Tag Archives: cities

Columnist suggest TN city officials asleep at the switch in politics and lobbying

The Republicans ruling the state Legislature don’t like cities very much, opines columnist Frank Cagle, and city officials haven’t been doing much to fight legislative efforts such as de-annexation.

Thanks to the state Legislature, our cities are now frozen in place. And next year they may start to get even smaller.

In olden days the Legislature was run by a coalition of urban Democrats and rural West Tennessee Democrats, so urban interests were looked after. The majority Republican Legislature is composed, by and large, of rural, small-town and suburban legislators. Groups not predisposed to like cities to begin with, and they are opposed to regulation. The state’s major cities are governed by Democrats, and cities are all about regulation.

So the Legislature has been restricting red light cameras, repealing local requirements for sprinklers in townhouses, allowing guns in parks and, most significantly, prohibiting annexation except by referendum.

…Cities have a bigger worry coming down the pike. There are bills coming next session that allow for de-annexation. I don’t know what the final form will be, but the general outline is that areas annexed over the last 15 years can hold referendums and take themselves out of the city. A referendum can be instigated by a petition by the residents in the area asking to be de-annexed.

…The Tennessee Municipal League lobbies for cities. They are fine folks and they work hard. I’m sure they are working on these issues. But they can’t contribute to legislators’ campaigns or get involved in the rough-and-tumble of political campaigns. It takes political clout to supplement effective lobbying.

Have you seen any mayors or council members having press conferences on guns in parks, sprinklers, red light cameras or annexation? Seen any complaints about a state takeover? Any campaigns on behalf of city interests?

I try to keep up, but perhaps I’ve just not been paying attention to the city push-back. Or maybe the city governments have been asleep at the switch.

Bible-minded cities: Chattanooga No. 2, Tri-Cities 3, Knoxville 11, Memphis 27

Chattanooga is rated the nation’s second most “Bible-minded city” and the Tennessee’s Tri-Cities area – Bristol, Johnson City and Kingsport – is third, according a rating by the American Bible Society and Barna Group.

Knoxville came in at No. 11, Nashville 14th and Memphis 27th among the 100 cities listed. Birmingham is at the top of the list. Providence, R.I., at the bottom. (Note: Full list HERE.)

The Johnson City Press has a write-up on the report:

Results were drawn from a survey by the evangelical Christian polling firm, in which participants were considered “Bible-minded” if they had read the Bible at least once in the previous week and if they took a literal interpretation of scripture.

Ben Proffitt, director of missions for the Holston Baptist Association, and Dr. Vic Young, founder of Fountain of Life Bible Church in Johnson City, both celebrated the news that the home to their congregations are seen to be among the nation’s most Bible-minded.

“That’s quite impressive if we’re third in the country,” Young said.

He said his church’s emphasis on Bible literacy and defense of the Bible and its contents has been fruitful, with many of those whose interest was sparked at Fountain of Life Bible Church going on to start an education and career in theology, which often sends them to start their own churches.

…Proffitt also puts a lot of stock into the amount of Biblical education a person has.

“I’m enthused to hear this,” he said. “Maybe I’m a little surprised because I feel much of this generation is Biblically illiterate.”

…Tim Brent, an organizer with the Tri-Cities Happy Atheists and a local online freethinker meet-up group that has nearly 200 members, doesn’t see the third-place designation as good news for the area, although he understands many will celebrate being deemed more Bible-minded than most cities across the country.

“It’s certainly not one of surprise,“ Brent said. ”We know where we live.“

Mayors Giving Attention to the Mississippi River

Forty-one mayors from along the Mississippi River, including Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, gathered in St. Louis Thursday to call attention to the troubles the waterway is facing, reports the Commercial Appeal.
The nation’s largest river, and most important waterway for commerce, has suffered over the years from neglect and most recently from natural disasters such as drought and hurricanes.
The St. Louis gathering is the inaugural event of the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative, funded by $250,000 grant from the Walton Family Foundation, the family of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.
The meeting comes amid a severe drought that has seen the river drop to near record lows, just over a year after historic flooding.
“It has strengthened our resolve that the Mississippi River needs more attention,” said Wharton, who was selected by his peers to serve on the nine-member executive board of the initiative.
Barely a year after its high-water records in numerous cities, the river dropped to historic low stages this year. In Memphis in late August, the river dropped to within almost a foot of the all-time record low set in July 1988 of minus 10.7 on the Memphis gauge.The river is responsible for creating $105 billion worth of U.S. gross domestic product, according to the Mississippi River Cities and Towns Initiative. It provides drinking water for more than 18 million people, transports 62 percent of the nation’s agricultural output and delivers nearly 400 tons of coal and petroleum products. The group says the river directly supports 1 million jobs.
This summer, eight of the 10 states touching the river were declared drought emergency sites. Hurricane Isaac added to the problems.

Farragut Deemed ‘Most Business-Friendly’ TN City

News release from Beacon Center:
NASHVILLE – The Beacon Center of Tennessee, the state’s free market think tank, today announced the results of its annual ranking of the state’s 50 most populous cities. Founded as the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, the Beacon Center analyzes cities’ friendliness to business each year based on a number of factors.
This year’s Most Business-Friendly City is the East Tennessee town of Farragut. The city is the first to receive the distinction twice, having first been awarded the title in the Beacon Center’s inaugural rankings in 2006. Later this month, the Center will present Farragut officials with a plaque commemorating the honor.
The study, titled How Business-Friendly are Tennessee’s Cities?, scores each city in three categories that reflect a commitment to encouraging business success and fostering an entrepreneurial spirit. Those categories are Economic Vitality, Business Tax Burden, and Community Allure.
Farragut has consistently ranked toward the top, finishing first in 2006 and second in last year’s rankings. In 2011, its job performance and low tax burden give it the state’s most business-friendly climate.
“Farragut has maintained a solid commitment to low taxes and an inviting economic policy,” said the Beacon Center’s President & CEO Justin Owen. “The city’s dedication to business growth has paid off, leading it to the top of the business-friendly rankings in 2011.”
The city lacks a property tax, has a low crime rate, and has witnessed strong job growth compared to other cities. It finished first in the Business Tax Burden category with a perfect score, third in Economic Vitality, and eighth in the less-weighted category of Community Allure, pulling well ahead of the second ranked city of Brentwood. Franklin, Mt. Juliet, and Spring Hill round out the top five.
“This award is a reflection of Farragut’s commitment to creating a business-friendly climate free of stifling taxes and restrictive regulatory burdens,” Owen said. “We applaud the local elected officials and business leaders for earning the distinction as Tennessee’s Most Business-Friendly City for the second time in just six years.”
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Memphis, Brownsville, Martin, Dyersburg, and Tullahoma rank in the bottom five for business-friendliness in 2011.
The full report, along with the ranking of each of Tennessee’s 50 most populous cities, can be found at www.BeaconTN.org.

Cities Eye Shift in Election Dates

Several Tennessee town are considering moving their municipal elections from odd-numbered years to even-numbered years, reports Rebecca Ferrar. There are at least 10 such towns in East Tennessee and some talk on the topic in Knoxville, where candidates for mayor are split on the shift, made possible to a law approved by the Legislature in 2009 that originated with Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville.
The idea is to put city elections on the same cycle as county, state or federal elections.
Proponents for the move argue that it would save cities money and increase voter turnout. Opponents counter that it would mix the city of Knoxville’s nonpartisan races into partisan elections; that the change could hurt local fundraising; and that larger elections – gubernatorial or presidential – would overwhelm the smaller city elections.
For smaller cities with a mayor and board of aldermen or city council, a bill passed the Legislature last year by state Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville, would allow them to go to even-numbered-year elections by two readings of an ordinance. In Knoxville, however, the City Charter demands passage by City Council of an ordinance on two readings, then a charter change by referendum of the voters, said Charles Swanson, City Council attorney.