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Ear to the Ground

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Victor the Troublemaker?

Mayor Victor Ashe's quest to free up state road money for other uses is at least being taken seriously in high places. Gov. Don Sundquist admonished Ashe on Tuesday to stop "stirring up trouble" by challenging the state's dedication of gasoline tax and auto registration revenues solely to road building. At a lunch honoring the new head of the Saturn automobile plant, Sundquist said the state's "great" transportation system is a big reason companies like Saturn and Dell Computer chose to locate in Tennessee. "Why would anyone want to endanger all of that?" he asked. To which Ashe retorted in the Nashville Tennessean, "You still go back to the fact that we are first in asphalt and last in education. That is not what our priorities should be."

Honor 'em Right

Those New York firefighters are getting around. The guys who blew through town Thanksgiving week on a bicycle "thank you" tour had a great time meeting the football Vols, shooting hoops with the Lady Vols, eating turkey with the guys at the downtown firehall and quaffing some brewskis at Barleys. And next week, FDNY firefighter Kevin McBride will be grand marshal of Knoxville's Santa Claus parade. McBride is no stranger here, since his mother, Opal McBride, lives in Sharps Chapel and his cousin, Linda Ingle, is the wife of KFD Captain Stan Ingle. McBride, who is with Engine 235 in Brooklyn, will be bringing his battalion chief along for the parade. Engine 235 lost six firefighters in the World Trade Center attacks.

Frank, in Earnest

The announcement this week of Knoxville deputy mayor Frank Cagle's departure to head up communications for Van Hilleary's gubernatorial campaign wasn't much of a surprise. When Cagle, a former News-Sentinel managing editor, took the deputy mayor slot earlier this year, it was generally seen as a stepping stone toward the arena of state politics, which has always been Cagle's first love. Even while serving under Mayor Victor Ashe, he continued to write a political column about Nashville doings on his website. And his staunch, arch (or maybe just starched) conservatism on issues like an income tax (he's agin' it), environmental protection (he's agin' it) and TennCare (he's agin' it) make him a natural fit with the similar-minded Hilleary. We'll be looking for some of that Cagle zing in our Hilleary press releases.

Out the Door

When John Linkous shutters his shop Friday, Nov. 30, and heads for the house, a downtown institution will be no more. Linkous has sold and repaired jewelry and watches at 318 Wall Ave. for 44 years. He's retiring at age 80. The easy-going jeweler with the ready smile got out of the Army after World War II, sporting a bronze star and a bad back, and went to watchmaking school on Union Avenue here for four years under the GI Bill. He then went to work in a shop on Gay Street in 1950 and moved to his own location on Wall seven years later. Other than Harold Shersky at Harold's Deli on Gay, Linkous Jewelry is probably the longest-lived business under one individual owner downtown.

Don't Answer the Phone

A 33-vote loss in a political campaign probably spawns 33 theories about what caused the candidate to sink. That has certainly been the case with Joe Bailey, who lost out to West Hills homeowners' activist Barbara Pelot by the above-mentioned margin in the 2nd District City Council race. Some say he slacked off on his door-to-door campaign. Some blame his perceived ties to 1st District candidate Greg Pinkston. Some contrarily blame his 11th-hour disavowal of Pinkston.

But the most plausible theory is that it may have been answering his telephone that was Bailey's undoing. The Service Employees International Union conducted a telephone survey and released the results to their endorsed candidates—complete with names of those contacted and an account of their preferences. Among the names of those surveyed was one Joe Bailey. Word spread fast among all the other candidates and their supporters.

Says one politico, "Next to Joe Bailey's name, it said he was for Pinkston, himself, Steve Hall, Jim Cortese and Mark Brown. Obviously the Pelot people weren't surprised, but some of the rest of the candidates and their supporters were."

Some of West Knoxville supporters of Rob Frost, who was running against Cortese, took down Bailey yard signs.

Bored with the Board?

Jim McClain won't be chairing the school board next year. The two-term member and one-term board chairman says he's not going to run for re-election in the spring. Look for former County Commissioner Robert Bratton to step up and seek the seat. School board members are elected on a non-partisan basis, and Bratton, a Democrat, represented this GOP-dominated district for two terms before resigning to make an unsuccessful run for the state House in 1998. He enjoys considerable support from South Knox Republicans.

November 29, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 48
© 2001 Metro Pulse