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letters to the editor

Farragut statue expense is waste of taxpayer money

The action of the board that approved a bid for construction of the planned Admiral James David Glasgow Farragut Memorial, to Johnson & Galyon, Inc. for $251,500 is just wrong. This money could have been more wisely spent. Politicians have great ideas on how to needlessly spend other people’s money!

We need wider roads so bicyclists, pedestrians and car drivers can share the same road safely. Brighter signs on McFee Road alerting drivers of the traffic calming devices that have frequently contributed to crashes or near, as evidenced by both the numerous skid marks and scattered post-accident debris! We need jobs! The money could have been spent reinvesting in our economic engines. Advertising “shop in Farragut.” Further developing a brand identity and other approaches to helping the Town grow should be implemented!

We live in a time when unemployment is high and food pantries are low. As families all across the Farragut community find better ways of spending their money ... so should the Farragut government.

Dan Andrews

Knox County

Tactics to avoid that annoying camera ticket

Now that Speeding and Red-Light Cameras are operational in Farragut, it becomes important to develop your tactics for avoiding traffic tickets from these devices. You are most likely to get a ticket for an unintended violation when your attention has been diverted as you approach the cameras. Here are some basic tactics for avoiding those $50 tickets.

• Know where all the cameras are located. You should also familiarize yourself with the locations in Knoxville and Oak Ridge (if you drive there).

• Approach all camera locations below the posted speed limit. Not only will this avoid a speeding ticket, but it will give you more margin to avoid running a red light.

• Avoid all unnecessary distractions (conversations, cell phones, radio tuning, lunch, drinks, etc.) when approaching the cameras.

• Well before the critical zone, make yourself aware of surrounding traffic using your rear-view mirrors and peripheral vision. Maintain an awareness of surrounding traffic as you pass through the camera location. This will help you to make safe maneuvers, if required.

• While focussing on the road ahead, keep constant surveillance of the traffic light in your peripheral vision. You do not want to miss the exact instant when the light turns yellow.

• As soon as the light turns yellow, determine whether you can safely stop, or if there is sufficient yellow duration to make it past the stop line before the light turns red. To avoid a ticket, err in favor of stopping.

• Typically, you have 5 seconds of yellow for a 45 mph speed zone. At that speed limit, you must be within 330 feet of the intersection to beat the red light after yellow appears. That is equivalent to 21 Honda-Accord car lengths.

• In a 35 mph speed zone, you typically have 4 seconds of yellow. At that speed limit, you must be within 205 feet of the intersection to beat the red light after yellow appears. That is equivalent to 13 Honda-Accord car lengths.

• If you are making a legal right turn on red, come to a full stop before the white stop-line before proceeding. In some cities, drivers who stop slightly past the stop-line, and then make the right turn in the absence of oncoming traffic have been ticketed for a violation.

• On left turns, hold behind the stop line until the intersection is clear and green. Do not proceed when there is a high risk of crossing the stop line on red.

If you employ the above tactics, chances of getting a camera ticket are small. If everyone could avoid getting a ticket, the cameras would be discontinued for lack of revenue. In most cities the violation rate drops significantly over the first year after installation, as everyone learns where the cameras are, and how to avoid a ticket. In some cities, cameras were decommissioned because the revenue dropped too low. If you are annoyed by the cameras, do your part to reduce the revenues. That is the most effective way to eliminate the camera nuisance. For further information on Red-Light Cameras visit the RLC Resource page at www.TNliberty


Dale Gedcke

Oak Ridge

Shedding some light on ‘Sunshine Law’

In response to the editorial criticizing letters from Farragut residents and exalting Sunshine in Government, I would offer an observation:

The original “sunshine in government” act was passed in 1976.  At that time I was serving in the U.S. Senate as a counsel to a standing committee, and therefore I was able to observe first hand the unintended consequences of the law.

Prior to the enactment of this law, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee on which I served wrote legislation in what was unflatteringly referred to as the “smoke filled room” – we called them “mark up sessions.”  In these meetings there were some tough discussions, even at times arguments, which generally resulted in some amazing accommodations among views across the political spectrum.  Everyone was free to state their position without posturing for the media, providing partisans an opportunity to measure their views against those of others who differed with them.  At the end of the day the result was in most instances bi-partisan legislation that resolved difficult issues – the kind of thing that almost everyone laments the absence of in government today.

As an example of what I am saying: when the Clean Air Act Amendments were reported from the Senate committee in 1976 prior to the Sunshine law ( they were not finally passed by Congress until 1977), the committee vote was 14 to 1 in favor, even though the legislation included many major and controversial changes to the existing law.  Among the pro votes were Ed Muskie a Democrat from Maine and a strong pro-environment legislator; Jennings Randolph, Chairman of the Committee and a Democrat from West Virginia, originally elected to office with Franklin Roosevelt as part of the “new deal”; James McClure, Republican Senator from Idaho and chairman of the conservative caucus in the Senate; James Buckley, Republican Senator from New York and brother of the famous conservative commentator William F. Buckley; and Howard H. Baker, Republican Senator from Tennessee and the ranking member of the Committee.  The lone “no” vote was cast by a Senator who attended the Committee’s meetings sporadically at best.

Even the Wall Street Journal, which opposed several parts of the 1977 Act, in an editorial hailed the work of the Committee in establishing such broad, bi-partisan support for it.

The Sunshine Law, which was lobbied for by a number of special interests, including the media, ended this candid give and take and gave rise to public meetings in the full glare of both media klieg lights and lobbyists of all stripes.  In that environment, the kind of posturing that we are so used to (and tired of) now became the norm – frank discussion and compromise became all but impossible.

 The people of this country are entitled to elect representatives and to hold them accountable for the actions they take.  The news media should assist the people by reporting in depth on these actions and their consequences.  The Sunshine Law makes it easier for the paper to develop news articles by simply parroting what they hear in open meetings with little, if any, thought or analysis.  This in my opinion is chiefly why the media likes the law – less thinking and work required. 

Anyone who hates the partisanship of the current politics should hate the “sunshine in government” law, which is a substantial cause of it.

Richard E. Herod


Hogan supports


I agree with your editorial.

For 13 years, I have seen many attempts to squeeze in variations to codes, zoning and regulations. Pressure was exerted on elected officials, and staff alike, accused of stogy attitudes.

Staff and mayor were aware and on the alert for seeming innocent changes. Variations that would set a precedent, and perhaps detract from the Town once enacted in quantity. The Press was also wary of the of the harmful smoke screens promoted by those who would profit at the Town’s expense.

I agree with Gary Palmer, appoint developers to the Commission, the better to monitor their activities, and benefit from their experience.

Harry Hogan


McGill response

The Farragut Press provides a great service to the town of Farragut and the surrounding areas, no question. Their reporting of news of the Town is excellent because it is always fair, balanced, and accurate. I have praised the paper for this excellence in many circles. I’m here today, though, not to praise them but to rebut their editorial in last week’s issue. The editorial, “Ourview:Sunshine,” was NOT fair, balanced and accurate, and by omission of a significant part of the “story” they have misrepresented the details of this incident and done a disservice to their readers.

The issue at question was the appointment of Jim Nixon to the Economic Development Committee at the Board of Mayor and Aldermen (BOMA) meeting of Sept. 24. We made appointments of 13 people to that committee on Sept. 10, but while we had expected to see an application from Mr. Nixon, there was not one that could be found, and we could not appoint him that night. We agreed at that time that if we received an application from him we could appoint him at the next BOMA meeting. We did receive an application from him and did appoint him to the committee meeting at the BOMA meeting on Sept. 24.

Shortly before the Sept. 24 meeting, though, one alderman sent an e-mail to the rest of the BOMA advocating the appointment of Jim Nixon. This violated the Open Meetings Act (Sunshine Law) because advocating is part of the process of deliberation on any given issue and ALL deliberations of the BOMA must take place in an advertised, open public meeting. Was the e-mail a violation? Absolutely. Should the alderman have known that it was a violation? Absolutely. Did he know? I don’t know. I have very little contact with the aldermen except in the venue of public meetings. I do have a notion that he did not know it was illegal, but that certainly does not change the fact that it was a violation. Of course, I can’t control what anyone sends to me in an e-mail. But, I can control what I send.

What happened next was totally omitted from discussion in the editorial, and I have to wonder why. I immediately sent an e-mail back to the alderman pointing out that his e-mail was probably a violation of the Sunshine Law and should not have been sent. Shortly after, another alderman sent an e-mail echoing that it was a violation. And, another alderman followed pointing out that it should be brought up in the meeting. My question to the farragutpress is, what would you have had us do that we did not do in response to the illegal e-mail?

I am also troubled by the choice of words by the writer of the editorial. “An e-mail campaign was conducted within the Board.” In my mind, one errant e-mail does not constitute an “e-mail campaign.” “Simply, Town business was being discussed behind closed doors.” “It is clear that the matter was campaigned and settled outside the public forum.” These phrases would lead most people to think that there are wholesale violations of the Sunshine Law happening in the Town.

If the author of the editorial has specific knowledge of discussions between BOMA members outside the public forum other than the one e-mail, he should bring charges against us. If he does not have such knowledge, then he should apologize for suggesting such, and he needs to think about the words he chooses for such editorials in the future.

Going forward we are going to assure that there is never a repeat of this incident with new strict rules and more training for the BOMA and others of the Town’s boards.

All that has been discussed here is a matter of public record. You don’t have to take our word for it. If any readers of the farragutpress would like to see all of the same e-mails, I will gladly provide them.

Ralph McGill, Mayor



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