Watson to discuss State of the City at Lunch with League on Tuesday

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson will discuss the State of the City with the League of Women Voters on Tuesday.

During the annual event, Watson is also expected to give his perspective on issues facing the city, a press release said.

The Tuesday meeting starts at noon Tuesday, October 21, in the Social Hall of the new Oak Ridge Unitarian Universalist Church location at 809 Oak Ridge Turnpike (north of the Joe L. Evins Federal Building, which is home to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office). [Read more...]

Letter: Baughn endorses Garcia Garland

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

To the Editor:

This election cycle, some candidates have characterized City Council deliberations as combative or regressive. The truth is, however, that of the hundreds of decisions made every year by City Council, the majority are made by unanimous vote. The same is true of the Board of Education and our boards and commissions.

A well-balanced government should not be stacked with all like-minded people whose primary goal is to achieve harmony. Some might argue that unanimity, which should not be mistaken for progress, is what has gotten us into many of the messes we are in. No, an elected body should allow for all voices to have the opportunity to be heard and considered. [Read more...]

Guest column: ‘One-shot’ voting unwise in Oak Ridge

Aditya "Doc" Savara

Aditya “Doc” Savara

By Aditya “Doc” Savara

“One-shot” voting is unwise in Oak Ridge.

This year, there are four seats for City Council and three seats for the Board of Education up for election in Oak Ridge.

A column that appeared online at Oak Ridge Today and in the print version of The Oak Ridger advocated “one-shot” voting—where a person only votes for a single candidate instead of using all four of their votes for City Council (or three for Board of Education). I disagree with that view and tell my supporters to vote for whomever they want on City Council.

There are 10 candidates for City Council. Let’s call them A,B,C,D…Suppose you like only two out of the 10 candidates, A and B, but like candidate A the most. With four seats available, the only time you would want to “one-shot A” is if you are afraid A and B are “neck and neck” for the last position with B beating A—for example, if the results turned out D,C,E,B,A,F,…where the first four win the election.

For any other situation, you would want to vote for both A and B. For example with D,B,A,C,E,F…you would want to vote for both A and B to make sure they both beat C. [Read more...]

Letter: Oak Ridge needs Chinn’s perspective, expertise

To the Editor:

Although I have never written an endorsement for any political candidates, I feel sincerely compelled to at this time.

Twenty-five years ago, I moved my family to Oak Ridge. I was not born here, had no family members here, nor did I relocate due to a job transfer or employment contract. I moved my family to this beautiful city for I desired to live in this community. I voluntarily chose Oak Ridge.

I started a business almost 24 years ago and earlier this year sold that business and am presently thoroughly enjoying retirement. Oak Ridge has been good to me and my family and God favored me over this past quarter of a century. And having the advantage of being a local business person, I want to cast my ballot in this year’s City Council election for Rick Chinn. [Read more...]

Guest column: The road to excellence

Mike Mahathy

Mike Mahathy

By Mike Mahathy

“Thus we began. With a sense of adventure, with a determination to make the most of a situation, we started out…looking forward to giving the children of Oak Ridge the best system we could develop.”

So said Dr. A.H. Blankenship years after accepting the role of starting the Oak Ridge school system.

From the very beginnings in 1943, Oak Ridge leaders wanted the best for their children. They choose a road less traveled by in this area.

Decades have passed, but there has remained one constant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee: a great school system where students have excelled in academics, the arts, music, athletics, and have gone on to be productive Americans. [Read more...]

Early voting begins Wednesday, October 15

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Information from WYSH Radio

Early voting for the November 4 general election in Anderson County begins Wednesday, October 15, and runs through Thursday, October 30.

Early voting hours Monday through Friday will be from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon at the Clinton Community Center, the Midtown Community Center in Oak Ridge, and at the North Anderson Government Office in the Anderson Crossing Shopping Center in the Norris/Andersonville area. [Read more...]

Guest column: Progress PAC helps broaden conversation of community issues

By Progress PAC

We are very proud that the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce has entrusted us to serve as the members of Progress PAC, the multi-candidate political action committee created by the Chamber and focused on our upcoming school board and city council elections. Though we are appointed by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, we operate independently from that same board.

Some people in the community have questions about how Progress PAC will operate, who we might support, and how endorsements might be made. Some have criticized the timing of Progress PAC’s establishment, and we acknowledge it could have been better. However, our primary goal is to have a positive impact in this election cycle.

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Now that Progress PAC has been created, we are largely autonomous. The Chamber’s Board may not approve or disapprove of any endorsement decisions we may make; the Chamber’s Board cannot approve or disapprove of contributions that Progress PAC either receives or distributes. The Chamber contributes no funds to PAC operations; we are supported by donations made directly to the PAC and we must report those to the appropriate election commissions. [Read more...]

Guest column: 2014—The year that Oak Ridgers take back their government

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

By Trina Baughn

Did you know that most of our local elections have historically been decided by less than 20 percent of our population? In fact, one of the biggest financial decisions ever made in our city’s history—the high school renovation project—was determined by only 11 percent (3,198) of our residents.

A number of factors have empowered the establishment for decades. If they have their way again this year, half of your elected officials will come from the most affluent neighborhoods in Oak Ridge, with half of them living on the very same street of McMansions! Given that the our average household income is $48,716, this is not even close to a true representation of the people in our community.

This year, though, the establishment is nervous and they should be for three very big reasons. [Read more...]

Guest column: Candidate calls for enlightenment, trust, ‘unified team’

Andy Howe

Andy Howe

By Andy Howe

Roughly 200,000 years ago the direct ancestor of modern man evolved in Africa when a small group of proto-humans adapted a genetic trait that previous forms of hominids only hinted at. This sub-species was capable of something never seen before—forward-thinking imagination. Our brains were changed to “fill in the gaps” on a conceptual level. It allowed us to invent complex tools and to plan for the future. Since then, we haven’t changed much.

Despite the belief that we are unique in the animal kingdom because we are lead not by our instincts but by our logic, the reality differs. The core of our nature is actually emotional and instinctual—our higher-order thinking skills only allow us to counter our more base reactions.

Studies have shown that people in groups tend to lose touch with their individual morals and principles. Biologically, part of our brain simply shuts down. We choose a side and don’t consider other perspectives, we defend that side wholeheartedly against our perceived opponents without recognition that we may actually be our own worst enemy. These insights are crucial in understanding human nature on both an individual and group level. [Read more...]

EQAB Climate Action Plan: Oak Ridge reduces emissions, electrical use

Mark Watson

Mark Watson

The first progress report for Oak Ridge’s Climate Action Plan said greenhouse gas emissions associated with energy use in city buildings are down and so is the annual electrical consumption for the average household.

Traffic signals use about 60 percent less electricity because of LED bulbs, and Oak Ridge has finished a home energy retrofit demonstration project that could be used as a model in the city, the report said.

Meanwhile, Oak Ridge has been recognized as a renewable energy leader by the Tennessee Valley Authority and is the first Green Power Community in Tennessee and in part of the Southeast. [Read more...]

PTA-PTO Council has City Council, school board candidate forums

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

The Oak Ridge parent-teacher associations and parent-teacher organizations have scheduled two candidate forums, which will focus on questions related to education.

The Oak Ridge Board of Education candidate forum will be held on Wednesday, October 1. The City Council candidate forum will be held on Wednesday, October 8.

Both forums will be held at the Oak Ridge High School Amphitheater from 6 to 7:30 p.m. In each case, there will be a candidate meet and greet at 5:30 pm, and visitors will also have a chance to directly 
speak with candidates from 7:30 to 8 p.m., a press release said.

For more information, contact moderator David Bradshaw at [email protected].

Letter: Encourages candidate forum groups, objects to ‘harassment’

While state and federal elections (at least here in Oak Ridge) are somewhat uninspiring this year, with many races either uncontested or practically so, our municipal election has drawn an unusually high number of candidates. That there are several open seats where incumbents chose not to run—two on City Council and two on the Board of Education—is probably the reason for the larger number of candidates.

Ten are running for four seats on City Council, while eight are competing for three seats on the Board of Education.

The League of Women Voters is doing its usual outstanding job of hosting candidate forums, but despite standing-room-only attendance at the first of those, it’s inevitable that not everyone was able to attend. Fortunately, several other interested groups have also scheduled candidate forums or meet-and-greet events: the Oak Ridge Schools’ PTA/PTO Council, the Chamber of Commerce, and Democracy for East Tennessee.

It’s important to get to know the people who seek to represent you, to hear their views on issues of interest, and to see how they respond to questions.

Unfortunately, one member of Council who is not up for election this year is seeking to eliminate some of these opportunities, based on the fact that they’re scheduled to be held on city property. The Chamber of Commerce is situated on land leased from the city, although they own the building. The PTA/PTO forums will be held at Oak Ridge High School, and have been promoted through the schools (as most PTA/PTO activities are). [Read more...]