The state would put the property that was once home to Lakeshore Mental Health Institute up for sale to the highest bidder rather than transfer it to the city of Knoxville under legislation proposed by two Knoxville legislators.
The bill filed by Sen. Stacey Campfield and Rep. Steve Hall, both Republicans, was sharply criticized Thursday by Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and former Mayor Victor Ashe. Both said a sale of the park could jeopardize the current city park located on adjoining land, and prevent its expansion.
A spokesman for Gov. Bill Haslam, also a former Knoxville mayor, indicated the governor backs Rogero’s view and opposes the proposal.
Campfield said it makes sense to have the state sell the land at fair market value and use the money to benefit mental health.
“I don’t think we need another park… a monument to someone’s vanity,” said Campfield. “We do need money for mental health.”
The bill as filed (SB1243) does not earmark funds received from sale of about 60 acres owned by the state to mental health, but Campfield said that is his intention and the bill can be amended to do so. He also said Knoxville can be given right to buy the land from the state at full market value.
“Let them (state officials) subdivide it up, put it out for bids, see what it’s worth and offer it to the city at that price,” said Campfield in an interview. “That would bring in a ton of money for mental health, where we have been cutting back year after year.”
Optionally, if the land goes to a private developer, it would generate property tax dollars for the city and county, Campfield said.
Rogero and Haslam have been negotiating a transfer of the land to the city. The present park is on Lakeshore land transferred to the city in 1999. Rogero said in a statement the proposed new transfer ties into a “longstanding agreement with the state” that “will protect the land as a public asset for generations to come.”
David Smith, spokesman for Haslam, sent a reporter a copy of Rogero’s statement and said in an email, “The state has a longstanding agreement with the city, and the governor believes we should continue with that agreement.”
“Selling the land would be a windfall to some land developer and harm the existing park,” said Ashe in a statement.
The mayors of three of the four largest cities in Tennessee say they support U.S. Attorney General Eric Hoder’s call for universial background checks for gun purchases, reports the News Sentinel. The exception is Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who didn’t take a “clear position” on the proposals when commenting via statement instead of interview. The four mayors differ on some other gun control proposals and only two – Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield – are members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
“That group was kind of a lightning rod,” (Knoxville Mayor Madeine) Rogero said. She’s the second recent Knoxville Mayor to eye the group with trepidation. Gov. Bill Haslam was a member as the city’s mayor, “then he pulled back,” Rogero said.
…Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was not available for interviews, but released a statement Thursday. Like Rogero, he’s not a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
….”It is clear that state law pre-empts any Metro action with regard to the regulation of guns,” Dean wrote. “Hopefully, as this issue is debated on the national level, consensus will be found to close loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to obtain weapons and attention will be given to mental health programs and laws.”
He wrote that “attitudes toward guns vary greatly,” but did not take a clear stance on high-capacity magazines, background checks or other legislation.
…”The key is the three words — against illegal guns,” Memphis Mayor A.C. Wharton said.
Wharton wants stronger punishments for gun theft.
“I hope to have the legislature enhance the punishment for criminals who use stolen guns at the local level,” he said. “I want to seek increased bail for folks who are possessing stolen guns.”
…Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield also leaned on the power of the local office in gun control.
“It is our responsibility to engage the public in whatever fashion we can, to use the bully pulpit that we have,” he said.
Littlefield would like regulation expanded beyond just assault rifles and high capacity magazines.
“It’s time, and that has been underscored with more recent tragic events, for us to have a more general conversation,” he said, “of not just illegal guns, but the paraphernalia that has been contributing to illegal tragedies.
“I’m talking about bulletproof clothing, armor-piercing ammunition and large capacity magazines, all of those things which are not hunting-related
Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee first lady Crissy Haslam, state Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner and Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero all received their seasonal flu vaccinations Thursday morning at the Knox County Health Department on Dameron Avenue, reports the News Sentinel. “I brought my wife with me so I would be OK,” quipped the governor, who gave a fake grimace when he received his shot from Jody Persino, an RN at the health department.
“We joke about it, but flu shots aren’t painful,” Haslam said. “We are trying to spread the message across Tennessee that certain preventative things are good for us. Getting a flu shot is an easy way to do that.”
Biden’s Tennessee Connection
When Joe Biden started running for a Senate seat in 1972, few people thought the young man from Delaware had a chance, writes Michael Cass, but a well-placed Tennessee couple tagged him early as an up-and-comer. “I was 29 years old, running for the United States Senate against a guy with an 81 percent favorable rating, a year where Richard Nixon won my state by over 65 percent of the vote, and I was an Irish Catholic in a state that (had) never elected one,” Biden told Tennessee Democrats in a speech two years ago, recounting a story that got scant media attention at the time.
Biden pulled off a stunning, 3,162-vote upset with a mix of youthful vigor, skillful campaigning, energized volunteers and smart advertising — fueled by tens of thousands of dollars that a prominent Tennessee couple raised for his campaign. Ashley Action
Actress Ashley Judd put her high-wattage star power to use in the political arena on Tuesday by imploring Tennessee’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention to share personal stories of how their lives have improved under President Barack Obama, reports Michael Collins. Judd said Tennesseans have a rich history and tradition as storytellers that could be used to help the Obama administration make its case for another four years.
“With all of the obfuscation of the facts, with all of the distortions, we have to take the truth and the honesty and the accomplishments back,” the actress said to rousing applause.
Judd, who lives in Williamson County, is one of Tennessee’s 98 delegates and alternates to the national convention, which opened on Tuesday.
The actress was the guest speaker and star attraction at a Tennessee delegation breakfast Tuesday morning. She’ll also have another starring role tonight: She has been chosen to announce the state’s roll call vote from the convention floor when Democrats officially nominate Obama for a second term. Cooper’s Complaint
U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville blasted Davidson County’s recent election problems Wednesday while urging his fellow Tennessee delegates to the Democratic National Convention to work hard to register voters between now and the Oct. 8 deadline, reports The Tennessean. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, folks,” Cooper said at the delegation’s breakfast. “We have got to get our folks registered.”
The congressman said recruiting Democrats to vote for President Barack Obama in November is especially critical in light of Davidson County’s “outrageous” situation. Some voters, including Sheriff Daron Hall, have said they were given Republican ballots by default after poll workers failed to ask them their party preference during the Aug. 2 primary. The county was using new electronic poll books in 60 of 160 precincts.
“This is unbelievable, that anything could be programmed like this to take voters and make them Republican,” Cooper said. “This isn’t like defaulting to R. This is like defrauding folks of their normal rights.
“The implications of this are something. If you treat the sheriff this way, you’ll treat anybody this way.”
From a Tennessean story on state Democratic efforts to find candidates for statewide office in the future: They say those future contenders are already running governments in the state’s biggest population centers.
“The big-city mayors are clearly the future leaders of our party,” said Chip Forrester, the state Democratic chairman since January 2009. “They’re on a platform to run statewide when those opportunities arise.”
At the top of the list is Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who has his share of critics but has managed to guide the capital city through a recession and a flood with a pro-business, education-reform platform. Forrester said being the mayor of “the media center of the state” also gives Dean an advantage.
Dean, who will leave office in 2015, is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention and was mingling — in his affable but soft-spoken way — with other delegates and party officials at the delegation’s breakfast Tuesday. But his office said in a statement last week that he’s not laying the groundwork for any statewide run at this point.
…Forrester and other Democrats said Dean is just the first of several mayors with potential. They also praise A C Wharton of Memphis, Madeline Rogero of Knoxville, Kim McMillan of Clarksville and state Sen. Andy Berke, who is running for mayor of Chattanooga.
Forrester called Wharton “a uniter” and said McMillan — who ran for the Democratic nomination for governor two years ago — and Berke have put together strong records as state lawmakers. He said Rogero showed “tremendous crossover appeal” by getting elected in a “traditionally Republican city.”
“Coming from East Tennessee gives her some panache,” he added. “Madeline has really been focused on results in Knoxville, not party labels. And we’ve been working hard to encourage women to step up and run.”
Dean, Rogero and Wharton are scheduled to speak to the state delegation here in Charlotte on Thursday.
Georgina Vines has collected some observations and comments on the inauguration of Madeline Rogero as mayor of Knoxville. A sampler:
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero talked about “What makes agreat city” in her inaugural address, recognizing the city’s nationallyacclaimed authors and choosing lines from a contemporary figure to make a point.
…Among a city’s attributes is its creative spirit, she said. She mentioned James Agee’s writing that has kept the Fort Sanders community alive as has Cormac McCarthy’s descriptions of Happy Hollow. Poet Nikki Giovanni’s work describes the summers of her youth. Then she borrowed from R.B. Morris’ present-day words put to music: “Then — there is a city. Lifted up. There is sequence to unfold. Then, there is a city.”
…”It reminds me of when Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago,” Sylvia Peters said afterward. She’s a former Chicago educator who came to Knoxville 20 years ago to help form the Edison Project, now known as EdisonLearning Inc., for managing public schools. Washington was Chicago’s first black mayor.
Peters said first there was the selection of Councilman Daniel Brown, who is black, as interim mayor when Bill Haslam resigned after being elected governor. Then Rogero was elected.
“This is a great harbinger of things to come for Knoxville. My heart is open today,” Peters said.
…(Gov. Bill) Haslam made brief remarks, telling Rogero and four new City Council members there will be times when they wonder why they wanted the jobs.
“We think you’re off to a good start,” Haslam told Rogero. Then he offered her “three quick tips:”
Be the mayor.
From the News Sentinel:
Knoxville voters on Tuesday swept Madeline Rogero into the mayor’s office — and a very special place in the city’s history.
Rogero, 58, becomes the first woman ever elected mayor.
Rogero outpolled businessman Mark Padgett, 33, in a very low turnout. Of just 21,072 votes cast, Rogero received 12,351, or 58.61 percent, to Padgett’s 8,721, or 41.39 percent.
“Wow! Thank you so, so much,” Rogero said as she began her victory speech to hundreds of supporters at The Foundry. “I want to shake everybody’s hand before you leave.”
Rogero will replace Daniel Brown, who was appointed mayor when Bill Haslam was elected governor.
“I know Knoxville’s best days are ahead of her, and I want to be a part of that. I want to thank (Rogero) for running a very spirited campaign,” Padgett told his supporters at the Sunsphere. “While I’m obviously disappointed with the result, I’m so very proud of the race we have run.”
Georgiana Vines has more on a widely-denounced anonymous mailer that disparages Knoxville mayoral candidate Madeline Rogero and supporters. Among the denouncers is her opponent, Mark Padgett. The flier, written by “A Concerned Knoxville Republican,” is the third — and harshest — to appear in recent weeks. It calls Rogero “a left wing community organizer like her hero Barack Hussein Obama” and says her base of support “is a bunch of drug addicts and hippies.”
“She wants to proclaim Knoxville as a ‘sanctuary City’ so these Mexicans don’t have to worry about being arrested or deported for assaulting people like us or selling drugs in our schools,” the author said.
The flier said two Republicans, (Billy) Stokes and Chad Tindell, who support her, are “fat” lawyers. Stokes would be law director if she wins, the flier said. The flier said he “only got his law license back because of his illegal dealing.” (Stokes and Tindell say the claims are ridiculous.)
…Padgett said he talked with Rogero on Saturday about the flier. He said he thought they should join together to collect as many of them as possible and “turn them over to authorities to be fingerprinted and investigated as a potential hate crime.”
In her statement, Rogero said she appreciated Padgett’s quick denunciation of the flier and knew he would not want the vote of whoever wrote it.
“The only way to snuff the flame of this type of hate and ignorance is to cut off the oxygen. We have two weeks until Election Day and there is no reason to pause over this filth a moment more,” she said.
Both Knoxville mayoral candidates have minor arrest records, according to the News Sentinel. Mark Padgett was jailed briefly in Florida in 2003 on a charge of first-offense reckless driving, according to court records in Walton County, Fla. He was released on bond, pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of careless driving and paid $83 in fines and court costs.
His opponent, Madeline Rogero, was arrested in 1974 and 1989 — both arrests connected to demonstrations.
“It is well-known that I was arrested twice, many years ago,” Rogero said.
She was recently endorsed by the Knoxville Fraternal Order of Police, which presented both candidates with questionnaires. The form did not ask about arrest records. Rogero said she told the FOP about her incidents when she was interviewed by FOP leaders.
Padgett said he was not asked when he was interviewed.
A second anonymous flier attacking Knoxville mayoral candidate Madeline Rogero has been distributed throughout the city and parts of Knox County and signed “Shade with The Shadow,” reports Georgiana Vines. Much of the flier is a repeat of one distributed before the Sept. 27 primary. Rogero and her opponent, Mark Padgett, face each other in the Nov. 8 runoff election.
…Chip Barry, Rogero’s campaign manager, said Rogero supporters have contacted the headquarters about the flier.
“They’ve received it and are irritated it’s in their newspaper boxes,” he said.
Laura Braden, Padgett’s communications director, said the campaign has had nothing to do with it.
“We don’t condone anonymous mailers. We want to run on issues,” she said.
She said Padgett’s staff has had its own “tangible” irritations — big Padgett signs being taken down.
“It costs time and money to replace them,” she said.
University of Tennessee political scientist Michael Fitzgerald said using anonymous fliers in election campaigns is the modern equivalent of “bushwhacking” in the old West — “and just as reprehensible.”