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FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2011 Haslam opposes Press/Schelzig) efforts to weaken open meetings law (Associated

Support shown as some counties try to weaken law Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that he opposes efforts to water down Tennessees open meetings law, which prohibits city and county officials from deliberating about official business in private. The Republican governor told reporters after a speech to the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce that his previous experience as mayor of Knoxville gave him little reason to think an overhaul was necessary. Those rules actually worked and led to better discussions at city council meetings, Haslam said. Tennessee lawmakers passed what is known as the state Sunshine Law governing public records and meetings in the aftermath of the Watergate scandal in 1974. Frank Gibson, public policy director of the Tennessee Press Association, applauded the governors stance. As a former sitting mayor, he sees the value and importance of public trust in government, said Gibson, who also is the founding director of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, of which The Associated Press is a member.|topnews|text|News

Governor Bill Haslam favors strong law on open meetings (Times FreePress/Sher)
Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday he opposes efforts to weaken Tennessee's Open Meetings Act, which bans most governing bodies from conducting the public's business behind closed doors. A former Knoxville mayor, Haslam said his experience watching the City Council operate in public gives him little basis to believe changes are necessary to the 1974 "Sunshine Law." The law prohibits two or more members of most public bodies, including county commissions, city councils, school boards and state regulatory boards, from deliberating in secret. "Those rules actually worked and led to better discussions at City Council meetings," the governor told reporters. Commissioners in Williamson, Obion and Lewis counties have passed resolutions urging state lawmakers to let them to discuss public business in private as long as they don't have a quorum. Local governments argue that the law, upheld in 1976 by the Tennessee Supreme Court, is too restrictive. Commissioners in Rhea County recently voted 7-2 against a similar proposal offered by Commissioner Ronnie Raper. He is president of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, whose members discussed proposed changes to the law earlier this year.

Haslam opposes changing open meetings law (News-Sentinel/Donilia, Humphrey)

Governor says 'Sunshine Law' works well Gov. Bill Haslam said Thursday that Tennessee's open meetings law works well and he sees no need for changes pushed by some local government officials. The governor said his own experience while serving as Knoxville mayor left him believing "the law, the way they have it, works." The Board of Directors of the Tennessee County Commissioners Association recently voted to urge that state legislators revise current law so that members of local governing bodies can meet and discuss issues in private provided no quorum is present. "W hen I was a mayor, the City Council literally followed the rules They did it right and I think it actually ended up helping the discussion," said Haslam. When asked whether a change in the law would be a "winning strategy" at a time when many citizens are distrustful of government officials generally, Haslam replied, "There's no way that's a politically popular move, so I don't think that's a winning strategy."

No Reason to Soften Open-Meetings Rule: Haslam (WPLN-Radio Nashville)

Governor Bill Haslam says city and county officials should continue to meet in public. Several county commissions want to change that rule and allow more closed-door meetings. At least six counties have considered asking the state to soften its open-meetings requirement. Such measures have passed in three, including W illiamson County, and a few others are mulling it over. Commissioners argue state lawmakers are exempt and can meet in private, so why not them? But Haslam says he sees no reason to change the current law. Theres nothing I know now that says that makes sense. I think the law the way they have it now works. I guess the question from local governments is Well okay, if it works for us, why doesnt it work for the state? And that would be a fair question to ask. Haslam says in his time as mayor of Knoxville, he felt the rule made for better discussions at city council meetings.

Haslam Questions Need To Change Sunshine Law (WCYB-TV Chattanooga)

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he's against some local efforts to loosen up open-meeting laws. We told you about the Sunshine Law debate last week. Sullivan County commissioners want to be able to meet in private to discuss public issues, but that's currently against the law. However, it is legal for the state to do it so they are asking for the same regulations. Haslam says he sees little reason to overhaul the current rules. The Tennessee County Commissioners Association is promoting a change that would allow closed-door talks among officials as long as a majority is not present.

Workforce-Retention a Concern in State Govt: Haslam (TN Report)

But Pay Revamp Unlikely Anytime Soon Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has been hinting that hes interested in finding a way to keep quality employees from leaving state government jobs, but thats unlikely to make it into next years budget, he said Thursday. The governor began signaling last month that hes interested in finding ways to incentivize good employees after several commissioners complained during a series of budget hearings last month that they struggle to retain quality workers. Meanwhile the Department of Human Resources is looking to overhaul state employee evaluations and about 16 percent of workers will qualify for retirement in the next five years. I think its incumbent upon us to get ready to do our homework, to be ready for where do we have those looming retirements and what can we do to make certain we hire really good people to take their place, Haslam told reporters after addressing the Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce Thursday at the Gaylord Springs Golf Club in Nashville.

Season To Remember' Honors Victims Of Violent Crimes (W TVF-TV Nashville)

Governor Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam honored those who lost their lives to violent crimes this year in a special ceremony Thursday night. Tennessee's Season to Remember is an annual event held in the House chambers of the State Capitol as a memorial event to honor Tennesseans who died in violent crimes in the past year. Families and friends of homicide victims from across the state are here to honor their lives by placing ornaments on memorial wreaths. The wreaths will be on display in the Capitol throughout the holiday season. One speaker at the event this year was Mike Low of Arkansas. His daughter Sara was on one of the flights that crashed into the World Trade Center on September 11th.

Rhea County man charged with TennCare fraud (Times Free-Press)

A Rhea County man is accused of visiting multiple physicians in a 30-day period on TennCares dime so he could receive hydrocodone. Kenneth Cranmore, 29, of Graysville, Tenn., was charged with two counts of TennCare fraud today, according to a news release from the state Office of Inspector General. TennCare fraud is a felony carrying a sentence of up to two years per charge in prison. The investigation was done by the Rhea County Sheriffs Office and the Office of Inspector General.

Rhea County man jailed for "doctor shopping" (WRCB-TV Chattanooga)

A Rhea County man is behind bars Thursday, accused of "doctor shopping." A spokesperson for the Office of Inspector General tells Channel 3, 29-year-old Kenneth Cranmore is charged with two counts of fraudulently using TennCare to obtain controlled substances by "doctor shopping." We're told the suspect allegedly visited several physicians over a month-long period, seeking prescriptions for painkillers. If convicted, Cranmore could face up to four years in prison.


New UT student union price tag jumps $30 million (News-Sentinel/Boehnke)

The most expensive project in University of Tennessee history has become even pricier. A new collegiate gothicstyle student center, scheduled to begin construction next year, will cost the school a projected $160 million, up $30 million from estimates released in February. The new dollar figure includes the widening of Phillip Fulmer Way, extending the pedestrian mall down Andy Holt Avenue and repositioning major utilities that crisscross the area. The utility relocation, which includes steam, electrical, sewer, water and telecommunications, caused the brunt of the price jump, university officials said. "Utility relocation is absolutely astronomical because most of the university's major utilities feed right through behind the Haslam Business Building and that parking garage," said Tim Rogers, vice chancellor for student life. The State Building Commission approved the price tag and allocated the funding in July. According to meeting minutes, the project's cost was estimated to be about $114 million when it was first presented to the commission in 2008. Before this project, the most recent renovations of Neyland Stadium was the most expensive undertaking at $130 million.

Tennessee budget cuts could hobble travel business (Nashville Business Journal)
Tennessee could lose more than a billion dollars in visitor spending if proposed tourism department budget cuts come to fruition next year. Its a fate that has befallen other states where lawmakers cut marketing dollars that had been spent promoting statewide brands and attracting new visitors. The Volunteer State stands to lose up to $1.4 billion in annual visitor spending should Gov. Bill Haslam follow through with plans to slash $5.4 million of the states tourism budget next year, according to industry data. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Hamilton General Sessions Judge Bales issued reprimand (TFP/Harrison, Pantazi)

A local judge has been issued a public reprimand by Tennessee Court of the Judiciary after the court determined he twice violated judicial ethics. Hamilton County General Sessions Judge David Bales received two complaints earlier this year, one from Judge Rebecca Stern and the other from local attorney Hank Hill. Public reprimands by the judiciary court are rare. Only two other Tennessee judges have been issued reprimands this year, and only three were issued in 2010, according to the Tennessee Court of the Judiciary. Bales acknowledged that he made mistakes and said he would "strive to not make mistakes in the future." "I, at all times, tried to rule fairly and impartially for all citizens," he said. "Sometimes I've made mistakes, and I am human like everyone else. I admit I have made mistakes in these two matters." In Bales' case, the Court of the Judiciary found he violated a rule requiring he honor the law and promote "public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the Judiciary," according to a court release.

Petition drive Saturday against voter ID law (Associated Press)

The group Tennessee Citizen Action is sponsoring a petition drive Saturday against the state's new voter ID law. The group is asking citizens statewide to circulate the petition at any public place. "Every signature gets us one step closer to a repeal," the group said in a statement sent to the media. The law requires photo identification in order to vote. Tennessee Citizen Action is a Nashville-based grass-roots group based on consumer concerns.

Chattanoogas public (TFP/Hightower)







Chattanooga officials admit that the board of the Chattanoogas public library violated the states Sunshine Law by holding at least one meeting this week without public notice. Richard Beeland, spokesman for Mayor Ron Littlefield, acknowledged the library board held a meeting Thursday afternoon without properly notifying the public. They failed to advertise it, and they should have, he said. It was an oversight. Jim Kennedy III, chairman of the board, did not return calls seeking comment Thursday. The board met Wednesday afternoon after interviewing a candidate for the position of library director. Board members are looking to replace David Clapp, who retired in December 2010. Beeland said meetings planned for next week to discuss other director candidates will be advertised. City Attorney Mike McMahan said the board, which was appointed by Mayor Ron 3

Littlefield, must provide public notice for all meetings. The city generally tries to publish notices in the newspaper seven days ahead of the meeting.

Memphis property tax levy still not imposed (Commercial Appeal/Maki)

The Memphis City Council approved an 18-cent property-tax assessment in June that still hasn't been levied, but several council members acknowledged that the tax might come into play when the city faces a projected $40 million budget shortfall this spring. Officials in Mayor A C W harton's administration say they have no current plan to tap the assessment, which was approved to pay off a 2008 debt to Memphis City Schools. That year, the council cut school funding by $57 million, giving an 18-cent tax break to residents while increasing city spending by more $40 million. "W e will not be proposing a tax increase for ongoing operations," said Chief Administrative Officer George Little of the coming budget season. "If the tax is to be levied, council has to do something." Council chairman Myron Lowery said he doesn't think the council should use the one-time, 18-cent assessment that it approved, which would produce about $20million, to plug next fiscal year's deficit. "It's important for the city to maintain credibility with citizens," said Lowery. "I think it's premature to talk about doing anything else other than what we intended when we passed the budget in June." But council budget committee chairman Shea Flinn said the assessment could be used, if proposed again, to whittle away at the deficit because it is caused by school funding. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Alexander, Corker Sentinel/Collins)








U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker resisted pressure from the White House and joined other Republican senators today in blocking President Barack Obama's nominee to lead a new federal agency set up to stop abuses by the financial industry. GOP senators filibustered the nomination of former Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray to be director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The 53-45 vote fell short of the 60 votes needed to overcome the GOP opposition and confirm Cordray for the position. The agency was created under the W all Street reforms Obama signed into law last year and was designed to curtail the kind of abuses that led to the financial meltdown. But Republicans argued that changes are needed in the way the agency operates. "I will oppose the confirmation of any director for the bureau until its structure is changed, because the director would be a czar responsible for regulating millions of everyday financial transactions and would effectively answer to no one," Alexander, R-Tenn., said after the vote. Corker said he strongly supports consumer protections and isn't opposed to confirming a director. "But like most Tennesseans, I think the bureau should have some balance a board-like structure and checks on rulemaking abilities to ensure the director is accountable and does not have unfettered power," he said.

Senate Republicans block Obama's nominee to head consumer bureau (C. Appeal)
The Senate on Thursday blocked President Barack Obama's nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as filibustering Republicans who oppose the very powers of the new agency successfully challenged one of the administration's main responses to the financial crisis. The nomination of Richard Cordray was rejected after Democrats failed to achieve the 60 votes they needed to move his nomination forward. The vote was 53 yes, 45 no. Obama left open the option of a recess appointment. "W e are not giving up on this," he said. "W e are going to keep on going at it. We are not going to allow politics as usual on Capitol Hill to stand in the way of American consumers being protected." Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader, said his party had made clear for months that it would not approve a leader for the watchdog consumer agency until the law that established it was amended. Until three changes are made, he said, "We won't support a nominee for this bureau -- regardless of who the president is." (SUBSCRIPTION)

Tennessee Does Part Blocking Consumer Protection Agency Chief (W PLN-Radio)

Tennessees two Republican senators joined their party Thursday in blocking President Obamas pick to head a new consumer protection agency. Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have been on a White House 4

shortlist to be lobbied on the issue. Their problem isnt with the nominee but the agency itself. Corker says it operates with practically no oversight, and attorneys general are deputized to enforce its policies. For an agency like this that has such powers, powers to create rules that state AGs can sue companies against, not against legislation, but against rules that they create. It really is unprecedented. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was formed to stop some of the lending practices that led to the recent mortgage crisis.

Mid-South lawmakers vote to block EPA from regulating 'farm dust (CA/Sullivan)
The House passed a bill prohibiting the Environmental Protection Agency from issuing new rules for regulating course particulate air pollution, which some Mid-South lawmakers claimed would stop the agency from trying to regulate "farm dust." "I've never heard anything so crazy as the EPA trying to regulate dust. But that's how out of touch the EPA is with rural America," said U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Tenn. "Imagine not being able to drive down a dirt road or not being able to plow the soil. It seems that the EPA needs some time on a farm before proposing more costly regulations that will devastate rural America." Critics of the bill, including environmentalists at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said proponents of the measure were using misleading slogans to derail air pollution rules affecting coal-fired power plants, refineries, vehicles, manufacturing plants and mines because it is the size to the particulates, not their source, that is at issue. The vote was 268-150, with Fincher, and U.S. Reps. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., Bennie G. Thompson, D-Miss., Alan Nunnelee, R-Miss., and Rick Crawford, R-Ark., voting for it. U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., voted no. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Fincher bill would exempt some companies from audit requirements (CA/Sullivan)
A bill introduced Thursday by U.S. Rep. Stephen Fincher would exempt companies with less than $700 million in publicly traded shares from the external auditing requirement established by Congress in 2002. The Tennessee Republican said the Reopening American Capital Markets to Emerging Growth Companies Act, identical to a bill introduced last week by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., would remove "burdensome regulations" on the country's "best job creators." The Sarbanes-Oxley Act requires an independent audit of internal controls, considered an important reform after scandals at Enron and WorldCom established that weak internal controls had led to their fraudulent accounting manipulations. The legislation creates a category of stock issuers -emerging growth companies -- with annual revenues of less than $1 billion and, after an initial public offering, less than $700 million in publicly traded shares. Fincher, a member of the House Financial Services Committee, maintains that the bill would lower the cost for companies to become publicly traded, noting that the number of companies going public has fallen over the past 10 years. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Roe says he will back Romney as GOP nominee (Times-News)

U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said today hes backing former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be the Republican Partys presidential nominee. Roe, R-Tenn., reminded reporters in a conference call that he wanted a governor to be the candidate to oppose incumbent Democrat President Barack Obama in the 2012 election. Im one person and the good people of Tennessee can pick out whoever they want to vote for, which they will and the country will do that, Roe said. Thats why we have elections...I also wanted someone who had run a business and had been a successful businessman. I wanted someone who had to deal with an onerous legislature and had to know how to deal with these folks, and I dont think President Obama knows how to do that." After the GOP Primary, Roe pledged to support the partys nominee. Could (GOP frontrunner) Newt Gingrich win? Sure, anybody who is in there can win," Roe said. "We have good candidates on our side...I would have taken a mayor. But Im going to support the nominee whoever it is.

Prescription drug costs continue to climb (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Martin)

With the cost of prescription drugs rising at three times the rate of inflation, a new study says federal regulators need to consider cost and effectiveness before new drugs are released. But the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America group argues that prescription drug costs are rising more slowly than other health care costs and comprise only a small portion of overall health care costs. Tennessee, which ranked third in the nation in the average number of drugs prescribed per capita in 2009 according to the study, is especially hard hit by the 5

rising costs. The state dropped to third place in 2009 after ranking first in total prescriptions per capita for years, the study says. Drugs costs continue to rise despite the increasing switch to generic brands, which are usually cheaper, Dr. Steven Coulter, president of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Institute, said in a study released Thursday. The costs of brand-name drugs also are rising faster than generic brands. In Tennessee, brand-name drug prices increased more than 25 percent in the last two years, while generics overall increased 15 percent.

USPS Cuts Will be Felt in Memphis (Memphis Daily News)

The recent set of U.S. Postal Service recommendations for closings would have a larger impact in Memphis than customers waiting two or three days instead of next-day service for letter and package delivery. But the proposed closing of one of the three Memphis USPS centers that handle and process mail is a mixed bag in terms of its impact. The proposed cuts would halve the Postal Services network of processing facilities in what Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe has called a new reality. The Memphis center that would close is the processing center at 3300 Jet Cove, east of Memphis International Airport, on the other side of Tchulahoma Road from where the east-west runways end. But the USPS also has a relationship with Memphis-based FedEx Corp., as the two competitors are partners in some sectors of the marketplace. Every afternoon a fleet of FedEx jets rolls out of the Memphis hub near the Jet Cove facility and return in the evening. Despite the purple and orange colors, the planes are under contract with the Postal Service, moving USPS-shipped cargo across the country.

Casino resorts, online poker get states' attention (Stateline)

Football fans in New England and Miami could go from the stadium straight to a slot machine next door if plans to launch large, destination-resort casinos pan out in Massachusetts and Florida. The Massachusetts and Florida schemes are part of a nationwide expansion that has affected more than a dozen states in the last three years. But states arent just looking to add more casinos and slots. Many of them are eyeing the billions of dollars that Americans bet online illegally every year. Nevada, for example, is preparing for the possibility that Congress might change the laws that ban Americans from legal online betting. Any way you look at it, state-sanctioned gambling is only getting bigger. The crucial question, though, is whether more gambling will lead to increased revenues for all the state governments that authorize it. State and regional gambling markets are close to reaching saturation, warns Lucy Dadayan of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, a specialist in state gambling revenues.

Feds question TVA's thrift (Tennessean/Paine)

Energy efficiency efforts trail nation's The nations congressional watchdog agency has questioned whether TVA is making the most cost-effective decisions to meet future electricity needs, especially with regard to energy efficiency. The Tennessee Valley Authority has moved ahead with plans that include building more nuclear reactors without a complete analysis of the potential to reduce electricity use, the U.S. Government Accountability Office says. TVA cannot be certain that its plans to meet future demand, largely by building new generating capacity, are the most cost-effective, the GAO said in a report released Dec. 1. The GAOs criticism is the same that the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and others have voiced for years. Before building large, costly power plants, TVA should know how much it can accomplish through reducing energy use, said Stephen Smith, SACE executive director. If TVA maximizes all the cost-effective energy efficiency thats available in the valley, that means they will be offering programs to homeowners and small businesses and industrial customers that actually save them money on their utility bill, Smith said. Bob Balzar, a TVA vice president hired last year to focus on energy efficiency, said the utility has a solid commitment to reducing power use.| topnews|text|News

TVA nuclear protesters say they feel ignored (Times Free-Press/Sohn)

A handful of anti-nuclear activists told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Thursday that they didn't expect anything they said to sway the federal regulator from licensing a second reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. "I feel like we're David and Goliath, but we have no sacred stone," said Don Safer, president of the Tennessee Environmental Council. Noting that "baby food was recalled in Japan because they've found radioactivity in it" from the Fukushimi Dai-ichi reactor meltdown in March, "the impacts [of nuclear accidents] reverberate on everything," Safer said. "But you keep saying we should educate ourselves. Well, the more I know, the more I'm 6

concerned." Safer and others spoke Thursday during a meeting designed to listen to the public's reaction to the ongoing construction of a new reactor at Watts Bar near Spring City, Tenn. There were two meetings held Thursday, and no one spoke in favor of the reactor at either meeting. The NRC's Jeremy Susco told the activists that the preliminary finding in the agency's supplement to the reactor's 33-year-old draft environmental statement is that "the environmental impacts are not significant enough to forgo issuing the operating license" for the Watts Bar Unit 2 reactor.

Sharp adds employees to meet solar panel demand (Memphis Biz Journal)
Citing an increase in production demand of its Memphis-manufactured solar panels, Sharp Manufacturing Co. of America is creating 30 new jobs at its local manufacturing facility. In 2010, the company increased its employee numbers from 300 to 480, and those numbers have increased to 500 in 2011. The company produces solar roof shingles and panels in Memphis, where it has had a presence for more than 30 years. It originally produced televisions and microwave ovens locally. The company produces solar roof shingles and panels in Memphis, where it has had a presence for more than 30 years. It originally produced televisions and microwave ovens locally. TC Jones, vice president of human resources for Sharp, said the company is required to produce 3,000 solar units in a 24-hour period, operating on three shifts. It has grown to the point where we have an immediate need to produce 3,500 per day, Jones said.

Memphis Sharp plant says it's adding workers (Commercial Appeal/Bailey)

Demand for solar energy is strong enough that Memphis-based Sharp Manufacturing Co. plans to soon add another 30 people to its 500-employee workforce to make solar panels. Sharp vice president T.C. Jones Jr. announced the planned hires Thursday during a state teleconference about the state of Tennessee's solar industry. The sector is growing fast, the Tennessee Solar Institute reported. "With companies old and new investing and innovating, the solar sector is putting some of our 297,000 unemployed Tennesseans back to work, while growing our state's economy and capturing a bigger slice of the $240 billion global clean energy market," John Sanseverino, the institute's programs director, said. Sharp, which began in Memphis by making color televisions starting in 1979, started making solar panels in 2003. The operation doubled in just four years the number of employees working on solar panels, said Jones, vice president for human resources and general affairs. "We need a lot of people to turn the 180,000 solar cells that arrive each morning into 3,000 solar panels that ship out at the end of every day," Jones said. (SUBSCRIPTION)

Tennessee solar study says need to stay aggressive (Associated Press/Poovey)

Tennessee's solar and related industries provide more than 6,400 jobs in a growing green economic sector, but the state needs to stay aggressive in supporting and pursuing the ventures, a report released Thursday shows. The report released by the Tennessee Solar Institute shows the state has more than 200 organizations involved in solar power, including 174 for-profit entities. The institute is part of a Volunteer State Solar Initiative that focuses on job creation, education, renewable power production and technology commercialization as a partnership that includes the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The institute said its grant programs have generated more than $40 million in private investments, with a total benefit of about $64 million to the state's economy. There have been 33 new ventures since 2008 and 15 in 2010 alone, with more than 6,400 jobs in solar and related industries, the report shows. Wampler's Farm Sausage President and CEO Ted Wampler Jr. told reporters in a conference call that two solar systems installed at his facility in Lenoir City are environmentally friendly and saving him money. Other participants included representatives of Sharp Electronics in Memphis, Shoals Technology Group in Portland and Diversified Power International in Piney Flats.

State's thriving solar industry needs more help, report finds (Tennessean/Sisk)
Tennessees solar industry is growing, but it continues to need support from state government and private industry, a report released Thursday finds. The states solar sector employs more than 6,400 Tennesseans, and the generating capacity of solar arrays in the state has grown large enough to power 1,300 homes, the Tennessee Solar Institute said. More than 230 companies and nonprofits from multinational Sharp Electronics Corp. in Memphis to tiny Diversified Power International in Piney Flats now make or sell solar components or 7

services, providing a base for more expansion. But companies continue to need help from state agencies, such as the Tennessee Solar Institute, to expand and find trained workers, said John Sanseverino, the groups director of programs. Tennessees solar energy industry has continued to grow, put people back to work and enable Tennessees workforce with 21st-century skills, he said. The report, The Tennessee Solar Value Chain, was billed as an assessment of needs for the states solar industry. But it does not call for the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam to launch any initiatives, so the reports release primarily served to showcase companies already in the sector.|topnews|text|News

Tennessee solar industry continues growth (Knoxville News-Sentinel/Marcum)

Tennessee's solar energy industry is growing, now providing more than 6,400 jobs, but Tennessee needs to capitalize on its advantages to remain a solar leader as neighboring states try to grow their solar sectors, according to a report released Thursday by the Tennessee Solar Institute. The report, "Tennessee's Solar Value Chain: A W orkforce Development Needs Assessment," is the first comprehensive study of the state's solar industry released by the institute. The organization held a teleconference with reporters Thursday. John Sanseverino, director of programs for the institute, said the study identified more than 200 Tennessee organizations involved in the solar industry, including 174 for-profit and 62 nonprofit entities. Thirty-three of those have started since 2008, with 15 setting up shop in 2010. Of these new ventures, 15 are having to expand and 20 have hired new workers in the last few months, Sanseverino said. "Overall, we have found that the solar industry is putting Tennesseans back to work," he said. "But if Tennessee does not continue this growth it will lose out, as states like Georgia and North Carolina are aggressively growing their solar programs," Sanseverino said. Officials with several companies involved in the solar industry also spoke, including Ted Wampler Jr., who explained how Lenoir-City based W ampler's Farm Sausage is taking advantage of solar power.

Timing of Erlanger's trustees appointment raises questions (TFP/Haman, Martin)

County Mayor Jim Coppinger has appointed a new person to Erlanger's board of trustees, but the newcomer is out of the country and won't be able to cast important votes relating to CEO Jim Brexler's resignation. Though the board has taken no official action on Brexler's departure, many of its members signaled a lack of confidence in him last month when polled individually by the hospital's general counsel, hospital trustee James A. Worthington said Thursday. The hospital announced on Nov. 18 that Brexler would resign in the "next several weeks." An unanswered question at the time was whether Brexler would be entitled to a severance package. No board vote has been taken on that matter. "W e have a responsibility to be fair to Mr. Brexler," W orthington said. "But we have a bigger responsibility to be fair the citizens of Hamilton County." The 11-member board of trustees has held three meetings in the past month, one the day before the hospital announced Brexler was leaving, once on Nov. 17 and again on Nov. 29. Usually the board meets once a month.

Tennessee charter law fuels boom (Commercial Appeal/Roberts)

Fastest national growth in 2009-10 Tennessee is popping up on education reform maps for its innovation, including that it now has the fastest-growing charter school movement in the nation. Eleven charters opened in the state last year, a 37 percent increase. The number of students attending charter schools -- about 9,500 -jumped 38 percent over the 2009-2010 school year, down several percentage points from the last year but still the fastest growth in the nation, according to National Alliance for Public Charter Schools. "Tennessee went from having some of the poorest legislation in support of charters to some of the most favorable. That was the precursor to making Tennessee a hotbed for charter growth," said Jamal McCall, executive director of KIPP Memphis charter school. As part of Tennessee's push to get $500 million in Race to the Top funding, the legislature in 2010 lifted the cap on the number of charters allowed and eliminated restrictions on who could attend the schools. Until then, only poor children in urban districts who were enrolled in failing schools or who were failing themselves could attend charters. (SUBSCRIPTION)

STEM school to be placed at Chattanooga State (Times Free-Press/Hardy)

A proposed high-tech Hamilton County high school could hold 300 students on the campus of Chattanooga State Community College. The county aims to apply for about $1.8 million in state grant funding to open a Science, Technology, Math and Engineering, or STEM, school here next fall. At a meeting Thursday night, organizers said 8

they plan to put the new STEM school in part of the former Olan Mills building next to the Chattanooga State campus and bought by the school in 2010. The school would add 75 freshmen each year, reaching 300 students by its fourth year, officials said. Parents planning the school said it would use buses to draw students from all areas of the county. Students from all different walks of life need to be in this school, said Tracey Carisch, one of the parents working on the STEM initiative. At the meeting, Hamilton County Board of Education members heard from parents and business, education and community leaders about their plans for the new school. The STEM school will cost about $2.1 million in its first year to operate, with about $425,000 coming from the school system, officials said. Another $410,000 is budgeted to come from local business partners while $496,000 is budgeted in grants, they said. Chattanooga State will kick in about $783,500 in cash and in-kind services.

Bradley County board against school vouchers (Times Free-Press/Higgins)

The Bradley County Board of Education endorsed three resolutions Thursday submitted from the Tennessee School Boards Association. Two of the resolutions supporting appointed school superintendents and maintaining school boards ability to set their own academic calendars passed unanimously and with little comment. The board also approved an association resolution opposing publicly funded vouchers for private schools. Board member David Kelley asked to table that resolution for more information, but his motion died without a second. Kelley abstained from voting. Weve only heard one side of this issue, Kelley said. I dont know if I stand for it or against it. I think it would be better if we got some input from the community. Vicki Beaty voted with five board members to approve the resolution, but she said the board needs more information when voting on any issue. I want, on every decision, for this board to have the information it needs to make an informed decision to help Bradley County schools and the kids we educate, she said.

Businesses, philanthropies give $2 million to school merger effort (CA/McMillin)

Thursday's approval of a $2.2 million budget and $1.7 million consulting contract by the Shelby County's school merger Transition Planning Commission revealed the costs and scope of the planning that will go into consolidating Memphis City Schools with Shelby County Schools. The 21-member transition commission's budget includes $2 million that has been donated by local businesses, corporations and philanthropies, with the bulk of that total now committed to a contract with Boston Consulting Group. Donors listed in a news release are FedEx, First Tennessee Bank, AutoZone, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare, Hyde Family Foundations and Community Foundation of Greater Memphis, plus unnamed donors who wished to remain anonymous. The contract, negotiated by commissioner Christine Richards, who is also executive vice president and general counsel for FedEx, outlines a hectic work schedule that calls for options on critical decisions outlined by the end of February and determinations made by the end of April. One example is how to structure the district: Should it be centralized or decentralized into what the contract calls "regions, clusters, networks?" If so, how much authority or autonomy would be spread throughout the county? (SUBSCRIPTION)

Schools Planning Commission Hires Consultant, Sets Budget (M. Daily News)
Boston Consulting Group has been hired as the consultant to the schools consolidation planning commission and could begin its work as early as Friday, Dec. 9. The commission approved the contract through the non-profit Shelby County Schools Education Foundation Thursday afternoon in a unanimous voice vote. Because the planning commission does not have the authority to enter into contracts, the foundation agreed to, in effect, carry the $1.7 million contract for the commission. The fee is to be paid by private donors including non-profit groups. The foundation is in no way involved with what the consultant does nor is it responsible for paying the fee which includes all work and expenses of the consulting group which has worked in other education reform efforts including with the reformed New Orleans school system in 2008. Planning commission chairwoman Barbara Prescott said the consultants first action will likely be to interview of the commission members one on one to begin building a data base the consultants have assembled in their past work with other school systems.

School panel probes cost of initiative (Jackson Sun)

Jackson-Madison County School Board members asked Superintendent Buddy White and his administration to 9

prepare a comparison study on the cost of implementing an improvement initiative at one or at all five middle schools at the same time. White has recommended that one school begin a turnaround program at a time beginning in the 2012-13 school year and adding an additional school each year over the next four years. Making improvements at the district's five middle schools is one of the priorities of the district's five-year strategic plan. White estimates that it could cost $300,000 to $500,000 per school. "I'm not giving that recommendation a nod," Board member Carol Carter-Estes said during Thursday night's monthly meeting. "I'd like to see the option of all of the middle schools. I want to see a comparison." Board member Billy Keeton agreed. "I'd like to see all of the middle schools at one time," Keeton said. "Unless I see something that changes my mind." During the meeting, Madison Academic Magnet High School's forensic team performed and teachers were recognized for completing professional development in math.

Virginia: Killings Rattle Virginia Tech (Wall Street Journal)

A gunman killed a Virginia Tech university police officer conducting a routine traffic stop Thursday, authorities said, and the body of another manpossibly the killer'swas found not far away, reviving painful memories of a 2007 massacre at the Blacksburg, Va., campus. The four-year veteran of the Virginia Tech police force was killed around 12:30 p.m. when a man walked up and fired, said Bob Carpentieri, a spokesman for the Virginia State Police, which is leading the investigation. The suspect fled the scene, Mr. Carpentieri said at a news conference Thursday evening. Authorities later found a second body and a weapon in a parking lot a quarter of a mile away, Mr. Carpentieri said. He declined to comment on whether the second body was the officer's killer or another victim. A law-enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity told the Associated Press the gunman was dead, but wouldn't say how he died. The officer was identified as Deriek W. Crouse, a 39-year-old Army veteran and married father of five who joined the campus police force about six months after the 2007 massacre, the school said, according to the AP. He previously worked at a jail and a sheriff's department, the AP said. (SUBSCRIPTION)

OPINION Greg Johnson: Dim idea to dim sunshine law (Knoxville News-Sentinel)
East Tennesseans more than a little noted and hopefully have long remembered the darkness of Black Wednesday at Knox County Commission in 2007 when wheeling, dealing, cajoling and even threatening commissioners met out of public view to handpick new officials after the Tennessee Supreme Court upheld term limits and created beaucoup vacant seats. The News Sentinel sued and, in the process, ended up affirming and strengthening Tennessee's "sunshine law," which forbids elected officials from deliberating without the public 10

present. Now, the Tennessee County Commission Association wants to return to the dark side and allow politicos to meet and deliberate in private as long as they number less than a quorum. County commissions in Obion, Lewis and Williamson counties have passed resolutions supporting the effort started by Williamson County Commissioner Bob Barnwell, who argues that public officials could be more effective with more private interaction. In Rhea and Anderson counties, the county commissions voted against commissioners cloaking their convening, and a local newspaper put a dagger through the deal in Cannon County.

Guest columnist: Solar sector brightens state's economy (Tennessean)

For the first time ever, the Tennessee Solar Institute has conducted a census of Tennessees solar power industry. The bottom line: Its booming. And as CEO of a fast-growing solar technology company, I want to underline the reports most important theme: Solar power represents a real economic opportunity one we cannot afford to miss. Even in these rough economic times, solar is growing. Last year, for example, the solar sector grew 69 percent, and here in Tennessee, 15 new solar enterprises set up shop. The Tennessee Solar Institute (TSI) report released on Thursday found that 236 for-profit and nonprofit entities make up our states solar sector. These range from long-established companies exploring a new market to entrepreneurial newcomers. Together, they represent the competitive cluster that can multiply economic opportunities. My company, Shoals Technologies Group, is a case in point. W e used to make auto parts. In 2003, looking around for new opportunities as the auto business hit a rough patch, we started working with First Solar, a world leader in the solar business. We found a niche developing and supplying innovative goods and services for the solar power industry. It was the right time and the right place; we thanked God and never looked back. odyssey=mod|newswell|text|Opinion|p

Editorial: Gerrymandered district would make race the top issue for voters (J. Sun)
We are encouraged by the thoughtful comments of Jackson City Councilman Harvey Buchanan regarding the NAACP's request to redraw city voting districts to create a new majority-minority district. Buchanan, who is black, denied claims of racism and argued that it is time to put racial differences aside. The proposal to redraw district lines could not get a second, and the redistricting plan approved in July will stand. NAACP President Harrell Carter submitted a proposal to create a new majority-minority voting district by redrawing district lines. The goal was to elect another black to the City Council to better represent an increased percentage of blacks in the city. There are three blacks on the nine-member City Council, while city census figures show blacks make up about 45 percent of city residents. The redistricting map submitted by the NAACP showed a highly gerrymandered new 5th District would be required to achieve the majority-minority goal. When the new district lines were submitted to the council earlier this year, the issue of black representation was brought up by council members. City planner Stan Pilant explained that the city's highly integrated housing patterns would make it difficult to create a new majority-minority district. The NAACP-submitted redistricting map confirms Pilant's explanation.

Times Editorial: A prescription for disaster (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

The operation was a success but the patient died. That perhaps apocryphal phrase from the realm of medicine can be applied to the United States Postal Service proposal to resolve its financial problems. Yes, the service can implement $3 billion in reductions to avert rapidly approaching bankruptcy. Doing so, however, most likely would kill mail delivery as Americans know it. The proposed reductions, announced Sunday, would delay delivery of first-class mail by at least a day, close down more than half of the nation's processing facilities -- the one on Shallowford Road here is on the list of possible closures -- and lead to layoffs for almost 30,000 workers nationwide. It is hard to imagine a more predictable prescription for disaster. Nevertheless, the Postal Service is prepared to move forward. Technically, it can't do so prior to receipt of an advisory opinion from the Independent Postal Regulatory Commission. That's due in March, but the opinion is mostly meaningless. It is nonbinding, so the proposed reductions likely will move forward soon after the document has been officially received. There's no other real impediment to implementation.