By Steve Hunley

Another Example of Kincannon’s Tax and Spend Administration

Deputy Mayor Stephanie Welch made the announcement last June she was leaving Knoxville to return to Maine in order to be closer to family.  After having served briefly as a member of the Knoxville City Council and a high paid staffer of the Great Schools Partnership, Welch became the chief deputy mayor under Indya Kincannon.

While she left Knoxville, evidently Welch didn’t leave the City of Knoxville payroll.  Apparently, Welch is still earning $90,000 annually part-time.  Welch is being paid handsomely to shepherd the proposed baseball stadium.   One has to presume the $90,000 counts towards Stephanie Welch’s own city pension.

The optics aren’t great, especially after Kincannon asked for and got a 40% property tax increase from the city council.  It wouldn’t be difficult to surmise Stephanie Welch is the only person capable of shepherding the baseball stadium in all of Knoxville, or the city government, has to do so from Maine, seems pretty far- fetched.  That’s a pretty long bike ride for Stephanie, who thinks we all need to ride bikes instead of driving cars.

Still, the message is clear; there’s no other bureaucrat already on the payroll in the city government who is capable of guiding through the baseball stadium to success other than Stephanie Welch.

Indya Kincannon’s brain is being paid $87 an hour for her work, which seems exorbitant considering it is part time while living fulltime in name.  Throughout her time in Knoxville, Welch always seemed to earn a near or six figure annual salary from the taxpayers or taxpayer funded organizations.


Bad Proposal from Susan Horn

On a different note, I have to agree with the Knoxville News Sentinel as the Knox County Board of Education considered a policy change of its own.  The idea of banning the public and news media from the board’s Agenda Committee meetings is just a bad idea and even worse public policy.  The policy change was being sought by Susan Horn, who says she wants to stop Knox Countians and media outlets from knowing what will be on the Board of Education’s Agendas before they are published online.  That is one of the most foolish reasons I’ve ever heard in my life for changing public policy.  Truly, it borders on the absurd.

Horn complained something is “in the media” before Board members learn about it.  It is the responsibility of the Board members to do their own due diligence on every matter coming before the Knox County Board of Education.  The response by the board of basically attempting to privatize a public process is just plain wrong.  Every governmental legislative body in this country has a process that can be followed and so should the Knox County Board of Education.

Board members are free to participate in the agenda committee meetings and neither the superintendent nor the chair of the board have too much leeway to simply stick whatever he/she wishes on the agenda, especially outside the notice of the public.

In the Tennessee General Assembly for instance, a bill can work its way through the committee process without coming before a majority of the legislature until it reaches the floor.  As most of the membership hasn’t heard the bill, at least according to the logic employed by Susan Horn, it should be closed off to the public and press until every member has had a chance to inform himself/herself.

When a legislative body is more concerned about extending some make believe courtesy to itself, it has forgotten it exists to serve the public and the people who elected it.  The board of education exists not to perpetuate the system, nor even to protect the system, but rather to serve the parents, students and taxpayers in educating children.

Fortunately, the board voted down the Horn proposal, which was wise.  It was a terrible and foolish idea which got the consideration it deserved.


A Bad Deal?

Joe Biden is taking a victory lap in the news media for having engineered the release of Brittney Griner.  Of course, the United States government had to trade Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer known as the “Merchant of Death” to secure Griner’s release.

Ms. Griner’s trial and imprisonment was a travesty, but it is an entirely different question as to whether it was a good deal.  Meanwhile, former Marine Paul Whelan still sits in a penal colony, which could better be described as a forced labor camp.

As a press release from our own Congressman Tim Burchett said, “We got had.”



Sinema Leaves Democratic Party

On the heels of Democrats celebrating the reelection of Raphael Warnock over Herschel Walker and having 51 votes in the U. S. Senate, comes the news from Arizona that Senator Krysten Sinema has left the Democratic Party.  Ms. Sinema had registered as an Independent and refuses to say whether or not she will caucus in the Senate as a Democrat.

That may not sound like big news, but it sure is inasmuch as it may help to determine the split in committees and control of the U. S. Senate as the Republicans prepare to organize the House.  Krysten Sinema just dropped a bomb on celebrating Democrats.


Honey Alexander – A Great Lady

Last Friday and Saturday there was a visitation in Nashville honoring the memory of Honey Alexander, the wife of former governor and U. S. senator Lamar Alexander.  Mrs. Alexander died in October at age 77.  Honey Alexander met her future husband while working as a staffer for then Texas-U. S. senator John Tower.  Mrs. Alexander became First Lady of Tennessee during Lamar’s gubernatorial terms where she presided with grace and good will.  Honey Alexander did not like, much less seek out the limelight, yet those fortunate enough to encounter her, remember her as a woman of determination, ability, and the very soul of Tennessee hospitality.

The Focus family extends to Senator Alexander and the Alexander family our deep sympathy with the loss of wife, mother and grandmother and First Lady.