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WEDNESDAY, JULY 20, 2011 Haslam Seeks Wide-Ranging Weigh-In of Perspectives on School Vouchers (TNR)

Vouchers for students will be among the foremost topics of education reform talks Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam plans to have this summer, but the governor said Tuesday he wants to hear all sides of the issue. Haslam spoke to the Southern Legislative Conference, a meeting of legislators, in Memphis, following his trip to a National Governors Association meeting in Utah. He conveyed to the legislators from 15 states the same bad news he has been telling Tennesseans that they should expect less money coming from Washington, even after a battle over the debt ceiling is worked out in the nations capital. After his speech, Haslam met with reporters and answered questions about the school choice issue, which was discussed at the convention.

Words of Warning (Memphis Daily News)

FedEx Express president and chief executive officer David J. Bronczek told a group of state legislators and elected leaders from 15 states that the U.S. needs an oil strategy long term. The four-day conference has been a mix of discussions about business at the national and international level and government at the state level. Haslam told the delegates that the debt ceiling standoff in Washington has a simple bottom line for state legislators and elected leaders no matter what the outcome is. I dont know how its going to play out in Washington. But I do know this. One of the effects will be we will be getting less money from the federal government, he said before addressing how the economic uncertainty makes economic development more difficult. Were competing in a world where the impacts of automation and technology are not going to go away. Those jobs that have been lost to automation and technology arent coming back and its going to make our job all the more difficult, Haslam said.

State announces transition funding for local planning (Nashville Business Journal)
The state of Tennessee has announced that transition funding will be available for local planning services, which is being eliminated as part of Gov. Bill Haslams plan to reduce spending. Funding for local planning was cut as part of the overhaul of the states Economic and Community Development Department. The Republican administration cast that spending as less essential than other state functions. But some in economic development circles have argued that local planning is key to site preparation, community vibrancy, infrastructure and other functions necessary to doing large company recruitment. Excerpts from the announcement: Haslam included $1 million for the transition in his 2011-2012 budget and each community applying for grant funds will receive an equal amount. Grant applications will be e-mailed directly to each of the client communities and applicants will have until September 1, 2011 to return the form.

Small Towns Can Apply to State for Planning Grants (Associated Press)
Small towns that no longer receive planning help from the state due to job cuts are eligible to apply for $1 million in grants. Gov. Bill Haslam announced in April that the Department of Economic and Community Development was eliminating jobs and would no longer provide planning services to towns that are too small to have their own planning departments. The grants are intended to help those 212 towns to hire private sector planners. ECD Commissioner Bill Hagerty was quoted by The Tennessean as saying the changes will make local planning a "truly local function" and the grants will help make the transition as seamless as possible.

Downtown developers to be honored (Commercial Appeal)

The Center City Commission will honor its former leader and his wife, applaud One Commerce Square's investor group and hear from Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam on Thursday. Jeff Sanford, the commission's former president and CEO, and Cynthia Ham, chief of public relations at archer>malmo and former Memphis in May International Festival CEO, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. The commission, which will be formalizing a name change to Downtown Memphis Commission, will honor Memphis Commerce Square Partners LLC. The investor group, which includes J.R. "Pitt" Hyde III, organized last year to buy the sparsely occupied office tower at 40 S. Main and sign Pinnacle Airlines Corp. as an anchor tenant. The commission also will present awards to the Memphis Farmers Market, WLOK-AM 1340 owner Art Gilliam and Jodie Vance, founder and publisher of the Downtowner magazine.

Education Commissioner Plans Less-Bureaucratic Department (WPLN-Radio)

Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says his department must go from double-checking paperwork to being more pro-active. The new commissioner says his own state Department of Education for too long has been a compliance organization. Too much of our work over time has been helping schools and districts fill out forms, or even worse, on occasion making them fill out forms. Instead, Huffman says, the department needs to help local schools set ambitious student achievement goals and set up ways for those school systems to measure the outcomes. He says that doesnt mean micro-managing local schools. I think what we need to do are create the conditions on the ground for innovation. W here possible, stay out of the way. Incent and encourage new ideas and new thinking on the ground, in schools. Huffman came to the Haslam administration after being a public affairs executive atTeach for America.

Rural schools need parents as big allies (Tennessean/Sisk)

SCORE summit at Lipscomb looks at hurdles Parents low expectations for their children is one of the biggest hurdles facing rural school districts, state officials said Tuesday. Weve got figure out how to bring parents along, Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman said. Even to sustain the same level of family living that we have had in the past, we have to sustain a higher level of education. Somehow, we have to figure out how to message that. Huffman took part in a panel discussion kicking off a two-day summit at Lipscomb University on rural education issues. Organized by SCORE, the education group founded by former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist, the meeting is meant to bring together rural teachers, administrators, officials and others from across the Southeast. Rural educators often find that parents in their communities do not expect their children to attend college and do not understand the need for their children to learn more math, reading and science than they did, Huffman said. Employers are leaving positions unfilled now because they cannot find workers with enough education to fill them, he said. odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Tennessee sees revenue revival (Tennessean/Sisk)

Despite shaky economy, sales tax collections on rise Tennessee has begun to bounce back from a steep decline in tax collections that began with the recession in 2008, and officials are predicting continued growth despite a slow economy. After two straight years of decline, the state expects to see a revenue increase when it finishes closing out its books for the 2011 fiscal year, which ended June 30. I think the second half of 2011 will be better, said Bill Fox, a professor of economics who advises the State Funding Board. However, the slow economy and the debate in W ashington over the nations debt continue to create uncertainty about the states recovery. The State Funding Board estimates that Tennessee will bring in at least 3 percent more in revenue in the budget year that started July 1, predicting a rise in tax collections for the second year in a row. The increase is expected even as high oil prices, widespread joblessness and a stagnant housing market continue to put a drag on the national and state economies. Im still very comfortable with the estimates we have for the next fiscal year, Fox said. odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE 2

TBI probing lawmaker involvement in nurse cases (Associated Press/Johnson)

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is looking into whether lawmakers improperly intervened with a state board to help three nurse practitioners whose licenses were suspended. The case grew out of a TBI investigation of fatal overdoses among patients of the now defunct Appalachian Medical Center. Republican Rep. Tony Shipley has told the Kingsport Times-News that he used his legislative position to force the Tennessee Board of Nursing to reconsider the suspensions of Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout Jr. and Tina Killebrew. TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the agency got a request last month from District Attorney General Torry Johnson in Nashville to investigate "any misconduct or false reporting by the Department of Health or Tennessee lawmakers who had influence over the board's decision to reinstate these licenses." Shipley told the newspaper that he was directly involved in the nurses' cases, saying he was the "rascal behind the scenes that made it happen." He said that as a member of the Government Operations Committee, he took the position of blocking the extension of the nursing board until it heard the nurses' arguments.

TN nursing board under scrutiny over discipline case (Tennessean/Wilemon)

TBI examines lawmakers' influence in disciplinary action The independence of the Board of Nursing to regulate the profession is under question as state investigators probe whether strong-arm tactics by lawmakers caused the board to rescind disciplinary actions. At least two lawmakers, Rep. Tony Shipley and Rep. Dale Ford, pressed for the board to reconsider the suspension of three nurse practitioners accused of over-prescribing narcotics. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into these actions, which occurred when the Board of Nursings right to exist as a regulatory body was up for renewal by the legislature. Sharon Adkins, executive director of the Tennessee Nurses Association, said the profession is closely watching the case. It is absolutely unacceptable for special interests to put undue pressure on the board to reverse their judgments, Adkins said. The board last year suspended the licenses of Bobby D. Reynolds, Tina Killebrew and David Stout, then reversed itself this May. The three nurses from Johnson City, who have not been charged with any crime, are the focus of an investigation, said Kristin Helm, a spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Members of Tenn. assembly, nurses under investigation by TBI (Herald-Courier)

Some members of the Tennessee General Assembly and the Tennessee Department of Health are under investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The reason for the investigation - possible misconduct involving the cases of some Tri-Cities area nurses. The three nurses involved in the investigation - Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout, Jr. and Tina Killebrew - used to work for Appalachian Medical Center in Johnson City. All three had their licenses suspended last year for allegedly over-prescribing pills to patients and contributing to some of their deaths. But, after state representatives Tony Shipley and Dale Ford questioned the investigation their licenses were re-instated and the charges were dropped. The TBI says it cannot release that information during its investigation. However, we spoke with State Representative Tony Shipley from Kingsport this morning. He told 11Connects that someone from the TBI contacted him and asked if they could talk to him. Shipley says he, along with Rep. Ford, helped the three nurses get their licenses reinstated.

TBI probes legislators' actions to aid nurses from Johnson City clinic (TimesNews)
Tennessee Health Department officials and some state legislators including Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport are being investigated for possible misconduct and false reporting by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. TBI spokeswoman Kristin Helm said the agency launched an investigation June 22. It's exploring whether, "members of the Tennessee General Assembly and/or employees of the state department of health" committed criminal infractions during a process that led to the recent reversal of disciplinary action against three registered nurses accused of substandard care and contributing to two patient deaths while employed at the now-defunct Appalachian Medical Center, 3010 Bristol Highway, Johnson City. Registered nurses Bobby Reynolds II, David Stout Jr. and Tina Killebrew were exonerated and their licenses restored in May. At that time Shipley identified himself to the Times-News as the, "rascal behind the scenes that made it happen." 3

State legislator insists he's clean in TBI nursing probe (City Paper/Woods)
A state legislator insisted Tuesday he did nothing wrong in pressuring health officials to restore the licenses of three nurses who had been accused of over-prescribing medication and contributing to the deaths of two patients at a clinic where his sister worked. If I did anything wrong, I probably should be in jail, said Rep. Dale Ford, RJonesborough, who contends the nurses were innocent of the charges against them. But Im going to tell you, I havent done anything unethical or illegal or wrong, and they can investigate me all they want. Ford acknowledged he introduced legislation aimed at curtailing the power of the state Board of Nursing in reaction to the controversy surrounding the Appalachian Medical Center in Johnson City. He said he agreed to drop that bill during this years session, when state officials said they would reconsider the evidence in the case. The board later reinstated the nurses licenses. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has opened an investigation into whether any wrongdoing occurred.

TN is warned credit rating could drop (Associated Press/Veiga)

Moodys Investors Service warned Tuesday that it probably will lower the credit rating on Tennessee and four other states if it downgrades the U.S. governments credit rating. The credit rating agency said it has placed on review for possible downgrade the triple-A bond ratings of Tennessee, Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia. A triple-A rating is the highest for debt and tells investors an institutional borrower presents a minimal credit risk. While we think Tennessee is deserving of its triple-A rating, if a downgrade occurs as a result of a lowering of the federal rating Tennessee will meet its obligations, state Comptroller Justin Wilson said in a statement. Last week, Moodys placed the U.S. governments triple-A credit rating under review for a possible downgrade as Congress and the White House wrestle over raising the nations $14.3 trillion borrowing limit. Moodys said there is a small but rising risk the government will default on its debt if officials dont raise the limit. odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

State mental health Press/Carroll)


shutter local treatment program



Thousands of developmentally disabled Tennesseans must fend for themselves starting Aug. 12, when a local treatment center will stop admitting patients after losing a crucial state grant that funded clinical care for decades. Chattanooga's TEAM Centers Inc. office has notified 22 employees -- including three clinical psychologists, two social workers and a developmental pediatrician -- they will be laid off effective Aug. 15, according to two people close to the situation. The shutdown is a byproduct of state lawmakers' budget cuts, which will leave those who suffer from mental disabilities, autism and cerebral palsy without a formerly reliable option, a TEAM executive said. "That's the unfortunate part of this whole thing," said Interim Executive Director Peter Charman, who will keep his job at the nonprofit. "This population has always had difficulty getting services." Disabled residents from across the state were referred to TEAM for speech, occupational and physical therapy, along with medical evaluations and treatment "from Ph.D.-level psychologists," he said.

College Street closure could last more than a month (Leaf Chronicle)
Officials: Sewer and storm drainage is 38 feet underground College Street will likely remain closed at North Second Street for another month or more, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials said Tuesday. The Clarksville Street Department shut down the intersection indefinitely Friday amid concerns over sinking asphalt. Further investigation by city and TDOT officials revealed that deteriorating sewer and storm drainage lines are to blame for the instabilities underground. TDOT spokeswoman B.J. Doughty said state officials met with the city Tuesday morning to discuss repairs. The sewer pipe belongs to the city, but College Street is a state road. A TDOT drainage line is also in need of repairs. Doughty said crews will need to replace 150 feet of pipe buried as deep as 38 feet under the road. Few details have been set in stone, but Doughty said the repairs will probably take around 30 days once work gets started. Before then, TDOT will need to acquire the pipe, which Doughty said is not readily available. It's not yet known how much of College Street will be closed, or for how long.

School Choice a Hot Topic at Legislators Conference (TN Report)

Tennessee lawmakers, who approved a slew of sweeping education reforms this spring, hinted this week at the Southern Legislative Conference that theyre not done yet. The next battle appears to be over school choice. It is blatantly unfair that just because a parent doesnt have the means that another parent might have, that theyre stuck in a failing school, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told TNReport while attending the conference in Memphis, which has drawn lawmakers from 15 states. I hope well be able to pass that next year. The Senate passed a plan in April to offer low-income students in the states largest cities Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga vouchers to put toward their education at another public school in the district, a charter school or private school. The reason for the holdup on the legislation was that House lawmakers werent entirely familiar or comfortable with the voucher concept, said Rep. Richard Montgomery, the chairman of the Education Committee. W e didnt know the impact of what that type of legislation would be, and we need to know that before we start moving forward, the Sevierville Republican said.

Lawmaker honored for working to help military families (Leaf Chronicle)

The Department of Defense recently recognized state Rep. Curtis Johnson, R-Clarksville, for his work on legislation benefiting military families. Johnson received the award in part for pushing House Bill 1106 across the finish line this year. The new law stipulates that a court must hold an expedited hearing, if appropriate, for a temporary modification to a decree for child custody or visitation when a parent facing mobilization for military duty requires immediate attention. It also requires courts to allow testimony by electronic means while a military parent is out of state and authorizes courts to grant permanent modifications to decrees of child custody or visitation if a parent volunteers for successive or frequent duties requiring them to be out of state. Previously, in 2010, Johnson also sponsored the Interstate Compact on Education Opportunity for Military Children. The law helps children of military personnel transition between schools when moving out of state when parents or guardians are transferred. Issues addressed by the law include enrollment, eligibility, placement and graduation requirements.

Many States Grappling With Amazon Tax Issue (TN Report)

It was formally billed as an e-commerce discussion, but the meeting at the Southern Legislative Conference in Memphis quickly became an discussion. Amazon is becoming the focus of states wrestling with what to do about online sales where sales taxes go uncollected. Tennessee is in the middle of the issue, but it is not alone, as was quickly evident in a meeting Monday with representatives of many of the 15 states in the SLC. Dr. W illiam F. Fox, director of economics at the University of Tennessees Center for Business and Economic Research, joined North Carolinas secretary of Revenue, David W. Hoyle, in a presentation, and the message they brought was that Amazon has managed to create an uneven playing field and that Internet sales in general are having a huge impact on state revenues. The Amazon story has become familiar. The giant online retailer wants to avoid collecting sales taxes despite its large distribution centers in Southern states, and states are left to either let Amazon get a pass on collecting taxes or pass laws to make them do so or take Amazon to court.

Cleveland: Committees to redraw local government lines (TFP/Higgins)

The next step for local governments after the 2010 U.S. census is about to begin: Redrawing the lines that determine the districts of the Bradley County Commission, the Cleveland City Council and county and city school boards. Political boundaries for federal, state and local governments are redrawn every 10 years after a national census. On Monday, County Commission Chairman Louie Alford appointed one county commissioner from each of the seven districts, along with county Elections Director Fran Green and county Geographic Information System Director Wayne Owenby, to a redistricting committee. GIS is the computer mapping system local governments use to store and display map data. Cleveland Mayor Tom Rowland said Tuesday that he intends "to appoint the five council members who represent a district along with Ms. Green and someone from GIS, on Monday." Two other council members are elected at-large by all city voters. Counties are required to draw their district lines by Jan. 1, 2012, Owenby told county commissioners recently after attending a state workshop.

Blackburn Says Constiutents Want Cut, Cap and Balance (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Congressman Marsha Blackburn brought emails from her constituents onto the House floor today as she argued for the GOP budget bill known as Cut, Cap and Balance. The Brentwood Republican says her correspondence shows that citizens are watching the debate. Theyre waiting to see if we have the courage, if we have the political will to actually do something about spending money we dont have for programs our constituents dont want. The bill would raise the debt ceiling, but only if an amendment is added to the constitution mandating a balanced federal budget. It also cuts current federal spending and places caps on how much can be allocated in the future. No matter what happens in the House, Democrats in the Senate will almost certainly shut it down there. If it does get as far as the presidents desk, the Obama administration has said it will be vetoed.

Reps. Diane Black, Marsha Blackburn help pass House debt measure (TN/Bewley)
Tennessees Republican U.S. House members helped pass a plan Tuesday night that would cut federal spending by trillions of dollars and require Congress to take steps to balance the federal budget in exchange for increasing the nations debt limit. But the 234-190 vote may mark the end of the road for the Cut, Cap and Balance Act,which was co-sponsored by Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood and Diane Black of Gallatin. The bill probably wont pass the Democratic-controlled Senate, as Democrats have argued the legislation would decimate key government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while leaving tax breaks for the wealthy untouched. And President Barack Obama said Tuesday that its not a plan I would sign. Black said the vote on the bill was not symbolic. Leaders put things on the table, she said. It doesnt always necessarily mean that what you put on the table is going to be what passes at the end of the day or is the ultimate solution.|topnews|text|News

Postmaster says days are numbered for Saturday mail delivery (USA Today)
Falling mail volume and soaring red ink may soon doom Saturday mail delivery and prompt three-day-a-week delivery within 15 years, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe warns. Donahoe's forecast is based on a projected $8.3 billion loss this year as the drift from paper to electronic communication hammers the Postal Service. "On Sept. 30," he told the USA TODAY editorial board Tuesday, "I won't be able to pay my bills." Chief among them: a $5.5 billion payment due Sept. 30 to cover future retirees' health benefits. Mail carriers have been making rounds six days a week since the 19th century. After postmasters started talking about cutting back, Congress mandated the six-day delivery in 1983. Donahoe wasn't specific about how soon he would like to reduce service but said he thinks Congress, struggling with the federal budget, will be more open to the idea now. He said a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll last year helped move the discussion along. More than half of those polled had no problem with losing Saturday mail.

IQT deal officially dead (Nashville Post/Duncan)

Well, it looks like its too late now to wonder about what might have been. What was supposed to be the one of, if not the, largest corporate relocation in downtowns history has, according to Metro's economic and community development point man, officially fizzled. We are no longer in conversations with IQT regarding locating their operations here, said ECD head Matt Wiltshire in a tersely worded statement this morning. We spoke with the company last night, and it appears unlikely IQT will move forward with its proposed operations in Nashville. We are disappointed these job opportunities wont be available to Nashvillians, but it is important to point out that no incentive dollars were expended. We are dismayed about what happened in Canada and dont think workers anywhere should be treated that way. IQTs decision to layoff more than 1,000 Canadian workers last Friday surprised Metro as evidenced by the letter W iltshire sent the company yesterday, demanding a full accounting of factors leading to such a move.

Official: IQT's Nashville plans are over (Nashville Business Journal)

Matt Wiltshire, director of the Mayors Office of Economic and Community Development, announced today that conversations with IQT to bring 900 jobs to Nashville have ended. We are no longer in conversations with IQT regarding locating their operations here. We spoke with the company last night, and it appears unlikely IQT will move forward with its proposed operations in Nashville, he said in a statement. IQT abruptly shuttered three call 6

centers in Canada Friday, laying off 1,000 employees without notice. "W e are disappointed these job opportunities wont be available to Nashvillians, but it is important to point out that no incentive dollars were expended," Wiltshire said. "We are dismayed about what happened in Canada and dont think workers anywhere should be treated that way."

Metro looks past IQT flop (Tennessean/Ward, Cass)

A deal to bring 900 new technology jobs to Nashville died Tuesday, before the city paid out any of the $1.61 million in incentives promised. While city and business leaders say theyre disappointed, they insist a demand for technology workers remains, and IQTs problems didnt come up as the Metro Council approved two incentive deals for other, better-known companies Tuesday night. New York-based IQT Solutions abandoned plans for a Nashville call center and new corporate headquarters after computer maker Apple called off a partnership between the companies. Under that arrangement, IQT employees here would have handled calls from users of smartphones, iPads and other devices. On Friday, IQT abruptly closed its three call centers in Canada, laying off more than 1,000 employees after it lost its contract with key customer Bell Canada. Nashville economic development officials touted IQTs relocation plans as a game-changer in efforts to strengthen the citys technology base, with Metro Council approving the $1.61 million in incentives last month.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

IQT co-founder's former company 'would have raised questions' (N. Biz Journal)
The citys decision today to abruptly cancel talks with IQT Inc. came one day after Nashvilles top economic development official said the city should have further investigated the company and its founders. The announcement came after inquiries from the Nashville Business Journal regarding IQT co-founder David A. Mortmans previous venture that unraveled amid allegations of securities fraud and disputes with investors in the late 1990s. City officials also have expressed concern in recent days about the closure of three IQT call centers in Canada that left more than 1,000 workers without a paycheck. IQT was on track to receive more than $1.6 million in local and state economic incentives to move to Nashville. Mortman who co-founded IQT with his son, Alex was president and chief operating officer of Global Intellicom, a $51 million, New York-based telecommunications firm that was involved in a number of lawsuits filed between 1997 and 1999 that resulted in settlements and judgments paid by the company and others totaling nearly $5.6 million.

IQT Will Not Come to Nashville (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

The technology support company IQT will not be bringing 900 jobs to Nashville according to an announcement from the Mayors office today. Last month, Metro made a 1.6 million dollar deal to lure IQT to Nashville. However conversations about the deal have now stopped. IQT laid off more than a thousand workers from three Canadian call centers last week, a move that prompted the Mayors office to question the company in a letter. In a statement released today, the director of the Mayors office of economic and community development said that none of the incentive money has been paid to the company.

Memphis school board delays class over funding (Associated Press)

The school board has decided to indefinitely delay the start of class for Memphis City Schools this fall in a dispute over money with the City Council. The board voted 8-1 Tuesday night to postpone school until the city hands over $55 million in tax revenue it says it has set aside for the system this coming year, according to The Commercial Appeal. The school board says the city owes significantly more than that after several years of shortfalls. Board member Tomeka Hart says the school system has been patient and needs the money in its account to pay bills. City Council president Myron Lowery says some funding issues are tied up in court. He also says the city council supplies only about a tenth of the schools' budget. Classes had been scheduled to start on Aug. 8.

Board delays school year's start indefinitely in demand for city funds (CA/Roberts)
Classes for Memphis City Schools will not start this fall until the City Council deposits $55 million -- the amount the city has budgeted for schools from tax revenue -- in the district's account, school board members decided Tuesday night. The board voted 8-1 to delay the start of the school year indefinitely, putting the system in the 7

limelight as the district attempts to force city leaders to make good on funding promises. "W e've been patient; we've cut 1,500 jobs," said board member Tomeka Hart. "W e're not going for everything. W e're not saying give us everything you owe. W e are just saying we have to have the money in the bank from our city so we can pay our bills. "It's a difficult situation they are in but we can't continue to sacrifice our difficult situation to help them out of theirs. W e did not create this situation, and we are a governing body as well." City Council president Myron Lowery said several of the funding issues are tied up in court and therefore not negotiable right now. "The council supplies less than 10 percent of almost a billion-dollar school budget," Lowery said. "They have voted to delay for having less than 10 percent in hand. That is ridiculous."

MCS Board Votes To Delay Aug. 8 School Start (Memphis Daily News)
The stakes got higher Tuesday evening, July 19, in the funding dispute between the city of Memphis and the Memphis City Schools system. MCS board members voted 8-1 Tuesday to delay the Aug. 8 start of the school year until the city pays a disputed amount of money the school system says the city owes for the fiscal year that began July 1. MCS officials and Memphis City Council members are scheduled to meet Aug. 2, six days before what was to be the start of the school year. The council will vote that afternoon on $3 million in partial funding for the current fiscal year with another $5 million to come when the tax revenue is collected by the city treasurers office. The vote at a special school board meeting capped a day of action and reaction in a three year funding dispute between the two bodies that began in 2008 when the then newly elected Memphis City Council cut MCS funding. That prompted a court fight in which two courts ordered the city to pay the school system funding it withheld that year and ruled there is a maintenance of effort funding requirement in state law that includes city funding. But there are other connected legal questions not yet decided and city leaders maintain the courts set no parameters for how and when a payment plan should proceed.

MCS Board Votes To Delay Opening City Schools Indefinitely (WREG-TV Memphis)
Memphis City Schools Superintendent Dr. Kriner Cash called it a "bad day" for Memphis City Schools. Other administrators said it was the first time to their knowledge that any action of this type had been taken. The Memphis City School Board voted to delay the opening of city schools this year "indefinitely." The board voted to keep schools closed until the City of Memphis gives them a payment of fifty five million dollars. Schools had been scheduled to open on August 8th. It was apparent from the beginning of this meeting that the overwhelming majority of board members had lost faith in the promises of Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and of city council members. "This is a tipping point in our existence," said MCS Board member Rev. Kenneth Whalum, Jr. "It is very obvious that all promises and pledges made by the city council and the administration are absolutely valueless." It was Whalum who first came up with the idea of delaying the opening of schools until the city gave the school system money owed. "I know I'm going to get heat on this" he added, think maybe we ought but I " to stay closed the whole year unless we get the money." Board members decided to use the term "indefinitely.",0,4572948.story?track=rss

MCS Board Delays Start of School Year in Money Clash with City Council (W PTY)
Could this be an endless summer for more than 100,000 children in the City of Memphis? The Memphis City School Board voted 8-1 on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, to delay the start of school indefinitely, as MCS fights with the City of Memphis over tens of millions of dollars in school funding. Board president Martavius Jones was the only board member to vote against the motion. He said he agrees that the district should push back the start of school, but said he didn't agree the city should have to pay $55 million to MCS in one lump sum, saying it should be far less and in some sort of installments. At issue, the annual amount of funding the city provides the district. MCS leaders claim the city owes more than $155 million, dating back to the 2008 school year. Included in that amount is $78 million the district says is owed for the 2011-2012 school year.

2011-2012 school year delayed indefinitely (WMC-TV Memphis)

The Memphis City Schools board voted to indefinitely delay the 2011-2012 school year at an emergency meeting Tuesday night. Board members said they want the city of Memphis to pay millions of dollars owed to the school 8

system before they will allow classes to resume. Members of the board added that they have given the council every opportunity to pay money owed to the board and can no longer accept assurances that anything will be different in the coming year. Before Tuesday's meeting, that had many parents worried. "When I first hear it, it sounded so ridiculous, that I didn't take it seriously," Stephanie Addison-James aid. The board says the council owes the schools $151.3 million. That includes what the city still owes for 2008-09, shortfalls on two subsequent school years and $78 million for the coming year, according to The Commercial Appeal.

Deciphering the Politics of the MCS Delay (WHBQ-TV Memphis)

Following Tuesday nights historic vote by the Memphis City School Board, Fox 13s Ernie Freeman sat down with Conservative Radio Host Ben Ferguson and Democratic Political Strategist Matt Kuhn to discuss whats next for Memphis City Schools.

Recent TCAP scores called 'shocking' (Marshall County Tribune)

Scores for statewide tests recently taken by elementary and middle school students were released this month, causing dismay among school board members last week. "We have a crisis," exclaimed board member Barbara Kennedy as she studied a chart comparing scores on the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program (TCAP) tests. Schools Director Roy Dukes agreed. "It's shocking," Dukes said, pointing out that the test was more difficult. "Some areas are good, but others need work. We need to work with the 3rd and 4th graders." No single grade or single school was deficient in all areas. Some made notable gains, like the Cornersville Elementary 4th graders that went from 30 to 46 percent proficient in reading and language arts, and the Oak Grove 6th graders that went from 49 to 63 percent proficient in reading and language arts. Not so pleasing was the decline in Oak Grove 3rd graders' percentage proficient in reading and language arts from 48 to 33, or MES 4th graders that went from 44 to 27.

Maryville seeks Sentinel/Alapo)








Maryville seeks input on school zoning changes Maryville City school officials this year will redraw elementary and intermediate school zones and they're inviting the community to participate in the process. This week, maps with proposed adjustments will be available at elementary schools, Maryville Intermediate School and on the school system's website. Parents hope school officials, as they make plans, consider transitions students will have to make and the possibility of longer commutes for families to get children to school. The changes, which the school board votes on in September, will be effective fall 2012. "We wanted to get this out early and stretch the process out a little bit," said Maryville schools Assistant Director Mike Winstead. "W e'll take all the input we can get." On the elementary school level, the rezoning will affect about 75 students in kindergarten, first- and second-grade. Officials looked at three geographical sections of the city and 25 students each will be moved from one school to another Winstead said.

Meth arrests on the rise (State Gazette)

Over the last several weeks, the Dyersburg Police Department has seen an increase in meth-related arrests. Since June 29, Dyersburg Police have arrested 19 suspects on charges related to methamphetamine. The State Gazette noticed a rise in the trend and looked into to the details of some of the cases. On June 29, at around 4 p.m., four suspects were arrested after officers were notified Jason Patterson, 21, 307 Cochran St., Troy, Tenn., was allegedly trying to persuade customers going into Walgreens on Lake Road to purchase pseudoephedrine for him. * Patterson was charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. * Richard Bott, 33, 5234 Kenten Highway Apt. 2, South Fulton, Tenn., charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture. * Donna Nida, 37, 5680 Harris Road Lot 7, Union City, Tenn., charged with promotion of methamphetamine manufacture.

Lenoir City officials find meth lab in apartment (WBIR-TV Knoxville)

Officials in Lenoir City discovered a meth lab in an apartment building after a maintenance man notified officials 9

when he saw something suspicious. According to the Lenoir City Police Chief, officials went inside the apartment on Kelly Lane close to 6:30 p.m. They found materials used to make meth, but it was not an active meth lab. No one has been arrested at this time, but officials expect charges for follow.

Arizona: Officials, Fed Up With U.S. Efforts, Seek Donations to Build Fence (NYT)
Americans upset about illegal immigration have a new outlet for their rage: a fund set up by the State of Arizona that will use private donations to build a border wall. Critics call the states effort to build its own border barriers a foolhardy, feel-good campaign that will have little practical effect on illegal border crossings. But organizers in the State Legislature, which created the fund, say it will allow everyday people fed up with the inability of Congress to address the problem of illegal immigration to contribute personally to a solution. Beginning during the second Bush administration and continuing in President Obamas tenure, the federal government has built more than 600 miles of barriers, some designed to keep out cars and others to block individuals from crossing. The congressionally approved construction effort is winding up, but about 82 miles of Arizonas 388 miles of border remain without a barrier, federal officials say. The construction has been expensive. The Government Accountability Office said in a 2009 report that the federal government spent $1 million to $3 million for every mile of border fencing. Arizona, though, intends to use low-cost inmate labor to reduce those costs. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Minnesota: Lawmakers Called to Special Session to End Impasse (New York Times)
Lawmakers in Minnesota were called back to the state Capitol on Tuesday afternoon for a special session intended to end a budget impasse that has brought state business to a standstill since July 1. For months, Republican lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton, a Democrat, have disagreed about how to solve a projected $5 billion deficit, with Republicans favoring spending cuts and Mr. Dayton calling for a tax increase. The standoff dragged on, even as a new budget year arrived and 22,000 state workers were sent home, parks and rest stops were closed, and many state services suspended. By late last week, the Republicans and Mr. Dayton agreed to a compromise, which involves borrowing some $1.4 billion to pay for services Mr. Dayton insisted on continuing. Details of the deal, though, took days to draw up, and some Minnesotans seemed to be growing anxious by Tuesday morning (Day 19 of the shutdown) as to whether a compromise really had been struck. By then, though, leaders were calling lawmakers back to work; the session was to open at 3 p.m. Tuesday in St. Paul. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Rhode Island: City in Rhode Island Asks Retirees to Sacrifice (New York Times)
The retirees came from near and far, gathering in a muggy auditorium here to listen to an urgent pitch: give back a big chunk of your pension or risk losing it all. This city of 19,000 is broke and headed for bankruptcy, partly because it has promised retired police and firefighters millions of dollars in pensions and benefits that it cannot begin to afford. And so Robert G. Flanders Jr., a state-appointed receiver who is trying to right the citys finances, found himself on the stage at Central Falls High School on Tuesday, asking retirees to help solve a horrible dilemma by giving up a significant part of what they had always assumed was untouchable income. No one blames any of you for this situation, Mr. Flanders told the retirees, many of whom appeared well into their 70s and 80s. W e understand, believe me, that we are asking for great unanticipated sacrifices. But there is simply no money in the city to continue on the current path. By way of warning, he pointed to the example of Prichard, Ala., which stopped paying retirees in 2009 after its pension fund ran out of money. (SUBSCRIPTION)



OPINION Editorial: Learning in the virtual world (Commercial Appeal)

The virtual classroom is an innovative tool that has the potential to expand educational opportunities and increase students' exposure to all kinds of knowledge. W e can't help but raise an eyebrow, though, about a new Tennessee law passed last spring that created the Tennessee Virtual Academy. On its face, the bill gives students and their parents another choice in their pursuit of academic achievement. Look closer, however, and it's not difficult to be concerned that the new venture may have the potential to undermine support for public schools. In a story Sunday, reporter Jane Roberts detailed how some parents of Memphis City Schools students have enrolled or are thinking about enrolling their children in the Tennessee Virtual Academy. K12 Inc., the largest for-profit purveyor of online education in the nation, will run the academy under contract with Union County Public Schools, 414 miles away in East Tennessee. K12 has been recruiting potential students in Memphis. The state education funding for students enrolled in the Tennessee Virtual Academy, who can live anywhere in the state, will flow to the Union County schools district. That could increase the financial pressure on school districts like Memphis City Schools, which are struggling to balance their budgets.

Times Editorial: Financial reform, or not? (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

Wall Street and big commercial banks and their ever-ready Republican and Chamber of Commerce defenders vehemently opposed the Dodd-Frank Act financial reform act when it was proposed in the wake of the nation's catastrophic financial implosion of 2008. Since the sweeping bill was approved by Congress a year ago, its opponents have continued at every turn to resist or sabotage the work of writing new regulations to safeguard the nation's financial system from another casino-style investment debacle. And when the new centerpiece 11

agency for putting the Dodd-Frank Act to work finally opens for business tomorrow, they promise to deny it a director and to keep working to dismantle the new regulatory watchdog. Small wonder President Obama says he still believes the battle to safeguard American investors and their retirement and pension funds is far from over. If anything, the battle is destined to heat to new levels in the coming days. Obama's nomination Monday of former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will put the banking reform act into play, and its adversaries are lining up to crush it at the starting gate.

Free-Press Editorial: A way to balance U.S. budget (Chattanooga Times FreePress)

What is the primary responsibility of our representatives and senators in Congress? It surely is to provide for our national security. If our country is at war, Congress must provide whatever it takes to win. But in times of relative peace, Congress has lots of options about spending and taxing. So shouldn't we expect our lawmakers to provide balanced budgets? We know we have to pay taxes for the essentials. But why must federal spending so vastly exceed already-high tax revenue to pay for lots of other things, too? As a result of past wartime necessities and excessive peacetime spending, the United States has accumulated $14.3 trillion in debt. Just the interest we pay annually on that debt is more than 13 times the size of the entire budget of the state of Tennessee this year. Much of that money is pulled unproductively out of our economy and sent to hostile foreign investors such as Communist China, which owns a chunk of our debt

Editorial: Averting disaster more important than posturing (News-Sentinel)

Congress is teetering on the edge of an economic precipice and threatening to plunge the whole country into the abyss. Republicans and Democrats must come up with an agreement to raise the debt limit by Aug. 2 to stave off default on Americas financial obligations. According to the White House, the deal has to be in place by Friday so Congress will have time to actually pass the legislation in time to meet the deadline. Several scenarios have been floated, with the most recent one to gain traction being a proposal in the Senate to save $3.7 trillion over the next 10 years through a combination of deep budget cuts and about $1 trillion in new tax revenues realized by closing loopholes while reducing rates. President Barack Obama has endorsed the bi-partisan package, as have leading Republicans such as U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. At this point, any deal is better than no deal. Thats the unfortunate reality that economists have been saying for weeks and some politicos are just now acknowledging. Congress must raise the debt limit. Raising the debt limit would not authorize more spending; it would only allow borrowing to cover appropriations Congress has already approved.

Editorial: Relief from old debts (Commercial Appeal)

While Washington is consumed with the struggle over how to reduce the nation's debt, one member of Congress is promoting an idea that would help struggling individuals keep from being pulled into court by their very old debts. The bill introduced by Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen of Memphis would clarify a principle already established by law -- that it is not permissible to sue or threaten to sue an individual whose debt has exceeded the statute of limitations. The notion that too much time has passed to collect in the courtroom is sound. This is not to say such debts must be forgiven. It should remain legal to collect debts and for nonpayment to be reflected on credit reports. But there is no excuse for moving ahead with a lawsuit when the statute of limitations -- six years usually in Tennessee -- has expired. It should not be necessary to remind creditors of this, but, according to lawyers for Memphis Area Legal Services, they are often called on to persuade judges that "stale debt" lawsuits violate existing law.

Frank Munger: It's past time for NNSA to reveal Y-12 contract plan (News-Sentinel)
Back in March 2010, the National Nuclear Security Administration announced plans to combine the management contracts for two of its nuclear weapons production plants Y-12 in Oak Ridge and Pantex in Amarillo, Texas and possibly include some of the work done at Savannah River in South Carolina. The announcement created a lot of anxiety and anticipation and a ton of questions from host communities, potential bidders, elected officials, union representatives, environmental regulators, etc. Everybody, of course, wanted to know the mechanics of the new multi-site contract, how it would work, where the winning contractor and the federal overseers would be based, and lots of other stuff that could affect local and regional economies. NNSA officials visited the sites and assured folks that a draft request for proposals would be coming soon, probably by June 2010, and that would answer many of their questions. More than a year later, there are still plenty of questions and at least as much 12

anxiety because the NNSA hasn't delivered the goods.

Editorial: Hurting Poor Students (New York Times)

Extremists in Congress have long wanted to gut the spending restrictions in Title I, a federal law dating back to the 1960s that underwrites extra help for disadvantaged schoolchildren. A bill, approved by a House committee last week, would do just that, damaging one of most important civil rights programs in the country. The State and Local Funding Flexibility Act would let school districts spend money earmarked for impoverished children on almost any educational purpose they chose. This would inevitably lead to money going from politically powerless poor schools to those without the same needs. Title I was created during the Johnson administration in response to the failure of the states to offer access to equal education for all students as required by Brown v. Board of Education. The education law is based on a strict formula that drives federal aid to high-poverty districts, where large numbers of disadvantaged children often pose educational challenges. It is supposed to provide an added layer of federal money to high-poverty schools that already have budget allocations similar to those of other schools in the same district. (SUBSCRIPTION)