Special Education

So what happened Monday to make County Commission rescind the raise it'd just agreed to give the teachers?

Several commissioners got ticked off at the vocal ingratitude of Knox County Education Association representatives, who weren't shy about expressing their displeasure at the paltry pay hike. It's hard to find a commissioner who got personally cussed, however, and much of the irritation seemed to come second-hand through one Billy Bates, a cell phone-toting evangelist with a portrait of Jesus on his belt buckle, who informed the commissioners that those damned old teachers were out there talking bad about them during a break.

"There was a preacher there who came up to us on the platform and said they (the teachers' reps) were just running us down. Talking about us like dogs," said First District Commissioner Frank Bowden, whose disposition wasn't sweetened any after he was lectured by a teacher who didn't approve of Bowden's concerns that administrators would pocket the lion's share of any pay raise meant for classroom teachers. Commissioner John Mills fended off complaints from a teacher who begrudged the sheriffs' deputies' raises. Others were still irritated by school board chair Margaret Maddox's refusal to allow commissioners to speak at a school board budget workshop.

Influence Pays Off

Maybe Sports Corporation czarina Gloria Ray could make some extra money by starting up a charm school for KCEA lobbyists (see above). While the teachers' union and the commissioners were gouging out each others' eyes, Ray was in the back of the room cracking jokes and schmoozing like she didn't have a care in the world, despite County Executive Tommy Schumpert's recommending only a $166,000 appropriation to her organization. "I have confidence in the commission," said Ray, who got $250,000 last year and had asked for $350,000 this year. Sure enough, when it came her time in the barrel, commission overrode Schumpert's request and gave her everything she'd asked for.

And maybe if Nashville Tennessean sports writer David Climer had been in the audience, he'd have reconsidered leaving Ray off of his list of "Tennessee's 50 Most Influential Sports Figures." The list, published last Sunday, was, understandably, rather Nashville-centric, with Oilers' owner Bud Adams topping it out. Knoxvillians ranked like this:

Doug Dickey was second, Phillip Fulmer third, Pat Summitt eighth, John Ward 10th, Chamique Holdsclaw 12th, Jerry Green 36th, Joan Cronan 39th and lawyer Jeff Hagood 46th (mentioned primarily for his historic representation of UT male athletes accused of crimes).

Also among those deemed worthier of inclusion than Ray were Oilers quarterback Eddie George (7th place—just above Summitt), Shelbyville Walking Horse National Celebration director Ron Thomas (17th place) and Roger Maness, director of recreation at a Presbyterian church in Memphis (33).

Maybe They're Not Tom Cruise Fans

We don't usually read the Knoxville Journal, but we couldn't resist the banner headline this week: "Nude frolic has mayor, KPD under fire again." Hoping for photos of Victor Ashe and Police Chief Phil Keith romping in the buff, we instead found a story about some neighbors complaining about noisy college students in a South Knoxville apartment complex. Seems the locals have been irked by the College Park Communities complex since it opened three years ago, although complex manager Tracie Gary says she has met with them repeatedly to try to address their concerns. The most recent outrage apparently was a College Park ad that ran in these very pages, which showed a pair of sunglasses beneath the tagline, "Dance Around in Your Underwear. (Just keep in mind that only the bedrooms are private.)" The neighbors—and the Journal, which reproduced the ad on its front page—took this as an open invitation to debauchery. Gary says the ad, produced by College Park's corporate headquarters and run in publications across the nation, is a deliberate reference to the famous Tom Cruise dance scene in Risky Business and was meant to advertise College Park's dorm-like set-up. She also says police responding to a complaint about nude partiers last weekend found only a handful of people sitting around a room, fully clothed.