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Bradley County Commission votes NO to Common Core, Yarber gets decision 

In Agenda 21 on February 20, 2014 at 8:48 AM

Bradley County Commission votes NO to Common Core, Yarber gets decision 

BCN Note: No one was actually hurt in the writing of this news blog. Humor was added to a very serious subject. The bout was fictional and fun, the details factual. My opinions are below based on my observations of the event as it unfolded.

2/20/14
0749 am

Bradley County TN Commissioners have echoed the efforts of the Bradley County School Board and said NO to Common Core.

Former semi-pro boxer County Commissioner Jeff Yarber, who long ago hung up his gloves, but Tuesday, took them off the shelf and delivered a show of might reminiscent of his days on the circuit.

He stood mighty tall in this setting and went the full 10 rounds and was left shuffling in his corner unscathed.

Throughout the meeting Yarber stepped up, squared up on his opponent, left hand slightly in front of the other, weaved left and right, steps in head low, chin down and delivered a barrage of thunderous blows that left the impression that Common Core is not welcome in our community in any form. Even some of his own debated him but were left in a heap on the canvas of this political arena.

As the debate continued, the formally trained athlete, was fully prepared to go the distance and he did.

The bout started with the introduction for approval of two bills getting cranked up in the House and Senate. 

A vote to back HB 2332 and its Senate companion bill SB 2405 was debated and Jeff Yarber was scrapping the whole time. He took a few jabs off his ample iron jaw while fending off blows to defeat support for these bills. The intent of these bills is to remove Common Core and it’s cronies from our children’s presence, period! The bills are not there so they can be tweaked, renamed or repackaged. They are to be REMOVED, DISCONTINUE! Period!!!

If passed, the House and Senate bills would amend Tennessee Code Annotated section 49-1-302 to say “on July 1, 2014, the state board and the department of education shall DISCONTINUE the use of the Common Core state standards in English language arts and mathematics.” 

At that time, the standards that had been in place before Common Core standards were first being implemented in 2010 “shall become the standards for use by LEAs [local education agencies] and schools until the state board develops and adopts new Tennessee specific standards for English language arts and mathematics.” 

With the final vote pending, just as the Bradley County School Board had done a couple of weeks ago, Yarber and the County Commission stepped up and knocked down the formidable Common Core opponent.

Our buddies on the education board said that Common Core “would be highly disruptive to student growth.” 

During this title match, It was also mentioned that changes like postponing of PARCC assessment tests and tying those scores to teacher licensure, student data collection and non parent or teacher involvement would not be in the best interest of our teachers and ultimately our children.

Let’s not forget the lightweight contender Michelle Rhee of Students First, the ex wife of Heavyweight TN Education Secretary Kevin Huffman and Bantam weight Bill Haslam appointee have advocated, by their support of Students First, for parents to get out of the way so Common Core can be delivered uninterrupted as stated  in past interviews with Rhee. 

How convenient would it be to get parents, teachers, school boards and elected officials out of the way so the deed can be completed. Sounds like a win-win scenario if you ask me.

Like any good story or bout in this case there is always the spoiler. Today that is twofold. Commissioner Jeff Morelock and Bill Winters are once again those wet noodle types among mighty oaks. 

Morelock expressed his understanding of the school board’s resolution was that the board was in favor of the standards as a whole, but some changes needed to be made to them. Did he read the same resolution I did? I dont believe he read the same resolution!  He continued with his drivel of liberalism and said “there were some necessary changes, doing away with the standards would not help.”

Commissioner Bill Winters, Morelocks liberal Co Co buddy chimed in. Remember Yarber is bouncing around doing the rope a dope waiting to be engaged. I know it’s suspenseful but keep reading.

Commissioner Bill Winters said he “had a problem with the fact the Commission’s resolution supported repealing the state standards.”

He sluggishly continued and said ” he would not vote to repeal Common Core because the standards being removed would “tie the hands” of the legislators working to fix the parts of the standards that were not working well.” Hello Bill? The consensus, bills and resolutions are to get rid of it, to DISCONTINUE them, not fix them! Focus! Please allow me to enlighten you in a little constitutional secret. You as an elected official are the voice of the people, you have the authority to limit government intrusion at any level, thus balancing the power! You are a microcosm of the bigger picture Bill! You can do this!

In addition, Winters went on to say he “did not think the vote would be in line with what the local school board wanted.” Really Bill? Once again and please allow me to reiterate, the vote today is to DISCONTINUE the Common Core standards, not fix or tweak them. The vote today! The one before you now! A liberal slant is not the seal of approval and doesnt change the fact that you are voting in a few minutes to DISCONTINUE the standards not fix or tweak them. 

He went on to zap out all the remaining energy out of the room room finishing his monologue “The school board did not ask us to repeal this,” Winters said. He finally gathered enough liberal strength to say “the standards “could be worked for the good of the schools.” Ooooh Yawn, please wake me Jeff Yarber.

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION, In the red corner, hailing from Clevegas TN, weighing in at probably a different weight from his previous days, lets here it for the one, the only, the scrapper, the commissioner of all commissioners, a Commissioner every one wants to be………..Jefffffffffff Yarrrrrrrrber! ARE……. YOU……..READY……. TO RUUUUUUUUUUUMBLE?

Commissioner Jeff Yarber relying on strength and momentum from his youth, meets gloves in the middle, and lands the first punch countering  “I am  in favor of Tennessee scrapping the Common Core standards altogether and creating new standards to replace them.” Kaaaa Pooooow!

Side step, 1-2 punch amongst a flurry of undercuts he continues “this means local education would not be “tied in with” the federal government. Yes! Morelock and Winters are punch drunk but not relenting.

Winters and  Morelock countered with a few soft jabs none phasing the Yarber. Yarber counters with a flurry, “Common Core is the problem, and we can do it better!!!!”

The crowd on their feet, Winters and Morelock on their heels, to the mat. Dazzled by the display of skill and precision of this prize fighter reborn, the ref steps in with the 10 count, 1-2-3… 

Commissioner Adam Lowe steps into the ring to finish off the opponent.

The atmosphere now has changed from a prize fight to a tag team WWF wrestling match, please allow the setting to morph in your mind.

A more cautious Lowe yet equally as effective mounts the ropes and from the top rope with bare chest, tight spandex shorts he shouts….. “the state bills in question were “simple” and “straightforward,” though he was not totally certain they were “a step in the right direction.”  The frenzied crowd yells “Deliver the fatal blow Adam! Jump down and deliver the fatal blow. The cautious approach allowed Yarber to suffer a few minor blows to his seasoned jawline but unable to daze him. Lowe is a thinker! He is contemplating his next move.

Lowe balancing on the top row, chest bare, pecs glistening continues….he believes “one of the problems the field of education has been facing has been the attention paid to reforming standards rather than actual teaching methods because “standards don’t have feelings.” “We continue to try to teacher-proof the classroom,” he said.  The standards dont have feelings!” Beautiful. Great skill from such a gifted orator, give the appearence that the standards are a living breathing set of standards. Im loving this approach. The crowd sinks back to it’s seats as Lowe steps down from the top rope.

Nice assist Commissioner Lowe, we need you in Yarbers corner, he needs water and some vasoline on his left eye.

Commissioner Caywood receives the tag from Lowe!

Commissioner Terry Caywood, a little long in the tooth, but still with the vigor and stamina of the young bucs weighs in.. 

Caywood cautiously enters the ring very aware of the mood in the room, the roar of the crowd, he becomes invigorated, picks up Bill Winters and begins to spin him around the ring tossing him into Morelock, like a bowling pin they both fall and he grabs the mike and begins to shout  ” I have spoken with a teacher who said Common Core standards “took all the fun out of teaching.” Take that and put it in your pipe and smoke it, I Imagined Caywood saying that last part. The part he is playing in my mind is quite the opposite, he is really a kind gentle christian man unwilling to engage his peers this way.

And from back of the room, much like Ralphie, from the Christmas Story engaging Scut Farkus and Grover Dill in a fight that won Ralphie some respect in the neighborhood, Commissioner Mel Griffith tags in and says he was “very supportive” of the standards’ goals, but they were not being implemented well.” That splatted onto the mat like an overhydrated cow patty. 

Has he been listening to Morelock and Winters?  Somehow, are we blaming this on the teachers now? Anyway, he tried to punch but couldn’t allow the standards to be done away with, Ralphie is retired quickly.

With the fighting done and the warrior weary State Representative Kevin Brooks steps into the ring with his shiny suit, crisp red tie, neatly tucked, half windsor perhaps, hair motif perfectly aligned and undisturbed, he bounces up uncharacteristically and says “the bills would have the state completely scrapping the current standards, meaning it would “throw out the baby, the bathwater — all of it.” Was that an apology? Or did he see his baby (Common Core) just get tossed out with the bath water? Mr Brooks, the baby (Common Core) and the bath water (the standards) are what we want gone! It’s ok! It’s not a real baby.

He continued, “Instead of completely repealing Common Core, he said he was in favor of making “incremental” changes to the standards and changing the name to reflect those changes.” It is pretty clear that the message being sent is not being absorbed. Our elected bodies are saying NO to Common Core, not parts, not increments, ALL OF IT! To DISCONTINUE IT! Not tweak, rename or repackage the standards!

Question to Mr Brooks? If Common Core is fully repealed does this mean he returns his campaigns number one donor Michelle Rhee and Students First campaign donations? It’s a legit question that needs answering.

Few have worked as hard as Representative Kevin Brooks to
bring RTTT and Common Core to Bradley County. Ok, now I’m getting sweaty from that flurry of punches. Jeff Yarber I need a tag out.

Brooks continues “I have been asked what is the most-debated topic in Nashville right now,” Brooks said. “It is Common Core. (Because parents, teachers and school boards are mad and don’t want it) There’s nothing in me that wants to lower our standard, but the name……the brand……is broken.” 

Ok, do we tweak it and change the name? Florida and other states are doing this also. It does not change the facts. If it walks and talks like a duck? It’s a duck!

Ok let’s pretend this epic battle is coming to an end and my children are safely out of reach of a few of our commissioners for the time being.

The 14-member Commission passed the resolution sponsored by the ex prize fighter Jeff Yarber supporting the state bills with nine in favor, four opposed and one absent. 

Yarber has completed the bout and by KO, he chalks up another win.

Wait! There was one more breath of life left in the two on the mat. In one final expression of defiance his eyes slightly swollen, Bill Winters tarries to center ring facing Yarber and 8 other Commissioners and whispers, “I propose a substitute motion to pass a resolution simply saying the Commission supported the school board’s resolution and not mentioning the proposed state bills.” And he collapses to the mat. That motion failed!

Known as an observer and more of a ring manager Commissioner Mark Hall countered with his own motion right before the event concluded, he quips “lets have a work session to be discussed further,” As if to be saying, in other words let me delay this vote so I can find out what this Common Core thingy is. The motion failed! Several Commissioners reminded him this matter had already been discussed in previous meetings.

Enters Dan Rawls posing as the clean up crew, while lifting chairs, kicking aside popcorn boxes and candy wrappers, shouting from the observation deck, crowd dispersing around him he shouts “the passage of this resolution was “brave, calling it “a big vote.” 

The big victor tonight was Commissioner Jeff Yarber and the kids of our county. He stepped up for the teachers, Students, parents all over the county. 

Lowe deserves an assist. 

Yarber stands tall after this bout, the victor.

When all was said and done the County Commission as our elected representatives did what they needed to do.

In a big way, standing in the gap for the kids, parents and teachers who have been left out of the process but are now speaking up and winning small battles to regain our educational system from the hands of the federal government./

Source of quotes: Cleveland Daily Banner. Please continue to read this fine paper and buy it daily, they get paid to deliver the news, I report for free!

http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/24610297/article-County-vote-opposes-Common-Core

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Brymer Creek degradation, a result of talk, little action

In Uncategorized on September 6, 2012 at 8:05 AM

From the beginning the warning bells have sounded as many citizens spoke up about the economic and environmental impact of such a large construction project like the Spring Branch Industrial Park would have on our community.

I think Matt Bentley said it best almost a year ago as the vote to go forward with the park was being initiated.

“I want you to think long and hard about the pros and cons of this development,” community member Matt Bentley said.

Bentley said he and others in the community did not feel respected in the process thus far.

The above concerns by resident Matt Bentley and other concerned citizens, including members of the Tea Party of Bradley County now sound like an ominous warning that got neglected resulting in our elected leaders rendering the seriousness of this debate to an afterthought.

Repeated warnings of possible degradation to the environment around this sight and to the creek were voiced for almost a year prior to this most recent negative impact to the states fifth cleanest creek.

You can clearly see, a year ago, where the ball got dropped although two of Bentley’s concerns were addressed in a paragraph added before the original resolution, presented by 6th District Commissioner Robert Rominger as reported in the Cleveland Daily Banner.

This added paragraph said steps would be taken to limit the impact on the community from the industrial park. The proposed steps include: “(1) sewer service to the proposed Spring Brach Road site will be provided from an existing 8-inch sewer line on APD 40, (2) buffers will surround building sites as shown on the concept drawing, (3) Spring Branch Road will be closed and will not be used for ingress or egress from the industrial park and (4) Harriman Road will serve as a secondary method of ingress and egress from the site and every effort will be made to prevent traffic use other than in an emergency.”

The resolution does not address the community’s concern about preserving Spring Branch, Brymer Creek and Candies Creek from storm water runoff as reported in the Cleveland Daily Banner 12 months ago.

Seventh District Commissioner Bill Winters said the Commission does in fact respect the community’s concerns. Winters said he shared concerns about protecting the area’s creeks.

“I don’t think any of us want an industrial park to negatively impact your community,” Winters said.

Mr Winters spoke of it, showed concern, went a step further to say he heard our concerns and was interested in protecting the area creeks and not negatively impact them, but it appears to be only talk. To my knowledge, no plan or oversight was planned beyond talking about it and acknowledging that the problem or potential exists.

We are always so quick to form a committee to study one thing or another, this would and could have been an excellent opportunity to say we are going to follow this through to make sure this didn’t happen to one of the cleanest creeks in the state.

Fast forward one year and we see Brymer creek and the surrounding area being inundated and degraded by muddy polluted stormwater runoff at the Spring Branch construction site.

During the Bradley County Commission voting session meeting Monday evening, Commissioner Ed Elkins said, “Last week I reported on a situation down in the McDonald area or Exit 20 area involving some stormwater runoff. Subsequent to the meeting last week, I did learn that it had been looked at by TDEC and the environmental engineers from the city of Cleveland and I was assured that corrective action was in place to correct that.” Mr. Elkins was referring to the stormwater runoff coming from road and industrial development projects near Spring Branch causing muddy water to flow into Brymer Creek as reported by the Chattanoogan.com.

Dan Rawls addressed the commission stating, “This situation out in McDonald is why the people of McDonald were opposed to this. I don’t know if anyone has seen the video of the degradation of that creek, but you were warned about it from the beginning. Who is accountable for this? The people who are affected by this are in the county. How can you allow that to happen to a waterway that’s that clean and that recognized? We were all told that would never happen. Who is accountable, the government, the people who did it or the contractors? What’s the answer here? What’s going on? We tried to warn you that this was going to happen. Why were the systems not put in place to have prevented this in the first place? I fought this thing for over a year and they’ve fought it longer than that. I think there needs to be some answers and some apologies to the people that live out there around that creek that warned you about this.”

Commissioner Elkins responded, “The permit for that project was issued to the city of Cleveland. They have responsibility for it. The contractor did not take the necessary precautions and that was unfortunate. Once TDEC was notified, they did get on it and got the city down there. It’s kind of like closing the barn door once the horse escaped, but I’m told they are taking precautions to do that now. Clearly someone dropped the ball.”

Commissioner Peak Jones said, “The city of Cleveland does have precautions in place for that process. Where it fell through, nobody knows.”

Commissioner Elkins commented, “The city annexed that area and they pulled the general permit for that project to do the road. So, Bradley County really has no jurisdiction over it. I guess we could file a complaint with the city because where the damage is being done is inside Bradley County. It falls under the city to explore it. I think it would be appropriate for us to file a complaint with them and ask them to do this.”

Commissioner Adam Lowe said, “We went to great lengths to have meetings with people in that community. I remember listening to a very healthy active discussion about the pros and cons and figuring out how to mitigate as much as we could. I’m having trouble recalling if anyone from the city was there but it was prior to the annexation. Right now, I’m a little shattered about going to such great lengths as a county commission to try to hear from the constituents in that area. It was such a high priority in my opinion. I feel like for some reason, somewhere it stopped being a high priority.”

May I add something here Commissioner Lowe, while it was evidently labeled a “high priority” that’s all it was, a label. It was all talk and little action. This is where we always seem to get bogged down in the political machine. We gladly offer talk because it can easily be quoted in a news article, so we can cut it out and put it in our scrap book. Getting our hands dirty and doing something on the other hand is a whole new realm we seldom like to explore because it takes a little more effort.

Commissioner Yarber suggested Commission Assistant Amy Moore provide more information regarding the matter and recommended further discussion at a future work session to come up with a thought process to put in place on how to handle the situation.

Chairman Alford said, “Me and Mrs. Moore will get in touch with people from the city regarding the matter tomorrow to try to get more information. That is, if they are willing to meet with us.”

With all due respect to the Commissioners, City Councilmen and women, both Mayors, the Industrial Development Board and Doug Berry of the Chamber of Commerce, one thing clearly stands out in the paragraphs above of the coverage of tbe meeting.

We love to give lip service to the general public and say what we think the people want to hear. We are all very quick to listen to concerned citizens and their gripes and complaints and then talk about plans to fix it. This debacle has left many scampering for someone to blame with hoardes of elected and non elected officials washing their hands of the responsibility of the pollution of Brymer Creek.

Instead of one person stepping up and committing to making sure not one more ounce of pollution flows into Brymer Creek, it seems the only viable and forseeable solution is let’s talk and talk and talk about it till we have talked enough then let’s talk some more.

But when all is said and done the end result is a once clean creek is now dirty and polluted and all we have done is talk about it to the point of nausea.

Talking without followup seems to have gotten us in this dilemma. Lip service without a plan is exactly that, lip service.

Who is to blame? Ultimately the voter will decide. They will mull over the previous four years of service and make an informed decision.

It would have been so simple to take our concerns, formulate a plan, follow up on plan, provide oversight of construction and make sure that when the first scoop of dirt was moved, no runoff was going to pollute Brymer creek.

The ball was dropped indeed. Many chose to talk and even more failed to execute.

Source of info:

Please visit this site frequently as it is chocked full of note worthy news articles that affect us daily. http://www.chattanoogan.com/2012/9/5/233582/Stormwater-Runoff-Into-Brymer-Creek.

http://www.clevelandbanner.com/view/full_story/15419958/article-County-delays-industrial-park-funding-vote

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