September 7 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Haslam Reappoints Griscom to Board of Regents (TN Report)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced the appointments of Donald Lee Gatts III and Linda S. Weeks to the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) along with the reappointment of Tom Griscom. Gatts, the son of Tim and Angie Sells of Livingston and Donnie Gatts of Algood, will serve as the student regent. He is a pre-law student majoring in political science at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville and serves as president of the Student Government Association.

Student, professor named to Tenn. Board of Regents (Associated Press)

Gov. Bill Haslam has named student and faculty representatives to the Tennessee Board of Regents. The Republican governor announced Tuesday that Donald Lee Gatts, president of the Student Government Association at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, and Dyersburg State Community College professor Linda S. Weeks will join the 18-member panel.

Haslam names 2 as regents (Commercial Appeal)

Gov. Bill Haslam has named student and faculty representatives to the Tennessee Board of Regents. The Republican governor announced Tuesday that Donald Lee Gatts, president of the Student Government Association at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, and Dyersburg State Community College professor Linda S. Weeks will join the 18-member panel.

Tom Griscom, former Haslam aide, reappointed to Board of Regents (TN/Sisk)

Tom Griscom, an ex-adviser to Gov. Bill Haslam and newspaper publisher, is being reappointed to the Tennessee Board of Regents, Haslam’s office said Tuesday. Griscom will continue to represent the 3rd Congressional District on the Board of Regents, which he joined last year.

Soggy Middle Tennessee escapes flooding from Lee (Tennessean, AP/Humbles)

Chattanooga gets the brunt of Tropical Storm Lee No major flooding was reported in the Nashville area Tuesday, although some Middle Tennessee cities reported significant rainfall through the Labor Day holiday weekend. From Sunday afternoon through Tuesday morning, 3.39 inches of rain were recorded at Nashville International Airport, National Weather Service meteorologist John Cohen said.

Region sees trees, poles coming down as heavy rains fall (TFP/Benton, Hardy)

Jonathon Robinson got quite the wake-up call Tuesday morning — two massive pine trees toppling onto the roof of his bedroom. “It was very loud,” said 17-year-old Robinson.

Storm’s toll tallied as floodwaters recede (TFP/Harrison, Lukachick)

As the swirling, murky water rose above the first step of Wendy and Jimmy Crysel’s trailer, they braced themselves for the worst. The Fort Oglethorpe couple had lost nearly everything in the floods of September 2009, which gushed four feet of water into their trailer.

Tennesseans urged to be prepared for bad weather (Associated Press/Edwards)

State officials marked National Preparedness Month on Tuesday by stressing the need for readiness for natural disasters, mindful of the Memphis flooding last May and the April tornadoes that claimed 37 lives in Tennessee. Representatives from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security and the Tennessee Department of Health urged citizens to prepare an emergency kit, make a plan for when a disaster strikes and be informed.

Weather Service says straight-line winds caused Kingsport damage (Times News)

Straight-line winds from a thunderstorm on Saturday were confirmed to be the cause of thousands of dollars in damage around Kingsport, a National Weather Service report said Tuesday. A destructive storm rumbled through the Model City on Sept. 3 causing major structural damage to Hobby Lobby in the East Stone Commons shopping area, littering landmarks such as the Greenbelt and Borden Park with broken trees and limbs and displacing residents of Model City Apartments.

Red-light camera tickets fall down sharply because of new state law (NS/Jacobs)

Knoxville traffic citations fell 73 percent from June to July as a result of a new state law regulating red-light camera use, figures show. Beginning July 1, when the law took effect, the Knoxville Police Department stopped issuing $50 violations for improper right turns recorded by cameras at 15 city intersections.

Kleinheider Infraction ‘Handled Internally’ (TN Report)

The spokesman for Tennessee’s lieutenant governor committed what may have been an illegal act last month when he blasted off an official government press release touting his boss’s GOP presidential primary favorite. Even though his admitted lapse in judgment was reported in the media, the staffer didn’t get in much, if any trouble for it, at least according to records obtained by TNReport Tuesday.

Murfreesboro mosque receives bomb threat; feds investigate (Tennessean/Haas)

Murfreesboro police and federal homeland security agents are investigating threats that someone plans to blow up the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Sept. 11. The threat was called in to the center about 1 a.m. Monday and discovered Tuesday afternoon, said Officer Kyle Evans, spokesman for the Murfreesboro Police Department.

Cooper Not Optimistic About Supercommittee (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper doubts the so-called “supercommittee” in Congress will find much to agree on in the way of budget cuts this fall. Cooper figures that means across-the-board federal cuts are looming.

Homeland Security funds aided tornado response (Times Free-Press/Walton)

It was hammering storms, not hijacked jetliners, that smashed whole communities into splinters here in April. But the legacy of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks showed up in the tornado response as rescuers pulled dazed and battered survivors from the wreckage in Apison, Tenn., in Trenton and Ringgold, Ga., and in Stevenson, Ala.

Families Feel Sharp Edge of State Budget Cuts (New York Times)

Stretched beyond their limits and searching for new corners of their budgets to find spending cuts, states are now trimming benefits for residents who are in grim financial shape themselves. Some states, including Florida and Missouri, have decided to shrink the duration of state unemployment benefits paid to laid-off workers, while others, including Arizona and California, are creating new restrictions on cash aid for low-income residents.

TVA revamps Generation Partners program (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Marcum)

TVA is again retooling its Generation Partners renewable energy program to shift the focus from larger projects that generate 200 kilowatts per year to smaller ones that produce a maximum of 50 kilowatts per year to promote more sustainable growth for the program. John Trawick, TVA senior vice president of commercial operations and pricing, said the federal utility’s move, which takes effect after Sept. 16, will emphasize smaller, more sustainable projects.

Tire maker expanding in Madison (Nashville Post/De Lombaerde)

The North American unit of truck tread maker Marangoni is investing $10 million to boost the capacity of its plant in Madison, where it also has its continental headquarters. Marangoni Tread North America began cranking out its products in Madison seven years ago and says it has steadily built market share.

Memphis City Council OKs school merger accord with no debate (C. Appeal/Maki)

The Memphis City Council accepted the school consolidation agreement crafted by a federal judge without discussion on Tuesday, formally ending a chapter in the merging of city and county schools. “This is a historic vote toward education,” said council chairman Myron Lowery after the council voted 11-0 to approve the merger agreement.

City Council Gives Final Nod to Schools Consolidation Settlement (M. Daily News)

With no debate, Memphis City Council members Tuesday, Sept. 6, gave the final approval necessary for the schools consolidation settlement to become a consent decree. The council voted 12-0 to approve the settlement worked out by all sides in the federal lawsuit over schools consolidation.

Countywide School Board List Hits 100 (Memphis Daily News)

Shelby County Commissioners are preparing for a long afternoon Wednesday, Sept. 7, as they interview applicants for the seven seats the commission will fill on the new countywide school board. The interview sessions before the general government committee chaired by commissioner Mike Carpenter begin at noon.

Parents raise objections to Montgomery County schools rezoning plan (L-C)

Twenty-three frustrated citizens voiced their objections to the Clarksville-Montgomery County School System’s proposed rezoning plan at a public hearing Tuesday night. More than 1,500 middle and high school students would be transferred among six schools under the proposal, which would take effect in fall 2012.

Tenure arrives in Wilson County before changes (Tennessean/Anderson)

Wilson County Schools granted tenure to 74 fourth-year teachers last week at a ceremony in their honor. It won’t happen again. The group was the last to receive tenure before changes to the state’s tenure laws go into effect, and because the requirements have changed, it will be two years before another group is granted tenure.

Metro schools, chamber set to reintroduce ‘academies’ via tours (CP/Garrison)

Fresh off a year in which Metro schools’ so-called “academies” ran into sharp criticism, district and chamber leaders are reintroducing the project-based learning concept to Nashvillians through a series of tours. Dates for six separate “VIP tours” at various Metro high schools have been set, with hopes of showing elected and community leaders the merits of “The Academies of Nashville,” the model of redesign for the district’s 12 comprehensive high schools.

Hamilton County: Transfers double out of low-performing schools (TFP/Hardy)

The number of Hamilton County students transferring out of low-performing schools has more than doubled over last year. Records provided by the Hamilton County Department of Education show that 474 students chose to transfer out of 17 “high-priority” schools, which failed to meet performance benchmarks, into better-performing ones this spring.

Pilot program would help stabilize mobile students in Knox (News-Sentinel/McCoy)

Highly mobile students, those who change schools two or more times in a single school year, may have a program that would allow them to stay at their initial school even if they move out of the school zone. At its meeting tonight, the Knox County school board will vote on whether to approve a stability pilot program at Whittle Springs and Vine middle schools, Belle Morris Elementary School and Fulton High School that would specifically address mobile students.

Despite collapse, plans still on for Oakwood School redevelopment (NS/Braden)

Architect and developer Daniel Schuh didn’t seem surprised that Monday’s rainfall caused the third floor of the former Oakwood Elementary School to finally fall through to the second floor. “I was in there a while ago and I could tell that that end of the building was in trouble,” Schuh said.

Farmers Pleased With Rain’s Arrival (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

This week’s rain is great news for farmers in Tennessee, who hadn’t seen much rainfall at all in August. The U.S. Department of Agriculture says corn and cotton were mostly still getting by last week, but with so much dryness soybeans had begun to slip. One East Tennessee official said he’d received reports of sheep and cattle dying of heat stroke before the remains of Tropical Storm Lee arrived.

Arizona: Inmate Visits Now Carry Added Cost in Arizona (New York Times)

New legislation allows the department to impose a $25 fee on adults who wish to visit inmates at any of the 15 prison complexes that house state prisoners. The one-time “background check fee” for visitors, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, has angered prisoner advocacy groups and family members of inmates, who in many cases already shoulder the expense of traveling long distances to the remote areas where many prisons are located.

Rhode Island: Considers radical moves as pensions put state on brink (W. Post)

This state has barely a million residents, but it is at least $6.8 billion short when it comes to funding pension plans for retired teachers, police officers and other public employees. State Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo (D) said that per capita, Rhode Island has the nation’s largest unfunded pension liability.

South Carolina: Haley’s trip to Paris cost $127,000 (The State)

Gov. Nikki Haley’s weeklong trip to Europe in June in search of “jobs, jobs, jobs” cost South Carolinians more than $127,000. But the governor and her entourage of more than two dozen returned without any finished deals to bring new employers to the Palmetto State.

South Dakota: Public employees ever fewer in S.D. (Argus Leader)

The number of people employed full time by the state or by a local government in South Dakota is dropping, a trend that could continue because of austere budgets and layoffs. The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual survey of local and state government employees last week.

OPINION

Editorial: State’s preparation for 30% loss of federal funding responsible move (NS)

Eliminating 5,131 state jobs while cutting the budget by 30 percent offers a scary scenario, one that could have a substantial ripple effect across Tennessee well into the future. We hope, of course, that it doesn’t come to that, but credit the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam with challenging state officials to deal with that potential drastic turn of events.

Jim Leonhirth: Leadership profiles created by things beyond control (DNJ)

Perhaps his leadership style dictates a low profile, but Gov. Bill Haslam seems to have no great impulse to venture into the headlines. A few random searches on the Internet show surprisingly few headlines that involve the new governor, and most of them are his reactions to events rather than Haslam-led initiatives.

Free-Press Editorial: Heavy rain, flooding won’t last (Times Free-Press)

While we in the Chattanooga area fortunately haven’t experienced, over the past couple of weeks, the weather extremes that some on the East Coast have suffered during the hurricane season, nor the level of severe drought that places such as Texas are enduring, we undoubtedly have been going through some just plain messy weather. The more than 8 inches of rain that the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee had dropped at Chattanooga Metropolitan Airport by late Monday afternoon surpassed the 24-hour local rainfall record set all the way back in 1886!

Guest columnist: Leadership skills are key to success (Tennessean)

Networking also a valuable tool Whether the economy is on the rise or taking a tumble, making yourself hirable is not really about industry knowledge or the right color resume; it’s about proven leadership skills. No matter if a college student majors in English or computer security, it is the demonstration of leadership skills like problem-solving, communication and networking that will help the Class of 2012 snag the best jobs.

Guest columnist: Focus on skills relevant to employer needs (Tennessean)

The current economy poses extraordinary issues and challenges to young adults entering the workforce for the first time. Unemployment, underemployment, limited options and survival jobs characterize the general setting today for many young adults across our state and nation.

Guest columnist: Suicide rate pushes us to address depression (Tennessean)

Each year an estimated 800 men, women and children die by suicide in Tennessee. Nationally, suicide is the 11th-leading cause of death, with one suicide occurring on average every 18 minutes. More than 765,000 Americans attempt suicide each year, and roughly 5 million Americans are survivors of the suicide of a friend, family member or loved one.

Free-Press Editorial: Alarming lack of job creation in August (Times Free-Press)

To tens of millions of Americans who have no jobs or who cannot get enough hours at their part-time jobs to support themselves and their families, the most recent employment report will not come as any surprise. In August, there was no net increase of jobs in the U.S. economy, and the unemployment rate remained stuck at 9.1 percent.

Editorial: Amazon’s Tax Dodge (New York Times)

Amazon.com’s no-holds-barred fight to avoid collecting sales taxes in California is an abdication of corporate responsibility. The online behemoth is battling to repeal a state law enacted in July that would force it to do what every brick-and-mortar retailer in California is obligated to do: collect a sales tax of 7.25 percent from its customers.