CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Mayor Andy Berke is a member of the state’s judicial branch who has crossed over into the executive branch of one of its corporations; he is mayor of a municipal entity called City of Chattanooga.
As a lawyer, he is well aware of the perils of ignoring a proper framing of a legal case, called “laying the foundation” in a courtroom setting. Right now, transportation administrative notice is laying a foundation against him and his cops.
For 10 months (as of Dec. 20) he has ignored transportation administrative notice — a restatement of law designed to help his political constituency. Though properly served and widely published abroad, he refuses to heed; he shrugs his shoulders and stops his ears so he cannot hear — and to the poor and the victim of his policy his heart is like flint.
But that’s A-OK with me (for now), the preparer of TAN and a scribe seeking to benefit the city’s disaffected and abused minorities, some of whom are descendants of America’s 19th century chattel slave population.
Each day ignored makes the legal arguments one day stronger
The notice doctrine in Tennessee law indicates that when a party has been put on actual or constructive notice of either fact or law, certain steps are required. And if the steps are not done, that the law alleged or the facts alleged in the notice stand as accepted and beyond dispute.
Berke busy elsewhere
But Mayor Berke has a lot of other things to do that are better than having to worry about background noise.
➤ The homeless problem — Mr. Berke wants groups to organize better and cooperate more, and supports a plan whose costs will run into the millions of dollars.
➤ Mr. Berke is anticipating the Mayor’s Council for Women’s conference Feb. 7 and 8, with the theme being “leading for change, one policy at a time.” Hmmm.
➤ Mr. Berke is involved in a flap over the former Harriet Tubman government-run slum and its rezoning and redevelopment.
➤ Lighting a menorah candle in a 25 menorah-topped car parade as part of Jewish religious celebrations of Hanukkah (Mr. Berke practices the traditions of the Pharisees, joined by federal Rep. Chuck Fleischmann).
These points and many others occupy Mayor Berke’s comings and goings from his office on East 11th Street. He is a busy man.
And he is conveniently ignoring citizens’ redress of grievances embodied in the notice. Matters of justice and righteousness well within the scope of his oath of office are, well, beyond bother.
The city charter doesn’t state his oath, but declares the mayor must make “an oath *** to faithfully, uprightly and honestly demean himself as mayor of said corporation” and that he vow to “faithfully discharge the duties of his office, and such other oath or affirmation as may be now or hereafter prescribed by ordinance” (city charter, section 8.51).
But don’t complain too much
It is fine for future court action, either offensive or defensive, that the city pays no mind to the silly little transportation administrative notice. For now, it means nothing, has no effect, is simply a bug on the windshield. It’s like the flutter flow of breeze of a butterfly wing resisting the whump and whoosh of a passing delivery truck.
The longer the city ignores transportation administrative notice, the more a litigating party can claim that the city accepted it by acquiescence. Having made no rebuttal or correction of the summation of the state transportation law, the city accepts its rendering of the limits of said law at Tenn. Code Ann. Title 55 and, indirectly, U.S.C. at Title 49, the controlling federal statute.
Having ignored TAN as a public document, recorded in Rhea County, and personally delivered by me Feb. 20 to city council, and for which notorious public legal notice was made in the Times Free Press on four Fridays — having ignored notice, City of Chattanooga will be at some point shown to be without excuse.
The TAN project is a genuinely grassroots reform that gains ground by working bottom up, not top down. The right to travel is exercised by people who travel under the notice and make no statement to police when stopped under any pretext in Title 55.
It operates at the street level, forcing the individual officer to exercise his discretion — since high court and mayoral policy effectively and in bad faith require the law to be ignored. “Traveling under administrative notice” takes root downward, and bears fruit upward.
So let the mayor be busy with his public appearances and his mutterings about affordable housing. Let’s hope he doesn’t notice.