The Candidates

The Candidates
Early Voting begins April 13th
(DownTown West and Farragut Town Hall near us, M-F 10-6)
Primary is May 3rd
You asked. Here’s our answer on the candidates.
Perhaps the most important lesson learned from our experience working to protect our neighborhoods the past three years is this.
Notwithstanding some excellent public servants, Knox County government has a long way to go to achieve best practices.
Good governance comes from ethical, qualified leaders whose genuine interest is service, not self enrichment. In Knox County there is a long history of scandals and a much too close network of family members and personal business interest promoters on the county payrolls. Isn’t it time for merit rather than connections?
The frequency of unnecessary lawsuits like ours (NCA) and the scandals that continue to plague county offices and officials are costly embarrassments, and they ultimately are our responsibility as voters and taxpayers.
We can stop the mistakes and conflicts of interest by replacing weak and conflicted leaders with stronger ones. In general, that means new blood.
The dreadful mess in which we Knox County taxpayers find ourselves as we stare down the massive shortfall in roads, sewers, and schools has been made necessary by the reckless issuance of building permits without diligent planning. Some of that comes from conflicts of interest, some comes from the lack of relevant education and experience by our commissioners and office holders.
Having closely watched the reckless waving through of multimillion dollar corporations (but only the favored) who petition the county for over-rides of zoning, but pay nothing in impact fees, and contribute almost nothing toward much needed sidewalks, parks and other improvements, we were more than surprised to hear Commissioner Larsen Jay telling listeners at the League of Women Voters/Board of Realtors candidate forum last week, the following:
(The sound system was poor so please forgive if we have misunderstood, but this is the understanding of our several attendees.) Per Commissioner Jay –
1) We should first say YES!!, then ask what is needed by any business with a proposition for the county
2) We should have a short list of preferred developers and offer them a streamlined process
3) Unless our ears tricked us, Mr. Jay also suggested subsidies (precisely for whom and for what, we are not certain).
Mr. Jay is in the camp of those who believe new single family homes net the county revenue. (In reality they bring the county around $8,000 each in new infrastructure costs, $5,000 to schools alone, $3,000 more for sewers, fire, police, etc).
We learned by yesterday’s headlines the county is re-assessing our homes. For a potential tax increase? Why is a tax increase needed if the stupendous new housing boom we are experiencing is filling the tax coffers? But we digress, except to say that if a candidate blasts from your television – NO NEW TAXES, who you gonna believe?
We must replace those on Commission whose employment and business affiliations influence their decisions. That’s another way of saying follow the money. In our opinion, county employees should not serve on County Commission. Neither should CEOs of development companies, nor presidents of their trade associations. Those whose livelihood is tied to the issuing of permits, or the rezoning of land (too often for private profit taking), or the issuance of county contracts should not serve on Commission.
Unfortunately, prior Commission decisions on rules have made it possible for those conflicts to occur. County Commission and Planning Commission are, as we have said before, conflict laden. We would add to that list, those who derive benefit from promoting those industries.
Let’s get new leaders who understand what conflict of interest means, who have the integrity to address the problems and who bring the skills and experience required to comprehend and address complex financial and legal issues. A great deal of money passes through Knox County’s coffers. That calls for serious education and demonstrated skills. Take a look at what two local reporters, both long in the know inside Knox County have to say about the two Republican candidates for Knox County Trustee.
News stories are courtesy of Sandra Clark, Betty Bean and Larry Van Guilder of KnoxTnToday.