The Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission
The war on infused spirits is off! ABC Director Keith Bell announced last Monday that the agency's plan to crack down on restaurants and bars that serve cocktails containing house-infused liquor is being shelved in favor of developing more reasonable regulations. Infused spirits - which pose no reasonable health threats and are a key component of many area cocktail menus - are created when fruits, vegetables or herbs are soaked in distilled alcohol to give the alcohol an infusion of flavor.
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The Chattanooga city councilman continued to sit on the Chattanooga Airport Authority board for more than three months after he was elected to the council, even though serving on both the city council and the Airport Authority is clearly a conflict of interest. Freeman was an official in both the city's executive and legislative branches at the same time. Further, he was serving on the body that makes the laws that regulate the Airport Authority.
It just so happens that Freeman announced his resignation from the Airport Authority the day after the Free Press opinion page, in an effort to research an editorial, called Chattanooga City Hall to determine whether it was legal for Freeman to sit on both the council and the board. Apparently someone told him he'd better resign - and fast. It makes you wonder if Freeman would've ever stepped aside had someone not pointed out the conflict.
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Mayor Andy Berke
The Chattanooga mayor chose to scrap former Mayor Ron Littlefield's dubious regional water and sewer authority scheme. The regional alliance, which was widely unpopular with surrounding local governments, was little more than a pathetic, last ditch effort to try to contrive a government takeover of Tennessee American Water, Chattanooga's privately owned water provider.
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The Hamilton County Commission
In a 5-4 vote, the commission, which doesn't have line-item veto power over the budget, chose to accept Mayor Jim Coppinger's fiscally irresponsible $664.2 million budget. Commissioners would've been wise to send the budget back to Coppinger and ask him to whittle away at the substantial amounts of pork in the budget so that county taxpayers could get some property tax relief. Instead they decided to keep spending levels high and property taxes at an uncompetitive rate compared to surrounding counties.
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Tennessee Department of Children's Services
An independent report scolded DCS for a series of recent missteps. According to the report, DCS workers took too long to make contact with children considered to be in "imminent danger." Caseworkers failed to make contact with these children within the required 24 hours as much as 70 percent of the time. Additionally, well over half of the children served by DCS weren't provided with proper planning to prepare them to find housing, enroll in post-secondary education or find jobs when they are on their own.
Fortunately, new DCS Commissioner Jim Henry is receiving high marks for his efforts to restructure the embattled agency. Hopefully better days are ahead for Tennessee's foster children.
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The return of Twinkies
Hostess' most famous snack cake, as well as other treats, such as CupCakes and Donettes, will return to supermarket and convenience store shelves around July 15. The company went bankrupt last year after the union that represented its employees wouldn't accept more reasonable terms. Hostess simply couldn't remain in business while paying the union's high pension and medical costs. Fortunately, Hostess snack cakes are now being made by nonunion employees, meaning Twinkies lovers shouldn't ever have to go without the crème-filled sponge cakes again.