As Chattanooga area residents rush to buy, thaw, stuff and cook their turkeys in preparation for tomorrow's Thanksgiving feast, the Free Press editorial page thought it was a good time to roast a few turkeys ourselves.
Our turkeys, however, aren't the succulent highlight of a lovingly prepared family meal. Instead, these five turkeys are the people and organizations that we would be thankful to do without. These turkeys have gobbled tax dollars, laid an egg when it comes to job performance and pecked away at our patience.
The five "2012 Chattanooga Turkeys of the Year" are:
1) Rep. Scott DesJarlais: The Congressman representing Tennessee's 4th District made international news for hypocrisy of the highest order. By the doctor-turned-politician's own admission, he had sexual relationships with two patients, three coworkers and a pharmaceutical saleswoman. He also apparently was the impregnating party in at least two, but likely three, pregnancies that ended in abortion, used illegal drugs, improperly prescribed pills for a sexual partner and put his ex-wife in a very scary situation involving a gun. All this despite championing a pro-life, pro-family, socially conservative platform.
2) EPB Fiber Optics: Since launching its plan to compete against private business with a government-owned taxpayer-funded cable, Internet and telephone scheme, the infrastructure to provide the service has cost taxpayers and customers $552 million. Despite claims about how EPB's Gig -- a one gigabit-per-second fiber Internet capability -- would revolutionize Chattanooga, not a single business has moved to the area because of the service and there remains skepticism about whether EPB can actually provide a Gig if anyone actually needed it.
3) The Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport Authority: The Chattanooga Airport's decision-makers spent $10 million in local, state and federal funds to get in the private plane service business -- despite the fact that a private plane service business already existed and was nowhere near capacity. Now, in addition to wasting $10 million -- and frequently skirting state open meetings laws by changing the time and date of their meetings at the last minute every month in an apparent effort to keep the public in the dark -- the Airport Authority's government-owned private plan service provider has lost more than $750,000 in only two years in business.
4) Bradley County Schools Superintendent Johnny McDaniel: After a tornado damaged Blue Spring Elementary School in 2011, McDaniel -- along with members of the school board, led by Troy Weathers -- choose to bulldoze the school in favor of building a new $7.1 million elementary school. This decision was ridiculous given the fact that insurers were prepared to pay the entire repair bill for the damaged school and there was no money available to fund the new school.
5) East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble: In recent months, the appropriately named Gobble managed to taint a court case involving his daughter, publicly decry people who dare to criticize him, fail to produce required budget information and apparently slow walk requests for public records. He also hijacked the East Ridge government's Facebook page, turning it into his own vanity site featuring pictures of himself working out and pretending to be a goat, while frittering away an estimated $8,000 in taxpayers' money worth of time.
After what they have done to Chattanooga-area residents, these are five turkeys that don't deserve to be pardoned.