published Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Reporters Notebook: Sheriff Hammond, Littlefield mum about meeting


by Cliff Hightower

by Dan Whisenhunt

A permanent successor needs to be named for retired police Chief Freeman Cooper in the next 80 days, according to City Code.

Mayor Ron Littlefield said he hopes that person could be Sheriff Jim Hammond and has said he plans on looking at an interlocal agreement with the county. Mr. Littlefield said he made some steps toward that last week.

He said Friday he had a meeting set with the sheriff later in the day. No details were given.

"No, you're not invited," he said.

Sheriff Hammond confirmed Friday that the two met. He said it helped clarify some issues, but did not want to divulge any details at this point.

"It was a general meeting," he said.

QUESTION ABOUT PARKING RATES

Council Chairman Jack Benson raised a question about increased pricing at downtown parking lots Tuesday before the council's committee meetings.

Republic Parking has raised the prices of some downtown lots to $9 after two hours of parking.

"How much input do we have in setting parking rates downtown?" Mr. Benson asked.

"None," City Attorney Mike McMahan replied.

"That's what I thought," Mr. Benson said.

Mr. Benson said he asked the question after receiving calls from constituents about the downtown parking issue.

AGING CHALLENGE FOR CORKER

Sen. Bob Corker turns 58 in August, but the Tennessee Republican isn't about to join AARP, the nation's biggest advocacy group for the elderly.

Even though AARP membership is open to those age 50 and up, Mr. Corker told the Chartered Financial Analyst Society of Chattanooga, "I"ll never be a member."

Mr. Corker said he objects to AARP lobbying members of Congress to oppose voting for even a study commission on deficit reduction because the group might recommend some future cut in Medicare benefits.

"As sure as I am here, there are going to have to be changes in Medicare in the future because the program is just not sustainable as it is," he said.

SALT OF THE EARTH

Department of Public Works officials told the council Tuesday they had received an extra shipment of about 50 tons of salt and the council will have to decide whether to keep it and pay for it or send it back.

Steve Leach, administrator of Public Works, said the department was happy about the extra salt a few months ago when it was snowing heavily.

If the council decided to pay the $4,300 cost, there could be an added benefit, he said.

"It won't spoil," Mr. Leach said.

"That was my question," replied Councilwoman Deborah Scott.

"We've got it covered," Mr. Leach replied, smiling.

COMMISSION PAYS ITS BILLS

At its regular meeting Thursday, the Hamilton County Commission voted to approve the purchase of gasoline and diesel fuel from Feb. 1 through Feb. 28.

Commissioner John Allen Brooks, chairman of the finance committee, told the commission to pay up.

"This is our monthly bill for fuel," Mr. Brooks said. "I make a motion that we pay our bills."

LOCAL CANDIDATES AT DEMOCRAT CLUB

Four candidates will speak at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club, according to a news release.

County Commissioner Greg Beck and his challenger, the Rev. Bernie Miller, will speak about District 5 County Commission race. Warren Mackey, District 4 county commissioner, and Ronald Swafford, incumbent Juvenile Court clerk, also will speak.

Each candidate will be given 10 minutes for remarks, to be followed by a question-and-answer session, according to the release.

The club meets monthly at the IBEW Union Hall, 3922 Volunteer Drive, off Bonny Oaks Drive.

Anyone with questions can contact Katherine Snyder, GCDWC president, at 423-875-0100.

about Dan Whisenhunt...

Dan Whisenhunt covers Hamilton County government for the Times Free Press. A native of Mobile, Ala., Dan earned a degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Alabama. He won first place for best in-depth news coverage in the 2010 Alabama Press Association contest; the FOI-First Amendment Award in the 2007 Alabama Press Association contest; first place for best public service story in the Alabama AP Managing Editors contest in 2009 for economic coverage; and ...

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