Sorry, we don’t recall; we don’t even vote

A Chattanooga businessman has filed a petition with the Hamilton County Election Commission to recall Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield. His complaints are all arguably valid reasons to oppose the mayor and to wish for a different person in that office.

Count 1: The Mayor has requested large and unnecessary stormwater fees and permit increases to cover four years of negligence in handling these permits.

Count 2: The Mayor ignored civic groups, the police, and judges and declared a gang problem which threatens our city to be non-existent. At the same time, the Mayor has tried to dump the city police department onto the county.

Count 3: The Mayor has annexed thousands of people, without their vote, billing the city taxpayers to provide them services they do not want or need. Further, the Mayor is attempted to raise our taxes 33 percent to pay for these services and his other plans.

Likewise, the threshold for a municipal recall seems reasonable enough. If just 15 percent of registered voters in the city sign the petition, the Election Commission will be required to schedule an election to replace Littlefield. In theory, he could get ousted while enjoying an 85 percent approval rating among registered voters. Wow, right?

There’s just one small—tiny, in fact—problem. Only 17,913 of our city’s registered voters could be bothered to show up during the mayoral election last year, when Mayor Littlefield was seeking this second term. Since nearly a three-fifths majority of those voted for the incumbent, that means the combined opposition received far less than the total needed to effect a recall, even if every one of those voters were to sign the petition.

Furthermore, the opposition failed to recruit a viable candidate. Rob Healy moved into town from the county in barely enough time to qualify; and he was widely viewed as having a personal motive for running, after having been fired by Littlefield. Thomas Smith is a perennial candidate whose main focus is providing a voice for the urban poor. While admirable, his platform was by no means positioned for widespread adoption. And then we had this blogger dude. He put his name in when it seemed clear that Healy was going to be blocked from running on a technicality (and Smith hadn’t yet filed). Blogger dude wasn’t so much “opposition” as he was concerned that an unopposed incumbent would preclude having a public conversation about the incumbent’s merits for reelection and whether a different direction for the city was warranted. (If you’re just tuning in, blogger dude was me; and for the record, I withdrew my candidacy and returned to writing about elections rather than running in them.)

One of the complaints in the recall effort deals with the recent annexation. Some portion of those new city residents is vexed about the additional property tax burden. But even if, hypothetically speaking, all of the registered voters newly annexed by the city were ideologically aligned against the mayor, it is doubtful that the recall effort would succeed, because few of them are likely to actually put pen to paper.

But on the other hand, if it does succeed: What then? Does Jim Folkner have a plan to recruit a future leader who will rein in what he and others see as government excess? Does this group have an alternative agenda for moving our city forward on the issues that matter most to our residents? Or are they simply ticked off at the current administration?

These rhetorical questions would be worth exploring further were there any reason to believe that somewhere close to 15,000 people will seek out this recall petition when only just over 7,000 deigned to register their discontent last year. Chattanooga: like it or not, you have the government you asked for, albeit through abdication of your responsibility.

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-30

  • RT @chattarati: "Smith 'Honored' to Win Straw Poll at Partially Boycotted Lincoln Day Dinner" #CHA #TN03 #
  • Thoughts are with Rep. Joey Hensley and his family. Hoping for the best. (via @WSMV) #fb #
  • RT @zachwamp: Tune in PBS affiliates tonight 8est/7cst to view 90 minute debate among GOP candidates for Governor live from Shelby Co. #fb #
  • only caught the last half or so of the GOP #tngov debate on PBS. Did you watch? What did you think? #fb #
  • I <3 fake politician Twitter accts, but 4 the record, believe they shld b reasonably easy 2 ID. @mikemcwherter=fake; @votemcwherter=real #fb #
  • Wow. @watchdogon3 is making my eyes well up. For realz. Don't wish me a "happy" Memorial Day, k? It's a somber thing. #
  • RT @robints: Please take time this weekend to remember those who have made the greatest sacrifice for freedom. #
  • Off to meet a #TN03 Democratic Party candidate. What??? Yes. A few exist. They've just been quiet. #

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GOP gubernatorial candidates stump in Hamilton County

Two of the three major GOP candidates for Governor of Tennessee spoke to those gathered at a Hamilton County Republican Party fundraiser Saturday evening.

Each candidate was given seven minutes to address the crowd. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey did not attend, as he had much more important things to do (I’m serious): his daughter was getting married. Congratulations to the happy couple; but the lack of a stand-in was mildly puzzling.

Brittany Cofer has the report, although her headline writer is a little off with the “debate” part. Each candidate merely gave an abbreviated version of his typical stump speech.

The straw poll results:

U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp 294
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam 77
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey 7

More from

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-05-23

  • Who's going to win Tuesday's U.S. Senate primaries? #fb #
  • wondering how much @RonRamsey will benefit from (Claude) RAMSEY billboards in #HamCo #rememberGaryDavis #askBobTuke #fb #
  • last tweet: should have said #askMikePadgett but #askBobTuke has a better ring to it. Also: note that Claude Ramsey has endorsed @zachwamp. #
  • MSNBC just reported slight lead by Sestak in #PASen but only 40% of precincts in. Close race. #
  • I love election nights. I really do. #mysuperbowl #myfinalfour #
  • RT @Kleinheider: Cindi Bryant, wife of fmr Congressman and U.S. Sen candidate Ed Bryant, endorses Bill Haslam for guv: #
  • At the #HCGOP Lincoln Day Dinner. Party officials say they are scrambling to accommodate large turnout. #tnpolitics #
  • #HamCo Election Commissioner Brandon Lewis introduces a website aimed at stopping a proposed #CHA city tax increase. #
  • Failed to mention this earlier: sincere condolences to #TN03 candidate Art Rhodes and his family on their loss. #fb #
  • Campaign operatives have varying opinions on whether tonight will be "very interesting" or "anti-climactic." #HCLincoln #
  • See for #HCLincoln backstory. #
  • From the banners hung along the backdrop, it looks like @robints and @rickkernea will be the #TN03 speakers. @artrhodes would have. #
  • Lt. Gov. @RonRamsey is not at #HCLincoln due to his daughter's wedding. (Congrats!) @zachwamp and @billhaslam are here. Kirkpatrick? #fb #
  • #TN03 candidate @tommycrangle informed me that Joe Kirkpatrick is at the Tea Party conv in Gatlinburg. #
  • Even the security guards are Republicans at this shindig. (Mike Walden, CEO of Walden Security, is a GOP VIP.) #HCLincoln #
  • Rick Kernea speaking first. #HCLincoln #
  • Kernea gives overview of bio; castigates Mex. Pres. Calderon's criticisms of Arizona immigration law. Says what he thinks. #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • Robin Smith coming to podium. Personal condolences to Art Rhodes&family. #HCLincoln #
  • Smith tells crowd "your presence here demonstrates a commitment to principles and people of Republican Party." #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • "We can repeal Obamacare." – @robints #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • Smith lists accomplishments of local party: defeated Gore, state income tax; passed state const amend to define marriage. #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • Travis Henry speaks on Art Rhodes' behalf. Lists business experience and congressional staff exp. Praises Zach Wamp. #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • Henry appeals to undecided GOPers, says Rhodes can hit ground running and not learn on the job. #HCLincoln #TN03 #
  • Haslam speaking now; intros wife Crissy. Says state facing 1.5bn financial problem; need business exp in ofc. #tngov #HCLincoln #
  • Haslam says education is 2nd greatest challenge; ranking hinders recruitment. #TNGov #HCLincoln #
  • Haslam concludes with 4 promises: wil detail on website. Wamp speaking now. #tngov #HCLincoln #
  • Wamp mentions recently deceased Jack Lupton as pivotal in Chattanooga's renaissance. #tngov #HCLincoln #
  • Auction. @RonRamsey would be at home. #HCLincoln #
  • Tech note: cell service is SLOW in here. I didn't spring for pay wifi. Tweeting as fast as I can. #HCLincoln #
  • Also, erase button right next to hashtag button in @TweetDeck. Big thumbs. Many tweets have been composed twice as a result. #
  • Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia. Says he will miss Zach Wamp in Congress. #HCLincoln #
  • Congressman Price represents #GA06 is in 3rd term, is a physician. #HCLincoln #
  • Earlier at #HCLincoln auctioneer (Coker?) took an obvious swipe at #TN03 candidates who boycotted. "They forgot this was a fundraiser." #
  • Campaign operatives huddling over bits of paper with figures written on them: the straw poll is tallied. Price still speaking. #HCLincoln #
  • I asked a good friend for the straw poll scoop. Rebuffed! #HCLincoln #
  • Congressman Price calls current administration "secular socialists." Says he understands national anger. Big cheer re deposing Pelosi. #
  • Straw poll top 3: Smith 201, Gobble 60, Fleischmann 49 #TN03 #HCLincoln #
  • Price encourages Republicans to share their passion for country with family and neighbors, ask them to get involved. #HCLincoln #
  • Unofficial straw poll results show @zachwamp with substantial lead over rivals. #HCLincoln #
  • Note: #TN03 straw poll results posted earlier were unofficial too. Waiting on official. High confidence in their validity, tho. #HCLincoln #
  • TNGOP Chair Chris Devaney recognized for attendance, table purchase #HCLincoln #
  • Official: Robin Smith wins #HCLincoln #TN03 straw poll with 201 of 359 votes cast, or 56% #
  • Official: Zach Wamp wins #HCLincoln #tngov straw poll with 294 of 378 votes cast. Haslam 77, Ramsey 7. #
  • Sarah Palin doppelgänger Joan Edwards closes show by singing "God Bless America." #
  • One final note: #JAMPcon and #HCLincoln made an hilarious juxtaposition. #

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