Confehr: Hot air balloon floated on idea

Friday, June 24, 2011

Newspapers have fulfilled some of their 1st Amendment responsibilities by prompting public debate on subjects about which someone wants more information. Usually they want a sampling of public opinion.

Euphemistically, the idea is to float a hot air balloon to see if it gets more hot air from talkers, or if it's shot down. After all, balloons are big targets. Such an opportunity arrived recently. Since it's on a local topic, the newspaper's responsibility is embraced, especially since this is a well-balanced opinion page. A letter here provides another view.

Somebody asked if a county commissioner could serve on the city council at the same time. Remarkably, it would have to be after the ouster of a councilman or following his resignation. The latter is unlikely. He plans to run for re-election in 2013. That councilman is a firebrand on Lewisburg issues recently, months and several years ago. The man is either tone-deaf or believes he's wearing an asbestos suit and is immune to mesothelioma. Either way, his points got results and support from some city residents. Change doesn't come easy. Sometimes it takes more than diplomacy.

More to the point of the hot air balloon, Lewisburg has had a member of the city council serve on the county commission at the same time. He's one of the former editors of this newspaper, but not so far back as Jim B. McCord. Unless there's been a rule change by the Tennessee Legislature, maybe it could happen again.

Be warned, however. History only seems to repeat itself to those who aren't paying close attention to the details.

Before the great debate over grave decorations, the question of dual officers was resolved in neighboring Columbia when a councilwoman challenged the incumbent state senator. Had she won, she'd have to resign her council seat because of council rules.

About 15 years ago, Eagleville's mayor was a state representative and chairman of the Rutherford County School Board. During those three elected terms, the man was also chairman of his county's Chamber of Commerce. Talk about being at the crossroads of all things in local politics. Oddly enough, he decided to end such public service and become the transportation director for the county school bus system.

Only time will tell whether this covers the subject of this hot air balloon's idea.

Meanwhile, questions arose about the sheriff's proposal to provide cheap shorts for inmates so he can cut spending at the jail.

Do they come in colors other than UT orange? What about stripes? Could a husband buy one for his wife on Valentine's Day? Can they be stamped "Property of MC Jail?"

Is there a market for such sales? Is there an enterprising capitalist out there who wants to improve his or her bottom line with a new product?

Hot air balloons can be floated directly by writing letters to the editor. However rules of that game require publication of the letter writer's name and a few words to indicate local residency.

These views are the author's and not necessarily reflective of the Tribune's views.