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Raising the Roof Redux

Frank Bowden had a question about the school budget this week. He was puzzled to see a familiar-looking appropriation for re-roofing the historic Knoxville High School building on Fifth Avenue. What confused him was he remembered approving the very same appropriation last year. What, he asked, happened to that $234,000, and why was the Knoxville High roof still leaking?

The answer from schools money man Bob Thomas was that the school board "redirected" it to "where the children are."

And evidently the children are in the Gibbs High School fieldhouse, which sits unfinished because $234,000 wasn't enough to provide a roof. The GHS fieldhouse was the premier piece on the election-year wish list of 8th District school board member Steve Hunley, who "redirected" the money to get it done. His efforts were unavailing, however, and Hunley lost the election to Carter High principal Jim Williams.

Bowden's questions were not well-received by 8th District commissioner John Mills, who said the of Gibbs fieldhouse issue:

"It's a can of worms and I want to slam the lid on it."

Check Your Facts

The PR flack that Fort Sanders landlords hired to spread propaganda for them may have found a sympathetic ear in News-Sentinel columnist Frank Cagle. In last Saturday's column, Cagle repeated a number of the mantras of landlords, who are largely opposed to city legislation aimed at preserving historic homes.

Many of the arguments Cagle passed along are apocryphal.

The most ludicrous claim was that "[landlords] don't want a committee of outsiders telling them what color they can paint their houses." Although Cagle never disputed the claim, there's nothing in the proposed conservation overlay that would regulate paint color. The overlay mainly regulates building setbacks and general dimensions of new construction so that it is consistent with current structures.

Fortunately, the City Council didn't buy this or any other fallacious argument and approved the plan recommended by the Fort Sanders Forum for preserving the neighborhood. The next—more difficult—step will be to pass the conservation district.

Fight the Power

The Knoxville Police Department deserves some credit for the restraint shown in dealing with the Sunsphere-climbing nuclear bomb protesters earlier this week.

Although some officers exhibited the KPD's trademark rudeness, for the most part the police were cordial and laid back. Some even got into the spirit of the thing.

The cadre of people on the ground took to explaining their actions as an "act of civil conscience" in trying to raise awareness of the United States' continued reliance on nuclear arms, and the role that Oak Ridge plays in it.

After the protest ended Tuesday evening, the protesters thanked the police for the way they handled the situation. Proving they'd learned something, one officer responded: "Well, it's just an act of civil conscience."

Roasting Oliver Quad

The Keep Knoxville Beautiful guys had another roast the other night, this one of longtime board president Oliver Smith IV, who showed he could give as good as he got.

Among the things he got was a poem written and delivered by his old friend Chris Williams, who blew back into town just to insult him:

"He always drives big cars, you know, for in height he does lack.

"So now you know just why each year he buys a Cadillac...

"He'll donate money for your political campaign; your victory he will savor

"But once you are in office, he'll call you for a favor..."

And among the things Smith gave back were a red wig for Mary Lou Horner and a five-gallon bucket for Lori Tucker's makeup.

May 18, 2000 * Vol. 10, No. 20
© 2000 Metro Pulse