July 19 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of political headlines assembled from Tennessee news organizations by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Haslam summer tour taps voter interests, concerns (Associated Press/Schelzig)

Bill Haslam has ramped up his travel schedule now that the legislative session is over, attending ribbon-cutting events, delivering grant checks and discussing education policy over pizza. The crowds attending his events have been overwhelmingly supportive of the first-year Republican governor, but Haslam says the trips aren’t meant to be a reprise of last year’s campaign — or a victory lap around the state.

TN to provide grants for local planning (Tennessean/Sisk)

Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration will give $1 million in grants to small towns that no longer receive local planning help from the state Department of Economic and Community Development, after job cuts at that agency. The Haslam administration cut off planning services to 212 communities across the state that are too small to have planning departments of their own.

$10K, $5K for leads in Gutierrez, Fryer cases (Gallatin News Examiner)

Cash rewards are available for two ongoing Sumner County criminal cases, state officials announced last week. Gov. Bill Haslam offered a $10,000 award for information that would lead to the apprehension, arrest and conviction of the person or persons who are criminally responsible in the case of Lydia Naomi Gutierrez, 27, who was killed in August 2010.

Oak Ridge shortchanged on cleanup, Haslam says (Associated Press)

Gov. Bill Haslam says he is concerned that Oak Ridge has not been getting its fair share of environmental cleanup money. The governor said having the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee provides a huge competitive advantage.

GOP Governors Examine Presidential Choices (CNN)

Republican governors are searching within their own ranks for a presidential candidate to get behind, a scenario that might present an obstacle for Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann’s as she continues her surge in the polls. In the wake of big statehouse gains in 2010, Republicans wield control over political and financial networks in several key battleground and primary states.

Kristol, Shields, State Govt. Leaders Highlight Southern Legislative Conf. (M. Flyer)

Well-known national pundits William Kristol, editoi of the Weekly Standard and Fox News Sunday panelist, and Mark Shields, columnist and panelist on the ABC/PBS show Inside Washington, are speakers at Monday morning’s opening plenary session of the annual Southern Legislative Conference, which is meeting this year at The Peabody in Memphis. The conference — which began over the weekend with workshop meetings and social get-togethers, including a Saturday night visit to Graceland — will continue through Tuesday, with speaking appearances by Governor Bill Haslam, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, and state House Speaker Beth Harwell, and a final banquet.

TBI reportedly investigating health department (Associated Press)

Broadcast reports in Nashville say the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is reviewing a case involving the state Department of Health and several state lawmakers. WSMV-TV and WTVF-TV reported Monday that the probe centers on three nurses whose licenses were revoked for overprescribing pills but then were reinstated later.

TBI investigates state lawmakers, health department (WSMV-TV Nashville)

The Channel 4 I-Team has learned that the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened a high-level investigation of several state lawmakers and the Tennessee Department of Health. The investigation centers on possible official misconduct and false reporting charges.

TBI Investigating Health Department, State Lawmakers (WTVF-TV Nashville)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is investigating the state health department and several state lawmakers. It started back in 2005 when three nurses in East Tennessee had their licenses revoked for over- prescribing pills.

Tennessee lottery reports record sales this year (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. reports a record $1.19 billion in total sales for its fiscal year. The agency said Monday the sales are up 4.2 percent over the previous year.

Lottery sets record for sales, funds to state education (City Paper)

Unfazed by a sluggish economy, the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. has set new records for its fiscal year, announcing Monday what will be an all-time high transfer of $293.5 million to education programs in the state.

Tenn. Consumer Officials Warn About Contest Scams (Associated Press)

State consumer affairs officials have reminded Tennesseans that you can’t win a foreign contest you didn’t enter. Gary Cordell of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs says scams circulate daily with the goal of getting money or personal information.

Balloting to determine which park will win $175,000 from Coca-Cola (TFP/Johns)

Three Georgia parks and one from Tennessee are at the top of the list of favorite parks across the country that Coca-Cola will use to determine who gets $175,000 in grants. And one local park hopes to be the fourth from Georgia to crack the top tier.

Free children’s books go unclaimed in Bradley County (Times Free-Press/Higgins)

Fewer than half of the Bradley County children under age 5 who could be getting a free book through the mail each month do so. The United Way of Bradley County wants to be sure the other children know about it.

Commission interviews Senate candidates (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Donilia)

Replacement to be named next week Knox County commissioners Monday interviewed four potential interim successors to state Sen. Jamie Woodson. They’ll make a final selection next week during their regularly scheduled meeting.

State of stress (Tennessean/Pinto)

Tennessee ranks as the 14th most stressed-out state in the nation, and the consequences can be serious Lisa Conner says she’s stressed out about being so stressed out. The 40-year-old stay-at-home mom, who has two children and is trying to finish her graduate school thesis, says stress frequently causes her to lose her appetite and suffer from backaches.

Anderson Co. property tax raised by 16.2 cents (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Fowler)

For the first time in eight years, Anderson County has passed a property tax increase. Faced with more than $25 million in funding requests, commissioners Monday considered and then rejected numerous funding options before finally settling on a middle ground.

GOP, Cooper Sizing Up Potential Fight After Redistricting (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Tennessee Republicans are talking about a push to unseat Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper next year. The GOP has made big gains in recent elections, and is eyeing what it might add after redrawing the state’s Congressional districts.

States hope to win on new district maps in federal court (Stateline)

After winning a special election to the Louisiana House of Representatives, Alan Seabaugh showed up for legislative duty in March just as his new colleagues were plotting the end of his political career. In a preliminary plan for redrawing the state’s legislative districts, Seabaugh was paired with a fellow white Republican in a move to create a new black-majority seat.

U.S. Senator Bob Corker adds $2.5 million to war chest (TFP/Carroll)

If federal elections were held today, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., likely would cruise to victory based not only on the strength of his fundraising, but also since there’s no Democratic challenger to be found. The former Chattanooga mayor’s staff told the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Monday it has $5.3 million on hand for a 2012 re-election race, so far obliterating his one registered GOP competitor, James Durkan, who raised $6,219 through March 31, records show.

TN Guard units called up (Jackson Sun)

About 300 soldiers in West Tennessee units of the Army National Guard are preparing to be deployed to Afghanistan. The soldiers are from the 230th Engineer Battalion based in Trenton and the 913th Engineer Company based in Union City.

States Test Education Law (Wall Street Journal)

Officials Frustrated With No Child Left Behind Try to Substitute Their Own Plans Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has been at odds with state schools chief Tony Evers over budget cuts, vouchers and teachers’ collective-bargaining rights. But they have found common ground in their aggravation with No Child Left Behind. Messrs.

Audit slams DOE’s management of K-25 demolition (News-Sentinel/Munger)

Audit says cost of plant cleanup could reach $1.2B The cost of tearing down the K-25 uranium-enrichment facility and disposing of the waste could ultimately cost more than $1.2 billion, according to a federal audit that slammed the Department of Energy’s years-long management of the big cleanup project. The report by DOE’s Office of Inspector General was released Monday.

Tennessee Has Record Wheat Harvest in 2011 (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Tennessee’s wheat production has more than doubled from last year because of the warm and dry weather. The state’s climate this year has been good for harvesting wheat, unlike the wet conditions in some Midwestern states.

How dependent is Tennessee on manufacturing? (Nashville Business Journal)

A new analysis of federal data shows how dependent Tennessee and other states are on their manufacturing sectors. According to an analysis by Nashville Business Journal affiliate On Numbers, using data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 15.6 percent of Tennessee’s gross state product is from manufacturing, a figure partially driven by Tennessee’s automotive industry, which features Nissan, General MotorsbizWatch and now Volkswagen.

IQT cuts more than 1,000 jobs in Canada (Nashville Business Journal)

IQT Inc., which announced plans last month to open its U.S. headquarters and bring 900 jobs to Nashville, has shut down its Canadian call centers, slashing more than 1,000 jobs in the process, according to numerous Canadian media reports. Workers in three cities — Laval, Trois Rivières and Oshawa — arrived on Friday to find the doors locked, and police were on-site.

IQT slashes Canadian workforce (Nashville Post/Duncan)

Nashville’s newest corporate heavyweight has caused a stir in Canada, closing down three call centers and putting some 1,200 people out of work. News was beginning to break north of the border late Friday that the company, which recently announced its intention to relocate to Nashville and create 900 jobs, was announcing big cuts in its Canadian workforce, where it has previously had the bulk of its call centers.

IQT’s Canada layoffs trouble Nashville Mayor Karl Dean (Tennessean/Cass, Ward)

City was to pay firm to create jobs Mayor Karl Dean’s office demanded answers Monday from a company that abruptly laid off hundreds of Canadian workers last week, just as it was preparing to move its headquarters to downtown Nashville and open a call center. Matt Wiltshire, Dean’s economic development chief, noted that agreements to pay IQT Inc. up to $1.61 million for creating 900 jobs here have not been executed, though the Metro Council agreed to the deal soon after Dean announced it last month.

Metro ECD head to IQT: ‘We will require a complete accounting’ (N. Post/Duncan)

Last week’s news about IQT’s closing call centers in Canada came as quite a shock to the workers at those facilities. Apparently, a number of Metro officials who found out about the move via the media rather than from IQT itself were similarly shocked.

Area cities see foreign trade zone expansion as boon (Tennessean/Gonzalez)

Gallatin, Clarksville sites part of addition Federal officials have approved an expansion of Nashville’s foreign trade zone, which will reduce or eliminate trade tariffs on companies operating within business parks in Gallatin and Clarksville. A distribution warehouse in La Vergne also joins the zone.

Memphis City Schools to consider delaying start of school year (C. Appeal/Roberts)

Board threatens delay over unpaid city funds The Memphis school board, saying it is tired of being held hostage by the City Council over money, will meet in emergency session today to discuss delaying the start of school until the money starts to flow. School board members said Monday that they have given the council every opportunity to pay and can no longer accept its — or Mayor A C Wharton’s — assurances that anything will be different in the coming year.

Memphis City School Year Could Be Delayed Because Of Money (WREG-TV)

Dr. Kriner Cash talked about the straw that broke the camel’s back. “Mayor A C Wharton said he would send us a letter today giving the system three million dollars,” Cash said.

Promise Academy charter school fights for survival (Commercial Appeal/Roberts)

School faces closure despite TCAP scores among best in city Promise Academy in North Memphis is the touchstone of faith for a handful of Episcopalians who pooled their expertise and goodwill to see if they could make lasting change in public education. And according to test results from 2010, the charter outperformed most of the city’s elementary schools, school officials say.

AP classrooms reveal a racial divide in Middle TN (Tennessean/Hubbard)

Minorities are rare sight in some of area’s top classes In Rutherford County, Blackman High School’s physics classes were missing something. Minorities. In Wilson County, not one black high-school student took an advanced-level math, science or foreign-language class during the 2009-10 school year.

La Vergne police arrest pregnant woman, boyfriend on meth charges (DNJ)

La Vergne police said they arrested a pregnant woman and her boyfriend in connection with a methamphetamine investigation over the weekend. Officers said they found an active meth lab at the home on Park Court North, the same place where the couple’s six children are living, according to a report from DNJ news partner WSMV-TV. The children ranged in age from 6 to 15, police said.

Fire in motel room leads to meth charges (Jackson Sun)

Metro narcotics agents have arrested a Jackson man after firefighters responded to a reported fire in a motel room on Sunday and transported the man to a local hospital with facial burns, according to a news release. Christopher Stanly Fondren, 35, of East College Street, is charged with initiation of methamphetamine manufacture, possession of drug paraphernalia and vandalism.

California: Huge Cuts for Court (Associated Press)

The San Francisco Superior Court announced Monday that it was laying off more than 40 percent of its staff and shuttering 25 courtrooms because of budget cuts. Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein said the actions were necessary to close a $13.75 million budget deficit caused by state budget cuts.

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Democrat Faces Recall Vote (New York Times)

The fate of one of the Wisconsin lawmakers who fled the state this year in an effort to block cuts to collective bargaining rights for public workers will be decided by voters on Tuesday. This summer, Wisconsin is overflowing with recall elections involving nine state senators from both parties, but the balloting in the Green Bay area on Tuesday will be a first definitive outcome in the series of elections that many see as a gauge of public sentiment about the agenda of Republicans who took control of the state this year.



Guest columnist: Towns need great schools to compete (Tennessean)

The recession has hit hard in rural Tennessee. While statewide unemployment hovers at 9.7 percent, in the past year a few of our rural counties have faced jobless rates near 20 percent.

Times Editorial: Angling for more gun carry (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

State Rep. Gerald McCormick says the new Republican Caucus Firearms Issues Task Force he has established will study state gun laws and “identify if any changes may need to be made.” After the vast loosening of gun-carry rights in Tennessee and most other states in recent years, McCormick’s remark can only be taken as doublespeak for another round of gun laws like the guns-in-bars and guns-in-parks laws that the Legislature has already passed — or worse.

Editorial: General Assembly addresses child prostitution (Columbia Daily Herald)

Comprehensive legislation designed to attack the growing problem of child prostitution and human trafficking in Tennessee was approved this year. Sadly, this has become an issue in our State and needed to be addressed.

Editorial: Public must be involved on designer drug issue (Daily News Journal)

We agree 100 percent with state Rep. Mike Sparks’ recent radio comments and discussion with a Daily News Journal reporter on so-called “designer drugs.” As the Legislature struggles to keep up with laws banning a range of designer drugs, manufacturers stay one step ahead, altering formulas slightly to circumvent the law.

Editorial: Bi-partisan effort needed for tougher coal ash rules (News-Sentinel)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee last week voted to block the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate coal ash as a hazardous waste, and no vote was more disappointing that the one cast by US. Rep. Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn, a Republican from Brentwood, Tenn., vote conflicts with the interests of her constituents.