Drew's views

Drew's views

November 2nd, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

HEADLINE: East Ridge Facebook use attracts criticism

THE RECAP: East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble is under fire for his frequent and questionable posts on the city's Facebook page.

The East Ridge Facebook page typically is updated multiple times a day. Several recent posts have gone beyond the types of safety alerts and council meeting schedules that are common to city Facebook pages.

For example, Gobble - posting as the city - criticized the municipal court clerk and put up an editorial defending his actions in a spat over a court case involving his daughter. Gobble also posted a number of Facebook updates speaking as Oreo, the pet goat that was voted out of East Ridge by the city council. Numerous personal photos of Gobble also appear on the site.

DREW'S VIEW: Facebook plays a useful role for cities and towns by allowing them to quickly and cheaply disseminate information to residents. If, for example, a town is holding a festival, the local animal shelter has picked up a lost dog or there's road construction that may impact residents' commutes home, Facebook can be a valuable resource to give folks a heads-up.

Unfortunately, Gobble has hijacked the East Ridge Facebook page and turned it into his own vanity site. Apparently, in his mind, he's a minor celebrity and he believes that East Ridge residents are his fans.

If you want to see this laughable arrogance, just scroll through the East Ridge Facebook page. If you do, you'll see pictures of Gobble with a Seattle Mariners relief pitcher, Chattanooga City Councilman Manny Rico and a fiberglass alligator statue. There are also photos with rubber spider on Gobble's shoulder - and another one with a rubber snake wrapped around his neck - in celebration of Halloween.

There are pictures of Gobble working out. Photos he took at a conference in Phoenix. And others from a Braves game in Atlanta.

While few East Ridge residents care about Gobble's trips or want to see his biceps, almost all of them are concerned about their hard-earned money. Unfortunately, judging by the amount of time Gobble spends on the city's Facebook page, he is clearly wasting plenty of their tax dollars.

Conservatively, it's reasonable to estimate that Gobble fritters away 30 minutes a day on Facebook while on taxpayers' time. Since his salary is $125,000, it's fair to assume that taxpayers will pay him almost $8,000 this year to goof around on Facebook.

If the city wants to update its Facebook page with information that East Ridge residents would find useful, that's all well and good, but let a $10 an hour secretary handle it. Taxpayers shouldn't be forced to shell out $8,000 per year so the city manager can use East Ridge's Facebook page to pat himself on the back.

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HEADLINE: New call for Scott DesJarlais to resign rejected

THE RECAP: On Tuesday, Lloyd Daugherty, the chairman of the Tennessee Conservative Union called for Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., to resign from Congress, saying the physician's past actions reach "a level of hypocrisy that is simply untenable."

Despite the pleas, there is no indication that DesJarlais is seriously considering resigning.

DREW'S VIEW: Had Rep. DesJarlais resigned immediately when the news of his alleged mistress-having, abortion-forcing, drug-using, patient-cavorting scandal broke, the Republican Party would've had time to mount an effective write-in campaign and, possibly, gather enough support to beat the Democratic candidate, state Sen. Eric Stewart, on Nov. 6. Unfortunately, that didn't happen. As a result, there are three scenarios that could play out.

First, Stewart could beat DesJarlais. If that happens, Stewart should take a lot of pictures while he's in D.C., because he won't be there for long. A Republican candidate would emerge from a crowded 2014 GOP primary and win the seat.

Second, DesJarlais could beat Stewart and remain in office. While, for conservatives, it would be nice to have DesJarlais' conservative votes in the House, it would be a slap in the face to have someone who apparently defrauded his constituents by lying about his commitment to family values, pro-life issues. The good news is that, in 2014, DesJarlais would be defeated handily in the Republican primary and replaced with another Republican -- hopefully, one who is actually committed to the principles he or she espouses.

Finally, DesJarlais could beat Stewart and resign his seat in Congress. The benefit of that circumstance is obvious: DesJarlais would be out of office and Stewart, a big government Democrat wouldn't get to fill the seat.

There are, however, two significant disadvantages to this scenario. The seat would sit empty until a special election took place. As a result, the constituents of the 4th District would have no voice in Congress for months. Just as bad, a special election would cost taxpayers nearly $1 million, based on the cost of recent special elections to fill vacancies in Congress in other areas of the country. Administering a special election throughout all 15 counties that make up the 4th District will be an expensive proposition for the counties and their taxpayers.

Given those three choices, it seems that the best-case scenario for conservatives might be for Stewart to win and get DesJarlais out of the picture. No matter what happens, brighter days will be ahead for 4th District Republicans in 2014.

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HEADLINE: Tennessee GOP eyes big gains

THE RECAP: Fortified with huge campaign war chests, new legislative districts and Tennessee voters' opposition to President Barack Obama, state Republicans see a good chance of seizing a "supermajority" in both houses of the General Assembly on Nov. 6.

Adding just two more state Senate seats and three more seats in the House would give Republicans a two-thirds majority, which would mean they could suspend rules at will and ignore Democratic opposition.

DREW'S VIEW: For the better part of 150 years, Tennessee Democrats have maliciously gerrymandered districts to make it almost impossible for Republicans to win more than a small handful of seats, killed good Republican bills through legislative shenaniganry, forced GOP lawmakers off of their preferred committees and generally acted like spoiled, vindictive brats in the Tennessee General Assembly. As a result, few tears will be shed when Democrats in Nashville finally get what's been coming to them.

"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.