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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2012 Haslam tabs Phillip Robinson to serve as Third Circuit Court judge (N.

Post)
Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Phillip Robinson has been named judge of the Third Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District. Robinson, who earned his juris doctorate from the University of Tennessee College of Law, replaces Barbara Haynes who retired last year. He was considered the frontrunner to replace Haynes. Phillip has practiced law in Davidson County his entire career, and he will bring that extensive experience to the bench, Haslam said in a release. The Third Circuit Court will likely be designated a new family law court for Davidson County. Robinsons practice originally included domestic relations cases, personal injury and criminal and probate matters. But for the last 25 years, Robinson exclusively has focused on domestic relations with the attorney opening his own practice with associates in 2001. http://nashvillepost.com/news/2012/2/23/haslam_tabs_phillip_robinson_to_serve_as_third_circuit_court_judge

Phillip Robinson selected for Davidson Circuit Court post (Tennessean/Gee)


With his first Nashville judicial appointment, Gov. Bill Haslam named Nashville family law attorney Phillip Robinson to the Davidson County Circuit Court on Thursday. In the coming months, however, voters will have the final say on who gets the job until the next regularly scheduled judicial elections in 2014. The first step in that process is the March 6 Democratic primary election, in which Robinson is facing off against Nashville attorney Stan Kweller, who also was under consideration by Haslam for the temporary appointment. Robinson said he was thrilled to be chosen and he thinks it will help at the ballot box. Its the biggest compliment that could be paid, Robinson said. Thats a tremendous boost as far as Im concerned. What I dont want to happen is people to think Ive been appointed and thats it. I still have to win this primary. Kweller said he called to congratulate Robinson on his appointment Thursday. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120224/NEWS0201/302240065/Phillip-Robinson-selected-DavidsonCircuit-Court-post

Haslam Names New Third Circuit Court Judge (WTVF-TV Nashville)


Governor Bill Haslam has named Phillip Robinson as judge of Third Circuit Court for the 20th Judicial District in Davidson County. The 61-year-old replaces Barbara Haynes, who retired last year. The Court will likely be designated a new family law court for Davidson County as Robinson spent 25 years of his 36-year legal career practicing exclusively domestic relations. "I am honored to receive the appointment from Gov. Haslam, and I appreciate the opportunity to serve the people of Davidson County in the Third Circuit Court," Robinson said. Robinson received his J.D. from the University of Tennessee College of Law and practiced and lives in Nashville, with his wife, Christy. He opened his own practice with associates in 2001. He has numerous accomplishments including being a hearing panel member of the Board of Professional Responsibility of the Supreme Court of Tennessee and a fellow of the Nashville Bar Association, fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and is board certified as a family law trial advocate by the National Board of Trial Advocacy. http://www.newschannel5.com/story/17003217/haslam-names-new-third-circuit-court-judge

APSU Child Learning Center Earns Gold Sneaker Award from Gov. Haslam (C. Now)
Last year, Connie Sanders, director of the Austin Peay State University Child Learning Center, became concerned about the preschool-aged children under her care. Many of them brought sack lunches with junk food and sugary treats, and she knew they werent getting enough exercise at home. Obesity and diabetes loomed in their future, so Sanders and her staff decided to do something before it was too late. We completely revamped our menus, she said. We dont serve sugar at all. We serve fresh fruits as often as we can. We also do more than 30 minutes of physical activity with the children every day, in addition to the time we spend outside. These

changes, along with APSUs decision to go smoke-free, caught the attention of Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, and on Jan. 4, he named the Child Learning Center a Gold Sneaker Facility. The CLC is one of only seven child care centers in Montgomery County to receive this designation. http://www.clarksvillenow.com/pages/12357667.php

Venture capital firms praise multiplier effect of TNInvestco program (MBJ)


Nearly two years after the Tennessee Investment Small Business Company Act began investing in small businesses around the state, officials with venture capital companies that received funding say the program has created a great environment for startups in the state. Representatives from Nashville-based Limestone Fund and Tri-Star Technology Ventures, as well as Memphis-based MB Venture Partners and Innova, addressed the investment strategies during a luncheon Thursday hosted by the Memphis Bioworks Foundation the Memphis University Club. There has never been a better time to be a startup entrepreneur in the state, Gary Stevenson, co-founder of MB Venture Partners, said. TNInvestco, as the program is known, provides funding for venture capital firms to invest in startup companies that are either located in Tennessee or are looking to relocate to Tennessee through $200 million in funding from the state. Ten venture capital companies around the state received $14 million in funding that must be invested in Tennessee-based companies. The TNInvestco program requires the venture firms to invest 50 percent of their funding in the first two years and to have invested 100 percent in five years. http://www.bizjournals.com/memphis/news/2012/02/23/venture-capital-firms-praise.html

Haslam's administration objects to bill naming trail for Andrea Conte (AP)
The administration of Gov. Bill Haslam has flagged a bill that would name a perimeter trail around the Bicentennial Mall in Nashville in honor of a former governors wife. Haslam is a Republican and his predecessor Phil Bredesen is a Democrat, but bill sponsor Rep. Jimmy Naifeh said he thinks the issue isnt politics, but money. It would cost an estimated $6,000 for signs to designate the trail to honor Andrea Conte Bredesens wife. Naifeh a Covington Democrat said he can raise the money if the state can handle the signs. Naifeh noted his request has precedent. A decade ago, lawmakers named the Martha Sundquist State Forest in Cocke County to honor the wife of Republican Gov. Don Sundquist. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/governor-bill-haslams-administration-objects-bill-/?local

Grant secrecy bill returned to committee (Associated Press/Schelzig)


Votes in the state legislature were delayed Thursday on Republican Gov. Bill Haslams proposal to close records used to make economic development grant decisions, as some lawmakers questioned why ownership details should be sealed. The state House of Representatives put off a decision on the bill for a week, and the state Senate sent it back to its Commerce Committee. Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson, acknowledged the ownership portion of the proposal has become the fundamental issue around the bill, and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said he does not expect the bill to be brought back to the Senate floor until it has been rewritten so that the owners of companies that receive grants are made a matter of public record. W heres the bill now? Back in committee because were not passing it until that happens, Ramsey said. Haslams bill is part of his effort to shift the focus of economic development incentives toward cash grants rather than traditional tax credits. The administration wants to ask companies for more due diligence materials before committing that money. But the administration also says those materials must be kept under wraps for fear of scaring off businesses concerned that their proprietary information could be made public. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120224/NEWS0201/302240068/Grant-secrecy-bill-returned-committee? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

ECD Bill Goes Back to Drawing Board (WPLN-Radio Nashville)


The Tennessee state Senate today delayed taking action on a bill that would keep information secret about companies seeking state grants. The idea is that if the state Department of Economic and Community Development would keep certain information secret about companies applying for state money, they could make better decisions about handing it out. The original version would have made a great deal of information secret, even who owns the company. Democrats fought the idea, and some prominent Republicans werent happy either, including Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey. Now some will argue that maybe ownership shouldnt be divulged, they dont want their name divulged. Well, dont ask for a grant. Thats pretty simple. Theres certain things that should be divulged, and thats one of them. Ramsey says he has confidence in ECD but wants more accountability by companies getting state subsidies for development. http://wpln.org/?p=34399

Effort to Expel Tent-Dwellers from TN Statehouse Plaza Passes Senate (TN


2

Report)
A bill requiring that Occupy Nashville protesters break camp on War Memorial Plaza passed the Senate Thursday, 21 to 9. The legislation is in need now of only one more formalizing vote in the House before heading to the desk of Gov. Bill Haslam. Known as the Equal Access to Public Property Act of 2012, the proposed new law states that camping will be prohibited on any state-owned public property not designated as a campground. It also defines camping as erecting any temporary structure, or laying down bedding materials for the purposes of sleeping. An amendment on the bill also states that camping includes cooking activities and storing of personal belongings, as well as engaging in digging. Some lawmakers believe the measures language is too open-ended. Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, who said he originally expected to vote for the bill, argued against the bill, saying its language is too broad and subject to on-the-spot interpretation. It might cause a law-abiding citizen like, for example, a hunter in a duck blind warming up some food to eat on public lands to unintentionally commit a crime, he said. http://tnreport.com/blog/2012/02/24/effort-to-expel-tent-dwellers-from-tn-statehouse-plaza-passes-senate/

Senate votes to remove Occupy Nashville protesters (Tennessean/Sisk)


Ramsey: Warning should come first Tennessee lawmakers moved closer to removing the dwindling Occupy Nashville encampment at the state Capitol, but the leader of the state Senate said Thursday that he does not want Gov. Bill Haslam to move quickly against the protest. Senators voted 21-9 for a measure that would make camping without permission on government land a crime punishable by up to a year in jail, overcoming arguments that the bill is too broad and is meant to punish a single protest. A second vote will be needed in the House of Representatives, where it passed by a wide margin last week, before the bill goes to Haslam for his signature. But despite frustration among lawmakers toward the nearly five-month-old protest, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said Haslam should not move in immediately to remove the camp once the bill passes. We want to be reasonable about this, to give some warning to the people that are permanently camped on the legislative plaza, to say you have a week, 10 days whatever the administration decides to get off or you will be removed, he said. I think thats being very reasonable. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20120224/NEWS0201/302240052/Senate-votes-remove-Occupy-Nashvilleprotesters?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Senate Votes to Oust Occupy Nashville (WPLN-Radio Nashville)


Legislative Plaza, the state Senate today joined the state House in passing a bill to make such camping illegal. Sponsors of the bill to clear off the Legislative Plaza of unwanted tents say its a matter of protecting state land not silencing Occupy Nashville. Senator Dolores Gresham of Somerville says her bill addresses unauthorized camping, not free speech. This bill does not have anything to do with right of protest, right of assembly, right of redress of grievances. It has to do with public managementof private of, of state property. Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle was among several Democrats who argue that the bill is an attempt to get rid of the specific group Occupy Nashville, and thus is a threat to free speech. Just very briefly, (I) would remind each and every member of this Senate that this country was created out of civil unrest, and I would only say to you that If the government prevents civil unrest, it will find itself with un-civil unrest. http://wpln.org/?p=34393

Panel discusses fears of proposed 'license to bully' bill (News-Sentinel/Osborne)


A proposed bill that sponsors say guards the First Amendment rights of students actually reworks anti-bullying legislation and would protect those who harass and put the victim in more harm, an equal rights advocate said Thursday. Ben Byers, Knoxville committee chair for the Tennessee Equality Project, which is a statewide organization that supports and lobbies for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, was among the panelists at the University of Tennessee College of Law for a discussion the so-called "license to bully" bill that has been proposed in the Legislature. Byers said the bill protects students who bully without the act or threat of physical violence based on religious, philosophical and political rights. It is this type of nonphysical bullying which he believes to be most prevalent and potentially harmful to students of varying backgrounds, he said. "And obviously that opens the door not only for LGBT issues but it also opens it up for Jewish issues, for Catholic issues, for Muslim issues. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/feb/24/panel-discusses-fears-of-proposed... license-to/

Ramsey on secrecy: Biz ownership must become public (Nashville Biz Journal)
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said today he expects a compromise on economic development legislation to end with the state disclosing ownership of any company receiving incentives. The Republican head of the Tennessee Senate 3

said he thinks any company asking for incentives even those with an ownership structure that is currently private should be prepared for that information to become public after the deal is done. He cast it as a political reality that the bill would need to go that far to pass the Legislature, and also said he believes its the right level of disclosure. "If you ask for the incentives, the citizens have a right to know who (investors) are," Ramsey told reporters today. Privately held companies currently do not have to disclose ownership. Tennessee's Department of Economic and Community Development has argued that if it can guarantee confidentiality, it can do a better job of due diligence on companies by requiring additional information as it considers authorizing incentives. Clint Brewer, an ECD spokesman, said the department will weigh Ramsey's statement, but that the direction of the bill remains under consideration. http://www.bizjournals.com/nashville/news/2012/02/23/bill-hagerty-ron-ramsey-ecdincentives.html

Bradley County veterans nursing home still unfunded (Times Free-Press/Higgins)


The announcement that a proposed Southeast Tennessee veterans nursing home here is now fully funded was premature. A new list of federal funding priorities released this week shows the Bradley County veterans home pushed down the rankings by three late adds from Virginia. Now the areas state lawmakers are appealing to their federal counterparts for help. State Reps. Kevin Brooks and Eric W atson, both of Cleveland, and state Sen. Mike Bell, of Riceville, wrote to U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker and U.S. Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Scott DeJarlais, who will represent part of the area after redistricting. We are of course disappointed, Bell said in the statement. We are putting our heads together to come up with other options and a letter of appeal to our colleagues in Washington. Last year Bradley County ranked 47th on the national VA priority list, just behind Montgomery County/Clarksville at 42nd place. But the Clarksville facility received funding last year, raising local organizers hopes for funding this year for the Bradley project. The local veterans nursing home committee had hoped for at least fifth place this year, high enough for funding. Federal funds will account for about two-thirds of the $23 million construction costs with the other third coming from state and local sources. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/bradley-county-veterans-nursing-home-still-unfunde/?local

County Commission wants state leaders to intervene, release TBI file (NS/Donila)
Knox County commissioners want officials to release the entire state investigation into disgraced Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner so they're turning to the governor and the Tennessee General Assembly for help. On Monday, they're expected to adopt a resolution that asks state leaders to first request the case files. From there, commissioners say, they hope officials will enact legislation that removes exemption for closed Tennessee Bureau of Investigation files "in matters considered to be of great public importance." "I think everybody is upset about the fact that there are so many questions about this (case)," said commission Chairman Mike Hammond, the resolution sponsor. "What do they know and when did they know it? There's no way we're going to get the answers unless we have the file." Hammond said the resolution stems from a recent News Sentinel investigation and a Feb. 19 editorial that revealed accounts of Baumgartner allegedly shaking down court employees for painkillers and that questioned whether the Knox County Sheriff's Office missed chances to uncover his misdeeds. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/feb/24/county-commission-wants-state-leaders-to-release/

Suburban mayors want municipal school districts in plan (C. Appeal/Garlington)


Relying on a disputed interpretation of state legislation, the six suburban mayors are asking the commission planning the transition to a unified Memphis and Shelby County School District to include municipal school districts in its plan. In a letter addressed to Dr. Barbara Prescott, who chairs the Transition Planning Commission, the mayors asked the TPC to decide where children who live outside their municipal boundaries but attend schools within the city limits will be educated should new municipal school districts be created. The mayors said they believed those children should continue to attend their same schools. TPC members contacted after a meeting of the group Thursday said they hadn't seen the letter before they were shown a copy by a reporter and declined comment on it. Prescott said she will respond to the mayors after considering it. In an earlier discussion among members of the TPC executive committee, Prescott said that state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, interprets the Norris-Todd law in such a matter that could incorporate separate municipal school districts in the TCP plan. The Norris-Todd law created the TPC. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/feb/23/suburban-mayors-ask-educate-students-unincorporate/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

Schools Planning Group Hears Specifics of School Structure Proposal (MDN)


The group drafting the blueprint for the structure of a consolidated countywide public school system got several 4

dozen PowerPoint slides and a briefing Thursday, Feb. 23, on the idea of a two-track school system that includes a path to autonomy. Between now and the transition planning commissions next meeting in a week, those in the group of 21 will look over the specifics including generally similar models in other school systems before a possible vote at the commissions March 1 meeting. The decision would be the first toward a consolidated school system structure. With the issue decided, the planning commission would begin taking other steps toward a goal of sending a completed plan for a consolidated school system to the countywide school board and state education officials for approval in August. The two school systems are scheduled to merge based on that plan a year later, at the start of the 2013-2014 school year. Meanwhile, leaders of Shelby Countys six suburban towns and cities continue to move toward May referenda on creating separate municipal school systems. Arlingtons board of aldermen made the town the first of the six to give final approval to a May 10 referendum this week. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/feb/24/schools-planning-group-hears-specifics-of-schoolstructure-proposal/

New candidates file paperwork for 3rd District race (Nooga)


Two new candidates have filed papers to enter the race for the 3rd District Congressional seat. Barry Kidwell, an Independent from Hixson, and Zach Hiatt, a Democrat also from Hixson, are listed as candidates on the most recent list from the Hamilton County Election Commission. Multiple attempts by Nooga.com to reach both Kidwell and Hiatt for comment were unsuccessful. Along with Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, candidates to have already filed papers for the 3rd District campaigns include Republicans Weston Wamp, Scottie Mayfield and Ron Bhalla. Democrats include Bill Taylor and Dr. Mary Headrick. Dr. Jean Howard-Hill, a Republican who declared her candidacy last year, has yet to file the proper paperwork with the election commission. The final deadline for those wishing to file and enter the race is April 5 at noon. The primary for the race will be held Aug. 2. http://www.nooga.com/153893/new-candidates-file-paperwork-for-3rd-district-race/

Voters, Campaigns Brace for Super Tuesday in Tennessee (WPLN-Radio Nashville)


Tennessees Republican primary is a little more than a week away, and both voters and some campaigns are still trying to get ready ahead of Super Tuesday. For candidates, that might mean booking an event or two in the Volunteer State on relatively short notice. For voters, it means having to finally make a decision, after watching the race for months. When it comes to presidential primaries, Tennessee doesnt usually carry much sway. But of the ten states holding contests on Super Tuesday, its third down the list in terms of delegates at stake. And early voting is well underway. Poll worker: Which of the primaries would you like to vote in? Voter: Republican. In Franklin, a wealthy hotbed for conservative politics and potential donors, you can ask four voters who theyre backing and you might get four different answers. http://wpln.org/?p=34413

Gingrich botches name of Chattanooga landmark (Times Free-Press/Carroll)


Chattawhat? Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign confirmed a Tuesday morning fundraiser at an iconic Scenic City spot. One problem. "Chattahoochee Choo Choo Hotel," said a copy of an invitation obtained Thursday by the Times Free Press. "Crystal Room ... $1,000 per person." Susan Meyers, southeast communications director for Gingrich, clarified the Republican presidential candidate's position on the city's world-famous venue. "The Chattanooga Choo Choo is one of Newt Gingrich's favorite spots in the South, and especially in Tennessee," she said. The invitation-only Choo Choo "VIP Roundtable" for the former House speaker begins Tuesday at 8 a.m., according to the invitation, which encourages supporters to give up to $2,500. Ashley Fischer, a Gingrich finance aide, said she'll start sending invitations to supporters today. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/newt-gingrich-botches-name-of-chattanooga-landmark/?local

IRS says 18,000 Tennesseans could get 2008 refunds (Associated Press)
As taxpayers prepare their income tax returns for 2011, the Internal Revenue Service is still holding millions that are owed to Tennessee residents from 2008. IRS spokesman Dan Boone said the funds can't be refunded because more than 18,000 Tennesseans it should go to haven't filed returns from three years ago. Refunds totaling $16,130,000 await 2008 filings in Tennessee. Nationally, the estimate is more than $1 billion for people who have yet to file for that year. Boone said the late filing can still be done without penalty if a refund is owed, but only until April 17. After that, the money is turned over to the U.S. Treasury. The IRS can still withhold refund checks for 2008 from taxpayers if they didn't file returns for 2009 and 2010. http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/article/38650441?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|s 5

Uncertain future looms for Postal Service employees in Chattanooga (TFP/ONeill)


After working for the U.S. Postal Service for 24 years, Mark Lawrence is left with a choice move away from his family or find a new career. Lawrence is one of 110 employees at the Shallowford Road Mail Processing and Distribution Center facing displacement or unemployment after the Postal Service announced the plant likely will be shut down sometime after May 15. Lawrence and his wife, Maribeth, love Chattanooga because they can continue to live with their daughter, a junior at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. They have a house, friends, a whole life here. The Lawrences dont want their family to split up, but with less than eight years to go until Mark Lawrence is eligible for retirement, they just might have to. Its hard to walk away from something like that when youve dedicated your life to it and sacrificed a lot of things, Maribeth Lawrence said. To sacrifice and do these kind of things and then have to walk away and start over, probably nowhere near the salary hes at, its scary. Though the Shallowford Road Post Office will remain open, all of Chattanoogas mail sorting and distribution operations will likely shift to Atlanta and Nashville. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/uncertain-future-looms-110-us-postal-service-emplo/?local

Postal Service considers plans to close some offices, consolidate (CA/Sullivan)


Postal processing facilities in Jonesboro, Ark., Jackson. Tenn., and Tupelo, Miss., will cease operations and be consolidated in Memphis if a proposal announced Thursday passes congressional muster. The U.S. Postal Service announced that 223 postal processing facilities would close under the plan, which is expected, with other consolidations, to save $20 billion. It was unclear whether the increased volume being sorted in the Bluff City will actually increase Memphis hiring. The Postal Service has seen a 25 percent decline in first-class mail service since 2006, making some response inevitable. Last year, the Postal Service announced it was eliminating the Southeast Area Office and its 120 jobs on Humphreys Boulevard in Memphis as part of an effort to eliminate 7,500 administrative jobs across the country. The Postal Service also announced last year that it was considering closing six post offices in Shelby County, including a Downtown facility at Peabody Place and operations in Millington and Frayser, but no final decision has come down. In addition to those facilities, post offices in Arkabutla and Lake Cormorant in DeSoto County and Clarkedale and Turrell in Crittenden County are still targets. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/feb/23/postal-service-considers-plans-close-three-offices/ (SUB)

3 USPS Closings Reroute Mail to Memphis Centers (Memphis Daily News)


The U.S. Postal Service says it is closing 10 mail processing operations across Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi, rerouting mail from three of those centers to Memphis facilities. Memphis will now handle postal operations for centers that are being closed in Jackson, Tenn., Tupelo, Miss., and Jonesboro, Ark. No processing centers in Memphis are slated to close. http://www.memphisdailynews.com/news/2012/feb/24/3-usps-closings-reroute-mail-to-memphis-centers/

Johnson City mail processing center to close, move to Knoxville (Herald-Courier)


As a result of studies begun five months ago, the Postal Service has made the decision to move all mail processing operations from: Chattanooga, Tenn. Processing & Distribution Center (P&DC) to the Nashville TN P&DC and Atlanta GA P&DC. Jackson, Tenn. Processing and Distribution Facility (P&DF) to the Memphis TN P&DC. Johnson City TN Customer Service Mail Processing Center (CSMPC) to the Knoxville, Tenn. P&DC. Once the transfers are completed, the mail processing operations at the closing sites will cease. There will be no change to any of the retail units, business mail entry units or vehicle maintenance facilities at these locations at this time. http://www2.tricities.com/news/2012/feb/23/johnson-city-mail-processing-center-close-ar-1710515/

US Postal Service to end mail processing in Johnson City, shift to Knoxville (JCP)
The US Postal Service has decided to move Johnson City's mail processing operations to Knoxville, despite what had been described as a five-month moratorium on such changes announced in December. "Once the transfers are completed, the mail processing operations at the closing sites will cease," the USPS said in a news release. "There will be no change to any of the retail units, business mail entry units or vehicle maintenance facilities at these locations at this time." Also in Tennessee, mail processing operations in Chattanooga will be moved to Nashville, and those in Jackson will be moved to Memphis. The decision to consolidate mail processing facilities recognizes the urgent need to reduce the size of the national mail processing network to eliminate costly underutilized infrastructure, said Chief Operating Officer Megan Brennan. Consolidating operations is necessary if the Postal Service is to remain viable to provide mail service to the nation. Specific 6

dates have not been set for the transition. Until a specific date has been announced, residential and business mailers will continue to be served through the current facilities. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=98504#ixzz1nIa65KfT

Second lady, labor secretary talk up community colleges in Harriman (N-S/Fowler)


Like rock stars on tour, America's second lady and the U.S. Department of Labor secretary rolled into town Thursday on an unmarked, black luxury bus. Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, and Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis are on a three-day, five-state publicity blitz touting community colleges and their roles in training the unemployed to land jobs in a changing market. "We've finally recognized that not only can community colleges change lives, they can change our country," said Biden, a longtime community college educator. Their road trip which wraps up today in Thomasville, N.C. features the expected accessories when heavy-hitters visit: Secret Service agents and the requisite tight security, neatly dressed advance personnel and staged photo opportunities. There's even a fancy title and poster for their excursion: "The Community College to Career Tour," or "CC2C Tour 2012" for short. Thursday's midafternoon stop sandwiched between visits in Lexington, Ky., and Wytheville, Va. was at Harriman's Tennessee Technology Center. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/feb/23/second-lady-labor-secretary-talk-up-community-in/

Loot confiscated by TSA turns into revenue for states (USA Today)
From samurai swords to hatchets to snow globes, the Transportation Security Administration collects tons of unusual objects each year that passengers try to carry onto planes. The objects are what the TSA deems weapons or other threats to flight security. They're surrendered at checkpoints by forgetful or harried passengers who would rather give them up than miss a flight or return to the check-in counter and pay extra to put them in a checked bag. Among the most common: Swiss Army knives or similarly sharp multiuse pocket tools, though the gamut runs to swords or even fuzzy handcuffs that are more for bedroom use than law enforcement. And despite cynical suggestions from angry travelers that security officers keep the items for themselves, the TSA turns over the property to state agencies and commercial vendors, which cart it away to sell. Although public auctions yield a fraction of retail prices, dozens of states have found some revenue in the contraband. "It's kind of amazing what people will try to take on board," says Troy Thompson, spokesman for Pennsylvania's Department of General Services, which takes some of the contraband. "To them (passengers), it's an item that's not threatening, but in these days and times it is threatening." http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/story/2012-02-21/Loot-confiscated-by-TSA-turns-into-revenue-forstates/53195748/1

TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore defends nuclear power record (TFP/Sohn)
TVA President and CEO Tom Kilgore told Chattanooga area engineers Thursday that sooner or later nuclear operators will be able to mine fuel to make electricity from their own spent fuel wastes. Ill make a prediction, he said to a questioner who asked about spent fuel recycling. One of these days well go out there and start mining those dry casks, he said of the Tennessee Valley Authoritys onsite storage areas for used and highly radioactive nuclear waste. France does it now. We just dont have the political will to do it, Kilgore said. Kilgore was the keynote speaker at the Chattanooga Engineers W eek 2012 banquet, and his primary message was to explain why we still need nuclear power. Kilgore said nuclear power is debated a lot, especially after the Fukushima Dai-ichi triple meltdowns in the wake of a 9.0 earthquake and tsunami in Japan last March. But the answer of why nuclear power still is important is in its lower cost to operate. W e build nuclear to keep your rates down. The best economic tool we have and we are in the economic development business is to keep rates low, Kilgore said. One man told Kilgore he had read news of W atts Bar nuclear safety problems and news of TVAs financial struggle to creatively finance the Bellefonte Nuclear Plants completion with the John Sevier combined-cycle gas plants sale and lease back. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/tva-president-and-ceo-tom-kilgore-defends-nuclear-/?local

JEA to decrease electrical rate (Jackson Sun)


The average monthly electric bill from Jackson Energy Authority will be 52 cents smaller starting March 1. The energy authority is cutting the electrical rate it charges customers because of lower supply costs from the Tennessee Valley Authority. The average residential customer bill will be $112.68 per month after the rate change. This is the third consecutive month the local utility has lowered its electricity rate. The lower rate is now 7

3.99 percent lower than it was last March. The rate change was approved on Thursday by board of trustee members at the utilitys monthly meeting. The board members also voted to: Convert $37.425 million in Wastewater Division bonds originally issued in 2002, and refunded in 2009. The converted bonds will then come due in fiscal year 2023. The conversion will change the debt from variable interest rate bonds on which the interest rate changes weekly, to variable rate bonds where the interest rate changes monthly. The monthly interest rate will be based on the London Inter-Bank Offer Rate index. The bonds are issued under a 42-month agreement after which the agreement can be renewed or a new agreement written. The change is expected to save the Wastewater Division more than $150,000 annually. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20120224/NEWS/302240008/JEA-decrease-electrical-rate

Board of Education received bids for 21st Century Academy building (TFP/Hardy)
The Hamilton County Board of Education received two lower-than-expected bids for the now-closed 21st Century Academy, each proposal with very different visions for the vacant school. Locally based Emerson Russell Management Corp. offered $12,500 for the 74,000-square foot building, which sits on about eight acres at 4201 Cherryton Drive. Company officials said they hoped to renovate the building to house corporate offices. The other bid from Helton and Associates came in at $50,000, with a plan to use the building as a business incubator and community space. Each pitched their proposals to the school board's facilities committee Thursday evening. Because the bids came in low, board Chairman Mike Evatt asked each party to submit their best and final offer within the week, before the bids are presented to the full school board. "The proposals were quite a bit less than we were expecting" for the former Brainerd Junior High, Evatt said. The school building recently was appraised at $350,000, said Gary W aters, assistant superintendent for auxiliary services. The building, which closed in 2009, has been ravaged by theft and vandalism. It needs a new heating and air system as well as electrical work, though Waters noted it is a "beautiful old school" that just outlived its purpose. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/two-bid-for-old-21st-century-academy/?local

Grundy County Schools officials work on state audit findings (TFP/Benton)


Grundy County Schools officials continue work on a January state audit that listed eight findings including more than $29,000 in overspending, a $19,000 overdraft, questionable compensation for three employees and unapproved bonuses for seven others, officials said. A breakdown in communication of our protocol during a sixmonth period where the director position, and several supervisors, changed positions numerous times caused some of these problems, Director of Schools Jody Hargis said Thursday in an email. Hargis, a former director of schools during the last decade, replaced director Clay Newsome in December 2010. Newsome served six months in the job. The audit reviews the fiscal year ending June 30, 2011. Hargis said all eight of the findings concerned him, but those that deal with funds are the most concerning, he said. Board of Education members accepted a corrective action plan at their last meeting, he said. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/grundy-county-schools-officials-work-state-audit-f/?local

County, city school representatives hear state funding details (Johnson City Press)
A meeting called Thursday to spell out the specifics surrounding how the state allocates funds to schools may have yielded more questions than answers as area officials and education leaders work to address the ongoing issue of budget constraints. Officials with the Washington County Commission, Washington County and Johnson City Schools, and representatives from the state legislature met with representatives of the state Department of Education to iron out the details of the Basic Education Program, or BEP, funding formula. Education dollars generated by the BEP are what the state has defined as sufficient to provide a basic level of education for Tennessee students, which includes both a state and local share of the BEP. There are 45 individual components to the formula divided into three categories: instructional, classroom and non-classroom. The formula takes into account a countys debt, fiscal worth, average household income, tax structure and the average daily membership, or ADM, of students to determine the amount allocated by the state. http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/News/article.php?id=98511#ixzz1nIaT5cwP

Deputy superintendent of Memphis schools placed on leave (C. Appeal/Roberts)


Irving Hamer, second in command at Memphis City Schools, was placed on leave with pay after he was accused of making inappropriate comments to another school employee in Supt. Kriner Cash's home over the weekend. The woman employee reported to work Monday but was out the rest of the week. Cash hosted a semi-social 8

event at his home in Chickasaw Gardens last Saturday night for key members of his administration. Alcohol was served. Hamer, 66, is accused of making the comments to the woman in the company of others. In a letter to board members, Cash said he received a complaint Thursday that Hamer had "directed inappropriate comments" toward another MCS employee. On the advice of the district's general counsel, Cash said he turned the matter over to outside attorneys for further investigation. "Although the misconduct occurred outside the work place, such conduct nevertheless is unacceptable," Cash wrote, adding that Hamer had been placed on leave pending results of the investigation. "W hile I generally do not advise the Board of personnel and administrative decisions and given Dr. Hamer's position, I felt it important to advise you of this matter," Cash said. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2012/feb/23/deputy-superintendent-memphis-schools-placed-leave/ (SUBSCRIPTION)

Razor blades found in inmate's prosthetic leg (Associated Press)


Sheriff's deputies in Maury County, Tenn., say an inmate at the jail was found hiding razor blades in his prosthetic leg. The Daily Herald says 64-year-old Kenneth Sneed of Columbia was charged with introducing a weapon into a penal institution (http://bit.ly/wHB3ea). He was in jail on charges of driving on a revoked license and theft. A report from the county sheriff's department said Sneed removed the leg during a search and two razor blades were found inside. http://www.tennessean.com/usatoday/article/38647825?odyssey=mod|newswell| text|News|

Maryland: Maryland Senate Approves Gay-Marriage Law (W all Street Journal)


Maryland lawmakers approved Thursday evening a law allowing same-sex marriages in the state, but voters will likely get a chance to overturn the decision before gay unions begin in the state. The Maryland Senate passed a bill, the Civil Marriage Protection Act, by a 25-22 vote. Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley, who sponsored the bill, has promised to sign the legislation. It was passed by the state's House of Delegates last week. The law, which isn't set to take effect until 2013, will probably face a ballot referendum in November led by groups opposing gaymarriage rights. Maryland voters have the opportunity to overturn the legislature's decision if they gather 56,000 signatures backing a referendum. A similar process is expected to play out in Washington state, where the governor last week signed a gay-marriage law that the legislature had passed. Voters in Maine this year will also vote on whether to permit gay marriages, while voters in North Carolina and Minnesota will vote this year on whether to enshrine bans on same-sex marriage in their state constitutions. Gay marriage has been shot down whenever it has been brought to a public vote, as happened in California in 2008. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204778604577241882058692916.html?mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)

North Carolina: Pregnancy medical homes gain momentum in NC (Stateline)


Like most southern states, North Carolina has a higher than average rate of infant deaths and premature births. So it made sense to Medicaid Director Craigan Gray, a trained obstetrician, to attack the problem head on. Shortly after taking over in 2009, he began a campaign to create a new kind of program that would identify Medicaid beneficiaries with high-risk pregnancies sooner than before and use proven medical procedures to help prevent problems at birth. Launched less than a year ago, Grays program, called pregnancy medical homes, is showing promise. The reason I wanted to do it had nothing to do with finance, Gray says. I wanted to get better babies and better moms, knowing that good care pulls the finance piece along with it. North Carolinas approach borrows medical practices used for years by managed care companies to improve birth outcomes and lower costs. Organizations such as the March of Dimes and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists promote similar practices nationwide. And this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced a $43 million grant program aimed at lowering premature births in the Medicaid program. http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=634327

Texas: Divorce-by-Form Riles Texas Bar (Wall Street Journal)


The Texas Supreme Court wants to help financially strapped couples by offering them fill-in-the-blank legal forms they can use in divorce cases instead of hiring lawyers. Divorce lawyerswhose fees often exceed $100 an hour in Texasare battling the plan. The fight is a sign of what experts see as a trend around the 9

country: a growing number of people who try to represent themselves when they go to court to dissolve their marriages. Though there are no comprehensive figures, surveys in some states and Texas counties indicate that a majority of parties in divorce cases do so, which can cause problems for the couples as well as the courts. Thirty-six states already offer self-help forms for divorce filings. The Texas Supreme Court last month finished drafts of its versions, including a divorce petition that prompts people to check relevant boxes and fill in blanks, including the date they were married, whether they have a protective order against a spouse and details regarding personal property they own. The State Bar of Texas has asked the court to suspend its initiative, citing insufficient data. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204778604577239480550755826.html? mod=ITP_pageone_1 (SUBSCRIPTION)

Texas: State to Close Program on Federal Health Law (New York Times)
A program created to help insurance-seekers in Texas cut through the complexities of federal health care reforms is shutting down in April, just 15 months after it opened its call center and years before the law goes into full effect. Officials with the Texas Department of Insurance say they plan to help fill the gap, but it is unclear whether they can handle what some health experts call a beast of a policy change: millions of new patients will be required to acquire health insurance, and those first-time policy holders will need help understanding their rights and benefits. W hen President Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in 2010, a consumer education program was also created. That September, the federal government awarded the Texas Department of Insurance a $2.8 million grant to start the Consumer Health Assistance Program. As of January, the department reported, the program had answered 8,900 calls and resolved nearly 5,600 cases statewide. A staff of nine employees had dispersed multilingual public service announcements, given field presentations, begun a Web site and staffed a hot line. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/24/us/texas-to-shut-consumer-health-assistance-program.html? _r=1&ref=todayspaper (SUBSCRIPTION)

OPINION Free-Press Editorial: Sensible plan to fight violent crime and drug abuse (TFP)
Tennessee has a lot going for it. Our state enjoys the built-in advantages of a mild climate and stunning natural beauty. W e also have the hard-earned benefits of solid economic development -- despite the recession and the painfully slow recovery nationwide. And we have intangible characteristics such as a strong volunteer spirit and friendly residents. Tennesseans are proud of those qualities and many more traits that set the state apart. But it would be neither honest nor productive to pretend that Tennessee has no room for improvement on the troubling issues of violent crime and the use of illegal drugs. Some highranking state law enforcement and other officials recently spelled out a number of the challenges we face: Tennessee's rate of violent crime from 2005 to 2010 was much higher than the national average -- about 613 violent crimes per 100,000 people in Tennessee, compared with about 404 per 100,000 people nationwide. Tennessee has the fifth-highest rate in the nation of domestic homicides. Victims of domestic violence made up slightly more than half of all reported violent crimes in the state in 2010. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/sensible-plan-to-fight-tennessee-crime-and-drugs/? opinionfreepress

Editorial: Remove secrecy about ownership from grants bill (News-Sentinel)


A so-called compromise that would divulge the business name but not the owners of privately held companies receiving public incentives in Tennessee fails to alleviate concerns about openness and the risk of corruption. Gov. Bill Haslam's administration is seeking a bill that would keep private information about companies receiving grants from the state. The bill is the companion of a measure that would explicitly allow such payments. The governor wants to set aside $70 million to use as incentives. Much of the information the administration wants to shield is and should be proprietary. Companies have a right to keep certain processes, materials and other information out of the public eye. No business owner would risk being put at a competitive disadvantage by having rivals learn trade secrets. Confidential negotiations are necessary to attract investment to the state. But the original bill also would have kept the identities of business owners confidential even after the award of a grant. Led initially by state Sen. Roy Herron, DDresden, and joined by the speakers of both houses, opponents argued with justification that companies receiving public money should be expected to reveal their ownership to the public. Herron also 10

warned of the temptation to corruption offered by such secrecy. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/feb/24/editorial-remove-secrecy-about-ownership-from/

Times Editorial: A shrinking U.S. Postal Service presence (Times Free-Press)


The announcement Thursday that the U.S. Postal Service will move the sorting and distribution operations currently housed at the Shallowford Road Post Office here to Atlanta and Nashville is hardly a surprise. The Postal Service's problems -- plummeting volume, high costs and regulations that make quick or substantial change difficult in most circumstances -- are public record. So are the various plans, including the closure of facilities, put forward to balance the books. Still, Thursday's announcement is a substantial blow. It is a shock for several reasons. Foremost, the closure will directly affect the lives of the more than 100 workers currently employed at the sorting and distribution facility who are likely to be out of work. That blow will be personal, but it also has economic consequences. The loss of jobs and attendant decline in income once spent on services and products will ripple through the community as those without work spend less on goods and services. There are broader implications, as well. The timely delivery of mail that most people served by the Shallowford Road facility have come to expect will change dramatically. Delivery times here likely will slow considerably. For years, mail generated here has been sorted and distributed at the Shallowford center. That almost guaranteed next day delivery to most local addresses. That likely will become a custom of the past. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2012/feb/24/a-shrinking-postal-presence/?opiniontimes ###

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