published Tuesday, March 12th, 2013

Littlefield's legacy: Jobs on list, but also dubious record on crime

What will Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield be remembered for?

The pretty and techno-cool Chattanooga? A series of faulty starts and then the restless recall effort that took much of his energy? Both?

Littlefield, a city planner by trade, inherited the job of putting finishing touches -- and fixes -- on the 21st Century Waterfront.

He also inherited the remaking of the Volunteer Army Ammunition Plant into Enterprise South, which Volkswagen eventually would turn into jobs.

But if Littlefield got the overruns on those tasks, it remains to be former mayor Bob Corker who got the gold star for the waterfront, and Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey who got the crown for Enterprise South and VW.

Yet it is completely fair to say that other companies followed VW on Littlefield's watch.

"It is not an exaggeration to say that we have installed a new manufacturing heart in this old industrial city," Littlefield said Monday in his farewell state of the city address.

The mayor of eight years also touted his work on gateways, streetscapes and technology -- all begun with earlier planners. But what did completely come to fruition on Littlefield's watch was the renaissance of the Southside -- an area pretty much completely ignored while former visionary mayors Jon Kinsey and Bob Corker worked to shape the Aquarium, 21st Century Waterfront and North Shore.

And what Littlefield did with swiftness was accept a way to take hold of stimulus energy money and fund the Office of Sustainability. That, coupled with Dave Crockett's vision, allows Littlefield to take credit for three new LEED-certified fire halls and plans for three more, as well as smart lights coupled with the EPB's push for fiber optics and the wireless mesh network, and some green roofs -- all of which should pay off in the future many times over.

Littlefield also grew the Riverwalk, and did it in a hard-to-attack-the-expenditure way: Alstom said it was a requirement for them to choose Chattanooga as a landing place for its new jobs.

When that greenway extension is complete, it will tie Ross' Landing to Lookout Mountain and open a way to bring the Great Eastern Trail right through Chattanooga, another glittering lure for the city's "outdoors" tourism chest.

But it was on the growing concerns of crime where Littlefield may failed the most, though he blames city council and police unions.

The council, he said, thwarted funding for an anti-gang initiative, and the police unions -- in his view -- have misrepresented his accomplishments for police.

"Don't believe what you hear from the police unions," said Littlefield.

He said that from 2005 to 2013 -- the police budget has increased 56 percent -- a cumulative change of more than $20 million per year even though the tax increase voted by the council during his years raised only $15 million a year.

During his tenure the city trained 200 new police officers, yet there has been a net gain of only 5 officers in the 477-member department since 2005.

Enough said.

After the faulty start of buying the polluted Farmer's Market property for a homeless Taj Mahal only to find that environmental regulators discouraged overnight habitation there, the property finally has become the home of a police precinct and some ancillary homeless help offices. Nearby, the city wellness center sits on another former brownfield site, and the city pays yearly environmental monitoring costs in the tens of thousands of dollars.

What does Littlefield bequeath to incoming Mayor Andy Berke?

A proposed Moccasin Bend Clean Water Authority -- a board not considered as the city tried unsuccessfully to avoid an EPA stormwater fine. Now Littlefield says the board promises to do for regional water and sewer what the Electric Power Board has done for electrical and digital services.

If this was such a good idea, why did the mayor wait until the last few months of his administration to trot it out?

Littlefield also touts the city's public art. He and the council, unfairly, have been criticized in recent weeks over public expenditures for it. In fact, most of the public art was paid for with private money.

But the bottom line is this: Chattanooga's overall image outside of its boundaries is good, and perhaps that is Littlefield's most important legacy. He wasn't the architect of it, but he has been an adequate caretaker.

"Chattanooga is cool and green and growing. No longer dingy and declining. Chattanooga has status as a fast-advancing, youth-attracting, "cool" city. Nothing could be finer," he said.

About that, he's right.

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MasterChefLen said...

Since soon to be ex-Mayor Ron Littlefield has 8 years of mayoral corruption experience, perhaps he could set his sights on Detroit? He would fit right in where the previous mayor Kirkpatrick was just convicted on 24 counts of corruption.

March 12, 2013 at 12:31 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

But it was on the growing concerns of crime where Littlefield may failed the most, though he blames city council and police unions.

Just because Mayor Littlefield wouldn't condone or go along with allowing the police to ride in roughshod, beating up on the homeless and poor; rounding them up and dumping them across statelines as some of his opponents wanted, and former mayors had approved, doesn't doesn't he was not concerned about crime. Perhaps it was their form of solutions that he found most disturbing.

March 12, 2013 at 9:19 a.m.
aae1049 said...

TirnaNOG, Mayor Littlefield did not care about the minorities in Chattanooga, they were just a Cructchfield voting block to him.

March 12, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Neither do you and that group you belong to, aae1049 Changed strategy does not equate to a changed heart and mind, when the primary goals and core beliefs remain intact.

March 12, 2013 at 10:53 a.m.
jesse said...

Ron Littlefield makes Bookie Tuner and Rudy Olgati look like pikers!

March 12, 2013 at 11:28 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Oh TirnaNOG, of course only you care about minorities. You sound like these post civil rights, MLK newbies raised in the burbs that pretend to identify with sacrifice, and seeking the experience. My family has walked the walked, through Anderson County desegregation, so spew your "I am a victim" all you want. The real leaders and victims you would grandma and grandpa.

March 12, 2013 at 7:36 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Now you're really babbling, aae1049. What got your dander all stirred up? Weren't you one of the very ones, not all that long ago, bashing Hispanics, blacks, Muslims? Don't come here with that phony My family walked the walk crap. You're the lowest of hypocrites if ever there was one.

March 12, 2013 at 8:10 p.m.
aae1049 said...

I have never bashed anyone due to race. That is a absolute lie. My family did walk the walk. You are always downing everyone on these post as "uncaring' to minorities, and that is not true. I do care, along with personal accountability. Truth is not dander or upset, it is truth.

March 12, 2013 at 9:52 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

If Ron Littlefield tries to gain any other public position anywhere, hopefully the Chattanooga, TN & Hamilton County, TN citizens remember all the damage he has done and hold any local political appoint er accountable. If he goes out of state, the local citizens here can provide plenty of insight to those voters. In regard to private sector, anyone who would hire Ron Littlefield would be a fool.

March 12, 2013 at 11:57 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

Must have been when that other personality jumped out and posted under that **other forum name.

March 13, 2013 at 2:02 p.m.
jesse said...

aae1049? talkin about Anderson co, i got kin all thru them mts.!

Clinton,Lake city, La Follet Jonesboro!

Know any Stairs, Webers or Bittles?

March 13, 2013 at 4:26 p.m.
fairmon said...

It will upset many citizens to learn what the mayors retirement and benefits from the city funded by tax payers will be. He may not be looking for employment unless it is some cushy do nothing job. Benefits and income from a pension, social security a very healthy 401K plus personal wealth may be adequate to prevent being a pauper.

March 14, 2013 at 5:11 a.m.
shen said...

fairmon, the mayor isn't receiving anything other elected officials receive in the way of a retirement package. Why should the rules be any different for Mayor Littlefield? If you want change, then work to change the rules across board and for all elected officials. Then again, you may see some pretty hefty lawsuits that would bankrupt any city or town.

I seriously doubt if Littlefield was hurting financially before becoming mayor. Therefore, being unemployed as one shouldn't hurt overly much.

Did you know one of Chattanooga's most celebrated and well thought of past mayors was known in close circles as __ the crook Fill in the blank. To this day he remains highly praised and well thought of by people like you and much of the public, except for those who knew better.

March 14, 2013 at 9:47 a.m.

On top of his cronynisms and corruptions I'll also miss his smugness.


March 14, 2013 at 10:11 a.m.
rocksays said...

I just wonder if the new mayor will rid us of the new departments/positions that Ruster Ron created for his political payback. This added over a million dollars a year to the city budget. Ruster is living in his own fantasy world. He really thinks he did a good job. He just ignores the re-call attempt and all the negative opinions and keeps his head stuck in the sand. He can't face the fact that he will go down as the worst mayor the City of Chattanooga has ever had. Good riddance.

March 18, 2013 at 8:18 p.m.
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