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City of Knoxville, Tennessee
Madeline Rogero, Mayor

For Immediate Release
Mayor, Governor's conversation touches on many topics

September 15, 2005 - Mayor Bill Haslam hosted Gov. Phil Bredesen today for lunch and a conversation that touched on a variety of topics from the state's response and economic impact of Hurricane Katrina, ethics in the Legislature to what makes a good leader.

About 600 elected officials, business and community leaders attended the event at World's Fair Park where the Mayor and Governor spent 30 minutes discussing a range of issues.

Mayor Haslam and Governor Bredesen
Mayor Bill Haslam and Governor Phil Bredesen during the lunch and conversation event

"This was a great way for us to engage in a dialogue and exchange of ideas about how to make our city the best place it can be," Mayor Haslam said. "The Hurricane Katrina disaster has shown us the importance of good communication and working relationships among leaders at all levels of government. I appreciate the governor coming to Knoxville and sharing his thoughts with us."

Mayor Haslam opened the conversation by asking the governor what he had learned from watching the response to Hurricane Katrina unfold.

Gov. Bredesen replied that Tennessee had been a "wonderful, strong partner and good neighbor" to the Gulf Coast areas, noting how the National Guard, law enforcement agencies and thousands of volunteers responded to the calls for help.

He also said the delays and lack of communication between federal, state and local officials in the devastated areas "underlined so strongly to me that in times like this somebody has to take charge."

Tennessee and local communities will feel an economic impact from the roughly 2,900 new students in public schools as the result of the evacuations, Gov. Bredesen said, adding he would be asking the federal government for financial assistance in educating those relocated students.

Touching on the topic of ethics in the state Legislature, the governor said he was "trying to keep my finger out of it" as he awaits the recommendations of a task force, co-chaired by former State Sen. Ben Atchley of Knoxville.

"I do think we need to get more separation between the lobbying and fundraising parts of the world," he allowed.

Noting that both he and the governor worked in private business before seeking elected office, Mayor Haslam said people often tell him to run government like a business, but that government has many constituencies, each with good ideas about what government should be doing.

Gov. Bredesen agreed, joking, "Everyone wants government run like a business until you do that."

The governor said he believes the political process to a large part sets the priorities and those priorities can be executed in a business-like way.

And a good leader sometimes "must decide what's best for their community and try to go out and sell it. Someone who sticks their finger in the air and tries to determine if they have 51 percent in the polls - that's a terrible way to run a shop."

Gov. Bredesen encouraged Knoxville leaders to find the "things that are unique and different" about the city and "build upon them."

One of the things that makes Knoxville special is the University of Tennessee, and the city will benefit as the university grows in size and stature, particularly with new research dollars.

"I think Knoxville has a lot going for it," the governor stated.

Gov. Bredesen said he's spent his first two years in office addressing the state's problems, primarily budget and TennCare. In the future, he hopes to focus on education and modernizing the economy, with more jobs that are knowledge-based and not easily moved to places with low-cost labor.

"I think the job of grownups is to make things better for future generations," he concluded.

Mayor Haslam and Governor Bredesen
Mayor Bill Haslam and Governor Phil Bredesen talk to the media after the event

For Immediate Release
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