published Sunday, June 17th, 2012

Reporter's Notebook: Commission recognizes team

Commissioner Fred Skillern talks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting.
Commissioner Fred Skillern talks during a Hamilton County Commission meeting.
Photo by Angela Lewis.

Hamilton County commissioners recognized the Soddy-Daisy High School softball team for winning this year's Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.

Commissioner Fred Skillern, who represents Soddy-Daisy, said the whole community is proud of the young women.

"I'm just an old football player who had more desire than he had ability," Skillern said. "The thing you learn in practice, you carry that through to your academics and into your life, and things smooth out a little bit for you."

County Mayor Jim Coppinger chimed in praise and noted that none of the commissioners can make the same claim as the softball team.

"None of us up here can brag about a state championship," he said.

TAYLOR OPENS CAMPAIGN HQ

Democratic congressional candidate Bill Taylor opened his campaign headquarters last week.

Open from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, Taylor's office space is at 7047 Lee Highway, Suite 101, according to a news release.

Campaign materials are available to supporters, and volunteers can register to "help, schedule call time and arrange canvassing territory," the news release said.

Taylor is hosting an invitation-only fundraiser on June 28 at the Bluewater Grille in downtown Chattanooga, he said.

2 RED BANK OFFICIALS INVOLVED IN REAL ESTATE DEAL

Red Bank's municipal judge will be moving his private law offices into town after the City Commission voted to rezone a commissioner's home for the judge to buy.

Red Bank commissioners voted unanimously June 5 to rezone a home belonging to Commissioner Floy Pierce to commercial property so she could sell it to Judge Johnny Houston.

Though Pierce said "of course" during the first vote on the property switch, her vote was nearly inaudible during the second reading. She said later that she abstained.

According to the city's ethics policy, commissioners are bound to disclose personal interest that "affects or that would lead a reasonable person to infer that it affects the official's vote on the measure."

In the ordinance, "personal interest" is defined as any financial, ownership or employment interest subject to vote by a municipal board.

Once commissioners disclose a potential conflict of interest, the ordinance states that they may recuse themselves from the vote, though they are not required to.

Houston said in an interview that he had kept his eye on the house in the 3400 block of Dayton Boulevard as a potential law office and didn't know Pierce owned it.

"I saw the sign go up and called the number, and then she picked up and I just sort of laughed and said 'Floy? Is that you?'" Houston said.

Houston said that, though he stated in the contract the home would have to be rezoned commercial before he would buy it, the process "had nothing to do with politics."

"I try to be scrupulously honest and forthright. There's nothing to hide, and it's public record," he said. "It's a little town, only six miles long, so you're bound to run into people you know when you're doing business."

BHALLA WINS AWARD

Republican congressional candidate Ron Bhalla announced last week that he won the "Americanism Medal" from the Daughters of the American Revolution.

"This is the highest DAR honor conferred upon a naturalized citizen for outstanding leadership and service," campaign manager Ken Orr said in a news release.

Bhalla originally is from India.

The medal was presented to him at the Chattanooga Golf and Country Club on Wednesday, according to a news release.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610. Contact staff writer Kate Harrison at kharrison@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6673. Contact staff writer Ansley Haman at ahaman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6481.

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