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A VIEW from LICK SKILLET: Some memories of the sixties and seventies

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By Gerald Largen

Readers of last week’s column will recall that we questioned Rep. Chuck Fleischmann’s so-called “End of Year Report and Survey,” which column we titled “Should taxpayers pay for Chuck’s campaign.” Well, it appears that we were not the only one troubled by this obvious campaign ploy as we enter the 2014 election season, for Louis Brogdon, Staff Writer for the Chattanooga paper, wrote an article published last Monday, titled “Personal polls can move public opinion.” He says that 45,000 residents of the 3rd District were sent this mailer. Brogdon consulted a University of Tennessee political science professor, Michelle Deardorff, head of U.T. Chattanooga Dept. of Political Science. She opines that this type survey or poll is oftentimes “used to move public opinion.”

According to Fleischmann spokesman Tyler Threadgill, this mailer “cost $29,899 out of the office’s operating budget.”

This obviously does not include all the other costs of such a mailing to 45,000 voters covered by the small-print notice that “This mailing was prepared, published and mailed at taxpayer expense.” We would be greatly surprised if it were less than $1.00 per mailing.

If so, it would mean that Chuck has had the benefit of $45,000, plus the almost $30,000 from the taxpayer provided office operating budget, or a total of $75,000 that we taxpayers provide and which he doesn’t have to spend from his campaign funds. A sweet deal if you can get it, and if you are a Congressman you can!
But should you?

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Following up on the matter of incumbent Congressmen’s electioneering, in this same Monday’s issue of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, page B4, there is an Associated Press article about the Georgia Senate race for the seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss. There are eight Republican candidates in the primary, of whom three are incumbent Representatives: Jack Kingston, Paul Broun, and Phil Gingrey, the latter two are not only congressmen, but also physicians. And all eight are right-wing radicals.
For example, Dr. Broun has called evolutionary theory “lies from the pit of hell.” Wonder what he evolved from? And Dr. Gingrey, even though he is an obstetrician, defended the indefensible Todd Akin, the 2012 Missouri Senate candidate’s losing campaign position about “legitimate rape” and women’s ability to avoid pregnancy.

We are unsure of the Georgia election laws, but if they are like most states, one cannot run for two offices simultaneously, so by running for the senate seat, these three incumbent congressmen will be unable to run for reelection, for which we can all be grateful.

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We have just been reading a couple of stories from two Chicago area newspapers, the Daily Herald and the Chicago Tribune concerning a Schaumburg science teacher being invited to attend Tuesday’s State of the Union address of President Obama.

It seems that the congress woman from Illinois’ 8th District, Tammy Duckworth, invited Addams Junior High School teacher Michelle Burke to attend the President’s State of the Union Address as her special guest. This invitation came about as a result of a meeting at the school which the congresswoman attended to find out about a special programme developed by Northwestern University called FUSE.

This is a specific science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) programme Northwestern University is promoting under the acronym FUSE, to bring hands-on technology to children and teens, launched in 2011, and which now is being offered in some two dozen schools, libraries and community centers across the Chicago area that offer in-school and after-school “FUSE studios”.

According to the Tribune story, Mrs. “Burke was the first teacher in her district to take on the FUSE program, which is now offered districtwide. She teaches about 50 students split into two after-school sessions.” This is in addition to her regular class schedule.

Now, readers may wonder why we are writing about this Illinois educator, exemplary as she may be. The answer is simple, this outstanding young lady has deep Roane County roots, even though she is Chicago born. This is because her grandmother is Emory Gap’s own Shirley Jean Lewis Palmer Penley, and her grandfather was Rockwood native, the late Paul Palmer, who died several years ago.

Jean is as proud of this granddaughter, offspring of her son Terry Palmer, as she is of her grandson and granddaughter who are the offspring of her other son, George Palmer. Both are compiling school and college records that should take them along similar paths with their cousin Michelle Burke. Jean will not object, we are sure, if we all take a share in her pride in her grandchildren’s achievements, accounted for, no doubt, by their Roane County roots.
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The fact that Michelle Burke is a teacher in Schaumburg brought to mind the only other contact we have had with someone from Schaumburg, John Shaper, who came down from the Schaumburg police department sometime in the late sixties or early seventies to take command of the Kingston Police Dept. He didn’t stay long, but we thought he was a fine fellow and good officer.

Of course our judgment could have been coloured by the fact that he was a descendant of the family of Albrecht Wallenstein, (1583-1634) famous leader of the Catholic forces in the religious wars commonly called the Thirty Years War. John returned to Schaumburg and we have heard nothing of him in years.
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Finally, this week’s snowstorm which has spread all the way to the Gulf brings back memories of a former southern snow. We think it was in the late sixties, or early seventies, when we were returning home after a couple of weeks in Florida.

As customary, we stopped for the night at a motel in Perry, Georgia, and got up the next morning, and went to the dining room for breakfast. Just after starting to eat, we noticed something falling outside the dining room window which looked like snow, but being in south Georgia, we dismissed the idea and continued breakfast.

However, after a few minutes, and the ground turning white, we finally accepted that it was indeed snowing, but we would wait it out. As minutes passed and snow on the ground thickened, we decided we had better “get out of Dodge” and did so.

As we got on I-75, we fell in behind an 18-wheeler, which did a fair job of clearing a path so we followed him for many miles until we ran out of the snow.

We had planned to stop in Atlanta for some reason, and got off onto Peachtree. As we were driving along we noticed that people were stopping on the sidewalk and gesturing in our direction, like spectators at a parade, which we appeared to be leading.

This phenomenon was explained when we stopped and parked. Only when we got out of our car did we realize that the car was virtually coated in snow, a sight which some of the spectators had probably never seen before.

We later learned that some fellow Roane Countians, including C.W. (Whitey) Liggett, his wife and sister in law, were staying at the same Perry motel, and didn’t realize that they were in a snowstorm until it was too late to leave, and so they were stuck there for two or three days.