Short Takes: River war to include many battles, MLK property probes, police policy review

Short Takes: River war to include many battles, MLK property probes, police policy review

March 13th, 2013 in Opinion Times


The water war of words over Georgia's saber-rattling to take land and a sliver of the Tennessee River to get water to Atlanta will continue to ripple for a while.

But the issue is by no means an easy one. It's not as simple as neighborly sharing, as it literally would change whole eco-systems - not to mention the manufacturing impacts of increasing or lessening a river's flow for cooling water systems and permitted pollution discharges.

Those issues aside, the legal ramifications alone are daunting.

Reclaiming a state line intended, but never set, on the 35th parallel is a lawsuit land-grab entirely intended to side-step the fact that the laws of both Tennessee and Georgia would have to be changed if the governments in each state agreed to share the water.

Both Tennessee and Georgia forbid, except by special permit, the transfer of water from one water basin to another. A basin is the land bowl in which rainfall drains from higher land to a low land lake or river. Each set of mountains and ridges and valleys naturally form their own basins. And taking enough water out of the Tennessee River for North Georgia and Atlanta - one of the few cities not built around a river - would have game-changing impacts.

So moving the state line likely is Georgia's effort at an end run around the need to persuade contentious lawmakers to agree on changing the laws of each state.

If a court decision moved the line, then the river would be touching Georgia, and therefore that little bay at Nickajack Cave would be Georgia's to tap.

And don't be fooled into thinking that could mean Chattanooga, or Tennessee, or Marion County or anyone else could charge Georgia for that water. If the line moves, the water is Georgia's.


It is good to see federal investigators and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Bill Killian, are riding herd again on health care and nursing home care providers who have taken unethical advantage of patients and federal Medicare and TennCare/Medicaid programs.

Last week, Chattanooga-based nursing home management company Grace Healthcare LLC and its affiliate Grace Ancillary Services LLC agreed to pay $2.7 million plus interest to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act.

Grace was accused of pressuring therapists in 10 nursing homes to increase the amount of physical, occupational and speech therapy provided to patients whether they needed it or not - all for profit.

How about a similar investigation of the hundreds of thousands of dollars lost in the purchase (without appraisals) of five M.L. King Boulevard properties using taxpayer money by the defunct Tennessee Multicultural Chamber of Commerce and backstopped by the Chattanooga Community Development Financial Institution which was backstopped by Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprises?

The Multicultural Chamber spent more than $1 million to purchase and develop the properties. Now, together, the properties are assessed at just under $300,000 and an audit shows not just a burst real estate bubble, but also $238,400 in missing money, along with extravagant salaries and travel expenses.

Bring on the probing questioners.


Kudos to Catoosa County Sheriff Gary Sisk for announcing that he will review his department's traffic stop policies after learning that, not just one, but several of his officers admitted they turned a blind eye to questionable behavior by a federal officer assigned in their jurisdiction.

Sisk insisted there is nothing to investigate about the favors, but looking at the policies for the future is a different matter, and its good to see this sheriff stepping up - even if it took awhile.

"I do not condone the actions of these officers, but it's a policy issue," he said. "We're addressing that by looking at our policies to see what will be changed."