In all the years I've read the Metro Pulse, never have I seen an article hit the mark as well as the "Open Letter to J. Wade Gilley" ["Secret History" by Jack Neely, Vol. 9, No. 35]. Over the past 10 years I have lived in this town, it has become quite evident that the University exists not for the higher education of its citizens, not for philosophy or aesthetics. The University of Tennessee exists for the application of its moniker to an ever-expanding athletic program and not much else.
I have seen residents on White Avenue forced out of their allotted parking spaces by their landlords on game days, these spaces then sold to Vols fans for $5 and up. I have seen the class choices and library resources cut semester after semester, while a $3 million new baseball diamond is completed. I have seen the ombudsman's office itself eliminated, resulting in no effective outlet for students to voice grievances. I have seen the student government emasculated. Most recently, I have seen student tuition increases despite all this and more. Throughout it all, I have seen more and more pavement, more and more cars. (Interestingly enough, the city will pave up into the Fort from Cumberland exactly one blockthen one sees the familiar potholed roads endemic to Fort Sanders. It's as if all they want is the illusion of good roads, as viewed from the Strip. No sense in bulldozing good pavement. I guess.)
Thank you, Jack Neely, for calling a spade a spade. You have most eloquently spoken on the true nature of our urban malady. Let us hope Mr. Gilley has true foresight and nerve to lead UT back to respect as a state school, to have the University behave as a responsible steward of our civic health. Maybe one day Knoxville will be a "sustainable city"a city in which more of us speak out and are counted as true Citizens, not just weekend Vols.
Blushing for the Barbarians
Driving in Knoxville was a sad experience this past Saturday. I noticed rubber alligators hung from nooses and other uncreative, predictable expressions of "Gator hatred." I felt as though I was being sucked into the vacuous space of Knoxville's monoculture. I should have just stayed home to pretend I lived elsewhere for the day. I noticed a local grocery store selling alligator meat. Let's get this straight. The Volunteer opponent last Saturday was the "Gators." Fans dislike this team because they typically defeat the Volunteers. Therefore, we should eat alligators on the day we play the Florida Gators. Hmmm. I see. Very responsible thinking folks. If you don't see the distorted logic here, I'll blush for you. This is barbaric. Also a very childlike way of expressing your vindictiveness for the opponent. C'mon, allow your thoughts to wander beyond the brainstem. Knoxvillians support killing alligators so they can ritualistically and hatefully consume them. Blame the mascot! Does this make sense? What are your culinary plans for the next match up with the Seminoles? Ole Miss? Well, at least in the latter match-up we may save some alligators. Are people really this removed from the consequences of their actions?
Taxpayers Baited and Switched?
Some additional thoughts on "Fair Site Compromises" by Jack Neely (Vol. 9, No. 33)
A massive scam has been perpetrated on the Knoxville taxpayers.
Twenty years ago, redevelopment of the Lower Second Creek was promoted and sold on the premise and promise that subsequent and immediate private redevelopment of the site would generate tax revenue to pay off the bond debt incurred from acquiring and preparing the site! (The fair was called an interim developer.)
Jake and Randy even predicted a profit for the public; therefore, no risk for the taxpayerno need for a referendum on funding.
In the latest PBA presentation, using Lower Second Creek land for a convention center, no mention of private redevelopment on the site was made. In any case, the space remaining is so limited, (I think 10 acres or less) and topographically impaired, that the most intense development could not repay the public.
Now the taxpayer faces an even larger bond debt for a convention center. In some retail operations this is called "Bait and Switch."