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Cooper Congratulates Nashville Attorney on Nomination for Federal Judgeship

Press release from U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Tenn. 05; February 4, 2015:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper (TN-05) on Wednesday praised the news that President Obama has nominated a celebrated Nashville attorney for a federal judgeship in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee.

“Out of an outstanding field of candidates, President Obama is nominating a first-rate local attorney and community leader,” Cooper said. “Waverly Crenshaw will make a fine federal judge. I just hope the Senate confirms him quickly because he is needed on the bench now.”

Crenshaw proudly calls himself “a product of the desegregated Nashville public school system.” A graduate of McGavock Comprehensive High School, Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Law School, Crenshaw joined Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis in 1990, becoming the firm’s first African-American attorney. He made partner, started an expansive mentoring program and served on the firm’s Diversity Committee.

Crenshaw has handled cases for clients in multiple industries, including health care, retail, manufacturing, transportation, communications, hospitality, education, public utilities and more.

Rep. Clemmons to Help Distribute Free Smoke-Alarms in W. Nashville Jan. 19

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; January 15, 2015:

Free smoke-alarms to be distributed on January 19th from 9:00 am-2:00 pm

Nashville, TN – The State Fire Marshal’s Office has partnered with the Red Cross and HCA to host a “Get Alarmed Tennessee” event in The Nations neighborhood of west Nashville on Monday, January 19th from 9:00am-2:00pm. On the upcoming Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, state Representative John Ray Clemmons and approximately 150 volunteers will be going door-to-door to install smoke-alarms, check existing fire detection equipment and help create fire escape plans for homeowners.

“I greatly appreciate the State Fire Marshal’s Office, Red Cross and HCA for their efforts to make the hard-working families of The Nations safer in their own homes,” said state Representative John Ray Clemmons. “By teaming with the state and the Red Cross on this life-saving program, HCA has again demonstrated its value to our community and its commitment to being a responsible corporate citizen. I encourage all residents to welcome the volunteers into their homes to provide and install these life-saving devices free of charge,” Clemmons added.

“Get Alarmed” is a smoke-alarm distribution program that involves volunteers canvasing high risk fire areas in order to install smoke detectors at no cost to the homeowner. So far, 68,847 alarms have been distributed through partnerships with nearly 400 fire departments and organizations across the state. Those alarms have saved a total of 73 lives and the number continues to grow as smoke-alarms continue to be distributed statewide at an average rate of 331 alarms per week.

State Representative John Ray Clemmons represents District 55 in the Tennessee House of Representatives. To contact Representative Clemmons about this program or any other matter, please call (615) 741-4410 or send an email to rep.john.ray.clemmons@capitol.tn.gov.

Harper, DCS Chief to Hold Forum on Woodland Hills Escape

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; September 5, 2014:

NASHVILLE – State Sen. Thelma Harper and Department of Children’s Services Commissioner Jim Henry will host a community forum to discuss public safety concerns following the escape of 32 teens from the Woodland Hills Youth Development Center.

“We want to be sure that we are doing everything we can at Woodland Hills to ensure not just the well-being of the young men in custody, but also safety of the neighbors who are concerned by recent events,” state Sen. Thelma Harper said.

Commissioner Jim Henry will answer questions from members of the community.

“We want the neighbors to be safe, and we want them to understand the work we do,” Commissioner Henry said. “It is just as important for us to hear what the neighbors have to say.”

The event will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9 at the Northwest YMCA at 3700 Ashland City Highway.

Haslam, General Assembly Speakers to Convene Education Summit in Nashville

Press release from the office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; September 2, 2014:

Review of Tennessee’s progress, update on current status and discussion on future success

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam joined Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and House Speaker Beth Harwell today to announce that key stakeholders of K-12 education from across the state will come together in Nashville on Thursday, September 18 for Tennessee’s Education Summit: Progress of the Past, Present and Future.

“There is nothing more important to the future of our state than getting education right,” Haslam said. “We are making historic progress in Tennessee, and as part of that progress there has been a lot of change and discussion. This is a chance to review where we’ve been, take a look at where we are today, and make sure we’re planning for where we want to go.”

“The progress our state has made in education over the past few years has been nothing short of remarkable. As the cause of reform continues, it is important to take stock and reflect on our past successes with an eye towards mapping our future progress,” Ramsey said. “It is now more important than ever to ensure we provide our students with a strong, world-class education rooted in Tennessee values. I look forward to this opportunity to listen, learn and discuss how Tennessee can build on its historic gains in education.”

“We need to ensure that Tennessee students are getting the very best education possible, so that they can compete on the global stage,” Harwell said. “One of the most important things we can do as policymakers is facilitate discussions with those stakeholders who are working with our children every day, and determine what progress we have made, and where we can do better. We have made significant progress, but there is more that can be done.”

Participants of the meeting will be educators, administrators, elected officials, business leaders, higher education officials and representatives from advocacy groups including the following:

Achievement School District
Drive to 55 Alliance
Professional Educators of Tennessee
State Collaborative on Reforming Education
Superintendent Study Council
Teach Plus
Tennessee Association for Administrators in Special Education
Tennessee Association of Colleges for Teacher Education
Tennessee Board of Regents
Tennessee Business Roundtable
Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Tennessee Charter School Center
Tennessee County Services Association
Tennessee Department of Education
Tennessee Education Association
Tennessee Higher Education Commission
Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association
Tennessee Municipal League
Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents
Tennessee Parent-Teacher Association
Tennessee Principals Association
Tennessee School Boards Association
Tennessee State Board of Education
University of Tennessee

Four senators appointed by Ramsey and five House members appointed by Harwell will also participate in the summit.

Haslam Announces AIG Expansion, Relocation in Nashville

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; September 2, 2014:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and AIG officials announced today the company will expand its Davidson County operations by developing headquarters for the marketing and distribution of financial products related to life insurance.

The expansion will add approximately 200 new jobs over the next three years.

“We want to thank AIG for its continued investment in Tennessee and the jobs they are creating in Davidson County,” Haslam said. “We remain focused not only on recruiting new businesses to the state but also helping our existing industries continue to grow here. Today’s announcement is another step toward our goal to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee has attracted some of the world’s largest corporations to our state, and it’s reassuring to know that our state’s business-friendly environment and quality workforce can aid in their growth and success,” Hagerty said. “AIG is a globally recognized, thriving company and with clients in more than 130 countries worldwide, I am pleased to see that AIG has chosen to expand its Tennessee operations.”

In order to accommodate the expansion, AIG’s life insurance organization plans to relocate operations in 2016 to a new facility that will be built at 340 Seven Springs Way in Nashville. The new jobs will include financial advisory roles as well as training and operations positions.

“At AIG’s life insurance division, we offer a variety of best-in-class products and services to secure the livelihoods of everyday Americans, allowing them not only to retire with dignity and send their kids to college, but also helping protect them against bad things when they happen,” said John B. Deremo, Executive Vice President and Chief Distribution Officer, Life Insurance, AIG Financial Distributors. “We are excited that our new location within a new office building will provide more space as well as more amenities for our current and future employees so that they can better serve our customers.”

“AIG is an excellent and well-respected corporate citizen in Tennessee, and I am pleased they have chosen to expand their existing operations here,” Speaker Beth Harwell said. “I congratulate the company on this latest success and thank them for the new, quality jobs created for our citizens.”

“Companies like AIG are choosing Nashville to consolidate their operations based on the strength of our workforce, the low cost of doing business here and the area’s high quality of life,” Mayor Dean said. “I thank AIG for expanding in Nashville, which further demonstrates the vibrancy of our city as an attractive place for quality jobs.”

“It is a testament to our region’s economic strength that AIG has chosen Nashville as the best place to grow their operations,” Courtney Ross, chief economic development officer for the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “The thriving economy of the Nashville region and our skilled workforce creates a perfect environment for AIG’s continued success.”

“TVA and NES congratulate AIG on its plans to expand operations and create more jobs in Nashville,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are proud to be partners with the State of Tennessee, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to help Nashville area companies grow and offer new job opportunities.”

AIG regularly explores real estate options to ensure that the organization is effectively utilizing locations and providing employees with modern, state-of-the art office space. AIG is committed to making the relocation as quickly and professionally as possible, while taking great care that the important day-to-day business is not disrupted and that service to AIG customers continues seamlessly.

To find out more about AIG, or to apply, please visit www.aig.com/careers.

Long-lost McGavock Civil War Diary Returned to Tennessee

Press release from the Tennessee Secretary of State; August 19, 2014:

The long-lost diary of a prominent Nashvillian has been returned to Tennessee by a California woman. Andrea Shearn, a retired science teacher, found the diary while helping her parents move into an assisted living facility.

Shearn found the diary in a wooden box on a closet shelf in Cincinnati, where her grandmother had evidently put it in 1963. Neither Shearn nor her parents realized it was there.

Examining the diary, Shearn learned that it had belonged to R.W. McGavock, a Confederate officer with beautiful handwriting. Under McGavock’s name was written: “Captured at Ft. Henry Stewart Co. Middle Tennessee Feb 6th 1862 by Capt. M Wemple Co H 4th Ill Vol Cav Presented to Ms. Lue Wemple.”

Delving into her own genealogy, Shearn discovered that Capt. Myndert Wemple of Illinois was her ancestor. He evidently found the diary after McGavock and his troops evacuated Fort Henry in a battle that was a disaster for the Confederates. Wemple’s descendants preserved the diary and handed it down through the family for the next 100 years, until it disappeared into that closet in Cincinnati.

Shearn transcribed the diary, becoming ever more interested in the writer and his experiences. She was surprised to learn that Randal McGavock was a Harvard-educated lawyer who was elected mayor of Nashville at the age of 32. He was a lieutenant colonel of the 10th Tennessee Regiment of the Confederate Army.

Shearn got in touch with State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill.

“This nice lady from California called and said, ‘I wonder if anyone in Tennessee would be interested in this diary,’” Sherrill recalls. “When she told me it was Randal McGavock’s diary, my first thought was to fly to California and get it before it disappeared again.”

Sherrill and others at the State Library and Archives had long been aware of Randal McGavock and his diaries, as eight volumes of his diary have been housed at there since 1960.

“We had this great set of diaries, but the volume from the beginning of the Civil War was missing,” he said.

Shearn eventually flew to Nashville to visit Two Rivers Mansion, Carnton and other sites associated with Randal McGavock and his family. She and her husband brought the diary with them and generously donated it to the archives.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said: “We are extremely grateful to Andrea Shearn for returning this diary to Tennessee. I know that scholars and McGavock descendants will enjoy the opportunity to read it and fill in the blanks in this soldier’s history.”

Nation’s Governors Convene Meeting in Nashville

Press release from the National Governors Association; July 9, 2014:

WASHINGTON—Governors from across the country will gather in Nashville, Tennessee, July 10-13, for the National Governors Association (NGA) Summer Meeting to discuss innovative work in states in several areas, including education, workforce, health care, veterans and jobs. Through NGA, governors share best practices, speak with a collective voice on national policy and develop innovative solutions that improve state government and support the principles of federalism.

“I am honored to host the nation’s governors in Nashville, Tennessee,” said Host Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. “NGA meetings bring us together to consider the important issues facing our states, hear new ideas and share best practices. I look forward to a great weekend of substantive conversation as well as the chance to showcase Tennessee and all we have to offer to my colleagues.”

The Summer Meeting business sessions officially begin Friday, July 11, with a news conference at which the NGA chair, vice chair and host governor will highlight the weekend’s events and governors’ collective priorities. Governors will then be joined at the opening session by the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden.

Following the opening session, the Economic Development and Commerce Committee will go over actions states can take to help small and medium-sized businesses create jobs and grow state economies. Concurrently, the Education and Workforce Committee will convene to talk about the role of education in economic development. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is the featured guest of that committee.

Saturday morning begins with a meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee, where governors will explore the changing health care landscape with a panel of experts and industry leaders. Saturday’s special session will highlight Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin’s Chair’s Initiative, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs.

The initiative is about making significant improvements to education systems and workforce training programs to better align them with the needs of business and labor markets. It focuses on ensuring that a new generation of workers can secure good jobs with living wages and access to a middle-class lifestyle. Governors will be joined at this session by Stephen J. Rohleder, Accenture group chief executive, North America.

“This work is essential to ensuring a bright future for our children and strengthening our state economies,” said Gov. Fallin. “Part of that is establishing a ‘new minimum’ for economic success: either a two-year or four-year college degree or relevant workforce certification. Without some kind of postsecondary education, a majority of our children and working adults will find it hard to achieve the American Dream and access a fulfilling middle-class life or beyond.”

Saturday afternoon, the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee will discuss employing the nation’s veterans. This session will provide governors an opportunity to share strategies for easing servicemember transition to civilian employment and strengthening the state partnership with key federal agencies and private-sector employers to put veterans on a path toward meaningful employment and long-term success.

Concurrently, the Natural Resources Committee will evaluate critical questions about the nation’s electric grid and integrate state solutions into the national conversation about electric grid modernization.

Official business will conclude on Sunday with a closing session on the future of Main Street. Governors will be joined by Best Buy President and Chief Executive Officer Hubert Joly.

“The Summer Meeting brings governors together in a unique forum to engage in a dialogue about important issues affecting our states,” said NGA Vice Chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. “As governors, we face many similar challenges and can learn a great deal from each other’s experiences. I look forward to continuing these valuable conversations with my colleagues.”

Throughout the meeting, governors will attend “governors-only” sessions, which provide an opportunity to exchange ideas about challenges facing states in a private, off-the-record setting. Governors also will recognize their outgoing colleagues and NGA Corporate Fellows who are marking 20 and 25 years of membership. The Summer Meeting will conclude with a welcome to incoming NGA Chair, Gov. Hickenlooper, and the incoming vice chair, who will be announced at the meeting. In addition, Gov. Hickenlooper will unveil his 2014-2015 Chair’s Initiative.

Odom Praises Nashville Police Chief for Addressing Domestic Violence Issues

Press release from the Tennessee House Democratic Caucus; June 18, 2014: 

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – State Representative Gary Odom (D-Nashville) has released the following statement praising Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson for his work in trying to protect victims of domestic violence and exposing problems in the courts:

“I want to thank Chief Anderson for exposing serious problems in a system that is supposed to protect domestic violence victims. Nashvillians all over have had their faith in the justice system of our city shaken after seeing the utter failure the court to protect victims of domestic violence.

“While I fully support the efforts by Judge Higgins and Chief Anderson to address these problems internally, we have to do everything in our power to ensure that this behavior does not happen again. I am working now on legislation that will take the discretion to release domestic abusers early from the hands of judges and require that those arrested for domestic violence serve a mandatory 12 hour cooling-off period with no exceptions. I pledge to introduce that legislation before the start of session next year.

“Victims of domestic violence all too often live in a state of constant fear. It is sickening that this court has failed to do everything in its power to ensure that no harm would come of a woman brave enough to stand up to her attacker and call the police.

“I am proud to stand with Chief Anderson and promise to support him in whatever way I can to restore confidence in our criminal justice system.”

Throughout his career, ensuring the safety of domestic violence victims has been a priority of Rep. Odom’s. This year, he co-sponsored the “Survivor’s Safety Bill,” which requires persons convicted of a second, third, or subsequent domestic assault involving bodily injury to serve the minimum sentence day for day and consecutively.

In addition, Rep. Odom has sponsored legislation to require the Administrative Office of the Courts to keep statistics on domestic violence, require that orders of protection be entered in the Tennessee Crime Information System, and worked to prohibit the disclosure and identification of domestic violence shelter locations in the service of process and court proceedings.

Nashville Council Approves $500K Film Incentive Package for ABC’s ‘Nashville’

Press release from Tennessee Watchdog; September 11, 2013:

Spoiler alert! Nashville officials finalize taxpayer money for ABC series

NASHVILLE — If you attended Tuesday’s Nashville Metro Council meeting hoping for a debate on whether government has a rightful place subsidizing ABC’s “Nashville” with taxpayer money, you left disappointed.

If, however, you attended the meeting hoping for spoilers resolving last May’s season-ending cliffhanger, you got precisely what you wanted.

As expected, the 40 council members unanimously rubber stamped Mayor Karl Dean’s plan to give half a million dollars in taxpayer money to the network series, in exchange for it to continue filming on location.There was no vigorous debate, despite an earlier promise from council member Ronnie Steine, who co-sponsored the resolution.

In fact, Steine introduced the resolution and got passage in fewer than three minutes. A star-struck Steine giddily talked about lead actress Connie Britton, who plays Rayna James. In the first season’s cliffhanger, Britton’s character wrecked her car, leaving it unclear whether she would survive.

“I don’t think we can get a bigger bang for our buck. Just as a spoiler alert, as it pertains to downtown filming for those who watch regularly, apparently Rayna James did survive,” said Steine, eliciting intense laughter among the council.

As Tennessee Watchdog previously reported, state officials already gave the show’s second season $12.5 million in taxpayer money as long as it filmed on location. Dean, meanwhile, promised taxpayer money for the same purpose — but he made the promise before he could finalize it.

As series Executive Producer Steve Buchanan said at a Budget and Finance Committee meeting this week, the season’s fifth episode is already filming in the city.

At that meeting, committee members’ only concerns involved how best to verify that a majority of episodes are filmed on location, as promised, and whether the show’s security and catering vendors are based in Nashville.

About 6.5 million people watch the show every week. Steine and other city officials believe the show will lure tourists, thus paying off with increased economic benefits.

Buchanan told Tennessee Watchdog he’s not sure what the show would have done had council members decided against subsidizing it.

“This particular request comes from the studios — Lionsgate. The studios are the ones paying for the production. I can’t answer your question. That is for the studio to answer,” Buchanan said.

Calls seeking comment from the Los Angeles-based Lionsgate Studios were not returned.

Contact Christopher Butler at chris@tennesseewatchdog.org.

Haslam Announces UBS to Establish Shared Services Center in Nashville

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; August 28, 2013:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean along with UBS officials announced today the company will establish a shared services center in Nashville. The announcement, representing a $36.5 million investment by the company, will create 1,000 new jobs over the next five years.

“It is exciting that UBS – one of the world’s largest banking and financial services companies – is making this significant investment in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “We are grateful for the high quality Tennessee jobs the company is creating. Companies can choose to do business anywhere in the world, and it says a lot for Tennessee and Nashville that UBS wants to be here.”

“Tennessee’s No. 1 ranking for job growth in the Southeast is only further enhanced by the added momentum of today’s 1,000 job announcement,” Hagerty said. “Our internationally competitive state provides global companies like UBS with an ideal location, a skilled workforce and attractive business climate which, in turn, allows companies to offer high-wage employment opportunities to Tennesseans. I appreciate UBS’ further investment in our state’s robust business services sector and congratulate the company on its latest success.”

UBS currently provides operations support in Nashville through over 200 employees in addition to its full service Wealth Management office. The new UBS Nashville Business Solutions Center will offer expanded business services in support of their wealth management and investment banking divisions.

“Expanding our presence in Nashville is the right business decision for UBS,” Kathleen Lynch, chief operating officer, UBS Group Americas and Wealth Management Americas, said. “The new UBS Nashville Business Solutions Center is part of our global strategy to continuously improve our efficiency and effectiveness for the benefit of our clients and shareholders.”

“The decision by UBS to bring 1,000 quality jobs to Nashville speaks to the skilled workforce in our area and the high quality of life here,” Mayor Dean said. “I welcome UBS’ Shared Services Center to Nashville and am proud that our city is increasingly being recognized as the premier location for global companies to centralize their operations.”

“A $36.5 million investment and the creation of 1,000 new jobs is outstanding news for Tennessee,” U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said. “I want to thank UBS and its employees for their commitment to the Nashville area and congratulate them on their latest success.” Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee, added, “Governor Haslam and his economic development team continue to attract high quality jobs to Tennessee, and I could not be more proud to join them in welcoming UBS to Nashville.”

“We are excited that UBS has chosen to expand in the Nashville region,” Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ralph Schulz said. “As a financial services industry leader, UBS is creating high‐quality jobs as well as making a significant investment in our region. Our team looks forward to continuing to support the company’s workforce needs as it grows.”

“Congratulations to UBS on their continuing growth and announcement to expand in Nashville,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA is privileged to be an economic development partner with the State of Tennessee, Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Nashville Downtown Partnership to assist new investments and job creation by global companies like UBS.”