Political Pork Tri-Cities Virginia-Tennessee

Poverty Wages Illustrates Class Warfare in Tri-Cities Bristol Virginia-Tennessee

by Lewis Loflin

In 2011 the Bristol-Kingsport metro area was crowned for 5th place in the nation for most impoverished community in America by the online investment news blog 24/7 Wall Street. (Metro area considered one of the poorest in the nation Ranking puts Bristol in an unwanted Top 10 October 26, 2011 Bristol Herald Courier.)

Bristol Virginia alone has 10 public housing units and one former mayor even praised the large welfare and transfer payments as vital to the local economy. The Bristol Virginia City Manager Dewey Cashwell Jr (he resigned suddenly without notice for reasons still unknown in June 2014) shrugged it off. To quote,

"You can make numbers say what you want. Poverty is a relative thing in any given community. We may have a great numbers of folks at low levels of income and low wages. We also have a low cost of living. That cost of living is primarily characterized by the cost of housing, which is very modest."

This is coming from this arrogant ass that got a six-figure severance package plus another year of benefits when he departed in the middle of the night. He oversaw a community with a 70% child poverty and help shower millions in corporate welfare on his business friends. This includes as much as $100 million on a retail project in I81.

The ass is either miss-informed or just a liar. One of the reason for the low rankings in this region was the cost of living has gone way up while "great numbers of folks at low levels of income and low wages" saw their incomes drop. I checked this out and they were correct. Yes Dewey retard the cost is low compared to you bloated salary - not the people in few crap retail jobs you created.

This region particularly Southwest Virginia is a welfare basket case. Government spending, contracting, jobs, and transfer payments make up most of the economy. Most low-end jobs available to the average citizen be it government or industry is contracted out reducing many to near poverty and a lack of benefits.

Typical is the issue brought to light by the Johnson City Press Nov. 4, 2013 in Cutting low-wage earners isn't helpful in business tells the story. This concerns custodial employees at the East Tennessee State University that "barely make minimum wage" yet there's demands by the ruling class to outsource even those menial jobs and strip workers of their measly benefits.

Read the full story at The Johnson City Press.

They claim this is to save money while top paper-pushers and ruling elite earn obscene salaries and benefits far above the average resident. That is standard practice in both business and government in this region.

State and local government take a direct adversarial view of wage earners. The State of Tennessee took direct action to block unionization of a Volkswagen plant. The same State government cut $40 million from programs for children while boosting funding for corporate welfare and incentives for business by $5 million.

See Layoffs Corporate Welfare at Eastman Chemical

Those in the government loops, which is so closely tied to business as the being the same thing, earn good money and benefits while what jobs are left for the average citizens end up contracted out to "save money" to the lowest bidder.

I often call it social apartheid. Every bit of this can be documented and it's not right.

Mr. Hog
Winner of Mr. Hog's Pork Award

$213,000 Federal Grant Wasted on Bristol Strawberry Farm

This is a typical example of why the Bristol region is the mess it is and why the nation is bankrupt. While the politicians fight over the Federal budget the waste continues and nowhere is this more so than a $213,000 grant to a pick your own strawberry farm in Bristol Virginia.

The lucky winner of the pork-barrel jackpot is called Glenmary Gardens a hobby started four years ago by a Michael Richard when he retired. He has something he calls strawberry butter which is nothing new being a variation of apple butter or pear butter he is supposed to have sold at our taxpayer subsidized farmers markets.

This grant is touted as new job creation and is hailed as wonderful by the Bristol Herald Courier (April 25, 2012) our local newspaper. Can I see a list of those jobs? By the way I can get strawberries for less than he charges for pick your own from Wal-Mart.

Sorry Exide Saga Continues

Exide Dumps Bristol Workers after Receiving $34 million in Stimulus Funds is another sorry case of a local company that was showered with millions in taxpayer funding only to watch them fire their workers. They fired 567 in 2009 and an additional 233 in 2011.

Now they have announced another layoff on May 30, 2013 dumping another 68 workers. These are permanent layoffs. Now it has been revealed that Exide has filed for Chapter 11 Protection. According to the Wall Street Journal June 10, 2013 this is the second Chapter 11 filing for the company which restructured in 2004. Why was a company like this given $34 million in Federal stimulus funds?

This filing only effects US operations and not its operations in 80 other countries. They claim stiff competition, high production costs, and " Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s decision to designate Johnson Controls as its sole supplier of transportation batteries resulted in a loss of about $160 million in annual revenue." Exide has assets of about $1.9 billion and debts of $1.1 billion.

In addition the WS Journal reports the company suspended operations at a California lead processing facility due to environmental problems.

Mr. Hog
Winner of Mr. Hog's Pork Award

Pork Alert - Solar-powered lights for hiking trail

Big Stone Gap, an impoverished and dying mining town in Wise County Virginia will be getting solar-powered lights and distance markers. A gift from the Virginia Department of Health this latest example of pork-barrel waste will soon be installed on the town's Greenbelt trail. The idea is to get those that can't afford health insurance and over weight to walk away the pounds.

To quote one silly official, "The Lenowisco Health District promotes physical activity through a variety of programs, and we are very excited to work with Big Stone Gap and VDH's Healthy Communities Program to provide solar lights and distance markers for the trail." So says health district director Eleanor Sue Cantrell. Further, "This will make the trail easier to use for a longer period of time each day.' She says according to press reports, "trails and greenways connect parks and neighborhoods and help make physical activity part of people's daily lives."

Funny, the area abounds in wilderness and already has plenty of choices during daylight hours. Post March 10, 2013.

"I have family in Southwest Virginia and I love Southwest Virginia, and it's painful to accept one reality. . . . The most corrupt region is Southwest Virginia. Over the years, more indictments for political and public office corruption have happened in this region than all other parts of the state combined."

Larry Sabato, Director University of Virginia Center for Politics, Bristol Herald Courier 6/26/04