published Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Turkeys of the year

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.

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Keep hating on EPB's Fiber Optics, but at least they don't have to have a bunch of shills for Comcast show up and try to astro-turf.

But hey, 2 out of 5 ain't bad.

November 21, 2012 at 12:55 a.m.
jesse said...

At least 2 of those turkeys are ready to have a fork stuck in their what ever! DeLarlais and Gobble! Jury still out on E.P.B!

November 21, 2012 at 6:17 a.m.
timbo said...

EPB is a rip off.

November 21, 2012 at 7:44 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Great Job, Drew. Keep deflating the overstuffed birds. I'm thankful you're at the helm. The paper is worth reading again.

November 21, 2012 at 7:59 a.m.
shen said...

Sorry, timbo, but I love EPB. Especially their phone service. I pay less than half the price under EPB I paid while using other services, and the customer service reps are exceptionally nice. Plus, EPB wasn't a supporter of ALEC! ;-)

November 21, 2012 at 8:51 a.m.
Leaf said...

Yep, EPB is great. And it always works, unlike Comcast. Plus they don't try to sneak extra charges on and give you the runaround on the phone like Comcast did. I have no problem with paying for infrastructure improvements like roads, bridges, and fiber. That stuff has value.

November 21, 2012 at 9:12 a.m.
Walden said...

Regarding Drew's attack on EPB...

I am no fan of Thomas Friedman, or his employer, but this editorial is good exposure for our fair city:

November 21, 2012 at 9:35 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

If Oreo, the banished East Ridge goat, had the last name of Gobble, little Timmy would have called out the Swat team and Homeland Security to protect the goat, and possibly awarded the goat a job at East Ridge City Hall as City Clerk and associate editor of the "East Ridge Loves Tim Gobble" facebook page.

As it is now, Oreo has a letter of reprimand in his permanent file from little Timmy and has been placed on the TSA watch list.

Those terrorist goats — they hate us for our freedom and pork rinds.

November 21, 2012 at 10:11 a.m.
aae1049 said...

I am very concerned that EPB's entertainment pursuits comprise 42 percent of our City's bond debt. This is the same group that lost $13 million in 2010 in Swaption bond penalties. My confidence level is ZERO.

November 21, 2012 at 12:29 p.m.
prc said...

Man this guy is out of control but finally out of the closet for the world to see. It’s all about him and people on his “team” of likes. Somebody stood up to him, Did not back down and It’s On! Can you imagine what congress could have been like? Keep him East Ridge! He of course and as predicted he responded on East Ridge’s facebook page trying to explain his reasons, even adding his “salt”. Blah Blah Blah. Green Grass and Grass Roots Junk. Ever notice how each and every time it always turns in to something wonderful? Just like recent TV. If it was so wonderful, why did he not just say thank you, and go on your merry way and get off facebook? Instead he got his button pushed and took how ever many hours of on the clock time to prove something? He was out of line by simply getting “that” involved with the robbery. Sure ask questions but, you would think he would have shown the responsible thing to keep his foot on the brakes. Any other father would have been upset but any “other” father would have been out of line if they tried “at all” to interfere. Justice is for fairness of all. But if it was any other father that happened to be a “friend”, then he would have got a hug and pictures would be center point on the East Ridge facebook. Most of the rebuttal talent is from where? Washington. Nuff said there. We are just not used to political Blah Blah on our porch instead of option on the 6:30 Evening News. We are not a bunch of dumb hillbillies here. I bet Hamilton County is doing the sigh of relief because he bailed so quickly. I am sure that it would make anybody want to up and hug a Bradley County Deputy for what all they had to have gone through for four straight years.

November 21, 2012 at 1:44 p.m.
jesse said...

Well prc, it woulda been nice if you had told us WTF you was talkin about! I am gonna assume it was about Gobble,and i agree 100%! BUT next time sober up before you git into a rant!

November 21, 2012 at 1:55 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Jesse, we have a crazed loon on board in prc.

November 21, 2012 at 2:20 p.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

daytonsdarwin said...

"and possibly awarded the goat a job at East Ridge City Hall as City Clerk and associate editor of the "East Ridge Loves Tim Gobble" facebook page."

CORRECTION: What I should have said is associate editor of the "Tim Gobble Loves Tim Gobble" facebook page.

I hope that clears up the matter.

November 21, 2012 at 4:42 p.m.
prc said...

May have seemed a rant but looked pretty obvious of the subject of it.

My Bad to assume Next Time I'll go slower so you can understand and maybe keep up :-)

November 21, 2012 at 5:42 p.m.
fairmon said...

I like the epb fiber optics product and service but the city owning any business that competes with privately owned business is something to be concerned about. It is my understanding that in addition to owning the EPB and EPB Fiber Optics, the city owns the Chattanoogan Hotel and Restaurants, a couple of golf courses, a marina, the auditorium, a theatre, a pharmacy plus significant real estate holdings throughout the city. None of these can effectively share the property tax burden and other city fees paid by other business and residents not to mention the potential conflict of interest in political decision making. There is no good way for tax payers to know the cost of city personnel in supporting and maintaining these city owned businesses. There is cause to wonder if members of the city council and the mayor have a good understanding of the affect of owning businesses on tax payers and those privately owned businesses the city competes with. I get no response to emails to my council member about this concern. I see no TFP articles or investigative reporting on these issues unless I have missed something.

November 22, 2012 at 3:44 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Mayor Ron Littlefield is Turkey Number One around here and we all know it.

Sticking to the Republican Party's policy of promoting illiteracy, the Free Press has chosen to editorialize against a good internet connection and repairs for a catastrophically damaged elementary school. Wake up. You have made yourselves the party of stupidity and selfishness. No one wants to hear what you have to say anymore.

Since the 90s, Tennessee has cut its spending on higher education in half. While I was away at war, Republicans trashed my city through neglect and selfishness. We now have to dig ourselves out of a pit of failure directly caused by institutionalized stupidity.

This Thanksgiving, we're thankful for President Obama. We're thankful for teachers who help children learn to read. And most of all, we're thankful that the kind of stupidity encompassed in the editorial above has been categorically rejected by the voters of the United States.

Get with the program and read a book for a change. You have degraded the intellectual quality of this paper with your ignoramus talk-show host Republicanism of selfishness and idiocy. Guess why you lost the election.

November 22, 2012 at 5:31 a.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Years ago, the UTC Math building was the old Hamilton County morgue. Year after year, it received building safety waivers. Everyone knew that building was a sad wreck. No one wanted to pay for proper repairs or a replacement. One day, a wall fell in on a classroom while someone was teaching Math. Finally, the building was condemned.

Would you want that to happen to an elementary school?

That is the sort of egregious stupidity advocated by the editorial above. We have had it with seeing that kind of nonsense in this area. Enforce building codes. You should not chastise or insult public school principals for insisting that school be taught in a safe building. We see what the editor's efforts were when it came to getting things fixed: incessant complaints about spending money.

We have seen Republican policies in this area, in contemporary times, try to apply medieval standards on our people. The Republicans have closed libraries, cut off medical help to families with handicapped children, and generally acted like ignorant jerks.

This holiday season, read a book on Ronald Reagan for a change. You could use some of his pinko liberalism. It's called realistic policy making. Treat yourself to that this Christmas.

November 22, 2012 at 6:44 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Harp3339 The move of local government into private business has been increasing at an alarming rate, and the media is silent. That is an excellent question, where is the investigative reporting on mass corporate welfare?

November 22, 2012 at 11 p.m.
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