published Monday, November 18th, 2013

Smith: CITY SPOTLIGHT: Council wrong on benefits

By Robin Smith

In Chattanooga, five members of the City Council are doing the bidding of Mayor Andy Berke to enact new "criteria requirements" that would give taxpayer-funded benefits to the "domestic partners," both heterosexual and homosexual.

This new City Council and mayor were all on the ballot just over eight months ago. Recent election promises heralded fiscal discipline, creating jobs, and "listening to the citizens" of Chattanooga.

Mayor Berke even discouraged two Republican businessmen from entering the race against him through his assurances that he would govern, not as a liberal Democrat, but a non-partisan.

There's a trend these days of having politicians tickle the ears of voters with appealing rhetoric then govern under the banner of their true colors.

The resolution supported by the formerly "non-partisan" Berke and five "fiscally disciplined" City Council members creates a set of government criteria that define a committed relationship.

The Domestic Partnership Resolution states, "A domestic partnership can be formed if certain criteria are met..." with several points following that include "the city employee and domestic partner have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring..." and provide "an Affidavit of Domestic Partnership" to include certain documents proving a shared financial investment placing these folks in a registry that will be monitored for compliance.

The opposition of this resolution is two-fold: fiscal inconsistency and moral objections.

The financial argument involves spending money on non-employees for benefits through a newly created definition of partnership, while current and retired actual employees have had benefits cut with an effort ongoing to reform the Police/Fire Pension, both in the name of "costs."

The moral argument is based on the beliefs of most Chattanooga citizens who identify with the Judeo-Christian definition of marriage as a covenant between one man and one woman. This moral stance opposes the political attempt to make creeping changes in redefining marriage. This stance is also codified by Tennessee's Constitution.

On the financial front, when has our government ever been accurate on a budget? How often have we seen politicians embellish the truth to serve a special interest? Is this City Council being fair to one group of non-employees at the expense of the sacrifice of another group, existing employees?

Trust is a problem.

Regarding the values argument, there is no "leaving your values at the door." This condescending demand is directed at those of Judeo-Christian faith, under the false assumption that the values-neutral stance is to embrace all relationships as equal.

There is no values-neutral position. Every individual subscribes and employs a set of values in their life. Those values are either driven by a belief in God or a god, which is usually Self.

While some embrace the "Biblical buffet"-approach, selecting some Bible Scripture to fit one's cultural convenience while ignoring others out of personal distaste, many create their own values based on their personal needs and ideas.

Have the supporters of the newly defined partnership avoided marginalizing and demonizing those honest enough to identify with a set of values? Have the supporters succeeded in demonstrating the very "fairness" they claim to represent?

The facts say, "No."

Robin Smith served as chairwoman of the Tennessee Republican Party, 2007 to 2009. She is a partner at the SmithWaterhouse Strategies business development and strategic planning firm and serves on Tennessee's Economic Council on Women.

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aae1049 said...

Exactly, in July 2010, the city ended health insurance benefits promised to retirees. Some employees had worked 24 years for the retirement health insurance benefit.

The city just pulled the rug out from under the older workers, who did not have adequate working career time to save for the loss.

At the same time, the city of Chattanooga discriminates against older retired workers, by not allowing them to use health facilities such as the city pharmacy when they reach age 65, or even the work out room. This older class of worker is the only group that is literally kicked out of city health facilities due to age. The city council shamelessly voted to do this to older workers, and now is giving the same benefit they took from older workers to non employees that have a sexual relationships with city employees, VBF's.

The city council is absurd.

November 18, 2013 at 12:57 a.m.
LibDem said...

Conservatives find themselves in the awkward position of supporting benefits for current and former city employees (whom they despise) as a rationale for opposing domestic partner benefits.

"...the city employee and domestic partner have chosen to share one another's lives in an intimate and committed relationship of mutual caring...". That just sounds immoral. I'm sure that's not the State Constitution's definition of marriage.

November 18, 2013 at 7:58 a.m.
aae1049 said...

LimDem, the local left has literally striped current and retired employees of benefits. The local left has controlled the city council for decades and ALL of the damage has been during the Littlefield, city council left still control the city council.

You need to talk to the local public works, and fire and police unions, because you don't know what you are talking about.

November 18, 2013 at 9:27 a.m.
cooljb said...

LibDem says: Conservatives find themselves in the awkward position of supporting benefits for current and former city employees (whom they despise) as a rationale for opposing domestic partner benefits. Can you explain how you know (whom they despise)is? Seems like you are doing like the president, and others, that say whatever they feel will sway the ignorant. Read what Robin Smith and aae1049 said, they spoke the truth and didn't get into the mind and heart reading/lying. They don't need to lie, they present the facts, of which liberals do not, and cannot, deal with. Instead, just like "you can keep your insurance" Obama, liberals say what they need to say to forward an agenda of giving away everything that is not their own. Fact, deal with it.

November 18, 2013 at 12:22 p.m.
LibDem said...

My apologies. Conservatives do support government and its employees. I don't know how I could have misunderstood.

November 18, 2013 at 12:45 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

Robin, please think through what you have said, or put your brain in gear before your mouth/pen gets in motion.

No one is asking you to violate your religious belief, please believe whatever you feel inspired to believe. (You are also free to excommunicate anyone in your church who disagrees with your premises.)

What stops us under your logic from adopting an Islamic/sharia approach to morality if the majority agreed to do so? If there is no protected "values-neutrral" position in the U.S. Constitution then it is worthless as a protection of religious liberty.

On a theological basis, have you forgotten the reason for the Reformation???

Your comment, "Every individual subscribes and employs a set of values in their life. Those values are either driven by a belief in God or a god, which is usually Self" means we are all free to adopt whatever view of God we feel inspired as best the best God, and to be free of anyone trying to force us to believe otherwise. This isn't your congregation we are talking about.

Unless you feel you can force someone to believe your form of theology you are pounding salt. We tried that in the South with slavery.

Your perspective on forcing others to adopt your theology does not square with the possibility that public feeling is same-sex relationships are acceptable if not perfectly moral, and that the TN Constitution infringes on guaranteed rights of association.

Many of the founding fathers were not Christian but deists. This country is not founded on Christian principles but the freedom to avoid being forced to adopt specific interpreted Christian principles. T. Jefferson would only accept a Gospel in which he cut out everything that did not seem to be scientifically/rationally supportable. I think you'd have to look far and wide to find a Baptist who would affirm that view as "Christian."

I am not sure what planet you are from but your ideas about imposing your own version of "Judeo-Christna" morals on everyone is dictatorial and repressive...at best.

November 18, 2013 at 8:24 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

EXTREMELY SHORT-TERM 'HOMOSEXUAL DOMESTIC RELATIONSHIPS

The average expectation of a homosexual domestic relationship is six months (or, less)...what kind of wasted City dollars are going to finance these 'good time parties' while the recipients laugh the Tax Payers to scorn? Who is going to untangle all of the confusion (paperwork legalities, etc.) of homosexual relationship, after homosexual relationship, after relationship, after relationship, after relationship? (do You get the idea?).

Homosexual individuals account for a huge part of the cost to innocent United States tax payers. Approximately 20 billion dollars per year. Who's idea was it to add more forced expense to our City Citizens (Families)Tax Payers? This on top of what we are already paying into Federal Government Coffers.

While CDC estimates that ONLY 4% of men in the United States are Men Having Sex With Men, the rate of new HIV diagnoses among Men Having Sex With Men in the United States is MORE THAN 44 (fourty-four) TIMES that of other men (range: 522 –989 per 100,000 MSM vs. 12 per 100,000 other men). CREDIT: CENTER FOR DISEASE CONTROL [CDC] (CDC.GOV URL) Anyone Can Choose To Leave This Lifestyle Before They Become A Part of These Statistics! (I Speak This With The Love of Christ Jesus).......Ken Orr

Ken ORR

November 18, 2013 at 9:01 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

The federal budget request for fiscal year (FY) 2011 includes a total of $20.4 BILLION DOLLARS for domestic HIV and AIDS, a 4% increase from the FY 2010 funding, which totaled $19.6 BILLION DOLLARS. Federal funding for AIDS programs falls into five basic categories: care and treatment, financial and housing assistance, prevention, research, and global spending (most of which goes out through the US PEPFAR program). Of these five budgets, care spending is by far the largest - just over half of the FY 2010 budget was for care and treatment programs. THE MAJORITY of AIDS CARE FUNDING goes out through the federal MEDICARE and MEDICAID PROGRAMS for people who do not have adequate private health insurance. (Innocent American Tax Payers Forced to Pay For Those Who Choose This Lifestyle of Homosexual Behavior). I Do Not Blame Innocent Victims Such As Children and Blood Transfusion Patients. credit: Avert.Org International HIV & AIDS charity.

November 18, 2013 at 9:05 p.m.
ToHoldNothing said...

If you want to be fair on this issue: both morally and fiscally, then just negate the benefits. That way, you can't complain that it's discriminatory in terms of "partnership" definitions and no one has their moral feelings hurt.

Or we could try something a bit less extreme: balance out the details of these benefits across the basic terms of "partner" in a strictly romantic sense and explain to the contentious religious that they aren't being forced to accept it as moral even if their tax dollars are involved, since that is a basic duty and not a compulsion based on coercion.

November 19, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Who are you ToHoldNothing to marginalize the love between one man and many women? The city of Chattanooga is discriminating against polygamist and people that are truly in love with objects. There are city employees that may love more than one domestic partner or roller coaster rides. They deserve for the taxpayers to subsidize their benefits.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/5972632/Woman-getting-married-to-fairground-ride.html

November 19, 2013 at 1:45 p.m.
ToHoldNothing said...

First off, I think the number of polygamists and polyamorous groups are miniscule by comparison to gay couples. And I'm almost willing to bet that they don't care or want marriage recognition by the state, either because they think their religious condoning of the practice is good enough or in the case of polyamory, they don't want marriage rights to begin with.

And don't even try to make a serious argument that someone can marry a roller coaster...Or even use it as part of your argument in general

November 19, 2013 at 1:59 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

April, was Andy Burke our mayor in July 2010? Who on the current city council was a council member in July 2010? By your rationale, the city can never make any benefits modification decisions because of what happened in July of 2010. Your rants are not cohesive. It begins with "retired benefits being stripped away", then onto the cost (which you have been dishonest about at times, you stated a cost of millions a couple of weeks ago), and then onto morality. Where do you stand? If the mayor and city council reinstated retired benefits, would you be okay with the city council's proposal on benefits for domestic partnerships?

November 19, 2013 at 6:59 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

These benefits just passed are unlawful, rogue, and seemingly that which scofflaws would pass. This political action follows the example given by the Obama administration (disregarding established laws and utilizing tyranny to force conditions which have not been legislated). These benefits are illegal in every sense of the word.

TENNESSEE STATUTE (LAW) RE: LEGAL MARRIAGE:

"(b) The legal union in matrimony of only one (1) man and one (1) woman shall be the only recognized marriage in this state. (c) Any policy, law or judicial interpretation that purports to define marriage as anything other than the historical institution and legal contract between one (1) man and one (1) woman is contrary to the public policy of Tennessee"; Tenn. Code Ann. ' 36 3 113

Too many Liberal Democrats are Scofflaws and utilize sleazy deception and other evil tactics to push their immoral lifestyles onto society. It may be we now see Chattanooga City Government following this example of the Obama administration.

Ken ORR

November 20, 2013 at 12:30 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

Ken, will you now become a homosexual just because of a vote by the city council? Amazing, pass a law and people magically become gay.

November 20, 2013 at 5:41 a.m.
fairmon said...

it appears we have replaced an irresponsible council with a majority (5 of 9) with the same. The mayor and council have a fiduciary obligation to be good stewards of taxpayer money and exercise spending restraint as though it was their own money. There is no return on the investment of providing benefits to employee dependents regardless of sexual orientation or life choice living arrangements. To suggest that a 1% increase in an already bloated and strained budget is ludicrous. Benefits should be for a defined amount with the employee determining how those benefit dollars are to be allocated for their personal benefits with any amount beyond that paid to them as a one time payment with which, if they desired, they could purchase healthcare or other benefits for their dependents.

The contention that the additional spending is needed to assure the city attracts and retains the requisite knowledge, skill and ability to perform any city job is beyond ridiculous. There is no job within city or county government that cannot be filled with competent people without the additional spending. There is not one job or activity in either government where the loss of one or more employees would have any long term detrimental impact.

November 20, 2013 at 5:56 a.m.
aae1049 said...

GaussianInteger, It is a reasonable expectation for governments to operate without stark contradictions. You don't have a clue what you are talking about.

A government that strips retirement benefits from an older retired demographic in July 2010, and then expands benefits to a newly created class of worker based upon their sexuality in Nov. 2013 is an absurd government.

Join the effort to Let the Voters Decide, and help us collect 4,500 signatures.

www.ItsYourVoteTN.com

November 21, 2013 at 12:05 a.m.
hischild83 said...

Let's not sugarcoat this issue any longer. Supporters of extending benefits to "Domestic Partners" of city employees say this is not about sex or morality but about equality for all city employees. Bull! The mere definition of a domestic partner throws the sex and morality issue right in our faces. The definition all but says that city employees can provide benefits for the person they have been living with AND having sex with for at least a year. If they happen to share some financial responsibilities such as rent, mortgage, utilities, etc. that solidifies the relationship. I ask this question, what does the term "intimate" mean in the domestic partner definition? Would the definition be met if there was no sexual relationship involved? If the answer to that question is yes, then two best friends who live together as roommates and share expenses and are "committed" to one another as friends could in theory meet this definition. The only difference in this type of relationship is that there is no sex involved. So are we now discriminating against asexual partners? Let's look at the moral issue. There are those who consider their sexual orientation to be bi-sexual. So let's say a city employee lives with a male and a female in an intimate and committed relationship. Would benefits be extended to both non city employees? If not, wouldn't you be discriminating against the bi-sexual employee? How about those who prefer polygamous relationships? If a man had seven live in girlfriends and was sexually intimate with all of them for at least a year, would all the girlfriends be eligible for benefits? If no, why not? Wouldn’t you be making a moral judgment against this man because he felt he was born to live a polygamous lifestyle? As you can see the nuances of this can be endless and the proverbial Pandora’s Box has now been opened. However, there is a rather simple way to determine who really is in an intimate and committed relationship with shared financial responsibilities...it's called marriage.

November 21, 2013 at 12:16 p.m.
conservative said...

Great cost to treat AIDS so let us get the Chattanooga taxpayer to pay the bill.

November 21, 2013 at 6:40 p.m.
gypsylady said...

We'll see if someone winds up with egg all over their kisser on this one. Surely I'm not the only one who sees a moderately huge problem with this petition business. Oh well, maybe in a few weeks. I mean hey, what can go wrong? The election commission O.K.'d it.

November 21, 2013 at 8:19 p.m.
inquiringmind said...

None of you turkeys addressed the points I made against Robin's temper tantrum.

November 21, 2013 at 11:34 p.m.
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