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MONDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2011 Republicans, Dems debate who should bear brunt of restrictions (CP/Woods)

With state lawmakers studying how to cut costs in the states HOPE lottery scholarship program, Senate Democratic leader Jim Kyle is urging them not to deny grants to thousands of college-bound kids unnecessarily. In a letter to legislators this month, Kyle called for using the lottery fund like an economic stimulus. He pointed out that, while the lottery fund indeed is running at an annual deficit now, its still flush with $373 million in reserves built up by surpluses in the early days of the seven-year-old program before many scholarships had been given. At the current rate of expenditure, it will take until 2024 to drain the surplus to $50 million, the lowest level state law allows. So, Kyle asks, why tighten scholarship eligibility now when the economys in the dumps and unemployment stands at nearly 10 percent? Our talks so far have been all about money, when they should be about putting Tennesseans back to work, Kyle said. The lottery fund was designed to give more Tennesseans the opportunity at a good education and an even better job. That should be our top priority now more than ever. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/republicans-dems-debate-who-should-bear-brunt-lotteryscholarship-fund-restriction

Tennessee plans record $584M bond offering (Tennessean/Sisk)

Tennessee will make the largest bond offering in its history this week, with proceeds going to major economic development projects and improvements to state buildings. The state will sell $584 million in bonds in a threeday offering that starts today. The offering tops the states previous record for a bond offering, which was set in 2009, by nearly $200 million, the state comptrollers office said. Proceeds from the sale will be used to pay for economic development grants awarded to Volkswagen in Chattanooga, Wacker Chemie in Bradley County, Hemlock Semiconductor in Montgomery County and Electrolux in Memphis. Proceeds also will be used to renovate the Supreme Court building and to build a new research building at the University of TennesseeKnoxville, a new library at UT-Chattanooga, a prison in Bledsoe County and a new driver service center in Memphis. The state also will refinance outstanding bonds, saving Tennessee $10 million in interest, the comptroller said. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/NEWS0201/310080088/Tennessee-plans-record-584M-bondoffering?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Conn. Gets Tough With Amazon, Pushing On With Tax (Associated Press)
Connecticut officials are not giving up on requiring Internet sellers to collect state sales taxes, despite signs from online retailer Amazon.com that it has no immediate plans to abide by the state's new Internet tax law.Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Amazon announced Thursday that the online retailer had agreed to begin collecting sales taxes in that state in 2014. It was part of an agreement to build two more distribution centers in the state. Amazon will be required to begin collecting sales taxes in January 2016 under a recent law in South Carolina, where the company is also building a distribution center. Kokinis-Graves said it's possible Connecticut will succeed in getting Amazon to pay the tax for those purchases made during that small window of time when it still had arrangements with its affiliates and the law was in place. She said it remains to be seen whether prolonged litigation, which would be costly for both sides, will be necessary. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=141196332

City: Plans submitted, match Amazon needs (Murfreesboro Post)

Local officials could not confirm last week if Rutherford County has been selected as a site for the muchpublicized amazon.com warehouse, but is still a possibility. The City of Murfreesboro received a plan submittal Thursday afternoon for a million-plus square-foot facility on Joe B. Jackson Parkway, according to Chris Griffith,

city engineer.He said the item is on the citys Planning Commission agenda for its 1 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 19, in room 218 of City Hall. However, Griffith said this isnt a guarantee that Murfreesboro has been selected for the Amazon site. He pointed out that when the city was in the running for a FedEx facility some years ago, the company also submitted plans to multiple cities. Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce President Paul Latture said Friday afternoon that he could not confirm if Amazon has chosen Murfreesboro. We have not been officially told that we are one of the sites. We have not been told we are eliminated either, he said City officials have been closed-mouthed about the negotiations, simply referring to them as Project Tango. But that didnt stop Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam from confirming in a press conference last week that Amazon and Project Tango are one and the same. http://www.murfreesboropost.com/city-plans-submittedmatch-amazon-needs-cms-287

4 Memphis city schools could join new Achievement School District (CA/Roberts)
A year ago, Frayser High was the butt of every ugly joke and the object of wagging tongues as talk radio and TV yakked mercilessly about 90 teens there who were either pregnant or new moms. It wasn't true, and students knew it. So did first-year principal Yolanda Lunford. "It was all across the Web. I cried," said Lunford, 38. After weathering that storm, she's now in charge of a much larger undertaking -- preparing to turn the school over to someone else. Frayser will likely become part of the new state Achievement School District, an experiment in Tennessee to turn around the state's lowest performing schools. Of the five schools set for the new achievement district, four are in Memphis: Frayser, Hamilton and Northside high schools and Raleigh-Egypt Middle. The fifth is Howard School of Academic Technology in Chattanooga. Under a waiver the state Department of Education is writing, the achievement district could grow almost immediately to 85 schools -- 5 percent of the roughly 1,700 public schools in the state. The schools in the district would be overseen by their own superintendent and can be converted to charter schools, taken over by the state or managed by a combination of state and local control. Except in the case of joint control, the students and the tax dollars that support them would belong to the achievement district. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/oct/10/4-city-schools-could-join-new-district/

Georgia wins battle for Footloose remake (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Loss rocks Tennessee, the home state of the films writer, director The annoyingly addictive theme song and happily partying kids from the opening credits are just memories and the mood is grim when Dennis Quaids character addresses a crowd in one of the first scenes in the new, filmed-in-Georgia Footloose remake. Time to face reality about the world theyre living in, he mournfully tells them. Its a world filled with evil and temptation and danger. On screen, as anyone who ever saw the original Footloose can instantly tell you, that danger is youthful dancing. Off screen, as plenty of disappointed Tennesseeans can attest these days, that danger is Georgias juggernaut film production industry stealing their business away. In this case Footloose, which opens Friday in Georgia, Tennessee and everywhere else besides. Tennessee desperately wanted the $25 million budget, foot-tapping, potential box office phenom to be filmed on its own turf. And it thought it had an ace in the hole: Craig Brewer, the writer and director of the remake, lives in Memphis and wanted to make the movie there, just like all his previous films. His original version of the script even set the action in a fictional small town in Tennessee. http://www.accessatlanta.com/atlanta-movies/georgia-wins-battle-for-1197391.html

Another tuition increase likely in UT system (Chatt. Times Free-Press/Trevizo)

The University of Tennessee system just began talks about tuition for next year but the trend points to more increases, UT President Joe DiPietro said. And that's despite a nearly 40 percent increase in tuition in some schools over the past five years. "We'll be as kind as we can; nobody likes to raise tuition," he said during an editorial board meeting at the Chattanooga Times Free Press last week. In fact, DiPietro said, he would like to lower tuition, "but it's just not the reality of who we are or where we are financially." For fiscal 2012 the University of Tennessee received $411.3 million in state appropriations, 25 percent less than in 2008. And 2012 is the first year without federal stimulus funds that totaled $219 million in fiscal 2010 and 2011, university officials said. Thanks to a 9.9 percent increase this year, money from student tuition and fees will exceed state appropriations for the first time, UT Treasurer Charles Peccolo said in a news release earlier this year. State budgets are precarious nationwide and tuition increases are likely in many states, said Thomas Harnisch, policy analyst with the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/oct/10/another-tuition-increase-likely-in-ut-system/?local

Law limits schools' liability when groups use grounds, facilities (TN/Gonzalez)

Tennessee schools have one less obstacle to opening buildings and sports fields to their communities, thanks to a law change being applauded by child fitness advocates. State code signed into law in June and being explained to schools this fall frees schools from liability when they sign agreements to allow athletic leagues, churches and community groups to use school grounds. Our taxpayers pay for this equipment, whether its tracks or gyms. Meanwhile, communities are looking for low-cost solutions. Its really a win-win, said Chastity Mitchell, a senior director with the American Heart Association, which pushed for the change. Counties surveyed by the association said loud and clear that they were afraid of being sued for accidents, Mitchell said. Now, liability should be less of a concern (in cases of gross negligence, a school could still be liable). And because the association found that existing joint-use agreements vary in their formality, the law includes a phrase encouraging agreements to be written out and to address security, supervision, hours and maintenance policies. The association also found that wear and tear on school buildings, scheduling difficulties and the preferences of individual school principals may still be hurdles. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/NEWS04/310070118/Law-limits-schools-liability-when-groups-usegrounds-facilities?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

GOP homes in on redistricting plan (Tennessean/Sisk)

Davidson County will retain its 10 seats in the state House of Representatives, including two from districts in which nonwhite voters hold the majority, while Rutherford and W illiamson will each pick up new members, according to plans in the works in the legislature. House GOP leaders are nearing completion of their redistricting plans, and they have begun presenting conceptual drawings to their Democratic counterparts of the shapes that districts could take for the next decade, members of both parties said. These maps are far from final, and neither side would discuss details while negotiations are ongoing. But both sides appear to be willing to work toward an agreement, perhaps before the end of the month. There are some things Im not comfortable with, and were trying to get them to make a few changes here and there, said state Rep. Mike Turner, D-Old Hickory, the House Democratic caucus chairman. If I get into specifics, it would probably kill any negotiations weve got, but Im hoping in another week well have everything worked out. The discussions between Republicans and Democrats could head off political and legal squabbling over redistricting, which takes place every 10 years to account for population growth and shifts throughout the state. In Tennessee, new district lines are drawn up by the party that holds a majority in the legislature, usually with minimal input from the public and the opposition party. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/NEWS0201/310100012/GOP-homes-TN-redistricting-plan? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

AARP to help raise awareness about voter ID law (Associated Press)

AARP Tennessee is collaborating with the state's coordinator of elections to help people meet the requirements of a new law requiring photo identification to vote. The two will hold a series of question and answer sessions around the state starting in Knoxville on Oct. 18. Elections Coordinator Mark Goins says he's grateful to AARP for its help in raising awareness about the new law. Last week, a coalition of groups opposed to the measure say they want to repeal it during the next legislative session. Members of the "No Barriers to the Ballot Box" campaign announced a petition drive that they hope will convince lawmakers that the requirement is unpopular. The state estimates 126,000 registered voters don't have current driver's licenses with photos on them. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=tennessean&sParam=37650029.story

Tornado damage to Smokies to be studied (Associated Press)

The National Science Foundation plans a long-term study of how damage from an April tornado will affect the ecology of an isolated part of the Smoky Mountains. The tornado hit on April 27 as part of a massive storm system that swept through the western tip of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Blount County. It cleared a quarter-mile path through a forest and damaged 4,500 acres. Although the area has had straight-line wind damage in the past, it was the first known time a full-fledged tornado had hit the Smoky Mountains. Tom Remaley, an ecologist for the Smokies, told the Knoxville News Sentinel that park officials will fix damage along trails, but otherwise plan to let nature take its course (http://bit.ly/oe1YOi ). "From an ecological perspective, the tornado wasn't a bad thing," Remaley said. "There's a lot of interest among researchers in how this plays out. This was a rare event for the Southern Appalachians." Five months after the damage, plants such as pokeweed are beginning to pop up in clearing and trees are re-sprouting. Some of the worst damage occurred along the Beard Cane Trail, roughly four miles from the park's western border and in a sparsely used area. Only a few yellow pines that were already dead and had no canopy to catch the wind are left standing. 3


Williamson leaders appear unfazed by $510 million debt (Tennessean/Adams)

Growing tax base generates optimism Accusations of a borrow-and-spend mentality provided the soundtrack to Williamson Countys recent round of budget talks, and several commissioners amplified the rhetoric with criticism of unchecked school spending. This years $50 million debt payment is a primary reason taxpayers saw their first property tax increase in almost a decade. Tonight, county commissioners are expected to adopt a formal policy on managing the $510 million in debt, but the proposal breaks no new ground. Thats because, in part, of a history of solid financial decisions that dont need much tweaking, said Commissioner Bob Barnwell. Williamson County is managed quite well by the administration, Barnwell said. We dont have the problems Ive seen throughout the state. (Williamson Countys debt) may seem like quite a lot, but the texture of the debt here is very different. Every governmental entity in Tennessee that may need to borrow money must adopt a policy by the end of the year that guides those decisions. That includes municipalities, utility districts and industrial development boards. The University of Tennessee County Technical Assistance Service is being recommended by the state comptrollers office to help governments write their policies. Don Johnson, the CTAS agent for Williamson, Davidson and Robertson counties, said he has not received a single inquiry. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/NEWS02/310100031/Williamson-leaders-appear-unfazed-by-510million-debt?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Unemployment overpayments: Fraud or flawed system? (Stateline)

When the Obama administration revealed that more than $17 billion in jobless benefits had been paid out improperly, a stream of headlines suggested that cheats were bilking the unemployment insurance system. The reality is a lot more complicated, as the U.S. Department of Labor itself noted when it reported state-by-state numbers last month. While fraud was responsible for a small part of the overall improper payments figure, much of the total came from less devilish glitches, such as failing to provide proof that a payment went to the right person. The total also included cases where beneficiaries were underpaid, in addition to the cases where the government paid them too much. Louisiana is one state that has found itself on the defensive. Federal figures showed that 44 percent of its unemployment insurance payments were improper. The numbers being reported for Louisiana are not all overpayments, Curt Eysink, executive director of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said in a statement. Nor should those amounts be collectively viewed as waste, fraud and abuse. Eysink notes that what the federal government called overpayments largely went to unemployed workers who were eligible to receive unemployment benefits; the problem was that the state couldnt prove that these people had formally registered with the state to say they have searched for jobs. http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=605394

Fearing budget cuts, interest groups take lobbying local (USA Today)
Sam Burnett, a retired school administrator from Toledo, is an unlikely lobbyist. But next week, the 79-year-old will drive his blue Mercury Marquis 200 miles to Cincinnati to meet with aides to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Republican Sen. Rob Portman, one of 12 lawmakers on a congressional "supercommittee" charged with cutting at least $1.2 trillion from the federal deficit over a decade. "I just want to re-emphasize the importance of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid in the lives of our seniors," said Burnett, one of dozens of older Americans on the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare who are crusading to protect these programs from the budget ax. As interest groups scramble to protect their cherished programs, many are taking their lobbying local, turning to business leaders or community activists such as Burnett to plead their cases with home-state lawmakers who sit on the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction or others in Congress they hope will influence their deliberations. http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2011-10-09/special-interest-groups-try-local-lobbying-to-reachsupercommittee-deficit-panel/50713738/1

4 generators have failed recently at U.S. nuclear plants (Associated Press/Henry)

Four generators that power emergency systems at U.S. nuclear plants have failed when needed since April, an unusual cluster that has attracted the attention of federal inspectors and could prompt the industry to re-examine its maintenance plans. None of these failures has threatened the public. But the diesel generators serve the crucial function of supplying electricity to cooling systems that prevent a nuclear plants hot, radioactive fuel from overheating, melting and potentially releasing radiation into the environment. That worst-case scenario happened this year when the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan lost all backup power for its cooling systems after 4

an earthquake and tsunami. One occurred at Browns Ferry Three diesel generators failed after tornadoes ripped across Alabama and knocked out electric lines serving the Tennessee Valley Authoritys Browns Ferry nuclear plant in April. Two failed because of mechanical problems and one was unavailable because of planned maintenance. Another generator failed at the North Anna plant in Virginia following an August earthquake. Generators have not worked when needed in at least a dozen other instances since 1997 because of mechanical failures or because they were offline for maintenance, according to an Associated Press review of reports compiled by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/NEWS08/310110002/4-generators-failed-recently-U-S-nuclearplants?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Coal collapse not new to TVA (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Sohn)

The Appalachian coal collapse is not new. Nor is its impact on TVA. Tennessee has been the lowest or nearlowest coal-producing state in the East for about 15 years, according to statistical charts online on the National Mining Association's website. And the Tennessee Valley Authority burns Appalachian coal at only two of its 11 coal-fired power plants. "Our exposure to issues in that region have been virtually eliminated," TVA spokesman Scott Brooks said recently. An online database maintained by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, a division of the U.S. Department of Labor, shows there are only 18 active mines in Tennessee. None of them is in Southeast Tennessee. TVA officials said TVA already gets almost half of its coal to fire power plants from Colorado, Utah and Wyoming. Those W estern states are crucial to TVA's fossil plants and TVA's fuel supply team. About 50 percent of TVA's power comes from coal, and about 48 percent of TVA's coal, 17 million tons a year, comes from west of the Mississippi River. Brooks said the John Sevier Fossil Plant near Rogersville, Tenn., still burns Appalachian coal, but that plant will retire two coal units and idle the other two coal units there in the next year as the utility switches the plant exclusively to natural gas. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/oct/10/coal-collapse-not-new-to-tva/?local

CMCSS continues to question effectiveness of teacher evaluations (Leaf Chronicle)

The state's new teacher evaluations are undermining the effectiveness of principals in Montgomery County, district officials say. Clarksville-Montgomery County School System Director Mike Harris is an outspoken critic of multiple aspects of the new evaluation system required by the state's First to the Top Act, which requires four official observations for experienced teachers, and six for apprentice teachers. Half of those are 15 minutes long and half are for a full period, and at least 5 percent are unannounced. Factor in post-observation conferences, along with pre-observation conferences for those that are announced, and CMCSS Chief Academic Officer B.J. Worthington said the one to four principals at each school no longer have time to see all their teachers as frequently as they should. Plus, since the state made a push to cut down on paperwork for teachers, Middle Schools Director Sean Impeartrice said principals wind up spending more time writing reports, either at home or in their offices. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20111010/NEWS01/110100309/CMCSS-continues-questioneffectiveness-teacher-evaluations?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Hamilton County Schools make wish list for building projects (TFP/Hardy)
Hamilton County Schools leaders have made a wish list of $247 million in building projects. Officials circulated a list of their recommendations to school board members Thursday, but it's only in the very early stages. The facilities plan -- which comes in three phases -- hasn't been voted on by school board members or moved to the County Commission, which oversees the school district's budget. "At this point, this is just a list of staff recommendations," said Gary W aters, assistant superintendent of auxiliary services. Along with school additions and remodeling, the list includes several new elementary schools on the county's east side, including replacements for Ooltewah and East Brainerd elementaries and a new Chattanooga School for the Liberal Arts. Superintendent Rick Smith has said a new K-12 CSLA building could help alleviate overcrowding at the current K-8 school at 6579 East Brainerd Road. A new school at CSLA's current location also could open up more spaces at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences, which now takes in many CSLA students. CSAS serves grades kindergarten through 12. The CSLA project is projected to cost $46 million. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/oct/10/schools-make-wish-list-for-building-projects/?local

Shelby County unified school board meets tonight (CA/McMillin)

Of all the landmark moments in the push toward consolidating Shelby County's public schools, tonight's 5

organizational meeting of the now-unified countywide Shelby County Board of Education promises to be the most transformative yet. The theoretical and hypothetical become reality when seven people appointed by the Shelby County Commission join the nine people who represent the Memphis City Schools district and the seven who represent the formerly all-suburban Shelby County Schools district. The 23-member "mega-board," as one schools lawyer calls it, comprises 14 Memphis residents and nine suburban residents. That ratio will loom large when the evening's most important agenda item comes forward: electing officers to represent the board. Technically, going into the meeting, David Pickler remains the chairman, a post he has held since first being chosen by his SCS colleagues in 1999. At the final meeting of the suburban-only SCS board, Pickler cast one of the crucial votes against an attempt to re-elect him as chairman for another full one-year term, which could have thrown additional legal complications into tonight's proceedings. Pickler cited a desire not to start off the unified board in a way that might be potentially "acrimonious." He also said the reality of a board with more Memphis representation makes it unlikely he can get the 12 votes required to be chairman of the expanded 23-member board. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/oct/10/unified-board-meets-tonight/

California: California Sets New Course in Immigrant-Student Law (W all St. Journal)
California's decision to let undocumented immigrants apply for publicly funded financial aid for college offers illegal-immigrant youths in the largest state a new benefit after a federal measure to assist undocumented students failed last year. Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown signed the California Dream Act into law Saturday, saying it would give "top students a chance to improve their lives and the lives of all of us." Despite opposition from Republicans, the bill passed easily in the Democrat-controlled legislature. Federal legislation also called the Dream Act failed last year to attract enough support in Congress. That measure would have let undocumented students qualify for six years of residency status, though the students wouldn't have been eligible for federal aid such as Pell Grants. In 2001, California and Texas became the first of a dozen states to let undocumented students pay resident tuition rates if they met certain requirements. The Texas bill also offered undocumented Texans access to state financial aid. Texas Gov. Rick Perry's support of that measure has become a problem for him during his run for the GOP presidential nomination, with conservatives criticizing Mr. Perry's suggestion in a debate last month that the law's critics had no heart. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204450804576620882443354962.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)


OPINION Gail Kerr: Haslam's Amazon coup is real; tale of wife's 'boyfriend' isn't (Tenn)
Gov. Bill Haslam scored probably his biggest coup since taking office when he negotiated a compromise with retail giant Amazon that will bring an additional 1,500 jobs to Tennessee. Amazon will build distribution sites in Lebanon and Murfreesboro in exchange for a getting a break on charging sales tax on Tennessee customers until January 2014. That brings Amazons total investment in Tennessee to $350 million, with a total of 3,500 jobs. Though other retailers are still angry, Haslam looked brilliant. Hes got to be loving it that news came on the heels of his securing Tennessees excellent bond rating. If it wasnt for the truth coming out about his imaginary friend, it would have been a sterling week for the governor. (He was good-natured in admitting to the serial telling of a tall tale.) But first, the Amazon deal. Haslam was on the horns of a dilemma. His predecessor, Phil Bredesen, struck up an economic development deal with Amazon. The online retailer would place two distribution facilities here and Tennessee would allow it to carry on as is. In other words, he waived sales tax. Haslam agreed to keep the states word, partly under the threat that Amazon would bail. Other retailers big and small, and lawmakers from areas where Amazon was not landing, cried foul. Haslam was stuck with a bad deal by a powerful company holding the Volunteer State hostage. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20111010/COLUMNIST0101/310100008/Gail-Kerr-Haslam-s-Amazon-coupreal-tale-wife-s-boyfriend-isn-t?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

Mike Turner: Ketron's attack of local Dem unneeded (Daily News Journal)
I felt it was necessary to respond to a "press conference" held by state Sen. Bill Ketron recently regarding the new voter ID law here in Tennessee. Not only is this law unneeded and politically motivated, but Ketron also feels it is necessary to single out one Rutherford County citizen, who made a terrible mistake almost 30 years ago. This is nothing more than an effort to validate his shortsighted Voter ID Act. Ketron used a sort of character assassination on Rutherford County Democratic Party Vice Chairman Tony Pegel. Pegel, who committed a felony almost 30 years ago when he was 18 years old, is a success story. He served probation for the crime and went on to earn his engineering degree in Knoxville and is now a party official in the county and an asset to the community. Tony Pegel was young when he made a mistake by committing a crime and has paid his debt to society. The error over his voting record was an honest mistake and as soon as he found out there was a problem, he immediately made efforts to correct it. The mistake was on the part of the then non-computerized election commission. Pegel, when he originally registered to vote, admitted on his voter registration that he had been convicted of a felony. http://www.dnj.com/article/20111010/OPINION03/110100306/Rep-Turner-Ketron-s-attack-local-Dem-unneeded

Columnist: Keeping 'wrong' people from polls (Leaf Chronicle)


When you are a 96-year-old, law-abiding, conscientious American citizen, you ought to be able to exercise your right to vote easily and quickly. You shouldn't have to provide an envelope full of documents proving your identity only to be told that you still haven't shown that you are eligible to cast a ballot. Yet, that's just what happened to Dorothy Cooper earlier this month, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Tennessee's GOPcontrolled legislature passed a strict voter ID law, so Cooper who never learned to drive got a ride to a state driver service center to obtain a new ID card. But her rent receipt, her lease, her birth certificate and her voter registration card were not enough, the newspaper reported. Because her birth certificate pronounced her "Dorothy Alexander" her maiden name the clerk refused to give her the credential that would allow her to vote. That story ought to simply be a laughable anecdote about an overzealous bureaucrat, an officious clerk who doesn't understand the phrase "public servant." Unfortunately, Cooper's futile sojourn reflects an intentional Republican plan to restrict the franchise. Across the country, GOP-controlled state legislatures have passed measures to make voting arduous for certain citizens who have shown a marked propensity for supporting Democrats. http://www.theleafchronicle.com/article/20111010/COLUMNISTS104/110100302/COLUMN-Keeping-wrongpeople-from-polls

Editorial: Just the facts on Medicare (Commercial Appeal)

In the partisan atmosphere of Congress, there is one thing on which Republicans and Democrats should agree: Americans need accurate information about Medicare. Sen. Bob Corker's bill requiring the government to provide an annual statement to taxpayers detailing how much they have paid into Medicare and how much they have received in benefits would do just that. The Tennessee Republican has a Democratic co-sponsor who agrees -Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado. Democratic Rep. Jim Cooper of Tennesssee and Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin last March introduced a similar bill in the House. What they and every other American of any political persuasion should be concerned about is that nearly 50 million people on Medicare, as well as those entering the program at the age of 65 in the near future, are likely to receive more in benefits than they have put into the program before they die. But without changes in the program, anyone under 55 likely faces higher costs and, possibly, longer waits before they qualify for coverage. And the longer the integrity of the program is not addressed, the more dramatic changes will have to be. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/oct/10/editorials-just-the-facts-on-medicare/

Editorial: The U of M at 100 (Commercial Appeal)

It would be wonderful if the University of Memphis could begin its second hundred years by successfully completing a $250 million Centennial Campaign. A quarter of billion dollars is a massive amount of money to raise by June 30, 2013, but the university has a tremendous head start. While announcing the campaign last week, Charles Burkett, chairman of the U of M's board of visitors, said more than $185 million already has been raised during the "quiet" phase of the endeavor. Burkett and his wife, Judy, are quarterbacking the drive. Great universities have strong endowments, supportive alumni and supporters who are able to conduct successful fundraising efforts. As state funding for higher education declines, successful fundraising campaigns are a crucial element of success. The U of M means an awful lot to Greater Memphis. Its schools of research have been invaluable to helping this community's most pressing problems. It has trained nurses, teachers, lawyers, architects and engineers, mass communicators, thespians and others, serving as an oasis for scores of firstgeneration college students. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/oct/10/the-u-of-m-at-100/

Free-Press Editorial: Unseemly plan for stamps (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)

It is no secret that the U.S. Postal Service is in serious financial trouble. Billions of pieces of correspondence that once would have been sent by traditional mail are today sent by email, creating huge losses for the Postal Service. But a recent plan by the agency to raise revenue in the face of those losses is unwise. The Postal Service has long had an honorable policy of not issuing stamps featuring people who are still alive. Now, however, it is dropping that tradition and plans to start issuing stamps bearing the images of living entertainers, writers and others -- possibly even politicians! Of course, many living Americans have made wonderful contributions to our society, and we have no desire to deny them appropriate recognition. But it is unseemly for the Postal Service to place images of still-living Americans on stamps, just as it is unseemly to name government buildings or other government facilities for people who are still alive, or to put the images of living people on our money. You may recall the understandable uproar a few years ago in Kentucky when that state's Daniel Boone Parkway was renamed the Hal Rogers Parkway -- after a sitting congressman. It's not that the people of Kentucky necessarily disliked Rogers. But they recognized the value of preserving the state's history and heritage -- and the inappropriateness of naming a road after a politician who was not only living but was still in 8

Congress. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/oct/10/unseemly-plan-for-stamps/?opinionfreepress

Editorial: No easy solution to shortage of rural physicians (News-Sentinel)

A shortage of primary care physicians for rural areas in Tennessee is not new perhaps, but if steps are not taken to reverse or at least, curb the trend, the problem could get out of hand. This shortage is expected to exceed 90,000 by the end of this decade. It could reach as high as 130,600 five years after that. Adding to this personnel deficit is the issue of baby boomers born near the end of W orld W ar II and shortly after who now are facing their senior years and will need more medical attention. The physician shortage also might represent the other side of the national health care discussion. Those who finally are eligible to receive health care benefits could find a dearth of family doctors to treat them. Some statistics for the Knoxville area are sobering. In Knox County, for example, there is a physician for every 282 people. In contiguous Union County, there is one physician for every 2,700 people, and in Grainger County, there is one physician for every 5,677 people. Ray Stowers, dean of the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine at Lincoln Memorial University in upper East Tennessee, said doctors are more likely to practice in an area if they are from that area and received a good portion of their training there. "That's one of the main reasons why we placed the school (at LMU) where it is," he said. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/oct/10/no-easy-solution-to-shortage-of-rural-physicians/

Editorial: The Myth of Voter Fraud (New York Times)

It has been a record year for new legislation designed to make it harder for Democrats to vote 19 laws and two executive actions in 14 states dominated by Republicans, according to a new study by the Brennan Center for Justice. As a result, more than five million eligible voters will have a harder time participating in the 2012 election. Of course the Republicans passing these laws never acknowledge their real purpose, which is to turn away from the polls people who are more likely to vote Democratic, particularly the young, the poor, the elderly and minorities. They insist that laws requiring government identification cards to vote are only to protect the sanctity of the ballot from unscrupulous voters. Cutting back on early voting, which has been popular among working people who often cannot afford to take off from their jobs on Election Day, will save money, they claim. None of these explanations are true. There is almost no voting fraud in America. And none of the lawmakers who claim there is have ever been able to document any but the most isolated cases. The only reason Republicans are passing these laws is to give themselves a political edge by suppressing Democratic votes. The most widespread hurdle has been the demand for photo identification at the polls, a departure from the longstanding practice of using voters signatures or household identification like a utility bill. Seven states this year have passed laws requiring strict photo ID to vote, and similar measures were introduced in 27 other states. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/10/opinion/the-myth-of-voter-fraud.html?ref=todayspaper ###