This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that his administration is trying to speed up the time it takes for poultry farms to get environmental permits. The Republican governor said after a speech to the Farm Bureau that his goal is for the state to strike the “right balance between our stewardship responsibilities and making certain we’re providing product and providing jobs.”
Tennessee government services have not suffered even though there are fewer full-time state workers on the job today than before the 2008 recession, Gov. Bill Haslam says. Following a speech to the Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation, the governor said Monday that “our focus is on producing results.
Governor Bill Haslam talked spoke about Judge Baumgartner and what the possibility of new trials could mean for the families of several victims including the Christian and Newsom families. “My first thought was of the two families, the Christian and Newsom families that have had to go through, and I was the mayor in those trials.
Public comment sought for co-investment fund State leaders continue to move forward with the governor’s jobs plan, and the latest action involves federal funding for Tennessee businesses. In May Gov. Bill Haslam announced a $50 million initiative called INCITE.
The state’s Department of Economic and Community Development is deferring to big time investors to decide who will get $30 million from the U.S. Treasury. The plan is up for public discussion this week. The so-called INCITE fund comes from a federal grant meant to spur small business lending.
The Wrigley Manufacturing Company will add 54 new jobs locally when a $409,244 expansion of its existing facility is completed. Hamilton County commissioners approved a grant awarded from Gov. Bill Haslam’s FastTrack Infrastructure Development Program to fund the gum and candy company’s expansion, including the addition of a rail spur.
The state has been honored for its budget and financial reporting. The Government Finance Officers Association recognized the state for both its annual budget document and the financial report that closes each fiscal year. Both are produced in the Department of Finance and Administration, which manages the state’s budget and also is responsible for accounting practices in all state agencies.
Residents are losing weight, smoking less Tennessee is a healthier state than it was a year ago because people are losing weight and smoking less, fewer babies are dying and violent crime is down. Those are some of the measures that moved Tennessee out of the bottom 10 states, according to America’s Health Rankings.
Lady Vols head basketball coach Pat Summitt was named Sports Illustrated sportswoman of the year for 2011, the publication announced Monday. When Summitt revealed in August that she was diagnosed with early-onset dementia, SI.com’s Alexander Wolff says she embraced the disease.
Lady Vols coach Pat Summitt has been named Sports Illustrated’s sportswoman of the year. She shares top honors with another coaching legend, Mike Krzyzewski, Duke’s successful “Coach K.” The two were selected for their success, but as Sports Illustrated points out: “The career victory numbers — 1,075 for her, 907 for him, totals that leave every other male and female coach in Division I basketball behind — only hint at why Sports Illustrated has chosen Mike Krzyzewski and Pat Summitt as its 2011 Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year.”
Items allegedly taken, destroyed The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened a criminal investigation into allegations of wrongdoing by former Sumner County Administrator of Elections Darlean McDougal, a TBI spokeswoman confirmed Monday. Investigators are looking into allegations that McDougal destroyed documents and took items from the election office, said TBI public information officer Kristin Helm. Sumner County District Attorney Ray Whitley requested the investigation after members of the Sumner County Election Commission asked for the probe.
Fred Williams says his business is down about 30 percent since Jan. 1. Things could be worse, though. Williams and his wife, Linda, run Knoxville Cleaners, a Chapman Highway laundry business whose “Go Vols” roadside sign is located just south of the Henley Bridge.
Issue angered some professors Middle Tennessee State University has resolved a contract dispute that briefly put the school in the crosshairs of a national organization of university professors. MTSU unnerved some of its faculty last month by announcing plans to rewrite the contracts for 219 full-time professors who teach on temporary, three-year contracts, off the usual tenure track.
The Tennessee Arts Commission has a new website emphasizing grant applications. The site, http://www.tn.gov/arts , has more than 450 pages with resources that can be accessed through a search engine.
Archivist calls relics ‘priceless’ to historians Archivists from the Tennessee State Library and Archives and State Museum in Nashville came to McKenzie Monday to evaluate Civil War memorabilia such as rifles, photographs, diaries, letters, swords, knives and buttons at the Gordon Browning Museum. “People have brought in so many items today,” said State Library archivist Jami Awalt.
The Tennessee Highway Patrol is displaying blue lights at various offices this month to honor those who have died in the line of duty. Two state troopers have died in 2011 in motorcycle crashes, one of them while on duty.
Nominating commission quizzes candidates on demeanor, temper Tennessee Judicial Nominating Commission members put a premium on civility Monday as they interviewed candidates for what is expected to become a family law judgeship in Nashville. The commission publicly interviewed 10 applicants and voted to recommend Davidson County Juvenile Court Magistrate W. Scott Rosenberg and private attorneys Phillip Robinson and Stanley A. Kweller for the post.
Tennessee lawmakers could tweak how employers pay for workers’ compensation. The head of a Republican task force on economic development says that could save some businesses enough money to add more jobs.
As state legislators prepare to head to Nashville to cut 2012’s state budget pie, Hamilton County officials asked Monday for bigger slices. And if they can’t get more money for schools, jails, roads and law enforcement, Mayor Jim Coppinger is asking that the General Assembly at least refrain from making new regulations without providing the necessary funding for implementing them.
State Rep. Tommie Brown, D-Chattanooga, said Monday she has asked for the City Council to delay a vote on redistricting expected for next week. She said she and other plaintiffs from a case in the 1980s that changed city government want time to look over the redistricting plans.
Shelby County Commissioners approved a flat $650 bonus per county employee Monday, Dec. 5, after a lengthy debate about what to do with $2.5 million of an $8.7 million surplus from the fiscal year that ended June 30. The Luttrell administration had proposed an across the board 1.5 percent bonus for all employees as its first preference.
Extra money will be hitting the paychecks of county government workers in time for Christmas: The Shelby County Commission voted 7-4 on Monday in favor of using part of an unexpected surplus in the county general fund to pay for a flat bonus of about $650 each to county employees. The move is a departure from County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s proposal to give eligible employees a bonus equal to 1.5 percent of their salaries.
The day after the Shelby County Commission considered a one-time bonus for county government employees, the Memphis City Council will talk about a bonus for city employees. The council takes up the item during an 8:30 a.m. committee session Tuesday, Dec. 6, at City Hall, 125 N. Main St. It could be added to the agenda for the full council meeting at 3:30 p.m.
Madison, Gibson, Henderson, Benton counties see some road closures A slow-moving storm front dumped up to 5 inches of rain on parts of West Tennessee on Sunday and Monday, causing some flooding in low-lying areas but no real damage to homes, roads and businesses, according to emergency management officials. Authorities on Monday said they would continue to monitor river and lake flood stages today for more potential flooding. The National Weather Service has issued a flood warning for the South Fork of the Forked Deer River in Jackson until 6 p.m. today.
Police advise Murfreesboro protesters: No camping allowed About two dozen Occupy Murfreesboro protesters were greeted on a rainy Monday night by a visible police presence and portable lights run by generators on the Murfreesboro City Plaza as they protested “corporate greed” and an array of other issues into the late night hours. The heavy presence by the Murfreesboro Police was in response to reports that some Occupy protesters planned to set up an encampment on the plaza, something city authorities have said is illegal under current and long-established city codes, according to MPD spokesman Kyle Evans.
U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker are under pressure from the White House to vote to confirm Richard Cordray as the director of a new federal agency responsible for protecting consumers who deal with the financial industry. The Obama administration said Monday it intends to wage an aggressive public relations campaign to persuade the two Tennessee Republicans and GOP senators from six other states to confirm Cordray as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
Supporters of Weston Wamp gave the 24-year-old Republican challenger more than $250,000 Monday night in the biggest fundraiser ever in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District. “This is the start of a winning congressional campaign,” Wamp told nearly 100 supporters who each donated from $500 to $5,000 to help seed the campaign.
The 3rd District Republican primary may be eight months away, but candidates hoping to unseat Rep. Chuck Fleischmann have said they are ready to begin discussing political issues with the incumbent in a debate setting. Last Saturday, political blogger Joe Lance prompted discussion by saying on Twitter he hoped local organizations would plan a 3rd District debate.
The U.S. Postal Service’s proposal to close 252 mail processing plants, including one on Shallowford Road, likely will have ripple effects in Chattanooga beyond the 110 jobs that could be lost here. With 90,000 to 100,000 pieces of mail sent daily, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is the city’s biggest mailer. Slowing first-class delivery standards, as the postal service has also proposed, would mean the company’s checks, bills and time-sensitive membership information would all be delayed with potentially costly consequences, said Robert Pettway, the insurer’s manager of mail operations.
Jessica Hughes of West Knoxville was at the U.S. Postal Service location on Sutherland Avenue on Monday afternoon, sending off an armful of boxes of homemade cookies to people around the country. Beginning in the spring, the cookies may take longer to reach their destination.
Representatives begin endorsing candidates Next year’s presidential primary, scheduled for March 6, will have 10 names on the ballot for Tennesseans to choose from, and nine are Republicans. In a news release from the Tennessee Department of State, Secretary Tre Hargett announced the candidates scheduled to compete in the elections. Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Buddy Roemer, Mitt Romney, and Rick Santorum make up the GOP field.
As states and cities struggle to resolve paralyzing budget shortfalls by sending workers on unpaid furloughs, freezing salaries and extracting larger contributions for health benefits and pensions, a growing number of public-sector workers are finding fewer reasons to stay. The numbers of retirees are way up in Wisconsin, where more applications to retire have been filed this year than ever before.
Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell unveiled an ambitious plan a year ago to improve his state’s clogged roads and aging sewers and bridges. The Republican governor touted a number of ideas that would put more money toward the problem without raising taxes.
Officials at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge on Tuesday will update the status of East Fork Poplar Creek. The creek, which originates at the complex, had mercury and other contaminants discharged into its shallow waters years ago.
It looked a lot like your typical game of Bingo — though perhaps less exciting. Pulling small cards out of a metal bin, Hamilton County Schools officials held their first-ever live lottery to select students for the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences and the Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. The lottery represents a huge change of course for the CSAS and CSLA admission process, which for years had parents camping in line for weeks to snag a spot in two of the school systems most-popular magnet schools.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday filed an initiative to ask voters to raise state income taxes on the wealthy, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also lays the groundwork for a tax overhaul that may increase revenue from top earners. Mr. Brown’s plan would have Californians voting in November 2012 whether to boost wealthy residents’ income taxes along with raising the state sales tax.
While we are pleased a state Senate task force has taken a proactive stance on keeping the lottery scholarship program funded, we fear members may have jumped the gun in their recent recommendations for tougher standards. We are especially concerned with a Gannett Tennessee report that says the task force recommendations, if approved, will affect mostly African-American students and those who attend classes at Tennessee Board of Regents schools, including MTSU.
If and when MTSU gets a $126 million science building, the old Wiser-Patten and Davis science halls need to be preserved — for science experiments. With labs in Wiser-Patten dating to 1932 and in Davis to 1969, there’s enough goo growing in there to hatch the missing link between dinosaurs and birds, maybe a cure for some dreaded disease.
The state of Tennessee needs to get its house in order on the issue of paying benefits to those who are unemployed. The jump in the state’s unemployment rate during the Great Recession that began officially about four years ago apparently overwhelmed the state’s 40-year-old mainframe computer, one official contends, but surely that reason cannot cover the entire problem.
Do you consider it “progress” if the unemployment rate drops, not necessarily because very many jobs were created but because hundreds of thousands of Americans gave up the job search and therefore were not technically counted by the federal government as “unemployed”? We don’t. In fact, that sounds more like a cynical exercise in numbers charades.
Go ahead and give the workers a bonus. But don’t lose sight of the long-term goal of budget stability. Abracadabra! Just like Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell’s administration, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton’s administration has found enough surplus funds to give city employees a one-time bonus.