By Steve Hunley

It Doesn’t Work? Really?

Mike McMillan. East Knox County’s member of the Knox County Board of Education, wrote a letter to school administrators perhaps two months ago suggesting the school folks ought to look into technology available for sanitizing classrooms and buildings using UVC technology. I asked about this as a member of the Schools Reopening Task Force; the reply I received was the technology doesn’t work. Really?

Then it must be my imagination that I just read Emerald Academy, a private school in Knoxville, has just announced a partnership with Ionogen, a company which distributes “cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants.” Ionogen distributes the product line of Ionopure, a company that specializes in cleaning products that are considered to be eco-friendly while still able to kill germs. You can imagine my surprise to read each classroom in the Emerald Academy will have an air purification system to kill viruses, a topic brought up originally for the Knox County School system by Mike McMillan.

I reckon it’s also my imagination that TVA is offering a new incentive program for “businesses and schools to install UVC germicidal lights that remove viruses, like COVID-19, and bacteria from indoor air.”

Let’s quote from TVA’s press release on the subject: “UVC light is a shortwave ultraviolet light used around the world to disinfect air in hospitals and laboratories. Studies show UVC light is 99.9% lethal to bacteria, fungi, viruses and other microorganisms.” TVA’s press release goes on to say the use of UVC light is “ideal for schools, offices and retail locations to help keep people healthy.” Well, it might be used all over the globe, but not in the Knox County Schools. Again, I was told it doesn’t work.

So, is TVA perpetrating a hoax upon school systems and businesses across the world? I don’t think so, but this is what happens when a bunch of former teachers, upgraded to administrators, call the shots. School systems are the only enterprises in the world where a former teacher and principal is capable of doing any job. The Knox County School system spends over $500 million tax dollars annually, so it’s a big enterprise, but it seems to me not using the technology available through UVC is short-sighted.

Mike McMillan looks to be about the smartest person who has anything to do with the school system right about now.


Candidate wants the election overturned

Gina Oster, who lost the GOP nomination for the state House seat in District 18, has evidently sent a letter asking the Tennessee Republican State Executive Committee to overturn the results of the recent primary election.

Former mayoral candidate Eddie Mannis was the winner of a hard-fought primary by 99 votes for the House District 18 GOP nomination. Glenn Jacobs won the GOP nomination for Knox County mayor by 23 votes as I recall, and Sam McKenzie won the Democratic nomination for state representative in District 15 by 23 votes over Matthew Park the same night Eddie Mannis was victorious.

I was shocked when the Democratic State Executive Committee ruled Representative John DeBerry off the ballot. DeBerry has been in the state legislature for twenty-six years and is a charismatic man of considerable oratorical abilities. That man sure can make a speech. Even though he was a duly qualified candidate, having followed Tennessee state law to the letter, DeBerry was ruled off the ballot by the Democratic State Executive Committee because they didn’t like his values.

DeBerry wasn’t for abortion on demand, you see. The Democratic State Executive Committee wasn’t having any of that and don’t forget, John DeBerry is an African-American man and the party of compassion and diversity will absolutely not tolerate any deviation from an increasingly radical abortion policy that comes mighty close to killing a baby right up until the moment he or she is born.

John DeBerry is a man who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, who heard King’s last speech before he was tragically murdered. That made no difference to the Democratic State Executive Committee, as they doubtless prefer the kind of protesters who burn businesses down to the ground and insist upon calling them “peaceful.”

Now the Republicans appear to go the Democrats one better by removing a duly elected nominee off the general election ballot. Tennessee has NO voter registration, NONE. A voter is asked whether he or she wants to vote in the Republican or Democratic primary. Oster apparently claims she was deprived of the GOP nomination due to “crossover” votes. Crossover from whom? Crossover from what?

Considering there is no party registration or closed primaries in Tennessee, there really isn’t any such thing as a crossover voter. Lest we not forget, the biggest “party” or group of voters in Knox County, and the country for that matter, are Independents, who float back and forth, voting in whatever primary they wish.

According to Tennessee state law, any legitimate and registered voter may cast a ballot in either the Republican or Democratic primary.

Once the voters have spoken, it’s over. That’s it. The only instance where there should be any kind of question about election results is when there is some demonstrable and legitimate evidence of voter fraud. There is no evidence of voter fraud in this instance.

The notion the state executive committee, a handful of people, of either party can keep lawfully qualified nominees off the ballot is loathsome to any person who loves democracy. The idea a state executive committee could arbitrarily take a nomination won through a primary from a candidate is worse still. If this type of action is allowed to stand, it will have a chilling effect upon elections in Tennessee. It will mean state executive committees—usually populated by folks who couldn’t otherwise win an election to any office —will be the final arbiters of who can run for office, as well as who will be the nominee for potentially every office, in every locality, of each party in the State of Tennessee. That would be the death knell of primary elections in Tennessee and that is not an overstatement. It is naked disenfranchisement of voters.

Do you remember when one state legislator wanted the caucuses in the General Assembly to pick the party nominees for the United States Senate? Just over 100 years ago, the state legislature DID elect U.S. senators. It was a terrible idea and deserved the quick death it died and was a foolish attempt to turn back the clock. Pretending a small body of party functionaries has the right to determine who can and cannot run or who has won that party’s nomination smacks of bossism, at best. At worst, it is a naked attempt to allow a select handful of people to select nominees in the place of the people.

The Tennessee General Assembly should consider legislation in the next session regarding the authority that state executive committees have to keep candidates off the ballot or dropping a legitimate winner of a party’s nomination. Another alternative would be to have party registration and closed primaries.

Republicans, meaning those voting in this month’s Republican primary, have spoken and no group of people should be able to overturn an election after it is over.


And A’Pandering We Go!

No, it isn’t commentary about panda bears, but rather political pandering and goodness knows there’s plenty of that. This time the panderer is state Representative Gloria Johnson who recently had a social media tantrum telling anybody and everybody Tennessee’s “rainy day” fund is $4 billion! That’s FOUR BILLION dollars, people and teachers need a raise right this minute. Johnson is ringing the dinner bell calling them teachers to come down for a hearty feed. Now you just go on home if you are one of those people who ponder the plight of others less fortunate or employ the use of logic. We don’t need none of that around here!

State estimates are the budget will be more than $1.5 billion off for next year and the rainy day fund might be needed for something else. Who knows what else might happen and what if there is another shut down of the economy? Now I imagine Johnson would tell you to hush your mouth ‘cause them hardworkin’ teachers just plain deserve that money!

Of course this has nothing to do with fiscal responsibility or logic; Johnson is a former teacher herself and is pandering to her base. Teachers make out all right, especially in this economy. Last time I checked, teachers haven’t missed a check and until recently, hadn’t worked a day since March. There are all kinds of businesses—and yes, businesses pay taxes and provide jobs for folks who also pay taxes to the federal state and local governments—that won’t reopen their doors. It’s taxes that pay for the operation of every aspect of government and I believe Johnson likes taxes almost as well as she does teachers. Why not just come out and say she wants to tax folks more to give teachers a raise? And for those of you who don’t watch government at all, teachers have been given somewhere around 15% in raises—just from Knox County—over the last few years. That doesn’t count step-raises or raises from the state. How much did you get with your last raise? Did you get one at all? I guess teachers just work harder than you do.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo is begging folks to come back to the Empire State because wealthy folks, 1% of the population, pay HALF the taxes collected. Unemployment benefits have been all some families have to live on, but according to Johnson, that doesn’t really matter because teachers need and deserve a raise. Teachers get four weeks-worth of “breaks” during the school year, which is a full month off work; everybody knows they have two months off in the summer. What most folks don’t know is the average teacher in Knox County earns $48,700 annually.

Yep, it’s pandering because Johnson has an opponent in the general election in Elaine Davis, who is knowledgeable about state issues and is an articulate and formidable opponent.