Blow Up the Barge

225379a18f319f1a74bb9e500c736d0738792_mediumIn 2009, developer Allen Casey brought a barge from Pittsburgh to the Chattanooga Riverfront. Casey was responsible for developing the Chattanooga Choo-Choo back in the 1970s and planned to convert the barge into a floating restaurant and bar. The plan fell through, however, and since then, the barge has sat rotting across from Ross’s Landing. Pieces have fallen off, it spent several months flooded and partially submerged, and it’s now covered in graffiti.

A few months ago, Casey and one his companies, River City Resort, filed bankruptcy petitions in response to a lawsuit brought by investors alleging that Casey defrauded them regarding a portion of land near the barge. (Casey had wanted to develop a hotel and condos on the land.) Casey denies the allegations, and as part of the bankruptcy proceedings, a prospective buyer, RCW Inc., planned to purchase, dismantle and move the eyesore. But just like the planned restaurant and bar, that plan for the barge fell through as well, as RCW had second thoughts about the purchase. Other options are now being considered.

Read the rest of this piece at

No, Chattanooga Doesn’t “Need” a Ferris Wheel…and Other Random Thoughts

7582c21530e5da5b1f4be16e991ba93d55657_mediumJoe Ledbetter, James Chapman and some other local businessmen say Chattanooga needs a Ferris wheel, and they are working to see that we get one.

Yeah, a Ferris wheel in Chattanooga would be fun and popular, and if some entrepreneurs can make it happen, I say go for it.

But we don’t exactly need a Ferris wheel. No, we need other things, like fewer shootings, more jobs and less shady behavior overall. Oh, and a single, definitive streetlight billing audit would be great, too.

Read the rest of this piece at

Let’s Invest in Integrity in Gig City

a33921d857b46fe49f254235895d281023001_mediumYou only need to be a casual observer of the news to have noticed how our super-fast Internet has transformed life and business in Chattanooga. The gig has helped to create a climate of innovation, as well as spurred millions of dollars in investment, making us the envy of other cities across the globe.

Similarly, you only need to be a casual observer of the news to know that we’ve dealt with our fair share of—how do I put this?—challenging moments lately. Local headlines have been filled with various examples of abuses of power, violations of the public trust, conflicts of interest and other instances of impropriety.

Why am I mentioning these things? Am I trying to be a downer? No. Absolutely not. I love Chattanooga. I really do. We do a lot of things right, and we have a lot to be proud of.

But it’s important to put things in perspective, and, from my perspective, it’s important to point out that our collective integrity is far more important than our impressive Internet.

In short, we could use a little more of it around here.

Read the rest of this piece at