By Steve Hunley

Former Sheriff’s Narcotics Chief Faces Federal Indictment

Another one of former Knox County Sheriff Jimmy “J. J.” Jones’ model employees seems to be in a spot of trouble.  Actually it could be big trouble.  David Henderson, supervisor of the Knox County Sheriff’s Narcotics Unit during much of Jones’ administration, has been indicted in the U. S. District Court.  The indictment, which has just been unsealed, alleges other unnamed people joined Henderson in a conspiracy involving seized drug money.  The indictment accuses Henderson of having used those seized drug monies as well as a “drug expense card” for personal purchases.  According to the unsealed indictment, the scheme allegedly occurred from 2011 through 2018 while David Henderson headed the narcotics unit in the sheriff’s department.  WBIR-TV states the indictment alleges Henderson ordered subordinates to purchase items amounting to thousands of dollars “ranging from electronics to herbicide to Yeti coolers to lounge chairs with the money,” all for the benefit of Henderson and his family and friends.  According to the indictment, David Henderson “directed several of his subordinate KCSO officers to construct a duck blind on property owned by a former employee of Knox County for the personal benefit of the former Knox County sheriff.”

This is not the first time that close associates of former Sheriff “JJ” Jones have run into trouble.  Former Knox County Commissioners Ivan Harmon and Scott “Scooby” Moore were fired by current Sheriff Tom Spangler following a scathing report issued by the Tennessee State Comptroller’s office that pointed out several glaring deficiencies in the program they managed, which is putting it politely.  Jones, who is challenging Spangler for the GOP nomination for sheriff in the May Republican primary, was quoted by the Knoxville News Sentinel as describing Moore and Harmon as “model public employees.”

Gina Oster, who is running for the Knox County Commission, has insisted upon remaining on the Knox County Sheriff Office’s Merit System Council, which is scheduled to hear the appeals of both Moore and Harmon, who are appealing their firing from the sheriff’s department.  Interestingly, David Henderson’s merit council file has nary a mention of any federal investigation of Henderson in it.  Readers will recall Henderson suddenly retired from the sheriff’s department after the FBI investigation into his conduct was beginning.

Oster and her colleague on the merit council, Jim Jennings, have been close political allies of “JJ” Jones for years.


Do Bylaws Mean Anything?

The first person to congratulate Elaine Davis for picking up a petition to run against state Representative Eddie Mannis tells a tale and illustrates an important point.

Davis is the vice chair of the Knox County Republican Party and, as this is written, I still don’t think she has resigned her office as required by the state party bylaws.  Indeed, Davis appeared at a recent meeting of the West Knox Republican Club where she identified herself as the party vice chair while soliciting signatures for her petition.  I believe it is a clear violation of the state party bylaws for Elaine Davis to remain in office as vice chair of the Knox County Republican Party while a candidate against an incumbent GOP officeholder.

And the first person to offer Davis congratulations for picking up a petition was Knox County Republican Party Chair Daniel Herrera.  It’s yet another example of the continuous violation of the state party bylaws by the locals and interference in primaries.  The party leadership is supposed to be strictly neutral.


Recalls Successful

Nobody can dispute San Francisco is one of the most liberal and permissive cities in the United States, yet even voters there have signaled they have had enough of woke politics.  Voters in San Francisco just recalled three Democrat members of their local school board, including board chair Gabriela Lopez and board vice chair Faauuga Moliga as well as Alison Collins.  Nor was the vote close; as this is written it appears the three were swept out of office by better than 70% of the vote.

Even ultra-liberal Mayor London Breed thought too many school board members were more interested in progressive politics than the welfare of the children attending schools in San Francisco.

The recall effort was sponsored by that bane of school boards in every Leftist community: parents.

Siva Raj, a local parent who was a recall activist, summed it up, by saying, “The city of San Francisco has risen up and said this is not acceptable to put our kids last.  Talk is not going to educate our children, it’s action.  It’s not about symbolic action, it’s not about changing the name on a school, it’s about helping kids inside the school building read and learn math.”



School Board Members Ask County Commissioners To Violate County Charter

Siva Raj could do some good here in Knox County.  Kristi Kristy, chair of the Knox County Board of Education, and her colleagues Betsy Henderson and Susan Horn are busy riding a see-saw in their effort to push the county commission into allowing the board to hire an outside attorney  at a county commission workshop last Tuesday. These board of education members’ actions follow a series of events, which the dynamic trio apparently chose to ignore.

The board of education voted 5-2-2 to support a motion made by Mike McMillan to give Knox County Law Director David Buuck more time in sorting out the suit brought by a group of parents to enforce a masking policy.  Federal Judge Ronnie Greer told the board to adopt a plan to protect roughly four students most vulnerable to the virus.  The judge’s decision was akin to Suzie having a peanut allergy and Tommy is banned from bringing a peanut butter sandwich for lunch from home because she might somehow get hold of it.

Henderson offered up a plan, which failed.  Betsy never tweaked her plan, nor did she ever ask her colleagues what she could do to alter it to get five votes, a majority of the nine member board.  Neither did Betsy Henderson ever bother to visit with Law Director David Buuck about her concerns or ask for help in crafting a plan the board would accept.

At the same board meeting where a majority of their colleagues supported the motion made by Mike McMillan, Kristy sent around a letter asking the commission to allow the board to hire outside counsel.  It already had the signatures of Kristi Kristy and Betsy Henderson. Nary another member of the board of education signed the letter and why would they?  The board had just voted to give Buuck a vote of confidence.  Yet Kristy, Henderson and Horn were the stars of a kabuki political theatre before the county commission’s workshop last week.

The theatre was for the benefit of those parents angry about their children having to wear masks.  Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs has bravely posted on his social media that he stands with the parents and the commission seems quite willing to follow the mayor down the path of performance art.

Jacobs is, by profession, an entertainer, and he and the commissioners are all acting out their part of a well plotted drama, which is accomplishing exactly nothing.  Kristy, Henderson and Horn evidently don’t like the idea of instructing the law director’s office about the lawsuit in public and the commission would be simply gambling with the taxpayers’ money.  There is absolutely no guarantee of success and the likelihood of a suit being resolved before the end of the school year in May is about the same as Halley’s Comet descending into someone’s backyard tomorrow night.  Nor did Kristy and Henderson even have the right to ask the commission to intervene once the board had acted.

Does it resolve anything for the parents who are frustrated and angry?  Does it accomplish anything?  Does it fix the problem?  Does it do anything aside from spending more tax money?  Nope.

Aside from spending money, it wouldn’t accomplish a single thing except create a constitutional (charter) crisis. The Knox County Charter specifically states that the Knox County Law Director has complete and sole authority of all legal affairs of Knox County. I would suggest that Kristi Kristy, Betsy Henderson and Susan Horn actually read the Knox County Charter. This could very well prevent a serious and expensive litigious conflict between the law department and any Knox County government entity that might violate the county charter.

Ethics Complaints and Sunshine Law Violations?

Now comes the news several ethics complaints have been filed by citizens against Kristi Kristy, Betsy Henderson and Susan Horn.  The board of education has an ethics committee composed of Mike McMillan, Jennifer Owen and Evetty Satterfield.  The board’s ethics committee will have to meet, elect a chair, and decide the procedures it will follow during its hearings on the complaints filed against Henderson, Horn and Kristy.

The timing couldn’t be worse as the filing deadline closed on last Thursday and Henderson picked up another opponent.  Kristy has an opponent inside the Republican primary, Phil King, and a Democrat challenger in the general election.  Horn is not up for re-election this cycle.

What Kristy, Henderson and Horn likely saw as potential political triumph, silly as that sounds, has degenerated into yet another distracting political brawl.  It has fired up the Left as much as it has excited the Right and has obscured the goal shared by just about every Republican officeholder in the county of allowing school children to get back to why they are in school anyway – to learn.