Roy Exum: Listen To An Expert

Friday, December 28, 2018 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

In the late 1970s we were trying hard to keep our family newspaper, the Chattanooga News-Free Press, alive so, to be honest, if there was a topic that didn’t include sports or getting a kid’s name in the newspaper, I didn’t have much use for it. About the same time Ron Littlefield was beginning his ascent towards becoming Chattanooga’s 72nd Mayor and again, to be honest, I could have cared less. “Who? Well, God bless him.”

In the early ‘80s, Ron headed Chattanooga Venture, which sadly included a lot of the “liberal elites” and “flamers” of the last generation, who were then as they are now, a bunch of lulus and losers in my view. Not only did I avoid the crazies, I dared not even make eye contact, and the ploy has served me quite well during my lifetime – never make eye contact with anyone you even suspect is a few inches left of plumb.

Littlefield is the exception. When he was the Mayor from 2005 to 2013, the Tea Party tried to force a recall, which was very unfair, but it has been only in recent years have I gotten to know him better and he’s a delight in any conversation. He’s a dear friend and why we don’t do more to tap into his gold mine of wisdom is beyond me.

What some do not know is Ron’s chosen avocation is that of a city planner. I think he’s still one of three or four of the most acclaimed of his kind in the state, a Fellow of the American Institute of Certified Planners if you please, which brings me to my belief he knows more about what’s true and real … give me a drum roll … than the “urbanists” who are about to cost our city millions of dollars in future losses.

Our Regional Planning Commission and its ‘Variance Board’ have gotten tangled up with Mayor Andy Berke and his ilk on the city’s laughable Design Center in a determined quest to beat down a new Publix supermarket on South Broad Street. There is documented proof, evidenced by 11 different designs and these idiots’ reaction to each, that has now caused the highly-regarded Florida corporation to withdraw a variance plea that was to be heard next week.

I now have dozens of emails ranging from “How can we fight this” to “Names! Give us the names of those responsible …” to “(expletive) Berke has done more to harm Chattanooga than any person dead or alive.” The truth is none of that matters … no, we need to focus on getting Publix back to South Market … and to do that we need the ones who care on the Variance Board to step higher than those who clearly do not.

Let me tell you the real reason Publix pulled the zoning request last week. They feared they didn’t have the urbanists’ votes after apparently wasting thousands upon thousands in dollars, hours, and effort in the last 18 months. As far as Publix is concerned, their existing stores are thriving in Chatttanooga and are greatly adding to not just the economy but also enhancing the quality of life in our city. That’s not even debatable.

But what is inexcusable, and absolutely unprecedented, is in the thankless and markedly ungrateful manner that our collection of urbanist/idiots have treated one of our best corporate neighbors in this withering snub. It is horrible. A totally-unexplainable shame, yes, but to become such a repugnant bully is just flat-out wrong.

In July the website Wallet Hub published a list of the best-run and worst-run cities in America. Of 150 cities where each was held up to 35 different metrics Chattanooga was in the ‘Top Ten’ of the worst in America – under Berke’s watch Chattanooga is now 144 on the list. The only thing any sadder is that the list was published in July and not one person on the City Council or the County Commission or the state legislature could give a rat’s tale about it. To those keeping score, anytime nobody cares you’ll wind up 144 on some list.

It wasn’t that way under Littlefield, even if he did have to endure a recall in those early days when the city first adopted a new method of governance, going to a Mayor and City Council form of government. You’ll delight in knowing he still cares, too. After we revealed the way Publix has been so horribly wronged by the morons among us earlier in the week, “The Mayor” wrote me a great note.

I include it in the hope Publix will realize the vast majority of the people in this town – and almost every single soul in nearby neighborhoods -- are pleading they’ll not abandon us, and that when they stretch that wide piece of trade-mark green satin in front of the South Broad Street store, we’ll get Ron Littlefield to stand in for the dummy:

* * *


My sister lives in Lakeland (Florida) and years ago while visiting her I drove out to Publix headquarters and begged them to come to Chattanooga.  I promised to make them profitable just by buying their key lime pies. It took about 10 years, but they finally showed up. Then, for additional years, I pushed for a downtown store. 

During my second term as mayor, they finally proposed the Market Street location.  I was ecstatic (and so was everyone else) until the “new urbanists” got involved and started pushing for a multistore building with underground parking and several floors of condominiums overhead.  I pointed out that the proposed new store was replacing a “Yellow Cab junk yard” (that’s actually what was there) but they were unimpressed. 

(The Editor) of the Chattanooga Times at the time railed against the proposed new store and branded it as “suburban” and unsuitable for our downtown.  I responded that I see such stores all up and down Peachtree Street in midtown Atlanta (hardly suburban) and I really don’t see the problem.  Anyway, a long battle followed and I personally went before the various boards to push for approval.

Finally, we prevailed and the new Publix on North Market Street store has been fantastically successful.  Although it’s a bit out of my neighborhood, I often go there to buy a few things ... and just to see ‘the former opponents’ in the Publix project inside of the store shopping.

Some people simply think that they can dictate to businesses as to how they shall construct new buildings and conduct their operations.  I have warned such idealists that businesses like Publix certainly know what works, and what doesn’t, and they always have the option of simply going elsewhere.  Cities all over the South are clamoring for Publix.

Unfortunately, it appears that some other community might stand to gain from our citizens' unreasonable behavior.

-- Ron Littlefield

* * *

* -- “When things go wrong, don't go with them.” – Elvis Presley

* -- The only one who can make you give up is yourself. -- Sidney Sheldon

* -- “Circumstances don't defeat you -- you defeat yourself when you give up.” -- Jonathan Lockwood Huie

* -- “Never give in, never give in, never; never; never; never - in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.” -- Winston Churchill

* -- “All right Mister, let me tell you what winning means -- you're willing to go longer, work harder, give more than anyone else.” -- Vincent Lombardi

* -- “The only thing you should ever quit is giving up!” -- Steve Pfiester

* -- “Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” -- Thomas Alva Edison

* -- “Most people give up just when they're about to achieve success. They quit on the one-yard line. They give up at the last minute of the game, one foot from a winning touchdown.” -- H. Ross Perot

* -- “Never give up on something you really want. It's difficult to wait, but more difficult to regret.” – Unknown

* -- “Never give up. And never, under any circumstances, face the facts.” -- Ruth Gordon

The Danger Of Highway 58

Roy Exum: VW Needs Big Repairs

The Urban Legend Of Senior Tax Relief

I've lived on Highway 58 since 2014. Here is a breakdown of incidents that my girlfriend and I have experienced. Sleepy driver ran over her mailbox at high speed, continuing another 100 feet, ... (click for more)

The banner headline on Monday morning read, “Gov. Lee, top Republicans celebrate failed UAW bid to unionize Volkswagen,” and that’s the second-worst thing that the headline could have said. The ... (click for more)

For those who tout the generosity of the senior property tax relief program that's already in place locally, do the rest of us a big favor: Spell out all of the requirements, restrictions, difficulties, ... (click for more)


The Danger Of Highway 58

I've lived on Highway 58 since 2014. Here is a breakdown of incidents that my girlfriend and I have experienced. Sleepy driver ran over her mailbox at high speed, continuing another 100 feet, damaging a neighbors driveway and his SUV landing upside down. A logging truck ran off the highway, destroying my car parked in the driveway, as well as our driveway and utilities.The ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: VW Needs Big Repairs

The banner headline on Monday morning read, “Gov. Lee, top Republicans celebrate failed UAW bid to unionize Volkswagen,” and that’s the second-worst thing that the headline could have said. The worst, of course, is if the UAW had won, and the Detroit-based union that lost 35,000 members last year would be revived -- breaking a hole into the tight wall of foreign-owned auto assembly ... (click for more)

Breaking News

City Council Expanding Some Territory For Short Term Vacation Rentals; Approves No-Tax-Increase Budget

City Council members are eyeing changes in the popular short term vacation rental business, including some likely expansion of district boundaries. Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said one change she is seeking soon is to allow the rentals on the opposite side of Pinewood Lane. She also said at one section of Eastdale there are four residents interested in setting up the rentals. ... (click for more)

Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod Says Black People "Can Come Downtown"; Says BID Has Nothing About "Black Removal"

City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod said Tuesday she is tired of some individuals saying that creation of a Business Improvement District (BID) means black people can't come downtown. She said, "I'm tired of the fact that the plight of black people is being used when it comes to those type conversations." She said, "We can come downtown. There are black people walking downtown ... (click for more)


Taliaferro Helps Fairyland Beat Country Club, 405-402

The Fairyland Flash swim team lost by a whopping 201 points to the Country Club Wavemakers last Monday at Country Club’s pool, but Fairyland was without the services of some 19 point-scoring swimmers that night. It was a totally different story atop Lookout Mountain Tuesday night as the Flash took over sole possession of first place in the Chattanooga Area Swim League’s Red division ... (click for more)

CFC Leaps To The Top Of The Standings With 2-0 Victory At Asheville

With the game still scoreless, Alun Webb chased after a pass with nothing but open space in front of the Chattanooga FC forward. He quickly caught up with the ball, and the closest Asheville defender was merely a slight bother to Webb as he curved the ball into the box for a shot that held up in a 2-0 CFC victory in the North Carolina mountains. The ball found the opportunistic ... (click for more)