Drew's views

Drew's views

September 14th, 2012 in Opinion Free Press

HEADLINE: Bradley County Schools' McDaniel named state superintendent of year

THE RECAP: An association of Tennessee school superintendents have selected Bradley County Schools Superintendent Johnny McDaniel as the 2013 Tennessee Superintendent of the Year. McDaniel, currently in his fifth year as Bradley County's superintendent, is now in competition for a national superintendent of the year award.

DREW'S VIEW: It says something about school superintendents in our state when they believe the very best among them is a guy who tried to justify a tax hike by intentionally bulldozing a perfectly good school.

After Blue Spring Elementary School was hit by a tornado in April 2011, the school's insurer, Travelers Insurance, offered to pay the full $1.1 million cost to repair the school -- which consisted primarily of roof and window damage.

Instead, McDaniel chose to use the insurance money demolish the existing Blue Springs school down and buy land for a new one. After doing that, he realized he hadn't figured in the $7.1 million the school district would need to build the new school into the budget. That led to a frenzied effort by McDaniel and his cronies to pass a $32 annual wheel tax in Bradley County.

Thankfully, Bradley County voters realized McDaniel's incompetence and handed the wheel tax a crushing defeat in the August election.

Anyone with a lick of sense would've use the insurance money to fix the existing school. Unfortunately, Bradley County Schools are stuck with a superintendent that apparently couldn't pass a math class in one of his district's elementary schools.

HEADLINE: As ticket sales lag, UTC eyes boost from beer

THE RECAP: Outgoing UTC Chancellor Roger Brown recommends that his successor consider allowing the sale of beer at home football games, a practice that is growing more common throughout college athletics. While the UT system bans alcohol on its campuses, Brown said there's no "hard-and-fast rule" that prohibits UTC from selling beer at the off-campus Finley Stadium.

DREW'S VIEW: Universities that, unlike UTC, actually draw decent crowds to football games have played home games at nearby off-campus stadiums just to bypass alcohol bans at campus stadiums and generate more money at the concession stand for years.

Vanderbilt, for example, schedules its home games against UT at LP Field where the Titans play in Nashville. This is despite the fact that the Titans stadium is only three miles from Vandy's on-campus stadium and holds only a few thousand more people. The reason for moving the game is to cash in on beer sales.

UTC is fortunate that its stadium is already off campus and can easily allow beer sales, which will bring in money to the university. More importantly, allowing beer sales may save lives by preventing pregame binge drinking.

Many UTC football fans understand that, in order to watch the Mocs engage in a riveting matchup against the likes of Samford and Elon with all the skill of a mid-level Lingerie Football League team, alcohol is often necessary. It is safer if that alcohol can be consumed at a reasonable pace during the course of the game, rather than in a 15 minute drinking rampage just before walking into Finley Stadium.

As a lifelong teetotaler who has never had a sip of alcohol in my life, I might have to break down and get drunk as a boiled owl to watch a team that has been 20 - 38 over the past five years, including losses to mighty football powerhouses like Carson-Newman and The Citadel.

Actually, it may require something stronger than beer to make me sit through an entire UTC football game.

HEADLINE: Bill Hagerty takes leave to help Mitt Romney

THE RECAP: Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty is taking a temporary leave of absence to volunteer for Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney's "readiness team." Hagerty once worked with Romney at Bain Capital. Former Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey, deputy to Gov. Bill Haslam, will assume oversight of the department during Hagerty's leave of absence.

DREW'S VIEW: Commissioner Hagerty has done a good job of addressing some of the problems of wasteful spending and lack of accountability that plagued ECD under former governor Phil Bredesen. But still, the fact that a commissioner of a cabinet-level state agency can ditch his job for two months to volunteer on a presidential campaign demonstrates the Department of Economic and Community Development's lack of importance.

Consider for a moment what happens if, in the two month Hagerty is gallivanting around the country with his rich buddies working to get Romney elected, new business starts increase in Tennessee and state unemployment rates decrease. It would certainly make a lot of folks question the need for the department.

This worst-case scenario for Hagerty may be the best thing that could happen for state taxpayers.

While state economic development efforts that tout the amenities the state -- and locales within the state -- can offer businesses are understandable, that has been a secondary focus of the Tennessee government's economic development efforts. The primary mission of ECD seems to be nothing more than serving as the agency that bribes companies with hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded enticements to set up shop in the Volunteer State.

In that regard, if the economy develops with no one truly at the helm of the state's Economic Development bureaucracy, maybe that will give state lawmakers a reason to consider pouring less money into its business bribery operation.

Drew's views is a roundup of Free Press opinions about Times Free Press stories from the previous week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.