An item was discussed at the joint city/county retreat on November 1st that didn't receive much publicity but could have a far reaching impact on the citizen's control of tax spending and future industrial development in Bradley County. What was suggested by the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce was to redirect industrial development funding and spending authority from the County Commission to a proposed Industrial Development Board appointed by the chamber.
Earlier this year the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce was successful in persuading the county commission to support a state legislative private act that guaranteed proceeds from the local Hotel/Motel tax be paid directly to the chamber, thus circumventing elective budgeting procedure. In this new proposal, the Industrial Development Board funding would come from the lodging tax, government appropriations (local taxes), grants (state and federal taxes) and project revenue. The project revenue would come from industrial park land sales and speculative building projects using borrowing authority created for the Industrial Development Board.
The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce is a private company that is increasingly assuming the status of a government agency. They have close ties with Cleveland Associated Industries who's membership consist of a secretive group of local industrialist and business owners. CAI and Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce have for years been active in forcing unpopular political and development issues through local elected government bodies.
Recently, Alan Jones a local property speculator and a leader in what is often referred to as the loan-sharking business - the payday loan industry - has close ties with the chamber and has leased them space in his Village Green office complex in return for control of their offices on Keith Street. Jones is also the driving force behind the chamber promoted revitalization of the Five Points area in which he has property investments.
The Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce is increasingly negating it's role as a private business association to one of a quasi-governmental agency with ties to shady organizations working against the public's interest. If the Bradley County Commission relinquishes authority to this non elected organization, oversight would be minimal, opening the possibility for shady dealing and fiscal abuse. The Cleveland good-ol-boy system has stifled it's citizen's prosperity and manipulated local politics for decades but this new move will give them the ultimate authority to isolate themselves from voter instigated government change. If the county commission and our state senator and representatives grant them this power, the taxpayer will be forced to fund "the enemy within" and will lose some of the safeguards guaranteed by the democratic process.
What do you think?
Lets survey the survey
Most of you have no doubt seen the the local Government Study Committee survey published in the Banner and the Weekly. This survey is the result of an effort by County Mayor Gary Davis to streamline city and county services to make them cost-effective and more efficient. The idea is a noble one, any action that alleviates waste is a worthy cause for the taxpayer and should be embraced by the citizens.
Alas, it appears that the citizens trust may be misguided. I hope I am wrong on this one, but studying the compilation of the survey shows a bias to narrow the answers in such a way that by completing the survey in good faith to reduce government spending may in fact be giving the thumbs-up for increases. Sections 1 and 3 of the survey ask you to evaluate services by number; 1 being the lowest 2 higher, and so on, but section 4 titled "Financing a Better Community" reverses the process to make 1 the most acceptable. Confusing don't you think? Not only that but all the options provided were for increases in taxation, there was only a write-in section where it would have been possible to support funding cuts. And the phrase "Financing a Better Community" links increase financing with a "better community" an obviously leading title.
According to Michael Willis, Davis' assistant, the county mayor's office didn't compile the survey, it was done by a survey committee headed by Dr. Ollie Lee of Lee University, who it appears from his biog. on the university website, is trained to research social issues and human responses.
It seems too much of a coincidence that these anomalies were allowed to slip through unintentionally with such distinguished leadership, so one can only assume the survey was designed to be deliberately misleading and to reach a predetermined conclusion.
Unless a fair survey is published, all results from the work the Government Study Committee releases will be just as worthless. I can't think of one government study group anywhere that has ever recommended eliminating or decreasing services. The usual result is the need to spend more money in order to save down the road. It's a shame that this state of affairs exists in Bradley County when there is such a tremendous opportunity to do something worthwhile, but it so obviously does.
What do you think?
What do you think?
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