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TNDP Criticizes Haslam Admin. Financial Disclosure Policy

Press Release from the Democratic Party of Tennessee, January 17th, 2011:

Gov. Haslam Starts His Tenure On Wrong Foot By Dismissing Income Disclosure Rules

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to eliminate the requirement for him and his top aides to disclose their total yearly incomes gives the impression that the new administration would rather govern behind closed doors.

“Tennesseans deserve a state government that is responsive to their needs and transparent in its operation,” Forrester said. “Coming out of the gate with this kind of executive order is disconcerting. “Our government should be more transparent and open, not less. The governor and his staff should be above reproach when conducting state business. Removing the disclosure requirement does nothing to assure citizens government is working on their behalf. If anything, that makes people more skeptical of their government.”

Former Gov. Phil Bredesen required his top administration officials to disclose their total yearly earnings when he came into office in January 2003. Haslam received much criticism during his gubernatorial campaign for failing to disclose his income from family owned Pilot, a national truck stop chain with annual revenues estimated at $20 billion.

Haslam signed an executive order removing the disclosure requirement soon after taking the oath of office on Saturday. His order requires top administration officials to reveal sources of income only, not amounts.

Several of Haslam’s Cabinet members have extensive business dealings in the private sector.

“The General Assembly is also proposing several pieces of legislation that would hamper our ability to know how decisions are being made,” Forrester said.

Forrester pointed out that the General Assembly is mulling legislation that would remove public notices from newspapers, close emergency 911 records and dispatches to the public, close email communications among state and government officials to the public, and make people pay for access to any public record.

“We should not roll back laws and regulations that make our government more accessible to us,” Forrester said. “Too many sacrifices have been made by too many good people to allow this to happen.

“Our elected officials have a responsibility to represent the people who allowed them to serve. Restricting the public’s access to government is not the will of the people. Gov. Haslam and some other members of the state Legislature should remember that going forward,” he added.

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Haslam Appoints Georgia Corrections Official to Top DOC Post

Press Release from Gov.-elect Bill Haslam; Jan. 7, 2011:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today announced Georgia Department of Corrections Assistant Commissioner and Chief of Staff Derrick Schofield as Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction.

Schofield will oversee the state’s corrections system comprised of 14 prisons, more than 20,000 inmates of varying needs and more than 5,000 employees.

“I’m incredibly pleased that someone of Derrick’s talent has agreed to be a part of my team,” Haslam said. “Housing and rehabilitating our state prisoners is an enormous responsibility, and I believe Derrick is the right man for this important job.”

Schofield was named Georgia Assistant Commissioner of Corrections in 2009 and has 19 years total experience in the field working his way up and gaining more and more responsibility in Georgia Corrections as his career progressed.

“I’m honored and humbled to come to the great state of Tennessee and to serve with Gov.-elect Haslam,” Schofield said. “I look forward to having a long-term relationship with the department and with Tennesseans.”

Schofield is a native Georgian and received a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Fort Valley State University. He then spent eight years with the U.S. Army and reached the rank of Captain. He also has a master’s degree in Public Administration from Georgia’s Law Enforcement Command College and Columbus State University.

Schofield, 50, and his wife of 20 years, LaTrese, have three children.

For more information, please visit www.billhaslam.org.

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Former Mayor, Veteran Cop to Aid Homeland Security Chief Gibbons in Haslam Administration

Press Release from Bill Haslam, Governor-Elect of the State of Tennessee, Dec. 29, 2010:

Former TBI Agent and State Trooper Served as Hamblen County Mayor for 15 Years

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam and Tennessee Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner-designee Bill Gibbons named former Hamblen County Mayor David Purkey as Assistant Commissioner for Homeland Security.

The Office of Homeland Security (OHS) was transferred from the Governor’s Office to the Tennessee Department of Safety in 2008, and OHS’s primary responsibility is directing statewide activities for the prevention of and protection from terrorist-related events. The office also serves as a liaison between federal, state and local agencies and the private sector on security matters.

“David Purkey is a man who has helped make Tennesseans safer throughout his life, and I’m grateful that he’ll be a part of our team,” Gov.-elect Haslam said.

“David brings to the table an in-depth background in emergency planning and preparedness,” Gibbons said. “As a former county mayor, he understands the importance of forging close working relationships with local communities in our efforts to keep our state safe. He’s just the right choice for this assignment.”

Gibbons also announced David McGriff, who currently serves as director of the West Tennessee Drug Task Force, as interim Deputy Commissioner. McGriff has 41 years of law enforcement experience, and he will assist on an interim basis in setting priorities for the office, as well as identifying both challenges and opportunities.

Prior to this position, Purkey was Hamblen County Mayor from 1995-2010. Before becoming mayor his career included stints as a state trooper, TBI special agent and Hamblen County Director of Emergency Management, and he served in the U.S. Army Reserve and Tennessee Army National Guard.

“Protecting our citizens and critical resources is the highest priority of government, and having served in government safety roles previously, I am truly honored to return to my public safety profession,” Purkey said. “I appreciate Gov.-elect Haslam and Commissioner-designee Gibbons for giving me this opportunity to work with our local, state, and federal partners, and I promise to work with the State Homeland Security staff and the State Homeland Security Council to build upon the very positive relationships already established between our emergency services providers.”

Purkey, 51, is married to Pamela, and they’re members of First United Methodist Church of Morristown.

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Hamilton County Mayor Named Haslam’s Top Administration Officer

Press Release from Gov.-elect Bill Haslam, December 3, 2010:

Ramsey Record of Success Indicative of Personnel Haslam Targeting

CHATTANOOGA – Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Haslam today announced Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey as his Deputy to the Governor and Chief of Staff.

A former state representative, Ramsey is in his fifth term as Hamilton County Mayor and played a key role in recent educational and economic successes in Southeast Tennessee. His experiences at the state and local level as well as his commitment to job creation and education improvement are indicative of the personnel Haslam is targeting for his administration.

“Claude Ramsey is exactly the type of person I’m looking for as we build our team,” said Gov.-elect Haslam. “I discussed throughout the campaign the idea of leveraging regional assets for job creation, and Claude brings a unique set of experiences and understanding to job creation in Tennessee.

“He understands how government works; he understands how businesses work; and he understands how to get things done,” Haslam added.

“Claude brings communities together to benefit the region, and he knows the incredible importance of providing a quality workforce, which means offering Tennesseans a great education,” Haslam said. “He’ll serve Tennessee well, and I’m proud to have him on board.”

During his time as County Mayor, Ramsey rallied the community around public schools, attracting more than 9,000 people to participate and build consensus on recommendations and goals. The area’s recent economic successes have made headlines across the state, and during his term, Hamilton County has achieved a Triple A bond rating.

“I’m humbled to have the opportunity to work for my state and with a public servant such as Bill Haslam,” Ramsey said. “We as a state have many opportunities, and with Bill Haslam at the helm, we’ll focus on maximizing our potential in job growth, education reform and conservative budget management.”

Before becoming County Mayor, he served as the Assessor of Property from 1980-1994 and served as a County Commissioner for two years. He was elected to the State Legislature in 1972 and served four years. Ramsey, 67, is married to Jan Fizer Ramsey. Claude and Jan have a son, Rich Balthrop, a daughter, Stacy Schorr, and five grandchildren.

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Haslam Pledges Continued Support for Haywood County Megasite

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, Sept. 22, 2010:

Looks Forward to Helping Local Officials Bring Jobs to the Area

BROWNSVILLE – Republican gubernatorial nominee and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam today visited a group of local elected officials and economic development professionals in Brownsville to receive an update on the progress of the TVA Megasite being developed there.

Mayor Haslam was an early supporter of the Haywood County Megasite and has made frequent visits to Brownsville over the past two years in order to learn more about the progress being made as well as the challenges that remain and how he can help now and also later, hopefully, as governor.

Today is Mayor Haslam’s second day in a row in West Tennessee focusing on rural economic development. He spoke yesterday with a group of local officials in Jackson about the unique challenges facing rural areas and discussed strategies for bringing jobs to West Tennessee.

“Bill Haslam understands the importance of this project to West Tennessee and to the state, and we truly appreciate his support,” Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith said.

“He has been a strong supporter of the Megasite from the beginning, and there’s no better person to help us complete it and bring jobs to West Tennessee than Bill,” added Smith.

Mayor Haslam highlighted his plan to create a leadership position within the Department of Economic and Community Development devoted solely to small town, rural and agriculture issues as well as his regional approach to economic development, which will involve leveraging the unique assets of each region for job creation.

“The Haywood County Megasite is a significant asset to the region and to the state,” said Haslam. “The folks here have done a great job creating this opportunity and moving the project along, and I just want to make sure they know that they will have the full support of the governor’s office if I’m elected.”

“As governor, I will work hard to bring jobs to West Tennessee,” continued Haslam. “And working with the folks on the ground, the Megasite will be an opportunity to do just that.”

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees.

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Haslam Highlights Medical Device as Key Economic Development Asset

Press Release from the Bill Haslam for Governor Campaign, Sept. 15, 2010:

Discusses Strategy to Grow Jobs in Memphis and Shelby County

ARLINGTON – Republican gubernatorial nominee and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam focused on regional economic development during meetings in Memphis and Shelby County today and discussed the relationship between the medical device and logistics industries and how both can be leveraged for future growth.

Today Mayor Haslam visited Wright Medical Technology, a company that develops, manufactures and distributes medical devices worldwide, has more than 1,000 employees, and is headquartered in Shelby County. His discussion with company leaders centered on the unique economic development assets of the region – namely how the strength of the logistics and distribution industry in Shelby County helped attract the medical device industry to the area and how bioscience has now become a connecting point for many of the region’s leading universities, hospitals, and businesses.

“I’m excited about the opportunities for economic development that we have across the state,” Haslam said. “But I’m particularly excited about the assets we have in Shelby County that we can leverage for growth.”

Shelby County is a worldwide leader in the medical device industry, especially in the development of orthopedic and spinal implants and orthopedic device manufacturing. The area is also home to FedEx, the logistics services giant. Medical device industry leaders have cited its presence as one of the key reasons why the industry sprung up in the region.

“The assets we have here in Shelby County demonstrate the incredible potential of regional economic development,” continued Haslam. “The medical device industry came to Shelby County because of its existing strengths and the convenience and speed at which they could distribute their products.

“And now the bioscience sector as a whole has become a tremendous asset for the region,” added Haslam. “I look forward as governor to helping Shelby County build on their existing strengths.”

In previous visits to the area, Mayor Haslam has met with other leading medical device companies including Medtronic and Smith & Nephew. He’s held meetings with the logistics industry, visited the FedEx Institute of Technology, the Memphis Bioworks Foundation and met with numerous hospital and university leaders. Later today, Mayor Haslam will meet with representatives from Memphis Tomorrow, a group of local business leaders working to make a difference and grow the local economy.

Mayor Haslam is the two-term Republican Mayor of Knoxville, reelected in 2007 with 87 percent of the vote. A hardworking, conservative public servant, Haslam led Knoxville to become one of the top ten metropolitan areas for business and expansion, while reducing the city’s debt, tripling the rainy day fund, reducing the number of city employees to the lowest amount in 15 years and bringing property taxes to the lowest rate in 50 years. An executive leader with a proven record of success, he helped grow his family’s small business from 800 employees into one of Tennessee’s largest companies with 14,000 employees.

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Haslam Announces Endorsements from Hundreds of Elected GOP Officeholders

Press Release from Bill Haslam for Governor, Sept. 13, 2010:

Republicans from Every County Endorse Haslam

NASHVILLE – More than 550 Republican leaders today endorsed Republican gubernatorial nominee and Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam, saying he has the right plan, experience, and knowledge to lead Tennessee as its next governor.

Today’s announcement includes every Republican member of the Tennessee Legislature, the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee and other Republican elected officials and leaders representing every county in Tennessee.

“I am honored to be casting my vote for Bill Haslam and I am proud that he will be our next governor,” said Congressman Marsha Blackburn. “In Mayor Haslam, we’ll have a governor who will fight for Tennessee values and fight to protect your pocketbook.”

“Mayor Haslam knows what it means to create jobs in the private sector and recruit jobs in the public sector,” Hamilton County Mayor Claude Ramsey said. “He’s done it before, in business and as Mayor, and he’ll bring that unique experience to the Governor’s office. I trust Bill Haslam to make the tough decisions – the right decisions – in the challenging times ahead.”

“The safety of Tennesseans is one of my highest priorities, and I believe Bill Haslam has the right ideas to improve the safety of all Tennesseans,” said Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons. “He’ll work to toughen sentencing laws to keep violent offenders of our streets because safe streets attract new businesses and more jobs.”

“Bill Haslam understands that strengthening education is the key to workforce development and job creation, and that it must be a priority for the next governor,” said State Sen. Jamie Woodson. “He’s the leader Tennessee needs to hold us accountable to our goal of real education reform so we can attract new and growing industries and companies that will bring high quality jobs to our state.”

“Since winning our party’s nomination for Governor, Mayor Haslam has worked tirelessly to ensure that our party is unified,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney. “With Bill Haslam at the top of the ticket, Tennessee Republicans are in a great position to build on our majorities in the Tennessee House and Senate, as well as win a majority of our Congressional delegation.”

“I’m grateful to be the Republican Party’s nominee for Governor of Tennessee,” Haslam said. “And I’m grateful for the support of elected leaders all across our state who working tirelessly for our campaign. Together, we’re going to make our great state even better.”

(Read the entire list of here.)

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Environment and Natural Resources Liberty and Justice News Transparency and Elections

McWherter, Haslam Denounce Mosque Fire, Laud Zoning

Both major party candidates for Tennessee governor denounced the burning of construction equipment at the site of a new mosque in Murfreesboro over the weekend.

And both also reiterated earlier statements that local zoning officials should decide if and where controversial building occurs.

Candidates Mike McWherter, a Democrat, and Bill Haslam, a Republican, addressed the issue Tuesday night at a “Student Town Hall” forum sponsored by Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte.

Asked how “as governor (he) would balance freedom of religion with concerns about security,” McWherter said that while he’s a “huge proponent of religious freedom” he “understand(s) the constraints and problems you have when you locate an institution like that inside of a quiet neighborhood.”

“As a community you ought to be able to have some zoning restrictions, and make sure that the house you bought is something that you can continue to resell, and will not disturb your neighborhood,” he continued.

McWherter, a businessman from Jackson, went on to denounce the perpetrators of the crime, calling it an “atrocity.”

Responding to a question from a reporter outside the forum later, Haslam took a similar tack.

“No one should condone what’s just happened, OK. It’s just not acceptable in any way, and those folks should be found and appropriately punished,” said the Knoxville mayor.

On the issue of whether the mosque should be built, Haslam said it is a “local land-use issue.”

“As somebody who has been a mayor, I didn’t want the state or federal government telling us what to do,” he said. “That’s where you follow constitutional guidelines and local land-use planning and you let the local land-use people decide.”

Federal law enforcement agencies are investigating the setting ablaze of a piece of earth-moving equipment in the early morning hours of Aug. 28 at the location of a proposed 52,000-square-foot Islamic religious center in Rutherford County.

A local FBI official was quoted by CNN as saying that while the the cause of the fire is believed to have been arson, “We have no reason to think it’s a hate crime.”

A statement issued by an Islamic Center of Murfreesboro spokewoman Monday declared “we feel heartbroken that we have been a victim of yet another shameful crime, however, we are grateful to the majority members of this community who expressed their support.”

“We believe that this event was instigated by the hate campaign that our Muslim community has been subjected to recently,” the release continued.

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Conte-Sponsored ‘Student Town Hall’ to Feature Haslam, McWherter

Press Release from the Office of Gov. Phil Bredesen, Aug. 26, 2010:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee First Lady Andrea Conte announced today the August First Lady Series will be a Student Town Hall. First-time voters from public and private high schools in the Nashville area will have the opportunity to ask questions and engage directly with Tennessee’s gubernatorial nominees, Bill Haslam and Mike McWherter.

The event is open only to the student participants and representatives of the media due to space limitations; however, the Student Town Hall will be streamed live on the Internet at www.TN.gov.

The First Lady Series is a monthly program series at Conservation Hall at the Tennessee Residence, focusing on various timely issues.

“I’m pleased that we have nine public and private schools participating, and I’m looking forward to excellent questions from the students and to hearing the perspectives of young people in Tennessee,” said Conte.”

WHO: First Lady Andrea Conte

Bill Haslam, Republican Nominee for Governor

Mike McWherter, Democratic Nominee for Governor

Students from Nine Nashville Area Schools

WHAT: Student Town Hall

WHEN: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 – all times are CDT

4:45 p.m. Media shuttle departs Judson Baptist Church for Conservation Hall

5:00 p.m. Pre-event reception for student participants. Members of the media may talk to students who will be posing questions to the candidates, seated at the front of the room, or with other students attending the event at this time.

5:30 p.m. Student Town Hall begins

7:00 p.m. Program ends

WHERE: Conservation Hall – The Tennessee Residence

All media parking will be off-site at Judson Baptist Church, 4900 Franklin Pike, Nashville. A media

shuttle will be provided. There is no parking available at the Residence.

ONLINE: The Town Hall may be viewed on the Internet at www.TN.gov.

MEDIA RSVP: A media RSVP is required to cover the Student Town Hall. Please respond by 4 p.m. CDT on Monday, August 30, to the Governor’s Communications Office at 615-741-3763 or Angela.Houston@tn.gov.

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Job Creation Tops McWherter’s Priority List

There are no shortage of hot-button issues sparking political debate this election season, but Tennessee Democratic candidate for governor Mike McWherter said none are more important than employment shortages in the state.

Little else really seems to matter much when you’re out of work, McWherter said during a campaign stop at the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon over the weekend.

“I talked to a lady in McKenzie who summed it up for me better than anybody across the state,” said McWherter. “She said, Mike, I hear you talk about education and I hear you talk about health care, but if you don’t have a job it is really hard to educate your kids or grandkids, and you can’t even think about health care — your priority has to be about jobs.”

The latest unemployment numbers showed Tennessee’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate at 10.1 percent, about a half a percentage point higher than the national average.

If elected, McWherter said he’ll employ a two-prong approach to addressing the state’s lack-of-work woes: Improving the business environment for mom-and-pop operations and attracting high-profile, highly successful multinational corporations into the state.

Both priorities involve offering tax incentives to companies that promise to put Tennesseans to work, said McWherter.

“Whether they make seatbelts or they make headlights of they make solar parts, we need to identify those companies and make sure they are locating here,” he said. “The other part of the program that I talk about is for existing business. It is small business in this state that employs the vast number of people, and we’ve got to have a concrete program for small business in this state that encourages them to put people back on the payroll.

“That’s why I am talking about having tax breaks and tax incentives for small businesses,” he added. “It is a proven model that works to help improve industry in this state.”

For his part, Bill Haslam, McWherter’s GOP opponent in the race for governor, agrees with the Democratic nominee about what’s foremost in the minds of voters.

At a campaign stop in Murfreesboro Monday, Haslam said that when people ask him what people are talking about out on the campaign trail, the answer is “really simple.”

“They talk about jobs 90 percent of the time — that’s the issue facing the state,” he said, adding that his experience as both mayor of Knoxville and as a top executive in his family’s national line of truck stops gives him a solid grasp of what it takes to make the state friendly to business.

Haslam has pledged to make jobs a top priority in 2011 and beyond by “creat(ing) regional economic development strategies that leverage each region’s unique assets, focus on small business growth, improve education and workforce development, manage conservatively, and foster a business-friendly environment by removing burdensome regulations, keeping taxes low.”

McWherter, however, said creating regional economic development offices throughout the state sounds more like a recipe for building bureaucracy than bring in new work for the state.

The Democrat said he’s inclined to stay the focused course favored by Gov. Phil Bredesen to lure companies. Tennessee needs to be “very nimble when we go after recruiting industry to this state,” he said.

“It really needs to be directed from the governor’s office and the Department of Economic Development,” said McWherter. “You’ve really got to be able to react quickly when you are dealing with business. You just don’t need other layers of bureaucracy out there.”