Publisher’s Positions

By Steve Hunley

Well Done, Mike McMillan

Nobody would have been more pleased than Mike McMillan by the send-off he received from friends.  McMillan passed away after a long battle with cancer on January 26.  Congressman Tim Burchett spoke at Mike McMillan’s funeral, followed by Mayor Glenn Jacobs.  McMillan had worked closely with Burchett to build the new Carter Elementary School and the Gibbs Middle School, and the congressman held a special place in Mike McMillan’s heart.  So, too, was McMillan fond of Mayor Jacobs.

Knox County Schools Superintendent Dr. Jon Rysewyk spoke on behalf of the school system and McMillan had been an enthusiastic supporter of the new superintendent.  Betsy Henderson, chair of the Knox County Board of Education, spoke on behalf of the board.  Both Henderson and board member Kristi Kristy were favorites of McMillan.  The eulogy for Mike McMillan was given by his friend and Focus columnist Ray Hill, who had served with McMillan’s father Joe on the Knox County Commission.

Throughout the receiving of friends, a steady procession of folks came through the line to pay their last respects to one of the finest public servants our community has known.  Former Congressman Jimmy Duncan, most of the members of the Knox County Board of Education and former colleagues who had served with Mike McMillan on the county commission and school board attended.

I was one of those who helped to carry Mike McMillan to his final resting spot next to his father Joe and his mother Mary Jane.

Mike McMillan accomplished so much during his 13 years on the Knox County Board of Education.  Mike’s life was serving his people and he was truly grateful for the opportunity.  I thank God for Mike McMillan, his service and his life.

Another Biden Mix-Up

Joe Biden went to campaign in Nevada and it must have been quite an experience for those attending the event.  Evidently, Biden was retelling a version of his having attended a G-7 meeting just after becoming president.  Unfortunately, Biden claimed that he had met with Francois Mitterand.  The problem with that is Mitterand has been dead for 28 years.   The only way they would have met recently is at a séance.


Governor Lee Presents His Budget

The pared-down budget recommended to the state legislature by Governor Bill Lee has $1.78 billion in new spending; according to the Tennessee Journal, the breakdown has $458 million going to K-12 education; $359 million for capital projects; $274 million to TennCare; $158 million for the environment and conservation; $158 million for state employees; and $347 million to various state agencies.

Governor Lee’s budget totals $47.3 billion, down from last year, which, including federal dollars, was $55.7 billion.


Let’s Keep Electing US Senators

The Tennessee Journal reports state legislators have filed more than 1,300 bills for consideration before the cut-off date arrived.  One of the bills filed is to allow the legislature to nominate Tennessee’s candidates for the United States Senate.  According to the proposed legislation, Republican legislators would nominate the Republican candidate, while Democrats in the General Assembly would do the same for their own nominee.  Prior to 1916, the General Assembly elected United States senators.  Taking elections out of the hands of the people and placing statewide nominations solely in the hands of the legislature is a truly terrible idea.  It is a step backward and the Tennessee General Assembly doesn’t need to intercede on behalf of the people of the Volunteer State.  Party primaries have sufficed for more than one hundred years and they work.


Protestors Should Not Block Public Thoroughfares

Senator Brent Taylor (R-Memphis) and State Representative Jody Barrett (R-Dickson) are proposing a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly that would make blocking a highway a Class D felony.  Presently, a person charged with “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly: blocking or otherwise obstructing a “public highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, elevator, aisle or hallway” can be charged with a misdemeanor under state law.  The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is 11-29, meaning 11 months, 29 days in jail, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.  The legislation sponsored by Senator Taylor and Representative Barrett would change the maximum penalty for anyone charged with and convicted of  having “intentionally” blocking “a highway, street, or other place used for the passage of vehicles or conveyances.”

The Taylor-Barrett Bill proved to be timely as just days after its introduction a group of pro-Palestine protesters occupied the Mississippi River Bridge on Interstate-40 in Memphis.  The protesters obstructed traffic in all directions for almost two hours.  Because another bridge was under construction, the protesters left motorists with no way to cross the Mississippi River except perhaps to float across.

We’ve had our instances of someone “protesting” and obstructing traffic.  People certainly have the right to protest peacefully, but nobody protesting anything has the right to impose upon the rights and movements of others.  The self-determined righteousness of the cause according to the person doing the protest doesn’t make those going about their business second-class citizens no matter what the Gannett newspapers may say.  The rights of one individual end where the rights of a community or another begin.

The Taylor-Barrett Bill is logical and fair.  Nobody has the right to simply stop traffic to stage a protest.  Some of those who seek to make a reputation by protesting constantly are less protesters than simply public nuisances.