A grassroots group in Chattanooga said U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann has not done enough to create or to help his constituents find good-paying jobs.
“This job thing’s going to hit us all, and we’re going to tell him,” said Ash-Lee Henderson, a board member for Chattanooga Organized for Action, which held a small protest Wednesday across from the Chattanooga Convention Center, where Fleischmann, R-Tenn., was attending a speech by Gov. Bill Haslam.
In a mock trial outside the convention center, group members found Fleischmann “guilty” of five counts of failing to help Tennesseans get jobs.
But just across the street, one small-businessman didn’t find the political hijinks and theater amusing.
“I fully support demonstrating,” said Kile Broyles, who was on his way to see Haslam speak, “but they lose credibility when they show disregard for the office the person holds.”
Jordan Powell, Fleischmann’s spokesman, said the congressman understands such protests are part of being in an elected position. But he said Fleischmann’s visit to the convention center is part of the plan for job creation.
“At the end of the day, it’s the private business that’s creating jobs,” Powell said.
About 30 protesters participated in the event organized by Chattanooga Organized for Action and with the Service Employees International Union. One protester dressed as Chucky, the homicidal doll from the 1990s horror-film “Child’s Play.”
The protesters marched to the Joel W. Solomon Federal Building and Courthouse, where Fleischmann’s office is located. They went in and filled out paperwork listing their problems.
Marty Von Schaaf, Hamilton County Republican chairman, said he wasn’t particularly amused by the group’s presentation of the congressman by putting Fleischmann’s image onto a character holding a giant pair of shears about to cut off jobs.
“Look at that poster,” he said. “If that’s not character assassination, I don’t know what is.”
Powell said the congressman is fine with the dialogue and said Fleischmann plans to hold 16 town halls next week, eight in Hamilton County, and would welcome feedback at those meetings.
Chris Brooks, organizer for Chattanooga Organized for Action, said a decision has not been made collectively on whether group members will attend one of the meetings.
“We just want some of the specifics of our questions answered,” he said. “I would hope I wouldn’t have to attend a town hall meeting to get those answers.”
See video and more photos from yesterday's demonstration in the liveblog of the Chamber of Commerce Annual Meeting.
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.) ...