Just goes to show how deeply confused the political debate has become and how muddy and propagandized our political language is when state capitalists like Reagan and Obama and Romney are all decried as "socialist". Socialism, historically speaking, has NOT meant specific governmental programs that would make markets more efficient and provide some measure of humane treatment to the poor, the elderly, workers, and other marginalized and vulnerable constituencies. It is true that socialists often pursued these ends, especially in their formal political parties.
Historically speaking, "socialism" was a term used to mean that workers own their labor, rather than being owned by a capitalist (chattel slavery) or having to rent ourselves to a capitalist (wage slavery) out of necessity.
If we use this historically accurate definition of socialism, then we will quickly see that neither Obama, Romney, Reagan, nor even the USSR are "socialist". The US has state capitalism, whereby autocratic private interests are the primary architects of social policy and the state largely operates for and on behalf of their interests - or, as American progressive John Dewey once said, "as long as politics is the shadow cast on society by big business, the attenuation of the shadow will not change the substance."
This would be fairly obvious to most people had we be given something other than a highly propagandized education. I recommend that folks try to figure the matter out for themselves: http://www.chomsky.info/articles/1986----.htm
Good for you!
I think this sets a courageous precedent for others to step out, speak up and not settle for the lesser of two evils. An editorial decision like this can really begin to broaden and deepen the discussion about what principles and values are important to us, what meaningful policy differences should matter, and bring into sharp focus just how limited, superficial, and short-sighted our political discourse really has been in this country, state and city.
Folks can read the Report on Affordable Housing and review the legislation crafted by the Westside Community Association by visiting the website of the Coalition for Affordable Housing at www.chatthousing.com
Some of the facts cited in the report might startle you:
—Chattanooga has been listed second in the top 10 metro areas for increases in city poverty in the United States, according to a report by the Brookings Institute.
—Chattanooga is listed as having the third-highest rising rent in the nation, only behind San Francisco and New York.
—One in two households in Chattanooga’s urban core live in unaffordable housing and are burdened by housing costs.
Something MUST be done to begin addressing the housing crisis in our city.
It boggles the mind to try and understand how Mr. Austin can take an issue rooted in popular democracy and twist it so fantastically.
Mr. Austin's hand-wringing over the number of signatures required to initiate a recall of an elected official is laughable - he says that the current law allows "the mayor's opponents [read: voters, the people] to effectively accomplish a recall of the mayor with just 9,000 valid signatures on the petitions; that's less than 10 percent of the city's registered voters."
That is absolutely correct, because the law for initiating a recall sets the bar at the same level as it takes to get elected to office - 50% + 1 of the number of people who voted in the election. If that number is good enough to get mediocre and corrupt officials elected to office, then that number should be good enough to remove them. That is fair. That is democratic. But Mr. Austin does not think so. He says that the number of registered voters who signed the petition demanding the recall are a "fringe" - but what about the number that showed up and voted? Is that not equally fringe? Why not also raise the number required then to get elected to office? Why not equally require that any candidate who wins an election with less than 10% of the total number of registered voters - as Littlefield did in the last election - that the election should be decertified and declared a boycott by the voters? I personally believe that the voters recognize a turd sandwich when they see one, and I do not blame them when they don't want to hold their nose and pull the lever.
Lastly, Mr. Austin seems to have a problem discussing the real issues - he has yet to mention that the predominate number of signatures were gathered by a group of people who were motivated to do so out of their deep concern for the long historical pattern of corruption in out city. Corruption that this editorial page seems to care less about.
By the by, Oak Ridge is in the Third Congressional District: http://www.capitol.tn.gov/districtmaps/USH03.pdf
Here's another one to add to the list:
Weston Wamp's website, under the "Issues" section, proudly proclaims that he wants to "rebuild the military-industrial-complex." Ya know, that concentration of power and privilege that Republican President Eisenhower warned could destroy the soul of our country. That thing that we spend over a trillion dollars a year on, more than all the other countries in the world combined. That thing that sucks money and resources away from schools, higher education, housing, medicine, transportation and environmentally sustainable alternatives to fossil fuels. That's the thing that Weston Wamp wants to "rebuild".
A reporter interviewing Occupy Chattanooga members on the lawn of the Courthouse said that the County Commission was planning to waste tax-payer money by pursuing legal action in Chancery Court. Occupy Chattanooga has been peacefully and very respectfully (even deferentially) demonstrating since moving to the courthouse in November.
The County Commission had previously met in secret, violating the Open Meetings Act or "Sunshine Law", to discuss taking legal action against Occupy. Since then, County Commissioners Warren Mackey and Tim Boyd have both publicly stated their opposition to the current "Sunshine Law" which demands greater government transparency in favor of a new law which would allow for private, back-door deliberations.
According to the Hamilton County Commission website, the next planned meeting of the County Commission is an Agenda Setting Meeting on December 29th and then another Regular County Commission Meeting is scheduled for January 4th. All meetings are held at 9:30 AM.
County Commission Chairman Larry Henry can be reached at (423) 894-6269 & (423)209-7200
During the latter part of Mayor Littlefield's first term in office, several female city employees began to speak out against the sexual harassment they were suffering while on the job. These women followed proper procedure and filed complaints against their boss, Paul Page, alleging that Mr. Page was sexually harassing them while on the job. Instead of being protected, however, city hall punished and retaliated against these women instead of seeking to do justice.
So begins the sordid story of Paul Page.
In 2006, Mayor Ron Littlefield hired Paul Page to a specially-created position called the Director of General Services. Paul, who has a history of workplace controversy in other counties, was also known to be a friend of the Mayor's. In 2008, two women filed complaints of sexual harassment against Paul Page. In response, the city retaliated against these women according to a finding from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Independent investigations as ordered by the City also found that Paul Page had sexually harassed multiple women.
Equally as disturbing as the claims of sexual harassment is Mayor Littlefield's silence in the face of these allegations. As the chief executive of city government, it is Mr. Littlefield's responsibility to ensure that all employees can work in safe, harassment-free environments. Instead of protecting the victims, Mr. Littlefield instead rushed to protect the predator, Mr. Page, saying in the Times Free Press: "He's expressed a desire to me to get out of the shooting gallery, which I can understand...”.
Mr. Littlefield's eagerness to protect his associates despite federally-verified claims of sexual harassment reveals a good deal of his character. Important questions must be asked: What did the Mayor know and when did he know it? Was Mayor Littlefield aware of the sexual harassment; was he aware that city government was punishing women for speaking out?
The Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump: “Homeless Hilton” A Boon for Businessman, Loss for Taxpayers
After campaigning on the promise to develop a one-stop multi-unit complex to house multiple organizations to meet the needs of Chattanooga’s most vulnerable (the homeless), mayor Ron Littlefield bought a known hazardous waste dump, the old Farmers Market, for an amount approximately $650,000 more than it had been bought for three years prior. The man who originally bought the property (prior to quick deeding it to his children, three months before the sale to the city), William A. Thompson, was a major campaign contributor and personal friend of mayor Ron Littlefield. At the time of the purchase by the city, the Thompsons owed just under $200,000 in back taxes to both the city and county - approximately $70,000 more than amount that William A. Thompson originally purchased the property for. Also, the property could never have been zoned for the purpose of housing the homeless, since the property was a former superfund site and is leeching toxic waste, a fact the mayor, according to at least one news article, was fully aware of prior to proposing the purchase.
Watch the Youtube movie about the Ron Littlefield Memorial Dump HERE: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EP54U1vecKQ
On Thursday, November 17th, 2011, history was made in the city of Chattanooga. Nearly one year after hundreds of citizens had gathered over 15,000 signatures to recall Mayor Ron Littlefield, the Hamilton County Election Commission finally certified the petitions and declared Mayor Ron Littlefield officially recalled. Despite all the attempts of Mayor Littlefield to subvert the democratic process through lawsuits and court battles, the grassroots people of Chattanooga proved that democracy works.
Democracy doesn’t end on Election Day. In fact, many democratic governments throughout history have instituted various forms of direct democracy to ensure that the decisions of elected officials could be held accountable to everyday people. Direct democracy usually takes three forms: initiative, recall, and referendum. These tools give ordinary, non-elected citizens the power to propose legislation, remove elected officials, and veto legislation passed by legislative bodies. The modern forms of initiative, recall, and referendum take their roots back to the Progressive Era of American history - a time when ordinary grassroots people gathered together to reform their governments in order to fight back against the power of organized corporate money. But the origins of direct democracy go back even farther, even back to Athens itself! (Aristotle, Athenian Constitution, Part 43)
Chattanooga’s City Charter, the governing document of the City, provides the citizens of Chattanooga with all three avenues for direct democracy. The recall provision, found in Title III of the City Charter, allows for citizens to remove both the Mayor and members of the City Council. The City Charter also allows for initiative and referendum. As found in Title XI, these provisions allow for citizens of the city to place legislation directly on the ballot and to veto legislation that comes out of the City Council. By voting to uphold the rights of citizens to use these democratic tools to change or alter their city government, the Hamilton County Election Commission has created a powerful precedent for bottom-up, grassroots reform.
Now that Mayor Littlefield has been successfully recalled, the doors to direct democratic participation are blown wide open. Now for the first time in our city’s history, the grassroots, everyday people of Chattanooga have recalled a sitting elected official. The future history of our city will no longer be written by land developers, career politicians, and business and political elites. Instead, the history of our city will be written by the grassroots people who have the determination to make change possible.