published Monday, August 27th, 2012

Let public speak about new flag

It's likely that a significant number of Chattanoogans were surprised to learn last week that the city of Chattanooga has an official flag. And many who did know of its existence probably would be hard-pressed to accurately describe it. Mayor Ron Littlefield's desire to replace the current flag with a new design should bring heightened public awareness of one of the city's symbols. The haste with which the mayor would like to make the transition from old to new, however, is a bit unseemly.

The mayor wants the new flag -- two green stripes (representing the mountains) with a blue stripe (representing the Tennessee River) in the middle and the city seal in the center -- to be approved as quickly as possible. There's no need for hurry, though. Debate on such matters is always in order.

The mayor doesn't think so. He's demanding swift approval because he doesn't want a new flag to become a focus of debate. "The more you talk about it, the more divisive and controversial it becomes," the mayor says. That might be true, but if controversy arises about the flag, the issue requires a well-publicized public airing.

The proposed new flag is more distinctive and colorful than the current banner. The latter mimics the familiar red, white and blue Tennessee state flag, though it has dogwood petals surrounding a single star rather than the familiar three stars at its center. Those who prefer the old to the new or wonder what all the fuss is about, though, should be heard.

At least two City Council members agree. Andrae McGary wants public input. Deborah Scott says school children should have a role in the flag debate, perhaps by allowing them to vote on which they like best. Some sort of public participation does seem a reasonable alternative to Littlefield's demand for quick action. The council should allow for that within a reasonable timeframe. If there is a desire for such discussion, the council should honor rather than ignore it. This topic likely won't arise again for a while. If the city flag is to be redesigned, it would be good to give the idea a public hearing.

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fairmon said...

Perhaps during the flag debates someone may divulge the future unfunded liabilities of the city and suggest a symbol depicting the cemetery of cities be included on the flag. The mayor's rush is his ego and short tenure.

August 27, 2012 at 7:46 a.m.
Fendrel said...

I am hard pressed on a moments notice to think of anything else which might benefit from a public debate that is of less importance then the design on a flag.

Make the new flag official..let's move on.

August 27, 2012 at 9:21 a.m.
daytonsdarwin said...

Wonder which friend of Littlefield's has a flag making business?

August 27, 2012 at 10:09 a.m.
jesse said...

Well we spent $300,000.00 on a new web site that's no better than the old one,what's a new flag gonna cost?$100,000.oo

Like daytonsdarwin said,you just gotta know Ron's gotta have a friend in the flag makin buis!!

August 27, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
aae1049 said...

What? Are you folks suggesting there could be friends ready to take possession of public money without the benefit of advertising for bids or requests for proposals? Or, even worse, a fixed award outcome. No, say it is not so. That would be wrong.

August 27, 2012 at 1:13 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Whenever politicians bring up some abstract concept like a morality topic or "the flag", it usually ends up being a smokescreen to distract us from what's really happening.

Act like reporters and start asking critical questions.

The school year just began. Right as that was starting up, Mayor Ron Littlefield, a man not known for his ability to plan ahead, began, of his own initiative, talking to the press about the city flag.

If that doesn't set off a reporter's Stink-O-Meter, then what does?

Given local Republicans' propensity for wrecking the school system, I'd suggest something was up. What just went unpaid for as the school year began? What ignorant blunder just almost caused a catastro-__ in local schools? Did bus drivers go unpaid? Did kids show up to classes that had no teachers? Did school employees fail to order books? Did essential servers crash? What happened?

We just saw last year, during a time that planning for this fall's school year opening, that our local school system was being wrecked by the "Slaves Learned to Read" ingenuity of local politicians. What kind of damage did they do then that we are just seeing now?

The school year just began. In a large government organization like a school system, today's success is banked on yesterday's planning. Most likely, that yesterday was a couple of quarters ago. During that time, employees were being unceremoniously dumped upon by local politicos. What task went undone as a direct result of the Mayor and the City Council's failure to understand their obligation to the public as leaders of public service employees?

How bad did Ron screw up this time?

This is a man who wrecked the financing for the Chattanooga Hamilton County Bicentennial Library. What kind of planning ahead do you think those politico cabals did for this school year? The failures we see today are a direct result of their failures to understand what was going on some months ago.

The city and the county have both been wrecked by political cabals. Both just started a school year. Now a politically unpopular mayor is talking about a straw man topic. Pay attention!

Chances that it's a coincidence that Mayor Ron Littlefield is talking about a flag as the school year opened after Republicans ousted the former superintendent? Low.

Remember all of those people who suddenly got "promotions" and "new jobs" as a result of that political mucking-out of local public services? How competent and efficient do you think they were in their first coordinating and planning meetings? And when would you expect those failures to hit the fan? How about at the beginning of the next full school year?

Find out what really happened.

August 27, 2012 at 10:18 p.m.
aae1049 said...

An effort to include the public in the process, instead of, I have a flag approve it would have abated this entire situation. That is the point the Editor is making.. Most municipal flags are developed through a contest, or citizen team that outreaches to the public.

Communication with the public is helpful.

August 27, 2012 at 10:28 p.m.
328Kwebsite said...

Let me tell you what flags are used for: communicating with large groups of people on a crowded battlefield. Rallying troops to the correct location. They are a medieval communication device.

A city flag has no useful purpose here. We only see one on display. One! It's in Miller Park. No one wakes up in the morning and says, "Man, if I only had a Chattanooga City flag to tell me where to go to meet the guys to beat back the barbarian horde. We need a good flag so that I can find my pals!" No one does this. No one needs a city flag. It's a nice idea, but no one needs a city flag.

Politicians talk about flags all the time.

Since flags are symbols, they are an ideal mechanism for getting people to think about abstract topics. Politicians like abstract topics because, being immaterial, the imagination can be twisted to allow most anyone to win any discussion by focusing on some positive quality. These discussions about flagging almost always have no real, useful, practical purpose. They mainly serve to providing politicians with practical attention for empty arguments. Guess what's happening here.

No one has had a consistent, daily, practical need for a fabric flag in a long time. In our society, we use street signs. Big metal signs on the Interstate fulfill the public's need for flags in today's world.

Why are politicians, of their own initiative, talking about flags as the school year began? What's one of the largest expenses a city and county has? It could be: medical care, utilities and schools. The school year just began. The Mayor is talking to you about a flag no one needs, uses or could recognize for any reason. His legacy is suing his way out of a recall. Our problems are that we have to live with decisions today that were made by a party that recklessly slashed at public service budgets and chastised public employees. Treating teachers and school administrators like punching bags can have ramifications; one of the main problems that could arise is that the school year doesn't get planned and supported as it should. Well, look at what just began.

Don't let yourself be suckered by accepting the premise of a question they want you to entertain. We ask the questions around here. The Mayor's main conversation with the people is through his decisions. Most of those have been awful.

Now, as the city and county undertake their first school year without the support of their joint tax agreement, what happened? Pay attention! Ask critical questions. Mayor Ron Littlefield could have brought up his fabric signaling system at any time; but, he brought it up as the school year opened. Why?

Find out what just flunked at school.

August 27, 2012 at 10:55 p.m.
aae1049 said...

328K, you need to consider the fact that the joint tax agreement had absolutely nothing to do with the school system.

I am with you about making education a priority. The joint sales tax agreement was strictly for social service agencies and joint functions, such as the Partnership, The Advocacy Center, Chambliss Children's Home, library downtown..... I have read the former Sales Tax Agreement.

The school system is funded form property taxes designated for educaiton. All the same, agree, it's all bad for children.

August 27, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.
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