Pams Points: Lookout's new postcard pics and our children's hospital

Pams Points: Lookout's new postcard pics and our children's hospital

January 21st, 2014 in Opinion Times

Lookout is watching you

Move over NSA. There's a new snoop on the block. This time it's Lookout Mountain.

About 240 residents of both the Tennessee and Georgia sides of the mountain town raised about $88,000 to install automatic license-plate-reader cameras in a half dozen locations after a rash of summer break-ins. About 3,000 people live on the mountain that has five roads in and out of the community.

Each road will get two cameras -- one for reading a vehicle's license plate and another for taking its overhead photo. A sixth pair of cameras will be placed at the four-way intersection at Scenic Highway and Lula Lake Road. The cameras should be operational in February.

The photos "won't even be looked at unless we have a reason to follow up on [a crime]," said Lookout Mountain, Tenn., Police Chief Randy Bowden.

Hmm. Sound familiar? Seems as though every day we learn of someone or something new watching our every move.

Bowden, compared the security system to Walmart's parking lot and in-store security camera systems, and he said Lookout Mountain won't be one of those cities that compare's their license plate photo database to a list of "hot plates" or drivers with outstanding warrants. What about next year? What about new policies for the next police chief and mayor?

Well, just smile at the cameras and wave.

Erlanger CEO Kevin Spiegel

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

Children's hospital wars

Who wouldn't say they want better health care facilities for children?

Well, no one.

That's the rub with Erlanger Health System CEO Kevin Spiegel ramping up surveys and small forums to get input on his call for a new women's and children's hospital in five to seven years. No one would say, 'No, we don't want new and better."

There's just this little problem of financing and priorities. Financing is an issue because Erlanger has been hemorrhaging red ink for several years -- nearly $10 million in deficit spending in the last fiscal year alone.

Priorities are a concern because by hospital officials' assertions, we already have excellent children's health care here. Meanwhile, no one can quite make that claim for public education.

Spiegel and Bruce Komiske, a potential builder of the new hospital facility, along with former board member Kim White who also is CEO of River City Co., pull out the spectre of the city rallying behind the Tennessee Aquarium's construction 25 years ago to raise private and foundation funding -- an effort that gave Chattanooga new momentum.

But how can anyone make the case that a new children's and women's hospital will be a major destination draw for Chattanooga, albeit at the expense of sick youngsters and women? Especially how can we expect such Chattanooga drawing power when both Vanderbilt (in Nashville) and Knoxville already are planning similar children's hospital build-outs?

Again, no one can be against better children's health care. But perhaps this is a time to focus instead on the hospital's current red ink and on public education.