Editor's note: "Drew's views" is a roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. The "Drew's views" column appears every Friday on the Free Press editorial page, but this past week there were so many stories appropriate for the column, that it allowed for this special Sunday edition.
THE RECAP: An official for TAC Air, the fueling and hangar company for general aviation services at the Chattanooga Airport, said last week that she'd support a legislative hearing on how state money is used at airports. This comes after the Chattanooga Airport Authority lobbied for, and received, a $5 million state grant for construction of a second hangar and private plane service center that competes directly with TAC Air.
Airport officials plan to build up to $10 million more in facilities to compete with TAC Air. State government is slated to pay for about 90 percent of the cost of the facilities while the airport covers the remainder.
DREW'S VIEW: State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, and State Sen. Bo Watson, R-Chattanooga, said they believe the matter is a local issue and they'd prefer not to get involved.
In general, when a government-run airport shafts a private, independent service provider by using tax dollars to build a government-owned facility to compete against them, it is a local issue. However, when most of the tax money used to fund the Airport Authority's outrageous scheme to compete against private enterprise comes from the state, that unquestionably makes it a state issue, whether McCormick and Watson like it or not.
Obviously McCormick and Watson don't want to question the Airport Authority's decision to throw a bunch of tax dollars into a failing plane service and hangar operation - even though the Airport Authority projects a loss of more than $1.1 million on its general aviation center by the end of the year. But when tax dollars and principles of free enterprise are at stake (things both state lawmakers profess to care about), it'd be nice to see them grow some backbone and at least look into whether it's wise to give the wasteful Airport Authority millions of additional state dollars to try to put TAC Air out of business.
TAC Air and other opponents of the Airport Authority's experiment in socialism might hope that John Schroer, the Tennessee Commissioner of Transportation, could look into the issue. Unfortunately, Schroer said he'd rather let the Airport Authority determine whether it should receive more state dollars to build additional facilities for the government-owned airplane service provider.
Schroer wants the Airport Authority, which owns the facility competing against TAC Air and would love to get all the state handouts it can to fund its outrageous boondoggle, to objectively determine whether it should be allowed to pocket more tax dollars? Is he kidding? This is the person who runs our state's department of transportation? What a dope.
Someone needs to stand up for common sense before the Airport Authority enacts its plan to build even more hanger space - even though both TAC Air and the Airport Authority's facility have tens of thousands of feet of unused hangar space - with state tax dollars.
When it's all said and done, the state will pour $10 million - and likely much more - into the Airport Authority's socialist stunt. Meanwhile, as the Airport Authority is busy victimizing and assaulting the company, TAC Air continues to fund its own way, pay taxes (some of which go to fund its competitor) and provide good services at fair prices.
THE RECAP: Embattled Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester has decided not to seek a third term in charge of the state party. The move opens the door to new leadership for the party that has in recent years suffered deep losses in both the Tennessee legislature and among the state's congressional delegation.
DREW'S VIEW: Since no one in the history of the state is responsible for electing more Republicans than Chip Forrester, the Tennessee Republican Party should hire him immediately.
Don't believe me? Consider this: Under Forrester, a 5-4 Democratic advantage in Tennessee's Congressional delegation turned into a 7-2 Republican majority, Democrats lost the governor's mansion and the GOP's control of the state House went from two seats to 30.
The current Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate has been disowned for being second in command of an anti-gay hate group and, on Nov. 6, Republicans will almost certainly seize supermajority control of the state legislature.
Come to think of it, maybe Forrester has actually been working for the GOP all along. No state party chairman could possibly be that incompetent, could they?