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WEDNESDAY, JULY 27, 2011 APSU at center of higher ed movement (Leaf Chronicle

University given half of $1M grant Austin Peay State University is becoming a leader in a statewide and national movement to make higher education funding based more on graduation rates than campus head counts. A year ago, the National Governors Association adopted Complete College America's metrics as part of its Complete to Compete initiative. All 50 states competed for $1 million grants to fuel reform in college completion. Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Haslam announced that Tennessee is one of 10 states to receive a $1 million, 18-month implementation grant funded by Complete College America, with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Grants were awarded to states that produced the best plans to develop and deploy innovative, statewide strategies for increasing college graduation rates. APSU, because its own achievements helped Tennessee win the grant, gets half of that $1 million. "This is exciting news that complements our continued focus on improving education in Tennessee," Haslam said during a press conference in Nashville.

With $1 million grant, APSU named key leader in improving grad rate (C. Online)
Austin Peay State University will be the key leader in Tennessee to help other colleges and universities with a nationwide challenge to impact degree completion in higher education with the help of a $1 million Completion Innovation Challenge grant. In July 2010, the National Governors Association adopted Complete College America’s metrics as part of its Complete to Compete initiative. All 50 states competed for $1 million grants to fuel reform in college completion. Gov. Bill Haslam formally announced July 25 that Tennessee is one of 10 states to receive the $1 million, 18-month implementation grant funded by Complete College America with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “This is exciting news that complements our continued focus on improving education in Tennessee,” Haslam said during a press conference today in Nashville. “On behalf of Tennesseans, we appreciate Complete College America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making this investment to support our efforts.”

Tennessee awarded $1M innovation challenge grant (Clarksville Online)
Austin Peay State University will be the key leader in Tennessee to help other colleges and universities with a nationwide challenge to impact degree completion in higher education with the help of a $1 million Completion Innovation Challenge grant. In July 2010, the National Governors Association adopted Complete College America’s metrics as part of its Complete to Compete initiative. All 50 states competed for $1 million grants to fuel reform in college completion. Gov. Bill Haslam formally announced July 25 that Tennessee is one of 10 states to receive the $1 million, 18-month implementation grant funded by Complete College America with support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. “This is exciting news that complements our continued focus on improving education in Tennessee,” Haslam said during a press conference today in Nashville. “On behalf of Tennesseans, we appreciate Complete College America and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for making this investment to support our efforts.” Grants were awarded to states that produced the best plans to develop and deploy innovative, statewide strategies designed to increase college completion. v

Haslam visits Spring Hill, announces grant to finish sidewalk project (Tennessean)
Gov. Bill Haslam is visiting City Hall at 2:15 p.m. Thursday to award a $69,000 grant that will help the city finish a sidewalk project for school children. The money will be used to build an elevated walking path connecting the Tanyard Springs subdivision in Spring Hill to sidewalks already built in Thompson’s Station. The enhancement grant is through the Tennessee Department of Transportation. City Administrator Victor Lay said the timing is

good news times well because a representative for the town had recently called about the project, which was started a few years ago after the town was awarded money through the national Safe Routes to Schools program. The town left the final piece of its project unfinished, allowing the city more connection options. The town’s portion of sidewalk will end at the Advanced Auto property. The city’s portion will be an elevated walking path across a stormwater detention basin that will tie into the existing sidewalks in Tanyard Springs, Lay said. ILLIAMSON01/110726014/Haslam-visits-Spring-Hill-announcesgrant-to-finish-sidewalk-project-for-school-kids

Olivet incubator seeks state, local support for biz in Orange Mound (CA/Dowd)
Encouraged by Gov. Bill Haslam's recently launched pro-entrepreneurship Startup Tennessee campaign, organizers at the Olivet Incubation & Training Center met with state and local leaders on Tuesday to seek support for business development in Orange Mound. During a tour of the center, Rev. Kenneth Whalum emphasized that the organization provides an important service by nurturing startups. His congregation at The New Olivet Baptist Church provided commercial space for the business incubator, but is not directly involved in daily operations. "The faith-based community has the resources to help out in some of these ventures, but we need to partner with those who have business and financial expertise to ensure their success," Whalum said. "The key point about the OITC is that we help them develop a customer base in this neighborhood and then when they're ready, we'll help them move to a location in Orange Mound where those customers will support them."

States fret over 'game of chicken' on federal debt ceiling (Stateline)
Alarm bells are ringing in state capitols over the potential damage that could be done to states by the first-ever default of the federal government on its debt. Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, a Republican, expressed worries Monday about the “incredibly serious game of chicken that we’re playing in Washington,” reports The (Memphis) Commercial Appeal. Tennessee is one of five states — along with Maryland, New Mexico, South Carolina and Virginia — that Moody’s Investor Service has flagged for a potential downgrade in the event of a federal default. But Haslam warned the fallout could reach well beyond state government. “You have a country that’s literally waiting to see what will happen,” he said. “Until Washington shows that, A, we can live within our means and B, come to a political agreement about how to solve that, you’re not going to see banks willing to loan money, you’re not going to see people willing to invest their own capital and so we won’t have any job growth until that happens.”

Tennessee sales tax holiday Aug. 5- Aug.7 (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
The Tennessee Department of Revenue on Monday reminded consumers that the sixth annual Sales Tax Holiday will be held Aug. 5-7. Shoppers during these three days can save nearly 10 percent on tax-free clothing, school and art supplies and computer purchases. Consumers will not pay state or local sales tax on select clothing with a price of $100 or less per item, school and art supplies with a price of $100 or less per item, and computers with a price of $1,500 or less.

Maury Co. officials: Tax holiday not too tardy for locals (Columbia Daily Herald)
A one-week lapse between the start of school in Maury County and the state’s sales tax holiday need not hinder local families from preparing students for school or taking advantage of the savings, school officials say. Tennessee’s sixth annual Sales Tax Holiday is set for Aug. 5-7. During the holiday, clothing and school supplies costing $100 or less per item and computers costing $1,500 or less per item are state sales tax exempt. “The holiday is particularly geared toward back-to-school needs, but it applies to clothing and many other items, which helps consumers of any age,” state Sen. Bill Ketron said in a press release. But for those in the Maury County public school district, the holiday comes a week after students have started class. By comparison, Metro Nashville schools start Aug. 11.

Deal for Cummins Falls land is 'like buying Niagara Falls' (Tennessean/Paine)
Cummins Falls, a 75-foot cascade with a massive swimming hole below, soon will be part of a publicly owned 2

natural playground. The Tennessee Building Commission authorized acquisition of a 211-acre tract with the falls 80 miles northeast of Nashville on Monday. The lush, forested gorge will be a unit of Burgess Falls State Park, and trails will be developed, according to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. When the area might be ready to open to the public has not been determined. “It’s grand,” said Kathleen W illiams, executive director of the Tennessee Parks and Greenways Foundation. “It’s like buying Niagara Falls.” The falls, in Jackson County north of Putnam County near Cookeville, is the largest waterfall in private ownership in the state, she said. The volume of water makes it the eighth-largest in the state. Blackburn Fork, one of three state scenic rivers in the county, is the river that tumbles over the falls. The county’s other two state scenic rivers are Roaring River and Spring Creek.|topnews|text|News

12-week class lets Tennessee prisoners earn early release (Tennessean/Quinn)
While his friends were in prison, 24-year-old Jeffery Frame paid bills for their mothers. But when he got locked up for an aggravated assault and cocaine, his buddies abandoned him. The only people who cared about inmate Jeffery Frame were his mom, grandmother and sister. He got mad, and his anger got him thinking. “I turned to my roommate and just said, ‘Man, I gotta do something different because I keep doing the same things and they aren’t doing anything good for me,’ ” said Frame, who has been locked up in Nashville for the past five years on an 11-year sentence and is eligible for parole in 2013. The answer for the South Nashville man was Release for Success, the latest program aimed at rehabilitation offered by the Tennessee Department of Correction right before an inmate is about to be released. He will be one of 36 inmates today at the Charles D. Bass Correctional Complex in Nashville to graduate from the 12-week program. Over the next year, the program will allow more than 2,200 inmates statewide to be released two months early. W hile the concepts offered in the program — helping inmates understand the impact they had on their victims, job preparation, budgeting their money — are nothing new to prisons, state officials say its benefits are twofold.|topnews|text|News

Columbia State gets the go to grow (Tennessean/Giordano)
School wants more land in Franklin as enrollment rises Columbia State Community College received state approval Monday to proceed with an option to purchase land in Franklin to expand its Williamson County satellite campus. The bank-owned land — about 38 acres — is east of I-65 near the Williamson Medical Center and the McKay’s Mill subdivision. School officials expect to close the deal within 60 days, said Margaret Smith, executive vice president provost of academic and student programs. Smith revealed the land acquisition during a Williamson County Chamber of Commerce luncheon where County Mayor Rogers Anderson delivered the “State of the County” speech. Columbia State hosted the luncheon at the Cool Springs Conference Center. School officials say Rep. Charles Sargent was instrumental in getting the land deal and funding for the community college. Sargent said he met with state regulators Monday to secure an approval for the purchase. Legislators previously set aside $6.5 million in funding to help the college purchase the land for an expansion, and Sargent said he was simply getting the green light to use that money.|topnews|text|News

Univ. of Tenn. gets grant for supercomputer link (Associated Press)
The University of Tennessee has received $18 million to help link the nation's supercomputers. A university statement Tuesday said the supercomputing grid will create a powerful tool for taking on some of the most complex problems in science. The National Institute for Computational Sciences will carry out the project, which is part of a $121 million National Science Foundation program to improve connections between highperformance computers, data sources, and experimental facilities. The institute center is housed in the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences, which is jointly operated by UT Knoxville and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment program will replace the TeraGrid linkage that now connects the country's supercomputing resources. The University of Illinois is the lead institution on the program.

UT gets $18M to work on supercomputer grid (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Munger)

The University of Tennessee has received an $18 million grant from the National Science Foundation for work on a new supercomputing grid to better link the nation's high-performance computers and research facilities. The work will be carried out at the National Institute for Computational Sciences that's located at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and jointly managed by UT and ORNL. The university's role is part of an overall five-year, $121 million program — known as Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment or XSEDE — that's funded by NSF and headed by the University of Illinois. The new grid is supposed to replace the existing TeraGrid that connects supercomputing resources, including massive research databases, around the United States. In a statement released Tuesday, UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said, "The University of Tennessee is committed to scientific discovery and innovation. W e are proud to continue to support the thousands of scientists that use this grid as they seek to make this world a better place to live through their research."

Civil War mementos go digital (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Johns)
Words weren’t enough for Confederate infantryman John Ray Moss. In an 1861 letter sent to his wife Nancy from Lick Creek, Tenn., he took the time to draw the three-story house he pledged to build for her, complete with a belfry, wraparound porch and Confederate flag. “That’s what he dreamed of,” said Cleveland resident Marion Kerr, Moss’s great-great-granddaughter. Moss’ letters were among dozens of documents local residents such as Kerr brought Tuesday to the Hunter Museum of American Art so staff with the Tennessee State Library and Archives could add them to their digital collection. Moss died young a couple of years after the Civil War without ever building the home, but his letters and those of others could be a boon for researchers. “There’s so much Civil War history that happened here, we were hoping to get some local stuff and we are,” said state archivist Wayne Moore. Rhea County resident Tom Morgan brought in a trumpet and fiddle that his great-uncle used during the war.

Officials say no wrong-doing at state department of revenue (City Paper/Nix)
Former Tennessee Department of Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr will not face criminal charges over the handling of sales tax revenues of certain business following an investigation that began last August. On Tuesday, Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson and 15th Judicial District Attorney General Tommy Thompson announced in a press release that a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has concluded, finding no evidence of criminal wrong-doing by Farr. As the former department of revenue commissioner under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, Farr’s duty was to oversee tax collections and investigations. “Allegations of possible public corruption are always taken seriously,” Johnson said in the release. “However, in this situation, it appears the claims were the result of policy differences within the department and not any criminal conduct on the part of the former commissioner.”

TBI clears ex-revenue chief Reagan Farr in tax cases (Tennessean/Sisk)
An 11-month inquiry has cleared the state’s former top tax collector, as investigators determined that questions over the handling of business tax cases were policy differences, not criminal wrongdoing. Former Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr will not face any criminal charges after the conclusion of a state investigation, district attorneys in Davidson and Wilson counties said Tuesday. Farr came under scrutiny last summer after the Department of Revenue dropped a criminal case against the Carthage, Tenn.-based furniture store chain D.T. McCall & Sons. “Allegations of possible public corruption are always taken seriously,” Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson said in a statement. “However, in this situation, it appears the claims were the result of policy differences within the department and not any criminal conduct on the part of the former commissioner.” Farr sent messages requesting comment to Ed Yarbrough, a defense attorney he retained last fall after the investigation became public.|topnews|text|News

Former Tennessee revenue chief cleared of wrongdoing (Times Free-Press/Sher)
Former Tennessee Revenue Commissioner Reagan Farr has been cleared of all criminal wrongdoing in his handling of several business’ sales-tax investigations, officials announced Tuesday. After a nearly yearlong state probe, Davidson County District Attorney General Torry Johnson and 15th Judicial District Attorney General Tommy Thompson said in a joint statement that a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe turned up no 4

evidence of actions to justify criminal charges against Farr, a Bredesen administration Cabinet member. A staffer in the office of Thompson, who initially sought the investigation, referred questions to Johnson’s office. “Allegations of possible public corruption are always taken seriously,” Johnson stated. “However, in this situation, it appears the claims were the result of policy differences within the department and not any criminal conduct on the part of the former commissioner.” The review of Farr’s office was started in August 2010 amid questions over the propriety of settlements and agreements the commissioner approved following investigations of some businesses and their payment of sales tax.

Tennessee AG: Commission can't veto school pay hikes (Times-News)
A Tennessee attorney general’s opinion may derail the Hawkins County Commission’s attempt to prevent two school officials from receiving substantial pay increases. Earlier this month, the Hawkins County Commission’s Education Committee rejected a balanced 2011-12 county school budget, citing objections to two proposed salary increases. For the second year in a row, Director of Schools Charlotte Britton is attempting to bump Maintenance Director Bill Shedden and Transportation Director Sarah Floyd into the same salary category as central office supervisors and other department heads in the system.

House GOP leader upset with Sen. McNally over Amazon bill (N-S/Humphrey)
House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said Tuesday that he really stuck his "neck out" to defend jobs in the Oak Ridge area in the past, but does not plan to do so in the future because Sen. Randy McNally is pushing a bill that would hurt McCormick, elaborating on comments initially made to the Chattanooga TimesFree Press, said he thought a project dealing with low-level nuclear waste was unfairly attacked two years ago through a Democrat-sponsored bill banning such waste in Tennessee. "It was an easy political target, but I stepped up, went out of my way and defended the whole thing," he said in an impromptu interview with reporters. "I feel like I'm being repaid by him trying to run jobs out of my district." Amazon is looking to build distribution centers in East Tennessee, one of them in Chattanooga Republican McCormick's district. McNally, R-Oak Ridge, and Rep. Charles Sargent, R-Franklin, are sponsoring legislation that would force Amazon to collect sales tax from its Tennessee customers once the facilities are open. Amazon is adamantly opposed to the bill and its officials have threatened to abandon the Tennessee facilities if the legislation becomes law.

Tennessee state employees to report government waste (Tennessean/Sisk)
Union hopes to preserve state services The Tennessee State Employees Association is launching a 3-month study aimed at finding waste, setting it up as an alternative to Gov. Bill Haslam’s “top-to-bottom” review of state government. “Is this top-to-bottom look going to be cut services, cut services, cut services?” TSEA Executive Director Robert O’Connell said. “This is a misreading of what the people want. The people want the services; they want them to be delivered more efficiently. That’s what our survey is about.” The TSEA, which represents 14,500 workers for the state of Tennessee, announced its “Cut Waste — Not Services” survey Tuesday. The group plans to distribute questionnaires through its bimonthly newsletter in which it will ask state workers to identify waste and other inefficiencies. The association does not plan to release the results until December. But O’Connell listed a few suggestions that it has received already, including reducing power usage, conducting meetings online and expanding the use of Edison, the state’s 2-year-old computer system. The TSEA does not plan to recommend the elimination of any programs.|topnews|text|News

State workers seek cost-saving ideas (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
Fearing additional layoffs by Gov. Bill Haslam, state employees on Tuesday launched an effort to root out government waste and save money in hopes of sparing programs and jobs. Tennessee State Employees Association officials said their move to solicit state workers’ ideas about combating wasteful spending is intended to counter Republican Haslam’s “top to bottom review” of state government, which already has resulted in the firing of some employees. “Continuing to lay off state employees means disappearing state services,” TSEA Executive Director Robert O’Connell said during a news conference. “We don’t think that this is the vision of the citizens of this state. What they want is for government to run efficiently. They want to feel that their tax dollars are being spent wisely,” he said. O’Connell said the group’s “Cut Waste, Not Services” program is soliciting 5

money-saving ideas from employees themselves. They hope to present Haslam and lawmakers with a list of suggestions by year’s end. He said he doesn’t think Tennesseans want “fewer parole officers to monitor sex offenders … fewer transportation workers patching dangerous potholes, fewer highway patrolmen keeping drunk drivers off our highways.”

State employees: Push for efficiency instead of layoffs (News-Sentinel/Humphrey)
Concerned that Gov. Bill Haslam's "top-to-bottom review" of state government will translate into eliminating programs and laying off more state workers, the Tennessee State Employees Association said Tuesday it will offer alternative proposals. At a news conference in front of the state Capitol, TSEA Executive Director Robert O'Connell said the 14,000-member organization is soliciting proposals for better efficiency in government operations with the idea of "cutting waste, not services." O'Connell said the TSEA proposals will be solicited in a state employee newspaper and on the Internet from now until Oct. 15. The organization will package them for presentation to the governor and legislators by year's end. He said "dozens and dozens" of suggestions have already been received, ranging from energy audits of all work locations to giving some duties now assigned to nurses at state facilities to LPNs, who have less training and lower salaries. Haslam has prompted his plans to conduct a "top-to-bottom review" of every department in state government with an eye toward reducing costs. The Department of Economic and Community Development, the first agency to complete the process, revised its regional planning process and terminated about 70 employees. It was a program that "helped people," McConnell said.

Tennessee state employees asked to look for ways to cut costs (CA/Locker)
Hoping to avoid further layoffs, the Tennessee State Employees Association is asking state employees "in the trenches" to report money-saving ideas and money-wasting problems they see to the association, for presentation to state officials later this year. TSEA's "State Government Cost-Cutting Study" parallels Gov. Bill Haslam's "Top-To-Bottom" review of state departments and agencies that is focused on trimming or eliminating state programs and services. When the first department completed its top-to-bottom review in April, it eliminated a program that helps smaller towns, cities and counties with local planning and ended about 70 state jobs in the state Department of Economic and Community Development. TSEA Executive Director Robert O'Connell told a small rally outside the State Capitol Tuesday that the state should focus on "rooting out inefficiencies and wasteful spending" instead of eliminating services and programs. "Continuing to lay off state employees means disappearing state services. We don't think this is the vision of the citizens of this state. W hat they do want is for government to run efficiently. They want to feel that their tax dollars are being spent wisely," he said.

TSEA Members Plan Cost-Cutting Review (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
When state lawmakers return to Nashville in January, the Tennessee State Employee Association plans to hand them a new cost-cutting plan – generated by state workers. The new plan is called “Cut Wastes, Not Services,” and TSEA executive director Bob O’Connell says it’s an attempt to continue state services by cutting unnecessary costs. “We’re gonna ask them to look around in their shops, and tell us about any inefficiencies that they see, ways to save the people’s dollar.” According to O’Connell, Governor Bill Haslam is looking at the cost of government “Top-to-Bottom.” But O’Connell says TSEA’s rank and file members will look at it from the bottom up. “Our prime objective, I’m sure, will be to look for a significant, well-deserved raise for state employees.” O’Connell says the 1.6 percent raise granted by the last General Assembly this year doesn’t make up for several years without a pay increase.

Shipley: Suspended nurses' constitutional rights were violated (Times-News)
State Rep. Tony Shipley said Tuesday night the license suspension process of three nurses last year by the Tennessee Board of Nursing “offended me constitutionally.” Shipley told a Kingsport Tea Party group he advocated for those nurses because their constitutional rights were violated. “They had exhausted all their finances,” Shipl e y, R-Kingsport, said of nurse practitioners Bobby Reynolds II, Tina Killebrew and David Stout Jr. “They had exhausted all their means. They had nowhere to turn to.” Shipley and state Rep. Dale Ford worked with the Tennessee Department of Health and made legislative moves resulting in the reinstatement of those licenses last May. 6

Many uninsured, poor don't know of health-care 'safety net' clinics (TN/W ilemon)
Twenty-one percent of adults in Nashville have no health insurance and many of them don’t know where to go to see a doctor, according to a report issued Tuesday. Half of the uninsured who participated in focus groups had never heard of safety net clinics. These clinics, which include United Neighborhood Health Services, University Community Health Services and Matthew Walker Comprehensive Health Center, receive federal funding to provide care to the uninsured. “As a community we could do a better job of informing people about these clinics, which were established to serve the poor, uninsured and underserved, and of linking people to care,” said Dr. William Paul, director of the Metro Public Health Department. The Safety Net Consortium of Middle Tennessee commissioned the report. Community health centers and safety net clinics already provide care for 23 percent of the Davidson County population.|topnews|text|News

Half of Nashville Uninsured Don’t Know About Clinics, Study Says (W PLN-Radio)
A new study estimates that half of uninsured people in Nashville don’t know there’s low-cost healthcare available in the city. That’s according to a group that’s been analyzing the gap in health coverage, particularly for poor people, for the last 2 years. The Nashville Safety Net Consortium says 20% of Nashville’s population gets healthcare from Safety Net clinics. There are about twenty of those located in Metro. At the United Neighborhood Health Services Clinic on 12th South, Angel Herrero says he only heard about the clinic through word of mouth. “Somebody told me that used to be here, a client here, he let me know about this place. It’s very good, this place. It’s very nice.” In a statement, Metro health director Dr. William Paul said that the community could do a better job of informing people who are poor and uninsured about the clinics.

Steady outcry follows cutback to health center (Times Free-Press/Carroll)
They are contacting state legislators, threatening to leave Hamilton County and scorning the age-old Republican line that even the toughest cuts are necessary. They are the friends and relatives of patients at the TEAM Centers Inc. office in Chattanooga, and they aren’t backing down. On July 13, the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities decided against allocating a $774,000 diagnostic and evaluation grant toward what one parent called a “once-in-a-lifetime” clinical program for children and adults with autism, developmental delays and other mental disabilities. “All the kids have a routine going at TEAM,” said Kay Turner, whose 7-year-old grandson is autistic. “When you get them out of a routine, it messes up their whole system. Parents are talking about moving out of here. Our children are being left behind.” Entirely separate from that concern is a decision by TEAM’s interim executive director to use state grant money to close the center and pay for employee severance packages. State officials had offered a $193,000 grant to allow TEAM to fund clinical care — diagnoses, therapy and evaluations — through the end of September so families could research other options and TEAM could explore other revenue sources.

Cooper wants congressional pay stopped if U.S. defaults on debt (City Paper)
The Office of Congressman Jim Cooper, D-Tenn., announced Tuesday the veteran House of Representatives member will introduce legislation that, if enacted, would stop congressional pay if United States defaults on the national debt. The bill would prohibit members from receiving pay during a default, and would not allow for that pay to be recouped retroactively. “Failure is not an option,” Cooper said in a release. “But, if default occurs, another paycheck for congressmen and senators should not be an option either.” Cooper is a long-time advocate of a bipartisan debt plan that reduces spending, reforms the tax code and puts the nation on a sustainable fiscal path. Cooper has urged to allow a vote on the “Gang of Six” bipartisan proposal that would have reduced the debt by almost $4 trillion over the next 10 years. The proposal has not been voted on.

Rep. Cooper Says A Default Should Mean No Pay (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper says he plans to file legislation that would “stop congressional pay” if the U.S. defaults on its debt. Cooper says not only would his bill keep members from collecting their salaries during a default, but it would bar them recouping any lost pay retroactively. The statement from the Nashville Democrat’s office did not say if he had lined up any potential co-sponsors for such a bill.


ET congressmen report barrage of calls on debt stalemate (News-Sentinel/Collins)
The calls started so early and came so often that U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. arrived in the office at 6:30 in the morning to personally help answer the phones. U.S. Rep. Phil Roe's congressional website was so overwhelmed that it crashed and was out of service for a good part of the day. Even social media networks were inundated with angry and often colorful posts as fed-up Americans gave lawmakers an earful about the squabbling that has been going on for weeks between Congress and the White House over raising the nation's debt limit. "I don't care if you have to shut the whole thing down. DO NOT BORROW ANOTHER DIME!!!" one man wrote on U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais' Facebook page. "Please consider paying the bills that Congress has contracted to pay and stop this childish insolent behavior of 'No No No,'" wrote another. On and on it went Tuesday, the day after President Barack Obama went on national television and encouraged Americans to call their Congress members and urge them to end the stalemate over raising debt ceiling.

Where lawmakers stand on cutting budget, raising debt ceiling (CA/Sullivan)
The Mid-South delegation in Congress is all over the map when it comes to the debt ceiling deadline approaching Aug. 2. Some, spurred by conservative constituents who elected a Republican House last November, insist the nation’s credit limit must be tied to steep reductions in future spending. Others endorse raising the limit without major quid pro quos. Here are their responses to a request Tuesday from The Commercial Appeal: Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. — "At a time when Washington is borrowing 40 cents of every dollar it spends, Congress must insist on significant reductions in the federal debt at the same time we honor the government’s obligations. I have cosponsored several plans to strike this balance and I hope the President will work with us to achieve a reasonable result." Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. — "I understand and share the frustrations of the American people who look at Washington and don’t understand how it could be so dysfunctional and why, for so long, we have been living beyond our means, and that’s why I offered the CAP Act to put a fiscal straitjacket on Congress.

Debt-limit debate wearing on Americans (USA Today)
Washington's latest stalemate has inflamed partisan passions over federal spending, with the threat of an economic calamity in the balance. Yet across the nation, many people see a wearyingly familiar fight — one they simply want to end. "Just get it done. Work it out," Nicole McBride, 30, says with a touch of disgust as she lunches Tuesday at Al's Beef, a Chicago institution known for its Italian sandwiches. Her view is widely shared. At the renowned Café Du Monde just outside the French Quarter in New Orleans, a vacationing Joe Davis blames Democrats and Republicans equally for prolonging a political fight over whether to again raise a federal debt ceiling that has been raised scores of times before, usually without this level of dispute. "I'm sick of it," says Davis, 73, a retired economist from San Antonio, as he polishes off an order of beignets on an outdoor patio. "They're playing games. Here we are trying to pull ourselves out of recession, and they can't come to an agreement," Davis says. As an Aug. 2 deadline draws closer and Washington's political brinkmanship only intensifies, Americans are discussing the potential consequences of failing to raise the debt ceiling, which authorizes the federal government's borrowing to meet expenses that tax collections aren't sufficient to cover.

Nashville post office winds up on possible closure list (Nashville Biz Journal)
A number of Tennessee post offices — including one branch in Nashville — have landed on a list released Tuesday for possible closure to help cut the U.S. Postal Service's $8 billion budget gap. The Postal Service announced plans to study the closing of up to 3,700 of its 32,000 retail outlets nationwide. The list includes 60 branches in Tennessee. The possible closure list released Tuesday includes a location at 2325 Dickerson Pike. The full list of potential Tennessee closures is available here. Appearing on the list does not automatically mean the post offices would be closed. The Postal Service has identified them as candidates for closing or for conversion to what it calls a "Village Post Office," where stamps and flat-rate packaging services would be operated by existing grocery stores, pharmacies or other local businesses. Stamps are already available at a number of grocery stores, pharmacies and other outlets, and it has grown to 35 percent of the Postal Service's retail revenue. 8

Postal Service considers closing retail outlets, including six in Shelby County (CA)
The Postal Service is considering closing more than 1 in 10 of its retail outlets, including six in Shelby County. The financially troubled agency announced Tuesday that it will study 3,653 local offices, branches and stations for possible closing. But many of those may be replaced by Village Post Offices in which postal services are offered in local stores, libraries or government offices. "It's no secret that the Postal Service is looking to change the way we do a lot of things," Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a briefing. "... We have to make some tough choices." Currently, the post office operates 31,871 retail outlets across the country, down from 38,000 a decade ago. But in recent years, business has declined sharply as much first-class mail moved to the Internet. In addition, the recession resulted in a decline in advertising mail; the agency lost $8 billion last year. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., said several of the post offices on the list are used by elderly constituents with a tradition of using postage instead of computers, texting or Facebook to communicate. He said he would look into keeping them open.

U.S. Postal Service says it may shutter 3,700 post offices (Bloomberg News)
The U.S. Postal Service, which may run out of money in September, said Tuesday it may close as many as 3,700, or 12 percent, of its post offices as customers buy more services online and through locations such as grocery stores. Post offices in every state but Delaware may close, according to a list provided by the USPS. More than half are in rural locations, said Sue Brennan, a spokeswoman for the service. In communities without a post office, the USPS plans to sell stamps and offer services through local retailers. The postal service, which reported a loss of $2.6 billion for the quarter ended March 31, is seeking to cut costs as it approaches its $15 billion borrowing limit. The closings may save $200 million a year by saving costs for labor and for operating the facilities, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said at a news conference in Washington. “A lot of the decisions we make around our operations are based on the revenues that come into the operation,” Donahoe said. The USPS has almost 32,000 post offices. Eighty-four percent of the locations on the list for closing take in less than $27,500 in annual revenue and have less than two hours of work a day, said Dean Granholm, delivery and postoffice operations vice president.

Governments crack down on moving scams (USA Today)
Federal and state authorities are cracking down on online scam artists who pose as licensed movers and rip off consumers by jacking up prices, giving fake estimates and holding consumers' belongings hostage. States including New Jersey, California and Illinois have conducted undercover operations this year, and Maryland approved legislation that keeps movers from charging more than 25% above an original estimate. Unlicensed moving companies are significantly more likely to rip off consumers, says Linda Bauer Darr, president and CEO of the American Moving and Storage Association, a trade group of 3,200 professional movers. "Our mission is to get these rogues off the road, that is the single most important thing we can do right now," Darr says. "The rogues in the industry are killing our business and killing consumers' faith in professional movers." The Better Business Bureau received more than 8,900 complaints against both licensed and unlicensed movers in 2010 — a 5% increase over 2009, says spokeswoman Sheila Adkins. But the growing concern is with unlicensed movers and online moving brokers, says Thomas Calcagni, director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.

TVA considering Sentinel/Willett)







Two years after spending millions to install sand baskets on four East Tennessee dams, the Tennessee Valley Authority is considering removing or replacing the controversial flood barriers. In 2009 TVA installed "gambion" barriers — made of wire mesh filled with sand or dirt — on Fort Loudon, Tellico, Cherokee and Watts Bar dams to prevent overflow in the case of an extreme flood event. At the time, TVA described such an event as being so rare as to occur only once in a million years. TVA representatives met with local residents for a public hearing in Lenoir City on Tuesday to discuss alternatives to the sand baskets, which have been criticized by some as 9

unsightly and ineffective. "This is really just the first step," said TVA spokesman Travis Brickey. The sand baskets were never designed to be permanent, he said. In fact, one of TVA's options is to get rid of them altogether. Brickey said TVA is looking at several options, including removing the baskets; replacing the baskets with a permanent concrete barrier; or some combination of both.

A high rise: Middle Tennessee sees surge in hotel construction (TN/Marsteller)
Travelers soon will get more choices for a good night’s sleep in Middle Tennessee. The Nashville region is experiencing a surge in hotel construction, with nearly 1,400 rooms already being built and an additional 2,100 in the planning stages. Combined, they could increase the region’s supply by 10 percent at a time when the U.S. hotel development pipeline has slowed significantly. It’s also a significant jump from a year ago, when just 85 rooms were under construction locally. That doesn’t surprise industry observers, who say Middle Tennessee has been a top destination for hotel developers because of its market dynamics, improved travel demand and greater availability of capital. “You’ve got an unusual but good combination of leisure and business” travel, said Paul Breslin, managing partner of Panther Hospitality, a hotel consulting firm in Atlanta. “It’s a strong market.” But another observer cautions against reading too much into the numbers, saying they’re skewed by a big one-time project — the Music City Center convention hotel coming from Omni.|topnews|img|FRONTPAGE

Downtown convention center likely to sap $585M budget (Tennessean/Rau)
The new downtown convention center is in danger of exceeding its $585 million budget after a jury concluded last week that the city vastly undervalued a critical piece of property in the project’s footprint. Music City Center is 40 percent complete, but in the wake of the jury ruling, project leaders will have a minuscule $2.5 million contingency fund remaining. W hile attorneys mull an appeal, officials declined to comment on what their course of action might be if the highly scrutinized project busts its budget. One possibility provided for in the original financing deal is for Metro to issue up to an additional $50 million in bonds to ensure the project’s completion. That option would require approval of Metro Council. Metro Council members who opposed financing the city’s new tourism hub expressed concern this week that just 19 months after its approval, the project could require extra funds. Although tourism taxes and fees created to pay for the project have come in higher than budgeted, those revenues are reserved by state law for debt service. Complicating matters is the fact that the Metro Development and Housing Agency, which is in charge of acquiring the land for the project, still must deal with two other property owners who claim they also were underpaid for their parcels.|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Wacker helps schools affected by tornado (Times Free-Press/Higgins)
Wacker Polysilicon donated 40 laptop computers Tuesday to elementary school students in Bradley County Schools. Ingomar Kovar, president and chief executive officer of W acker Chemical Corp., made the presentation to schools Director Johnny McDaniel, school board members Troy W eathers and Christy Critchfield and others. “W e were saddened by the news of these [April 27] storms and the devastation they caused here in Bradley County, especially the impact they had on our schools,” Kovar said at the county school system central office. “W hat those tornadoes could not destroy is the spirit of the families, friends and neighbors.” The computers will be used at Black Fox and Waterville Community elementary schools, where children from the destroyed Blue Springs Elementary School will attend classes this year. “W ith the coming new school year, these students will be assured they have the right equipment to advance their knowledge and further develop their necessary skills to successfully compete at the next level,” Kovar said. McDaniel said school personnel are grateful for the assistance.

Metro Nashville Paper/Duncan)









The subject of virtual schools has been in the news lately. During its most recent session, the state legislature changed a law to allow more Tennessee students, even those who are home-schooled and in private schools, to access Nashville’s virtual options. And now, after recent state approval, Metro Nashville Public Schools has 10

been granted Tennessee’s first K-12 virtual school. For the time being, classes offered are only in the high school curriculum, but officials have said they hope to soon begin working through the lower grades to increase options so that more students will have access. “Virtual learning offers students choices in an environment that meets their individual needs,” said Jay Steele, associate superintendent for high schools. “It is also preparing them for the college experience, since many universities require at least one virtual course for graduation.” But getting a program like this off the ground is difficult, and at the outset it seems quite costly. So MNPS has done the logical thing, sowing seeds at home and importing until they grow.

Memphis board takes back decision to delay school (Associated Press/Sainz)
The Memphis school board, which threatened to indefinitely delay the start of classes in a fight with the city over funding, agreed Tuesday night on a payment schedule that would send students back on time. The board in an 8-0 vote approved the plan that provides it $12 million by Aug. 5. Roughly $62 million more would come in monthly installments from the city through the end of the fiscal year. Classes would begin Aug. 8. The board surprised city officials and parents last week when it voted to delay the start of school if it didn't receive $55 million from the cash-strapped city government by the start of classes. The funds have been the subject of a long-running dispute, with the board claiming the city owes it more than $150 million from four fiscal years. The deal agreed to Tuesday came from negotiations between Mayor A C Wharton and Board President Martavius Jones. The City Council must approve the budget plan in an Aug. 2 meeting to make the deal final. School board member Tomeka Hart was out of town and did not vote. Members who did said they were satisfied. "We have to have money," board member Sara Lewis said. "This will allow us to achieve the ends all of us want."

Memphis board OKs funding deal (Commercial Appeal/Roberts)
The Memphis school board unanimously approved a payment plan from the city Tuesday night that means schools can open on time. However, the undercurrent was clear: If the city departs one bit from the board's expectations, all bets are off. But if the council meets the criteria outlined by the school board Tuesday, students will return to schools as scheduled on Aug. 8. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton, reached by phone after the meeting, sounded a hopeful tone. "I am sure the council will follow through with its commitment. I will follow through with my commitment," Wharton said. "The most important thing is getting the children back in school and getting the teachers back in school," the mayor said. "The rest are all peripheral matters that we can work out later." The first test will come Tuesday, when the City Council is set to approve the district's budget. If it does not, schools will remain closed, board members said.

Board Votes Unanimous Aye for Deal with City to "Reinstate" School Year (MF)
In the end, the Memphis City Schools board ratified its deal with the City of Memphis. The Board’s special meeting on Tuesday night was in marked contrast to the high-intensity session conducted a week ago Monday, when members voted 8-1 to demand $55 million from the City, with an “or else” being that they might cancel the school year otherwise. The difference was spoken to by Board member Kenneth Whalum Jr., a dependable firebrand who was in the forefront of those insisting last week on presenting the City with a financial ultimatum. “Y’all supported me last time; so I’m with you on this tonight,’ Whalum told his colleagues, making the Board’s vote to approve a new arrangement with the City and to “reinstate” the school year, with the original opening day of August 8 restored. But W halum made his vote contingent on “four conditions” — that the City Council approve the MCS operating budget at its forthcoming August 2 meeting; that the Council approve the same agreement being considered Tuesday night by the school board; that the City keep to the payment schedule provided for in the agreement; and that, in particular, the first installment of $15 million ($3 million of which has already been paid) be made over by August 5 — three days before the scheduled start of school.

MCS Board Approves Funding Compromise (Memphis Daily News)
Memphis City Schools board members voted 8-0 Tuesday, July 26, to start the school year as scheduled on Aug. 8 provided the Memphis City Council approves its budget at the Aug. 2 council meeting including at least $68.4 million in city funding. The money is to be paid in monthly installments through the June 30, 2012 end of the current fiscal year. Those payments are based on an average of what and when the city has paid MCS 11

property tax revenue in past fiscal years going back a decade. The largest of the 12 payments starting with July’s $3 million is the $33.5 million to be paid by Sept. 7. The board voted earlier this month to delay the start of the school year if it didn’t get varying amounts of funding ranging from a total of more than $100 million owed over several fiscal years to $9 million left from the fiscal year that ended this past June 30.

Charter school says it would sue to open in Shelby County (C. Appeal/Silence)
Operators of Shelby County Schools' first charter school -- to open this fall -- haven't decided yet whether to spend the bulk of their money on building renovations and marketing campaigns or on attorneys. It depends on whether the county school board rejects a proposed contract for the New Consortium of Law and Business, which the nonprofit Smart Schools Inc. plans to open in Bartlett. The county school board, which twice denied Smart Schools' application to open the district's first charter school and approved it only by force from the state, plans to discuss the contract at a business meeting today. Tommie Henderson, executive director of Smart Schools, said the group will take legal action if the board resists an agreement. "We want to gain that legitimacy from the board," Henderson said this week. "(But) if they don't approve it, we're still going to open our school."

California: California Counties Reel From Tax Hit (Wall Street Journal)
Declining home prices are starting to slam California harder than the rest of the nation, in part due to a state law that sets a ceiling—but no floor—on property taxes. The toll is evident here in Calaveras County, a largely rural area about 100 miles east of San Francisco. Over the past three years, it has seen among the biggest propertytax roll declines of any California county, with the total value of taxable properties down about 5% from last year —and 18% over the past three years—to $5.67 billion. Statewide, assessed values declined 1.8% last year from a year earlier, according to state data. Calaveras's shrinking property taxes have resulted in cuts to the sheriff's department and public-health services, as well as an effort to cut 10% of the county's budget for the coming year. The tax drop also has pitted the county assessor, who has lowered taxes by re-evaluating home prices, against the head of the county board of supervisors, who said the reassessments have been too aggressive. "We're getting cremated" by the decline in property taxes, said Tom Tryon, chairman of the board of supervisors. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Indiana: Among Twists in Budget Woes, Tensions Over Teaching the Deaf (NYT)
Politicians have seen plenty of demonstrators outside the Statehouse here. But the crowd that gathered last month was a bit different from the usual shouting protesters. Scores of deaf and hard-of-hearing children and their families assembled to complain in American Sign Language. Parents also have confronted new board members of the state’s school for the deaf in pointed, awkward exchanges. And more objections are expected when the board convenes next month for what had, until now, been ordinary meetings on routine school matters. At the root of the tension is a debate that stretches well beyond Indiana: Will sign language and the nation’s separate schools for the deaf be abandoned as more of the deaf turn to communicating, with help from fastevolving technology, through amplified sounds and speech? And in the struggle to balance depleted budgets, Indiana and other states, like Kansas, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota and West Virginia have called for cuts on many fronts in recent years, including for state schools for the deaf — a group of institutions with long, rich traditions. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Pennsylvania: Succcessful mortgage relief program falls to budget axe (Stateline)
Five years into a historic downturn in the U.S. housing market, federal and state policy makers have not yet succeeded in turning the tide. The Obama administration’s flagship Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) has assisted far fewer homeowners than expected. Additional efforts, such as the federal Hardest Hit Fund for 18 states suffering from high unemployment and/or plummeting home prices, have gotten off the ground slowly. But for frustrated state policy makers looking to take action on their own, one state effort offers some hope. It’s nothing new; in fact, it’s been around since 1983. It’s Pennsylvania’s Homeowners’ Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program (HEMAP). In 28 years, it is estimated to have saved more than 40,000 families from foreclosure. In 2007, it was a finalist for Harvard University’s Innovations in American Government Award. What’s different about HEMAP is that it assists only those borrowers who are in fundamentally affordable 12

mortgages, but who are having trouble meeting them because of temporary financial hardship, such as unemployment. It’s especially timely now because the initial phase of the foreclosure crisis — driven in 2007 and 2008 largely by subprime mortgages — has given way to a second phase in which homes are more frequently being lost because of joblessness.


OPINION Free-Press Editorial: Haslam’s indictment of Washington (Times Free-Press)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam believes we should face our national debt problem realistically. Instead, he says, politicians are playing an “incredibly serious game of chicken” as a partial federal default nears. “Until Washington shows that we can live within our means and come to a political agreement about how to solve that,” he said, “you’re not going to see banks willing to loan money, you’re not going to see people willing to invest their own capital, and so we won’t have any job growth until that happens.” He’s right, but the responsibility he urges is lacking in W ashington.

Guest columnist: Focus on specific student needs (Tennessean)
'Good things don't happen by accident' In the past few years, much has been written and a lot of attention has been given to math literacy and math instruction in public schools. Math continues to be an issue not only for the state of Tennessee but also for the nation. According to the results of the latest PISA (Program for International Student Assessment), our nation ranks far behind other countries when it comes to student math achievement. State-mandated assessments show a similar picture; Tennessee students are not achieving at the levels expected when it comes to math. Why are these assessments so important? Why should the public care about student math scores? The main reason is that each and every score represents a child and his ability. For every student scoring proficient or advanced is one more student who has a better chance and bigger opportunity to be successful in life. It also means our state and our nation as a whole has a greater possibility of producing a workforce that is highly competitive in this ever-expanding global economy. odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

Guest columnist: Stress math more in middle grades (Tennessean)

Students who are experiencing mathematical learning difficulties come predominantly from high-poverty and high-minority areas but there are many students who have problems with achievement in mathematics. For many students, the middle grades are a period in which achievement gaps in mathematics will become an achievement problem. Nearly all high-poverty students enter kindergarten with the most basic mathematical knowledge at hand; they can count and recognize basic shapes and have a good “number sense” concept. However, many students enter and complete middle school ill-prepared to succeed in a rigorous sequence of college-preparatory mathematics courses in high school. National and international comparisons of student achievement indicate that it is between fourth and eighth grade when U.S. students in general, and minority and high-poverty students in particular, fall rapidly behind desired levels of achievement. Minority students in one school system, according to a recent report, finished Algebra I much later in their high school careers. This report revealed that 71 percent were enrolled in this course as late as the 11th grade. odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Guest columnist: Maury County’s not-so-great expectations (C. Daily Herald)
We get what we expect from our schools, and it shows in economic development. The director of Maury County schools recently said he was “excited about the growth” in Maury County’s 2011 TCAP (Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program) scores. The annual test measures the educational performance of third and eighth grade level students in a state wide evaluation. According to the state, the average TCAP scores improved in all four areas of evaluation with math improving by 7 percent over last year, reading comprehension by 3.7 percent, science by 3.5 percent and social studies by 1.4 percent. Maury County’s 2011 TCAP scores improved in math by 5.1 percent, reading by 4.2 percent, science by 5.6 percent and social studies by 0.9 percent. Given that the Maury County school children’s rate of learning improvement exceeded the state average in only two of the four tested categories, I fail to see what there is to be excited about. In reality, overall Maury County fell further down the relative educational performance list of the 144 state school districts. If anyone should be getting excited about this set of Maury County TCAP scores it’s the school board, the Maury Alliance, our elected community leaders and the parents of our school children because this disappointing rate of improvement in TCAP scores doesn’t get the job done.

Editorial: Facility issues at UT underscore need for increased funding (N-S)
The University of Tennessee is scrambling to renovate space for new dorm rooms and using ever-rising student fees to upgrade facilities, more fallout from the state Legislature's gutting of higher education funding. The Legislature has cut appropriations for higher education by $60 million over the past four years. Tuition increases — 12 percent at UT this year — have helped keep operations afloat, but a new $200 per student increase in fees dedicated to improving labs and classrooms should make lawmakers re-think their priorities. Overall, mandatory student fees are up 25 percent over last year to $1,172. That's about 15 percent of the combined tuition-and-fees price tag of $8,396. Taxpayers and individual donors, not the students, should be the sources of funding for UT educational facilities. Even with the increases, UT is a bargain compared to many flagship universities in other states, but UT could realistically be able to pursue its goal of cracking the top 25 public research institutions with a restoration of its lost state funding.

Jim Cooper: Stop paying Congress if nation defaults (Tennessean)
This is a crucial week for America as Congress grapples with the debt ceiling and budget reforms. These are complicated issues. I want you to know where I stand and why congressional pay should be stopped if we default. Debt and deficits are a bipartisan problem, requiring a bipartisan solution. Just 10 years ago, with a Democratic president and Republican Congress, we had three consecutive years of budget surplus, the first since the 1920s. Since then, Democrats and Republicans have both refused to pay for social programs and for today’s wars. All this spending has been put on the national credit card, increasingly financed by China. I put a book out on this in 2006, The Financial Report of the U.S. Government, warning of the coming crisis. For six years, the credit rating agencies and I have been trying to get America to change course. Now, with days left, the bills have come due. No one really knows the consequences of default, but they can’t be good. Raising the debt ceiling should be accompanied with real budget reform. The reforms being discussed range from $1 trillion to $5.5 trillion in deficit reduction and from six months to 10 years in duration. In my opinion, the bigger and longer the better. 14


Editorial: Fincher FEC complaint 'dismissal' doesn't exonerate congressman (JS)
Recently, the office of Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Frog Jump, announced the "dismissal" of a complaint filed against him with the Federal Election Commission regarding campaign finance reports he filed during last year's election. But, as we have come to expect from Fincher, the report of the "dismissal" was not the whole truth, and it doesn't exonerate him. A review of an FEC report tells a different story. The complaint arose when Fincher listed a $250,000 campaign loan as coming from his personal funds. In fact, the loan came from Gates Banking & Trust Co. Fincher filed two FEC campaign finance reports with that incorrect information, even after his campaign received notice that a complaint had been filed regarding the loan. During the campaign, Fincher refused to address the issue with the media or with 8th District constituents. W hile it was reported that the complaint had been dismissed, there was no explanation of why. That led the public to believe Fincher had not violated federal campaign finance laws. The truth is that the case was dismissed only because the six-member bipartisan review panel was split 3-3 on whether to levy a civil fine against Fincher. In fact, the members of the panel all agreed that Fincher did violate the law.

Times Editorial: Balance needed in postal closings (Chattanooga Times FreePress)
The financially beset Postal Service announced Tuesday that it will study the possibility of closing 3,653 offices to help reduce costs. Stations on the list of possible closures include three in Chattanooga, one in Cleveland, Tenn., and two in Murray County, Ga. Nothing is certain, but patrons of the listed sites have reason for concern. The offices — in East Chattanooga, Highland Park and South Chattanooga, in downtown Cleveland and in Cisco and Tennga in Murray County — are targeted because they have low volumes of retail business or because officials believe closure would inconvenience few patrons. The latter assumes customers would use a nearby facility if their neighborhood office is closed. That’s a questionable assumption. It is true, for example, that the Highland Park station here is not very far from the downtown branch in the Federal Building on Georgia Avenue. That doesn’t mean, though, that patrons of the former who now enjoy the convenience and available (free) parking will find the latter, where traffic is heavier and pay-parking is often scarce, a viable alternative. ###