Juror Meals - And Response (7)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Just saw the report on Channel 3 about the cost of juror meals in Hamilton County and that one officer has been suspended for a week. I really don't have a problem with the cost of the meals themselves. Serving on a sequestered jury is a real sacrifice and eating a nice meal at a nice restaurant after a day of jury duty and being separated from one's family is a small reward for the jurors service.

However I do have a  problem with the fact that ,"several," tabs of over $500 were run up at the Boathouse. And I have a REAL problem that at least once the jurors were taken all the way down to the Canyon Grill in Georgia. It would appear that since the Boathouse and Canyon Grill are owned by the same people  there might be a little back scratching going on here. I have found the Boathouse to be somewhat over-priced, possibly because diners are paying for the River view, and there are many similar type restaurants in the downtown area that could be used for juror dinners.

Under no circumstance should the taxpayers of Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee have to pay for jurors to eat in a restaurant not only not in the county but not even in the state of Tennessee.

Douglas Jones
Ooltewah

* * *

Doug Jones I have to disagree with you.  Obviously you don't eat out very often.  Boathouse is not expensive.  Have you been to Firebird, 212 Market St, Bonefish Grille, St John's, Public House or any of the other nice restaurants?  You have to pay for decent food.  You left out Sugar's Ribs as one of the 3 family restaurants owned by the same man that owns Boathouse.  Lets get our facts before we start ranting.  Canyon Grill may be out on the mountain but they can seat a party of 12-15 and they are no more expensive than the others listed.  I know since I eat at all those places frequently.
 
Mike Layne

* * *

Mike Layne, I have to disagree with you. You say Canyon Grill is not expensive and you eat out frequently? Maybe a $40 steak is cheap to you, but I find that a bit more than I want to spend "frequently." Also, if you think that 16 people eating lunch and the bill comes to $400 is merely "decent" food, then bully for you, because that's $25 per person for lunch. Obviously, things must be a bit tighter over at my house.

If a jury is sequestered, what's wrong with nine pizzas from Lupi's? Support a local business but don't insult the taxpayers by spending like a drunken sailor. Don't want pizza? How about everybody go to Subway and get what I would call "decent" healthy food at a moderate price. Is it maybe that Lupi's and Subway don't scratch the right backs? Yeah, I know, what a stupid concept: efficiency in government.

Especially when the mindset is, "Don't worry about it because the state of Tennessee is paying for it."

Last time I looked, that was me.

Herb Montgomery
Chattanooga

 * * *

Herb, have you recently served on a jury? If you had you would have known a jury is not made of twelve old buckaroos who deliberate for a few minutes like they did in the old cowboy movies.

There are more and more murder trials. Some trials run for several weeks. A jury may have as many as sixteen people which includes alternates plus the two deputies who accompany them. Not every restaurant can accommodate this many people who must be separated from other diners. This limits the number of restaurants where jurors are fed. And the jury room is too small in which to feed sixteen people.

Sorry Herb but everybody can't just chow down on pizzas.  Some are diabetic, have gluten, wheat or nut allergies, don't or can't eat red meat, and some jurors are vegans or require low sodium diets. Some may require Kosher meals.

America has changed Herb and everything is bigger and more costly every year.

Ralph Miller

* * *

One person's decent is another person's fancy, but when I read where the officers in charge say don't worry about it, the state of Tennessee is paying, then I see a red flag.

Maybe that sequestered jury needed to be taken all of the way down Lookout Mountain for a meal or maybe their motel was in Trenton, but a $904 total bill from the Canyon Grill or anywhere seems expensive.  I find it amazing anyone can defend that in this day and time when states and local governments are so cash-strapped for funding and revenue.

The USA has never been accused of being a thrifty nation, so this probably goes on in every department of just about every city, but sometimes shining a bright light on a problem can be the first step in fixing it, even here it seems some would chastise anyone who dares to make a negative comment about juries and their eating habits.

I do realize America is changing; Lupi's has a gluten free crust now.

Chris Rice

* * *

I can't believe I'm actually seeing people defend the cost of these lunches. As we all know, "expensive" is a relative term. If Mr. Layne really does eat at all of those places frequently, as he claimed, then he clearly makes considerably more money than the vast majority, and is in no position to say what does, and doesn't, classify as expensive for the common person.

I actually laughed out load at Ralph Miller's feeble attempts at trying to somehow justify the expenses. Allow me to list a cheap alternative for each of the special food restrictions he listed.

Gluten allergies? Lupi's offers gluten-free pizza.
Diabetic? Subway.
Nut allergy? Subway
Anti red meat? Subway
Vegan? Cure that ailment by forcing them to eat one of those $40 steaks Herb mentioned, then take them to Subway.
Low sodium diet? Subway

Kosher? Ya got me there, but I seriously doubt a single one of the restaurants used in this situation was chosen because of its Kosher menu. But for the rare occasion when a juror needs a kosher meal, fine, get him/her a kosher meal. I doubt that's a factor often encountered, though.

Bottom line, it is imperative that people are held accountable for their actions. Misuse of taxpayer funds needs to be taken more seriously. It's bad enough we have to watch our federal government throw our money away, we shouldn't have to watch our local government do the same. Too bad we can't have a single parent of two or more kids in charge of this spending. They would surely find a way to satisfy everyone's bellies while keeping the costs very reasonable.

Sam Horn

* * *

If the reporting is accurate, I think it is troublesome that there has not been a reasonable cap on meal expenses for jurors.  That said, I think it's even more troublesome that someone who serves on a jury is paid only thirteen dollars a day, and is required to pay for parking in the vicinity of the courthouse.  I think that convenient parking should be provided - free of charge - to  individuals doing their civic duty.

Melissa Cantrell
Signal Mountain 

* * * 

It is a shame we ask people put their life on hold for days, pay less than $1.50 per hour, then complain because they eat a nice meal on the people. That is about $25 a person including tips which is about $4.50 of the fee. 

These people do a service that I have wished I had been selected to do, but at age 68 I have never been called for jury duty.  I understand a list of approved places to eat was given to them.  Someone approved the list before the jury selected the eating place. 

We should thank them for the job even if we sometime disagree with the results. This is a service that many do not want or will try anything to get out of doing. 

Margaret Chastain
Soddy Daisy


Vehicle Emissions Testing Causes More Pollution Than It Prevents

While a noble cause to make sure vehicles are operating efficiently with the minimum amount of pollutants, a simple analysis makes it somewhat evident the VET program in Chattanooga causes more pollution that it prevents.  Though I don't know how many vehicles are tested on an annual basis, if you assume an average round trip of 10 miles to the nearest testing station (five ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Abolish Bail For Poor

Our terribly overcrowded Hamilton County Jail may get some help from an unsuspected corner – the Obama administration is tackling the fact that right now over 450,000 people are in our country’s jails because they are too poor to pay for bail. It is a violation of the Constitution to “punish people for their poverty.” As the Eighth Amendment provides, “… excessive bail ought not ... (click for more)

Red Bank Joining Signal Mountain In Move Toward Possibly Taking Over Schools

Red Bank is joining Signal Mountain in the move to study a possible revolt from the Hamilton County Schools. At a work-study session on Tuesday, the five commissioners agreed to form a five-member feasibility study on the issue at the first of the year. Mayor John Roberts said each commissioner will name a person to the panel, that will look into Red Bank operating the schools ... (click for more)

Shannon Whitfield Already At Work Eliminating Sole Commissioner Post In Walker County; Process To Take 4 Years

Shannon Whitfield is already at work eliminating the position he won by a landslide in the recent election. Mr. Whitfield, who takes over at 12:01 a.m. on Jan. 1 after a 16-year reign by Bebe Heiskell, noted, however, that it is a four-year process. He said the two House members and local senator are working with him on legislation that must first be approved. That should ... (click for more)

Top-Ranked Bradley Uses Fast Start To Beat Baylor

There’s no question that the Bradley Bears are ranked first in the initial state wrestling poll and they proved they deserve to be in that top spot following a 43-30 victory over the Baylor Red Raiders. Baylor is ranked fourth in that first poll and will surely be a force to be reckoned with in Division II as the season progresses, but the Bears are head and shoulders ahead after ... (click for more)

Run-And-Gun Tyner Shoots Down Red Bank 71-33

Tyner opponents better batten down the hatches if the Rams ever iron out their half-court offensive struggles. Even without that weapon showing up Tuesday night, the Rams showed they have a run-and-gun assault that can bury an opponent under an avalanche of points. And their defense is as tenacious as ever. Tyner outscored Red Bank 15-0 to start the second quarter ... (click for more)