Publisher’s Positions

By Steve Hunley

They Should Pay For It

The City of Knoxville has paid $150,000 to hire someone to write a grant to build a “pedestrian” bridge across the Tennessee River.  The proposed bridge would span the South Knoxville waterfront to the University of Tennessee campus.  The original idea had been to build the bridge to further develop the South Knox waterfront.

The Knoxville City Council voted 8 – 1 to hire CDM Smith as a consultant to seek federal funds for the bridge, which is supposed to cost somewhere between $50 – $70 million.  The UT Daily Beacon refers to the bridge as a “pedestrian – bicycle bridge” in an effort “to extend campus southward.”  Supposedly, the City of Knoxville, Knox County and the University of Tennessee are all involved in the process to make the bridge a reality.

Naturally, anyone even remotely familiar with Knoxville knows there are already two bridges in place; the Gay Street and Henley Street bridges connect South Knoxville to the downtown area.  Both of those bridges are mere blocks away from the UT campus.  Both bridges allow motorists and bicycle fanatics to cross them; both bridges also have sidewalks for pedestrians.

Frankly, it is questionable just how much the proposed new bridge will contribute to the development of the South Knox waterfront.  Not only that, some South Knoxvillians wonder if the development would simply allow the university to build across the river as the campus is currently landlocked.  Others speculate it would surely allow the construction of boat slips to allow the Vol Navy to dock on game days so that the owners might saunter across the bridge, which conveniently comes out at the stadium.  That is likely not a mere coincidence, so the speculation seems quite plausible.  There is the natural supposition the “development” would also include more student housing, which has some South Knoxvillians worried about the already overburdened Chapman Highway.  Advocates for the bridge are promoting it as a tool for the benefit of UT saying a “college campus with access to natural recreation could encourage prospective students to choose UT and increase Knoxville’s graduate retention.”

The truth is Knoxville and Knox County are growing faster than the governments can handle.  The City just popped taxpayers with a 40% increase in the property tax.  With an influx of tens of thousands of people, local infrastructure begins to fall behind.  Roads have to be repaired and/or expanded; schools, some of them brand new, become full to capacity and need expansion the day they are opened.  It drives up the cost at a time when hyper-inflation is already hurting folks and their purchasing power.

Generally speaking, the elite who do the planning and promotion of spending taxpayer dollars are so well paid, they rarely ever think of the folks who are actually paying the taxes.  While city officials say they are concerned about rising rents, all but Janet Testerman and Amelia Parker voted for the 40% increase in the property tax.  The bottom line is a big property tax increase drives up rents and mortgages, which is devastating to working families.  People like David Brace, Knoxville’s COO, are paid salaries that dwarf those earned by most county officials, whose government is more than twice the size of that of the City and more efficient.  Rarely ever is the cost of something ever related to the people who actually pay for it and their ability to pay.

Whatever the reality of the proposed pedestrian bridge, one thing that is almost always true of government projects is the fact there will be cost overruns.  If the bridge is $50 million or $70 million at first estimate, one can be certain that it will actually cost far more when the bill comes due.  The Safety Center is a good example of a project that cost far more than anticipated, almost double, in fact.

It is also true the construction of yet another bridge across the Tennessee River next to the two existing bridges, really benefits nobody except for the University of Tennessee.  Tossing aside the astonishing notion the City of Knoxville employs no grant writers in its government and needed to pay $150,000 for a consultant, one entity which likely keeps grant writers on its payroll is the University of Tennessee.

Is it really necessary in a terrible economy to build a third bridge for the University of Tennessee?  Taxpayers are already building a stadium for the university’s president. If the University of Tennessee really feels it needs a new bridge and would derive the most benefit from it, then they should pay for it.

Burchett Blasts DirecTV

Congressman Tim Burchett has denounced AT&T-owned DirecTV’s cancellation of Newsmax’s contract with the cable provider  as “clearly another Big Tech liberal, woke move,” while noting “but if it were a network with a Marxist agenda” it would have been allowed to continued to be aired.  “They have a history of this,” Burchett said during an appearance on Newsmax.  “This is what goes on when these people are unchecked.”

The satellite and streaming provider earlier this week announced it had pulled Newsmax from its lineup, provoking an angry response from conservatives all across the country.  DirecTV’s explanation was that it was necessary as a cost cutting measure, which is precisely the same explanation it used when it removed OAN last year.

“We need to start casting our dollars elsewhere,” Burchett told an interviewer.  The Tennessee congressman said entities like DirecTV understand one thing and one only: “the dollars.”

“We’ve got to stand up,” Burchett said.  “Congress is starting to take notice of this.  If they want to mess up their deal, let Congress get hold of it.  We’d mess up a bucket of water.  They don’t want that.”

Congressman Burchett pointed out that, “It needs to be neutral.  That’s what the First Amendment is about.  The First Amendment is great, until somebody says something you don’t like.  That’s what happened here.”

Of course Congressman Tim Burchett is exactly right.  Nothing would make the Left in this country happier than to have a state-run media.  Much of the news media is merely an extension of the Left as it is and one only has to note the crashing of the once-mighty CNN, which has suffered dismal ratings because it became less of a news agency than a source of propaganda.

The Left has no trouble squalling when it is mad and conservatives need to learn to do the same thing.  If you are a DirecTV customer, call 1-877-763-9762 and insist they bring Newsmax back on the air now.


Everyone Should Have A Decent Burial

I was really surprised the other day when I read there were as many as 300 unclaimed bodies being held at Knox County’s forensic center.  There was a time when the county used “Potter’s Field,” a graveyard for the truly indigent, to give those folks a decent burial.  Frankly, I think every person deserves a decent burial and it’s been on my mind ever since.  The subject bears some looking-into, at least inasmuch as are these folks eventually laid to rest?  Are they given a proper headstone?  Are they put to rest with some final words spoken over their mortal remains?

I think there’d be a number of Knox Countians, myself included, who would give to a fund so that these folks could be laid to rest and given decent burials.