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20140620-093708-34628334.jpgWednesday the Hamilton County Commission unanimously voted to approve County Mayor Coppinger’s 2014/15 budget. There was virtually no discussion which was due to the fact this year’s budget was presented to the Commission two weeks prior to the vote and any questions from the Commissioners could be addressed well before the vote. This was in stark contrast to last year’s budget vote which passed on a 5 – 4 vote with myself being one of the “No” votes. The difference being last year I was asked to vote on a budget which I had no time to review. Last year the Mayor learned that the commission takes their responsibility to the citizens of Hamilton County very seriously, and we are not a rubber stamp legislative body.

This year’s balanced budget represents an increase of a little over 1.00% over last year’s budget and includes a 2.5% across the board cost of living pay increase for all county employees. This was accomplished by increasing county tax revenues through growth within the county and without a property tax or fee increases.

In other developments at this week’s commission meeting, several resolutions were passed; some saving taxpayers dollars through good business practices, and others increase our revenue through contracting services which generate revenue to the County. On an annual basis two of this week’s resolution effectively saved the taxpayers $220,000 per year. Great News!!

At the conclusion of Wednesday’s session, I was privileged and proud to announce the Girl’s Inc. “Bookworm” literacy program I help sponsor two years ago (with a portion of my discretionary funds) was selected by United Way of Chattanooga as the “Impact Program of the Year” by touching the lives of financially and socially disadvantaged young girls through improving their reading skills. What a great program. Go Girl’s Inc.!

I am proud the citizens have given me the opportunity to serve on the Hamilton County Commission these past 3 1/2 years, being a member of a legislative body in the best managed county in the State of Tennessee. what an honor and privilege. Thank you.

As a candidate for re-election to the District 8 County Commission Seat, I humbly ask for your support during my campaign and vote on August 7th. Hamilton County is moving forward at an ever quickening pace, and we have exciting opportunities ahead. I look forward to being part of a Commission helping to face the challenges of balancing quality of life and economic development, and at the same tome creating great jobs and preparing a work force to fill those jobs.

Wednesday was a really good day to be part of Hamilton County Government.

Your County Commissioner,
Tim Boyd

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Hamilton County’s Most Precious Asset

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In the coming years, more so than ever before, Hamilton County and Southeast Tennessee must pro-actively approach the issue of preserving our natural resources while promoting responsible development.  As suburban sprawl moves closer and closer to natural areas, this is a challenge for most larger urban areas in the US.  In the case of Chattanooga, it becomes critical due to the proximity of eco-tourism attractions to downtown and the limited amount of land in Hamilton County for industrial development.

Eco-tourism in Southeast Tennessee, Northwest Georgia, and Northeast Alabama has a huge economic impact on Hamilton County and Chattanooga. Chattanooga is the Southeast USA Mecca for white water rafting, rock climbing, hang gliding, caving, crew boat racing, fresh water lake fishing, and fast becoming nationally known for cycling competition. Most recently Chattanooga pinned a three year contract to sponsor the Ironman Race, and in the heart of the city the largest artificial outdoor rock climbing wall in the US just opened. Within walking distance of downtown one can enjoy several hundreds of acres of a natural preserve on Stringer’s Ridge. The number of hotel rooms and restaurant meals purchased by those supporting these activities is significant, and if we preserve and protect our natural resources while insuring access, we enjoy the benefits of not only the economic impact of eco-tourism, but we get the opportunity to share these natural preserves with future generations.

To insure the continued growth of our Eco-tourism we must consider legislation that is both responsible and rational to insure preservation and access to our area’s caves, rock faces, shorelines, landing areas, and rivers. The challenge becomes one of sound state legislation protecting private property land owners whose properties contain some of the most sought after natural attractions. We must protect the rights of owners while allowing access to these natural wonders. If property owners allow public access to areas they should be released of any and all liability against personal injury. The public on the other hand must be respectful of the property owner’s natural resources and preserve them through good stewardship (pack it in and pack it out). Each natural resource could be managed by private organizations following guidelines established by the respective states. The objective is to minimize government involvement and have the burden of maintaining these natural attractions fall on those who enjoy them; not the property owner or taxpayers.

We all can have our cake and eat it too, but we must be respectful of each other’s rights and the natural resources our area offers. I encourage all of the stakeholders ( property owners, enthusiast, elected officials, business owners and the public ) to sit down and discuss the objective of preserving our natural resources while insuring public access.

I am willing to help organize such a meeting to make sure this conversation is broadened, and that we all work together to preserve our most precious of assets: our natural resources.

Election Day is tomorrow May 6th. I need your support in District 8 to win the primary and be apart of the team that protects what we love the most.  Join me. 

Thank you and God bless Hamilton County, Tennessee,

Tim

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What Makes Me a Rational Republican

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I am in the middle of a re-election campaign and being asked daily questions about why am I running, and why do I call myself a Republican? My youngest daughter helped me understand I am more specifically a “Socially Conscience, Rational Republican”. At home and among friends, it’s become a bit of tagline– “Tim Boyd: The Rational Republican”. And I don’t mind. Rational is defined as “based on or in accordance with reason or logic”. And often my decisions at the Commission meetings come down to what I conclude to be the most rational decision, or simply, good math. I’m an engineer by profession, and I do not tolerate inefficient spending nor political positions that ignore the realities of math, science and the principles of justice and the constitution. Simply, I use sound logic and reason to make hard decisions.

I believe in limited, constitutional government, low taxes, and a return to intelligent monetary policies. Intelligent and transparent spending. This position doesn’t often make me the most popular among other politicians, even other Republicans. Perhaps this is why I have 2 Republicans running against me in the primary right now. It may seem cliché, but I don’t work to protect politicians, I work to protect the people of Hamilton County.

With that said, I’ve started to think deeper about my political convictions, and ask myself the question, “What makes me a Republican?” In my search for a way to answer this question, I looked to  President Ronald Reagan for insight into my convictions:

“Government does not solve problems; it subsidizes them.”

“Government’s first duty is to protect the people, not run their lives.”

“The problem is not that people are taxed too little, the problem is that government spends too much.”

“There are no easy answers, but there are simple answers. We must have the courage to do what we know is morally right.”

These are some pretty simple quotes with a simple message: Keep Government strong and focused on what Government is tasked to provide. Stay out of our lives and live within our means.

I am a Republican for these simple reasons.

Thank you. Please remember to vote in the primary May 6th.

Sincerely,

Tim Boyd

 

Photo Credit: DonkeyHotey via Compfight cc

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Wants vs. Needs: Why I Voted Against Horse Trails

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Recently the County Commission approved a resolution for the Hamilton County Department of Parks and Recreation to apply for a grant for the construction of horse trails at Enterprise South Nature Park. The grant is for $230,000 from the State of Tennessee and if awarded, Hamilton County taxpayers must make a 100% match of $230,000. I consider this park improvement a “Want”, and it is a very nice “Want”. There will be a $100,000 driveway, $ 80,000 restroom, $ 75,000 fence…and on and on and on.

I was the only commissioner who voted against this resolution. I do not think it is being a good steward of our taxpayer’s money to pay for the requested park improvements. I would have rather seen tax payer money fund “Needs” like improving literacy for our under served youth. “Needs” like providing free access for our citizens to all public libraries throughout Hamilton County. “Needs” like funding Erlanger Hospital to cover the cost of Hamilton County’s inmate care. “Needs” like providing better infrastructure throughout the county. “Needs” like providing safer streets. “Needs” like providing more technology in our schools. “Needs” like funding our great local non-profits to expand their services to reach more of our citizens countywide.

In my opinion all of the above mentioned “Needs”, and many more unmentioned “Needs”, far outweigh the “Want” for horse trails at a nature park ( a park which is already costing over $1.3 million dollars of taxpayers money per year to maintain). I am not against horse trail on public land. And I love parks. I’m an outdoor enthusiast and I love what horse trails and like recreation can provide a community.  I am merely advocating that the construction of horse trails be privately funded. Let private donors passionate about equestrian arts put up the $ 230,000 in matching funds.

I know how much good $ 230,000 could do to reach out to the citizens of our community who have “Needs” and not just “Wants”. I am asking you to consider what you think the “Needs” of our community are versus the “Wants” for our community might be. I welcome your comments.

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Top 10% of Hamilton County’s High School Seniors

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This past April 1st, Jan (my beautiful wife) and I had the privilege of attending the annual Superintendents Honors Banquet which honors the top 10% of our Hamilton County high school seniors by academic ranking. This event is always well attended and this year was no exception. Two-hundred sixty-two of Hamilton County’s best students were recognized for their achievement.

The keynote speaker was Tennessee’s own Governor Bill Haslem. His message was simple: “Tennessee wants to keep our best students in Tennessee, and we are working hard to recruit jobs to our State for you after you graduate from college.”  After all, Chattanooga has suffered from brain drain for many many years due to the lack of job diversity and opportunities for our brightest young people. Fortunately Chattanooga is beginning to turn the corner on this front and many exciting initiatives are attracting bright young entrepreneurs through the efforts of 48 Hour Launch, CoLab, Gig Tank and others.

I did make one interesting observation during the ceremony. It appeared those being honored were overwhelmingly female. After studying the dinner program, I discovered that 70% of those honored were female. This begs one to ask the question–Why? I further divided the schools into groups and found that Signal Mountain HS and East Hamilton HS honorees were 73% female. Howard HS, Central HS, Tyner HS and Brainerd HS were 81% female.

Where are our male students? Why are our top academic students so dominated by female students? Are male students just not interested in high school? Do male students have more on their minds than high school? Are there a disproportionate number of male students working part time jobs during high school? I don’t have the answers to these questions, but I think it is important to ask.

We as community leaders cannot afford to ignore this statistical imbalance if we are to keep moving forward and continue to promote Chattanooga and Hamilton County as one of the most attractive places in the country to live , work and play. I challenge our educators to work hard to keep our male students engaged in their high school studies. The future leaders of our community depend on it, both male and female.

Do you have an opinion on this statistic? Please share with your comments or email me directly at tim@votetimboyd.com

 

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Transparency in Government

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This past week during the Hamilton County Commission meeting our County Mayor, Jim Coppinger, blatantly suggested conducting private meetings with each commissioner to discuss the funding of certain school building projects (and cut deals to insure his plan is adopted). I asked the mayor to tell us what his plans are in a public setting, but Chairman Skillern cut him off. The suggestion of “private meetings” between the mayor and a commissioner may not break the letter of Tennessee’s sunshine laws, but it sure breaks the spirit of the law, and I will have no part of it.

Four years ago one of my platform planks was to have more transparency in local government. I believe our county mayor’s request runs directly counter to what  is the right way, the only way, to run government. In my opinion there is no reason, other than cutting “behind closed door” deals, a commissioner should be meeting with the mayor privately.

As this election season heats up, I will continue to stand on the principles of open government. If you, the voters of District 8, want a career politician making deals behind closed doors, you should not vote for me. However, if you want someone to keep a close watch on your tax dollars, stand against government over-reach, and continue to ask the hard questions, I am asking for your support and vote in the primary on May 6th (early voting begins on April 16th). Click HERE to find a polling place near you.

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New Schools Now!!

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CSLA and Gann’s need to be replaced NOW!!

It came of no surprise to me to learn of a child having respiratory issues at Gann’s Middle Valley Elementary. I have personally toured the school. The building has very poor HVAC and the basement gym is terrible place to have our children playing. However Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts (CSLA) has many of these same issues. In fact last year during some heavy rains the CSLA basement library flooded. The ventilation system is so poor in the school many of the library books had to be thrown out because of mold.

Both of these schools have very similar and serious mold issues which cannot be properly addressed by the Hamilton County Department of Education (HCDE) Maintenance Department. The inability of the HCDE to take action at these schools has lead to health liability issues with the students and faculties. It is shameful the conditions of these buildings. We, the entire community, are demanding our teachers meet higher and higher levels of instructional performance while at the same time tolerate very poor educational facilities. We are asking our children and grand children to learn in these same poor facilities. Facilities adults would not tolerate in the work place.

My fellow Commissioners, Mayor Coppinger, and Superintendent Rick Smith, I am making a plea to each of you; It is way past time to replace these schools, and we need to appropriate the money to do so now!

Both of these schools need to be replaced before we consider adding any new schools anywhere in the county. Working and attending a school under overcrowded conditions is one thing, but working and attending schools that are environmentally unhealthy is a whole different set of factors. In the private sector, buildings having the environmental issues of mold, lack of ADA compliance, and the question of structural integrity would not be tolerated by government agencies or allowed to remain open for business by our Health Departments.

My fellow citizens, please contact your elected officials to express your concern. If not for the education of our children perhaps for the health of our children.

Most sincerely,
Commissioner Tim Boyd

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Common Core State Standards: Yes or No for Tennessee’s Children?

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I am glad to have taken the time to attend the Tennessee State Senate hearings on September 20th in Nashville concerning the full implementation of Common Core curriculum for our schools. It was certainly an eye opener, and I wanted to share some of the specifics about what I learned.

I was very impressed with those speaking before the committee and most impressed with the State Senator William Ligon from Georgia who is leading the way in Georgia to withdraw from Common Core (CC). Georgia has already withdrawn from PRAC, the new assessment program associated with CC. The Georgia State Legislators will vote on CC next year just before elections.

Senator Ligon’s argument was not focused primarily on the question of whether CC was better or worse than Georgia’s existing teaching methods. Senator Ligon focused on two issues:

1. The fact the legislature was not included in the initial decision to adopt CC and join the consortium of states to establish the CC assessment standards. Like Tennessee, the Georgia’s Governor and Commissioner of Education made the
decision to pursue CC while the Legislature was not in session.

2. Do the citizens of Georgia want to give up their sovereignty as a State and let
those in control of a Consortium decide what the children of Georgia are taught?
Those in control of the CC Nonprofit Consortium have no accountability to the
citizens or elected officials of Georgia. This reminds me of the condition we here in
Hamilton County face everyday on issues concerning are the WWTA and the RPA.
Untouchable bureaucrats who report to an appointed board making very serious
decisions effecting our daily lives with no accountability to the public for any fees
(or new taxes) we are assessed to fulfill their policies.

I suspect because of what has been revealed with these hearings (signing Tennessee up for CC without performing adequate due diligence and getting the consent of the legislature) there will be new legislation introduced in an attempt to limit some of the decision and policy making power of the Governor and the Commissioner of Education in order to prevent bypassing the legislature in the future on similar critical/far-reaching issues.

It was clear from the testimony that both Georgia and Tennessee jumped into CC for the Federal Government’s Race To The Top (RTTT) money place on the table by President Obama in 2010. Neither administrations knew enough about CC before they signed on. Due to the 2008 recession, States were losing revenues and signing up for CC was being encouraged by the Obama administration. Every State DOE was looking for money to bridge the gap and avoid tax increases at the local level. Signing up for CC and applying for RTTT grants was just the windfall States were looking to find. Several states like Texas said thanks, but no thanks. Who made the more prudent decision?

These hearings were very good for both our legislatures and the public in order for everyone to become more fully acquainted with exactly what CC is, who is in control of CC, and what additional State and local funding will be necessary for full implementation.

The Pro CC faction finally admitted (after being pressed for answers by Senator Campfield of Knoxville) the cost to install the infrastructure required at all school systems across the state was “…woefully…” underfunded. If enforced and required by the State that all testing be performed via computers, the additional costs to comply is in effect an unfunded mandate. Just as many suspected, the $51 million allocated by the State to pay for the infrastructure upgrades will not be nearly enough.

Another aspect of the testing which was clearly exposed during the hearings is the increased cost of testing due in part to the fact much of the CC testing will require written answers, not multiple choice. Like the estimate of dollars needed for the technology upgrades, the increase cost of testing estimated by TN DOE under the CC model (which is approximately $5 million dollars) is underestimated by millions of dollars. Only after full implementation will we learn the true cost. Under CC, test scoring will require grading by an army of individuals reading answers and subjectively scoring each students’ test.

This testing method will not only cost much more than the current multiple answer TCAP tests now being used, it will result in subjective tests scoring by test reviewers being used as the basis for future policy making. Who will be actually performing the subjective grading ? How well are they trained? What consistency and quality control measures will be used to insure fair grading? This method of scoring tests (not unlike the subjective scoring of an Olympic gymnast or skater) has the potential for some very unreliable test scores, especially in the evaluation of math assessments.

I have concluded I cannot endorse or promote the further implementation of CC. For me, fully implementing CC is like paddling down a river and deciding to tumble over the falls because we have already invested too much time and effort to turn around, and not because we are beyond the point of no return which will save our lives.

I understand an interest in developing a reliable method to assess the education our children are receiving at our public schools. A standard by which we all can understand the effectiveness of our educational systems as compared to others, but we can (and should) develop a plan to accomplish this goal without being part of a system like CC.

I ask myself the question;

Considering the fact that Tennessee is currently rated No. 46 out of 50 in Educational
performance,

” How will our rating significantly change in relationship to others if we do
not fundamentally change our entire approach to teaching and education?”

Tennessee must do better and be more innovative to get ahead of the pack, not just be another follower in the pack. Being a member of the CC pack is not the answer.

We need to develop testing assessments by independent third parties, not those whose livelihoods depend on the scores (as previously done in Tennessee resulting in false information). We can do this without having to give up our sovereign right to control the content of our children’s education. We have Tennesseans within our colleges and universities that can help us develop a methodology of teaching and testing for Tennesseans. We do not need to turn over the education of our children to members of some unknown board with no accountability.

We can have quality education developed by Tennesseans, for Tennesseans. We can incorporate new technology, new innovative teaching methods, and best educational practices to make a dramatic difference in our ranking. We can do this without being part of the CC pack. We can do this without Common Core.

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Chattanooga’s Future is Gig City Not Union Town

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Two years ago, Chattanooga celebrated the opening of Volkswagen’s new facility here, its first manufacturing plant in the United States in two decades. At the official opening ceremony, standing next to a shiny “Made in America” Passat, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood emphasized that this facility “is where our economy is rebounding, and where our workers are regaining their footing.” Unfortunately, both are now under attack, courtesy of the United Auto Workers (UAW).

As the son of a union organizer, I witnessed first hand how unions had a negative effect on our local economic development. Time and time again during the 70’s and 80’s, Chattanooga and Hamilton County were passed over by manufacturers because we were known as a ”Union Town” My personal knowledge of unions (learned by way of two men I loved and respected more than any men in my life) taught me how unions never invest to create jobs and never show up at the table to help communities recruit jobs. Unions only take advantage of growing membership after jobs have been created by others through hard work and sacrifice.

UAW president Bob King is launching an aggressive campaign to unionize Volkswagen’s nascent American manufacturing base is no surprise. Since 1979, the UAW has lost more than three-quarters of its membership and has repeatedly failed to unionize Asian and European manufacturers operating in the United States. The future of the UAW, and Mr. King’s legacy, depends on whether it can latch onto the progress of communities like ours. VW has been a great manufacturing partner in our community. VW and its non-union workforce has met or exceeded every milestone and metric it placed on itself. VW and the taxpayers of Tennessee, Hamilton County, and Chattanooga have made huge investments in the company’s operations.

I must ask the questions:

1. Where was the UAW when our elected officials and the Chamber of Commerce were recruiting VW to Chattanooga?

2. Did the UAW co-invest with the citizens of Tennessee to get VW here?

The answer to these questions is a resounding- NO! The UAW did not help and made NO investment! In fact, the UAW lobbied against Chattanooga as the site of choice. Proving once again, unions do not create jobs. Unions only create barriers to job creation.

We all want VW to succeed, which is why I urge VW’s leadership and employees to think twice before taking Bob King’s assurances at face value. Look at what Mr. King and gang have accomplished in other communities. Consider Detroit, whose economy rests on the automotive sector, where one-third of residents are officially considered impoverished, where unemployment is 18.2 percent, and which recently became the largest municipality to declare bankruptcy in American history. Closer to home consider the Ford and GM plants in Doraville and Hapeville, Georgia that had been going strong since the 1940’s until the UAW’s efforts pummeled the companies and forced them to close their doors, costing the South more than 5,000 jobs. The UAW’s record is clear: decline, loss of jobs and decay in every community it touches, while lining its own pockets.

Does Hamilton County remember that it has taken almost two generations of work by our elected officials, many dedicated citizens and the Chamber to erase Chattanooga’s “Union Label”? Let us not forget due in large part to unions, Chattanooga lost thousands of jobs during the 70′s and 80′s; Combustion Engineering, US Pipe, Ross Meehan Foundry, Wheland Foundry (an automotive supplier of brake drums), and the list goes on and on. We must all recall the union members at Wheland Foundry went on strike during a critical period of time when the company was trying to restructure itself and save jobs. The union strike was the stake in the heart for Wheland. Thousands of jobs were lost, and the Wheland site lays as a barren reminder of what once was.

Remember, Tennesseans rejected broken union promises years ago when we voted to become a right-to-work state. As a result, we’ve attracted best-in-class employers like VW, and we’re rebounding strongly from the global economic downturn. Chattanooga faces two possibilities. We can earn the dubious distinction of becoming a foothold for the UAW in the South, or we can stand up for what is right for our city, our citizens, and our workers. We fought for this plant so that we could build a diverse and resilient economy for the long-term. Do we really want to allow the UAW to have Chattanooga regain the label of “Union Town” and stifle our regional resurgence and economic growth?

I humbly ask the employees of VW to consider the serious consequences of UAW representation and remind you: what does the UAW really bring to the table?

Commissioner Tim Boyd
Hamilton County – District 8

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Erlanger Bill

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Although I agree the intent of this bill (SB0139/HB0107) is to make Erlanger’s Board smaller and more agile, less politically influenced, and self perpetuating, I do not agree with the appointment process of the initial “community members” of the board.

Per Section 3/b (page 4/13) of the draft I received via email on Tuesday, February 12, 2013, from County Mayor Coppinger’s office, the General Assembly “shall appoint the Initial [Community Member] Board of Trustees” and “shall also designate one of the community board members to be the initial Chairman or Chairwoman until the end of their term on the board”.  The way that I read this legislation is that representatives from Memphis, Knoxville, and Johnson City have more say in the make up of the initial “community board” than the Hamilton County Commissioners.

I do not agree with this process due to the fact this legislation mandates Hamilton County to give $1,000,000 per year to Erlanger, yet the County Commission has no say in the nomination process for the initial board members.  I would like to see the County Commissioners the opportunity to participate in the selection process of the initial “community members” of the Board.  The make up of the initial community board will determine the basic make-up of the board for many years and the “self perpetuating” aspect of this legislation.

Therefore, if the final version of the legislation includes the same language as the draft I received, I suggest the County Commission disapprove of this legislation and propose language that allows the county Commission a voice in the selection of the initial Community Board Members.