published Friday, June 28th, 2013

Drew's Views

HEADLINE: Bebe Heiskell urges Walker County voters to back sales tax

THE RECAP: In her annual state of the county address Walker County, Ga., sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell called on county voters to approve a local option sales tax in November. Heiskell says the tax is needed to fund road paving projects and to receive matching funds from the state. Opponents call the sales tax "regressive" and plan to work to defeat the referendum.

DREW'S VIEW: I wanted to see just how bad Walker County's budget situation is for myself, so I tried to get a copy of the current fiscal year's budget. But I couldn't. Why? Because the budget doesn't even exist!

That's right, Walker County Sole Commissioner Bebe Heiskell has never even bothered to approve and sign a budget for this year -- and the fiscal year is nearly nine months old. The county is just flying by the seat of its pants, spending willy-nilly and hoping for the best.

Talk about irresponsible.

How dare Heiskell demand Walker County taxpayers agree to pay more in taxes when she doesn't respect them enough to accept, and operate within, a budget. As it is, she has no guideline to follow in order to determine if the county is spending money responsibly. As a result, it's clear that it's not.

In order for Heiskell to ask Walker County residents to reach further into their pockets, she needs to be able to point to places in the budget that are under-funded and justify her request for additional dollars. Since she can't, county voters should laugh Heiskell's sales tax off the ballot this fall.

The people who keep electing her -- and who pay her $110,000 annual salary -- deserve better than a county government with no budget.

Frankly, what they deserve is a new sole commissioner.


HEADLINE: EPB building in downtown Chattanooga gets LEED certification

THE RECAP: EPB's downtown Chattanooga headquarters has been awarded LEED certification by the U.S. Green Building Council. The Chattanooga area electric utility claims that green-friendly modifications to the 8-year-old building at Market Street and M.L. King Boulevard has helped the city utility cut electricity consumption by 5.7 megawatthours and save 336,374 gallons of water.

DREW'S VIEW: Let's put aside the fact that LEED is managed and overseen by the United States Green Building Council, a "nonprofit" that pays its founder and president well over $500,000 a year. And let's ignore that the USGBC consists largely of architects, builders and building suppliers that specialize in -- and profit from -- some of the very products and construction designs that USGBC mandates in order for a new building to achieve one of its levels of LEED certification.

Forget for a moment that LEED certification is obtained by earning credits that often have little to do with energy efficiency, such as installing pro-conservation signs, adding a LEED expert to building design teams and teaching about green buildings in classrooms.

Pay no mind that LEED certification adds as much as 20 percent to constructions costs, while doing almost nothing to actually reduce energy usage, according to a report by the Navy.

Instead, let's focus on the sad truth that that EPB used some of the cash that went to pay your electricity bill to get a meaningless certification from a dubious outfit that is laughing all the way to the bank.

Is there any government-owned utility in America that wastes more money in more dumb ways than EPB? If there is, I've never seen it.


HEADLINE: Obama's climate plan takes aim at coal plants

THE RECAP: President Barack Obama announced a framework to address climate change during a Tuesday news conference. After declaring scientific debate over climate change obsolete and mocking those who are skeptical of climate change and its causes, Obama called for a reduction in power-plant emissions of carbon dioxide and an increase in America's reliance on natural gas and renewables; a move that could increase retail power prices by about 9 percent.

Additionally, Obama seeks to increase funding for clean energy research by 30 percent.


DREW'S VIEW: Just as the Supreme Court was issuing decisions to make life a little easier for gay Americans, President Obama announced a plan to make life harder for low-income Americans.

Rather than taking a measured tone about environmentalism and welcoming a reasonable discussion about man's role in climate change and man's ability to alter it -- as well as the reality and extent of global warming to begin with -- Obama decided to hatefully dismiss all contrary viewpoints and resume his illogical war on coal.

Despite the impressive steps to make coal-powered electricity much more environmentally friendly in recent years, he clearly wants to eliminate coal from America's slate of energy options.

That irresponsible move will hike electric bills substantially -- likely much more than the estimated 9 percent -- making it more difficult for low-income Americans to make ends meet. Obama's war on coal, it turns out, is also a war on the poor.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

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Hunter_Bluff said...

$3.33/MBTU natural gas killed coal (a decline from $12/MBTU thanks to "fracking).

If you spend a lot of extra money, you can recover the tons of fly ash and haul it off so you don't have to suck it into your lungs but you still have to put that fly ash somewhere. Ask TVA how well that worked. Ask the folks around the Kingston fly ash disaster how clean coal is.

June 29, 2013 at 5:51 p.m.
jleach3950 said...

Drew's View on BeBe Heiskell is spot on. As a Walker County resident I want to see a budget. Maybe the next fiscal year will produce one - I will do as Drew's View suggests and not vote her latest tax request until I see justification thru a valid budget to support the request.

July 1, 2013 at 10:03 p.m.
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