• “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” – Thomas Paine

Council Votes: Oct 13, 20 & 27 Oak Ridge City Council Meeting Summaries

It has been another busy month! For the sake of time, I’ve consolidated three of our most pertinent meetings into this one post.  10/13/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY  The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the October 13, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete … Continue reading

Vote for Garcia Garland for City Council – She won’t sell out

Please consider voting for my friend Anne Garcia Garland for City Council. Though we come from different ends of the political spectrum, Anne and I work very well together to ensure transparency and accountability. I respect her beyond words for being a woman who stands solid on her convictions. You can vote for her with … Continue reading

October City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for October 13th .  Significant items include the City Manager’s annual performance review,  a grant application to install a round-a-bout at Malfunction Junction and renewal of the CVB contract. See the agenda packet here for complete details. Results of the September regular meeting are found here. Additionally, per my … Continue reading

2014: The Year That Oak Ridgers Take Back Their Government

Did you know that most of our local elections have historically been decided by less than 20% of our population? In fact, one of the biggest financial decisions ever made in our city’s history – the high school renovation project – was determined by only 11% (3,198) of our residents. A number of factors have … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 9/29/14 SPECIAL MEETING: MALL TIF Changes

Governments that are oblivious to the burdens they have placed on their taxpayers do not hold the prescription for our economic maladies. And though Oak Ridge has substantial history that proves this, we refuse to learn from our past mistakes. Instead, year after year, the same players push their solutions wrapped in the flag of … Continue reading

The People’s Business – 9/26/14 Special Meeting: Chamber of Commerce formation of Progress PAC

Aside from the pathetic display of hatemongering by a BOE member’s husband who thought it an appropriate venue for spewing more vitriol at Ms. Paine, last night’s meeting exceeded my expectations in a number of ways. Originally, my meeting request, as outlined here, was for an executive meeting to discuss taking legal action against the … Continue reading

A Special Kind of Mean

We all know them almost as soon we see them. They are condescending and arrogant. They harass anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They yell and scream until you surrender and go away. They live in the purgatory of the internet, the comments section. I speak, of course, of the troll. Most of us can … Continue reading

Injunction Request Against the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce

Mr. Krushenski, I request that you seek an immediate injunction that prohibits the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce from conducting any and all political activities on city-owned land until such time that the courts can determine whether or not the Chamber misrepresented their intent to the City Council in our July 14th meeting. Those activities … Continue reading

City of Oak Ridge Financial Snapshot: Why Your City’s Financial Matters Matter

I was recently invited to speak to the Anderson County Tea Party. The following were my talking points. Critical documents are hyper-linked in blue. Why Your City’s Financial Matters Matter  Just about anything that happens (or doesn’t) in Oak Ridge has a direct tie to money, your money. Local government spending directly impacts your wallet. Think not only … Continue reading

9/8/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the September 8, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here and here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the October … Continue reading

September City Council Update

Hello! Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for September 8th .  Significant items are listed below and include the authorization of nearly $7 million in expenditures of tax payer funds. See the complete agenda packet here for complete details. August was a great month for the people of Oak Ridge to be heard at the … Continue reading

Letter to the Editor of the Oak Ridger: Correction of my statement about the Chamber of Commerce

To the Editor: I misspoke during our August 11th city council meeting and wish to make a public correction. Per a recent article in the Oak Ridger, I stated that “We pay the Chamber of Commerce $275,000 per year, compared to Farragut who pays $7,000 per year to be a member of their chamber.” While … Continue reading

Let’s show some love to our ORPD tomorrow!

Surviving the first few days back at school is a huge feat for our kiddos, parents and teachers.  This year it has been especially challenging for our entire community and we owe a debt of gratitude to our police force for watching over all of us in and around our schools.  Traffic and crowd control … Continue reading

8/11/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

NOTE: On this same evening, the BOE held a meeting in which they voted 4-1 (Angi Agle voted “no”) to fully reinstate transportation for all students, effectively suspending the “Parental Responsibility Zone” aka the walk zone upon full re-implementation which is expected to take up to 2 months. The following represents an unofficial account of … Continue reading

You can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first ~Frederick B. Wilcox

By year’s end, we’ll have had three major elections. Tomorrow, however, may prove to be the real tipping point in our community. A number of citizens have expressed an intent to take a stand in support of their positions on two issues – the school transportation cuts and the future of Clark Park. For weeks, … Continue reading

Afterthoughts on the 2015 Budget Discussions

A lot of incomplete, and sometimes inaccurate, information has been disseminated to the public regarding the FY2015 city and school budgets. Such inconsistencies compound citizen frustrations as they begin to feel the impact of both bodies’ decisions. I would like to offer some clarification along with supporting resources which are hyperlinked below. First, let me … Continue reading

7/14/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

Ending shortly after midnight, this one might go down in the record books as the longest city council meeting ever. I should point out that it is the city manager who sets the agenda.  The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the July 14, 2014 City Council … Continue reading

New Discoveries in the Heitman Case (post-death audit, hard drive, Bailey memo)

The Heitman family is finally receiving some local attention for their efforts. Much of the attention centers around the discovery of this post-death audit. You can read the latest  here, here and here.  Here are some points to ponder that have yet to be discussed: 1. Findings 1-11 suggest that though Alex had access to … Continue reading

2015 BUDGET 1ST READING THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 6/9/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

A cautionary note: Council passed a flat budget on first reading tonight. Many people assume that all is done and don’t pay as much attention to the final reading (June 14th). I’ve seen enough last-minute changes to know that anything can happen. Tonight’s votes foreshadow possible changes next week. The following represents an unofficial account … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 6/2/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2015 BUDGET REVEAL

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June2, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2014 … Continue reading

2015 Oak Ridge School Budget Alternatives/Considerations

My last in-depth analysis of the school budget was in 2011. It’s interesting to see what has changed and what hasn’t. You can read for yourself here. Dr. Borchers and Members of the Board of Education: I have reviewed your budget proposals and would like to share my thoughts for consideration in your final deliberations.  I … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 5/12/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 12, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the June 2014 Regular … Continue reading

My Email to the City Manager: Our Treatment of Ms. Lori Holt & the Heitman Family

The following is my full email to Mark Watson as reported on here. On behalf of the City of Oak Ridge, I want to publicly apologize to the Heitman family and Ms. Lori Holt. I am deeply sorry for your loss and for how poorly you’ve been treated in your attempts to gain answers from East … Continue reading

2015 City Budget Recommendations

Mr. Watson, I commend you for your willingness to reduce spending in your formulation of the FY2015 City Budget. This approach is essential to making Oak Ridge more attractive to prospective residents and businesses. As you know, Oak Ridge has the third highest city/county property tax rate in East Tennessee at $4.74. What you may … Continue reading

Enduring Freedom?

6,805 U.S. service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom This weekend, we welcomed my son home from a 6 month deployment in Afghanistan. Chalk it up to naivety, denial or a little bit of both, but this entire time I’d chosen to believe that he was safer than he actually was.  … Continue reading

Melton Lake Greenway/Haw Ridge

One of the best reasons to live in Oak Ridge is our 63 miles of greenway trails. The fully-paved segment that connects the Melton Lake Greenway to Haw Ridge Park has become a favorite with my family. Today, I rode a bike for the first time in probably 20 years. I forgot how fun that is!  We … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 4/14/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

“A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.” – Thomas Paine The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the April 14, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 3/24/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING SUMMARY (Final Red Light/Speed Camera Vote)

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the March 24, 2014 City Council Special Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the April 2014 Regular … Continue reading

YPOR Presentation: City of Oak Ridge Financial Overview

Why Your City’s Financial Matters Matter 1. Just about anything that happens (or doesn’t) in Oak Ridge has a direct tie to money, your money. 2. Local government spending directly impacts your wallet. Think not only property taxes, but sales taxes, utilities, fees, permits, fines, etc. 3. The growth or decline of our community, in very … Continue reading

March 2014 Oak Ridge Schools Safety Update

Since the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Oak Ridge Schools and the Oak Ridge Police Department (ORPD) last August, a number of significant safety improvements have occurred within our schools including physical security upgrades, leadership adjustments and increased police presence. As you may know, this time last year, we had only … Continue reading

March City Council Update/Additional Special Meeting

Happy Spring! Council’s schedule for the remainder of this month includes a work session and a special meeting scheduled for this Monday, March 24th at the Municipal Building. Details on the Special Meeting are provided below.  The work session will follow and the agenda is located here.   Results of the March 3rd regular city … Continue reading

A People Story Disguised as a Dog Story

Our community has had some pretty sad news this week. It has been especially hard for animal lovers and even more so, I’m sure, for those working at our animal shelter. Hearing the stories makes my heart hurt, but it also reminds me of how much our own dog has increased our family’s capacity to … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 3/3/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the March 3, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the April 2014 Regular … Continue reading

The Oak Ridge High School Debt Chronicles – How a $40 Million Project Will Cost Taxpayers Over $126 Million (So Far)

NOTE: The Oak Ridge City Council will hold a special non-voting meeting on February 27, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at the Municipal Building to discuss the high school debt resolution as well as a request received by the BOE on 2/26/14 to approve an amendment to their annual budget in the amount of $1.75 million. … Continue reading

Report on the 2/21/14 Joint Meeting Between Oak Ridge City Council and the BOE

For the first time in two years (and since I joined council), the Oak Ridge Board of Education (BOE) and City Council held a joint meeting. The agenda was heavy and the mayor unilaterally established a time limit of 1 ½ hours at the very beginning. The meeting room was packed and a crowd formed … Continue reading

Upcoming City and School Meetings/Hot Topics

There is a tremendous amount of activity occurring in the very near future that will effect all Oak Ridgers in many ways. First, council and the BOE will hold a special called meeting this Friday at noon. The agenda is found here and was just released a few hours ago. The original purpose of this … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 2/10/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the February 10, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video (which you can now fast forward and rewind through after the initial minutes have played) of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting … Continue reading

Details for Tomorrow’s Homecoming for SGT Neal Martin

Anytime one of our troops returns home from conflict, it is truly a reason to celebrate! Not only because of the sacrifice these brave men, women and their families have made, but because so many of their fallen brothers and sisters were not as fortunate. Thanks to the efforts of an amazing woman, Valarie Emery, … Continue reading

Traditional vs Balanced School Schedules Part 2

There’s a lot of community discussion going on in anticipation of a possible major change to our school system calendars. (Read the Assistant Superintendent’s op-ed piece on it here.) Currently, Oak Ridge Schools operate, for the most part, on two different schedules.  The school administration is proposing that ALL schools go to the same schedule. … Continue reading

Revisiting Oak Ridge School Calendars – Traditional v. Balanced Schedule

An item on the next BOE meeting agenda (viewable here) for this Monday night’s meeting includes a discussion about changing from a hybrid school calendar to a streamlined calendar where all of our schools operate on the same schedule. The options proposed (see 2015 2016 calendar options) include either having all schools on the same … Continue reading

Oak Ridge in the National Spotlight!

I am so excited to share with you this update on bullying & violence prevention efforts made by my friend Valerie Hughes! Valerie has worked tirelessly for the last few years to establish a Not In Our Town (NIOT) chapter here in Oak Ridge. I am happy to report that her efforts are paying off … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 1/13/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the January 13, 2014 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video (which you can now fast forward and rewind through) of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the … Continue reading

January City Council Update/School Security Update

Happy New Year! Here is your update for January. I’ve pasted a few noteworthy items below. Results of the December meeting can be found here. Additionally, here are a couple of quick notes of interest: This month, the third of four approved water/sewer rate increases will take effect. I am convinced that these excessive increases could … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 12/9/13 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the December 9, 2013 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video (which you can now fast forward and rewind through) of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the … Continue reading

December City Council Update

Merry Christmas Oak Ridge! Here is your update for December. The upcoming City Council meeting agenda is fairly light this month, but I’ve pasted a few noteworthy items below. Results of the November meeting can be found here. Don’t forget that our annual Christmas Parade will be Dec 14th starting at 6:00p.m. Also, council will … Continue reading

My Suggestion to Anderson County Commission Regarding the Mall TIF/Attorney Reply

Honorable Mayor Frank and County Commissioners: Like you and all of our citizens, I recognize the need for the successful redevelopment of the Oak Ridge mall property. My research, to include discussions with various city officials and partners from their past projects, has me convinced that if anyone can help us finally turn the mall … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 11/11/13 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the November 11,  2013 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website, most likely, as part of the December … Continue reading

The Observer’s Get To Know Your Leaders Q&A

The Oak Ridge Observer is currently running a series on elected officials in Oak Ridge. The following were my responses to their questions which ran in last week’s edition.   What do you see as a driving force in propelling Oak Ridge to prosperity in the next ten or so years? The health of the … Continue reading

Take a Virtual Drive Through the Scottish Countryside

I’ve found an excellent panacea for my travel withdrawals in Googlemaps/Streetview! Many of us have used it to check out our old stomping grounds, but I’m just discovering the various other countries they’ve uplinked. I was delighted when I found that I could tool through neighborhoods and along the seashore of one of my favorite … Continue reading

THE PEOPLE’S BUSINESS – 10/14/13 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the October 14,  2013 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet as well as a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted at the city website as part of the November 11th Regular … Continue reading

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