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Letters to the Editor

Losing Ground

I am astonished by Metro Pulse's shameless, distorted narrative of the heroics of a court clerk. Ever since Cathy Quist's neat-o TV campaign of 1998, the Pulse has advanced her cause—whatever it's supposed to be—with the vigilance of petitioners for canonization. This is not an overstatement. Consider last week's (Sept. 23) melodramatic account in "Ear to the Ground," where Quist bravely launders her clothes in preparation for her martyrdom at the hands of that man in black, Judge Tony Stansberry. In last week's cliffhanger, Quist ladies-in-waiting Mills and Ramey are savagely banished from a courtroom. Oooooh, I can't wait for next week's installment. Will the clerk rally support for her new fax machine? Is a computer system in store for the civil docket? Or will her valiant efforts once again be thwarted by the tyranny of judges who just want to have a competent bench clerk by their side without the interference from vindictive, unjust, and peremptory dismissals?

I wouldn't have bothered to comment were it not for the "Ear's" adolescent swipe at Karen Frost, the subject of the recent controversy between Quist and Stansberry. As a public defender who had to rely on Ms. Frost's assistance on more occasions than I can recall, I can vouch first-hand for her professionalism, patience, and hard work. The thrust of last week's article was dishonest and mean. The reference to "judicial junkets" was inexcusable, and the ludicrously whitewashed account of how Ms. Frost fell into her unenviable predicament could only have been extracted from the simpering mouth of Quist herself. The Metro Pulse, or more specifically the author of that craven article, owes Karen Frost an apology.

I dislike having to object so strongly, because I am an avid reader of Metro Pulse, which is usually Knoxville's best source for objective social and political insight. But in this case, the wink was so visible, the snickering so audible, that anyone could perceive the author's agenda to discredit the character of someone about whom the author knew nothing. And all because once upon a time, a telegenic, poised, and intelligent newcomer offered some hope for a fresh start of things in the political arena of the Courthouse. Well, if the "Ear" really thinks things have changed that much, then—and forgive me for this—the Metro Pulse is losing ground. So before you start your next installment on the perils of Sessions Court, you might want to check source other than the chirpy reassurances of someone who's beginning to sound more and more like the same old song.

Julie Auer

Ed. Note: Cathy Quist was not the source for the item in question.

Looking to be Informed

Since I moved to Knoxville two years ago, I have been frustrated with how difficult it is to get information about candidates running for elections. Growing up, I had always seen my parents look over a voter's guide that was printed in our local daily paper before going to vote. In history class in grade school we were taught that one of the press's primary responsibilities is keeping the public informed about its government.

Last fall I began my inquiry into who was running against Governor Don Sundquist as well as basic information about other candidates a couple of weeks before the elections. I couldn't find any information. I know the information must exist somewhere, but call me the average, educated voter... I couldn't find it. Following the election, I wrote a letter to the editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel asking about a voter's guide. I received a reply that they had been following the different candidates one at a time in articles that came out in Sunday newspapers in the months before the election, "but what can you do, you just can't please some people." So, I guess if I had been a more diligent newspaper reader I could have collected the information I was searching for.

Following the Sept. 28 election, once again unable to obtain the information I wanted, I decided to call the editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. He responded defensively that this was a small election, and they had been covering the candidates in stories on the city. After transferring me to the newspaper librarian, I was informed that the News-Sentinel had indeed printed a couple of Danny Mayfield's views on city issues in the middle of August.

These days, campaign finance reform and voter apathy are regularly discussed in the news. How can we fight for campaign finance reform if the only way a candidate can be known by the voting audience is if he has significant money for advertising in all forms? Why vote when you can hardly find the names of alternative candidates in print, let alone get a neutral summary of the issues? Describing the recent election as "small" is in itself a statement of voter apathy. Every election is important, every elected office is responsible for making decisions which will affect the public.

All I'm asking for is a brief summary of every candidate who is running for public office within a week of election day, or at least during the early voting period so I can be an informed voter.

Rebecca Bengtson Snyder