This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.
Editorial: State offers zero college tuition for 2015 class (Jackson Sun)
So, you’re sitting in your senior math class wondering what the heck you’re going to do with the rest of your life, or after graduation, or this weekend — or next. Everyone has an idea for the direction of his life, except you. Well, we’re no different, with one exception — we think you should take control of your life. No, we’re not talking about staying up all night and sleeping all day. We’re talking about the Tennessee Promise, which offers two tuition-free years at a community or technical college. That’s two more years to help figure out what makes you tick and to get you pointed toward gainful employment. And you’ll come out with an associate’s degree, which will be transferable to a four-year college. Yes, it’s difficult to think about finally graduating only to take on more courses, more books, more study.
Tennessee Promise program poses challenges to students, colleges (WCYB-TV)
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Promise program into law months ago but now the hard work starts, as students try to register before the November deadline. Tennessee Promise means free tuition for students who want to go to a two-year community college or technical school. College hopefuls gathered in Carter County on Monday night to hear their counselors explain what they need to do to get the scholarship money. “With the glitches in computer systems and everything else we don’t want to wait until the week before the deadline and all of us try to go in at the same time,” said Lisa McGinnis, a counselor at Unaka High School. McGinnis explains students in the Class of 2015 have until November 1st to go online and apply for the program.
Cleared for takeoff (Kingsport Times-News)
Region’s aviation jobs initiative being used to entice aerospace employers to Tennessee The region’s aviation jobs initiative has resulted in a greater effort to make Tennessee a major player in the aerospace industry, Tri-Cities Airport Authority commissioners have been told. Back in late June, Northeast State Community College and Bell Helicopter’s Piney Flats operation rolled out an education collaboration with the intent of helping Bell and other potential aviation employers attract and develop local talent. The move got the attention of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, which is now actively reaching out to other aerospace employers, according toNETWORKS — Sullivan Partnership Chief Executive Officer Clay Walker.
Governor gets report on Tenn. juvenile jails (Associated Press/Johnson)
A security audit will be performed on all three of the state’s youth development centers after a recent breakout and violence at the facility in Middle Tennessee, according to a preliminary report sent to the governor. The Department of Children’s Services sent the report to Gov. Bill Haslam on Friday after 32 teens escaped from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville on the night of Sept 1. Just two nights later, two dozen detainees broke into the yard wielding sticks and spraying a fire extinguisher. “We wanted to give the governor an idea of where things stood,” DCS spokesman Rob Johnson told The Associated Press on Monday.
Governor visits Woodland Hills to assess situation after escape (WKRN-TV)
Governor Bill Haslam visited the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center Monday morning in the wake of a major breakout last week. Press Secretary David Smith told News 2 the governor received a report by DCS Commissioner Jim Henry on the situation. “The [DCS] is working hard at our youth development centers to get the balance right between helping young people to be able to re-enter the community after making bad decisions and making sure the environment and safe and secure for them and others,” Smith said in an email to News 2. “DCS is working with some therapeutic and security experts to make sure we’re getting that balance right,” he added.
DCS chief to talk Woodland Hills riot, escape at forum (Tennessean/Tamburin)
The top executive at Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services is slated to answer questions from the public Tuesday during a community forum addressing the violent riot and escape last week at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center. DCS Commissioner Jim Henry worked with state Sen. Thelma Harper to schedule the forum, which will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Northwest YMCA. Harper said she met with Henry last week for two hours. During the meeting, she relayed the concerns rippling through her constituency after 32 teenage delinquents escaped from the Bordeaux-area lockup on Sept. 1. Five of them remain at large. “The community, they are concerned about what’s going on where they live,” said Harper, D-Nashville. “We’re going to allow (Henry) to tell the community what’s going on.”
TBI: Holly Bobo remains found (Jackson Sun)
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation announced tonight that it has found the partial remains of missing nursing student Holly Bobo. The agency made the announcement at a 10 p.m. news conference at the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department. The development in the case came when two Benton County men found a human skull Sunday morning in the woods along a logging road adjacent to County Corner Road in northern Decatur County. The men notified the Decatur County Sheriff’s Department. who then contacted the TBI. Investigators sent the skull to the TBI forensics lab in Memphis. The lab determined today that the remains were Bobo’s.
Report: TN has high rate of women killed by men (Tennessean/Tamburin)
More women were murdered by men in Tennessee than 40 other states in 2012, giving it one of the nation’s highest rates even though the numbers improved slightly, a new report has found. This year’s edition of the annual “When Men Murder Women” report from the Violence Policy Center puts Tennessee at No. 10 in a ranking of the states. The study is based on 2012 data. Tennessee has been a regular member of the top 10 for the better part of a decade, but this year’s report showed the state’s man-on-woman murder rate drop for the second straight year. It found that 53 women were murdered by men in 2012, down from 59 in 2011 and 62 the year before that.
University of Memphis names new associate dean of nursing school (MBJ)
The University of Memphis has named Jill Oswaks associate dean for academic programs and affairs for the Loewenberg School of Nursing. Oswaks was previously a tenured associate professor and director of the nurse anesthesia program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center. During her time at UTHSC, she designed master’s and doctor of nursing practice curricula for the nurse anesthesia program; developed and implemented the core MSN and DNP curricula; and chaired the accreditation review for the National Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs. She also earned a $3 million grant to help develop the school’s simulation center. The Loewenberg School will be housed in a new $60 million building, which is currently under construction, next year.
UT ‘making progress’ despite drop in ranking (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Boehnke)
When University of Tennessee students couldn’t get into packed chemistry courses, the school spent $200,000 to hire more graduate students to teach lab classes and free up seats for students who needed the class to graduate on time. It was part of the $6.7 million the university has spent over four years to improve bottleneck courses on campus, which itself is an investment in increasing graduation rates. On paper, the move appears to be working: UT raised its four-year rate from 29 percent in 2010 to what they expect to be at least 45 percent this year. Its six-year graduation rates have improved 6 percentage points, and retention rates have gone up 3 percentage points.
MTSU, state agencies partner on communication center (Daily News Journal)
Middle Tennessee State University has provided its expertise and resources to aid the creation of an emergency communications center that the state of Tennessee could use to inform the public and media during a state or local disaster or crisis, according to a news release. The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency unveiled the Multi-Agency Joint Information Center, or MAJIC, during a news conference Monday to kickoff National Preparedness Month at the Tennessee Department of Military-TEMA headquarters on Sidco Drive in Nashville. TEMA partnered with the Tennessee Department of Health and MTSU to develop the center, which will provide live, high-definition satellite video uplinks that government agencies and television stations can use to broadcast.
Johnson City attorney among candidates still in running for AG (Associated Press)
Incumbent Attorney General Bob Cooper on Monday defended his decision not to join a multistate legal challenge to President Barack Obama’s health care law, as Tennessee Supreme Court justices heard candidates make their case for the next state attorney general. The eight candidates spoke at a public hearing and were interviewed by the justices, who will appoint one of them. Tennessee is the only state where the high court appoints the attorney general. A few hours after the hearing, the justices issued a news release saying that six of the candidates, including Cooper, would be moving on to further interviews on Tuesday.
Cooper makes the case to stay on as attorney general (Tennessean/Haas)
Tennessee Attorney General Robert Cooper Jr. made the pitch to keep his job with a full-throated defense of his decision not to join a multistate lawsuit against the Affordable Care Act. He appeared at a public hearing Monday before the Tennessee Supreme Court — the first of its kind — to determine who should head that office for the next eight years. Cooper, whose term is at an end, is one of eight attorneys who applied for the position. He was also the subject of a failed Republican effort to oust three of the five Supreme Court justices in August. Republicans, led in part by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, cited Cooper’s decision to opt out of the ACA lawsuit as proof that the Supreme Court, which appointed Cooper, was too liberal for Tennessee.
Justices plan more interviews for AG; 2 already cut from race (TFP/Sher)
Eight applicants on Monday made public pitches to and fielded questions from Tennessee Supreme Court justices for an appointment to an eight-year term as state attorney general. Justices then went behind closed doors where they struck two of the hopefuls from the list and then announced further “personal” interviews will be held with the remaining six candidates. “This is an impressive group of applicants and an important decision. Therefore, we need to do further interviews of six of the applicants,” said Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee, a Democrat, in a statement. Tennessee is unique among states in that the state’s top attorney is named by the Supreme Court. Current Attorney General Bob Cooper, a 57-year-old Chattanooga native, is seeking reappointment to the post. But there are no guarantees that Cooper will get the nod.
Attorney general applicants face hearing, 2 eliminated (WKRN-TV Nashville)
Eight men who want to be Tennessee’s next Attorney General faced questions Monday in a lengthy hearing before the five state Supreme Court members who will make the appointment, but two have now been eliminated from consideration. On Tuesday, the six will back for what has been termed “personal interviews” with the Supreme Court members. Eliminated were Nashville lawyer William Helou who brought federal judge Thomas Wiseman to support him, and former Chancery Court judge Andrew Tillman of Huntsville, who lost his position in the August election.
Dan Howell sworn in to District 22 seat (Associated Press)
Dan Howell has been sworn in as the new state representative of District 22. Last month, the Bradley County Commission voted for Howell to fill the remaining term of Eric Watson, who was recently elected sheriff of Bradley County. Howell, who has been executive assistant to the county mayor the last five years, won the Republican primary on Aug. 7 and faces no challenge in the Nov. 4 general election for a full term. District 22 covers parts of Bradley County and all of Polk and Meigs counties.
Ramsey, Kelsey push priorities at county GOP lunch (Jackson Sun)
On Monday morning, members of the Madison County Republican Party met at Coyote Blues for lunch and politics. The main item of conversation was electing local businessman Ed Jackson on Nov. 4 to represent District 27 in the state Senate. Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey attended the meeting and endorsed Jackson as his top priority. If Jackson is elected, it will give Republicans a 27-6 lead over Democrats in the Senate. “I like people that have started small businesses, and Ed and his wife (Cheryl) have started two or three small businesses and still run small businesses,” Ramsey said.
Shelby County Democrats nominate Sara Kyle for state Senate seat (CA/Burch)
The Shelby County Democratic Party voted Monday night to put Sara Kyle on the Nov. 4 ballot to finish out her husband’s District 30 state Senate term. Jim Kyle, a 31-year Senate veteran, resigned the seat after he was elected Shelby County Chancery Court judge last month. “The very first thing I want to do is beat the Republican” in the race, Sara Kyle, a former Tennessee Regulatory Authority director, told Democrats gathered at the IBEW Local 474 hall in Midtown to choose a candidate. Her priority after that, Sara Kyle said, is “jobs, jobs, jobs.” She singled out neighborhood initiatives in Frayser and redevelopment of the Raleigh Springs Mall as projects of special interest to her.
Kyle Gets Democratic State Senate Nod (Memphis Daily News)
Shelby County Democratic Party leaders chose former Public Service Commissioner and Tennessee Regulatory Authority Commission Sara Kyle Monday, Sept. 8, as the Democratic nominee for State Senate District 30. The decision by the local party’s executive committee sets up a special general election on the Nov. 4 ballot between Kyle and former Shelby County Commissioner George Flinn, who was chosen by the local Republican Party steering committee last week as the GOP nominee on the ballot. Kyle beat former Democratic State Senator Beverly Marrero by two votes in the balloting among Democratic executive committee members from state House districts that are within the state Senate district.
Appeals court reinstates defamation suit against ousted Tennessee lawmaker (AP)
The state Court of Appeals on Monday reinstated a defamation lawsuit against Republican state Sen. Stacey Campfield for publishing false information on his blog about a Democratic candidate for the state House in 2008. The panel found that the lower court erred in throwing out the $750,000 lawsuit filed by former candidate Roger Byrge last year, and that the case could result in a finding of “actual malice” by Campfield. “Politics may be a rough and tumble endeavor, but, contrary to the vintage Cole Porter song, ‘anything goes’ will not suffice when it comes to publishing factual falsehoods about political rivals,” Judge D. Michael Swiney wrote in the opinion. “A public figure, even a politician, is neither totally immune from nor totally unprotected by the law of defamation.”
Defamation suit against Stacey Campfield revived (Tennessean/Haas)
An appeals court revived a defamation lawsuit against controversial state Rep. Stacey Campfield, who falsely accused a candidate of having a history of drug arrests in 2008. The court on Monday reinstated the suit against the Knoxville Republican, which was filed by former Democratic state House candidate Roger Byrge in 2008. Byrge in his suit argued that Campfield maliciously put out false information on his blog about having “multiple separate drug arrests,” a claim that turned out to be false. Byrge, a Democrat, lost the election and sued Campfield for defamation. When reached by phone Monday, Campfield declined to comment. “I’m not doing any interviews,” he said.
Fueling Film (Memphis Daily News)
FuelFilm, a nonprofit that wants to serve as a launch pad of sorts for independent filmmakers and to kick the Memphis film industry up a notch, is ready for its close-up. The organization has already seen a productive 2014 and is moving forward with big plans for the 5-year-old nonprofit. Already, for example, it’s raised more than $40,000 in outside funding and supported the creation of more than two dozen short films and five features, not to mention the 35 workshops, panels and events it has run. The organization, founded in 2009 and which saw its first full year of programming in 2010, also was just last month among the first graduates of Sky High, one of the new accelerators set up by the Start Co. entrepreneurship entity in Memphis. And there’s still more – big, ambitious plans – to come for FuelFilm.
Health Chief Seeks to Focus on Insurance Site (New York Times)
Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the secretary of Health and Human Services, said Monday in her first major speech that she wanted to move beyond the politics of health care and work with members of both parties to improve the management and operation of HealthCare.gov, the website used by millions of people to sign up for insurance coverage. “What I’ve told my team is that we’re not here to fight last year’s battles,” she said. “We’re here to fight for affordability, access and quality.” With midterm elections two months away, Ms. Burwell said she wanted to shift the conversation to areas of potential agreement. Polls consistently show that the public remains more negative than positive on the Affordable Care Act, but that Americans want Congress to improve the law rather than to repeal it.
TVA recognized nationally for economic development efforts (N-S/Marcum)
For the ninth year in a row, TVA has been picked by Site Selection magazine as one of the nation’s top utilities in terms of economic development. Besides producing power, one of the many other roles the Tennessee Valley Authority plays in the seven-state region it serves is promoting economic development. In announcing its 2013 list of the top utilities that do this, Site Selection noted that TVA efforts with local economic development agencies had helped retain or attract more than 52,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment last year. “TVA is an absolutely critical part of our economic development efforts,” said Doug Lawyer, vice president of economic development with the Knoxville Chamber.
Virginia: After First Plan Blocked, Gov. Reduces Medicaid Expansion Goals (NYT)
After fuming at state lawmakers and threatening unilateral action, Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia took only modest steps on Monday to extend health care to the poor and disabled, retreating on the issue he has chosen to define his first eight months in office. Mr. McAuliffe, who in June ordered his cabinet to devise a plan for unilateral action by Sept. 1, in the face of what he called Republican “demagoguery” and “cowardice,” announced that only 25,000 uninsured Virginians would be receiving coverage, far fewer than the 400,000 he has said are eligible if the state expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.
Columnist: Give parents school choice (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan is on a three-state bus tour in the South this week as part of his annual back-to-school outing. Duncan is making a stop in Chattanooga today to highlight the need to improve educational outcomes for minority students. The secretary is scheduled to address two key initiatives of the Obama administration when it comes to public schools: Race to the Top, which offers more federal funds to the states for accountability initiatives in local school systems, and the newest initiative, “My Brother’s Keeper,” a $200 million program targeted at keeping young, at-risk youth in school so they don’t add to the usual statistics of dropouts in jail, on welfare, unemployed or on the streets.
Columnist: Secretary, please come with me (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
Welcome to Chattanooga, Arne Duncan. Here’s the tour you won’t get. It starts in our public schools, which you aren’t visiting. How strange. You’re the secretary of Education, the White Houser who came from Washington to tour the neighborhood. In Memphis, you’re headed to an elementary school. In Nashville, a middle school. In Atlanta, Booker T. Washington High. But here? Tonight, you’re visiting a preschool, not one of our public schools. That’s cold, Mr. Secretary. Low down and stone cold. Was there no public school you’d want to see? No Hamilton County classroom to tell the rest of America about? Let me tell you what you’re missing. “Lots of discontent. Resignation. Depression. Many teachers will leave this year, including me,” one teacher recently told me.
Columnist: The Myth of ObamaCare’s Affordability (Wall Street Journal)
Whether the Affordable Care Act lives up to its name depends on how, or whether, you consider its consequences for the wider economy. Millions of people pay a significant portion of their income for health insurance so they and their families can get good health care when they need it. The magnitude of their sacrifices demonstrates the importance that people ascribe to health care. The Affordable Care Act attempts to help low- and middle-income families avoid some of the tough sacrifices that would be necessary to purchase health insurance without assistance. But no program can change the fundamental reality that society itself has to make sacrifices in order to deliver health care to more people. Workers and therefore production have to be taken away from other industries to beef up health care, or the workforce itself has to get bigger, or somehow people have to work more productively.