As the new year approaches we face another local election.
In 2016 I must admit I did not know much about the East Ridge political scene. Since that time I have attended most of the East Ridge City Council meetings, as well as other government board meetings, in an effort to understand what, why, and who is most responsible for things in our small city.
I did some research and combed over 20 years of news clippings to better understand East Ridge politics and the way things operate in our city. I learned some things that surprised me and sometimes those surprises created more questions in my mind than answers.
I compiled more than five pages of notes on who the movers and shakers were/are in East Ridge politics. I hate to say it but it appears “The Good Ole Boys’ Network” has held sway for quite some time now. The power has been kept in the control of like-minded individuals who weigh in on the issues that come before a city.
God bless Curtis Adams. He has served this cty for more years than anyone! Does that mean he should continue to serve? Just because you can does not always mean you should.
That brings to mind Denny Manning. Love it when you bless us at the city council meetings, Denny, but is another four years on the council on top of the 12 you’ve previously served something you should pursue?
I am pleased to report that with the last few new appointments to city boards and commissions, the council has appointed some folks from the “up and coming generation” in East Ridge. Since these people are hand picked by the mayor and members of the council, the appointees are usually from the “like minds” category of those who nominate them.
There are many economic development projects in East Ridge that seems to be interwoven with those who stand to benefit financially from the deal for many years to come, the developers. The same law firm that represents the developers also represents the City of East Ridge. The Mayor stated that we, the city of East Ridge, need to operate under the same firm to pay them back for the Border Regions deal. I think not.
Funny, the city fired former City Attorney John Anderson for billing the city for so many hours on top of his large retainer. Our current city lawyer is Mark Litchford, who is in the same firm as Anderson. Keepin’ it it in the family so to speak!
New economic development in the city has put it in a position for real gain. But even more gain thus far has gone to the developers.
To me, this Border Region stuff can be so confusing. It is important for me to be “in the know” on who these developers are and their motivations. Obviously, the motivation is money. Much of that money comes from the yearly check they receive from the City of East Ridge to repay their “business risk” in the developed areas covered by the Border Region Act.
The developers involved in Exit 1 LLC (Bass Pro Shops, Jordan Crossing) are the Wood brothers, Ethan and Matt, and John Healy. The deal was set up with millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money in incentives from the East Ridge Industrial Development Board. Since the developers’ risk is covered under the Border Region Act, the actual risk seems very low! Do the developers really have what’s in the best interest of the City in mind?
As the new year brings us new elections, I will make every effort to make sure my vote is educated and earned. I will not just vote blindly based on whose name I recognize, but the one that is best suited for the job!
I hope to be able to sit down with or attend public functions where the candidates for the 2018 elections will be available for questions to better inform my inquiring mind!
See ya in 2018!
_ Laura Mathis