Looking for some midday entertainment and otherwise curiosity about the release of the secretly recorded tapes by East Ridge’s mayor, I took time out of my busy day to try to participate in the process by attending what was billed as a public press conference at the East Ridge “Community” center. While news reporters from all of the Chattanooga-based TV stations, Radio Stations, and Newspapers got a free pass by the off-duty police officer hired by the Lambert campaign to enter the room, as far as I know the only people in that room from East Ridge was the Mayor, his wife, and ERNO’s Dick Cook.
The others that had gathered that are familiar faces in our community to include various former city leaders, people from my church, and interested citizens like me, were NOT allowed into the event. We were basically left out in the cold on a blustery 40 degree April morning like peasants standing at the palace gates. I question whether this use of a public facility that is funded and paid for by East Ridge taxpayers can be used for private, guarded functions like this. Maybe so, but it didn’t feel right.
After returning home and while eating lunch I realized that the press conference was being broadcast live on Chattanooga’s Times Free Press where I was able to listen to the event after being denied access to a public forum. To add insult to injury, when the mayor was asked by a reporter why the press conference didn’t allow for citizens to attend, the Mayor said he didn’t want any disruptions. He said that he had experienced disruptions at City Council meetings in the past and has even had to have people escorted out before. Apparently he didn’t want any of us East Ridge trouble makers screwing up his closed-door press conference.
To be clear, I am not for or against either one of these candidates. In fact, this may be one of those times that I actually look to see who the Democrat opponent is in this race later this year, but for the Mayor of East Ridge to insult every single resident of the City that he represents and is depending on for votes for County Commission really just rubs me the wrong way. I think that out of the entire press conference, what he said at the end of the meeting about keeping this a closed press conference because of potential “distractions” from citizens tells me a lot about his view of his citizens. If he was scared that his opponent or his agents were going to come in and stir up trouble, then that’s one thing, but I think he made it very clear that he was actually afraid that the grey and white haired residents of East Ridge waiting outside to sit down in an heated room and listen quietly were going somehow mess up this whole event. I’m insulted, and I think that many of those there that were denied access that have been in East Ridge a lot longer than me were disturbed and disappointed by what transpired.
Best of luck to Mayor Lambert has he continues his campaign after being bullied around just a bit, but based on what I’m hearing from both of them, they won’t be getting my vote. By the way, I actually saw a Lambert campaign sign for the first time on John Ross. Looks like he’s spent upwards of $50 so far not counting the rental rate for the Community Center and paying an off-duty police officer. Next time he secretly records his next opponent’s phone call, he might want to invest more money in the recording and sound equipment to get more bang for his buck.
East Ridge, TN