published Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Pam's Points: Tea party tallies cuts, not costs

Battle of words

The final round of a Chattanooga legal fight on how to word a ballot question in the final hours before the ballot goes to the printer will be decided Monday morning.

The topic is touchy -- city-approved benefits for Chattanooga city employees' domestic partners now is up to voters in a citywide referendum after a tea party-leaning group gathered enough petition signatures to force the City Council to repeal the decision or put it on the August ballot.

The city opted for the ballot. But now there's a brouhaha about the words voters will read as they cast their vote -- those written by the city or those written by the petitioning group, Citizens for Governmental Accountability and Transparency.

It all started in November when Chattanooga followed Collegedale's lead to approve benefits for domestic partners -- something the city says will cost less than 1/10th of 1 percent more than the current cost of city benefits. But Mark West -- president of the Citizens for Governmental Accountability and Transparency, as well as president of the Chattanooga Tea Party (though not a resident of the city) spearheaded the petition drive to block the move. He called it a "faith, fiscal and fairness issue" when he announced the petition effort in April on the heels of another group's failed attempt to recall Chattanooga Councilman Chris Anderson.

Anderson, who sponsored the domestic partners ordinance, was correct when he called the referendum effort something else: bad math, hate and fear.

When the petition was OK'd by the Hamilton County Election Commission in May, the commission had petitioners write the question for the ballot. But in June, when the Election Commission sent the proposed ballot language to the city for review as is common with city-led referenda, the city attorney said the petitioners' language, which focuses on "domestic partnership," was "slanted" and vague. The city attorney submitted another question twice as long and legalistic -- leading with language about protecting city workers from harassment and discrimination. Though denser, the city language does offer a more complete description of the ordinance.

The election commission says state law gives the petitioner the right to choose wording, but the city counters that the City Charter gives the city that right.

Last Monday, a city police officer sued the election commission over its decision to use the petitioners' language, and on Tuesday in an 8-1 vote, the City Council approved a lawsuit to join the officer and force the election commission to use city language.

In the end? Regardless of wording, voters will be asked to decide something that most of them already accept and something that is estimated to add only about $168,000 a year to the city's current benefits expense.

The city probably has already spent more than that on attorneys and hearings to deal with the very petitioners who said they wanted to fight additional cost. What they really want is to push their own values and ideology where it doesn't belong -- on all of the rest of us.

Then there are Georgia taxes

Speaking of saving tax money, Georgia officials this week said they would delay enforcing the new state law to drug-test welfare recipients until a federal appeals court rules on a related Florida case.

Why? So as not to waste money on a legal fight, according to Brian Robinson, a spokesman for Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal.

This spring, Georgia lawmakers and Deal approved the nation's hardest-hitting law calling for drug tests on recipients of poverty aid -- welfare and food stamps -- all just before the May 20 primary when Deal faced tea party-favored David Pennington. But the food stamp part of the Georgia law has already been thrown out. What remains is the part of the law that applies to the state's 16,000 welfare recipients.

Yes, you read that right: Of Georgia's 9.9 million population, state officials say there are only 16,000 welfare recipients.

Georgia's contract to do this drug testing would probably be a larger expenditure than the cost of the welfare benefits, since a single parent in a family of three only receives $280 a month.

Isn't it a pity that our tea party friends don't think to wonder whose friend or firm was angling for dibs on that original contract? Instead it seems the "Don't Tread On Me" types just want to tread on welfare folks and those whose home lives don't mirror their own.

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aae1049 said...

"Only" $168,000 is the language of marginalizing the spending other people's money, and ignoring the fact that just 24 months ago the city reneged on the promise for insurance benefits for retirees. Some of the employees had worked 24 years for the promise of health insurance through retirement.

How could you support taking an earned benefit from retirees to give to other non employees on the basis of having gay sex. It is just absurd and offensive to retirees that lost their health insurance.

The city and the TFP cannot quantify the cost of health insurance for gay employees without first knowing how many gay employees there are. $168,000 estimate is pure BS, you have NO idea how many employees are gay. The bad math is purely Andersons, who is not being truthful.

July 5, 2014 at 12:17 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

"The city and the TFP cannot quantify the cost of health insurance for gay employees without first knowing how many gay employees there are. $168,000 estimate is pure BS, you have NO idea how many employees are gay."

Well, then how did you come up with the cost of "millions" that you and West have publicly spouted? If it was truly a cost thing, then why were petitioners set up in front of churches? Again, more dishonesty from the Tea Party's spokeswoman.

And what is the Tea Party's hang up on "gay sex"? Is there something going on at those meetings that the rest of us don't know about?

July 5, 2014 at 12:38 a.m.
aae1049 said...

I don't speak for the Tea Party or anyone else, just me. I am not an officer in any political group. I would like to be a union, mob boss, hehe

Are you a spokesperson for the left?

$168,000 is not the taxpayers true cost. The true cost would be the total number of employees that are receiving non family, or single benefits, and an assumption of the dependents their partner would have.

July 5, 2014 at 12:53 a.m.
sagoyewatha said...

Keep this granfalloon going!

July 5, 2014 at 10:08 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Ok It's all fun.

July 5, 2014 at 10:43 a.m.
GaussianInteger said...

You have made public statements that the Ordinance "would cost Chattanooga taxpayers millions" when interviewed at the CGAY headquarters. No one from the group disputed your unverifiable claim, West even repeated them. That means they are sticking by you claim.

It's not a money issue with you guys (with the exception of Juster), it's you wanting to impose your morals on other people that don't want your morals imposed on us. West and Wysong are infamous for this.

July 5, 2014 at 11:53 a.m.
nocomment said...

If cost were the motivation for this petition, then it should have blocked coverage for all new dependents rather than just those of same sex couples. I haven't heard any objections from those who organized the petition drive to adding the spouses of newlywed city employees. Each employee who covers a new spouse results in an incremental cost.

Cities and companies across the country have been providing partner benefits for decades. There is ample statistical evidence upon which to base cost estimates.

But in any event, the issue will probably be moot within a year. By this time next year the Supreme Court will likely have ruled on one of the many marriage equality cases working its way through the federal court system now and same sex couples will be able to get legally married in TN and the rest of the country.

July 5, 2014 at 12:54 p.m.
javelin363 said...

Question: the term "domestic partners" does it just mean gay couples or does it include straight couples living together too? Or are they covered now?

July 5, 2014 at 3:13 p.m.
aae1049 said...

I know people that worked 20 to 24.5 years for the city of Chattanooga under the promise that he would have access to city health insurance and their pharmacy and facilities after full retirement about 25 to 28 years.

24 months ago, the city council and mayor of Chattanooga cited that the city could no longer afford to provide health insurance for retirees. Just 24 months ago, the city took a benefit that older employees had worked for 24 years.

Now fast forward, and 24 months later the city is expanding insurance to non city employees if they affirm a sexual relationship of the same sex or gay or cohabiting.

The city is absurd and needs to called down for taking from an older class of worker to give the same benefits based solely on gay sex or cohabiting outside of marriage.

Perhaps government should just allocate a percentage of salary to each employee, and get out of the insurance and pension business all together. They certainly have not managed either system well. Employees just sign up for ACA.

July 5, 2014 at 3:46 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Gaussian, I have never been interviewed on any of this issue. Liar Liar, left pants on fire.

July 5, 2014 at 3:50 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

That's BS April and you know it.

July 5, 2014 at 10:09 p.m.
aae1049 said...

I have never served as CGAT media or contact or spokesperson, and have never been interviewed about the ordinance, because I would call you all liars to the public.

Steal the health insurance from retirees to give to people for having gay sex. Classy. The public sees through the city's lies, and the referendum will speak loudly.

July 5, 2014 at 10:20 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

There you go with the whole "gay sex" thing again. You sound like a woman with a lot of pinned up issues.

The referendum doesn't matter. Look around April, bans on gay marriage are collapsing in states around the country. Eventually, the SC will rule these bans unconstitutional and then an ordinance doesn't matter. Your ilk is a dying breed. The country will be a better place.

July 5, 2014 at 11:08 p.m.
aae1049 said...

It is your vote Chattanooga, not the TFP's editorial page. The voters have the final word.

http://itsyourvotetn.com/

July 6, 2014 at 1:49 a.m.
inquiringmind said...

aae I believe hiz honor said we can't pay retirees at the ridiculously generous scale they currently get.

July 6, 2014 at 2 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Oh yeah, police and fire are way too wealthy and don't deserve that pension they worked for, or the health insurance.

July 6, 2014 at 2:58 p.m.
Ki said...

I worked for a major insurance company for several years. What the city is trying to implement is no different than what takes place with private companies. As for retirees, even with private employers, once the retiree becomes eligible for medicare whatever company insurance they have becomes secondary with medicare now being their primary carrier. Medicare will then cover the bulk of any medical costs, and the retirees' company insurance often pay the difference. No employer, private or public, is going to pay twice the primary charge. That would be illegal-and double dipping-remember private insurance companies write the rules for both private and public insurance coverage.

To the person who asked if this new city rule, if passed, will only benefit gay people? No. Although the petitioners seem to want to imply otherwise to mislead voters into thinking that's the case. There's so much misinformation out there, seemingly to purposely confuse voters.

July 6, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Ki, that is so untrue. The majority of private companies and government allow the retirement insurance to be converted to a Medicare supplement at 65. The state of Tennessee employees, county employees. You are such a fibber.

My family worked 24 years for the health care benefit. I know exactly what transpired.

I have cared for many family members, to cite Medicare as converting a bulk of cost is pure BS. If you don't have a supplement, you are screwed.

Fact is, the retirees had worked an entire career for the insurance benefit and the city took it AWAY from career employees under the color of NOT being about to afford the benefit any longer. Then, 24 months ago, took the health insurance benefit from hundreds of older worker, and now wishes to expand what they took from older worker.

The only misinformation are your lies. Its Your Vote, Chattanooga, vote the sex ordinance DOWN.

http://www.cgatpac.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/domestic-partner-fact-sheet.pdf

July 6, 2014 at 8:26 p.m.
Ki said...

"I you don't have a supplement you're screwed."

The above can be said for any medical insurance coverage, and even with a supplemental policy depending on the medical care provided, coverage nay not be paid at 100%. The point remains the petitioners have not been forthcoming and truthful in the quest to push this issue through.

July 6, 2014 at 8:56 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Medicare only covers 50 percent of many ordiaary medical procedure. Without a supplement, an elderly person could be rendered penniless easy.

The voters will decide, no one else. Its their vote.

July 6, 2014 at 9:22 p.m.
nocomment said...

Voting down the domestic partner ordinance won't bring back the retiree benefits. All it will do is continue to deny equal benefits to some current city employees (including police officers and fire fighters) who have served the residents of Chattanooga for many years and who have been short changed on their benefits compared to their co-workers for their entire careers.

July 6, 2014 at 10:28 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

+++WE PREACH JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED+++

I believe it is about diseased individuals. The overwhelming preponderance of percentage of HIV/AIDS infected people...per capita are homosexual individuals! We don't know with whom we may be associating. Our City Government Must Pay For Their Treatment Using Innocent Taxpayer's Dollars.

The HIV/AIDS infected homosexual usually carries an extremely high number of of Opportunistic Contagious Infections. This ranging from Gut Parasites-to-Gonorrhea. The Center for Disease Control states that in some states that Gonorrhea number is 50 percent of homosexual men. This Gonorrhea is loathsome in that it 'laughs' at the antibiotics they try for treatment. It has been labeled a 'Super Bug' and 'Nastier than AIDS'. Treatment for HIV/AIDS = $400 to $600 thousand dollars per patient per lifetime. We Pay City!!!

Why homosexual Gut Parasites? Just think about the kind of sex most homosexuals prefer.......What kind of men with men sexual intercourse? I am in no way saying that anyone, politician, or otherwise who is homosexual is going into someones gut/bowel/fecal elimination function intestines. I am not the Judge! Yet, should we break the city government by paying for their infected partners?

I advise to stay out of the homosexual lifestyle choice altogether! YOU CANNOT PLAY CHESS WITH JESUS CHRIST AND WIN! The number of mutating strains of HIV is on the increase.

Malleus Deum

July 7, 2014 at 8:09 a.m.
Ki said...

"medicare only covers 50% of any procedure"

It's the above false statement we should all find disturbing. Traditional Medicare pays at the same percentage as private h'care insurance. Which is 80%/20%. The 20% being the balance after medicare pays 80%. Remember, it was the private insurance industry that wrote medicare rules. There are certain areas where 50% is paid for certain procedures or DME ( durable medical equipment), but that can be said for most all medical insurance in the private sector, depending upon the type coverage the employer choose for its employees. And even with, Medicare often comes out on the winning side, because it pays 100% after a year and the patient gets to keep the DME. You guys take parts of something, then add your own truths hoping to feed it to a gullible few.

This entire issue started out as a moral/religious one. Only when it was realized that route wouldn't go over well did it turn into a concern for the retirees issue.

July 7, 2014 at 8:47 a.m.
conservative said...

"Judge rules short same-sex ballot question stands"

July 7, 2014 at 8:49 a.m.
timbo said...

Hey..I think this is a great idea...I have a friend that has two girlfriends and has sex with both of them...sometimes all together. He wants it expanded because he could get even more girlfriends.

He might even go for same sex too because he is sort of "free-spirited."

Yeah, ....right..

This is easy, if you have a contract between your "partner" and yourself that states that you share everything, like a marriage contract, then that is far as we need to go. I don't think anyone needs to pay for shaking up.

July 7, 2014 at 10:49 a.m.
aae1049 said...

"Short Changed" on health insurance benefits is EQUAL to working 24 years for a city promise, and right before retirement having the benefit taken away. Then, 24 months later giving what the city took away from retirees to non employees if they have gay sex with an employee.

The city of Chattanooga government is so absurd.

July 7, 2014 at 11:47 a.m.
nocomment said...

Whether the city made the right decision when terminating health coverage for retirees while continuing to provide coverage for dependents of active workers is not the question on the ballot.

July 7, 2014 at 3:31 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

April, Ki presented an rebuttal to your "Medicare" argument. It seems like you ignored it and I guess you still stand by your Medicare figures:

"It's the above false statement we should all find disturbing. Traditional Medicare pays at the same percentage as private h'care insurance. Which is 80%/20%. The 20% being the balance after medicare pays 80%. Remember, it was the private insurance industry that wrote medicare rules. There are certain areas where 50% is paid for certain procedures or DME ( durable medical equipment), but that can be said for most all medical insurance in the private sector, depending upon the type coverage the employer choose for its employees. And even with, Medicare often comes out on the winning side, because it pays 100% after a year and the patient gets to keep the DME. You guys take parts of something, then add your own truths hoping to feed it to a gullible few."

July 7, 2014 at 9:48 p.m.
GaussianInteger said...

April and CGAY's argument about the ordinance, in a nutshell:

"It's not fair because retirees insurance was dropped". No one seemed to care. Then,

"It's going to cost too much money. Cost in the millions for taxpayers." No one seemed to care. Then,

"It's about the GAYS..." Then all of the religious kooks started caring.

July 7, 2014 at 9:52 p.m.
ORRMEANSLIGHT said...

+++WE PREACH JESUS CHRIST CRUCIFIED+++ "Once you have been infected with HIV, you will always carry it in your body."

"There is no cure for HIV."

...http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/just-diagnosed-with-hiv-aids/overview/hiv-positive/

Citizens! Please! Where are your brains??? Do you want your family tax dollars paying from $400,0000.00 to $600,000.000 per infected homosexual who chose a lifestyle Jesus Christ labels an abomination?

Malleus Deum

July 7, 2014 at 9:58 p.m.
aae1049 said...

We did care a lot when the city dumped retirees. Perhaps you don't read, but there are a lot of city council meeting objections at the podium, and the argument was the city could not afford to keep their word. Yet the same city has plenty of money to fund the sex ordinance.

July 7, 2014 at 10:36 p.m.
nocomment said...

There are ways that domestic partner coverage could be added without increasing the total cost. For instance, the city could implement a waiting period for new employees before they could cover their dependents. If you tell a 20-year employee that the city can't afford to cover their partner of 10 years while then covering the dependents of a new hire, the affordability explanation is not credible.

I think the magnitude of the retiree benefit funding shortfall is such that minor adjustments to the employee benefit program would be insufficient to overcome it.

July 8, 2014 at 1:46 a.m.
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