FRIDAY, MAY 25, 2012 Haslam Honors TN Service-members Killed in Action (TN Report

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Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam joined Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Command Sergeant Major George Holland of the Tennessee Military Department to pay tribute to seven Tennesseans killed in action, including two soldiers previously missing in action for several decades. Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Carson Vaughn of Troy was killed in a helicopter crash with 29 other Americans including 22 Navy SEALs in Afghanistan on August 6, 2011. Grandparents Billy Sr. and Geneva Vaughn accepted the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of their grandson. Lance Corporal Franklin Namon Watson of Vonore was killed while conducting combat operations in Helmand, Afghanistan on September 24, 2011. THP Sergeant Lowell Russell accepted the Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal and the state’s memorial presentation on behalf of LCpl Watson. Since the age of 12, Sgt. Russell cared for Watson as his guardian and next of kin. http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/05/24/haslam-honors-tn-service-members-killed-inaction/

Tennessee honors 7 servicemen (Tennessean/Sisk)
Veterans from many conflicts The state of Tennessee honored seven fallen servicemen, from an Army specialist who died last month from injuries sustained in Afghanistan to Korean and Vietnam War soldiers whose remains were recovered decades later, Thursday on W ar Memorial Plaza. Gov. Bill Haslam presided over a brief service that recognized Tennessee servicemen who were killed or interred in the past year and their families. For the first time, the annual Memorial Day rite included brief biographical sketches of the servicemen honored. “Each one of these folks who have died had an incredible story,” Haslam said. Honorees included Army Pfc. Frank Primm Jennings, who went missing in action in South Korea in 1951, and Army Spc. Marvin Phillips, who died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1966. Both men were buried in the past year after their long-lost remains were identified. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/NEWS21/305250059/Tennessee-honors-7-servicemen

7 Tennesseans killed in combat honored by governor (News-Sentinel/Humphrey)
In a solemn ceremony at the front of the state's War Memorial Building, Bill and Crissy Haslam began the Memorial Day weekend by handing flowers and medals to survivors of seven Tennesseans who were killed fighting for their country. One of those receiving a Tennessee Fallen Heroes Medal and an iris — the state flower — from the governor and first lady was Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Lowell Russell, who had raised Lance Cpl. Franklin Namon Watson of Vonore. W atson was killed in Afghanistan last September. Four others honored on Thursday were also killed in action in Afghanistan during the past year. The other two honored were Pvt. 1st Class Frank Primm Jennings of Parsons, who died in the Korean War, and Specialist Marvin Phillips of Palmer, who was killed in Vietnam in 1966. They had been listed as missing in action at the time of their deaths and their bodies were only recently recovered and returned to Tennessee. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/7-tennesseans-killed-in-combat-honored-by/

Governor’s Memorial Day Service Pays Tribute to Seven Tennesseans (W PLN)
In observance of Memorial Day, Governor Bill Haslam presented state flags to the families of seven who died at war. Five of the deaths occurred in Afghanistan since last Memorial Day. One service member was part of the elite Seal Team 6. Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder says the West Tennessee native enlisted shortly after 9/11. “Aaron Vaughn was killed when the helicopter carrying him and 29 other Americans – including 22 Navy Seals – was shot down in Afghanistan on August 6th, 2011.” Another recognized soldier, Specialist Jason Edens of Franklin, died one month ago. The Franklin-native was injured during an attack on his unit in

Afghanistan and later died at Bethesda Naval Hospital with his family by his side. His 21-year-old wife – Ashley Edens – says until this year, Memorial Day has meant parties. http://wpln.org/?p=37609

Schwallie to be honored in flag tribute on Memorial Day (Leaf Chronicle)
The office of Gov. Bill Haslam has released this statement regarding a tribute to a Clarksville soldier killed in Afghanistan earlier this month: “By order of the Governor, flags over the State Capitol and all State office buildings shall be lowered to half-staff in observance of Memorial Day and also in honor of Sgt. Jacob ‘Jake’ Schwallie, who recently made the ultimate sacrifice while supporting Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan. Flags shall be lowered at sunrise and raised back to full staff at noon on Monday, May 28, 2012.” Schwallie, 22, was a 2007 graduate of Rossview High School. The son of an Army veteran, he enlisted in the United States Army in 2008. Schwallie and two other paratroopers were fatally injured when their military vehicle was struck by a roadside bomb on May 7, in Ghanzi Province, Afghanistan. Sergeant Schwallie was serving with C Troop, 3rd Squadron, 73rd Cavalry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20120524/NEWS01/305240026/Schwallie-honored-flag-tribute-MemorialDay?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONTPAGE

Haslam Signs Law Dealing With ‘Fourth Branch’ of Gov. (Memphis Daily News)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has signed into law legislation that changes nearly two dozen state boards and commissions within state government. The two laws were passed during the legislative session in Nashville that ended earlier this month. “You almost have an unofficial fourth branch (of government) with all of these boards and commissions that oversee a lot of different things in the state,” Haslam said Wednesday, May 23, during a stop in Memphis. “A lot of those didn’t report to anyone who was elected. I think as much as we can we want to minimize that.” Haslam counted the two bills among victories for his legislative agenda in the recent legislative session. There are more than 200 of the appointed boards and commission including licensing boards in state government. The legislation affects 21 of them, including the Tennessee Regulatory Authority. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/haslam-signs-law-creating-fourth-branch-of-gov/

Haslam signs 'Works Act' (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a proposal to help Tennesseans get off unemployment and find a job. The legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. Andy Berke, of Chattanooga, and Democratic House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, of Ripley, is called the "Tennessee W orks Act." It unanimously passed the Senate 33-0 and 91-0 in the House. The bill creates a pilot program to provide employers with grants to pay for training expenses for recently laid-off workers or workers whose jobs have gone overseas. To continue receiving the grant funds, employers agree to hire a portion of the employees trained. Sponsors said the legislation is proof that Republicans and Democrats can work together. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/25/chattanooga-region-digest-tennessee/?local

Governor Signs Parent Grading Bill (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a proposal that allows parents to grade themselves on how involved they are in their children's schooling. The measure sponsored by Democratic Rep. Antonio Parkinson of Memphis and Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was approved 94-2 in the House and unanimously passed the Senate 27-0. The four-year pilot program will initially apply to two struggling schools. Another measure sponsored by the lawmakers that was signed into law recently will create parent contracts that give them stepby-step guidelines for pitching in. Only a few states have passed laws creating evaluations or contracts that put helping with homework or attending teacher conferences into writing. Tennessee is the only one so far to do report cards, though Utah has parents fill out an online survey. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/governor-signs-parent-grading-bill/

Governor Signs Bill Proving Legality for Benefits (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a measure that requires agencies to verify that applicants for public benefits are legal residents. The legislation – which passed the Senate 29-1 and the House 64-18 – was delayed in the lower chamber last year because the cost of the measure was a little over $1 million. But House sponsor Joe Carr, RLascassas, said the tab has been reduced to around $100,000. He said every applicant won't have to be verified because there are other processes in place to prove legal residence. Sponsors said the intention is to make sure 2

that individuals lawfully in Tennessee get the benefits first. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/governor-signs-bill-proving-legality-for-benefits/

Governor Approves Welfare Drug Testing Measure (Associated Press)
A measure to require drug testing as a condition for receiving welfare has been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. The legislation – which passed the Senate 24-9 and 73-17 in the House – requires new welfare applicants to undergo a special screening process. If suspicion is raised after the screening, then the applicant would be drug tested. The proposal differs from an original version that would have required blanket testing. The state's attorney general opined that approach would violate applicants' rights not to be drug tested unless there is suspicion they are using drugs. Haslam told reporters Thursday that he's comfortable with the legislation because the Department of Human Services will develop the rules for the testing, and the state attorney general must make sure the process is constitutional. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/governor-approves-welfare-drug-testing-measure/

Haslam Signs Welfare Drug Testing Bill (W PLN-Radio Nashville)
Governor Bill Haslam has signed a measure that requires some welfare recipients to pass a drug test. The Administration was initially concerned with whether the state could put such restrictions on a federal program. All new recipients of government assistance would go through a screening process, and those who raise suspicion would have to pass a drug test that they pay for. Governor Haslam says he understands questions of fairness, that poor people – even those who pass – would be out the testing fee. “I think that the flip concern from people who were pushing the bill – obviously – is, ‘are people who are getting public assistance using it for things that we don’t want them to be using public money for?’ So that’s why we want to be involved working through the rules of it and making sure it was constitutional.” http://wpln.org/?p=37631

Measure allows professors to teach at high schools (Associated Press)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed a measure that allows college professors to teach high school courses. The measure allows the Department of Education to issue a teaching license in grades nine through twelve to individuals who have taught as full-time faculty members or adjunct faculty members at two-year and four-year post-secondary institutions. A full-time faculty member has to have taught at least two years, and an adjunct professor is required to have a minimum of three years. The legislation passed the Senate 19-13, and was approved 62-28 in the House. http://www.wdef.com/news/state/story/Measure-allows-professors-to-teach-athigh-schools/SoTmYw7CF0qohRCaFa9VPQ.cspx

Governor Passes Roll-Your-Own Cigarette Bill (Associated Press)
A measure that requires roll-your-own cigarette retailers to pay a licensing fee and tax and adhere to certain restrictions has been signed by Gov. Bill Haslam. Pipe tobacco, a popular product of roll-your-own retailers, is not listed on the state attorney general's directory of tobaccos. The legislation requires tobacco the retailers use in their machines to come from the directory. It also requires the retailers to pay a cigarette tax and an annual $500 licensing fee for each roll-your-own machine used. The measure passed the Senate 25-2 and was approved 67-13 in the House. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/governor-passes-roll-yourown-cigarette-bill/

Memphis unemployment rate falls again (Memphis Business Journal)
The Memphis metro area’s unemployment rate dropped again in April to 8.4 percent, down from 8.8 percent in March and 9.8 percent in April 2011. Shelby County’s unemployment rate fell even further to 8.3 percent last month from 9.1 percent in March, according to data released Thursday by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development . The county’s rate was 9.6 percent a year ago. W ithin the city limits, Memphis’ rate fell to 9.4 percent from 10.3 percent in March. Across Tennessee, the April rate decreased in 84 counties, increased in five and remained the same in six. The 8.4 percent rate for the metro area is still higher than the state’s overall rate, which was 7.8 percent in April. The national unemployment rate in April was 8.1 percent. When the statewide jobless rate was released last week, Labor Commissioner Karla Davis tempered optimism 3

over the number, even as it reached its lowest point since November 2008. http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/05/24/memphis-unemployment-rate-falls-again.html

Knox County jobless rate third lowest in Tenn. (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
Knox County's jobless rate edged higher to 5.8 percent in April, up from 5.6 percent in March, the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday. Despite the increase, Knox County had the lowest rate among the state's major metropolitan areas and the third lowest county rate. Only Williamson and Lincoln counties had lower jobless rates last month at 5.3 percent and 5.5 percent, respectively. Statewide, nonseasonally adjusted unemployment rates for April decreased in 84 counties, increased in five counties, and remained the same in six counties, according to the announcement. The previously announced state unemployment rate for April fell to 7.8 percent, down from the March revised rate of 7.9 percent. The national unemployment rate for April 2012 was 8.1 percent, 0.1 percentage point lower than the March rate. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/knox-county-jobless-rate-third-lowest-in-tenn/

State: Unemployment in steep decline across Clarksville (Leaf Chronicle)
Local unemployment rate down by 0.8 percent Expectations of sustained economic recovery were bolstered Thursday afternoon by word that the unemployment rate for Clarksville-Montgomery County dropped steeply between March and April. According to newest figures released by the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the jobless rate for the Clarksville area is now 7.1 percent, down substantially from the 8 percent rate in March. The new numbers from the state show a total of 5,360 people currently categorized as unemployed in Clarksville-Montgomery County, out of an estimated countywide labor force of 75,440. The state’s figures reflect those who are unemployed and registered as actively seeking work. The monthly jobless rate here has been declining slowly for several months, but the change between March and April is among the most pronounced that the community has seen in this post-U.S. recession recovery. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20120524/NEWS01/305240017/State-Unemployment-steep-declineacross-Clarksville

5.1% cut in workers' compensation rates urged (Tennessean/Ward)
A state advisory council voted Thursday to recommend a 5.1 percent overall reduction in average rates that play a large role in determining what businesses pay for workers’ compensation premiums. The unanimous vote was based on an analysis by actuaries including from the Boca Raton, Fla.-based rate advisory group NCCI Holdings Inc., which cited expected decline in medical payments to doctors, hospitals and other health-care providers as a key factor in recommending the decrease. The recommendation now goes to the state’s insurance commissioner, whose approval is required for any rate change. If approved, it could go into effect Aug. 9, when a 60-day stay expires that a joint committee of the state legislature had put on a 11 percent reduction in the socalled medical fee schedule under which physicians, hospitals and others are paid. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/BUSINESS/305250043/5-1-cut-workers-compensation-ratesurged?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Mountain of a fight: TDOT uses novel engineering on I-75 project (N-S/Jacobs)
State geotechnical engineer Saieb Haddad said he got "sick in my mind" when he first saw cracked pavement on the southbound shoulder of Interstate 75 in Campbell County. The Tennessee Department of Transportation employee saw more than a crack; he saw an entire hillside in the process of failing and taking the southbound lanes with it. "When I first saw it, I got sick my mind," Haddad said. "We are dealing with the most complicated situation I've seen in my 32 years of service." After five decades of weathering, the man-made slope that carries I-75 over the mountainous terrain of Campbell County had become saturated. Haddad said the gray shale material used to build the slope that basically bridged a ravine loses its shear strength with moisture. So the first pavement cracks visible March 8 meant more to Haddad than an asphalt issue. He knew the 180-foot-high slope was failing near the 143 mile marker. "I called a big meeting the next day with everybody," Haddad said. "I knew the southbound lanes were in trouble and I told (TDOT Regional Director) Steve Borden we needed to move the southbound lanes." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/mountain-of-a-fight-tdot-uses-novelengineering/

Tennessee Highway Patrol emphasizes safe driving (Johnson City Press)
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There’s a simple message local and state law enforcement want to send to motorists — wear your seat belt, don’t drink and drive, and don’t commit hazardous moving violations. The Tennessee Highway Patrol kicked off the 2012 Click It or Ticket seat belt enforcement on Monday, but added the 100 Days of Summer Heat mobilization just in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. “Seat belts, impaired driving, hazardous moving violations ... that’s what we target. That’s what causes our fatalities and that’s our point of emphasis,” said THP Col. Tracy Trott. His comments came after a news conference to urge the public to drive safely and rally officers from more than two dozen agencies in four states. Officers from across the region, including Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, attended the eighth annual traffic safety campaign kick-off, held this year at the THP headquarters in Fall Branch. “Death doesn’t know what the state line looks like,” Trott said, restating a comment from Governor’s Highway Safety Office Director Kendall Poore. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=100478#ixzz1vsWnMAQi

Road construction won't slow down Memorial Day travelers this weekend (DNJ)
Road construction won’t slow motorists down as they travel Tennessee’s highways this Memorial Day weekend. The Tennessee Department of Transportation will suspend all construction-related lane closures on interstates and state routes beginning at noon today through 6 a.m. Tuesday. This will provide maximum roadway capacity for motorists expected to travel in the state this Memorial Day weekend, according to TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “Halting road construction during this busy holiday weekend will minimize congestion and delays on Tennessee’s interstates,” Schroer said. “W e want to keep traffic flowing so everyone can have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.” Motorists will still encounter some lane closures on long term construction projects. Drivers should be aware that reduced speed limits will be in effect in work zones. Slower speeds are necessary in work zones due to the temporary layout of the roadway. http://www.dnj.com/article/20120525/NEW S/305240019/Road-construction-won-t-slow-down-Memorial-Daytravelers-weekend?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

UT Institute of Agriculture raises $113.7 million (Associated Press)
The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture has completed a fundraising campaign with $113.7 million in gifts. The campaign goal was originally $55 million and then was revised to $85 million. Buddy Mitchell, vice chancellor for development, said the figure shows that the university has outstanding faculty, loyal clientele, satisfied alumni and a strong external presence across the state and country. Many of the funds were designated for specific programs rather than unrestricted for general use. Spokesmen said the institute will need to continue fundraising for unmet needs. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/ut-institute-of-agriculture-raises-1137-million/

Supreme Court: No new trials in Knoxville murder case (Tennessean/Young)
There will not be a new trial for those convicted of the first degree murders of Channon Christian and Christopher Newsom, the Supreme Court ruled today. The state asked the court to review the new trial judge's decision to grant new trials to three of the four defendants in the Knoxville case. The judge said new trials were warranted after the judge who oversaw the trial, former Judge Richard Baumgartner, admitted that he had a prescription drug problem. The court ruled that the former judge's misconduct outside the courtroom does not necessarily require a new trial unless that misconduct is shown to have affected trial proceedings. The defendants have not shown that the misconduct outside the courtroom affected their trials, the court said. The Court described former Judge Richard Baumgartner’s misconduct outside the courtroom as “a clear and palpable” violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct, and cautioned that its “order should not be construed as condoning or excusing” Judge Baumgartner’s misconduct. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120524/NEWS03/120524038/Supreme-CourtNo-new-trials-Knoxville-murder-case?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Supreme Court vacates new trials (Associated Press)
The Tennessee Supreme Court is overturning a special judge's decision to order new trials for three murder defendants after the judge in their original trial pleaded guilty to official misconduct. The court ruled Thursday that the order for new trials for Lemaricus Davidson, Letalvis Cobbins and George Thomas must be vacated because the defendants had not shown that former Judge Richard Baumgartner's misconduct outside the courtroom affected their trials. The Supreme Court sent the cases back to the original trial court to reconsider the new trial motions. The three were convicted in 2009 in the slayings of 21-year-old Channon Christian and 23-year-old Christopher Newsom. Later, an investigation found Baumgartner was abusing pills acquired from a drug court 5

graduate. In December, Special Judge Jon Kerry Blackwood ordered the retrials. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/25/chattanooga-region-digest-tennessee/?local

TN attorney general asked to investigate soring (Tennessean/Gang)
The Humane Society of the United States asked Tennessee’s attorney general Thursday to investigate the role horse show management plays in allowing sored horses to compete. Soring, an abusive practice aimed at producing a higher gait among walking horses, is illegal under federal and state law. In a letter to Attorney General Robert Cooper, the Humane Society said state law imposes a duty on show management to disqualify anyone showing a sored horse and to report the violations to local prosecutors. Failing to do so is a misdemeanor. “Tennessee has a good tool to improve the chances that the walking horse industry will think twice before abusing horses to cheat in these competitions,” Keith Dane, the Humane Society’s director of equine protection, said in a statement. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/NEWS21/305250047/TN-attorney-general-asked-investigatesoring

Area court clerks see dark clouds with new license revocation law (NS/Fowler)
Thousands of defendants in Tennessee owing court costs totaling in the millions from criminal cases resolved last July are on the verge of losing their driver's licenses. A state law calling for that mandatory license revocation was passed last year and went into effect in July. The law states that defendants have a year to pay all of their court costs in misdemeanor and felony cases or the Department of Safety will automatically revoke their licenses. Area court clerks have expressed varying opinions about the law but are gearing up to comply with it. Most agree it will add another layer of record-keeping and likely clog already crowded court dockets. "Imagine the court having to have a hearing on every unpaid court cost case," Anderson County Circuit Court Clerk Barry Pelizzari said. "It would be a burden that this system could not handle." "It's going to be a huge mess," Anderson County Criminal Court Judge Don Elledge predicted. He said he expects to discuss the issue with fellow jurists during a judicial conference in June. Roane County Circuit Court Clerk Kim Nelson offers another view. She said she's "thankful that the Legislature has provided court clerks with another enforcement tool in collecting court costs." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/area-court-clerks-see-dark-clouds-with-new-law/

Dean unveils $297.7M capital plan heavy on infrastructure (City Paper/Garrison)
Mayor Karl Dean provided specifics Thursday on his proposed $297.7 million capital-spending plan, which he plans to officially file in the form of a bond resolution on Friday. “This plan takes care of the basics of the city, such as renovating and expanding our schools, repairing roads and building sidewalks, and improving our fire halls and police infrastructure,” Dean said in a statement. The Metro Council will consider the capital plan –– along with a proposed 53-cent property tax increase and a $1.71 billion operating budget –– in June. Approximately $97 million, one-third of the capital-spending plan, would go to Metro schools to address additions and expansions at existing school buildings. Another $62 million would go to the Metro Public Works Department, with an emphasis on long-neglected infrastructure needs, including street and sidewalk projects. The Metro Parks and Recreation Department would receive $34 million. Dean announced what would be one of Nashville’s most robust infrastructure spending plans in years at a media event on Baptist World Center Drive in northeast Davidson County. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/dean-unveils-2977m-capital-planheavy-infrastructure

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has big plans for schools, roads (Tennessean/Cass)
Hoping to move Nashville further along what he has called its “path to greatness,” Mayor Karl Dean plans to file a $297.7 million capital spending plan today, including $97 million for building and expanding schools. The proposal, which Dean’s administration will submit to the Metro Council, also would build, renovate or repair roads, sidewalks, parks, fire halls, bus lines, riverfront projects, a DNA crime lab and a Bellevue library. Dean said Thursday that the money, which would come from a municipal bond issue, would help schools keep up with population growth in areas like southeast Davidson County, where his plan would pay for more than $23 million in improvements to two elementary schools, Norman Binkley and A.Z. Kelley, and two middle schools, Antioch and Oliver. “Those schools are extremely overcrowded,” the mayor said. “This is, I think, why the Realtors support our budget, because they get the fact that people aren’t going to keep moving into those areas unless you have the schools that are needed.” http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/NEWS0202/305250053/Nashville-Mayor-Karl-Dean-has-big-plans6

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Dean to File Building Plan (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has finalized his $300 million capital spending plan, a third of which will go into school renovations. It’s the largest budget for building projects since Dean took office. There’s $22 million for the police and fire departments, money for a new library in Bellevue and sidewalk plans for Trinity Lane and Whites Creek Pike. The mayor has been touring the city this week to highlight the need for his proposal. He’ll file the capital spending plan Friday. The Metro Council will discuss it in the coming weeks before taking a vote. Metro Schools will receive a total of $97 million, the majority of which will go towards additions and renovations to existing school facilities that are outdated, in disrepair or overcrowded. Metro Public Works will receive a total of $62 million to address infrastructure needs throughout the city, including - $30 million in paving and road project - $12 million for new sidewalks and sidewalk repairs http://wpln.org/?p=37672

DA Randy Nichols throws support behind proposed school budget (N-S/McCoy)
Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols is endorsing the school system's request to add $35 million to its operating budget for targeted objectives. "Some people will say, W ell, why would the district attorney wish to put his big nose into somebody else's business? This is my business," Nichols said Thursday. The longtime elected prosecutor noted Tennessee spends more than $600 million a year to incarcerate people, and Knox County spends more than $100,000 a day. And he said, the state used the percentage of third-graders in Tennessee who are proficient in reading to determine the number of prisons that need to be built in the future. "It is clear, I would suggest to the casual observer, that the lack of education and the lack of the ability to get employment is what is driving the crime problem in Tennessee," he said. "We have to end the cycle. It is clear now that the way to end the cycle is to see that our children are educated so they can achieve in their life." Nichols said he looked closely at Knox County Schools' proposal and where the money is budgeted to go before offering his endorsement.http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/da-nichols-throws-support-behindproposed-school/

No new taxes in city budget (Times-Gazette)
Shelbyville's city council will be busy crunching numbers next week as they made their first move into the annual budget process Tuesday evening. The council passed the first reading of the document, and set a public hearing date of June 14. Two sessions are set to be held next week -- on Tuesday and Thursday at 6 p.m., to go over the numbers in more detail and to make any changes. 'Important item' City manager Jay Johnson called the budget "the single most important item that the council does each year." The budget contains no property tax increases, no new fees and no new services or programs have been suggested, with the focus being on maintaining and delivering the level of public services currently provided. A base pay increase has been budgeted for city employees at 2.5 percent, with a five percent increase in health insurance costs. http://www.t-g.com/story/1852819.html

County cuts funding to programs (State Gazette)
The 2012-2013 county budget sat in the black after Wednesday's meeting with revenues exceeding expenditures by $28,176. However, the success came at a cost as several organizations had their funding reduced by 25 percent. The county spends $84,841 annually on contributions to 21 programs. By reducing their charitable contributions by 25 percent, the county was able to save $21,210. However, more than half of the contributions go to three organizations: Dyersburg State Community College for its Promise Scholarship, W est Tennessee Speech and Hearing and Northwest Tennessee Development --Rehabilitation Center. The contributions to the three organizations total $56,448. A 25 percent reduction to those three organizations accounts for $14,112. "I have a problem with it," said Commissioner Steve Moore. "I hate to pick and choose which ones to cut but some of the programs. ..." http://www.stategazette.com/story/1853048.html

Corker’s Antibiotic Incentive Bill Passes Senate (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Tennessee Republican Bob Corker’s GAIN Act has passed the Senate. As WPLN’s Nina Cardona reports, it’s a plan to spur development of new antibiotics that work on drug-resistant “superbugs.” Corker calls the measure a way of improving health without spending federal dollars. It creates incentives for drug companies by extending the period before generics can go on the market and easing some of the red tape involved in the approval 7

process. Speaking on the Senate floor, Corker said it’s vital to develop the new drugs, and read a quote from a Memphis doctor. “‘We don’t want to find ourselves in a situation in which we’ve been able to save a child’s life after cancer diagnosis only to lose them to an untreatable multidrug resistant infection.’” The GAIN Act is part of the bill reauthorizing the Food and Drug Administration. Now that it’s passed the Senate, the measure is headed to the House of Representatives. http://wpln.org/?p=37669

Congressman, Greater Memphis Chamber turn up heat on Delta (CA/Risher)
Political and business leaders showed signs Thursday of mounting pressure to combat high fares and shrinking service at Memphis International Airport. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Memphis, suggested the business community would be the best advocate for more competition, most likely by Southwest Airlines. During a news conference at his Midtown home, Cohen said he has called on the Greater Memphis Chamber to organize a community forum to discuss the economic impact of costly, diminishing air service. Chamber president John Moore said later the organization aimed to hold such an event in the next three weeks. "W e think it's a healthy way to address the situation," said Moore, whose group joined the Airport Authority and Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau in launching a Facebook group, My Memphis Airport, on Thursday. Cohen said he doesn't expect significant progress by Southwest in the Memphis market until next summer, and he worries that new service could be minimal unless the business community demands more. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/24/rep-steve-cohen-joins-campaign-get-delta-cut-airfa/ (SUB)

Cohen-Hart Debate Delta Airfares On Facebook (Memphis Daily News)
The growing discontent over high airfares at Memphis International Airport has become part of the August Democratic primary election contest between incumbent U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen and challenger Tomeka Hart. Hart took to the “Delta Does Memphis” Facebook page Wednesday, May 24, to criticize Cohen without mentioning him by name and Cohen responded. “It’s disappointing that we haven’t heard more about this from our current Congressman; even more so, when you take into consideration that he sits on the Transportation Committee that could play a role in ensuring that airports and their cities-regions are not being used and abused by airlines,” Hart wrote. “An elected leader should be willing to speak out and do something about an issue so important to the constituents she/he serves.” Cohen responded the next morning with a post on the page that included a photo of him standing in front of Air Force One at Memphis International Airport. “I have voted with the employees/consumers and against Delta’s position 100 percent of the time regarding organizing, safety, conditions and passengers bill of rights,” Cohen wrote. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/cohen-hart-debate-delta-airfares-on-facebook/

Republican candidates divided on no-tax-increase pledge (TFP/Carroll)
When it comes to life's realities, Republicans aren't fond of death, but they despise taxes. But in Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District Republican primary, nuance exists: Two candidates say they'll never raise taxes while two others refuse to speak in absolutes. At a debate Monday night, challenger Ron Bhalla described any tax increase as "a no-no thing" and the incumbent, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, said he's one of more than 270 members of Congress to sign the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, promising never to vote to raise taxes. "We have a spending problem," Fleischmann said. "To actually come to the American people and say it can even begin to be solved with revenue is wrong." But the two other candidates, Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, appear to approach America's $1.2 trillion deficit with a different view. Both routinely criticize taxation in speeches and position papers, but other statements suggest they wouldn't close the door on a tax increase. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/25/republican-candidates-divided-on-no-tax/?local

Insurance retailer planning big local network (Nashville Post/De Lombaerde)
A fast-growing insurance agency with a retail-oriented approach plans to open 30 Middle Tennessee locations in the coming years as part of an aggressive regional growth push. Jacksonville-based Brightway Insurance plans to open up to 72 franchised stores across Tennessee. In the Nashville area, its planned footprint would be home to almost 300 agents. The company, which runs more than 100 locations from Florida to Texas, rang up 2011 revenues of $168 million. “We’ve had our eyes set on bringing our unique insurance store franchise model to Tennessee for years,” said Brightway CEO David Miller, who acquired the company in 2003 when it was a standalone, three-employee agency in Jacksonville. “We know that Nashville residents will appreciate the savings 8

associated with being able to choose from so many top-rated insurance brands under one roof.” Brightway also is pushing its franchise model into other parts of the South and west into Arizona and New Mexico as well as north into Ohio and Pennsylvania. Between now and the end of next year, its plans call for the opening of more than 100 offices. http://nashvillepost.com/news/2012/5/24/insurance_retailer_planning_big_local_network

Job-based clinics pay off (Tennessean/W ilemon)
Employers, employees save on health costs; productivity improves When Brooks O’Brien burned his arm with hot cooking oil during a weekend at home, he went to work for medical treatment. He drove to Opryland, where Gaylord Entertainment opened a health clinic for its 4,500 employees this year. “It’s super-duper convenient,” he said. O’Brien didn’t have to pay for anything. Even so, Gaylord saved money. Providing the benefit is cheaper than picking up the tab for a visit to an emergency room. Workplace clinics also save employers money on routine procedures, such as blood panel tests. By 2015, these clinics are projected to serve 10 percent of the American population under the age of 65, according to a report from Fuld & Co., a consultant for Fortune 500 corporations and other large employers. Gaylord follows Nissan North America in offering this benefit. Nissan signed a contract in 2006 with CHS Health Services Inc, which is headquartered in Virginia, to operate its clinics in Smyrna, Franklin and Decherd, Tenn., and Canton, Miss. Nashville-based companies are national players in the on-site clinic market. Health to You (H2U), a subsidiary of HCA, inked the deal with Gaylord. It operates 18 clinics from Georgia to Alaska. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/NEW S/305250040/Job-basedclinics-pay-off?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Longtime Smyrna firm closing, cutting 103 jobs (Daily News Journal)
Town manager remains optimistic Town Manager Mark O’Neal found it sad to learn a small factory that has built windows and doors by the airport since the 1970s will close in July and cut 103 jobs. “Any time it impacts 103 citizens of our community it’s devastating to them,” O’Neal said during a Thursday phone interview. MI Windows & Doors Inc. operation in Smyrna will close and cut 103 jobs by July 21, said Jeff Hentschel, the communications director for the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The company gave official notice to the state Thursday morning. Phone messages were exchanged with MI Windows & Doors Inc. Chief Operating Officer Matt Desoto, but he was not available for comment. The company is based in Gratz, Pa. MI Windows & Doors Inc. acquired the small factory in Smyrna in 1999 when the plant was then known to be part of BetterBilt, recalled O’Neal, who grew up in Smyrna and became town manager in 2002. “Throughout the years they have manufactured windows and doors,” said O’Neal, noting the factory had employees who volunteered to serve with the town’s Rescue Squad. http://www.dnj.com/article/20120525/BUSINESS/305250018/LongtimeSmyrna-firm-closing-cutting-103-jobs?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Hume-Fogg, MLK land in another ranking of top U.S. high schools (City Paper)
Once again, Metro’s Hume-Fogg Academic Magnet High School and Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School are among the top 100 high schools in the nation, according to Newsweek magazine. Hume-Fogg is listed as the 36th best high school in the magazine’s 2012 list of “America’s Best High Schools,” while MLK sits at the 90th. They represent the only schools in Tennessee ranked in the top 100. Hume-Fogg and MLK, both lottery-based schools that have academic requirements for admissions, consistently make the magazine’s rankings. Last year, Hume-Fogg was named the 33rd best high school in the country. MLK did not make the 2011 list, but perennially earns a spot. According to Newsweek, the magazine reached out to principals and other administrators for their school’s participation in a survey on the 2010-11 academic year to qualify for the rankings. Criteria are: four-year, on-time graduation rate (25 percent); percent of 2011 graduates accepted to college (25 percent); AP, IB or AICE tests per student (25 percent); Average ACT or SAT scores (10 percent); AP, IB or AICE courses offered per student (5 percent). http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/hume-fogg-mlk-land-another-ranking-top-us-high-schools

Software

glitch

delays

report

cards

for

Nashville

elementary

students

(TN/Hubbard)
A glitch with software that computes Metro elementary students’ grades will mean students get their report cards later than normal. There was an unexpected problem with grade calculations by the district’s online grading 9

software, Gradespeed. Because of the irregularities, the district was unable to send report cards home with students Thursday, a half day and last day of the school year. Metro school officials say now report cards for 33,500 elementary students will be sent out in the mail starting next week. They don’t yet know how much the glitch will cost the district, spokeswoman Olivia Brown said. Buying 33,500 first-class stamps would add up to more than $15,000, but bulk mailings typically qualify for lower rates. Middle and high school report cards are unaffected by the problem. Those parents should get them in the mail within two weeks, Brown said. “No other impacts are expected,” she said of teacher evaluations or student retention notifications. LaShanda Martin, mother of a fourth-grader at Bellshire Design Center, said that when she didn’t get a report card Thursday, she called up the school to make sure for peace of mind that her son was promoted to fifth grade. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/NEWS04/305250057/Software-glitch-delays-report-cardsNashville-elementary-students?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Knox County working to expand the community school concept (N-S/McCoy)
For the last two school years, Knox County has been piloting a community school at Pond Gap Elementary and it is seeing results. Now the school district wants to expand the concept and is trying to decide whether to move into more elementary schools or into the upper grade levels. "What an expansion looks like will be dependent on what kinds of resources we have to provide that," said Melissa Massie, the district's executive director of student support services. "One of the really key essential pieces is a community resource coordinator." Massie said a decision on what specific schools to expand into has not been made. "W e're looking at some data to think about where the places are that we already have a lot of students that are receiving support services or those places where it makes the most sense to look at providing those additional services," she said. "I think when we're looking at a pilot for next year, we will probably look at between one and five, as we're growing this and learning from other places." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/knox-county-working-to-expand-the-community/

Public-private school security wins support, draws mixed views (CA/Kelley)
A blend of law enforcement officers, private security guards and school crossing guards to provide safety and security for the unified school district advanced Thursday at a meeting of the Transition Planning Commission. Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell repeated his misgivings about what he described as the security plan's unanswered questions. "Ultimately this will have to be a decision between the superintendent of schools and the sheriff," Luttrell said. "The sheriff can only do what he can afford to do. ... Let's let the superintendent and sheriff sit down and work through this. We'll give them suggestions and let them work it out." The plan for safety and security, which passed by a narrow margin in the TPC Logistics Committee, essentially maintains the security system that exists in the two districts today. Security officers on the district payroll would report to district officials and law enforcement officers -- sheriff's deputies, in particular, with the Memphis Police Department preparing to get out of the school security business -- adding a law enforcement presence. The Memphis City Schools district currently has 84 security officers on the payroll and pays the city to have 43 sworn officers assigned to schools. MCS spends $13.5 million a year on security, while Shelby County Schools, which has only five security officers, spends $1 million.http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/25/hybrid-security-proposal-advances/ (SUB)

Schools Planning Commission Puts Financial Gap at $89 Million (M. Daily News)
Those drafting the blueprint for the consolidated Shelby County public school system to come in August 2013 always knew they would come to the point at which they would have to balance the school system they want and the school system the county can afford. The difference between the two was estimated Thursday, May 24, for the first time at approximately $89 million. The scenarios from the finance committee of the schools consolidation planning commission will lead to recommendations and a vote by the full group in June. The $89 million gap is a net figure that takes into account $155 million in efficiencies the committee has identified that could be built into the new school system such as a smaller central office and eliminating some functions that are now duplicated in each of the county’s two public school systems. The big ticket efficiencies are an estimated $62 million from “rightsizing” the school district which includes a still tentative recommendation that the countywide school board close 21 schools.http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/25/schools-planning-commission-putsfinancial-gap-at-89-million/

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OPINION Editorial: In bad need of skilled workers (Commercial Appeal)
Preparing students for jobs: Tennessee is suffering from a dearth of workers who can fill new manufacturing jobs coming into the state. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, representatives of the Greater Memphis Chamber and representatives of Memphis Fast Forward paid recent visits to The Commercial Appeal's editorial board. W hile updating the board about their individual projects and goals, one concern came up in each presentation -workforce development. In fact, Haslam pointed out it's a statewide concern. He said, for example, officials at Volkswagen's Chattanooga Assembly Plant said a large percentage of their job applicants were unsuitable for hiring. Industries interested in relocating to Memphis or other parts of Tennessee want to know if there is a trainable workforce from which to recruit employees. That usually translates into "are your community's schools graduating students who have the skills to do the work or the ability to learn how to do the work?" Communities that fall short on that platform are at a disadvantage in the highly competitive atmosphere of attracting industry. There is a tremendous need, for example, for workers skilled in the construction trades. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/25/editorials-in-bad-need-of-skilled-workers/ (SUB)

Editorial: Tennessee W orks Act makes sense, creates jobs (Jackson Sun)
Gov. Bill Haslam has signed the Tennessee Works Act of 2012. The act is a direct link to jobs for many of the state’s unemployed. It offers financial incentives to Tennessee companies to train displaced workers to meet 11

specific company needs. This is a great way to grow Tennessee businesses, get people back to work, take advantage of local education resources and make good use of tax dollars. The Tennessee Works Act provides matching funds to Tennessee businesses wanting to expand or hire new workers, and to companies committed to come to Tennessee. The state will match companies dollar-for-dollar for training displaced workers to fill company jobs. Employers who apply for the job training grants must meet certain criteria prescribed in the legislation. People to be trained must be Tennessee residents and also meet certain criteria. Only private forprofit companies are eligible to apply for the training grants. Funds will be administered and grants reviewed and approved by a grant review committee consisting of business leaders, state officials, education leaders and elected officials as outlined in the legislation. At least 90 percent of funds available for the grants must go to training, with up to 10 percent available for administrative expenses. This mandate ensures that the maximum amount of grant funds go for their intended purpose. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20120525/OPINION/305250002/Our-View-Tennessee-Works-Act-makessense-creates-jobs

Editorial: Congress' gridlock wears on Tennessee roads (Tennessean)
Whether you drive a truck, an SUV or a hybrid, whether you live in a congested city or sprawling countryside, you either use roads and bridges to get to work, see family and travel, or you rely on the food and other goods that are brought to your town on our roads and highways. In America, it’s very hard to get away from roads. But right now, there’s a growing concern that we are not going to be able to keep them in working condition. Along with most of the major issues that have come before Congress in past few years, authorization of the federal transportation program, which should have been resolved months ago, has become snarled in political bickering. And while the Senate after much delay was able to pass a bipartisan plan, its path to the president’s desk is by no means assured. It’s no secret that roads, bridges and highways around the country are crumbling. In Tennessee, major arteries are in better condition than in many other states because of the emphasis the state Department of Transportation placed on planning, construction and repair over the past decade. But infrastructure needs continual maintenance, with long-range planning that accounts for population growth and changing commuter patterns. The condition of Tennessee’s infrastructure in a matter of a few years could be very different if a workable plan is not approved. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/OPINION01/305250035/Congress-gridlock-wears-Tennesseeroads?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Guest columnist: Senator's vote, rhetoric differ (Tennessean)
In a May 15 op-ed in The Dickson Herald, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander tries to pretend he’s a defender of affordable student loans. In doing so, he covers up the truth about how the Affordable Care Act (ObamaCare) cut out bank profiteering to pay for lower student loan costs. Maybe that’s because the senator voted to put bankers before students and now he’s trying to cover his tracks. Here is what Sen. Alexander voted against when he voted no on health-care reform, as reported by The Washington Post last month: • Ending federal subsidies to private banks for giving out federally insured loans. Now the Department of Education directly administers the loans, cutting out the “middle man” (private banks). • Increasing Pell Grant scholarship awards for low-income students. • Letting new borrowers cap the monthly amount they spend on loan repayment at 10 percent of their discretionary income, starting in 2014. (The current cap is 15 percent.) • Remaining loan balances are forgiven, and a student’s debt is wiped clean, if the student has made timely payments for 20 years. This reform was hailed nationwide by those who advocate for students and working parents. It was so popular, in fact, that when the Republican-led House attempted to repeal health-care reform, it retained the student loan provision. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120525/OPINION03/305250036/Senator-s-vote-rhetoric-differ? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Pam Strickland: School funding battle hits social media (News-Sentinel)
If the social media are any indication, Knox County commissioners are being heavily lobbied this week regarding their upcoming vote on the Knox County School Board's 2012-13 budget. Within five minutes on Tuesday, I received an email on behalf of the Support Our Schools group politely, almost apologetically, asking me to contact my county commissioner for a vote in support of the full board budget request, and then saw a Twitter update that Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett was making robocalls urging calls to county commissioners asking for votes against the school budget. The SOS email provided links to a Facebook page, a website and a snazzy youtube.com video, all of which were packed with facts and figures about the budget proposal, which Knox 12

County Superintendent Jim McIntyre made based on the district's strategic plan. It calls for a $48 million increase over last year's spending, $35 million of which is considered above and beyond so-called natural growth and would require a tax increase. Please note that Knox County already spends less on schools than 10 surrounding school districts. The school board approved the budget on an 8-1 vote in April. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/pam-strickland-school-funding-battle-hits-social/

Greg Johnson: Reality bites into city pension plan (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
Hamstrung by state law and a Tennessee Supreme Court ruling, Knoxville is stuck with inexorably greater pension obligations for decades. The city owes an estimated $14 million in the 2012-2013 fiscal year, and annual contributions could grow to $30 million per year over the next decade. Knoxville voters brought this on themselves. In the 1990s and again in 2000, referenda passed that significantly liberalized pension benefits for city workers. The Cold War had ended, the economy was growing smartly and the stock market was booming. There was reason for optimism. No more. Enter reality. Knoxville, as of June 30, 2011, had 3,752 participants in its retirement plan. Of those, 2,189 were retired. W ith 58 percent of participants receiving benefits and no longer paying into the plan, with retirees living longer, taxpayers' burden to fund retirement for city employees can only grow heavier. In an attempt to ease that burden, Mayor Madeline Rogero wisely proposed adding $10 million more than required to the pension fund in 2012-2013 to offset some of Knoxville's future shortfall, and she and City Council, after much wrangling, have proposed a new "hybrid" pension plan. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/25/greg-johnson-reality-bites-into-city-pension/ ###

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