Warren Mackey: Why I Will Be Voting For County Commissioner Discretionary Spending - And Response

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Because I am taking the lead on the County Commission in reinstating discretionary money, I take it that a Commissioner’s comments in the Chattanoogan.Com on July 13 where he asserts that giving discretionary money is a way of currying favor with voters in the next election was aimed at me.  

We haven’t had discretionary money for over five years now.  In spite of not having the money available I received 83 percent of the votes in my election two years ago.  Eighty-three percent, Commissioner.

Does that sound like I need to buy votes or curry favor?  Eighty-three percent.  I have to curry favor with voters?  I’m just going to do the right thing and let the voters decide. 

You need to realize that leading is not saying no to every tough decision.  You also need to know that you will never make everybody happy.  

Here are my responses to that Commissioner’s assertions. 

1. That Commissioner is quoted as saying “there could not be a worse economic time to spend.”  Will someone tell that Commissioner that America’s economy has been greatly squashed during the last few months due to Covid 19 and as a result people are hurting. Please tell him that the United States Congress acknowledged that pain when they voted to send taxpayers $1,200. In fact, they are also looking to send Americans another check to keep the economy going.  

Using that Commissioner’s logic/illogic he would not help Hamilton Countians.  As a Commissioner I have helped this County stockpile over $110,000,0000 for tough times such as these and attain a AAA bond rating with each major credit agency. 

2 and 3.  Until about five years ago, Commissioners for about almost 20 years had discretionary money available to them to help public schools and their students, non-profits, recreational centers and the like.   Wise leaders such as Claude Ramsey, Bill Hullander, Curtis Adams, Fred Skillern, Larry Henry and many others had used these monies for projects in districts.  I would say that they are some of the Commissioners who set Hamilton County on a wonderful economic glide path, which, by the way, is still growing.  

In fact, my vote was one of the five votes that helped put the infrastructure at Enterprise South that helped bring Volkswagen here.  Using that Commissioner's reasoning he would be out of touch with economic growth.  Using his logic he would not have supported the economic incentives that brought Volkswagen and other companies to come to town.

4.  That same Commissioner is quoted as saying that discretionary spending is a way to curry favor with voters in the next election.  I wonder how many votes was he buying two weeks ago when he gave Hixson High School $35,000.   I haven’t given discretionary money in over four years.  By the way does he believe that the $4,500,000 that Mayor Coppinger gives to supported agencies is a slush fund, too? 

5.  In his fifth point that Commissioner set up a false premise in saying that government is not the solution to every problem.  Who on the Hamilton County Commission has ever suggested such a ridiculous premise? That Commissioner apparently is one of those people who like to be seen.  On two recent occasions during the Covid 19 crises he has sought to have the Commission going back into the Courthouse to meet?   Why did this Commissioner need to put it in the paper how he would vote on this item and not on any of the other votes?  Why not vote on resolutions like we normally do and keep it moving?  Why write an article on this one when he doesn’t do it on the other resolutions?   

Commissioner, it is smarter to serve the constituents that you have rather than showboat for those you aspire to have in the future.  In my many years on the Commission I have never been attacked in the way this Commissioner has done.  And I refuse to get into a back and forth with him or anyone else.  I will simply conclude by saying that my second grade teacher used to say that an empty wagon makes a lot of noise.  And my pastor taught that you don’t throw stones when you live in a glass house. Go Figure.

County Commissioner Warren Mackey 

* * * 
Commissioner Mackey,

Your “rebuttal” sounds like knee-jerk defense mechanisms. Get off your soap box and just vote. Let the voters determine your altruistic intentions come ballot day.

Personally, I think county expenditures should all be voted on. If you want to spend your own personal money on crony issues no one will deter you. But my taxpayer dollars, let the entire Commission decide.

Dave Fihn


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