Santa Claus has made his list and checked it twice and he now knows which folks in the Chattanooga area have been naughty and which ones have been nice.
Lucky for us, being crafty journalists we happen to know a little-known section of the Tennessee Open Records Act that makes Santa's naughty and nice list a public record. After making the request, waiting the state-mandated seven business days and shelling out 15 cents per page for copies, we finally got our hands on the list - with only a couple of days to spare.
Here are just a few of the people in our area that can expect lots of presents under the tree this year - and a few more who deserve a stocking full of coal, according to Santa.
Naughty: The Etowah City Commission - The scrooges in Etowah approved an ordinance banning pit bulls by a 3-2 vote in October, despite the fact that pit bulls aren't typically more dangerous than other breeds. Like most dogs, pit bulls are usually only aggressive when mistreated or trained to attack or fight. Further, since DNA testing is required to determine if a pooch is actually a pit bull, or one of more than 20 other breeds which are commonly mistaken for pit bulls, the ban is arbitrary and difficult to properly enforce.
Nice: McKamey Animal Center and the Humane Educational Society - These two Chattanooga-based animal shelters, led by their caring staffs and selfless volunteers, are both extraordinarily effective in finding good homes for adoptable dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits, guinea pigs and countless other types of furry friends). If you're interested in opening your home to a new four-legged family member this Christmas, visit HES or McKamey. You'll see dozens of adoptable dogs and cats ready to find a family to love.
Naughty: Local elected officials in Red Bank and Whitfield County, Ga. - These local leaders chose to hike property taxes rather than trim their budgets at a time when many taxpayers are struggling mightily to make ends meet. Red Bank's Board of Commissioners voted for an 18.5 percent increase to the city's property tax. In Whitfield County, the Board of Commissioners approved a 1 mill property tax increase.
Nice: Gov. Bill Haslam and the Tennessee General Assembly - In April, state lawmakers enacted their most important tax reduction in years, voting to phase out the state's inheritance tax by 2016. Members of the Tennessee General Assembly also agreed to a quarter-cent reduction on the state's sales tax on food.
Naughty: Missy Crutchfield - City auditors revealed that the City of Chattanooga's Department of Education, Arts & Culture, managed by Crutchfield, had failed to install appropriate controls to prevent theft and financial malfeasance - despite being told to address the same problems at least four times since 2005. Crutchfield, in an effort to defend herself, said city auditors told her not to worry about the issue - an allegation that was proven false by emails provided by the audit department. The two performance venues overseen by Crutchfield's department - the Tivoli Theatre and Memorial Auditorium - lose nearly a million dollars annually because of poor management.
Nice: Track 29 - Unlike the Tivoli and Memorial Auditorium, which will cost city taxpayers $805,000 this year to bail out, Track 29 actually puts money in the city's coffers, while filling a void in Chattanooga's entertainment landscape. The year-old performance hall on the Chattanooga Choo Choo campus has lured a number of notable artists to Chattanooga in 2012, most of whom would have never come without the venue, such as guitar god Jack White, indie crooner extraordinaire Martin Sexton, popular progressive rock band Coheed and Cambria, rockabilly legend Wanda Jackson and country chart-topper Lee Brice.
We weren't surprised to see that, according to Santa's list, the nicest people of all are the readers of the Free Press editorial page. Whether you agree or disagree with our views, we greatly appreciate that you take the time to think about what we write, discuss our topics with your friends and family, comment on our editorials online and allow us to be a small part of your life.
We wish you all a very Happy Holidays and a wonderful New Year.