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Carter County Mayor, Washington County Commissioners and more in Sunday's Forum

Staff Report • Aug 7, 2013 at 8:48 AM

Since when does the mayor of Carter County have to get permission from the county Board of Education to contact the Tennessee Department of Education? I can’t image there is any legitimate reason for Carter County Director of Schools Dr. Kevin Ward’s objection. It is called checks and balances of county tax-dollar expenditures. Has the school system now reached a pinnacle where it is above being questioned for its actions? If so, it is clear that we have lost our rights as citizens and no longer live in a democracy.I would like to remind Ward that the people elected Mayor Leon Humphrey to insure that all budget allocations are truly needed and what is actually in the best interest of the entire county. While doing his job, it appears the mayor has walked on a few toes. So be it. He obviously hasn’t forgotten who he works for.A severe burden is constantly being placed on the taxpayers of this county to fund what the school system continues to demand each year for salary increases and the maintenance of unbelievable levels of fringe benefits. Commissioner Steve Lowrence put everything in proper perspective during the July County Commission meeting. He stated that he was forced to sell one of his automobiles, give up his newspaper, phone, cable and high-speed Internet service just to be able to afford the necessities of daily living. It’s called survival. Is this the new standard of living for Carter County citizens? If we taxpayers continue to fully fund entitlements for the school system employees, this lower standard of living is what will be left for the rest of us.Remember to register and vote in 2014 only for those candidates who are committed to the elimination of this mindset of entitlements. Our future is dependent on it.JAMES DABBONDANZAButlerCommissioners’ actionsIn the July 23 article under the headline, “County mayor, commissioners play tug of war over spending methods,” Press staff writer Gary B. Gray writes, “Remember, this happened Monday, a few weeks after Commissioners Ferguson, Sam Humphreys and David Shanks walked out of a Budget Committee meeting after making very brief comments about their opposition to borrowing such a large amount.”While Gray is technically correct in his reporting, this statement and term “walked out” does not properly reflect the spirit of our actions. To say that we “walked out” would lead one to speculate that we were angry or upset or trying to make some type of political statement (perhaps showing disrespect) and acting in unison. This was certainly not the case.It should be noted that we are not members of the Budget Committee. Each of us made some brief comments and gave some input at the meeting. Ferguson left first and Humphreys followed a few minutes later. I switched seats and stayed approximately another 20 minutes. We did not “walk out” together. Each of us left in a quiet and unassuming manner. For the record, we were acting independently and there were no actions that could be considered improper or disrespectful. Speaking for myself, while I certainly want to keep debt down and spend in a conservative manner, and may disagree with some of the budget committee recommendations, I have the utmost respect for the process and those who serve on the committee. In my case, my leaving was due to my unfortunate position of having to work to make a living. And the actions on my part and by fellow Commissioners Ferguson and Humphreys in this instance were totally respectful and followed legitimate protocol. DAVID SHANKSTelfordPark naming delayI just read of the name for the new “Founder’s Park.” While this is nice and it does need a name, I find myself furious with the powers that be. I am not upset over the naming of Founder’s Park, but because of the ignoring of another green space park.Several years ago, the Greenway Drive Neighborhood residents went before the City Commission and after many debates and meetings before the commission, had the status of the field on Moreland Drive near John Exum Parkway designated as a green space park. The property was donated to the city for this use by the owner back in the 1950s.We approached the city and made a request that it be formally named and a sign of some sort be placed to designate it as such. We were told that we had to go through a process to have this done. The process was that we obtain forms from the Park and Recreation Board, have neighborhood residents sign it and submit any suggestions for a name for it. We were then to submit it back to Parks and Recreation for processing.We followed all the requirements and obtained all of the signatures of all of the residents that we could contact. The name that was unanimously agreed on was to honor the late Juvenile Judge Shirley Underwood by naming the property “Shirley Underwood Park.” She was selected because of the many years of service she gave to Johnson City as a caring judge and community leader. The forms were submitted to the Parks and Recreation Board for processing. We have yet after all this time to ever hear anything. I, as a resident of this neighborhood, feel that this needs to be addressed before the city names another park.JIM BLEVINSJohnson CityNot enough hoursSeveral cities are experiencing strikes by fast-food workers for a higher hourly rate — from $7.25 to $15. Why is this happening?The workers are working reduced hours. One pizza chain has reduced as many salary and hourly workers as they can to 30 hours or less. Previously, a worker could make do on 40 to 50 hours, but now they cannot make ends meet.Obamacare states that if a worker works more than 30 hours per week, the employer must provide health coverage or pay a fine. Before workers could work 40 to 50 hours. Now it’s 30 or less.It’s called the “Law of Unintended Consequences.”BOB SUTHERLANDButler

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