July 16 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of political headlines assembled from Tennessee news organizations by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Video: Gov. Bill Haslam on the future of Tennessee under Republican leadership 

At Statesmen’s Dinner, Republicans urged to flip Obama’s slogan (Tenn./Cass)

The campaign slogan President Barack Obama rode to victory three years ago is one Republicans should flip on its head in 2012, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels told a large crowd of Republicans in Nashville on Friday. Daniels said the president’s campaign slogan, “Change You Can Believe In,” is “an empty phrase” that “can mean whatever the listener invests in it.”

GOP Leaders Gather For Statesmen’s Dinner (WTVF-TV Nashville)

GOP leaders from around the state and beyond gathered for the 35th annual Statesmen’s Dinner on Friday night. Governor Bill Haslam was joined by his counterpart from Indiana, Governor Mitch Daniels. State Republican Chairman Chris Devaney praised Daniels for his work in Indiana, calling him a “serious voice in getting our country’s fiscal house in order” Haslam spoke with reporters before dinner, and fielded questions about the new pay raise policy, that kept many state workers from getting a raise because of past demerits.

Tennessee getting ‘steady’ interest from firms looking to locate here (N-S/Clayton)

Double-digit unemployment is still hitting many areas in East Tennessee, but the state is receiving “steady” inquiries from companies interested in locating here, Assistant Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Kingsley Brock said Thursday. Brock spoke to about 100 business leaders and local officials from East Tennessee at the 2011 Monroe and Loudon counties Industry Appreciation Day held at the Tellico West Conference Center in Vonore.

Read Tennessee Encourages Early Grades Reading (Clarksville Online)

The Tennessee Department of Education announced today the launch of ReadTennessee.org, a website that will help teachers, parents, and community members understand new curriculum standards and increased expectations for learning. The online toolkits provide information on promoting early grades reading and accelerating student achievement for young students across the state.

Smelcer, Taylor families wish $10K reward was offered (Times-Gazette)

Gov. Bill Haslam offered rewards Tuesday in three separate criminal cases involving Tennessee women, including a $10,000 reward in the case of Shelbyville teacher Shelley Mook. But the announcement was bittersweet for the families of two other missing persons from Shelbyville. Bobby Smelcer, 52, went missing last November.

Pick Tennessee helps Market Park in Athens celebrate grand opening (TFP/Leach)

More than 200 people celebrated the grand opening of Athens’ Market Park, braving heavy rains and taking shelter in the park’s recently built pavilion. Pick Tennessee Products, a Tennessee Department of Agriculture program created to promote locally grown produce, co-hosted the Thursday evening celebration as part of its 25th anniversary tour.

 TDOT to lose $51.9 million in federal funds (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will have to do without about $52 million in additional federal funds. Commissioner John Schroer said Friday that the money will be rescinded from the department’s federal allocation of funds for fiscal year 2011.

GOP creates pro-gun group (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Humphrey)

Facing criticism for failure to expand gun owner rights this year, Republican state legislators have established a task force to set an agenda for passage of pro-gun legislation next year. All seven members of the Republican Caucus Firearms Task Force, appointed last week by House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, are outspoken proponents of Second Amendment rights.

Protesters who disrupted Senate hearing acquitted (Associated Press/Loller)

Seven protesters who disrupted a state Senate committee hearing in March have been acquitted of resisting arrest and disorderly conduct charges. “We argued they were exercising their First Amendment rights, and we think the First Amendment is really important,” said defense attorney Jay Steed, who represented the group in Davidson County General Sessions Court with partner Jonathan Farmer.

Civil War anniversary boosts tourism in Franklin (Nashville Business Journal)

Civil War landmarks from the Battle of Franklin are seeing an uptick in visitors in 2011 as the nation celebrates the 150th anniversary of the war. Visitors at Carnton Plantation, The Carter House and the Lotz House have grown significantly compared to previous years, according to tourism officials.

Torrence resigns; Arriola in cross hairs (Tennessean/Haas)

As District Attorney General Torry Johnson closed an investigation into one elected official Friday, he announced plans to launch another inquiry into a second officeholder. During a news conference, Johnson said he will be meet next week with officials from the TBI and the Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury to investigate Davidson County Clerk John Arriola’s practice of pocketing $40 for marriages he performs and the employment of his campaign treasurer, whose work for the office has been difficult to determine.

Germantown might consider relocating city hall if price is right (CA/Garlington)

Only one thing prevents the northeast corner of Germantown Road and Farmington Boulevard from being prime real estate for development: Germantown’s city hall. If some city leaders have their way, that may not be a problem much longer.

Drug court program succcessful, representative says (Times-Gazette)

The director of drug court for the 12th Judicial District told Bedford County commissioners this week that the program there has been a success, with 92 percent of participants remaining out of legal trouble for at least two years after completion, and that it is a dramatic cost savings when compared to jail. Ken Stewart of Centerstone, who has spoken to local officials about starting a drug court program here, introduced Ken Bailey, director of the 12th Judicial District Drug Court based in Winchester.

Federal Cuts Shouldn’t All Be Immediate: Cooper (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper says whatever deal emerges to bring down federal debt should be a phased in over several years. Cooper says otherwise budget cuts risk undermining America’s fragile economic recovery.

Duncan, others don’t like what they see with debt limit talks (News-Sentinel/Collins)

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. has voted against increasing the national debt limit numerous times during the quarter-century he has served in Congress. So White House and congressional negotiators trying to strike a deal that would keep the country from defaulting on its financial obligations should not count on his support.

GOP bill would eliminate airport subsidies to Jonesboro, Jackson (CA/Sullivan)

Airports in Jackson, Tenn., and Jonesboro, Ark., would lose their Essential Air Service subsidies because of their proximity to Memphis under a bill introduced today extending Federal Aviation Administration programs for the 21st time. U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., the chairman of the Transportation Committee, introduced a bill that modified his earlier proposal to scrap Essential Air Service subsidies to 110 rural airports, including Muscle Shoals, Ala.; Hot Springs, El Dorado, and Harrison, Ark.; Tupelo, Greenville, Hattiesburg and Meridian, Miss.; and Cape Girardeau, Mo.

No Matter How Debt Debate Ends, Governors See More Cuts for States (NY Times)

The rancorous debate in Washington over whether to raise the federal debt ceiling is alarming many of the nation’s governors from both parties, who fear that whatever the outcome, much-needed money will almost certainly be drained from their states. If the federal debt limit is not raised, several governors said as they gathered here on Friday for the semiannual meeting of the National Governors Association, the ensuing default will harm the economy, make it difficult for states to borrow money and delay some of the vital federal payments that states count on for everything from Medicaid to unemployment benefits But even if the debt ceiling is raised, as many governors expect it ultimately will be, states could still pay a high price.

TVA says all damaged transmission lines now replaced (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Valley Authority says it has repaired or replaced the last two transmission lines damaged by the April 27 storms. Both are located exiting the Widows Creek Fossil Plant in Bridgeport.

Cracker Barrel Shrinks HQ (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Cracker Barrel is announcing layoffs at its corporate headquarters in Lebanon. The restaurant chain is cutting costs and streamlining management.

Cracker Barrel cuts 60 jobs (Nashville Post/De Lombaerd)

Saying its operating structure has become more efficient since the Great Recession started, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store this morning announced it has laid off about 60 managers and staff members. The majority of the cuts have taken place at the company’s Lebanon headquarters.

Despite incentives, electric cars get slow start (Tennessean/Williams)

A push to electrify the cars Americans drive has lots of federal dollars behind it, but questions over whether there will be enough charging stations to “refuel” the vehicles quickly and other factors are threatening to short-circuit buyer interest. As Nissan, Ford, Mitsubishi and other automakers roll out all-electric vehicles, a debate rages over evolving standards for recharging stations, which have been slow to materialize on U.S. highways, as well as the limited distances that the Nissan Leaf and some other models can travel before needing more juice.

School going down (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Higgins)

The Bradley County Board of Education has authorized the demolition of the tornado-damaged Blue Springs Elementary School building. At its Thursday night meeting, the board also authorized schools Director Johnny McDaniel to formalize what he said is an oral agreement to buy 20 acres on which to build a new Blue Springs school.

2 accused of making meth (Jackson Sun)

Deputies responding to possible overdose discover meth chemicals Sheriff’s deputies have arrested two people on drug charges after responding to a report of a possible drug overdose Wednesday at a residence on Lower Brownsville Road, according to a news release from the Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit. James Michael Garst, 42, was charged with two counts of initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and aggravated burglary. .

D.C. Hundreds of Teachers Are Dismissed for Poor Performance (Wall St. Journal)

Washington, D.C., school officials fired 206 teachers on Friday for poor performance and put an additional 528 on notice that if they don’t improve, they will be gone next year. This is the second year officials have dismissed educators based on a controversial evaluation system that rates teachers, in part, on student test scores.

North Dakota: Frigid N.D. Is a Hot Draw For Out-of-State College Students (WSJ)

As a high school senior from Connecticut, Diva Malinowski took a coast-to-coast tour of 10 public universities, bearing acceptance letters from each. She fell in love in Fargo. “The minute I stepped onto campus, I knew that North Dakota State was for me,” says Ms. Malinowski, a 21-year-old senior who matriculated from Miss Porter’s School, a private academy for girls in Farmington, Conn.




Editorial: Survival of area crops good news in costly storms (News-Sentinel)

The lingering effects of last month’s violent storms will be with us for a while, visibly and economically, but we can be thankful in many ways that the area’s farm produce survived without serious damage. That is good for the growers and producers and for the rest of us who depend on and buy their produce.

Guest columnist: Debt crisis puts free local television at risk (Tennessean)

Thursday’s article from Fred Congdon, executive director of the Association of County Mayors of Tennessee concerning improvements of our digital infrastructure and AT&T’s proposed merger with T-Mobile prompted me to respond to your readers with more on the subject. Our continued economic development, investment and job creation is critical to our state and the nation, especially during this time of negotiation in Washington concerning the debt-ceiling crisis.

Editorial: Teacher layoffs spell great loss (Commercial Appeal)

Cost of losing educators is great: Unexpected events have cost City Schools pupils the benefit of some talented instructors. There’s plenty of blame to go around for the staffing quandary Memphis City Schools is in three weeks from the start of the new school year.

Guest columnist: When Teachers Cheat—And Then Blame the Tests (WSJ)

Only two years ago, Atlanta Public Schools were the toast of the educational establishment. Scores on standardized tests had been rising—skyrocketing, in some cases—for a decade. In February 2009, schools chief Beverly Hall was feted as national superintendent of the year.