By Steve Hunley

Congratulations, Jon Rysewyk

The Knox County School system has a new superintendent.  Dr. Jon Rysewyk has been the assistant superintendent since 2017.  Six out of nine members of the Knox County Board of Education voted for Rysewyk.

Jon Rysewyk is a highly capable administrator and knows what he’s doing.  Rysewyk comes to office without obligation to the teachers’ union, nor was he the choice of any special interest.  For too long the board of education has been mired in the mess of the culture wars.  It has been Knox County’s misfortune, and that of the students and parents of our community, some of the board members act as if they are serving on the PTA Council rather than the school board.

Rysewyk is the first candidate for superintendent of Knox County schools to utter the word “taxpayers” in his interview since Earl Hoffmeister was elected by the people years ago.

Jon Rysewyk’s selection as superintendent affords Knox County the opportunity to change directions and concentrate upon the actual business of educating students.  Congratulations to Dr. Rysewyk and the people of Knox County!


City Tax Increase?

For quite some time, this newspaper has been telling readers the City of Knoxville would raise taxes and lo and behold, that seems to be well on its way.  The “rainy day” fund of the city has been depleted because Mayor Indya Kincannon and the city council has spent it.  The Knoxville Police Department is 42 officers short of a full force, which equates to longer response times and less protection for law-abiding citizens.  Kincannon is proposing a program, which incidentally mirrors a program in the county government, that would reward employees for longevity.  It cost taxpayers $40,000 merely to train a single firefighter, for instance.  What goes unmentioned is the progressive refusal (and advocacy to defund police departments) to support the police departments across the country which has demoralized and dehumanized departments everywhere.  The truth is young people are much less likely to choose law enforcement as a career than at any point in time in our country’s history.  Normal attrition is the enemy to municipalities and counties in America now.

The city, which all the incumbents running for reelection last year shamelessly bragged the city government’s finances were surpassingly well managed, has been spending more than it has been taking in for a while now.  Just how spending more money than one is taking in is good financial practice has never been explained, but the consequences are rapidly approaching.

So the “well-managed” City of Knoxville proposes to escalate the property tax bills at a time when a gallon of gas costs 40% more than it did a year ago, as inflation takes an average $276 monthly bite out of the finances of working people’s budgets.  You get what you vote for.

Puff the Magic Bylaws

I received an email from Elaine Davis a week or so ago following a Publisher’s Position questioning why she had not resigned her office as vice chair of the Knox County Republican Party.  Davis says she is abiding by the local party bylaws and points out those same bylaws only required party chair to resign no later than ten days after the qualifying petition deadline should the county party chair run for office.  Yet, Davis says, the bylaws are silent as to other elected offices inside the party apparatus having to do the same.  Davis said she can retain her office by taking “a leave of absence” while challenging a Republican incumbent for the Tennessee House of Representatives.  Davis says she “reached out” to members of the local party executive committee because she values and respects their opinion.  So basically, she consulted with fellow executive committee members Randy Pace and Daniel Herrera, etc.  All of whom, coincidentally, are political opponents of state Representative Eddie Mannis whom Davis is challenging in the upcoming August Republican Primary.

Davis says taking a leave of absence is her best option because she has “almost completely organized” the GOP gathering for the May primary night, and continues to work on the next Lincoln Day Dinner.  When Knox County Republicans last met in convention and elected Daniel Herrera chair (and Davis as vice chair), I was under the impression the local party had NO bylaws and was operating under state Republican Party bylaws, so of course my question is: where did these bylaws come from?  The party bylaws are rather clear about state and local party officials remaining neutral in primary contests and somebody would have to be pretty naïve to think the current leadership would remain absolutely neutral.  In fact, I would guess Davis is counting on precisely that.

There has not been another convention of Knox County Republicans since Herrera and Davis were elected, so exactly who wrote and approved these bylaws, which have rather magically (and conveniently) appeared just in the nick of time?  It seems to me bylaws should be approved and ratified by the state Republican Party.

A lot of questions remain  about these new Knox County GOP bylaws. When did the local leadership intend to inform party members bylaws had been submitted to the state?   Has the state executive committee actually approved the bylaws? When did the local party leadership intend to email or post on the Knox County GOP website those same bylaws it adopted without mentioning to anyone?  I am currently in the process of reviewing and comparing these new local bylaws to the state bylaws. I am sure I will have more questions in the near future.