By Steve Hunley

This Little Piggy…

Cliff Rodgers, former administrator of elections for Knox County, has underwhelmed anyone who happened to see the hardly earth shattering news he has left the Republican party.  Rodgers is an attorney, but as far as I know, never practiced law or it was so long ago I was still a child.  Rodgers was clerk to the late federal Judge James Jarvis, a Republican.  Eventually, Cliff was hired as the administrator of elections by the Knox County Election Commission.  The administrator of elections is actually a partisan one inasmuch as the first qualification to hold the office is one must be a Republican.

So Cliff Rodgers was gifted with an important post and a nice big salary by the Republican party.  Now, if Cliff has done anything for any GOP candidate prior to being appointed administrator of elections in particular or the Republican party in general, he’s managed to keep it a secret lo these many years.  I don’t know of a blessed thing Cliff has done for any Republican or the party which bestowed honors and good paying jobs on him.  To be fair, I’m sure Cliff would say he was a federal employee for a long time and couldn’t participate in politics and certainly couldn’t do so while administrator of the Knox County Election Commission.

Now Cliff Rodgers has cried he can no longer call himself a Republican, but identifies as a Democrat.  That has allowed the local Democratic party to send out a fund raising email to turn Knox County “blue” after pointing to the “prominent” Republican party.  What prominent Republicans?  If the Democrats think Cliff Rodgers is a prominent Republican they are much mistaken.  Go to the nearest Walmart and ask the first 25 people you meet who Cliff Rodgers is if you don’t believe me.  Now in good conscience, Cliff says he can’t bear the burden of the Republicans being the party of Trump.  Still, he was collecting a fine salary through most of the Trump presidency and never uttered a word.

In fact, I don’t know of anyone who can attest to all the hard work Cliff Rodgers has done on behalf of Republicans or the GOP.  What I do know is Cliff Rodgers has spent a lifetime eating out of the Republican trough.

That little piggy has gorged himself at the GOP’s trough and if any elected or appointed Republican has done less for his party or its candidates, that individual could only be a Democrat.  Now that Cliff can collect his pensions from the offices bestowed upon him by his former party, he’s become a Democrat or an Independent.  As a news flash, that rates right up there with the news Nancy Pelosi has had a facelift.  Cliff Rodgers is the little piggy that went wee, wee, wee, all the way home.


They Went That-a Way…

Regular readers of the Publisher’s Position in this newspaper will recall I have often expressed my dismay where only in the school system is a teacher or former principal also qualified to be the Director of Transportation or Grand Poohbah of Nutrition.  Which brings us to the Knox County Health Department.  Being a fine doctor doesn’t necessarily make one a mighty good administrator.  That appears to be the case with Dr. Martha Buchanan.  Dr. Buchanan had to tearfully break the news almost 1,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were simply thrown away by mistake.

We’re all human beings and human beings are prone to make mistakes.  We all have and we will all likely continue to do so.  Still, the loss underscores some troubling and fundamental problems.  There are going to be the folks locally who have lost family members or friends to the virus and are hurt and upset, who are going to be outraged by this mistake.  There are the folks who don’t like masks who are going to use this opportunity to remind our elected officials Dr. Buchanan refused to discuss contract tracing in her own case when she contracted the virus.  Folks tend to rightly be a bit peevish with the “it’s okay for me but not for thee” way of doing things.  Those same zealots are going to point to incompetence inside the Health Department and there’s no getting around the fact it sure does tarnish all the halos at the Knox County Health Department.

It’s bound to affect the debate surrounding the County Commission’s ongoing frustration with the Health Department’s Board of Directors.  It also reinforces the argument of those, including this newspaper, who believe the board is an unnecessary appendage, especially when the County mayor is responsible for selecting the Director.  The mayor is directly accountable to the people who elected him, while the director is accountable to the board while appointed by the mayor.  One can argue that adds a layer of protection against political hires in a post that should be, above any other, nonpolitical.  Yet one can also argue equally well it can insulate an incompetent Director as well.

Let me be very, very clear.  I have never been critical of Dr. Buchanan in this paper.  I am NOT saying I believe her to be an incompetent public official.  From all I can tell, she appears to be a good doctor; as to whether or not she is a fine administrator, I honestly don’t know.  A former director of the health department, Mark Jones, was an exceptionally good public official.  He was not a doctor, but he was a very fine administrator.

Distribution of the vaccine is a critical thing and the longer it takes, the worse off we will be.  There is certainly the appearance the health department is unorganized at a critical juncture and there needs to be a centralized information distribution point.  That likely should be the health department.

It looks like we may be dealing with an entirely different strain of the virus before everybody is even vaccinated for the current virus, God forbid.  Anthony Fauci is already saying that may very well be the case next month.

One South Carolina mayor, frustrated with his own government’s inefficiency at organizing a drive thru vaccine experience called on a true expert: the manager of a local Chik-fil-A.  The drive thru had been hopelessly backed up before the mayor called on the team from Chik-fil-A to execute their own special brand of efficiency in moving people through and delivering product.

The government folks were so overwhelmed the computer system crashed while trying to handle the registrations.  Manager Jerry Walkowiak pinpointed the problem quickly and precisely.  Walkowiak donated his time and experience to help out his community and neighbors.  The Chik-fil-A manager and his team of volunteers reduced the government’s waiting time of hours to a mere 15 minutes.

That demonstrated yet again, government doesn’t always do everything well, but fortunately that local mayor knew just who to call.