September 11 TN News Digest

This is a compilation of Tennessee news and political stories assembled daily by staffers in Gov. Bill Haslam’s office.

Perry County uses vacant site to lure jobs (Associated Press)

Perry County’s high unemployment rate — just under 15 percent — has stubbornly persisted despite numerous efforts to combat it, from worker training to government-subsidized jobs. So, local officials have gotten more aggressive.

State official to make changes at Howard, but not yet (Times Free-Press/Hardy)

In his attempts at turning around Howard School of Academics and Technology, Chris Barbic won’t turn the school upside-down — at least not yet. Barbic recently started as the superintendent of Tennessee’s Achievement School District, created in 2010 and made up of five of the state’s lowest-performing schools — a list that includes Howard and four Memphis schools.

Haslam holding GOP fundraiser at governor’s house (Associated Press)

Republican state lawmakers are planning a fundraiser at the governor’s residence, with a price tag of $2,500 for an individual to $50,000 for a package deal that includes a special designation as an “event chair.” Gov. Bill Haslam will host the Oct. 3 event, which includes a reception at Conservation Hall and evening dinner in the upstairs area of the governor’s actual residence.

MTSU holds Blue Tie Gala to celebrate centennial (Sidelines)

Alumni and faculty at the Blue Tie Gala last night said they were impressed by the growth MTSU has experienced in its first century. The gala, which was part of MTSU’s centennial celebration, drew a crowd of 1,200 to the Embassy Suites Hotel at 1200 Conference Boulevard, officials said…

Conservative group gives TN high score for labor laws (Tennessean/Sisk)

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, a group that describes its philosophy as favoring free markets and limited government, has released a report that says Tennessee is the top state when it comes to its policies on public-sector unions. In a report called the “Big Labor vs. Taxpayers Index” released just before Labor Day, CEI said Tennessee had the most pro-taxpayer laws in the nation, based on its analysis of factors such as participation in public-sector unions, whether the state favors union labor in government contracts, and whether government workers can strike.

Rulings show murky tax laws (Tennessean/Sisk)

Question: Can the state of Tennessee tax locker rentals? Answer: Yes, if the club renting them out doesn’t have a racquetball court. Question: Can Tennessee tax shots that get rid of wrinkles? Answer: Not if the shots are by prescription.

MTSU sees future in new hall (Tennessean/Gonzalez)

Professors who waited decades to see a new education building at Middle Tennessee State University were brought to tears four years ago when funding was finally approved. Now, classes have begun in the new facility — celebrated Saturday as part of the university’s centennial observation — and professors believe the work going on within its walls will create better teachers.

UT, ORNL join in global changes study (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Boehnke)

The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Lab are teaming up with other agencies to collect data across the country in a study on the impacts of global changes, including climate change, on the environment. The Walker Branch Watershed in the Oak Ridge Reservation in Roane County will be one of 20 observatory sites across the country where researchers will collect data about plant and animal species.

TN man ordered to repay $460K in fraud case (Associated Press)

A registered sex offender has been ordered to pay about $460,000 in restitution after pleading guilty to TennCare fraud and theft charges. A Sullivan County judge on Friday sentenced 53-year-old Danny Anderson of Kingsport to 15 years of probation after he pleaded guilty.

Favors helps to organize program to get voters IDs (Times Free-Press/Sher)

A Chattanooga lawmaker says she is helping organize a community effort to help elderly, poor and minorities meet requirements of a new Tennessee law mandating voters have government-issued photo identification before casting ballots in 2012 elections. State Rep. JoAnne Favors, D-Chattanooga, said she, other elected officials, churches, elected officials, fraternal, community, civic and professional organizations have formed the Tennessee Voters Assistance Coalition.

Womick recalls harrowing day as pilot on Sept. 11 (Daily News Journal)

State Rep. Rick Womick has seen America change the past decade since Sept. 11, 2001, the day he was an airline pilot ordered to land his jet. “I was flying on Sept. 11 from Dallas to Los Angeles with 150 people,” recalled Womick, a veteran fighter pilot who flew F-15 aircraft for America in the Persian Gulf War to force Iraq’s military out of Kuwait.

J. Haslam to Lawmakers: Block Commercialization of Rest Stops (NS/Humphrey)

James A. “Jimmy” Haslam III, CEO of Pilot Flying J and a board member of the National Truck Stop Operators Association, is urging state and federal lawmakers to block further “commercialization” of highway rest stops. In his home state of Tennessee, where Haslam’s brother is governor, his viewpoint appears likely to prevail — at least for now.

Collierville officials’ poll may break state law (Commercial Appeal/Wolff)

Collierville officials may have violated the state’s open-meetings law by saying how they will vote on an item that will appear on the Board of Mayor and Aldermen agenda Monday, an attorney says. The agenda item seeks ratification of a poll taken by a town employee on whether the board wanted to offer a job to Glen Wiltse to be the town building official.

Tennessee boomers face growing threat of hunger (Tennessean/Toone)

Older Tennesseans increasingly face hunger, AARP says Therese Marrs has learned the art of stretching a link of smoked sausage, a jar of cheese and a box of macaroni into three meals every week. The 56-year-old Smyrna mother struggles to make the meals come together for her husband and 16-year-old daughter each week, since she was laid off from her quality assurance job at a factory in February.

Jail considers kiosks for inmate services (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Burger)

Posting a cash bond. Ordering barbecue pork skins and MoonPies. Submitting a grievance about a jailer. Those are among the things inmates soon could be doing through Internet-connected kiosks at the Hamilton County Jail. Officials are interviewing companies that would install and service the machines throughout the jail, which houses about 500 inmates at the downtown facility.

Blackburn, congressional panel step in on Gibson case (Tennessean/Bewley)

House Republicans, including Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn, are seeking an explanation from the Obama administration for its decision to raid the facilities of Nashville-based Gibson Guitar Corp. last month. “It is hard to conclude anything other than the fact that your agencies and this Administration are actively pursuing regulatory and legal policies that discourage job growth in the United States and encourage shipping those very same jobs overseas,” Blackburn and three other Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote in a letter to the heads of the Interior Department, Justice Department and Fish and Wildlife Service on Thursday.

Homeland security spending helps tornado response (Associated Press)

Radios, emergency response equipment and training paid for with homeland security money have turned out to be a big help for agencies responding to devastating storms. The legacy of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks showed up when emergency workers in tornado-ravaged communities in Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia responded to deadly tornadoes in late April.

After attacks, feds pumped $230 million for homeland security (CA/Perrusquia)

A thousand pounds of hard metal, electronic circuitry and cold, bionic attitude, “Wolverine’’ lurches forward on tanklike tracks and snatches a soda can. “It’s extraordinarily powerful,’’ warned Lt. Perry McEwen, homeland security executive officer for the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

After 9/11, security jobs soar at federal level, but thin out closer to home (CA)

The shopping mall. Federal buildings. Certainly the airport. Security seems tighter everywhere. But a decade after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, there are fewer security personnel on guard in 18 states, according to an analysis by Scripps Howard News Service. While the number of security jobs in the federal government has skyrocketed — with 377 percent growth nationwide since 9/11 — security employment overall has declined in many parts of the country.

Prospect of no postal service is big issue for many (Associated Press/Schmid)

Imagine a nation without the Postal Service. No more birthday cards and bills or magazines and catalogs filling the mailbox. It’s a worst-case scenario being painted for an organization that lost $8.5 billion in 2010 and seems headed deeper into the red this year.

Southwest Airlines flight diverted to Nashville (Associated Press)

A Southwest Airlines flight destined for Baltimore has been diverted to Nashville after what an airline official described as “suspicious behavior” by a passenger. The flight, which originated in Albuquerque on Saturday morning, was reset for a 3:15 CDT departure.

Attacks continue to push TVA security upgrades (Times Free-Press/Sohn)

In the decade since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, TVA has spent more than $100 million to beef up security at its three nuclear plants. It has spent millions more to protect its 29 hydroelectric dams, 11 coal plants, four gas plants, its power grid system with 17,000 miles of transmission lines and offices in Chattanooga, Knoxville and Muscle Shoals, Ala.

Bids to build Electrolux Mem. plant about $30 million higher than planned (CA/Maki)

Company says it’s still committed to project Construction bids for an Electrolux site at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park are about $30 million higher than expected, but company executives and city officials say the Swedish appliance manufacturer remains committed to building the facility. In a Sept. 2 letter to Memphis Mayor AC Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Electrolux said it still “intends to honor its obligations” outlined in a December development agreement with the city and county.

Ten years later, schools adjust to “teaching 9/11” (Nooga)

The high school seniors in Ginny Kidd’s American government class were 7 years old when the 9/11 attacks took place—barely old enough to remember the horrible day when nearly 3,000 lives American lives were ended by terrorists. Kidd, who was teaching at Hixson High School on Sept. 11, 2001, has spent the 10 years since the attacks leading her classes in discussions around the trajectory of global events that stemmed from that day.

California: Lawmakers Give Amazon Tax Reprieve (New York Times)

California lawmakers overwhelmingly approved a compromise bill Friday night giving Amazon.com a one-year reprieve from having to collect a sales tax from its customers in the state. Under the new measure, Amazon agreed to start collecting the tax in September 2012 unless there was federal legislation on the issue.

Illinois: State Challenging Hospitals’ Tax Exemptions (New York Times)

Facing a budget deficit exceeding $11 billion, the State of Illinois in recent weeks has begun challenging the property tax exemptions of some of its best-known hospitals, saying they should pay more because they are not providing enough charity care. The Illinois Department of Revenue moved last month to strip property tax exemptions from Prentice Women’s Hospital, a sparkling new medical center in Chicago’s tony Streeterville neighborhood; Edward Hospital, a rapidly expanding medical center in the western suburb of Naperville, and Decatur Memorial Hospital in central Illinois.

Texas: Teachers Must Clean Up Mess Left by Budget Cuts (New York Times)

Just as Judy Gardner answered the phone on Wednesday afternoon, a coach stuck his head into her empty classroom. He wanted to know if she had swept her floor yet, because he had students offering to do it as community service.

 OPINION

Free-Press Editorial: Hopeful at Howard School (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

With Chattanooga’s Howard School of Academics and Technology, as well as four schools in Memphis, having long performed well below what their students are capable of, the state of Tennessee is bringing in a man it hopes can guide those schools to greater achievement. Chris Barbric will help manage the low-performing schools in Chattanooga and Memphis and will try to replicate in Tennessee the academic successes that he had at schools in Texas.

Tom Humphrey: Seeking the onerous for political gain (Knoxville News-Sentinel)

A major effort is underway these days by Tennessee politicians to find onerous state burdens on business to repeal. At least for Republicans, this seems to be a centerpiece of much-discussed efforts to promote creation of new jobs at the state level.

Bill Gibbons: New agencies have made Tennesseans more secure (Tennessean)

Are we safer today than we were on Sept. 11, 2001? Yes, I think we are.

Marsha Blackburn: We strive daily to secure our homeland (Tennessean)

Ten years ago on what began as a beautiful morning, this great nation was hit by the worst terrorist attack ever committed on American soil. We slept on Sept. 10 with the peace that comes from the separation of oceans and the bliss that accompanies the unknown.

Editorial: Sept. 11 united us – then drove us apart (Tennessean)

Ten years on, our nation looks back at a tragic turning point in its history. Solemn ceremonies today in New York City, Washington, Shanksville, Pa., and in many other communities nationwide, will mourn the victims of 19 hijackers who, at the orders of a madman, crashed passenger planes not just into buildings and inadvertently into a field, but into America’s heart. Our nation changed after Sept. 11, 2001, in some fundamental ways.

Free-Press Editorial: An awful anniversary (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

Moments of triumph and tragedy are etched on our national memory. Those who are old enough to remember the assassination of President John F. Kennedy can often recall precisely where they were when they heard the news.

Times Editorial: A decade after 9/11 (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

It has become axiomatic that the horrendous events of 9/11 that consumed some 3,000 lives and shredded the nation’s complacency 10 years ago today ultimately changed our world in ways both subtle and profound. The terrorist attacks triggered national grief that at first pulled the nation together and kindled brotherly mourning in much of the world.

Editorial: America’s spirit burns bright though terror’s dark decade (News-Sentinel)

The terror came suddenly, borne on the wings of hatred and fueled by a twisted fanaticism. It crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and, because of the heroism of a few ordinary people, the Pennsylvania countryside.

Editorial: 10 years later, need for unity is still clear (Commercial Appeal)

Painful memories will fill the hearts of Americans today as we remember how we felt 10 years ago when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and went down with a hijacked plane, its passengers and crew in rural Pennsylvania. But the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, also created a brief sense of unity for which there has never been a greater need than there is today.

Editorial: Lessons of 9/11 must make us a better US (Daily News Journal)

A decade after terrorists attacked our nation and left us reeling, it is time for Americans to take stock of the lessons we learned from that horrible day and carry them with us into the future. Most of us can remember where we were the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, when we heard planes crashed into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, the Pentagon and into a field in rural Pennsylvania, killing nearly 3,000 people.

Editorial: This day is personal to our community (Leaf Chronicle)

Terrorism existed long before Sept. 1, 2001. The Mideast and parts of Europe were well acquainted with it. Unfortunate American abroad occasionally were victimized by it. But 10 years ago today, terrorism took to the sky and came crashing down in the United States of America, and life changed.

Greg Johnson: American economy proved stronger than terror (News-Sentinel)

A bit before 9:03 a.m. on that brilliant blue Tuesday 10 years ago, my assistant rushed into my office. I was on the phone talking stocks with my long-time client, Jim, a Knoxville businessman who had, by then, become a good friend.

Editorial: No Job, No Insurance, No Health Care (New York Times)

Workers who lose their jobs in the economic downturn typically suffer a double whammy: they lose not only their incomes but their employer-based health insurance as well. Millions are forced to forgo the medical care that they cannot pay for.