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Embattled Mayor Ragsdale has a tough 24 hours

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale has had a very rough 24 hours. On the Sunday talk shows the County Mayor was the subject of much speculation concerning whether he could finish the remaining three years of his term. On “Inside Tennessee” panelist and prominent local attorney Don Bosch said Ragsdale’s term would be remembered as “The Lobster that ate Knoxville.” If you have not heard the lobster story more about it here and here.

The biggest surprise was when the head of the Tennessee Conservative Union, Lloyd Daugherty, called for Mayor Ragsdale to resign on Gene Patterson’s show “Tennessee This Week.” Frank Cagle, columnist for the Metro Pulse said the Mayor would not step down voluntarily but might not have a choice if the on going audits turned up more fraudulent charges on county credit cards. Those words would be prophetic in less than 12 hours.

In today’s Halls Shopper News Sandra Clark rates the Ragsdale administration and gives a grade of F in the department of “Making Government better every day.” Sandra Clark writes, “Starting with Tyler Harber flashing his badge at the Copper Cellar and ending with disclosures of P-Card spending yet to come … Ragsdale’s management is a casebook study of what not to do. He made bad hires and supervised them poorly. He handed out purchase cards with little oversight. He divided the world into two groups – friends and enemies. Now the town is laughing about lobster lunches, Princess cruises and the liquor fund. In our land of Oz, Ragsdale is not a wizard, just a little fellow behind a curtain with an expensive suit and two press agents.”

Just when it seemed it could not be a worse 24 hour period Sandra Clark breaks a new story that the County Mayor himself used a county credit card for a medical procedure co-pay. For a colonoscopy of all things. This caused the Mayor’s Communications Director Dwight Van de Vate to have to send an emergency memo on a Sunday night to County Commission members explaining the “mistake”. How does anyone use a Knox County credit card for a medical co-pay? What other mistakes are there?

People want to know when we will get to the bottom of this. As the audits turn up new information on almost a daily basis the office of the County Mayor has become a rudderless ship. Who will be the next to call for the County Mayor to stand down?

3 Responses to “Embattled Mayor Ragsdale has a tough 24 hours”

  1. chris Says:

    In today’s Halls Shopper News Sandra Clark rates the Ragsdale administration and gives a grade of F in the department of “Making Government better every day.”

    Since I can’t figure out how to easily resurrect, from the Halls Shopper News website, articles that it previously wrote on the Tyler Harber matter, I can’t readily verify its history of accuracy (or hysteria, as the case may be) for purposes of assuming its accuracy as a source on other matters.

    Kind of like with Michael Moore, who completely forfeited his credibility by splicing footage of 2 Charlton Heston speeches in Bowling for Columbine and trying to pass it off as one speech, but may well have included a good bit of accurate material in his new flick. And I’m not saying the new flick is accurate, just that you would have to fact check every point of it, because Michael Moore has surrendered any crediblity that he may have previously had.

    Maybe the HSN is accurate, maybe it’s not. I can’t tell.

    As I recall, however, it breathlessly reported about how serious the Tyler Harber matter was, about how Ragsdale had a political dirty trickster on his payroll, and about serious allegations of lawbreaking.

    But those allegations didn’t really pan out, so now it’s down to implying that some twerp flashing his badge at a restaurant is some kind of indictment of Ragsdale’s administration. Ragsdale has plenty of those, but the Tyler Harber non-scandal isn’t one of them.

    As I also recall, the Knox County Attorney General’s office investigated and reviewed the Tyler Harber matter and determined that it found no basis for prosecution.

    How would the HSN grade its own coverage of the Tyler Harber matter?

    When news of the decision not to prosecute was announced, those on this site who were so vociferous about the matter grew strangely silent.

    I am glad that Ragsdale is on his way out, and his lack of a political future is the result of his own many faults and poor judgment, most of which have come to light as a result of some solid reporting by the KNS, and not by a television show which few people watch and a couple of free newspapers.

    I carry no water for the KNS, but it is hammering the lid down on Ragsdale’s political coffin each day and has avoided giving undue attention to the Harber tempest in a teapot.

    I agree with you, No. 9, on almost everything, but there is a heck of a lot better sourcing on Ragsdale’s political demise than the HSN, the MP and Tn Roundtable (or whatever its name is).

  2. #9 Says:

    I agree with you, No. 9, on almost everything, but there is a heck of a lot better sourcing on Ragsdale’s political demise than the HSN, the MP and Tn Roundtable (or whatever its name is).

    Knox County Commissioner Paul Pinkston has been the main force on County Commission who led the charge on investigating the Knox County credit cards (P-Cards). WBIR and then the News Sentinel have done the bulk of the investigative journalism on the P-Cards.

    The Tyler Harber issues are very different from what has happened in the past three weeks. When it gets to money, it gets serious.

    The Tyler Harber issues were more of a keystone cops kind of thing. Efforts were made to commit political hijinks but there was no smoking gun evidence. Hence no Grand Jury. But the email thefts were a serious issue. I was surprised that nothing came from that. DA Nichols opined it was a misdemeanor and that was the end of it. If that had happened at TVA or UT it would have been a big deal.

    The Jay Witt issue was serious also but nothing came from it other than the DUI charges. Mr. Witt had in his possession the keys to almost every single office in the City County Building. That is a serious security issue. Again, nothing came from it.

    The audits of the Knox County P-Cards is a different matter. But I still don’t think you will ever see Randy Nichols take the P-Cards on even if the audits turn up very serious issues. If it comes to it, some DA like in Johnson City, will take this over like happened with the Jay Witt case.

    I don’t know how to fix the problems in Knox County government. I think the best idea is to audit each department and shine the light of day on those audits. Let the cards fall where they may.

  3. chris Says:

    Kudos for Pinkston.

    I hope that he is not term-limited in 2008, because we sure need him.

    I hope that the voters term-limit several of the others in the 2008 elections.

    I agree that the P cards are a serious matter.

    I have 2 credit cards and don’t seem to have the problems keeping up with them that these people have with theirs.

    I see Ragsdale being forced out soon, and I hope that I am right.