Dr. Robert Loest's letter entitled "Transparent Sophistry" in the February 10-17 issue of Metro Pulse has a glaring mis-statement that needs correction. He has a right to a strident style of writing and even to obfuscate the relationship between UT and the Knoxville community by raising the Ag campus bridge issue. But he has a responsibility for accuracy in his statements.
With reference to the donated space by David Dewhirst, his statement that "not once has anyone from UT acknowledged the gift and attempt at partnership with UT" is false. I have been (and still am) a champion for a UT presence in downtown Knoxville. I met with David several times to explore the possibility of not only continuing the presence of the UT College of Architecture's Urban Design Center but to also possibly include a presence from the Art department, the Music School, and the Theater Department. David kindly loaned me a key to the building, and I personally conducted a tour of the space for representatives of the above-mentioned programs.
Dr. Loest's comment that "Snyder offered some nonsense about regulations" is highly misinformed and irresponsible. State law requires that UT obtain permission from the State Building Authority before leasing of property can occur. Obtaining this approval requires a justification that leased space is needed because of unavailability of space on campus. A justification of the need for the space was requested and was prepared by representatives of the above mentioned UT units that were interested in downtown space.
I no longer have administrative responsibility for the Knoxville campus and will not participate in whatever decision is finally made about a UT presence on Market Square.
Special Assistant to the President
Professor of Engineering
Unpopular and Proud Of It
I read with anger this morning that the Metro Pulse's de facto editor, Betty Bean, referred to me as the "second-least popular commissioner among his peers." ["Ear to the Ground," Vol. 10, No. 6] My anger, considering the actions of the County Commission over the last 17 months, was because I wasn't considered the least popular. But I guess it is hard to be the least popular when your competition is someone who has sued all of her colleagues. I will work hard over the next two and a half years to win that coveted "least popular" title. I will stick to my game plan of speaking out when commission attempts to do foolish things like waste $90 million of taxpayers' money on a jail we do not need just to make the Sheriff happy, or create taxpayer-funded jobs for political cronies, or to engage in small-minded, petty political games by publicly embarrassing respected community leaders, or raising taxes 20 percent to fund the growth of more government. I may not be popular among the good ol' boys club that now controls the commission, some of whom have been serving since the '70s, but I wasn't elected to make friends on commission, I was elected to do what is in the best interest of the county. Too bad that so many of my fellow commissioners feel that is a bad thing.
Knox County Commissioner
4th District, Seat A