presstalk 671-TALK

• [In a presstalk earlier this summer], My post was about our community helping Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network celebrate September as National Suicide Prevention Month. As a follow up, I contacted Mayor [Ralph] McGill and the Farragut Board [of Aldermen] asking for their support in promoting this event. They were very cooperative and on board with the whole thing. Mayor McGill signed the TSPN Mayor’s Proclamation declaring and honoring September as Suicide Awareness Month. Subsequently I sent the editor of this paper a copy of the mayor’s declaration and other pertinent information. … I asked him to please include some or all of the print articles during the month of September. He never replied to my e-mail, and to date I see nothing in this newspaper celebrating suicide prevention month. … I think this is a subject that should be high on the list of information to share with our Farragut residents. I’m very disappointed in the editor’s choice to exclude all this information I sent him. Suicide has touched our community recently and TSPN has been working hard to help educate and council those who have been touched by this crisis.

[This e-mail “fell through the cracks,” for which there is no excuse on our part. While the submission only mentions state references in its opening paragraph — which often means it won’t run if a local angle isn’t established — references to Mayor McGill and Town of Farragut are indeed found in the following paragraphs. This omission is in no way the fault of the person submitting the information — it’s the editor’s job to be more thorough in checking incoming information. We regret the omission and do indeed support all efforts to publicize suicide prevention in our Town, county and state. Due to the anonymous nature of presstalk, the person submitting the information is not revealed]

• I was mighty impressed when I first started to read Alderman Bob Markli’s Guestview column in which he claims to have read the writings of some of the leading philosophers and thinkers of the Age of Enlightenment. After all, among the ideas these great thinkers championed were tolerance, liberty, progress based on science and rational thinking, the separation of church and state to protect religious minorities, equality and constitutional governance based on the unalienable rights and consent of those governed. The very ideas that inspired our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. Then Bob Markli did something very odd. He attempts to twist the great ideas of the Age of Reason — those that led to the founding documents of our country — into an effort to denigrate cities that provide services like fire and police protection, water and sewer, electricity and sanitation to its citizens as an example of poor governance as compared to the Town of Farragut, which provides very limited services. I found the argument puzzling and unpersuasive until it dawned on me what the problem was: Mr. Markli, a man of letters and philosophy, was clearly not a man of arithmetic. So I grabbed a pencil and paper, Googled a few facts about Farragut housing, population and the cost of the services and started to do some old-fashioned ciphering. If the average house in Farragut is valued at $350,000 and has 2,900 square feet, one can estimate that the average annual cost for water, electricity, gas, fire protection and garbage collection is $ 4,450 [$650 plus $2,000 plus $1,000 plus $500 plus $300]. If you add half of the average property tax [$1,000] of our average home, for services provided by Knox County [police protection, but not including schools, which are funded primarily through Sales Taxes], the total cost of services not provided by Farragut is $5,450 for the “average Farragut household.” With a population of 24,000 and an average of 2.79 persons per household [yes it can be Googled] there are 8,600 households within Farragut that spend nearly $47 million [8,600 x $5,450] for services not provided by the Town of Farragut. If you add the $7 million annual Farragut city budget to that estimate, one arrives at exactly the same $54 million budget as the Ohio city pilloried by Mr. Markli as an example of poor governance. I think it is best to rephrase Mr. Markli’s statement on an enlightened democratic government: it is the right of those being governed to make their civic choices as to how best to obtain necessary services and protection for their homes and families. One choice is not necessarily superior to another nor is it necessarily more cost effective. And that brings us back to the Age of Enlightenment. Those great thinkers placed high value on rational and reasoned arguments and mathematics. Perhaps we should expect our elected officials to have these values.