Most of the stupid ideas that Cleveland and Bradley County elected officials act on start off as a well intentioned effort to improve the quality of life in the community. But it seems that none of these reasonable and outwardly sensible ideas ever achieve the result intended, in fact most, especially if money is a factor get so perverted that the original concept gets totally forgotten long before any real benefits can be realized. It is by no means unique, but the Government Study Committee that was touted as the way to more efficient and less costly government services is becoming the usual taxpayer nightmare.
Bradley County Mayor, Gary Davis and 3rd District County Commissioner Lisa Stanbery, were the prime architects of this idea, which in the early stages seemed a sensible and cost effective move. Why then, after just a few months of study has this Government Study Committee become just another vehicle for devising new ways to generate more money to increase government spending instead of decreasing it?
Consolidation of services is a grand idea but cannot possibly work if the driving force behind it are the very services and people earmarked for consolidation. Everyone is going to want more money and no-one is going to want to be consolidated. Where did the architects of the idea get the notion that it is sound reasoning to appoint people to leadership roles in consolidation committees that have a track record of demanding higher government spending. Take Cathy Barrett as a typical example. Barrett is Director of Cleveland Associated Industries, an organization with a track record of pushing social change in favor of its wealthy, influential and anonymous members. Is it reasonable to expect people like this to make a genuine effort to fulfill the original objective of saving taxpayer dollars. And it is not just Barrett that have little regard for stopping runaway government spending. Not all, but a large percentage of these committees sport people with the same track record. Is it so surprising to Davis and Stanbery that the main objective of the study group has suddenly become increased taxes. A slanted survey devised by a group headed by Dr. Ollie Lee of Lee University, focused attention on the one item that allowed a tax increase agenda to take foothold and become the new prime objective- the adoption of a wheel tax. Lee's unethical tactics in slanting the survey questions to achieve this objective does not reflect well on his integrity or the integrity of Lee University.
The survey had no options to cut funding or decrease services, just tricked respondents to navigate a well thought out path to supply impetus for a new tax. Ollie is well versed in his craft.. he knows that given the choice of losing a finger or a leg, most people will chose the finger, but it doesn't mean they wouldn't prefer to keep them both, and so it is with the survey. Had respondents been given the option of no tax increase and reduced taxes, a different picture would have emerged. As usual the whole idea has become just another way to rip off the people of this county. Davis and Stanbery have lost control to precisely the same group of people that caused runaway spending in the first place.
Would it be unreasonable to expect Davis and Stanbery get this group back on track or scrap the whole idea before they become irreversibly committed by deception.
What do you think?
Bradley County Board of Education member Sandy Wallis has lent her vote to some extremely controversial spending priorities that have cost the taxpayer possibly millions in wasted dollars, but more recently she has spoken out in favor of fiscal responsibility. Community Tectonics, the architectural firm so beloved by the school board, were responsible for the design of three Black Fox Elementary School additions but apparently the new structures are causing flooding problems in the old part of the building which is going to cost you and I $85,000 to fix. To Wallis' credit, she made a valiant effort to hold Community Tectonics responsible for what appears to be a poorly conceived design. Director of Schools Bob Taylor didn't seem to share her concern for saving education dollars and tried to defend the company. After the criticism, Wallis reportedly got little support from fellow members, so the community will be picking up the tab once again. One can only wonder what hold Community Tectonics have on the School Board for them to be so protective of them. Anyway, Wallis made her point and increased her integrity rating by doing so. And this laxidasical attitude to accountability should not be forgotten when Taylor complains of under funding in the future.
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So Jim Whitlock beats the rap. Was anybody surprised?
The problem with the DA's office not adequately pursuing this type of case is that the Office of District Attorney will eventually lose all credibility in the eyes of the public. What more can be said?
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