Spiraling Cost Of The Gig

Monday, April 14, 2014

We are all familiar with the well-known opening by Dickens: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” Of course, many of us may be less familiar with how Dickens continued the opening to his classic novel: “it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness…”

News from the past few weeks have left me in a position where I think the second, less-familiar line offers a wonderful characterization of the recent tales of our city.

In one instance, we have Chattanooga’s Transportation Department refusing to usher public dollars to a private taxi company.

Let’s make this decision an example of Dickens’ “age of wisdom.”

But in another instance, we have yet another example of our city leaders pouring what appears to be unlimited dollars into the Gig. At a baseline of at least $160,000/year, Mayor Berke – citing the need to seek ways to capitalize on “Gig opportunities” – committed more public monies to promote Chattanooga’s Gig.

I will remind you that the Gig is already costing tax-payers and EPB rate-payers more than $500 million, and until EPB “upgraded” their premium internet service customers to a “Gig” this past August, there were only 10 customers of the Gig. That’s right, 10 customers after four years of promotion.

Given the Gig’s lack of success in attracting new businesses to Chattanooga, and given the complete lack of interest from area consumers in purchasing the Gig, it is without hesitation that I place the Mayor’s decision to spend even more public monies on the Gig as an unfortunate example – among many related to the Gig – of Dickens’ “age of foolishness.”

Should it not be considered foolish that we spend more than $500 million on a service that has yet to benefit the city, while our firefighters and police officers were left waiting five years for a pay raise?

Should it not be considered foolish that we spend more than $500 million on the Gig, while the Hamilton County School Board is forced to sue the city of Chattanooga to secure $11 million in unpaid taxes dating back to 1998?

That’s right. In the four years that the city invested more than half a billion dollars in development of a service that had 10 customers, the city was unable to find the money to give a raise to our police officers and fire fighters, and our city leaders didn’t fulfill our obligations to the education system.

With each new announcement of more and more spending on the Gig, it becomes clear that our city leadership has created something that they believe is too big to fail.

At this time, a number of stories about the Gig remain positive – citing its future promise. My concern is this, as we move into year five, year six, year seven and beyond and the Gig continues to under-perform, and we continue to see that the market for the Gig doesn’t exist, how do city leaders continue to justify the massive amounts of public money that has been and will be spent to sustain a product that is hard pressed to find more than a handful of customers?

Before our city leaders find new ways to waste our money on the Gig, it is important that we remind them what the core priorities are for our public dollars. Without question, safety and education should be much higher on our city’s list of priorities than fast internet.

It’s time for EPB to get back to focusing on providing electricity, and time for our city leaders to get back to focusing on its responsibilities to its residents.  

Mark West


Lessons From My Dad, Marty Haynes

Enough is enough. I have heard Marty Haynes’ name drug through the mud for far too long. Let me tell you a few things that I have learned from my father, that now as a family man myself I realize are far more important than anything else.  1. Be Faithful in your Service- My dad learned this trait from my grandparents, Dub and Norma Haynes- Mr. and Mrs. Hixson High 1951, ... (click for more)

TVA Coal Reductions Could Come With High Price Tag

Reliable, low-cost electricity has always been the backbone of the Tennessee Valley economy. Low-cost power from the Tennessee Valley Authority, generated by a balanced mix of coal, natural gas and nuclear, drives the valley’s manufacturing economy and makes the region an attractive destination for business. In the process, Tennessee has developed the fourth largest automotive manufacturing ... (click for more)

Female, 18, Shot On South Seminole Early Saturday Morning

An 18-year-old female was shot in the leg on South Seminole early Saturday morning. Chattanooga Police responded to the 200 block of South Seminole after a report of a shooting. There police located one victim suffering from a single, non-life threatening gunshot wound. T he victim, Cierra L Kirksey, was inside her home when the shooting occurred. The suspect was ... (click for more)

Almost $5 Million In Donations Received For Organ Donor Awareness Since Program Began

Hamilton County Clerk Bill Knowles, one of the founding board members of the Tennessee County Clerks Organ Donor Awareness Foundation, announce d that in 2015  the  95 Tennessee County Clerk offices marked a milestone of receiving almost $5 million in donations since its formation in 1996. Mr. Knowles said,  “Over  the years  Hamilton County  consistently ... (click for more)

Near-Perfect Red Bank Leads Region 2-A/AA Wrestling

High school wrestling coaches are always looking for perfection and Red Bank's Shane Turner almost got it Friday night in the opening day of the Region 2-A/AA tournament at Hixson Middle School. The Lions advanced all 14 of their wrestlers to Saturday morning's championship semifinal round and lead the 14-team field with 52 points. Hixson advanced 10 to the semis and hold ... (click for more)

Baylor Has Six, No.1 Seeds For D-II Region Wrestling Meet

Led by three-time state champions Michael Murphy (145) and Ryan Parker (195), Baylor has six No.1 seeds for today’s TSSAA D-II East/Middle Region individual wrestling tournament at Baylor. McCallie has four top seeds, while MBA has three and BGA has one. Today’s Region: The tournament starts at 10 a.m. in Duke Arena with the top four in each weight class advancing to next ... (click for more)