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

A Tale of Three Cities – FY2017 Budget Column

As we delve into what could be the last city budget I work on as a councilmember, I reflect upon both the state of the city and my contributions thus far. I could boast that, during my tenure, no property taxes were raised and we’ve reduced total debt levels. However, those claims would be misleading … Continue reading

Leftover School “FUN”d Money – The Data Doesn’t Lie

My usual detractors are in a tizzy over my most recent column and a discussion had during a council meeting (reported on here) regarding the school’s practice of stockpiling cash while claiming poverty. I also stated, “in spite of being one of the most heavily funded systems in the state, much of your money is not making it into the … Continue reading

Council Votes: 5/9/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 9, 2016 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted on the city website in the June 2016 … Continue reading

May 2016 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 9th  at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: A contract award to TML for property, liability and workers comp insurance for $884,744. A professional services agreement award to Cannon and Cannon for engineering services regarding pedestrian safety improvements on the Oak Ridge Turnpike for … Continue reading

Council Votes: 4/11/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the April 11, 2016 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted on the city website in the May 2016 Regular Meeting … Continue reading

April 2016 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 11th  at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: A resolution supporting the Horizon Center as part of the IDB’s effort to maintain the center’s designation as a TN certified site A resolution to continue/extend the TN Oversight Agreement between DOE and the State of … Continue reading

Council Votes: 3/29/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL CALLED MEETING SUMMARY

DOE WATER CONTRACT The following represents an unofficial account of the discussion and vote on the 2016 extension of the DOE water contract during the March 29, 2016 City Council Special Called Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here. No video of the meeting was made. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be … Continue reading

Council Votes: 3/14/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the March 14, 2016 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted on the city website in the April 2016 Regular Meeting … Continue reading

March 2016 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 14th  at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: Multiple authorizations for local businesses engaged in alcohol sales Authorization to apply for and accept a grant of $250,000 up to $500,000 for synthetic turf at Blankenship. 50% required local match. Water Services Contract with DOE … Continue reading

Holding On

The time is fast approaching, clinging to every fleeting moment While the joy is still so abundant, still so pure Plays with dolls, tells silly jokes, questions everything Laughs hard, loud and often Climbs trees, doorways, rocks Always planning, plotting, working NYC to CZM to OBX My travel buddy, museum docent, trailblazer Kitchen chemist, delightful dancer, … Continue reading

Council Votes: 2/8/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the February 8, 2016 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here, here and here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted on the city website in the March … Continue reading

February 2016 Oak Ridge City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, February 8th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: The City Attorney’s annual evaluation Resolution of intent to reimburse the itself up to $500,000 from the proceeds of issued bonds (debt) related to site selection and architectural/engineering fees for the construction of a new preschool … Continue reading

Trash Talk

As you may have read recently, City Council has been discussing our contract with Waste Connections, the company that has provided your weekly trash pick-up service since 2002. Though their contract still has five years remaining, the company asked council to consider waiving the competitive bid process to give them an additional five years. When … Continue reading

Council Votes: 1/11/16 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the January 11, 2016 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will be posted on the city website in the February 2016 Regular Meeting Agenda … Continue reading

January 2016 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, January 11th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: A presentation by Realty Link (potential buyer and developer of the mall property) The City Manager’s annual evaluation Multiple contract awards to Lamar Dunn exceeding $400,000 for sewer-related planning and engineering services Waived bid awarding Waste … Continue reading

Council Votes: 12/14/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the December 14, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here and here a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as … Continue reading

The Centennial Golf Course: A Model for Failure

The following, which can be verified online in  the FY2000 finalized City of Oak Ridge Budget, provides a brief history of a project that was forced upon our citizens  in spite of  vehement protest twenty years ago and for which we are still paying heavily. In 1995, the City of Oak Ridge issued $6.2 million … Continue reading

December 2015 Oak Ridge City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 14th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: A special report on the Land Bank Adoption of the state and federal legislative agenda Transfer of $325,000 from the general fund to the golf course fund for supplemental operational funding Modification of the water services … Continue reading

Council Votes: 11/16/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the November 16, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as … Continue reading

 Council Votes: 10/20/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETING/WORK SESSION SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the October 20, 2015 City Council Work Session  and Special Meetings. The complete agenda packets are found here and here. Joint Work Session with the Board of Education: Presentation of the Preschool Committee’s Recommendation for a new Preschool Building Mayor … Continue reading

Council Votes: 10/12/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the October 12, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and 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 … Continue reading

10/15/15 Special Meeting: MTAS ORPD Review Results

Post Updated 10/16/15 with MTAS Report and media coverage linked as follows: MTAS 2015 Report WATE Coverage OakRidger MTAS Report Coverage KnoxNews MTAS Report Coverage OakRidgeToday MTAS Report Coverage ————————————————————————————————— Tomorrow night at 6:00p.m. the Oak Ridge City Council will meet at the municipal building to hear the results of the MTAS review/investigation of the … Continue reading

October 2015 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 12th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: A briefing from the city’s audit firm regarding the marina bathroom project. At our last meeting, Ms. Garcia Garland requested clarification on an apparent $40,000 discrepancy. Though I requested all invoices and purchase orders affiliated with … Continue reading

My Response to Matt Bailey RE: The MTAS Investigation

I submit the following in response to Mr. Louis Matthew Bailey’s public accusations against me. Mr. Bailey has marginalized the concerns of both our police officers and our citizens by claiming that I’ve overstated the police department’s turnover. In reality, the HR Director, Penny Sissom omitted the names of at least two known departures, thereby … Continue reading

Council Votes: 9/14/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the September 14, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and 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 … Continue reading

September 2015 City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for tonight, September 14th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: – A vote on the Special Events Advisory Task Force recommended changes to the Secret City Festival – Contract extension for employee medical insurance with the state for $4.5M – Award of roughly $350K to multiple … Continue reading

Council Votes: 8/10/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the August 10, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and 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 … Continue reading

August City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, August 10th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: – Waiving of the competitive bid process for over $1.6 million of various contracts/awarding of over $200,000 for various bid contracts – Ordinance increasing the monthly residential refuse fee from $7 to $10.50 – Various ordinance … Continue reading

Council Votes: 7/27/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETINGS SUMMARY/FY16 Budget Votes

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the July 27, 2015 City Council Special Meetings. The complete agenda packet is found here and 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 … Continue reading

Council Votes: 7/13/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

Budget Scheduling Note: The state has now certified our tax rate at $2.52, which is the rate necessary to maintain revenue neutrality with the new assessment value data. Though this rate is up from the current rate of $2.39, it does not equate to an overall tax increase.  Council will hold a work session on … Continue reading

July City Council Update/ORPD/Budget Updates

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, July 13th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include the waiving of the competitive bid process for over $2 million of various contracts as well as a resolution in support of establishing Oak Ridge as the headquarters for the proposed Manhattan Project National Historical Park. … Continue reading

Give It Away, Give It Away, Give It Away Now

Sixteen years ago, Partners for Progress successfully lobbied the city to spend over $15 million of your (the taxpayer) money to launch a major development on the West End of Oak Ridge. The promises were enough to make people starry eyed. There was to be a picturesque subdivision of nearly 4,000 homes along with an industrial complex that, when … Continue reading

Council Votes: 6/15/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2016 Budget Discussions

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June 15, 2015 City Council Meetings. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part of the July 2015 Regular Meeting … Continue reading

Council Votes: 6/1/15 & 6/8/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/2016 Budget Discussions

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the June 1st & 8th 2015 City Council Meetings. The complete agenda packets are found here and here and a video of the June 8th meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city … Continue reading

June City Council Update/2016 City Budget Schedule

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, June 8th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include the first reading of the city’s 2016 budget. The second and final reading will be held during a meeting on June 15th. As it stands right now, the city manager has proposed a 1 cent tax … Continue reading

Backyard Adventure: The Virginia Creeper Trail

The Virginia Creeper Trail is part of the Rails to Trails Conservancy, an initiative that converts abandoned railroad tracks into scenic trail ways.  We rode all 34 miles of VCT this weekend  and breathtaking doesn’t begin to describe our experience. If you’ve never gone, it’s only a couple hours away from Oak Ridge and well … Continue reading

Honor the Dead, Support the Living

Over one million men and women have paid the ultimate price for our country since the revolutionary war. These sacrifices are not a thing of the past, but are ongoing. There are still 13,000 U.S. troops in both Iraq and Afghanistan. 6,840 U.S. service members have died in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. On … Continue reading

ORPD Investigation Update/Results of 5/20/15 3rd Special Meeting /Bobby Hill Emails

Given that there is some confusion over recent events, I offer the following summary about where we are, how we got here and where we are headed with regards to the ORPD investigation. The ORPD has seen a total turnover rate of 45% in the last four years having lost 34 of our 76 employees. … Continue reading

Council Votes: 5/11/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/More on ORPD Investigation

NOTE:  Council will hold another special meeting on May 21st at 6:00p.m. See Appearance of Citizens below for details. The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the May 11, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and a video of the meeting … Continue reading

May City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, May 11th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: Resolution awarding a contract to Knox Blount Maintenance for janitorial services for city facilities – $214,935 Resolution extending the lease on the Daniel Arthur Building for the purposes of operating the senior center Ordinance repealing and … Continue reading

POST Inquiry/MTAS/ORPD Investigation Update

POST Inquiry As reported here, the POST commission has requested that the U.S. Attorney General for East TN, the Anderson County DA and the Blount County DA investigate whether or not the Oak Ridge Police Chief “violated federal and state law involving the possession of a firearm while under the authority of an active Order … Continue reading

Council Votes: 4/21/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL SPECIAL MEETINGS SUMMARIES/More on ORPD Investigation

“Vigorously hunt for that witch, with a study designed to ferret out the witch, as though one indeed exists.  Then, when none is found, the citizens will be reassured that no stone was left unturned, that if there were problems, they would have been found.” – Dr. Horton The following represents an unofficial account of the … Continue reading

2nd Special Meeting Tomorrow Re: ORPD Investigation

At 3:40p.m. today, council was informed that we will have a second special meeting tomorrow night following our work session at the Central Services Complex behind Kmart. The agenda, located here, mirrors an email councilmember Callison sent to all of council last night which is also very similar to an email BOE member Angi Agle … Continue reading

Barton Shares Interview Names with Akagi/More ORPD Investigation Developments

At the encouragement of multiple council members during the Appearance of Citizens at our April 13th meeting (and in direct contradiction to what council voted on in our March 27th meeting), a retired officer contacted MTAS requesting to be included in the interview process. As you can see in the email below (see #1 below), … Continue reading

Council Votes: 4/13/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY/More on ORPD Investigation

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the April 13, 2015 City Council Regular Meeting. The complete agenda packet is found here and here and a video of the meeting can be viewed here. Draft meeting minutes will most likely be posted at the city website as part … Continue reading

April City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 13th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: Resolution awarding a contract to Rogers Group for street milling and resurfacing – $350K Resolution awarding a contract to S&W Contracting Co, Inc for the installation of a traffic signal on the Oak Ridge Turnpike at … Continue reading

Meeting Results and Commentary for the March 27, 2015 Special Meeting (ORPD Investigation)

In February, council unanimously committed to initiate a fair and thorough investigation of the very serious issues that had come to our attention regarding our police department and its leadership. (See below and read here, here, here and here). Last night, however, council reneged on its promises to the community and to the men and … Continue reading

No Apologies Necessary RE: Order of Protection

Much discussion has ensued in recent weeks about the Order of Protection (OP) once issued against our police chief. That is to be expected given that domestic violence is such a hot button topic at this point in time. I find it peculiar, however, that a few select individuals have very loudly demanded that I … Continue reading

ORPD Investigation: Last Minute Agenda Item Added NOT In Line With Council Agreements

Council just received the following email from the city manager’s assistant who is acting as the city clerk. My response follows. On Mar 6, 2015, at 3:02 PM, Applegate Jr., Bruce M. <bapplegate@oakridgetn.gov> wrote: Honorable Mayor and Councilmembers, There has been an update to the agenda items included in the March 9th, 2015 City Council … Continue reading

March City Council Update/ORPD Investigation Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 9th at 7:00p.m. at the Municipal Building. Significant items include: Resolution awarding a contract to Wright Contracting, Inc for the replacement of windows at the water treatment plant – $150K Resolution awarding a contract to S&W Contracting Co, Inc for the installation of a traffic signal … Continue reading

My Comments RE: Oak Ridge Today Article on Heitman Note Development

It is worth noting up front that Mr. Huotari did not contact myself or the Heitmans before he ran his story. Instead, he left us messages 4-6 hours after the fact. Below is my response to him. He has yet to update his story with my comments and has not re-attempted to contact the Heitmans per … Continue reading

March 3rd Work Session to Discuss ORPD Investigation

The February work session has been rescheduled for this Tuesday March 3rd at 6:00p.m.at the Central Services Complex behind KMart. The agenda will include a discussion on the next steps towards the investigation regarding the ORPD morale, turnover and administrative policy issues. All are encouraged to attend. The full agenda is located here.

Additional February Meetings/ORPD Issue Follow Up

Due to the increased activities in your local government, I am sending out a second update for this month. The following schedule is subject to change, but as it stands, here are the upcoming meetings: Feb 17th: City Council Work Session 6:00p.m. Central Services Complex (behind Kmart) – Read the agenda here. Feb 20th – *Proposed* … Continue reading

Council Votes: 2/9/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY (ORPD & Censure Issues)

I want to express my sincerest appreciation to and admiration for the countless individuals who participated this night and in the weeks preceding it via letters to the editor, emails and phone calls to council and social media discussions.  With a packed court room and tremendous overflow outside, this council meeting brought out the largest … Continue reading

February City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for tomorrow, February 9th.  Significant items include: Resolution of Intent to fund the remediation of lead-based paint issue at the Oak Ridge Preschool building for an amount not to exceed $150K and to be funded through former red light camera funds Resolution of Intent to develop solutions, options and … Continue reading

Timeline of Events (ORPD Issues)/My Response to Hensley

While the focus of our city’s current crisis should be on the well-being of our police officers, I am compelled to respond to some of the allegations that have been publicly made against me by Councilmember Charlie Hensley. I have broken no laws nor have I committed any of the infractions alleged by Mr. Hensley … Continue reading

My Investigation Requests Re: ORPD Police Chief James T. Akagi

As reported on here and here, the following is my complete letter to the city manager and city clerk sent 1/30/15. It was triggered by Mr. Watson’s comments to the press in response to my initial communication regarding our high turnover rate in the ORPD and this grievance filed by Officer Bayless.  Mr. Watson/City Clerk, As  you … Continue reading

ORPD Turnover Issues: My email to the city manager

The following email was sent on 1/25/2014 to the Oak Ridge City Manager, Mark Watson and copied to all of city council and the press: Mark, I commend you for swiftly responding to Officer Christopher Bayless’ January 14th “Grievance to Proposal of Disciplinary Action.” I have read this 48 page file and agree with your … Continue reading

Council Votes: 1/12/15 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the January 12, 2015 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 January … Continue reading

Council Votes: 12/8/14 OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the December 8, 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 January … Continue reading

December City Council Update

Council’s next regular  meeting is scheduled for December 8th.  Significant items include: A resolution transferring 6 city-acquired properties to the Land Bank Allocation of $34,000+ to local social services agencies $1.9M EPA mandate-related spending $239K bid award for LED replacement lighting in the library A resolution for the city to accept infrastructure responsibility for Summit … Continue reading

Council Votes:  11/24/14 Mayor Vote/OAK RIDGE CITY COUNCIL MEETING SUMMARY

The following represents an unofficial account of the significant items discussed and/or voted upon during the November 24, 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 December 2014 Regular … Continue reading

Key Things To Know About Election Day

It’s finally here!!!! The day YOU decide on YOUR city, state and nation’s future! Election Day is tomorrow and here are some key things you should know: Polls are open from 9:00a.m.-8:00p.m. (Roane County Polls say they open at 8:00a.m.) You must vote at your assigned precinct (If you don’t know where your precinct polling … Continue reading

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