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Knox County Charter Amendments in Plain English

Upon examining the sample ballot from the General Election in Knox County, TN November 4, 2008, I found the questions of the Charter Amendments confusing. So I emailed the Election Commission and learned that they are not allowed to comment on the ballots. However, the County Law Director’s Office writes the questions so I called and spoke to a very kind and informative lawyer at the County Law Director’s Office. He also pointed me to today’s Knoxnews Editorial (which says vote yes to 3 and 4. I disagree.). The following is my interpretation of the Chart Amendment questions based upon his answers to my questions. Please see this earlier post or the sample ballot for the actual questions.


First we discussed the Liquor Referendum. There are not overreaching implications of this question. Either we want to be able to have liquor by the drink served in bars and restaurants in the county, just like we do in the city, or we don’t. It’s a very straight forward question.


This is a housekeeping amendment to bring our county into conformance with state law. In short, the amendment says, "Amendments can be added to the ballot."


This is also a housekeeping amendment. Apparently the current charter does not explicitly state how the composition of a Charter Review Committee (that is, who makes up the committee). I looked for the actual wording in the current charter but Google is failing me at the moment. So, as a matter of housekeeping, this question adds to the charter language that says:

a Charter Review Committee is "composed of 27 members with 1 member of the County Commission from each commission district to be nominated by the Commission, 9 non-commission members who are registered Knox County voters nominated by the Commission and 9 noncommission members who are registered Knox County voters nominated by the Knox County Mayor."

There is no hidden agenda or far overreaching implication.


This question is actually two unrelated questions in one. The first half of the question is asking do we reduce the number of county commissioners from 19 to 11. Each commission district would be reduced from 2 representatives to 1. And 2 at-large commissioners who would serve county wide and not be bound to district. This is similar to the way the city government works. So if you feel the city’s representation of the people is effective, then that part of the question is a YES vote. If you feel the city’s government is ineffective, then that half of the question is a NO vote.

The second half of the question regards a nepotism policy which obviously prohibits family from supervising or influencing employment of a relative. It also says that no person drawing a paycheck from Knox County would be able to serve as a commissioner. For example, a Knox County school teacher could not also be a Knox County Commissioner.

This is a tough question simply because the first half has to weigh between less overhead in our county government versus less representation. And the second half has to do with eliminating the good ol’ boy network in our county government (again, my interpretation, not the County Law Director’s Office). However, you cannot vote NO to half and YES to the other half. Your vote is either FOR or AGAINST.


Right now, the positions of County Trustee, County Clerk, Register of Deeds and County Law Director are all elected positions. If you live in the county, you get to vote for the people who hold those positions. This question proposes that those four positions will no longer be elected. Instead the Mayor will appoint those positions.

That’s it. To review and my recommendations:

  1. (YES) Housekeeping
  2. (YES) Housekeeping
  3. (NO) Two unrelated questions: a) reduce the number of commissioners b) Instate a nepotism policy
  4. (NO) Change 4 elected positions to positions appointed by the Mayor
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We asked to be heard; tonight is our chance!

Do you care for the future of education in Knox County? We have asked that the citizens be heard in choices like rezonings and choosing a school superintendent. They are now willing to listen!

Knox County residents are invited this week to share their suggestions on what characteristics the school system’s new superintendent needs.

And the school board has been told to stay away.

[Source,, Residents’ input sought on superintendent]

I personally think the superintendent needs to come from outside of Knox County and maybe far from TN where local politics and good ol’ boy relations will not be an influence. I want someone making decisions that are right for our children and not because of politics or helping a buddy out.

Don’t forget to attend the superintendent search forums tonight (11/26) at either Austin East or Central High School auditoriums, beginning at 7:00 pm.

Additional forums will be held Tuesday, 11/27/07, at South Doyle and Bearden High School auditoriums, also at 7:00 pm.

[Source,, ]

This is very important! Make the time to voice your opinion please.

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Voters Need Not Hide Behind the Curtain

Knox County has decided that voter privacy is bunk. As long as you certify the information is for political reasons only, Knox County Election Commission will send you a list of active and inactive voters and their history. Cost? Free!

We have changed our policy concerning purchase of voter lists on disk. If you will print out, fill in and send us the Certification for Purchase of Voter List on CD ( we will send you a disk with all the active and inactive voters and their history. For free. [Source]

I wonder just how detailed that history is?