Story last updated at 1:55 p.m. on Thursday, September 21, 2000

Your Views

Appalled by Wamp statement

To The Oak Ridger:

I was appalled to read in a recent article that in regard to Oak Ridge City Council's considering ways to approach DOE about making its financial arrangements with the city more equitable, Rep. Zach Wamp told City Council, "Don't bite the hand that feeds you." In fact, I was so appalled that I went to Rep. Wamp's Web site that very evening and sent him a message. The next day, I called his office to confirm that the message had been received.

A few days later, my call was returned by Helen Hardin, who said she is Mr. Wamp's communications director. After talking to Ms. Hardin, I was even more upset. She was quite hostile and interrupted me at one point to say, "EXCUSE ME! EXCUSE ME! Don't put words in my mouth! I have enough trouble with that already." I wonder if this is how Ms. Hardin deals with Rep. Wamp's other constituents.

During my conversation with Ms. Hardin, she said Rep. Wamp's office had gathered some information which was made into a report that compared DOE sites in regard to the amount of money they receive from DOE, and this information was shared with City Council. However, when I asked her if I could get a copy of that information, she said I could not. She went on to say that this was Rep. Wamp's "internal information" and she didn't think it could be released.

If someone in Rep. Wamp's office created a report using taxpayer dollars, and that report (or at least the information contained in the report) was provided to Oak Ridge City Council and may have influenced City Council in deciding what to do about the issue of additional remuneration from DOE, then why do I not have a right to obtain that same information?

Ms. Hardin offered as explanation that the information is more than a year old and may no longer be current, that "you can't compare apples with oranges" in looking at the different kinds of monies/funding the DOE sites receive, etc. So, I asked, if the information is not good data, why was it provided to City Council?

I ended my conversation with Ms. Hardin by asking her to pass along to Rep. Wamp that I believe City Council is acting properly in exploring ways to offset the lack of land for industrial development, environmental contamination, sick workers, negative publicity, layoffs, accident at Y-12, etc., caused by DOE and detrimental to the financial health of Oak Ridge (not to mention to the workers, the public, and the environment).

I don't want City Council to bite the hand that feeds it, but I don't want City Council -- or Rep. Wamp -- to kiss the rear that poops on it, either.

Councilman Ray Evans seems to be especially sensitive to the issue of not being "combative" with DOE. I can't help but wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that Mr. Evans' employer (Barge, Waggoner, Sumner, and Cannon) has one or more DOE contracts and/or subcontracts.

Further, I ask the citizens of Oak Ridge to consider the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, "We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed."

It is time for the citizens of Oak Ridge and our elected officials to stop worrying about being nice to DOE-ORO and demand that the U.S. government bear its fair share of the burden that DOE operations have placed on Oak Ridge.

Come to think of it, maybe Rep. Wamp and certain members of City Council should heed Rep. Wamp's advice and not bite the hand that feeds them -- only, they should remember that the hand that feeds them is the citizens of Oak Ridge, not DOE.

Pamela Gillis Watson
134 Jarrett Lane

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