incoming (2006-33)

There are not very many, true, and I suspect they tend to be less obnoxious than the mobs on Cumberland, but they are there and as far as I can tell Barley’s and Downtown Brewery actually encourage them. The last two years I attended two games, and both times we went to throw darts at Barley’s and took the trolley to the stadium.

Another surprise was the comment, “Geographically, Neyland Stadium stands on downtown’s western fringe. But, in psychological distance, it has always struck me as much closer to Farragut than Market Square.” Why Farragut? It’s probably a lot more fun to assume that all those orange-clad, too loud trashy Vol fans are from West Knoxville, but the truth is, as a lifetime resident of the area (Alcoa and Knoxville), I can tell you that Vol fans can be found everywhere in East Tennessee excepting the bold new urbanites of downtown Knoxville. Go to Fountain City, Maryville, Halls, Karns, South Knoxville, you name it and you will find hucksters in Vol gear who named their kid Peyton and want to fire Phil Fulmer.

Ultimately, however, Edens‚ makes good points. I think Knoxville as a whole would be a lot better off if the Vols were treated as one diversion among many in the fall, rather than the 800-pound gorilla everyone has to accommodate. Maybe a few more losing seasons will take care of that. Meantime, I think my first visit to Mast will include a new Vol shirt.

Thomas P. Karnowski

KPD Gets Its Can Man

RB Morris

Mostly Right on the Right

President Johnson knew what he was doing when he did the right thing and signed the Civil Rights Act. He said so. The racists who had supported segregation and opposed civil rights took over the Republican Party and did not let it go. Oh, they were astute enough to couch their counter-revolution in all the right language. Welfare recipients were always referred to as the “undeserving” poor, or something like that. The private prisons began to fill up with the wretched refuse of ever more blighted ghettos as the Republican tax hawks cut budgets for social needs and hid behind the “hard-working taxpayers” and the ever so oppressed “middle class.”  Reagan talked about the “welfare queen” (we all knew what race she represented, didn’t we?) and Bush, Sr. rode to victory on the back of Willie Horton. 

I can understand why Republicans don’t like to talk of the racism staining their relentless grab for power, but why do Democrats shy away from naming it? Perhaps it is because the Democrats are keenly aware of their history as the party of segregation and slavery in the South. Maybe there’s a little bit of guilty conscience at work. Who knows?

So, the new Republican Party, which didn’t shy away from appeals to racists of any party when they put their plan together several decades ago, are likewise not shy about appealing to ugliness of any sort to get power. How about a little homophobia as we lay out our “pro-family” anti-gay agenda? How about a little xenophobia as we deal with the endless “war on terror” and the influx of “illegal” aliens?

What the Republicans have done is to redefine democracy. We will be lucky if some dictionary in the future doesn’t define it as “government by the angry, the fearful and the misinformed.”                 

Gerald W. Bone

A Rag By Any Other Name?

Truer words were never spoken about the Democrat Party nor the Metro Pulse . However, I think the appellation “leftist-extremist rag” has more of a ring to it than “liberal rag.”

Bethany Hallam

Wanted: Innovative City Planners

By being a proponent of “creative cities,” innovation, and entrepreneurship in which I also educate/consult on these very same subjects for other organizations in other communities, I find our region’s decision-making processes and planning capabilities leave much to be desired. After traveling most of the world and the United States, my wife and I determined that Knoxville had some great opportunities ahead of it and being native Tennesseans and UT alums, we decided to make Knoxville our home in 2000. One of our biggest frustrations is seeing opportunity after opportunity bypass our new home of Knoxville. 

As someone with a background in regional planning, economic development, and public/business administration, it is extremely difficult for me to watch time pass with weekly media announcements of “new” marketing plans, development projects, or other initiatives while our community still has not achieved the basics of communicating its vision, strategy, or operational plan and is continuously working in siloed-environments. Likewise, “true citizen participation” mechanisms have not been established on many projects.

What stifles innovation, entrepreneurship, and the creativity of youth/youthful minds most is the groupthink mentality of much (not all) of our community leadership and the risk-adverse culture of many organizations that serve the public’s interests. Historically, our three largest employers have been the TVA, DOE, and UT, which all are public organizations. In addition, we have only one Fortune 1000 company headquartered in our region and that is Regal Cinema. Having more competitive organizations in our community would “speed” things up quite a bit on all fronts.

The band-aid approach with political spin/sound bites is no longer working as the rest of world’s creative communities have passed us by. For example, everyone knows you can state you have a sports car, but selling it to the “informed buyer” will prove difficult once the “due diligence” questions are asked. Having a four-cylinders, six-door, wood-seats type of sports car won’t sell. 

So why do some of our elected officials and economic developers sell our region by marketing it with capabilities it doesn’t have while ignoring and not taking advantage of the strengths it does have? We lose credibility and are cut everyday by external stakeholders without even knowing it.

The very essence of innovation is fostered in having debate, competition, and diversity. It doesn’t take long for a company, analyst, venture capitalist, technologist, or innovator to realize after a brief Internet search that our community is lacking these critical ingredients which yield to Knoxville “not making the list.” Likewise, there is a direct correlation of why our best and brightest youth leave UT each semester for employment/amenities of other communities and why over a trillion dollars of opportunity passes our community each year on I-40/75 with so few stopping by.

When innovators like me and others debate these very issues in order to address opportunity areas and improve our community, all of these traits of creative communities are generally dismissed and debate is avoided at all costs by most of the elected, economic development, and public administrative leadership of our region.  They just do not want to go there.

Just like a canvas, it is almost near impossible to change the vision or characteristics of a painting that has already been painted, unless you totally start over. If we did nothing, Knoxville will still be one the best communities in the world. However, the status quo of just moving along is totally unacceptable when there are so many great opportunities to be had for our community. Perhaps our community should transform, get rid of the politics/bureaucracy and diversify?  For us real innovators already living here or those wanting to come to Knoxville, this is the biggest challenge our community faces.

Bill Johns|

Guidelines for Incoming Mail