We have to give the five who voted for the generous benefits package for live-in partners the benefit of a doubt. They could have misread the sentiment of their constituents whom they never consulted before they asked for their vote. Or perhaps the catch phrase "fairness" just blotted out any deliberation of "right" or "fairness" to the tax payers who would be struggling in the future to pay for the gratification of the alternate whims of the potential recipients. Perhaps the concept was thrown on them before they had an opportunity to consider its ramifications.
Now they have an opportunity to rectify their hasty decision and instead of being branded as betraying the trust of those who cast their votes for them, they have been granted an opportunity to gain their respect. The voters are very forgiving when a politician is willing to say, "I made a mistake."
The overwhelming number of city voters who signed petitions objecting to the practice, and the broad base of the community those votes came from clearly show the opposition to this move. The Commission now has the opportunity to rescind their vote saying the voters have clearly spoken, or they can allow it to be put to a referendum of the people. In effect these petitions already reflect the sentiment of the people with willing citizens shouldering the expense of the ballot instead of the taxpayers.
Chattanooga has the opportunity to correct the downward spiral of our society, and the eyes of other cities and states who hastily made this mistake are fixed upon us looking for one deliberative body to stand up and say, "we made a mistake."
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Mr. Wood made a very striking statement when he offered that voters are very forgiving when a politician is willing to say, "I made a mistake." In contrast, I believe that the members of the City Council who supported the domestic partner ordinance will find out during the next election just how unforgiving voters who remember this fiasco will remain. For some, and possibly all, it could be their first and only term in office.
I find it disheartening that Mr. Wood believes we should give them the "benefit of the doubt." If the City Council was ill-informed, inappropriately advised, nor did they represent the views of their constituencies...tough. It is their job, for which we pay, to be well-informed about matters brought before the Council.
I spoke with a lady last night who advised that when she discussed the situation with Carol Berz and offered her dismay of Mrs. Berz's support, she was told by Mrs. Berz, summarily, that "she was sorry the constituent didn't agree with her, but that she had peace with her decision." I find it very chameleon-like of Mrs. Berz to say that and then turn around and congratulate the group who worked so hard against her at the Council meeting.
It appears to me that we have allegedly gone from the "good ole boy" type of City Council to an alleged, at least in part, City Council of members with demi-god complexes. Once again, we elected you to represent our standards. We pay your salary. You work for us. We, as the city of Chattanooga citizens, do not just sit back and "baa" like sheep right off the edge of a cliff, if the shepherd leads them so.
Will the City Council rescind and/or repeal this highly debated and very heated ordinance, or will they let it go to a general vote in August 2014? As for my own personal opinion, I do not think they will repeal due to the five supporter's pride being bruised. I could be wrong? I hope so. If the City Council forces the issue to an election referendum, I suggest we require them to pay for it. After all, there are consequences to one's actions.
I would also like to know why this ordinance was being offered to the city of Chattanooga employees only? What about the county employees? What about the state employees? What about employees in general? Perhaps the city attorney can shed additional insight into this alleged discrimination of other workers? In addition, I will be making contact with the state attorney general's office to see how a city ordinance or referendum can supercede a state-defined law that recognizes marriage as between one man and one woman. I don't care with whom someone makes a life. What I do care about is maintaining and obeying laws already defined by the state of Tennessee. If you want to be tenacious about this issue, take it the state level where something might actually get changed.
Please do not think that I am bashing a member of any group based upon their sex, age, race, etc. I am not. In fact, I am trying to bring fairness to all. If you are going to offer certain benefits to one group of people, that same benefits package should apply to all employees. To do otherwise, the first word that comes to mind is discrimination.
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Wait a minute. For weeks we've been hearing how the people of Chattanooga need to be allowed to vote on this referendum, and now the petitioners are saying that they don't really want it to go to a vote? Sounds like some people are not so confident about the outcome as they pretend.
I can assure you that the turnout supporting the original anti-discrimination ordinance will be huge, much greater than the paltry number of people who signed the petition against it. There are a lot more citizens of Chattanooga who believe in equal rights than there are religious bigots who oppose them.
Bring on the election. The citizens of our progressive city welcome it. For once, we can put an end to the tantrums thrown by the spoiled little children who didn't get their way. Those on the City Council who voted against the ordinance will now realize that they aren't truly representing the will of the people. Perhaps we should petition for their recall.
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Some seem to think that the Council's rescinding or repealing of their vote on the Domestic Partners Benefits Ordinance would settle the issue and make a referendum unnecessary. I think this is an error.
My understanding is that the Council has the right to repeal their previous 5 to 4 vote in light of the petition and in effect say that they bow to the will of the people. However, the issue will only be resolved legally by a referendum next August when the voters of Chattanooga will have occasion to speak officially on this issue.
Given the number of signatures that appeared on the petition (over 10,000), it seems clear that the matter will be determined by the will of the people, as it should be. Sadly, the five out-of-touch Council members who apparently acted outside the consensus opinion on this issue may have to answer later for their incorrect, partisan view. Decisions have their consequences.