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Ear to the Ground

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Next Candidates: Duck!

Under the campaign finance ordinance that City Council unanimously approved Tuesday, Knoxville will have what are believed to be the stiffest financial disclosure requirements in the country. Every last penny of campaign contributions and expenditures will have to be disclosed on a monthly basis by candidates for city offices.

Mayor Victor Ashe proposed the monthly reporting to tighten the present requirement, which only calls for disclosure seven days prior to an election (well after early voting has started). Councilwoman Carlene Malone then took it further with an amendment eliminating an exemption from reporting requirements for contributions of no more than $100.

"It just goes to show you what lame duckery will do," quips Malone—a reference to the fact that most Council members and the mayor are term-limited from running again. But she goes on to tip her hat to her oft-time adversary. "Victor has led by example, and without that this wouldn't have been possible," she says. Both Ashe and Malone have been voluntarily disclosing all campaign contributions and expenses.

Free Speech Gatlinburg Style

Construction on the Route 321 expansion project in Gatlinburg continues, even though TVA, the Army Corps of Engineers and the National Parks Service have yet to issue required permits.

Because of the potential impacts and the public outcry against the project, an extensive environmental impact study is likely required and certainly prudent. But political heat to push the project through is high. Each of the three federal agencies seems to be biding its time, hoping one of the other agencies will take the lead and require the study. The project is being funded by both Gatlinburg and the Tennessee Department of Transportation. They say expanding the road is needed to improve access; opponents say its real purpose is to allow for Pigeon Forge-like development around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Meanwhile, two peaceful Earth First! protests on the project have been a high priority for the Gatlinburg Police. In one, 14 protesters were charged with disturbing the peace merely for holding signs. Last week, protesters were escorted to the city line.

May-September Ruse in April

Barbara Aston-Wash, the News-Sentinel's venerable society columnist, got set up last week by someone poking fun at architect and County Commissioner Dave Collins. Wash had a Sunday item reporting the presence of Collins "and his daughter Karen..." at a social function. Collins has two sons but no daughter. He and the eternally youthful-looking Karen Ann Simsen, the Chamber of Commerce flack, were married Saturday.

Mystery Moon

It was the Best of Knoxville; it was the worst of Knoxville. The Metro Pulse party on Market Street was a raging success, as was our own party upstairs in the august offices of our publication. But when it was over, Gary Ashe, ace advertising account exec, found that someone had purloined his camera from his desk and added one scurrilous shot to the roll of film he'd shot for ad clients. When the finished photos came back from Walgreens, there was this shocking pic of a mooning man, barely adequately air-brushed for posting on our bulletin board, whose posterior no one here has been able to identify. There was this horrid arm tattoo, these ugly hi-tops and these disgusting rebel-without-a-cause undies and putrescent green shorts. Inquiring minds want to know who mooned us so badly.

May 3, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 18
© 2001 Metro Pulse