When Glenn Jacobs is sworn in as Knox County mayor on Aug. 31, he will commence draining the swamp by creating an $80,000 per year job for former state legislator Roger Kane.
Kane, who was until recently an insurance man, will serve as an education liaison, whatever that is. Do not confuse him with Jacobs’ leather-masked alter ego, the wrestling villain also known as Kane.
Although small government libertarian Jacobs did what Knox County Republicans usually do in general elections and throttled his Democratic opponent Linda Haney, it was a different story in the May primary, where most county elections are decided. He squeaked through the three-way contest by a 23-vote margin over County Commissioner Brad Anders (36.1 percent).
After considerable prodding, Jacobs confirmed his intention to hire the former legislator, citing Kane’s experience as a member of the House Education Committee during his three terms as a backbencher in the General Assembly. Sources say Jacobs plans to create other new positions.
When asked how he will utilize Kane’s legislative expertise, considering the state’s revolving door statute prohibiting former legislators from returning to Capitol Hill as lobbyists for 12 months after retiring from office, Jacobs said Kane won’t be lobbying.
“He’ll be working with the school board, private schools and home schools,” Jacobs said. “We’ll make it work. It’ll be good.”
This job, unsurprisingly, is causing some questions among county officials, like this: “He’ll be getting paid $80,000 a year to walk across Gay Street?”
If Kane, who home-schooled his own children, finds his way across Gay Street, it will be interesting to see how he’s received by the public-school educators in the Andrew Johnson building, considering that his claim to fame in Nashville was sponsoring unsuccessful school voucher bills that disgruntled the Knox County school board, which has historically opposed vouchers. For an example of Kane’s voucher bills, go here.
Murky as his public education bona fides might seem, there’s another potential difficulty with Kane’s appointment:
He’s fresh off an unsuccessful race for county clerk against Register of Deeds Sherry Witt, who ended up dispatching him 61/38, despite Kane’s attempt to ride the current anti-government zeitgeist by labeling her a career politician, a job hopper and an all-around swamp thing.
Although he never posed a real threat to Witt’s prospects, he was probably a major pain in the ass (just going on experience and common sense here).
So, I’m guessing she’s probably running a little short of patience with good ol’ boys right about now, particularly since incumbent clerk Foster Arnett is the only lame duck officeholder in the courthouse who’s refusing to help his successor transition into the office she’ll be taking over next week.
She will be first woman to serve as clerk, just as she was the first woman to serve as register of deeds.
So, if Witt is unenthusiastic about the new mayor creating a cushy job for her most recent opponent, I’m going to cut her some slack. And so should Jacobs, because making friends is better than making enemies.
And 61-38 trumps a 23-vote mandate every time.