The East Ridge municipal elections are rapidly approaching. Unfortunately, it has become the norm in politics to demonize candidates without remorse for them or their families
Jim Bethune has by some been categorized as an used car salesman. When in reality, he had over a 40-year career in the auto industry with the majority of that time serving as a general manager with over 100 employees under his care. This is a far cry from the label used car salesman and shows a commitment and success to his career.
Health insurance for life? Let’s explore this more. Back in 2012 while serving as vice mayor for the city of East Ridge, Jim was approached by another councilman with the idea to create an incentive that would allow senior employees to retire and eliminate several high dollar salaries in the process. This was researched by then City Manager Tim Gobble and found to be an enormous cost reduction for the city.
You have to understand, if you work for the city and reach a 25-year tenure anyone can retire and get their health insurance paid in full to the age of 65. The two employees that reached out to the mayor and council both had tenure. Their age put them in or near the qualifications for Medicare. This cost saving measure was then brought before the mayor and City Council and voted on unanimously to approve. The kicker was that the two employees that took the incentive had a combined salary of nearly $150,000 a year. Think about it, they have been retired for six years, had they not, their combined salaries with annual raises would now have cost $1,000,000 to date. But as it is, the city has only spent around $45,000 for their supplemental policies. I call this great management and a win for the city and tax payers and approved by the mayor and Council not any one person.
Let’s look at border regions. Jim Bethune was involved and voted to support this effort for the growth of the city. The economic impact for our future will show this as a success and windfall for years to come.
Jim has been active in the community on many levels. He’s coached ball, been involved with community projects and local organizations. I have seen him many times take money from his own pocket to ensure success in children’s activities. He has always demonstrated a deep compassion for his fellow man.
Jim is a Vietnam vet, a man of strong morals and faith. Married to his wife Wilma for over 50-years. He knows business and I have never seen him negatively campaigning on any individual. If given the chance, I believe he will make East Ridge proud and I know he will represent all the citizens.
Please join me and my family in support of Jim Bethune for mayor on Tuesday.
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Jim Bethune is the only veteran in the East Ridge mayor's race. Jim has the proven experience with East Ridge government with proven results. Jim has lived in East Ridge his entire life and will fight for the rights of the citizens. He also supports the employees of the city and is backed by the International Brotherhood of Police Local 735.
Jim has the leadership and management skills to build on current and future endeavors. He will also work to see a comprehensive planned approach on fighting crime.
Jim sincerely has the city at heart and absolutely wants what's best for the citizens. Jim is staunchly against eminent domain or any elements of it. Please, for the betterment and advancement of the city, vote Jim Bethune.
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Mr. Tilley spins the facts on the health insurance for life. The only reason that little ploy by Mr. Bethune worked out is because the rest of the council paid heed to dire warnings they received from neutral parties that warned such an action could bankrupt East Ridge. Sure it worked out, but to give Jim credit is a far stretch of reality
Sure Jim was involved in the Border Region Act and he fought against it the entire way. He was not a supportive member of the council for that. Jim was involved in emails and discussions surrounding the fire hall property and the need to remove deed restrictions prior to selling the property for development. These restrictions were not lifted and, despite being warned by the state and emailed by TDOT, Jim voted to sell the property. This disaster subsequently cost taxpayers $416,000.
Jim has run off numerous city managers and it takes but a simple search of this site using his name to find article after article of shameful and embarrassing action on his behalf of the city of East Ridge.
Jim does have a proven track record, and its as being a wrecking ball for the city of East Ridge - pushing out city manager after city manager at taxpayer expense for severance. Voting to give his “pals” working for the city free health care. Voting to give his “pals” working for the city free phones and iPads. Voting to give his “pals” at the city raises. All is this is on the backs of citizens and taxpayers.
Jim likes to brag he didn’t raise taxes, but this notion is completely false. First, because if you look at the agenda he pushed it was one that consistently cost the city of East Ridge additional revenue. You can’t spend money without taking it back in somewhere else. This is government 101 and if Jim fails to understand this he has no business running, let alone serving. Second, taxes did go up while Jim was in office because he spent money without properly allocating where it would come from.
If you like the East Ridge of 2010-2014 while Jim served on the council, if you're a fan of higher taxes, higher crime, businesses shutting their doors, commercial property sitting vacant, and ineffective council that couldn’t understand you have to take in more than you spend or taxes must go up. If this is your ideal city, then you need to vote for Mr. Bethune.
If you like the path we are on and want to see progress continue, then follow me in rejecting Jim on the ballot for a third time and place your mark next to Brian Williams' name on Tuesday.
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Let first say that I like and respect John Tilley.
But as the late, great Paul Harvey would say.. Now the rest of the story.
Insurance for life? This discussion started when spouses of retired employees realized that policy had changed around 2009. Retirees with 25 years of service had their insurance paid at 100%, but spouses had to pay 100 percent for their health insurance. Previously 50 percent of spouses’ insurance premium was covered by the city.
There were Council members who wanted to address this issue for the spouses. Mr. Bethune took this opportunity, on January 23, 2014(not 2012) to propose some changes. As per official minutes from January 23,2014: “Vice Mayor Bethune would like to propose that employees that have retired and future retirees that have 25 years of service have their spouse’s health insurance paid at 50 percent. The retirees’ is paid at 100 percent.” After discussion the minutes continue with “Vice Mayor Bethune made a motion to have a 90-day window for employees to retire with 25 years of service, for the City to pay 100% of employees health insurance benefits and 50 percent of spouse coverage, an anyone that has previously retired get credit for 50 percent on spouse coverage, effective February 1st. –May 1st.” Motion was approved with Vice Mayor Bethune, Councilmembers Manning and Sewell voting yes, Councilmember Gravitt passing and then voting yes and Mayor Lambert abstaining. Not a unanimous approval.
At the February 13, 2014 Council Meeting Resolution 2370 was presented to memorialize Vice Mayor’s motion into Resolution form. Vice Mayor Bethune objected that the resolution “states this benefit will be paid until the age of 65. He stated his motion in the previous meeting did not state an age and this is what Council approved. Mr. Bethune wants to take out the 65 age limit.” “Council Sewell made a motion, seconded by Councilmember Gravitt, to approve Resolution No. 2370 as written with the 65 age limit.” Vice Mayor Bethune and Councilmember Manning voted no. Councilmembers Sewell and Gravitt voted. With Mayor Lambert abstaining, the item was rolled over to the next meeting.
During the Council Meeting on February 27, 2014, there was a discussion about Resolution 2370, as there was some confusion as to what was actually voted on. Since the January meeting 2 employees with 25 years of service had turned in retirement papers with the understanding that 100 percent of their insurance and 50 percent of spouses insurance would be paid by the City for LIFE. There was a great deal of discussion for clarity, with Vice Mayor Bethune saying he meant life even though he didn’t say it, the other council members knew what he meant. During this meeting, City Manager Andrew Hyatt (not Tim Gobble as stated by Mr. Tilley}: “He (City Manager Hyatt) also stated that savings would only come if the positions are not filled, but stated these two employees would not be replaced.” Bottom line a motion was made by Mayor Lambert and seconded by Councilmember Gravitt to amend Resolution 2370 as follows: “The window of opportunity for retirement is closed immediately allowing only the two employees that have tendered letters of retirement to be eligible for this benefit.” The vote was unanimous. Motion approved.
What confusion. Do we want Mr. Bethune to bring this type of confusion back to city business? My answer to that is “No”. That is one of several reasons why myself and my family ask you to join us in voting for Brian Williams as our next mayor of East Ridge.
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The election is Tuesday and will determine the future of not only East Ridge, but regional, state, and National government operations. Not too long ago we saw the detrimental turn of societal outliers as they attacked the nomination process of our newest Supreme Court Justice, Brett Kavanaugh. I remember the outrage of so many conservative Americans as they witnessed before their eyes the complete lack of respect for the method of process and witnessed modern-day forms of anarchism. This election will be a litmus test of where we are as an American people and show where/what our values are. One could notate the importance of this election by the very names it has brought forth in support of one candidate or another. Our President, Donald Trump, is scurrying about the country to secure votes for certain candidates. The former President Obama is doing the same to sway votes to the other side. This is purposed to swing votes for future agendas to play out.
East Ridge? Where does East Ridge fit into all of this? East Ridge is supposed to have a non-partisan council and mayor’s election. I hear you. That is what is prescribed for our City. However, if you paid close attention in the days leading up to this election, it is easy to find where the candidates align. On one side you have Jim Bethune. He is a retired successful manager of a large car dealership having over 100 people he supervised and led year after year. He has experience in East Ridge government and has been a long serving member of charitable organizations in East Ridge. The other side has a support base that constantly verbally slanders and maliciously attacks the opposition. What happened to civility? What happened to values?
It appears that the same few names keep appearing on the battlegrounds of social media. They attack and belittle like cyber bullies with their ability to isolate a problem and use repetitive language attempting to arrive at a valid point. A simple internet search will find you arriving at a flurry of negativity spewed out of the very mouths of these same people that call for others to get along. This is called projection and is an indication of a narcissistic mindset, or perhaps, sore losers from previous elections. The opinion pieces seen of late are typical for those also seen on a national level. The tactics of the radicalized groups across the country can be seen right here in East Ridge when asking for tolerance through hate filled speech and agreeable with you until you do not agree with them.
Jim Bethune is asking East Ridge to vote for him for mayor, so he can continue to make East Ridge great. Please look beyond the hateful and venomous rhetoric plastered by the few bitter souls that have compartmentalized their courage behind a keyboard. Jim Bethune is asking for your vote on Tuesday. If you want responsible management of your tax dollars, then vote Jim Bethune. If you want a plan to combat crime, then vote Jim Bethune. If you want to speak out against all the negative political drama, then vote Jim Bethune for Mayor of East Ridge. When you see the lashing out online from those few bitter souls, remember that bitter roots produce bitter fruits. I encourage anyone to contact Jim Bethune. He will be more than happy to answer any questions you may have before the election and as your next mayor.
East Ridge Local #735, International Brotherhood of Police Officers