Hire Local First - And Response (3)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I was so pleased to read on Chattanoogan.com that the new leadership of the Hamilton County Wastewater Treatment Authority recognized the economic impact of hiring local workers and firms for projects funded with local revenue. WWTA could in fact hire an out of town, large firm, but stated that they going to hire local firms and plumbers.

The unemployed and skilled workers in our community are certain to appreciate WWTA for this effort.

Revenues generated in this region need to remain in this region to cycle through the local economy to schools and public needs. It is simply common sense that projects funded with federal stimulus dollars intended to improve the local economy, local tax or utility revenues, or property taxes should utilize locally owned and operated firms and workers where at all possible. Local workers are any profession, attorneys, architects, surveyors, engineers, electricians, plumbers, contractors, and my friend that is laid off from the factory.

Chattanooga is rich with specialized firms that are highly qualified to design and construct any municipal, government, or private project from utilities and infrastructure, there are no limits to our local capability. It is very logical to recognize local talent and the benefits of recycling public funds through the local economy by awarding proximity points to contractors. If a firm is located in Chattanooga, employs local workers, and the project is funded with revenue from the community, then why not award additional points for the local contractor?

There are many community members that gladly accept the label of protectionist to see locally owned and operated firms and workers back in business. Count me in, and hire here first.

April Eidson

* * *

Everyone wants to do business locally, especially unions. They wrecked Chattanooga once, and now the City Council wants to let them do it again. I’m not surprised they want to make up stories about illegal immigrants doing work. A lot of people from Georgia and Alabama work here, and they always have. A lot of people from here work there too.

It’s not surprising that members of the City Council pushing this received so much union special interest money in the last election. I hope people aren’t misled by the whole local thing because that’s already being done. Who goes outside of town unless they have to? It isn’t good business. But what this resolution before the council does is open the door only to the unions. Do we want Chattanooga to be another Detroit? Do we want another Hoffa in town?

Just don’t let union and liberal activists or disgruntled contractors mislead anyone into thinking this is about local work and tax money. It’s about locals and dues money.

Craig Carroll

* * *

It's strange that Mr. Carroll repeatedly refers to unions in his reply, yet Ms. Edison never mentioned them once in her posting. It's apparent to me that Ms. Edison supports the idea of local people (Alabama and Georgia residents included) to have first chance at local jobs.

I agree with her 100%. Mr. Carroll obviously is saying the same thing except that he wants to exclude local union members from that opportunity.

Mr. Carroll doesn't seem to grasp the fact that union members on average make one and a half times (plus) the salary of their local counterpart that is non-union. They have better benefits and are properly trained in job skills and the safety aspect of the jobs they perform. Higher income means they pay higher income taxes and spend more money locally, including sales tax. The unions only bring in workers from outside the area when there aren't enough local members to complete the job.

If you consider yourself qualified and want to earn a decent salary, join a union and get the salary you think you and everyone else deserves. That will help keep locals doing local work instead of bringing in people from other areas. There are fully qualified folks locally that just haven't joined unions yet.

For the record, I am a member of a union and I am grateful for the rewards and benefits I have obtained through them. That does make me biased in my opinion, and for good reason. I am no different than you, Mr. Carroll, and no better. I just found my opportunity a little quicker.

Tom Donelson

* * *

That Bard of Avon Dude once wrote; "How do I love thee? Let me count the ways." So perhaps a corollary to be used by our elected officials and their appointed functionaries might be; "How do we love and honor thee, Homie? Let us count the ways."

1. Of all the primary contractors working on the new VW plant into which the tax payers of Hamilton County and the State of Tennessee have invested almost a billion dollars, how many are headquartered here? None. The closest, at my last review, was one headquartered in St. Louis. Another was an Ohio company with an office in Nashville. Oops, there was that company from Maryville who contracted to clear the land. Is Maryville in Hamilton County? Just asking.

2. The last two directors of schools here in Hamilton County were carpet baggers brought in from out of town at salaries much greater than what one of our Homies would have requested. And our school budget has increased by how much during that time? And the student population has decreased by how much? And the economy has increased, then decreased, by how much during the same period of time? And we have how many failing or marginal schools? And the department charged with educating our children and grandchildren accounts for about 60% of the entire county budget?

3. How many outside "consultants" have been hired locally, and paid big bucks, from out of town? Consultant (definition); a person hired to come in from far away, paid exorbitant fees, plus all expenses, to use our watch to tell us what time it is.

4. The recent hoorah over paving work done on Mountain Creek Road and over in Lookout Valley, was this work done by a Homie?

5. Who built the downtown waterfront? You know, like, the one that's, like, slipping down into the river and is, like, having to be rebuilt with tax payer money? Was that, like, a Homie?

6. How many times has local government gone at least as far away as Atlanta to hire outside service providers?

But it doesn't stop here. The Republican Party recently elected an immigrant from Texas even though our Homie had a better resumé and a history of volunteer work for his party. Of the field in the current race for Zach Wamp's congressional seat there's a lawyer from Mississippi who's been here barely a dozen years and another lawyer who hails from New York. And these purport to be able to represent the residents of East Tennessee? There truly is a basis for the expression "y'ain't from here, are ya boy." How does someone who hasn't grown up and lived in an area understand the wants, needs, and dreams of those he proposes to represent? How does one represent a group he doesn't even come close to know and understand? Is this a wish to be of service or is it nothing more than a reach for power and status?

We could go on and on, but time and space are limited.

To be sure, we don't need to have such things as "proximity points" that in the end prove to be nothing more than protectionist, anti-competition mechanisms used to exclude outsiders who might also be able to perform the work required. However, on a project that's being paid for with tax dollars, especially local tax dollars, our Homies need to at least be given the opportunity to bid. Are they not competitive? Do they have the capabilities but perhaps don't understand something about the scope of work? Perhaps someone from the company moving in needs to sit down and do a little mentoring. That's been done for my company, by some of the largest companies in the world in their respective fields. But in the end, if Homies' prices are not going to be competitive they need to work elsewhere.

But it's also incumbent upon labor to abide by their agreements as well ... not like the union who tried to jack up their contractor a year or so ago after entering into a contract.

So many tax dollars to spend, so little time to do it. But it's also interesting to sit back and watch the "It's For The Children" gang do little or nothing for children who truly need help. More about that one as details come forth.

We hear pontification about government service, but that "service" word, and it's meaning, are often left behind once they're in office by election or appointment. They preach to us about giving of themselves and how they're there to serve us. But most members of our governing bodies only love our wallets and the power embodied in control of those wallets. Why would we want to elect someone who would sue his bosses because they won't give him all the money he wants? Why would we re-elect a guy who believes he knows better than we what's good for us, so much so that he's willing to tell us what we can and can not do in our own businesses ... businesses, I might add, that he played no part in building from nothing more than a dream. A person who obviously has no concept of what our Constitutions are all about has no business in any function of government.

Chocolate is such a wonderful food group. It goes great with coffee and a cigarette, too.

Royce E. Burrage, Jr.

* * *

This buy local craze is really no different than the turn-of-the-century efforts of John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil to get the government to reduce their competition at the expense of the public. Although there may be some element of civic concern involved, make no mistake about it; like minority and women-owned set-asides, it’s just another effort by some to gain an unfair competitive advantage at the expense of others.

However, unlike minority and women-owned set-asides, no historical discrimination is alleged, only geography.

Robert H. Chappell
Signal Mountain

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