Here are Mayor Rogero's off-the-cuff thoughts on some perennial questions facing Knoxville:
Red Light Cameras
"During the campaign, particularly on one radio show, they consistently asked about that. Some people believe they're only for revenue generation. I think that they are for safety, from my conversations with the police department.... They have increased safety, they have changed behavior, according to stats from the police department. I think if we can make those intersections safer, we should. And it also frees up our police power to be at other locations, and not watching intersections."
"I talked to [Knox County] Mayor Burchett the other day about this. We are going to sit down, and I'm going to convene some of the shareholders and talk about where we are.... We've got to look at the Compassion Knoxville recommendations... Who's doing what now? Where are the gaps? That's what I want to know. We already have a lot of recommendations, and some of the recommendations are more controversial, and whether there's more funding for them is a question. We just need to get our arms around it, and I intend to have a briefing on that and kind of stake out where the city will be participating as we move forward."
"Certainly we can do a better job of it. We have a convention center, we have a lot to offer here. I think we can do a better job of promoting what we have." About the improved signage downtown, the "wayfinding" project promised early in the Haslam administration, Rogero says, "That's going to happen. You will be seeing results. I'm not sure what the holdup was, but we will be implementing that."
"Number one, we need to focus on our local artists, on the whole range of our arts and culture community. From the performance arts, the visual arts, our writers, our musicians. We have such a wealth of talent here.... I've started really getting interested in local authors, and I want to be able to highlight that. That's why I mentioned that in my speech." Her inaugural invoked the work of James Agee, Cormac McCarthy, Nikki Giovanni, and R.B. Morris. "I think all of those are important to the heart and soul of the community.... I want to promote them however I can, partly of course it's to invest in them, which we already do, to some degree." She mentions the city-supported Emporium arts center. "And to be a cheerleader for them, and make sure we're celebrating what we have.... I want to find out who are our local artists, who are our local musicians. I know a bunch of them. I've got my little niches that I've known for years, Maggie [Longmire] and Hector [Qirko], and you know. But there's a lot of younger groups I don't know as well. I've learned about some at the Pilot Light because there's a whole network of kids who go there, my daughter, stepdaughter now. There are different groups, which is great, because we're a real diverse community, and there are a lot of different kinds of music. So we need to be figuring out what those different kinds of subsets are, and the people that are promoting [Knoxville], to be sure they're aware of who they all are, and figure out how to promote them and leverage those different activities."
"Think how much has grown, how much activity has continued [even during a recession]. You know, to come down really any night of the week, when the weather's nicer. When it's cold, it's not quite so much, but even then, it's amazing how many people are out.... I've been to meetings, even during the campaign, where people say, ‘Oh, I never go downtown, there's nowhere to park.' Then before I've even had a chance to answer, others have piped up, ‘Well, there's free parking on nights and weekends, and there are these free parking garages, it's safe and easy.' There are still doubters, I guess, those that don't get it, but there are more and more people who do."
"I already met with Chancellor Cheek, and there are actually a couple of different groups that meet on a regular basis, to make sure the city and county and UT are talking to one another, which I think is really important. I met with the chancellor in a group, and then he and I met over lunch recently, and we're gonna do that regularly. I shared with the chancellor that when I was the director of the community partnership center at UT, I met with a lot of universities that were actively engaged with their communities. They were concerned with the neighborhoods surrounding the university and the viability of those neighborhoods, because it's a place for their students and/or their faculty to live. And if that neighborhood is bad, it's going to negatively impact the university. So we have those kinds of conversations, and you know, I feel good about the relationship that I've established with the university, but I think it takes constant communication, and knowing what people are thinking, and as planning processes are going on, what we're doing that will impact them, and what they're doing that'll impact us. And have a relationship where you can intervene, where you can say, hey, wait a minute, let's think about this before you take this action."