City building purchase was unwise

For $750,000, the City Commission recently purchased a building where the Convention and Visitors Bureau and JC Development Agency will locate their offices. I texted JC Commissioners Hunter and Murphy, requesting why they never got an appraisal on the building; never hired an architect to inspect the building and estimate the cost to renovate; never requested proposals from others who might have a building for sale, or property they could develop for the CVB and JCDA.

The building, located at the corner of Buffalo Street and State of Franklin Road, was purchased from Beacon Financial. Coincidentally (or not), Commissioner Hunter is the CEO of Beacon Financial. I have leased, constructed, and sold commercial buildings to the state of Tennessee for over 30 years. The state ALWAYS sends out a request for proposal to developers and the public before they erect or lease any building. It is a fundamentally fair and transparent process they always follow.

The building the city purchased with taxpayer money can be described in a couple of ways. It was described in a recent JC Press article announcing the purchase as “front porch of JC,” “walking distance to attractions,” “good first impression,” a “good investment,” and “an opportunity to preserve a historically significant building.” Another description could be “connected to a closed restaurant that has been vacant for years,” “across the street from a run-down vacant building,” “right beside a large mini-storage area,” “limited parking at best,” or “shares a parking lot with a loading and unloading area for semi-trucks to bring materials to Summers Hardware.” Quite simply, it’s not a place that is going to impress visitors.

JC commissioners have a fiduciary duty to taxpayers which they obviously ignored in regard to this purchase.


Johnson City

Do better, ETSU

I graduated from East Tennessee State College a long time ago when there was no diversity on campus.

I have watched ETSC become a university and add a medical college, a college of nursing and a college of pharmacy. I have seen it embrace its Appalachian heritage with studies in bluegrass and storytelling, and I know it provides remarkable opportunities for people throughout that beautiful part of the country.

This past month, however, I have watched the university show its racism.

In our country, white people have enslaved, raped, abused, assaulted, oppressed, lynched, murdered, persecuted and disrespected Black people for more than 400 years.

It seems impossible for us white people to understand what Black people deal with daily.

So, when Black athletes kneel during the national anthem, they are calling attention to how their people are treated. But white people don’t like it when Black people protest, whether quietly, silently, or in the street.

For a white coach to kneel in solidarity with his players must take more empathy and courage than most people have.

But when a white businessman threatens to withdraw his support, the administration caves.

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, everyone in the country has a First Amendment right to kneel during the national anthem, so an institution of higher learning loses its credibility when it disrespects and disallows its students’ constitutional rights.

This came to a head for me as I received emails about the university’s Day of Giving. I have modestly supported the university for many years, but it is hard for me to use the dollars I have to support racism.

Perhaps Maya Angelou said it best, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

I hope the university can do better.


Oak Ridge

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