Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Cleveland Daily Banner on Tennessee’s litter problem:
Less than 24 hours after our newspaper completed a detailed five-part series on littering in the Cleveland and Bradley County community, the Tennessee Wildlife Federation told us what we already knew.
As bad as it is to have Tennessee trash maligning the streets, road shoulders, curbs, medians, parking lots and abandoned properties of our beloved hometown, it’s a worsening epidemic of which our neighborhoods don’t corner the market.
While castoffs are layering the lands and waters of our Volunteer State, they’re spreading just as quickly across America.
And it’s coming in all forms: Discarded aluminum cans, plastic bottles mindlessly tossed from car windows, household garbage and old tires heaved errantly from the beds of pick-up trucks, wadded fast-food bags thrown just short of receptacles . dilapidated pizza boxes, ragged sheets of cardboard, Styrofoam padding, old shoes and hats and clothing, broken chairs, worn-out mattresses; the list just goes on and on and on.
“Despite our reverence for the majesty of our natural resources, Americans — and seemingly some Tennesseans in particular — have a knack for trashing it all,” according to Michael Butler, CEO of the Tennessee Wildlife Federation who forwarded a guest editorial to the Cleveland Daily Banner at the close of our recent front-page series on littering.
Cluttering our city streets and neighborhoods with filth is bad enough. But Butler has taken his concerns to another level. He is gauging the impact of littering on our state’s rural areas and the hazards it brings to those who call it home — our wildlife.
Earlier this year, TWF made a request for Tennessee communities to send photographs of litter ”. that’s making our great outdoors a lot less great.”
What the organization received alarmed even the most hardened to the eyesore of Tennessee trash. Readers of our newspaper will find a few of those submitted pictures on this Opinion page in spots traditionally reserved for editorial cartoons and guest columns.
We’re dedicating much of today’s page to garbage — self-inflicted garbage — because it’s that important.
“We were overwhelmed by hundreds of images from every part of the state showing illegal dump sites and packaging of all sorts floating on our streams and strewn through our forests,” Butler wrote. “Some were even able to capture how litter impacts our fish and wildlife.”
For instance, he added, “A bear cub playing with a potato chip bag. A raccoon chewing a red Solo cup. A dead white-footed mouse, trapped in the neck of a beer bottle.”
The submitted images tell the story that realists like Butler and organizations like TWF have known for years: Litter is everywhere. The real heartbreak is virtually all of it is preventable.
“There are an estimated 100 million pieces of litter on our roads, according to the Tennessee Department of Transportation,” Butler stressed. “The Tennessee River contains more microplastic per gallon than any other river studied in the world.”
Let’s try that again: “The Tennessee River contains more microplastic per gallon than any other river studied in the world.”
Here’s another eye-opener: Butler reports it costs Tennessee taxpayers $15 million per year to clean up this mess, and that doesn’t include the refuse that crews miss.
In Cleveland and Bradley County we are no exception. Too many of our residents are just as guilty. But don’t take our word for it. Take a drive. Get a good look for yourselves. And when you do, think about some of the headlines that polluted our front page during that series of stories:
— “Tennessee trash finding a home in Cleveland?”
— “Litter measured in pounds, not by the cup”
— “Neighborhoods urged to say ‘no’ to litterers”
— “Abandoned tires litter private property”
— “Litter: Trashing Cleveland’s image?”
Sometimes the truth hurts. Sometimes it takes candor to get our attention. To borrow from an over-used adage, “It is what it is.” And what it is, is trash.
In our hometown, we can do better.
In Tennessee, we can commit to breaking old habits and replace them with what is good, what is clean, something for which we can take pride.
In America, we can learn from the communities and broaden their scope . until the day we have a nation of communities salvaging our future by saving our streets.
If we are to succeed, it must start with one. And it must end with all.
Johnson City Press on Tennessee Supreme Court’s liquor store ruling:
This week’s Supreme Court decision striking down Tennessee’s in-state residency requirements for retail liquor license holders was a win for consumers.
Since 1984, our protectionist policies unreasonably inhibited free commerce by requiring new applicants for liquor store licenses to have lived in the state for two years, requiring those seeking to renew their licenses to have lived in the state for 10 years and imposing residency requirements on all of a retail liquor company’s officers, directors and owners.
The latter two prohibitions were so egregious that not even the Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retail Association, the liquor industry trade group that sued to keep the two-year durational residency requirement in place, would defend them.
Writing for the majority in the 7-2 decision ruling the requirement unconstitutional, Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., said the laws in question were clearly not written in the interest of interstate commerce or consumers.
“If we viewed Tennessee’s durational-residency requirements as a package, it would be hard to avoid the conclusion that their overall purpose and effect is protectionist,” he wrote.
The country’s ill-advised attempt at government-mandated teetotalism during Prohibition left scars on the Constitution showing a hard-learned lesson. To reverse the choking restrictions of the 18th Amendment, the 21st Amendment gave the states the power to decide how alcohol should be regulated in the best interests and well-being of their residents.
Tennessee’s residency requirements, however, were not written with our well-being in mind.
For 35 years, these laws have served to artificially limit the number of liquor store owners in the state and keep their competition out, allowing inordinately high prices and less variation of products.
With the high court’s backing, out-of-state store owners will be on an even playing field and will be able to compete for your business. As larger national firms move in, prices will likely fall, and some existing owners who cannot compete will likely go out of business.
It’s unfortunate that those small store owners will be served a raw deal through no fault of their own. They have been following the state’s laws, but will now lose their money and livelihoods because legislators 35 years ago were not well enough versed in constitutional law.
It’s little consolation to them, but the blame for their losses will lie squarely on the backs of those incompetent lawmakers.
Johnson City Press on ways to secure places of worship:
Intolerance and imposition always have been the biggest threats to freedom, all too often manifested in violence. World history has been shaped by religion in both productive and destructive ways. Such strife is as old as faith itself and shows no sign of slowing down around the globe — from persecution of minority beliefs to all-out wars between religions, sects and factions.
Houses of worship are seen as havens immune to the burdens of the outside world. They’re called sanctuaries for good reason. Sadly, places of worship in America increasingly are going the way of our schools. Safety is by no means a given.
—In 2012, 40-year-old Wade Michael Page killed six at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
—In 2015, 21-year-old white supremacist Dylann Roof killed a pastor and eight other black worshippers in a Charleston, S.C., a case representing both hate crimes and religious persecution.
—In October 2017, a 25-year-old masked man, Emanuel Kidega Samson, killed one woman and wounded eight at a church in Antioch, Tennessee.
—The following November, Devin Kelley, 26, opened fire at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 26 people and wounding about 20 others. It was the deadliest shooting at a place of worship in modern U.S. history.
—And last October, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers was charged with 63 federal crimes and 36 state charges after 11 people were killed and six others, including four police officers, were wounded at Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh.
As reported by Senior Reporter Becky Campbell ... church security consultant Carl Chinn says there were 1,706 deadly force incidents at faith-based organizations in the U.S. between 1999 and December 2017. Of those 1,706 incidents, an estimated 479, or 28.08%, resulted in a homicide or death of a victim.
While we hate to see yet more American institutions — pinnacles of our democracy — locked down or turned into armed encampments, it is easy to understand why more worshippers are carrying weapons to church. It’s easy to see why some larger places of worship are developing their own security forces.
We’d like to believe our society will get a grip on mass shootings and other forms of deadly violence before all freedoms are upended, but given the politics involved and the complexity of factors contributing to the violence, it would be naive to expect progress in short order.
And if secured they must be, places of worship will be better off if they are armed with expert information about sound, safe practices and not just bullets.
Campbell’s article focused on the Johnson City Police Department’s aggressive approach toward coping with the violent trend. On July 16, the JCPD will conduct its second seminar for faith leaders regarding security measures at places of worship in partnership with the FBI. The first in 2017 attracted about 170 church leaders. Capt. Brian Rice told Campbell the idea is to give church leaders information toward security plans for their own congregations’ needs.
The JCPD’s initiative is precisely the right response to this predicament. Other area law enforcement agencies should take a page from that book by making themselves available to faith leaders with such seminars, as well as personal informational visits. Outreach is in order. Collaboration will not stop the violence, but it may save lives.