Monday, May 07, 2007
Knox County Lincoln Day
Brian's Blog has an excellent blow-by-blow of Saturday night's Knox County Lincoln Day Dinner.
I would like to add a few snippets of my own:
- The crowd was reported to be around 400, and that's probably pretty accurate. And disappointing. Blount County drew 400 in this non-election year, and its nowhere near the size of Knox County. Of the few elected officials who bothered to show up, nearly everyone mentioned that the size of the audience was rather dismal.
- Brian was right about one thing in particular - the food at Rothchild's was excellent.
- Senator Burr is a man of distinction, but his speech was poorly delivered. At least a dozen people mentioned that to me after the program ended, so I wasn't the only one who had witnessed better orations. As one attendee stated, they probably would have been better off letting Lamar or Jimmy Duncan give the keynote. Their stories are better.
- Several key officials were in attendance. As always, it was wonderful to see Tennessee Republican Party Vice Chairman Robin Smith in Knox County. It was also a pleasure to speak at length with the future State Senator from Tennessee's 4th District, Mike Faulk, as well as Knoxville's newest celebrity, Representative Stacey Campfield. Fred Thompson was also well-represented, as several of his netroots volunteers were in attendance.
- Probably of bigger consequence were the names who weren't there. Knox County Commission Chairman Scott Moore was there, but few of his brethren on the County Commission decided to come out and make themselves accountable for their treachery. That was especially noticeable with South Knox County, where Paul Pinkston and the recluse Tim Greene were absent at well. Lumpy Lambert didn't show (probably preparing for the skewering he took on "Inside Tennessee" the following morning, no doubt). Neither did County Mayor Mike Ragsdale. That was shocking. Ragsdale can make his way down to Blount County to speak but can't be bothered to face his own constituents in Knox County. Senator Jamie Woodson didn't attend (the rumor being that she may have been hanging with Governor Bredesen, as the two have become quite the horsetraders lately with the BEP revisions and Knox County suddenly getting $26.6 million more dollars in funding). I didn't see Frank Nicely, either. Which leads me to the main theme of the evening...
- The fractures in the Knox County GOP are beyond obvious. They are real and they will create problems for candidates at some point in the near future, potentially as early as 2008. Maybe I am wrong here. Several of the panelists (including Terry Frank) from Sunday morning's "Inside Tennessee" believe that all 12 of the Knox County Commissioners who are up for re-election will lose. That would be a start towards fixing the problem, but you still would have the Hutchison/Ragsdale feud, the Tindell/Hornback dust-up, the Tyler Harber debacle, and the ambitions of so many elected officials (Ragsdale, Woodson, Bill Haslam, Hutchison - to name a few) who are jockeying for higher office.
As I have said previously, the political environment here in Knox County is toxic. The poor turnout at the Knox County Lincoln Day is just a sign of the mounting problems in this county. Lincoln Day attendances have been strong in other counties (except for Washington County, which inexplicably had its Lincoln Day on Easter weekend) thus far this non-election year. Knox County has problems, and it remains to be seen if a group of people will take the reigns of leadership, drive out the corruption that permeates every corner of our county, and restore the people's faith in their government.
Only time will tell.
UPDATE: A reader opines:
"I was told by more than one person that Mike Ragsdale wasn't in attendance due to his wife being very sick from her cancer treatments. Also, as the dinner was getting started, I saw Lumpy come in and sit down at a table in the back (front of the stage, very back). Oddly, I didn't seem him afterwards. Maybe he was looking for a county commissioner to confer with in private? We may never know."
As for the part about Lumpy, I would wager that the only circumstance under which he would have been looking for a fellow County Commissioner to confer with would have been if there was a great possibility of the Sunshine Law being violated. Apparently, Neyland Stadium casts such a huge shadow over Knox County that we don't even recognize the Sunshine Law here. (Or maybe the Sunsphere is supposed to be our equivalent of the Sunshine Law?)