The grand plan for downtown has been heralded as the start of something good by Mainstreet Cleveland's leaders. Mainstreet Director Vanessa Clark, was joined by committee members Lynn DeVault and Sherry Brown, to discuss the downtown plan with county commissioners at their May 3rd meeting. Knoxville architect Mike Fowler was there to outline suggested changes to the downtown landscape. Fowler's first brilliant idea was to spend $1.2 million on changes to the courthouse square which is arguably one of the nicest and welcoming area's of the city center. Then he wanted to revitalize the grounds around the almost new Five Points Museum and one or two other areas like Johnston Park that already look pretty good. Cha-bang, another $4 million.
It is not being suggested by this writer that these areas couldn't or shouldn't be improved but to spend over $5 million doesn't make sense when the money could be used to revitalize rundown side and back streets of the city center. Fowler is reported to have received $100,000 for his plan and the commission and city council seem to be buying into it without so much as a murmur. It is predictable that DeVault is for anything that would increase the wealth of her boss, Allan Jones (Jones Management). Jones is said to have invested heavily in downtown properties when prices were low and revitalization was out of the question. Brown has also staked some promising claims in the area and will benefit financially if property values rise. Many of the properties these guys own would be classed as derelict in most towns and they would be ordered to fix them up or tear them down. Drive around behind the facades to see the broken glass in windows and the crumbling masonry. If Jones and Brown were to fix up their properties, half the town would be revitalized without one cent of public money being spent. Cleaning up downtown is something that needs to be done if the pride of Cleveland is to shine through but if members of Mainstreet are serious they need to revitalize their own properties first.
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It was claimed the old jail needed to be demolished because it didn't meet fire and safety codes so over $16 million was spent on a new one that didn't meet fire and safety codes. Who would have thunk it?
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"Expert warns that electronic voting machines are flawed" (Cleveland Daily Banner, May 6th, 2004) Scientist told the newly created U.S. Election Assistance Commission that electronic voting isn't completely reliable and suggested a paper backup system to avoid disputed election results.
For the past 4 or 5 years this newspaper has been investigating election irregularities in Bradley and other Tennessee counties. Sparked by complaints from readers, a quick review of election office procedure revealed monumental security breaches that were being completely ignored by the Bradley County Election Commission and interviews with it's members showed an alarming lack of understanding on how voting machines worked. What was even more scary was that when flaws were exposed the commission closed ranks and attempted to hide what they were doing so as not to appear ignorant. Even today it is an ongoing battle to open the process to public view. State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson made it clear in a 2003 interview that no oversight would be considered to insure a fair election and the Bradley County Grand Jury took no action after reports of possible fraud were published. After investigation, it is the opinion of this editor that the election process in Bradley county is at best catastrophically flawed and at worse, fraudulently rigged and there is documented evidence to prove it. It is my belief that almost everyone in the process has been aware of it for years yet nothing has been done to stop it. Interestingly, during April, an online survey was run on The People News website asking if respondents would favor a U.S. Congressional inquiry into voting practices in the State of Tennessee and the result was 81% Yes, 19% No. Not a scientific poll but it shows that overwhelmingly respondents came to the same conclusion as the experts. Concern is growing over the honesty of the U.S. election process so why isn't anything constructive being done to clean it up? Well, apparently many of the people elected to office could be there fraudulently so they aren't eager for change and the ones that got elected honestly don't want to rock the boat with an inquiry in case the status quo survives. The new electronic voting machines are relatively easy to compromise, especially if you are an election official surrounded by people who don't understand how they work. Election fraud is a ticking timebomb, so you can expect to hear much more on the subject.
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