City government is ignoring an 8-month effort to bring it into compliance with state and federal law regulating the commercial use of McCallie Avenue, Cherokee Boulevard and other roads and streets.
That is the best conclusion to be made from a review of publicly available records pertaining to transportation administrative notice, a document that indicates that Tennessee’s transportation statute requires a change of city traffic stop protocols.
By David Tulis / 92.7 NoogaRadio
My carefully researched report, titled transportation administrator notice, boils down to 20 pages of single-spaced type the scope of both Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55 and U.S. code Title 49. These bodies of law regulate the commercial use of roads by capitalism’s best — those myriad businesses in logistics, shipping and transportation.
But these laws give no authority to cities to offend the constitutional rights of people to use the roads for private purposes and for the exercise of their God-given, constitutionally guaranteed, unalienable and inherent rights.
As things stand in Chattanooga, city government and Mayor Andy Berke’s police department harass private people and bring much despair among residents in Chattanooga, particularly among the poor, whose numbers have put the county jail into overcapacity.
Mayor Berke has rejected efforts to meet with him about this problem and to discuss a simple reform. I have met with councilwoman Carol Berz and councilmen Darrin Ledford and Chip Henderson to discuss the claims of the law and the call for a reform embedded in the statue. Efforts to meet other council members have been confounded by scheduling conflicts and lack of interest.
The police department has remained silent on the issue, as has the sheriff’s department led by Jim Hammond. The lack of attention by brass means increased legal and tort danger for city and county officers along the roadsides who violate the law in imposing commercial traffic stops on noncommercial travelers. An officer may not have been personally notified to be, still, legally and personally liable for oppression or tort.
An open records request led to a return reply Friday containing 31 documents touching on TAN. Not a single document was sent between Chief David Roddy and Mayor Berke, or between Mr. Roddy and Sheriff Hammond, or between a member city council and the mayor, or among others who might be understood to have a duty under the notice doctrine to conduct an inquiry into the city’s purportedly legal enforcement activities.
The rules of notice require a recipient put “on notice of inquiry” to make sure of the state of facts or law subject to the notice. The failure to do so turns the tide legally against the notified party for acting in bad faith, not defending its rights, or maintaining a wrong or an injurious practice willfully, oppressively and in bad faith.
It is possible that memos exist among city officials that are privileged. If text is privileged, as between an attorney and a client, it is not available for public viewing because it is not visible for review, cannot be seen by outsiders.
Bleak outlook on reform
The search of nonprivileged records turns up so little because members of the city council, officials in the Berke administration and police officials talking among themselves are unconcerned with the primary victims of overenforcement of Title 55.
They are largely unconcerned about the African-American, the poor and ignorant person in his car, the immigrant here seeking liberty and freedom from the murder capitals of the world in North and Central America. Neither do they care about widows and orphans. These last two are given special protection in God’s law (Deut. 27:19). Immigrants are aliens and strangers in the land and are ordained to be blessed with the same law as the homeborn.
Blacks, I would argue, because modern policing contains all the elements of slave catching prior to 1865, also are liable to claim protection as aliens and strangers. Kept in ignorance for decades by public schools, they are little able to resist, defy, and reform abuse by the civil magistrate in city and county.
Little discussion in legislative branch
The records indicate that city council members do not discuss issues brought before them among themselves on their government email accounts. My inquiry indicates that the mayor, a Democrat lawyer, has little to say about deep-rooted problems such as traffic abuse, even though he pretends to care for the poor and the traditional Democrat base whose members are the primary beneficiaries of the required reform.
The mayor has ignored repeated suggestions that he declare Chattanooga an open city — a sanctuary city — as against the traditional mode of enforcing Title 55. Mr. Berke could become a national figure by ordering a reform pursuant to the notice; such a step would please the left and the right, the Republican and the Democrat, the progressive and the libertarian, and would be unprecedented on the American political scene.
Title 55 reform proposes no program, no expensive office management or staff hirings, nor any change in actual law or ordinance. It simply requires that city government obey Tennessee code as it is written, and do so in good faith, in defense of the rights of the people and members of the public who use the roads. “Double nickel” reform is a negative reform — a removal of an evil.
It does not create a positive good or seek to accomplish some aspect of Christian ministry via a government office or a baby university that raises taxes or costs money.
TAN attempts to reduce the claims of the state against the people’s interests. It is a cleansing and reductive mechanism, not one to build a bigger and better government.
Only texts handed over are from me
Included in the open records requests results is an email I sent to councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod, the only member to ask me about Title 55. That email subject line is: “Demetrus, my notice requires end to racial oppression in city.” All the other emails and documents in the open records results are from me. I ask about the city’s transportation department. I send links to city council members about Miranda warnings (city ignores Miranda) or about the U.S. district court case in Nashville toppling the state’s program to revoke driver licenses of poor people who can’t pay “court debt.”
Included is an explainer letter to Jim Hammond. I get back my Feb. 20 press release about my giving City of Chattanooga the TAN.
No one in city government appears to believe that a good faith response is required to an analysis of state law as enforced by a department that consumes more than F$70 million in tax dollars a year with 500 sworn officers. No one is using the notice to begin an inquiry, as required by the notice doctrine.
City of laws, or of men?
City council members, the mayor, the police appear lawless in their outlook. My notice essentially restates the law and accuses the city of breaking the law. But the notice doesn’t really matter, does not end a condition of moral and legal torpor.
Elected and hired officials also exhibit, by their ignoring TAN, indifference to the victims of overbroad policing. These would be key Democratic Party constituents that liberal members of the establishment should seem to favor (African-Americans, the poor, et al). Because TAN defends the validity of the constitution and the value of law as written which is to be followed, the program should draw the interest of conservatives such as council members Messrs. Ledford and Henderson. The constituents for limited and lawful government, too, are victims of current practice — their plight ignored by their representatives.
But they are too busy to worry about increasing practical liberty and plain-spoken obedience to the law as written.