July 30, 2008
Why would the state penalize a church yard sale?
That's the question being asked today by the Tennessee Republican Party, whose Communications Director sent a link to the party's blog. The post questioned actions by the Department of Revenue against a Johnson City church.
[T]he House of Prayer, a small nondenominational church on Milligan Highway that regularly holds yard sales in its parking lot to raise money to help poor people with their expenses, got a visit and a letter from Tennessee Department of Revenue saying the church broke the law by not collecting sales tax. The church's tax bill: around $30.
I have discussed with others the idea that churches ought not to be tax-exempt at all. (I have not come to a solid conclusion on the matter.) I have a feeling (not backed by scientific study at this point) that a lot of money changes hands in the temples that is conveniently sheltered under the "free exercise of religion." (Note: such exercise is, and must remain, absolutely protected, so I recognize the delicate nature of this problem.)
But this story is about a measly thirty pieces of silver. I'm certain there are bigger banks to bust than that.
Changing my mind about the election for President
I have had a revelation today. I don't know why I have been so exclusive in my choice of voting for Barack Obama, when I could vote for Paris Hilton and get the exact same thing, only with blonde hair.
What was I thinking?
Really, though. Is this all about jealousy over the fact that the media have a new "darling?"
John McCain, I expected more from you, sir.
July 29, 2008
MAYORWATCH: Chattanoogan.com has a poll asking readers their preference between Rob Healy and Mayor Ron Littlefield in the March 2009 election. Personally, I'd like to see a couple more names in the list. There's still time. Besides, it's not clear yet whether or not Healy will be allowed to qualify.
ELECTION 8/7: I should have another installment in the Chattarati Election Guide series up sometime tomorrow. This time it's Judicial Retention Questions. Also, a Nashville public TV station blogger published a handy list of legislative primaries that will be decided. HT: Post Politics
HOUSING: So, while the Chattanooga Housing Authority racked up all kinds of bills, conditions at some of its units have deteriorated to the point where seven-year-old children are roaming the streets at all hours, amid shootings and stabbings. Now, blame for the little kids and teens being out all night lies with parents, and I'm not saying that the housing agency is responsible for violent acts; but at the same time, something just doesn't seem right.
ADAMS: County Commissioner Curtis Adams is again no longer city manager in East Ridge. For now.
U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) indicted
And, of course, bloggers everywhere are going to announce that the story is "all over the tubes."
July 22, 2008
There is more drama on Signal Mountain..
..than can fit inside the MACC, so it has spilled out onto the local news outlets today.
Two-term Hamilton County School Board incumbent Chip Baker, CEO of Friends of the [Riverbend] Festival, faces a challenge by Joe Dumas, a UTC professor and political activist. District 2 encompasses, through the miracle of gerrymandering, three of the wealthiest residential areas around: Lookout Mountain, Signal Mountain, and Riverview. (The mappers threw in Red Bank to make it look legit.) Both candidates hail from Signal Mountain.
Signal Mountain has other contingents besides Chattanooga's nouveau riche, however. Along with a middle-class component, the escarpment has long been home to scrappy leave-me-alone types. And, well, there's your occasional murderer, but this post is not about them.
No, this story starts with an email message sent by Chip Baker supporter and former Signal Mountain Town Councilman Bob Linehart to a bevy of buddies. The message was designed to cast aspersions on Joe Dumas. The "To:" line must have had one too many trusted addresses in it, as the proverbial cat got let out of the bag, and Dumas then contacted local media, accusing Linehart of a smear campaign. Dumas' broadcast didn't fail to mention that Linehart had been among several officials recalled by the citizens of his town.
Linehart fired back with a lengthy missive defending his statements about Dumas, and clarifying some facts related to the recall. For their part, the Bakers apparently told Linehart, in effect, "thank you Mr. Helper Bob. You will please refrain from sending emails on our behalf."
You can follow some of the saga at Chattanoogan.com, where there is also a poll posted so that you can weigh in with your unscientific choice between the two candidates.
TennesseeTicket encourages voters to focus on the merits of each candidate's positions, rather than on personal attacks or counter-attacks. I had hoped not to see an episode like this, but school board elections tend to bring out high emotion.
July 19, 2008
Endorsements East and West (updated)
Early voting for the August 7 election started yesterday, and will continue through August 2. Some bloggers have begun posting their endorsements for the federal and state primaries, as well as--and this is perhaps where you should pay most attention, should you live in the vicinity--for county elections.
David Oatney is a respected conservative voice in the greater Knoxville area. Here is a sampling of his ballot choices:
United States House of Representatives-First District:
David Davis (R)
Tennessee House of Representatives-17th District:
Frank Niceley (R)
Tennessee House of Representatives-18th District:
Stacey Campfield (R)
"Wintermute" writes The Daily Docket and focuses on the Memphis region. I've never fully figured out his politics (which I usually consider a good thing), but he does have a Barr '08 button on his blog. Wintermute's West Tennessee picks include:
UNITED STATES SENATE:
WM MIKE PADGETT DEMOCRAT
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 7:
TOM LEATHERWOOD REPUBLICAN
TENNESSEE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES DISTRICT 98:
BORIS J. COMBEST DEMOCRAT
ASSESSOR OF PROPERTY:
BILL GIANNINI REPUBLICAN
PAUL MATTILA DEMOCRAT
GENERAL SESSION COURT CLERK:
CHRIS TURNER REPUBLICAN
Be sure to visit both blogs and read the rest. I'll post more blogger endorsements as I come across them.
UPDATE 1: R. Neal has the KnoxViews picks.
TN Senate 14th District: Steve Roller (D) TN Senate 16th District: Jean Anne Rogers (D) TN Senate 22nd District: Rosalind Kurita (D) U.S. Senate: Bob Tuke
July 17, 2008
I'll have commentary later.
Looking for a local election guide?
I have started a voter guide series over at Chattarati. So far, I have outlined the choices for the following offices:
I'll keep adding links here as I publish new entries over there.
July 15, 2008
The Chattanooga Times Free Press has published a special edition today.
This is a big day for our little city.
Confirmed: Chattanooga to Land VW Plant (updated)
Developing story: An email I just received states that a Hamilton County official (whom I won't name until I can get confirmation) was just telling* a small group of other local "heavy hitters" that Chattanooga will be chosen as the new site for a Volkswagen manufacturing plant.
My source says that Alstom Power, Inc., a local company with German ties, was influential in helping to land the deal. The aforementioned county official was quoted as saying "don't bet on Huntsville."
Stay tuned for confirmations, updates, etc.
UPDATE 1: The Times Free Press has an AP blurb up that seems to add weight to this story.
UPDATE 2: My email correspondent says that a high-ranking TFP official was among those aforementioned "heavy hitters" who were given the heads-up.
Whew. Now head to Chattarati for ongoing analysis and commentary.
*The verb used in the email was "hinting."
Will we get this plant, or will it be "far from 'noogan?"
The New Yorker illustrator aimed squarely at...Tennessee?
I know; a far greater number of Americans have been mindlessly rubbernecking a "beauty" pageant contender's misstep than even know about The New Yorker Magazine and its supposedly controversial cover. But those of you who did see the depiction of Barack and Michelle Obama, and who chuckled or grinned or rubbed your chin with satire-approving nonchalance, would probably enjoy James Rainey's column in the Los Angeles Times.
It seemed fairly obvious to me, my 8-year-old and, likely, the majority of readers of one of America's finest magazines that the cover drawing by Barry Blitt was a parody. In other words (for those still struggling with the concept), the joke was not on the Obamas but on the knuckle-walkers who would do them harm....
The Tennessee Republican Party has created no small stir with its less-than-ironic attempts to paint Senator Obama and his wife as terrorist-connected America-haters. I thought of the TNGOP immediately when I saw the New Yorker cover. I wonder if the artist had them in mind.
A sad part to this story is that those targeted truly won't get that they are the butt of the joke, and will fail to see themselves as the asses they have been, despite this clever mirror that has been held before them.
But an even sadder chapter is that many of those who should know better are outraged for no good reason.
July 13, 2008
Did you see that "banned" at Nightfall?
During the break between Up with the Joneses and Bonerama on Friday evening, I ran into District 2 School Board candidate Dr. Joe Dumas, who was drumming up support for his bid to unseat Chip Baker. Standing near him were District 4 candidate Gregg Juster, who is aiming to replace incumbent Debra Matthews, and District 1 School Board member Rhonda Thurman, who is unopposed. The three candidates are running on a shared platform and are calling themselves the "Back on Track Team."
I had noticed earlier that a few ticket-takers at the beer wagon were cooling themselves with paper fans emblazoned with the Dumas logo. Upon inquiry, I learned that at least some of them weren't necessarily supporting any given candidate, but were just looking to combat the summer heat.
As I briefly caught up with the candidate, I discovered that only a certain number of people had been able to score a piece of Dumas or Juster paraphernalia before a city police officer, on orders from the Chattanooga Downtown Partnership, put a stop to the campaigning. Dumas was visibly irritated, and recalled that similar activity has occurred at Miller Plaza and on the closed stretch of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in recent election years.
"They must have just recently changed their policy," he mused, adding that the officer who had asked him to remove the fans had quietly indicated that he is a Dumas supporter. I asked him what reason was given for the ban, and he said that he was told it because Nightfall is held on private property. We shared a question or two about the sidewalks, and the street, both of which are clearly city-owned.
When the main act started with "The Star-Spangled Banner" (dominated, as was the rest of the night, by trombones), conversation paused while candidates, supporters, and your blogger stood in respectful silence. (No, I did not place my hand over my heart. It was the National Anthem, not the Pledge of Allegiance. And no, I did not wear my flag lapel pin. But Joe Dumas did take off his cap, for the record.) A minute or two later, I got to meet longtime Chattanoogan.com columnist Mike North. It's always fun, as a left-libertarian, to triangulate to commonly held positions with "Republitarians" such as these.
I had been wondering why I hadn't seen any "tabling" at Nightfall by the Vote for Change organization, which, though it is backed by the Barack Obama presidential campaign, is purely a voter registration drive, regardless of the registrants' own political views. Has the Downtown Partnership banned them as well?
And I guess it's possible that when the event utilizes the public footpaths and roadways, those elements do turn, temporarily, into private property; but, come on, with early voting starting later this week, what is so wrong with a little politickin' along with the pickin', as long as everyone has a chance to be heard? It would seem like the Partnership would encourage civic activity.
What do you think? Should campaigning be off-limits at Nightfall? I can see prohibiting fund-raising, because the vendors and sponsors have dibs on concertgoers' dollars; but I'm asking about kissing babies and handing out bumper stickers.
(Please note: Joe Dumas has purchased advertising on this blog, as you may have noticed. I encourage any and all candidates to do likewise. Additionally, some regional candidates are advertised through other means, such as Google's AdSense. The presence or absence of paid advertising by a political candidate does not in any way construe an endorsement (or not) of that candidate by this website. However, this blog has made, and will make, voting recommendations to readers. There is no connection between the advertising and the recommendation.)
July 12, 2008
East Ridge city manager Curtis Adams suddenly resigns
I guess the uproar over his recent comments was just too much. It's a little strange, though, because as County Commissioner for District 8 over the past two decades, Curtis Adams has not been one to shy away from controversial positions and statements, no matter how noisy his detractors became.
Remember the Ten Commandments fiasco? The long public feud with former schools Superintendent Jesse Register? The comments about women not being suited to hold public office? What is different now?
Chattanooga Times Free Press (Quality quote: "I...showed them what they needed to do.")
July 10, 2008
All my blogs
Sometime or other, I got the idea that I should keep TennesseeTicket.com focused solely on politics, elections, and news, and push the rest of the things I like to write about off to other blogs. I don't really know why; plenty of other politics, elections and news bloggers that I read regularly mix in notes about photography, music, technology, food, entertainment, or cats. (Update: almost forgot: and all the yammering about [whatever]ball.)
I'm just made this way, though. I like clean compartmentalization. So I conducted an experiment. I set up a couple of Blogger blogs, and a Wordpress.com blog (easiest in the world, I'm telling you), in addition to this one. Now I'm about to shut some of them down.
Here are all the blogs that were to have been maintained:
swog was to be all food and drink, all the time.
Dead Heads ~ Running Things was where I'd write about music, dreams, mysticism, and random things.
Joe Lance Online was for technology, entertainment, and maybe some photography.
TennesseeTicket.com is, of course, all about Tennessee elections and politics.
What I've decided to do is to collapse everything that's non-political into the Wordpress.com blog,
Joe Lance Online.
Some of my political writing that has strictly to do with Chattanooga and/or Hamilton County will end up at Chattarati.com. I'll also write about other Chatta-centric things there.
And to get really hyperlocal, I've been given the keys to the Brainerd Unity Group blog, though I have yet to take it out of the garage.
After all, I have a wife, a son, a job, and a home; an account on some untold number of social networking sites; access to five different Twitter accounts; and I play music sometimes. I can't keep up that many blogs. I'm crazy enough as it is.
You bunch of whiners, you
As I bleat in protest
[Doug] Mizell's spent the last decade perfecting a process to refine kudzu into commercially viable ethanol.
Cool, right? I mean, it's everywhere! I might have some on my property. I'm moving to Beverly Hills! (On second thought, make that Brainerd Hills.)
Butt--wait just a minute. I hate to sound like a nanny, but if we go cutting all the kudzu to make "kudzunol," what will the kudzu-eating goats (and their llama friends) munch on? The impacts don't stop there. What about the Goat Browsing Academy?
The academy is a joint endeavor of the city of Chattanooga, Cooperative Extension, Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee Extension.
We're talking about impeding higher learning, folks.
These are the horns of the dilemma. So let's think carefully before we jump into the kudzu. Anyway, wouldn't using kudzu to make fuel still contribute to global climate change?
Even if so, I propose we use English Ivy instead. That stuff gets my goat.
R. Neal reports at TennViews that the Senate District 16 race is drawing some sizable donations.
Jean Anne Rogers, Democratic primary candidate from Tennessee's 16h Senate District, raised $98,696 during the second quarter.
Jim Tracy, the Republican incumbent who is unopposed in the primary and who will face the winner of the Democratic primary between Rogers and Dee Butler, has not released second quarter fundraising totals that we are aware of.
The 16th District covers part of Rutherford County (including Smyrna and Murfreesboro), and all of Bedford and Moore Counties (Shelbyville and Lynchburg, respectively).
I'd say Sen. Jim Tracy is likely to win re-election, but there are obviously plenty of donors who want to give an opponent a fighting chance.
Dr. Theopolis Kleinheider points out that the candidate is in for fifteen grand of that.
July 9, 2008
The choices for Hamilton County Sheriff
On June 26, I attended a candidate forum presented by the Hamilton County Voters Council and Court Watch Partners, with additional sponsorship from the Chattanooga Neighborhood Association Council (CNAC). All four candidates who will be on the August 7 ballot for Hamilton County Sheriff were there, and a write-in candidate also briefly appeared, as sort of a surprise guest.
Charlene Kilpatrick, whom I believe belongs to all three groups above, introduced the candidates and the Court Watch Partners panelists.
You can see video of each of the candidates' opening statements here. I'm still processing video that I shot throughout the event.
This was not a debate, but if I had to declare a "winner" it would be former Chief Deputy Jim Hammond. His resume, and his ability to speak clearly and comprehensively to the issues being addressed, definitely set him apart. He deserves commendation for service to his country in training Iraqi police officers for a most dangerous job.
But Hammond is distinguished by some less than flattering aspects as well. For example, he offered unsolicited praise for Sheriff Joe Arpaio of Maricopa County (Phoenix), Arizona, and decried regulations here that would prohibit Hammond, if elected, from treating suspects (jailed and otherwise) in similar ways. (If you are unfamiliar with Sheriff Arpaio's tactics, take some time to read up on them. I'd recommend the Phoenix New Times to start.) Jim Hammond, quite simply, comes across as the archetypal high school principal in Hollywood movies: smart, but moralizing and hyper-authoritarian. I'm not convinced that I'd want even a partial term under his thumb.
Hammond's closest rival, in every respect I can think of, is County Commissioner Greg Beck, who is also a court officer in Chattanooga City Court. He is a former Sheriff Department employee as well, having worked in the jail. Commissioner Beck seems to be holding his own as a local legislator, but after serving only one term in that office, it's not clear that he is ready to administer a department as large and complex as this. I could be wrong.
Beck's positives are that he would parlay his support (as a Commissioner) for cooperation among the various local law enforcement agencies into the Sheriff role, and that he would ensure the School Resource Officer (SRO) program was fully funded. In contrast to my comment about being able to lead this large department, Beck has had exposure to a much larger budget (the County's) and how the various agencies have to vie for taxpayer dollars.
Furthermore, and I almost hesitate to bring this up, but a TennesseeTicket reader mentioned to me not long ago that electing a black sheriff might send a positive (and crime-deterring) signal to certain of the county's African-American youth. I'm not sure about all that. I prefer not to make electoral decisions based on the color of the candidate's skin; yet I recognize the possibility that some could be influenced by the larger community's affirmation of one of their own as the chief law enforcement officer in the county. Man, I'll be glad when we just don't care about race anymore, other than to celebrate our differences.
At some point, Jim Winters wanted to be the Democratic Party nominee in this election; and when that didn't work out, he decided to run as an independent candidate. (And yes, that was perfectly legal. The law cited by some partisans in protest only applies to one Tennessee county, as I read it. Some General Assembly member apparently pulled a fast one for a friend back home. But I digress.) Winters has a fairly deep history in law enforcement, to his credit. He has had plenty of training in forensics and other investigation techniques. He is also, as he is quick to point out, the only one running who has executive experience in the private sector.
Mr. Winters could face problems, though, with the "public" side of public office. I empathize with the man, but he scores lower on the oratory section than some might be willing to tolerate. In addition, public comments about being "disappointed" with the Chattanooga Police Department while trying to get elected Sheriff might not be the best approach.
Tim Akins seems like a decent and honest man; and, after the debacle known as Billy Long, that would almost be enough to qualify. Akins is a foot soldier looking for higher office, but the jump all the way to Sheriff would likely put a strain on his ability to perform.
I will get another opportunity to hear these candidates on Monday, at the Brainerd Unity Group meeting. I hope all of them can make it. If my impressions change after that session, I will update this post as necessary.
What about the candidates' positions on the issues facing the county? Good question. That will have to be its own post, as this one is long enough already.
It should go without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that all of these men should be thanked for stepping up to run in this difficult time. I will keep aiming at providing the best information possible on each of them (update: including personal observations such as this post), so that you can make the most informed choice when you go to the polls.
Why I oppose the death penalty
Not only do I consider it off-limits for a state to exercise the ultimate violence against one of its citizens, even when that individual has committed heinous crimes; I also think that killing the perpetrator shortens the amount of natural time for that person to experience guilt, shame, and punishment such as incarceration (with labor). Add to these reasons the public cost of the terribly lengthy appeal process, and recent revelations about mistaken identities, and I think I have a solid argument against capital punishment.
Now, I understand that when some readers come across a story like this one, their reactions will invariably include sentiments that, if followed through, would end in the death of this young woman. Her negligence and stupidity are that enraging.
But killing that woman will not bring the baby back. And then there'd be blood on our hands, instead of on hers (because she'd be dead).
And she was someone's baby, too. That aside, though, and with all possible sympathy toward her family, I want this woman to be locked up and punished for this unthinkable deed for a long, long time. Giving her "the hot shot" would be providing an easier way out.
What do you make of this stance on taxes?
Being categorically against raising taxes, on principle, is one thing. Being generally ambivalent toward raising taxes (e.g., "the time has come") but blockading crucial funds for a troubled school system due to a petty feud is quite another.
It seems fairly obvious that Mr. Adams' support for property tax relief is targeted at his largely senior voting demographic. And of course it helps fixed-income seniors in East Ridge avoid the bitter pill of a tax increase.
But what about the rest of East Ridge? Will these recent actions and statements by their City Manager and County Commissioner, taken together, make sense to them?
July 7, 2008
I am Billy Blades..ish
Yes, you read that title right; but there's a catch.
Who is Billy Blades?
Who indeed. Well, I'm a concerned Chattanoogan who wants good things for this city and wants honest people in leadership positions. If that's you, you're me.
Well, I am a concerned Chattanoogan (adopted). I do want good things for this city; and you bet I want honest people in leadership positions. Ergo, I am he. And, if you fit that description, so are you.
And finally, I'll admit that I've been asked before if I am, in fact, the human being behind "Worst Mayor Ever." I'm flattered by such a question, but I am not. To further set straight the everlasting record: I do not agree that Ron Littlefield is the "worst mayor ever." I have registered several concerns about his administration, and I think the WME blog is funny. That's as far as it goes.
But, in that general sense that the real author was generous enough to allow, I am Billy Blades.
Reading the signs
On Saturday, July 5, I had the opportunity to breeze through a few parts of Tennessee not in my usual routine, and, as I always do during election season, I had an eye out for political signage.
I was surprised at how little there was, actually. The August 7 state and federal primaries are only a month away; early voting, at least here in Hamilton County, begins July 18. Are people going to know what's on the ballot?
Of course, districts with contested primaries are the only ones likely to garner any attention at this time, but I did drive through a couple of those. I saw one sign near an entrance ramp to I-24 in Rutherford County. It was for Jim Woodard, a Democrat running in the state Senate District 14 race. But where were the others? There are quite a few contenders in this one. (District 14 was formerly represented by Jerry Cooper. His interim replacement, Steve Roller, arguably hasn't been in office long enough to gain the incumbent advantage, so it's almost like an open seat.)
Out in Cheatham County, only one small sign appeared along Tennessee Highway 12 on the way to Ashland City. Tim Barnes, who is challenging Senator Rosalind Kurita in District 22, was featured on that one.
And that, my friends, is all I saw.
Now, I'm all for taking the clutter down a notch or two, and having less printed material lining the roadways. But I hope that the lack of signs doesn't foreshadow a low turnout in August. Let's all go vote. By the way, tomorrow is the registration deadline. Do your duty!
July 4, 2008
Show off your independence; take a patriotic poll
The fine Americans at IndependentMovement.org asked me to share this survey with you. I have taken it, and can attest that it doesn't start off sounding like a political poll and then land you in a never-ending marketing maze asking you to choose your favorite laundry detergents (I'm looking at you, Zogby and PollingPoint). It doesn't take long, so why not add your thoughts? Really, what else are you doing today?
Start the poll at http://survey.independentmovement.org.
How about a thoughtful reading of the Declaration of Independence?
Have a safe, enjoyable, and reflective holiday.
July 3, 2008
Hot local rumor (updated)
I've just gotten a tip that Billy Blades has been outed and silenced. The tipster is of dubious credibility (to put it mildly), so nothing is definite yet. Stay tuned. I'll post updates related to this developing "story" as they become available.
A little "incentive" inspired one of his buddies to cough up his secret identity. You should have seen the look on his face when I showed up at his door with two of Chattanooga's finest.
Unbelievable. And disappointing, because the person's identity has yet to be revealed. Come on, Fake Ron!
This post is filed under "Humour" and is not to be taken seriously.
July 2, 2008
Chattarati.com launches today
Many months of brainstorming, planning, hard work and anticipation culminate in the launch today of a new website that offers news and opinion for the greater Chattanooga area.
What is (are) Chattarati? To give you one idea, a similar word, "chatterati," is explained at Word Spy as follows:
Chatterati combines chattering classes, "the social group consisting of those people who are educated, articulate, and opinionated," and the suffix -rati, "the elite or intelligentsia of a particular group."
But that is just one definition, and it doesn't necessarily directly apply to this new venture. To find out what Chattarati.com is and will become, you'll just have to make it a regular stop in your daily web travels.
July 1, 2008
In the works..
It's been a very busy time for your "ticketmaster," but a slew of webtivity is about to emerge. Here are some of the items underway:
- The Ticket: Early voting for the August 7 election begins July 18. A comprehensive look at the ballots in Chattanooga/Hamilton County (and additional areas, as time permits) is imminent.
- Sheriff candidates: the forum at the Choo Choo was covered in last night's news, but last week's at Cedar Hills was more dressed-down and gritty. I'll show you why.
- City Council, District 5: Yet another special election will be held, on November 4, to replace former Councilman John Franklin, Jr. Watch for an exclusive with the only declared candidate (so far).
- Chattanooga's new favorite website is launching tomorrow (Wednesday), bright and early. The launch will be announced here, and in a few other places.
And, whether or not you think Neal Pascal should be saying anything about it, ain't this fantastic weather? (On Neal Pascal: people, get a life. TV Weatherman != Deacon. Leave Neal alone, and let him do his job.)
Posted by joe lance in at 7:32 AM