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Council, commission change meetings for holiday

The Chattanooga City Council will hold its voting meeting at 5 p.m. Tuesday rather than the usual 6 p.m. ahead of the Fourth of July holiday.

The Hamilton County Commission will move its scheduled voting session ahead one day to Tuesday at 9:30 a.m., also for the holiday.

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Fleischmann among tariff opponents

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is among Tennessee Republicans joining U.S. Rep. and Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn in a letter urging President Donald Trump's administration to steer clear of broad tariffs that could hurt the state's economy.

Reps. Scott DesJarlais of South Pittsburg and Phil Roe of Johnson City also signed the letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

The letter cited the "grave potential for retaliatory tariffs" that would affect Tennessee industries.

"Tennesseans stand to suffer disproportionate and negative consequences relative to other states given the large presence of industries that rely on international trade, such as automotive, agriculture, and distilled spirits," the congressmen note.

"While we support the goal of addressing unfair trade practices, we urge you to reconsider broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to Tennessee's economy and workers," the letter later continues.

Trump's bare-knuckled tactics in seeking to renegotiate international trade deals, not just with China but close U.S. partners such as Mexico, Canada and the European Union, have generated concern in a state with major auto manufacturers, farmers and other exporters.

Fleischmann's 3rd District includes the Volkswagen plant and a number of suppliers. DesJarlais's 4th District is one of the most rural districts in Tennessee, with large numbers of farmers.

Blackburn's chief Senate opponent, Democratic former Tennessee governor Phil Bredesen, has been critical of the president's broad-stroke approach, saying a more targeted means should be deployed.

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Brown, Miller pledge to ease jail crowding

The Democratic candidates for Hamilton County mayor and sheriff toured the downtown jail last week and promised to work if elected to ease overcrowding in the facility.

Political newcomer Aloyse Brown is running for mayor. Victor Miller, the homicide unit supervisor in the sheriff's office and sheriff candidate, released a joint statement.

"Our jails should be facilities of justice, rehabilitation, and a tool to enhance safety across our community. With the degree of overcrowding in our jails today, we are failing that standard in Hamilton County," Brown said.

Miller added, "My colleagues at the Sheriff's Department make up the finest corrections staff in Tennessee, but these professionals are working in a system that's unnecessarily overloaded and understaffed."

Brown and Miller propose a three-pronged approach to safely reducing jail overcrowding: Reform bail bonding laws so more low-risk offenders can make bail; expand mental health and drug courts; and work with community organizations to develop rehabilitation and re-entry programs.

Miller added, "Right now we face a very simple choice: continue to pay nearly $100,000 per day to house inmates, or sensible reform. I believe every taxpayer knows which is the better value."

His opponent, incumbent Republican Jim Hammond, and a team have been working for many months to develop wraparound services for what they call "frequent users," who mostly have unmet mental and behavioral health challenges that keep them cycling in and out of jail.

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Firefighters, teacher PAC support Helton

Chattanooga Firefighters Association Local 820 has endorsed Esther Helton, a Republican primary candidate for the open District 30 seat in the Tennessee House of Representatives.

"Having a representative who will listen and respond to concerns is critical," said Tim Bryant, a board member of Local 820. "Esther Helton has been a tremendous supporter of first responders, even before she was a candidate for office. Our community will benefit from her representation and engagement."

The Tennesseans for Quality Early Education PAC is supporting Helton for her views on supporting quality education for young children.

"Esther understands that many of our young children in Tennessee start from behind academically and never catch-up. She is committed to fighting for Tennessee students, teachers and parents," PAC Executive Director Mike Carpenter said.

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Gun owners, builders endorse Mason

Jonathan Mason, the other Republican in the House District 30 race, has picked up valuable endorsements from the Tennessee Firearms Association and the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga, he said in news releases.

"Protecting 2nd Amendment rights is an issue that is most important to the citizens in our district and throughout the State of Tennessee," Mason said.

He called the Home Builders' nod "an honor," and added, "District 30 will experience a large amount of growth in our county over the next 10 years. It is imperative that we have representation at the state level that supports new homes being built in the eastern part of Hamilton County."

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App tracks office-holders' positions

Project Vote Smart has released an app it calls OnPoint that allows citizens to track their congressional representatives and candidates' words, votes and ratings by various liberal-to-conservative special interests, as well as information on ballot measures in their communities.

In a news release, Project Vote Smart said the free app is available from the iOS App Store and Google Play Store.

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