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Publisher’s Position: Shadowy? Not Hardly.

By Steve Hunley

Like most people, I love to laugh. Recently, I got one of the better laughs I can remember when a friend of mine forwarded Joe Sullivan’s column in Metro Pulse to me. Mr. Sullivan wrote a column about the school system and class struggle or some such. Sullivan makes a reference to me as a “shadowy political operator.” That made me laugh.

How is a newspaper publisher a shadowy figure? My views are published weekly in my own Publisher’s Position. I’ve never made the slightest secret about my views and in case you happen to miss the weekly edition of The Knoxville Focus, you can read it online at your leisure.

I make no pretense about having a point of view. The Focus has a point of view and I readily admit that. For that matter, just about every newspaper, publication, publisher and reporter has a point of view, whether they admit it or not. Most merely pretend to be completely objective.

You aren’t going to find the Chamber of Commerce crowd point of view in this paper, nor will you find the point of view of the elitist in The Focus. If you want to read that point of view, pick up a copy of the Knoxville News-Sentinel. Or you could simply read Joe Sullivan’s column in the Metro Pulse. One could use Joe’s column for the elitist point of view like a traveler uses a compass to find a direction. Joe’s compass is always pointing to whatever the Chamber and business establishment is peddling at a given time.

Both the Knoxville News-Sentinel and Metro Pulse’s Joe Sullivan have published columns or editorials about the chair of the Knox County Board of Education. Obviously they are terrified at the thought  that the McIntyre-worshippers might lose control. KNS’ Jack McElroy recently opined that should Mike McMillan become chair, the school board would suddenly become “dysfunctional”. Really? How can any rational person think it is remotely functional now?

Now, Sullivan is braying about the possibility of McMillan becoming chairman of the Board of Education as well. It’s the same song, just different songbooks.

Just what is it about McIntyre that causes these folks to circle the wagons and wail and gnash their teeth in anguish to protect him? Despite flogging teachers and students to produce more data, the test scores haven’t been good for the superintendent. McIntyre has managed to thoroughly alienate the vast majority of teachers as well as Mayor Burchett and most of the county commission. The superintendent’s crowd also lost most of the recent elections for school board. And lest we forget, most all of the pro-McIntyre incumbents and candidates received the bulk of their campaign cash from folks affiliated with the Chamber.

Sullivan calls Board chair Lynne Fugate “outstanding” and points to her experience as Executive Director of the 9 Counties/One Vision organization. That’s like complimenting the Captain of the Titanic for seamanship. Just what did the 9 Counties/One Vision do or accomplish? Not much outside of spending a lot of money. By that token, Ms. Fugate is an expert and an outstanding choice to do the same for the school system.

Yet it is Ms. Fugate, in her evaluation of McIntyre that suggests the superintendent take some management classes at the University of Tennessee. And that’s after he’s been superintendent for six years. Nobody needed to teach Peyton Manning how to play football six years after he had gone pro.

No Joe, I am not shadowy and I don’t lurk. I’m right here. Do I support McIntyre? No, I do not. Did I support Lynne Fugate being reelected to the Board of Education? Most certainly not. And your statement that I am out to “get both McIntyre and Fugate by any means” is just not true. I’ve used the same means as you and your Chamber buddies and will continue to do so.

In fact, Sullivan and his friends are the same people who like businesses receiving TIFs (taxpayer money and tax exempt property), while supporting sky-high taxes on you, the every day average folks who work hard to put food on the table and gas in your cars.

Furthermore, I’m certainly not ashamed of my views and publish them almost weekly in this column, Joe, just like you do in yours. I’m proud of the fact that I am not a mere chambermaid for the Chamber of Commerce crowd.

The problem with folks like you, Joe, is you’re patronizing. You really do think you’re smarter than everybody else and the rest of us need folks like you to look out for us. You favor appointing just about every office because, if you tell the truth, you think the public is just too stupid to elect the right person. Not to mention, you folks are always for someone, yet if I am for someone, that’s somehow bad. But we’re supposed to trust you and your elitist friends to pick someone who presides over an entity that spends over half a billion tax dollars yearly.

You’re for a failed superintendent who has more than 70% of teachers who now say Knox County is not a good place to work. McIntyre low-balled the number at 48.3% and still confessed it was a “stinging indictment” of his administration. In addition, you and your friends were for the biggest proposed tax increase in the county’s history; I was against it.

Seems to me if folks need to watch out for someone, it’s you and your friends.

If you want to know what or who I’m for or against, you can read it just like everybody else — right here in The Focus.

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