By Steve Hunley

Merit Council Hearing… Finally?

It may well be one of the seven wonders of the world or perhaps a sign of the coming apocalypse, but the Knox County Merit  System Council has finally scheduled a hearing on Martha Dooley’s case.  Readers will recall Dooley is an employee of the Sheriff’s Department who earns some $106,000 annually.  Dooley is a veteran of the Hutchison-Jones era and her grievance against the current sheriff is that she is entitled to a car and gas card paid for by the taxpayers even though she doesn’t have the same job she had under Hutchison and Jones.  The merit council decided to hear the case despite the fact the law director opined there was nothing to consider; it was, according to the law director, a matter of no real grievance.  Of course two members of the merit council are political supporters and allies of former sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones and they constitute a majority of the three-member body.

The Dooley case has been pending for quite nearly a year with no hearing.  Just last week, the merit council scheduled a hearing on the Martha Dooley matter for January 19 and the 20th.  The hearing officer will be retired Judge Sharon Bell.

To say that the merit council has been in no hurry to hear the Dooley case is putting it mildly.  Some readers are probably wondering why it matters and I would reply by saying because it is costing you money.  The tab for the entire process is pretty well being funded by the taxpayers and the interminable delays since the merit council ignored the advice of the law director have been costly.  The number of excuses to kick the Dooley case down the road have been endless and oftentimes laughable.

The merit council is supposed to be above politics and has become so contaminated with it, the entire body could be a lab specimen for growing a virus in Wuhan.  Gina Oster, chair of the merit council, has clung to her post with the tenacity of a young bride to a doddering billionaire husband or a crow with a kernel of corn.  Now Gina is playing politics by involving the merit council in state politics.  A bill is to be introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly having to do with pension and pay benefits for firefighters and the merit council last week launched into a discussion of how to apply that to sheriff’s department personnel.  What does that have to do with the duties and responsibilities of the merit council?  About as much as the Pope practicing voodoo; not a thing in the world.  It isn’t even within the purview of the board.  What it does have to do with is Gina Oster’s candidacy for a seat on the Knox County Commission.

Oster, having lost to Eddie Mannis for the Republican nomination for the Tennessee House of Representatives last year, is off and running to succeed Commissioner Randy Smith, who is term limited.  Oster is a two-time loser, having lost races for the board of education and the state house.  Knox Countians are merely lucky dog catchers aren’t popularly elected, otherwise Gina would be running through your yard, chasing your dog with a net.

Gina Oster proposed to contact state Senator Becky Duncan Massey to see about extending the benefits of the aforementioned bill to sheriff’s department personnel, which she could certainly do as a private citizen.  The merit council is supposed to exist to hear grievances impartially between the sheriff’s department and its employees.  As with any quasi-judicial body, being impartial is the key to its functioning properly.  For instance, no rational person expects judges to be prejudiced.  In fact, judges routinely recuse themselves when there is a sliver of a reason to expect some kind of conflict.  The smell of politics surrounding the merit council has become a stench in the nostrils of decent people.


Biden Destroys US Energy Independence

No American president during my lifetime has ever acted so blatantly against the interest of our country as has Joe Biden.  Readers will remember on the first day in office, with a shake of his wobbly pen, Biden killed off the Keystone Pipeline, a project that would have carried 830,000 barrels of oil from Canada to the United States.  The project employed some 26,000 and Biden’s scratching his name on a piece of paper put 11,000 American citizens out of work and ousted them from good-paying jobs.  John Kerry, who is married to the widow of one of the heirs of the Heinz 57 fortune (think ketchup), told those workers, “Go to work making solar panels.”  That from a guy whose carbon footprint includes his traveling in his personal jet.  The Keystone Pipeline project had received a favorable environmental recommendation from our State Department, yet in the holy name of the Left’s new Baal – – – climate change – – – Biden killed the project.  At the same time, Biden made us once again dependent upon foreign powers, not all of whom are friendly to the United States, instead of energy independent.  Yet those who have wallowed in the fantasy of the Russian collusion never even so much as blinked when Joe Biden gave Vladimir Putin what Donald Trump never would: his own pipeline into Europe.  One would think even Leftists would have some ability to reason that if  it was a necessity to kill the American pipeline, it would likewise be a necessity to kill Putin’s.  But, no.  The Left never even blinked.  With a pen Joe Biden and the Leftists in this country destroyed our energy independence, deprive hard-working Americans of their livelihoods and placed our country at the mercy of hostile foreign powers.  I can’t recall any previous American president of ever having done so.


Happy New Year

This is the first edition of The Focus for the New Year.  Every member of The Focus family wishes you and your family happiness, good health and blessings during 2022.  You are responsible for the success of The Knoxville Focus and we thank you for reading.  We will continue to provide you with the content you won’t find anywhere else!