Mayor Rogero’s 34-cent property-tax increase is not necessary except to fund the inflated city pension plan that Rogero refuses to address. In fact, Rogero has also strongly opposed any attempt to reduce city operating expenses such as the Della Volpe effort to remove the mandatory 2.5 percent annual pay raise for employees without regard to merit, performance or current economic conditions. Council members Wallace and Grieve backed him.
This tax hike was first predicted in this column six weeks ago.
Former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will hold his third annual policy retreat June 12-14 in Park City, Utah, which is in the mountains outside Salt Lake City, and Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning is one of the speakers. Knoxville business owner Randy Boyd, a strong 2012 Romney supporter, has attended previous get-togethers, usually 200 or so Romney backers.
Several potential GOP candidates for president in 2016 will attend including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. New York Jets owner Woody Johnson will attend.
The August election for the state Supreme Court, normally a sleepy affair, could become highly contested in the next 100 days. It may revolve around who the next state attorney general is and whether the Republicans can win it.
Three justices are seeking retention (retain or replace vote). All are Democrats – Cornelia Clark from Middle Tennessee and the two East Tennessee justices, Gary Wade of Sevierville and Sharon Lee of Madisonville. The two other justices announced their retirement.
Nick Della Volpe, serving his second and final term on Knoxville City Council, deserves high praise for bringing up the politically tough issues he has been raising lately. While he hasn’t been successful, he is educating the public as to several city policies that are financially costly and would never happen in the private sector.
On April 1, he urged the council to repeal the ordinance that gives all city employees a 2.5 percent automatic pay raise regardless of what the economy is, what city revenues are or even what the employee’s performance is. County, state and federal employees do not enjoy this tax-paid benefit.
While there is focus on the Richard Briggs challenge to state Sen. Stacey Campfield in the August Republican primary, there is also a Democratic candidate, Cheri Siler, an educator who lives in Fountain City.
Local Democrats say she is a credible candidate and a viable alternative to Campfield if he wins the primary. If Briggs wins, Siler has a much tougher contest in November as he does not have the Campfield negatives.
Most everyone knows that our current governor, Bill Haslam, lives in West Knoxville on Sherwood Drive. However, very few people know that another governor (now retired) also lives in Knoxville less than a mile from the Haslam home. He is Frank Barnett, 80, former lieutenant governor and then governor of American Samoa (1975 to 1977) who lives on Orleans Drive in the Westlands.
Barnett attended Bearden Elementary School when he grew up on Lonas Drive and graduated from old Knoxville High. He graduated from the University of Tennessee and UT College of Law.
Bob Gilbertson, owner of Bob’s Package Store on Winston Road in West Hills, has removed Russian vodka from his store in protest of the Russian occupation of Crimea. Gilbertson was interviewed on Fox News from the University of Tennessee’s Communications Building last week.
Gilbertson said he was tired of Russia being a bully in its region and undermining freedom. Wonder if any other package stores will join Gilbertson in his support of freedom?
The First Creek Greenway, announced by Mayor Rogero in her first budget in 2012, still has not been built two years later as she prepares her third budget. Perhaps no one at city hall is really pushing it, so little delays become long delays and people spend time on other issues.
New city press spokesperson Eric Vreeland says the greenway is actually ahead of schedule with a completion date of December 2016. Surely he jests, but actually not.
Former City Council member Chris Woodhull has moved to the Chattanooga area, where he lives in Lookout Mountain, Ga., although he maintains his domicile here in Knoxville.
Over coffee recently, Woodhull, 54, told this writer that he continues to host “Improvisations” on Friday nights for WUOT; he started doing it before he left council in December 2011. “I grew up with jazz,” he says. He comes to Knoxville weekly to tape the show on the UT campus.
The five re-elected members of City Council are in their final four-year term; they’ll have served eight years by 2017, when their new term expires. They will be the next-to-last council members to receive a city pension as the new charter limits pensions to persons who worked 10 years or more. With term limits, no one will serve on the council or as mayor more than eight consecutive years.
This means Vice Mayor Nick Pavlis will be eligible to receive $153.28 a month upon concluding his current term as he will be 63 then. Brenda Palmer, Duane Grieve and Nick Della Volpe will be eligible for $171.04 a month as each will be 65 or older when their terms end in 2017.