published Sunday, February 17th, 2013

Andy Berke best choice for Chattanooga mayor

  • photo
    Andy Berke is running for Chattanooga mayor.
    Photo by Jake Daniels.
    enlarge photo

Andy Berke likely is Chattanooga’s next mayor, and he’s the best choice. He’s young, energetic and thinks in broad strokes about the city’s future.

Though Berke has yet to be specific about tactics and strategies for improving the city, he has laid out his conceptual goals.

He says he has four priorities for the city:

• Public safety at multiple levels.

• Education outside of school hours — both to combat gangs and to grow a better workforce.

• Economic development and broadened opportunity to bolster Chattanooga jobs and entrepreneurism.

• Public participation in planning city priorities and transparency in government.

These all ring true to the broader vision and direction the city needs, and the list sets out a valid and far-reaching agenda.

What he’s not doing is talking about specific action items often voiced here: Increase the number of police officers, give them the tools and take-home cars to do the job, use the city’s fabulous fiber optics technology to catch criminals in drug zones; streamline city departments, etc.

But Berke, 44, is a bright man: a Stanford University and University of Chicago School of Law graduate. He was among lawmakers who worked with Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in 2009 as Bredesen began developing K-12 and higher education initiatives. Those efforts earned Tennessee national recognition and a $500 million federal Race to the Top grant.

Hopefully, Berke will soon move beyond what now appears to be a dodge when he pivots each of our questions back to his opaque talking points about “outcome-based budgeting” and “accountability process” and “community-based participation.”

Nearly all City Council candidates talking in recent weeks to the Times Free Press editorial writers have expressed high hopes for his expected coming administration, but they also have said they don’t yet know what his platform is and what he stands for.

His opponents — former city employee Guy Satterfield and civic activist Chester Heathington — are quick to point out his lack of specific plans.

Berke, in his interview with the Times Free Press last week, must have used the words “process,” “transparency” and “outcomes” nearly dozens of times, all the while becoming more prickly as we pressed him for examples.

Time will tell.

While Berke is not yet communicating his goals with any concrete examples that we mere mortals can understand, the disciplined plan he outlines should chart a sensible path that would give city residents input and ownership.

They also should provide more city accountability.

“Every dollar of the city budget should be used as efficiently as we can, and for the things that make the biggest difference in our city,” he said.

Larger visions count more than we know; and a piecemeal checklist — like combining departments and giving back police take-home cars — doesn’t necessarily provide a map to the future.

Berke is signaling that he will raise expectations.

He has to.

And he must know that he will ultimately be judged by results more than by specific promises, which he has so-far refused to make.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.

While Berke is not yet communicating his goals with any concrete examples that we mere mortals can understand, the disciplined plan he outlines should chart a sensible path that would give city residents input and ownership......WHAT DISCIPLINED PLAN HAS HE OUTLINED?...Though Berke has yet to be specific about tactics and strategies for improving the city, he has laid out his conceptual goals..... CONCEPTS? Really, you base your recomendation on concepts without specifics? Nice, I get it, no matter what the cost as long as there are concepts that I as a mere mortal cannot understand , I should vote for this guy? Your editorial even goes on and on about not getting anything specific out of Mr Berke but you endorse him anyway? Why? ..... Is this your reason...Larger visions count more than we know; and a piecemeal checklist — like combining departments and giving back police take-home cars — doesn’t necessarily provide a map to the future. Well niether does.....Berke, in his interview with the Times Free Press last week, must have used the words “process,” “transparency” and “outcomes” nearly dozens of times, all the while becoming more prickly as we pressed him for examples. .....So this election I have a councilperson running unopposed and an endorsment from the areas major paper for a guy who will not tell us how or even what he plans on doing. I got a good idea it will include a need for "revenue enhancement"to reach this larger vision but this side of the paper has never seen a tax increase it didn't support!

February 17, 2013 at 12:53 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

If he doesn't tell us what he wants to do he has no mandate to do it if elected. Littlefield had no mandate for a tax increase, sewer fee increase, and annexation. Corker had none for two-way. Kinsey had none for siezing the water company.

We trust a mayor for lots of little routine decisions, but stuff like that he can consult we the people ("mere mortals") about. Do Burke and the Times want to make sure government of the mayor, by the mayor and for the mayor shall not perish?

Satterfield for mayor.

February 17, 2013 at 1:20 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Berke is probably one of those progressives and just look what their kind have done to Chattanooga since 1980. It's shocking really! The city gets national attention for progressive improvements and that just encourages more progressive things like green car manufacturers who want to influence our educational system.

Downtown Chattanooga used to be quiet (and empty) at night, now there are peiple everywhere and even living downtown. Berke is almost certainly going to try to continue those progressive things that have shined so much light on the little southern backwater that we have now lost.

Stop Berke before he makes us better!

February 17, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
timbo said...

As usual in Chattanooga, Andy Berke has purchased the office of mayor. Just like he purchased his state Senate seat. At least after the election they can take the for-sale sign down. Chattanooga never changes.

February 17, 2013 at 11:56 a.m.
nucanuck said...


Chattanooga's rejuvination was driven by progressives who convinced capitalists to selflessly invest in the city. From there, smaller capitalists became involved to make a profit, but the direction and energy came from inspired progressives.

Believe what you want to believe, but that is the truth.

Berke is not a political hack like Littlefield and has the makings of a good Mayor. That doesn't mean that he will be, only that he has the potential.

February 17, 2013 at 2:24 p.m.
GameOn said...

Everyone has potential but experience trumps smoke and mirrors. Berke has outlined nothing. Satterfield has outlined a plan and has the experience to back it up.

February 17, 2013 at 2:44 p.m.
nucanuck said...


No, everyone does not have real potential and 30 years experience in a city job gives no automatic insights to anything. Satterfield may be a very good man. I am agnostic about both candidates and only know Berke from when he was quite young. He is bright and ambitious, two very good attributes for almost anything.

Littlefield had lots of city/public experience and that didn't make him a good mayor. Just sayin'.

February 17, 2013 at 6:08 p.m.
GameOn said...

People with potential have a plan. Berke has yet to announce one. I guess the plan was to raise money from the good ole boys and they will tell him what to do when he gets in office.

February 17, 2013 at 7:51 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Are you contending that Mr Satterfield's laundry list of likes and dislikes constitutes a viable plan? It is not well organized nor well written...that should tell us something.

And who do you think these monied good ole boys are who you think pull Mr Berke's strings? Were you just tossing out disparaging noises?

Tell me and the world positive reasons why your Mr Satterfield would make a good Mayor. Open minds want to know.

February 17, 2013 at 8:04 p.m.
GameOn said...

This pretty much lays it out.

I no longer live in Chattanoga but Mr. Satterfield is an acquaintance and I think he is quite capable of handling the job.

February 17, 2013 at 9:32 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Thanks, I had already read that and found it to be a good laundry list of things he feels past Mayors have done poorly. What I did not see was a "vision" statement about how Chattanooga will compete in the future or what he thinks distinguishes him from Mr Berke and makes him a better candidate.

February 17, 2013 at 10:02 p.m.
GameOn said...

Mr. Berke is a fan of transparency. He co-sponsored a bill for corporations to disclose campaign contributions. I'm sure he has disclosed his donors and the amounts contributed. Maybe I missed them on his website and someone can provide a link for us all.

February 17, 2013 at 11:25 p.m.
nucanuck said...

You are telling what you don't like about Mr Berke and I am looking for a reason to choose Mr Satterfielf based on his merits.

I don't think thirty years in a city job is anything special to crow about, but I don't know Mr Satterfield. He may be a very special guy (pun intended). The Free Press has endorsed him, but said nothing that makes him seem better than one of America's brightest, a Stanford and U of Chicago graduate with a strong record.

To my knowledge, Chattanooga has never had a Mayor with such strong credentials as Mr Berke...not ever. You seem to be saying that we should pass him by in favor of Mr Satterfield who seems to be a good decent man, but with nothing special to make us expect that he would or could attract and motivate top people to move Chattanooga back on track after the weak Littlefield performance.

February 17, 2013 at 11:53 p.m.
joneses said...

The last time I saw Andy Berke he was driving a gas guzzling Chevrolet Suburban, talking about moving the city forward, saying he attended law School at the University of Chicago, and avoiding questions by being very vague in his answers. Who does this remind you of? Please Andy, unlike Hussein Obama, tell us the end result you seek in moving Chattanooga forward? Is raising property taxes on the wealthy your idea of moving the country forward? Is investing in companies that fail your idea of moving the city forward? Is weakening our police department moving the city forward? Is raising taxes and and doubling the cities debt moving the city forward? Is banning guns in the city moving the city forward? Is making unions stronger in Chattanooga moving the city forward? Please Andy, man up and answer these questions. I think we have enough attorney's destroying America by entering political office so I will vote for Guy Satterfield.

February 18, 2013 at 8:50 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

After listening to 2 of the 3 candidates I felt nauseated. That's why I'm leaning more towards Berke and I think that's who I will be voting for.

February 18, 2013 at 9:11 a.m.
joneses said...

Berke takes his marching orders from outside of Chattanooga and will pursue the liberal agenda.

February 18, 2013 at 9:33 a.m.
nucanuck said...

joneses, your 9:33 post is just stuff you made up or imagine to be true. Does telling lies come easy for you?

February 18, 2013 at 10:51 a.m.
Leaf said...

An obamist? Is that a thing now? Funny.

February 18, 2013 at 1:19 p.m.
timbo said...

nucanuck....Surely you can't be this stupid. You said, "Chattanooga's rejuvenation was driven by progressives who convinced capitalists to selflessly invest in the city." Not only is that stupid it is absolutely the opposite.

Chattanooga is 1/2 billion dollars in debt over downtown development. This debt has been chronicled in several TFP articles all the way back to 2007. These articles also stated that over 13 million dollars per year is paid on the debt service. Tax collections on the downtown district are only about 2 million per year. That means the taxpayer has to come up with the other 11 million per year to make some of your "selfless" progressives richer.

So, these "selfless" progressives your talking about got a free ride from public financing and as usual with you stupid liberals, the rest of us pay the bill. The fact is, if downtown had been a good idea, private financing would have been easy to find. It wasn't. As long as the taxpayer paid the bill, these crooks were standing in line. This wonderful downtown you talk about is just a tourist trap. I call it Redneck Disneyland.

Berke is the ultimate political hack. He has absolutely no executive experience at all. Even the liberal editor of the Times thinks he's slimy.

Littlefield has been awful but Berke is worse. He makes Littlefield look like a piker.

By the way, you wouldn't know the "TRUTH" if it bit you on the ass. You are "progressively" stupid or the most naive liberal in history.

February 18, 2013 at 1:29 p.m.
nucanuck said...

timbo, while I was no mover and shaker, I was right in the middle of the Chattanooga renaissance from 1976 onward. The seed money that launched Chattanooga forward back then was local foundation money and Lupton money. They profitted NOT. The energy and ideas came progressives.

Later on Kinsey, unwisely IMO, committed the City to the Chattanoogan, competing directly with and damaging the private sector. Corker ramped up spending most of all. He was on a mission to accomplish as much as possible in a short time...even if it meant spending hundreds of millions...which it did.

Your analysis, numbers, and invective all miss the mark badly, but you score high on passion.

BTW, I assume that I am a progressive conservative. The word conservative has been co-oped and hi-jacked by the far right. That is not the conservatism that I ascribe to.

February 18, 2013 at 4:37 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Thank you for the comment about Berke driving a Chevy Suburban. If true, that would certainly be out of step with progressive behavior and walking the walk. That would be more like Al Gore's embrace of over-consumption.

February 18, 2013 at 4:42 p.m.
nucanuck said...


The government CAN'T tell us the whole story about Benghazi because it is too embarrassing. There was no Consulate in Benghazi, only a rented house that our shadowy security apparatus used in dealing with weapons and unsavory people who helped in the overthrow of Ghadaffi. Our Ambassador was more CIA than ambassador and was facilitating arms shipments to Syrian rebels. The US government can't admit those things in a public statement. Republicans know that and are having a little fun at Obama's expense. happens all the time.

February 18, 2013 at 4:51 p.m.
timbo said... might be in the "middle" of this stuff but you are misinformed. These numbers are not mine. I am going to put a copy of a letter I sent to the Chattanoogan long ago to explain this.

"The lying about downtown financing never stops. There have been two articles in the Times/Free Press (TFP) which have broached the subject of downtown debt. In November of 2003, the excellent Dave Flessner article, "Servicing Downtown Debt," slipped past the political operative running the TFP, Tom Griscom, and basically told the sad truth about the lack of thought and stifling debt associated with downtown development. The second most recent article was entitled, "A Pause in Expansion," and was written by Mr. Flessner and Herman Wang. Although some of the information was similar, the tone was very different. It was obvious that in the latest article they are using half truths to justify downtown spending. The following paragraphs will quote both articles to point out these inconsistencies.

First, both articles basically agree on the overall numbers that our city/county are faced with in handling this huge $400 million debt for downtown. By the way, the 2005 article never totals the actual debt of $400 million which in itself shows manipulation. The recent article also implies that the sales tax and hotel/motel taxes collected to service this debt are being generated by revenue initiated by downtown developments. Nothing could be further from the truth. In the 2003 Flessner article, it states, "In the first three years, the tourism tax zone has generated less than 16 % of the amount needed to pay the initial debt service on the downtown projects." The latest 2005 article says the following from Daisy Madison, the city's chief financial officer, "....the sales tax generates $9.2 million each year." This .25% sales tax revenue includes ALL of the revenue collected from every sales entity in the county. The 2005 article gives the impression that downtown is holding its head above water and supporting itself while the 2003 article shows that it is only generating 16% of the $9.2 million or only $1.4 million. The rest is being subsidized by the taxpayer and other sales tax producing entities. The hotel/motel tax revenue comes from similar sources at basically the same percentages. Downtown has less than 10 downtown hotels and 15% of the restaurants countywide. The inflated numbers in the 2005 article again don't take into account that 80% of hotel/motel tax revenue is being generated somewhere other than the downtown tourism zone. This is just a little detail left out by Herman Wang.

February 18, 2013 at 5:41 p.m.
timbo said...

nucanuck cont.... The other problem here is that the sales tax revenue they are talking about evidently comes from the .25% county wide tax that was vaguely earmarked for "education and economic development." Daisy Madison says, "We are not dipping into general funds to pay for these projects,.." This is another half-truth because all sales taxes go into the general fund no matter what accounting category you make up to hide its source. This is only semantics and Ms. Madison knows it. If you recall, the county residents were threatened by the city that they would lose the $8 million the city "gives" the county for education if the county didn't pass the .25% increase. Remember all the the school boosters and politicians saying that it was for the children.. yada..yada..yada.... Well, now we find out that not only that it didn't go to education, it went to service downtown debt. Can you imagine our sorry politicians trying to push this tax according to the REAL reason it was going to be used. They would have been lynched. Not only that, the $9.2 million generated by this tax is MORE than the $8 million the city is "giving" back to the county for education. The city is coming out $1.2 million ahead and taking credit for supporting education to boot. How dumb could the person who made this deal be? IN OTHER WORDS, DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT IS BEING SUPPORTED BY TAX INCREASES. Big surprise. What is even more scary is that all of these tax projections are based on "ifs." If the economy stays healthy, if the tourists keep coming, if we don't spend anymore tax payer money on these boondoggles.. etc. etc. The problem here is that when downtown development started in 1987 it was sold on the premise that it would be a sales tax positive, it was sold that it would enable us to recruit more industry, it was sold that it would create good paying jobs. Well, guess what, it has failed on all fronts miserably.

The 2003 article by Dave Flessner was a masterpiece in the highest traditions of journalistic integrity - something that has been rare for the TFP since Tom Griscom and his partisan/power structure agenda has taken over our only newspaper. The 2005 article, mainly because of Herman Wang's involvement, was just another "the dog ate my homework" infomercial using half truths and manipulation to take the heat off of the power structure. It is a bizarre episode of "dueling articles" which only confuse the public.

February 18, 2013 at 5:42 p.m.
timbo said...

nucanuck (cont.).... The most telling quote in the 2005 article finally and openly reveals the power structure strategy with downtown development since day one. Dan Johnson said, "We've transformed from a manufacturing economy to a service economy." Well, thank you Dan and the power structure for "helping" our population lose high paying industrial jobs and replace them with low paying service jobs associated with downtown. All this article has done is to verify that the power structure is worried and it willing to go to any length to justify these unwise expenditures for our Redneck Disneyland known as downtown.

Either you were asleep when all this went on or your the most gullible person on earth. Don't urinate on our heads and tell us it is raining.

February 18, 2013 at 5:44 p.m.
nucanuck said...


I spoke of how the city revitalization began. You seem angry about consrvative Republican, then Mayor Bob Corker, who ran up the tab, big time.

The Chattanooga of 1976 was on it's knees. Without the core revtalization there would be only a dead spot in the road. Manufacturing had long gone. We had nothing! You don't seem to have a clue what it takes to re-energize an entire city. Your analysis fails in so many ways to take direct and indirect spin off benefits into account.

You get no credibility because you deserve none, sorry to say.

February 18, 2013 at 6:15 p.m.
Lr103 said...

joneses said... Berke takes his marching orders from outside of Chattanooga and will pursue the liberal agenda

  1. Where's the proof that Berke "takes his marching orders from outside Chattanooga?"

  2. Can you even define what a "liberal agenda" is for the rest of us?

  3. See it's you and yours kind of hate talk and the talk of Berke's opponents that's turning decent people off and away.

  4. When others spends so much time and energy talking about what someone else hasn't done or who's controlling that person, they're usually trying to divert attention away from their own failures, flaws, insecurities and who's manipulating and controlling them and the ones they support.

February 18, 2013 at 6:46 p.m.
Lr103 said...

"JonRoss said... No doubt Berke drives a Chevy. GM has yet to reimburse U.S. taxpayers for mulitple billions of dollars given it by Obama."

Do you realize how ridiculous the above statement sounds? What does Berke driving a GM have to do with any bailouts. You forget Romney is said to have taken over 15 million from a gov. bailout, funneled it through his church and hid it in his wife's account.

How much money did that bank where you bank receive in bailout? Or do you even know? Are you going to go close your account? You and yours have really driven that my tax dollar mantra in the ground. It's gotten stale, old and rotten.

February 18, 2013 at 6:55 p.m.
timbo said...

nucanuck....Yea, I know, Bob Corker was no conservative when it came to local politics. I pointed that out in my comments above about "cross-dressers."

I was here in 1976 and instead of throwing money down the downtown rat hole, we should have been investing in recruiting more manufacturing. This BS that car companies only came here because of the "beautiful downtown" is crap. They came here because of excessive incentives like the all-time record, by two times, incentives for car companies when we "purchased" VW. When we offered normal incentives we lost every time, i.e. Toyota, Hyundai.

My analysis was based on facts, yours, like most "regressives" is based on conjecture and emotion. I didn't see one number in your "analysis." Just the same old cheer-leading BS most of you downtown apologists always use.

Downtown development had nothing to do with manufacturing coming back to this area. It was an investment in Enterprise South and excessive, tax payer supported incentives that border on unconstitutionality. In other words, like Obama and the rest of you liberal idiot, you want to pick the winners and losers.

Credibility? You need to get a short dress and learn to tumble if you are going to get anyone to believe this cheer leading hogwash. Why don't you call Dave Flessner and question his credibility?

You sound like the pitch man of that ERA, Dave Crockett. I think he must be teaching a dumb ass class that you attended.

February 18, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
GameOn said...

nucanuck... 30 years on the job may not mean anything to you but I think it does. Is it a cure all? No but neither is a law degree at the Moccasin Bend Waste Water Treatment Plant. Both candidates have strengths and weaknesses. I think Satterfield would be more likely to reduce the size of city government and make common sense decisions in the best interest of taxpayers. Satterfield has financed his own campaign out of his pocket. Mr. Berke has raised $650,000, who is going to look after? Why did he raise money in Knoxville?

February 18, 2013 at 8:43 p.m.
GameOn said...

nucanuck.... Why would anyone move back to Chattanooga? If you are in the medical field. You know Erlanger is going to lay off a large number of employees every five years or so and quietly hire entry level people to fill those positions to get salaries down. Experienced nurses, x-ray techs, etc. must work out of town. Odds are you will not have career in Chattanooga. If you are a consultant. You should open an office in Atlanta. Consultants in Atlanta supposedly know more about Chattanooga than any person living in Chattanooga. You can buy everything cheaper in Atlanta too. Chattanooga charges too much for everything. Artists in Chattanooga are not as good as the artists in Atlanta. Chattanooga is so anti-Chattanooga. Why would anyone move back? I don't think any mayor can overcome the anti-Chattanooga stigma.

February 18, 2013 at 9:20 p.m.
GameOn said...
February 18, 2013 at 9:22 p.m.
nucanuck said...


Here's where you get it so very wrong. A city, every city, needs a heart and soul. Chattanooga's inner city was a wasteland in 1976. The effort and energy that went into making the core city a place where people wanted to go... to be...took a massive effort. The payback on that can't really be calculated because the "success effect" produces so many unmeasurable positive spin-offs. Small start-ups that like the environment, creative people who decide to settle in the city because of the energy that they feel, and yes VW. They were very aware of the city's progress and the majority of the Germans that have come to the city want to live in a vibrant urban culture...not East Brainard or Signal Mountain. Also important were Baylor, McCallie and GPS. They wanted their top executives'children to have access to schools that were closer in quality of education to what they would have had in Germany. Sure the incentives were important, but that was only part of the equation. They were looking for a package that included the living environment.

The downtown IS our city. Hamilton Place, Northgate and our suburbs could be Anyplace USA. We are identified by our core city and it's's vibrancy. It took thousands of people almost thirty years to get where we are today and you can't even see it. That's sad for you because the efforts of those many anonymous people have been heralded around the country for what they have accomplished.

Chattanooga is a giant success story and a few boo birds like you can't accept that. In a sense, you are free-loading on the efforts of the many Chattanoogans who rebuilt a nearly destroyed town.

Your pitiful caterwalling about power structures and good ole boys profitting off of inside dealings makes me sick. You are benefitting from the Chattanooga that others re-created. You need a serious attitude adjustment and a class on community values.

February 18, 2013 at 10:59 p.m.
Lr103 said...

JonRoss said... lr103 you are without a doubt a racist and a whore monger. And a rabid

It's obvious lil johnny rossy has a thing for rabid who/res. How often has he used the terms rabid and who/re in the same sentence or post to a attack fellow poster? Let us all count the waaaayyyyyysssss!! LOL

February 19, 2013 at 9:43 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.