Thursday, November 30, 2006

KAT, property theft, and Billy Haslam

Knoxville's city government, long notorious for its seemingly never-ending abuse and neglect of the property rights of its citizens, has now sunk to a brand new low: Now it wants to take property from businesses on Church Avenue downtown at the site of the Church Avenue Bridge in order to widen the area and build a new KAT transit center (a bus station) there. Some readers may ask: Wouldn't the transit center be considered a public good, and taking this land for public use would therefore be justifiable under constitutional eminent domain doctrine? It might be considered a public good if KAT actually operated like a real urban transit system-it does not. Most thorough urban transit systems have enough busses to cover the entire city (at the very least), and KAT not only doesn't, they aren't looking to any time in the near future. Most real urban transit systems run busses well into the night. With the exception of KAT's very scarce "Night Rider" service, the busses that can actually take you home from work stop running at 6:00pm (this was such a chronic problem for me when I worked in downtown Knoxville that while I took the bus to work every day, my wife had to come pick me up and waste gas to do it-all the while I was perfectly capable of boarding a bus and getting home myself if the busses ran late enough). KAT is so unlike a basic urban transit system that my transportation needs as a person with a disability are now better served here in rural White Pine (where I don't need a bus to get around) then they were in North Knoxville. Something is wrong with that picture.

I have written about the inefficiencies of KAT before, and I also questioned the need for a new transit center when KAT could use the money that it would cost to build the center to expand its daily schedule and/or add routes and drivers, something that KAT desperately needs to do before a bona fide bus station is really needed. I am not opposed to the idea of a transit center in principle, but before one can be considered, KAT needs to build its system so that a transit center really is necessary. As it stands now, a transit center/bus station is really a fancy and expensive toy that drivers and KAT personnel could use at their pleasure, and would likely function as a de facto homeless shelter for the ever-expanding homeless population in downtown Knoxville.

Billy Haslam and his friends are threating to use eminent domain to move businesses from downtown so that the city may be credited with building an expensive rain shield and homeless shelter.

Haslam's potential Primary opponents (should he choose to run for Governor in 2010) should take note that his administration as Mayor of Knoxville is one marked as a monument of inefficiency, excessive expenditure, eminent domain abuse, and use of the office as a cheap prop for the Governorship. Haslam's attitude toward property rights is in the mold of Victor Ashe, who may be a Republican on paper, but Ashe had a mentality about property rights that could be termed quasi-Communism-it is apparent that Haslam has a similar attitude.

I lived in Cincinnati for a couple of years and I thought Charlie Luken was a terrible mayor. When I once complained to his office about the city plow trucks piling snow on the sidewalk in front of my apartment (thereby making it impossible for me to get to the bus stop and get to work) he responded with "we'll try to do better next time,"-nothing was ever done about this very basic problem. Charlie Luken has nothing on Bill Haslam-Haslam is such a bad mayor that if Charlie Luken lived in Knoxville, I'd take Luken seven ways to Sunday over Billy Haslam.

If Haslam is that bad as Mayor, Governor Haslam would be the ruination of our great State. We must do all in our power to stop it in the 2010 Republican Primary. Haslam will make Don Sundquist look like a saint.



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