published Friday, May 31st, 2013

Drew's Views

Kevin Nance rearranges the letters on the marquee at the Tivoli Theater on May 8, 2012.
Kevin Nance rearranges the letters on the marquee at the Tivoli Theater on May 8, 2012.
Photo by Staff File Photo.

HEADLINE: Chattanooga draws praise for hosting bicycle championship

THE RECAP: USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson said that "Chattanooga knocked it out of the park" on Monday when the city successfully hosted the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships. Police estimate that more than 25,000 spectators lined the streets for the men's and women's road race.

The Memorial Day event marked the first year of a three-year agreement for the Scenic City to host the event.

DREW'S VIEW: We salute all of the volunteers, sponsors and spectators that joined in making the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships a great success. You did Chattanooga proud.

Chattanooga will never be a major league city (unless we can work out that trade with Georgia to move the state line in exchange for the Braves). However, admirably hosting world-class events such as the cycling championship, national canoe and kayak competitions, and other events that take advantage of the area's geography, scenic beauty and welcoming atmosphere will put Chattanooga on the map in the sports world. It also will give us more opportunities to see great events in our own backyards -- and that's something our region desperately needs in order to continue growing.

•••

HEADLINE: Lamar Alexander says 'no chance' TVA will be sold

THE RECAP: On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said there is "no chance" the Tennessee Valley Authority will be sold as proposed by the Obama administration. "It's not a good idea," Alexander said prior to speaking at the annual meeting of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Chattanooga.

DREW'S VIEW: I guess it's not surprising that a man who hasn't had an exciting, innovative idea since he was governor in the 1980s would dismiss a proposal that could improve safety, introduce greater accountability, benefit the environment, increase tax revenues and remove taxpayer liabilities related to the TVA. After all, new ideas seem to scare the aging Alexander.

It also shouldn't be a surprise that Alexander would oppose an idea rooted in the free market, limited government notion that the federal government has no business owning and running a utility monopoly. Alexander's liberal voting record and big government philosophy seem to conflict with conservative reforms such as TVA privatization.

Fortunately there are 99 other members in the U.S. Senate. Hopefully a majority of them will see the value in improving the services provided by the TVA by allowing private enterprise, rather than a socialist-style government bureaucracy, to manage TVA facilities.

•••

HEADLINE: Tivoli, Memorial changes weighed

THE RECAP: Something needs to be done to stem losses at the city-owned Memorial Auditorium and Tivoli Theatre, some Chattanooga City Council members said Wednesday. The two performance venues are projected to lose $900,000 this fiscal year and need more than $1.1 million in combined repairs.

DREW'S VIEW: Knoxville doesn't own the Tennessee Theatre and Davidson County doesn't own the Ryman Auditorium. There's no reason why Chattanooga should own the Tivoli Theatre and the Memorial Auditorium. And there's certainly no reason why the Chattanooga City Council should continue wasting Chattanoogans' tax dollars subsidizing these venues when they could easily get the city out of the venue management business.

Plenty of private companies buy or manage the operation of historic performance halls and actually make money while consistently bringing quality entertainment to the venues -- two things the city obviously can't do.

The decision about what to do with the venues will be an important litmus test for City Council members. It will allow Chattanoogans to see which council members are committed to spending tax dollars responsibly and which ones are willing to fritter away residents' hard-earned money. It also will highlight local lawmakers are dedicated to doing what's right and expose which council members are more interested in protecting how things have always been done.

There is a fear that selling the Tivoli or the Memorial Auditorium would mean the end to the venues as we know them. That's true in one sense: Most of us know the facilities as outdated and run down. That would change. New owners would give them the TLC necessary to make them as successful as possible.

What wouldn't change are the venues' important places in the community. New owners would ensure that the facilities will be available for nonprofit events and high school graduations, and remain hubs for arts and culture in Chattanooga.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared recently in the Times Free Press. Follow Drew Johnson on Twitter: @Drews_Views.

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Hunter_Bluff said...

What's needed is competent management to run TVA - something Senators Corker and Alexander have thwarted. Having private ownership raises borrowing costs, raises the need for users to TVA power to pay a profit to the owners (why is that good?) and assumes the owners will operate the entity for the good of the region and not just for profit. When does that happen in private enterprise? Cite me the examples please. Meanwhile, the government is still saddled with operating the locks as part of the inland waterway system - is the government going to own the locks but not the dam? Who takes the hit when water is used to fill the locks instead of generating power? Who has priority?

May 31, 2013 at 11:14 a.m.
charivara said...

I guess it’s not surprising that this columnist would rail against keeping TVA a publicly owned corporation. Nowhere in this piece does Johnson explain how privatizing TVA would “improve safety, introduce greater accountability, benefit the environment, increase tax revenues and remove taxpayer liabilities related to the TVA.” He just assumes, despite plenty of easily found evidence to the contrary, that private corporations are better, more efficient and have a greater concern for the public welfare than government does.

Improve safety? Like the Massey Mines operators did? http://articles.latimes.com/2012/nov/29/nation/la-na-massey-mine-20121129. Introduce greater accountability? As practiced by HSBC Bank? http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/in-bank-settlements-big-fines-but-no-accountability/. Benefit the environment? Check out the Exxon plant in Baton Rouge, LA. http://www.npr.org/2013/05/30/187044721/baton-rouge-s-corroded-overpolluting-neighbor-exxon. Increase tax revenues? Right. http://money.cnn.com/2011/11/03/news/economy/corporate_taxes/index.htm. Remove tax payer liability? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/26/bailout-taxpayers_n_1233374.html.

Drew thinks a market in which private corporations that get government subsidies, government tax breaks and the fruits of government financed research is a “free market.” Poor fellow. Apparently, for him a limited government is one which limits the abilities of citizens band together to defend themselves against the greed of private corporations and the thieves that control them.

But Johnson’s best lines, meant to disparage Sen. Alexander, are “hasn’t had an exciting, innovative idea” and “new ideas seem to scare the aging Alexander.” Drew, hired to represent the conservative point of view, doesn’t even know what “conservative” means!

So how did he get this gig at the TFP? It obviously had nothing to do with the quality of his thinking or the depth of his knowledge. Drew’s views come from where the sun don’t shine. After all, he’s a conservative.

May 31, 2013 at 12:47 p.m.
Leaf said...

The free market is not the answer to every problem. That's lazy thinking. Well said, Hunter_Bluff.

May 31, 2013 at 12:51 p.m.
ordinaryguy said...

Kudos Drew...it is indeed time to dump the Memorial and Tivoli off the taxpayers back...they were allowed to get the way they are due to the mismanagement of dear little Missy, and a head in the sand philosophy of the city leaders...so far behind the curve on alcohol sales and when it was opened up, restrictive at best...Track 29 has been solid since opening, just think if some of those acts were at the Tivoli instead...Just don't let that music "authority" on talk radio book any of his acts or the places might as well be shuttered

May 31, 2013 at 12:55 p.m.
MyGen said...

The Tivoli and the Memorial Auditorium seem to be money pits that take funding that never makes it back to our neighborhoods for services. This new administration will score large points in dealing with them.

On the front of insulting Senator Alexander, while he may not be in one partisan corner or the other, I don't believe disrespect works to get a better government.

I'd consider myself a Tea Party person if it didn't seem to require so much anger. The left is just as bad. Being engaged and really passionate is good. Being mean is what's adding to the lack of interest in politics.

May 31, 2013 at 4:23 p.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

My congratulations to everyone's opinions - all well stated and without disparaging others. We don't all have to agree but we all should treat each other as if our grandmother were watching us. I love a civilized debate of ideas not name calling. How refreshing!

May 31, 2013 at 7:56 p.m.
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