THURSDAY, MAY 24, 2012 Haslam Signs Bills Changing Structure of TRA, Boards, Commissions (TN Report

)
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced he has sign two bills from his 2012 legislative agenda that make structural changes to the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA) and 21 boards, commissions and licensing programs. More than 200 of these organizations exist within state government, and many have independent hiring and spending authority with limited oversight. Haslam announced a review of state boards and commissions during his 2011 State of the State address, and after a comprehensive evaluation, he proposed reforms to improve performance, accountability and efficiency. “It is our job to make state government as accountable and responsive as possible to Tennessee taxpayers,” Haslam said. “These changes are a first step toward increasing the performance, accountability and effectiveness of state government to Tennesseans.” http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/05/23/haslam-signs-bills-changing-structure-of-tra-boards-commissions/

Governor and Local Leaders Sing Praises of 5 Year Plan (W REG-TV Memphis)
Hundreds packed the Hilton Hotel to celebrate the accomplishments of a group working to bring jobs to the area, improve education and control crime A fancy luncheon at a swanky hotel is the backdrop for what some say is right about Memphis The group effort is called Memphis Fast Forward. Since 2007, crime has decreased, more companies have located here to bring jobs with them and the education is improving…The five-year plan was well underway by the time Governor Bill Haslam took office. He says what the group is doing economically is what excites him most. Since 2007 more than 15,000 new jobs have been created. The average job paying just under $40,000. Haslam said, “If you talk to most people across the state, they’ll say it’s really about jobs and I think here in Memphis you have people coming together to have that focus.” http://wreg.com/2012/05/23/governor-and-local-leaders-sing-praises-of-5-year-plan/

Memphis Fast Forward plan takes stock of five-year successes (M. Biz Journal)
Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell held a joint luncheon to mark the end of the five-year Memphis Fast Forward plan at the Memphis Hilton today. The Memphis Fast Forward agenda was a collaborative effort between private partners and the Memphis and Shelby County government creating a fourpoint plan for addressing several key issues. The Fast Forward portfolio did not lack for ambition, attempting to improve education through the People First initiative, job creation with the Memphis Economic Development plan (MemphisED), crime with the Operation Safe Community and government efficiency. Along with the mayors, TennesseeGov. Bill Haslam spoke at the luncheon, praising the progress of the Fast Forward plan. “We’re thrilled with your progress,” said Haslam, “and we look forward to being a partner with Memphis and Fast Forward for the next five years.” http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/05/23/memphis-fast-forward-plan-takes-stock.html

Haslam says suburbs' rush to create schools is too hasty (C. Appeal/Moore)
As Shelby County's suburban cities prepare for Aug. 2 referendums to create municipal school districts, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says those communities may not realize how much it will cost to run a school system. Haslam has said he wanted the Transition Planning Commission to complete its work to merge Memphis City Schools and Shelby County Schools before the suburbs decide on municipal districts. However, he signed the new legislation that allows the municipalities to hold referendums this year. Still, in a perfect world, even the merger plans would have waited until the school system was further along with other initiatives, like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Race to the Top and the new teacher evaluation procedures, Haslam said Wednesday during a visit with The Commercial Appeal's editorial board. "For the suburban towns to subtract themselves from that and set up their own school system, I would have loved for that to have been given more

time. Let's let the transition plan come out, get in place and let people evaluate it," Haslam said. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/24/haslam-school-rush-too-hasty/?CID=happeningnow (SUB)

Haslam Talks School Merger, Sort Of (WHBQ-TV Memphis)
It's two state legislative sessions down and counting as a buoyant Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam came to Memphis on Wednesday for a business luncheon. By now he's familiar with having to field questions about the educational turmoil taking place in Memphis and Shelby County. His answers were all too familiar. "There's a lot of muddy water, if you will, Memphis, right now with all the reform changes happening as well as the merger." Yet, while Haslam has tried to wear the "white hat" of being above the fray, it's his own actions and statements which at various times over the last 18 months have added to the murky prospects of a Shelby County Unified School district ever happening. It was at the start of February 2011 when an unusually stern-looking Haslam threw down the gauntlet, demanding Shelby County Schools present a plan on how teacher's rights would be effected by a school merger Haslam continued the "tough talk" ordering both school superintendents to submit to the state education commission a joint comprehensive transition plan. Haslam had to have known the two week deadline he set down was one that was impossible to meet. http://www.myfoxmemphis.com/dpp/news/local/haslam-talks-school-merger,-sort-of-rpt-20120523

Cummins Falls a state park (Cookeville Herald Citizen)
Hundreds of people from around the Upper Cumberland flocked to Cummins Falls yesterday for the celebration that officially opened the 211 acres of the falls and surrounding lands to the public as Tennessee's 54th state park. The event thanked the countless individuals responsible for the saving of the land and served as an introduction to the fall's beauty for many who had not yet visited. It also marked the 75th anniversary of Tennessee state parks. "I don't know how many people you predicted were going to be here, but I'm betting this is double the amount," Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said to the large crowd yesterday. "It shows how much all of these counties appreciate the gorgeous place that we've been given to live." The new park, which features the state's eighth largest waterfall at 75 feet high, now boasts gravel roads and wide parking lots for visitors, as well as an access road that brings visitors close to the falls. Still in the works are trails, additional road work, restroom facilities and a park office. Cummins Falls is now open to the public year-round from 8 a.m. until sunset, and will be overseen by park manager Ray Cutcher and ranger Jeremy Vaden. http://www.herald-citizen.com/view/full_story/18698000/article-Cummins-Falls-a-state-park? instance=main_article

Haslam Plans to Help Friends in Primary Races (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Governor Bill Haslam plans to spend part of the summer campaigning for Republicans in the General Assembly. The governor says he’ll help his “friends” during the primary season as well as the general election. To Haslam, it’s not about retribution toward GOP lawmakers who tried to block parts of his agenda. He says he wants to return the favor to Republican colleagues who’ve aided his administration “I don’t know that I had anybody that left the friends list, but I think anybody…it’s just natural. You’re going to work harder for people who helped you more.” Many Republicans are facing primary challenges. Haslam hasn’t named those who will get his attention. But one lawmaker now facing criticism for siding with the governor is Rep. Debra Maggart of Hendersonville. She helped block controversial gun legislation from coming to a vote. Now her opponent has gained support from the Tennessee Firearms Association and Tea Party groups. http://wpln.org/?p=37554

TN can't get grip on pill problem (Associated Press/Burke)
Tennessee has some of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the nation In spite of efforts to crack down on the state’s prescription drug abuse epidemic, a new report shows nearly 18 million prescriptions for controlled substances such as OxyContin and hydrocodone were dispensed in Tennessee last year — a 23 percent increase from the previous year. The surging figures in the report to the General Assembly are a setback for those fighting on the front lines of the prescription drug problem. “W e’re in jeopardy of losing an entire generation of our youth to addiction if we don’t get a grip on this,” said Tommy Farmer, an assistant special agent in charge of the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “I mean that sincerely.” Tennessee has some of the highest rates of prescription drug abuse in the nation. An Associated Press analysis found that per capita, oxycodone sales increased five- or six-fold in most of the state from 2000 to 2010. The prescription drug epidemic is so bad in Tennessee that officials are now projecting that requests for treatment for pill addiction will 2

overtake alcohol by 2013, state Mental Health Commissioner Doug Varney said. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120524/NEWS21/305240037/TN-can-t-get-grip-pill-problem?odyssey=tab| topnews|text|News

Roane County woman charged with TennCare 'doctor shopping' (Oak Ridger)
A Roane County woman has been charged in Cumberland County with TennCare fraud involving "doctor shopping," which involves a person going to multiple doctors in a short period of time to obtain prescription drugs, and use TennCare as payment. The Office of Inspector General (OIG), with the assistance of sheriff's deputies in Roane and Cumberland counties, announced the arrest of Crystal G. Farrar, 33, of Harriman. Charges indicate she was "doctor shopping" with multiple doctors for the painkiller oxycodone, using TennCare to pay for the doctor visits. TennCare fraud is a Class E felony carrying a sentence of up to two years in prison. District Attorney General Randall A. York will be prosecuting this case. Through the OIG Cash for Tips Program, Tennesseans can get cash rewards for TennCare fraud tips that lead to convictions. Anyone can report suspected TennCare fraud by calling 1-800-433-3982 toll-free from anywhere in Tennessee, or log on to www.tn.gov/tnoig and follow the prompts that read ''Report TennCare Fraud.'' http://www.oakridger.com/news/x1832942828/Roane-County-woman-charged-with-TennCare-doctor-shopping

Tennessee more bike-friendly in new ranking (Tennessean/Gonzalez)
Tennessee’s ranking as a bike-friendly state moved up one spot this year, to 26th in the nation, on a new list released Tuesday by the League of American Bicyclists. The state has been as high as 24th, back in 2009, when Tennessee rose dramatically from 43rd. The league evaluates states based on bicycle legislation and policies, funding, planning, and safety education efforts. “We’ve seen a pretty vast improvement,” said Jessica Wilson, coordinator of the Tennessee Department of Transportation’s bicycle and pedestrian program. The state has moved up in the rankings in recent years because of legislative changes that mandated that drivers give bicyclists at least 3 feet of space and a law that allows cyclists to move through red lights at intersections after first coming to a stop. The report card for the state lists the first Tennessee Bike Summit, hosted in Chattanooga, as a positive improvement from last year. The next summit is scheduled to take place in Nashville in April of next year, according to the Nashville Metropolitan Planning Organization. The report recommended improvements to the bicycle safety component of the Tennessee Strategic Highway Safety Plan and a push to increase ridership, which remains below the national average. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120523/NEWS21/305230135/Tennessee-more-bike-friendly-new-ranking? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s

Chattnooga area behind U.S. in foster care placement (Times Free-Press/Martin)
Tennessee ranks third lowest nationally in placing children in the foster system with other family members, with only 8 percent of foster children placed with a relative, according to a national report released Wednesday. Alabama and Georgia had only slightly better numbers, with 12 and 14 percent placed, still only about half the national average of 26 percent, the Annie E. Casey Foundation reported. "It has been a challenge for Tennessee," said Ira Lustbader, associate director for Children's Rights, a national watchdog group dedicated to reforming government child welfare services. "There are some bright spots in the state, but it varies widely from region to region. This isn't rocket science; you have to hold the regions accountable." But the Tennessee Department of Children's Services disputed the numbers from the foundation. The state's numbers for foster children placed with relatives are actually much higher, ranging from 17 percent in 2009 to 28 percent last year, according to spokeswoman Molly Sudderth. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/24/chatanoo-region-behind-us-in-foster-care-placement/?local

Murfreesboro cafe shut down by state tax agency (Gannett)
Wednesday morning started like any other at the iconic diner in downtown Murfreesboro, according to Scott Perkins, owner of the iconic City Cafe. Just after 9 a.m., however, diners and employees were asked to vacate the business and a sign was posted on the window, designating that it had been closed by issue of the Tennessee Department of Revenue, Tax Enforcement Division for uncollected taxes. “I had an interesting cup of coffee this morning,” said Henry Phillips of Henry’s Florist shop, located at the corner of Church and East Main streets. “Just after 9 this morning, they asked us to leave. They waited until the bulk of people had completed 3

their meals a then ushered us out.” Perkins took over the 100-plus-year-old business in 2007. The downtown restaurant, touted as being the “original meat-and-three” place in the city, is at 113 E. Main St. “I had no idea this was coming,” Perkins said. “They did not alert me.” Perkins said the law requires a 10-day written notice before a levy for seizure of property. He said he did not receive any notice. “This is something we’ve been contesting since February,” Perkins said. “What they are claiming that we make in sales is astronomical.” http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120524/NEWS01/305240051/Murfreesboro-cafe-shut-down-by-state-taxagency?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Community college transfers still challenging (Nashville Business Journal)
Despite efforts to improve the pathway between Tennessee's community colleges and public universities, many students still have trouble making the transition, according to The Commercial Appeal in Memphis. A recent state performance audit found that the state still needed to make progress on efforts to create better "pathways" for students to transfer from community colleges to the state's four-year universities. However, the audit found that that those "pathways" had only been completed for the 23 most popular majors, but there were many others that had not been completed. The moves were mandated as part of the Complete College Tennessee Act, which was approved in a special education session of the legislature in January 2010. http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/morning_call/2012/05/community-college-transfers-still.html

70 checkpoints to be used in state this weekend (Associated Press)
Law enforcement officers will staff more than 70 checkpoints in Tennessee over the long Memorial Day holiday weekend. State troopers will work around the clock with a special emphasis on enforcing seat belt use as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign. They also will be looking out for impaired and aggressive drivers. Tennessee Highway Patrol Col. Tracy Trott said using seat belts is an effective way to save lives. According to a news release from the THP, seat belts have been proven to reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent, and by 60 percent in pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans.. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/70-checkpoints-to-be-used-in-state-this-weekend/

Legislating injury? Report links death rates, state policies (News-Sentinel/Nelson)
Tennessee has the 12th-highest rate of injury-related deaths in the nation — and two organizations say it would be higher if not for certain state laws. The report, "The Facts Hurt: A State-by-State Injury Prevention Policy Report," said 75 of every 100,000 Tennesseans of all ages have deaths related to injuries, higher than the national rate of 57.9 per 100,000. But Tennessee scored fairly high on "key indicators" the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Trust for America's Health, the organizations that released the report, identified as 10 steps states can take to prevent injuries. Tennessee has taken seven, while 24 states have taken five or fewer. Two states — California and New York — had implemented nine of the 10 steps; New York's injury-related death rate is the nation's second lowest, after New Jersey's, and California's is the fourth-lowest. Tennessee got points for laws that require wearing a seat belt in automobiles; wearing a helmet when on a motorcycle; requiring booster seats to least age 8; requiring children to wear bicycle helmets; allowing people in dating relationships to get protective orders; mandating an active prescription drug monitoring program; and tracking cause of injury among injured people who are treated in emergency rooms. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/legislating-injury-report-links-death-rates/

Effort to Legitimize ‘Tennessee Plan’ Hits Dead End (TN Report)
The future of how top judges in Tennessee are assigned to the bench is in limbo now that a plan asking voters to formally endorse the status quo died on Capitol Hill this year. Despite vocal support from the state’s three most powerful elected Republicans, lawmakers abandoned a plan to run the current judicial selection process by voters. Instead, the Legislature at this time appears to favor giving itself a confirmation role on judicial appointments, as is done at the federal level. Lawmakers are looking to end debate once and for all about whether the state is following the intent of the Tennessee Constitution, which calls for judicial elections. The Legislature considered several plans this year, including one that would require popularly electing judges. The only proposal that gained traction was an amendment to establish a new system giving the Legislature the authority to reject judges the governor wants to appoint — an effort that would ultimately need voter approval. The effort to legitimize the state’s current practice — supported by both chambers’ GOP speakers and the governor — failed in the House. http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/05/23/effort-to-legitimize-tennessee-plan-hits-dead-end/ 4

Tennessee explores reducing workers' compensation rates (M. Biz Journal)
Tennessee companies could see a reduction in workers’ compensation premiums later this year, The Tennessean reports. Whether that happens depends on the outcome of complex maneuvering at the state levels regarding the rates at which doctors are compensated for treating workers' compensation patients. Several business groups support the measure, saying that an overall rate reduction would help make Tennessee more competitive with neighboring states. Meanwhile, advocates for doctors and physical therapists say that any cuts would hurt those providers and even force some of them to stop seeing workers' compensation patients altogether. A final decision probably won't come until later this summer, according to the report. http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/blog/morning_call/2012/05/tennessee-explores-reducing-workerscomp.html

Holiday boaters cautioned about low water in several Tennessee lakes (TN/Young)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is urging boaters to be cautious in low-water conditions at Lake Barkley, Center Hill Lake and J. Percy Priest Lake this Memorial Day weekend. Lake Barkley is 1.6 feet below normal for this time of year, Center Hill Lake is 3.7 feet below normal, and J. Percy Priest Lake is 3.8 feet below normal, the Corps said. Boaters on these lakes should be on the lookout for any obstructions that may be exposed or just beneath the water. Lake levels at the Nashville District’s seven other lakes — Cheatham Lake, Old Hickory Lake, Cordell Hull Lake, Dale Hollow Lake, Lake Cumberland, Laurel River Lake and Martins Fork Lake — are generally at or close to seasonal levels, the Corps said. For up-to-date information on lake levels and projections, boat ramp conditions, news releases and related links, visit www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps . http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120524/NEWS21/305240050/Holiday-boaters-cautioned-about-low-waterseveral-Tennessee-lakes?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Police chief: Laying off 200 officers would be 'devastating' (City Paper/Garrison)
Losing 200 police personnel would be “very devastating,” Metro police Chief Steve Anderson said W ednesday, but it would also be the only option if the department’s budget is not increased next year. “We’re a very tight police department,” Anderson said. “We’d just have to shut down a lot of our areas –– our drug enforcement, our gang enforcement.” In painting the dire picture, Anderson reiterated one of the chief points Mayor Karl Dean has made in his pitch to sell a 53-cent property tax increase to the public and Metro Council. Not raising revenue, the mayor has stressed, would result in the reduction of 200 police officers at a time when homicides are at a 45year low in Nashville. During the ongoing rounds of budget hearings Wednesday, Anderson told council members how his department plans to use Dean’s proposed $6.7 million increase to the police department’s budget, which would lift its overall level for the 2012-13 fiscal year to approximately $168 million. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/police-chief-laying-200-officers-would-be-devastating

Knoxville City Council members deride Burchett's county budget (N-S/Witt)
Knoxville City Council members admonished the budget plan from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, saying that the county needs to pull its weight on funding homeless programs and other joint efforts. Their criticism came Wednesday at the end of two days of presentations on the city's $180.5 million budget proposal from Mayor Madeline Rogero. Burchett defended his actions by phone later in the day by saying that they were offset elsewhere, planned, or reflect a shift in policy. "I am very concerned," Councilwoman Brenda Palmer said about Burchett's $50,000 cut to homeless prevention, "that the city is going to be bearing the brunt of something that is not confined to the city limits." She also said she's not pleased with Burchett's cut to the Knoxville Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission. Others, including council members Duane Grieve, Marshall Stair and Finbarr Saunders, echoed her feelings about the county stepping back on funding in certain areas. "The chamber is another issue," Stair said about Burchett's proposal to decrease funding for the Knoxville Chamber. "The chamber is looking to raise the whole tide for the entire region. MPC is another example." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/23/knoxville-city-council-members-deride-burchetts/

Knox charter review panel picks 8 changes for August ballot (News-Sentinel)
Residents will have a chance to vote on some proposed changes to Knox County's charter in August — several months earlier than what was initially believed. The 27-member committee charged with reviewing and refining the county's governing documents on Wednesday agreed to put eight items on the Aug. 2 ballot rather than the 5

November one. Officials said that they expect resident may end up facing dozens of proposed amendments and they want to get some out of the way. Officials called most of the items that will go on the August ballot "clarification issues." For example, one proposal would tighten up some of the language in the charter and state the limited powers of the Knox County Commission by adding language that says the omission cannot "exercise any powers or perform any functions which are vested" by the school board. Currently, the charter says the commission can't perform duties vested by the executive branch and judicial branch only. Another proposal states that any time two-thirds of the commission creates a fraction of a number in the calculation, then the overall number "shall be rounded up." http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/knox-charter-review-panelpicks-8-changes-for/

Citizens Express Budget Concerns (Memphis Daily News)
Memphis City Council members heard from and saw a lot of opponents of plans to close five Memphis public libraries Tuesday, May 22, during an hour and a half of comments from the public. “I was going to suggest instead of cutting libraries that you improve them,” said Kaye Veazey. “Don’t continue to emasculate the Memphis public libraries,” said Herman Markell referring to cuts in library hours across the city from earlier budget years. David Williams, chairman of the library system board, acknowledged the mayor and council face a “very, very tough situation.” “But I can’t believe there aren’t some other options,” he added. Some of the opponents of the planned library cuts wore pinned-on paper squares with a red heart and the word “library” printed across the heart. Opponents of cuts in the city grant to the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association had stickers reading “I Am Something Good In Memphis” in green lettering. MIFA executive director Sally Hines told the council the city funding is used for emergency services to citizens who come to MIFA suddenly without homes and/or food. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/may/24/citizens-express-budget-concerns/

Committee begins trimming county budget (State Gazette)
After three weeks of listening to budget presentations and understanding what the county's financial position looked like, the county budget committee rolled up its sleeves and began the process of trimming costs to create a balanced budget. The morning started out with good news as Director of Budgets Nancy Broadstone announced that funding was higher than expected for the commodity food program. The increased revenue reduced the county's deficit for the year down to $70,787. The deficit figure includes the fire department's request of $50,000 for new truck(s) and a match commitment in the amount of $25,600 for the city of Newbern's Fire Department, which is submitting a grant application for the purchase of a new fire truck. "We need to look at any possible areas where we can cut some here and some there to get us in the black," said Commissioner Benny Spain, chairman of the budget committee. http://www.stategazette.com/story/1852342.html

Alexander Considers Guard Delays a W aste of Money (WPLN-Radio Nashville)
Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander today questioned a delay for changes to the missions of Air National Guard units in Nashville and Memphis. Nashville is set to take on an unmanned aerial guard program. In Memphis, older C-5A aircraft are supposed to be replaced by C-17s. But military leaders say budget concerns may push those changes back until 2013. Alexander voiced his concerns to Air Force Lt. General Harry Wyatt during a hearing of the Appropriations Defense Subcommittee. The Senator called the delay “wasteful.” Alexander: “So, you’re going to have to be spending money maintaining planes that you know you’re going to have to get rid of, when you could be spending it on retraining Guard personnel, you could be spending it on other aspects of mission readiness. Is that not correct?” Gen. Wyatt: “Yes, sir.” W yatt says his preference is to go ahead with the transition. But he says that depends on whether the military is allowed some flexibility with the timing of when it spends specific funds—if not, he says the money for retraining guardsmen on their new mission can’t be touched until next year. http://wpln.org/?p=37576

Most Former Congressmen Become 'Strategic Advisers,' Not Lobbyists (M. Pulse)
Tennessee had three congressman leave office last year but they were prevented from becoming lobbyists by the “cooling off” rule that prevents newly departed members from lobbying their colleagues. The deadline has now passed and The Hill newspaper found 30 members who left last year who have signed on with lobbying firms or firms that employ lobbyists. But only 10 of them have registered as a “lobbyist.” Most have preferred to be strategic advisers to lobbying efforts, avoiding the “lobbyist” tag that might preclude their seeking public office 6

in the future. (Shades of Newt Gingrich, the non-lobbyist millionaire.) Democrats Bart Gordon and John Tanner, who retired from their Tennessee districts last election and unlikely to seek office again, are among the 10 registered as lobbyists. Zach Wamp, who left his seat in a failed attempt to become governor, has preferred to form his own business consulting company (in case you want a government contract) with headquarters in his home base of Chattanooga. http://www.metropulse.com/news/2012/may/23/most-former-congressmen-become-strategic-advisers/

Odd Man Out (Memphis Flyer)
Although it seems to have gone largely unsuspected, even among many in the Tennessee press corps who followed the 2006 senatorial campaign of then U.S. Representative Harold Ford Jr., the onetime Memphis congressman has, almost from the beginning of his political career, harbored a conservative streak, especially — but by no means only — on matters relating to financial policy. In recent years, Ford, a narrow loser in that 2006 race, has attempted to transplant his political ambitions from Tennessee to New York State, where he now resides with his wife, the former Emily Threlkeld, and earns a lucrative living as a Wall Street rainmaker — or, as he is described in a recent bio, "executive vice chairman of global banking and wealth management for Bank of America." Fairly quickly this week, the former congressman came to the defense of Newark mayor Cory Booker, who on NBC's Meet the Press had made remarks critical of President Obama's campaign for focusing negatively on the Bain Capital portion of Mitt Romney's career. http://www.memphisflyer.com/memphis/odd-man-out/Content?oid=3191902

NASA taps Memphis firm to build space station models (C. Appeal/Risher)
The 1/50th-scale model of the International Space Station looks other-worldly, like an over-the-top Tinkertoy creation. All that's missing is a tiny reproduction of the SpaceX capsule Dragon, which is expected to rendezvous Friday with the space station 230-plus miles above the Earth. The NASA-funded model is nearing completion in a Downtown Memphis workshop, capping more than two months of work by Scale Models Unlimited. The company won a contract to build two space station models in competitive bidding overseen by project management company DB Consulting Group. The project coincidentally came as Space Exploration Technologies Corp. prepared for W ednesday's launch of a rocket boldly carrying the Dragon where no commercial spacecraft had gone before. SpaceX, the first private company hired by NASA to resupply the space station, is hauling 1,200 pounds of supplies to the space station. It also launched into orbit a memorial canister containing ashes of people including actor James Doohan, Scotty of "Star Trek" fame. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/may/24/small-is-beautiful/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

Gov't taking new steps to combat food stamp fraud (Associated Press)
The government is trying to crack down on food stamp recipients who are ripping off taxpayers by illegally selling their benefit cards for cash. The Agriculture Department wants to curb the practice by giving states more power to investigate people who repeatedly claim to lose their benefit cards and then ask for replacements. It is proposing new rules Thursday that would allow states to demand formal explanations from people who seek replacement cards more than three times a year. Those who don't comply can be denied further cards. USDA officials say they are even getting complaints of people using websites like eBay and Craigslist to buy and sell food stamps. Food stamp fraud costs taxpayers about $750 million a year, or 1 percent of the $75 billion program. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/govt-taking-new-steps-to-combat-food-stamp-02/

Med mart announces 80,000-square-foot lease (Nashville Post/Duncan)
UPDATE: Responding to follow-up questions from NashvillePost.com, Market Center Management respresentative Cole Daugherty said the following: "The RHCC agreement totals 80,000-square-feet, which includes all three components. The exact square footage for each will be determined as RHCC plans their optimum use of the space. Each component is being developed in parallel. We expect all components of the showroom to be complete and to open whenthe trade center itself opens." He also was quick to point out that the RHCC lease alone respresents more square footage than the entire net leasable showroom space in Cleveland. As originally posted: The Nashville Medical Trade Center today announced another major lessee in the shape of the RFID in Healthcare Consortium. The group — which is similar to the HIMSS organization that also has signed on for med mart space — will exhibit products from multiple companies specializing in radio frequency identification and real-time locating systems technologies in the health care, assisted-living and nursing home industries. 7

http://nashvillepost.com/news/2012/5/23/med_mart_announces_80000_square_foot_lease

Nashville med mart announces major tenant (Nashville Business Journal)
The developers of Nashville’s proposed med mart have announced an 80,000-square-foot tenant they say will serve as a major portal to the health care industry through emerging technologies. The RFID in Healthcare Consortium is the latest tenant at the Nashville Medical Trade Center, which Dallas, Texas-based Market Center Management Co. is developing as a new use for Nashville’s current convention center. RFID stands for radio frequency identification, and the group will create an “intelligent hospital” in the med mart showcasing technology that tracks equipment and other information. “Our effort to create a unified marketplace for healthcare ideas and innovation strongly complements the mission of the RHCC,” Bill Winsor, president and CEO of Market Center said in a statement. The announcement fulfills Market Center’s expectations of announcing another “aggregator,” or med mart presence that has an importance beyond its square footage or the basic business dealings of other tenants. RFID, like the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society, deals in technologies Market Center believes will make the mart a hub for countless health care providers exploring the latest innovations in their industry. http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2012/05/23/med-mart-market-center-convention.html

Erlanger at Hutcheson hospital losses surge (Times Free-Press/Martin)
The two public hospitals in the Chattanooga area have lost more than $33.5 million since July 1, with both reporting additional losses this week. At a monthly finance committee meeting Wednesday, Erlanger at Hutcheson officials told trustees the hospital lost $1.9 million in April, bringing its losses since July to $15.7 million. The hospital had budgeted to lose $1.7 million in April. Stacey Kaufmann, administrator of physician services and communications with the Fort Oglethorpe hospital, said coming in close to budget -- even if it was a loss -- is an improvement. "W e had expected to have a loss, and we will continue to have losses," Kaufmann said. "But it is an improvement from where we were earlier this year." In the same time period, Erlanger Health System lost $17.9 million. Erlanger, in Chattanooga, took over management of Hutcheson at the end of May last year after Hutcheson defaulted on a $35 million bond issue. At the time, Erlanger extended a $20 million line of credit to Hutcheson, with the Georgia hospital using $11.4 million of that money so far. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/may/24/erlanger-hutcheson-hospital-losses-surge/?local

For Hospitals and Insurers, New Fervor to Cut Costs (New York Times)
Giselle Fernandez is only 17 but she has had more than 50 operations since she was born with a rare genetic condition. She regularly sees a host of pediatric specialists, including an ophthalmologist, an endocrinologist and a neurologist at UCLA Health System. Her care has cost hundreds of thousands of dollars so far, and she will need special treatment for the rest of her life. While UCLA Health System has long prided itself on being at the forefront of treating patients like Giselle, it is now trying to lower sharply the cost of providing that care. By enrolling young patients with complex and expensive diseases in a program called a medical home, the system tries to ensure that doctors spend more time with patients and work more closely with parents to coordinate care. The program has cut emergency room visits by slightly more than half. The effort is part of a much broader ambition by UCLA Health System to reduce its costs by 30 percent, or hundreds of millions of dollars, over the next five years, according to Dr. David T. Feinberg, the system’s president. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/24/health/hospitals-and-insurers-join-to-cut-health-care-costs.html? _r=1&ref=todayspaper (SUBSCRIPTION)

STEM academy helps teachers build math, science skills (Bristol Herald-Courier)
Teachers, professors, and business representatives went back to class this week - to learn how to better teach science and math. The STEM conference was designed to build connections between regional schools and the East Tennessee State University faculty to better use STEM education and encourage students to pursue careers in the science and mathematics sector. Key topics focused on what studies show doing well in the current educational environment, what areas need additional focus and how the future generation can be motivated to explore the science and math curriculum and catch up with the rest of world. The first STEM academy in East Tennessee will open this fall at Brookside Elementary School in Kingsport . http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/may/23/stem-academy-helps-teachers-build-math-science-ski-ar-1938214/

Rutherford County Schools to avoid property tax hike (Daily News Journal)
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'No-frills' budget proposed for FY2013 still up by $12M Rutherford County residents have dodged a tax increase in order to fund the county schools system’s budget for the 2012-13 fiscal year. Described as a “no frills” proposal, the plan received a unanimous vote from the Rutherford County Health & Education Committee Tuesday night. The county school board, along with the commission’s Budget, Finance and Investment and Health & Education Committees met to review of the district’s budget plan. The $279.6 million proposal is about $12 million (4.7 percent) more its current $267.1 million budget. School and county officials said the budget is largely driven by increases in medical costs and growth. “It’s a no-frills budget. We’re just really trying to maintain what we have,” said school board member Grant Kelley. We’ve got some increases, but most of them are mandates, so we have to do it.” Staffing needs account for $8.2 million of the increase, as the district is looking to hire 11 new high school math teachers and four chemistry teachers needed to comply with the American Diploma Project. http://www.dnj.com/article/20120524/NEW S07/305240011/Rutherford-County-Schools-avoid-property-tax-hike? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Nashville schools say services won't vanish with special ed job losses (TN/Bonner)
Metro Nashville Public Schools expect to cut more than 100 special education paraprofessional jobs funded by 2009 federal stimulus funds, but they say the reduction won’t come at a cost to students. A Metro mom whose daughter is a rising fourth-grader with autism at Eakin Elementary believes that’s impossible. “For Metro to say that will not impact the services that they’re getting doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Omegbhai Uriri, a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Committee Advisory Council for Disabilities. “In a special ed classroom typically … the teachers cannot get to all of them, so the parapro works with the kids, so the teacher can rotate between each child to make sure each child is working at the level that child needs.” Uriri said a paraprofessional modifies all of her daughter’s assignments, takes her to general education classes and walks her around the school to calm her down when class gets too overwhelming. “You’re just going to be running the teacher ragged,” Uriri said. “That teacher’s going to spend so much time trying to meet nonacademic needs that none of the academics are going to get done. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120524/NEWS04/305240004/Nashville-schools-say-services-won-t-vanishspecial-ed-job-losses?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Carter school board must make deeper budget cuts (Johnson City Press)
It is back to the drawing board for the Carter County Board of Education after being asked to cut its requested funding increase in half. The school board will meet in a budget workshop session today to look at further cuts. The board had already cut $1.3 million from its proposed 2012-13 budget and had asked the Carter County Commission to increase funding for the schools next year by $839,619. The County Commission’s Budget Committee went through the proposed budgets of all county offices on Tuesday night and made suggestions for cuts in several areas. Finance Director Ingrid Deloach said the committee could not do a line item search of the school department’s budget. She said that was the job of the school board. Even so, committee members had several suggested areas to cut. Thomas “Yogi” Bowers said he thought the amount requested for travel could be cut. Steve Chambers asked if the amount for fuel could be reduced, since it was based on a cost of $4 a gallon for gasoline and $5 a gallon for diesel. Committee member Nancy Brown said she didn’t want teachers cut. There is concern the deep cuts the school board is considering will include some teaching positions, especially art and music in the elementary schools. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php? id=100458#ixzz1vmeODiJ4

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OPINION Editorial: Governors give much-needed attention to area (Herald-Courier)
Five days apart, the governors of Virginia and Tennessee were in our fair Twin City, ceremoniously signing bills into law. On the Tennessee side, it was legislation outlawing the manufacture and use of synthetic drugs. Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bills in front of several hundred Tennessee High School students. On the Virginia side, it was legislation designed to improve access to education. Gov. Bob McDonnell signed the bills in front of several hundred Virginia High School students. In both cases, the issues behind the legislation are very important to our region, both now and in the future. Haslam signed laws addressing what many here considered a loophole in the regulation of controlled substances. Additionally, because synthetic drugs were outlawed in Virginia but not in Tennessee enforcement in our fair city was difficult at best. McDonnell signed laws giving students greater access to new learning opportunities, including options for higher education credits at lower costs. On both sides of the state line, our communities have fewer people with high school diplomas and college degrees than most other parts of the states, and much of the country. It’s a discredit to our labor force, and so a deterrent to attracting new, higher-paying jobs that will keep our students living and working at home. http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/may/24/governors-give-much-needed-attention-area-ar-1938311/

Columnist: Will Haslam Ever Rise Above Party Politic, Deliver Us From Kooks? (MP)
With two legislative sessions under his belt, we have learned that when you elect Bill Haslam, you elect a coterie of advisors. In Knoxville he listened to Bill Lyons and Larry Martin, and got sound advice more often than not. Pilot Oil’s corporate interests had limited overlap with the city’s powers, so greed’s tentacles barely tickled Haslam. At the state level, they have gotten a grip. In Nashville he listens to different advice and operates with less disclosure. W hile Haslam is to be commended for making Amazon collect sales taxes, his overall stance toward corporate interests has been supplication. He has weakened Tennessee’s already laggard regulatory agencies and launched an attack on transparency. At least he is ashamed enough to want to hide the financial interests he and his cronies operate from. Haslam has expanded the governor’s power to write “FastTrack” checks with limited disclosure, so financial ties among developers, contractors, local politicians, and administration officials get obscured. http://www.metropulse.com/news/2012/may/23/will-gov-haslam-ever-rise-above-party-politics-and/

Editorial: MTSU gets creative with state stimulus (Daily News Journal)
We are pleased that despite funding cuts in many areas, MTSU has gotten creative in finding money for improvements and programs that directly benefit students. State-appropriated stimulus money was certainly put to good use with the recent modernization of MTSU’s James E. Walker Library. Emphasis was put on making the facility more technology-friendly. We think it’s wise that before spending the money, library officials polled students to find out what they would like in a library. They found that while students still want a traditional quiet space to research and study, they also need places to interact with other students, in addition to up-to-date technology. Officials took the students’ ideas and created a new first-floor Research Commons. It includes more than 100 individual and team computer workstations. And the computers have the programs students requested, with Adobe and ZoomText and a variety of research databases. Low-tech improvements include dry-erase boards and privacy dividers. The modular tables and chairs are movable, allowing students to plug in multiple electronic devices. And for group projects, multiple laptops can be connected to wall-mounted monitors. The library also includes more group study rooms with computers and white boards, and zones have been designated for a higher noise level to be allowed for discussion. http://www.dnj.com/article/20120524/OPINION/305230045/MTSU-gets-creative-state-stimulus?odyssey=tab| topnews|text|FRONTPAGE 10

Editorial: Report on growth in manufacturing jobs a positive sign (News-Sentinel)
The Knoxville area received more good economic news recently when a report from the Brookings Institution took note of the metropolitan area's growth in manufacturing jobs. The Knoxville metro area — which includes Knox, Blount, Loudon, Anderson and Union counties — has increased manufacturing jobs 9.9 percent over the past two years, more than three times the national average and good enough to rank the area sixth in the nation out of 366 metro areas. Layoffs tend to grab the headlines, while incremental job gains occur with little fanfare. Republic Plastics, Goodson Brothers Coffee, Holston Gases and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters are among the local companies that are expanding their work forces. Manufacturing jobs are leading the way in statewide job growth. Tennessee's unemployment rate is down to 7.8 percent, dropping for the ninth straight month to the lowest level since November 2008. Three of the 10 counties with the lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee were in the Knoxville metro area in March, the most recent month available from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Knox County's unemployment rate in March was 5.7 percent, second lowest in the state. Loudon County was eighth at 6.7 percent, while Blount County was 10th at 7.1 percent. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/24/editorial-report-on-growth-in-manufacturing-jobs/ ###

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