Drew's Views

Drew's Views

May 31st, 2013 in Opinion Free Press

Kevin Nance rearranges the letters on the marquee at the Tivoli Theater on May 8, 2012.

Photo by Staff File Photo/Times Free Press.

HEADLINE: Chattanooga draws praise for hosting bicycle championship

THE RECAP: USA Cycling President and CEO Steve Johnson said that "Chattanooga knocked it out of the park" on Monday when the city successfully hosted the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships. Police estimate that more than 25,000 spectators lined the streets for the men's and women's road race.

The Memorial Day event marked the first year of a three-year agreement for the Scenic City to host the event.

DREW'S VIEW: We salute all of the volunteers, sponsors and spectators that joined in making the USA Cycling Professional Road and Time Trial National Championships a great success. You did Chattanooga proud.

Chattanooga will never be a major league city (unless we can work out that trade with Georgia to move the state line in exchange for the Braves). However, admirably hosting world-class events such as the cycling championship, national canoe and kayak competitions, and other events that take advantage of the area's geography, scenic beauty and welcoming atmosphere will put Chattanooga on the map in the sports world. It also will give us more opportunities to see great events in our own backyards -- and that's something our region desperately needs in order to continue growing.

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HEADLINE: Lamar Alexander says 'no chance' TVA will be sold

THE RECAP: On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., said there is "no chance" the Tennessee Valley Authority will be sold as proposed by the Obama administration. "It's not a good idea," Alexander said prior to speaking at the annual meeting of the Better Business Bureau of Greater Chattanooga.

DREW'S VIEW: I guess it's not surprising that a man who hasn't had an exciting, innovative idea since he was governor in the 1980s would dismiss a proposal that could improve safety, introduce greater accountability, benefit the environment, increase tax revenues and remove taxpayer liabilities related to the TVA. After all, new ideas seem to scare the aging Alexander.

It also shouldn't be a surprise that Alexander would oppose an idea rooted in the free market, limited government notion that the federal government has no business owning and running a utility monopoly. Alexander's liberal voting record and big government philosophy seem to conflict with conservative reforms such as TVA privatization.

Fortunately there are 99 other members in the U.S. Senate. Hopefully a majority of them will see the value in improving the services provided by the TVA by allowing private enterprise, rather than a socialist-style government bureaucracy, to manage TVA facilities.

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HEADLINE: Tivoli, Memorial changes weighed

THE RECAP: Something needs to be done to stem losses at the city-owned Memorial Auditorium and Tivoli Theatre, some Chattanooga City Council members said Wednesday. The two performance venues are projected to lose $900,000 this fiscal year and need more than $1.1 million in combined repairs.

DREW'S VIEW: Knoxville doesn't own the Tennessee Theatre and Davidson County doesn't own the Ryman Auditorium. There's no reason why Chattanooga should own the Tivoli Theatre and the Memorial Auditorium. And there's certainly no reason why the Chattanooga City Council should continue wasting Chattanoogans' tax dollars subsidizing these venues when they could easily get the city out of the venue management business.

Plenty of private companies buy or manage the operation of historic performance halls and actually make money while consistently bringing quality entertainment to the venues -- two things the city obviously can't do.

The decision about what to do with the venues will be an important litmus test for City Council members. It will allow Chattanoogans to see which council members are committed to spending tax dollars responsibly and which ones are willing to fritter away residents' hard-earned money. It also will highlight local lawmakers are dedicated to doing what's right and expose which council members are more interested in protecting how things have always been done.

There is a fear that selling the Tivoli or the Memorial Auditorium would mean the end to the venues as we know them. That's true in one sense: Most of us know the facilities as outdated and run down. That would change. New owners would give them the TLC necessary to make them as successful as possible.

What wouldn't change are the venues' important places in the community. New owners would ensure that the facilities will be available for nonprofit events and high school graduations, and remain hubs for arts and culture in Chattanooga.

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