What Does Coty Wamp Want for her Constituents?

Hamilton Co. DA Sends Mixed Message, But Not Really Mixed

DA’s order closing the Budgetel hotel. Photo Diane Nilan
Happy family (assumed) in downtown Chattanooga. Photo Diane Nilan
  • The responsibility of the Office of the District Attorney is to protect our community and keep our citizenry safe.
    No argument here. But what citizenry does she refer to? Are the Budgetel occupants not considered citizenry? Your responsibility also includes truthfulness, which apparently wasn’t a consideration in crafting this order.
  • The Office understands that dozens of individuals reside at the Budgetel Inn. However, it is, and has been for years, a hub for criminal activity of all sorts.
    Dozens? How about hundreds, upwards of 700 by multiple best estimates. With that discrepancy, one has to apply a grain of salt to other assertions by the DA, like the stats on police activity.

    And what about the hundreds of hard working adults whose proximity to their jobs you’ve thwarted? Walking to work made it possible for them to pay for their motel room. Now, crickets. And job loss. Bad for them, and bad for the local businesses depending on them. Not being able to get their stuff out of their rooms — uniforms, etc. — might make life difficult for those who don’t fall under your criminal blanket.
  • Approximately three dozen children also reside at the Budgetel Inn. While the Office of the District Attorney, and the community as a whole, want to ensure that children have a safe place to live, the Budgetel provides the opposite environment.
    Another gross and tragic discrepancy. Three dozen? More like 150, including 75 or so school-age kids. That leaves lots of babies and toddlers uncounted. And unhoused. Diapers, hygiene supplies and food got left behind in the 4-hour shuffle out of their rooms.

    Yet another reason to doubt your intentions. Truth seems lacking.
  • Currently, there are four known sex offenders living at the Budgetel, three of which have been convicted of violent crimes against children.
    Wave the “sex offender” flag and rile up the unknowing masses. Sex offenders are pariahs, and most may have done horrible things. But what’s the difference between convicted offenders and those hidden — often times “respected” clergy, teachers, elected officials, etc. — those still offending? Who is protecting vulnerable children from them?
  • We have worked with the East Ridge Police Department to gather community resources so that the individuals residing at the Budgetel may find other temporary shelter. We have also notified surrounding hotels of the possible influx of patrons. Our primary concern is the children that reside at the Budgetel. We have been working with the Hamilton County Department of Education to ensure a smooth transition that will allow the children to live with their parent(s) in a safe environment.
    Perhaps the biggest myth of all — that other temporary shelter is available
    . Those staying at Budgetel had to prepay their room rates, weekly or monthly, upwards of $1000 in some cases. They didn’t get their money refunded. Fair to guess that most, if not all, including children who were staying at this hotel are now living hand-to-mouth, therefore that refund would come in handy to pay for a place to stay.

    The other piece of that myth is that temporary shelter would be available. It’s not. Shelters are full. Many folks have pets, not allowed at shelters and some other housing options. And why should the majority of the innocent Budgetel occupants be relegated to temporary shelter? For some, the Budgetel was “home,” be it ever so humble. As one person commented,
Hamilton County Families in Transition information.
Hamilton County Families in Transition information. Photo Diane Nilan

What’s Next?

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Diane Nilan

Founder/pres. HEAR US Inc., gives voice & visibility to homeless families & youth, ran shelters, advocate, filmmaker, author, 17 yrs. on US backroads. hearus.us