A Grand Rapids Press columnist took U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, R-Tenn., to task last week, accusing the Chattanooga lawmaker and other Southern lawmakers opposed to helping out Detroit for being hypocritical in their comments.
In his weekly Michigan political report, columnist Peter Luke questioned why Rep. Wamp said America's Big 3 automakers had to learn a lesson "the hard way" when Rep. Wamp worked earlier this year to make it easier for German-owned Volkswagen to locate in Chattanooga.
Government incentives for the new VW plant in Chattanooga valued at $577 million, including more than $24 million in direct federal assistance, equal $288,500 for each of the plant's 2,000 workers. Mr. Luke said providing the same assistance to General Motors for its 235,000 jobs would mean that GM should qualify for nearly $70 billion of government aid.
"So $25 billion in federal bridge loans would seem like a relative bargain to avert bankruptcy," Mr. Luke said. "States have been providing expensive financial help to car companies for years, so opposition by Southern members of Congress to federal help for the domestic industry is more than inconsistent."
Senior tax freeze vote postponed
The Hamilton County Commission is going to wait a little longer before voting on whether to implement a property tax freeze for senior citizens or match a state tax relief program.
"We had tentatively scheduled a Dec. 11 meeting regarding the tax freeze. That's going to be delayed," said Commission Chairman Jim Coppinger. "There's several conflicts with some calendars."
Commissioners have held several public meetings to gauge public interest in the freeze and relief proposals.
Under the tax freeze, seniors 65 and older who make $32,890 or less per year would have their property tax amounts locked in at current levels. Their bills wouldn't go up in the event of a tax increase.
Under the relief match, seniors 65 and older who make $24,790 would receive a rebate.
Last year, the Tennessee General Assembly gave local governments the authority to implement a tax freeze. In 2006, about 85 percent of Hamilton County voters voted in favor of the freeze measure.
Campaign kickoffs abound
Two challengers for City Council District 1 and City Council District 8 will hold campaign kickoffs this week as the March election looms.
Joe Graham, who is challenging incumbent Councilwoman Linda Bennett, will host a kickoff at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Country Diner on Browns Ferry Road. He also will host a second kickoff at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Jet Stream Grill at 417 Frazier Ave.
Andrae McGary, who is challenging incumbent Councilman Leamon Pierce, hosts a campaign kickoff also at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Hawthorne and Main Grocery on Main Street.
Council approves VW contracts
The Chattanooga City Council approved 8-0 a memorandum of understanding and a property tax abatement with Volkswagen on Tuesday night.
The property tax abatement is for more than 30 years, officials said, but the automaker still will pay the school portion of taxes.
The council also voted 8-0 to approve a resolution urging Volkswagen to consider minorities in its hires.
Councilwoman Sally Robinson was absent from the City Council meeting.
Parks head wins state award
Larry Zehnder, the city's parks and recreation administrator, has been awarded the Tennessee Recreation and Parks Association 2008 Fellow Award, city officials said.
The state recognizes one person a year with the award. The award is one of the highest honors given, according to a news release.
"We are very proud of Larry's outstanding accomplishment and his commitment to excellence," Mayor Ron Littlefield said in a news release. "This award confirms the contribution of the parks and recreation department to our city's quality of life."
The city's Park and Recreation Department also won a 4-Star Award for Warner Park in the Best Renovated Facility category and an honorable mention in the marketing category for best marketing campaign.
Troops get stuffed
To make sure that deployed American troops would be able to have a traditional turkey dinner on Thanksgiving, the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency sent thousands of pounds of food to Iraq, Afghanistan, Bahrain, Dubai and Djibouti.
The shipment included:
* Whole turkey: 121,108 pounds, worth $323,228.60;
* Turkey breast meat: 109,780 pounds, worth $437,991.49;
* Turkey thigh meat: 145,780 pounds, worth $361,852.66;
* Ham: 95,826 pounds, worth $263,199.92;
* Beef: 178,466 pounds, worth $1,139,970.37;
* Shrimp: 131,359 pounds, worth $1,712,960.70;
* Stuffing mix: 16,874 containers, worth $149,025.40;
* Potatoes: 14,308 containers, worth $64,181.47;
* Sweet potatoes: 56,104 cans, worth $137,584.15;
* Cranberry sauce: 10,994 cans, worth $74,683.30;
* Corn: 32,535 pounds, worth $155,874.42; and
* Assorted pies: 179,810 individual pies, worth $1,451,491.36.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...