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


Christians With Their Heads In The Sand

I recall how history tells us of the German people living next to the gas chambers, ignoring the smell and horror of over six million Jews being slaughtered, and then acting as though they didn't know it had happened.  I can also recall that Eisenhower was so disgusted with these callused and unconcerned people that he made them face their denial by marching them all past ... (click for more)

Unsung Heroes At Our National Cemetery

Having attended the funeral of Sgt. David Wyatt last Friday, it seems to me that no one has mentioned the outstanding job that the employees of our National Cemetery performed that day.  I arrived early that day and was on hand to witness the work these patriots put in to ensure everyone was safe, could see and hear and, above all, ensure that the family of Sgt. Wyatt were ... (click for more)

Zaxby's To Go In Across From Bass Pro Shop At New I-75 Exit 1 Development In East Ridge

A new Zaxby's will be built across from Bass Pro Shop at I-75's Exit 1 in East Ridge, developer John Healy said Thursday night. He said other restaurants and hotels are also coming to the Jordan Crossing site at the entrance to Camp Jordan Park. Mr. Healy said he hopes to make a "significantly larger" announcement soon. The East Ridge City Council, at a special called meeting, ... (click for more)

Young Man Involved In Incident That Led To A Murder Gets Diversion, Praise For Testifying

A young man who was involved in an incident that led to a murder has been given diversion and praised for testifying against co-defendants. Criminal Court Judge Barry Steelman said a conviction for facilitation of an aggravated robbery can be expunged if Dustin Hayes gets in no further trouble for six years. The judge said, "We wouldn't be dealing with 40 shootings a year ... (click for more)

Justin Brown Signs With Hiwassee College

Only weeks after signing Red Bank's Jalen Moore to a scholarship, Hiwassee head baseball coach Shane Gardner was back in Chattanooga on Wednesday evening. This time he was in the Scenic City looking for a player he described as "a spark plug, someone who could boost our team and contribute right away." He believes he's found that young man in former Chattanooga School for the ... (click for more)

Robert Powderly Still Active After All Of These Years

It didn’t take long for Robert Powderly to get fully involved in the running boom back in the late 70s. Millions of Americans joined the parade back in those days where running was their main source of physical fitness and Powderly was a big part of it. Powderly is now 68 and retired from U.S. Pipe where he worked in the accounting department.   He’s also had a couple ... (click for more)