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Ear to the Ground

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Shut Up and Vote

Supporters of the Living Wage Campaign cheered when Councilwoman Jean Teague had a senior moment and voted "Yes" for the proposal to require the city and its contractors to pay workers at least $9.50 an hour. Startled by the response, Teague grabbed the mike and changed her vote to "No," prompting a chorus of boos. "If you don't like it, you can go move somewhere else," she said.

When the Paté hits the Fan

The problem of zoning regulations so lax that telecommunications towers for cellular phone transmissions can be plopped right into the middle of residential areas has long been a vexing one for neighborhood advocates, who have often joked that things won't change until one of the things sprouts in Sequoyah Hills. Well, guess what:

The city has approved a permit to allow construction of a 180-foot-tall telecommunications tower in the commercial zone of Sequoyah Hills. It will be topped off with a festive strobe light, and is "perfectly legal," according to a city employee, who says there was no choice but to issue the permit. Some representatives of the community groups seeking stronger regulations are privately unsympathetic to the Sequoyah Hills neighbors, whom they say have not been active in getting stronger legislation passed.

"They're probably calling each other on their cellular phones, complaining about it," quipped one longtime tower opponent. (Among the new converts is Mayor Victor Ashe, who has pledged to fight the tower. Ashe lives in, you guessed it, Sequoyah Hills.)

The Enemy of My Enemy?

Knox County Law Director Richard Beeler evidently has an opponent waiting in the wings. Mike Ruble, an employee of Sheriff Tim Hutchison, is gearing up to run against Beeler, who will stand for re-election next year. Ruble started his county government career as a deputy law director during the '80s and was beaten out by Beeler when County Commission chose a replacement for Dale Workman, who vacated the office when elected to a judgeship in 1990.

"Unless something very drastic happens, I will be running," says Ruble, a deputy chief who says Hutchison did not enlist him for the race. "The sheriff didn't put me up to it—I would certainly expect his support, though..."

Hutchison says he talked Ruble out of running four years ago and insists that he had nothing to do with his legal adviser's decision. Beeler, who sounds somewhat unconvinced of Hutchison's non-involvement, says he's ready to take on any and all opponents.


Edina Miss Ferguson Hill, 18, died Monday, April 19 around noon. Better known as "Fergie" to her friends, whose numbers included Joe Armstrong, Miss Anna Belle Clement O'Brien, Ned McWherter, and Howard "Nookie" Pinkton, she was partial to Pop-Tarts, donuts, and bones. Highly political, she played blatant favorites, particularly detesting females of all species and Mayor Victor Ashe, whom she attempted to bite when he once made a sudden move toward her when she was socializing at Duff Field near her South Knoxville home.

Her next of kin, courthouse curmudgeon Ray Hill, is handling the death of his beloved pet Scottie better than his friends feared might be the case, save one encounter with a pet mortician who didn't retrieve Fergie's mortal remains in a timely fashion, and as a result found an irate Ray Hill rapping smartly on his front door at an exceedingly early hour April 20.

"I hunted him down," Hill confessed. "I was infuriated."

"Are you Ray Hill the politician?" the apprehensive undertaker inquired.

"One and the same," Hill said, explaining the grim consequences of further delay. Fergie was cremated and her ashes will repose in a little wooden casket that will be buried with him upon his own demise (the inevitability of which Hill remains unconvinced).