By Steve Hunley

Board of Health Follies

The Knox County Commission has finally done exactly what everybody expected it to do; i.e. make the county’s Board of Health an advisory body. It places responsibility squarely upon the shoulders of county health director Martha Buchanan. That’s where it belongs in my opinion, especially in light of the county mayor being elected and ultimately accountable to the people. The final vote was 8 to 3, which came as no surprise to anyone who has been observing the process over the last few months.

I have not been critical of Dr. Buchanan, but in all truth, she has made some missteps, which surely reinforced the will of the commission to dismantle the existing setup. Martha Buchanan came down with the coronavirus and did not contact trace as the health department was asking others to do. Whatever her reasoning, it certainly gives the appearance of elitism, which has been repeatedly enforced by leftists across the country in hypocritical “do as I say, not as I do” type of leadership. The optics were bad. When an employee at the health department mistakenly threw away almost 1,000 doses of the vaccine, it was even worse. Suddenly, neither Martha Buchanan nor the county health department maintained that glow of infallibility bestowed upon it by the left.

The debate about masking has reached the point of the hysteria with many people, pro and con. The left particularly politicized masking quite sometime ago. The same people who chant “follow the science” will also usually be the first to remind us there are any number of genders. Nor has any public official exactly earned himself or herself kudos on the topic. Mayor Indya Kincannon sat by twiddling her thumbs as the Knoxville News-Sentinel photographed literally hundreds of UT students mixing, mingling and having a merry old time at various hot spots. Not a single member of the city council protested it and there are none of the incumbents who are going to be able to say with a straight face an anti-masker opponent is a Q-Anon supporter or a crazy. What’s the difference between doing literally nothing and being against masks? It comes out pretty much the same. Not surprisingly, one of the big COVID hot spots inside the city was surrounding the university.

The hysteria about masking – – – and I still wear a mask wherever I go – – – oftentimes relentlessly pursued by the left, was stoked by a comment which Commissioner Kyle Ward forwarded to the Knox County Sheriff’s Office as a potential threat. The comment was posted by a subscriber on the Knox Compass’s private Facebook account; it read, in part, “all forms of protest against the commission now become justified . . . Once politicians vote to arbitrarily kill citizens, they must be stopped by whatever means necessary.” One can easily see why Commissioner Ward reported the comment to the sheriff’s department and the rhetoric was certainly more inflammatory than that which Democrats cited in their last attempt to impeach Donald Trump yet again after he had already left office. It’s more than a little disingenuous not to realize the language was highly inflammatory and inappropriately suggestive. The poster of the comment quickly said there was “no threat made or intended.” Nor was the commission voting to kill anyone.

Leftists are perfectly capable of using incendiary rhetoric and do.

I would also point out most of these leftists who lose their minds over the sanctity of masks, those who are quick to start squalling about the loss of life are strangely silent about the danger of defunding the police, which costs lives.

Dr. Patrick O’Brien, a member of the county’s Board of Health, notified the commission, he would not serve on an advisory committee, which changed not a single mind. In fact, O’Brien, in all truth, likely added to Dr. Buchanan’s woes when he suggested Knox County extend its own enforcement powers beyond the county’s borders, which it clearly could not do under the law.

State law is changing in any event through a bill sponsored by state Representative Jason Zachary. In the end, the debate is much ado about nothing as state law will prevail.

Judge Charles Susano Jr.

Weekend before last, there was a small ceremony unveiling a portrait of Charles D. Susano Jr. Susano served as a judge of the Tennessee Court of Appeals from March of 1994 until his retirement April 30, 2020. By the time of his retirement, Judge Susano was the longest serving appellate judge in the State of Tennessee. Please see the story and photo on Page 1.

Anyone who knows Judge Susano realizes he is a very gracious man and his retirement statement embodied that courtly nature. “It has been the highest honor of my life to have served the people of the state of Tennessee and I am profoundly grateful for the opportunity.”

For all of my business life, my lawyer was Bernie Bernstein. For a great many years, Bernie’s partner was Charles Susano. Judge Susano overcame terrible adversity in his life, being paralyzed after falling from a second story window while sleep walking. It was a crisis for his family, but Judge Susano proved to be not only an optimist, but resilient. Judge Susano was also a man of great faith. In fact, Judge Susano would frequently travel about our community and park near nursing homes or hospitals and fervently recite the Prayer of Divine Mercy for the sick and dying. For countless years, Judge Susano also remembered the less fortunate, spending his own money to take dozens of pizzas over to the Richard Bean Juvenile Detention Facility, a tradition still carried on by his son. Throughout the years, Judge Susano performed innumerable kindnesses for others.

One of the last events before our country was consumed by the coronavirus was the retirement celebration thrown for Judge Susano by Chief Justice Sharon Lee and others. The room was packed with the high and the mighty, as well as the modest and the meek. Judge Susano never forgot his humble beginnings, earning his license to practice law in 1964. Susano eventually formed another law partnership and was active in Democratic politics. Susano was the chairman of the Knox County Democratic Party for a time and was named to a vacancy on the Tennessee Court of Appeals by then-Governor Ned McWherter. Under Tennessee’s system of retaining judges, Charles Susano was repeatedly retained, for his integrity, character and ability was recognized by Republicans as well as Democrats.

Now having celebrated his eighty-fifth birthday with his family, Judge Susano has had the pleasure of seeing all of his children do well. Susano’s youngest son and namesake is the Knox County Circuit Court Clerk. Judge Susano was surrounded by family as Chief Justice Sharon Lee unveiled his portrait, which will hang in the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

It is a fitting tribute for a man who worked hard his entire life, believed in and lived the American Dream and always treated the other fellow with courtesy and respect.

I reckon I understand why we eulogize those we’ve lost who have meant so much to our community, but it seems to me it’s much better to give a fellow a pat on the back while he is still here to enjoy it. Judge Charles Susano deserves every accolade he can be given and more besides. Congratulations, Judge!