Monthly Archives: March 2016

Correspondence from Senator Alexander

Senator Alexander:

I want to express how infuriating your defense of McConnell is:

The people already had a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court Justice.

The people spoke when they elected Barack Obama in 2008.

I think you already know that.

-Tanner

On Tue, Mar 22, 2016 at 9:55 AM, Senator Lamar Alexander <Correspondence_Reply> wrote:

March 22, 2016

Mr. Tanner Jessel
1026 N Olive St.
Knoxville, TN 37917-6945

Dear Tanner,

Thanks very much for getting in touch with me and letting me know what’s on your mind regarding the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to serve as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

On March 16, 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. This debate is not about Judge Garland. The debate is about whether to give the American people a voice in the selection of the next Supreme Court justice.

I believe it is reasonable to give the American people a voice by allowing the next president to fill this lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. While the president has the right to nominate, the Senate has the power under the Constitution to provide consent for such appointments. Senator McConnell is only doing what the senate majority has the right to do and what Senate Democrat leaders, including Senator Chuck Schumer and Vice President Joe Bidden, have said they would do in similar circumstances.

I carefully weigh the opinions of Tennesseans before making decisions, and I’ll be sure to keep your comments in mind as these important issues are discussed and debated here in Washington and in Tennessee.

Sincerely,
Lamar

LA/ld

Advertisements

David Hayes, Charged for Recording KPD

Chief Rausch,

Thank you for your thoughtful response.

I must apologize for my error in interpreting what I read on the BLMKNOX Facebook page:

I inferred from the post’s use of the word "documenting" that David was "recording video."

I appreciate your personal reassurance that charges brought against David did not arise from efforts to record police activity.

I concede your point there aren’t examples of negative repercussions arising from members of the public recording KPD officer conduct.

However, my thinking on this is there have been several instances of problems arising from recorded images of local law enforcement officers’ conduct in recent years.

The negative repercussions I’m thinking of largely relate to erosion of public trust arising from images capturing unprofessional conduct by (former) law enforcement officers in Knoxville and Knox County over the years. A serious negative outcome includes lack of civic participation in law enforcement efforts, participation I’m sure you know better than I is critical to effective community policing.

Examples of negative images include the globally infamous incident of the Knox County Sheriff’s officer choking out a UT student in 2014, squad car footage of rogue KPD officers assaulting a homeless man in February 2013, or the more recent footage of inmate abuse at the Knox County detention facility.

I recognize that your officers were trying to assist an individual in distress and were themselves under duress as the situation deteriorated upon David’s insertion of himself into the situation.

I also appreciate your officers were within their rights to apprehend and charge David under their professional interpretation of the law, and that David’s case is now within the purview of the courts.

However, where I hope Mayor Rogero will be able to agree with me is that there is value in exercising restraint when applying available laws.

You demonstrated leadership in this respect during the Cumberland Avenue protests recently, and I admire your handling of that situation. I believe your show of restraint helped de-escalate the student demonstration to a peaceful resolution.

While I can’t condone David’s allegedly hostile disposition toward your officers, at the same time I feel I can’t support your officers’ choice of a course of action that essentially transforms a social justice activist into a young man entangled in the legal system. I understand disproportionate entanglement of young black men with the judicial system is a major point of contention in the Black Lives Matter movement, nationally.

I’m also skeptical that whatever danger David faced standing on Wall Street rather than on the sidewalk outweighs the negative repercussions to him as a result of his entanglement with the legal system.

Most importantly, I’m wary of possible negative repercussions of any unfavorable public perception of local law enforcement arising from what I consider to be needless escalation of this encounter. Charges of "disorderly conduct" and "obstructing a roadway" seem to be two areas of the law where restraint might reasonably be exercised, particularly when weighed against the benefits of upholding positive perceptions of law enforcement activity.

Finally, I concede it’s fair to suggest your officers felt threatened by David’s language. However, the case speaks to another idea posited by the Black Lives Matter movement: there are opportunities for enhanced cultural sensitivity among law enforcement officers with respect to encounters with minority youth. Knowing David’s history as a student activist, I’d like to suggest his language was simply a young black man’s version of my own very formal, very "white" admonishment that "there may be negative repercussions."

Thank you again for your thoughtful reply, and for your sustained leadership in law enforcement during a challenging time for Knoxville.

-Tanner

On Mon, Mar 21, 2016 at 6:16 PM, David Rausch <drausch> wrote:

Tanner,

Thank you for taking the time to send your concerns regarding this recent incident. I am not able to go into too much detail, but I can advise you of the facts of the situation and assure you that the facts do not support the information that you have heard. I can assure you that the arrest had absolutely nothing to do with Mr. Hayes video recording of the officers. We have audio and some video of the incident from our patrol vehicles and can assure you that at no time did our officers state that he was being apprehended for his video recording. As a matter of fact, he clearly mentions it to the officer during his conversation after his apprehension when he is in the patrol vehicle and the officer clearly tells him that is not why he was arrested.

I am not aware of any negative repercussions that anyone has had with the Knoxville Police Department over video recordings. I have been with the Department for over 23 years and in a Command position for over 10 years. I can assure you that our officers are aware that others may and will video their actions in public. We have had in car cameras in our patrol vehicles since 1998 and our officers are on video when in front of the camera and always on audio recording when in contact with the public. We have no problem or issue with being videotaped. Again, that is not what caused the arrest of Mr. Hayes.

To assure you know the facts, the two officers were providing care for a white male in his early 50’s who they were called to assist after two witnesses observed him fall. Upon arrival at the scene, the good Samaritans who were trying to help the individual assisted the officers with information. Since this individual was experiencing a medical emergency and an ambulance was not immediately available, the officers decided to transport him to the hospital in one of their vehicles. They were helping him into the patrol vehicle when Mr. Hayes decided to interject into their activity.

Mr. Hayes was only apprehended after he began causing a scene with the officers. He threatened the officers and continued to cause a disturbance. He was charged with Obstructing a Roadway and Disorderly Conduct because of his actions. A review of the incident shows that he clearly met the elements of the offenses that the officers charged him with. I respectfully disagree with your assessment of the use of these charges, as an individual cannot be charged with Disorderly Conduct just for videotaping and Mr. Hayes was in the roadway putting himself in danger, not on a sidewalk.

As for your request of dismissal of the charges, the only one who can impact the case at this point is the Judge in the courtroom where the facts will be heard on the case and the video and audio from the officers vehicles will be reviewed, as well as any other evidence that may be brought forward.

I can assure you that our officers are well versed in the rights of individuals and our first response is to counsel and educate, with our last response being incarceration. I am sure you would agree that the responsibility of individuals in a civil society is to respect the role that the officer fulfills in our community as well. I can tell you from the audio tape from the police vehicle that Mr. Hayes states that he does not respect the police and his agenda during this encounter was not as you have been advised. We continue to support the right of the public to hold us accountable for our actions. However, we cannot allow those who choose to interfere with our efforts by threatening our officers, and especially those efforts to assist those in medical distress, to continue without taking appropriate action.

I appreciate your desire to know the facts in this situation.

Respectfully,

David Rausch

Chief of Police

Knoxville Police Department

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Monday, March 21, 2016 1:48 PM
To: Madeline Rogero
Cc: CharmeAllen; Chief of Police
Subject: David Hayes, Charged for Recording KPD

Dear Mayor Rogero,

I’m writing today after reading on Knoxville Black Lives Matter Facebook page that a friend and fellow alumnus of the UT-Knoxville student group "Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville," David Hayes, was charged by Knoxville Police for "disorderly conduct" and "obstructing a sidewalk."

This is alarming to me because reportedly, all David was doing was recording police work, work officers on the scene allegedly remarked was "none of his business." There’s supposedly a recording that substantiates this allegation.

As you know, we’ve had negative repercussions in Knoxville and Knox County over the years following recordings surfacing depicting officers acting unprofessionally.

I think you can agree the proper fix is to ensure that every officer’s conduct is above reproach. The solution can’t be to single out, detain, arrest, or charge citizens who choose to record police action.

I can understand that officers acted within their rights in charging David, but "disorderly conduct" and "obstructing the sidewalk" are widely viewed as "catch all" charges penalizing the otherwise lawful action of recording police activity.

If I may suggest, charging David is a questionable use of city resources. More consequentially, it is potentially damaging to the City of Knoxville and the Knoxville Police Department’s reputations, especially since David is co-founder of the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

To reverse this negative outcome, I believe it’d be a meaningful gesture of goodwill to the Black Lives Matter movement to drop the charges. I’d like to ask that you consider using your influence in any way that might result in the charges against David being dismissed.

I’d also like to encourage the Knoxville Police Department and Chief Rausch to ensure that officers are familiar with the rights of individuals to legally record police activity. I do understand the need for individuals not to interfere with police work; however, charging citizens rather than educating them on how to exercise rights to record without interfering seems to be a bit heavy handed.

Ultimately, I think we’d all be grateful to call a community "home" where the only concern of officers with respect to recording devices is that their conduct on camera lives up to their exemplary reputation as officers and as a department.

I’d appreciate anything you can do to make this ideal a reality, starting with David’s case.

Thanks for your consideration,

Tanner

David Hayes, Charged for Recording KPD

Dear Mayor Rogero,

I’m writing today after reading on Knoxville Black Lives Matter Facebook page that a friend and fellow alumnus of the UT-Knoxville student group "Students Promoting Environmental Action in Knoxville," David Hayes, was charged by Knoxville Police for "disorderly conduct" and "obstructing a sidewalk."

This is alarming to me because reportedly, all David was doing was recording police work, work officers on the scene allegedly remarked was "none of his business." There’s supposedly a recording that substantiates this allegation.

As you know, we’ve had negative repercussions in Knoxville and Knox County over the years following recordings surfacing depicting officers acting unprofessionally.

I think you can agree the proper fix is to ensure that every officer’s conduct is above reproach. The solution can’t be to single out, detain, arrest, or charge citizens who choose to record police action.

I can understand that officers acted within their rights in charging David, but "disorderly conduct" and "obstructing the sidewalk" are widely viewed as "catch all" charges penalizing the otherwise lawful action of recording police activity.

If I may suggest, charging David is a questionable use of city resources. More consequentially, it is potentially damaging to the City of Knoxville and the Knoxville Police Department’s reputations, especially since David is co-founder of the local Black Lives Matter chapter.

To reverse this negative outcome, I believe it’d be a meaningful gesture of goodwill to the Black Lives Matter movement to drop the charges. I’d like to ask that you consider using your influence in any way that might result in the charges against David being dismissed.

I’d also like to encourage the Knoxville Police Department and Chief Rausch to ensure that officers are familiar with the rights of individuals to legally record police activity. I do understand the need for individuals not to interfere with police work; however, charging citizens rather than educating them on how to exercise rights to record without interfering seems to be a bit heavy handed.

Ultimately, I think we’d all be grateful to call a community "home" where the only concern of officers with respect to recording devices is that their conduct on camera lives up to their exemplary reputation as officers and as a department.

I’d appreciate anything you can do to make this ideal a reality, starting with David’s case.

Thanks for your consideration,

Tanner

Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Hi Bryan,

I actually did not expect a reply to any of my suggestions, thanks for your time.

One thing you may have missed (a third idea I sent, sorry for the steady stream of different e-mails) is I suggested a "mosaic" column of cast concrete, with commissioned mosaic artwork, instead of the brick columns matching the ones at Chilhowee Park. I see this as a way of including public art and increasing public participation / ownership of the project, a major complaint presented to the city recently.

Same thing for maintenance of the plantings – my suggestion is to partner with groups like SEEED Knox on envisioning "green" infrastructure. Also I want to point out that irrigation systems are not equivalent to bioswales / stormwater infiltration / retention tech. Irrigation is a cost for the city – bioswales and stormwater infiltration represent a long-term savings.

My other point is emphasizing "permaculture" type infrastructure creates demand for a workforce to maintain it – thereby spurring economic activity / opportunities for disenfranchised members of the community, not just "public service department" and "horticulture department" or "prison labor" which is what Kasey often is forced to rely on.

What I meant in my comment about "yellow" traffic lights is that the metal casing on the traffic lights in the artist’s rendering are "yellow" rather than "black" (as in paint color) like the new ones on Cumberland Ave.

Also, I’m on the city Greenways Commission for the Fourth District.

I will probably forward my Greenway Pedestrian Refuge comment along to the Greenways Commission.

Do you think there’s any room to be proactive on making a really exemplary "greenway appropriate" street level crossing at Jessamine and Magnolia to Willow?

What I mean is to try and save on future greenway planning / installation – kind of a "two birds, one stone" approach. As you point out, the greenway corridors are conceptual at this point – but we can get "Greenway Quality" crossings first if we plan for it now.

The commission "at large" (not everyone) prefers a routing UNDER Magnolia on a KUB easement, but I think it’s worth acknowledging even if that path were available, some people will prefer to cross at street level at Jessamine / Willow, especially after dark, and it seems to me a logical pedestrian connection from Parkridge Community to the Warehouse District / Old City. A pedestrian refuge would be a welcome amenity as the crossing sits at the bottom of a hill, and vehicles are inclined to pick up speed as they go downhill.

Thanks,

Tanner

On Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 9:39 AM, Bryan Berry <BBerry> wrote:

Tanner,

I am following up with regards to your emailed suggestions about the Magnolia Avenue Streetscape. I tried to provide answers to anything I viewed as a suggestion.

I would like to be sure we’re protecting water quality in First Creek from both thermal and street chemical pollution.

The streetscape plan proposes to introduce landscaping in the median and along sidewalks. This will help reduce rain and stormwater runoff with new vegetation where asphalt is currently located.

I understand that Cumberland Avenue project has a large filter to handle stormwater and filter road pollution entering Third Creek. Is anything like that planned for First Creek?

There are plans to install similar filter units, one for each of the two phases on the Magnolia Ave. project. Final design is still underway.

Is there a "pedestrian refuge" in the median where the greenway will cross?

A greenway coming from an undetermined location on the south side of Magnolia Avenue and connecting to existing greenway in Caswell Park is only conceptual at this stage with no designated route. No pedestrian refuges are proposed within the medians at this time.

The older 2009 plan had some historically appropriate lighting in the artist’s rendering. What happened to that idea?

Lighting will be consistent along Magnolia Avenue with the standard KUB lighting proposed at this time.

I’d like any lighting installed to reduce light pollution – and can you check out the "temperature" to go with a warmer light than a cooler light? Magnolia has a neat, amber glow to it now – putting in LED lights will completely change that to look more akin to "a strip mall in outer space."

The proposed plan calls for overhead lighting with the standard KUB fixtures and smaller pedestrian scale lighting intermittingly along the sidewalk.

Why are the traffic lights yellow in the artist’s rendering?

I am not certain which rendering you are referring to. The streetscape perspective used at the public meeting and PowerPoint has green on the traffic lights.

Who is going to care for the flowering plants pictured?

The City of Knoxville Public Service department as well as the City of Knoxville arborist will periodically assess the plants and trees overtime and replace as needed.

What will prevent the median plantings from becoming toast? Can you design some rain garden features in the median, or on the sides, to capture and slowly release water?

An irrigation system will be incorporated into the landscape design plan. Also, ornamental grasses, evergreen shrubs, and flowering ground cover will be located in the medians and selected based on hardiness and tolerance.

The street trees at Hall of Fame Drive got replaced something like 3 or four times, really tragic given how much care goes into raising a good sized tree for planting. The trees that survived still seem to be struggling to take root in highly compacted, clay soil. What will prevent that from happening to the plantings on Magnolia Avenue?

An irrigation plan along with hardy plants and trees will help with the life of proposed plantings.

Can you incorporate "green" features like pervious pavement, stormwater bump-outs, stormwater trench, etc?

These ideas will be passed along to the consultant to incorporate where “green” features are possible.

Can you try and incorporate "edible" plantings? Right now it kind of looks like a generic streetscape. Try and add some character. See if you can put in some edible landscaping to address the food desert concern.

The consultant is researching examples of where this has been done successfully in other areas across the country and also working with the City of Knoxville’s Urban Forester Kasey Krouse.

If I missed something in my responses please let me know.

Thanks,

Bryan Berry

Project Manager

Office of Redevelopment

City of Knoxville

400 Main St., Ste 655

Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865-215-2543

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Tuesday, February 09, 2016 10:45 AM
To: Bryan Berry
Subject: Re: Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Thanks for including my "late" comments!

I appreciate your commitment to transparency in the public engagement process.

-Tanner

On Tue, Feb 9, 2016 at 10:37 AM, Bryan Berry <BBerry> wrote:

Tanner,

Thank you for providing feedback on the Magnolia Avenue Streetscapes Proposal. Your comments, along with others we received have been compiled and are available for review by the public here.

We are working on providing written responses to suggestions and questions from the comments in the near future. I will notify everyone when this takes place. I also added your name to the list of emails for updates and notifications on the Magnolia Avenue Streetscape Proposal process.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me.

Thanks,

Bryan Berry

Project Manager

Office of Redevelopment

City County Building

400 Main St., Ste 655

Knoxville, TN 37902

Phone: 865-215-2543

bberry

From: Tanner Jessel [mailto:mountainsol]
Sent: Saturday, February 06, 2016 12:56 AM
To: Bryan Berry
Subject: Comments on Magnolia Upgrade Plan

Hi Brian,

I did not see a lot of changes in the Magnolia Avenue plan from the April 2014 version. I didn’t attend the January meeting, so perhaps I missed something.

I do have some comments based on reviewing the documents online on my own.

First I want to address some of the recently promoted ideas concerning the "historically black community."

The neighborhoods along Magnolia Avenue are in fact "historically integrated" and it’s somewhat disparaging to see some promote the idea that my choice to live in East Knoxville is a threat to black livelihoods or black culture.

I’ve made a home on Chestnut Ridge in the Parkridge Community adjacent to Magnolia Avenue since 2007.

My home was built by a white man in 1935, who lived here with his wife Hazel and their adopted son. The 1940 census reveals many of his neighbors were of African American heritage when he built his home. Today, a few of my nearby neighbors include one hispanic family, two black families, two older white gay men, one white old timer, a white family with kids, a devout jewish guy, a devout muslim guy, a family of four, and the guy with the booming sound system and rims.

You can see why I’m surprised to learn that my community is being "whitewashed" by the proposed public investment in the hitherto crumbling Magnolia Avenue corridor.

Black or white, gay or straight, sinner or saint, all residents benefit from an upgrade to our area’s main transit route. Along with the "complete streets" concept that promotes physical activity, numerous studies have shown the benefits of street trees for reducing stormwater runoff – and I’ve read studies suggesting street trees not only clear the air, but improve people’s mental well being. I know I’m happier around trees.

That any stakeholder would refuse the addition of trees, bike lanes, and a more "livable" city is beyond my ability to understand.

I know there’s a lot of frustration about levels of both public and private investment in East Knoxville. I personally have concerns about the number of greenway miles and public green spaces in East Knoxville, with respect to population density and weighed against amenities in other areas of the city. There are certainly issues of crime, blight, and economic opportunities to address.

However, I can’t see how those important issues are addressed by opposing much needed "TLC" for Magnolia Avenue, one step of many towards reversing the trend of shuttering businesses on Magnolia.

With that discussion out of the way, let me just list some concerns I have regarding what I see in the plans – please forgive if any of these items were addressed in the in-person meeting that I did not attend:

I would like to be sure we’re protecting water quality in First Creek from both thermal and street chemical pollution.

I understand that Cumberland Avenue project has a large filter to handle stormwater and filter road pollution entering Third Creek. Is anything like that planned for First Creek?

Is there a "pedestrian refuge" in the media where the greenway will cross?

I’m a fan of reduced costs and energy efficienty, but in the artists’ rendering it looks like LED lights.

The older 2009 plan had some historically appropriate lighting in the artist’s rendering. What happened to that idea?

I’d like any lighting installed to reduce light pollution – and can you check out the "temperature" to go with a warmer light than a cooler light? Magnolia has a neat, amber glow to it now – putting in LED lights will completely change that to look more akin to "a strip mall in outer space."

Why are the traffic lights yellow in the artist’s rendering?

Who is going to care for the flowering plants pictured?

What will prevent the median plantings from becoming toast? Can you design some rain garden features in the median, or on the sides, to capture and slowly relase water?

The street trees at Hall of Fame Drive got replaced something like 3 or four times, really tragic given how much care goes into raising a good sized tree for planting. The trees that survived still seem to be struggling to take root in highly compacted, clay soil. What will prevent that from happening to the plantings on Magnolia Avenue?

Can you incorporate "green" features like pervious pavement, stormwater bump-outs, stormwater trench, more here: http://www.phillywatersheds.org/what_were_doing/green_infrastructure/tools

Can you try and incorporate "edible" plantings? For example, blueberries as shrub, service berry as a shrub / tree. I’m not a fan of ornamentals.

There is some interest in East Knoxville being the "arts and garden" district of the scruffy city. People who lived in the historic area gardened in backyards. They do today. The street should reflect "garden."

Right now it kind of looks like a generic streetscape. Try and add some character. See if you can put in some edible landscaping to address the food desert concern.

Maintaining those plantings and the green infrastructure could possibly create some of the job opportunities the more vocal activists are concerned about.

Make the street lamps solar powered and you have even more "green" infrastructure for skilled workers to tend.

Finally – if a streetscape upgrade is tough now – wait till you try your connector from Cherry to MLK which actually puts people out of a home. I commented back in 2014 that’s a bad idea – you’re just going to have people flying through a new thoroughfare. New streets don’t build community.

Thanks for the opportunity to comment.

I do think there’s room for improvement in the design details – but as the old saying goes – don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

-Tanner

March 2016 Disposition of 30 Tire Dump on Adams Ave

Tanner,

Has David Brace been made aware of any of this? Also, I’m guessing you called 311 about this. Do you have the reference number?

Thanks,

Calvin Chappelle

Executive Director
Mabry-Hazen House & Bethel Cemetery

Heritage Tourism Coordinator

Visit Knoxville

865-951-6614 (mobile)

www.mabryhazen.com
www.hhknoxville.org
www.visitknoxville.com

On Tue, Mar 8, 2016 at 10:23 AM, Tanner Jessel <mountainsol> wrote:

Hello PCO officers and board:

I followed up with Mr. Moyers with city codes re: the small tire dump on Adams Ave.

He advises that "the service crews have likely gotten all that they will get, this time around."

I did a quick count from the road during a dog walk this weekend – looked to be about 30 tires.

I find it unreasonable that crews could not retrieve 30 tires, easily sighted from the road.

I appreciate Calvin’s suggestion about removing the tires as a group for a photo opportunity. It certainly would prove a photo op with a strong visual message about challenges facing the community.

I dislike that cleaning up the tires as a volunteer task would take away time and energy from other, more visible clean-up efforts. And, as I told Mr. Moyers, I dislike that "volunteer effort" equates to "free" work for delinquent taxpayers / blight creators.

Given my upcoming work opportunity in Central Oregon, I doubt I’ll pursue this issue further this spring. I might grab a tire or two or three as part of my contribution to the traditional spring clean-up.

From correspondence with Andrea Woodward / Knox County Health Dept., I believe some of the tires have already been treated with larvicide. So, the mosquito disease vector issue will be less of a concern this summer.

I’m attaching Mr. Moyer’s e-mail reply to me, see "30-tire-dump-pickup.pdf." I think it’s good to hang on to as an example of some of the challenges faced in staying on top of blight.

There is also an environmental justice component to this. Going to our favorite comparison, I really don’t believe that a 30 tire dump would last long in a wealthier neighborhood like Sequoyah Hills, or North Hills, or Holston Hills.

Thanks for the support.

-Tanner