Rogero lags on MPC choices

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Has Mayor Rogero forgotten the Metropolitan Planning Commission? Or does she care?

It is now 10 months since three city vacancies occurred on MPC (starting July 1, 2015). Those are the city seats held by former Knoxville Vice Mayor Jack Sharp, Michael Kane and MPC vice chair Bart Carey.

These three continue as holdovers with no knowledge of Rogero’s plans. She can reappoint, replace or do nothing as she is doing now, which continues them month to month. While filling MPC seats may not be Rogero’s most important duty, it directly impacts neighborhoods. Why has she not acted?

It is expected she will replace as all three have served two or more terms. Rogero is committed to term limits, but by allowing them to continue for 10 months she is effectively giving them a partial third term. If a replacement is ever named on the Rogero watch then he/she will have a shorter term than the normal four years. All three are men and Rogero is expected to add at least one or two women as replacements. But when, if ever, will these replacements occur? Rogero owes the public a reason for her almost year-long delay.

What is also surprising is that one of the public reasons for hiring Indya Kincannon was to assist the mayor in making appointments. Obviously with MPC, Rogero has been slow to act on whatever Kincannon suggested.

Wayne Christensen has retired as head of Knox Youth Sports after 20 busy and productive years. He and his wife, Sara, moved to Knoxville for Christensen to work for Whittle Communications in 1983. They came from Minneapolis.

By 1996 when he started with KYS, Whittle had folded in Knoxville and he had worked on a Baseball Parent newsletter. But the KYS executive committee that year, consisting in part of Charlie Anderson, Caesar Stair III and Jimmy Haslam, hired Christensen as executive director.

During those two decades, he grew the program including adding 3- and 4-year-olds, middle school baseball and lacrosse. KYS reached 2,000 youth a year in the program. KYS also includes baseball, softball, flag football and basketball. The KYS budget has been from $500,000 to $750,000 a year. KYS helped rebuild the soccer fields at Lakeshore Park and Ruggles Field was added. He says it was “the best job of my life.”

Christensen says “retirement” is not part of his future. He is simply moving from one phase of his life to the next. He wants to be involved in something that impacts Knoxville.

KYS has been a major player in youth activities in Knoxville and Christensen was a pivotal part of making that happen.

Mike Chase, founder and owner of Calhoun’s, Copper Cellar and Chesapeake’s, says that the city revamping of Cumberland Avenue, which will last another year and a half, is costing his Copper Cellar restaurant on Cumberland over $1 million in sales. This does not include the lost city, county and state sales tax that could have been generated by customers.

Rickey Hall, UT vice chancellor for diversity, is searching for a new job anywhere. He has been a finalist at three places. Clearly his UT days are numbered. With Chancellor Cheek expected to retire this year as he reaches 70, Susan Martin is retiring as provost Aug. 1, and Margie Nichols is leaving the chancellor’s office. In a month it will be a new operation by the start of 2017. Can Athletic Director Dave Hart, who instigated the Lady Vols name change, be far behind? Phil Fulmer is speculated as a new UT athletic director.

State personnel held an explanatory meeting on the new $160 million state museum in Nashville here in Knoxville at Pellissippi State on April 12. It was poorly attended with only 18 citizens showing up who were not state employees or consultants. Notice of the meeting was spotty. People were surprised to learn that the new museum has 11,000 less square footage in exhibit space than the current one being replaced. Advocates of the new museum say it will be much better configured.

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