Taking Part In An Amazing Process - And Response

Thursday, December 5, 2013

My husband and I gathered signatures on petitions over the Thanksgiving holiday. Given the future impact of the domestic benefits ordinance narrowly passed by the City Council, we felt it was important for all Chattanoogans to have an opportunity to be heard at the ballot box.   

We have lived here for decades; we are both recently retired (TVA management and real estate brokerage).

     I tell you this, because we are not ‘activists’ by any stretch. And, unlike many of those who’ve consistently commented on this in the paper, this is our home. 

What I’m about to share is precisely what we experienced.  We gathered hundreds of signatures over the four-day period; we were focused on the Northgate/Hixson area—council Districts 2 (Jerry Mitchell) and 3 (Ken Smith). 

One day was spent going door to door, asking if folks wanted to sign. With only one exception, we were treated with respect and often thanked for our involvement.  All the remaining days/hours were instances of holding signs and traffic driving to us. 

The preponderance of comments was that we should all have an opportunity to vote on this.  Without exception, there was not one single occasion where we heard any anti-homosexual comments from the public  (Contrary to the opinions of the newspaper editorial staff. Thank goodness we have the Chattanoogan)    

We were thrilled to see city policemen and firemen sign, expressing appreciation for our efforts.   They shared example after example where their pensions and benefits had been cut due to lack of funds.  The obvious question is…how is there money for this?  And why did five council members consider this group more important than dedicated police and firefighters?  Where they spend your money is a clear indication of their priorities. 


A large number of residents expressed concern that unmarried heterosexual couples—folks just not wanting the commitment of marriage – would quickly become an overwhelming financial burden on the city.  Additionally, a significant number of folks who wanted to sign were unable to do so, as they were either county residents or ineligible to vote for various reasons. Regardless, they drove up to encourage us and share their opinions.  We even had folks from other countries want to sign. 

We heard many voice their frustration, and some their anger, at Councilman Jerry Mitchell.   Councilman Mitchell had said his vote in favor of this ordinance was reflective of his constituency; that’s certainly not what we heard this past weekend. 

Given that the final tally was over 10,000 signatures collected … keep in mind, this is more than half of all who voted in the last election… and considering this was hastily done over a 14-day period which included a long holiday weekend, much of which was quite cold and raining….yet we still got this overwhelming response? 

I always want to give folks the benefit of the doubt, but it's clear to us that five members of the council haven’t correctly read the pulse of Chattanooga.   A few activists – some from outside our city – coupled with some biased media reporting, make this appear as if it’s a homosexual issue…to vote against it means that you’re bashing homosexual people. 

We found, first-hand, just the opposite was true.  We also witnessed many miracles in this process – nothing else can explain it.  We worked alongside some of the most incredibly compassionate, committed and talented folks we’ve ever met.  Participating in this effort were people from all races, all ranges of economic status, Protestants/Catholics/Jew, all ages (one man, prominent in our community and well in his 80’s, walked neighborhoods with a smile on his face and love in his heart.   Another - also in his 80’s - walked his hilly neighborhood gathering signatures to bring to us).  We met and made friends with others, unable to take an active role, yet doing what they could to help.   

As exhausting and challenging as the task was, we both were grateful to have been a very small part in this very large process. 

I was reminded all over again that it takes time and effort to become informed.   The next step takes courage to uncharacteristically leave your ‘comfort zone’ and get involved. 

At some point, we pray we will come together as a community.  My opinion, of course, but political correctness cannot override common sense.  If we are to survive the days ahead, there is no room for the divisive rhetoric of a few agitators, for ‘hyphenated Americans’, separated by economic class, race, creed or political affiliation… no place for hate and violence if we are to meet the challenges ahead. 

We’re all Americans.  We’re all Chattanoogans.  If our home becomes divided (as it seems is the agenda of a few), we will be in danger of losing this amazing city.

The rewards are worth the effort and fate of Chattanooga depends on it. 


Jo Peckinpaugh 

* * * 

Thank God for people like Jo Peckinpaugh.  As another TVA retiree of many years, I know a patriot, a true American, and a dedicated TVAer when I see one.  She has served us well with a good dose of the truth.  The only way to test the pulse of the masses is to go out among them and get it.   

Thank you, Jo.  Chattanooga needs more citizens like you.  I agree with everything you said. 

Although it would have been my customary "cup of tea" to be out there pounding the pavement and knocking on doors with the other 80-somethings for the benefit of the people, I could not this time.  I did, however, download the petition, vote, and send a check to help with the expenses.  I shall do it again.  Anytime.  For justice.  For freedoms guaranteed to us by our Constitution.  And to keep our city government and the newspaper apprised of what we expect from our elected officials. 

Charlotte Parton
Chattanooga


Why Gun Crimes Continue In Chattanooga

Despite all of the moaning about guns, relatively little is done to those who commit gun crimes. For example, there is a report that a man (Davonte Ammons)  fired two bullets into a residence where his son and two other people were, and the judge set his bail at $140,000. If gun crimes are so heinous, why not set the bail at something substantive, like $500,000? ... (click for more)

Strays For Carter

For those of you who have visited the Carter home you noticed the dog beds begin at the side door and continue throughout the house ending at the foot of the bed.   Yes, we are dog lovers; we don’t look for dogs, they seem to find us.  Those of you who know my husband might consider him a bit of a bulldog himself, once he has a passion for something he will not let ... (click for more)

Legendary Lady Vol Basketball Coach Pat Summitt Dies At Age 64

Pat Summitt , legendary Lady Vol basketball coach, mentor and mother-figure to her players; a revered ambassador for her university and state; a trailblazer for women; and a role model for people all over the world passed away early Tuesday in Knoxville at the age of 64. The UT athletic department wrote: "Born Patricia Sue Head on June 14, 1952 in Clarksville, Tn., she arrived ... (click for more)

Teen Shot Multiple Times On 4th Avenue; 2nd Youth Shot Twice On Pinewood Avenue

A teen was shot multiple times on 4th Avenue on Monday night. The victim was 19-year-old JaMarcus Davis. A second teen, 18-year-old Jaylain Ballard, was shot twice early Tuesday morning on Pinewood Avenue. In the first incident, Chattanooga Police responded at 7:20 p.m. to the area of the 2600 block of 4th Avenue on the report of shots fired. Police did not locate ... (click for more)

Tim Couch Resigns As Silverdale Softball Coach

Tim Couch, who led the Silverdale Baptist Academy softball team to a runner-up finish in the 2016 TSSAA Class 1A state tournament, has resigned as the Lady Seahawks’ coach. Couch just completed his fifth season as the Silverdale coach – the Lady Seahawks went 42-5 -- and it was by far his most successful campaign. “This wasn’t an easy decision, but I’ve been thinking about ... (click for more)

Seventh Inning Rally Lifts Generals To 3-1 Win Over Lookouts

The Jackson Generals used a three-run seventh inning to defeat the Chattanooga Lookouts, 3-1.   The Lookouts won the first series of the second half, three games to two.. Lookouts starting pitcher Kohl Stewart was the story early for Chattanooga, shutting out Jackson for six innings. The righty got into trouble in the seventh by allowing a walk and a double. After ... (click for more)