VW Investment Questions - And Response (4)

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Clearly, our city and county government are going to award an additional $52 million in local tax payer resources to VW assuming a return of 2,000 jobs direct, and indirect return. To weigh the rate of return to the community, someone had to assume how long the 2,000 direct jobs would exist. Does anyone know how long our government assumed 2,000 job would continue or sustain for the $52 million investment. 

I don’t know, do you?

 I understand financial scenarios were considered with the assumption the new SUV would have successful demand, sales, and VW would flourish in Chattanooga.

 To protect our community, we must also recognize there is risk associated with the investment of $52 million. What happens if the SUV is not a successful product in terms of demand and sales?  Is our local government out $52 million and the first $40 million, or $92 million?  If the investment does not work out, our elected official will look like Road Runner, so the public needs good information on various scenarios of how the investment will return to the community.

 If the answer is yes we the city and county will be out a total of $92 million if VW leaves, is this the best investment or roll of dice with the public’s $52 million?  What if we invested heavily in an American business, or the greatest employer in the State, small businesses.  

 Would the rate of return be greater? Is anyone evaluating whether VW is best investment of public resources and will produce the best rate of return?  Is someone weighing other investment opportunity to grow business to know this is the best investment?   

 I don’t know, do you?

 The  first come, first serve method of issuing these windfalls of public money to huge corporation in anticipation of a trickle down is not a strategic method of investment or a healthy one?  Essentially, the city and county government just takes the deal that walks into the Chamber of Commerce office first without consideration to other investment options. There has to be a host of investment options in commerce. Why is VW the top choice?  Nothing against VW, but I am for the community first.

 Why is VW the best investment?

 I don’t know, do you?

 Are we the taxpayer just supposed to blindly follow without any information?

 It seems to me that there is a lot of risk riding on whether this SUV will a desirable product and sell.  What if, VW sales decline and we are stuck with a total of $92 million in local bond issues ($40 million, then $52 million), What then? - No additional revenue, and we are stuck with $92 million in local debt to pay back.

 What happens if the SUV tanks? Did anyone calculate a financial scenario about what happens to our city and county if VW SUV tank?

 What will be the impact on local government operations if VW sales decline and the jobs leave?  Are their people out there that have this information, because none of these issues are being discussed in public meetings or hearing.

 Perhaps I am asking the wrong people, because when I asked elected official, they don’t know either.  The studies or reports on this investment need to made readily available for public review. 

 Why not let the public participate in their investment and see the reports or studies that have been conducted, including the scenario with the associated risk?

 The Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce brokers these incentive packages. Since we the taxpayer pay the Chamber $1.1 million annually for this service, it would be highly appropriate for them to earn the $1.1 million and answer questions from the investors, called the taxpayers.

April Eidson

* * *

Is there any public-private project that April Eidson supports? Is everything a conspiracy? It sounds to me that Ms. Edison has many axes to grind. I am unable to locate any project that she thinks doesn't involve a back room deal or criticisms of local elected officials. If Ms. Edison has proof of officials acting illegal, then I suggest she contact the attorney general with her concerns.

What really makes me scratch my head is that her website endorses Chuck Fleischmann, yet during his two terms the federal agencies have overpaid $100 billion a year, according to Fox News. That is $400 billion that Chuck has not seemed to be concerned about even though he sits on the House Appropriations committee. I would think that as a taxpayer she would be sincerely outraged?

John Harris

* * *

Mrs. Eidson, as a concerned private citizen, asks some thoughtful and pointed questions about the taxpayers' participation in the VW expansion and a few risks associated. I recall that April Eidson has screamed for more than two years that the TIF for Black Creek was illegal and a judge agreed with her, and others, and ruled it illegal, period. That is not a conspiracy theorist, that is a wise and courageous fighter for the taxpayers of Hamilton County and the city of Chattanoogal. I don't recall Mr. Harris speaking out or attending meetings on behalf of the taxpayers against the TIF like April did. so who is actually concerned about the taxpayers?

As to Mr. Harris' allegations against Chuck Fleischmann, I have not heard any such thing. The accusations he made were quite wide and unsubstantiated. I am sure if anything were done that is questionable, Chuck Fleischmann has only one vote out of several, who knows if this even happened, or if Chuck had anything to do with it? However, Mr. Harris used this opportunity to throw a low blow, is he a Wamp supporter?

Another thing, just keeping up with the local shenanigans is more than a full time job for any concerned taxpayer, and you can bet, lots of thought has gone into April Eidson's right as a citizen to endorse whoever she wishes. Just like she was right about the illegal TIF, I would have some pretty strong faith in her decision to pick Congressman Fleischmann over Mr. Wamp, after all, she hates taxpayer abuse, especially local taxpayer abuse. Maybe she knows and understands the difference between the two candidates better than Mr. Harris realizes. My money is on April Eidson, the local fighter for the taxpayers.
 Joe Blevins

* * *

Well, hello Joe Blevins.  I'm with you and April Eidson, especially on the Chuck issue.
I happened to be watching the House of Representatives in session the day Chuck introduced his bill to revise the process and procedure for consideration of funding for projects such as our Chickamauga Lock that would remove this and other similar urgent national needs from that great pool of taxpayer dollars generally hit by first-come, first-served, depending on who you are, what area you represent, and how fast you are on the draw of garnering pledges of support for your project.  Chuck shepherded his bill through the House and the Senate with overwhelming majorities and the President signed the bill into law so fast that I wondered whether I was in another country.  Because of Chuck we are in a much better position to receive funding for Chickamauga.  I believe that.
At the same time, Chuck had been appointed by the Speaker of the House to assume his seat before the whole House and conduct the business of the day.  He was a polished professional in all respects in his delivery and in his conduct of congressional business. 
Regarding Volkswagen, I am excited about the project, especially the research and development center.  I was greatly impressed by VW's CEO Winterkorn as he announced from Germany that the Cross Blue SUV will be made in Chattanooga.  He was straightforward in addressing questions and problems that have loomed over us for too long and left no stone unturned.  That is an indicator of a strong, compassionate, responsible, and competent manager.
As for the research center, I would hope that it would remain adjacent to the plant where its specialists could conduct their work without tourists wandering through their area, asking questions, and attempting to engage in conversation.  I could visualize that center becoming a hub for ground-breaking research that could be applicable to the automotive industry in general.  With the largest computer on the planet located at Oak ridge and UT-K involved there, and that internationally respected German engineering at our fingertips, what else do we need....except a heliport or landing pad at the site for transport from the airport to save technical, scientific, and health and safety specialists from the disastrous Highway 153 when they come for meetings or other business purposes.
It is a lot of money.  No denying that.  Having this opportunity to place ourselves on the map in such an international way is one we must not fail to support.  As for Mayor Berke's search for a place for his VW welcome center downtown, I would suggest City Hall but I am afraid my taxes would skyrocket.
Charlotte Parton


* * *

April, I predict the next stock market bubble to burst will be the automotive industry, and all the foreign manufacturers will collapse given the glut of high-priced autos and too much competition. The majority of the middle class cannot afford to buy these cars with this inflationary dollar since Nixon took us off the gold standard back in '71 and wages didn't keep up. Middle class household income was $84,000 in 2003, and now it's down to $53,000. The minimum wage should be $25.

The only manufacturers who will survive are GM, Ford and Chrysler, who build our military hardware.

The taxpayers will take it on the chin again, for Haslam and the Republicans, Chamber of Commerce, taking money out of TennCare to fund all these big investment packages to Volkswagen and other companies, hoping to bring high-paying jobs to Tennessee, and keep Tennessee a slave wage state.

The Smoky Mountain seventh son knows, and is predicting the future from the past again....

Donald Woods....Knoxville

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