Haslam’s gas tax criticized at Libertarian townhall

The East Tennessee Libertarian Party held its monthly town hall meeting on Thursday, Feb. 23 to address issues it is facing in the coming months such as gas tax and equal ballot access.

State Director of Americans for Prosperity, Andy Ogles, spoke against Governor Bill Haslam’s proposed gas tax saying that it was a fiscally irresponsible policy. According to Ogles, it signals an expanding state government—something that Americans for Prosperity stands against.

“Any time you raise taxes on hardworking taxpayers, you have to be able to justify it,” Ogles said. “When you have a… $1.8 billion surplus, you don’t raise taxes.” He believes that the legislature should be identifying ways to give the money back to Tennessee residents. 

Another policy issue hitting close to home for Tennessee Libertarians gaining ballot presence. Two bills in the Tennessee General Assembly, House Bill 662 and Senate Bill 770, are pertinent to the party receiving ballot prominence. In Tennessee, independent parties do not have their party name on voting ballots. Instead, ballots use the catch-all blanket term “independent” to refer to any party other than Democrat or Republican. If passed, the bills make equal ballot access much more attainable by changing the standard of 34,000 signatures to 5,000.

Libertarian candidate Andrew Wilson also spoke about his campaign for the South Knoxville City Council seat up for grabs. Wilson is aiming to campaign on a platform of business diversity and saving taxpayer dollars to win the District 1 seat.

“A lot of rules and restrictions are passed at the federal and state levels, but a lot of administration is done locally,” Wilson said. “So what we need to do is look at the expenses that can be controlled.”

The Libertarian state convention will begin on Saturday, March 11. They will discuss several changes to state leadership as well as strategies for the party moving forward. Find more information here.

 

Edited by McKenzie Manning

Featured Image by Lance W. Haverkamp via wikimedia.org

‘The French Market’ owner addresses construction concerns at Knoxville City Council meeting

The French Market and red light traffic cameras were among topics of discussion during the Knoxville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Allen Tate, owner of The French Market, stated his concerns about a board wall in front of his business during the Public Forum segment. He said the wall has been there for 17 weeks and prevents his customers, especially those in a wheelchair, from entering and exiting his restaurant with ease. Tate said the wall has no roof to provide any protection from falling construction objects and has no reason to exist in front of his business.

 “We’ve been here for nine years,” Tate said. “I don’t think it’s fair for us to be treated this way and for [the city council] to look the other way.”

Tate asked for the City Council to limit the developers from adding walls or something similar in front of businesses like his. Tate also said that he was told 30 days would be the maximum amount of time the wall would be there and was put up in the second week of May.

“He hasn’t started any construction,” Tate said.

According to Rick Emmett, downtown coordinator for the City of Knoxville, the structure was added for safety reasons. However, Emmett agrees that with no roof on the wall, there is a problem. He said the tunnel was created so customers will go to The French Market instead of accidently wandering off into the construction zone.

Lauren Rider, a librarian at Pellissippi State who is running for City Council next year, said she thinks the two parties need to have a mediator to solve the construction zone issues surrounding The French Market.

“In some regards, it sounds a little outside the scope for City Council,” Rider said. “That was my initial reaction.”

Deputy Chief Kenny Miller spoke to the Council on the installation of traffic cameras at red lights in multiple locations. With these unmanned traffic cameras, photos will be taken of vehicles running red lights, which will then be sent to a police officer. Miller clarified that this would only be used for running red lights and not turning right on red.

“Once the camera takes the picture, the vendor begins to initially…if they see a violation, it is then sent to the police department,” Miller said. “A police officer reviews the footage. If the police officer agrees there’s a violation, then a citation is issued; but, [the citation] is not issued until an officer has reviewed it.”

Mayor Madeline Rogero began the meeting by celebrating Councilman Mark Campen’s birthday and Knoxville’s 225th anniversary of its founding. The actual date of the anniversary is Oct. 3. Rogero listed several events throughout the weekend in celebration including Dinner on the Bridge and events on Gay Street.

Former Councilman Larry Cox and Deborah Thomas also spoke about concerns of down zoning and single-family homes. Thomas said there is a service alley that runs parallel to Central Street and the single-family housing ends at that alley. She also said she and Cox have no objection, but said it was a study and knows the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) would finalize it.

The next City Council meeting will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m.

Featured image by Kaitlin Flippo

Edited by Ben Webb

City Council approves grant to aid HIV/AIDS victim housing

Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.
Jim York, Finance Director, gives the final funding report on general obligation bonds at the Knoxville City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Knoxville City Council authorized the mayor, Madeline Rogero, to execute an agreement with local nonprofit organization Positively Living Inc. during their meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 30.

Due to Rogero’s absence, vice mayor, Nick Palvis presided over the meeting and stood in favor of the agreement with the Knoxville-based charity. The agreement will afford $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for building rehabilitation that will permit the addition of five more living units to its current 16,000 square foot East Fifth Avenue facility.

Becky Wade, director of community development, invited Steve Jenkins, executive director of Positively Living Inc., to provide the council with some background information on the organization.

“Positively Living has been around since the mid-1990s, and serves victims struggling to cope with the challenges created by HIV/AIDS, homelessness, mental illness, disabilities, and other health conditions,” said Jenkins.

The upkeep of the facility is vital in carrying out the organizations key efforts which, according to the Positively Living Inc. website, include “providing case management, supportive housing, food service, and mental health/addiction counseling to individuals who are homeless; mentally ill; addicted to drugs, alcohol, or other substances; and/or living with HIV/AIDS.”

The Knoxville Community Development Department is able to fund building projects through the Community Development Block Grant program. The CDBG is the second largest funding source in the department’s consolidation plan. In 2013, the city expended a total of $1,620,637  in CDBG funds. Other funding sources for the department include HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Emergency Solutions Grant.

Knoxville’s Community Development Department administers a variety of programs geared toward the revitalization of Knoxville’s low-to-moderate income neighborhoods. In order for resources to have the greatest impact, the Department targets its programs to strategy areas that are selected periodically. To learn more, click here.

Edited by Jessica Carr

 

Knoxville Food Policy Council reveals new research

The Knoxville/Knox County Food Policy Council released information about its “Spring 2013 Community Research Findings and Recommendations” and its upcoming events on Tuesday, Sept. 17th at a Knoxville City Council meeting.

James Bosi, business resource manager and food policy council member, reported that the council researched issues including residential food access, food mapping, and “Farm to Fork.” “‘Farm to Fork’ is a phrase that many food consumers use to describe their affinity for fresh and locally grown food,” according to the council’s website.

“This project [was] funded by the state of Tennessee’s ‘Eat Well, Play More’ initiative…,”the food policy council’s website said.  The council worked closely with Healthcare 21, a business coalition specializing in improving health, to further enhance this research.

According to Food Research and Action Center’s “Food Hardship in America 2011,” Knoxville is ranked 17th in a survey taken by Gallup-Healthway about food hardships in the nation’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

Bosi explained that Knoxville was one of 13 cities who were traveling to Memphis to address issues such as, transportation to food stores and food access. They plan to “look at [the] success of other cities and bring back…” valuable information to the City Council, according to Bosi.

Stephanie Welch, Director of Community Development and Planning, Steve Seifried, principal at Conversant Consulting , and Liam Hysjulien, a UT undergraduate advisor , were all current board members present at the meeting.

The Food Council also invited the community to its free screening of “A Place at the Table” at the University of Tennessee’s University Center on Saturday, September 2st at 4 p.m. The film “…gives a new face to hunger…,” Bosi said.

“A Place at the Table tells the powerful stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat,” according to the film’s official website. The film also features celebrity Chef Tom Colicchio, a judge on Bravo’s hit show, Top Chef.

For more information about Knoxville/Knox County Food Policy Council visit http://www.knoxfood.org/.

 

 

Food Policy Council members Stephanie Welch, James Bosi, Stevie Seifried, and Liam Hysjulien attend a Knoxville City Council meeting.
Food Policy Council members Stephanie Welch, James Bosi, Stevie Seifried, and Liam Hysjulien attend a Knoxville City Council meeting.
Food and Research centers chart shows  Knoxville’s rank in the Top 25 MSAs for Food Hardship. http://frac.org/pdf/food_hardship_2011_report.pdf
Food and Research centers chart shows
Knoxville’s rank in the Top 25 MSAs for Food Hardship.
http://frac.org/pdf/food_hardship_2011_report.pdf