Monday, August 24, 2015

Tennessee official uses state airplane to travel 170 miles for speech

By Chris Butler

Traveling 170 miles by plane — as opposed to an automobile — to deliver a brief speech and pose for photographs is a good gig, if you have the means.

Even though it’s nowhere near an efficient cost-savings measure for most people, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau did just that this week, according to a state memo.

Specifically, Martineau chartered the state airplane to travel to Athens, Tenn. to announce a three-mile section of the Oostanaula Creek was open to the public for the first time since 1984.

The creek, according to state officials, closed 31 years ago because of problems with E. coli.

TDEC spokesman Eric Ward referred all questions about the costs of the trip to Tennessee Department of Transportation officials, who oversee the plane.

TDOT officials did not immediately respond Thursday or Friday to phone messages and emailed questions about the trip’s costs or the plane itself.

Jet fuel prices in the state capitol of Nashville on Thursday were around $7 a gallon, according to

Automobile fuel costs in Nashville, meanwhile, cost roughly a third of that, at around $2.42 a gallon, according to

Shawn Lindsey with the city of Athens told Tennessee Watchdog Friday he spoke at Monday’s event alongside Martineau.

“Commissioner Martineau was at the meeting and made a speech to a crowd of about 30 people,” Lindsey said, in an email.

“He stayed for cake and refreshments and talked with all those involved.  I am guessing he stayed about one to one and a half hours.”

Ward, meanwhile, said Martineau had no other choice but to use the state plane due to other commitments he had elsewhere that day, including a cabinet meeting in Nashville that afternoon.

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