Thursday, June 2, 2016

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke Addresses Summons to Memphis Luncheon

Posted By on Thu, Jun 2, 2016 at 3:20 PM

click to enlarge Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
  • Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke
Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke gave a spirited and provocative speech at Memphis Magazine's fourth annual "Summons to Memphis" luncheon Thursday, at the Holiday Inn at the University of Memphis.

The crowd of 300 or so was fronted by a Who's Who table that included Mayor Jim Strickland, former Mayor AC Wharton, County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Berke, and Maura Sullivan, now chief operating officer of the city of Chattanooga and formerly a top aide in the Wharton administration.

click to enlarge Mayors Strickland, Berke, Luttrell
  • Mayors Strickland, Berke, Luttrell

Berke began by acknowledging the difficulties all four major Tennessee cities have in dealing with a GOP legislature that is controlled by rural interests. "This legislature doesn't like cities very much," he said.

Moving from that point of urban commonality, Berke said his city has followed a four-point plan that has lowered its unemployment to 4 percent and has resulted in a booming economy and a thriving city built on the ashes of its departed steel-manufacturing industry.

"In 1967. Walter Cronkite called Chattanooga 'the dirtiest city in America,'" Berke said. "And when the most trusted man in America says you're the dirtiest city in America, people believe it."

Berke alluded to the 'Chattanooga Way,' the four points of which are: Working Together Works; Investing in Public Spaces; Great Cities Plan for a Great Future; and Provide More Paths for the Middle Class.

Berke went into each seemingly platitudinal point in great detail, demonstrating the concrete steps Chattanooga has taken to achieve each goal. He was particularly proud of the city-owned broad-band network that is available to every home and business in Chattanooga.

The crowd was attentive and appreciative, seeming to enjoy Berke's occasional irreverence and his upbeat message.

Contemporary Media, Inc. publisher Kenneth Neill presented Berke with a signed copy of Peter Taylor's novel, A Summons to Memphis in appreciation of his appearance.

click to enlarge Berke and CMI Publisher Kenneth Neill
  • Berke and CMI Publisher Kenneth Neill

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