Pam's Points: Let's hear it for citizen ideas on county change and bicycles

Pam's Points: Let's hear it for citizen ideas on county change and bicycles

May 21st, 2014 in Opinion Times

Rhonda Thurman

The Skillern, Thurman tag team

Help me, Rhonda.

Help me understand why you and Fred Skillern are apparently joined at the hip and determined to push stubborn and sometimes backward ways on Hamilton County. Help us believe you are not just feeling like a sore loser after Skillern was defeated by Randy Fairbanks for his longtime District 1 County Commission seat?

If you're not a sore loser then why are you mounting a write-in campaign against Fairbanks in the August election? Did you expect Skillern to retire in a year or two and get you appointed to his County Commission seat?

And should you win in your write-in effort, who might fill your unexpired term on the school board? Might you and some county commissioners appoint Skillern to the school board?

Let's hope Fairbanks campaigns hard in Soddy-Daisy and Sale Creek. Fairbanks, an accountant, can put real analysis on money questions, like whether hoarding cash to get an already-achieved AAA bond rating is smarter than actually funding school projects before rising costs makes them more expensive.

Skillern served long and mostly well. But he was far too taken with his reputation as a penny-pincher when he actually was often pound foolish. And he steadfastly refused to learn new things -- like using an electronic tablet for county business rather than making the county spend extra dollars for reams of paper to prepare commission reports and documents.

Like Skillern, Thurman, a loud voice on the school board and longtime Skillern ally, is more a needler than a thoughtful watchdog for our money and our children.

On Tuesday, Times Free Press columnist David Cook suggested several local new words for the dictionary, and one of them was Skillerned -- a verb "used to describe a total and unquestioned beat down, political or otherwise."

His example was: Fred Skillern, for decades known for his "strong-arm politics. Few people tangled with him. Even fewer won. ... You got Skillerned."

The people of Hamilton County, don't need to be Skillerned anymore. Or Rhondaed, either, for that matter.

Bike Plan B - and C

Chattanooga traffic officials had planned to narrow Broad Street from three to two lanes on both sides of the road from M.L. King Boulevard to Second Street -- a $215,000 plan aimed at giving bicyclists a dedicated lane of their own, complete with flexible barriers, to separate them from cars. But state funds the city hoped to win went instead to Cleveland and Athens, Tenn. City officials there thought to seek support from state lawmakers.

Here's what seems strange. It's not safe enough for cyclists to ride with cars on the six-lanes-wide Broad Street, but it is thought safe enough for them to ride on curvy, two-lane mountain roads like the W-Road where drivers have no way to give cyclists the law-required three feet clearance without breaking another law by pulling into oncoming traffic.

Lawmakers: I hereby request that you put a word in to city, county and state officials to close the W-Road and other two lane mountain roads to all bicyclers. I also am pleading with city officials to seek funding and partnerships to make a dedicated bicycle race course on the planned new taxpayer-funded road up Aetna Mountain (think flexible barriers here, too, if you like) -- and extend dirt or paved trails into the wildlife refuge on the mountain that recently was barred to four-wheelers.

Unlike the rowdy, noisy, four-wheelers, cyclists are good outdoor-enthusiasts who are not going to cause erosion, and they are quiet and generally nature-loving.

Chattanooga's Aetna is an outdoor and sports mecca and destination in the making. Stop trying to pretend no one will be hurt or killed on too-windy, too-narrow car roads and build something amazing on Aetna for our strong and brave-hearted cyclists.

Anderson petition signers under probe

There is little more vile than the possibility of falsified signatures on a voter's petition.

So, kudos to the Hamilton County Election Administrator Kerry Steelman and to Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston for pursuing concerns and forwarding to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation their finding of some petition names in alphabetical order and far too similar handwriting. The names in question were on an unsuccessful petition to recall Chattanooga council member Chris Anderson, the city's first openly gay council member.

Convenient of those petitioners to line up in ABC order before they signed, wasn't it?

Election officials have said about two-thirds of more than 3,000 names were thrown out as invalid or questionable. The petition ultimately fell about 400 names short of 1,600 needed for recall.