Friday, September 14

East Tennessee may see rain, tornadoes, flooding in wake of Florence, local experts say (News Sentinel) East Tennessee can expect to see several inches of rain and the potential for tornadoes and flooding late this weekend from Hurricane Florence, local experts said on Thursday. The Knoxville area could get about four inches of rain, said Kelsey Ellis, an assistant geography professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Ellis specializes in meteorology and climatology, and said there is also a potential for tornadoes to develop in the area.

Red Cross shelter opens in Knoxville ahead of Hurricane Florence (WATE-TV) Even before Hurricane Florence makes landfall, the American Red Cross is already prepared with shelters set up. There are three shelters in Tennessee in Johnson City, Chattanooga and Knoxville. The Knoxville shelter is located at Central Baptist of Bearden, according to TEMA. “Diasters happen, natural disasters. We all know they happen. Might as well be prepared for it, organized,” said Alan Ganzman, a volunteer for the Red Cross.

Cherokee Dam spills for first time since 1994, TVA prepares for storm’s rainfall (News Sentinel) The Tennessee Valley Authority is spilling water from its dams to create storage space for rain coming with Hurricane Florence.  Crowds gathered Wednesday near sunset at Cherokee Dam, to see the utility spill the dam water for the first time since 1994. Lowering the lake levels helps prevent freshwater flooding in periods of heavy rainfall. TVA said Wednesday the Ohio River is already nearing flood stage near Paducah, Kentucky because of heavy rainfall over the past few weeks, and the utility is working with the Army Corps of Engineers to coordinate releases from the Kentucky Dam, so that Florence does not negatively impact the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

Local residents embody Volunteer State spirit, open homes to hurricane evacuees (WJHL-TV) As many evacuees from the coast have made their way to the Tri-Cities region, we’ve discovered social media is helping connect people with the essentials while they are away from home. We first told you about the Florence evacuation support in East TN/W NC/SW VA Facebook page in our newscasts Wednesday evening. It was a Facebook page that was initially set up last year to help Hurricane Irma evacuees, but now is focused on supporting those people fleeing from Hurricane Florence. One of the creators of that page, Ren Allen, told us Wednesday that she was just grateful to see how many people were using it as a resource to help each other during this time of need.

TEMA Warns People To Not Send ‘Stuff’ To Hurricane Victims (WTVF-TV) The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency is warning well-intentioned volunteers to be mindful of what they send to disaster zones. “When you have goods being shipped in, coats, clothes and toys, you have to pull people away from jobs that they’re doing,” said Dean Flener, of TEMA. If areas become inundated with donations, emergency workers can’t stick to their assignments. “We don’t want to pull them off to do inventory, stocking and warehousing,” said Flener. TEMA says rerouting people can become a disaster within the disaster. “It becomes too overwhelming for local officials who are trying to manage the help to the people at the scene,” said Flener. It’s also not a good idea to “self-deploy,” in essence, to go without a plan.

Haslam: Memphis Has Not Been Ignored During His Administration (Memphis Daily News) On the heels of gubernatorial candidates courting Memphis and calling for increased state involvement, Gov. Bill Haslam is defending his record, saying the Bluff City hasn’t been overlooked on his watch. “If you look at the time we spent, both the economic deals we put together, the focus we’ve put there, I’d say it’s been anything but ignored. And we’ve made great progress,” said Haslam, who is term-limited in January. The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development offered information showing Shelby County had more state projects than any other county in the state since 2011 — 128 with 14,774 job commitments and $5.5 billion in capital investment. Haslam made the comments to reporters in Nashville a week after Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean presented his economic plan for Memphis and Shelby County saying Memphis residents “feel forgotten by the state.”

Business, education leaders discuss employment through Tennessee Reconnect (WBBJ-TV) What do nontraditional students need to be successful? Local educators and business leaders are coming together to work for these students in the community. “We want to make sure in higher education, we are producing the graduates that the workforce needs, and sometimes you don’t find that out unless you get around the table and talk,” said Mike Krause, executive director of Tennessee Higher Education. Jason Bates from Toyota Bodine says employees need a degree to get hired at his plant, and Tennessee Reconnect is helping. “There are individuals at our plant who have decided to get their credentials so that they can come and work at a higher paying job,” Bates said. Krause says they are shocked by the number of Reconnect students across the state.

With hands untied, can U of M fulfill Tennessee promise? (Memphis Business Journal) When M. David Rudd, University of Memphis president, recently suggested that the school could become the largest university in the state within the next 24 months, locals were correct to cheer. It’s not just for bragging rights, either, though surpassing the number of students at University of Tennessee, Knoxville would be a sweet victory. In each individual municipal ecosystem, cities have a certain amount of money flowing in and out of their borders based upon workers’ salaries, tax revenue and corporate receipts, along with other things. And, among those entities that capture money from outside the ecosystem and bring it in are universities and health care systems — the so-called “eds and meds.”

Are changes to the juvenile justice system working to combat kid crime? (WKRN-TV) The ages of children committing serious crimes in Nashville are getting younger. There have been changes to the Davidson County Juvenile Justice system that aim to keep the children who enter the system from coming back. The Davidson County Juvenile Detention Center houses children who face serious charges. They are held there while awaiting trial or a transfer to the adult system. At the time of our visit, 13 was the age of the youngest child being housed there. There is about 40 youth staying at the center at any given time. They are in class six hours a day, and they have access to a library and recreation. Over the last four years, Juvenile Court Judge Sheila Calloway has implemented many changes at the center.

TBI, Google Allowed to Keep Files Secret (Memphis Flyer) Should the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation be able to keep its case files forever secret from the public? Should Google be able to keep secret how much money it will get from a local government? Those were but two questions reviewed Thursday morning during the second meeting of a group of state lawmakers trying to get their hands around the 563 current exemptions to Tennessee’s Open Record Act. Jack McElroy, executive editor of the Knoxville News-Sentinel, told the group public records are vital to a newspaper’s watchdog function.

These pain clinics vanished, leaving patients without medical records. Now their medicine is running out.(Tennessean) Lisa Duvall watched in horror as the prescription bottle slipped out of her hand and tiny blue painkillers scattered over her kitchen floor. For 30 minutes, she scoured the floor on her hands and knees, trying not to panic. Duvall had to find every single pill, but not just because her four dogs would gobble up anything she left on the floor. This medicine was the last of a dwindling supply that dulls the throbbing, burning pain in her spine. The pills run out in two-and-a-half weeks. Duvall has no idea how to get more.

Columbia State Reaches Record-breaking Enrollment (Brentwood Home Page) Columbia State Community College reached its largest enrollment for the second year in a row. Fall 2018 preliminary census data shows a college-wide headcount enrollment of 6,252 students. That number is up 5.3 percent from last year. Full-Time Equivalency enrollment is up by 4.2 percent from Fall 2017, and is up over 20.3 percent over the past four years. FTE is the formula that determines how many students are attending full-time. “We are excited to welcome so many new students to Columbia State,” said Dr. Janet F. Smith, Columbia State president. “The continued growth of the college speaks to the quality of our academic programs and the dedication of our faculty and staff who are committed to helping our students reach their academic goals.”

Gift will transform UTC College of Business (Times Free Press)  The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is celebrating the largest gift ever made to the university — $40 million — with the renaming of the Gary W. Rollins College of Business. The historic donation by businessman Gary Rollins and his wife, Kathleen Rollins, was announced in June after it was approved the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees. The money will be used for capital renovations, student scholarships, faculty and more. “His investment in the college goes far beyond the substantial financial investment he and Mrs. Rollins have made,” said Robert Dooley, dean of the College of Business.

In Nashville, Researchers Get A Rare Chance To Study Minority Health (WPLN Radio) Nashville General Hospital and Meharry Medical College are pooling all of their patient data over the last 10 years and making it available to researchers. The data set is meant to provide insight into local health challenges and broader racial disparities. General Hospital and Meharry have a trove of 3.5 million medical and dental records scrubbed of identifying information. And it’s unique, as data sets go, because Caucasians are usually over-represented in research. “We didn’t purposefully go out to get African American data. That’s who we serve,” says Amy Andrade, assistant vice president of research and leader of the project at Meharry. “We do want to focus on social determinants of health.”

Memphis area no longer No.1 in overall, childhood poverty (Commercial Appeal) The Memphis metropolitan area is no longer the worst in the country for overall poverty and childhood poverty rates for areas with more than a million people, according to new census data. The Greater Memphis area, which includes parts of Mississippi and Arkansas and totals 1.3 million people, fell to second in the rankings in both categories, a place it held two years ago for overall poverty. Memphis now ranks below New Orleans in both overall and childhood poverty, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. A total of 17.1 percent of the whole Memphis area population and 27.4 percent of children under the age of 18 lived below the federal poverty line in 2017, according to the data.

Tennessee AG lawyer downplays jump to 553 record exemptions (AP) A state attorney general’s office lawyer is downplaying concerns that Tennessee code includes 553 public records exemptions, saying that’s just nine added annually on average. Janet Kleinfelter of the attorney general’s office told a legislative panel Thursday that much has changed about the U.S. and technology since Tennessee created its public records act in 1957. She said there usually are very good reasons lawmakers passed exceptions. Doug Pierce of the Tennessee Association of Broadcasters said the nine-per-year number doesn’t account for recent growth. The comptroller’s office cited two statutory exemptions in 1957, 89 by 1988, and now 553. Multiple news media groups shared concerns about shielding of economic incentive information and certain permanently exempted investigative files, among other specifics. The panel is mulling how to address the uptick in exemptions.

Bill Lee holds 20-point advantage over Karl Dean in race for Tennessee governor, new Fox News poll shows (Tennessean) Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Lee has a massive lead over Democratic nominee Karl Dean in a new poll from Fox News. The poll, released Wednesday, found 55 percent of likely voters surveyed support Lee, compared to 35 percent for Dean. Ten percent of respondents were undecided. Among moderates surveyed for the Fox News poll, 46 percent said they would vote for Dean while 6 percent said they would support Lee. In order for Dean to have a chance at winning in Nov. 6 general election, he will need to rely on support from independents and moderates.

Citing Bill Lee’s lead in governor’s race, GOP group cutting $500,000 from planned Tennessee ad buy (Times Free Press) The Republican Governors Association plans to trim its ad buy in Tennessee governor’s race, saying the move is due to GOP nominee Bill Lee doing well in his match up with Democrat Karl Dean. “Bill Lee is running an effective campaign that is resonating with Tennessee voters and is in a strong position for victory this November,” RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson said. “We feel very good about the race and we’re confident that Republicans will continue to hold the Tennessee governorship.” Recent polls by Fox News and NBC News show Franklin businessman Lee leading by double digits in his race with Dean, a former Nashville mayor.

Confident in win, outside group cutting support for Lee (Nashville Post) The Republican Governors Association is diverting $500,000 in planned advertising spending in Tennessee to other states, citing Republican Bill Lee’s “strong position for victory” over Democrat Karl Dean in the gubernatorial race. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that the RGA, currently chaired by outgoing Gov. Bill Haslam, will reduce its television spending in support of Lee from $2.2 million to $1.7 million. A Fox News poll released earlier this week showed Lee up 20 points on Dean, the former Nashville mayor. “Bill Lee is running an effective campaign that is resonating with Tennessee voters and is in a strong position for victory this November,” RGA Communications Director Jon Thompson told the TFP. “We feel very good about the race and we’re confident that Republicans will continue to hold the Tennessee governorship.”

Libertarian says state barriers hurt candidates (Times Gazette) There are 28 candidates running for governor in Tennessee. One, businessman Bill Lee, is listed on the ballot as a Republican. Another, former Nashville mayor Karl Dean, is listed as a Democrat. The rest are listed simply as “independents,” which candidate Vinnie Vineyard says is a major problem. Vineyard, an East Tennessean whose résumé includes professional wrestling (as “Funkmaster V”), ghost hunting, music, stand-up comedy and operating a taxi service, visited Shelbyville on Wednesday as part of his gubernatorial campaign. Vineyard is a Libertarian, one of the so-called “Tennessee 20” Libertarian candidates who are trying to prove a point about the state’s ballot access rules.

Fox News poll: Marsha Blackburn has edge over Phil Bredesen in Tennessee’s US Senate campaign (Tennessean) A new poll from Fox News shows U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn with a narrow edge over former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race. The poll, released Wednesday, found 47 percent of likely voters surveyed said they’d vote for Blackburn, compared to 43 percent for Bredesen. Eight percent were undecided. Blackburn’s edge in the Fox News poll fell within the survey’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points. But the poll found that Bredesen had an edge over Blackburn in terms of favorable views voters have of him compared to unfavorable.

Fox News poll shows Blackburn with slim lead (Nashville Post) A new survey released by Fox News shows Republican Marsha Blackburn with a slim lead in her U.S. Senate campaign against Democrat Phil Bredesen. The 3-point edge (she leads 47 percent to 44) falls within the margin of error. The poll of 686 likely voters was conducted Sept. 8-11. Though Bredesen still holds higher favorability numbers in the poll (54-36 compared to Blackburn’s 51-39), the survey reported Blackburn with stronger favorability numbers than past polls that showed her underwater. The same poll showed Democrat Karl Dean trailing Republican Bill Lee by 20 points in the gubernatorial race.

Blackburn seeks to corral straying Republicans with new ad (Times Free Press) With polls showing U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen is picking up support from some Tennessee GOP voters in his race with Republican Marsha Blackburn, Blackburn’s campaign on Thursday released a new ad aimed at helping bring them back into the fold. The ad, titled “Non-Starter,” features seven unidentified men and women who claim they voted for Bredesen during his prior successful campaigns for governor but don’t back him in the Senate race. “I voted Phil Bredesen for governor,” says one woman in the 30-second spot. A man says “I supported him.” And a third woman chimes in saying, “But I cannot support Bredesen for Senate.”

New Blackburn ad shows people claiming they once voted for Bredesen but can’t for US Senate (Tennessean) A new television ad from Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn features individuals claiming they voted for Democrat Phil Bredesen for Tennessee governor but can’t do the same for U.S. Senate. “I voted Phil Bredesen for governor,” a woman says, kicking off the 30-second ad. “I supported him,” another weighs in. “But I cannot support Bredesen for Senate.” The ad, dubbed “Non-starter,” comes as Blackburn is looking to keep Republican voters unified behind her candidacy as polling suggests some Republicans, particularly moderates, favor Bredesen, a former two-term governor from 2003 to 2011.

At Rhodes, Bredesen presents himself as calm, reasonable, willing to work with others (Commercial Appeal) During the Phil Bredesen forum Thursday evening, an audience member asked the former Tennessee governor to name the biggest problem facing the country today. “I think the inability of Washington to get anything constructive done has become the number one problem in the country,” said Bredesen, who’s now running for U.S. Senate. That brought cheers from many of the hundreds gathered at McNeill Concert Hall at Rhodes College. Speaking in an even voice from a seat on stage, Bredesen presented himself as calm and reasonable, and as someone with plenty of experience working with diverse groups to make policy.

Video: Former Gov. Bredesen speaks at Rhodes College (Commercial Appeal) Gov. Phil Bredesen speaks at McNeil Hall at Rhodes College for a debate in which his Senate race opponent, Marsha Blackburn, did not attend.

Phil Bredesen Holds Forum In Memphis, An Event Originally Planned As U.S. Senate Debate (WATN-TV) Local 24 is your Local Election Headquarters and Thursday night, Tennessee’s hotly contested U.S. Senate race took center stage in Memphis. Recent polls show a razor-thin race between Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn, a race which could define which party controls the Senate. After Blackburn cited a scheduling conflict to decline a planned debate at Rhodes College, Bredesen showed up anyways and answered questions in a forum. He touched on a wide range of national and local topics. “Memphis is a really important part of this state and I think it deserves attention,” Bredesen told the audience of around 500 people. “I think the first thing I’ll do is actually come to Memphis and listen to what people have to say.

Bredesen holds ideas forum in Memphis after Blackburn declines debate (WMC-TV) Democrat Phil Bredesen and Republican Marsha Blackburn, candidates for U.S. Senate, were supposed to have a debate at Rhodes College on Thursday night. But Blackburn said she couldn’t make it because of a scheduling conflict. Bredesen showed up to an appreciative crowd. Rhodes College students like sophomore Alice Berry and other people who showed up had to be satisfied with a cardboard cutout of Blackburn. “It’s disappointing because first off I would hope people could work across party lives and still have a conversation with one another,” Berry said. WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson said it’s a big mistake for Blackburn. “Marsha Blackburn has dug a hole for herself. She may be able to climb out of it, but she’s got some repair work to do in this part of the state,” he said. Plenty of people, mainly Rhodes College students who are voters, did show up to hear what former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen had to say.

Bredesen talks judicial appointments, bipartisanship in Lebanon (Lebanon Democrat) Former governor and Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen visited with the 15th Judicial District Bar Association in Lebanon on Wednesday where he spoke about judicial appointments and his bid to represent Tennessee in Washington. About 30 people gathered for a barbecue luncheon at the Wilson County Expo Center to meet and listen to Bredesen, an opportunity Kyle Heckman, president of the 15th Judicial Bar Association was happy to have, especially in such an significant election year. “This is a very important race, not just for Tennessee, but it’s pivotal nationally and we’re glad to have him here to speak to us and to share his version of what he wants to do if he makes it to Washington, and we’re just happy to be a part of it,” Heckman said.

Bredesen jabs at Blackburn, unnerves some with Trump talk (AP) U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen took some soft jabs at Republican opponent Marsha Blackburn on Thursday for refusing to debate him in Memphis, Tennessee, while also unnerving some supporters when he said he could back policies made by President Donald Trump — as long as they help the state. Bredesen, a Democrat, answered questions from audience members and Twitter posters at a forum at Rhodes College in Memphis, the largest city in West Tennessee. More than 400 people attended the session scheduled on the same day Bredesen wanted to debate Blackburn, who has represented a Middle Tennessee district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2002. Bredesen said he was disappointed that Blackburn didn’t agree to the Memphis debate. Blackburn’s campaign has said a scheduling conflict prevented her from attending.

Bredesen Defends Wait-And-See Stand on Kavanaugh Nomination (Memphis Daily News) Democratic U.S. Senate contender Phil Bredesen met a crowd of 500 at Rhodes College Thursday, Sept. 13, that consisted mostly of supporters on what was originally planned as a debate with Republican rival Marsha Blackburn. Blackburn bowed out of the debate. What became and was billed as a “Memphis Matters” forum featured Bredesen taking a few jabs at Blackburn and her absence and a few challenges from the audience to Bredesen’s centrist positions on some issues. The most recent being President Donald Trump’s nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court which is awaiting Senate confirmation.

Bredesen camp issues ‘Transparency in TV’ challenge (TN Journal) Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen is issuing a “Transparency in TV” challenge to Marsha Blackburn’s camp after the Republican released an ad featuring people who purportedly voted for Bredesen as governor but won’t do the same again for Senate. (The Tennessee Journal asked the Blackburn campaign to identify the people featured in the ad, but has yet to hear back. A spokeswoman told The Tennessean that “The voters featured in these ads are real, unpaid Tennessee voters,” but did not give further details.) Bredesen spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen released the names, occupations, and hometowns of the five people featured in Bredesen’s latest spot titled “Brown Bag.”

Purported former Bredesen voters say ‘not this time’ in Blackburn ad (TN Journal) A new ad by Republican Marsha Blackburn’s campaign and the National Republican Senate Committee features people who say they voted for Bredesen for governor, but won’t do so for Senate. The Bredesen campaign was unimpressed. “While Congressman Blackburn is too busy focusing on swamp scare tactics and continuing to follow the losing D.C. Diane playbook by dodging debates, Governor Bredesen is in Memphis today to share his ideas with voters in West Tennessee,” spokeswoman Ayssa Hansen said in an email. “As he has said from Day 1, this campaign is open to voters of all stripes who are tired of hyper-partisan squabbling,” she said.

Blackburn US Senate campaign silent on whether Lee Beaman still co-chairs pro-life group (Tennessean) Republican Tennessee U.S. Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn’s campaign won’t say whether embattled Nashville auto dealer executive Lee Beaman, a prominent GOP donor, remains a co-chair of a Blackburn pro-life coalition. Amid a contentious divorce with salacious allegations, Beaman this week stepped away from his roles on the boards of Belmont University and Montgomery Bell Academy, both in Nashville, until the dispute is resolved. He also has left the board of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, a free-market think tank. But Blackburn campaign spokeswoman Abbi Sigler did not answer when asked whether Beaman — who in August was announced as one of three co-chairs to help lead a Blackburn coalition of 500 pro-life advocates — still holds the campaign role.

2018 Midterms Look Volatile (National Review) For the GOP, Senate prospects look good, but polls show that the House is likely to fall to Democrats. As for Tennessee, a Gravis poll from last December found Marsha Blackburn with just 68 percent support from Republicans, but in one taken in mid-August, that number had shot up to 86 percent. The improvement for Blackburn and McSally has been good enough for both Tennessee and Arizona to move in the GOP direction in the RealClearPolitics polling averages. To be certain, neither McSally nor Blackburn is out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. It is one thing to bring the solid Republicans home and quite another to lure in the soft Republicans, who will make or break both candidates. And their leads in the polling averages are very slight. Blackburn still trails Bredesen by 0.3 percent, even though the last few polls have been more favorable to her.

Why Tennessee’s suburbs may play a major role in deciding the US Senate race (Tennessean) Germantown resident Hannah Wicker is planning to cast a ballot for Republican senatorial nominee Marsha Blackburn over former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen. Wicker voted for President Donald Trump in 2016 and is disappointed with him so far, but she said that she will vote for Blackburn in the November election. “I still don’t think Bredesen is the best candidate,” she said. “I’ve liked Blackburn for years.” And although Wicker has reached her decision, she is part of a key demographic that could decide the fate of this year’s U.S. Senate race: suburban voters. Experts on both sides of the political aisle are eyeing how voters in the outskirts of Tennessee’s major cities may help tilt the balance in the campaign to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

Watch live: Tennessean editorial board meetings with Senate, governor candidates (Tennessean) On Monday, The Tennessean Editorial Board will start meeting with candidates for governor and U.S. senator, and we invite the public to watch. During the hourlong individual interviews, we will ask questions of Senate candidates Marsha Blackburn, Republican, and Phil Bredesen, Democrat, and gubernatorial candidates Karl Dean, Democrat, and Bill Lee, Republican, which will be broadcast live on and also The Tennessean’s Facebook page. Our editorial board members are USA TODAY NETWORK – Tennessee Vice President and Editor Michael A. Anastasi, Tennessean Executive Editor Maria De Varenne and me, the statewide director of opinion and engagement.


U.S. Rep. Phil Roe: Wages are up and opportunities are increasing (Mountain Press) Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law, we have seen story after story about employers improving benefit packages, giving employees bonuses and creating new jobs – not to mention the significant tax relief that nearly every American will experience as a result of the law. Despite these positive benefits, critics of the law have said it did not do enough to increase wages. In fact, wages are now rising at the fastest rate since 2009, and consumer confidence is nearing an 18-year high. According to recent report from the Council of Economic Advisers, wages have actually grown by 1.4 percent in the last year, which is good news for people who have recently rejoined the labor force.

Wayne Davis: How the University of Tennessee makes a good economic investment for the state (Tennessean) Thousands of new freshmen arrived on the University of Tennessee campus late in August, the largest and perhaps most impressive class in recent memory. These new Volunteers are part of a vibrant student body of nearly 29,000. Over the next four years, they will rent apartments in Knoxville neighborhoods and eat at local restaurants. Their parents will visit and stay in nearby hotels. They will attend concerts, movies and festivals. They will spend their money to live here and to attend the state’s flagship university. And we will spend money to educate them.

Guest column: TVA again wants to hack down 16,000 miles of trees, and you can help stop it (News Sentinel) In spring of 2012 TVA showed up in our backyard in the form of a bunch of guys with chainsaws who said they would soon be cutting down all our trees. Had to be done, they assured us, because very soon those trees (which had long since reached their full height) might grow into TVA’s transmission lines 75 feet away. If this happened, we were told, power might be knocked out, and our neighbors electrocuted.

Column: What would Phil Bredesen do? (Jackson Sun) What would Phil do? Would former Gov. Phil Bredesen be the rubber stamp for the Democratic agenda as Republicans claim or would he be a centrist, bipartisan senator as he claims? How Tennesseans answer that question may affect whether Bredesen can maintain his slight lead over Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn in the U.S. Senate race and whether, due to President Trump’s unpopularity nationwide, his victory would give Senate control to Democrats. Most likely, Bredesen would probably support all but the most extreme Trump nominees but support much less of the Trump policy agenda. I base this conclusion by assuming he would vote similarly to the three most moderate Senate Democrats in deep red states (Indiana’s Joe Donnelly, North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp, and West Virginia’s Joe Manchin).

Sam Stockard: Come fly with Phil, Marsha on gilded wings (TN Ledger) Early in his U.S. Senate campaign, former Gov. Phil Bredesen shied away from talking about his opponent, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, preferring to focus instead on ideas. But a new TV ad paid for by Majority Forward, a Democrat-leaning group, dubs her as “Air Blackburn” for taking all sorts of junkets and voting herself pay raises over 10 years in Congress. It started running on the heels of a $2 million ad campaign by Americans for Prosperity, an arm of the conservative Koch Foundation, accusing Bredesen of backing higher gas and business taxes during his eight years as governor, all while renovating the governor’s mansion, complete with “gilded bathrooms” and a bunker or “party cave” costing several million dollars. Never mind the fact he put to rest the idea of a state income tax.

Michelle Johnson: Why Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation may be bad news for pre-existing conditions (Tennessean) Tennesseans with pre-existing conditions have a lot at stake in the debate about whether the Senate should confirm President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, Brett Kavanaugh. Until the Affordable Care Act (ACA) took effect, insurers routinely charged these people higher premiums, refused to cover treatment for their pre-existing medical conditions or declined to sell them coverage at any price.







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