published Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

Andy Berke has some explaining to do

The Woodlawn Aapartments are located off Dodson Avenue.
The Woodlawn Aapartments are located off Dodson Avenue.
Photo by Jay Bailey.

Andy Berke had better start talking — and fast.

The presumed Chattanooga mayor-to-be has been anything but forthcoming about the fact that his father and uncle own a crime-riddled apartment complex. Not only that, but Berke has failed to disclose the fact that several trash-strewn vacant lots owned by his family could become gold mines if city government redevelopment efforts take place.

In a recent interview with the Times Free Press editorial pages, Chester Heathington, a conservative mayoral hopeful, expressed frustration that Berke's family owns the Woodlawn Apartment Complex -- one of the most drug-, gang- and crime-infested apartment complexes in Chattanooga -- and apparently did little to clean up the complex's problems.

An investigation by the Times Free Press found that Heathington's concerns were well-founded.

Property and tax records indicate that the Woodlawn Apartment complex is owned by a company comprising Berke's father, Marvin, and uncle, Ronald. Because of the nature of the way in which the company handles the property, it is impossible to determine whether the mayoral hopeful, himself, has any stake in the complex. He says that he doesn't.

In response to Heathington's assertion that Berke and his family were fostering crime in East Chattanooga by failing to improve Woodlawn, Berke's campaign issued a statement saying, "As one can see from examining property records, Andy Berke has no ownership in the Woodlawn Apartment Complex, either through a partnership or personally. He has no decision-making or management authority and has no personal connection to the property."

No personal connection to the property?

Even if Berke doesn't currently have a stake in the property, it can be reasonably assumed that he could assume ownership of a portion of the apartment complex when his father dies. That certainly seems like one heck of a personal connection.

Berke is tied to Woodlawn in another way, as well. Chip Griffin, the president of Lookout Property Management, has contributed to Berke's political efforts. It turns out that Lookout Property is the management firm that handles Woodlawn and other apartment complexes associated with Berke's family, according to county tax documents.

Since Berke failed to work with his own family to make their apartment complex a safe place for its residents, voters are right to wonder how committed he will be as mayor to addressing crime.

Besides public safety, another plank in Berke's very vague and poorly defined policy platform is transparency.

By failing to disclose his family's ownership of the Woodlawn Apartment Complex, he called his commitment to transparency into question. By failing to disclose his family's financial interest in properties that stand to benefit from his administration's possible community redevelopment efforts, Berke proved that he believes transparency is great for other people, but not for him.

Berke's father owns more than a dozen properties, including a number of near-worthless vacant lots in neglected areas of town. Two are grubby vacant properties in the Glass Street area -- an area poised to be at the center of taxpayer-funded revitalization efforts under the next mayor. As a result, those properties could skyrocket in value. In other words, if Berke cleans up Glass Street, his father could make hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's a fact that Berke should've disclosed when he decided to run for office. Instead, the Times Free Press uncovered the potential conflicts of interest just days before the election.

If Berke is unwilling to be forthright about his family's property holdings, what will he hide from the public as mayor?

If he won't encourage his own family to address crime, gangs and drugs in apartment complexes they own, or help his father clean up the garbage piling up on his vacant lots, how committed is Berke to improving crime in Chattanooga and cleaning up our city?

Berke owes Chattanoogans some answers. Otherwise he doesn't deserve our votes.

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nucanuck said...

Slum landlords are a plague on all cities and in this case, Berke has no choice other than coming down hard on exploitative property owners...even when it is his own family.

If he fails to respond, he will be dogged about this for a long, long time.

February 26, 2013 at 1:12 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Did anyone notice the anti-Semitic remark from joetheplumber?

February 26, 2013 at 1:33 a.m.
lightkeeper said...

Yes Easy I did notice. These conservatives mindset is so warped the majority of the time I refuse to even try to engage in a rational conversation. The majority of republicans seem to be filled with the type of prejudice and bigotry like the statement Joe T P posted. Most conservatives sound like ant-Semitic red neck Neo-Nazis although they'll deny it. The scary part is that they make it a point to send people(if you can call them people) to Washington just like them. They make themselves look like a bunch of extreme right wing lunatics in front of the American people with outlandish outdated ideas and statetements and then have the nerve to scratch their heads and wonder why they are loosing elections.

February 26, 2013 at 5:45 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Lightkeeper "These conservatives mindset is so warped."

To suggest that anti-Semitic remarks or every racism is a behavior or marker of conservatives, it the language of the ill informed.

You have no idea of that person's party affiliation, you are assuming alot.

February 26, 2013 at 5:58 a.m.
MyGen said...

I enjoy seeing this side of the paper support bizarre candidates in the local council elections then pitch a fit about Andy Berke.
I didn't vote for Mr. Berke and dread his time in office. Unlike his commercial touts, he's never been in my working class neighborhood. I just find it ironic that Mr. Johnson blasts the inability of Mr. Berke to articulate his position and then he supports some of the most embarrassing picks for our city council.
"No street cred" is how it gets labeled with my crowd.

February 26, 2013 at 6:37 a.m.
gjuster said...

Really - conservatives are neo mazi's? - FYI, there are many Jewish conservatives. I happen to know many of them personally.

Conservatives far outweigh liberals in support of Israel

February 26, 2013 at 8:19 a.m.
raygunz said...

Aint it strange that the anti-semite,racist,neo-nazi crowd,and the evangelical,Israel-firsters, all seem to vote Republican(conservative)?

February 26, 2013 at 8:47 a.m.
AndrewLohr said...

Jesse Jackson has made antiJewish remarks. Byrd had been KKK. Therefore "Most" liberals--"The majority"--are antiSemitic racists?

February 26, 2013 at 9:07 a.m.
jesse said...

As long as they are in Israel they lovum!

Joe had a good point goin till he put his bigotry on display!

Berke is just gonna be more of what we have had for the last 8 years!

February 26, 2013 at 9:08 a.m.
TirnaNOG said...

"Chester Heathington, a conservative mayoral hopeful, expressed frustration that Berke's family owns the Woodlawn Apartment Complex -- one of the most drug-, gang- and crime-infested apartment complexes in Chattanooga -- and apparently did little to clean up the complex's problems."

Is the above really the fault of Andy Berke? Or the people who don't appreciate having a place to live? When will some groups stop waiting for superman and come together and stop pointing fingers? Berke and any landlord can put all the round the clock security up money can buy, but if the people aren't willing to at least take personal responsibility for themselves, no amount of security is going to change things. Now a homeowner, I've been a renter in my lifetime, and I can say I left every place I ever rented in better shape than when I first move in. If you're going to trash where you live, it's not the fault of the person who's providing you a place to stay. It's YOUR FAULT!!
Same goes for those so-called trashed lots. He can send someone in to clean up those lots and turn them all into small parks, but if the people are going to still go in trashing them a second lter, how is that his or anyone else fault? Place the blame where it belongs!
On THE PEOPLE WHO TRASH THE DAMN PLACE!! There's drug and crime activity in some of the most affluent areas around, you just don't hear about them until some tragedy so horrific takes place that it can't be ignored or covered up.

I don't know whether to cringe or laugh when I read a black person calling themselves conservative. The meaning has taken on a new modern day definition and is now the code word for being bigoted and intolerant, but they just don't want to quite yet let it be known.

Everytime these people open their mouths they score more points for their opponents. keep talking, PLEASE!!

February 26, 2013 at 9:15 a.m.
timbo said...

This is all kind of funny to me. Those of us that have spent a lot of time and effort try to get the word out about the Chattanooga power structure Aren't too surprised about Berke. He is just another in a long line of mayors and city officials who are so corrupt that it makes my head hurt.

To show you this criticism is non-partisan all you have to do is look at Bob Corker. At the time he ran

for mayor he was the largest downtown landowner. Everything he did was to enhance his own investments. Blue Cross Blue Shield was going to Lupton city to build their new building. Corker gave Blue Cross Blue Shield a $40 million tax break to locate on the hill downtown. He makes the Berke family look like pikers. As you know, he is now a US senator.

Is the Times Free Press right about Andy Berke? You damn right they are. It seems like they're finally getting it. It took you long enough Harry Austin. The problem is the Berke family are amateurs compared to some of the other mayors then went before. The previous ones were all just a lot better at hiding it.

February 26, 2013 at 1:35 p.m.
TirnaNOG said...

He makes the Berke family look like pikers. As you know, he is now a US senator.

Believe me when I say, the ones feeding you all this information aren't any better. In fact, they are much much worse. These are some of the very same people who openly showed their hostility towards minorities, specifically African-Americans, but also Hispanics, Jews, the poor, the homeless and most anyone who didn't look like them. The only reason they originally turned on the mayor is because he wouldn't give his approval to allow police to ride roughshod and run Chattanooga's most vulnerable, its poor population, out of time. They operate basically behind the scenes. They change their strategy from time to time, but that hostitility still remains and their goals do not change.

For me the subject is over. Finished! done.

February 26, 2013 at 3:16 p.m.
azbrown said...

You should look up the criminal and sessions court dispositions for Chester Heathington on the Hamilton County website. It makes for interesting reading. I'd be more concerned about that.

February 26, 2013 at 4:27 p.m.
aae1049 said...

I like that other guy Satterfield.

February 26, 2013 at 6:58 p.m.
timbo said...

TirnaNOG...With all due respect, nobody feeds me anything. This stuff is out there for all to see. Let me make myself clear...NO ONE BECOMES MAYOR OF CHATTANOOGA THAT IS NOT CONTROLLED OR IN BED WITH THE POWER STRUCTURE.

When Littlefield was first elected, he was power structure-lite. Ann Coulter was full blown power structure. There was little difference in either one of them. As a matter of fact, Littlefield poses as a Republican so if he "protected minorities" Coulter, being a liberal, would have done even better.

The fact is, none of these people give a damn about anyone but themselves and their cronies. To think otherwise is foolish..naive..or both.

As far as minorities being mistreated, if they weren't responsible for the majority of crime, gang activity, and murder they might just be treated better. I don't trust the police but the minority community ignores these facts when it is convenient. Until they address their own cultural problems, there is very little white people can do.

Kinsey, Corker, Littlefield, and Berke are friends of the power structure like the mayors before them. It doesn't matter whether they claim to be Republicans or Democrats. It doesn't matter if they are Red or Blue because they are all Green, like money. They are all political cross-dressers.

February 27, 2013 at 11:04 a.m.
gjuster said...


The cross dresser's comment made my day

February 27, 2013 at 2:58 p.m.
joneses said...

Like all dummycrats, Berke is vague when he talks as if he were to lay out his true agenda no one would vote for him.

February 28, 2013 at 6:27 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Whether or not you like Berke, and I am cool on him, this is still really a one man race. The other two just don't have what it takes to be Mayor of a city like Chattanooga.

February 28, 2013 at 6:21 p.m.
joneses said...


You are correct they do not have what it takes as they are not part of the 1% you dummycrats hate so much. Berke will raise taxes every chance he gets and justify it with stupid lies that the fools in Chattanooga will believe.

February 28, 2013 at 7:05 p.m.
nucanuck said...

I remember how low Chattanooga taxation was (is). You moaners and groaners won't ever find tax nirvana, just continue to whine.

You users just don't want to pay your fair share.

February 28, 2013 at 8:23 p.m.
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