Jack Benson: A Perceived Conflict Of Interest? - And Response (2)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - by Larry Grohn

Recent financial disclosures by Mr. Benson indicates he has received $25,349 in campaign contributions for the 2013 campaign. I want to be perfectly clear that anyone has the right to donate to whomever they would like to support for public office. However, the onus then falls upon this elected official to recuse himself if there is even a hint of impropriety or a perceived conflict of interest.

That being said, to date Mr. Benson has received $9,000 (35.5 percent of his contributions) from CBL & Associates and DeFoor Brothers Development. Yet, Mr. Benson has supported and voted for zoning requests by these two developers to make changes to the Hamilton Place Community Growth Plan (HPCGP). A plan he himself has stated was "in concrete" and "not flexible."

Could it be that the plan is flexible and only a suggestion when it comes to his biggest supporters?

Larry Grohn, Candidate for City Council District 4 

* * *  

I don't know Mr. Grohn, but I do know Jack Benson. 

When I arrived in Chattanooga in 1966 working for the planning commission, I was immediately impressed with Mr. Benson who was a school principal and member of the planning commission body. He later was the leader of Big Brothers-Big Sisters, saving hundreds of disadvantaged children from neglect and violence. 

When Jack was on the planning commission, he was a stalwart for long range planning. He fought against strip and spot zoning while the county chased taxes without infrastructure. He supported neighborhood planning before there was such a thing. As a city councilman, he continued his commitment to following the plans and policies that had emerged over the decades. In fact, he burned my fanny at CHA more than once in the process. I respect him for his commitment while sitting softly. 

It really bothers me that this has turned into a partisan election. That is not how our city is supposed to work. And, two thirds of the Chattanoogan readers apparently agree. Twenty years ago my wife ran for City Council, and my good friend, mentor and golfing buddy Gene Roberts endorsed the other candidate. I was in his office when I saw the headline, and he apologized for not letting us know beforehand. Several months later, he confessed that he was forced by the Republican hierarchy to do it and later said it was the worst political decision he had ever made. 

Now, they are at it again, so their IHOPS, etc. can have free reign. Maybe the East Brainerd folks should think about it as they maneuver the sprawl that Jack has tried to control. 

I am in another district, but if I were in yours, I would surely vote for Jack Benson. 

Mark Rudisill    

* * * 

Unfortunately, when some candidates for public office don’t possess the credentials or experience to debate the real issues, they turn to negative campaigning.  This often results in the distortion of facts concerning their opponent.   

Mr. Grohn, who is seeking to unseat Jack Benson for the City Council, is a good case in point. He has stated that Councilman Benson should recuse himself from representing the citizens he serves when zoning cases come before the City Council from individuals who have been supportive of Mr. Benson’s re-election. Using this logic, one must assume that Mr. Grohn thinks Councilman Benson should have stepped aside instead of aggressively opposing one of his contributor’s attempts to create an access point into a residential area from a major commercial development. Or maybe Mr. Grohn thinks Councilman Benson should have stepped aside when he helped impose numerous restrictions on the other referenced individual’s major development project next to a residential area off Gunbarrel Road.  

As a resident of District 4, I’m keenly aware of Jack Benson’s track record of working hard to protect our neighborhoods regardless of who the developer may be. I would encourage Mr. Grohn to attempt to debate some real issues. Negative campaigns with distorted facts are a big reason that citizens become disillusioned with our political process.   I urge all of District 4 voters to re-elect Jack Benson to the city council.  He has earned our trust. 

Todd Patterson  

Roy Exum: The Trouble With Chicago

On “Black Friday” night, I saw television footage of what was said to be about 2,000 people marching in protest in Chicago. The very vocal mob descended on the toniest street – Michigan Avenue – to spew its rage over a police officer who shot and killed a 17-year-old, this over a year ago in October of 2014. The just-released tapes of the incident embroiled the blacks who insist ... (click for more)

The Message Of The GOP Is Hate And Division

Maybe it is me.  Maybe it is me that thinks the likes of Donald Trump or Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and some of the others represent the voting public.  I noticed and watched, again, with horror, that another shooting and killing happened in Colorado yesterday.  Couple that with some of the hysterical rhetoric of the Republican Party and wonder, or I do, just what is happening ... (click for more)

Volkswagen Stockholder Files Suit Against Automaker At Chattanooga; Seeks Class Action Status

A Volkswagen stockholder has filed suit in Federal Court in Chattanooga against the automaker, charging that its stock was over-valued and that it has not plummeted due to revelations about emissions cheating. The suit was filed in behalf of Michael Wolfenbarger by Knoxville attorney Gordon Ball and Nashville attorney James Stranch III. It seeks class action status for those ... (click for more)

Woman In Critical Condition After Being Shot In The Face Saturday Night Near O'Rear Street

A woman is in critical condition after she was shot while driving in Chattanooga on Saturday night. Just after  9 p.m. , the Chattanooga Police Department responded to reports of a person shot. Once on the scene, police located a female victim near the 2500 block of O'Rear Street suffering from a life-threatening gunshot wound to the face. The victim was driving a ... (click for more)

Unbeaten Texas Hands Lady Vols First Loss, 64-53

KNOXVILLE – The Tennessee Lady Vols won their first five games of the season, despite playing sub-par basketball against lesser-talented teams. They weren’t quite so lucky here at Thompson Boling Arena Sunday afternoon before the largest crowd of the year at 10,204 fans. The eighth-ranked Texas Longhorns ended Tennessee’s 27-game home winning streak with a 64-53 victory ... (click for more)

No.1 UConn Women and Breanna Stewart Face Mocs Monday

“By late Monday night, UConn’s Breanna Stewart will be on a very short list of the greatest female players to ever play at McKenzie Arena.”   -- UTC women’s basketball coach Jim Foster   America’s most talented female player - Breanna Stewart - on the best women’s college basketball team in the land -   UConn – is in town for a one night showing, ... (click for more)