By Steve Hunley

Whoops! Wrong Sheriff

Tools in the wrong hands can be dangerous.  I see now why my momma always cautioned us against running with sharp objects and Facebook surely can be a sharp object indeed.

In a Facebook post since deleted or removed, Scott “Scooby” Moore accused Sheriff Tom Spangler of having purchased “a $100,000 Ford F450 loaded out Dooley with leather seats luxury pickup truck to pull his float at parades this year.”  Moore must have been thinking of Martha Dooley in his spelling of “dually.”  Dooley has a case pending before the Merit Council which they have kicked down the road for almost a year.  Readers will remember Scooby Moore is the same guy who was removed from the Knox County Commission for committing perjury.  Yes, Moore and his fellow former county commission cohort Ivan Harmon were hailed as “model public servants” by former sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones.  It can hardly be any surprise to anyone Moore is flinging muck at the man who fired him and Harmon following an embarrassing litany of failings compiled by the State Comptroller’s office.  Moore and Harmon are appealing their own firings to the Merit Council.

Yet, in the end, Moore was badly mistaken; the truck in question was bought under the administration of Scooby’s friend and political patron “JJ” Jones.  The truck was apparently purchased with confiscated narcotics money by David Henderson and Ronnie Kidd.  Henderson, readers will recall, filed his retirement papers from the sheriff’s department almost the second after FBI agents showed up at his house, search warrant in hand. To my knowledge, that investigation is still ongoing.  Former Sheriff Tim Hutchison had given Henderson a testimonial back in the day, saying “David always was a hard-working officer and detective.”  Speaking of Tim Hutchison, rumors amongst the political set in Knox County say Hutchison, after failed bids for Knox County mayor against Tim Burchett and twice failing to be elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives, is looking to a comeback should once term-limited Jones regain the sheriff’s office.  The current big rumor is Hutchison would serve as chief deputy to “JJ” Jones.  It would be a restoration of the Hutchison – Jones – Trammel trifecta.

Henderson had bought several vehicles with confiscated narcotics money, some of which he later wrecked, both while on the job and off.  David Henderson was never charged with a crime and according to press reports at the time, whatever the federal agents were/are investigating occurred before Spangler assumed office in September 2018.

Ronnie Kidd is the former fleet manager for the sheriff’s department who later plead guilty to a felony charge of official misconduct in October of 2020.  Kidd had previously been sentenced to serve probation for his role in a bizarre scheme involving insurance fraud which played out something like a TV movie and involved a restaurant owner, an inmate who later sang like a nightingale, and an $80,000 Bentley convertible.

At the time of the disposition of his case, Criminal Court Judge Scott Green told Kidd, “Operate within the bounds of the law, be a good citizen and this will be behind you in two years.”

Sheriff Tom Spangler did NOT hire any of these people but rather was stuck with them when he was elected.  Model citizens all.  Facebook is not your friend, Scooby.


Good Job, Mayor Jacobs

For such a big man, Mayor Glenn Jacobs sure can move stealthily.  Mayor Jacobs has been quietly working to resolve a problem that has grown increasingly worse over the past several years: the absence of tradespeople in our community.  Now comes the news Glenn Jacobs has taken Knox County closer to effectuating START – – – or the “Skilled Trades Academy & Regional Training Center.”

Jacobs said his administration is “committed to creating opportunities for everyone to thrive.”  Mayor Jacobs said, “This academy does that by advancing alternative pathways for students and residents while ensuring that our growing workforce will be ready and able to meet the needs of our trade businesses.”

START will provide instruction in a variety of areas of trade and courses will be taught by people actually practicing the trades they are teaching to students.  The courses will be approved by the Tennessee Department of Labor.

Governor Bill Lee has been a big advocate of the need for comprehensive vocational programs.  Contrary to the opinion of much of the educational-industrial complex, not every student is going to further his/her education by going to college.

Mayor Jacobs has enlisted the aid of the Associated Builders & Contractor of Greater Tennessee who also operate a school in Nashville.

Glenn Jacobs outlined his hopes in a Twitter post: “Currently, there are tremendous opportunities in the skilled trades. We need more welders, plumbers, electricians, mechanics, carpenters, masons, and many others. The START Center will help folks interested in these careers get the training they need to be successful!”

The State of Tennessee will grant $1 million to ABC of Greater Tennessee to secure the necessary classroom space.  Any funds left over would be utilized for scholarships.

Folks in Knox County, as well as the rest of Tennessee, need tradesmen and the skills they bring.  Replacing appliances, installing water heaters, fixing heating and air, and plumbing are oftentimes critical problems for folks.  This program will be a big benefit to the people of Knox County.

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has hit a home run in his advocacy of this vocational program in our community.

Mayor Jacobs has shown real foresight in pulling together all the elements necessary to begin the kind of community program to educate and train a future generation of tradespeople.  That will help to provide jobs for area folks and a nice living for some.

The people of Knox County should commend and thank the mayor.


Cruz Drops Out

Would could have seen it coming?  Christine Cruz, the favorite candidate of a handful of local blue-state refugees, has apparently dropped out of the race for the Knox County Commission seat currently occupied by incumbent Larsen Jay.  Larsen Jay did not take the challenge lightly and has kept up a busy pace and raised a campaign war chest approaching and perhaps surpassing $250,000.  Cruz, to put it mildly, had no roots here, no base amongst Knox County Republicans and had difficulty raising money.  Christine Cruz had been encouraged, if not recruited, to run by former Knox County GOP chairman Randy Pace immediately after she moved here from Middle Tennessee.  Cruz became a client of the Angle Group, the lobbying and campaign consulting firm started by Pace protégé and current Republican chairman Daniel Herrera.  Cruz tried hard but withdrew as a candidate last week.  That leaves attorney Deno Cole as the only Angle Group candidate I am aware of in Knox County.  Cole is running for Chancellor against incumbent Eddie Pridemore and GOP favorite Bud Armstrong.


Herrera and Company

Evidently Daniel Herrera realizes not all is well in his world and he has been making something of a goodwill tour, finally showing up at events and reaching out to folks under the guise of seeking advice.  Herrera’s pal Erik Wiatr has been showing up in more conventional Republican venues, perhaps in the hope of attracting consulting clients for his campaign business.  Wiatr was the political strategist behind the five failed City Council candidates in the recent Knoxville elections.  There doesn’t seem to be a rush by candidates running in next year’s county primaries to engage Wiatr’s services.  From what I gather, only one candidate so far has enlisted Wiatr’s services: Rhonda Lee.  Lee ran for the GOP nomination for Public Defender in 2018 and lost to Eric Lutton.  The frontrunner for the District 7 commission seat is Chuck Severance, a first-time candidate and successful local businessman who has been a faithful Republican for literally his entire lifetime.  The son of Charlie and Phyllis Severance, Chuck has a deep well of goodwill to draw from and Lee and Wiatr will have their work cut out for them.

Devin Driscoll Kicks Off Campaign with Christmas Gathering

Last week Devin Driscoll, at-large candidate for county commission, had perhaps the most successful campaign event, especially approaching the holidays, I can recall.  It really was less of a campaign event than exactly what it was billed as: a Christmas party.  Driscoll opted for a nonpolitical opener for a kickoff to his campaign for the at-large seat on the Knox County Commission presently held by Justin Biggs.  The party was a huge success and Driscoll did not raise money for himself, but rather collected toys to be donated to Toys for Tots. Devin Driscoll is also a successful business and family man.

Every element of Knox County’s Republican Party was represented at the first annual Christmas party sponsored by Driscoll.  From all reports, I hear it was perfectly organized, the food was delicious and,  according to Devin’s wife Alison Driscoll,  nobody had more fun than the Driscoll’s young son Ryder with perhaps the exception of Mayor Glenn Jacobs, who was present as the most impressive Santa Claus anybody has ever seen.

Jacobs demonstrated his quick wit when The Focus’s own Ray Hill was asked to pose for a photo with “Santa” and wondered if he was still on the “naughty list.”  The mayor quipped, “Yes and you are not getting coal in your stocking, but a coal mine.”  Nobody laughed harder than Ray.  Be sure to read the story by Ken Lay in this week’s paper.

Also, read Ray Hill’s tribute to the late U. S. Senator Bob Dole, who recently passed away at age ninety-eight.  Dole was an American institution and a great patriot.  You will also find Ray’s conclusion in his regular column on Sheriff Austin Cate.