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October 6 TN News Digest

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

Middle TN counties bid for secretive ‘Project Tango’ jobs (Tennessean/Gonzalez)

Several Middle Tennessee communities approved uncommonly strong incentive packages to lure a company proposing to hire almost 1,500 workers, a sign of intense competitions to come in job-hungry areas, development experts said. “Project Tango,” as the unnamed company’s proposal is known, put neighbors into competition, including Rutherford County, which trotted out an especially long 20-year tax break, and Wilson County and Lebanon, which offered its maximum industrial development board package Officials said Montgomery County and Clarksville, Loudon County and sites in at least three other states also are in the running, with a company decision expected any day now.

Ground broken at Memphis Electrolux plant (Associated Press/Sainz)

The chief executive of Electrolux Major Appliances North America said Wednesday that the company’s partnership with the public sector is an important factor in the deal that is bringing a new kitchen appliance plant to Memphis. Jack Truong and several Memphis-area and state politicians attended a groundbreaking for the $190 million Electrolux plant at an industrial park in southwest Memphis on Wednesday.

Electrolux CEO Truong praises Memphis at factory’s groundbreaking (CA/Risher)

Political leaders and Electrolux North America’s CEO tossed ceremonial shovels of dirt and mugged for pictures Wednesday on the future site of a taxpayer-subsidized kitchen appliance factory. The groundbreaking, coming at least two months ahead of actual work on a $190 million factory, was hailed as an economic development milestone in a city starving for decent-paying jobs.

Spoils of Electrolux battle come to Memphis Wednesday (Memphis Biz Journal)

While the process hasn’t always been pretty, an extremely positive tone was struck at the ground breaking of Electrolux Home Products Inc.’s $200 million manufacturing facility in Memphis Wednesday. Speaking at the event at Frank C. Pidgeon Industrial Park were Memphis City Mayor A C Wharton, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell, Electrolux North America CEO Jack Truong, City Council Chairman Myron Lowery, Tennessee Sen. Mark Norris and Lt. Gov. Claude Ramsey all spoke.

Governor Analyzing AG’s Latest ‘Nexus’ Opinion (TN Report)

Gov. Bill Haslam said Tuesday it was too early for him to say what the ramifications of Attorney General Robert Cooper’s latest opinion related to Amazon.com might mean for the state. Cooper issued an opinion dated Oct. 3 that said, as a general rule, the state cannot waive a taxpayer’s obligation to collect sales taxes and that the fact sales are made electronically does not change a retailer’s liability for collecting and remitting the tax.

Governor hands down budget cuts to higher education (The Echo)

UTC may experience up to a 5 percent budget cut in the upcoming 2012-2013 fiscal year based on Governor Bill Haslam’s recommended $20 million cut to higher education. Vice Chancellor Dr. Richard Brown said he estimates that the University may actually experience 2 to 3 percent budget cut but is prepared to take a 5 percent cut to the budget if the economy does not improve.

Bill Haslam attorney participated in incentive meeting (News-Sentinel/Flory)

An attorney for Gov. Bill Haslam participated in a February meeting in which a developer with financial ties to the governor earned support for a tax incentive. Earlier this year, the Nashville Tennessean reported that Haslam had guaranteed a loan for up to $5.5 million to Knoxville developer Miles “Budd” Cullom, but failed to plainly disclose the arrangement on ethics disclosure forms.

First Lady Haslam Supports ‘Read for the Record’ Campaign (TN Report)

First Lady Crissy Haslam sat down with 70 Pre-K students at Napier Enhanced Option Elementary in Nashville today to read Llama Llama Red Pajama by Anna Dewdney. Haslam is a proponent for early childhood literacy and was invited to preview Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign.

First Lady Visits Pre-K Class (WTVF-TV Nashville)

Tennessee’s First Lady Crissy Haslam visited a Nashville school Wednesday as part of Jumpstart’s Read for the Record campaign. Mrs. Haslam visited Napier Enhanced Option to read “Llama Llama Red Pajama” by Anna Dewdney to the pre-school class of about 70 children.

Medicare scam is costing tax payers millions (WVLT-TV Knoxville)

They come for prescriptions but when you’re an addict you’re always looking for more. So how do you double up your prescription?

State Children’s Services commissioner visits Blount County (Daily Times)

Kathryn O’Day, Tennessee Department of Children’s Services commissioner, visited the New Hope – Blount County Children’s Advocacy Center in Maryville on Wednesday. Gov. Bill Haslam appointed O’Day to the position in January.

Lebanon hosting Amazon.com job fair (Nashville Business Journal)

A job fair to fill 2,000 positions at Amazon.com’s new Lebanon distribution facility has been scheduled for next week. According to a news release from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, interviews will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13 at The Mill, located at 300 North Maple in Lebanon. More information on the job fair is available here. The seasonal jobs will begin this month and end in December.

Amazon Filling 2,000 Jobs in Lebanon (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Amazon is looking for 2,000 people to work at its new distribution center in Lebanon. Many of the positions are expected to be filled in a single day at a job fair next week.

State authorities: No citations in Gatlinburg sewer spill (News-Sentinel/Alund)

No safety violations were found during an investigation into a deadly basin wall collapse in April at the Gatlinburg Wastewater Treatment Plant, state labor authorities announced Wednesday. The deadline for the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health to issue citations and potential fines to the company that operates the plant, Veolia Water North America, was Wednesday, which also marked the six-month anniversary since the April 5 catastrophe took place at the Banner Road facility.

State museum honored for civil rights exhibition (Associated Press)

The Tennessee State Museum in Nashville has won an award for a civil rights exhibition. The museum received a national Leadership in History Award of Merit from the American Association of State & Local History for the exhibition “We Shall Not Be Moved: The 50th Anniversary of Tennessee’s Civil Rights Sit-ins.”

TWRA biologist fields commission’s questions (Times Free-Press/Haman)

Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency game biologist Ben Layton asked Hamilton County commissioners on Wednesday to empty their quiver of questions about two upcoming archery hunts planned for Enterprise South Nature Park. Layton appeared in the public comment period after Wednesday’s commission meeting, saying he came of his own accord after hearing from a resident group opposed to two controlled hunts scheduled for October.

State says screening key to beating breast cancer (Columbia Daily Herald)

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the Department of Health is challenging all Tennessee women over the age of 40 to get a clinical breast exam and mammogram. These screening tests are powerful weapons in the fight against breast cancer.

Eric Watson not resigning as Tennessee representative (Times Free-Press)

Rep. Eric Watson said in a written statement today that he isn’t resigning from his legislative position. Watson, R-Cleveland, resigned as captain from the Bradley County Sheriff’s office on Monday and the sheriff’s office gave no explanation.

Memphis municipal election stirs scant voter interest (C. Appeal/Connolly)

A relatively small number of voters are expected to go out today and select the people who will run the city of Memphis for the next four years. A total of 32,604 people cast ballots early, representing about 8 percent of the city’s roughly 414,000 registered voters.

League of Women Voters educates on redistricting (Tennessean/Brooks)

Think you know where state lawmakers should draw the line when redistricting state legislative and congressional seats? Then the League of Women Voters has a challenge for you.

Hamilton County Clerk to offer ID upgrades (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Haman)

Beginning Oct. 17, Hamilton County’s 7,092 registered voters who have a driver’s license without a photo on it will be able to add one for free at the county courthouse. County Clerk Bill Knowles signed a contract this week to begin the free upgrades later this month and continue it through March 12 as the state prepares voters for a new law requiring photo ID at the polls.

96-year-old Chattanooga woman denied voter ID (Associated Press)

Ninety-six-year-old Dorothy Cooper has been voting for more than seven decades, so the Chattanooga resident was eager to get a photo identification card when she heard it would be required for the next election. On Monday, Cooper gathered a rent receipt, a copy of her lease, her voter registration card and her birth certificate and went to a Driver Service Center to get the free identification card offered by the state as part of the new voter identification law.

Sen. Bob Corker wants Medicare payments detailed for taxpayers (Tenn/Bewley)

Bill aims to show program’s insolvency A bill introduced by Republican Sen. Bob Corker on Wednesday would provide an annual statement to taxpayers detailing how much they have paid into Medicare and how much they have received in benefits. The Tennessee senator said Americans must be aware of the mismatch between contributions and benefits before Medicare can be effectively reformed.

Corker Backs Cooper’s ‘MedInfo Act’ in Senate (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

U.S. Senator Bob Corker is backing the proposal of a fellow Tennessee lawmaker across party lines, in an effort to inform taxpayers on Medicare costs – how much they pay in, and how much they take out. The Republican Corker just introduced a Senate version of a bill sponsored in the House by Nashville Democrat Jim Cooper. Rep. Cooper’s so-called MedInfo Act would give eligible taxpayers and Medicare recipients summaries of their lifetime contributions and benefits from Medicare.

Medicaid explained: How would lower provider taxes affect budgets? (Stateline)

The Obama administration’s current deficit reduction proposal, now before the so-called congressional “Super Committee,” includes a variety of measures designed to roll back federal Medicaid spending. But one — a lower cap on the taxes that states charge hospitals, nursing homes and other health care organizations — would have the biggest potential impact on state budgets.

On war anniversary, Duncan decries ‘billions’ spent in Afghanistan (NS/Collins)

U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. called again Wednesday for an end to the war in Afghanistan, arguing as the 10th anniversary of the conflict approaches that it has gone on far too long and has become “our seemingly endless war.” “This is a war that long ago became much more about money for the Pentagon and defense contractors than about any real threat to the American people,” the Knoxville Republican said in a short speech on the floor of the U.S. House.

Grant to educate nurses on adoption, resources in Tennessee (CA/Warren)

A federal grant announced Wednesday is designed to ensure Tennessee teens and women who become pregnant understand the adoption option. Federal officials awarded Harmony Adoptions of Tennessee a 17-month, $359,000 grant to educate nurses about the basics of adoption and resources in their state so they can pass the information to patients.

TVA attorneys get their turn in ash spill trial (Associated Press)

The first witness called by Tennessee Valley Authority attorneys to testify as they present their side at the utility’s ash spill trial said that as a foreman on the ash storage facility at Kingston he watched the operation closely. Thomas Settles said that included making inspections four times a week. Settles, who is now retired said he noticed no signs of seepage or other problems in the months before and even the day before the Dec. 22, 2008 spill at the coal-fired plant on the Emory River.

More safety issues raised at Oak Ridge plant (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Munger)

On Aug. 9, during a dismantlement project at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, a “large” weapons component came loose from its lifting apparatus and fell about four feet to the floor. Nobody was injured, the component wasn’t damage, and a plant spokeswoman said there was no way the bomb part could have detonated.

Lebanon proposes retail center, hockey arena (Associated Press)

City officials in Lebanon have announced a proposal to build a retail and office space facility, followed by an arena-events center. Mayor Philip Craighead said Wednesday a private developer will break ground next week on the first facility.

Lebanon mayor hopes arena will raise city’s profile (Tennessean/Anderson, Gee)

Lebanon Mayor Philip Craighead hopes an ambitious development along Interstate 40 can attract 3,000 new jobs, score a minor league hockey team and bolster the city’s image as a transit-oriented community. Craighead unveiled plans Wednesday for a $40 million city-owned arena and convention center and 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space.

Ex-Schnucks workers say grocer gave little notice of closing (CA/Bailey)

Meat department worker John F. Hammond Jr. wouldn’t have bought $750 worth of furniture. Floral manager Candice Woods wouldn’t have paid $140 for a school-related practice test.

Cleveland schools’ energy savings top $1 million (Times Free-Press/Higgins)

Three years after starting an energy savings program, Cleveland City Schools has crossed the $1 million mark in cost savings, energy director Paul Ramsey said. The city system was recognized this week for taking part in TVA’s Green Schools Project. “I often get asked, ‘Are we really saving money?'”

School board chooses its plan to redistrict (Knoxville News-Sentinel/McCoy)

The Knox County school board chose a different plan to meet requirements for redistricting at its monthly meeting on Wednesday. Board members considered four plans — two of which had been sent to them as a recommendation by a joint committee comprised of both county commission and school board members.

California: Patient Data Landed Online After a Series of Missteps (New York Times)

Private medical data for nearly 20,000 emergency room patients at California’s prestigious Stanford Hospital were exposed to public view for nearly a year because a billing contractor’s marketing agent sent the electronic spreadsheet to a job prospect as part of a skills test, the hospital and contractors confirmed this week. The applicant then sought help by unwittingly posting the confidential data on a tutoring Web site.

Mississippi: Mississippi’s Jobs Program: A New National Model? (NPR)

As President Obama sells his jobs initiative across the country, people in Mississippi point to a program they say is already creating jobs. Mississippi has attracted attention because economists like the way the state got employers to share the cost of hiring workers.

OPINION

Guest columnist: Shared goals drive school partners (Tennessean)

Chamber retreat looks at innovation in eight states Last week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for a Competitive Workforce hosted a retreat in Seattle to learn best practices of business engagement in education. Our delegation of eight members of the Chamber’s Education Report Card Committee was able to share our experiences from Nashville and gain insight into the efforts occurring in seven other states: Colorado, Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Montana, Texas and Washington.

Editorial: Photo ID law provokes fight (Commercial Appeal)

How should citizens in the middle react when Republicans and Democrats skirmish over the new law? Tennessee’s new law requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls is stoking partisan warfare when the focus should be, instead, on ways to get people more involved in the democratic process.

Editorial: Local GOP reversal to primary a good move (Daily News Journal)

We commend the Rutherford County Republican Party for reversing itself and deciding to hold a primary for its candidates in 2012 rather than a caucus. It’s a move that will benefit local voters and ultimately the party.

Joe Sullivan: Chattanooga’s Economic Development Edge (Metro Pulse)

Not since 2008, when Green Mountain Coffee started roasting here and Sysco opened its big distribution center, has Knoxville seen a major new employer come to town. That’s not surprising considering the deep economic downturn started that year, from which a recovery is sputtering. Nor is it because the Knoxville Chamber and the three other counties with whom it partners in what’s called Innovation Valley have slacked off on their job recruitment and other economic development efforts.

Free-Press Editorial: No shutdown, but huge spending continues (TFP)

Providing the finances to keep the U.S. government running according to current spending patterns and priorities means imposing lots of taxes — and borrowing lots of money on top of that. With our government threatened with running out of money to pay its bills unless new appropriations were approved, the U.S. House of Representatives voted this week — with only about 10 minutes of debate — to OK a measure to keep the government going.

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