Press Releases

July 18 TN News Digest

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

Food services giant Aramark to add 1,000 jobs in Nashville (Associated Press)

Food and uniform services company ARAMARK is locating a business services center in Nashville, bringing more than 1,000 jobs over the next three years. The $20 million investment was announced Wednesday by Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Metro Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. Mayor Karl Dean’s office issued a statement noting Metro has proposed a “modest and short-term” property tax abatement by which the Aramark property taxes would be frozen at 2013 levels for four years to help reduce the initial costs of operations.

ARAMARK Business Services Center Brings 1,000 Jobs To Nashville (WTVF-TV)

Food and uniform services company ARAMARK will build a new business services center in Nashville, creating more than 1,000 new jobs over the next three years. The $20 million investment was announced Wednesday by Gov. Bill Haslam, Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty and Metro Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. The Philadelphia-based company will consolidate and centralize some financial and human resources services that are currently dispersed across the company’s North American operations.

Aramark may add 1,000 jobs in Nashville (Tennessean/Williams)

Aramark, the uniform and food services conglomerate, plans to open an accounting and human resources business service center in September in the former IRS call center on Nolensville Pike, employing up to 1,000 people within the next three years. Although negotiations are still underway to secure the site, sources say the Southplace Office Park at 5880 Nolensville Pike is Aramark’s choice for the new business center. The building has 82,000 square feet of space and has been listed as available for rent since the IRS moved out about two years ago.

Shifting Jobs Around (Metro Pulse)

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed attorney Douglas Jenkins to the position of Chancellor for the 3rd District. Jenkins is the son of former Congressman Bill Jenkins, who also served on the TVA board and was once Speaker of the House in Tennessee. The seat Jenkins is taking became available when Haslam appointed Chancellor Thomas Frierson to the Court of Appeals.

Tax free weekend slated for early August (WATE-TV Knoxville)

Back to school shoppers are getting another break this year thanks to the state’s sales tax holiday. Tax free weekend is slated for August 2-4, just over two weeks away. It starts one minute after midnight Friday and ends at one minute to midnight Sunday. As always, clothing under $100, school supplies under $100 and computers $1,500 or less qualify for the tax break.

TN education chief Kevin Huffman sharpens focus on special ed (Tenn/Fingeroot)

As beleaguered Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman deflects public outcry over changes to teacher policies, he is already eyeing his next reform target: special education. Huffman, who recently faced calls for his firing after changes to the state’s decades-old teacher pay plan, probably will face outrage again next week when revisions to the teacher licensing process are expected to be approved. Even so, he is moving ahead with plans he hopes will make Tennessee the state with the fastest-improving schools by 2015, and special education is next on his list.

Teachers try new standards (Jackson Sun)

More than 500 English Language Arts teachers from across West Tennessee received training on how to use Common Core standards in their classrooms during the upcoming school year. The training sessions began on Tuesday and conclude today at North Side High School. A training session was held in June to review Common Core math standards. Tennessee and 49 other states adopted the Common Core education standards in 2009. The standards are also to prepare students for college or careers with more challenging expectations, encouraging them to find solutions on their own and to be able to explain those solutions.

TSU, MTSU to partner in collaborative research effort (Nashville Post)

Tennessee State University and Middle Tennessee State University have entered into an agreement to develop strategic areas of research in data sciences, TSU officials announced late Tuesday afternoon. The proposed Joint Institute for Data Sciences will be created to ensure the implementation of the agreement. A memorandum of understanding, signed July 11 by TSU President Glenda Glover and MTSU President Sidney McPhee, said the two Tennessee Board of Regents institutions will engage in collaborative research, workforce training and education, and seek joint funding opportunities to support the partnership.

TSU to demonstrate new mobile biodiesel lab (Associated Press)

Researchers at Tennessee State University will demonstrate how to turn oilseed crops into biodiesel with a new mobile lab at the school’s Small Farm Expo. The demonstration is today from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. According to the school, the mobile biodiesel lab is the showpiece of the university’s alternative fuels program. After the expo, researchers will be taking the lab across the state to demonstrate the process to farmers. Jason de Koff is assistant professor of agronomy and soil sciences at TSU’s College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Sciences.

7 days later: One week brings no change in hunt for S. Pittsburg aid (TFP/Green)

Charles Hackworth thinks if federal investigators can’t find $8.5 million in South Pittsburg flood damage, they ought to keep looking. “They need to spend two to three days going street to street, walking,” he said Wednesday, one week after flash flooding decimated the Marion County town. As of Wednesday, South Pittsburg still hadn’t reached the $8.5 million magic number that warrants federal relief aid. “We are literally dialing for money right now,” Mayor Jane Dawkins said Wednesday. Whether the effort will pay off is yet to be seen.

Staying afloat: Moss Motors loses 31 cars but weathers flood (TFP/Bradbury)

Tooter Moss’ birthday present this year was a half-million dollars of flood damage and a foot of floodwater in the South Pittsburg car dealership he opened back in 1957. The founder of Moss Motor Co. celebrated his 78th birthday Tuesday, a few days after floodwater swept through 31 new cars at his dealership. Twenty-five of those were totaled. “We lost all of our Fords, with one exception,” said sales manager Shawn Henson. “And all but six of our Chryslers.” Insurance will pay for the damage to the cars — except deductibles — but the company doesn’t have flood insurance and is looking at thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.

Nashville airport to spend $10M to avoid another spill (Tennessean/Gang)

Three years ago, untreated deicing fluid spilled from Nashville International Airport into a nearby stream known as Sims Branch. The chemicals flowed from airport property under Interstate 40 and through the nearby Century City office park and to the stream’s confluence with Mill Creek. The pollution stretched for than 2 miles. The stream, home to the federally endangered Nashville crayfish, eventually flows into the Cumberland River. The chemicals killed wildlife, stimulated the growth of sewage fungus, created a layer of black sludge and produced a strong stench.

Officers step up highway safety campaign (Associated Press)

Law enforcement officials across the state are stepping up a campaign to increase highway safety. Richard Holt is the Governor’s Highway Safety Office Law Enforcement administrator. He says law enforcement statewide will be out in force from July 18 to July 21 and from July 25 to July 28 for the final phase of the More Cops-More Stops campaign to crack down on drivers who are speeding, drunk, distracted or not wearing a seat belt. In 2011, officials say more than 700 people died in Tennessee traffic crashes.

State officials warn of driver license phone scam (WBIR-TV Knoxville)

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security has issued a warning about a phone scam involving driver licenses. Several people in west Tennessee have received phone calls from someone claiming their is an issue with their 2012-2013 driver license renewals. The caller asks for the intended victim’s social security numbers. So far, there are no reports that anyone actually fell for the scam. “Our department would never request confidential information in this manner,” Commissioner Bill Gibbons said.

State warns of driver’s license phone scam (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security is warning residents about a phone scam involving driver’s licenses. Several citizens in west Tennessee have reported receiving phone calls regarding an issue with their 2012-2013 driver’s license renewals, and then the caller requests the person’s Social Security number. Commissioner Bill Gibbons says the department would never request confidential information in that manner. He says official communication is sent by U.S. mail regarding driver’s licenses, driver’s license renewals or reinstatements.

THDA closing Erin office (Leaf Chronicle)

The Tennessee Housing Development Agency will be closing their Erin office on July 31, according to a press release from the department. The THDA is closing the local office – which manages Section 8 vouchers for Montgomery, Houston, Humphreys and Stewart counties – due to cuts in administrative funds from the federal government. “THDA is continuing its commitment to those least able to pay for safe, decent housing,” Ralph M. Perrey, executive director of THDA, said in the release.

Tennessee elk permit goes up for auction (Nooga)

Do you enjoy a good auction, and would you like to go elk hunting in Tennessee? If the answer is yes, you’ll be checking out the eBay auction for a 2013 Tennessee elk hunting permit. Each year, lawmakers allow one Tennessee elk hunting permit to be sold at auction as a fundraiser for a nongovernmental organization. The 2013 NGO elk permit was provided to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting habitat conservation and Tennessee’s hunting and fishing heritage.

Labor department to discuss workers’ comp changes (Associated Press)

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is holding a series of seminars across the state to explain the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013. The bill removes injured workers’ claims from state trial courts and instead creates a special panel appointed by the governor to hear claims and appeals. The seminars aim to educate employers about the impact of the bill, including ways to avoid workplace injuries and how to better handle them if they occur.

Campers warned of carbon monoxide dangers (Nooga)

The state fire marshal’s office warns campers to be aware of carbon monoxide dangers around tents and RVs. Carbon monoxide is an invisible, odorless gas created when fuels (like kerosene, gasoline, wood, coal, natural gas, propane, oil and methane) burn incompletely. This often results from camping equipment, such as barbecue grills, portable generators or other fuel-powered devices. “Carbon monoxide levels from barbecue grills or portable generators can increase quickly in enclosed spaces,” Tennessee Fire Marshal Julie Mix McPeak said.

Lincoln County man stole from employer, TBI says (WKRN-TV Nashville)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation this week arrested a Lincoln County man for stealing from his employer. Robert Dupree, 47, was arrested Monday on charges of theft and burglary. While working for the South Central Human Resources Agency in Fayetteville, the TBI says Dupree charged his employer’s fuel card for personal use. There were also fraudulent charges were made on the agency’s accounts between September 2012 and February 2012. In addition, in January, Dupree broke into the agency and stole household items collected for families in need.

TBI arrests 3 suspects for alleged gift-card scheme in Smyrna (Daily News Journal)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has charged three individuals for running a gift-card scheme after they were indicted by the Rutherford County grand jury earlier this month. The investigation into the theft operation is continuing, TBI officials said Wednesday. Robert Butler, 31, and Donyale Blackwell, 26, of Hermitage were charged with one count of theft over $1,000, officials said. Cedric Hayes, 22, of Hermitage was indicted on one count of theft over $500. The three individuals entered the Wal-Mart in Smyrna, removed a child’s car sear from its box, loaded the box with other merchandise and paid for it as if the box contained the car seat, according to the TBI.

New law designed to crack down on gang activity (WSMV-TV Nashville)

Gang members who commit crimes could spend more time in prison thanks to a new state law intended to cut down on gang activity across Tennessee. Davidson County Assistant District Attorney Rob McGuire has been prosecuting gang members for years. “We know that gangs in Nashville are responsible for a significant amount of violence,” said McGuire. It’s hard to say how many gang members are out there, but they easily number in the hundreds. Now if prosecutors can legally connect a felony crime to a criminal gang, he can ask for a harsher sentence.

Campfield Strategy Unveiled? (Metro Pulse)

The outlines of state Sen. Stacey Campfield’s campaign for re-election are becoming clear. His call for a TBI investigation into an inept robopoll that harassed people with repeated calls has made polling the race suspect. Campfield doesn’t spend money on polling. His opponent, County Commissioner Richard Briggs, has Ben Farmer as his campaign manager. Farmer is an expert pollster. Campfield is also attacking political guru Tom Ingram on his blog, pointing out the controversies Ingram has been involved in lately.

County Tax Rate Doesn’t Get Past Budget Committee (Memphis Daily News)

Shelby County Commissioners could not find enough votes in committee sessions Wednesday, July 17, for a county property tax rate that had any chance of passing before the full commission next week. In the committee session Wednesday, 12 of the 13 commissioners were present. But a proposed $4.32 tax rate from Commissioner Terry Roland only got two votes. Roland proposed the certified tax rate without a 6-cent tax hike proposed by Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell.

Shelby County Commission will vote again on $4.38 tax rate (C. Appeal/Moore)

The Shelby County Commission’s budget and finance committee failed to approve a new property tax rate on Wednesday, voting 4-7 against the $4.38 rate proposed by county Mayor Mark Luttrell. The rate proposal goes back to the full commission Monday with a negative recommendation. The commission already had voted it down last week. The budget committee also rejected a proposal to pass the certified tax rate of $4.32 per $100 of assessed value, an amount that would raise the same revenue for the county as in fiscal 2013.

Party Parity? (Memphis Flyer)

In elections which would not formally conclude until several hours after our print deadline on Tuesday, the six incorporated municipalities of outer Shelby County have taken a second crack at authorizing separate municipal school systems for themselves. Once again, the municipalities, bound to the new Shelby County unified school system for at least the coming school year, are Germantown, Collierville, Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland, and Millington. Though for obvious reasons we could not include the numerical results in this issue, there was very little suspense as to how things would turn out and not much doubt that the referenda would be approved.

Battle to make public TBI file on ex-judge hits potential roadblock (N-S/Satterfield)

Another roadblock looms in the path to make public the entire Tennessee Bureau of Investigation report on its probe of disgraced former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner. Earlier this month, Baumgartner’s defense team, Donald A. Bosch and Ann Short, sent a letter to Senior Judge Walter Kurtz informing him the entire file was contained on a compact disc filed in U.S. District Court as part of the federal case against the ex-judge. Kurtz has been pondering a request filed in Knox County Criminal Court by the parents of the victims of a January 2007 torture-slaying to make the file public.

Overweight Patients Impact Medical Flights (WTVF-TV Nashville)

The obesity problem continues to grow in Tennessee and first responders are being forced to deal with the issue in a way that directly impacts their job and patient care. “People are just getting larger,” explains Chief Flight Nurse Keith Evans who works for Vanderbilt Medical Center’s LifeFlight program. Evans says that there have been some instances where patients are simply too wide to be safely strapped into the chopper’s stretcher. “There has been the rare occasion where we’re not able to get the straps around the patient just because of their girth and so in that instance we wound up taking them by ground transport,” Evans explains.

Meningitis outbreak: Patient sues NECC’s sister companies (Tennessean/Wilemon)

A Kentucky woman who contracted fungal meningitis filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday — not against the pharmacy that made the medicine linked to the outbreak, but against its sister companies instead. The lawsuit takes aim at what could be better monetary targets because the New England Compounding Center has filed for bankruptcy protection. The court papers also allege that a Nashville clinic used the Massachusetts-based pharmacy to save $2.45 a vial after its prior supplier increased the price of a steroid commonly used in spinal injections as a treatment for chronic pain.

Beat Lamar Still Has No One to Beat Him With (Metro Pulse)

Tea Party members have turned to the state Senate to try and recruit a candidate to run against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander in next year’s Republican primary. The focus of late has been on state Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville. Green is a West Point graduate and a doctor. When he was serving in Iraq he supervised the medical care of Saddam Hussein after he was pulled out of the spider hole. Green raised a million bucks when he ran for the state Senate. But Green raised the money with the help of Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who wanted to take the seat away from Democrats.

Tea Party groups plan to protest at Lamar Alexander event (Times Free-Press/Sher)

Tea Party and other conservative groups say they plan to protest against U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on Saturday when Alexander holds a campaign-related event honoring Middle Tennessee county GOP chairmen in Smyrna. “We think that his record is unacceptable and that he should’ve voted with the Constitution,” said Matt Collins, a coordinator with the Tennessee Campaign for Liberty in a statement. He charged the two-term incumbent is “tone deaf to the values of Tennesseans and he should change his ways.”

Fincher’s grilling doesn’t shake Bernanke’s faith in the Fed’s stimulus (CA/Sullivan)

U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher raised the specter of a stock market sell off and “panic” if the Federal Reserve ends its practice of bond buying as he questioned Fed chairman Ben S. Bernanke at a hearing Wednesday. “I’m fearful that we’re out of control pumping the money in,” the West Tennessee Republican said toward the end of his five-minute round with Bernanke. “The private sector is addicted to the pumping of the money and, when we ever shut that off, there’s going to be a reaction. The reaction that the stock market is 15,000. If we drop back to 12,000, again, you’re going to see a panic. What do we do then?”

Tracy far outraises DesJarlais in 4th District (Associated Press)

Recent Federal Election Commission filings show state Sen. Jim Tracy has outraised incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais and state Rep. Joe Carr in his bid for the 4th District seat. The Tennessean reported the Shelbyville Republican raised $296,393 this spring, more than eight times DesJarlais’ $35,155. Carr, a Lascassas Republican, finished second with $100,225. DesJarlais, a two-term Republican physician from South Pittsburg, has had a tough time fundraising, mainly because of revelations about his personal life.

House Votes to Delay Two Requirements of the Health Care Overhaul (NY Times)

Defying a veto threat from President Obama, the House on Wednesday passed bills delaying two crucial parts of his health care overhaul that require most Americans to have insurance and many employers to offer it. Republicans said it was unfair for Mr. Obama to delay enforcement of the employer mandate without granting similar relief to individuals, who may face tax penalties if they go without health insurance next year. Both requirements were scheduled to take effect in January.

Senate Reaches Deal to End Fight Over Student Loan Interest Rates (NY Times)

Senators negotiating a bipartisan deal to keep student loan rates low reached a deal on Wednesday night that could end the partisan feud on Capitol Hill that has threatened to permanently double interest rates. Two Senate aides said that the new proposal, which had been the subject of tense negotiations since the rates doubled on July 1, would include both a cap on federal Stafford and PLUS loans and a relatively low interest rate pegged to Treasury notes. Undergraduates would pay the 10-year Treasury note rate, 2.49 percent on Wednesday, plus 2.05 percent, with a cap of 8.25 percent, to protect them from inflation.

Little Financial Aid to States in Immigration Plan (Stateline)

The immigration overhaul passed by the U.S. Senate could put a big squeeze on the budgets of state and local governments. The proposal does not help states pay for costs incurred by required policy changes, including ramped up English classes and greater access to public hospitals and health clinics. “Potentially, we are going to create a financial catastrophe for states and localities,” said Sheri Steisel, senior federal affairs counsel and a human services expert at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

NRC gives TVA worst rating in the country at its Browns Ferry plant (TFP/Flessner)

For the ninth time in three years, the Tennessee Valley Authority is being cited by federal regulators for violating safety standards at one of its reactors. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission already has given TVA the worst rating in the country at its Browns Ferry nuclear plant. Now it is proposing a lesser citation at the same plant for an incident in December when the reactor tripped. The NRC plans a meeting Wednesday in Atlanta to review the Dec. 22 shutdown of the unit, which has been blamed on operator error when power was being restored on the Unit 2 reactor.

Cheatham County lowers development taxes (Nashville Business Journal)

Cheatham County is getting more business friendly. The Cheatham County Commission this week reduced its development tax from $3,750 to $50 and its adequate facilities tax from $1 square foot to 10 cents. “A few years ago, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cheatham County had the highest development tax in the state. Now it is one of the lowest,” Daryl Phillips, director of economic and community development for Cheatham County, said in a news release. 

Verizon Wireless invests in Tennessee (Nooga)

Leaders of Verizon Wireless announced today that the company invested more than $45 million in Tennessee during the first half of 2013 to improve and expand its wireless broadband and voice networks. The company’s high-speed 4G LTE wireless service is now available to nearly 97 percent of all Tennesseans, according to a news release from Verizon. The company’s coverage spans 37,059 square miles of the state. The investment helps with year-round preparations for severe weather that can impact networks.

Memorial Health Care System restructures executive leadership (TFP/Harrison)

With a shuffle of titles and positions, Memorial Health Care System officials say they’re hoping to adapt to the giant shuffle in the health care industry. The changes redefine Memorial’s executive leadership. The system’s two hospitals, Memorial Hospital and Memorial Hospital Hixson, now each will have a president, meaning system CEO James Hobson will shed the “president” part of his title. “The economics of health care — from health care reform to sequestration — has challenged our way of operating and delivering health care for the communities we serve,” Lisa McCluskey, vice president of marketing and communications, said in a statement.

Memphis fails to lure COGIC back in 2014 (Commercial Appeal/Walters)

Memphis continues to come up short in its efforts to host one of the Church of God in Christ’s large annual conventions. COGIC leaders have signed a three-year contract to keep its annual Holy Convocation and General Assembly in St. Louis through 2016. The Memphis-based Pentecostal denomination, with more than 5 million members worldwide, also has chosen other cities to host its 2014 women and youth conferences. “We’re disappointed,” said Mayor A C Wharton, “but all is not lost. We’re not giving up. We’re going to keep negotiating. We hope to have a strong COGIC presence in Memphis forever.”

PR expert says settlement helps Pilot to repair public image (WATE-TV Knoxville)

A public relations expert told 6 News the class action settlement and other steps taken by Pilot Flying J are helping the diesel giant restore its image following a very public FBI investigation into rebate fraud. In roughly three months, Pilot Flying J has faced allegations of fraud, followed by lawsuits by more than 20 plaintiffs and guilty pleas entered by five employees. During a press conference April 22, 2013, CEO Jimmy Haslam acknowledged the damage the investigation has done to the company.

Pilot deal draws fire from attorneys (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Flory)

Pilot Flying J may have reached a civil settlement with several of its customers, but not everyone is impressed with the deal. On Wednesday, the proposed agreement drew fire from attorneys for clients who have not joined the settlement. Jeffrey Friedman, an attorney who is representing Alabama-based Shoreline Transportation, said in an email that companies targeted by the fraud are being deprived of a say in the settlement. “The thing that bothers us the most about this class settlement is that it is like a bank robber who gets caught red-handed stealing money, offering to return the money with interest in order to avoid prosecution,” Friedman said.

Tennessee charter school organizations merge resources (Memphis Biz Journal)

Tennessee Charter School Incubator and the Tennessee Charter Schools Association have formed the Tennessee Charter School Center, which will merge resources and functions of both groups. Greg Thompson, currently CEO of the Tennessee Charter School Incubator, will lead the new organization. Matt Throckmorton, executive director of the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, will serve as an adviser during the merger process. The merger responds to the growth in demand for charter schools across Tennessee. Since the charter school law was passed in 2002, Tennessee has seen the number of charter schools grow to 47.

TN charter schools incubator and lobbying group merge (Tennessean/Garrison)

Tennessee’s two leading support groups of charter schools are merging in what organizers are calling the first organization of its kind in the country to both lobby for and create new publicly financed, privately operated charters. The new organization, the Tennessee Charter School Center, combines the Tennessee Charter Schools Association, a longtime charter school lobbying arm, and the Nashville-based Tennessee Charter School Incubator, launched four years ago to help get new charters off the ground.

Blount County’s first STEM academy to start classes Friday (WATE-TV Knoxville)

The very first STEM academy in Blount County is schedule to open up this week to students. STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering and math – have been getting more emphasis in recent rounds of educational reform. The Clayton-Bradley STEM Academy, located on Alcoa Trail Road in Maryville, opens to students on Friday. Pat Bradley, the school’s executive director, gave 6 News a tour of the new school on Wednesday. “The school is ready to go. Teachers have been very involved in the last few months of planning curriculum and getting all those thing in to place,” Bradley said.

Questions remain about the transfer of schools to municipal districts (CA/Locker)

With the six new municipal school districts re-approved by suburban voters, the transfer of school buildings owned by Shelby County Schools to the new districts where they’re located will be back up for discussion soon. Those dealing with the transfer issue said they hope it can be resolved locally, but one lawmaker said legislation is being drafted in case the state has to step in. Suburban mayors will ask for the buildings for free or nominal payment because they were built with taxpayer funding, and the merged Shelby and Memphis school system will not have to serve the students who live in the six new districts when they begin operation with the 2014-15 school year.

School Board Races Next for Suburbs (Memphis Daily News)

Look for suburban school board races probably in November now that voters in the six suburban towns and cities in Shelby County have approved forming municipal school districts. The results were never close in any of the separate referendums on the Tuesday, July 16, special election ballots in each of the towns and cities. The ballot questions were the only items on the ballots. In Arlington, Bartlett, Collierville and Germantown, the ballot proposition won with more than 90 percent of the vote.

Memphis school leaders respond to municipal schools election results (WMC-TV)

Come 2014, all six Shelby County suburbs will launch their own school systems. The original Memphis school board commissioners who surrendered the charter, which ultimately triggered Tuesday night’s election, are now responding to the results. After the Memphis and Shelby County Schools merger became imminent, the Tennessee Legislature lifted the ban on municipal schools. Tuesday night, suburban voters voted. The results prove that they want separate schools. Are those results what city school leaders originally expected?

Pickler: Lots of change going forward with municipal schools (WMC-TV Memphis)

Voters overwhelmingly approved municipals school districts in Shelby County Tuesday. Both the unified school district and the suburban municipalities have major issues to tackle in the next year. Unified School board member David Pickler says there will be a lot of change going forward. “You’ve got six districts to get started, and they have got a big job ahead of them,” he said. “We’re going to have to take up the big issue on the buildings for these municipal districts. We have make sure we understand what the financial situation is going to be.”

Shelby County board to consider paddling ban (Commercial Appeal/Kelley)

Shelby County Schools administrators will try again next week to present a clear and convincing case against corporal punishment in the newly unified district set to begin classes on Aug. 5. The proposal to prohibit paddling, which is banned in 90 percent of the country’s large urban school districts, was delayed in June when a few board members spoke in favor of the practice and administrators were asked to bring back the latest research. Spanking was outlawed in Memphis City Schools in 2004, when it was replaced by a disciplinary policy dubbed the Blue Ribbon Plan that stressed positive intervention.

TN Contractor Indicted for Improper Cleanup of Meth Houses (WPTY-TV Memphis)

A west Tennessee contractor is facing federal fraud charges connected to the improper clean up of drug houses. The man was hired to clean meth homes but he didn’t have the proper license to verify the homes were no longer contaminated. One of the homes is here in Shelby County. The homeowner didn’t want to go on camera, but says he feels like he’s been duped. He thought the contractor was legit and only discovered there was a problem when state and federal investigators contacted him. Now he’s out the money he paid the contractor, the home is still contaminated, and the neighbors are upset.



Editorial: Haslam will continue to face suspicions until he is more transparent (CA)

As long as Gov. Bill Haslam refuses to be fully transparent about his private business interests while holding elective office he will frequently face questions about possible conflicts of interest like the one that arose over whether he had a stake in a company that won a state contract to manage state office space and real estate. The state awarded Chicago-based Jones Lang LaSalle two contracts to manage about 9.6 million square feet of the state-owned or leased office space over the next five years. The contracts will pay JLL $38 million and state officials said the deal is expected to save taxpayers about $100 million over the next decade.

Editorial: New visas would add jobs, spark investment in startups, tech firms (TN)

As the push for immigration reform hits a fever pitch on Capitol Hill, much of the debate has centered on securing our borders and finding a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Emerging with equal force in this debate are pro-business groups and entrepreneurs pushing for sensible and meaningful immigration legislation, including creating a visa and “green card” program that encourages foreign investors to come to the U.S. and work alongside investors and venture capitalists to create and invest in new startups in the scientific, high-tech and engineering fields.

Free-Press Editorial: Alexander’s attempt to exploit Paul backfires (TFP)

“Nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.” At least that’s what Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., claims in Alexander’s latest campaign ad. But the ad, like Alexander, isn’t quite what it seems. In the television ad, Alexander, a self-proclaimed conservative whose voting record is more in line with big-government liberals, plays a dubious trick on voters. It turns out that the clip of Paul seemingly praising Alexander featured in the ad is taken out of context in an attempt to appeal to the fiscal conservatives and tea party supporters who view Paul as a hero. Alexander’s dodgy decision backfired badly. Sen. Paul’s full comments, which are available on YouTube, are, “He goes around, he talks to everyone and nobody wants to say no to Lamar Alexander.”

Editorial: Jackson wise to take on childhood obesity fight (Jackson Sun)

It is always good to see our communities and community leaders recognized for success. Last week saw Jackson and Jackson Mayor Jerry Gist recognized at the White House for success in tackling one of the country’s most serious societal problems, childhood obesity. The city’s efforts to address this issue by meeting national health and wellness goals through the national Let’s Move! Cities, Towns and Counties initiative will pay big dividends in the future. Gist and 38 other healthy community leaders were recognized by first lady Michelle Obama for having met program goals. Only Jackson and Knoxville were recognized for their success in Tennessee.

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