Roy Exum: A Lack Of Common Sense

Sunday, July 9, 2017 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

I don’t know if it is the abundance of rain after last year’s drought or the fact the snowflakes are leading the anti-tolerance parade but it appears we have an abundance of crazy people in our midst. Between County Commissioner Tim Boyd ragging the promise of a fabulous sports complex in his very own district, or state education commissioner Candice McQueen brazenly announcing she’ll have "invitation only" meetings here this week, or the "do-gooders" on Signal Mountain doing a good job of tearing their community apart, it appears the Apocalypse may be right around the corner.

Common sense dictates that Boyd may have just ruined his political career unless he moves to a state in the Pacific Northwest and changes his name. McQueen, who has announced she and she alone is hijacking five of our inner-city schools, will begin her divide-and-conquer trick when she and she alone picks between our county’s have and have-nots, much like Signal Mountain’s elite have done as "the committee" continues to study forming its own school district.

TIM BOYD’S REAL PROBLEM

Between a mouth he can’t control and ego he can’t suppress, it is no secret whatsoever at the Hamilton County Courthouse that Tim will do anything he can to make county Mayor Jim Coppinger mad. When I learned about a $15-million plus athletic complex earlier last week, everybody at the table predicted Boyd would try to sabotage the best thing that could happen to East Ridge in years. The mention of Boyd’s ego and his blatant disregard for the Mayor was actually embarrassing.

Last week he wondered if I would interview him about the County Jail, telling me Hamilton County is one of few in the state where the Mayor oversees the workhouse instead of the sheriff. I didn’t tell him that the Mayor and Sheriff Jim Hammond have been discussing Jim taking it over for about a year but now is not the time with negotiations for a new jail in the works.

The fact that is Tim is not in charge of the jail yet he wants to get in the mix to keep Coppinger in turmoil is absolutely foolish. Boyd’s district suffers because Boyd refuses to speak to the Mayor. For the record, Coppinger is intensely interested in the Camp Jordan complex – a blind man could see what it would mean from an economic view.

Boyd says East Ridge can’t afford to run a big sports complex ---- whoa, they charge teams to play, Einstein. Stump Martin will make it so self-sufficient he’ll deserve a raise. Boyd says he’s seen Camp Jordan flood -- I’ve seen my bathroom flood. Make a list of the pluses and minuses and you’ll need a legal pad for what this will do for East Ridge. Boyd needs to do all he can for his district and if he lets this opportunity get away, the impeachment proceeds should get underway immediately. This is nuts and so is squabbling with Coppinger.

THE CANDICE McQUEEN INVITATIONAL

In all the years I have been a writer I don’t believe I have ever been witness to a stranger circus than this woman wants to hold in our city. And in her own words, "No is not an option." It started with a 90-minute "education summit" at the VW plant last fall where she had all these politicians yet she did all the talking. It was a well-documented "embarrassment." Coupled with her catastrophic failure that tore asunder the Shelby County Schools in Memphis, she is evermore a study of bureaucracy. Lordy me!

Now her problem is that she has a cast of characters in her "Achievement School District" and what better place to park ‘em than in Chattanooga, in five of our poorest schools that can’t fend for themselves. She proposes a partnership where she holds all the cards. She answers to no one in Chattanooga – not a soul – and will have her own school board, her own superintendent, and the lives of 2,600 children in the balance.

I personally believe the reason Governor Bill Haslam hasn’t told her to behave is because he wants to keep her out of town. This woman makes no sense, none whatsoever.

She’s got some experts from Boston that will run the schools, although they have been in one small school district for only two years. I’ll guarantee they aren’t as good as what we’ve already got. McQueen is going to spend millions where we can do the exact same thing, with the exact same outcome, at no additional cost.

In the five years the state spent a $500 million "Race to the Top" grant, the Memphis schools are about the same. With the socio-economic barriers, hunger, poverty, crime and other problems the inner-city schools face, the only answer is to change the people … then the schools will follow.

SIGNAL MOUNTAIN ISN’T ABOUT RACE

When I first delved into public education less than two years ago, I was amazed at the mess that the school board and the county commissioners had allowed to occur. When the commission once again failed to raise taxes last month, it assured me this revival of public education is all talk.

I think it is a good thing that Signal Mountain has studied the idea of a separate school system and will insist it is not about race, "white flight," or the lesser reasons Memphis struggled with when the city school system merged with the Shelby County system.

No, Signal Mountain is just like the Chattanooga School of Arts and Science. They want "private schools" on the taxpayer dime. I am told there aren’t enough dimes on Signal Mountain or at CSAS and therein lies the rub. Unfortunately, the Signal Mountain clique is excluding certain kids, hence the neighborly love is being taken away, and the community is being split.

The Signal Mountain Mayor and "the committee" just got back from a fact-seeking trip to Memphis and reports ae wide-ranging. There has been no announcement of when the mayor and "the committee" will arrange a fact-gathering trip to Hamilton County, when quite obviously some have no idea what is happening in schools not as fortunate.

Further, would it not be prudent for the Mayor and "the committee" to visit schools and businesses in Knoxville, Atlanta, Asheville, Athens (Ga.), and Huntsville … to put it bluntly … see how the schools in their districts manage to play nicely with one another? Its one thing to throw your weight around but not if you’re a lightweight. Face it, Signal Mountain can’t afford to build a $55 million academic building like Baylor just did at the foot of its hill.

Signal Mountain is a treasure of a community. Why would the good people on Signal let some egos tear it up? Look what an ego is doing to Tim Boyd. Look at the ego Candice McQueen is bringing to Chattanooga in her unbridled assault on the children in five of our schools.

A guy named George Higgins once said, "Egotism is the art of seeing in yourself what others cannot see."

royexum@aol.com


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