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Seven Days

Wednesday, Aug. 22
Knox County Commission threatens to hire outside counsel to stop the school system from hiring its own outside counsel. Commission Chairman Leo Cooper tells Superintendent Charles Lindsey that school employees feel "subservient to you. They feel threatened." Maybe what we really need to hire is an outside therapist.
A parade of Market Square property owners asks KCDC board members to delay a proposed redevelopment plan for 90 days. This is, of course, counter to established city policy of delaying Market Square redevelopment plans for three years.

Thursday, Aug. 23
The state Supreme Court rules that five Knox County teacher's aides involved in a 1993 dispute aren't entitled to $300,000 in back pay. School officials say they can use the money for more important things, like hiring lawyers to bicker with County Commission.
Speaking of school officials, they continue to stonewall on releasing the amount of the settlement they paid to a student who was expelled under the school board's "zero tolerance" policy (a friend had put a hunting knife in the glove compartment of the student's car). They say it's to protect the student's rights. Well, at least they finally discovered the student has rights.

Friday, Aug. 24
School officials continue their stellar week by revealing that they paid $30,000 to settle the "zero tolerance" case. Maybe they should change the name of the policy to "zero tolerance or $30,000, whichever
is more."

Monday, Aug. 27
County Commission votes to sue the school board over the board's hiring of outside counsel to try to overrule the county law director's opinion about whether state law supersedes the county charter... Whew. Guess who's paying for all this?
Commission also votes down proposed bans on new cell phone towers and billboards. Commissioners are worried about interfering with the traditional landscape along I-40 and Kingston Pike.
County Executive Tommy Schumpert says he won't be presenting a recommendation on Universe Knoxville next month, as planned, because a feasibility study hasn't even been started. Chamber officials warn that if we don't act soon, the stars, planets and the rest of the known universe will relocate to Pigeon Forge.

Tuesday, Aug. 28
A convicted cocaine dealer tells U.S. District Judge James Jarvis that he sold drugs "out of greed and selfishness." Boy, when even drug dealers lose their idealism, we're all in trouble.

Knoxville Found

(Click photo for larger image)

What is this? Every week in "Knoxville Found," we'll print the photo of a local curiosity. If you're the first person to correctly identify this oddity, you'll win a special prize plucked from the desk of the editor (keep in mind that the editor hasn't cleaned his desk in five years). E-mail your guesses, or send 'em to "Knoxville Found" c/o Metro Pulse, 505 Market St., Suite 300, Knoxville, TN 37902.

Last Week's Photo:
But is it art? Well, that's your call, really. This is one of a handful of installations along the front of a vacant building on Central Avenue in the Old City (just down the block from the Rainbow Club). We don't know who did 'em, but they make for interesting scenery. Maybe County Commission should have considered this approach rather than the weird pasteboard and gingerbread they used to cover up those empty storefronts on Gay Street. Anyway, of the few correct responses, the first one came from Jesse Long of Knoxville. For his troubles, he gets a collector's-item T-shirt from the now-defunct City Brew restaurant. Congrats.

Meet Your City
A calendar of upcoming public meetings you should attend

Tuesday, Sept. 4
7 p.m.
Northwest Middle School
5301 Pleasant Ridge Road
Council is to consider Knoxville's Community Development Corp.'s recommendations for Market Square redevelopment.

Tuesday, Sept. 4
5 p.m.
Andrew Johnson Bldg., 1st Floor
912 S. Gay St.
Work session.
Wednesday, Sept. 5
5 p.m.
City County Bldg., Large Assembly Room
400 Main St.
Regular monthly meeting.


Who's on Third?

The 3rd District Council race has a range of fresh faces

At first glance, Knoxville's large and unwieldy 3rd District might seem to consist solely of a vast and sterile suburban wasteland. Ranging from Clinton Highway in the east to Robinson Road in the west and stopping north at Middlebrook Pike, the 3rd District is best known for its miles upon miles of stand-alone subdivisions full of brick and vinyl-sided ranchers, and the area is increasingly tangled up in car-friendly strip mall development. But dig a little deeper and you'll find a collection of diverse, engaged neighborhoods and business owners, all of whom have a major stake in their currently up-for-grabs City Council seat.

The 3rd District has been represented for the past three terms by Ivan Harmon, a Council member beloved by some local residents for his attention to his district's paving needs and famously reviled by others as an ever-reliable yes-man to Mayor Victor Ashe (leaving aside Harmon's hapless mayoral campaign in 1995). Whatever one's opinion of Harmon, term limits prohibit his seeking a fourth term, thus leaving the 3rd District seat open to new faces. None of the four candidates—Bedford Chapman, Steve Hall, Marshall Henley and Melany Noltenius—has ever held elected office before, but all bring to the campaign the fresh perspectives and enthusiasm of not-yet-jaded political newcomers.

Perhaps the most interesting of the crop of four candidates is Melany Noltenius, a 36-year-old community volunteer who also serves as web-mistress for national Web portal's Knoxville site. Noltenius may be familiar to those who closely followed the recent failed grassroots effort to recall Mayor Ashe and three city councilmen from office; she is one of several KnoxRecall alumni throughout the city who are running for office or are involved in City Council campaigns this fall.

Noltenius has in the past lived in Mexico and the Southwest, but she settled in Knoxville's 3rd District in 1995. She says she became motivated to enter the race after attending the infamous City Council Meeting last spring in which a freshly widowed Melissa Mayfield was denied her husband Danny's vacant 6th District Council seat.

"I was shocked to realize that current City Council members—with one or two exceptions—were not responsive to the nearly 300 people who were at the Council meeting supporting Melissa," explains Noltenius. "After that meeting, I no longer had trust in my Council representatives."

Like a number of other KnoxRecall activists, Noltenius has a strong interest in issues facing Knoxville's downtown. She would like to see payment of the city's debt on the new convention center as a priority for the City Council, and she supports using tax incentives and low-interest loans to help turn downtown into "a vibrant residential-based district."

Marshall Henley would also like downtown redevelopment to take a starring role on the new Council agenda. Henley, a clinical social worker, is a lifelong resident of Knoxville and has lived in the 3rd District since 1971. He says he has been "appalled" in recent years by Ivan Harmon's lack of responsiveness to his constituents' concerns about issues—such as reports of police brutality—affecting all of Knoxville.

"When I have gone around campaigning, I've asked 3rd District residents what their City Councilman has done for them and all they could answer was 'he paved the alleys,'" recounts Henley. "We deserve a Council member who does more than that."

While Noltenius and Henley are considered progressive newcomers to the political scene, 3rd District candidate Steve Hall is something of an insider as the host of Cable Channel 12's Politics Knoxville, and a former candidate for state Legislature. Hall, age 45, is the president of Interior Finishes Corporation and after taking out a personal loan for $10,000 to fund his bid for Harmon's Council seat, he is also heading up the 3rd District campaign with the deepest pockets by far.

Many consider Hall to be one of the front-runners in the race, but aside from his own contribution, he has raised only approximately $1,800 from 15 different contributors. A political conservative, Hall nevertheless has said he sees local issues through a different lens than state and national ones. He has talked extensively about the need for a rejuvenated downtown to bolster the city and all its neighborhoods.

With a much broader base of financial support, consisting of 95 individual and business contributors having raised $4,220 to date, 3rd District candidate Bedford Chapman appears to be mounting a well-organized and effective campaign. Chapman, a 40-year-old local real estate agent, says that he was approached by 3rd District residents and asked to run since Ivan Harmon was unable to do so.

Chapman, president of Norwood Elementary Parent Teacher Organization and past vice president of the politically active Norwood Homeowners Association, also cites downtown redevelopment as one of his key issues. In a recent survey administered by the League of Women Voters, he noted that he believes an effective light rail or trolley system would be of great benefit in turning Knoxville's downtown into an area with "many residents along with a solid business district revolving around Gay Street and Market Square." Chapman further supports "some type of downtown attraction."

Lynn Redmon, a former Council candidate and longtime neighborhood activist, observes, "Bedford's conducting a scorched-earth campaign. He's putting five to seven people out every night [going door-to-door], and he's winning the yard sign war. Hall is working hard also, and the only thing for sure is that the run-off will be between the two of them." For his part, Redmon's backing Chapman.

All four candidates have stated a desire to see Knoxville's government make significant forward progress on the watershed issues currently facing the city. However, Marshall Henley may have put it best when asked what he sees as the key issue in the 3rd District contest.

"Nothing ever seems to get done here," says a frustrated Henley. "We've got school board problems, constant problems between the city and the county, and a problem with a mayor who always knows how the City Council will vote."

Here's hoping that will no longer be the case after December.

—Katie Allison Granju

Sounding Off

Tennessee's Native Americans want to select their own commissioners

For the first time in history, Tennessee's Native Americans will help select their own representatives for the state's Commission on Indian Affairs (TCIA).

The old TCIA became defunct after its funding was completely cut during the recent budget battle. The commission had also had trouble operating because Gov. Don Sundquist wouldn't appoint any commissioners. As a result, legislation (already passed in the state Senate and pending in the House) was drafted to create a new commission.

Under the new commission, the Senate and House speakers will appoint commissioners from a list of nominees elected by Native Americans, says Teri-Lee Rhoades-Ellenwood. There will be seven commissioners in all, representing various parts of the state.

Rhoades-Ellenwood was among those nominated last weekend to be commissioner of the Knoxville region, which also includes Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Carter, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Greene, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins, Jefferson, Johnson, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, Sullivan, Unicoi, Union and Washington counties.

"This is the first time we've turned over choice of our commissioners to the local native people," Rhoades-Ellenwood says. "There has never been an Indian caucus to choose commissioners. Now our people are taking back control of our destiny in at least some way."

Rhoades-Ellenwood was one of the four commissioner nominees, along with John Hedgecoth, Tommy Veal and James Yellow Eagle.

At the state American Indian Convention Sept. 22 in Manchester, delegates will prioritize the nominees based on the issues about which they're concerned. They'll also vote on what issues they want addressed by the commission, once it's formed.

"[The speakers] have to pick one of the four that we submit," Rhoades-Ellenwood says. "Even if they overlook our No. 1 choice, they're still picking someone nominated by the people."

The commission looks at bringing in federal money for Native Americans and also evaluates state projects where Indian interests are at stake. (For instance, the Route 321 expansion project in Townsend.)

The commission should have an even bigger role than it did in the past, because the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs is moving its Eastern headquarters to Nashville. According to the most recent census, there are more than 15,000 Native Americans in Tennessee, including 1,007 in Knox County.

For more information, see

Joe Tarr

August 30, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 35
© 2001 Metro Pulse