published Sunday, February 13th, 2011

Chattanooga City Council may skip meeting to hear Canada

Reporter's Notebook

by Cliff Hightower

Several Chattanooga City Council members said Tuesday they may miss this week's council meeting to go see a noted education reformer who is speaking at UTC's Roland Hayes Concert Hall.

"I'm going to go see Geoffrey Canada," Councilman Peter Murphy announced. Councilman Andraé McGary said he was going, too.

Canada, president and CEO of the Harlem Children's Project, is a renowned speaker on education and social activism. He has appeared on "60 Minutes" and "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and is featured prominently in the documentary film "Waiting for Superman."

After Murphy and McGary spoke up, a slew of other council members said they also would like to see Canada and said the council needs to be "done by 7 p.m."

Councilman Jack Benson said after the meeting he's concerned that too many council members may be going.

"We may not even have a quorum," he said.

Council Chairman Manny Rico said he knows Councilwoman Sally Robinson also will be gone, but he thinks there will be enough for the council.

"I think they'll be there and leave quickly as we can," he said.

Canada will speak at 7 p.m.


Councilwoman Deborah Scott's idea of letting voters decide whether City Council terms should be limited turned into a hot debate last week in the Legal and Legislative Committee.

Scott told council members term limits would increase public participation and make it easier for newcomers to get elected.

But council members immediately pounced on Scott for saying incumbents have an advantage.

"I can't believe you would say an incumbent would have an advantage," Rico said. "I don't think anyone knew you when you ran against Linda Bennett."

Scott defeated then-Council Chairwoman Bennett in a runoff election in 2009.

Benson said four sitting council members defeated incumbents, including himself.

McGary said other reasons for low public involvement could be the timing of elections and low pay for council members.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said running for public office is "a labor of love, not a labor for money." She thinks there are plenty of good candidates seeking public office.

"I don't know of anything that is keeping folks from coming forward," she said.


Justin Wilkins, the state director for Organizing for America, will speak at noon Monday at Blue Orleans on what direction the organization plans to take in 2012 elections.

Wilkins is being hosted by the JFK Club, an organization of the Democratic Party. The cost is $11 for those who would like to have the lunch buffet.

Blue Orleans is at the corner of Market and Main streets.

Judge named fellow by bar association

The Tennessee Bar Association has chosen Judge John W. McClarty, of Chattanooga, as a fellow.

Thirty-five legal professionals were selected this year by the 730-member association. McClarty practiced law in Chattanooga for 32 years and is a member of the Tennessee Court of Appeals.

The foundation chooses fellows to honor distinguished attorneys and awards grant money for public interest projects throughout Tennessee.

Leatherwood gets job with Harwell

House Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville, last week named Republican Caucus press secretary Kara Watkins as her deputy chief of staff and hired Brent Leatherwood, a Chattanoogan, as Watkins' replacement.

Watkins will oversee communications and policy for Harwell. Leatherwood managed Republican Scott DesJarlais' successful 4th Congressional District race last fall. He also managed 8th Congressional District Republican Ron Kirkland's unsuccessful GOP primary campaign in August.

Kisber, Farr join Nashville firm

Nashville-based accounting and business consulting firm Lattimore Black Morgan & Cain said former state Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr and former Economic and Community Development Matt Kisber have joined the firm as "of counsel."

The two will provide advice in areas of economic development, incentives and state and local taxes.

"We are excited to have Reagan Farr and Matt Kisber joining LBMC," said the firm's tax practice leader, Jeff Drummonds. "They have played instrumental roles in transforming Tennessee's economy" in the Bredesen administration.

Staff Writers Cliff Hightower, Todd South and Andy Sher contributed to this report. Cliff Hightower can be reached at 423-757-6480 or e-mail at Todd South can be reached at 423-757-6347 or e-mail him at Contact Andy Sher at or 615-255-0550.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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