All posts by Victor Ashe

Ex-GOP chair joins private sector

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

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.

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UT breakfast much more than social

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

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.

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Nothing is simple with TVA

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

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.

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Trump gets head start on TVA board

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Three nominees of President Barack Obama for the TVA board of directors were not confirmed by the U.S. Senate and will, consequently, depart the board in 10 days, reducing the nine-member board to six members.

The terms of two more expire in May 2017, for a total of five off the board.

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A dearth of Democrats

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

City Council member and former mayor Daniel Brown turns 71 on Christmas Day. Brown, the first black mayor of Knoxville, might run for state representative against Rick Staples in 2018 in the Democratic primary. Staples was chosen as the Democratic nominee by 14 people without a primary and prevailed Nov. 8 over former state Rep. Pete Drew, who ran as an independent.

Staples needs to win a seriously competitive race to consolidate his political standing.

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UT set to escalate administrative salaries

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Beverly Davenport, likely to be approved as UT Knoxville chancellor by the UT Board of Trustees in a week, certainly knows how to cut herself a great salary deal at $585,000 a year plus $20,000 in annual housing allowance plus $20,000 in expenses plus $87,775 in annual bonus (likely to be approved, too) for a total package of $712,775 a year if it all comes together.

Some suggest she is taking a pay cut as it is less than the $615,000 she is making as interim president of the University of Cincinnati, but that is a different position from the Knoxville job, and while UT did not reveal what she made as provost, a quick check on Google shows that her salary was $200,000 less than her salary as interim president at UC. In other words, she really got a huge pay raise by coming to UTK.

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Hutchison may be enforcer for Trump

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

As the incoming Trump administration gets ready to take office Jan. 20, there will be a changeover in the U.S. attorneys and U.S. marshals across the country. Former Knox County Sheriff Tim Hutchison is widely mentioned as becoming U.S. marshal. The position, along with the U.S. attorney, must be confirmed by the U.S. Senate, which by tradition means Sens. Corker and Alexander will have to sign off on it to become effective.

Whoever it is, there must be vetting, an actual presidential nomination plus a vote by the Senate. It will be June 2017 before a new marshal and U.S. attorney actually take office, assuming there are no delaying issues.

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Looking toward 2019

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Donald Trump’s election guarantees the next city mayor’s election will be the fall of 2019. The county mayoral election will be in 2018 with the GOP primary in May, which may determine who actually wins in August, especially if the Democrats do not field any candidate.

Tim Burchett is term limited but is already mentioned as a possible candidate for Congress in 2018. But will recently re-elected U.S. Rep. John Duncan seek another term that year, too? Recently, Burchett’s name has surfaced as a candidate for governor as well.

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Funding, finally, for First Creek greenway

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

City Council has approved after five years of waiting $1.2 million for the First Creek greenway construction. This was a greenway promised by Mayor Rogero in her first budget message in 2011 and then quickly forgotten.

The past greenway coordinator had few achievements in her five years in Knoxville. Fortunately, she has left the city and moved to a related position in Chattanooga.

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Expect GOP pushback on Freeman

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

NOTE: Since this column was written prior to the Nov. 8 general election, it is not possible to comment on what happened. That will come in future columns.

Gov. Bill Haslam has announced 45 important appointments to the boards of six universities across the state. One name is triggering lots of talk among conservative GOP lawmakers.

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