Former Discretionary Fund Foe Graham Goes Out With Spending Bang

Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Joe Graham
Joe Graham

Joe Graham, who spent much of his recent tenure on the County Commission decrying the use of discretionary spending by individual commissioners, is going out with a spending bang.

He is asking his fellow commissioners next Wednesday to approve $188,000 in county funds for a variety of causes - mainly in his home Lookout Valley.

Commissioner Graham, who lost his District 6 seat to Democrat David Sharpe, said he is taking the money from county discretionary funds as well as unused travel funds.

The items include:

- $33,274.89 for new windows for the gym at John A.

Patten Recreation Center

- $25,000 to assist the town of Lookout Mountain with repairs to recreational facilities

- $20,000 to assist the town of Red Bank with repairs to recreational facilities

- $15,000 to the Honoring the Sacrifice Foundation

- $15,000 to the Medal of Honor Hall of Valor Museum of Military History Foundation

- $14,000 to assist with the construction of a new Children's Hospital at Erlanger

- $15,000 to the Public School Bible Study Committee for classes at Lookout Valley Jr. and High

- $25,852.80 to the Lookout Valley Neighborhood Association

- $25,000 to the Lookout Valley Lions Club

The board of The Public School Bible Study Committee (Bible in the Schools) released the following statement: "The board recognizes County Commissioner Joe Graham’s proposed gift of $15,000 as affirmation of the enduring confidence this community has in the 97-year-old Bible History elective program, now offered in 25 Hamilton County public schools. It is, however, the long-standing policy of the board of directors to continue to do good work with present and future private donations, without soliciting or accepting support from public tax money. For more information, visit www.bibleintheschools.com."   

Commissioner Graham earlier sided with County Mayor Jim Coppinger when he was trying to do away with the practice of letting individual commissioners have access to $100,000 each per year to spend as they saw fit.

He would routinely vote "present" when other commissioners would seek approval for their projects.

In October 2016, several members of the commission blasted Commissioner Graham as a "hypocrite" when he requested to use $32,275 of "old" discretionary funds for windows at the John A. Patten Recreation Center. The proposal was voted down. Voting no were Chairman Chester Bankston, Sabrena Smedley and Tim Boyd. Vice Chairman Randy Fairbanks voted "present" as he said "Commissioner Graham had done 50-60 times when other commissioners wanted to use their discretionary money." In favor were Commissioners Graham, Jim Fields, Greg Beck and Warren Mackey. Five yes votes were needed for approval as the District 3 seat was vacant on the nine-member panel at the time.

The $100,000 per commissioner for projects of their choosing was left out of the 2016 budget. The prior year, Commissioner Graham declined to spend his share after the county mayor fought to do away with the fund and was overruled by a majority of the commission.

Commissioner Mackey at the time of the 2016 vote said he was "a little puzzled" that Commissioner Graham was making the request, saying, "I thought he had given up his money." He said the request was "hypocritical" or at least "confusing."

Commissioner Boyd said he had a problem with using county funds on the city-owned rec center. He also said that Commissioner Graham "has been critical of us for 18 months for using discretionary money" and then was making a similar request.


New Book Chattanooga In Old Photos Now Available At Zarzours; Enter Drawing To Win All 4 Photo Books

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Oct. 13-18

Chattanooga Woman Gets 20-Month Federal Prison Sentence For Watching Child Pornography With Her Husband


The new book Chattanooga in Old Photos, sponsored by Chattanoogan.com, is now available at Zarzours Restaurant on the Southside. The limited edition of 800 copies is printed by College Press ... (click for more)

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Oct. 13-18: 10-13-18 Courtney Lynn Underhill, 28, of 7526 Sims Road, Harrison, TN arrested on a charge of concealment of property. Loren ... (click for more)

A woman who admitted watching child pornography with her husband over a period of about a year has been sentenced to serve 20 months in federal prison. Diana McBryar appeared before Judge ... (click for more)


Breaking News

New Book Chattanooga In Old Photos Now Available At Zarzours; Enter Drawing To Win All 4 Photo Books

The new book Chattanooga in Old Photos, sponsored by Chattanoogan.com, is now available at Zarzours Restaurant on the Southside. The limited edition of 800 copies is printed by College Press of Collegedale. It is the fourth book in the collection called the Chattanooga Photo Books made possible by Chattanoogan.com. The others are The Remarkable Stokes Collection, Railroads ... (click for more)

Fort Oglethorpe Arrest Report For Oct. 13-18

Here is the Fort Oglethorpe arrest report for Oct. 13-18: 10-13-18 Courtney Lynn Underhill, 28, of 7526 Sims Road, Harrison, TN arrested on a charge of concealment of property. Loren Jade Coppinger, 28, of 420 Mission Ridge Road, Rossville arrested on charges of criminal trespass, driving within a median/gore, outstanding warrant, reckless driving, theft by shoplifting ... (click for more)

Opinion

Too Many Questions

First it was about 2,000, then we were told it’s up to 4,000. We have no way of knowing who’s coming or what their purpose is. NBC and CNN assure us they are seeking sanctuary but how can we know? Neither Honduras or our subjective media in America have been honest with us in the past. So, how do we know why that many people are marching across Central America? Then this morning ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: An Answer For Amy

Amy Schumer, whose cousin is Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer, is said to be a very successful comedian and an activist of note. You may remember her most recent appearance was when she was arrested at the U.S. Capitol three weeks ago. She was part of a disgraceful mob who unlawfully protested the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh and the hunch is Amy wanted to get arrested so she ... (click for more)

Sports

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC Opens Ticket Deposits

Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club opened ticket deposits on Monday for its inaugural 2019 season of professional play in USL League One. Deposits ensure soccer fans get to pick their preferred seats early for group, season and individual tickets. By placing a deposit, fans will also have access to priority seating for the new soccer-specific stadium being built for the 2020 season. ... (click for more)

Baylor, GPS, CCS Advance To State Soccer Semifinals

Baylor traveled to Briarcrest in Memphis on Saturday to compete for a Division II-AA final four spot. After play to a 0-0 tie in the first half, Baylor would find itself down 1-0 in the 63rd minute when Anna Strong scored off a corner kick. That lead did not last long as Ara Rhodes scored the game tying goal one minute later off an Avery David corner kick. Two minutes later, ... (click for more)