CLEVELAND, Tenn. -- City Council members asked police to investigate whether any laws were broken when someone distributed anonymous fliers in an East Cleveland neighborhood, warning residents that the city wants to take over their property and demolish their homes.
"I am one citizen concerned about maintaining our way of life as Americans and stopping this madness that has taken over our local government," the flier's author wrote.
The flier urged recipients to "make them explain why they think your home(s) should be demolished." It welcomed anyone to contact the "concerned citizen" at an e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org.
"There is nothing further from the truth," Mayor Tom Rowland said about claims that the city will be taking recipients' property.
Panicked homeowners should know who targeted them with false propaganda, he said.
"I'm upset that somebody who is anonymous thinks they have a right to spread fear and untruths through our community," Rowland said.
"They may not have committed a crime," the mayor said, "but I think whoever wrote this should be exposed."
There even have been indirect threats that some city officials might find their houses in ashes, he said.
The author referred to the BCC 2035 plan being developed by Bradley County, Cleveland and Charleston to accommodate growth for the next 25 years. The plan breaks the county into three study areas, a north corridor from Mouse Creek to Charleston, a south corridor around exit 20 and a central city area.
The central city area includes eastern and southern Cleveland neighborhoods and several blocks left behind after Whirlpool moves to its new Benton Pike location.
The flier refers to something it calls the Delphi Technique being used to manufacture the appearance of community consensus although, it states, no one has heard of the 2035 plan. Some websites say the Delphi Technique is part of a plan to establish a new world order that takes citizens out of decision-making.
In fact, Rowland said, there has been nothing secretive about the 2035 planning. There have been more than a dozen public hearings with four study committees that include community residents in each area, he said. The final document will go through public hearings and votes before the planning commission and City Council, he said.
"I have had great, and thoughtful, conversations with the vast, vast majority of people," city planner Greg Thomas said.
After receiving the flier, more than 20 people contacted Thomas, whose office number is listed in the flier. That turned out to be a good thing, Thomas said Monday, because it allowed him to speak truthfully to people in the neighborhood.
"So something good is coming from what was meant for ill," Councilman Bill Estes said.
Contact Randall Higgins at 423-314-1029 or email@example.com.
Randall Higgins covers news in Cleveland, Tenn., for the Times Free Press. He started work with the Chattanooga Times in 1977 and joined the staff of the Chattanooga Times Free Press when the Free Press and Times merged in 1999. Randall has covered Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia and Alabama. He now covers Cleveland and Bradley County and the neighboring region. Randall is a Cleveland native. He has bachelor’s degree from Tennessee Technological University. His awards ...