The Truth Without Hysterical Overreaction

I attended the Board of Mayor and Aldermen workshop last Thursday.  It’s true that the issue of a warning system was discussed in great detail.  It’s true that a $2 p/month figure was thrown out.  What is not true is that the city is considering adding $2 p/month to the water bill to pay for a siren system.   Not telling the full context of a statement can be labeled an untruth.  Yes, you can watch on Channel 3 the replay of the meeting and see for yourself.  But for those who want to know NOW, here’s what happened.

Rick McCormick, member and vice chair of the Local Emergency Planning Committee, was speaking on behalf of the LEPC that recommends the warning system.  McCormick stressed that it is not just about “lightning” or for weather alerts, but for other potential emergencies that the city could face.

Mayor Mosley asked about potential grant funding through Homeland Security that could pay half the cost because of these exact concerns that could be catastrophic.  These include:

  • Railway system that cuts directly through town (the Waverly, Tenn train derailment was cited as an example of why this is a concern)
  • Major manufacturers in LaVergne use highly complex chemicals and products that could endanger huge sections of the town should they ignite or explode.  In fact, the mayor said at one point a few years ago an evacuation was considered for a large section of the town because of a plume of some chemical that had been released. The wind cooperated, so there was time to fully determine that no evacuation was needed.
  • The state’s largest subdivision is located directly at the end of a runway and the city is exactly between the two largest airports in Middle Tennessee.  My sources tell me this airport part is a major concern. While the mayor didn’t actually point that out specifically this has been discussed at length by city emergency planning officials.
  • Large interstate system that cuts through town.
  • And yes, there are weather concerns.  Flooding from May of 2010, tornadoes in LaVergne this spring, tornadoes throughout middle Tennessee (M’boro, downtown Nashville, Hendersonville).

So during this discussion about why it is important that LaVergne have a warning system, McCormick said some towns simply charge a $2 fee as part of their water bill to pay for it.  Mayor Mosley said they do that in Martin, Tennessee, validating his point but not advocating for doing this.  It was a discussion – not a motion, not a plan, not a proposal. They were simply pointing out that other cities have deemed it VERY IMPORTANT to have a warning system.

Deliberate misrepresentation of the facts causes harm.  Misleading people and hysterical overreaction hurts credibility.  So we suggest – without name calling and without finger-pointing – that people verify facts before spreading lies.

And one more thing… when the finance director said the potential Tax Anticipation Note that the city may borrow has been reduced to $1 million, she ALSO said that the city hopes it won’t have to borrow anything at all due to massive belt-tightening and conservative spending.  Again, all the facts were not disclosed.

And that’s a fact.

 

20 comments for “The Truth Without Hysterical Overreaction

  1. auntyoya
    October 30, 2011 at 6:47 pm

    Lola it is refreshing to hear the truth! I,too, was at the workshop and am astounded to hear the facts are being twisted on the actual content. If you are going to label yourself a “concerned citizen” then have the decency to provide the public with the truth, the whole truth otherwise I hear crow leaves a nasty aftertaste!

  2. michaelinLV
    October 30, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    I would classify this along the same lines as the whole flap with Hank Williams Jr and Monday Night Football. Williams didn’t say Obama is Hitler. He said Obama golfing with Boehner (2 polar opposites) would be like Hitler golfing with Netanyahu (2 polar opposites albeit from different generations). Williams got in trouble because he used Obama and Hitler in the same conversation.

    Same thing here. Talk of a fee added onto a water bill should not not been discussed in the same conversation without a definitive “we will not be doing that in La Vergne.” I understand this was not a proposal, but is it not apparent to everyone that the citizens of La Vergne (even those who agree with the Mayor) are leery of any more cost increases?

    Outside of that, lets discuss the sirens a little further. Emergency officials in Knoxville have looked at potentially buying tornado sirens but have not for some of the same reasons we discussed here (http://www.wate.com/story/14323793/how-effective-are-sirens-during-a-tornado).

    I don’t see the value of spending good money investing in last-century technology. With cell phones and TV as prevalent as they are today, you can easily add a note to every water bill saying “if you want to be notified of potential emergencies, text the word “Lavergne” to 90210″ or something along those lines. In fact, the city could probably even offer to reimburse for any data fees incurred and it would take many emergencies to spend $600k. Are you going to guarantee that everyone will get the message? No. But are you guaranteeing anything with the sirens?

    • October 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm

      michaelinLV while 90210 would be cheaper(around 18K per year) when the power is out how do you reach older adults who are not using cell phones? Many do not own weather radios of their own so how do you reach them? FYI not trying to argue just asking a realistic question for our seniors.

      • michaelinLV
        November 1, 2011 at 7:25 am

        That’s a fair question Jason. First thought, remember that the siren manufacturer says thesde cannot be heard inside, so you would have to assume they would go outside into the storm? Second thought, would the oldest, most experienced residents not realize that power going out in a storm is an indicator for bad things? And besides, they survived for 60 – 90 years without the sirens.

  3. Donna
    October 30, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I hope they decide on installing a warning system. I’ve lived here for 3-1/2 years and was shocked to find that this city doesn’t have any type of warning system. Even if they did charge $2 a month on the water bill, it’s worth it to save lives. My family and friends’ lives are certainly worth more than $24 a year.

    • michaelinLV
      October 31, 2011 at 8:45 am

      Donna, 2 things to consider:

      1 – Do you have any evidence that tornado sirens save lives? A few years ago a Tornado hit Murfreesboro on good friday and I remember 2 people were killed. I believe it was a mother and baby, and the father survived. Now in this story, the family was in their safe area (a hallway) where they would have gone if they heard a tornado siren, and yet the tornado still struck the home. A siren would not have made a difference to this family. Now if we lived in an area like Tornado alley where tornadoes were very common AND most people had underground safe rooms they needed to be alerted to go to, that would be one thing. But around here the only value to a siren is if you are outdoors, hence my support for one at VMP.

      2 – $2 a month multiplied by my estimated 5,000 water customers, that would be $10,000 per month or $120,000 revenue in a year. I would agree, if it were not for all the recent rate hikes, that $2 a month is not an unreasonable cost for public safety. With that said would you rather spend that money on ineffective sirens, or 3 new police officers? Because remember, taxes have already been raised so this isnt’ a debate about whether to raise taxes to pay for this or not. This is a debate about the best way to spend that money.

      • October 31, 2011 at 9:46 pm

        I would say that a $2 a month fee is unnecessary simply because it was planned for in the property tax increase as one half of one cent.
        I don’t see how the sirens would be ineffective. Covering the entire city and being able to alert residents to potentially dangerous circumstances ie tornadoes, flooding, train derailment, etc.

      • November 1, 2011 at 5:44 am

        In Joplin, Mo the sirens sounded and it made some people go inside and turn on the TV. Same thing was reported by residents in Tuscaloosa. Here is the recording of a town hall meeting at the National Weather Association convention in Birmingham on the topic of warnings. http://www.alabamawx.com/?p=53722

        In addition here is a good discussion on a show called weatherbrains last night. The guest is Mike Brown, Associate Professor of Meteorology & Climatology at Mississippi State University. James Spann, who is anti-siren by the way, saw the value of sirens after this interview. http://weatherbrains.com/weatherbrains/?p=2435

        Sirens are not the silver bullet but one tool in the emergency managers tool box right along with weather radios and the rest. They are not perfect but many are working to fix some of the problems. http://skywatch.org/ows.pdf

        Also keep in mind that in Alabama power and cell service went down in the morning round of storms. Residents reported that thier source of information in the afternoon when the tornado struck was transistor radios and sirens.

        This morning I’m off to teach a class to a Nashville employer about how to sucessfully impliment a part of a warning system for 5,000 people they have on their property. They have a siren on their property that they requested from Davidson County after the flood. Is that all they have? No but they felt the siren was one more way of protecting their clients. Just food for thought.

        • tony vanatta
          November 1, 2011 at 10:08 pm

          i wish someone would have told two of my friends in the boro, in 97 that radio’s was right on it,radio was saying the cell was in and near lavergne.said nothing about yeargan rd in the boro or anywhere near them ,they got there K.F.C. went took about 10 mins.got home set at table ,bammmmmmm trail ove on it top ,the EMS went out to get dead bodys.so 2.oo dollars hell 4.oo dollars i would pay to have more things in place to save my mother,father,kids,friends,and my kids in fur coats.i even have pic’s i can posted if ms.ivy wants to put them on here.but thats just my HEART,i can say hjow other people feel,im pretty sure some will go out on the lighting poles or whatever they are,,some with say ..wow they cant tell it storming,,

  4. Leanne
    October 31, 2011 at 9:37 am

    From the article……….this is not only about the weather.

    McCormick stressed that it is not just about “lightning” or for weather alerts, but for other potential emergencies that the city could face.

    • DJ
      October 31, 2011 at 1:06 pm

      Can someone give me an example of how sirens would help in other emergencies? So a train derails and it has chemicals on. They sounds the sirens, but most people would think that means a tornado is coming right? How would you sirens be able to tell you what the emergency is? Different tones for different emergencies? That would be too confusing to people. So how would I know whether I am suppose to stay in my house (Storm) or leave my house (evacuate)? Also I have the board say this is for people that are outside (not in their homes) so how would that advise people to evacuate? Would people even hear it?

      • Lola D.
        October 31, 2011 at 1:29 pm

        The system the city is looking at is not *just* sirens, although those are a component. It also has the ability to make verbal announcements – for example where to evacuate to, what roads are open or closed, etc. It can also send text messages, emails, etc. Here’s a link that gives more information.. http://www.mccordcommunications.com/mass_notification.htm

        • DJ
          October 31, 2011 at 1:42 pm

          There are much cheaper options for text messages and emails, in fact one of the main reasons I hear some people support sirens is for the people that do not have smart phones or computers. As for verbal announcements, will people be able to hear them? I hear these are for people outside, but if I am inside with my TV and AC on and kids screaming etc am I going to hear it?

          • michaelinLV
            October 31, 2011 at 2:40 pm

            DJ, you are right that you cannot hear these in your home. In fact, if you go to the link Lola posted, you’ll see that even the company says these cannot be heard in the home. Plus then you add in that this will include verbal warnings. That’s great, how many languages will these sirens have to emit? The more I hear about these things, the less I like them.

          • October 31, 2011 at 9:48 pm

            DJ – how would our older population who aren’t techsavy be warned in this situation especially if it knocked the power out with it?

            • DJ
              November 1, 2011 at 12:09 am

              Jason, you are missing the point, if these cannot be heard in the home (as per the company’s own document) they are not going to help the older population.

              • November 1, 2011 at 5:48 am

                In your home you have tv, weather radios (hopefully) when you are out mowing the lawn or at the park you do not.

                • michaelinLV
                  November 1, 2011 at 7:28 am

                  Rich, do you use an electric mower? I’m more likely to hear a siren inside than if I’m mowing!

        • michaelinLV
          November 1, 2011 at 7:31 am

          Lola, can you provide me with any information from a city who as used thes sirens to alert for something other than weather, AND where they have saved any lives in that capcity?

          • tony vanatta
            November 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm

            yes you can hear if there anything like the ones near bell meade ..and the way house where build up here if wouldn’t shock me if it didnt blow them down,or the windows out

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