published Friday, December 21st, 2012

Drew's views

Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

HEADLINE: TAC Air: Chattanooga Airport neglecting maintenance

THE RECAP: Pam McAllister, the general manager of TAC Air's Chattanooga operations, charged that airport officials are so concerned about challenging her company's business that they are neglecting maintenance at their facility. At a Monday meeting of the Airport Authority, she said grass hasn't been cut, airport aprons aren't being swept and public bathroom doors and fixtures are broken.

DREW'S VIEW: After years of seeing TAC Air, a privately-owned private plane service and storage company, get the shaft from the Airport Authority, who used taxpayer funds to build a government-owned private plane service and storage company to compete against her company, McAllister delivered airport officials a well-deserved tongue lashing.

McAllister claims that because the Airport Authority is so busy shifting funds around to cover the huge operating loss incurred by the government-owned private plane spa -- $1.2 million in less than two years -- cutbacks on basic janitorial and maintenance functions have been necessary to make ends meet.

It would be difficult for anyone who has flown out of the airport in recent months to disagree. Broken faucets, dirty bathrooms, filthy carpets and neglected landscaping is par for the course at the Chattanooga Airport.

Apparently, that same poor customer experience extends to the private plane facility owned by the Airport Authority. Despite spending more than $10 million in tax money building the unneeded facility, few customers use it. According to McAllister, more than 90 percent of private plane customers using Lovell Field chose to use TAC Air over the government-owned facility.

It's time for the Airport Authority to sell off its money-draining private plane service facility so it can turn its focus back to what it should be doing, but hasn't been: ensuring that airport customers have a safe, clean, modern and pleasant experience.

•••

HEADLINE: President Obama is Time's 'Person of the Year'

THE RECAP: President Barack Obama has been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2012.

In explaining the choice, Time Editor Rick Stengel told NBC's "Today" show, "We are in the midst of historic cultural and demographic changes, and Obama is both the symbol and in some ways the architect of this new America." Obama also received the honor in 2008, when he was President-elect.

DREW'S VIEW: Let me get this straight. The economy remains firmly in the toilet, tens of millions of Americans are still struggling to find jobs and the only promise the president has managed to keep -- Obamacare -- stands ready to wreak havoc on the economy and on the quality of health care in America, and Obama was still named person of the year? Who came in second? Lindsay Lohan? Derek Dooley? Rep. Scott DesJarlais? Lance Armstrong? The Elmo puppeteer?

•••

HEADLINE: Connecticut school shootings focal point for gun debate

THE RECAP: Friday's slaying of 20 first-graders and six teachers and staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School struck horror and fear into the hearts of parents everywhere, rallied gun-control advocates and shook even some staunch gun-rights advocates.

DREW'S VIEW: Was there any doubt that gun control advocates would exploit this tragic story to try to push their impossible goal of eliminating guns in America? The bodies of those poor children were still being counted when the hysterical and illogical rants of the gun rights adversaries began.

It does little good to state obvious truths -- such as many more people would be robbed, raped and killed if would-be criminals weren't deterred by the fear that the would-be victim might have a gun -- to unreasonable people.

Instead, I'll bring up a less recognized fact. Only 88 people died in mass shootings in America this year -- and those numbers come courtesy of The Nation, one of America's most antigun publications. Yes, it's heartbreaking that 88 people died. But that's out of 315 million Americans. That means one in every 3.6 million Americans died in a mass shooting this year -- about the same portion as the number of Americans that died each year from lightning strikes.

Four times more Americans die in shower and bathtub accidents every year than die in mass shootings, according to the National Safety Council.

A 2010 study published in the academic journal Thymos revealed that 117 baby boys die every year in the U.S. from circumcision complications. Even though more Americans die from botched unnecessary penis surgeries than mass shootings, talking heads don't rush to the nearest TV studio to condemn circumcisions.

When mass shootings occur, rather than trying to stoke hysteria and strip rights, maybe anti-gun nuts (not to mention the media) should grieve the victims and then celebrate how rare such events truly are in the United States.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Send Drew's Christmas presents to: 400 E. 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403.

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gjuster said...

All excellent points - you are doing us a great service with your comments

December 21, 2012 at 1:51 a.m.
aae1049 said...

TAC Air is being shafted by the current Airport Authority Board, who believes that gov should fund private development. After all, the board member is the TIF developer. The TIF Atena Mtn $9 million bond issue complements of the gov is a member of the Airport Authority Board, Mike Mallen, Then, Jim Hall is on the Transportation Board, and has office space with Republic Parking's, Jim Berry who has his private plane, and a monopoly on all airport parking contracts. Hey, they help each other to all the public money they need. The relationships connected on TAC, TIF, Parking Monopolies, have the sound track from Deliverance playing. How it works, they get on these board that control $$$ or influence.

December 21, 2012 at 2:58 p.m.
ERichards said...

I find the comments and motivations by the Chattanooga Airport Authority regarding the west side expansion troubling. They continue to state that they began the expansion and development of the new Airport Authority owned Fixed Based Operations, out of a demand from customer complaints related to high fuel prices and customer service issues. What they have done is institute a practice of government competing with private business and using these alleged complaints to justify their actions. The Airport actually owns everything to do with this new venture, even the mounting losses and future capital expense associated with maintaining the facility. Wilson Air has nothing invested and not the first risk. In fact they began managing this facility in exchange for $100,000.00 per year. The losses over the last year and the future losses are absorbed by the Airport Authority. It’s hard to ignore the fact following the mounting losses that they immediately raised parking fees and landing fees charged to the airlines in attempt to recapture revenue and cover their losses which to date are in excess of $750,000.00 I have watched this debate over the last year and numerous questions remain unanswered surrounding this development.

  1. If there were complaints from customers (Private Business’s) who frequent and use the facilities, why have they not been publicized and by what means if any are they documented?

  2. The Airport Authority contends that this facility has reduced fuel prices by $1.00 per gallon at the airport. When did the airport become the only fuel facility in the world to regulate fuel prices when anywhere else it’s at the mercy of speculators and the market?

  3. The Airport Authority claims in every press release that this development was also because of growth at the airport. If that claim is true then why is every customer that they presently have at the Wilson Air facility a former customer of its competitor TAC Air?

  4. Why will the airport authority not clearly explain to the general public that this development has absolutely nothing to do with any service that they will ever use when flying commercially, rather it only impacts PRIVATE COMPANIES or individuals that own their own plan or jet?

  5. Why will the Airport Authority not invest their energy and resources in improving the sorry air service that exists at their facility?

  6. What are the positions and public comments from each of our elected officials on this issue of wasted tax dollars and the continued loss of money?

  7. Finally, I wonder if the Airport Authority would be as adamant to support a government funded or better yet any parking facility across from the airport that competes for their parking revenues especially since it would immediately lower the cost of parking for actual users of the airport and in the spirit of competition.

December 22, 2012 at 4:51 p.m.
tmw19682003 said...

I thought I had seen the lowest of the low comments in the opinion section of this paper, but Drew, you take the cake. You actually used the word "only" when referring to the loss of human life???? "Only 88 people died in mass shootings in America this year..." First, the use of the word "only" to describe the taking of any life is outrageous. Even if one persons life was lost due to a murderer, the word only should never be used. That lowers the value of that life Drew! Second, lets get your facts straight. One hundred and fifty-one people (151) have lost their lives in mass shootings in America this year. One in four were children. But look on the bright side Drew, ONLY one in four were children. At lest that is how you may see it.

December 23, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.
DJHBRAINERD said...

TMW1968..... your comments are the perfect example of why drew is correct on this and many issues. Knee jerk reaction and emotional appeal with out reguard to fact. Attack the wording and ignore the substance. Now go work on getting a few more laws passes the adults are trying to have a conversation

December 24, 2012 at 9:43 p.m.
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