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.


Woman Killed On Saturday Morning In Dunlap Wreck; Baby Survives

Some Roads In Hixson And Middle Valley Are Partially Flooded

Speaker Casada Names Rep. Hazlewood Vice-Chairman Of The House Finance Committee


A woman was killed in a single- vehicle crash in Dunlap on Saturday morning. An infant child was found secured in a car seat in the back seat. The child was taken to Childrens Hospital in ... (click for more)

Several local roads in the Hixson and Middle Valley area are experiencing partial flooding and standing water due to heavy rain, authorities said. The area of 7600 Middle Valley Road and 13700 ... (click for more)

Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Thompson’s Station) has named Rep. Patsy Hazlewood (R-Signal Mountain) vice-chairman of the House Finance Committee. She joins Rep. Susan Lynn (R-Mt. ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Woman Killed On Saturday Morning In Dunlap Wreck; Baby Survives

A woman was killed in a single- vehicle crash in Dunlap on Saturday morning. An infant child was found secured in a car seat in the back seat. The child was taken to Childrens Hospital in Chattanooga. The wreck happened just after 8:30 a.m. on State Route 28 near Press Pickett Road in rainy conditions. (click for more)

Some Roads In Hixson And Middle Valley Are Partially Flooded

Several local roads in the Hixson and Middle Valley area are experiencing partial flooding and standing water due to heavy rain, authorities said. The area of 7600 Middle Valley Road and 13700 Lillard Road are experiencing water on or near the roadway. The 10500 block of Hixson Pike and the 2900 block of Igou Ferry Road are also experiencing standing water over the roadway. ... (click for more)

Opinion

Jim Morgan - My Coach And Neighbor

Upon Jim Morgan's death, my mind and heart flooded back to my memories of growing up in Chattanooga. I thought I would share my fond memories of such a great man. A few thoughts for one of the sweetest and finest men I ever knew: I remember Jim Morgan "Coach" not just as one of his wrestlers, but as a close family friend, teacher and neighbor. While Coach was my ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

It seems there has been quite an increase in calls from telemarketers and I asked my man Cleo if he had any idea how to stop them. “What works if you are male -- Telemarketer: "Hi, my name is Judy and I'm with XYZ Company." You wait for a second and, with a real husky voice, ask, "What are you wearing?" If you are a female try this: Cry out in surprise, "Judy? Is that you? Oh my ... (click for more)

Sports

Baylor Sweeps Matches With Father Ryan, MBA

McCallie hosted four dual meet wrestling matches Saturday afternoon involving Baylor and two Division II teams from Nashville, including Father Ryan and Montgomery Bell Academy. Top-ranked and unbeaten Baylor stayed that way as they topped Father Ryan by a 42-36 final in the opener while rolling past MBA by a 60-12 margin. A moment of silence was observed before the first ... (click for more)

Brainerd Hangs On To Hand Tyner 1st 6-AA Loss

Despite an uncharacteristic first half of the season, the rumors of Brainerd High School’s basketball death among the District 6-AA kingpins has been greatly exaggerated and Saturday afternoon inside the comfy warm surroundings of the High-Jackson Gymnasium the Panthers made that loud and clear from the opening tipoff. The Panthers forced 12 first-quarter turnovers and raced ... (click for more)