The Delta Queen is a clear favorite
If public opinion counts, the score would probably be about 120,000 for the boat to 0 for the Andy Berke administration.
But spectators in this new blame game shouldn't be so quick to condemn Mayor Berke and his staff. While the Delta Queen is picturesque and has wonderful potential, it also has some real problems and risks. Even if the boat's operators are correct that they don't owe the city thousands in rent for dock space at our city park, it's clear that with the Delta Queen's restaurant closed, most of its revenue is likely from its bar.
The boat needs repainting, it leans to one side and has clearly seen better days. God forbid that it sink or catch fire, because the result would be a major calamity, mess and cleanup right at Coolidge Park in downtown Chattanooga's premier view and venue.
One would certainly hope this is an unlikely worry, but every boat owner knows that boats are places where fuel, electricity and water make a tricky mix. Add age and the risks increase.
City officials making decisions about Chattanooga's waterfront and safety have a tough task. The operators of an aging but worth-saving relic of our past also have a tough task that they now must accomplish in six months.
Let's hope by then the Delta Queen is thriving and set for major improvements. Meanwhile, instead of blaming city officials for being concerned, let's find a way to have our boat and city, too.
This Pope's for you
Pope Francis -- six months into his new job as leader of the world's largest Christian church -- sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic church by saying the church had grown "obsessed" with abortion, gay marriage and contraception. He described his vision of an inclusive church as a "home for all."
"It is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time. The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently, the pope told an Italian Jesuit journal whose content is approved by the Vatican.
"We have to find a new balance," he continued. "Otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel."
The New York Times summed up the statements like this: "The pope's interview did not change church doctrine or policies, but it instantly changed its tone."
Perhaps his wisdom will spread.
A fallen soldier comes home
In the news every day, there are sad stories and maddening stories. Occasionally there is a glad story, one that makes you smile -- even cry.
Middle Tennessee had one of the happy stories this week when a Clarksville family reported that the remains of their father and grandfather, Vietnam veteran Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods, were finally found. His plane had been shot down over Cambodia nearly 49 years ago.
Steve Woods, his son, held a picture of his dad's medals and cried. Steve was 7 the last time he saw his father, but he told a reporter with the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle that he never stopped praying and he never gave up hope. Woods called the day he received news of the find "the happiest day of my entire life."
"His front yard on Circle Drive is dominated by a memorial to his father with two flagpoles -- one bearing the American flag and the other a black-and-white POW/MIA flag. It is a testament to the persistence of memory and the power of hope," the Chronicle reported.
Finally, Staff Sgt. Lawrence Woods is coming home.
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Other cities want it. The National Trust is on the verge of naming it a National Treasure.