State Sen. Doug Overbey, who is looking at a 2018 race for governor, says he “has strong reservations” on philosophical grounds over indexing the proposed gas tax increase without legislative action as recommended by Gov. Bill Haslam.
Indexing gas to the Consumer Price Index would place a gas tax increase on automatic pilot. This appears contrary to what most principled conservative lawmakers would favor in terms of voting each time a tax increases. It appears this provision will be dropped if the gas tax has a chance to pass.
The first week of February, I visited Easter Island in the South Pacific Ocean, 2,300 miles east of Chile, which owns the island. It had been on my bucket list for years. Two other Knoxvillians who have previously visited Easter Island are Will Skelton, active greenways advocate and retired attorney, and Jeff Chapman, well respected director of the McClung Museum on the UT Knoxville campus.
Getting there is part of the adventure, as one flies to Santiago, the capital of Chile, overnight and then flies five hours west over the Pacific to the island, which is partway to Australia from Chile. There are daily flights to the island from Santiago. Otherwise, one goes by ship, and they are infrequent.
In the 1970s, Tom Jensen was an important person if you had business before the Legislature and lived in Knox County as he was the Republican leader of the House for eight of the 12 years he served (1966 to 1978).
Jensen led the effort for a truly independent Legislature. He helped change the way things were done in a Legislature where the annual salary was $1,800 a year in 1967 and there were no offices for the members.
Eddie Mannis, deputy to Mayor Madeline Rogero during her first 18 months in office, is seriously looking at running for mayor. He is the owner and founder of Prestige Cleaners and a strong supporter of veterans.
Mannis would be viable if he decides to run, but the primary is not until August 2019. He has lots of time to think it over.
Those who had worried that the first female chancellor at UTK, Beverly Davenport, would be serious about diversity can rest easy based on her appointments to the first significant committee she named – the search committee for the new athletic director to replace Dave Hart. She shredded diversity with her six appointments.
The six include only one woman and no African-Americans, but two male trustees and the brother of a third trustee who is the chair of the UT board. Two are neighbors who live three houses apart on Lyons View Pike in West Knoxville on either side of the neglected historic UT-owned Williams House. The woman is Donna Thomas, who works for Hart and will help choose the person she will be working for.
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally turns 73 on Monday, Jan. 30. He represents part of Knox County and all of Anderson County in the state Senate. He is the first person to represent Knox County to be Senate speaker in over 100 years.
State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, who came close to winning the GOP speakership contest in Nashville over incumbent Beth Harwell, turns 58 on Feb. 5.
Former GOP state chair Ryan Haynes will become head of the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers and will not be a candidate for local office in Knox County anytime soon or ever if this becomes his career path. As such he will replace the fabled Col. Tom Hensley of Jackson, known for years among legislators as “the Golden Goose.” Hensley also worked closely with the Miss Tennessee pageant in Jackson.
Hensley had been a fixture in the Legislature for over 50 years. Whether this turns out to be a 30-year job for Haynes or not remains to be seen, but compensation (while not public) is very comfortable and is in the six-digit range. Haynes served as state representative from Farragut for five years and will maintain a residence in both Knoxville and Nashville. He has a law degree.
Mayor Madeline Rogero and council member Nick Pavlis deserve credit for adding to our greenway system with the recent announcement that almost a mile will be added in South Knoxville from the Mary Vestal Park over to the Ogle-Martin Mill Pike corner.
Now that greenways in the city are under new management, progress is occurring at a faster pace than in the prior five years. Better late than never for Team Rogero. Let’s hope this pace is maintained and even accelerated. This column will keep checking on the actual progress.
Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when it comes to TVA and its management. What is clear is that three TVA board members whose terms expired in May 2016 were not confirmed by the U.S. Senate and, therefore, they go off the board on Jan. 3, 2017. They are the current chair Joe Ritch, along with Mike McWherter and Peter Mahurin.
The bylaws do not provide for a vice chair or someone to fill in for a vacant chair position immediately, which will occur in one week. The chair of the audit committee, who is Lynn Evans, will preside at a called meeting and likely would be chosen to be chair, but she is not chair until elected. The bylaws further provide that the board should decide within 30 days of the vacancy who the next chair is.