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.
Nick Pavlis has been city council’s Energizer bunny for the past six years, showing up for neighborhood meetings all over town and making himself available to anyone who calls him. He’s Knoxville’s longest-serving council member and has long been assumed to be aiming at a run for mayor in 2018.
But he now says 16 years in city government is enough.
Last Tuesday, when the world was beginning to tilt on its axis, but before anyone realized it, Knoxville City Council discussed whether or not to uphold a decades-old ordinance that prohibits beer joints from being within 300 feet of churches.
For some, it was a matter of housekeeping. The current ordinance, which also prohibits beer permits for sites within 300 feet of schools, daycares, hospitals and funeral homes, is trumped by state law. Establishments with a state liquor license can sell beer, as well as liquor, without such limits, so it’s unfair to place greater restrictions on businesses that plan only to sell beer, they said.