2013
07.29

Dollar Bill Closeup

“Bait-and-Switch” is the name of an old retail tactic where products are advertised at one price to get customers in the door, then sold at another price (or replaced with a more expensive product) without buyers noticing the difference.

Government has banned this practice in stores, but government itself at every level still engages in Political “Bait-and-Switch” (or “Political BS” as it were) on a regular basis. Voters are promised one thing to gain support, then often realize they were sold something else entirely once its too late to change their minds.

Political BS of that type has been perfected here in Walker County, especially when it comes to the regular renewal of Special Purpose Local Sales Tax, or SPLOST. SPLOST is a state-sanctioned 1% sales tax, one of three local sales taxes currently being paid along with a 4% state tax. Revenue from SPLOST is restricted to special projects – building facilities, road work, buying land, purchasing equipment, etc. and cannot be used for operating expenses like salaries or utilities.

Under state law, the 1% sales tax must be reapproved by voters every five or six years. Walker County residents have faithfully reapproved SPLOST every chance they’ve had since it was first implemented in 1987, but each SPLOST cycle provides voters with fewer and fewer benefits compared to what backers promise. The Bait and Switch.

Walker County SPLOST is up for a vote again this November. Baiting has already started; shenanigans begin tonight at 7 PM during a SPLOST planning meeting/dog and pony show every Walker County voter should make an effort to attend.

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2013
07.15

Daniel Hendley, 25 years old, is being sought by Chattanooga PD. He’s got relatives in LaFayette and several people have apparently seen him here in the last few days. He likes to hang out where he can use WiFi, has been reportedly seen at Krystal, McDonalds, Bi-Lo, a gas station, and elsewhere in town. He’s also been spotted in Rossville and Catoosa County.

Danial Hendley

Hendley has tattoos on his arms and right knuckles, short haircut, last seen with a blue backpack and wearing one of those flat bill Cookie Monster hats.

If you see him call Walker Co Sheriff’s Office. If they don’t know what you’re talking about, they can verify his status in Tennessee using NCIC. You can also call Chattanooga PD. He needs to be off the street.   Tiny Facebook

    WQCH Radio, 07/10/13: “THE WALKER TRANSIT SYSTEM’S CURRENT BUS SERVICE MAY BE MODIFIED, BUT IT WILL NOT BE SHUT DOWN. THAT’S THE WORD FROM WALKER COUNTY COMMISSIONER BEBE HEISKELL.
    “SHE SAID IT WILL BE THE END OF JULY BEFORE A DECISION IS MADE ON THE TRANSIT SYSTEM’S FUTURE, BUT QUOTE: ‘WE’RE NOT GOING TO CLOSE IT’. WALKER TRANSIT IS CURRENTLY OPERATING AS IT HAS FOR THE PAST 6 YEARS.
    “IN THE MEAN TIME, HEISKELL SAID SHE IS WORKING WITH STATE SENATOR JEFF MULLIS, THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION AND OTHERS, TO NEGOTIATE A LOWER COST FOR THE LOCAL SHARE OF FUNDING THE SERVICE.
    “THE COMMISSIONER POSTPONED APPROVAL OF THE CURRENT CONTRACT’S RENEWAL, WHICH WOULD COST THE TAXPAYERS 348-THOUSAND DOLLARS OVER THE NEXT YEAR. ‘IT’S MONEY WE JUST DON’T HAVE’, SHE SAID, ADDING THAT WALKER COUNTY ‘HAS THE ONLY TRANSIT SYSTEM IN THIS AREA THAT PROVIDES BUS SERVICE OTHER THAN MEDICAL TRANSPORT. THE MONEY IS IMPORTANT’, HEISKELL SAID, ‘BUT IF WE CUT THE SERVICE BACK, WE WILL NOT CUT MEDICAL TRANSPORT. THAT’S A SERVICE THAT HAS BECOME VERY NECESSARY’.”

The biggest issue here is WHY do we not have this money. Obviously somebody’s in charge of county finances right? Someone sets a budget and oversees how the money is spent, making sure that our priorities are in order? Who’s supposed to be doing that?

Next, she’s basically hinting that Walker Transit will be for medical purposes only. That cuts out at least half of the current clients who use it. No more shopping trips or visits to the Senior Center for Neemaw.

Despite multiple reports saying Walker Transit is operating “normally” there are conflicting reports about the service being restricted to medical trips only. Some in the community say they were told it’s already just for medical visits, and some have said it’s operating normally but medical trips get “priority.”

There would be no program left to speak of if Wendy Pritchard hadn’t stuck her neck out to make the media aware of what was happening (losing her own job in the process) and so many of you hadn’t called Bebe and told her where she could ride the bus to for trying to kill it.   Tiny Facebook

Walker Co. Sheriff’s Office is looking for 17-year-old runaway Ashley White.

Ashley White Missing Child

White was last seen in Chickamauga and has a Chickamauga address but grew up in LaFayette. She has family in LaFayette, Chickamauga, and apparently Florida.

According to CatWalkChatt, White has been missing since June 24th.   Tiny Facebook

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2013
07.10

During Monday night’s LaFayette City Council meeting, library director Lecia Eubanks declared construction to renovate the library’s permanent building will stop this Friday due to lack of funds.

LaFayette Library Boarded Up

Walker County originally promised to contribute $1.5 million from 2008 SPLOST revenue, but has so far delivered about half that much after cutting the commitment by a third. LaFayette still owes the project about $60,000, which won’t be available until October. The remaining work is carpet, ceiling tiles, fixtures, etc. which cannot be done by prison labor. That means the only thing left for prisoners to do is board up the library’s windows in an effort to keep it safe until the project can resume.

Until funding comes in, the library system has no insurance to replace damage done by vandals or thieves. Since the building is city property, the only security will be occasional drive-bys from LPD officers.

    WQCH Radio, 07/09/13: “IN THE MEAN TIME, EUBANKS TOLD THE CITY COUNCIL THAT AS OWNERS OF THE SOUTH DUKE STREET PROPERTY, THEY WILL NOW BE RESPONSIBLE FOR INSURING AND PROVIDING SECURITY FOR THE BUILDING. SHE SAID WORKERS ARE GOING TO BOARD-UP THE WINDOWS AND DOORS FOR PROTECTION, WHILE THE PROJECT IS SUSPENDED.”

Commissioner Heiskell says remaining county money won’t be available unless Walker County voters renew the SPLOST tax in November – the same thing she said in July 2008 when SPLOST was last up for a vote. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice… well.. Hopefully not.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

Also in Monday night’s meeting, one of the worst kept secrets in LaFayette history was officially announced:

    WQCH Radio, 07/09/13: “12 YEAR CITY COUNCILMAN ANDY ARNOLD ANNOUNCES AS A CANDIDATE FOR MAYOR OF LAFAYETTE, IN THE NOVEMBER ELECTION. LEAVES WARD ONE COUNCIL SEAT OPEN.”

Ever since the 2009 election there’s been little doubt that 23-year-incumbent mayor Neal Florence was looking for the exit, and Councilman Arnold was interested in taking his place.

The council also set qualification for the city’s November election as August 26-28. That means you’ve got about six weeks to decide about throwing your hat in the ring to run for council or mayor. LaFayette needs some good candidates this year.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

David Pennington

Looking ahead to 2014 elections:

After months of speculation, Dalton mayor David Pennington has declared himself a candidate for governor of Georgia in 2014. He says the current governor hasn’t done anything especially bad, but also hasn’t done us much good. A core part of his campaign will be promising to end the state income tax.

Another state candidate will declare his intentions next week in Walker County. A press event is scheduled for 7 PM, Thursday July 18th, at Lee & Gordon’s Mills in Chickamauga.   Tiny Facebook

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2013
07.08

Days of rain devastated last week’s Independence Day celebrations, resulting in mass cancellations of outdoor fireworks shows. LaFayette, fortunately, held its annual Freedom Festival on rain-free June 28th – but the city’s regularly scheduled downtown car show last Saturday wasn’t spared.

Arnold Lane Flood

More concerning than wet fireworks are washed-out roads and flooded buildings. As this is typed early Monday morning, there are reports of water covering roads all over the Catlett/Noble/Naomi area and several issues in Chickamauga. Among the worst are Lake Howard Rd, Veeler Rd, GA 95, and Arnold Ln – as shown above. There are also reports of water inside the Rock Spring Dollar General on Kay Conley Rd.

Walker County fire crews were deployed late Sunday to clear downed trees and debris from county roads. Thoroughfares may still be flooded or blocked throughout the morning; anyone who needs to travel should be careful and check local TV or radio news for updates on road conditions.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

LaFayette council meeting, 7:30 tonight. Another round of streetscape work will be discussed, among other things. A date to qualify for November’s council election will also be set – about time to start focusing on that.   Tiny Facebook

Walker Transit With Client

Only a week after LU broke the news about Walker Transit losing funding, the local paper attempts to cover the issue. According to THIS piece, the service will continue without interruption or change, but that’s untrue – regular riders are already being told that they can only use the low-cost busses for medical purposes, not to shop, get to work, or participate in social activities.

    “The county is in such dire straights, she said during her Thursday, June 27 meeting, that she would prefer to first assess the program to make sure that covering the cost is worth stretching the county‚Äôs already tight budget.”

She’s pausing a program that helps old people get to the store, that helps disabled people get to work and support themselves, to “assess” if helping 4,000 people is worth $348,000 a year.

But she REFUSES to pause development on Lookout Mountain or at Mountain Cove Farms to “assess” if those wasteful, pointless projects help anyone except herself and her friends/family.

Heiskell says she might call in a loan from the county Development Authority. But the Development Authority might not have that money, considering how much land it keeps buying.. And Bebe’s over development and over transit, if she wanted to do that she could do it today without interrupting or stopping service.

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2013
07.03

Stephens House in Kensington

Due to the July 4th Independence Day holiday, this will be the week’s final Daily Update.

Sources say Walker Transit’s director was fired Tuesday morning. Looks like this is how the Commissioner covers up her own role in trying to shut the service down last week.

Responsibility for renewing the contract and failure to realize it expired on July 1 falls fully on Bebe, not anyone else.. Not sure if she’s trying to blame this employee for that, or pissed about the community response to what she planned to do.

Yesterday Channel 3 did a followup report on the Walker Transit issue, proclaiming that Walker County will “take care of medical needs.” However, transportation for medically fragile, elderly, and poor citizens will probably NOT through be Walker Transit since the county is looking to dump this service on another group, only six years after taking it over from some of the same entities. It seems Commissioner Bebe will still dismantle transit, just now she’s going to do it a piece at a time instead of all at once.

(The reporter behind this one, Jonquil Newland, isn’t the same journalist sent last week. Newland is the one who helped Commissioner Heiskell smear election opponent Dr. Paul Shaw last year with out of context interview clips.)   Tiny Facebook

Bebe Mind Trick

Editorial in Friday’s Chattanooga Times Free Press calls Commissioner Heiskell out for not having a 2013 budget:

    “How dare Heiskell demand Walker County taxpayers agree to pay more in taxes when she doesn’t respect them enough to accept, and operate within, a budget.”
    ..”In order for Heiskell to ask Walker County residents to reach further into their pockets, she needs to be able to point to places in the budget that are under-funded and justify her request for additional dollars. Since she can’t, county voters should laugh Heiskell’s sales tax off the ballot this fall.”

People beyond Walker County are beginning to smell the decay of what’s happening down here. If this level of media attention continues, something positive might actually begin to happen in county government.   Tiny Facebook  Tiny Facebook

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