Press Releases

Voting Now Open in Beacon Center’s Annual ‘Lump of Coal’ Contest

Press release from the Beacon Center of Tennessee, December 14, 2015:

Beacon Announces 2015 Lump of Coal Nominees

Today, the Beacon Center announced the four finalists for the 2015 Lump of Coal award. The Lump of Coal is an annual “award” given by the Beacon Center for the government or private entity that has most abused taxpayer money. After the Beacon Center picks the four finalists, we leave it up to Tennesseans to decide who is most deserving of this infamous award. Tennesseans can vote at The “winner” of the award will be announced on Monday, December 21st.

“There have been so many instances of government abuse at the expense of the taxpayer this year that it was hard to narrow it down to just four, but after much deliberation the Beacon Center staff has picked the finalists. Now we leave the final vote in the hands of Tennesseans,” said Beacon CEO Justin Owen.

Beacon Communications Director Mark Cunningham noted, “With nominees from Memphis to Knoxville, it is pretty apparent that wasting and abusing taxpayer money is not a regional problem. While only one of these nominees will be selected as the Lump of Coal recipient, each of them should be absolutely ashamed to be included on this list.”

The finalists are:

Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE)

The mission of Memphis EDGE is essentially to redistribute money from the hardworking taxpayers of Memphis to big corporations. With disturbing levels of poverty and roads filled with potholes, it seems that the local government could be spending taxpayer money much more efficiently by improving the city rather than padding the pockets of Fat Cats at the expense of those taxpayers. To read more, click here.

The Hospital Lobby

In cartel-like fashion, some of the largest hospitals across the state teamed up to lobby for Insure TN- Gov. Haslam’s version of Medicaid expansion. Yet, despite claiming they were operating on “razor thin” margins and looking to use expansion as a bailout, several of these same hospitals were found to be overcharging the uninsured by as much as 10 times the actual cost of care. To read more, click here.

The University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion

The Office first made national news in August when it “encouraged” other students to use “gender neutral” pronouns like “ze” or” xe” lest one commit the grave offense of using “he” to refer to a man. Now the Office is “encouraging” students to take a few simple steps when celebrating the holidays so as to, “[e]nsure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.” When UT uses your money for something that manifestly does not further higher learning, it lacks a legitimate basis for taking it in the first place. To read more, click here.

Rutherford County School Board Chair Wayne Blair

The incoming chairman of the Tennessee School Boards Association sure cut his political teeth early. Before the gavel even passed, Wayne Blair, who also serves as chairman of the Rutherford County School Board, got himself in hot water. Blair was recently chastised for possibly violating the law when he convened a meeting of local teachers to rail against what he refers to as “anti-public school legislation” such as opportunity scholarships and charter schools. One statewide watchdog has questioned whether Blair’s actions are illegal. Even if they aren’t, it’s in poor taste to make teachers think they must align with your political agenda as the school district’s highest ranking elected official. To read more, click here.


The Beacon Center of Tennessee empowers Tennesseans to reclaim control of their lives, so that they can freely pursue their version of the American Dream. The Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, and independent organization dedicated to providing concerned citizens and public leaders with expert empirical research and timely free market solutions to public policy issues in Tennessee.

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