Are Our Community Priorities Trees And Bridges? - And Response (2)

  • Sunday, June 4, 2023

Our community plans to spend more than $10 million on planting trees and beautifying bridges and highways, and provides TIFs for tax deferrals for the wealthiest citizens so they can build more luxury housing for the upper class, while hundreds of destitute citizens remain homeless, uncounted, unprioritized?

Shame on our leadership. The City Council could easily pass an ordinance to require any citizen or developer who removes a tree from any public or private property to replace it with two trees (or pay an equivalent fee to the city arborist to plant two trees) and then the people who are profiting from the deforestation will be the ones who are required to pay for the necessary reforestation.

Then the millions of taxpayer dollars designated for buying and planting trees could be used to buy permanent tiny housing for our community's most needy citizens.

Bridge and highway beautification costs ought to be paid for by the area merchants who profit from the wealthy tourists who come here, not by the low wage taxpayers who are one step from homelessness themselves.

A TIF that provides "affordable" housing to someone making 80 percent of the area wages while allocating zero housing for those earning in the bottom quarter is a cruel joke on the voters.

The wealthy leaders in this community are not only personally out of touch with the citizens they are supposed to serve, they surround themselves with MBAs (who are also out of touch with real citizens) who devise ways to claim that homeless has been reduced because they housed 90 people, when they intentionally ignore the hundreds of new and "under the radar" homeless who choose not to live in tents or panhandle or come to the attention of police or social workers.

The hundreds of homeless citizens who are employed at wages insufficient to pay for deposits, rents, and utilities and more deposits are not counted as homeless when they live in vehicles or motel rooms or in a tent in mom's back yard -- those actual homeless do not count. They are not quantified in statistics, are ignored by the planners and leaders, and remain invisible testament to the shortsighted, small-minded wealthy folks who run this county and the cities there in.

Top down management styles, refusal to accept input from those most affected by decisions, isolated bureaucrats, confrontational prejudiced law enforcement officers who are trained in combat tactics but not in conflict resolution, active listening, or servant leadership; and code enforcement officials who wear storm trooper jackboots while towing cars out of driveways which are needed to get to work simply because the worker cannot afford to pay for tags or insurance after buying food and tires or fixing brakes.

The little people in this community are not represented, not heard, and in many cases, not allowed to vote. Even many law enforcement officers and teachers, despite recent raises, cannot afford to live here. They live in other counties or states just to survive, because the wages are so low here, allowing the rich to get richer, and keeping the destitute oppressed.

Mark Regan

* * *

My name is Kaylee York and I was on the grant submission team for the $13 million opportunity for tree planting in the city. The article I referenced in the title is fundamentally flawed. These are not city of Chattanooga taxpayer dollars being allocated to tree planting. It is a grant offered by the USDA. This is a federal opportunity available to all states, nonprofits, community organizations, and municipalities.

If money were available for addressing the homeless issue, there would be an effort to secure this funding. One initiative does not preclude the other. The city is simply pursuing a once in an administration opportunity to increase quality of life for disadvantaged communities by reducing temperatures and providing shade, thus decreasing energy and utility usage while improving air quality.

Kaylee York


* * *

I appreciate our tourists that come to our beautiful area and contribute tax money without using our schools or other facilities. They provide millions of dollars in funds and provide thousands of jobs for our citizens. Perhaps the homeless might apply for a job at one of our hotels or attractions. Well, probably not.

I find it rather amusing that Mark thinks "wealthy" tourists come to our area. I didn't know we had become the destination of the rich and famous. Rather, most of our tourists are just like us, middle class people who actually work for a living and want to enjoy a vacation and view some of our beautiful natural scenery and try places like Rock City, the Aquarium, Ruby Falls and the Incline.

You want wealthy Mark? Try Martha's Vineyard where all the Washington swells go for the summer. Or maybe Long Island where all of the hoighty toighty from Manhattan summer. Or possibly Vail and Aspen for the Christmas holidays. Then you will find the wealthy.

Your contempt for people who actually work for a living is astounding.

And thanks to Kaylee York for pointing out that like most of your letters, this one is, "fundamentally flawed."

Douglas Jones

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