City Councilman Andrew Roberto reports that the city engineering department is working on early stages of design of the Sheffield Drive sidewalk.

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Emily Ernst holds up a sign in support of a sidewalk for West Hills' Sheffield Drive.(Photo: John Shearer/Shopper News)

City Councilman Andrew Roberto reports that the city engineering department is working on design and right-of-way issues as part of the early work on constructing the Sheffield Drive sidewalk in West Hills.

Since one of the main reasons for the sidewalk was for children attending West Hills Elementary School, the hope is that it will be open for use by mid-August 2019, when the next school year begins. Roberto was responsible for having this placed in the city budget after years of a deaf ear to the requests from West Hills.

Since Steve King is now back to work as deputy director, Mayor Madeline Rogero could assign this project to him so he would have something useful to do. Right now, King volunteers to help the United Way campaign in the city but that lasts only a few weeks each year. Otherwise, he has little to do unless Rogero instructs David Brace to assign him duties that have been removed over the past seven years.

Team Rogero complains King is overpaid with few duties, but they could assign him duties today. It was also Team Rogero that cut many of his duties. The hypocrisy here is intense and clear. It is also a misuse of city tax dollars to pay someone and not give him duties.

Mayor Rogero has abolished the position of deputy engineering director. Angela Gosnell, Knoxville News Sentinel

Gov. Bill Haslam, when he was mayor, had confidence in King and had appointed him director of engineering. As governor, Haslam has appointed King to the state Engineering Board. Rogero has reversed Haslam and downgraded a person Haslam promoted.

As a result of the legal maneuverings over King, the issue of retreat rights has surfaced among the public and city employees. Removal of retreat rights means there is no protection for an employee if a mayor can abolish their position and they are out of work. Team Rogero claims this is unfair. However, close examination of the matter reveals Rogero is selective on this.

In the case of Boyce Evans, who was promoted in early September to deputy finance director where he now makes $116,000 a year, his prior position of purchasing agent will remain vacant during the balance of Rogero’s term, according to an email from Deputy Mayor David Brace to Evans dated Aug. 29. So he can easily retreat back to it if the next mayor makes a change. No such favor exists for King or many other city employees. 

Martin Daniel, candidate for State Rep., Dist. 18 Thursday, October 4, 2018. (Photo: Michael Patrick/News Sentinel)

State Rep. Martin Daniel was elected a week ago by the House GOP caucus to the Fiscal Review Committee, which is composed of senators and representatives. It includes Democrats and Republicans. It can review and inquire about any budget issue in state government. There are six House Republicans on the committee. The committee is responsible for the drafting of fiscal notes on legislation, which are often debated as to accuracy.

New House Speaker nominee Glen Casada of Franklin (he will be formally elected in January) is expected to be much more hands-on than outgoing Speaker Beth Harwell was. He will be involved in pushing and blocking more legislation than Harwell did. He will be more likely to protect his GOP members from voting on politically difficult bills that could become television ads in the next campaign.

Gov. Haslam’s finance director, Larry Martin, is moving back to Knoxville with his wife, Jane, after Jan. 19 when Bill Lee becomes governor. Legal Counsel Dwight Tarwater is also returning.

Haslam will give one of his last speeches as governor in Knoxville this Friday, Dec. 14, when he delivers the commencement address at UT Knoxville.

Congressman-elect Tim Burchett’s new office in Washington will be in the House Longworth Building. In Knoxville, Burchett’s office will move across the street from the City County Building, where he worked for eight years, to the Howard Baker Federal Building, using the first-floor offices now occupied by John Duncan. 

The death of former mayor and U.S. representative Richard Fulton last month at age 91 marked the passing of an era for Nashville. Fulton set the stage for much of the growth Nashville has experienced over the past 30 years.

Fulton believed in doing what was right, and he was one of a handful of Southern members of Congress who voted for the Open Housing Act and Voting Rights Bill. Another was President George H.W. Bush when he was in Congress and our own Howard Baker during his first term in the U.S. Senate.

Fulton was president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, and I recall when he spent time with me when I was first elected mayor of Knoxville outlining what had worked for him and what had not worked. Even though we belonged to different political parties, he wanted every mayor to do well. He was a mayor’s mayor.

Dec. 10 – Former GOP state executive committee member Karen Brown is 63, Knox County first lady Crystal Jacobs is 58.

Dec. 11 – U.S. Atty. Doug Overbey is 64; retired Knoxville banker Jimmy Smith is 89; Dr. Greg King, anesthesiologist, is 61. Former Secretary of State John Kerry is 75; former city councilman Joe Hultquist is 66.

Dec. 12 – Knoxville attorney Jim London is 69, attorney Steve Roth is 58, former TVA director Neil McBride is 73.

Dec. 13 – Knoxville businessman and former UT trustee Jim Haslam is 88, Knox school board member Patti Bounds is 67, businessman Rich Maples is 66, Mark Williamson is 60.

Dec. 14 – Chad Ragle, head of Knox Youth Sports, is 39; Ken Badal is 75; cartoonist Charlie Daniel is 89; presidential historian Douglas Brinkley is 58.

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Dec. 16 – Former city architect and County Commission chair David Collins is 62; Mary Kay Sullivan is 76.

Victor Ashe is the former Knoxville Mayor and former Ambassador to Poland. He writes for Shopper News. 

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