This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
College and university presidents from across Tennessee are joining forces today and tomorrow to develop strategic plans for increasing student graduation and retention rates on their campuses. Presidents and senior-level campus administrators from eight institutions – Austin Peay State University, University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Tennessee Tech University, Columbia State Community College, Dyersburg State Community College, Jackson State Community College, Northeast State Community College and Roane State Community College – are participating in the inaugural Tennessee College Completion Academy, Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 in Franklin.
Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed four Clarksvillians to state boards. Two are City Council members. Ward 1 Councilman Nick Steward has been appointed to the Pest Control Board and Ward 2 Councilwoman Deanna McLaughlin has been appointed to the Military Interstate Children’s Compact.
The board of trustees of the University of Tennessee system was told that a tight fiscal year ahead must not prevent the university from progressing towards its goals and may include changes to tuition, at the Friday, Oct. 28 meeting. UT President Joe DiPietro and Gov. Bill Haslam, who addressed the media after the meeting, explained that a tight year ahead for both state and university will involve tough decisions about budget matters.
Governor Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam will be honored for their steadfast support of children and young people at the upcoming Emerald Youth Foundation Legacy Dinner. The Legacy Dinner is the first opportunity since the inauguration Knoxville-area residents will have to recognize the Governor and First Lady for their service to our community.
After getting an earful from teachers, principals and school boards from across the state, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman is making some tweaks to a new teacher evaluation system. He’s granting more flexibility to administrators.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced today he will ask the state board to modify the state’s new teacher evaluation system. The adjustment allows principals to conduct two of the required observations in succession, and thereby hold only one pre- and post-conference meeting for the combined observation.
With teacher unrest making headlines across the state in recent weeks, Tennessee State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman announced Monday plans to request the modification of the state’s controversial new teacher evaluation system. It remains to be seen whether the change –– billed as a move to make the evaluation timeline more flexible –– eases concerns of agitated educators.
Months after a new teacher evaluation system went into effect, the Tennessee commissioner of education is proposing that two of four required classroom observations be done in succession and discussed with the teacher in one session instead of two. That adjustment should save at least a half hour per teacher. In Memphis City Schools, where principals are expected to conduct 32,000 classroom observations, the change would save at least 3,500 hours in conference time.
The state’s mechanism for grading teacher preparation programs needs fixing, according to a recent state study. But, in a separate move, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission will roll out a new report card today, looking at how well the state’s colleges and universities prepare teachers.
A report released today by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission shows, once again, that teachers in the Teach For America program are outperforming those from traditional programs at the state’s colleges and universities. The report also shows that only about 15 to 30 percent of participants in the two-year AmeriCorps program, which operates in Nashville and Memphis, continue in teaching after completing the program’s requirements.
Two Tennessee projects, including the potential establishment of a wildlife refuge in Paint Rock River watershed, will be highlighted as part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative report, state officials say. The other is an extension of the Riverwalk in Chattanooga.
A Dyer County woman has been arrested a second time on allegations of “doctor shopping,” or going to multiple doctors in a short period to obtain the same or similar controlled substances, according to a news release from the Office of Inspector General. State officials on Monday said they had arrested Priscilla Carol Rickman, who was indicted by the Crockett County grand jury on two counts of fraudulently obtaining a controlled substance by “doctor shopping.”
Two people in Hancock County were charged with committing TennCare fraud. According to the Office of the Inspector General, they were selling prescription drugs that were paid for by TennCare.
Gavin Ketelle kicked the first time in his mother’s womb as she sat in the Knox County jail. Rachel Ketelle felt her son move as she fought the cravings for one more pill.
The warnings don’t work. That’s what some East Tennessee teenagers say, and statistics back them up. About one out of every 10 teens across the state report using painkillers without a doctor’s advice, according to the most recently available federal statistics — even after being warned since at least kindergarten about the dangers of drug abuse.
These babies cry differently. They ache. They burn with fever. They shake. “Drugs are the single, solitary reason they’re here,” said Carla Sanders, a neonatal nurse practitioner at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.
The state of Tennessee agreed Monday to stop enforcing a new curfew used to dislodge Occupy Nashville protesters from the grounds around the Tennessee Capitol. The protesters went to federal court seeking a temporary restraining order against Gov. Bill Haslam saying the curfew and arrests of dozens of supporters violated their rights to free speech and freedom of assembly.
ACLU files lawsuit over First Amendment rights; federal judge says new plaza policy wasn’t legal State officials capitulated to Occupy Nashville protesters Monday and agreed to stop arresting people for violating a newly imposed curfew on Legislative Plaza. A federal judge said regulations created last week in response to the protest were “not legally’’ put forward by Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.
Attorneys representing the state of Tennessee quickly backed down from a curfew around the state capitol in federal court Monday afternoon. The judge said she would have made them anyway.
The fight over whether Occupy Nashville protestors can continue to demonstrate at Legislative Plaza has moved to court. Monday morning, the ACLU of Tennessee filed a lawsuit challenging the new rule that requires a permit for using the space and sets 10 pm curfew.
Occupy Nashville protesters are asking a federal judge to step in and stop Gov. Bill Haslam from dislodging their camp on the grounds around the Tennessee Capitol by arresting those who violate a new curfew. The lawsuit against Haslam and two members of his Cabinet claims the curfew announced about 14 hours before the first arrests last week was created without following required procedures and violates the protesters’ rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and due process.
State officials gave up, at least temporarily, on arresting Occupy Nashville protesters near the state Capitol on Monday, hours after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal court lawsuit to halt the arrests and block restrictions imposed on protests last Thursday. In a brief court hearing Monday afternoon, state attorneys told U.S. Dist. Court Judge Aleta Trauger that it would not contest the ACLU’s request for a temporary restraining order against the state’s new restrictions.
M’boro gets rally, closer on march; Nashville gets reprieve on arrests Occupy Murfreesboro protest march organizer Conner Moss obtained permission Monday for the group to use the Rutherford County Courthouse lawn for a gathering from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday. Meanwhile in Nashville, U.S. District Judge Aleta A. Trauger granted a temporary restraining order to keep the state from arresting Occupy protesters at Legislative Plaza.
A federal judge on Monday ruled in support of dozens of protesters in Nashville who were arrested over the weekend. The protesters are allowed to be on state property near the Tennessee Capitol at any time of day, according to the temporary order by Judge Aleta A. Trauger of Federal District Court.
Occupy Nashville protesters, assisted by attorneys for the ACLU, are fighting back against arrests made late last week by Tennessee state troopers. The group, which spawned from the Occupy Wall Street protests, filed a lawsuit today against Republican Gov. Bill Haslam and two other state officials alleging that certain arrests made Friday violate their rights to free speech and to assemble.
The ACLU filed a federal court lawsuit today on behalf of Occupy Nashville protesters seeking to block a curfew and other restrictions on protests on the State Capitol grounds, and state Democratic leaders called on Gov. Bill Haslam to rescind the rules. “They have a right to be here.
A federal judge Monday afternoon granted a temporary restraining order putting a stop to the arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters on Legislative Plaza. In a surprise move, the state did not oppose it.
Local journalists are speaking out about the arrest of a reporter at the Occupy Nashville demonstration this weekend. The midstate chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists sent a letter to Governor Bill Haslam and Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons today, saying Johnathan Meador was working on assignment from the alternative weekly Nashville Scene to cover –quote- “ a matter of great public interest.”
The Society of Professional Journalists’ Middle Tennessee chapter harshly criticized the arrest and treatment of a Nashville Scene reporter today and sought an apology for the state’s action. In a letter to Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Safety and Homeland Security commissioner Bill Gibbons, the SPJ board said that the arrest of Jonathan Meador while covering the Occupy Nashville protests early Saturday morning was both unlawful and a violation of his rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.
The ACLU is headed to federal court Monday afternoon trying to stop a curfew put in place for Legislative Plaza meant to disband anti-Wall Street protesters. State troopers have stopped enforcing the nighttime restrictions anyway, but their crackdown late last week has been an inadvertent recruiting tool for Occupy Nashville.
The Tennessee Republican Party said Democrats are out of touch by defending the protesters. “If the Democrats want to associate themselves with this bunch, more power to them,” Chairman Chris Devaney said in a statement.
Robert Gaffney, who came here from Oklahoma 10 years ago, settled on a scrap of burlap the other day on a grassy hill outside City Hall, surveying the tents and crowd that make up Occupy Los Angeles. For many of his neighbors at City Hall Park, this is a center of protest and political grievance.
The three final candidates for the presidency of East Tennessee State University have visited the campus in Johnson City. The candidates are Robert Frank, provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at Kent State University in Ohio; Brian Noland, chancellor of the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission; and Sandra Patterson-Randles, chancellor of Indiana University Southeast.
Ten Nashville attorneys have applied to replace longtime Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Barbara Haynes, who is retiring Nov. 15. The applicants are Cynthia Bohn, John Heacock, Marian Kohl, Stanley Kweller, John Manson, Mary Ashley “Marsh” Nichols, Phillip Robinson, W. Scott Rosenberg, Joycelyn Stevenson and Keith Turner. Rosenberg is a magistrate in the Davidson County Juvenile Court.
State officials say elections offices across Tennessee will host outreach programs Tuesday to inform voters about a new requirement. A state law that takes effect Jan. 1 requires voters to show valid photo identification at the polls.
In effort to help residents to comply with the new Tennessee law requiring photo IDs to vote, county election commissions across the state are hosting town hall meetings. The Hamilton County Election Commission will sponsor its town hall meeting Nov. 1 at 10 a.m.
Democrats are criticizing the state’s efforts to tell voters about Tennessee’s new photo identification law, saying it has not reached enough people. Democratic leaders said Monday that they are launching their own education campaign, starting with 20 voter registration drives around the state this Saturday.
Election officials across Tennessee are conducting outreach programs today to explain a new law requiring photo ID to vote, but state Democrats labeled such steps as “woefully inadequate.” On Monday, state Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester and other Democrats announced the party will begin a yearlong effort to educate as many as 675,000 voters they say risk being relegated to “second-class citizenship — good enough to pay taxes but not good enough to be a voter.”
Tennessee Democrats say the state’s new voter ID law disenfranchises minorities and the elderly. It requires a photo ID to cast a ballot. Now they’ve unveiled a strategy to fight the law.
Says party counted illegal aliens, prisoners among those without proper voter IDs Senate Republican Caucus Chairman Bill Ketron said Monday that numbers provided by the Senate Democratic Caucus count illegal aliens and prisoners who have lost their voting rights among the number of possible “disenfranchised” voters under Tennessee’s new photo ID law. The formula, which Democrats released to media last week, uses the 2010 U.S. Census to estimate Tennesseans of legal voting age without a photo ID or photo on their driver’s license at 689,301.
Shelby County Commissioner Mike Ritz on Monday argued that a commissioner from Memphis should only represent residents of that city, and not any others. His argument prompted commissioners to send a proposed new district map back to committee for discussion next week.
For an elected body that has at times elevated contentiousness to new heights of rancor and intensity, the Shelby County Commission has somehow settled down and come up with a reapportionment plan that has managed to please everybody. Well, almost everybody. Two members had reservations on Monday when the Commission met for what was intended to be the first of three readings of a redistricting ordinance.
The first rapid charger in Tennessee that works with Nissan’s Leaf electric car was opened to public use Monday at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store location off Interstate 40 in Lebanon, one of 12 that the restaurant chain plans to have on line by year-end. The 480-volt DC fast chargers are capable of restoring the Leaf’s lithium-ion battery pack to at least 80 percent of full charge in less than 30 minutes, and are considered a major key to broader consumer acceptance of electric cars vehicles.
Today marks another milestone for the electric vehicle in Tennessee. High voltage fast charging rolls into the state.
A conservative group that lobbied the state legislature to nullify Metro’s nondiscrimination ordinance says it should not have to provide any details on discussions it had with lawmakers. The Metro Council voted in April to require city contractors to pledge not to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Deportations in the South have increased by more than 300 percent — and even 500 percent in some areas — since fiscal year 2005, a pace much faster than the national average. Nationwide, the number of people deported reached almost 400,000 this fiscal year, the largest number in history, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
More than half a dozen states are reclassifying a range of property crimes from felonies to misdemeanors, a change that could spare prison terms for minor offenses and save states jail and prosecution costs. The changes increase the threshold dollar amounts for crimes such as check kiting, theft and criminal mischief.
Attorneys for the Tennessee Valley Authority and property owners who are suing the utility are back to court after agreeing to call off a second trial on TVA’s liability for its December 2008 coal ash spill. U.S. District Judge Thomas Varlan has signed off on the attorneys’ agreement that avoids a second bench trial that was to start Tuesday.
The Cumberland rosinweed was born to live in the southern Cumberland Plateau’s rich, rocky woods. But plateau life is hard.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is planning a public meeting for Nov. 8, to discuss the status of construction of Unit 2 at TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear plant. NRC staff will deliver a presentation on the Unit 2 construction schedule, including major milestones and potential challenges.
Organization moving headquarters, annual conference to Kansas City, Mo., in 2014 The Folk Alliance and its annual conference are leaving Memphis. The folk music organization — which started in 1989 and has been based in the Bluff City since 2007 — has decided to move its operations to Kansas City, Mo., for five years, beginning in 2014.
Before most people complete their morning commutes, Petrisher Jones is already searching for a job. She starts early, trying to stay a step ahead of others seeking the same positions.
A plan by the State of Florida to transfer 29 of its prisons to private management is dead, at least for now. Gov. Rick Scott has decided not to appeal last month’s court decision that called the plan unconstitutional.
League contest invites all to bring redistricting ideas As you read this column, someone you don’t know is deciding whether your vote will count in next year’s congressional elections. He probably sits in a nondescript office with a laptop on his desk.
Here’s to hoping the Rutherford County Election Commission has a great turnout for today’s town hall meeting on Tennessee’s voter photo ID. Anyone with questions should attend, find the answers and then help send the word to people who might have some work to do in order to vote in 2012 when we’ll be required to produce a photo to cast ballots.
Tennessee farmers, hunters, legislators and bureaucrats are engaged in a regulatory scrum over wild hog hunting in the Volunteer State. Those who dismiss the tiff as inconsequential to most Tennesseans, especially those who don’t hunt and live in urban areas, might not know that wild hogs cause up to $1.5 billion in damage to agriculture in the state each year.
The British medical journal Lancet reported last month that 32% of elderly American patients undergo surgery in the year before they die, a statistic culled from Medicare data. In an accompanying editorial, Dr. Amy Kelley of Mount Sinai School of Medicine labeled the 32% figure a “call to action”—to reduce costly surgeries, intensive-care stays and other high-intensity care for the elderly.