published Monday, March 31st, 2014

Smith: On Mayor Berke: Word on the street

As often as possible, I select topics for this space to reflect talk I hear at the coffee pot or in the lunch line.

So, here we go.

Andy Berke was elected Chattanooga mayor after a noncampaign. He successfully transferred campaign funds from his Tennessee Senate campaign to the mayoral race, giving him a solid advantage. Further, the downtown business community was assured by Berke, a Democrat, he would be nonpartisan and focus on jobs and economic development.

Andy Berke served one four-year term and then one year more in the state Senate, leaving the General Assembly in 2012 to run for mayor. Prior to that, he practiced law at the firm that his grandfather, Harry Berke, established in 1934, according to an online biography.

As a member of Senate Education and Transportation committees, Andy Berke's political career was not marked by any key legislation. The Nashville Scene, an alternative news publication, best captured Berke's persona: "The left side of the Twitterverse lit up last night with the news that former state senator and liberal darling Andy Berke had been elected mayor of Chattanooga."

Sound familiar?

A certain former Illinois state senator voted "present" 129 times during his seven years in office before becoming a national sensation in 2004 during his U.S. Senate race. This attorney offered up soaring rhetoric in his national debut at the Democratic National Committee in a keynote address.

Later, Barack Obama was officially sworn in as a United States senator on Jan. 3, 2005. He announced his decision to resign from the Senate to seek the presidency on Nov. 13, 2008.

Both Andy Berke and Barack Obama share a preference for government involvement versus the private sector. Both liberal darlings have a following based on activity, not results. Both thrive on class warfare and the politics of division by gender, skin color and sexual preference.

Glaringly, both Andy Berke and Barack Obama not only want to control the message from their respective administrations, they want to control the messengers, the press. They've redefined "transparent government" to mean a stone wall of staff members who use Twitter, Facebook and other social media vehicles to dribble out 140-character messages.

These are the sentiments I've heard at the downtown Starbucks and Community Pie and the frustrations I've noted from lunches on Gunbarrel Road and during church chats in Hixson.

Since his swearing-in ceremony on April 15, 2013, we've seen Mayor Berke support the expansion of health benefits to unmarried domestic partners at taxpayer expense while the Police and Firefighters' Pension is reduced. We've heard promises of crime reduction targeted at gang members that have devolved into a messaging war with local media before any real actions have yielded results.

Chattanooga is a unique community thriving on civic engagement, business partnerships and a commitment to success. The Berke Administration has brought D.C. politics -- some say Chicago politics -- to our city.

I hope more people who share these sentiments will be honest and open with their opinions and intervene. Chattanooga should remain unique and void of narcissistic politicians who only know how to talk.

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.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
conservative said...

You have to have other peoples money to fund Socialist fantasies.

Liberals/Socialists/Demoncrats will always vote for Liberals/Socialists/Demoncrats because they want dollars and programs and subsidies funded by someone else.

YOUR taxes MUST go up each year to pay for the programs and pensions and subsidies created by Liberals /Socialists/Demoncrats.

These programs, and pensions and taxpayer subsidies only draw more Liberals/Socialist/Demoncrats to Chattanooga seeking to partake of the pensions and programs and subsidies offered to those seeking to live at the expense of taxpayers.

Did you ever notice the increase in crime with it's high cost at the expense of the taxpayer when the something for nothing crowd comes to Chattanooga and other cities run by Liberals/Socialist/Demoncrats?

You can leave Chattanooga and Hamilton County or just pay more.

March 31, 2014 at 10:33 a.m.
Give0fcks said...

Mayor Berke's time in office reminds me of this tv show I watched recently. You may have seen this show where people flip houses by purchasing the homes through auction. From the outside they are so optimistic about what the inside holds, but they wont be able see what they are really getting until they buy it. Usually what happens is they get the door open only to find a horrific mess. Everything from thieves coming in to steal plumbing or appliances, vandals and even squatters. In this case when Berke bought the house he found much of the same issue, but this time the house was previously owned by a Republican and he left quite a mess.

You cant just build over the issues, you have to strip them down and rebuild them otherwise you are just putting a patch over the problem. That seems to be the Republican way, just patch it up and let the next guy worry about it.

It's comical almost to the level of "April Fools" that a republican would even dare mention tax payers dollars. Do you really want to go there? Two words for you "mesh network" Which Berke had no choice but to adopt due to the millions already invested.

Pension- Since I contribute to the Fire & Police pension I guess I should probably remind you of this. You made the statement "based on activity and not results" Oddly enough Mayor Littlefield recognized the unstable pension plan. Dan Johnson came out and said changes would have to be made. Did he? He did nothing. In Berkes case it was just more remodeling he would have to do. It wasn't a popular thing to do, but necessary. I applaud him for seeking solutions when police departments all across the country have no say so in the process and they also have no pension anymore. Yes,we will have to deal with a reduction and no one likes it but it's better than not having a pension at all.

We appreciate you giving the Mayor so much time in implementing the Violence Reduction Initiative. The process has not been an easy one and much ground work had to be laid before it could be rolled out. We appreciate you giving him 15 days since the roll out to declare it a complete failure. What you don't see is what results are being made and what cases are being against the ones perpetuating the violence in Chattanooga. You will probably say "Well, they are still shooting" and I will reply "They were shooting a lot more when a republican was in office"

April 2, 2014 at 11:06 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.