Saturday, February 16, 2008

Knox County Commission Conducts Fee Officeholder Applicant Forum Knox County Clerk

First up was Elaina Cash a 24 year employee. She came to work in the Clerk's office when Tommy Lowe was Clerk and has worked for Mike Padgett. As she concluded her comments she said "I hope and pray that I will still be there in August." Appointing someone with as much experience as Elaina could provide a smooth transition.

Carol Ellis was next. She has been married to her husband Rick for 31 years, they have 2 sons and are members of Fairview Baptist Church. She is a 14 year employee and currently works in revenue recovery (bad checks). Why would anyone write a bad check to Knox County?

Tony Scalia was third. He holds a Masters in Public Administration. He has held the position of City Manager in three locations. He currently works for Nova. In his position at Nova he supervises no one.

George Stooksbury was fourth. He is married and served in the Air Force. He began working in the Clerk's office in 1990. In 1991, Clerk Mike Padgett called George into his office and said thatb he wanted to bring government to the people with the implementation of satellite offices. He said that he has been instrumental in the implementation of several contracts.

Billy Tindell was fifth. He discussed how he had implemented 11 initiatives over the 8 months that he served as Interim Clerk (January 31, 2007 - October 2007) He did state that he would like to complete the job that he started. He did say that the budget numbers that he had been unsuccessful in 8 months from getting that he would be able to get those numbers now as Clerk. He stated that Knox County is losing money on the drivers license renewal program.

John Irwin was sixth. John is a current employee of the Clerk's office. He did take several of us down memory lane by talking about his first job at Sears, Roebuck and Co on Central and the smell of the Cashews in the candy section. And yes, I too can still remember the experience of the cashews at Sears on Central. Sears on Central, man those were the days. He began working the post office at Knoxville Centre (East Towne) for Mike Padgett. He convinced Mr. Padgett to begin a passport office and they started that in Halls. They then opened a passport office downtown and he has since opened one in the west satellite office. In January they processed 574 passports. He concluded his remarks with "I want to work with the next clerk, to get his feet on the ground." I certainly believe Mr. Irwin misspoke because the next clerk could very well be a she.

Mr. Irwin was asked by Commissioner Hammond if he were selected as Clerk. Wouldn't he be supervising his wife. Mr. Irwin said "I don't believe that is a problem as this is an interim appointment. Hammond said "well, I believe it is."

The public speaking on behalf of candidates were.

A minister of Fairview Baptist on behalf of Carol Ellis
Clerk employee Ed Smith on behalf of George Stooksbury
Clerk employee Martha Beeler on behalf of George Stooksbury
Clerk employee Sharon Ellis on behalf of George Stooksbury
A Representative of BIS a credit card contractor of the Clerk's office thanking George Stooksbury, but short of endorsing Stooksbury.
Janice Weaver on behalf of Carol Ellis.

Mike Hammond asked if Sharon Ellis were related to Carol Ellis. Sharon said not any longer. I was married to the brother of Carol's husband. But I am no longer married to him. So we are not. A Commission source said after the meeting, "they were sister in laws before they were ex-sister in laws. They worked for the Clerk while they were sister in laws."

Commissioner Scott Moore asked Foster Arnett, Junior and then Amy Henley Vandergriff if they had decided to become candidates for appointment. Arnett said NO. Vandergriff said that after watching the interviews, Yes, she would accept the appointment.

She said. "On February 5, the citizens of Knox County voted for change, please do not make them wait." "I will cross train and re-train employees in their existing positions." "I will change the face of job insecurity by allowing employees to realiz ethat their security is with their knowledge that each one of them brings to the team."

R. Larry was very tough on Vandergriff, a source close to R. Larry and Carol Ellis revealed that R. Larry has committed his support to Carol Ellis. Commissioner Phil Ballard asked if her appointment would create miscontent within the office? Vandergriff answered his question professionally.

Arnett left the meeting immediately following Vandergriff's announcement. Arnett was visibly shaken and left with his campaign manager, controversial City of Knoxville lobbyist Lynn Redmon. A source close to the Arnett campaign revealed today that Arnett has reached agreement with Stooksbury to retain Stooksbury as Deputy should Arnett be successful on August 7.

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