published Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

Billboards challenge mayor over gangs

  • photo
    A billboard on Highway 153 addresses Mayor Ron Littlefield and the issue of gang violence in the Chattanooga, Tenn., area. The International Brotherhood of Police Officers launched a billboard criticizing Mayor Littlefield. Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press

An electronic billboard on state Highway 153 flashes: “Mayor Littlefield is too busy fighting police to pay attention to gang violence. And the gangs couldn’t be happier.”

Several ads rotate, and then another ad pops up: “Chattanoogans take gang violence SERIOUSLY. Too bad the mayor doesn’t. Mayor Littlefield: step up or step aside.”

The International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 673 bought space on two electronic billboards, which went up Monday afternoon, according to Phil Grubb, president of the police union.

Grubb said the billboard attack is a part of a campaign the union is launching to express disapproval of recent decisions made by Mayor Ron Littlefield and Chattanooga City Council.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much these acts from the mayor have attacked us and hurt our ability to serve citizens,” Grubb said.

Repeated calls, texts and emails attempting to reach Littlefield and the mayor’s spokesman, Richard Beeland, went unanswered Tuesday evening.

City Councilman Jack Benson said he doesn’t believe the council’s measures have impaired officers.

“We’ve got to respect what our officers do, but we’ve also got to respect what taxpayers are able to pay for these services,” Benson said.

The union has a growing list of grievances with the mayor and City Council, including the city’s decision to cut officers’ post-employment benefits and restructuring of the department’s overtime policy, Grubb said. The union also was rankled with the recent decision to charge police to take cars home out of city limits.

Benson said these decisions were made out of a need to trim the city’s strained budget.

“[Police] do have a grievance, but not in comparison to the private sector,” Benson said. “Everyone’s feeling tough cuts in this economy.

Grubb said police are also upset about discussions that officers’ pension plans may be cut.

“I can’t express how mad the officers are about all this,” Grubb said. “It’s all we can do to keep them from storming City Hall with pitchforks and torches.”

Grubb said the union decided to connect its message to gang violence because that’s one of the key struggles local law enforcement is facing.

“That’s the big problem right now, the gang problem. And it’s not just a problem in Coolidge Park, it’s all over the city,” said Grubb, referring to the fight and gunfire that broke out in the park Saturday night where 300 teens gathered. The incident resulted in the mayor supporting a new ordinance requiring minors to be accompanied by adults in the park.

Grubb said this is just the beginning of the union’s campaign to demand change. He said the IBPO 673 will do “whatever it takes” to make its voices heard. He said more billboards would be showing up on roads over the next several weeks.

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holdout said...

Want an example of the type of Police Department Littlefield and Benson are working on? Look at New Orleans PD in the eighties. Terrible pay and benefits and constant mismanagement. If Benson gets his way and limits hiring to City residents the only way to fill the positions will be to greatly lower the hiring standards. Every time that has been done in the past it caused huge problems with bad service, terrible management, and lawsuits galore.

March 23, 2011 at 8:39 a.m.
dendod said...

The reason they can't get hold of mayor Littlefield is because he's over at Club Elite getting his foot scratched by special interest. He cares nothing about the majority of the citizens in Chattanooga. He loves scrap iron art and has a waterfront fetish. It shows by the smirk on his face every time his picture is in the paper. Way to got on the billboard.

March 23, 2011 at 8:53 a.m.
dao1980 said...

Good job on the billboard indeed!

March 23, 2011 at 9:17 a.m.
Vguy said...

Great job police union! The billboard says it all, your fighting crime and the Mayor is fighting you. This guy is a real piece of work, the City of Chattanooga is under attack by gangs and who does the CROOKED Mayor go after, the police officers of course. This man and any city council member who votes with him needs to be OUSTED now! Mr. Benson please retire NOW! Keep up the great work officers, God Bless and remember the citizens have your back.

March 23, 2011 at 10:12 a.m.

now...i love this!!! way to go to whoever put this up!!!

March 23, 2011 at 2:01 p.m.

I don't blame Local 673 one single bit however would like to see ALL city employees living within the city limits of Chattanooga. Let's bring life back to some dead areas. There is plenty of housing stock available for everyone, including the little man. He has always shut out the middle n lower class in the scenic city as well as being a sorry excuse for a mayor.

March 23, 2011 at 4:43 p.m.
MasterChefLen said...

Excellent job on the billboard. The city needs more of like this highlighting the incompetence of Mayor Littlefield and the city council. Great points "payingattention".

March 23, 2011 at 7:43 p.m.
midnitewatchman said...

At what point does it become obvious of imcompetence of leadership? How many financial pitfalls have to be fell into? How many lies told? How many lawsuits? How much money has to be spent because of oversights? So many six figure employees hired (engineers etc.) yet so many expensive studies have to be paid for?One recall was thwarted? This agenda to become larger than Knoxville has gone too far!

March 23, 2011 at 7:54 p.m.
bossdawg said...

What Would Missy Cruchfield do, Mayor Littlefield?

March 23, 2011 at 10:22 p.m.
trburrows said...

if you have the kind of money it takes to rent multible billboards, then you got enough money to pay your bills and then some. cut their pay if they have this much money.

March 23, 2011 at 10:27 p.m.
ceeweed said...

When the Repubs finish off the teachers unions, they will look to crush other public employee unions. This is their goal throughout the nation.

The Littlefield Gang is no different as they clearly want to chip away at Police and Firefighters pay and benefits. If they succeed in busting these unions, they might as well give badges and black and whites to the thugs. The hoodlums already have better fire power than our police officers.

March 23, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
joecrash1 said...

Hey, ceeweed, I thought Littlebrain was a Demoncrat! Way to go IBofP.

March 24, 2011 at 12:23 p.m.
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