By Steve Hunley

Better Screeners Needed

As Republicans in Knox County prepared to go into convention last week, Credentials Committee member Kevin Hill was busy trying to disqualify legitimate GOP voters.  Among those Hill tried to claim weren’t Republican voters was an aide to U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty, school board member Steve Triplett, and Law Director David Buuck.  Both Triplett and Buuck won contested Republican primaries to become the GOP nominee in the general election.  Both Buuck and Triplett beat opponents in the general election.

Buuck was informed via email from Kevin Hill and replied, holding nothing back.  Buuck told Hill all he needed to do was check with the election office.  The law director did provide a copy of his voter registration card from Knox County.  David Buuck also pointed out he is an elected official and according to the by-laws is therefore qualified, apparently a fact Hill overlooked or didn’t know.  “I have grave suspicions about this registration process,” Buuck wrote in his reply.  “It appears to be a vehicle of Eric Wiatr.  It is just another way for the Knox County Republican Party Executive Committee to waste unneeded services – e.g., paying $20,000 + to some unknown DJ at Lincoln Day Dinner when we had never paid anyone to speak other than travel expenses.”

It may well be a coincidence that one of the candidates on Erik Wiatr’s slate for the GOP reorganization, Sherry Garrett, had opposed Steve Triplett in the GOP primary during the last school board race and lost and not a by a little bit.  Who do you suppose ran Garrett’s campaign?

Ironically, Kevin Hill’s email to David Buuck mentions, “In order to be registered as a voting delegate we must confirm your voting record is compliant with the state GOP by-laws for voting in County Convention” yet he seems unaware those same bylaws state Republican elected officials are qualified as voting delegates.  It is also entirely possible Hill doesn’t know who Knox County’s elected Republicans are.

Or it could be as simple as trying to disqualify as many delegates as possible who are not backing the Wiatr slate.  Unfortunately, that seems entirely plausible.


Kincannon Won’t Rule Out Another Tax Increase

Folks are beginning to get mortgage statements showing the 40% increase in the property tax in the City of Knoxville.  To put that into perspective, Davidson County had suffered through a tornado that tore through much of downtown as well as funding a stadium, raised property taxes 30%.

Mayor Indya Kincannon called her budget a “no frills” effort, yet the City has a spending problem.  Kincannon’s insistence the increase would only mean $10 or $20 a month for most people seems wildly inaccurate.

Even with the spending, City officials are looking at ways to increase taxes even more.  Kincannon’s appearance on “Inside Tennessee” confirms what this newspaper has said repeatedly; that Kincannon and her allies on the city council are planning to raise property taxes yet again.  When asked by one of the panelists whether she would rule out yet another tax increase during the next four years, Kincannon refused to rule it out.

The one thing missing from the dialogue on the city council is cutting costs.  Kincannon and her minions talk about “affordable housing,” yet the large property tax increase has the effect of raising rents and mortgages during a time of high inflation and wages, except for city employees, are stagnant.

While Knox County government concentrates on being business-friendly and hasn’t had to raise taxes in more than 20 years.  By contrast, the City of Knoxville has been much less friendly to business and has raised taxes continually for pensions with defined benefits.  The City concentrates on building a $50 to $70 million bridge to nowhere, spanning from South Knoxville to Neyland Stadium.

Nashville at least can point to the tornado as cause for raising taxes.  The only natural disaster Knoxville has suffered is Indya Kincannon.



Are Government-Funded Stadiums A Good Investment For Taxpayers?

With the Tennessee General Assembly having provided half a billion dollars in direct funding to a new Titans’ stadium in Nashville, comes a new academic paper by scholars.  J. C. Bradbury, a Kennesaw State University economist, along with Brad Humphreys from West Virginia University, and Dennis Coates of the University of Maryland-Baltimore County, concluded, “The common justification that stadium-related spending results in increased economic activity is not well founded.”  The paper points out that, “. . .spending at sports events crowds out other local spending and does not represent net new spending to the area.”

In case someone failed to get the point, the paper states: “The empirical evidence is unambiguous: stadiums do not confer large positive economic or social benefits on host communities.”

The authors came to the following conclusion:

“The incidence of these alternate tax instruments may be difficult for the general public and policymakers to observe, which fosters the perception that public funding does not burden taxpayers. Instead, the alternate tax sources serve to produce fiscal illusion, which results when the connection between the total and individual share of resources used to fund public services is obscured to hide the true burden to taxpayers.”