Chamber of Commerce letterView
So the transgender bathroom bill got flushed and the move to try overriding the governor's veto of the Bible as state book may too.
Good. The question is when did we all get so crazy in the first place? This is all so much ado about nothing.
Why aren't our lawmakers more worked up about gang violence and Tennessee's top showing in violence of all kinds?
Why not find ways to better fund education, rather than extra bathrooms and bathroom monitors to check birth certificates?
But no, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick reversed that thinking in an attack on Chattanooga business leaders in the Chamber of Commerce Tuesday. McCormick went on a rant on the House floor and denounced the Chamber of Commerce for calling on him to oppose the bathroom bill while, he claimed, the same Chamber maintains silence about the city's spree of gang violence.
McCormick also threatened major corporations who came out against the bathroom bill, which was shelved by the House sponsor on Monday. ("When they come for their corporate welfare checks [economic incentives] next year, we need to have a list out and keep an eye on it," McCormick said of companies that tried to "blackmail" lawmakers over the bathroom bill.)
Wait — Isn't this the pot calling the kettle black?
For the record, Rep. McCormick: The Chattanooga Chamber of Commerce is leading the only real effort that will ever stop gang violence — closing the education gap that sends kids to Gang University on the streets when they can't graduate from high school and get a job or into college.
Meanwhile, you and your colleagues last year were so enthralled with the National Rifle Association's politician "welfare" that you passed a bill repealing a provision in a 2009 state law that gave local city councils and county commissions a vote in banning guns in their parks. Do you mean to tell us that you decry the "gang warfare" in Chattanooga, but you voted in April 2015 to undo some of the controls that Chattanooga's City Council had put in motion to help quell gang violence here after a shooting in Coolidge Park?
You should be mad at yourself, sir. You're all worked up over a handful of transgender young people — far less than 1 percent of the general population, according to the most-quoted studies — whom you want to make show their birth certificate to go to the bathroom, but you seem not to care that 60 percent of our third- and fourth-graders cannot read well enough to continue learning on their own in upper classes.
And you think this is new gang warfare? Hardly. As of Monday, there had been 33 shootings in 2016, according to police. There were 30 in 2015 and 33 in 2014.
Get your head out of the beltway of Nashville and get a grip.
It isn't just lawmakers who seem tone deaf to this problem.
An unidentified caller this morning urged us to make it clear to readers that the week's gang violence in Chattanooga doesn't mean the city is unsafe for tourists and potential new residents.
"I'm continually disturbed (that) the front-page articles and the gang shootings is (sic) scaring away tourists and potential people who want to live here," the caller said in the message she left. "Please, please, please write stories that the shootings are gang-on-gang. They are not on tourists and they are not on people that live in the suburbs. Chattanooga is such a great place to live, and the gang thing is just scaring everyone away."
Really? Gang-on-gang shooting is OK as long as it's not in the middle of a tourist venue? And it's OK to scare long-time residents in the heart of the city, but not suburbanites and potential city newcomers?
Tell that to the man shot mowing his grass in Brainerd over the weekend.
Tell that to the residents who live here now — like the pregnant woman shot in the stomach Tuesday when she came out of her house (just a few blocks from the BlueCross BlueShield building) to talk to a man who was yelling and who later became the shooter.
Tell that to the man shot in the hand as he walked his dog.
Tell it to the people put in lock-down at Erlanger hospital when people flocked there as shooting victims were being treated.
This is not new, and it's not just one portion of the community's problem.
It is inextricably linked with the education in our schools and the much-needed cooperation — not disdain — among our lawmakers, city and county leaders, police, prosecutors and yes — business people in the Chamber of Commerce.
Perhaps the silver lining in this spate of violence over the past five days is that there finally is some shock value to give the Nashville beltway crowd and the suburbanites something to prioritize that really matters.
April shootings map: