All posts by Betty Bean

Reporter’s notebook: Mangled trees and the return of an old political hand

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

What, oh what to do about the Alice Bell Park Tree Massacre? Weeks after a privately hired landscaping crew whacked major limbs off flowering trees in the park, city officials are having a tough time figuring out how to remedy the damage.

There’s been a lot of correspondence between Alice Bell Spring Hill Neighborhood Association president Ronnie Collins and city officials, but the matter is still unresolved. Collins’ first email was to urban forester Kasey Krouse, who said he’d already investigated the matter and learned that the culprits were landscapers hired by Amigos Restaurant, the park’s next-door neighbor.

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With the Tuskegee Airmen

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Local man looks back at changing times

One of the things Chester Bragg remembers about Dec. 7, 1941, was wondering what was happening to his brother Raymond. Chester was only 15, and had no clue that Pearl Harbor would begin something so big that it would swoop him up three years later and land him with one of the most famous fighting units in American history.

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Lloyd Daugherty papers to be digitized, preserved

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Lloyd Daugherty would have been 60 this year. Well known as a political strategist and for his syndicated “Dixie Angler” radio show, the affable, articulate Knoxvillian was a go-to interview for national media outlets looking for a Southern point of view. When he died nearly three years ago from the ravages of diabetes, he left a trove of archival material stacked up in a closet at the office of the Tennessee Conservative Union, which he chaired for many years.

His fiancée, Keitha Kelley (whom he called his chief of staff), ran the office, and after his death, it took awhile before she felt up to cataloguing the stacks of notebooks, binders and clippings that memorialized his work from 1990-2006.

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The real Andy Holt

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Maybe the early Seventies weren’t the best of times to be a student at the University of Tennessee, but anybody with a functioning brain knew that the rattiest booth at the Roman Room was infinitely preferable to the accommodations at Fort Polk, Louisiana – AKA Fort Puke, next stop Vietnam. Protesters and self-proclaimed freaks faced off against YAFFers (Young Americans for Freedom) and the specter of war shadowed us everywhere.

Nevertheless, lots of students liked Andy Holt, even though many weren’t crazy about some of the UT president’s old-school, paternalistic ways, particularly the time he invited Billy Graham to preach in Neyland Stadium and bring noted theologian Richard Nixon along, too. A World War II veteran born in 1904 (which means he enlisted even though he was well past draft age), he’d lived through two world wars and had a different perspective on life than did most Boomers.

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The color of money: Emerald

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

It’s budget time in Knox County, and the school system is first up to bat, which is the way it should be, because that’s where the biggest chunk of money goes.

Last week, Knox County Schools presented its preliminary recommended budget, which is set to be approved by the school board Wednesday. Then it will be handed off to be blessed by County Commission.

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‘They walked down the aisle singing’

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

A couple of days before Chris Blue headed out to Los Angeles to take the next step toward his future, he stopped by Peace and Goodwill Missionary Baptist Church to say thank you. Nobody was there, but he stood in front of the church and posted a video to Facebook with the following message:

“Earlier today I had the privilege of going to where it all started when me and my family moved to Tennessee!! You’ll hear me say it till I can’t say it no more!!…. Thank you ALL SO much for all of your prayers Love and support!!!! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!! I love you!!!”

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Digging up bones: Regulations are a good thing

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

I heard from the cemetery woman again this week. This time she called me. Her English was better than my Spanish, but that didn’t get us anywhere, so she got my email address and sent me a bill. Best I can make out, if I don’t pay up, she’s going to dig up my grandmother.

My grandmother, my Mamita, lived in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her name was Luci Gonzales and she laughed a lot. She was deeply religious and was always making deals with God. Once, when my mother had diphtheria and almost died, Mamita told God she’d beg money and give it to the church in exchange for her baby’s life. Mama got well, and Mamita hit the streets with a tin cup. At a time and in a place when educating women wasn’t a big priority, she made sure her girls went to college. She saw ghosts in odd places, and once demanded to be moved to a different room in a Venezuelan hotel because there was a ghost under her bed. She sent me sparkly jewelry and big fancy dresses for my birthday and Christmas and Easter, and visited us in the winter because she loved to play in the snow (we’d go to the Smokies to find it).

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Could city council become all white?

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

The map of Knoxville City Council’s sixth district looks like a cartoon drawing of a long-nosed, pointy-headed man stretched out on an east/west axis from Burlington to Lonsdale, nose pointed south. The district was drawn to encompass Knoxville’s African-American neighborhoods and business districts in 1969 with one clear objective in mind:

“So that a black person would stand a chance,” said Knoxville historian and longtime political activist Bob Booker, who, thanks to a similar redistricting in 1966, was serving in the state Legislature when the city redistricting took place.

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