March 31, 2005
Speaker Crackles, Hisses
I'm sure you've become aware of all the dust swirling about, from Nashville to Knoxville to other points in our great state, regarding the relatively simple fact that a member of the TN House of Representatives started a blog and started sharing an insider's view of the legislature with the rest of us. Big deal, right?
Apparently it is a big deal to House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and a few other permanent-incumbent-types on the Hill, and now the papers, the tv, and, of course, the blogosphere are all over this story like flies on fresh, erm, farm animal droppings. I don't even have the energy to link to everything; just keyword-search [Campfield blog] or something (or some can click here) and you'll get all the hits you'll need, since every post out there has links to everything else. I guess I'm feeling lazy today, and that's bad blogging. I'll work on my blog ethic.
I couldn't help but write an entry about this, though. It is shameful that not only are our legislative leaders so backward as to not recognize the value of blogs, but that they would go even further and apparently "punish" one of their own (by effectively and deliberately killing a piece of legislation he authored) for blogging. These are not the kind of representatives we need in state government. (I'm not going to be kind to Rep. Campfield and suggest that he's the kind of legislator we need, either, except in the sense that he's willing to provide this openness.)
I am not saying that "you'd better support blogging by fellow legislators or you don't get my vote," because that would be an oversimplification. But I have read and written elsewhere on the despicable situation under which our laws get made -- a situation wherein lobbyists and special interests use a majority of the legislators' time, and are the primary source of pre-fabricated and thus under-reviewed legislation -- and therefore I am saying that "you'd better not try to stifle attempts to allow 'sunshine' into General Assembly goings-on or I will devote the attributable remainder of my existence to un-seating you." It looks like Jimmy Naifeh and Jere Hargrove have stepped into the lineup to be the first two targets for de-throning. Enjoy your last terms in office, boys.
March 30, 2005
Riding on the Metro
A panel is moving forward on thoughts of creating a single organization from Murfreesboro and Rutherford County. (Ah, Murfreesboro: ever the little sister in Nashville's shadow ?)
I'm sure that more than one person down on this end of I-24 thought about the pros and cons of metro government back when the school systems merged. Add to that the fact that we have a unified zoning/planning agency, and that there have been motions toward combining the tax collection functions, and it can be argued that the question is somewhat in front of us.
However, unlike Rutherford, which (to my knowledge) only has Murfreesboro to consider in a government merger, Hamilton County is blessed/cursed with close to a dozen municipalities within its borders. Aside from the City of Chattanooga, many of us live in Collegedale, East Ridge, Lakesite, Lookout Mountain, Red Bank, Ridgeside, Signal Mountain, Soddy-Daisy, or Walden. Largely enclave-ish and stubbornly resistant to proposals of, well, any sort of change, these tiny "cities" could represent a large obstacle facing anyone who would dare dream of increasing efficiency by switching to a comprehensive governing body.
I know that there are plenty of arguments against metro government in addition to the unique challenge here in Hamilton, but I don't know what they are, specifically. Post your thoughts, pro or con, and I'll appreciate the edification.
They've Finally Admitted It
North Half of MLK Blvd./Market St. intersection Closed
The Public Works Engineering office announced today the following:
The City of Chattanooga is improving the Market St./MLK Blvd. intersection. To accommodate this work, the City must close the north half of this intersection for approximately four weeks beginning Thursday, March 31, 2005.
The City, along with Talley Construction Co., is working to make this as inconvenient for businesses in the area as possible by guiding traffic to make a U-turn at the south end of the 800 Market St. block.
Please contact Eric Booker at [deleted] with any questions or concerns.
Elections Administrator Under Fire
One question, among many, that I have recently asked myself is: Is Ms. Dzik about to "pull a Curtis Adams?" We know that she is a former Hamilton County Democratic Party chair, but she seems awfully friendly with Republicans these days. (Scroll down linked page.) Election Commissioner Mike Walden (R) has nothing but praise for her, yet Democrats on the Commission almost voted her out, according to the Chattanoogan article. At the least, she will be unable to make personnel changes in the Election Commission office until new Commissioners are selected next week by the General Assembly.
The reported reasons for all this fuss have to do with Election Commissioner Linda Johnson, who is on the Commission in spite of also being employed by a state senator, and whose daughter (Laura Woods) is employed by the Election Commission office (i.e., she works for Fran Dzik). (That sounds like at least one conflict of interest to me, but I tend to err on the side of über-propriety.) Fran Dzik reprimanded Ms. Woods over alleged internet misuse, and some say that Ms. Johnson is engaging in personal punitive measures by these recent actions against Ms. Dzik.
However -- and you heard it here first -- what gets my curiosity standing on end is the fact that someone has been "googling" the terms [fran dzik 2005] and [fran dzik march 2005] in recent days, from a computer hosted on a uscourts.gov gateway. (I know this because they've landed on this blog several times.) Perhaps this is merely a bored federal court employee who is herself dallying in a little personal internet activity on the job; but it is more likely that someone has been assigned some research. We know that there was litigious activity following the 2000 and 2002 election cycles that involved the Election Commission; but why the search terms [march 2005]?
Stay tuned to this one.
March 29, 2005
Visitor Tip: We Say "Blawg"
I've gone and signed myself up for the upcoming BlogNashville conference (5-7 May 2005). I had had an invalid assumption that it was more of a Tennessee-area bloggers' convention, but I see that there are pundits, diarists and e-journalists coming from all directions. I only see one other entry from Chattanooga.
Hopefully I'll learn a few things, do a little networking, have some fun, and not miss my wife and (by then) six-month-old too much.
All Aboard the Ann Coulter Express
Thanks to schedule conflicts, inadequate PA, and some very noisy people (and some very noisy people's very noisy small children) in the corridor, I didn't hear much of Ann Coulter's reception speech at the Choo-Choo's Imperial Ballroom yesterday evening. The intent was to listen to all of it and gather reactions from all manner of attendees and do up a nice post about the whole thing here. Instead, a few more miles of the road to Hell got paved.
I did happen to briefly run into a couple of other local bloggers, whom I recognized thanks to their name tags. They were waiting in a line to talk to Ms. Coulter, which I would gladly have done as well, but I acquiesced to the wishes of the (pregnant) person who invited me and got out of the very stuffy ballroom right away. Then I bestowed my gratitude on the friendly Choo-Choo bartenders, who had cleared up my miscued directions while I was hastening to the event, by (more or less) thoroughly testing their Manhattan-mixing skills.
In partial replacement of the detail that I failed to come away with, I offer these brief words on the general enthusiasm displayed by the crowd -- the sheer size of which led to my standing outside the open ballroom doors during the speech -- and the vitality displayed by the candidate. The competition is going to be fierce in these next two weeks, but I can tell that at least one of the candidates is geared for such an environment. That fact is due in part to her leadership style, but also owes a lot to the wide base of support she enjoys. (Contrary to the opposition's accusations, I find very little evidence of an "insider cabal" running some kind of "puppet show" after witnessing yesterday's outpouring.)
I will blog on the runoff election itself in as neutral a tone as I can muster, but this post is fully disclosed as being biased in favor of Ann Coulter being elected as Chattanooga's next mayor.
The one line from Ms. Coulter's speech that I did manage to hear clearly, and wish to underline here, is that none of the support matters if we don't go vote. Donating, walking, and putting up signs are all good things to do, but they obviously don't count in the election results.
Early voting continues at its specified locations through April 7, and the official, city-wide runoff election is April 12. Check here for more detail on where and when you can vote.
Two questions for anyone who has made it this far: any word yet on the District 7 race? Is there a similar event planned by the Littlefield campaign, or has it already occurred?
March 26, 2005
No Backup for Sick Leave
Today is a light-blogging day, since I don't have much energy left over from courageously defending against a virus. I don't mean the electronic kind; we're talking old-fashioned biological warfare.
There are several items of interest in today's TFP and Chattanoogan, including Mike Pare's front-pager on tax breaks for BCBS. I'll be happy to hear your thoughts on that. I can readily see both arguments (CBL's and Chattanooga's).
Also, if anyone in District 7 has a feel for how that runoff election campaign is going, I'd love to hear from you. I have no reading on it at the moment.
March 25, 2005
District 33 Results
State Representative Kathryn Bowers (D-87) led the total vote count with 2129, which gave her a near-majority 49.39% in the Democratic primary. James Harvey and County Commissioner Michael Hooks essentially split the remainder.
Mary Ann Chaney McNeil won a clearer victory in the GOP primary with 62.41% of votes cast. Her closest competitor was Jason Hernandez, who garnered 24.24%.
Bowers and McNeil will be joined by independents Ian Randolph and Mary Taylor Shelby in the May 10 special election.
I'm not up on my District 33 population totals, but I am making a fair guess that the grand total of 5,524 votes cast in this primary does not represent a huge turnout.
UPDATE: it turns out (sorry, bad pun) that only 4% of registered voters showed up.
Since over 78% of the votes cast were in the Democratic primary, I am predicting an easy victory for Representative Bowers.
March 24, 2005
What Is the Money For, Again?
Check out the latest spectacle on the Democratic side of the 2006 Senate race. We really can't tell what the fundraiser was for, can we? I'm beginning to sense a pattern here, for I visited the Ford website that was supposed to be all about his Senate campaign, and its internal links all indicated the intent to "Re-elect Ford."
Trust me, friends: the next 16 months are going to be more exciting than any old reality-tv show could pretend to be. You, being the politically-savvy readers that you are, are no doubt aware that the race for the seat being vacated by Bill Frist is being watched from around the nation. As my neighbor Margaret used to say, "Be smart!"
Special Election Today in South Shelby
Memphis-area readers, if you live in State Senate District 33, go vote in today's primary for your preferred Republican or Democrat to fill that seat. (If you're supporting either of the two independent candidates, you can sit back until the May 10 election, but we do enjoy open primaries in Tennessee, so you're free to go vote for -- or against -- one of the two-party candidates.)
Roscoe Dixon resigned from this Senate seat to take a position in Shelby County. The County then appointed Sidney Chism for the interim. In today's primary, the Democrats are:
Kathryn Bowers - currently holds the District 87 seat in the House
Michael Hooks - currently a Shelby County Commissioner
The Republicans are:
Mary Lynn Flood
Mary Ann McNeil
One each of these will face independents Ian Randolph and Mary Taylor Shelby in the General Election.
March 23, 2005
Attention, World, There Are (at least) Two Ann Coulters
I've noticed that the vast majority of keyword searches that get people to this site consist of these three words: "ann coulter chattanooga."
Since I'm a curious sort, I pulled up those Google links to see what other pages appeared along with this one. That's when I discovered blogposts and comments that demonstrate a state of confusion, in at least parts of the blogosphere, over our (in)famously-named mayoral candidate. I don't know how many times I read things like "good for her, I'm glad she's finally running for political office" or "I read her book on the patriot act and I would never vote for her for anything" -- folks, these comments were responses to reposts of Chattanoogan.com articles that were clearly about "our" Ann Coulter. One site even put up a picture of Chattanooga mayoral candidate Ann Coulter, and another commenter "corrected" the earlier post with a snapshot of the other Ann Coulter. I'm not linking any of these, because my intent is not to point personal fingers. My intent is to point out the disconnect some readers -- and writers -- have with details.
So, in an attempt to have a little more fun with the internet-at-large, I provide the following:
ANN COULTER IS A DEMOCRAT
ANN COULTER IS A DEMOCRAT
ANN COULTER IS A DEMOCRAT
Sit back and enjoy the fireworks, friends.
(Chattanoogans: Remember, our municipal elections are non-partisan. Do not consider the above when choosing a runoff candidate on April 12. It's beside the point, but I believe both runoff candidates are Democrats.)
UPDATE (4/12): Ann Coulter, 4/7/2005: "I’m not affiliated with any political party."
Stop One Leak, Another Springs
Dear Rep. McMillan, why is there only one GOP donor ever mentioned when you're touting your ethics reform package? I want to support campaign finance reforms, in general, but lately there are good questions being raised concerning the actual effectiveness of some measures and/or the presence of some ugly side effects (the potential FEC oversight of bloggers comes to mind).
Dear Rep. Hargett, if individual contributions to PACs are limited to $10K/year, how exactly does this increase the "importance" of PACs' contributions, since the PACs would ostensibly have smaller accounts as a result? I agree that the "amendments to both bills that would have equally limited the amount of money PACs or candidates could contribute to any political parties, political campaigns or political caucuses" may not have been given due consideration, but isn't there merit in also focusing on "leveling the playing field" where individuals are concerned? Like you, I don't want 60% of political contributions coming from PACs, but neither do we need 80% of contributions coming from 5% of individuals.
Perhaps purely public election financing is the only way out of the whole mess, but since that's not a likely reality, let's at least bring proper attention to equally putting the squeeze on all sources of big money. I'm trying to see through to the place where we can actually close all the loopholes, and not simply create more when we close some. Unfortunately, my inner cynic says that the money will find a way through, no matter what we do.
Learning Movable Type
I have taken too long before giving credit to Elise at Learning Movable Type for the wealth of organized, well-documented information she has desposited for all of us MT novices to browse.
I have a question for other MT users, though, who use the Firefox. In the Edit Entry interface, do you have the four buttons (B, i, U, and URL)? I have them in IE6 but they are not displayed when I use Firefox. Is something amiss with my Firefox settings? That little URL button comes in handy. The other three are less important to me, since I've learned that they don't use "clean" HTML. Any thoughts? Thanks.
Carr Pulled Over
Whoops. Anyone should know to log into h/er web-based personal e-mail account to send mail such as this.
What do you think of Ron Littlefield's attempt to "conspiratorialize" this event -- and what significance does Rhonda Thurman's opinion hold in the Chattanooga Municipal Election?
March 22, 2005
"Take the Highway..."
If you've nothing to do this Thursday at 6pm, until 8pm, why not consider going over to the Bicentennial Library to see the plans for US Hwy 27 thru downtown? C'mon, I know that there are a lot of you who drive over the Olgiati and/or up from I-24 daily. There will be a question-and-answer session following the presentation.
While you're there, you can pay that overdue charge.
March 21, 2005
Let In Some Sunshine - Call Today
People from all points on the political map are on board with HB 1133. "What is 'HB 1133?'" you ask.
HB 1133 is a piece of legislation currently up for consideration in the House Subcommittee on State Government. In fact, it will be considered at 9:30 a.m. (CST) Tuesday, March 22. The proposed legislation has bi-partisan sponsorship (Rep. Buck (D-24) and Sen. Black (R-18)).
"What will it do?" you ask. It will require disclosure -- from, among other things, lobbyists, on how much was spent promoting their clients' agendas to legislators. The people of Tennessee will know (not that enough care) by whom are which laws financed. [Speechless, mouth agape.] This could actually result in a much more open government if enacted. No wonder there are strong efforts underway to undermine it.
I echo the many others who are urging everyone to contact the House Subcommittee members (scroll down in the editorial for a list) now to let them know of the importance of this legislation. (This site has a one-click function to e-mail all of them.) I also hope that readers and those to whom they pass this will contact their own legislators (none of the HamCo House delegation is on the Subcommittee, shucks) and let them know that popular support is behind this, so it will be coming to a vote near them, soon.
March 20, 2005
Interfering with Natural Selection Part II: Child Safety Advances
It is rather amazing that in just a few decades, the acceptable modes of transporting children in vehicles have evolved from "piled into the cargo bay of a station wagon with a blanket" to $300 braced, buckled and padded seats children must stay in until they're, I dunno, 17 or something. (If this trend continues, chauffeured first dates will be interesting.)
The relative progress in safety measures is not unwelcome, though. A rather sobering moment from my own past involved said station wagon, parents stopping for a 5-minute run into a supermarket, a parking lot that sloped down toward Business US-220 (and they hadn't built the bypass yet), 2 bored, curious youngsters (maybe 4½ and 3?) each determining which levers we could move by ourselves, and the coincidental orchestration of gearshift-to-N and emergency-brake-release.
(Fortunately, the wheels were cut, so the backward roll was not a straight one, and the ride ended abruptly upon contact between the station wagon's formidable right rear corner and a bright blue Chevy's (also parked) driver's-side door. It was raining, too. The image of those wet, tiny green-hued dice that were so recently Mr. Nova Owner's window, and the sound of them being made, and the manifestation of the word consequence as physical sensation in the pit of one's stomach, have never left me.)
Thanks to safety engineers and to "legislating what should be common sense," kids today who happen to get into the front seat and who do play with the controls cannot very readily put a parked vehicle into motion. They also cannot open rear doors, or windows, or do much of anything except perch on their well-cushioned thrones and, in some versions of the modern family car, watch DVDs. Heh. If we'd had The Incredibles back then, we might not have thought the gearshift, pedals, and knobs were so cool.
Little hint: the effectiveness of these safety advances is greatly improved when drivers avoid speeding, careening, distracting themselves with phones, tailgating, hot-dogging, and leaving small children unattended, even for 5 minutes (if you're reading, Mom, it's water under the bridge).
March 19, 2005
Three Elephants on a Merry-Go-Round
People thought that Van Hilleary would run for Governor again, and now he has announced his candidacy for the US Senate.
People also were thinking that Beth Harwell would run for the US Senate, but now she's rumored to be the "mystery candidate" who will rise up and take on Governor Phil Bredesen.
There are still others who think that Ed Bryant may suddenly switch from running (hard) for the US Senate to being the GOPernatorial savior.
Van, Beth, and Ed, there is a solution for all of you. Go you to the valley of the sodden daisies and learn at the feet of the laudable Basil I. He runs for multiple major offices. He asks voters massive questions: "WHAT IS A GOOD GOVERNOR or U.S.Senator?" I'm telling you, he has the key! Run for them all. It's simplicity at its purest, its wisest. (In 2004 Marceaux the Magnificent applied noticeable brakes to Ward Crutchfield's incumbency juggernaut.)
Imagine the ballot! Those guys over at Blogging for Bryant could stop blogging for Bryant for a second and vote for Bryant -- twice.
Another Brick in the Wal
Chalk up another victory for Wal-Mart in its crusade to become The Company Store. Even though the post-Ritz Violet Camera once produced eight of the worst passport photos I have ever seen, and even though parking a car on that block of 7th can be charming, I had hoped that the little camera/photo shop would make it.
Picture this: after a few more years' time, no locally-owned businesses exist. It is possible to walk from one Wal-Mart parking expanse to the next (careful hopping over the toxic sludge in the ditch). People feel lucky to have a job at Wal-Mart, where they are underpaid, un-represented, and discriminated against if they happen to be female, gay, or left-handed. Wal-Mart bails out the failing public schools (by turning buses into its billboards?) just enough to provide itself an adequate supply of barely literate workers. These workers buy everything they use at Wal-Mart, and on weekends, give their churches the rest of their paltry earnings
as alms for those not lucky enough to have Wal-jobs. Legislators whose campaigns were financed by Wal-PAC have long abolished public welfare (since, after all, we now have Wal-fare). Is this a portrait of American entrepreneurship?
Silver lining: with so many Wal-Marts opening in the area, the soon-to-be-former Violet employees can hope to get in line and find employment pointing at digital cameras and stocking shelves with more slavechild-assembled tripe. But will the work/comp transactions there be as directly beneficial to the Chattanooga-area community as were those at Violet? I happen to think not.
Note: the above was written with full knowledge that technological innovation itself, namely digital photography, also has a significant role in the decline of local camera shops -- see here and here to compare this with a similar story.
March 18, 2005
Yes, But Do THEY Wear Kilts?
I found another Civic Forum. I'm sure there are many more, but this one caught my eye due to its stated purposes. There are a lot of things that this little blog could aspire to be, but being that "gateway" and facilitator between the general public and their elected officials is somewhere high on that list.
By the way, does anyone remember if the old building that sat where there is now a new home for EPB going in was named exactly as this blog? I know that "Civic Forum" was in the name. The thought occurred to me sometime after I hurriedly chose the name for this site and got it up and running.
I woke up in a fog this morning -- and I don't mean the "day after St. Paddy's" kind, though there is probably a little of that hovering around. The presence of a fellow musician neighbor one block down, which means that no one had to drive, made it sort of mandatory to rip into some reels and hornpipes (and a few black-and-tans).
For to ponder: the latest on possible school closings, amending the Tennessee Constitution so that it attempts to limit a private and religious matter, how stands the runoff between Debra Matthews and Manuel Rico, the fretless version of the Steinberger XS-15FPA, etc.
March 17, 2005
Ann Coulter in the Neighborhood
On Wednesday afternoon, neighbors in the Mountain Creek area were treated to an at-home event by leading mayoral candidate Ann Coulter. Ms. Coulter outlined her neighborhood initiative (scroll down, #link not working) and answered residents' questions.
I spoke with an attendee (full disclosure: my sister-in-law) about the event. The word "vision" was prominent in the conversation -- as in, Ann Coulter has one, she owns it, and she is able to articulate it in a personal (and, apparently, convincing) way.
According to my source, Ann Coulter's vision for Chattanooga is of a city whose citizens do a healthy amount of walking, where locally grown and produced food is available in neighborhood groceries, and where "you don't have to buy a $300,000 home in order to have sidewalks."
Sis says that Ann handled the topic of community & faith gracefully and with honesty. She was particularly impressed by the announcement that a Coulter administration would include monthly door-to-door visits. (As an aspiring realist, I wouldn't bet on that -- no disrespect is meant to the intent, but Time has a way of frustrating even the most noble plans.)
Look for Ann Coulter and her walking crew to appear in your neighborhood at some point, because it sounds like she intends to make personal contact with as many citizens as she can before the runoff.
March 16, 2005
School Bus Hijacked by Ad Agency; Student Body Held Hostage on Grounds
Two Hamilton County legislators have filed a bill that would allow Tennessee school districts to raise extra money by selling ads on buses and raising billboards on school grounds.
My only question to Representative Sharp and Senator Fowler (well, in addition to the ones asked by Senator Towns -- I mean, combined with this story, it would appear we're all about sending our kids to school with Lucky packs rolled into their t-shirts and bottles of Jack in their hands) is "if corporations and other businesses are so interested in lobbing money at the schools, could they not simply aim at the obvious targets (buildings in disrepair, lack of materials, etc.), instead of taking the 'horseshoes' tack of billboards and school bus signs?"
I know, the rebuttal would be, "but without the advertising piece, what's in it for me, the business owner?"
A possible answer? "An educated workforce."
The idea is not without innovation, and in a way it helps to illuminate the underlying issues. People start to flex their creativity muscles in desperate situations.
On the other hand (I'm balancing, remember?), I am not so sure I agree with the Superintendent's implication:
"...you can’t replace tax revenues with plans like this," Dr. Register said.
Wait a minute. Even though I might not agree with the specifics of this bill, I also don't feel that tax revenues are sacred and that there shouldn't be reasonable attempts to, in fact, replace them. Messrs. Sharp and Fowler get major points for trying, and I might be persuaded on the bus ads alone, but billboards on campus are beyond what I can call reasonable.
What do you think?
March 15, 2005
The Implications of Website Redesign
A few of us noticed that Chattanooga.gov has a new look and feel; but it took me until just now to realize that since the makeover, many of the links on the Chattanooga candidate page no longer work.
It will likely be this weekend before I can fix them all. The runoff is a few weeks away yet, so the info is fairly static. Bear with me.
Hey, what MT plugins do y'all use for good editing functionality? Other options? I am not sure I can continue to work with the MT UI alone, especially on the candidate pages. I had thought of doing them as posts and placing links to the archived entries on the sidebar. I needed a different sidebar for them, though, so I went with the idea of making each its own index template. That's a good thing, but I don't have the handy-dandy "URL" button with which to paste links (oh, and by the way, neither do I in the New Entry screen when using Firefox; I am reverting to IE to compose, since I use that button a lot). Tips for this relative newbie (*I started learning html a decade ago, just took a long break) are most welcome.
Senate 2006 News
I am actually surprised by this, as I was predicting that Hilleary -- who has been rumored to be considering this for a while -- would opt instead to run for Governor again. 2006 will be an interesting year in Tennessee statewide politics, since GOP hopefuls for the Governor's mansion, and Democratic contenders for the seemingly prized Senate seat being vacated by Bill Frist, are strangely scarce. There's still time for some new developments, though.
Meanwhile, I'm hoping to round up the candidates and potentials from the "smaller" parties (the independents as well) and update the pages with their info. The tv ads and newspapers may only focus on the well-funded candidates, but this blog tries to more or less give equal time to all, in the interest of providing voters with the information they need to make the most of their choices.
March 13, 2005
Introducing a new feature on the Civic Forum: the Sunday Drive, which will cover one or more aspects of local transportation concerns. These posts will range from far-flung futurism to road-rage rants, so be forewarned.
Here's an idea: if you are driving, and there is a sign indicating that current lanes (plural) will soon merge and become lane (singular), try one of the following:
- if you are in the lane that is being merged to, be prepared to accept incoming merges from the other lane. Do not tailgate the vehicle in front of you. Purposefully make some breathing room.
- if you are in the lane that is merging (closing), start looking at the other lane for a break in traffic so that you can merge into the other lane as soon as you are informed (by aforementioned signage) that your current lane will cease to exist.
These are especially neat to try when the merge occurs on an onramp, such as Shallowford WB to i75-S or East Brainerd WB to i75-S (hint: these two merge opposite from one another), or i75-N to i24-W just north of the state line.
Here's another idea, on a completely different topic. Make sure to submit your opinion to TDOT after you have researched the proposal.
March 12, 2005
Shame on Littlefield
This is, at best, a case of the pot calling the kettle black. I have been contacted twice by Littlefield pollsters (both times before the March 1 election), and the second one was definitely a "negative push poll." No question as to whose campaign was responsible. I have not heard the detailed questions of the Coulter poll, but I don't imagine that they are worse than the Littlefield push poll was.
I've been trying to give Councilman Littlefield, his massive amount of experience, and his apparent likeability in the community the benefit of the doubt in this mayoral election, despite giving tenuous support to the Ann Coulter campaign. Now I feel that he is simply adding to the city's negative notoriety à la Curtis Adams.
This latest development makes me much more resolved to openly, solidly support Ann Coulter for Mayor of Chattanooga. Vote April 12.
March 11, 2005
The Phenomenon of Friday Diversionary Blogging
I want to combine a couple of ideas I've seen on good blogs into one. These are the "open thread" as seen here and the "creature blogging" as seen here and here. I'm not an ace photographer by any stretch, so I will likely be uploading images that someone else has created. I just wanted to give folks something to look at while they pondered what they want to discuss today. I love Nature's creatures, but so many others do so well at depicting those I decided to try something different and do "guitar blogging" instead.
This one is an Ibanez AS83 semi-hollowbody with flamed maple top, back and sides, a "violin sunburst" finish and cream bindings. It features ACH-1 and ACH-2 humbucking pickups and a 3-piece mahogany neck. I know for a fact that the finish looks much better in person than in this company stock photo. The flame figures in the maple are easier to detect, and the color is a rich honey hue. It plays very well and is extremely versatile, allowing one to play just about any style (jazz, country, blues, rockabilly, pop) and sound authentic.
So, talk amongst yourselves. Here are some potential topics:
1) This site needs some design work (which really says that its designer needs more time).
2) It would appear that there are two major corruption scandals being tried, but some of the same names keep showing up in both, so is it really just one big pile of corruption? And when will we learn which judge is involved?
3) Is Fran Dzik's Election Commission administration really that much better than Carolyn Jackson's was, as Mr. Summers implies?
March 9, 2005
In case you hadn't heard, Chattanooga's recycling program is changing. I am disappointed that they will no longer pick up glass. I can see the safety concerns for the workers who separate the recyclable materials, but steel cans have some pretty sharp edges too, so a better overall solution should be sought for this. I know that I won't see very many of us by the glass bins at Warner Park, say Saturdays around elevenish. (I'll give you the benefit and assume you're at one of the other locations, or you're getting your hair cut.)
I did not see any basis given for the "18% of households" figure. I know that participation is much higher in many areas, but a reasonable estimate would still be low, by any measure.
What do people think of "neighborhood enrollment"? Should we suggest to our Council that we be made able to sign up as neighborhoods in addition to being able to enroll as individuals (I am not looking to replace that)? There's a possibility such a plan could add efficiency to the list-building process, so that the DPW staff can get right to developing the routes.
By the way, the City has a newly revamped website. I'm not sure I understand the navigation scheme.
I keep trying to think of the right way to kick off this post. A dry, aloof veneer does not readily welcome the addition of gushy gramercy to its surface, hence the stumbling, near-blushing babble. What I'm trying to get at is that the Chattanooga-Hamilton Civic Forum blog made the Pulse's Technology round-up.
To clarify, this is the blog's first known appearance in dead-tree copy. Adam Groves of Simply "I" has made mention, and I would dare say that he provides me fair "competition" (though it's not viewed as such) in blogging our local political news, though he hails from East Tennessee. Other blogs have kindly referenced the site as well, but it is a different kind of milestone to be featured in "Chattanooga's Weekly Alternative."
I am most grateful for the recommendation and the traffic, and am re-vitalized toward meeting the full complement of objectives as set forth in the description above (which I understand may be hard to see). Where I'll find the time to do so is a riddle I will relish unraveling.
In other words, thanks MUCH, and I'll keep working to make this as "wired, webby, and wicked cool" as it can be.
No, It's Not Meant to Look Like That
I downloaded Mozilla Firefox the other day and installed it. I noticed immediately upon browsing to this page that the display is quite different. The biggest difference is that the banner does not fit the description text within it. Most of the text cannot be seen. Another difference is the shape/size of the main container. These things do not happen with IE6. Additionally, other pages I browsed were not noticeably different from how IE6 displays them.
It seems like I need to wear my ignorance today and humbly request a pointer on how to avoid this.
If readers are running Firefox and have been wondering just what is up with this site's author and his sense of formatting, just remember that I've been blissfully, ignorantly sitting in a micro-soft world.
If you don't see anything weird, e.g. an obviously truncated blog description, perhaps the issue is that I installed Firefox on a prehistoric artifact.
March 8, 2005
Supreme Court Ends Revenge-Killing of Kids
...and that's "injustice?" Come on, Mike.
Juvenile recklessness lent itself to the heinous crime committed by Simmons AND to his brash declarations of being untouchable. The action was deplorable, and the perp should be punished according to the law -- on these we agree.
There are a few points that I would like you to consider, however.
First, on the broader subject of capital punishment: a state cannot hope to purge itself of (perceived) evil as embodied by one of its citizens by effectively placing that citizen's life outside its First Amendment protections. There can be no such thing as "public moral rectification." The mass guilt we feel after one of our own commits a horrible crime is in no way diminished by our collectively killing that individual. Such would be all too convenient.
Secondly, the dual prohibitions in the relevant Eighth Amendment clause are "cruel and unusual" punishment. I suspect that most arguments in Roper v. Simmons, even some in the majority opinion, are based on the "cruel" aspect, i.e., that the execution of one who committed a major felony as a juvenile is cruel because of the tender age of the offender at the time. I submit, however, an alternate view: that it is the "unusual" aspect of this that weighs more heavily into this ruling. After all, as capital punishment for offenders who were full-fledged adults, why do we not still hang? Stone? Burn at the stake? Many will argue that it is because of a sense of "cruelty" found in those methods. I think it is because they have, to put it bluntly, fallen out of fashion – in other words, they are no longer "usual." After all, death is death, and a negligible amount of "cruelty" during an execution makes no difference to the final outcome. Ask yourself how many other modern democracies in the world execute offenders who were 16 at the time of the offense (or any age, for that matter). "Evolving standards of decency" have led, in my lifetime, from a prevalence of electrocution to one of lethal injection as a state’s preferred method of blindly groping for justice, i.e., killing for revenge. What’s normal today is likely to be weird (at best) in the future. The predictable adherence by the five majority Justices to this pattern of evolution can hardly be called "renegade."
And lastly, it is this sense you convey, that "justice" is narrowly defined to mean nothing more than "revenge," that is the most disturbing aspect of your column. If you define "decency" as "a bloodthirsty and hopeless quest for assuaging public guilt," and if you define "maturity" as "avoiding forward motion along the natural path to enlightenment at all costs," then your equation of justice to revenge fits within those contexts.
Sadly, these definitions are – rather ironically – quite juvenile.
Let's do better than 27% of registered voters in the Mayoral (and District 7) runoff election. The Bailout presents a view on what the low turnout numbers really mean. If you are uncomfortable with a very small minority calling the shots for your community, you are perfectly free to do something about that -- vote.
Early voting for the runoff begins Wednesday, March 23 and ends Thursday, April 7, at the typical locations. Get details as all dates are not available. The runoff election date -- April 12 -- is when I will show up. I normally refrain from encouraging early voting, but in a runoff the scenario is not necessarily the same, so whenever you choose to vote is fine with me.
In related news, third-place-finisher-turned-Littlefield-cheerleader (and when, exactly?) Dan Johnson is going to inspect records at RiverCity Company. Yes, and who will be "watching the watchers?" For that matter, since it's not like a grand jury subpoena or anything, who says that all records will be on the table?
Right. It sounds like nothing more than a campaign stunt, then. Enjoy.
March 6, 2005
Democrats Fishing for Southern Strategy
Special Election in Senate District 33
- Sidney Chism - Interim - chosen by Shelby County Commission after Roscoe Dixon resignation
- Kathryn Bowers - District 87 Representative
- Mary Lynn Flood
- James Harvey
- Jason Hernandez
- Michael Hooks - Shelby County Commissioner
- Mary Ann McNeil
- Barry Sterling
March 3, 2005
2006 Tennessee Candidate Listings
At the top of the sidebar (to the right) are links to the first ever online source dedicated to Chattanooga and Hamilton County voters' needs for information about rumored and confirmed candidates & political parties in upcoming Municipal, County, State and Federal elections.
Readers outside Hamilton County will hopefully find value as well in the candidate listings for the United States Senators, Representatives, and Governor of Tennessee. Note: the General Assembly pages only include districts that are located at least partially in Hamilton County. An eventual goal is to have a comprehensive listing for both houses of the GA but that will have to wait.
This is meant to be as interactive as is practical, so if you're reading down one of the pages and you think to yourself, "sheesh, this guy doesn't know that [potential candidate] is working up a run?" or "wait, I'm not running for that!" then use the handy link on the side to drop me a quick note.
Abort Mission, or Damn the Torpedoes?
Literally hours before I had planned to announce the launch of the oft-touted Candidate Pages on this site, I happened to read this (via InstaPundit). Where does a low-rung blog like this one fit into that whole mess? What about a higher-visibility site like this one (see P2004 and State/Fed candidate pages)?
I have always been a proponent of the campaign finance legislation known as "McCain-Feingold." I do recognize that the internet, including weblogs, can provide ways to skirt the intent of that law, but what about a situation where a blogger/site author is providing all available links to all available candidates [update: add an "in good faith" phrase to that "providing all available," as I'm having a CYA moment], and not intending to support any campaign over another by way of those references? If the same blogger writes an opinionated post in support of one or more of those linked candidates, is that a contribution?
Am I getting nervous over nothing? Your comments on how the FEC's enforcement of McCain-Feingold will play out on the Internet are most welcome.
FWIW, I'm going ahead with the launch of the candidate pages until someone tells me that they are not allowed.
March 2, 2005
County Commission Denies PDs Additional Funding
Why not impose a modest court cost fee to help public defenders do their work? As I understand it, the general taxpaying public would not be adversely affected.
Commissioner Casavant articulated the most rational (or shrewd?) opposition.
March 1, 2005
The Real, Ugly Election Numbers
Registered Voters 96472 - Cards Cast 25998 26.95%. (Num. Report Precinct 76 - Num. Reporting 75 98.68%)
To the other 73%, and I think I speak for all of us: YOU'RE WELCOME.
Marti Rutherford Wins "Re-election"
Voters were implored to "Re-elect Marti Rutherford," and it appears that they have been persuaded. Ms. Rutherford will return for a third (non-consecutive) term as the District 6 Council member.
Hot Council Districts
Folks over in District 7 are still 'anxiously mulling' their choices for City Council.
District 6 is a tough one, too. There are two good candidates, but neither is perfect. I do know a little of Marti Rutherford's record, including her recent comments about what types of businesses are "acceptable" to line Brainerd Road. (I also seem to remember something about cell phone towers paving the way for the Apocalypse, which they haven't seem to have come through with as yet. I moved to District 6 in 2002, when Ron Littlefield was already Councilman.) I'm going to trust that Julie Chamberlain is a bit more flexible and freedom-minded, and doesn't try to impose her own design preferences upon her constituents.
I see that the Pulse Blog is up and running, and takes on this very important subject as its first. Please give them lots of hits, then come see this site tomorrow to wrap up the results and compare results to picks.
I'll bet that a great many District 4 citizens wish they had another option than choosing between Jack Benson and Robert Reid. Is electing Reid just to penalize Benson the most practical choice for the community's next four years? I might think so, but I might think not.
The Chattanoogan's poll for your choice among the top 3 mayoral contenders has more votes than on any of their polls that I've seen. These polls are not what you'd call "scientific," by any means, but they can give some idea of momentum among those on this side of the digital divide. Ann Coulter's holding at around 48%, which may signal a runoff. (Hey, remind me to do a post on Instant Runoff Voting, which is a system well-tailored for mid-sized municipal elections.)
That's it for now.