published Friday, May 24th, 2013

Drew's Views

HEADLINE: Restructuring delays Chattanooga budget

THE RECAP: The Chattanooga budget is going to be delayed for months because of Mayor Andy Berke's restructuring of city government and the shuffling of money for new departments. Rather than agreeing to a new budget in June, as is usually the case, the Chattanooga City Council extended the current budget three months and hopes to have the 2013-14 budget in place in late August.

DREW'S VIEW: When a new governor takes office in Tennessee the release of the proposed state budget is customarily pushed back about a month. That allows the new administration extra time to rework the budget to reflect changes in priorities and updates to staffing and government structure.

The state budget is much more complex than the Chattanooga city budget -- not to mention more than 150 times bigger. Still, Berke seems overwhelmed with his comparatively small task of presenting a municipal budget and is asking for three times more additional time than a new governor gets to complete his task.

While Mayor Berke's city government restructuring understandably means a slowdown in the budget process, it's hard to understand why it will take Berke's administration three additional months to construct a budget when a governor can overhaul the administrative branch of state government and only delay the state budget by 30 or 40 days.

When Berke was running for mayor, and he refused to answer questions about what the city budget would look like or what, specifically, his administration would do, most of us assumed he was playing coy. Now that he's in office and he's begging the council for three additional months to complete his most fundamental duty, it's becoming clear that Berke wasn't really playing coy. He just had no clue what he was going to do. Now the city is treading water while he and his lieutenants come up with ideas.

•••

HEADLINE: Medical board fines Rep. Scott DesJarlais for sexual relationships with patients

THE RECAP: The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners fined U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais $500 for sexual relationships he had with two female patients that violated an "unprofessional conduct" state statute that governs physicians. The Jasper Republican is also responsible for up to $1,000 in costs for the state's investigation.

DREW'S VIEW: The last thing DesJarlais needed as he prepares to face serious opposition in the 2014 GOP primary is the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners' announcement that the now-congressman had, indeed, abused his authority -- and his patients' trust -- as a doctor by sleeping with at least two of his patients.

To make matters worse for DesJarlais, the conservative base of Tennessee's 4th Congressional District now is reminded once again that, despite claiming to be a social conservative, he was married at the time, and, oh yeah, allegedly forced his wife to have an abortion and smoked weed with patients, too.

Such shenanigans always go over big with the Christian conservatives in places like Tracy City, Winchester and Rhea County.

DesJarlais did receive a bit of good news this week, however, when state Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, announced that veteran political strategist and former Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chip Saltsman is managing his campaign for DesJarlais' seat.

How is it good news for a power player like Saltsman to join a rival campaign? As pointed out previously in this column, if there is more than one credible challenger to DesJarlais in the GOP primary, they will split the anti-DesJarlais vote, likely keeping DesJarlais in office as a result.

Carr and state Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, have been playing a game of political chicken -- waiting for one to give up on the race and leave a clear path for the other to defeat DesJarlais in the August 2014 primary. Tracy, because of his longtime service in the state senate and his powerful connections, has been seen as the frontrunner between the two challengers. The addition of Saltsman to Carr's campaign and the recent announcement that GOP heavy hitters including state House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and Republican Caucus Chairman Glen Casada of Franklin are throwing their support toward Carr likely means Carr is in the race to stay.

Will Tracy now exit the battle, or will both Carr and Tracy stay in the race, all but ensuring the re-election of the embattled, embarrassing mistress-having, abortion-forcing, drug-using, patient-cavorting DesJarlais?

Hopefully Carr and Tracy can come to an agreement allowing one of them to bow out gracefully before the campaign begins in earnest so that DesJarlais is replaced with someone the district can be proud to have represent them in Congress.

•••

HEADLINE: More Tennesseans supporting same-sex marriage

THE RECAP: A poll conducted this month for Vanderbilt University found that 49 percent of Tennesseans support gay marriage or civil unions, while 46 percent are opposed to both. Meanwhile, 62 percent of Tennesseans say health insurance and other employee benefits should be extended to the domestic partners or spouses of gays and lesbians. Only 31 percent oppose the idea.

DREW'S VIEW: It's exciting to see that more Tennesseans, of all ages and political persuasions, now recognize that every person, regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation deserves equal treatment before the law.

Just as Tennesseans warmed to and recognized the truth that all people should have the same rights regardless of the color of their skin, Tennesseans will eventually recognize that all people should have the same rights regardless of their sexual orientation. After all, sexual orientation, like race, is not a decision, it's biology. And it's unconscionable to have laws that apply differently based on genetic factors and uterine environment.

"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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daytonsdarwin said...

In the 4th Congressional District race for the Republican Party, I'm waiting to see who Jesus supports. Never can tell what miracles that the Savior will throw-down at the last minute to change the odds in favor of his favorite disciple.

Look what Holy Hijinks JC performed in Florida in 2000. Those hanging chads were truly proof of the Trinity's intervention in earthly affairs in favor of GW Bush, the slow apostle.

I wonder if Jesus does a face-palm every time DesJarlais mentions he's a born-again Christian?

May 24, 2013 at 6:56 a.m.
gjuster said...

While I like Scott's political views, one can't forget his personal escapades, though it doesn't seem to matter anymore. Weiner is now going to run for Mayor. Our President was part of a Choom Gang. Everyone has foibles. DesJarlais' rise to the level of not qualifying him for elected office.

May 24, 2013 at 8:14 a.m.
Leaf said...

Hey, here's a thought. Instead of being a jerk and having to be saved and born-again all the time, just don't do those bad things to begin with. That's called "judgement" and "self control." Theoretically things that would be nice for our Representatives to have.

May 24, 2013 at 9:08 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Many of these "Christian" government representatives are like Michael Corleone; taking bribes, waging war, selling votes, pocketing money, engaging in "religious" mortal sins and other actions, all while going to church, taking Communion, public proclamations of God's love and Jesus' salvation, speaking to church groups about immorality, and the other santimonius BS that True Believers swallow.

Combine those two criminal organizations, government and religious fundamentalism, and DesJarlais is the natural result.

Do the Born-Again Tap Dance, out-Jesus your opposition, pray in public, and invoke God's name for everything, and the True Believers will trample each other in a race to vote for pond scum.

May 24, 2013 at 10:50 a.m.
Stewwie said...

[Hopefully Carr and Tracy can come to an agreement allowing one of them to bow out gracefully before the campaign begins in earnest so that DesJarlais is replaced with someone the district can be proud to have represent them in Congress.]

How has Mr. D. acted and voted since he was elected to Congress? I think his actions and voting record since that time make folks proud to have him represent them in Congress. Otherwise, he wouldn't have won re-election last fall. Mr. D.'s behavior in question was wrong, no doubt, but the incidents happened more than a decade ago. He says he is a changed man since then and he has proven it. How has he not?

May 24, 2013 at 2:31 p.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Get real Stewwie, DesJarlais was re-elected simply because he was NOT a democrat in the general election. Had he been a dog he would have been re-elected. In fact even as the two headed snake that he is, he was re-elected.

May 25, 2013 at 9:10 a.m.
fairmon said...

I applaud the mayor for requesting enough time to do a quality job on the budget. He may even have each department do a zero based budget and explain where the money will be going for what. He may even ask them to justify each employee with a description of the job they will do and the results they will deliver. Do you think he may do a labor supply area compensation survey to assure those employed are compensated consistent with the private sector for like work? The problem may then be what to do with the left over tax money which of course would be a "rainy day" fund that grows.

May 25, 2013 at 7:40 p.m.
fairmon said...

Gay marriage or no gay marriage, who cares. STOP discriminating against those that prefer being single and it is no longer an issue. The disparate treatment is at all government levels with them most glaring being the income tax tables.

May 25, 2013 at 7:43 p.m.
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