As the following press release clearly shows, when Mayor of Chattanooga, Corker failed miserably when it came to responding to emergencies in a timely manner:
“You know, I was a mayor, and I dealt with people here in the state, and people across our state, as it relates to emergency responsiveness, and I think at the local and state levels, in some ways, we actually did a much better job than happened at the national level.
“I can assure you, as a Senator, after being a local mayor and dealing with people from Homeland Security and dealing with people from FEMA, I'm going to be very focused on that, because at the end of the day, that's what our citizens really depend upon, and we really got to be really good at executing.”
—Bob Corker, Republican Senate candidate debate, Memphis, July 16, 2006
Under Bob Corker’s leadership, tens of thousands of citizen emergency calls to Chattanooga’s 911 went unanswered. By Corker's final year in office, 2005, Chattanooga had 31,000 unanswered calls in one year alone, or one unanswered call every 17 minutes.
The Hamilton County 911 executive director testified to a state board this year: “The major problem is understaffing. They’re understaffed. They do not have the personnel to answer the phone.”
In last night's Republican Senate candidate debate in Memphis, Corker made the astounding claim that this record of willful neglect qualifies him to serve in the United States Senate. Ford for Tennessee Senior Advisor Michael Powell issued the following statement in response:
"When Bob Corker says he’ll do for America’s emergency responsiveness what he did for Chattanooga, Tennessee voters should have one response: Please, don’t.
“When Bob Corker was confronted with a burgeoning crisis in Chattanooga, he refused to act. When he was confronted with the reality of the crisis, he refused to act. Finally, when he was confronted with three years of unanswered emergency calls, he acted -- by cutting 911 staffing by 28 percent. Predictably -- as his own police department told him -- unanswered calls skyrocketed.
“While Mayor Corker fiddled, homes burned, and no one came to put them out. People died. Children went without ambulances.
“If Bob Corker focuses on America’s emergency readiness the way he did in Chattanooga, every man, woman, and child is on their own.
“When it comes to emergency responsiveness, no one represents more of the same more than Bob Corker. And you can’t have change with more of the same.”
Chattanooga had more than 31,000 unanswered 911 calls in 2005: "Records obtained by the Times Free Press revealed more than 31,000 911 calls went unanswered last year -- a rate nearly double that of the rest of Hamilton County" Chattanooga Times Free Press, 04/12/06.
The National Emergency Number Association hopes to recommend within a few months performance standards for the centers that field calls for police, fire and ambulance help. In the meantime, a spokesman says, the group doesn't know if there are other 911 operations like the one in Chattanooga that has failed to answer about a sixth of its calls. “The Chattanooga center had more than 31,000 unanswered 911 calls in 2005, almost 17 percent of the call total.” AP, 03/31/06
Woman tells 911 board emergency system failed her: “After 911 board members on Wednesday approved a $50,000 contract to study unifying local emergency communications, a Chattanooga woman put a human face on the city's chronic problem of unanswered calls. Dorothy Kaset told the board how she found her husband slumped over in his chair last June and immediately dialed 911, letting it ring 10 times before hanging up and dialing again. She never got through, and her husband died.” Chattanooga Times Free Press, 4/13/06
Calls go unanswered: “Thousands of calls to Chattanooga's 911 call center have been going unanswered, according to records examined after a caller was unable to report a kitchen fire because three of four dispatchers were taking breaks at the same time. Stacey Hunter and her family members called 911 from her home phone and cellular phones Monday afternoon when the fire broke out, but the calls went unanswered. Finally, Artterius Bonds, and 14-year- old nephew, Quayshaune Fountain, ended up running a half mile to get help from the fire station. No one was hurt. "If they hadn't gone running, my house would have completely burned up," Hunter, 34, said as she stood in her scorched kitchen. Chattanooga Police Chief Steve Parks, who oversees employees of the Hamilton County Emergency Communications District, said the department was responsible for the unanswered calls. One dispatcher was taking calls and three others working the shift were taking a break, the chief said. He described the situation as an unacceptable failure of the 911 system. But records indicate the problem is more widespread. During one 10-month period, from January to October 2005, about 27,000 calls to city dispatchers at the 911 center went unanswered, police spokesman Tetzell Tillery said. Last month 20 percent -- about 2,000 -- of more than 10,650 calls placed were not answered, he said. AP 3/24/06
No Show Emergency Response: Hoyt Branham, who lives in northern Hamilton County, said that in October 2004 he severed an artery in his arm while working in his shop. He called 911 in Chattanooga, told them he was bleeding profusely and provided his location. But no one showed up. Branham, 70, said he was alone and getting weak, so he called neighbors and his daughter ended up taking him to the hospital. He said 911 operators later denied that he called, but a review of their recording equipment showed he did. "I just don't trust them," Branham said. AP 3/24/06
Hurricane Katrina showed us last year what can happen when we have leaders that are not ready for times of crisis--people die.
Clearly, Bob Corker falls in the same line as President Bush, Michael Chertoff, and Michael Brown when it comes to emergency responsivness.
Harold Ford Jr. has shown he can be trusted to lead during trying times.
That is why we need him to be our next U.S. Senator.
A vote for Ford this fall is a vote for emergency preparedness and saftey.
Days of Congressional Inaction on Ethics
Above is the number of days that have passed since Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty to bribing Congressman.
It is also the number of days in which Congress has failed to pass an ethics reform bill that would limit private travel, ski and golf junkets, and would call for a full disclosure of expenses by lobbyists on members of Congress.
It is time for Congress to step up and pass an ethics reform bill that would do all of the above. In addition, it is time to end the pork barrel spending system as we know it and establish an independent ethics commission that would review ethics complaints against members of Congress.
I am proud Congressman Harold Ford Jr. is fighting for that reform!