In the wake of the Free Press' series of editorials celebrating Sunshine Week, a national initiative to promote the importance of open government and freedom of information laws, we got emails, letters, online comments, tweets and calls. Lots of 'em.
Here is the Free Press' response to some of our readers' questions and comments:
It seems people are criticizing Missy Crutchfield and EAC because she appeared nude in a couple of movies decades ago. Is that the reason the Free Press is so negative about her?
Missy Crutchfield's roles in several movies that are described as "softcore porn" or "hard-R" films are a popular topic — and point of condemnation — in the online comments section of the editorials addressing her management of EAC. That is completely unfair. Her movie career and her decision to appear nude should have no part of discussions relating to the financial failures of EAC, the EAC-managed pottery studio and the city-owned performance venues.
Those who judge Crutchfield for appearing nude in movies ignore two very important facts: 1.) SHE WAS IN MOVIES!!!, and 2.) moviemakers felt she was so beautiful that they featured her looks in a very prominent way.
I imagine that most people who still criticize Crutchfield for appearing in racy movies 30 years ago are jealous.
After all, how many people in America want to be film actors? Millions? Tens of Millions? But how many people actually achieve that dream? Very, very few. Crutchfield should be celebrated, not attacked, for getting to do exactly what she wanted with her life, at least for a while. Very few of us can say that we actually reached our dreams. But Crutchfield can.
When writing about Missy Crutchfield, the Free Press always mentions her father, Ward, and brings up that he was arrested during the Tennessee Waltz bribery scandal. Missy didn't have anything to do with that! You shouldn't connect Missy to the sins of her father.
Missy may not have had anything to do with Ward's bribery scandal, but Ward is a political ally of Mayor Ron Littlefield, who created the Education, Arts and Culture Department and selected Missy's to run it. In that way, it's completely appropriate to mention convicted felon and disgraced former state Sen. Ward Crutchfield every time Missy's name comes up in relation to EAC.
Ward Crutchfield helped Littlefield raise money and reach Chattanooga's Democratic voters when he was initially elected mayor eight years ago. It is almost undeniable that Littlefield's decision to create EAC and choose Ward's daughter to run the department was a political payback.
Selecting Missy, who had no history running a $2.7 million government agency or managing two large performance venues, to run EAC made about as much sense as choosing Stevie Wonder to judge a dog show. And it shows. The Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium require taxpayer-funded bailouts of up to $1 million a year, city audits show that the department is fraught with financial mismanagement and the city has little to show for EAC's expensive programs and underutilized services.
The city's pottery studio at John A. Patten Recreational Center is a gem and Chattanooga is lucky to have it. The city has a role in providing arts and recreation for its citizens.
Nowhere does the city charter mention that Chattanooga should be in the pottery business. There are no provisions in the state or federal constitutions that indicate that government should fritter away tax dollars providing clay, wheels, glazes and kilns for pottery aficionados. That leads me to believe that owning a pottery studio is not a proper role of government.
If so many people want a pottery studio in town, they should start one. Why make people who will never set foot inside the government-owned pottery studio pay for their hobby?
Poor single mothers shouldn't be made to subsidize ceramics classes with the local sales tax money they pay when they buy food for their children. Seniors struggling to make ends meet shouldn't have to pay for a new kiln with their property taxes. It's disgustingly inappropriate to force taxpayers to work so that people with leisure time to play with clay can save a few bucks.