Knoxville chamber secrets revealed in lawsuit dismissal


U.S. District Judge Clifton Corker of Greeneville dismissed Rhonda Rice Clayton’s gender discrimination lawsuit against the Knoxville Chamber of Commerce that was scheduled to go to trial in late February.

In a 39-page opinion, Corker said there was not enough evidence for the case to be decided by a jury.

Clayton was the No. 2 person when Mike Edwards was CEO and retired. She applied but was not given the top job, which went to Mike Odom. She was fired a few months later.

The lawsuit alleged that the House discriminated against and retaliated against him in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Corker’s decision makes for fascinating reading about the internal operations of the House. In footnote 23, Corker says former CEO Edwards called Clayton a “sadistic narcissist” in a telephone comment to new CEO Odom.

Another footnote indicates that the House, before forming a search committee, asked businessman Eddie Mannis, former city councilman George Wallace and former News Sentinel publisher Bruce Hartmann if they would be interested in running the House. All refused. Then a search began.

There are two issues in the lawsuit. First, was Clayton discriminated against because she is a woman, and second, even if she was not discriminated against, did the House retaliate against her for testifying a legal complaint?

Knoxville Chamber of Commerce CEO Mike Edwards retires, November 2018.

His attorney, David Burkhalter, said: “This is not the final word as we will appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and a (panel of three) judges will decide whether this case will be decided by jury. . . Rhonda hopes she ends up having her day in court.”

If the appeal fails, the trial probably ends. If the appeal wins, then there will be a trial, but probably not for a year or more.

The appeal itself will not be heard for several months and could take a year to come to a conclusion.

A public trial would make more bed linen available to the public.

Mayor Indya Kincannon and her husband, Famed UT law professor and author Ben Barton will now be represented by Tennessee’s most influential senator, Lt. Governor Randy McNally, in Nashville.

McNally represented parts of Knox County for many years, but primarily in the Solway and Karns area. This will be the first time his Anderson County and Loudon district will expand into the central part of the city due to redistricting legislation enacted for the state Senate.

Other well-known residents of 4th and Gill/North Knoxville who will need to call Oak Ridge to reach their senator include Bob Whetsel; council member Lauren Rider and former council member and mayoral candidate Marshall Stair; attorney Jamie Ballinger (who opposed state senator Richard Briggs in 2018) and former city council candidate and restaurant owner Jim Klonaris.

The initial reaction may be that it’s clearly gerrymandering for his senator to live in Oak Ridge when the neighborhood sinks deep into the city.

McNally is one of Nashville’s most capable lawmakers. A pharmacist by profession, he is today the oldest legislator. He is attentive, intelligent, honest and hardworking. People will find him approachable, and if they win his support for any effort they promote, it will be as well accomplished. No other legislator comes close to the power and influence that McNally wields.

Vice Mayor Andrew Roberto appointed Council member Tommy Smith will chair the council’s naming committee, which deals with names of public property. Roberto also reappointed Council Member Seema Singh to chair the Council’s Golf Committee.


February 17: Sharon Bosse is 62 years old. Joe Carson is 68 years old. News Sentinel staffer Jennifer Dedman is 49. Alice Allen of the Greenway Commission is 64 years old.

February 18: Holly Zachary, wife of State Representative Jason Zachary, is 45. Lawyer Jim Parris is 64 years old. Michael Madigan is 42 years old. GOP activist Phyllis Severance is 83. Randy Ayres is 84 years old.

February 19: Thomas Ayres is 88 years old. Former GOP Chairman Billy Stokes is 70.

February 20: Becky Wade is 70 years old. Jamie Ayres is 73 years old. Senator Mitch McConnell is 80 years old.

the 21st of February : Erin Freeman is 42 years old. Bart Carey is 68 years old. Former Baker Center director Alan Lowe is 68. Jerry Askew is 68 years old. Sandy McNabb is 84 years old. Rachel Hamburger is 61 years old.

February 22: Former Senator Bill Frist is 70 years old. Lawyer John W. Baker Jr. is 76 years old. Former Kingston Mayor and GOP Chairman Jim Henry is 77.

February 23: Developer Doug Horne is 77 years old. Tennessee Representative John Rose is 57. Japanese Emperor Naruhito is 62 years old.

February 24: Former Senator Joe Lieberman is 80 years old. Former News Sentinel photographer J. Miles Carey is 75. The UT Beauvais Lyons professor is 64 years old. Former Vice Mayor Joe Bailey is 64. David Ticehurst is 41 years old.

Victor Ashe is a former mayor of Knoxville and former ambassador to Poland. He is a columnist for Shopper News.

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