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Press Releases

TN Senate Dems Denounce Legislation Targeting Federal Pre-K Funds for Davidson, Shelby Counties

Press release from the Tennessee Senate Democratic Caucus; February 25, 2015:

NASHVILLE – New pre-K classrooms in Davidson and Shelby counties could be in jeopardy if legislation in committee today passes the General Assembly.

“We know that early childhood education makes a tremendous difference in a child’s life,” state Rep. Antonio Parkinson said. “This legislation would target our state’s two largest school systems and take us a step backward because lawmakers want to make a political point.”

The Shelby County School Consortium and Metro Nashville Public Schools announced in October they will receive $70 million in federal funds for new pre-K classrooms. Whie the legislation is targeted at pre-K, it could have larger implications for local funding. HB 159 would require the state to back out of an agreement to receive federal funding earmarked for a county if the state did not apply on behalf of all local governments.

It will be heard in the House Local Government Subcommittee at 1:30 p.m. today.

“We need to see more pre-K classrooms in every county in Tennessee, but this legislation is not the way to do it,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Jeff Yarbro said. “Instead, this legislation would impose a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t reflect the needs and opportunities of different communities.”

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Press Releases

Haslam: Warby Parker to Open Davidson County Office

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; September 3, 2014:

NASHVILLE— Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty along with Warby Parker (warbyparker.com) co-founders Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa announced today the transformative lifestyle brand will open a Nashville office, its first outside of New York. The brand will initially open in a temporary location, with plans to build out a permanent space in the near future. As part of the expansion, Warby Parker will create more than 250 new jobs in Davidson County over the next five years.

“We want to thank Warby Parker for investing in Tennessee and creating these high quality jobs in Nashville,” Haslam said. “Tennessee’s central geographic location and strong creative class makes us a natural fit for a design company like Warby Parker, and today’s announcement is another step toward our goal of becoming the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“Tennessee continues to set itself apart as a state where companies can feel confident in leveraging new investment,” Hagerty said. “Warby Parker is another example of a cutting edge brand deciding to locate in Tennessee, taking advantage of our low cost of living, ideal, central location, and creative and talented workforce pool. Our state offers visionary companies like Warby Parker an environment most conducive to continued success, and I welcome their expansion to Tennessee. I appreciate these new jobs they are creating in our communities and look forward to their continued presence in our state.”

The Nashville office marks the first time Warby Parker will expand its corporate team outside of its New York City headquarters. The company’s commitment to providing incredible customer experiences means hiring and housing a large, talented team outside of the 300-plus employees who currently work in New York City.

“Nashville is such a vibrant city—we’re thrilled to put down roots there,” Neil Blumenthal, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker, said. “We will continue to expand our New York headquarters, but this is an exciting next step that will allow us to fuel future company and customer growth.”

“We’re constantly seeking ways to build closer relationships with our customers,” Dave Gilboa, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Warby Parker, said. “Opening an office in Nashville will allow us to do just that as we expand our Customer Experience team, tap into a talented local workforce, reach customers from a different time zone and build a presence in a really dynamic and culturally interesting city.”

Warby Parker is an online-native brand that has now expanded to include six free-standing retail locations around the country, and eight showrooms, including one in Nashville at Imogene and Willie, located on 12th Avenue South. The new Nashville office will focus first on hiring employees for its Customer Experience team, with the possibility of adding team members to other departments in the future.

“Nashville is known the world over as a center for creative talent, and fast-growing companies like Warby Parker understandably are attracted to the innovation and creative culture in our city,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “I thank Warby Parker for their investment in Nashville, which further demonstrates the vibrancy of our city, the strength of our workforce, the low cost of doing business here and the area’s high quality of life.”

“TVA and NES congratulate Warby Parker on its decision to locate operations in Nashville, Tennessee,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “We are proud to be partners with the state of Tennessee, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to support companies like Warby Parker that locate, add new jobs and continue to grow in Nashville.”

Warby Parker is a transformative lifestyle brand with a lofty goal: to offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses. Founded in 2010 by friends Neil Blumenthal, Dave Gilboa, Andy Hunt and Jeff Raider, the company seeks to radically transform the optical industry while demonstrating that companies can do good in the world, scale, and make a profit without charging a premium for it. Warby Parker designs their glasses in-house, cutting out middlemen and unnecessary markups, while providing their customers a world-class purchasing experience. Eyewear starts at $95, and for every pair sold, a pair is distributed to someone in need through their Buy a Pair, Give a Pair program. To date, Warby Parker has distributed over 1 million pairs of glasses globally to people in need.

The company expects to be operational in Nashville by mid-October of this year and plans to begin hiring immediately. People interested in applying for a role on Warby Parker’s Customer Experience team can visit www.warbyparker.com/jobs.

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Business and Economy NewsTracker

TN Economy Said to Be Improving Despite Stagnant Jobs Climate

Although Tennessee’s unemployment rate has remained unchanged for the past three months, the state’s economic outlook is nevertheless improving, driven by growth in the Middle Tennessee region.

That was the take-home message from Dr. David Penn, director of the Middle Tennessee State University Business and Economic Research Center, who delivered remarks at MTSU’s Economic Outlook Conference on Sept. 27.

“Employment is still growing by one-point-seven percent every year. Depending on what happens with government employment, it’s conceivable Tennessee could reach recovery to pre-recession levels within about 12 to 18 months, at [the current] rate of growth,” said Penn.

The Tennessee heartland continues to show economic improvement, but growth has slowed across other parts of the state, Penn said, adding that statewide sales tax collections appear to be braking. The recovery’s sluggishness is actually due in no small part to the economic woes of Tennessee’s overseas trading partners, such as Japan, China and the European Union — and in general the state’s reliance on exports, he said.

Although the number of new unemployment claims is at its lowest level since 2007, and is continuing to slowly fall, the state’s unemployment rate has in fact slowly increased over the year, holding steady at eight-and-a-half percent for the past few months, despite a decline in the number of layoffs, Penn said.

Tennessee is still among the top 10 states for high unemployment rates, he added.

But the unemployment rate will be the last number to change as a result of former workers rejoining the labor force at a faster rate than jobs are created, and should not be considered an indicator of improvement, or the lack of it, in the economy, Penn said.

“[The] labor force [number] has hardly changed over the year,” Penn said. “What’s happening here is that folks are jumping back into the labor force after jumping out in 2010, when the participation rates dropped fairly significantly. They’re jumping back in, [and] the number of jobs is just barely growing enough to absorb them, keeping the unemployment rate almost unchanged over the year.”

Additionally, the rate of growth in real earned income has been “accelerating generally” since early 2012, and has been increasing at about the same pace as the national growth rate, Penn said.

Counties with the lowest unemployment rates are for the most part located in the Middle Tennessee. Several of them are about two percentage points below the state average.

Rutherford and Williamson Counties both place high on the Bureau of Labor Statistics list comparing job and wage growth in the 334 largest counties nationwide, with Rutherford ranking sixth and Williamson coming in at 15 in job growth.

However, when it comes to wage growth, Williamson far outpaces Rutherford, coming in at eighth while Rutherford lags behind at 249.

Davidson comes in at No. 86 nationally for job growth and No. 254 for wages. Knox, Hamilton and Shelby are also included on the list, coming in ranked at Nos. 260, 193 and 186, respectively, in employment, and 12, 290 and 216 for wages.

The Metro Nashville region, which includes Murfreesboro and Franklin, ranks No. 1 in private sector job growth among the largest metropolitan areas in the United States with a growth rate of four-and-a-half percent, according to BLS statistics. Private sector job growth rates for most of the counties in the Nashville area are much higher than the Tennessee state average of about two percent, with Rutherford County’s growth rate at almost eight percent, while Williamson County’s is about five percent and Davidson is at three-and-a-half percent.

“Job creation is booming for the Nashville Metro [area],” Penn said.

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Press Releases

Haslam Announces ARAMARK to Open Nashville Service Center

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam; July 17, 2013:

NASHVILLE—Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty, along with ARAMARK officials and Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today announced the creation of a new ARAMARK Business Services Center in Nashville. The center will create more than 1,000 new jobs over the next three years and represents an investment of approximately $20 million in Davidson County.

“We are grateful to ARAMARK for the significant number of job opportunities created by the new Business Services Center and the company’s continued investment in Tennessee,” Haslam said. “It is a strong vote of confidence when companies that are already doing business here make key decisions to expand and grow their operations in Tennessee. The success of existing businesses plays a critical role in our goal to be the no. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

“ARAMARK’s decision to launch a new business services center in Middle Tennessee underscores Tennessee’s momentum in job recruitment that is unmatched in the Southeast,” Hagerty said. “Tennessee is demonstrating every day why we are now No. 1 in the Southeast for job growth, personal income growth and GDP growth. I want to thank ARAMARK and its management for making this valuable investment in Tennessee.”
“This new Business Services Center will play a pivotal role in providing exceptional service to our clients,” CEO and President of ARAMARK Eric Foss said. “We are pleased to grow our already substantial presence in Tennessee and Metropolitan Nashville.”

“ARAMARK’s creation of more than 1,000 new jobs in Nashville speaks to the deep and talented workforce in our city and the high quality of life that supports our robust economy,” Nashville Mayor Karl Dean said. “I welcome ARAMARK’s Business Services Center to Nashville and am proud that our city is increasingly being recognized as the premier location for global companies to centralize their operations.”

ARAMARK is a global leader in delivering food, facility and uniform services for businesses, schools and universities, hospitals, stadiums and various other institutions. The new Business Services Center will consolidate and centralize certain financial and human resources services that are currently dispersed across the company’s North American operations.

ARAMARK is in the process of securing its new facility in southeast Davidson County and plans for the Business Services Center to be operational by year-end.

“Our goal is to start hiring as soon as possible and bringing employees onboard to train as we finalize our site preparations,” said Brian Gabbard, ARAMARK Vice President, Global Business Services.

ARAMARK officials said the company evaluated several locations throughout the country where it has operations before deciding on Nashville. “We felt that the strong local employment base along with other key factors made Metropolitan Nashville the ideal site for our new Center,” Gabbard added.

“Congratulations to ARAMARK on their continuing growth and announcement to locate in Nashville,” TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said. “TVA is pleased to be an economic development partner with the State of Tennessee, Metro Government of Nashville & Davidson County, and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce to assist new investments and job creation by global service companies like ARAMARK.”

“We are excited that ARAMARK has chosen Nashville for their new shared services center.” CEO and President of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce Ralph Schulz said. “The thriving economy of the Nashville region and our skilled workforce creates a perfect environment for ARAMARK’s continued success. This project will have a significant impact on our entire region and our team looks forward to working with ARAMARK as they make move to their new location.”

ARAMARK is headquartered in Philadelphia, Pa. and employs more than 250,000 associates across 22 countries, including more than 3,200 in Tennessee. The company has several facilities throughout the state and provides food, facility and uniform services to more than 9,000 Tennessee clients including, University of Tennessee, Meharray Medical College, American General Insurance and Lifeway Christian Resources.

Work will transition to the new Nashville center over the next 36 months as the center grows its local operations. Job seekers interested in opportunities at ARAMARK’s new Business Services Center can submit resumes or seek additional information by emailing ARAMARKJobs@outlook.com.

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Press Releases

Davidson Co. Court Places HRC Medical Under 3rd-Party Control

Press release from the Office of Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper; December 28, 2012:

Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Amanda McClendon has appointed a temporary receiver over HRC Medical Centers, Inc. and ordered the company’s owners to stop making alleged unsubstantiated and misleading claims regarding its treatment programs, Attorney General Bob Cooper announced today.

HRC Medical, Don Hale and Dan Hale are prohibited from making these advertising claims about HRC’s alternative regimen of “bio-identical” hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) until resolution at trial. HRC Medical Centers, Inc. has operated clinics in Nashville, Knoxville, and Memphis that have sold BHRT.

The court order places HRC Medical Centers, Inc. and its assets under control of a receiver, Nashville attorney John McLemore, who is required to ensure that it is operated in accordance with state and federal law.

The temporary injunction prohibits HRC Medical Centers, Inc., HRC Management Midwest, LLC, Don Hale, and Dan Hale from making claims that its BHRT are safe, involve no cancer risk, and have no or minimal side effects.

“We are pleased with the court’s ruling,” Attorney General Cooper said, “and urge any consumer who has taken HRC’s alternative regimen of ‘bio-identical’ hormone replacement therapy to contact his or her health care provider about any potential adverse health effects from the therapy as soon as possible.”

The order also prevents the defendants from advertising BHRT to women unless the defendants clearly and conspicuously disclose that their therapy increases specific health risks and side effects. Among those potential risks are possible risk of developing endometrial cancer, breast cancer, blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, possible long-term or permanent disfigurement, head hair loss, permanent hair growth on one’s face, chest, and buttocks, severe acne, causing a woman’s voice to temporarily or permanently deepen, menstrual problems in menopausal women and psychological changes such as increased anger or aggressive behavior, and other adverse reactions.

The order prevents the defendants from advertising BHRT to men without clearly and conspicuously disclosing that their therapy increases a consumer’s risk or possible risk of developing prostate cancer, developing blood clots, strokes, heart attacks, high blood pressure, tissue edema, causing sexual dysfunction, infertility, developing enlarged breasts, head hair loss, and developing psychological changes such as increased anger or aggressive behavior and other adverse reactions.

Among other findings, the court determined the State showed: a likelihood of success on the merits of its lawsuit; that the defendants intentionally misrepresented or omitted reference to the benefits, efficacy, or known side effects and risks of HRC’s BHRT, and that the defendants intentionally misrepresented unsubstantiated claims safety claims and claims that HRC’s BHRT restores a user’s hormones levels to that of a younger person.

The State’s action was brought on behalf of the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs. To view the filings and related pleadings go to http://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/cases/hrc/hrc.html

To date, the Attorney General’s Office has received a significant volume of calls. While the Attorney General’s Office cannot provide legal or medical advice, anyone who is concerned about possible adverse effects that may be associated with BHRT is urged to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 615-741-1671.

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Press Releases

ACLU Report Documents ‘Devastating Impact’ of 287(g) Jail Program

Press release from the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee; December 12, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee today released a report, “Consequences & Costs: Lessons Learned from Davidson County, Tennessee’s Jail Model 287(g) Program,” documenting the serious problems with the Davidson County Sheriff’s recently-ended 287(g) jail program. The purpose of the report, which is being sent to the Knox and Rutherford County sheriffs, both of whom have submitted 287(g) applications, is to explain the devastating impact of the program and to urge them to withdraw their applications.

“We hope that the Rutherford and Knox County sheriffs will read our report and recognize that it is in the best interest of their communities to withdraw their pending 287(g) applications. These programs only damage community trust in law enforcement, increase the potential for racial profiling and waste precious law enforcement resources,” said ACLU-TN Executive Director Hedy Weinberg.

The 287(g) program run by the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency deputizes state and local police and sheriffs to enforce federal immigration law. DHS will meet on December 17 to make decisions on applications for new 287(g) agreements, including the applications submitted by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office. DHS is also currently reviewing its existing 287(g) agreements with 57 law enforcement agencies in 21 states whose agreements were temporarily extended, most until the end of December 2012 (1).

Weinberg noted, “We are especially concerned about Rutherford County’s application given the area’s history of hostility toward local Muslims and immigrants, including a Sheriff’s Office training led by a known anti-Islam speaker (2) and local legislators’ sponsorship of numerous harsh, anti-immigrant bills.”

Key findings from the report, based on original quantitative data analysis led by Professor Katharine Donato of Vanderbilt University’s Sociology Department as well as interviews with community members, include the following:

  • While the 287(g) program was developed with the stated goal of responding to “immigration violators who pose a threat to national security or public safety (3), ”the vast majority of the time, deportations through Davidson County’s 287(g) program were triggered by minor, often traffic-related offenses. 

    In 2012, misdemeanors accounted for nearly 79 percent of arrestsport on Impact of Davdof foreign-born people (4) and for those ultimately put into removal proceedings, a staggering 67 percent of their arrests were for Level 2 offenses, which was the level that included traffic violations in the data analyzed. Simultaneously, after implementation of 287(g), among the foreign-born population, arrests for the most severe Level 1 offenses actually decreased 21 percent, moving the program far from its stated goal of targeting threats to public safety.

  • Davidson County’s 287(g) program encouraged racial profiling and disparate treatment from stop to detention, based on characteristics such as appearance, ethnicity or language skills.Though under a jail model 287(g) agreement, the agency with immigration authority is not the same agency responsible for arresting people on the street, evidence from Davidson County illustrates how the program’s presence impacted the perceptions and actions of others involved in the criminal justice system, from police on patrol to other public officials, whose statements regarding the influence of language and immigration status on their decisions are included in the report.In addition, data shows that implementation of the 287(g) program in Davidson County corresponds with foreign-born people being arrested at an increasing rate for the single charge of “No Driver’s License,” which was not only the most common gateway charge for deportation in Davidson County, but also something that cannot be determined until after the individual is pulled over. If no other charge is brought, then the reason for pulling that person over is questionable at best and quite possibly a case of racial profiling. Of single charge arrests, the percentage that were for “No Driver’s License” increased 9.4 percent for the foreign-born after implementation of 287(g). The percentage of single-charge arrests for “No Driver’s License” that led to removal increased from 18 percent of arrests before implementation of 287(g) to 43 percent after, an increase of 136 percent.
  • The 287(g) program led to immigrants living in fear and distrust of law enforcement. Numerous examples in the report illustrate how, by introducing the threat of immigration enforcement into community policing, Davidson County’s 287(g) program deterred immigrants, including domestic violence survivors, from reporting crimes they experienced or witnessed, ultimately undermining public safety as a whole.

Lindsay Kee, Communications Director and author of the report, explained that “this program has been sold as an effective mechanism to deport dangerous criminals and make Nashville safer. Yet, our data indicates that of the nearly 10,000 individuals deported under 287(g), most had been arrested for minor violations. When you look at arrests of foreign-born people during 287(g)’s implementation, the percentage of arrests for the most dangerous crimes actually decreased.”

Yesterday the ACLU, along with 161 other organizations from across the country, also sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security calling for termination of the 287(g) program.

Read the full report: “Consequences & Costs: Lessons Learned from Davidson County, Tennessee’s Jail Model 287(g) Program.

(1) Fact Sheet: Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, http://www.ice.gov/news/library/factsheets/287g.htm (last visited December 6, 2012).

(2) Bob Smietana & Tony Gonzalez, Sheriff Hires Mosque Foe to Lead Terrorism Training, The Tennessean (Feb. 15, 2012), available at http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-02-15/terrorism-training-tennessee/53102430/1.

(3) Fact Sheet: Delegation of Immigration Authority Section 287(g) Immigration and Nationality Act, supra.

(4) Davidson County Sheriff’s Office, 287(g) Five-Year Report 8 (2012).

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Press Releases

Davidson Co. Poll Watching Initiative Launched, Supported by Multiple Groups

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; November 5, 2012:  

Nashville, Tenn. (November 5, 2011) — Tennessee Citizen Action, along with many other organizations and concerned citizens, have launched a large Poll Watching initiative to protect the vote in Davidson County, TN.

Over one hundred and sixty volunteers have been trained as non-partisan Poll Watchers and on Election Day will fan out to protect the vote in voting precincts across the County.

The trained Poll Watchers are not out in the field on their own. A Command Center has been set up and will be open from 6 am until the polls close. The Command Center will be staffed with election law experts who will be available to assist in any way and help Poll Watchers do their job of protecting the franchise.

In addition, a local hotline number, 615-852-5525, has been set up for anyone who experiences problems while voting.

“This is participatory democracy at its finest,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “the volunteers who have trained to be Poll Watchers understand that we all have a responsibility to safeguard our elections. This effort is driven by motivated citizens coming together to do just that.”

The Poll Watching Collaborative effort has been created and designed as a model that can be rolled out to the other 94 counties in Tennessee during future elections.

Participating organizations include:

  • American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee
  • The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy (ACS) – Vanderbilt Chapter
  • Conexion Americas
  • CWA Local 3808
  • Law Students for Social Justice – Vanderbilt University Chapter
  • Lawyers’ Committee for Civil RIghts
  • League of Women Voters Nashville
  • L Club
  • NAACP – Nashville Branch
  • Nashville Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Nashville for All of Us
  • National Council of Negro Women – Middle Tennessee Section (MTS-NCNW)
  • Nashville Metropolitan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Chapter, Inc.
  • Sierra Club – Middle Tennessee Group
  • Tennessee Citizen Action
  • Tennessee Immigrant And Refugee Rights Coalition
  • Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition
  • UAW 737
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Press Releases

Davidson Co. Dems Criticize Haslam Decision to Fine MNPS

Press release from the Tennessee House Democrat Caucus; September 25, 2012: 

NASHVILLE – State Democratic leaders criticized Gov. Bill Haslam for taking $3.4 million in taxpayer money away from Metro Nashville schools over the school board’s refusal to approve Great Hearts Academies.

Members of the Davidson County legislative delegation, along with District 20 state Senate candidate Phillip North, spoke to reporters about the issue at a press conference Tuesday.

“We disagree with Gov. Haslam’s administration on taking Davidson County taxpayers’ dollars and sending them to other school districts when that money is needed right here,” said State Rep. Brenda Gilmore, chairwoman of the Davidson County delegation.

North said that local school boards should have the right to evaluate a charter school’s application on its merits, and he said that that’s what happened in the case of Great Hearts.

“The merits of the application of a charter school company should be left to the local, elected school board,” North said. “I continue to have confidence in our elected school board, teachers and school administrators.”

Others said it might be time to clarify state law on charter schools. The law currently gives charter schools the right to appeal a school board’s decision, but does not explicitly give the state sole authority to approve a charter school’s application.

“If that’s what legislators had intended, we would have set up an independent authorizer,” Rep. Mike Stewart said.

“We have Democrats on both sides of the charter school issue,” Caucus Chairman Rep. Mike Turner said. “But we all agree that it’s wrong to penalize Metro when they’ve made a judicious decision.”

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Press Releases

TCA: Are Davidson Co. Elections ‘Borked?’

Newsletter from Tennessee Citizen Action; September 13, 2012: 

BORKED

According to the dictionary for geeks, something is “borked” when it doesn’t work correctly or misbehaves, generally due to negligence by the person(s) that are responsible for it.

So just how borked are elections In Davidson County? Well, we’ll know this afternoon [pdf] after the Davidson County Election Commission meeting.

See, after deciding last week to NOT use the problematic Electronic Poll Books in the November Election, it came to our attention that the Davidson County Election Commission (DCEC) will meet again today to reconsider using the malfunctioning machines.

If the DCEC decides to reinstate the EPBs in November then we will be left scratching our heads and wondering why?

As the world’s leading democracy, we can’t use machines that deny some residents the opportunity to participate equally in our democratic process.

Read the rest of the story… and then call or email the Davidson County Election Commission and ask them to stick with their original decision to NOT use the Electronic Poll Books in November.

Go here for more…

CITIZEN ACTION IN THE NEWS

State wants Davidson County Election Commission to ‘make a wrong a right,” WPLN, September 11, by Blake Farmer

Tennessee Citizen Action Raises More Questions, As Officials Reconsider Decision on EPBs,” Nashville Scene, September 12, by Steven Hale

Citizens’ group worries that problematic poll books will be used again,” Tennessean, September 12, by Brian Wilson

Davidson election leaders could reverse poll book vote,” WSMV-TV, September 12, by Cara Kumari.

Metro Councilmembers pull purse strings, ask for commission audit,” WPLN, August 30, 2012, by Blake Farmer

ALEC UPDATE

ECHOING ALEC’S PLAYBOOK, THE REAL STORY OF WALKER’s TORT “REFORM”: On New Year’s weekend in 2011, many Wisconsinites were focused on the Badgers’ return to the Rose Bowl or whether the Green Bay Packers would beat the Detroit Lions and get another shot to win the Super Bowl, but the incoming administration of Governor Scott Walker had other, bigger contests on its agenda. In mid-winter, while many in the state were worried about who would win or lose the big games, Walker’s team was preparing to change state law in numerous ways, including making it easier for corporations to win big cases and limit the damages paid if their products or practices kill or injure people in Wisconsin.

Walker, who had suddenly dropped out of college in his senior year at Marquette University, didn’t think up these changes to Wisconsin personal injury law all by himself. Key provisions of his “tort reform” package were previously drafted by lawyers or lobbyists for the global corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Read the rest…

ALEC UPDATE, PART 2

PROGRESSIVE STATES ACTION: “ALEC and its high-priced global public relations firm have begun to attack its critics.

Wisconsin legislators affiliated with ALEC are deleting public records related to the organization.

In just 25 days last year, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker fast tracked his tort “reform” agenda through the legislature. Key parts of the package “were previously drafted by lawyers or lobbyists for the global corporations that are part of the American Legislative Exchange Council.” More

IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: PROFITING FROM PRIVATE DOLLARS: For years, corporations have joined the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) for the opportunity to develop legislation that diverts public dollars into their corporate coffers. A new report by In the Public Interest, “Profiting from Public Dollars: How ALEC and Its Members Promote Privatization of Government Services and Assets,” exposes ALEC’s extensive privatization agenda.

The report details how private prison corporations, online education companies, health care corporations, and major industry players pay large membership fees to ALEC in exchange for valuable and unfettered access to state legislators. Corporations are able to work with ALEC lawmakers to craft bills that allow private control of public functions, and guarantee a steady stream of tax dollars to enhance profits.

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Press Releases

TCA Pleased Davidson Co. Dropping Electronic Polls, Insists Questions Remain

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; Sept. 5, 2012: 

Nashville, Tenn. (September 5, 2012) — A week after Tennessee Citizen Action exposed anomalies in August primary and problems with the Electronic Poll Books used during the primary, the Davidson County Election Commission voted to reject the use of the machines in the November election and the Metro Council voted to remove the requested $400,000 funding for the machines.

“While we are pleased with the results of the Election Commission meeting and the decision of the Metro Council, questions remain,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “and the people of Davidson County deserve answers.”

The Electronic Poll Books (EPBs) used in the August 2 primary election in Davidson County, TN, defaulted to the Republican ballot if a poll worker did not choose a specific ballot for the voter. Many questions regarding the use and performance of the machines, as well as the decisions made by the Election Commission, remain unanswered:

  • Why did it take almost a month and pressure from the media for the Administrator of Elections to admit that there were problems with the Electronic Poll Books?
  • What does their process to address and report voter complaints and issues look like? Is it thorough and transparent?
  • According to Jon Cooper, Metro Council attorney and staff, the election commission had no authority to buy the EPBs without the council appropriating the money. Who made the decision to circumvent the council and the process and purchase the machines?
  • If the Davidson County Election Commission did not direct Elections Systems & Software (ES&S), the manufacturer of the electronic poll books, to program the machines to default to the Republican ballot, then who did? Why?
  • With all the problems ES&S has experienced in the past with their voting technology, whose decision was it to give them the contract for the Electronic Poll Books? Why?
  • The administrator of the Davidson County Election Commission continues to say that using the Electronic Poll Books is an advantage and yet anomalies in split precincts have yet to be addresses – i.e. why were two people living in the same house given different ballots?
  • Will the EPB’s default to one precinct or another if used in a split precinct?
  • What does the poll worker recruittment and training process look like in Davidson County? Is it rigorous enough?

“Along with the Metro Council, we will continue to push for a complete audit of the Davidson County Election Commission,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “No piece of any equipment that’s part of any election should ever default to one party or another. EVER. The fact that this happened, as well as the processes in place that allowed it to happen, need to be investigated further.”

Background: http://www.tnca.org/2012/08/27/machines-default-to-republican-ballot/