All posts by Betty Bean

Bye-bye sidewalks if developers prevail

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Mayors and planners across the state are lining up to oppose a bill that would require local governments to pay developers for right-of-way acquisition.

“We need to maintain the ability to require developers to dedicate that right of way – their developments contribute to creating the need, and we want them to contribute an equitable share of the costs of making those improvements. This bill would make it very challenging for local governments to finance road improvements,” said Gerald Green, executive director of the local planning commission.

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The unshakable Frank Bowden

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Frank Bowden’s funeral was over before I knew he was gone. I learned of his death when I saw his obituary in a stack of papers I’d set aside to read when I got the time, and although I knew him pretty well, there was a lot I didn’t know about Frank Bowden, because he really didn’t talk about himself much.

He would have turned 90 this year, which means he was one of the youngest of the Greatest Generation, having served in the U.S. Army in Germany and France. This would have placed him in some of the fiercest fighting of the war at age 18. When I knew him, some 50 years later, he was one of those “Stand me up at the gates of hell and I won’t back down” guys that Tom Petty sang about.

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Will rezoning bring resegregation?

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

While some worry that the proposed middle school rezoning plan will undo years of desegregation efforts and land Knox County Schools in federal court, the two players most likely to be on opposite sides of the courtroom look at the issue from very different perspectives, but do not seem overly concerned about that possibility – for now.

“This (plan) is a good first step, as far as it goes,” said NAACP president John Butler, who filed a civil rights complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights after the agreement to build a new Gibbs Middle School was unveiled.

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John Butler to run for City Council

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Knoxville NAACP president Dr. John A. Butler will be a candidate for City Council in this year’s elections.

Butler is presiding elder of the Knoxville District, AME Zion Church, and pastor of Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church in Mechanicsville. He will contend for the district seat now held by Daniel Brown, one of five term-limited incumbents who will step aside in December.

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Wrestler Kane ponders mayor’s race

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

The race for Knox County mayor could take an interesting turn in about a month, and it’s not the rumored impending entry of Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones that’s going to shake things up.

It’s unlikely that Bob Thomas, the county commissioner who started distributing Thomas for Mayor yard signs nearly a year ago (and who should not be confused with the Bob Thomas who’s considered a frontrunner for the school superintendent job) is going to do anything unexpected like pulling out of the race. And neither is County Commissioner Brad Anders, who also has been mulling the prospect for a good long while.

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Bearden’s Latus is multifaceted achiever

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Karen Latus teaches Spanish at Bearden High School, but her mission is to help kids learn life skills.

“I consider Spanish the platform for what I do, but in the end I’m in the classroom to help kids grow up. We’re learning about how we interact with each other and how we manage our emotions and how we deal with conflict. For me, that’s what it’s about,” she said.

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Slate of women campaigning to head Knox Dems

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

A slate of women candidates is looking to take over leadership of the Knox County Democratic Party. The candidate for chair is Emily Gregg, a senior majoring in Classics (with a concentration in civilization) at the University of Tennessee.

She got active in KCDP as a freshman in 2012. The Nashville native is making the rounds of district meetings during the run-up to the March 25 countywide reorganization convention and was a featured speaker at both the Democratic Women of Knoxville and the First District Democrats last week.

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Barber tells story of Gazan people

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

It’s going to take Brian Barber a while to get used to the word emeritus, but he will continue the work he’s been doing at the University of Tennessee for the past 30 years from his new home in Washington, D.C.

Barber, the founding director of UT’s International Center for Study of Youth and Political Conflict, studied a generation of Palestinian boys who grew up in the midst of violent political conflict in the territories of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. When he started, they were adolescents; today they are grown men, married with children of their own.

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