Legislation To Prohibit Schools From Using Public Property To Support Or Oppose A Referendum Advances In State Senate

Thursday, February 14, 2013
Legislation that would ban use of public school property owned by any government entity in Tennessee to promote the adoption or rejection of any referendum on the ballot is headed to the Senate floor for final consideration. Senate Bill 547, sponsored by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville), prohibits public schools from displaying signs or messages in support of or opposition to a referendum or use of a school’s video, audio, telephone or electronic equipment for such purposes.
 
The move comes after controversy erupted last summer regarding the use of public school telephones and marquee signs advocating the adoption of a wheel tax in Bradley County.  Current law provides that it is unlawful to use public buildings or facilities for meetings or preparation of campaign activity in support of any particular candidate, party or measure unless reasonable equal opportunity is provided to all sides.    However, that law does not apply to referendums.  Bell’s legislation bans the use of public school property for both sides when a referendum issue is involved.
 
“I was contacted by many constituents who complained that taxpayer-funded school property was being used to promote a tax measure on the ballot,” said Senator Bell.  “We don’t need to let our school yard become a political battleground.  My legislation will make it clear that school property cannot be used to advertise for or against any referendum measure on the ballot.”
 
“This is a matter of fairness to those on both sides of a referendum issue,” said Senator Bell. “There are many other ways that those who are for or against a measure can get out their message.  Advocating for a ballot measure using school property is not a good practice and this legislation will clear it up once and for all.”

University Hosts Award-Winning Author Janisse Ray

Award-winning author, naturalist, and activist Janisse Ray will give a talk on the UTC campus about heirloom seeds, agrodiversity and the future of food. The event is scheduled for Thursday at 7 p.m. in the Raccoon Mountain Room of the UTC University Center. This program is presented by the Tennessee Valley chapter of Wild Ones and UTC Department of Biological and Environmental ... (click for more)

Dalton State Program Gives Non Students Chance To Further Their Education

Lynda Shenefield had an idea for a book.  But she needed help. Shenefield had no idea how to get her book published.  Then she saw a news release about an epublishing course offered at Dalton State, and thought that would be the perfect opportunity to learn what she needed to know.  At 63, Ms. Shenefield didn’t want to go through the process of enrolling as a student ... (click for more)

EPB Says It Did Not Overbill The City; Says City Got $685,877 Break

EPB officials said Tuesday that an exhaustive audit of its street light contract with the city showed that it did not overbill the city. Instead, it said it found that the city was underbilled $685,877. EPB said it only goes back one year on errors so the amount owed by the city would be $178,314. Officials said that would be discussed with the city. Stan Sewell, the city's ... (click for more)

Citizens To Comment Next Tuesday On Sound Control Ordinance That Allows Higher Sound Around Downtown Clubs

Citizens will be allowed to comment next Tuesday on a new Sound Control Ordinance that allows higher sound from nightclubs in a downtown Controlled Sound Boundary. Track 29 behind the Chattanooga Choo Choo, that has drawn the wrath of some nearby Southside residents, is within the boundary, which goes along the river on the north and west, to around Erlanger Hospital on the ... (click for more)

I'm Number One In A Round About Way

Roundabouts have been popping up all over Chattanooga over the past few years and for the most part have been successful.  Unfortunately there are some who just don’t get it as I have found out the hard way.    My latest instance was last week when a young woman on her cell phone almost t-boned me as she flew into the roundabout without yielding.  A near miss ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Oscar Brock’s True Passion

I don’t pay much attention to the Hamilton County School Board. Once the moon and the stars aligned behind Superintendent Rick Smith, you hear very little, if anything, from the nine-member council that oversees an annual budget of almost $400 million and employs 4,480 people. So chew this for a minute: approximately 2,000 of those people are not teachers. Yes, there are 78 principals ... (click for more)