Pam's Points: On patience, accountability, leadership and respect

Pam's Points: On patience, accountability, leadership and respect

August 2nd, 2013 in Opinion Times

Connie Rogers, from Decherd, Tenn., browses wares at Steve Jordan's booth on the property of Herman Henry along U.S. Hwy. 127 in Walden, Tenn., during the world's longest yard sale Thursday, Aug. 1, 2013.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Yard sale is like a filibuster on wheels

Be warned: The World's Longest Yard Sale is on again along U.S. 127.

It's four days of junk masquerading as antiques and stretching for 690 miles from Addison, Mich., to Gadsden, Ala.

If you must travel over Signal Mountain or into Dunlap, Tenn. - both part of the route - just think of it politically: It's like a filibuster on wheels.

You must either make up your mind to take a different route or decide to compromise: Go with the flow and go junking. This is the sale's 26th year.

Congress may move faster.

Public hospital, public accountability

Erlanger's new CEO was politicking in front of the Hamilton County Commission on Thursday - laying the groundwork to restructure the public hospital into a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.

Kevin Spiegel told commissioners he wanted to keep the county leaders in the loop and tell them he has been talking with legislators in a renewed effort to get the hospital restructured so it can "better compete" with other area hospitals. He also told them he wants to seek funding from a $70 million pool of federal money set aside for safety-net hospitals, and he said he has suggested the current Erlanger board be "grandfathered in" to new legislation and be self perpetuating so the hospital does not appear unstable.

A previous attempt to restructure Erlanger's governing body died at the hands of county commissioners last March, despite the plan passing the state's House and Senate and being signed by the governor. That first revamp effort failed because the private act needed six votes from the county commission. It didn't even get a motion.

The county commission appoints some of the board members, and contributes $1.5 million a year to the hospital to help offset the cost of indigent care. Hospital officials said Erlanger provided $85 million in uncompensated care last year.

Commissioners - and lawmakers - should proceed carefully.

Currently, the hospital's board by law must meet publicly. As a restructured, nonprofit hospital, that would not be the case.

The Pope's example of leadership

Pope Francis made headlines and some peace this week when he uttered a phrase that more of us should say about many, many things.

"Who am I to judge?"

The comment was about the sexual orientation of priests.

"We shouldn't marginalize people for this. They must be integrated into society," the pope said in a long interview with reporters aboard his plane as he returned from a papal trip. "If someone is gay and he searchers for the Lord and has goodwill, who am I to judge?"

So many people comment in hateful ways in letters, tweets, Facebook posts, making moral judgments on the sexual orientation, race and faith of others. And those comments inflame still more hate and malcontent.

A person's actions certainly may be fair game for criticism, but his or her race, faith, gayness or straightness should not be.

Pope Francis is showing himself to be not just a spiritual figurehead, but also a real leader with this message and example of tolerance.

Zach Wamp nailed it

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp showed far more respect to the president and to the people of Chattanooga who he once represented than the current band of Republican Tennessee officials who didn't attend Barack Obama's visit here.

Wamp attended as a special guest. His successor, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann declined to attend, as did Sen. Lamar Alexander, Sen. Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam.

Wamp told a reporter: "We need some kind of grand bargain," adding that he thinks the president is trying to stimulate jobs and is proposing a fair deal.

"This excessive polarization is a cancer ... We have got to come together as a people," said Wamp, who now runs his consulting business in Chattanooga, Zach Wamp Consulting.

"The leadership in Congress right now is less than satisfactory," Wamp said.

That's an understatement.

Wamp understands that simple respect allows discourse and compromise.