Attending city council meetings as a reporter is normally a mundane
but a necessary task.  However, during the last two city council meetings
something special and amazing has occurred. Normal everyday citizens
have stepped up to the podium during public forum and with a strictly
controlled limited 5 minute window and have literally changed the
course of city government.
Most recently at the September  3rd meeting of council at issue was
whether to hand over city roads to the University of Tennessee. One
person, Tom Anderson spoke at public forum about the issue. Mr. Anderson
is an individual who actually works at UT. He spoke of how UT struggles
to maintain the current infrastructure on campus.  He highlighted their record
with maintenance. He spoke about buildings that are currently in
major need of  repair. While he did mention that things are getting better, he questioned how long or if things will continue to improve. He spoke about “deferred maintenance.” Basically it appears to be a priority list where certain needed repairs get deferred till a later time. He left the council and the
people in the audience wondering if the University is not keeping all
the buildings adequately maintained, then how are they going to keep
the streets and sidewalks maintained?
In an era where most people think that one person can’t make a
difference, Mr. Anderson proved the skeptics wrong. The plan has been
delayed for 90 days. People can make a difference. That was further
highlighted last month when performance artists who practice their
craft in Market Square received a warning and/or ticket and spoke at
council.  This included an artist who dresses like Spiderman and a
mime. The end result is that the law department is working rapidly to
address the concerns and advise the mayor the best way to update the
antiquated law and the city has decided to drop the charges against
I write this because sadly on Thursday Sept 5th when I asked a poll
worker at a downtown location how many people have voted during the
day, the poll worker answered “nine.” It was well past midday when I
asked. People can make a difference. But in order to make a difference
people need to vote and need to become part of the process. Early
voting in the City of Knoxville continues till September 19th. One
person, one voice, and one vote, can make a difference.

Dan Andrews