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Ear to the Ground

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Issues and Answers

Another Knoxville group has gone off to Harvard to study conflict resolution and mediation courtesy of the Cornerstone Foundation. And this is a bunch who could use some help. Among them are schools superintendent Charles Lindsey, who has, as they say, issues with County Commission. There's Bud Gilbert, with whom the governor and the mayor seem to have issues over his being nominated for the TVA board of directors. And best of all, there are two prospective County Executive candidates, Republican Mike Ragsdale and Democrat Madeline Rogero, along for the trip. Hope they all learn a lot.

Don't Go There

The city's justly proud of its relatively new system of greenways which serve, for hundreds every day, as combination bike trails, jogging paths, and sidewalks. The Third Creek Bike Trail, in particular, is a wonderful thing, connecting the Bearden area with downtown, several miles away. Some even use it to commute to work. It would be really swell if TDOT would just stop closing it.

TDOT has closed the trail down cold several times in recent years to work on unrelated highway projects. Many have been annoyed that the highway agency closed it without any of the usual roadwork niceties, like maybe a safe way through or a suggested detour.

So, few were terribly surprised last week when TDOT abruptly closed a large section of the Third Creek trail that connects it to Volunteer Landing, apparently to begin work on the UT bridge project. "Authorized Personnel Only," they say: not very useful information to folks on their way to work.

As it turns out, the city just learned about the closure last week too. Donna Young, the city's greenways coordinator, says she got the word about the work only a day before the fences went up. The word is that it will be closed for at least until September. Young says her office is working on marking a detour through the UT ag campus.

On Political Ground

Nobody's saying that Joe Bailey's a candidate for City Council because of where he lives, but one of the oddities of this campaign is his address—424 Hillvale Turn W. Close watchers of Knoxville politics will recognize this as the former home of longtime local politico, Bee DeSelm, who has moved to a condo. DeSelm, who served on County Commission, usually enjoyed the support of her neighbor, Victor Ashe when election time rolled around. The new occupant of the house (whose father, former City Council member Ed Bailey, had a long and harmonious working relationship with Ashe), will be going up against two other Friends of Victor—Archie Ellis and Barbara Pelot.

Environmentalism TVA Style

Just days after TVA representatives preached about their efforts to fight air pollution at the Southern Governors Summit, the public utility reportedly hired former Republican National Committee Chairman Haley Barbour to lobby in Washington to undercut the Clean Air Act.

"They came up to Gatlinburg talking about how they're doing all this wonderful stuff, and then they don't mention that they're throwing $15,000 in pocket of [a lobbyist] to weaken the Clean Air Act," says an outraged Stephen Smith, of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. TVA is one of the biggest contributors of sulfur dioxide and ozone pollution in the region.

John Moulton, TVA's chief news flack, says Barbour was hired by an industry group to which TVA belongs, but that TVA specified that its membership was intended to help develop technical information and that none of its $15,000 monthly dues was to go to such lobbying efforts. OK?

June 21, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 25
© 2001 Metro Pulse