By Steve Hunley

Bill Dunn

Congratulations to former State Representative Bill Dunn who has been named as senior advisor to Tennessee’s Commissioner of Education Penny Schwinn. Dunn just retired from the Tennessee General Assembly where he served for almost 30 years. Bill Dunn has a thorough understanding of the legislative process, as well as a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge that should serve Commissioner Schwinn well. Dunn is an excellent choice for the position and should be an asset to not only Penny Schwinn but also the administration of Governor Bill Lee.

Of course there has been much gnashing of teeth and wailing by the teacher unionists and their allies because of Dunn’s persistent support for choices for parents and students, as well as vouchers. Unionists urged board of education member Patti Bounds into the race to represent the 16th District in the state House of Representatives. Bounds had run twice for the board of education without opposition, causing some of her backers to mistake that for universal popularity. Patti Bounds was presented as an opponent of vouchers after Governor Bill Lee’s voucher legislation narrowly passed the Tennessee House of Representatives; the sponsor of the bill in the House was Bill Dunn. When Dunn announced his retirement, unionists crowed he had been driven out of the House by the prospect of running against Patti Bounds. Bill Dunn had intended to retire from public office for sometime and his many friends and supporters coalesced around the candidacy of County Commissioner Michele Carringer in the Republican primary. Bounds had not only never encountered an opponent in her political career, she had never run before in a partisan primary. Carringer won easily. Worse still, many of the people who lured Bounds into the race to oppose/succeed Bill Dunn were not Republicans, much less have a solid grasp of Republican politics.

Another result of the November election was to fill the seat of Terry Hill, a former member of the Knox County Board of Education, who had been elected to the county commission. Hill’s seat was won by Betsy Henderson who said she would work hard to have the voices of parents heard. That alone was something of a novelty on the board where one hears more about teachers, administrators and school employees than students and families. Then lo and behold, Betsy Henderson, just days after the election, stated her support for vouchers. I heard some of the exploding heads all the way to my office.


Not Really A Democrat?

It’s pretty clear a fight is looming for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party and those who wish to use it to get where they want to go. By that I mean there is a fight between the far left crazies who are really socialists and the rest of the Democrats, most of whom seem so afraid of them they will barely speak above a whisper. Some Democrats have publicly groused the failure of the “Blue Wave” predicted by political pollsters failed to materialize precisely because Democrats were seen as being too far to the left and promoting a socialist agenda. No less than Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez retorted had every Democrat run as a “progressive” (i.e. socialist) the Democrats and their Blue Wave would have won a resounding victory in both houses of Congress.

You might wonder what any of that has to do with Knoxville or Knox County? Plenty as it happens. Matthew Park, recent candidate for the State House of Representatives, formed ChangeTN, supposedly to push the progressive agenda. Park, who had a record of voting Republican before landing in Knoxville and getting the bug to run for office, ran second to Sam McKenzie, who defeated Park and incumbent Representative Rick Staples for the Democratic nomination in the 15th District. Running second never won any office for anybody, but Matthew Park deserves some credit for being upfront about his intentions. Park describes ChangeTN as a “non-partisan political organization” to “become involved in the internal elections of the state Democratic Party.” Wait, I thought it was non-partisan? Evidently, not that non-partisan. Matthew Park readily admits his purpose is to hijack the Tennessee Democratic Party as a socialist tool. Well, not quite in language that candid; what he does say is “The Tennessee Democratic Party is a tool that should be used by progressives to push forward our agenda.” Park calls for a state party that “fights to win municipal seats to build a bench for the future.” What I interpret that to mean is electing progressives locally as Democrats for City Council and the like so they will have a jumping off point to launch candidacies for higher office.

From his decidedly shaky non-partisan perch, Matthew Park now proposes to vet the candidates for state chair of Tennessee’s Democratic Party. Park has issued a questionnaire for prospective candidates to fill out and return so that he might better determine if that person is progressive enough. Pretty cheeky for a fellow who has voted Republican and never won a race in his life unless he was the Homecoming King in middle school. Park may be attempting to help failed congressional candidate Rene Hoyos, who has been saying for the last two years the Second Congressional District was turning Blue; she also told a group of Democratic women she and Congressman Tim Burchett were in a “statistical tie” just before the election. You know the results as well as I do; Congressman Tim Burchett improved his performance from two years ago and Rene went the other direction and as I’ve said, I like her going in that direction.

There is speculation Hoyos has given up her long term plan to keep running for Congress until the Second District turns Blue or the Republican Party is outlawed, whichever comes first. Instead, there is speculation Hoyos is eyeing a job in a Biden administration or perhaps becoming Chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party. Tennessee Democrats could certainly do worse and Rene could always hire somebody with an actual grasp of math and make a pledge not to rehire her congressional pollster.


Speaking of Socialists . . .

Speaking of socialists, the City Council Movement is on the march again. Five seats will be on the ballot next year as Knoxville voters select their council people in 2021. And don’t think this is my imagination; there are already two self-described Democratic socialists on the Knoxville City Council now.

The city election cycle typically begins just after the November elections in even-numbered years. The City Council Movement has certainly not disappointed us as they have issued a blast announcing their platform for the coming elections. Bold as brass, they call for abolishing the police. Yes, you read that right, these folks want to abolish the police department altogether. Evidently they are willing to skip defunding the police and go directly to abolishing the Knoxville Police Department. They also call for Knoxville taxpayers to pick up the tab to provide attorneys for those folks being evicted. This is yet further evidence the CCM doesn’t even know what it is talking about. It refers to “eviction courts”; there are no “eviction courts” as there are criminal courts or traffic court, for instance. Evictions are heard in Civil Sessions courts and do you imagine for a moment one attorney could handle the case load? Lord, it would take a herd of lawyers to meet that demand, all paid for out of your tax dollars. I can only imagine the delight the socialists would take in considering how landlords would be forced to pay higher taxes to subsidize their own renters countersuing them.

The City Council Movement says Knoxville should resort to other alternatives aside from calling the police. I reckon a social worker would come to your house if your home was broken into and you were robbed. Maybe he or she would write a report about what was stolen, but of course you are privileged and it was stolen by someone under privileged so just shut the hell up and move on.

Abolishing the police is a fantasy, but a dangerous one. Minneapolis has seen crime soaring after demoralizing and demonizing its own police department. Not surprisingly, homicides have risen in Minneapolis substantially. I know, it is almost impossible to believe reducing the budget of a police department didn’t lead to a world positively bursting with butterflies and unicorns, but rather robbery, mayhem and murder. Who would believe it? Who could have foreseen that possibility? Why anybody with a functioning brain.

Unfortunately, many of the council incumbents are too afraid to speak out and seem to believe by appeasing the City Council Movement they can avoid opposition. They might as well believe they are going to grow up and marry the Tooth Fairy.

There is a lesson for council candidates in the election of Amelia Parker and the defeat of Amy Midis. Midis waited until Election Day to discuss Parker’s socialist agenda; it was too late. In the initial primary Midis, Parker and former county commissioner Bob Thomas won roughly a third of the votes each. In the general election, many Republicans either stayed home or simply skipped Midis, which caused the election of Amelia Parker.

Appeasement rarely ever works for those attempting to do the appeasing.