Monday, February 04, 2008

Two sides to the story

The word is out that Knox County Government and all of its shenanigans are to be found in today's New York Times. After everything that has happened in Knox County over the last year, it is no wonder that the whole business is finally making the big time-the pages of the country's largest Democratic Party mouthpiece. One thing that is noteworthy about the Times piece is that the Knox County Commission (and especially Lumpy Lambert) are raked over the coals in the article, but this is the treatment of the corruption of Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale:

The county’s public officials helped to propel the reform movement just by being themselves. All year, for example, reports of mismanagement dogged County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. And embarrassing testimony from lawsuits filed by several citizens and The News Sentinel’s editor, Mr. McElroy, led to a jury decision that the commission’s Black Wednesday performance had violated the state’s open-meetings law, forcing those “replacement” officials to vacate their seats.

One paragraph, and that was it. The scandalous behavior of Team Ragsdale has a much longer history than the shenanigans of the Knox County Commission on January 31, yet Ragsdale gets the easy treatment from the Times' Dan Barry. Barry even writes a suggestive sentence implying that the county mayor should appoint certain county offices.

Could various political fiefdoms — the county clerk, the property assessor, the register of deeds — be broken up by having those elected positions appointed by the county mayor instead?

That wouldn't be politically beneficial to Ragsdale, would it?

I somehow think those advocating for this kind of "change" would be singing a different tune very quickly if Tim Hutchison were elected Knox County Mayor in 2010-and if Tim runs, he would likely win. Why? Back when WBIR ran its poll on the dysfunction of county government in Knox County, the one division of government that continued to get very high approval among Knox Countians was county law enforcement-the branch with which most Knox Countians still associate Tim Hutchison. If and when Hutchison is elected Mayor of Knox County, expect pro-Ragsdale forces and liberal Democrats (in some cases these are one in the same) to whine like children from whom a lollipop was taken.

There is little doubt that the Knox County Commission is deserving of the attention as well as the scorn of Knox County voters in many cases, and they may get it. There is another side to the Knox County chaos, however, and that story is not one that The New York Times chose to tell.

NOTE: As for Commissioner Lambert, he can speak for himself. I have spoken with Lumpy and he has agreed that after all of the February 5th hoopla dies down, he is going to appear on Oatney On the Air for a no-holds barred interview.



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