This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Gov. Bill Haslam visited the Celebration on Sunday night and was honored at center ring.State Rep. Pat Marsh and Celebration CEO Dr. Doyle Meadows presented the governor with a tri-colored ribbon. Ring announcer Bobby Sands, in announcing the presentation, indicated that Haslam had helped the walking horse industry by passing along some of its concerns to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack. The governor plans to attend the Republican National Convention later this week in Tampa, Fla.
Hamilton County Schools’ special education department has saved more than $1 million over the last three years by seeking TennCare reimbursement for some of the services provided to special education students. Only certain services for qualified students can be billed to TennCare, but school officials say the $1.3 million they have received helps them provide more services to more students. “We’ve got a growing number of students requiring these services,” said Margaret Abernathy, director of exceptional education.
On a sunny afternoon just down the street from Wisdom Avenue, past elegant double-globed streetlights and large manicured lawns, about 65 students with help from parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters were moving into tidy apartments on the edge of an athletic field. Friday was move-in day at Oxley Commons on the campus of the former Lambuth University, which has been undergoing rapid change for the past year as the Lambuth Campus of the University of Memphis. “This will be my first time moving in, and I’m really nervous,” said Hanna Bauman, a 22-year-old education major in her third year at the school.
Commissioners to discuss Belle Morris precinct closure A couple of Knox County commissioners today plan to push a proposal to reinstate Belle Morris Elementary School as a voting precinct in the November election, although they don’t think they’ll have much success. Still, the commission’s two Democrats say it’s worth a try, even if the board has no authority over the Knox County Election Commission. “All I’m doing is respectfully requesting that they reopen it,” said Commissioner Amy Broyles, who is sponsoring the resolution that officials will discuss during today’s commission luncheon and possibly during the panel’s voting session.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation announced plans Sunday to sue the Memphis City Council over the opening prayer said before each meeting, calling it an unconstitutional breach of the separation of church and state. Dan Barker, co-president of the Wisconsin-based organization, announced the decision in a speech before about 100 people at the Memphis public library Sunday. “There are cities all over the country that are opening meetings with prayers. Most of the time, it’s sectarian, which means to Jesus,” Barker said.
Donors may top 2008 mark of $36.78 million The last two months before an election are the “most intense part of the campaign for sure,” said Bob Biersack, spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, a watchdog group that specializes in tracking political dollars. Already, $29.15 million has flowed from individuals in Tennessee to 2012 presidential and congressional campaigns nationwide, as well as to political parties, political action committees and outside groups such as “Super PACs,” according to the center’s breakdown of Federal Election Commission records.
The prospect of a major storm blowing through the Gulf of Mexico toward New Orleans upset the tight choreography of the Republican convention on Sunday, straining the party’s highly scripted plans for showcasing Mitt Romney and raising the possibility that news media attention could shift elsewhere. With the Tropical Storm Isaac now forecast to roar northwest past Tampa on Monday and Tuesday, officials scrambled to reconfigure what had been a four-night schedule into three and to make contingency plans for further changes.
Paul Boyd concedes that winning minority voters for this year’s Republican presidential ticket might be tough. But he remains optimistic for his party. “It’s difficult when you’re running against the very first African-American president,” the Tennessee delegate said. “But I think there will be a tremendous emphasis on outreach going forward.” The GOP will try to showcase its diversity at this week’s Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., an effort cynics may call window dressing but that some Republicans hope signals greater strides in the future.
Mitt Romney’s Republican National Convention sputters to life with the lonely banging of a gavel in a mostly empty hall, hardly the opening splash intended for the nation. With a sprawling and strengthening storm bearing down on the region, the party hastily rewrote the convention script to present the extravaganza’s prime rituals and headline speakers later in the week — Tropical Storm Isaac willing. Nothing was certain Monday as the storm carved an unpredictable path toward the Gulf of Mexico, forcing planners to compress four days of events into three and otherwise improvise.
Let the infomercial begin. Mid-South delegates and alternates to the Republican Party’s National Convention are here to nominate Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan this week, and to have some fun on the side. “The Big Guava,” as it’s known, hosts the 40th GOP confab showcasing such GOP luminaries as keynote speaker New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. The convention was scheduled to start Monday but has been delayed until Tuesday and will last only three days because of Tropical Storm Isaac.
Having mistimed my ride to the airport for a non-stop Memphis-to-Tampa flight on Delta — partly because of a monsoon that camp u of a sudden, harbinger of all the hurricane talk dominating the news this weekend (and partly because , let’s face it, I am no stranger to missing flights, especially morning ones), I am sitting in the Atlanta airport on a Saturday evening, waiting for a connect to Tampa that will get me there, the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, relatively late in the evening.
Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations. And raise the retirement age, if you have to. Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them. Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation’s largest federal program. Social Security is facing serious long-term financial problems. When given a choice on how to fix them, 53 percent of adults said they would rather raise taxes than cut benefits for future generations, according to the poll.
Pollution controls will greatly cut emissions The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to spend as much as $1 billion at the Gallatin Fossil Plant by 2017 by installing a series of pollution controls designed to reduce harmful emissions by as much as 95 percent. Without the changes, the plant probably won’t meet future U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules and would have to shut down, said Scott Hadfield, Gallatin plant manager. The Gallatin Fossil Plant burns 13,000 tons of coal a day and produces enough electricity to power the equivalent of 300,000 homes.
Back to school is not just for kids, parents, teachers and school staffs. It’s also for corporate leaders and business owners, especially for those who are BEST Partners to the schools. BEST stands for Business and Education Serving Together, said Sherry Crye, workforce development director for the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce and BEST Partners coordinator. The new school year starts with 43 business partners in 27 schools, including the privately operated Montessori School and Tennessee Christian schools, she said.
They could have helped thousands of poor, disabled Tennesseans find a clean, safe place to live. But they didn’t. They could have held a public hearing to find out what it’s like to become homeless or be forced into a nursing home because there’s nowhere else to live. But they didn’t. They could have brought between $2 million and $12 million you’ve paid in federal taxes back to Tennessee to help those who need help the most. But they didn’t. The state’s housing agency turned down a chance to apply, citing a bunch of bureaucratic gobbledygook. Now it’s too late. The deadline was July 31.
Excepting a handful of races for seats in the state Legislature, there’s really no mystery or excitement about the outcome of Tennessee elections this fall. Republicans, yawn, win. This leaves the state’s political junkies to focus on a) that handful of legislative races; b) speculation about how really big the GOP glory/Democratic debacle will be, and c) all the Republican infighting that will ensue after the elections. Briefly, on those three matters: The outlines of broad strategies of the Republican and Democratic parties seem to be emerging in August. No surprise on the Republican front: All Democrats are the same as President Barack Obama, just as in the past couple of election years.
The recent announced departure of Tom Kilgore as president and chief executive officer of the Tennessee Valley Authority highlights a problem with the agency’s board of directors that needs to be addressed before the end of the year. The TVA board, expanded to nine members a few years ago, has three positions unfilled. Two directors are serving beyond the expiration of their terms but only until the current session of Congress ends later this year. If there is no change by the end of the year, the federal utility will enter 2013 with a four-member board — only one more than the three called for in the original TVA Act. To his credit, Kilgore said he would remain until a successor is hired.
For the last three years, the federal government has been in mad pursuit of green energy alternatives to redefine our economy and improve job markets. In the process, billions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on green energy companies that didn’t produce reliable alternative energy resources, economic growth or new jobs. Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued thousands of pages of regulations that threaten existing energy producers with catastrophic fines and industry-killing regulations that smother the U.S. economy and force energy prices higher. Among these are regulations that are shutting down on coal-fired power facilities because power companies cannot afford compliance costs.