Now that early voting has started and our strawberries have hopefully survived this last blush of winter, allow me to catch up on some things but, first, here’s a letter from a concerned reader I feel compelled to share:
“There is something I have noticed throughout Brainerd, East Brainerd, Dayton, etc. A billboard has been put up, I believe by the Health Department of Hamilton County, depicting an African American male, and it is captioned ‘Do you have gonorrhea?’
“Who does one complain to about this billboard? I just think it is raunchy in this day and age, to put an African American into the picture. To me it states, African American males get gonorrhea.
“The billboard/health department could have easily sent the message about STD's without putting a photo of a person of any race, creed, or national origin.”
MY REPLY: Not only do I agree but the subject matter is shameful. The great majority of the decent people who live in Chattanooga should not be subjected to such callous and distasteful assault on our senses and someone who works at the Chattanooga-Hamilton County Department of Health should be ordered to remove the billboards immediately.
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HOORAY FOR CLEVELAND – Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland accepted a check for $10,000 in Washington D.C. over the weekend after the bustling Tennessee city was one of three municipalities to be honored by the Newman’s Own food giant in the Make A Difference Awards.
Actually, 14 communities were lauded in the event sponsored by the newspaper circular USA Weekend and funded by the late Paul Newman’s brainchild to help children but there were just three cities chosen based on special projects on or around Oct. 25 of last year. Cleveland’s award came as a result of the Court-Appointed Special Advocates of Bradley County.
Cleveland has taken part in the Make A Difference Day program for the last 20 years.
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A PUFF OF VAPOR – Electronic cigarettes, now the rage across America for delivering vapor instead of smoke, are about to fall under Food and Drug Administration guidelines after it was reported the nicotine devices reached over $8 billion in sales in 2013.
Instead of cigarettes, the battery-powered devices heat a liquid nicotine solution and currently there are over 200 brand names with little or no regulations. Mounting concern over age restrictions and warning labels resulted in a scathing report issued this week and FDA legislation is being rushed through Congress.
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BOSTON STRONG! – When grim-faced but hopeful officials marked the first anniversary of the Boston Marathon tragedy on Tuesday, it was a marked sign of unity that all five of the city’s professional sports teams sent out a simultaneous tweet to millions that read, “Boston Strong!” Vice president Joe Biden was on hand and said that while he wasn’t a Red Sox fan (“That will get you beat up where I am from!") he got a tremendous ovation when he told the huge crowd, “Next Monday, on Patriots' Day, when I'm told up to 36,000 people will line up to start the marathon, you will send a resounding message around the world, not just to rest of the world, but to the terrorists that we will never yield.
“We will never cower," he said. "America will never, ever, ever stand down. We are Boston. We are America. We respond. We endure. We overcome. And we own the finish line."
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NOT A BIG SURPRISE – When basketball coach Cuonzo Martin bolted from Tennessee yesterday, it came as little surprise to those who remember earlier this year when over 30,000 signed an online petition to have him replaced by Bruce Pearl. Martin’s NCAA success was wonderful but clearly his feelings had been hurt.
Tennessee did little to lionize Cuonzo in the weeks that followed his team’s NCAA semifinals appearance and it was rumored Martin, who had a 61-43 record in three seasons at UT, was looking at other jobs.
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UNDIE SUNDAY – The Bakersfield Condors, a minor league hockey team, came up with a novel idea to help the charity organization, The Mission at Kern County and the Kern County Network for Children, when the plea went out for underwear, socks and diapers to be thrown on the ice rink when the Condors scored the first goal.
The fans waited and waited until, finally, with 1:40 left in the game, Bakersfield scored. The result? Nearly 6,000 clothing items, including 1,096 pairs of socks, 2,773 pair of underwear, 1,747 diapers and 55 bras, among other items. (No, none had been pre-owned).
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GOVERNOR’S TAXES – Alabama Governor Robert Bentley’s tax form shows an adjusted annual income of $373,000 in documents just mailed to the IRS. What makes that unusual is Bentley refuses to take a salary until unemployment falls to 5.2 percent in the state.
Actually, he sold an office building he owned while working as a doctor in Tuscaloosa which is where most of the income was made. He and his wife paid over $81,000 in taxes and donated more than $15,000 to charities. Unemployment in Alabama is now 6.1 percent.