By Steve Hunley


Pirates Walk the Plank

The little band of political pirates who boarded the GOP Ship of State two years ago walked the plank earlier this month.  Erik Wiatr and his merry band sought to perpetuate their hold on the throat of the local Republican Party organization. Slick hand cards appeared promoting a “ticket” loyal to Wiatr with prospective Knoxville city mayoral candidate Keith Lyon heading it.

Daniel Herrera opened the Knox County GOP Reorganization meeting with a speech lauding himself and his law practice.

The contest came down to a fight between the Wiatr loyalists and the rest of the Republicans.  The alternative to Keith Lyon was Buddy Burkhardt, a former chair of the Knox County Republican Party.  Burkhardt spoke first (speakers appeared in alphabetical order) in a short little talk emphasizing the grassroots of the party; Burkhardt stated under the previous regime, the grassroots had been ignored.  Burkhart reminded the gathering it was that same grassroots who had funded and worked for and built-up Knox County’s Republican Party that had made it the majority party.

The contrast between the candidates became evident when Lyon took the podium and gave a lengthy talk about his program and background.  The delegates became restive as Lyon spoke as there likely weren’t 10 people attending who didn’t already have their minds made up.

When former state Representative Roger Kane announced the results, the room collectively let out its breath. Knox County Democrats won’t find Burkhardt and his administration as such an inviting target as Herrera.  The Democrats won’t find it as easy to fund raise off of Buddy Burkhardt and the local Republican party as they did Herrera and Wiatr.

A few oddities were noted during the voting with some delegates roaming the floor who were known to vote in other counties and must have moved to Knox County in recent weeks.  Evidently, the Wiatr workers couldn’t float in enough roving patriots or disqualify enough delegates to squeeze out a majority.

Outside the Herrera-Wiatr crowd, the local Republican Party came together as never before.  Factions that had never agreed on anything agreed that it was time for internal strife to end; to stop allowing the party’s resources to be used for personal profit and to challenge incumbent GOP officeholders.

Some delegates sought to make light of the previous Focus editorial by wearing pirate garb.  By the end of the meeting, the pirates had walked the plank, and the pirate garb was no where to be found.


And Poof!  It Was Gone

State Representative Elaine Davis is serving her first term and has sponsored a slew of bills, including one that would kill Early Voting.  Evidently, Elaine heard about it from some folks and dropped it like a hot rock without any explanation of any kind.

The math was evident from the beginning.  Even more Republicans than Democrats vote early.  Davis dropped the bill in record time.


Will Bridge Be An Issue In Upcoming City Council Races?

The University of Tennessee has announced its plan to buy property directly across from the proposed bridge to nowhere.  UT is buying the area near Scottish Pike for $9 million for student housing, etc.  The City of Knoxville is already paying 150,000 taxpayer dollars just to find someone who can write a grant proposal in order to secure federal funds.  Evidently, there’s nobody either in the city government or at the University of Tennessee who can write grant proposals, necessitating the expenditure of more taxpayer dollars for some private firm to do the job.

Funding for the bridge, which conveniently comes out at Thompson-Boiling arena, is supposed to be comprised of a variety of sources with the City of Knoxville chipping in 6 million more taxpayer dollars.  The bridge is supposed to cost somewhere around $50 million and from what I’ve seen, the folks pushing the new bridge are thinking they might snag $25 million in grant funding.  Add the City’s $6 million to that amount and it comes to $31 million.  Where does the other $19 million come from?

Nobody has ever explained why other governments – – – and every Knoxville taxpayer is also a county, state and federal taxpayer – – – would chip in for a project that so clearly benefits the University of Tennessee and nobody else.  It will add significantly to growing traffic problems along an already overburden Chapman Highway, add nothing in the way of more property to the tax rolls, and quite possibly continue to drive up rents.

Opposition is beginning to form, but the current city council and Indya Kincannon will move ahead, but the bridge may very well be an issue in the coming city council races.


No Consequences For Bad Behavior Won’t Work

Daniel Buck, a teacher, has a new book out entitled, “What Is Wrong With Our Schools: The Ideology Impoverishing Our Schools and How We Can Do Better for Our Students.” In his book, Buck argues discipline in the classroom is an essential ingredient in learning.  Buck is no fan of restorative practices.

“I think the idea we’re going to solve misbehavior is kind of utopian,” Buck said.  Yet the author and educator flatly states that is the idea promoted by progressives.

“If we just get the system right, then kids are going to behave.  And that’s never going to happen,” Buck says.  Daniel Buck argues instead schools need a strong disciplinary “system in place that anticipates and responds to misbehavior.”

The current lack of discipline in the classroom is causing school systems across the country to lose teachers, who quit or retire early.  Readers will recall we saw a situation that could have come right out of Buck’s book. There was a period of time when South-Doyle Middle School was in dire shape due to a lack of enforcing a disciplinary policy.  Fully 25% of the teaching staff left.  The downtown administration had to move principals around to stop the slide.

Daniel Buck teaches middle school English and language arts.  Asked by an interviewer, Buck said he is deeply concerned because of “the removal of consequences and discipline in schools.”

“There’s this trend, in the broader American politics, everyone’s arguing about policing and bail reform.  Similar arguments are happening in schools, but people just aren’t as aware of it.  So, getting rid of things like suspensions, expulsions, detentions, and there’s a school, I think it’s in Dallas, that has, instead of, if you kick a kid out of class for one reason or another, instead of going to the principal, they go to a reset center where there’s bean bags and snacks and they get to hang out.”

Buck strongly disagrees with the philosophy behind the idea and stated, ”So the idea that we’re just kind of going to friendly kids, we’re going to just be nice to them, and then they’re going to behave well – – – which any parent knows, that’s not how parenting, that’s not how teaching, that’s not how raising children works.”

Buck said the removal of consequences and discipline is “just proving a nightmare.”  Buck contends the current educational system is the same woke approach pressed by progressives everywhere.  “This idea that adults having authority is oppressive.  There’s this trendy idea that the teacher-student relationship is the same as the oppressor-oppressed dynamic of Marx.  So, imposing any kind of rules on children is oppressive, even racist.  And that’s really what’s causing it, is just these woke ideas are becoming mainstream in education.”

Buck mentioned the case of one teacher who wrote an open letter to her school board, saying she was becoming fearful of going to work.  Instead of teaching, the teacher wrote she and many of her colleagues spend their time “trying to put out bigger fires like fights, vandalism, the destruction of property.”

Too many Americans have forgotten or never learned the old adage, “You get what you tolerate.”