Roger: Over and out

Sandra ClarkGossip and Lies

It was vintage Roger Kane on Tuesday at the Knox County Commission workshop. And when Kane’s five-minute report to the commission ended, his boss, Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs, fired him on the spot, according to courthouse sources who asked not to be identified.

On the record, everybody made nice. On Wednesday morning, Kane announced his resignation as education liaison for Jacobs, who thanked him for his service. School board chair Terry Hill and Superintendent Bob Thomas were gracious.

Hear Kane’s speech here. (Kane starts at 11:20 on Co Com W S R 1467 – 190219) And contrast it with the remarks of Darris Upton, who preceded him at the lectern. Both men hold positions created by Jacobs through reorganization of his administrative staff. A one-word summary of their remarks: Upton – humble; Kane – hubris. Upton was relaxed. He used the word “we” and stressed teamwork to fulfill his mission of minority inclusion.

Kane seemed rushed. He used the word “I” 30 times and the word “Jacobs” not at all. He implied that he brought Gov. Bill Lee to town for his recent visit at South-Doyle High School. He talked of meeting individually with school board members to show them the reading scores of schools in their district, as if they didn’t know.

Kane, who served three terms in the state legislature, never mentioned his impending resignation to the commission. He didn’t know he was about to be resigned.

One school board member raised an interesting question: Why could Mayor Madeline Rogero create a position of “education liaison” for Indya Kincannon and avoid the pushback that came to Mayor Jacobs when he created the same job for Roger Kane?

Here are my thoughts:

  • Kincannon kept a low profile in a made-up job; Kane did not.
  • The political optics were wrong for Kane. He had just lost a race for county clerk; Kincannon had just returned from Slovenia where her husband, a UT law professor, had a one-year Fulbright teaching fellowship.
  • Kane expanded his job description every time he talked about it – stressing his Nashville connections and educational expertise, even though he made a career selling insurance.

We don’t know what previous discussions Kane and Jacobs had. We can’t know exactly what Kane said Tuesday that raised Jacobs’ ire. But we do know that Jacobs acted decisively to solve a festering personnel problem. Impressive.

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