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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2011 Haslam Names 5 New Members to Film, Entertainment, Music Commission (TNR)

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Economic and Community Development Commissioner Bill Hagerty today announced board appointments for the Tennessee Film, Entertainment & Music Commission (TFEMC). The TFEMC board represents entertainment industries across the state in music, film and television. This distinguished group of industry professionals brings broad experience and unique perspectives to the board and will help us continue to grow Tennessees entertainment industry, Haslam said. Im excited to welcome them, and I appreciate their commitment and willingness to serve as we attempt to expand on the incredible industry talent and infrastructure already in place. In Gov. Haslams Jobs4TN plan we identified Tennessees entertainment industry as one of the key clusters where our state holds a competitive advantage, Hagerty said. W e look forward to working with the new board members to create the right kind of business environment in which the entertainment industry can thrive. http://www.tnreport.com/2011/09/haslam-names-5-new-members-to-film-entertainment-music-commission/

Haslam expects review of TN regulations by fall (Associated Press/Schelzig)


Some fear he'll cut restrictions The Haslam administrations project to reduce regulation and make Tennessee friendlier to business is still gathering data. It will be late in the year before a set of recommendations is ready. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam promised a top-to-bottom review of regulations soon after taking office in January, saying that cutting regulation would help deliver jobs and reduce the states nearly 10 percent unemployment rate. Haslam said after a recent business roundtable that the project is taking so long just due to the number of areas state government regulates, and trying to determine whether existing regulations are justified. Most of those things were there for good reasons, so we want to make certain that were not just throwing something out as part of the process, Haslam said. While each department has been assigned a top-to-bottom review, the Economic and Community Development Department has taken on the highest profile. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS0201/309090093/Haslam-expects-review-TN-regulationsby-fall?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Sigler appointed to state commission (Nashville Ledger)


Gov. Bill Haslam has named attorney Christy C. Sigler to the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth representing the Mid-Cumberland region. Sigler, a native Knoxvillian, practices law in Murfreesboro, specializing in representing juveniles and families in juvenile court. She is a graduate of the University of Mississippi and the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, where her accomplishments included receiving the Deans Distinguished Service Award and writing for the Tennessee Journal of Practice and Procedure. Prior to attending law school, Sigler served in the U.S. Army as a Signals Intelligence analyst, earning two Army Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals and a Good Conduct Medal. http://www.nashvilleledger.com/editorial/Article.aspx?id=54817

Celebration 'grand' in every sense (Daily News Journal)


Its been one hundred years in the making, and two years in the prepping. MTSUs Centennial Blue Tie Gala is tonight at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Conference Center in Murfreesboro. Its a grand celebration of 100 years, said Michelle Stepp, associate director of Alumni Relations at MTSU. Its the culmination of two years of work. Comments from Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan, Cui Pengfei, chairman of the Board of Trustees for Hangzhou, China, Normal University, and MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and a special video welcome from Gov. Bill Haslam will be a part of the program. There will also be a special centennial video screened at 8:40 p.m., said Bob Lamb, chairman of the centennial committee. http://www.dnj.com/article/20110909/NEW S07/110909005

TN tracks Race to the Top spending (Associated Press/Loller)


A new report from the state comptrollers office has found that local school districts are spending their portion of Tennessees $500 million award of federal Race to the Top funds in a variety of ways. Those include purchasing new books and materials, hiring coaches for teachers and principals and paying teachers extra for student achievement or doing jobs that others don't want to do. Every local district received a portion of the money, which was divided evenly between the state and the local agencies and is being distributed over four years starting in March of last year. The report said the most common uses of the grant money are instructional coaches for teachers ($20 million), leadership training ($17.5 million) and incentive pay plans that reward teachers for things such as good performance or teaching at hard-to-staff schools ($16.9 million). Focus on 12 districts The report focused on 12 districts chosen to reflect a mix of rural, urban and suburban districts from around the state. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS04/309080030/TN-tracks-Race-Top-spending? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

State Report Looks at Race to the Top Spending (WPLN-Radio Nashville)


A new study from the state comptrollers office looks at how Tennessee schools are spending the states Race to the Top funds. The state received 500 million dollars from the federal government, with every local school district getting a share of that money. The report shows schools are spending more than 20 million dollars for instructional coaches for teachers. 17.5 million has been spent on leadership training. Schools have spent nearly 17 million dollars on incentive pay for teachers. http://wpln.org/?p=30098

Wacker gets another $36 million in state aid (Times Free-Press/Sher)


The State Building Commission on Thursday tentatively approved an additional $36.1 million in taxpayer funds to help Wacker Chemical carry out a planned expansion of its polycrystalline silicon plant near Cleveland, Tenn. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, the Senate speaker and Building Commission chairman, said final approval is subject to state Comptroller Justin Wilson's examination of the contract and discussions with officials in Gov. Bill Haslam's administration. "It should be done relatively quickly," Ramsey said. The funding to help the German solar equipment maker was approved by the General Assembly earlier this year. The Building Commission approved $29.4 million in general obligation bonds and $5.2 million in cash to provide assistance on the ongoing site work on part of Wacker's 550-acre site near the Hiwassee Industrial Park in Bradley County. Another $1.5 million will come from a FastTrack grant from the state's Department of Economic and Community Development, said Herb Slattery, Haslam's legal counsel. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/09/wacker-gets-another-36-million-instate-aid/

Cookeville man indicted for attempted TennCare fraud (Herald Citizen)


A man who wanted pain pills allegedly committed two crimes trying to get them, according to court records. Jimmy Dale Adkins, 36, of Auter Avenue, Cookeville, was recently indicted by the Putnam County grand jury on the charges of attempted TennCare fraud and prescription forgery. Listed as prosecutors in the case are Mike Dunn of the state Office of Inspector General and Cookeville Police Officer Marc Declaire. The indictments allege that on July 15, Jimmy Dale Adkins tried to obtain Percocet pills "by use of a prescription forged on Dr. Daniel Strange of Cookeville Regional Medical Center." The forged prescription was presented at the Walgreen's pharmacy "for the purpose of obtaining a controlled substance," the indictment says. http://www.herald-citizen.com/view/full_story/15439718/article-Cookeville-man-indicted-for-attempted-TennCarefraud?instance=latest_articles

TennCare enrollment available for new applicants Sept. 12 (Sparta Expositor)


A limited number of qualified low income individuals or those with high, unpaid medical bills who are aged, blind, disabled or the caretaker relative of a Medicaid eligible child, may be eligible for coverage under the TennCare Standard Spend Down program. Standard Spend Down is available through a waiver to the Medicaid program for a limited number of low income people who need the required guidelines. Eligible individuals must have enough unpaid medical bills to meet the spend down threshold to qualify for coverage. A special call-in phone line, which is available through Tennessee Department of Human Services, has been set up for interested applicants. The only way to request an application is by calling the toll-free number, 866-358-3230, which will be open 6-8:30 p.m. CST, on Sept. 12. The phone lines will be open from 6-8:30 p.m. on subsequent weekdays 2

until 2,500 interested applicants call in. After the first 2,500 calls are taken, the phone lines will be closed. Tennessee Department of Human Services will send applications to all callers who are not already on TennCare and will review their eligibility for any open Medicaid categories and the newly opened Standard Spend Down category. http://spartaexpositor.com/articles/2011/09/08/news/doc4e68c5d9d80f3833689452.txt

IT training for court clerk's staff in Rutherford County is sought (Gannett)


County leaders hope to hire an information technology project manager to update court computer software that dates back to 1989. Were losing efficiencies, Circuit Court Clerk Laura Bohling told members of the Rutherford County Commissions Budget, Finance & Investment Committee Thursday night. She wants a project manager to work with her staff of 36 full-time employees and one part-time employee on using new software for all court records during a period expected to last 18 months to three years. The seven-member committee approved the plan. The full 21-member County Commission will consider the proposal when it meets at 6 p.m. Thursday at the County Courthouse on the Public Square. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS02/309090091/Rutherford-County-hopes-update-court-scomputer-software?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

House Repubs. Hear Complaints on W orkers Comp, Unemployment Benefits (TNR)


Republican lawmakers are expected to address the states workers compensation system next year and revisit the issue of extended unemployment benefits, based on a meeting of the GOPs House small business task force in Nashville on Wednesday. The task force heard anecdotal evidence of people who are currently accepting unemployment benefits but are not willing to apply for jobs. Democrats lobbied hard for an extension of unemployment benefits in the waning hours of negotiations on the states $30.8 billion budget passed in May. But Democrats are not members of the House group that met Wednesday. The task force is comprised entirely of Republicans, who have a 64-34-1 majority in the House. The task force heard from several small business operators from across the state. Workers compensation issues have come up frequently at business roundtables held by Gov. Bill Haslam, and the governor has said the matter should be addressed. Several people spoke of the workers comp issue at Wednesdays meeting of legislators. http://www.tnreport.com/2011/09/house-republicans-hear-business-complaints-on-workers%E2%80%99-compunemployment-benefits/

Tennessee lawmaker says Amazon should treat state same as California (TFP/Sher)
A major critic of Tennessee's deal with Amazon.com says the state deserves treatment similar to a preliminary agreement with California in which the Internet retailer agreed to begin collecting state sales tax after a one-year reprieve. "I think Amazon would want to try to treat states the same as far as collection of the sales tax," Tennessee Senate Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, said Thursday. California lawmakers struck a tentative deal Thursday with the Internet giant, which has been battling in a number of states over collecting sales taxes on items sold to in-state customers. If Amazon is unable to get Congress to change federal tax policy by next June, the company would have to start collecting California taxes in September 2012, The New York Times reported. The deal could fall apart, the newspaper said. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been seeking to persuade Amazon to begin collecting sales taxes after his predecessor, Phil Bredesen, struck a deal saying it would not have to in exchange for locating two multimillion dollar distribution warehouses in Chattanooga and nearby Bradley County. http://timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/09/lawmaker-says-amazon-should-treat-state-same/

Ramsey Supports Cost-to-Business Estimates for Proposed Legislation (TN Report)


Tennessee House Republicans made a point Thursday of declaring their interest in identifying burdensome regulations they can lift from businesses in the state. In the same vein, the Senates top lawmaker wants to add one on government: A requirement that bills under consideration in the General Assembly include an estimate of the costs theyd potentially have on Tennessee employers. Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says he wants legislators and the public to be fully aware of the price of new mandates and regulations before theyre passed on to the private sector. Right now were just ignoring it and putting it directly onto business, the Blountville Republican said. 3

W hat does this cost a business when we pass a bill? In the long run, it will save the state money and save businesses money to attempt to calculate those costs up front, he said. The idea comes most recently from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, which released a report last week detailing why the state should crunch the numbers to determine what kind of effect legislation has on commerce and industry. http://www.tnreport.com/2011/09/ramsey-supports-cost-to-business-review-of-proposed-legislation/

Tennessee's voter-ID law draws congressional scrutiny (Tennessean/Bewley)


Laws that require voters to show photo identification at the polls reduce election fraud, supporters of Tennessees new voter ID law told Senate lawmakers Thursday. Opponents of such laws countered that they target low-income, minority and student voters, who are more likely to vote for Democrats and might lack government-issued IDs such as drivers licenses and passports. Democrats and voting-rights advocates told members of the Senate subcommittee on civil rights that rural and elderly voters also could be disproportionately affected because they might have trouble traveling to get an ID. In Tennessee, voters older than 60 arent required to have a photo on their drivers licenses. I am deeply concerned by this coordinated, well-funded effort to pass laws that would compromise the right to vote, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., chairman of the civil rights subcommittee, said at Thursdays hearing. Explanation sought He said the incidence of voter fraud is minimal and doesnt justify such measures. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS0201/309090094/Tennessee-s-voter-ID-law-drawscongressional-scrutiny?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

State Republicans criticized for fundraiser at governors mansion (CP/W oods)


Tennessee Republicans drew criticism Thursday for planning another fundraiser at the governors mansion, this time asking for as much as $50,000 from high-dollar contributors. Gov. Bill Haslams press secretary, David Smith, defended the Oct. 3 fundraiser as not out of the ordinary. But Democrats said Republicans give the impression that state government is for sale by extracting so much cash from special interests at a political event at the publicly owned Executive Residence. This kind of reeks, said Brandon Puttbrese, state Democratic Party communications. Only corporations are going to be able to afford a price tag like that. This is only going to add to the perception that our government is bought and paid for by big corporations. And its hard to say its not true when all these corporations are the ones who wanted the caps on damages to limit their liability. It just stinks up and down, Puttbrese added, referring to the states new tort reform law pushed through the legislature by Republicans in the last session. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/state-republicans-criticized-fundraiser-governor-s-mansion

Committee suggests tax hike (Jackson Sun)


Haywood Co. to consider recommended 20-cent property tax rate increase After four months, about 26 meetings and one rejection, the Haywood County budget committee hopes it reached an acceptable property tax rate Thursday. The committee, made up of six county commissioners, voted 5-1 in favor of recommending a property tax increase of 20 cents, which would bring the tax rate to $2.58 per $100 of assessed value. Cuts of about $480,000 from different county departments will also be necessary to balance the budget, which would be about $10.3 million, said Haywood County Mayor Franklin Smith. The County Commission is tentatively scheduled to meet Sept. 26 to consider the committee's recommendation. The commission rejected a proposed tax rate of $2.70 in August, Smith said. Under the new guidelines proposed by Commissioner Joe Stephens, a member of the budget committee, cuts would include the following: http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20110909/NEWS01/109090310/Committee-suggests-tax-hike

Alexander Ready to Work with President, Corker Rejects Superficial Fixes (WPLN)
On a day when many Congressional leaders are responding to a speech they havent heard yet, Tennessees senators added their two cents. Lamar Alexander, the third ranking Republican in the Senate, says his party is ready to work with the President. But he says so far, the W hite House has smothered job growth with regulations. Senator Bob Corker agrees that some federal regulations need to be peeled back. But hes also recommending specifics such as tax reform. That would be doing away with many of the loopholes that Americans are really tired of and lowering everybodys rates. Id love to see us focus on a long term highway bill, not some short term issue dealing with infrastructure but something that for the next six years, we knew was in place. Trade agreements and a plan to grow all forms of domestic energy production are also on Corkers wish 4

list. He says the country doesnt need any more fiddling around the edges and superficial fixes. http://wpln.org/?p=30116

TN lawmakers mixed on Obama speech (Gannett)


President Barack Obamas $447 billion jobs plan received a lukewarm reaction from Tennessees lawmakers Thursday night. Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Nashville said the president made a good high-energy speech to get America back on track, but the states Republican lawmakers reacted more critically. The speech was Obama's second address to a joint session of Congress. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate, said the presidents policies have thrown a big, wet blanket over job creation in this country and, unfortunately, I didnt hear much in his speech tonight that will change that. Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump said he was disappointed this evening to hear that the presidents plan to tackle unemployment rates was largely more of the same. And Republican Rep. Phil Roe of Johnson City called the address very partisan. I saw a lot of finger-pointing in our direction during that speech, he said. http://www.dnj.com/article/20110909/NEW S01/110909008/TN-lawmakers-mixed-Obama-speech

Cohen asks Justice Department to investigate Schnucks sale (CA/Sullivan)


U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen asked the U.S. Justice Department Thursday to look into the antitrust implications of the sale of Schnucks stores to Kroger and "whether it will negatively affect competition." The Memphis Democrat wrote to Atty. Gen. Eric Holder, first describing the longtime Memphis institution Seessel's, whose stores were bought out by Schnucks in 2002. In the letter, Cohen said Kroger plans to convert eight Schnucks stores into Kroger stores with five Schnucks and Kroger stores closing, giving Kroger 43 stores in the region "with no comparable competitor." Most of the Schnucks stores will close on Saturday, with the remaining stores closing within 30 days, erasing the St. Louis-based Schnucks brand from the Mid-South region. Kroger, based in Cincinnati, is buying nine Schnucks stores and closing one. Schnucks also is closing three stores that were not part of the sale. In addition, Kroger plans to close two of its smaller stores -- one at 1234 Finley in Whitehaven and the other at 9050 U.S. 64 in Lakeland -- and serve those areas by converting the Schnucks properties at 1212 E. Shelby Dr. and 9025 U.S. 64 in Lakeland. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/sep/08/rep-steve-cohen-memphis-asks-justice-department-in/

Tenants, landlords hit hard by cuts in rental aid (Tennessean/Sisk)


Section 8 program trims vouchers A federal program that helps low-income families pay their housing costs is being squeezed by a weak economy. High demand and federal cuts have stretched the budgets for Section 8 vouchers, payments to landlords that help cover the rent for low-income families. Tennessee agencies have been forced to respond by refusing to take on new families, telling landlords that they cannot increase rents and rolling back the amount they are willing to pay, leaving thousands of tenants to make up the difference. The moves have helped agencies keep as many as 1,000 Middle Tennessee families on the rolls, housing officials say. But they also have kept more people from joining the program, cut into the finances of landlords who rent to low-income families and required those who receive the vouchers to dig deeper for rent. Its been a struggle, said Darlene Knight, a Bordeaux voucher recipient and fast-food worker affected by the cut. Its been a real struggle. Middle Tennessees two main housing agencies the Tennessee Housing Development Agency and the Metropolitan Development and Housing Agency have both acted this summer to cut the size of Section 8 vouchers for hundreds of residents, informing them that they will have to pay more of their rent immediately or risk losing rental assistance. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS0201/309080091/Tenants-landlords-hit-hard-by-cuts-rentalaid-?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

Guardsmen to be honored Saturday in Memphis (Associated Press)


More than 200 members of the Tennessee Air National Guard's 164th Airlift wing will be honored Saturday in Memphis for their service. It will be a "Hometown Heroes" ceremony, which recognizes airmen who deployed for more than 30 straight days for various operations. Since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, more than 20,000 Tennessee Air and Army National Guard airmen and soldiers have deployed to fight global terrorism. Each airman will receive a cherry wood-encased letter of appreciation and a commemorative coin. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=tennessean&sParam=37413069.story

Court Upholds Health Law (Wall Street Journal)


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A federal appeals court in Virginia dismissed two challenges to the 2010 health overhaul Thursday, marking a victory for the Obama administration and supporters of the law. At issue was whether the federal government can require Americans to either carry health insurance or pay a fee starting in 2014, a central plank of the law. More than 30 lawsuits have been filed against the overhaul law, with victories split between opponents and supporters. In federal appeals courts, the 11th Circuit in Atlanta last month knocked down the law, while the Sixth Circuit in Cincinnati upheld it in June. The Supreme Court is expected to ultimately decide the matter. In a unanimous opinion Thursday, a three-judge panel at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Richmond found that Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli lacked legal standing to bring his challenge. That threw out a ruling last year by a lower court judge who said Mr. Cuccinelli was entitled to sue and found the law's requirement to carry insurance went beyond Congress's powers under the U.S. Constitution. Mr. Cuccinelli, a Republican, had argued that Virginia had standing because, shortly after President Barack Obama signed the health law, the state's previous governor had signed a law saying the state's residents shouldn't be required to carry health insurance. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903285704576558671304247398.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)

Reports find mismanagement of homeland security grants (Stateline)


Since 2003, the federal Department of Homeland Security has funneled $34 billion to states to shore up their capabilities for responding to terrorism. But a number of recent investigations leading up to the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks have detailed various ways that states have mismanaged the grants or used them to go on spending sprees that have not helped them with preparedness. One investigation by The Denver Post found that Colorado had received about $354 million in grants since 2003, but that many records of purchases were either unavailable or missing entirely. In Iowa, which has spent about $250 million from DHS grants, The Gazette found instances where entire equipment purchases simply disappeared. For example, the Iowa Department of Administrative Services purchased a specialized microscope and freezer for $23,500 in 2004, but when asked, officials could not locate the items. Similar problems turned up in California, where California Watch found that one police department bought $47,000 in software that they never used. In all three investigations, reporters found instances where money was spent on questionable items such as plasma-screen televisions, pens, and baseball caps. California Watch is part of the Center for Investigative Reporting, which has been tracking state spending using federal homeland security grants. http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story? contentId=599146

Securing nuke materials was DOE's top priority on 9/11 (News-Sentinel/Munger)


As it became obvious that the morning events of Sept. 11, 2001, were the work of terrorists, the U.S. Department of Energy moved urgently to protect the nation's nuclear materials some of which were aboard trucks crisscrossing American highways. Paul Golan, the Department of Energy interim manager in Oak Ridge, was at DOE headquarters in Washington at the time, and he was part of the management team that gathered in the Emergency Operations Center and responded to the unprecedented attacks on the U.S. mainland. Golan talked about some of the agency's actions during a session at Thursday's Oak Ridge Emergency Management Forum, "Ten Years After 9/11 Changes in America." DOE is guardian of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, and DOE sites house some of the world's largest inventories of nuclear materials, Golan said. After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, nobody knew what other targets might be, he said. "If terrorists were going after the financial center and the defense center, weren't we next?" he said. DOE's first act that morning was to halt activities in the weapons complex and put the key nuclear materials uranium and plutonium back in secure storage, Golan said. "We had to get everything back in the vaults," he said. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/sep/09/securing-nuke-materials-was-does-top-priority-on/

10,000th VW Passat rolls off the line today (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)
The 10,000th VW Passat produced at the Volkswagen Group of America Chattanooga plant rolled off the assembly line today. The vehicle -- a white TDI clean diesel with a premium chrome package -- is among thousands of Volkswagen Passats being shipped to dealers this month in preparation for car sales to begin within the next couple of weeks. A lot of hard work has gone into this milestone, and Im very proud of our team for reaching the 10,000 cars produced mark while maintaining high quality, said Frank Fischer, CEO and Chair of Volkswagen Chattanooga. The ramp-up process is on target for market introduction and our team is really hitting its stride. The Passat has just earned the coveted Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) TOP 6

SAFETY PICK rating for 2011, the highest possible from the non-profit safety research organization, Fischer said. The Volkswagen Chattanooga team celebrated building the first customer car on April 18 and the plant officially opened on May 24, 2011. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/08/10000th-vw-passat-rollsline-today/?local

Skills gap in Memphis swallows jobs (Commercial Appeal/Evanoff)


Memphis has a high jobless rate. Washington, D.C., is lower, and Boston is lower yet. Now a new study tries to get at why -- it's the education gap. The Brookings Institution study, released today, shows employers in many U.S. cities can't find enough skilled workers, but the education gap is especially wide in the South and metropolitan Memphis. The jobless rate in the Memphis area would have been 8.3 percent in May, rather than the actual 10.1 percent, if the undersupply of educated workers here matched the national average, estimated Jonathan Rockwell, an author of the study. "I wouldn't say there's a brain drain, but in a lot of cities there is a long-term challenge to make quality education available more widely," Rockwell said. The study highlights what some public-policy analysts have long realized -- education has held back the local economy. Memphis Mayor A C Wharton last month said that once the national economy speeds up, Memphis will lag the recovery in large part because of a skills shortage. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/sep/09/skills-gap-swallows-jobs/

Tennessee Center Reports Hospital Safety Improvements (Memphis Daily News)


Patients at Tennessee hospitals are safer on several key measures today than they were three years ago, according to information from the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety. The center was launched in 2007 by the Tennessee Hospital Associations nonprofit, education and research subsidiary, Tennessee Hospital Education and Research Foundation, to provide education, resources and tools to help hospitals accelerate their performances in quality and patient safety initiatives. Funding for the center came from a three-year grant from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation. When BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee partnered with the hospitals of our state more than three years ago, we believed the Tennessee Center for Patient Safety could be an important step toward improving the reliability, safety and quality of care received by patients, Vicky Gregg, president and CEO of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, said in a statement. Tennessee Center for Patient Safetys mission involved 122 hospitals across the state, including Baptist Memorial Health Care in Memphis, working to reduce health care-acquired infections through the use of evidence-based strategies. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2011/sep/9/tennessee-center-reports-hospital-safety-improvements/

Shelby County Schools board picks 5 for transition team (C. Appeal/McMillin)
As Shelby County School Board members discussed who they would select Thursday to the school-merger transition team, longtime chairman David Pickler talked of filling "gaps" and removing "any taint" from the process. The five choices that came from a two-pronged ballot process of the SCS board's seven members did cover many of the priorities Pickler outlined, save one -- there are no current parents of SCS students. In Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald, the board found the "strong suburban voice" that vice-chairman Mike Wissman asked for. In former SCS administrator Katie Stanton, the board found someone to represent the voices of teachers -Stanton is former president of the nonunion Shelby County Education Association that represents SCS teachers. Former Shelby County commissioner Tommy Hart brings experience leading a diverse public body, former SCS operations chief Richard Holden has a career's worth of experience with facilities, and insurance agent Ricky Jeans of Collierville helps provide business background and the "diversity" Pickler said is essential. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/sep/08/shelby-county-schools-vote-its-transition-team-pic/

Pickler Picks Five for Consolidation Commission (Memphis Daily News)


Shelby County Schools Board chairman David Pickler has selected the mayor of Bartlett, a county schools parent, the longtime head of the Shelby County Education Association, a reitred county schools administrator and a former Shelby County commissioner to serve on the schools consolidation planning commission. Pickler went with the five selections recommended by the other six board members Thursday, Sept. 8, at a special board meeting. Under state law, Pickler could choose anyone he wanted without board consent. But he took advice from board members in an elaborate ranking system that one board member complained was "unfair." In the end, the picks were Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald; former Shelby County commissioner Tommy Hart; retired SCS operations chief Richard Holden; Shelby County Education Associaton head Katie Stanton; and Ricky Jeans, a county schools parent and one of the first students to integrate county schools in the 1960s. The five 7

join a planning commission that now lacks only the appointment of its final member by Lt. Gov. and Tennessee Senate speaker Ron Ramsey. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2011/sep/9/pickler-picks-five-for-consolidation-commission/

Commissioners Hear School Board Applicants (Memphis Daily News)


The Shelby County Commissions 10-hour interview session this week with several dozen applicants for appointment to seven positions on the new countywide school board was, at times, more of an education for them than it was an introduction of them to the commission. Ten of the 13 commissioners who will make seven appointments to the board gave the applicants for the appointments a good look at most of the still-hot political embers surrounding the coming consolidation. We dont believe in this merger, said Commissioner Terry Roland, whose district takes in all six of the suburban municipalities where opposition to schools consolidation has been the most vocal. And if there is any way I can cross it up, Im going to. Commissioner Steve Mulroy grilled applicants who said they did not support collective bargaining rights for teachers. I dont see a need for that, said firefighter Angelo Lamar of Millington. I think it protects those who dont want to do a fair and good job. They tend to hide under that umbrella of the union. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2011/sep/9/commissioners-hear-school-board-applicants/

McDonald Among Prospects for Norris-Todd Planning Commission (M. Flyer)


Responding to a surprise protest from member Diane George that he might have done an end run around the states Open Meetings Law in announcing ten top scorers from among 19 nominations by Board members for membership on the Norris-Todd Planning Commission, chairman David Pickler on Thursday obliged her by calling for a revote from scratch. Sentiment on the Board was clearly with Pickler rather than with George (several members maintaining that their roles were purely advisory and that Pickler had authority under NorrisTodd to make the appointments on his own), but at the chairmans insistence, the revote was held. After the votes were tallied, the five SCS members to the 21-member Planning Commission were named: They were (in order of votes received) Ricky Jeans, a parent and member of the SCS Hall of Fame; Richard Holden, former SCS operations chiefand Bartlett mayor Keith McDonald (tied for second); former SCS adminisrrator Katie Stanton; and former Shelby County Commissioner Tommy Hart. http://www.memphisflyer.com/JacksonBaker/archives/2011/09/08/bartlett-mayor-mcdonald-among-prospects-fornorris-todd-planning-commission

Sumner County's new schools chief deals with lawsuits, cuts (Tenn./Hubbard)
New Sumner job challenges Phillips Del Phillips, 39, walked into his job as Sumner Countys director of schools three months ago, and its already required him to furlough employees, close a night school, pick 91 positions to cut and work through lawsuits filed by the countys teachers union over contract agreements and the ACLU over whether schools promote Christianity. Phillips, who succeeded longtime director Benny Bills, is a former Columbus, Miss., superintendent who rose through the ranks as a high school marketing teacher to athletic director to head of the central office. The Corinth, Miss., native, who loves a good deer hunt and an Ole Miss football game, sat down with The Tennessean this week in his office decorated only with wooden duck statues left over from the former administrator to talk about the direction he hopes to move the rural, 27,000-student district. How would you describe Del Phillips? As a leader, I like to be inclusive and have to have a lot of data to make decisions. I like to stay focused on the primary customer the students. Obviously, I try to always be a good communicator and listen well. Those are things Ive always hung my hat on. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110909/NEWS04/309090079/Sumner-County-s-new-schools-chief-dealslawsuits-cuts?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

Hamilton schools up 286 students over last year (Times Free-Press/Hardy)


Hamilton County's elementary and middle schools continued to gain students this fall, though high school enrollment is on the decline. The Hamilton County Department of Education released its 20th-day enrollment count Thursday, which showed an overall enrollment of 42,236 students, up 286 from last year's 20th day count of 41,950. Administrators had planned for an additional 500 students this year. Though they're shy of that, Superintendent Rick Smith said he expects W ednesday's head count was skewed by recent inclement weather. Hamilton County canceled classes Tuesday and delayed school Wednesday in the wake of Tropical Storm Lee, 8

which dumped up to a foot of rain across the region. "This is a one-day snapshot, 20th day, taken following a major weather event with thousands of residents without power," Smith said in a statement. "I expect some students who are enrolled in our schools were not in attendance Wednesday due to the weather." W ednesday's count includes 20,840 elementary students, 9,467 middle school students and 11,929 high school students, a gain of 209 elementary students and 267 middle school students. High schools lost 190 students compared with last year. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/sep/09/hamilton-schools-up-286-students-over-last-year/?local

Inmate work in schools criticized (Knoxville News-Sentinel/W illett)


Loudon bans jail labor when kids present Following an incident last month at a middle school, Loudon County Schools has implemented a policy prohibiting county jail inmates from working in county schools while children are present. Loudon County Schools Director Jason Vance confirmed that inmates from the county jail were used Aug. 19 to provide labor at North Middle School in Lenoir City while students were there. "We had a couple of prisoners come out to the school to help move some furniture," he said. Authorities acknowledge some parents have complained about the practice. Standard operating procedure has been to use inmates to do work at the schools only when children were not present, Vance said. A new school resource officer did not know that inmates were not supposed to be in the school when children were present, Vance said. The incident was the result of a miscommunication, he said. "It is unacceptable to me to have them there with the children," Vance said. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/sep/08/inmate-work-in-schools-criticized/

Connecticut: Connecticut Tax Roulette (Wall Street Journal)


For the latest instruction in arbitrary tax policy, we turn to Connecticut, where Governor Dannel Malloy is opening the state's coffers to retain businesses ready to bolt his new tax regime. Mr. Malloy has promised $20 million of forgivable state loans to UBS AG if it keeps at least 2,000 jobs in the Nutmeg State for five years. Look for a line to form outside the Governor's office. Mr. Malloy parlayed a narrow election victory in November into a $2.6 billion new tax increase this spring, the biggest in state history. Key among the dozens of targets are state businesses. A "temporary" 10% corporate tax surcharge signed in 2009 by former Republican Governor Jodi Rell was extended, hitching Connecticut corporations with annual gross income of $100 million with a 20% surcharge for 2012 and 2013. Mr. Malloy now says the state is "open for business," though it sure helps if the Governor likes your business. Under his "First Five" initiative, he offered tax perks to the first five businesses that brought 200 jobs to Connecticut within two years or pledged $25 million investment plus 200 jobs within five years. The lucky winners include health insurer Cigna Corp, sports network ESPN and a company called TicketNetwork, which will each get tens of millions in tax incentives. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111904787404576530464202684814.html?mod=ITP_opinion_2 (SUBSCRIPTION)

OPINION Editorial: High time for TBI's synthetics crackdown (Daily News Journal)
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Lives are being ruined. Its time to take action. Our thanks to area law enforcement agencies for cracking down this week on Rutherford County convenience stores suspected of selling synthetic drugs, a problem that was increasingly becoming a scourge in the community. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation led the effort, dubbed Operation Synful Smoke, that targeted 36 locations in the county. The focus was stores selling synthetic cannabinoid- and methcathinone-containing products similar to Vampire Blood and Mollys Plant Food, but sold under a variety of trade names and marketed under the guise of incenses and bath salts. More than 23,000 units of cannabinoids and bath salts combined were confiscated in the raid, along with $44,500 cash. Included in the operation were five stores in unincorporated Rutherford County, 18 in Murfreesboro, five in Smyrna and eight in La Vergne. W e trust this raid has gotten the attention of local store owners. Synthetic drugs have grown in popularity in recent years, with manufacturers staying a step ahead of the law by constantly tweaking chemical compositions to keep their products legal. http://www.dnj.com/article/20110909/OPINION01/110909016/EDITORIAL-High-time-TBI-s-synthetics-crackdown

Editorial: Knox County's new ordinance needed to battle malfeasance (NS)


Knox County employees now are compelled to report instances of fraud and abuse they might observe on the job under an ordinance passed last month by the Knox County Commission. Failure to report financial misconduct could result in disciplinary action, including firing. The ordinance, one of a series of measures passed in recent years following financial scandals in the county, is the first to penalize employees for looking the other way. The county affords whistleblower protection for anyone reporting fraudulent activity to the Ethics Committee, but the new ordinance offers a stick to go along with that carrot. Also, Tennessee law requires local officials to report fiscal misconduct to the state comptroller, though the state statute doesn't penalize the failure to report. Commission Chairman Mike Hammond said the measure isn't intended to spark witch hunts within the rank-and-file, which is certainly a possibility. The potential benefits, however, outweigh the risks. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/sep/09/knox-countys-new-ordinance-needed-to-battle/

Editorial: An unhelpful distraction (Commercial Appeal)


County Commissioner Terry Roland's conduct Wednesday during the commission's interviews of applicants for seven seats on the new school board for Memphis and Shelby County was disgraceful and a disservice to his constituents. His actions lacked any sense of the decorum that citizens should expect from their elected officials. The commission spent more than nine hours conducting 81 interviews for positions on a unified, 23-member school board that will also include the nine members of the current Memphis City Schools board and the seven members of the current Shelby County Schools board. Commissioners selected 25 finalists for the remaining seven seats and are scheduled to vote on their final choices on Monday. Roland has not missed an opportunity to let the public know that he vehemently opposes the merger of the Memphis and Shelby County school systems. He even declared at W ednesday's meeting that "if there is any way in the world I can cross it up (the merger), I am going to." http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/sep/09/editorials-an-unhelpful-distraction/

Greg Johnson: Gibson Guitar raids outrageous act from Obama administration (NS)
Only the good Lord knows what Ronnie Van Zant said when "The Man" rolled up to Gibson Guitar Corp. facilities in Nashville and Memphis on Aug. 24. Van Zant, lead singer of Southern Rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd, died in a plane crash in 1977, but not before recording "Mr. Banker," a bluesy plea from a poor Southern boy to a pinstriped type to take his 1950 Les Paul guitar a Gibson-made classic as collateral for a loan to bury his dead daddy. "W e had a raid with federal marshals that were armed, that came in, evacuated our factory, shut down production, sent our employees home and confiscated wood," Henry E. Juszkiewicz, CEO of the 117-year-old company headquartered in Nashville since 1984, said the next day. Yes, the full force of the federal government, in the form of the United States Department of Justice, fell on Gibson and confiscated wood. So far, the feds haven't charged Gibson. "We're in this really incredible situation," Juszkiewicz said. "We have been implicated in wrongdoing, and we haven't been charged with anything. Our business has been injured to millions of dollars. And we don't even have a court we can go to and say, 'Look, here's our position.'" http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/sep/09/gibson-guitar-raids-outrageous-act-from-obama/

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