‘Liking’ you

Sandra ClarkFeature, Gossip and Lies

Election day question: Do “likes” on Facebook translate to votes? If so, say howdy to Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs.

Jacobs, the professional wrestler known as Kane, has some 37,000 likes on his campaign Facebook page. That number is so high that we just rechecked. It’s true. And it compares favorably to the more modest likes for Brad Anders (965) and Bob Thomas (309).

Over in the sheriff’s race, Lee Tramel has tried to set himself apart by implying that Tom Spangler is over-the-hill on technology and progressive programs for criminal drug addicts. Yet on Facebook, Tramel had 1,515 likes on Friday to Spangler’s 2,677.

A young Spangler supporter said it’s funny that the “self-proclaimed more progressive candidate is losing by 1,000 at the more progressive outlet for connectivity. Maybe Tom’s winning on Facebook because it’s free, or maybe because he’s smart for an old guy.”

And this does seem generational. In the at-large county commission races, the younger Justin Biggs had 943 likes, while R. Larry Smith had 115 for Seat 11; the younger Larsen Jay had 153, while Ronnie Rochelle had 59 for Seat 10. Although he’s short of likes on his political page, Rochelle must have hundreds of likes on his personal page. That number is not public, but he shares 216 likes with this writer.

Over in South Knox, the younger Amber Rountree had 457 likes, while her opponent, Kristi Kristy, had 307.

Bad deal means bad vote for school board majority

The daily paper rails against a school board dominated by educators. Yet tonight (4/30) the board killed a motion by Lynne Fugate to ask Knox County Commission for funding that would restore cuts to Project GRAD and the magnet schools, plus give teachers a two percent raise.

Without a raise, teachers will take home less pay, because health insurance costs are up and teachers pay a portion of the premiums, Fugate said.

Get this – Fugate is a former banker who now works for Girls Scouts. Voting with her were real estate agent Gloria Deathridge and Jennifer Owen, a former teacher.

Voting against Fugate’s motion were retired teachers Mike McMillan, Tony Norman, Patti Bounds, Amber Rountree; retired school social worker Terry Hill; and Susan Horn, elementary education coordinator for a church school.

The board then passed Superintendent Bob Thomas’s revised budget, which includes partial cuts to magnet programs, the GT (gifted and talented) programs and Project GRAD and has no raise for teachers. That vote was 5-4, with Bounds, Rountree, Norman, McMillan and Horn voting yes; Fugate, Deathridge, Owen and Hill voting no.

Why did six educators vote against a raise for teachers? Because of a bad political deal, I think.

Effective July 1, 2015, Mayor Tim Burchett initiated a memorandum of understanding in which the school board promised to live within natural revenue growth – the projected increase of property and sales taxes – through fiscal year 2019. (Owen, Norman and Horn were elected in 2016 and not party to this agreement)

  • Gibbs got a middle school
  • Hardin Valley got a middle school
  • Knox County Schools got a one-time $3 million infusion for teachers’ APEX bonuses, which had been promised but not funded; this enabled the schools to give a two percent raise to employees.
  • Burchett got a pledge to relocate KCS central office and return the Andrew Johnson Building to the private sector.

This deal was done without public input. It moved two middle schools ahead of previously scheduled construction projects. It solved a short-term funding problem but led inevitably to votes like the one tonight. Teachers voting against teachers without even saying why.

And Tim Burchett will have served eight years as mayor without any kind of tax increase and without the unpleasantness of a commission vote on education funding.

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