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Ear to the Ground

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Ode to a Crippled Canard

Mayor Victor Ashe is scheduled to be out of town for next week's City Council meeting, which will be the swan song for Council members Carlene Malone, Ivan Harmon, Gary Underwood, Jean Teague and Raleigh Wynn. Ashe staffers evidently haven't been overly occupied with thinking up ways to bid farewell to the lame ducks, because they've been busy seizing the moment of Ashe's absence to whip up a thrill for the boss—they want to name the new Northwest Community Park off Pleasant Ridge Road for him. Council members are being polled and cajoled by various administration members. Naming the 90-acre park for Ashe may not be an unmitigated honor, however, since the property it sits on was acquired by condemning the old Fitzgerald farm and taking it from the unwilling family. Hard feelings abound.

One area resident describes the situation this way: "The prevailing community sentiment favors naming it after the Fitzgerald family. Other sentiment says we shouldn't name it for anybody who hasn't been dead for 100 years, and Victor's only been dead three and a half years."

And, by the way—don't anybody tell. It's a surprise.

To Be Like Mike

Mike Ragsdale finally rolled out his campaign for county executive for a test drive Tuesday, and it purred like a high-performance machine. The Who's Who cast of well-wishers present included politicos like Sheriff Tim Hutchison, D.A. Randy Nichols, Bud Gilbert, County Commissioners Leo Cooper, Frank Leuthold, Mary Lou Horner, Mike Arms, Diane Jordan, David Collins, Billy Tindell and John Mills; captains of industry like the Jims (Clayton and Haslam); developers like Scott Davis, Oliver Smith XIV and Harry Sherrod; Chamber guy Tom Ingram; PR mavens Cynthia Moxley, Alan Carmichael and Joe May among the crowd of about 200, which chowed down on elegant eats provided by food maestro David Duncan. The coup of the morning (the event took place at 7:30 am at the L&N Station) came when Gloria Ray, who generally is neutral as Switzerland in these political frays, acted as MC, as well as introducing Ragsdale's wife Claudia and son David. The candidate's announcement speech was energetic, upbeat, and brief, ending with the late George Harrison's melodic "Here Comes the Sun." Credit for that grace note goes to Ragsdale's communications staffer Rebecca Smith, who overrode the candidate's favorite tune, Rocky Top.

Hard Knox School

Notably not at the announcement event (and let's face it, 90 days away from the qualifying deadline, odds of anybody not named Ragsdale being elected county exec are slimmer than Ally McBeal) were city government-types and VIPs from the "school family," as superintendent Charles Q. Lindsey is fond of calling employees of the Knox County Schools. With the exception of Brian Hornback, a longtime Ragsdale supporter and school board member, the education establishment was nowhere in evidence, unless you count Dan Murphy, a UT accounting professor who has already started his campaign for the 4th District school board seat currently held by 12-year incumbent Margaret Maddox. Murphy recently had a star-studded gathering of his own—a $50-per-couple affair hosted by Jimmy and Dee Haslam and a sports committee including Monique and Bruce Anderson, Robyn and Jerry Askew, Ellen and Wayne Blasius, Chris and Mari Brooks, Alex and Debbie Cunningham, Joe Johnson, Megan Landers, Vance Link, Morton and Becky Massey, Jay and Celine McBride, Bob and Donna Parrot, Pat and Debbie Ryan, Bailey and Jane Sharp, Marilyn Roddy, Tom and Danni Varlan, Ted and Cynthia White.

Ashe Bussers

Katuah Earth First! and anti-road building activists began a vigil Wednesday protesting the planned extension of the South Knoxville connector. Protesters planned to stay up in a platform mounted at Moody Avenue at the current end of the connector for a couple of days to draw attention to the cause.

They hung a banner that gave support to an unlikely ally. It reads, "Fewer Roads, More Schools/TDOT Kiss Our Ashe."

December 6, 2001 * Vol. 11, No. 49
© 2001 Metro Pulse