Monday, February 27, 2006

Appointed -vs- Elected Superintendents

I was listening to a local radio talk show this morning. A candidate for a school board seat was on the show and the question came from the host. Do you support an appointed or elected superintendent? There was a long silence, obviously a question the candidate had given little thought to, the candidate redeemed themselves well in stating that not being on the school board, they would like the benefit of seeing the pros and cons.

I have in another life publicly taken a position on this issue. I have seen both sides. I will not share one point of view over another. As a citizen journalist via a weblog, I simply will lay out what I have seen, heard and experienced.

With an Appointed Superintendent

They spend their time collecting every piece of news written about them. They keep it in a portfolio and feel that they must have a response to explain any and all news items.

They spend their time networking at state and national meetings and gatherings so as to be aware of possible job openings and opportunities.

When they are pursuing jobs they spend time away from the day to day operation of the school district in pursuing these other job opportunities. ie. Pedro Garcia How much time did it take away from his duties with a California school district while making several trips to Nashville, TN in pursuing that job?

Once a Superintendent gets to a 2 year contract from a 4 year contract they begin to look exclusively for a job with a 4 year contract.

With an Elected Superintendent

They spend time campaigning and raising money, during the time campaigning and raising money it is time spent within the community.

They are equal team members with an elected school board, working as a group and have a mandate to accomplish the task at hand. An appointed superintendent is often the "bad guy" that is told by his employers "go out and do this or that to the funding body" because they don't want to use the political capital to do it but they can send their "employee" out to do the bad hits. This is a trait of coward board members.

An elected superintendent is a received by the community as one of them.

An elected superintendent is concerned with the total communities thoughts and interest, while an appointed superintendent can often be concerned about the communities thoughts and interest of the districts of school board members that support the superintendent.

Knox County Superintendent in the News

UPDATE: This from Knox News website (free registration required), this afternoon. Knox Superintendent has applied for Hamilton County School Superintendent position. The search is being handled by a private search firm, instead of the TSBA Tennessee School Boards Association search team.


This from the Saturday Knoxville News-Sentinel (free registration required), Knox County Superintendent of Schools is considering a position in Chattanooga, TN as the Hamilton County School System Superintendent.

The same school board that Charles Love of TN Waltz fame, was a member of. Love has plead Guilty, it is also the same school board that State Senator Ward Crutchfield of TN Waltz fame served as the legal counsel for.

Why would someone want to relocate from the third largest community in the State of Tennessee, to the fourth largest? A school system that is located only 1.5 hours away?

In the story by Erica Mellon, she reports that the Knox County Superintendent was offered and refused a position in Virginia in April 2005. How much time does it take away from the day to day operation of the school district for a superintendent to apply and interview and interview again, make site visits and all the trappings of a job search? I do not know the answer to the question, it is just a thought that has recently entered my mind.

This from Sandra Clark at the Halls Shopper News, today. I am assuming some of this is tongue and cheek sarcasm toward Mayor Ragsdale.

Ragsdale for super

Dr. Charles Lindsey has interviewed elsewhere and may be hired in Chattanooga, creating a vacancy for the top job in Knox County Schools.

It doesn't much matter whom the school board picks, since Roy Mullins runs the system now as deputy superintendent.

Therefore, let's save some money by hiring Dr. Mike Ragsdale for the dual roles of county mayor and superintendent.

Ragsdale knows where to build, when to deploy custodians and how much to pay teachers. He's an expert on health insurance and teaching reading. He sure knows how to squeeze the school budget till it squeals.

Ahhh. Put Rags in charge and watch those test scores soar.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Knox County Schools Capital Plan Changes Again

UPDATE: Inskip Elementary School has received an additional $.05 million in funding for FY 08. My post has been updated.

UPDATE: This from Ericka Mellon in the Friday morning of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, today. Read it here. (free registration required)

This evening, I received a REVISED Knox County School Capital Plan with a REVISED date of 2/23/2006. Interestingly, I talked with a few School Board Members this evening and they were unaware earlier today that a REVISED plan was available. I was informed that this REVISED plan was on my fax machine at 6:00 p.m. while I was sitting down at a Fifth grade program at A.L. Lotts Elementary School. My source indicated that they had been given their copy from a County Commissioner. I began to talk to several parents that were present at a PTA leaders meeting earlier in the day, and comments were made from a school board member that the plan that was presented last Thursday appeared to have the 5 votes to pass.

I informed them that I had received a REVISED copy on my fax machine, they were speechless.

This plan at first glance should have more than enough of the necessary 5 votes, as it delivers pork to the areas where school board members will be happy.

FY 07 (FY means Fiscal Year)
Physical Plant Upgrades $5.0 million (Farragut High is back in)6th Dist
Land Purchase $2.0 million 5th, 8th, 7th, 9th districts
Southwest Sector Elementary Solution $17.0 million 5th dist
Bearden Ele/ KAEC Renovation $6.5 million 4th dist
Powell Middle Renovation/Addition $16.0 million 7th dist

FY 08
Physical Plant Upgrades $5.0 million
Land purchase $.5 million
Roof/HVAC Upgrades $5.5 million
Carter Middle Gym and Cafeteria Renovation/Addition $4.0 million 8th dist
Inskip Elementary Renovation/Addition $3.0 million 2nd dist
seven board members are satisfied at this point, but I continue on
Ball Camp Elementary Renovation/Addition $6.0 million 6th dist
Northwest Sector High School TBD 6th dist

FY 09
Land Purchase $.5 million
Roof/HVAC Upgrades $2.5 million
Farragut High School Renovation $4.0 million 6th dist

FY 10
Land purchase $.5 million
Roof/HVAC Upgrades $2.0 million
New Hopewell/Gap Creek Elementary Solution $16.0 million 9th dist
Gibbs High Vocational Renovation $3.0 million 8th dist

Only 2 school board districts receive nothing specific. (the first and third school board districts) The closing of the small schools have disappeared from the REVISED capital plan which on Thursday was a major concern of the first school board district member, (West View Elementary School). The school closings proposal that was discussed last week would have also closed 3 South Knox schools all located in the 9th district. So, the only board district in the REVISED plan, not to receive any obvious benefit is the third district.

On Fox 43 during the 10 p.m. broadcast they reported on a meeting tonight at West View Elementary, where Assistant Superintendent of Schools Roy Mullins said that the issue for West View has been resolved. Here's the story

February 23, 2006

By TIM MILLER
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) -- A proposal by Knox County schools Superintendent Charles Lindsey had some parents fired up Thursday night until a new twist brought them good news.

Lindsey had proposed closing four schools in the southern part of the county and building a new one on the west side.

The first school that could have gone on the chopping block was West View Elementary.

Upset parents packed the West View gym Thursday night to voice their concerns. They also had signs up, pleading for the school to stay open.

The parents said the school of 200 students deserved to be kept open and they felt blind-sided by the superintendent's plan to close the school.

But just a few minutes into the meeting, Assistant Superintendent Roy Mullins delivered good news. Budget plans have changed and West View is no longer on the list of schools to be recommended for closing.

It's a huge relief for the community. "We've had five generations in this school and we want more generations here," says Melody Fain, whose grandson attends West View.

"What would this community here be if the school was no longer here? I don't know because we are the West View community and without the school, I don't know what we'd be," Fain says.

Although the school is safe for now, the assistant superintendent warned parents this issue could come up in budget discussions in future years.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Custodial Outsourcing

This afternoon the Knoxnews website reported that Alcoa has hired GCA Services for its janitorial service. GCA Services has and continues to operate a local office in Knoxville. Alcoa will save $1.8 million yearly. How much could Knox County Schools put toward resolving their budget crisis, a previous report that the school board received in June 2005 said $2.5 million if they outsourced the entire county.

According to Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale Its Time.

That's where school board members and the mayor may disagree.

"If it were me and I were looking at it, I'd put my emphasis on outsourcing janitorial services which could save two to three million dollars per year and switching employees over to the Knox County insurance plan, which would save another two to three million dollars a year," Mayor Ragsdale said.

"While the school system has a tough budget situation, I think they need to work through it and they will," he added. "And I hope they focus on priorities, and that's what goes on in the classroom."
source is WBIR.com

Here is the KnoxNews story.

Alcoa hires private janitorial firm
By REBECCA FERRAR, ferrarr@knews.com
February 23, 2006

Alcoas Tennessee Rigid Packaging Division plans to contract out its janitorial work, saving the company $1.8 million a year.
Graeme Crothall Services Group (GCA) of Philadelphia will handle the work. Twenty-two Alcoa employees will be affected, but Alcoa spokeswoman Melissa Copelan said workers will be offered positions within the company or will be able to retire.

"We do not expect any layoffs," Copelan said. The change is effective April 1. Copelan said all employees have been notified. She declined to release the value of the contract, which includes cleaning bathrooms, break rooms and bathhouses.

"This announcement represents the first step for Alcoa to take looking where outsourcing could occur," Copelan said.

GCA has a Knoxville office and already works for Denso of Maryville.

Copelan said Alcoa looks at four criteria when deciding to outsource work: cost effectiveness, the size of the job (large jobs may be more effectively done on a contract basis), the need for specialized skills, and short-term work assignments.

Alcoa followed the guidelines in the union contract with the United Steelworkers in outsourcing the sanitation work, Copelan said.

The company is considering contract workers in 20 to 25 other areas that Copelan declined to identify.

Dwight Sypolt, spokesman for GCA, said the company expects to add 22 new employees to handle the Alcoa work.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Brian'sBlog Wife Recognized For Leadership

Ok, Brian'sBlog Wife, has just received word that the TN PTA this evening has recognized her leadership this past year by awarding the A.L. Lotts Elementary School PTA Legislative Committee First Place in the State of Tennessee. She is the Chair of the committee and chaired the committee last year when it received Third place in the state.

It is rewarding for me to have a wonderful wife of 17 years, mother of three fantastic kids, she works hard in her job, at home, in addition to leading a group of community volunteers and finally puts up with a guy that has a lot of imperfections.

So, I take this opportunity to salute the Greatest person that I know and the person that I admire and adore.

Jimmy Kyle Davis Appointed to fill General Sessions Judge Div. IV


This from the Knoxville News-Sentinel, it states that Jimmy Kyle Davis beat out three individuals, actually only three individuals were nominated, Jimmy Kyle Davis, Andrew Jackson, VI and Ursula Bailey. Chad Tindell has returned a petition to the Knox County Election Commission, but was not nominated today by a Commissioner to serve the remainder of Judge Waggoner's term.

Bredesen Again, Again and Again

This from today's Knoxville News-Sentinel, the complete story here(Free Registration Required).

Gov. Phil Bredesen's campaign announced Monday it will return $22,300 in contributions given since 2001 by individuals caught up in a sweeping probe into public corruption in Cocke County.

This begs the question, is the Governor only giving the money back on Tuesday, because there was a huge front page story in the Knoxville News-Sentinel on Sunday, two days ago. He has now gone 96 days (today) without giving the money back from the troopers campaign. That story here.

This also begs the question, why is NO Republican with name recognition running against this Governor, he has more twist and turns then any Governor in the states history.

TennCare,Knoxville News-Sentinel 2/7/2005
Senator John Ford Tennessean 5/12/2005
Bredesen lobbyist accused of harassment.
Bredesen awards lucrative contracts without the appropriate awarding process Tennessean 5/5/2005
Tn School Systems get "failing" mark Knoxville News-Sentinel 11/26/2004
TropperGate.
Shredding Sexual harassment documents in the Governors Office. Tennessean 7/22/2005
Closing harassment Files. Tennessean 7/19/2005
Deputy Governor Speeding and Reckless Driving.
TN High School Drop-out rates inflated Times-News 7/14/2005
Tennessee unemployment rises despite report of job growth Tennessean 7/29/2005
State Lottery Officials, leaving or getting fired without an explanation to the public.
TN Waltz.
All indicted members of the legislature with the exception of one is a democrat, Bredesen's party.
Operation Rose Thorn. Knoxville News-Sentinel 2/19/2006

The last question that begs to be asked. With apologies to Senator Howard Baker, Jr. What did the Governor know and when did he know it.

The list continues to grow, I will begin a list to the side of the blog entitled Bredesen's Closet, detailing all the skeleton's. It is a big walk in closet, that's all I am saying.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Are You A Comcast Customer? We Need Your Help

If you have Comcast Cable TV, then your help is needed. Are you sick and tired of the programming on the many music channels that Comcast carries? Comcast currently carries MTV, and VH1 for the rock, hip-hop music secular crowd. They currently carry CMT and GAC for the country music secular crowd.

What does Comcast carry for those of us that want a Christian Music TV Channel. NOTHING.

Well here's the deal.

At the Casting Crowns concert Friday night, Gospel Music Channel was there and had a petition for us to sign asking Comcast to add the Gospel Music Channel to its line-up.

Here is the link to Gospel Music Channel, located on the website is about a 5 minute sampler to give you a taste what we are missing, locally. I plan to follow-up with an email(s) to Comcast demanding Gospel Music Channel in addition to my signing the petition, Friday night.

You should do the same, if you want your family to see wholesome music videos, you need to act sooner rather than later. If you don't stand up, now. Who will stand up for you, when you need someone to stand up. Act Now!

Rich Dad Poor Dad



I have just completed the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. The book written by Robert T. Kiyosaki and co written by Sharon L. Lechter, C.P.A.

This book was first published in 1997. It is a #1 best seller on the New York Times Best Seller list. This is the first in a series and is a true story on the lessons about money that the author learned from his two "Dads". One Dad, his biological dad, a PhD and Superintendent of Education never had enough money at the end of the month and died broke. His other Dad dropped out of school at age 13 and went on to become one of the wealthiest men in Hawaii.

My time on the school board, I continued to ask that we look at implementing some curriculum choices about money and finances. The information in this book are not taught in public schools or at colleges and universities. Every young person before they are 18 should understand how money works. The problem with your college experience is that you are hounded everyday with credit card offers and then you leave college with a huge consumer debt, including any college loans you had to simply pay for your education.

This book is important for young people and those just starting their career. This book can help if your at a crossroads in your life, no matter what age you are. It will make all the difference in the world.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Faith Of George W. Bush By Stephen Mansfield



I have just completed the book Faith Of George W. Bush By Stephen Mansfield. This book is real intriguing in that it details where the President came from spiritually. The people that influenced him and where he is today.

In 1984 George W. Bush encountered Arthur Blessitt. Arthur Blessitt is an evangelist that in 1984 was holding a crusade in Midland. At the time Blessitt was walking across the country carrying a huge wooden cross. While in Midland a friend of George W. Bush asked Blessit to meet with the Vice-President's son George W. Bush. When they met George W. Bush said I wouldn't feel comfortable attending the meeting but could you tell me about Jesus and the account in the book and Blessitt's website record the start of the conversation like this.

"What is your relationship with Jesus? I said.

He replied, "I'm not sure.

"Let me ask you this question. If you died this moment do you have the assurance you would go to heaven?"

"No" he replied.


George W. prayed at that time to accept Jesus Christ as his personal Lord and Savior.

Several years went by and the entire Bush family were vactioning up east, and Billy Graham was there, he and George W. took a walk on a beach and George W. had a life affirming moment.
The interesting thing about George W. is that he refuses to be the only man alone in a room with one woman, he refuses if he is recording a show that will air in several days to say today, he considers that a lie. While in Midland he had a regular Bible study with business leaders. Now while in the White House he spends time every day studying his Bible.

The most interesting aspect of his life is his meeting with James Robison. James Robison at one time was an evanglist that traveled the country, today he and his wife Betty host a daily television program entitled Life Today. James and Betty are headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas today. In a meeting with James Robison before becoming a candidate for President George W. said

"I feel like God wants me to run for President. I can't explain it, but I sense my country is going to need me. Something is going to happen... I know it won't be easy on me or my family, but God wants me to do it."

This has birthed George W.'s "A Charge To Keep." He feels that he has been given a charge and insist on keeping it. The book with the same title written by George W. Bush and Karen Hughes during the campaign is based on the Methodist Charles Wesley hymn "A Charge To Keep". Here are the words to the hymn.

A charge to keep I have,
a God to glorify,
a never-dying soul to save,
and fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engageto do my Master's will!
Arm me with jealous care,
as in thy sight to live,
and O,
thy servant,
Lord,
prepare a strict account to give!Help me to watch and pray,and on thyself rely;
assured,
if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die.

Words: Charles Wesley, 1762
Music: Boylston, Galway


This book is an excellent read, if your interested in a behind the scenes look at the make-up of this President. I am so thankful, everyday that George W. Bush was our President on September 11, 2001. God has his hand on George W. Bush and Bush is focused on his relationship with God.

This is a little good news, this Sunday morning.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Casting Crowns, LifeSong Tour Concert Last Night In Knoxville

Last night 2/17/2006 I attended a sold out concert for headliner Casting Crowns. What a unbelievable praise and worship experience. The evening began at 7:30 p.m. with Independence, KY native Josh Bates. Josh is an incredible talent and a great praise leader. Josh Bates website is here Check out Josh's song Perfect Day on his website.

Immediately following Josh, Nicole Nordeman made her way to the stage. Brave the title cut is a tribute to parents and talks about leaving the status quo, and hope our kids make us want to be Brave. The song "What if Your Wrong" is a song inspired by a friend of Nichole's that refuses to believe and accept Jesus as his savior. Her latest project is a wonderful praise and worship collection. Check out Nichole's website here. Sample tracks from her project Brave are on the website.

Following Nichole, Tony Nolan, the tours pastor came out and warmed up the crowd for a few minutes (we will back to Tony soon) and then introduced Casting Crowns.

Casting Crowns did an awesome job of leading those in attendance to the throne of God. Beginning with Lifesong, the title cut off their latest project, ending the night with Glory. In between such convicting songs as "If We Are The Body", "Voice Of Truth". They presented their soon to be released video of "Stained Glass Masquerade" the message in this song is so real in the video presentation as the message in their video of "American Dream" that was previously released.

Tony Nolan at the conclusion of intermission presented the gospel message using a medical id bracelet. L.I.F.T The Great news is hundreds of those in attendance made the eternal decision to accept Jesus Christ and those making the decision last night will join us in heaven for all eternity. Tony's website is located here.

The choice is black and white, it is either you acknowledge that you have sin in your life (we're all sinners), accept that God loves you and sent his son Jesus Christ to live a sinless life on this earth and was crucified dead and buried but the great news is he was raised from the dead on the third day, he ascended into heaven and is sitting on the right hand of the Father at this moment.

Judgement day is coming, believe in John 3:16 and pray a simple prayer acknowledging God's love, his sacrifice for your life, confess your sin, ask for forgiveness and believe, live a life pleasing to the father, and we will be together for all eternity. I digress.

Casting Crowns came back to the stage/alter and led us in worship until about 10:50 p.m. Last night the Ice Bears Hockey Arena became an unbelievable worship arena with the presence of Almighty God in our midst. Casting Crowns website is located here.

For those of you that have or do attend secular concerts and are used to cigarette lighters being used, well, last night, was my first concert witnessing the use of "the Christian Lighter". If you have an interest in wanting to know what that is, comment and I will post later.

Great worship experience and Thanks to Casting Crowns, Tony Nolan, Nichole Nordeman and Josh Bates, pray for these guys and gals as they travel on the Lifesong tour. Tonight 2/18/2006, they are in Chattanooga, TN.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Knox County Schools Latest Capital Plan Budget

Thanks to the Knoxville News-Sentinel website here (free registration is required)is located the latest Capital plan that is proposed by the Superintendent of Knox County Schools.

Updates and new proposals were flying around the room so quickly last night in the 4 hour, no consensus workshop meeting that Indya Kincannon, board member of the 2nd district suggested putting a name, date and time stamp on each new version.

I say GREAT suggestion.

One other note. Great job by Chuck James, 6th district school board member. The $5.0 million dollars in PPU (Physical Plant Upgrade)came back into the plan in less than 24 hours, Great work by a future 6th district Knox County Commissioner.

Knox County School Superintendent's Latest General Operating Budget Proposal

Thanks to the Knoxville News-Sentinel website here(free registration is required)is the latest General Operating Budget proposal from the Superintendent of Schools for Knox County. This plan leaves drivers education as a program. Only one or two of the nine board members ever gave this cut a real consideration. All of the other board members realized what a community safety program drivers ed is.

Chuck James, Robert Bratton, Sam Anderson and Jim Williams were committed to this program from the beginning. Good job, guys.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Breaking News: Knox County School Board and Capital Priorities

I have just witnessed a workshop meeting that lasted more than 4 hours of the Knox County School Board. The only consensus is that there is NO consensus. The Superintendent's plan that has changed since January 30, 2006 has changed a few times within the past 24 hours.

The interesting part of the plan is that the plan to consolidate and close New Hopewell, Gap Creek and Bonny Kate and locate those three schools into the South Doyle High School Annex has been proposed without identifying the functional capacity at the main campus of South Doyle High School. So the school district doesn't know if all of them high school students can fit into the high school building or not.

The Powell Middle project was moved from FY 08 back into FY 07 just hours before the 5:00 p.m. meeting. The Superintendent said the reason is that the county has a real interest in Powell Middle.

The problem that is emerging here is that communities are being told that they are on the capital plan in three years and the year before they are to see activity they get jerked out of the capital plan, this is the worst kind of politics.

The Inskip community got ripped out of the capital plan tonight. The Pond Gap community got ripped out of the capital plan tonight. The Farragut community got ripped out of the capital plan tonight.

Being a resident of Southwest Knox County, let me respond to the assault on Farragut. When the new high school was approved, Farragut was given $4.0 million in PPU (Physical Plant Upgrade) dollars to repair the strain, stress and damage with the overstressed, maxed out school campus.

Chuck James asked where's the money? The Superintendent said the money was moved into PPU's managed by the department directed by one Jim French. Robert Bratton asked Jim French how much money is there and what are you doing at Farragut. Jim French said "I am drawing a blank" Doesn't that give the public confidence in the guy from Blount County? Upon some searching it was revealed that the money was stripped out from Farragut and it ain't even there. The Superintendent said it was not done intentionally, which Chuck James asked well since some money has changed in 24 hours, will the Farragut money come back in the plan in another 24 hours? To which the Superintendent in essence said by the end of the night, this may be a completely different plan.

The bad news is the school board will meet again. The good news is hopefully they will commit to doing their homework so that they don't look like they did tonight.

It appears the next meeting will be a workshop on 2/27/2006 at 5:00 p.m. in the first floor conference room of the Andrew Johnson Building 900 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. The voting meeting should occur on Wednesday 3/1/2006 at 5:00 p.m. in the Main Assembly Room of the City-County Building on Main Steet in Downtown Knoxville.

You may want to pack a dinner and breakfast, if your committed to stay to the end of the meeting.

Call the School Board Office at 865-594-1630 to sign up to speak. Here are the school board members contact information.

District 1 Sam Anderson 4735 Plymouth Drive, Knoxville, 37914 865-525-1681(h) or
865-215-2090(o)or email: sanderson@ci.knoxville.tn.us

District 2 Indya Kincannon 941 Eleanor St., Knoxville, 37917 865-546-7098(h)or
email: indyak@hotmail.com

District 3 Cindy Buttry 5812 San Cristebal Ln., Knoxville, 37921 865-584-6155(h) or
865-215-2360(o)or email: cbuttry8@hotmail.com

District 4 Dan Murphy 4141 Forest Glen Dr.,Knoxville, 37919 865-523-0511(h) or
865-974-1752(o)or email: dmurphy@utk.edu

District 5 Karen Carson 10953 Twin Harbour Dr.,Knoxville, 37922 865-675-0236(h)or
865-300-6443(o)or email: carsonk@tds.net

District 6 Chuck James 8104 Ball Camp Pike,Knoxville, 37931 865-693-0091(h)or
email: cjames06@comcast.net

District 7 Diane Dozier 4516 Hosea Lane,Knoxville, 37938 865-925-4851(h)or 865-922-5214 (o)or email: dianecdozier@aol.com

District 8 Jim Williams 9320 Ruggles Ferry Dr.,Strawberry Plains, 37871 865-933-5860(h)or email: c97jew@aol.com

District 9 Robert Bratton 2005 Switchyard Lane,Knoxville, 37920 865-579-9999(h)or
865-595-0220(o) or email: rbratton@etptv.org

Knox County Political Races Set - Election Day May 2, 2006

The races are set, sort of. The withdrawal deadline is next Thursday 2/23/2006 12:00 noon.

County Mayor
(R) Steve Hall
(R) Mayor Mike Ragsdale


Knox County Commission Candidates
1A (D) Commissioner Diane Jordan
1A (I) Pete Drew

1B (R) Ann Dingus
1B (D) Commissioner Thomas "Tank" Strickland

2A (R) Commissioner David Collins
2A (D) Mark Harmon

3A (R) Commissioner Wanda Moody
3A (R) Rex Norman
3A (D) Michael Daugherty

4A (R) Commissioner John Schmid
4A (R) Mike Alford

5A (R) Commissioner Mike Hammond
5A (I) John R. Sadler

5B (R) Commissioner Craig Leuthold
5B (R) Kyle H. Phillips

6A (R) Chuck James
6A (R) Scott Russell
6A (D) Commissioner Stephen M. Cawood

6B (R) Mike Corum
6B (R) Bobby "Joe" Inman
6B (R) Greg "Lumpy" Lambert
6B (R) Greg Phipps
6B (R) Jimmie Shelton
6B (D) Margaret Massey Cox
6B (D) Jamie Price Payne

7A (R) Commissioner Mary Lou Horner
7A (R) James McMillian
7A (R) R. Larry Smith

7B (R) Leo J. Cooper
7B (R) Commission Chairman Scott Moore

8A (R) Phil Ballard
8A (R) Commissioner Mike McMillian

8B (R) Kay Frazier
8B (R) Commissioner John Mills
8B (R) Gary Sellers

9B (R) David Kiger
9B (R) Commissioner Paul Pinkston
9B (I) Martin Pleasant

Sheriff
(R) Larry Hunter
(R) Sheriff Tim Hutchison
(D) Randy Tyree

Register of Deeds
(R) Register of Deeds Steve Hall
(R) Charles Tetstone
(D) Scott Emge

Circuit Court Judge
Div.IV (R) David Lee
Div. IV (R) Judge Bill Swann

Criminal Court Judges
Div. II (R) Judge Ray L. Jenkins
Div. II (D) Ken Irvine

General Sessions Court Judge
Div. IV (R) Jimmy Kyle Davis
Div. IV (R) Andrew Jackson, VI
Div. IV (R) Chadwick B. Tindell
Div. IV (D) Ursula Bailey

Criminal Court Clerk
(R) Gail Jarvis
(R) Clerk Martha Phillips

Knox County School Board - These seats are non-partisan, but candidates typically lean one way or the other, I will post their known party preferences later.

District 6 - Thomas A. Deakins
District 6 - Fred Dillon
District 6 - H. Lee Martin

District 7 - Joyce Collins
District 7 - Diane Dozier
District 7 - Rex Stooksbury

District 9 - Robert Bratton
District 9 - Jim McClain

The following races are unopposed and will face no opponent.

County Commission Races
2B (D) Commissioner Billy Tindell
3B (R) Commissioner Ivan Harmon
4B (R) Commissioner Phil Guthe
5C (R) Commissioner John C. Griess
9A (R) Commissioner Larry Clark

Trustee
(R) Trustee Mike Lowe

Public Defender
(R) Public Defender Mark Stephens

District Attorney General
(D) Randy Nichols

Chancellor
Div. I (R) Chancellor John Weaver
Div. II (D) Chancellor Daryl Fansler
Div. III (R) Mike Moyers

Circuit Court Clerk
(R) Circuit Court Clerk Cathy Quist

Circuit Court Judges
Div. I (R) Judge Dale Workman
Div. II (D) Judge Harold Wimberly, Jr.
Div. III (R) Judge Wheeler Rosenbalm

Criminal Court Judges
Div. I (D) Judge Richard Baumgartner
Div. III (D) Judge Mary Beth Leibowitz

General Sessions Judges
Div. I (R) Judge Chuck Cerny
Div. II (R) Judge Geoff Emery
Div. III (R) Judge Bob R. McGee
Div. V (R) Judge Tony Stansberry

Juvenile Court Judge
(R) Judge Tim Irwin

County Clerk
(D) Wm. Mike Padgett

Knox County School Board
District 1 - Sam Anderson
District 4 - Dan Murphy

BREAKING NEWS: Knox County School Superintendent Capital Plan Recommendation

Multiple sources have informed and confirmed that the Knox County Superintendent of Schools will scrap the Capital Plan recommendation that was presented on January 30, 2006, tonight 2/16/2006 in a 5:00 p.m. workshop meeting in the first floor conference room of the Andrew Johnson Building, located at 900 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville.

The previous plan added permanent classrooms and students to 4 overcrowded elementary schools in West Knox County.

My sources indicate the superintendent's new recommendation that will be presented tonight includes;

Build a new West Knox County Elementary School to house 900 - 1000 students in FY 2007 (July 1, 2006)

Delay the Powell Middle School project one year.

Take the students from Gap Creek, New Hopewell and Bonny Kate (South Knox County) and relocate both schools to the current South Doyle High School Annex, there will be some dollars spent on renovation of the annex. Close South Knox Elementary School and move the students to Dogwood Elementary, thus placing Dogwood Elementary at capacity.

My thoughts on the issues. You didn't ask for it, but it's my blog and I will give it, if I want to.

I believe a new West Knox County elementary school is needed. Should it delay Powell Middle? No. Should New Hopewell and Gap Creek be combined? Yes. Should they be housed at the South Doyle Annex? No. When I served on the school board we purchased a large tract of land behind the existing New Hopewell with John Sevier Highway frontage. Why did the board purchase this land, if there was room at the South Doyle High School Annex?

The greatest travesty in any plan is to build a new Carter Elementary and/or Middle School on Strawberry Plains Pike. All Capital plan dollars should be built where the children are, there is minimal population growth in the Carter community. Gibbs Elementary should be built because of that community's growth. Corryton Elementary should be closed and the students absorbed into Gibbs and Ritta.

I will be posting in the future about the functional capacity study that the Knox County School district has just completed on the school districts high schools.

Have a great Thursday.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews


I have just finished reading the book The Traveler's Gift. This is a MUST read, especially if you are at a crossroads with your family, in your work or with your life's direction.

The main character is David Ponder. David has had an unexpected life change, everything is coming apart, it seems and David can't determine why he is here. He goes back in time and visits with 7 historical figures at critical moments in these 7 peoples lives.

As the book draws to a close David captures a vision of the future, before being re-united with his wife Ellen and daughter Jenny.

I have changed the preferences on my profile to identify this book as a favorite. This will be a recommendation of mine and may well be material for when I speak to groups, especially young people. I will be giving this copy to my teenage son.

Have a Blessed Sunday.

Friday, February 10, 2006

They Call Them No-Show

In reviewing recent stories on WBIR.com I find a story that Kay Watson ran on 1/28/06 and School Board Member Karen Carson is explaining that there are lots of rumors about different budget cuts but cautions that "We haven't begun to talk about those things"

I find it odd that Carson would make a comment like this because I attended the public budget hearing on 2/6/2006 at West High School, the hearing went on as if there are only 8 school board members. Carson hasn't engaged herself in the budget process. I attended the budget hearing, took extensive notes with my laptop and posted many stories about the budget and the issues here at Brian's Blog.

TN's largest counties turn to lawmakers for "fair" school funding

Knox County leaders say they'll keep fighting for their fair share of state dollars for schools, even though Governor Phil Bredesen won't join them

Mayors for Knox, Shelby, Davidson and Hamilton Counties met with Governor Phil Bredesen who said he will not back their push for changes, but he won't block them either.

Now, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale is going to "plan B."

"We're going to work very hard with the members of the State Senate and the members of our Legislature to see if we can't change this and to see that every student in Tennessee is treated fairly," Mayor Ragsdale said.

"It's hard to explain when a child in Williamson County, the 12th richest in the state, receives more of our tax dollars from the state than children in our inner city communities," he added.

Mayor Ragsdale says Knox County comes in second to last in state funding for schools.

However, Knox taxpayers puts more local money into education than every other county except one.

Last fall, Mayor Ragsdale teamed up with leaders of the state's other largest counties, also seeking larger returns.

Mayor Ragsdale said they do not want to take money away from any other county. Instead, he said they simply want the state to direct new money now coming in toward the counties receiving the least.

He hopes the plan will gain enough support to pass during this session.

"If it doesn't work this time, we're not going to go away," Mayor Ragsdale said. "We're going to keep plugging at it. The response we've gotten from the General Assembly is very encouraging and we're going to keep going."

Bredesen, however, plans on spending $20 million more on Pre-K programs and English language instruction.

Meanwhile, there is talk of cutting foreign language in Knox County's middle schools, as school board members try to determine what can be funded and what can't.

"Look at all the money we use for English Language learners," school board member Karen Carson reacted to Bredesen's decision. "Shouldn't we match that with foreign language for our other students? "

The more I think about it, I'm disappointed he's chosen not to tackle this issue," she said of Bredesen's position on Mayor Ragsdale's proposal to give Knox County schools more money. "I never expect every county to get equal funding. I know there are rural communities that cannot support their schools, they need more funding, but we need more money."

Once again, school board members will have to piece together the puzzle of how to pay for more students with less money, proportionally, than other counties..

That's where school board members and the mayor may disagree.

"If it were me and I were looking at it, I'd put my emphasis on outsourcing janitorial services which could save two to three million dollars per year and switching employees over to the Knox County insurance plan, which would save another two to three million dollars a year," Mayor Ragsdale said.

"While the school system has a tough budget situation, I think they need to work thorugh it and they will," he added. "And I hope they focus on priorities, and that's what goes on in the classroom."

"There are a lot of rumors going around already about cuts," Carson said. "I've already gotten calls this weekend about cutting text books, the music program. We haven't begun to talk about those things."

Kevin Umberger , Photographer
Kay Watson , Reporter
Last updated: 1/28/2006 10:46:07 PM

Lincoln Day Dinner Postponed Due to Weather

In an effort to inform as many as possible, here is a press release that as Chairman of the Knox County Republican Party was released late this morning.

The Knox County Republican Party regrets to announce that the 2006 Lincoln Day Dinner has been postponed due to predictions of severe winter weather. The decision to postpone was made by Knox County Republican Party Officials and local Republican office holders upon learning that from 2″ to 8″ of snow was forecast for Knox County beginning late Friday evening and into Saturday.

The 2006 Lincoln Day Dinner will be rescheduled for sometime in mid to late March. For more information, please contact Brian Hornback at (865) 689-4671 or chairman@knoxgop.org

Overcrowded Classrooms and Dependence On Portables

This from the Knoxville News-Sentinel this morning. A story on portable classrooms and the fact that they will always be with us. Does that make it right?

A couple of questions to ponder and provoke thought. Is it right to make students feel like second class citizens? In essence, sent to the shed. Could this be a Civil Rights issue? Is it right that in the school districts planning they do not provide enough space for the enrollment?

In this story Corryton Elementary has a portable classroom and the PTA is raising money for a cover. Why? Corryton is one of the three small schools that are in the the budget discussions for closure. There is ample room at Ritta today, the school district is building a new Gibbs and could easily accommodate a Corryton and the 125 or so students there.

Now take a look at Cedar Bluff, the school district is building a 1000 student K-5 grade school. While Cedar Bluff Primary K-2 houses over 600 students and Cedar Bluff Intermediate 3-5 houses over 600 for a combined enrollment of 1200 plus. Yet, the school district is building a school building for 1000.

The Superintendent's current Capital Improvement Plan located here from the KnoxNews website (Registration Required) does not plan for a new elementary school in southwest Knox County, instead the current proposal will add classrooms at A.L. Lotts, Bluegrass, Farragut Primary and Farragut Intermediate. This plan will add 900 students to 4 overcrowded West Knox County schools at a cost of $12 million dollars.

Some board members are saying this is NOT the plan and that there is another plan. However, there has only been one public meeting on January 30, 2006 (where this plan was unveiled) and the board members refused to comment or have extensive discussion about the plan, it was removed by personal privilege by the Chairman Dr. Dan Murphy from the February 1, 2006 agenda and placed for discussion and possible vote on the 16th.

There will be a meeting with a possible vote on Thursday February 16, 2006 at 5:00 p.m. (so much for us working parents, I guess we will have to watch it on TV and have no public input) in the first floor conference room of the Andrew Johnson Building located at 900 South Gay Street in downtown Knoxville. If you can attend the meeting call 865-594-1630 and sign up to speak. Otherwise contact the board members and tell them what to do, because they are supposed to work for YOU.

District 1 Sam Anderson 4735 Plymouth Drive, Knoxville, 37914 865-525-1681(h) or
865-215-2090(o)or email: sanderson@ci.knoxville.tn.us

District 2 Indya Kincannon 941 Eleanor St., Knoxville, 37917 865-546-7098(h)or
email: indyak@hotmail.com

District 3 Cindy Buttry 5812 San Cristebal Ln., Knoxville, 37921 865-584-6155(h) or
865-215-2360(o)or email: cbuttry8@hotmail.com

District 4 Dan Murphy 4141 Forest Glen Dr.,Knoxville, 37919 865-523-0511(h) or
865-974-1752(o)or email: dmurphy@utk.edu

District 5 Karen Carson 10953 Twin Harbour Dr.,Knoxville, 37922 865-675-0236(h)or
865-300-6443(o)or email: carsonk@tds.net

District 6 Chuck James 8104 Ball Camp Pike,Knoxville, 37931 865-693-0091(h)or
email: cjames06@comcast.net

District 7 Diane Dozier 4516 Hosea Lane,Knoxville, 37938 865-925-4851(h)or 865-922-5214 (o)or email: dianecdozier@aol.com

District 8 Jim Williams 9320 Ruggles Ferry Dr.,Strawberry Plains, 37871 865-933-5860(h)or email: c97jew@aol.com

District 9 Robert Bratton 2005 Switchyard Lane,Knoxville, 37920 865-579-9999(h)or
865-595-0220(o) or email: rbratton@etptv.org

Thursday, February 09, 2006

U.S. House Majority Leader John Boehner




When Representative John Boehner (Bay-ner) was elected to the post of House Majority leader to replace Representative Tom Delay, I was excited though I did not post anything on it at the time. Here is the details of his Conservative record, his vision for the majority and the details of his election as Majority Leader. This is taken from eSalt an email newsletter from Faith and Family.

There is a Hope and a Future in America today.

During the campaign for the post, Boehner committed to bring to the House floor for votes a marriage protection amendment, a comprehensive ban on human cloning and the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act. He also said he would defend current amendments barring federal funds for abortion or abortion promotion and would oppose legislation that weakens President Bush's ban on government grants for destructive embryonic stem cell research.

Boehner made his pledges in response to a questionnaire from the Values Action Team, a pro-family, pro-life caucus chaired by Rep. Joe Pitts, R.-Pa.

Boehner won a come-from-behind victory on the second ballot to replace Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas. He did so by defeating Roy Blunt of Missouri and John Shadegg of Arizona, two other announced candidates who, like him, have pro-life, conservative voting records.

On the first ballot, Blunt had a sizable lead with 110 votes but lacked a majority among the 231 Republican participants. Boehner received 79 votes on the opening ballot, while Shadegg gained 40. An unannounced candidate who also is pro-life, Jim Ryun of Kansas, had two votes.

Shadegg and Ryun withdrew after the first ballot, and apparently most of their votes, as well as some of Blunt's, went to Boehner. On the second ballot, Boehner received 122 votes to defeat Blunt, who had 109.

Boehner and Blunt have had 100 percent pro-life voting records every year since 1997, according to the National Right to Life Committee. Shadegg has had a 100 percent pro-life voting record in every Congress since '97 except during the 2003-04 session, when he was graded at 91 percent by NRLC.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

BREAKING NEWS - Another Democrat Will Defect The Party


According to my friend and our 14th District State Representative Parkey Strader (pictured here) the word in Nashville today is that there will be another Democrat defection from the party of Bob Tuke and Howard Dean.

Why can't we get a member of the Tennessee Republican Party to challenge Governor Phil Bredesen? It is obvious the members of his own party are so thrilled with their Governor that they are checking out.

Hamilton County Commissioner Curtis Adams left the Democrat party in March of 2005. Several Democrats were indicted in the Tennessee Waltz investigation, State Senator Don McLeary on Thursday 2/2/2006 joined the Republican Party. Giving the Republicans a 18-15 majority.

On the Ophelia Ford issue, Republican State Senator Don McLeary on Thursday said "The ballot box is the backbone of our democratic society, and if we cannot run it right, then I felt we needed a new election,"

On his decision to become a Republican McLeary said "The decision that I have made has been hard, but one my heart tells me is right,"

With another defection the Republican majority will gain a 19-14 majority.

Even Knox County Democrat Chairman Jim Gray is encouraging the members of the Knox County Democrat Party to vote Republican, as reported here.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Knox County Education Association Letter and Mayor Ragsdale's commitment

This from today's Knoxville News-Sentinel Letters To The Editor. Kim Waller the President of the Knox County Education Association is complaining that a recent business roundtable that was printed in the business section did not include a teacher. Ms. Waller answers her own question, it is a business roundtable. She goes on to say "the fact that no one bothers to ask teachers what would improve their classrooms." It could be that every time teachers are asked the perception is that all they want is more money from the taxpayers without any justification or benchmarking. Is perception, reality? Probably not, but that is the public's perception. No accountability.

Lets take a look at what Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has accomplished for public education in Knox County. He has recruited and maintains hundreds of volunteers that go once a week to work with our students in a nationally honored program "Read With Me". He has increased in total dollars more to public education than any previous county executive/mayor. He has engaged the community in a dialogue about public education called the Education Summit (It is often held on a schools in service day for teachers, so that many of the members of Kim Waller's organization can attend)
He has given $40.0 million in additional capital plan dollars above what the county already contributes in order to build a much needed, extremely overdue new west Knox County High School in Hardin Valley. He has created a Knox County Schools Partnership Foundation in order to give a shot in the arm to projects and programs that are worthy of implementation.

Additional Volunteers in the classroom, An Engaged Community, More Financial Resources. A proven record of educational leadership.

Now this comment from her letter is bizarre. "Maybe in a future roundtable discussion you could have educators tell us what is wrong with business in our state." This would be a comical exercise. Successful business should always produce an increase, because their cash flow is not based going to their revenue source and demanding an increase year after year. Successful business must decrease staff and expenses when a product or service does not stand on its own. In public education, if you have a teacher that is not cutting it, they just move them from school to school until they retire, go away or move up. I will examine this issue in detail, soon.

Here's the letter

Next time, ask teachers about education changes

Recently your paper devoted a good portion of the business section to a roundtable discussion about education. Many statements in the discussion piqued my interests; however, it was obvious there was little disagreement among the parties, maybe because you did not include a teacher on your panel.

While I understand that the article was designed for the business section reader and agree that every citizen should have an interest in what is going on in our schools, I fail to understand why business interests keep insisting that education is a field they need to save and they have all the answers.

Perhaps this article was a reflection of what is wrong with the attempts to change education today, and that is the fact that no one bothers to ask teachers what would improve their classrooms.

Maybe in a future roundtable discussion you could have educators tell us what is wrong with business in our state.

Kim Waller
President, Knox County Education Association, Knoxville

Monday, February 06, 2006

Knox County Teacher realignment and Selling Out Our Kids

The Superintendent this evening addressed the Teacher realignment and how the student/teacher ratio breaks down and unveiled a three year plan for bringing the teacher/student ratio in line.

These middle schools will lose the following positions this school year. The teachers will not be terminated, they will be reassigned to additional teaching positions.

Bearden -2 foreign language teachers
Carter - 1 teacher
-.5 foreign language teacher
Cedar Bluff - 2 teachers
Farragut - 2 teachers
Gresham - 1 teacher
Halls - 1.5 teachers
Powell - .5 teacher foreign language
South Doyle - .75 teacher foreign language
Vine - 5 teachers
- .40 teacher foreign language
West Valley - 2 teachers

These high schools will lose the following positions this school year. The teachers will not be terminated, they will be reassigned to additional teaching positions.

Austin East - 2 teachers
- 1 drivers education teacher
Bearden - 3 drivers education teachers
Carter - 2 teachers
- 2 drivers education teachers
Central - 2 drivers education teacher
Farragut - 4 drivers education teachers
Fulton - 2 drivers education teachers
Gibbs - 2 teachers
- 2 drivers education teachers
Halls - 1 teacher
- 2 drivers education teachers
Karns - 3 drivers education teachers
Powell - 3 drivers education teachers
South Doyle - 2 drivers education teachers
West - 2 drivers education teachers

Should Drivers Education be eliminated? In my opinion. NO. Dr. Dan Murphy asked the question, what will it cost if the program were totally self sufficient. The answer $600.00 plus. The current fee is around $100.00. The fee was doubled last year, School Board Member Diane Dozier said "I didn't receive any calls last year when we increased the fees" Sam Anderson made an excellent point "What optional program or extra credit program/activity is self sufficient?" The answer is None. This program is a community safety program.

Debbie Monroe a parent of a 5th and 8th grade students advocated on Volunteer TV 8 tonight that the board seek corporate sponsorship for programs like Drivers Education and that the sponsor have the ability to display their name on the car. This is not a well thought out idea. Why would we sell out our schools and children? What price do we settle on to make our kids human billboards? I don't want kids should to the highest bidder. The problem in our society today, is the emphasis on brands and the brand culture. Why would we encourage a material world? Why would we emphasis stereo type branding?

Knox County Schools To Request Knox County Government Take Over Debt Service

At this evenings Public Budget Hearing, the Superintendent of Schools has indicated that he will bring to the board three resolutions. Hoping that the board will approve of one or two or all three.

The first resolution is for Knox County to assume all debt service

The second resolution will ask Knox County to take all debt service over $16.0 million.

The third resolution will ask Knox County to use the same model for every construction project from this point further that is being used for the new Hardin Valley High School.

Knox County Commissioner Phil Guthe of the fourth district, who has been unfairly labeled as "not school family friendly" has been a proponent of this for some time and has been on the front on this issue for some time. Congratulations. Commissioner.

Superintendent’s Proposed Budget Is Tweaked Tonight

This evening at the Knox County School Board budget hearing, the Superintendent changed his budget proposal to reflect input from board members and staff. The changes include:

Reducing the Teacher Reallignment by $1.3 million from $2.3 to a $1.0 million dollar reduction from the budget.

Eliminate the $400,000.00 reduction in Middle School foreign language program.
(Instead of Middle School foreign language at selected middle schools, implement a foreign language pilot project in 3 elementary schools)

Now include the following reductions not in the previous Superintendent recommendation.

Transportation budget – reduce $500,000.00 (nothing specific was discussed except that the new GPS system installed this past year, will help to identify reductions.)

$1.2 million in additional reductions. (debt service, consolidate and close some small schools, these small schools have enrollment of 102 and 115 with continued declining enrollment, contracted services, supplies/materials, non-teaching personnel)

This brings the Superintendent’s recommendation to $326, 500,000.00

Attendance Numbers from Tonight’s Knox County School Board Budget Hearing.

This evening the Knox County School Board held a once in a decade meeting at West High School in the main auditorium. Kudos to Dr. Dan Murphy for the leadership to pull the school system into this type of 21st century event. I am a native of Knox County and the last time the board held a public meeting like this is when the board was dealing with the desegregation plan for the city/county school system.

How did this decade meeting measure up to the ones in the past. This one was lame. Back in the desegregation days emotions ran high and at times became hostile. Give the Knox County School System credit tonight they were ready to return to the old days. In attendance were two Knox County Security department heads and two Knox County School Security officers. The public/security ratio was better than the teacher/student ratio in a West Knox County school.

The actual attendance must be broken down in two segments. The first is the
5:00 p.m. until 6:15 p.m. This was the public input session. I was positioned to count the entire room and to add as people entered late. For the first session there was a total of 84, this number includes public, school district office staff and others. Knox County fourth district Commissioner Phil Guthe that has been unfairly labeled as "not school family friendly" was in attendance, In addition the media contingent consisted of 10 individuals a reporter and photographer for each of the three television stations, a producer and cameraman for Knox County Schools, the Schools PR person and a reporter for the Knoxville News-Sentinel. On the panel were 8 of the 9 school board members, the school board secretary, the senior deputy law director and the Superintendent of Schools. The security force of 4 already mentioned combine for a total of 109 persons.

The second part of the meeting was from 6:20 p.m. until 7:20 p.m. This session was for the school board members to interact with the Superintendent and themselves about possible budget cuts. Many of the teachers and concerned citizens that were advocating a few minutes before to force the Mayor and Commissioners to put their commitment where their rhetoric is, obviously were not as committed themselves as they left the building. The attendance numbers dropped to a grand total of 81.

The obvious NO show for tonight, 5th district School Board Member Karen Carson who recently held a town hall meeting and makes lots of request for citizens to make comments to her via email and phone, however when a large number of citizens come together to voice their concern, she is not present and accounted for.

There is a lot of material to cover from this event. I will post several stories over this evening and the next day or so as I breakdown my notes. I wish West High School had wireless internet in their auditorium as I would have blogged live from the event.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Mayor Ragsdale On Eminent Domain

I am a proud member of Citizens For Home Rule, This organization continues to be successful in fighting the City of Knoxville on every piece of annexed property that they have litigated on behalf of their members.

The Citizens For Home Rule website has been updated to include the issue of Eminent Domain and for its new members in Sumner county. You can check out their website, here.

On the Eminent Domain link, you can locate a letter and press release that the organizations president John Emison has sent to a number of elected and important public servants. It should be noted that only Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has responded. His strong position in opposition to Eminent Domain dated July 18, 2005 is located here.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lee Atwater 1951-1991






“Long before I was struck with cancer, I felt something stirring in American society. It was a sense among the people of the country—Republicans and Democrats alike—that something was missing from their lives, something crucial. I was trying to position the Republican Party to take advantage of it. But I wasn't exactly sure what ‘it’ was.

My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society was what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.... Love each other a little more, care about each other, and get away from that [dirty, negative] kind of politics.”

Thursday, February 02, 2006

West Valley Middle School Has MOLD

UPDATE: WVLT Volunteer TV has the story here. The parent Ida Randall should be commended for persistence to improve the health conditions of the entire community by "bird dogging" the issue. Mrs. Randall quoted in the VoluteerTV story has been raising the issue since mid - December 2005. "Ida says she's been pleading with the Knox County School board to perform an inspection since mid-December."

Russ Oaks, Knox County School Spokesman disputes Mrs. Randall's account in this quote from the VolunteerTV story. "Last week, we had some parents indicate their children were having reactions to the seventh grade wing out there and felt it was prudent based on that to bring in an environmental testing firm to do some testing,"


This from the KnoxNews website. West Valley Middle School students will have an extra day off tomorrow Friday February 3, 2006 due to mold being found in seventh grade classrooms and a mechanical room.

This mold would have never been located without the mother of a child purchasing a take home test at the local Home Depot and sending it off. The mother then contacted school officials that allowed her to continue her studies away from the affected area. Channel 6 WATE exposed this story late last week.

A professional test was conducted and the results came to the school district today, resulting in this action.

This story is bizarre in that West Valley Middle School opened August of 1999, one of Knox County's newer schools. It was constructed by controversial school construction company Webb and Sons of McMinn County. This incident also comes at an inopportune moment for the schools maintainance department as the school board considers a pilot project for outsourcing custodial services.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Returning To Your First Love

Last evening following President Bush's State Of The Union speech, I finished a book that I have been reading. The book authored by Tony Evans, Senior Pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and President of The Urban Alternative. It is entitled Returning To Your First Love.

The premise of the book is how we as believers can have our relationship with God not be the relationship that it can and should be due to our sin nature. Our sin nature if not kept in check can and will cut off an effective relationship with God. Sin that has not been confessed to the Father will lead to a life not fulfilled.

There are excellent action points after each chapter. The first part of the book deals with sin and that as carnal Christians we will and are faced with sin everyday. The second half deals with three items to effectively get us on course, First, Remember, Remember we are sinners, saved by Grace, Remember the flesh has a sin nature. Second, Repent, Repent early and often - in other words Repent as you are made aware of each sin, don't try to lump all your sin into a generic "Now I lay me down to sleep" prayer. This diminshes the sin itself and doesn't place it where it needs to be acknowledged and forgiven. We must recogize that sin is serious and that God sent his only son Jesus to the world and that Jesus paid the highest price for our sin. When we sin again, it is as if we crucify Christ anew. Finally Redo, Foresake the temptation that led you to the sin in the first place. We must acknowledge that our flesh or body has a sin nature, whatever your sin nature is whether it is alcohol, pornography, lying, when it comes simply say "flesh I am not feeding you that anymore."

He also deals with the some of the current teaching that is going on in within the church today. The teaching that if you live a postive life and do your best God will reward you for it. The sin causes us to lose the fellowship that we can and should have, sin keeps us from our first love, keeping us from our first priority.

Tony Evans was the featured speaker at a mens conference in 2001 at Sevier Heights Baptist Church located on Alcoa Highway in Knoxville in 2001. I attended that mens conference, He has also been a teacher at Promise Keepers events that I have attended in the past, where he is a regular speaker. His website is located here.