Tidwell Campaign Says Collection Efforts Have Saved Millions Of Taxpayer Dollars

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Mike Loftin, an official of the Gwen Tidwell campaign said, "In her 20-year tenure as Criminal Court clerk, her administrative innovations have enhanced the office's efficiency and effectiveness, two good reasons for voters to re-elect her on Aug. 7."

He said, "County taxpayers have already benefitted from one Tidwell accomplishment. When county commissioners approved the 2015 budget, that became the fifteenth fiscal year that she has not taken an appropriation for staff salaries. Instead, those salaries were paid with funds generated by state-mandated fees the office charges in all criminal court cases. That has saved taxpayers more than $6 million -- money available for other county services, including public education and public safety.

"Her administrative skills have improved the office's service to the public, law enforcement, and attorneys, thereby lowering the office's operating costs. Case in point, her realization of how technology could make the office more customer- and taxpayer-friendly.

"She led the way in computerizing the office, enabling the staff to handle more efficiently the workload of more than 50,000 new criminal cases filed every. And since criminal court records were digitized, the sheriff, police departments, attorney general, public defender and local, state and federal probation offices have been able to access them without first having to contact the clerk's office.

"Further, the records are now online, giving media organizations accurate information about criminal cases, and computers are available at the office for citizens wishing to check records. (By law, permanent official records are kept on paper.)

"When Ms. Tidwell took office in 1994 she found there was no system for collecting fees charged in criminal cases. She was the first to set up a delinquent collections department that is now self-sustaining and self-funded. The office has collected more than $70 million in fees for the state and local governments. And to make collections easier, years ago she put in place a system that allows defendants to pay fees by credit card."

"Collecting money from convicted criminals is not easy," Ms. Tidwell said. "They are often in prison and even after they've been released are usually unemployed, and sometimes unemployable. But our efforts have not only saved millions of tax dollars from being spent in my office, they've also resulted in tens of millions of dollars collected for use in many other offices."


ArtsBuild Hosts Fundraiser At Flying Squirrel Aug. 5

ArtsBuild (formerly Allied Arts) will partner with the Flying Squirrel Bar on Tuesday, Aug. 5, to raise funds for its leadership programs.  The Flying Squirrel, at 55 Johnson St. in Chattanooga’s Southside district, will donate 10 percent of its total sales from the evening, from 5 p.m. to closing, to ArtsBuild. Founded as a united arts fund in 1969, ArtsBuild’s mission ... (click for more)

Photos Wanted Of Local Vietnam War Heroes Killed In Action

State Senator Todd Gardenhire said Tuesday that he is seeking photos of  local Vietnam War veterans who were killed in action in order to honor the fallen heroes at a new facility which compliments the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C.  The photos will be part of a multimedia display at the new Education Center at the Wall, which will be built between ... (click for more)

Harr Outlines $40 Million Plan For Chattanooga Light Rail System

Outgoing Chamber of Commerce President Ron Harr on Monday outlined a $40 million plan for a Chattanooga light rail system that would serve not only downtown, but also the Airport and the Enterprise South Industrial Park. In a speech to the Chattanooga Engineers Club, Mr. Harr said most cities looking at such an ambitious plan "would be facing costs of over a billion dollars." ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Choo Choo Adding Clubs, Restaurants In $8 Million Renovation

The historic Chattanooga Choo Choo is adding clubs and restaurants in a $7 million renovation, it was announced in front of the South Market Street landmark on Monday morning. The Comedy Catch will be moving from its longtime home in Brainerd and there will be a new 500-person music venue that will be in addition to Track 29. The new venue, managed by Track 29, will feature a ... (click for more)

Senator Bob Corker: An Open Letter To Tennesseans

We are incredibly fortunate to live in a state in which companies worldwide are clamoring to establish a presence. Many attribute it to our pro-business culture, well-prepared workforce, low tax environment, right-to-work policies, and engaged citizenry.  That is why the announcement by Volkswagen to build its midsize sports utility vehicle and establish the South’s ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Wamp Refuses To Stoop

With less than two weeks before the Aug. 7 th election and the last week of early voting now underway in Hamilton County, Congressional challenger Weston Wamp sounded upbeat and relaxed early yesterday afternoon. “I’m pleased to say that I believe we are right where we need to be … maybe even more than we had hoped.” Wamp, who is challenging two-term incumbent Chuck Fleishmann ... (click for more)