This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Editorial: Education is a way to mitigate income inequality (Commercial Appeal)
No matter how you feel about Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and his efforts to bring economic development opportunities to all parts of the state, it was refreshing earlier this week to hear him tell fellow Republicans they should be concerned about income inequality. The governor, who is up for re-election this year, rightly told members of First Tuesday, a Nashville Republican group, that “growing income inequality” is becoming a political topic across the country. “My point would be, that’s a reality and as Republicans we shouldn’t be denying that …,” he said.
Montgomery Co., CMCSS officials to launch ‘TNAchieves’ for local education (L-C)
Some key community stakeholders heard Friday afternoon about a plan to secure Montgomery County’s commitment in a state-level education mentoring program, “TNAchieves.” In an organizational and orientation session at the Greenwood Complex, County Mayor Carolyn Bowers and Schools Director B.J. Worthington jointly demonstrated their commitment to it. Bowers said the goal is to recruit at least 200 mentors locally. “I’m excited about this program. We need everyone to apply by Oct. 1.
Sweet taste of success: State official proclaims Ridgewood Tenn.’s best BBQ (JCP)
Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Bill Hagerty rolled up his sleeves Friday and got down to the dirty business of promoting the state’s native businesses. In from Nashville, he stopped by Bluff City to sample Ridgewood Barbecue and bestow the 66-year-old eatery with the title of Best Barbecue in Tennessee, which it won through an overwhelming response on an online poll posted to the state agency’s Facebook page. “We wanted to generate interest in entrepreneurial activity, and what better way to do that than visiting this three-generation family business right here?”
‘Career Coaches’ Targeting Rural County Unemployment (WSMV-TV Nashville)
Tennessee’s current unemployment rate mirrors the national average of 6.3 percent. Both figures have been improving, but the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development is trying to make the number even lower. Now they’re taking help on the road. “Career Coaches,” or vehicles that create a career center on wheels, aren’t new, but they are headed to new places across the state this summer. “You get to see everything from the big cities to every small town in between,” said Director of Grants and Special Projects Nicholas Bishop who drove through Thursday’s bad weather to Dickson County.
Carroll County residents clean up after Thursday’s flooding (Jackson Sun)
Her whole life was washed away during Thursday’s storms in McKenzie. So Ruth Sanchez ended up spending her Friday afternoon picking up the pieces and trying to save what she could after her storage unit at South Main Storage flooded with about 3 feet of water. “Here’s a picture of my son’s family,” she said, holding up the soaking wet portrait. “Hopefully I can hang these up and they’ll dry off.” Sanchez said while her home and vehicles were spared, everything else she had was gone. “My whole life is right here,” she said, motioning to her now-empty storage unit and holding back tears. Wet papers lay in one pile, furniture in another, antiques in a third. She had dry cardboard boxes ready to move anything that wasn’t destroyed, though more than half of it was.
Report: No evidence of inappropriate relationships by director (N-S/Boehnke)
After 13 months and a $66,015.50 investigation, a private firm hired by the University of Tennessee found no evidence that a former director of judicial affairs had inappropriate relationships with student-athletes. Jenny Wright, did, however, have a brief relationship with an athletics department employee who she said later threatened her job and questioned how she adjudicated disciplinary cases against athletes, according to the report. “If you’re in Knoxville long enough, you hear these rumors about Athletics running things, but if you read that report, certainly it doesn’t paint them in a very good light,” said Robert Kurtz, Wright’s attorney.
Tennessee House task force will look at VA (Tennessean/Sisk)
A top Republican in the state legislature will chair a task force to investigate services for military veterans in Tennessee. State Rep. Curtis Johnson, a Clarksville Republican and the House’s speaker pro tempore, will lead a group of five representatives asked to look into the impact on Tennessee of problems within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. House Speaker Beth Harwell said the committee was prompted by data obtained by USA Today that show veterans face an average wait of 65 days to see a physician at facilities in Nashville and Murfreesboro. The goal is 14 days.
Petition drive to be uncorked Monday (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sher)
Attention registered voters in Chattanooga who would like to buy wine in local food stores. Beginning next week, a coalition of grocery and convenience stores will start looking for at least 3,865 of you willing to slap your name on a petition putting the issue up for a referendum vote on the Nov. 4 ballot. The group Red White and Food plans to kick off the wine-in-grocery voter petition drives in five Tennessee cities, including Chattanooga, on Monday. State House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who backed this year’s landmark change in state law opening the door to letting voters decide the issue locally, will join Brenda Reid, media relations manager for Publix, at a news conference.
Effort begins to get wine sales referendum on November ballot (N-S/Marcum)
An organization pushing for wine sales in Tennessee grocery stores officially kicks off its petition drive Monday, but petitions with hundreds of signatures have already been submitted to the Knox County Election Commission. In March, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a bill that would allow wine sales in retail food stores by local referendum. The Tennessee Grocers & Convenience Store Association has formed the nonprofit Red White and Food coalition to lead a statewide referendum campaign in support of wine sales in food stores. Food City seems to be leading the charge in Knox County, and at 10 a.m.
Petition drives for wine in food stores launch in Memphis Monday (CA/Locker)
The petition drive for local referendums on wine sales in food stores launches Monday in Memphis but with a new twist: Election officials say there must be separate votes in each Shelby County city and in the unincorporated areas of the county if supporters want wine sales there. Throughout the state legislative process that led to passage of the wine-in-food-stores law this year, lobbyists and advocates pushing the bill said they believed the bill allowed a single countywide vote in Shelby because liquor stores and liquor-by-the-drink are legal countywide.
Thanks to loophole, Whole Foods already selling wine in Tennessee (N. Biz Journal)
By the time Gov. Bill Haslam had signed the wine-in-grocery-stores bill, Whole Foods had been selling wine in Memphis for a little more than two months and in Nashville for even longer. The grocery chain found a loophole in the controversial Tennessee law prohibiting the sale of wine in grocery stores: In Memphis, they opened The BBQ Shack, an i n-house restaurant at the city’s new whole foods. The loophole is known as “cork and carry.” A restaurant – including ones in grocery stores – can sell wine bottles that have been uncorked and tasted to customers with a grocery or restaurant food item on their ticket.
Nashville won’t pursue Democratic convention (Tennessean/Cass)
Nashville has decided not to bid for the 2016 Democratic convention, a spokeswoman for the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. said late Friday night. “Due to a significant volume of booked business, Nashville has respectfully withdrawn from the bidding process for the DNC Convention,” Andrea Arnold wrote in an email to The Tennessean. Arnold said the decision was made in the past two weeks. Nashville made the Democratic Party’s short list of 15 cities in April, alongside places such as Chicago, New York, Miami and Las Vegas.
Nashville submits bid to host NHL All-Star Game for 2016-19 (Tennessean/Cass)
Nashville and Bridgestone Arena have submitted a bid to host the National Hockey League All-Star Game in 2016, 2017, 2018 or 2019, a top arena executive told Metro Council members. Sean Henry, chief operating officer of the arena and its main tenant, the Nashville Predators, said Thursday that the bid was submitted this week. “We’re pretty optimistic that we’re going to have one in the very near future,” Henry said during a budget hearing for the Metro Sports Authority. “We should be hearing some positive news, I think, in the next few weeks.”
UAW says it’s changing tactics to organize Chatt’s Volkswagen plant (TFP/Pare)
The United Auto Workers is re-thinking its tactics to organize workers at Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant and at other foreign carmakers’ factories, but an anti-union group said the UAW hasn’t given employees a compelling reason to join. “That’s why, even with VW’s assistance, they still lost the vote even after reportedly spending $5 million on the Chattanooga organizing drive,” said Patrick Semmens, a National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation vice president. VW workers voted in February by a 53 percent to 47 percent margin against aligning with the UAW.