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October 2 TN News Digest

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

Teachers adjust to extra class, shorter class times in Montgomery County (L-C)

High schools in Montgomery County are adapting to a schedule change this year designed to conform to an enhancement of state standards. As part of the Tennessee Diploma Project, students who began high school in fall 2009 are required to earn 22 core credits to graduate, rather than the previous requirement of 20.

Teachers: New evaluation system time consuming (Jackson Sun)

Jackson-Madison County principals and teachers say a new teacher evaluation system is time consuming and stressful, but they are adjusting. Northeast Middle School Principal Jimmy Bailey said he’s in classrooms at least two to three times a week to ensure all 39 of his teachers have the required four to six evaluations during the school year.

Homegrown manufacturing may provide ticket for Memphis revival (CA/Evanoff)

In a city starved for blue-collar work, John Molash and Alan Sanger have found a small solution — save a factory. Nearly 110 plants have closed in metropolitan Memphis since 1999, wiping out almost one in three industrial jobs and about $1 billion in annual factory pay once spent mostly in local shops and stores.

Goverment accused of causing, not fixing economic problems (Times-Gazette)

Economist Donald Ratajczak said Friday that while government gridlock is not always a bad thing, in the case of recent standoffs over the economy the federal government has deliberately placed itself into situations where action has to be taken, and then has been unable to take that action…. Emkes said that Tennessee has low debt, strong cash flow and a pension plan with strong 91 percent funding.

Rick Perry raises money in Oak Hill (Tennessean/Cass)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, one of the front-runners for the Republican presidential nomination, spent time in Tennessee last week, including a fundraiser in Nashville on Wednesday. Lee Beaman, CEO of Beaman Automotive, hosted the 90-minute event, which was closed to the press, at his Oak Hill home.

UT faculty, staff salaries lag behind peers’ (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Boehnke)

The University of Tennessee law school has lost two young faculty members to other schools and has struggled in recent years to attract new professors because low salaries make it difficult to recruit. “It has gotten particularly hard over the last five to 10 years,” said Dean Doug Blaze.

UT comes in eighth in global solar energy house design challenge (NS/McCloskey)

The University of Tennessee placed eighth overall in the Solar Decathlon sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy that challenged 19 teams worldwide to build and use an efficient, attractive and affordable house powered exclusively by solar energy. The University of Maryland took home the title in results announced Saturday afternoon.

Appeals court considers suit over gun restrictions (Associated Press)

The Court of Appeals is mulling whether an ex-convict from Georgia whose crime was pardoned can legally own a gun in Tennessee where he now lives. David Scott Blackwell of Franklin sued the state of Tennessee after he was denied a gun permit, saying the pardon in Georgia restored his rights — including the one to bear arms.

Tennessee legislators want more judges’ misdeeds made public (NS/Humphrey)

Legislators are eyeing repeal of the state law that allows keeping the admonishments wayward judges receive secret and imposing stricter rules concerning when judges must bow out of a case when accused of a conflict of interest. Judges say making public the “private reprimands” now handed out by the Court of the Judiciary would be a bad policy move, but acknowledge the Legislature could take such a step. Changing the rules for recusal of a judge, which are now established by the state Supreme Court, also is criticized on policy grounds.

Democrats honor McWherter at annual Jackson Day event (Tennessean/Sisk)

Speakers laud former governor’s impact, his focus on community Democrats paid tribute Saturday evening to popular former Gov. Ned McWherter at the state party’s annual Jackson Day dinner. Gathering on a cool October evening under a massive tent on Bicentennial Capitol Mall, about 700 party supporters turned out to remember McWherter, a West Tennessee farm boy who helped lead a generation of centrist Southern Democrats that also included President Bill Clinton and Texas Gov. Ann Richards.

Franklin, Grundy eye jail solutions (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Benton)

Officials in Franklin and Grundy counties are looking to solve overcrowding and safety problems in their county jails. The Franklin County Jail in Winchester, Tenn., is designed to house 114 inmates, but held 161 during a recent inspection, Tennessee Corrections Institute detention facilities specialist Miller Meadows said Tuesday.

Dean pushes obesity fight (Tennessean/Wilemon)

Mayor’s broad-based initiative aims to touch all Nashvillians Mayor Karl Dean has a plan for the folks who never tried to walk 100 miles with him. They will exercise more without even realizing it.

Corker says he’s frustrated by partisan politics (Tennessean/Thompson)

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker lamented ongoing gridlock in Washington, D.C., but expressed hope for the future during a speech at Austin Peay State University Thursday morning. The former Chattanooga mayor told a small crowd of 20 students from an honors leadership class and several local officials that every morning he spends in D.C., he wakes up and appreciates the opportunity given to him by his constituents.

Sources: Return of the Wamp thing (Nashville Post/Whitehouse)

Weston Wamp, son of former Republican congressman and gubernatorial candidate Zach Wamp, has been informing key individuals in Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District that he will shortly announce that he is a Republican candidate for U.S. Congress. NashvillePost.com reported in June that he was considering a run.

Wamp’s son to challenge Fleischmann (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Carroll)

Weston Wamp knows he’s not old enough to be a congressman today. Doesn’t matter.

In New Term, Supreme Court Shifts Focus to Crime and First Amendment (NYT)

The Supreme Court, which has been focused in recent terms on the rights of corporations and on curbing big lawsuits, returns to the bench on Monday with a different agenda. Now, criminal justice is at the heart of the court’s docket, along with major cases on free speech and religious freedom.

Parkridge, Memorial and Erlanger health systems named top hospitals (TFP/Carroll)

On March 30, Memorial Health System issued a news release that declared itself Chattanooga’s only hospital to be named among the Top 100 in the nation. Who said that?

Doctor drought: Physician shortage is problem for counties (N-S/Harrington)

After Drs. Ken and Carla Nickle completed their service to the Army last year in Alaska, the husband and wife physicians packed their bags and moved to rural East Tennessee. In the town of Greeneville, the Nickles carry a heavy workload, practicing a broad range of family medicine that includes delivering babies and pediatrics, sports medicine, geriatric care and everything in between.

Sumner schools to discuss ACLU lawsuit (Tennessean/Easton)

Sumner County Schools will host a town hall meeting on Monday in response to recent backlash over the district’s decision to bar district employees from praying at school events. The meeting will be from 6-7:30 p.m. in the gym at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin.

OPINION

Free-Press Editorial: Volkswagen — and $86 billion! (Times Free-Press)

Everybody in the Chattanooga area knows about Volkswagen’s $1 billion investment in an automobile-manufacturing plant here, and we’re excited that VW Passats are rolling off local assembly lines by the hundreds. But did you read about the German company’s other plans?

Tom Humphrey: Flaws in Tennessee’s voter ID law could be fixed with ease (NS)

The photo ID flap has gone off on an interesting tangent in Mississippi, while in Tennessee Democrats are denouncing the idea as a voter suppression plot and Republicans are striving to justify it as a defense against election thieves. Mississippi is putting the issue to a statewide vote this November.

Roy Herron: Voter ID law will disenfranchise rural residents (Knox. News-Sentinel)

When my 94-year-old mother was born, women were not allowed to vote. But then Tennessee ratified the 19th Amendment, and for seven decades Mother has voted faithfully.

Scott McNutt: Voter ID law could ferret out new election commissioners (N-S)

A Tennessee law set to take effect in January requiring people to present a photo ID to vote appears to address a nonexistent problem, but locally, officials say it could help identify recruits for the Knox County Election Commission. According to a recent Associated Press story, few cases have been found around the country of people trying to vote with false identification.

Guest columnist: State DHS job cuts would strand food-stamp applicants (Tenn.)

With the prospect of losing $4.5 billion in federal funds to budget cuts, Gov. Bill Haslam has asked Tennessee administrators to prepare for the worst: Show how they would cut 30 percent from departmental budgets. These deep cuts would, among other things, mean the loss of 5,100 state jobs.

Editorial: Utility districts offer more proof reform is needed (News-Sentinel)

Public utility districts in Tennessee continue to undergo scrutiny, and for good reason. It seems that every time the media or government watchdogs cast a light on them, unsavory practices are caught in the glare.

 

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