Fletcher's advice, well fed juries and sweet sponsors

Fletcher's advice, well fed juries and sweet sponsors

June 14th, 2014 in Opinion Free Press

Carola Ross, chief sales officer for Ironman, left, and Mike McKee, president and CEO of McKee Foods, announce that McKee Foods will be the title sponsor for the inaugural Little Debbie Chattanooga Ironman event taking place on Sept 28.

Photo by Dan Henry /Times Free Press.

On The Right Paige

During his brief remarks after being sworn in as Chattanooga's new police chief Thursday, Fred Fletcher spent most of his time talking about what he'd learned from his wife, Paige.

The principles, he said, form the basis of the community-based policing he hopes to plant in the Scenic City.

Since the 46-year-old former Austin, Texas, cop has known his now-wife for more than 30 years -- they met when he was 15 -- he has learned a few things from her, he said.

"Everybody has value," despite what they may have done in the past, Fletcher said she taught him. Going forward, they deserve to be treated with respect.

In addition, "I am, because we are," he said. In a marriage, that means the strength of the couple should make each spouse stronger. As police chief, whatever Fletcher is able to accomplish or whatever strides Chattanooga makes in safety, he seemed to imply, will be through the strength of the department as a whole.

Finally, he said of his wife's lessons, "we can do more together than we can apart." As a couple, as a police force and as a city, strength is found when individuals are pulling in the same direction rather than pulling in opposite directions. When couples, when individual policemen, when individual citizens of a city don't buy into a vision broader than themselves, they often fail alone.

Deliberating On A Full Stomach

It's good to see Hamilton County is valuing its juries today.

In 1980, during a well-publicized murder trial, the sequestered jury was housed at the Downtowner Motor Inn and fed breakfast and dinner for several days in its restaurant, The Flaming Sword. The fare was passable but nothing extraordinary.

Lunches for nonsequestered trials were, as they say in travel magazines, OYO (on your own).

Today, as reported by Todd South in the Times Free Press, according to a review of receipts from Hamilton County Criminal Court trials, one sequestered jury was carted 28 miles to the Canyon Grill, an upscale restaurant in Rising Fawn, Ga., where the tab came to $1,303.52 for jurors and court officers. At least one person enjoyed a 9-ounce filet mignon for $38.95.

In addition, a nonsequestered jury ran up a $608 bill for lunch -- including a salmon entree for $39.90 -- at the Boathouse Rotisserie and Raw Bar.

Apparently, the expensive dinners are the exception rather than the rule, but one member of the Hamilton County Sheriff's Department, Lt. Rick Hamrick, is being investigated after allegations arose that he purchased unauthorized meals for himself and others with taxpayer money intended to be used only for jurors and court officers.

The charges if substantiated, according to Sheriff Jim Hammond, could result in criminal charges of misappropriation of funds, or could be a case of "just bad management."

One thing is certain, though. Hamilton County juries, whose per jury member average meal price is between $21 and $23, seem to be eating better these days.

Let Them Eat Cake

McKee Foods Corp., which employs more than 3,100 people in the Chattanooga area, recently announced an expansion that will create at least 175 new jobs and has annual sales of more than $1 billion.

It's a major player among industries in Hamilton County.

But there's just something so deliciously ironic about McKee's Little Debbie Snack Cakes becoming the title sponsor for the upcoming Chattanooga Ironman competition in September.

On the one hand are the sugary, fat-laden sweets that we've all eaten at one time or another -- a Nutty Bar, for instance, has 18 grams of fat and 20 grams of sugar -- while on the other are the best athletes in the world, whose percentage of body fat is often in singles digits and whose body mass index is in the low 20s.

McKee, whose officials declined to reveal the exact contribution to the competition but called it "substantial," will be the title sponsor for the first three years of the five-year commitment Ironman made to Chattanooga.

Here's hoping the tie-in doesn't become the fodder of late-night comedians eager to spew stereotypical remarks about the South and obesity.

Perhaps, by year three, generous Little Debbie will produce the Ironbar, a snack that includes almonds, orange juice, sweet potato, peanut butter, honey, applesauce and banana and is designed to give Ironman athletes a major part of their pre-competition breakfast.