On Friday afternoon, I received an email from Sandra Clark, Scripps employed Shopper reporter giving me an advance column that will post to the Scripps Shopper News website today and will be in the print edition tomorrow. Many people have asked about the history of Sandra Clark and Brian's Blog. This is as fine a time as ever to give the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I was elected to the Knox County School Board in March of 2000, I took the oath of office and began my service on September 1, 2000. During that election cycle, she launched and executed a considerable effort in defeating Eighth District school board member Steve Hunley. In her stories and editorials she called him many names. But at that time she owned the paper and it was hers. So Hunley was gone. But Hornback came along. She immediately set her attention toward me and on March 19, 2001 in a news story was her first assault on me. She reported that "I was a amiable young school board member. Perhaps it's just because he pops a Valium before meetings" Here is the news story.
I have never been prescribed or consumed any type of medication like Valium. At the time, Sandra Clark owned the Shopper and members of the management team at the News Sentinel informed me that this was an obvious news story with malicious intent. At that time and even today I accept that I am a public figure and did not challenge her on it. I can only assume that March 2001 being the one year anniversary of my election is what caused her to launch this attack. For the next three and a half years she along with her reporter Betty Bean wrote and published other stories like this one but never crossing the line as she did in the March 2001 story.
In 2004 when I ran for re-election they had spent 3.5 years printing articles that were misleading. With a BIG Democrat Presidential primary bringing the Democrats out to vote and George W. Bush not being challenged seriously for the Republican primary in February 2004. It was obvious that the Democrats voted for the individual that actually cast her Democrat vote that day for the non partisan school board race. So, yes I lost. No big deal. I knew that I was only assured of one term and accomplished the recognition of Memorial Day for school employees, the cell phone policy, the purchase of the Carter school property on Strawplains Pike, the hiring of Barber and McMurry Architects and a design for the new Cedar Bluff Elementary School.
In December 2004, I decided to seek the position of Knox County Republican Party Chairman. The selection would occur in March 2005 and in February 2005 Sandra Clark asked that I meet with her at Litton's restaurant in North Knoxville. I did. Actually it was Sandra, Jake Mabe and myself. At that meeting Sandra stated to me that "they" the paper would support me for Chairman. At that point I was unopposed for the position. But, Sandra said "bygones be bygones, you have my support." On the Monday following my Saturday selection and several weeks after the election she wrote very scathing articles about me and the transition (or lack thereof) due to the former Chairman not assisting in a transition. She even reported the next week after my election as Chairman that I along with my family were vacationing at the Florida vacation town of Former President Richard Nixon. I was with my family in Florida. But I was not at Key Biscaine. This has caused me concern that they would attempt to discover and report my personal whereabouts.
A short time later in a Knoxville News Sentinel story it is revealed that Sandra was sending emails to the former chairman the day of my election calling me "a perfect idiot" along with other names. At this point I had determined not to interact, respond or have any dealings with Sandra. Along about the time of the News Sentinel email story hit the News Sentinel. Sandra had relinquished ownership of the Shopper to Scripps, the News Sentinel's parent company making her an employee of the paper. In August 2006 Betty Bean authored a three part series called County Confidential. In one of the three parts there was numerous false statements written about me. I contacted Sandra's boss and the week of Thanksgiving he, Sandra and I met in a News Sentinel conference room. We discussed County Confidential and I was given the opportunity to respond. Over the holidays I responded and in January 2007 the Shopper made my statement available. Here is the link to the correction (that Clark's Scripps Management forced to be printed and posted online) regarding the August 2006 error filled "County Confidential" series that Betty Bean authored.
Also, coming out of that meeting an agreement was reached that any future articles, editorials etc. would be sent to me prior to publication. That is why Sandra sent me the column on Friday that will appear tonight online and in tomorrows publication. It is nice to see that Sandra has kept that agreement. The funny thing in that meeting, Sandra's boss was asking about our history. I had explained that at the age of 23, I ran against a 23 year incumbent for County Commission and I lost by 112 votes. Sandra quickly said "and I supported you in that race" I said that is not true. I told she and her boss that it was a three way race and that Sandra supported the female that came in a distant third. Sandra put her head down and said "oh yeah."
As for the name calling of "tabloid bully editor girl" for Sandra and "tabloid bully girl" for Betty. I have never referred to Larry Van Guilder as "tabloid bully boy". He picked that moniker up and actually used it as a blog for himself. But why did I do that? Sandra over the years has nicknamed Sheriff Tim Hutchison, County Mayor Mike Ragsdale, former School Board Member Steve Hunley, former School Board Member Chuck James and former Knox County employee Tyler Harber were nicknamed in the Shopper. The James / Harber situaton sent the television stations to the Shopper and Sandra refused to speak to the television news reporters and the next week was forced by Scripps management to apologize. Both Sandra and Betty have called me the "truth squat" from when Brian's Blog was termed "The Truth Squad". I thought it would be funny to turn the tables on her and Betty. Should I have resorted to their tactics? No. Am I sorry that I have resorted to her tactics? Yes. Has it set me apart in the Knoxville blogosphere and kept me at the top in social media? Yes. Do I receive lots of compliments from elected officials, politicos and Scripps employees for the tactic? Yes.
Interesting to note is the recent actions of Betty Bean that I blogged about here in early April this year. It seems that Bean has been checking (ie. stalking) my facebook page where a photo of me was published where I am attempting a fist bump and the ring on my finger is visible. On the day that Karl Rove came to town to autograph his books, she takes a shot on knoxviews saying that she bet "truth squat (which is her nickname for me) and Karl Rove were clinking pinky rings" The picture of me doing the fist bump was taken on February 27, 2010. Her post was on April 6, 2010. So obviously Bean and likely Sandra are continuing to monitor my public and personal activities (even though I had blocked them from the facebook page some time ago)
As for the part of Sandra's column where she discusses former Black Wednesday County Commissioner Jack Huddleston accosting me (the News Sentinel reporters term) (here is the News Sentinel link to the story) at an April 2010 Knox County Election Commission meeting. I have been advised to refrain from making comments on that situation and incident at this time.