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TCA: Haslam Gives Another ‘Non-Answer’ on Dept. of Labor ‘Mismanagement’

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; April 3, 2013:

GOVERNOR’S ANSWER ON MISMANAGEMENT WITHIN DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT IS YET ANOTHER NON-ANSWER

Nashville, Tenn. (April 3, 2013) – Yesterday, in response to the call from Tennessee Citizen Action, the AFL-CIO of Tennessee, and several legislators to put the brakes on his proposed changes to workers’ comp law that will create a new division under the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the Governor said that he thought “the comptroller’s audit had no bearing on workers’ comp.” His full statement given during a press availability: “I think it’s a whole separate deal. One of those is about processing claims, and one of them is about adjudicating workers’ comp issues, so those are two very, very different issues. They’re in the same department, I admit, but they’re two very different issues.”

“We’ve heard this sort of non-answer answer before from Governor Haslam,” said Mary Mancini, executive director, Tennessee Citizen Action, “Instead of thoughtfully reconsidering his decision to add yet another division to the troubled Department of Labor, the Governor’s non-answer indicates his choice to trivialize and isolate the findings of the report and detach his public policy decisions from the mismanagement identified within the report.”

Governor Haslam is pushing to create a new multimillion-dollar workers’ comp division housed within the troubled Department of Labor and Workforce Development that has also in recent weeks seen it’s top management resign for “family reasons” and about which the Comptroller’s Single Audit Report said the “management has threatened the integrity of the Unemployment Insurance Program by failing to provide sufficient controls and oversight.”

The report found problems within 11 different state agencies and universities, and the Department of Labor and Workforce Development was the subject of 25% of the problems.

“If he wants to be honest, it’s not just the Department of Labor that has issues, it’s also 10 other agencies within his government,” said Wil Hammond, Communications Director, AFL-CIO of TN, “If anything, the mismanagement is worse than he is willing to admit to. This is clearly not the right time to add more responsibilities to an agency that can’t handle the load they have now.”

Tennessee Citizen and the AFL-CIO of Tennessee once again call on Governor Haslam to delay the creation of a new workers’ comp authority under the Department of Labor until he has had a chance to clean up department and the Comptroller has a chance to issue the 2013 Single Audit Report in 2014.

Source: TNReport.com

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TCA: Haslam Workers Comp Proposal Creates ‘Disposable Workforce’

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; March 26, 2013:

Nashville, Tenn. (March 26, 2013) – Today at a rally in front of the state capitol, Tennessee Citizen Action, the AFL-CIO of Tennessee, the Jackson Central Labor Council, the Memphis AFL-CIO Labor Council, the Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle-Tennessee, along with various other local unions, community organizations, and workers who have been injured on the job called on Governor Bill Haslam to stop his proposed changes that will gut workers’ compensation. The bill, which is part of the Governor’s legislative package, will leave hardworking men and women with less to take care of their families when they are injured on the job and remove incentives for employers to keep injured workers healthy and on the job.

The proposed changes to workers’ comp will not only cut insurance payouts to workers when they are injured on the job, but also will create a new bureaucracy completely controlled by the Governor and remove workers’ comp cases from impartial court system. Worst of all, it will allow employers to “throwaway” Injured employees.

“This legislative majority is no friend to working people,” said Jerry Winters of the AFL-CIO of Tennessee, “The blatant attacks on worker’s compensation, living wages, unemployment insurance, and retirement benefits are aimed right at the very people who keep Tennessee’s economy moving. It is time for workers to stand up and say enough is enough!”

As they consider Governor Haslam’s changes to workers’ compensation, the legislative majority have a choice to make: they can either do the bidding of the Governor and side with special interests like big insurance companies or they can fight to protect the hardworking Tennesseans who elected them.

“So far we have packed several legislative hearing rooms on Capitol Hill to make sure lawmakers know Governor Haslam’s proposed changes to workers’ comp will hurt hardworking Tennesseans and their families,” said Mary Mancini, executive director of Tennessee Citizen Action, “Since they are not paying attention, now it’s time to deliver the message directly to Governor Haslam.”

Tennessee Citizen Action works in the public interest as Tennessee’s premier consumer rights organization.

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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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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/

 

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TCA Calls on Hargett, Goins to Look Into Election Commission Problems

Newsletter from Tennessee Citizen Action; August 30, 2012: 

Last week it came to our attention that the electronic poll books used in the August 2 primary election in Davidson County, TN, defaulted to the Republican ballot, possibly affecting thousands of voters. Read the whole story here.

Since then, Tennessee Citizen Action has called upon the Davidson County Election Commission to explain what happened and who was responsible. What we hear from them, however, is that they were ” pleased with the results” and ” stand behind their new technology.”

Today, we asked Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins to intervene and refuse to certify the August 2 primary election. Their answer is that they have no control over the certification process:

Mr. Hargett and Mr. Goins have described a process in which they are trying to get answers from Albert Tieche, the Davidson County Election Administrator and another process in which they will notify the 19,714 voters who may have been affected. So where are their answers? And have they contacted voters yet? And why are they going to certify the election today without receiving those answers or hearing from voters? Where are the intervening checks and balances at the state level?

We once again urge Secretary of State Hargett and the State Election Coordinator Goins to look at the County Election Commission problems with a sense of urgency and seriousness the voters deserve, instead of abdicating their control and authority.

We ask you to do the same.

COUNCILMAN-AT-LARGE MEGAN BARRY AND METRO COUNCIL SEEK TO REMOVE FUNDING, CALL FOR COMPLETE AUDIT

Also today, Councilmember-at-Large Megan Barry, along with Councilman-at-large Ronnie Steine, Councilman-at-large Jerry Maynard, and Councilman and Chair of the Budget and Finance Committee Lonnell Matthews moved to remove funding for the purpose of purchasing additional electronic poll books and called for a complete performance audit of the Davidson County Election Commission.

We stand with the Metro Council and their request.

You can read about all about how the electronic poll books work and who was affected here.

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TN Citizen Action Reminds Voters Today is Election Day

Newsletter from Tennessee Citizen Action; August 2, 2012:  

If you need actual evidence of how the new “big money in politics” climate might affect things here in Tennessee then look no further than the Democratic primary between Rep. Jeanne Richardson and Rep. John Deberry in State House District 90 in Memphis.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press and the Memphis Commercial Appeal have both reporting that:

“Two national groups that lobby for school vouchers and charter schools spent more than $140,000 in July in support of pro-voucher state Rep. John Deberry’s Democratic primary race against Rep. Jeanne Richardson in Memphis, according to new campaign financial disclosures. The ‘independent expenditures’ by the Super PACS, or political action committees, run by [Michelle Rhee’s] Students First and the American Federation for Children are a huge amount of money for a Tennessee legislative race.”

The real issue isn’t whether one candidate backs vouchers and the other doesn’t. The real issue is the gobs of out-of-state money influencing our state politics. The issue is that one candidate is seemingly bought and paid for by out-of-state corporate and special interests, and one is not.

So how, then, as Tennessee political analyst Trace Sharp asks, “do common folks, just regular people, compete with that kind of money in races that in the past didn’t see this high volume of, for lack of a better word, investment?”

Well, we only one answer right now: WE VOTE.

So GET OUT AND VOTE TODAY – and help to make the lines at your polling place as long as the lines at that pollo place.

But before you go…

CHECK CHECK CHECK

Redistricting in Tennessee caused many changes, so doublecheck that you are going to the right voting location.

Also, some voters have been given incorrect ballots during early voting so you want to double check which State House, State Senate, and School board district (County District) you are before you go to make sure you are given the correct ballot.

You can do both of these in one place. Here’s how:

KNOW THE RULES BEFORE YOU GO

In Tennessee, in addition to being a registered vote, YOU WILL NEED A SPECIFIC PHOTO ID TO VOTE.

Any of the following photo IDs may be used, EVEN IF EXPIRED:

  • Tennessee or other state drivers license with your photo
  • United States Passport
  • Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, the federal, or any other state government
  • United States Military photo ID
  • State-issued handgun carry permit with your photo

Photo IDs NOT Accepted for Voting:

  • College student IDs
  • Photo IDs not issued by the federal or a state government are NOT acceptable

For a complete detailing of the law, go to www.tn.gov.

NEVER LET ANYONE TURN YOU AWAY WITHOUT VOTING

Just sayin’.

If you feel as if you are not being helped to your satisfaction by a poll worker, call you County Election Commission. The list is here.