A letter from former Tennessee Representative Bobby Wood, published in The Chattanoogan.com at http://chattanoogan.com/2013/3/29/247765/Remove-Tennessee-From-The-Annexation.aspx
Friday, March 29, 2013
You would think allowing the people to vote would be a given in America. We fight wars and sacrifice young lives across the globe to protect or establish that right, yet in our own land three states deny it. Regrettably Tennessee is one of those unfortunate three.
Can you imagine in the land of the free a form of government being forced upon a people without their having a voice in the decision? The process is called annexation by ordinance. Only cities have that power, and they will take every measure to preserve it. They will fill the legislative halls with their paid lobbyist, and when the awareness of the injustice of the act is revealed they will send in even additional ones; even calling back retired ones to put down the threat. This past week all of them focused their efforts to defeat Rep. Mike Carter and Senator Bo Watson’s proposal to allow a referendum of the people before annexation could take place.
Would you think this could happen in Tennessee? The Tennessee Municipal League, which is made up of member cities with a goal to protect cities say, “We have to have this power to grow, without it we would die.” Think about it: states can’t reach out and confiscate people’s property to grow. Counties do not have this power, yet they grow. They grow by providing services, by attracting industry and by developing an environment that those outside their domain will want to be a part of. They say, “we may force them in but we don’t confiscate their property.” What about when those annexed cannot afford the additional level of taxes imposed upon them? Eventually they will confiscate their property even though those punished never had a voice in the decision to take on that tax burden.
Do you think lobbyist have power? Their efforts have denied the right for a referendum for years. Their efforts convinced past speakers of the House to appoint a hand-picked committee to deal only with annexation issues. For the 28 years that I tried their efforts stopped any committee member from making a motion to hear the bill. The proposal would meet a silent death for the press knew the purpose of the committee and never bothered to cover its meeting. But at last Rep. Carter and Senator Watson have brought an awareness of the inequity of the ordinance approach and the bills, HB 475 and SB 279 are not going away. Cities that choose to annex by ordinance, just because they have that power, are faced by citizens asking, “Why can’t I have a voice? Provide me with services, employment and an opportunity for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness….which when proposed was the right to my own property.”
Now that the issue has been raised it will not go away. Every official at every level when seeking your vote should be asked, “What about annexation by ordinance? Do you believe a citizen has a right to vote on their form of government?” Then no longer will Tennessee be one of the oppressed three.
Rep. Bobby Wood (1976-2004)