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.
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and mayors of the state’s three other largest cities talked to Gov. Bill Haslam and legislative leaders Wednesday with a consensus concern about a trend toward the state taking power from local government.
“That’s our No. 1 priority,” said Rogero of the joint visits of the “big four” mayors with Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey and others during the day.
“At the state level we don’t like the feds telling us what to do,” she said, and local governments feel the same about state officials dictating to them.
The other mayors were Karl Dean of Nashville, A C Wharton of Memphis and Ron Littlefield of Chattanooga.
“It was the first time all four of us have been together,” she said. “So it was great to get together and talk and to be in sync with each other on the issues that impact the big cities.”
Rogero cited some examples of pending legislation that could have a negative impact on local governments. One is HB3386, which would prohibit local governments from requiring city contractors to provide a specified level of benefits to employees.
Memphis, for example, now requires city contractors to pay more than the federal; minimum wage. Knoxville does not and Rogero said there are no plans to do so.
“Whether we do it now or not is not the issue,” she said. “It’s another of those bills that preempt local authority. We would like to have more autonomy on the local level and have the state let us make the decisions on what’s best for us.”
Another bill Rogero criticized was HB2989 is sponsored by Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville. The measure would allow a landowner who has legal rights to use property for purposes outside zoning laws to extend that “non-conforming use” to adjoining properties that the company or individual owns.
The mayor said that passage could jeopardize zoning regulations needed in city redevelopments such as South Waterfront, Cumberland Avenue and Downtown North.
Haynes said he is willing to work with city officials on revisions to be bill, including a change to assure that a property owner cannot buy adjoining property and then have a “non-conforming use.”
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.
With Madeline Rogero to be sworn in as the first woman ever elected mayor of Knoxville, Jim Balloch has taken a look back at women who were “gender pioneers in local government politics – putting an emphasis on Knoxville. (Knoxville becomes the state’s largest city to ever have had a female mayor when Rogero takes the oath of office on Saturday.) The Tennessee Government Officials Directory, and some additional research by the News Sentinel, indicates there are about 35 women serving as mayors among the state’s 435 incorporated municipalities. Nearly all of those female mayors are in towns of 35,000 or less, and in many of those towns, the mayor is chosen by the council or board of aldermen instead of by scheduled popular election.
“In Tennessee today, we don’t see that balanced representation in most of our elected offices,” said Jamey Dobbs, president of the League of Women Voters of Knoxville and Knox County. “We hope that the election of a female mayor in Knoxville will inspire more of us to actively participate in government, from many different backgrounds, and that we’ll see more women setting their sights on running for public office.”
And here’s one of several historical tidbits from the article: …..Hattie Belle Love…was the first woman ever elected to Knoxville City Council. “Miss Hattie,” as she was popularly known, was a successful businesswoman, active in church work and women’s clubs of her day, and was the chief clerk of City Court for a number of years.
In her one term of office (1938-39), she set an example that many citizens doubtlessly wish other politicians would follow. Widely regarded as levelheaded and conscientious, she made “few speeches, (but) the few she has made were pointed and direct,” according to a newspaper account.
In 1939, she fell just 46 votes short of re-election — but finished well ahead of candidate Cas Walker, who would later become a mayor and powerful political force.
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.”
Knoxville mayoral candidates Madeline Rogero and Mark Padgett covered a range of topics in a radio broadcast debate, reports Jim Balloch, including red light cameras, the city’s homeless population and the best approach for bolstering the city’s economy. “I would like to see them come down,” Padgett said of the city’s red light cameras, which are posted at more than a dozen locations. He said he doubts they have been as effective as claimed in making intersections safer.
“They are nothing but revenue generators, and another layer of bureaucracy,” Padgett said.
Rogero said she believes the cameras have been effective in encouraging safer driving at the intersections where they have been located, but that she has no plans to increase their numbers.
The candidates were seated at a table in the Market Square studio of Knoxivi.com. The two-hour debate was carried live on NewsTalk 98.7 FM radio and on a live video stream on the websites of both the radio station and Knoxivi.com.
It was the 50th time the candidates have debated during their campaign.
Each candidate was cordial to the other. Rogero occasionally zinged Padgett, but did so very mildly.
“Mark, you know nothing about this,” she said at one point during a lengthy debate on the complexities of the homeless issue and how best to address it.
Padgett, 33, exuded his trademark enthusiasm and energy throughout the debate. He vowed to be a mayor who would aggressively recruit new businesses and industry to Knoxville and take many steps to make the city even more business-friendly than it already is.