This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam will hold a series of budget hearings Tuesday afternoon at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The departments of Education, Tourist Development, Children’s Services, Veterans Affairs and Agriculture will present budget plans for the 2012-13 fiscal year.
At 10 a.m. Monday, officials will announce what new vehicles the General Motors Spring Hill plant will assemble first, when work will begin, and other details of the planned restart of the facility. Spring Hill is supposed to get two new midsize-vehicle lines.
Gov. Bill Haslam says he’s concerned that students rather than the state increasingly are shouldering the cost of attending public universities and colleges. “I understand the role the state has played over the past 30 years,” the governor told higher education officials during budget hearings last week.
Tennessee Department of Mental Health Commissioner Doug Varney says it’s past time the state changed its tune about the way people with mental illnesses are treated. But critics of his proposal to close Lakeshore Regional Mental Health Institute in favor of using community-based services say they’ve heard that song before.
Lakeshore had horrible times but also ground-breaking programs It’s been less than a decade that the word “Lakeshore” has called to mind a park, not a mental institution, in the minds of most Knoxvillians. And a look back through News Sentinel archives shows mixed sentiments over its 125 years of history.
This past Veterans Day, the Tennessee State Library and Archives (TSLA) launched a pair of projects aimed at preserving the history of Tennesseans who served in the Korean and Vietnam wars. TSLA is asking veterans of Korea and Vietnam and their families to contribute items for an archival collection called “Tennessee Remembers: Vietnam and Korea Veterans,” to include books, photographs, negatives, slides, films, audiotapes, letters, artifacts and maps.
The Tennessee Human Rights Commission will conduct a public roundtable session beginning at 11 a.m. Dec. 6 at the AIM Building, at 731 S. Highland Ave. in Jackson. RSVPs are required for attendance at the event.
Area leaders agree that completing the widening of U.S. 41A to Tullahoma is one of the most important ongoing transportation programs in the area. The South Central East Rural Planning Organization, which does transportation planning for an eight-county region, met this past week to set priorities for a number of projects they will recommend to the state.
Tennessee drivers beware. The Governor’s Highway Safety Office is teaming with the Tennessee Highway Patrol and local law enforcement agencies all across the state to crack down on traffic safety violations during the Thanksgiving travel period. State and local law enforcement will be out in force to remind all drivers and passengers to never drink and drive, always buckle up, obey the speed limit, and eliminate all distractions inside their vehicles while driving as part of the state’s new “More Cops. More Stops.” campaign, according to a news release.
Republican lawmakers and local officials aren’t rebuking or criticizing GOP state Rep. Rick Womick for saying Muslims shouldn’t be allowed in the U.S. military, but Democrats have strong words for his controversial remarks. “He’s way over the top,” state Rep. Mike Turner, chairman of the Democratic Party Caucus in the Tennessee House of Representatives, said Friday.
Washington County has seen many changes in the past 10 years, with one of the biggest being an almost 15 percent growth in population: In 2000, the county had a little more than 107,000 residents, while in 2010, the county grew to just under 123,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Because of that growth, Washington County’s legislative district boundaries must shift to maintain an equal number of constituents per commissioner — about 5,000 for every county commissioner in a district.
An elementary school cafeteria worker last year knew her 6-year-old daughter was being sexually abused, but she ignored it. Another woman stood idly by as her boyfriend whipped her three children with a belt.
On a recent Friday afternoon, a brown-haired toddler was wobbling around Market Square with her father in tow. Matt Cummings was downtown for the Nov. 11 Occupy Knoxville protest and said his participation was motivated by “the common struggle against the political and social corruption within the country, and being a voice against that through unity.”
Jon Shefner, head of the University of Tennessee’s sociology department, specializes in studying how economic policies affect political actions and how poor people around the globe advocate for change. That’s why he’s been investigating Occupy Wall Street — the movement for economic equality that began in New York and has spread to hundreds of cities across the country, including Knoxville — and believes it’s time for people to take notice.
Shelby County employees might receive a financial bonus next month. That’s what Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell is recommending. He cited an $8.7 million budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended June 30.
The Knox County Sheriff’s Office pension plan took another hit as investments again performed miserably and the account continued to bleed money in the face of another tumbling market, according to third quarter investment results released this past week. Now, officials say, the county will have to contribute even more money next year to a program that has already cost almost three times what the voters were told it would when they approved it five years ago.
Only N.Y., Miami, L.A. have greater gap between rich, poor With its many spacious yards, tree-lined streets and heavily trafficked, upscale commercial areas, Census Tract 213.10 in East Memphis hardly appears to be a place of rampant income disparities. But while 1,100 of the tract’s 3,705 households have incomes of at least $150,000, Census figures show, nearly 1,000 others make less than $30,000.
After General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson was indicted earlier this year, court judges picked Edward L. Stanton Jr. to replace him. Last month, the new clerk dismissed the office’s finance director and replaced him with Adrienne Evans, a woman who knows General Sessions well.
Sales tax collections have increased here over the summer, according to a report prepared by city government. City Finance Director Mike Keith attributes the increase to the startup of construction for Whirlpool’s new plant and recovery from the spring tornadoes.
Bradley County commissioners would like the Cleveland City Council to reconsider how much the city will contribute to road improvements linked to Whirlpool’s planned relocation to Benton Pike. “We want to come to a mutual agreement that is financially beneficial to all of us,” Commissioner Connie Wilson said Friday in a meeting with city leaders.
Sen. Lamar Alexander has a new chief of staff. The Tennessee Republican announced on Wednesday that Ryan Loskarn will succeed Matt Sonnesyn, who is leaving to pursue private business interests. Loskarn begins his new assignment Nov. 28. He will continue his job as staff director of the Senate Republican Conference through early 2012.
Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville lined up behind legislation last week that would ban insider trading by members of Congress and federal workers. The bill was first proposed in 2006 but gained little momentum until Nov. 13, when the CBS news show “60 Minutes” reported that lawmakers have exempted themselves and their staffers from a law that has sent some of their constituents to jail.
If the deficit-cutting supercommittee fails, Congress will face a tough choice. Lawmakers can allow payroll tax cuts and jobless aid for millions to expire or they extend them and increase the nation’s $15 trillion debt by at least $160 billion.
Jeff Wardeberg of U.S. Xpress Enterprises says its freight business with Amazon has surged by more than 300 percent in the year since the Internet retailer unveiled plans for two Chattanooga-area facilities. “They’ve moved into our top 10 accounts,” said Wardeberg, the local trucking firm’s chief operating officer.
Wine glasses perfectly placed on tables and the bar spotless, workers at Spindini on South Main were readying the restaurant Wednesday afternoon for soon-to-be-arriving diners. As the wait staff scurries about the floor, manager David Armstrong worries about all the diners they’re missing.
Tennessee’s new teacher evaluation system has prompted some school districts to ban student teachers from working in core high school subjects, college education officials say. “It’s nothing but the teacher evaluation system that’s got them tied up in knots,” James Stamper, director of student teaching for Belmont University, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/tZbm5s).
You can’t get to the lake shore from Lakeshore Park. The hundreds of visitors who circle its 2.1-mile walking path each day are well aware of that as they pass beside the tall fence and vegetation that block not only access to Fort Loudoun Lake but even a view of it.
Current law forces traditional retailers to compete with online firms that are subsidized by other taxpayers. Consumers come into their stores to handle big-ticket items and research them, then they go home and make these purchases online where they don’t have to pay sales tax.
Earlier this month I flew to Washington, D.C., to represent my Sherwood Middle School students at a hearing of a U.S. Senate committee. After years of delay, Congress is considering the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law; what the lawmakers decide could change my students’ lives for better or worse.
It is apparent that much of recent educational news has focused upon teaching students in the 21st century. There is little doubt that the technological revolution has had the greatest impact upon education since the invention of the printing press.
The Rutherford County Commission took a stand for a sensible look at the future Thursday when it ordered a re-examination of county school and road board districts that will stand for the next decade. The map sent to the commission by its redistricting committee is jumbled with district lines that make absolutely no sense.
Tennessee’s Unemployment Rate has hovered above 9 percent all year, and the joblessness barometer said it wanted to thank Tennessee’s legislators for keeping it in a job. “I want to thank the Tennessee government for focusing on frivolous and counterproductive legislation in the previous session that’s kept me employed,” the measurement of the number of Tennessee’s unemployed persons divided by its labor force said.
The Knox County Commission will take up a proposal Monday to require a 48-hour notice be given before any public meeting. Commissioners informally have been following such a convention since the infamous “Black Wednesday” meeting Dec. 31, 2007, which led to a jury finding they violated the state’s Open Meetings Act.
Thanksgiving and its requisite banquet of food represent the fellowship and celebration of abundance. Indeed there is much to be thankful for, but there is also the cruel irony that in the land of plenty, there is a cornucopia of concerns spread across the entire food landscape.
As we approach Thanksgiving, we at the food bank are constantly reminded that we are in the midst of a “perfect storm.” We are constantly adapting to the increased demand for our services, rising food prices, decrease in food donations and fewer charitable contributions.
During the past week, the total debt of the U.S. government surpassed $15 trillion. This brings the total debt up to about 99 percent of the annual production of the U.S. economy.