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.


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Grand Jury Indicts 5 Men On Separate Rape, Sexual Abuse Charges

Rossville Man Caught Breaking Into East Ridge Home When Owner Comes Home For Lunch


Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AYALA, EDWIN SAMUEZ 6202 MELTON DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37416 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ... (click for more)

The Hamilton County Grand Jury has indicted five men on separate rape and sexual assault cases. Joshua Conrad Smith, 32, of Panavista Lane, was charged with five counts of aggravated statutory ... (click for more)

A 28-year-old Rossville man has been charged with breaking into a house in East Ridge on Sunday. Dustin Scott Sherlin, of 105 Amanda Lane, was charged with aggravated burglary, drug possession, ... (click for more)


Breaking News

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AYALA, EDWIN SAMUEZ 6202 MELTON DRIVE CHATTANOOGA, 37416 Age at Arrest: 41 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County DRIVING ON REVOKED, SUSPENDED OR CANCELLED LICENSE DRIVERS TO EXERCISE DUE CARE REGISTRATION, DRIVING UNREGISTERED VEHICLE FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY --- BALLARD, GALAN GREGORY 1140 ... (click for more)

Grand Jury Indicts 5 Men On Separate Rape, Sexual Abuse Charges

The Hamilton County Grand Jury has indicted five men on separate rape and sexual assault cases. Joshua Conrad Smith, 32, of Panavista Lane, was charged with five counts of aggravated statutory rape. Police said the incidents happened between Feb. 15 and June 1, 2017, and involved two different victims. Their ages were "less than 18 but at least 10." Smith is director of ... (click for more)

Opinion

An Open Letter Concerning The Proposed Ooltewah Waste Treatment Facility - And Response

The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority and County Commissioner Tim Boyd want to build a sewage treatment plant in my backyard. I bought my house in Ooltewah in 1994, raised my children here and worked hard to pay it off. My home has been my small piece of the American Dream. Now, the WWTA and Commissioner Boyd want to reward my hard work by taking away about ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Loving Hands…

For a great part of my life that I spent with my family at the former Chattanooga News-Free Press, we were in a lockjaw fight with the family who owned the Chattanooga Times. Up until the 1970s the two newspapers existed under the same roof, splitting expenses, but that got sour when the Times had a lot more “expenses” than we were duty-bound to share. So then my grandfather ... (click for more)

Sports

Kurtz, Pippenger Pace Unbeaten Baylor Past Riverdale, 62-41

Riverdale basketball coach Michael Voss has a reason for his scheduling philosophy. “I’m just trying to schedule good teams,” Voss said Monday night after his previously once-beaten Warriors fell to undefeated Baylor, 62-41, on Austin Clark court in Duke Arena. “Baylor is good, East Hamilton is good and McCallie is good, so you know what you’re getting into.” Before Monday, ... (click for more)

Belmont Hands Lady Mocs Sixth Straight Loss

Chattanooga’s Lady Mocs got off to a good start and had a six-point lead after the first quarter, but they couldn’t maintain that level of play and lost for the sixth straight game Monday night at McKenzie Arena. The Belmont Lady Bruins improved to 6-3 with their second straight win as they pulled away in the second half for a comfortable 67-51 victory. Chattanooga is now ... (click for more)