Boom! Rhonda Lee has arrived on Knox County Commission. Sworn in on September 1, 2022, she already has:
- Called out Mayor Glenn Jacobs
- Annoyed Larsen Jay and probably Sheriff Tom Spangler
- Been banned from the Halls Republican Club, and
- Attacked Young-Williams Animal Center
And she’s still in her first month.
HPUD: Lee’s signature campaign issue was getting a handle on rates at the Hallsdale Powell Utility District. A primary opponent, Chuck Severance, said county commissioners could not control a utility district. Chuck lost.
This video shows Lee, admitting that county commissioners cannot control utility districts. But she said she “disapproved and was disappointed” by Mayor Glenn Jacobs’ reappointment of HPUD board chair Kevin Julian to a fourth 4-year term.
Jacobs didn’t have to reappoint Julian and he shouldn’t have.
But Lee was not deft. She could have talked with Jacobs before he chose Julian. If not satisfied, she could have called a public meeting. Rallied the folks who had just elected her and made it easy for them to phone or email the mayor. Leading beats whining every time.
Weiner: A second strategic blunder was to support Steven Weiner for appointment to the Sheriff’s Merit Council. Weiner ran against Commissioner Larsen Jay in this spring’s GOP primary. He lost. Jay had allied with Sheriff Tom Spangler to reform the previous merit council, which had been packed with friends of former Sheriff Jimmy “JJ” Jones, including Commissioner Gina Oster, who was supporting Weiner. Read the room. And when it doesn’t matter, vote with your friends.
Lee wasn’t done.
Halls Republicans: Earlier in the month, the Halls Republican Club was “disapproving and disappointed” when Lee, Oster, Kim Frazier and Terry Hill teamed with Democrats Courtney Durrett and Dasha Lundy to elect Durrett as commission chair. Republicans outnumber Dems 9-2 on the commission, yet they elected a Democratic chair. One fellow said the turncoats were not welcomed at the club. That may not matter to Hill or Oster, but Halls is the heart of Lee’s district. Dance with the one that brung you.
Young-Williams: Through a glitch in the county’s contract for services, some $1 million was not appropriated to the animal shelter. It was lumped with other issues into a $13 million supplemental appropriation which was put on the consent agenda.
But at the Sept. 19 workshop, Lee asked to separate Young-Williams and remove it from consent, requiring discussion and a vote at the regular meeting. Young-Williams representatives were there for four hours.
When the item was finally called, Lee said she wanted a breakdown of the administrative salaries at Young-Williams. Nobody had that breakdown, and Lee moved to delay the vote for 30 days. Draw your conclusion. Lee’s motion failed for lack of a second. And the $1 million was approved. No matter how you’re feeling, a little dog gonna love you.” – Waka Flocka Flame
Way to come out punching, Rhonda. And just think, you’ve got 3 years, 11 months to go.
Sandra Clark is editor/CEO of Knox TN Today Inc.