published Friday, August 8th, 2014

The voters have spoken

Voters mark their ballots on Aug. 7, 2014, at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.
Voters mark their ballots on Aug. 7, 2014, at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.
Photo by John Rawlston.

Fleischmann’s wake-up call

A New York Times writer once quoted author Hunter S. Thompson saying Hubert Humphrey campaigned like “a rat in heat.”

Thompson never met Republican U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, who may have squeaked out another two-year term Thursday with frenzied and negative campaigning so disgusting that main-stream local Republicans decried it with their own full page newspaper ad this week.

But voters here have met Fleischmann. And even in this very politically red district, they roared a message to the incumbent: We don’t like to be trifled with. We don’t like negativity. We don’t like do-nothing congressmen. In Hamilton County, where challenger Weston Wamp was within 84 votes of a win (according to unofficial vote totals) the message was more like: Take your anti-government tea party ball and go home.

Fleischmann did more than simply disrespect us by trying to mislead voters with baseless, negative campaign ads that falsely pasted the head of his challenger onto a photo of someone else lighting a passport on fire alongside a quote about immigration amnesty taken out of context. Fleischmann’s real dishonestly has been that he betrayed his oath to serve the people who elected him.

Instead of working with all the other representatives and senators who took similar oaths to fix the cracks in our democracy, he joined the anti-govern club. He became part of the obstructionist block that brought us the sequester and the broke highway fund and the still-stalled Chickamauga Lock.

It’s one thing to feel that there are ways to save money in Washington, but it’s another thing entirely to put a closed sign on it. Perhaps Chuck thinks his tea party no-tax oath is more important than his oath to us. Or perhaps his tea party blinders just give him a license to shirk the hard work of governing.

We can only hope that this vote gave him a wake-up call. And we can remind him: There’s another election in just two short years.

Faith is about love, not sex

Chattanooga voters decided Thursday that we’ll have to wait for the courts to tell us that the definition of marriage has evolved.

The City Council already had approved on a 5-4 vote the Chattanooga Domestic Partnership ordinance, but the tea party-leaning Citizens for Government Accountability and Transparency launched a petition drive to force a citywide vote. That’s why the question was on our Thursday ballot. The ordinance would extend health and other benefits to domestic partners of city workers, something that will make the city more competitive and simply be more fair for same-sex and committed long-term partners.

Now Chattanooga will be behind what other cities, counties, states, some private businesses and the U.S. Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service are moving toward: a policy giving same-sex and live-in couples the same tax treatment and benefits as other married couples — in keeping with the recent U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

The petition and the vote simply delay the inevitable. Any day now, Tennessee’s 7-year-old constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage is likely to fall — along with 30 others one-by-one as the Supreme Court reviews them.

A Hamilton County wish list

The state’s fourth largest county has two new school board members and two new county commissioners and a slate of re-elected ones.

When the candidates interviewed with the Times Free Press editors to seek our endorsements, almost every one of them said they believe our children need better education resources and our county needs a vocational school.

Over and over, candidates said to us: College is not for everyone, and the county’s single-track college-bound curriculum fails too many children who graduate high school unprepared for available and decent-paying jobs.

We believe that, too. And we know many of you believe it, because these candidates told us they heard it from voters, parents and employers.

Let’s hold to the fire the feet of all these elected and re-elected school board and county commission members.

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zulalily said...

Now the city and Chris Anderson should respect the vote against domestic partner benefits and wait until these same-sex couples have a legal paper--a marriage license--in order to get spousal benefits. That is what a lot of us who voted against the bill felt would really be fair--we don't want to hand out benefits that we tax payers pay for to people without the same commitment that has always been required to qualify as a "spouse" for benefits. So far, Chattanooga's first gay city council member has been a total one-issue politician and a total failure. I'm sure that the voters of his district will take care of showing him the exit during the next election.

August 8, 2014 at 7:43 a.m.
Stewwie said...

Speaking of Chris Anderson, let's remember that he arrogantly predicted that the petitioners would not get enough signatures to get the ordinance on the ballot. (Oops.) Then he arrogantly predicted that there was no way that the city would have enough voters to overturn the ordinance. (Oops again.) Looks like Anderson has some major crow-eating to do today. LOL.

August 8, 2014 at 9:17 a.m.
librul said...

Just more fundie obstructionism - a mere bump in the road leading toward justice and equality for all.

August 8, 2014 at 1:45 p.m.
Ki said...

Seems like this might just be headed to federal court/supreme at that.

August 8, 2014 at 8:49 p.m.
fairmon said...

article exert...something that will make the city more competitive and simply be more fair for same-sex and committed long-term partners.

domestic partner benefits would not make the city "more competitive". That is not an issue that businesses looking at Chattanooga as a place to locate considers. The statement is a ludicrous talking point coined by supporters.

article statement..simply be more fair for same sex and committed long term domestic partners?

What about fairness to tax payers? The attitude that it would only cost an estimated $170,000 per year based on assumptions that may or may not be accurate is the same attitude that led to the last 19% increased cost, including property taxes, to live in the city. The last city council and now this one continues to fail to meet their fiduciary responsibility to tax payers of being accountable stewards of tax payer funds.

The bottom line is there is no justification for increased spending to provide benefits to same sex or domestic partners. Government employees already have a compensation package (pay and benefits) better than those in the private sector for like or similar work. A more valid question may be why are tax payers paying or supplementing the cost of benefits for spouses and children of employees?

August 9, 2014 at 7:17 a.m.
fairmon said...

The unintended consequences of potential legal rulings that condone same sex marriage and/or domestic partner benefits will be that employers will quit funding or supplementing benefits for non-employees which has been the trend with Obamacare. Government employees may benefit with those in office by simply increasing the tax burden on those governed to pay the additional cost.

There is a big difference in a for profit business and governments. Stock holders hold managers accountable to be profitable and protect their investment and business owners must do so to stay in business. Stake holders in government (citizens) fail to have the same interest and reaction to how their investment (taxes) is used by those governing.

August 9, 2014 at 7:37 a.m.
fairmon said...

The sad thing about this article is some will read it and be influenced to also be ignorant and not understand the total implications of the proposed more liberal benefit package for employees of the city. People are vulnerable to catch phrases such as make the city more competitive and to be fair without looking at just how unfair it would be and how it has no impact on how competitive the city is with those that matter.

August 9, 2014 at 12:23 p.m.
nocomment said...

Yes, what about fairness to gay taxpayers whose tax money is being used to provide benefits to dependents only of heterosexual employees?

August 9, 2014 at 3:26 p.m.
Ki said...

Touche! no comment. Your post sums it all up to a 'nuf said' moment. Nothing else needed.

August 9, 2014 at 5:57 p.m.
fairmon said...

nocomment said...

Yes, what about fairness to gay taxpayers whose tax money is being used to provide benefits to dependents only of heterosexual employees?

My earlier post included that issue. Many private employers are no longer paying or subsidizing any benefits for those not employed by the company. Gay taxpayers are in the same category as all other singles that pay taxes.

August 9, 2014 at 9:36 p.m.
nocomment said...

I haven't seen any petition drives to eliminate benefits for families of city employees.

August 9, 2014 at 10:42 p.m.
fairmon said...

You won't see such a petition since tax payers pay little attention to how the council spends tax dollars and have a misplaced trust they will act responsibly. Council members will pander to city employees since that is a significant support base for being re-elected.

Future unfunded liabilities of the city is also an issue that is not well known but will at some point become a huge issue. How many tax payers know just how liberal the city employee healthcare and retirement plans are and the cost of funding those plans?

Why do tax payers ignore the fact the city owns businesses that pay no property taxes, uses public works to maintain them that compete with private businesses. The city owns a marina, golf courses, a hotel, a theatre, an auditorium, a pharmacy for city employees and real estate throughout the city. Is that fair to those owning private businesses?

The last property tax increase combined with sewer tax and storm water run off increases plus fees and permits cost increases and water and electrical utility cost amounted to a 19% increase in the cost to live in Chattanooga. Check out the number of empty and abandoned buildings throughout the city.

Benefits to domestic partners is a loud NO, NO, NO. The reasons given for supporting such spending is ludicrous.

August 10, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.
timbo said...

The voters have spoken? No, they have been manipulated by an unethical, unfair press.

You damn TFP hypocrites have no right to judge anyone. They are more corrupt than the people they try to belittle.

August 13, 2014 at 3:26 p.m.
timbo said...

Also, the only disgusting people I know are Pam Sohn, Clint Cooper, and Chris Vaas. Again, they are so unethical they have no credibility to criticize anyone.

August 13, 2014 at 3:28 p.m.
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