In November of 2007, owners/brothers Barry and John Cook decided to separate the names of the two locations due to the confusion it caused their suppliers. The "Best Neighborhood Bar," owned by Barry, is now just called the Back Door Tavern, while John owns the "Best Liquor Store," Toddy's Package Store, which has been relocated farther east on Kingston Pike.

The Cook brothers inherited the two businesses that were formerly located in the same building from their father, "Toddy," who had owned the liquor store since around 1963. When the business moved from Sevier Avenue to the Kingston Pike location, the bar was added on and the business became Toddy's Back Door Tavern in 1983.

The Cook brothers' split was an amicable one, and the name changes were for business purposes only, they say. "To me," says Barry, "the tavern will always be Toddy's. The name just won't be there."