The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

APRIL  2007

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.







Oy Vey,
Lemme Tellya, Bubba!

by JC Bowman

I have had a wide variety of people ask me when I am going to run for local office now that I have returned home to Cleveland. The answer is no time soon. My life will be complete if I never hold elective office. I will not totally rule it out of the range of possibilities forever. For now, I will leave the office seeking to contemporaries like Milan Blake, Lindsay Hathcock, Chris Weir, Hubert Conley, Jr. and Drew Morgan who should all be in office. Then there are Christy Critchfield, Lisa Stanbery, Kevin Brooks, Eric Watson and Tim Gobble who are already there.

Lately local politics make me sick. The Typhoid Mary's of politics that are caught up in their own hype only serve to further nauseate me, not naming names but people like Troy Weathers and Ben Atchley. Grandstanding is the word I hear most frequently, self-serving and arrogant are two other words I throw in for free. I must point out that I found Troy's comments about an unfortunate child struck by a car unnecessarily tinged with political overtone. Why was he issuing statements at all in this situation? If you want to send a message Troy use Western Union. But there is a silver lining. There are those leaders that remember it is about public service like Amy Armstrong, Tom Rowland, Gary Davis, Steve Bebb, Gayla Miller, Dan Swafford, and Wes Snyder. Ed Elkins, Jim Smith, Louie Alford, Tom Cassada, and Mark Grissom are others. I have missed some and I apologize in advance.

It does not mean I always agree with these folks on every issue. They do not always agree with me either. In my encounters with them I have found them genuinely concerned with issues I have raised, willing to discuss these issues and responsive to requests. Dan Swafford in particular was belittled by many as part of a family conspiracy to grab political power. I don't buy that. I will tell you I spent a couple of days observing his court. It was run professionally and respectfully. Dan is doing a very good job, and his court is run efficiently.

Someone once asked Helen Keller: "What could be worse than having no sight?" She responded: "Having sight, but no vision." That is what I think upsets me the most, we elect people with little or no vision. In the land of the blind the one-eyed man is king.

I have a theory called the flawed candidate theory. My friend David Jinks reminded me that it is really a take-off of the Peter Principle. We actually like

J C Bowman

-J. C. Bowman, a native of Cleveland, is a well informed and outspoken conservative educator. Is a freelance public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN. Prior to this, he was Director for the Center for Education Innovation at Florida State University.  He served as the Director for the Florida Department of Education Choice Office and as the Chief Policy Analyst of the Education Policy Unit for Florida Governor Jeb Bush.



flawed candidates, and we should like them as voters. You see we are flawed as well. In my hypothesis we like to vote for some candidates with baggage as a means to use it against them at a later date. Take the politician with an expunged record or adulterous background, we always know we can take them in the back room and whisper a word or show them a file. We may never play that card, but it is always there if we need it. That is another reason politics make me ill.

Maybe once a year in this column we can have "Sin" Forgiveness Day? Every politician can come here confess his sins and ask forgiveness and the slate can be wiped free. Then when someone threatens to expose them, they can reply: see Public Square July Issue. I am Sin-Free!!! But you see the only way to be truly forgiven is not by asking man, it is by petitioning God. You better believe if you commit anything, and more than one person is involved, it will be known should you seek office.

I also am amazed at the reasons some people seek office. Elect me to be lord over you and I will keep your tax pain to a minimum. I deserve the position as an answer to your prayer. I am now being facetious or am I? Politics cannot be a vocation, but if so vocation does not come from a voice 'out there' calling you to become something you are not. It comes from an internal voice calling you to be the person you were born to be, to fulfill the original selfhood given you at birth by God. And if you serve the public, you should be committed to serve the public not yourself. It is self-sacrifice. We must seek out and support candidates for office who view public service as an honor and responsibility to serve the needs of ordinary citizens. Thomas Jefferson and other founding fathers envisioned the citizen-legislator who served the people, something that has been lost along the way to the career politicians.

However, the greatest call is not to be an elected official, but rather a citizen. Being a citizen brings greater responsibility. It is an activist role, not a passive role. The great freedoms we enjoy as Americans are not going to be championed by politicians. Too many politicians think it is their

job to tell us how we should live our lives, how we should educate our children and how we should worship our God. All the while they are defining and redefining our values and beliefs. Yet too many politicians have too little of a moral compass themselves. The citizen must be willing to fight for freedoms so that there is something left to leave our children and grandchildren of what we ourselves inherited. As we all know both intrinsically and scripturally to whom much is given, much is expected. As Jefferson wrote "Whenever the people are well informed, they can be trusted with their government, for whenever things go so far wrong to attract their notice, they can be relied on to set things right."

Remember that you are a citizen of this community and you have every right as a citizen to hold those elected or appointed accountable for the spending of your tax money. Politicians cannot be allowed to advocate for government cloaked in secrecy. They can make our job as citizens easier by ensuring that government records and meetings are open to the public. Elected officials should consider using television, radio or even the Internet to make meetings accessible for more citizens. Technological changes appear to make information about government more easily available than ever before, so why not use it for local government?

We must all be promoters for open government to guarantee that government continues to serve society. McClatchy Newspapers Clark Hoyt wrote: "Regardless of party of political philosophy, I believe everyone can agree that the government's information is the people's information and that - with certain exceptions for national security or privacy reasons - it should be available to the people."

--J. C. Bowman is a public policy analyst who resides in Cleveland, TN..
He can be reached by email at:

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