Thursday, October 4

Public paychecks: Gov. Haslam makes how much? Here’s how he stacks up nationally (Nashville Business Journal) If your career goals include a stint as governor of a state, be aware your salary prospects are strongest if you can finagle an election victory in California, Pennsylvania or Tennessee. If you’re in Maine, Colorado or Arizona … not so much. California, Pennsylvania and Tennessee pay their top elected officials more than anywhere else in the country, according to salary data compiled by The Business Journals. For reference, Texas’ Governor Greg Abbott is paid about $48,000 less than California’s Jerry Brown. What California, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Texas, as well as the other 46, also have in common is this: The governor’s mansion rarely comes with the highest salary in the state, at least among public employees.

Governor says new trade deal will benefit Tennessee (WATE-TV) Governor Bill Haslam met face-to-face with President Trump this week. We’re told they touched on topics from elections to the new NAFTA agreement. Haslam says he thinks the proposed new trade deal to replace NAFTA will benefit our state. The governor outlined positives he sees so far, which start with Tennessee’s auto industry, where Nissan, General Motors and Volkswagen have a huge presence. The governor says automakers also may not be drawn as much to Mexico as manufacturing wages are expected to go up as part of the new trade deal.

Roundtable at Nissan headquarters addresses Tennessee, Williamson County health impact on economy (Brentwood Home Page) A statewide health coalition revealed data at a Franklin roundtable for Davidson and Williamson Counties, which hold high rankings in a state often lagging behind in health outcomes. On Tuesday morning, three dozen health and community leaders gathered inside Nissan’s North American headquarters to hear results from a health and economic impact study done by the Sycamore Institute. Hosted by the Governor’s Foundation for Health and Wellness, the hour-long health roundtable addressed chronic diseases, drivers of health, and how to incentivize healthier behaviors.

Haslam proclaims Oct. 14-20 Earth Science Week in Tennessee (WVLT-TV) Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has proclaimed Oct. 14-20 Earth Science Week in Tennessee, to promote awareness of the importance of geoscience. As part of Earth Science Week, The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, in partnership with the American Geosciences Institute, will distribute a limited number of Earth Science Week tool kits to science teachers across the state. “Making educational tools available to teachers and students on the importance of the Earth Sciences is a vital way to increase environmental literacy among Tennessee students,” said Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Dr. Shari Meghreblian. “We are happy to provide these resources and support educators as they teach these important topics.”

The Tennessee State Museum Reopens in Its Very Own Building (Nashville Scene) After spending more than 30 years tucked away in the basement of the James K. Polk Center, the Tennessee State Museum will reopen in a new $160 million space near the Nashville Farmers’ Market and the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park on Oct. 4. The museum’s inner workings haven’t been without controversy over the past few years — from the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission’s lack of transparency to accusations of staff nepotism. But despite those hiccups, for the first time in the museum’s history, the museum will soon have its own building, complete with dedicated parking between it and the Nashville Farmers’ Market.

UT closes Laurel Hall for mold, to relocate nearly 600 students just before fall break (News Sentinel) The University of Tennessee at Knoxville will close one of their on-campus residence halls, Laurel Hall, for the rest of the school year because of elevated mold levels, and will relocate hundreds of students right before fall break. Laurel Hall is an apartment-style housing complex that houses 586 students who are upper-classmen. UT will move students into other residence halls and apartment buildings, both on and off campus, within the next few weeks, according to a news release from the university. “Preliminary air sample results show elevated levels of mold in several rooms and common areas in the building,” according to the release.

UT scientists get millions to study potatoes (WATE-TV) The University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture is leading the charge on research surrounding potatoes and their ability to detect matter in the soil and air. Food Science Professor Scott Lenaghan says the goal of their research is to get a potato plant to communicate to scientists in a variety of ways. In order to get the plants to tell researchers more than they already do, they’ll have to genetically modify the plants to detect things like pathogens, pests or chemicals they can’t detect themselves.

Tennessee schools vary in new security measures (WKRN-TV) School districts across Tennessee are now implementing security recommendations from the Haslam Administration, but not all of the new efforts are costing a lot of money. One example is what they did at Cookeville High in Putnam County after trained security personnel evaluated the school. Republican Representative Ryan Williams, who has two kids there, says that instead of having one lunch period a day, they now have four.”When they came in to do a security evaluation they said, ‘this is really a bad idea because you would have so many students eating at one time.’ ” Avoiding such a schedule is just part of what one school is doing and it did not cost much of the $35 million state lawmakers appropriated for school security this past spring.

Bridgestone America celebrated by state for conservation efforts (WSMV-TV) Bridgestone America is working with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation to help lead by example in conservation efforts. On Wednesday, the state celebrated Bridgestone’s commitment to do much more than what’s required by federal regulations. “For a long time we’ve been working on environmental things, and we continue to work on environmental things as part of our corporate social responsibility, our way to serve efforts…” said James Demouy with Bridgestone America. Bridgestone America is now the first company in the state of Tennessee with three or more facilities inducted into the state’s “Green Star Partnership.”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (WATE-TV) October is the month to wear purple to remember the victims and honor the survivors of domestic violence, which is still a significant incident in the violent crimes statistics both nationwide and here in Tennessee. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) found that 40 percent of Tennessee women and 32.5 percent of Tennessee men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes. In fact, intimate partner violence accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime.

Tennessee Supreme Court considers lethal injection challenge 8 days before execution (Tennessean) A previous version of this story misspelled Justice Cornelia A. Clark’s name. Eight days before Tennessee is scheduled to execute another death row inmate, the state’s high court met to determine if the lethal injection officials will use to kill him will illegally torture him to death. That man, Edmund Zagorski, is one of 32 death row inmates who have sued to block a new cocktail of lethal injection drugs. A trial court rejected the challenge in July, and the Tennessee Supreme Court moved quickly to hear the appeal. During oral arguments Wednesday, the justices focused on the legal requirement that the inmates show a viable alternative to the execution method they challenged.

‘Where is the justice? Where is the truth? ‘(Kingsport Times-News) A plea for truth in sentencing has been made to the Tennessee House Criminal Justice Committee. During a daylong special meeting to consider criminal justice reform, state Rep. Bud Hulsey and Debbie Locke of Kingsport appeared before the panel to make that plea. Hulsey, R-Kingsport, had filed a bill in the last legislative session that would prohibit an inmate from using sentencing credits until the inmate has served the minimum sentence. Hulsey had amended the bill to include only violent felons, and that move lowered its fiscal impact to more than $30 million from more than $112 million in incarceration expenses.

ACLU, Koch network agree criminal justice reform is needed. Will lawmakers take it up? (Tennessean) Rahim Buford knew better than anyone in the committee room what the inside of a prison is like. After serving 26 years in Tennessee prisons for a murder he committed during an armed robbery at 19, Buford was released in 2015. Having seized on the limited education opportunities available to him behind bars, Buford told the House Criminal Justice Committee how he had transformed and improved himself — and urged them to hear from others inside the prison system as some lawmakers say they plan to embark on an overhaul of the state’s 30-year-old sentencing structure and other aspects of criminal justice reform.

Conservative website posts Dean-Lee debate story about questions that were not asked (Tennessean) An online publication led by conservative talk radio host Steve Gill published a story about Tuesday’s gubernatorial debate in Memphis between Republican Bill Lee and Democrat Karl Dean focusing on questions that were not asked at the event. On Wednesday, the Tennessee Star published a story by a reporter identified as investigative journalist Chris Butler that includes the candidates’ answers to questions about the NFL and immigration.  “Panelists asked both men how they view NFL players who kneel during the National Anthem,” the story said. No such question was asked at the debate.

Two Key Exchanges From the First Dean-Lee Debate (Nashville Scene) Tuesday night’s gubernatorial debate between Democrat Karl Dean and Republican Bill Lee was a tepid, rather boring affair. There was no debating and little effort by either candidate to draw clearly defined contrasts between their respective visions for the state. Still, it was a chance to see the two candidates next to one another on a stage, which has been hard to pull of recently. It was hard to avoid one main conclusion: Although he does not seem inclined to act like he has an opponent in the race, Dean can answer questions about policy issues with some specifics and some vision, informed by his time as Nashville’s mayor. Lee, on the other hand, seems intent on maintaining what polls suggest is a large lead by coasting — simply trying to avoid errors by not saying much of anything while sounding vaguely competent. It may just work.

Grand Divisions episode 21: A cordial gubernatorial debate (Tennessean) Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean largely stuck to the issues during a debate Tuesday at the University of Memphis. The candidates offered differing views on Medicaid expansion, universal pre-K and Memphis-specific issues, among other topics. On this special edition of Grand Divisions we discuss highlights from the debate and whether it will move the needle in either Lee or Dean’s direction.  We will also catch up with Knoxville News Sentinel reporter Tyler Whetstone who traveled to Johnson City to cover President Donald Trump’s campaign-style rally for U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn.

Republican state lawmaker says he won’t attend nonpartisan event if Phil Bredesen is featured (Tennessean) A Republican state lawmaker says he’s boycotting a nonpartisan West Tennessee Economic Development Caucus event — and reconsidering his membership in the group — because Phil Bredesen will be there. A series of luncheons this month, organized by Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, and other members of the caucus, will separately feature Bredesen, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate and former governor; his Republican opponent, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn; and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Karl Dean, the former Nashville mayor. Bill Lee, the Republican nominee for governor, also was invited but has not agreed to a luncheon date with the group, White said.

Fox News poll: Blackburn’s lead over Bredesen sees slight increase (Tennessean) U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s lead over former Gov. Phil Bredesen has widened, according to a new poll from Fox News. The poll, released Wednesday, found 48 percent of likely voters surveyed said they’d vote for Blackburn while 43 percent for Bredesen. Seven percent of respondents were undecided. The latest poll indicates Blackburn’s support has slightly increased while Bredesen has similarly slipped compared to how voters viewed the candidates last month. In a mid-September poll, 47 percent of those surveyed were with Blackburn, compared to 44 percent for Bredesen, and another 8 percent undecided.

Michael Bloomberg to hold New York fundraiser for Phil Bredesen (Tennessean) Billionaire former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is set to host a fundraiser for Tennessee Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen in New York next week, providing a new line of attack for Republican opponent Marsha Blackburn. The Oct. 9 fundraiser, first reported by CNBC, will cost individuals $5,000 to attend at a “champion” level, $2,700 at a “friend” level, and $1,000 to come as a “supporter,” according to an invitation obtained by The Tennessean. The exact location is not disclosed on the invitation. Bredesen, former governor of Tennessee, is expected to make an appearance.

Bloomberg to Headline Fundraiser for Bredesen US Senate Bid (AP) Ex-New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg will headline a fundraiser for Democratic former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s Tennessee U.S. Senate bid. An invitation says the New York event for Bredesen next Tuesday costs $5,000, $2,700 or $1,000 per person. Bredesen faces Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. The Bloomberg fundraiser is drawing outcry from Republicans because the billionaire is a leading gun control advocate. Bredesen has touted his “A” NRA rating as governor, though the NRA now says he’s “D” rated. Bredesen disagrees with the NRA on issues like supporting universal background checks. Bredesen campaign spokeswoman Alyssa Hansen responded by lamenting negative ads from Blackburn and GOP-friendly groups. Democratic interests are likewise spending big to attack Blackburn.

GOP struggles to put away vulnerable Dems in Senate battlegrounds (Politico) The Senate majority remains up for grabs five weeks before Election Day, with Republicans struggling to put away nearly half a dozen Democratic incumbents they had expected to beat and Democratic challengers remaining surprisingly resilient in three Republican-held seats. In Tennessee, former Gov. Phil Bredesen has been polling ahead of GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn in public and private surveys, lifted by independents and moderate Republicans who still have fond memories of his governorship. The Republican cavalry arrived this week hoping to drag down Bredesen:

NRSC joins the fray in Tennessee Senate race (TN Journal) The National Republican Senate Campaign has launched its first ad of the U.S. Senate race in Tenneseee. It warns that if Phil Bredesen wins, Denecrats could take over the chamber. “Phil Bredesen and Washington liberals will stop at nothing to take back the Senate and empower radical left-wing politicians focused on repealing the progress President Trump has achieved,” NRSC spokesman Michael McAdams said in a release. State Democrats notes that the NRSC has received more than $70,000 from auto dealer Lee Beaman, who has stepped down from the boards of Belmont University and Montgomery Bell Academy amid sordid allegations made in his divorce proceedings from his fourth wife.

Local 24 Exclusive: Marsha Blackburn Makes A Campaign Stop In East Memphis (WATN-TV) That contentious Supreme Court nomination process with Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t lost Wednesday on Marsha Blackburn, the Republican candidate in Tennessee’s U.S. Senate race. Wednesday, Congressman Blackburn urged Republican voters to cast their ballots and make sure their friends and family also turn out; this in a race that’s a virtual tie in recent polls, and one which could determine which party controls the senate. Blackburn spoke in east Memphis to two dozen members of the TN Task Force 45, a group of loyal President Trump supporters. In her 15-minute remarks, she promised to support the President’s agenda in the Senate and touted his major legislative accomplishment to date; tax cuts. Blackburn is running against Democrat Phil Bredesen, the former Tennessee Governor.

Marsha Blackburn addresses key issues in Senate race (WBBJ-TV) Marsha Blackburn says she stands by President Donald Trump. At his rally for her last week, the president said he supports her as well. “She’s all about Tennessee values, that’s the one. She’s got Tennessee values. A vote for Marsha is really a vote for me, and everything we stand for,” he said. WBBJ 7 Eyewitness News Reporter Julia Ewoldt asked Blackburn what those “Tennessee values” are. “Honesty and integrity and those principles of low taxes, light regulation, preserving individual freedom,” Blackburn said. While she stands with the president’s policies, however, she says she does not stand with his tweets. “You know, the president is going to say things in tweets that I would not say,” she said.

Google’s Latest Headache (Politico) Breitbart News hit the tech giant with yet another negative headline this week, as the website reported an engineer for the company in an email exchange called “Tennessee Senate candidate Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) a ‘violent thug’ and a ‘terrorist,’ who Google shouldn’t ‘negotiate’ with.” (Google declined comment. Officials in the past have stressed that employees’ views are not representative of the company’s.) Burnin’ up: The report drew backlash on Tuesday from Blackburn, who tweeted: “.@Google I will not be silenced. #StopTheBias”.

In Tennessee Senate Race, Financial Missteps Linger in the Background (New York Times) Ask Representative Marsha Blackburn about finances and a strong response can follow. When she worked as the state film and music commissioner in Tennessee in 1995, another government official questioned her travel expenses on a trip to California. Ms. Blackburn, who is now the Republican candidate for an open Senate seat in Tennessee, responded by burning her receipts and sending the charred remains with a note that said “copy of LA expense report as requested.” But questions about her spending practices have lingered. In her years as a congresswoman, she has paid out more than $370,000 from her campaign funds to her daughter and son-in-law or firms they control. Her campaigns have received 54 requests for additional information from the Federal Election Commission since 2002, and in a 2008 internal audit the campaign admitted receiving nearly $400,000 in unreported contributions and expenditures.

Blackburn, Dean, Lee, and Donald Trump All in Memphis Area (Memphis Flyer) The semi-lull in politics that had lasted from the mid-summer election of August 2nd until Labor Day is now unmistakably over, as the present week’s events well indicate. On Monday night, Tennessee was favored with the presence of one Donald J. Trump, who turned up for one of his patented political rallies in Johnson City, in the far corner of northeastern Tennessee. Trump was on hand to bolster his own permanent campaign as well as the hopes of 8th District Congressman Marsha Blackburn for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by incumbent Republican Bob Corker. On Tuesday night, he appeared at a rally in Southaven. (For a report on the president’s Southaven visit, go to

Where Each Tennessee Congressman Stands on Cannabis (Memphis Flyer) As cannabis legalization becomes more common throughout the country, the majority of Tennessee legislators haven’t made any moves toward legalizing the plant here. Rep. Steve Cohen, by far, has shown the most support for cannabis legalization. Tennessee is one of 20 states with no broad laws legalizing marijuana, while 30 states and the District of Columbia have legalized the herb for either medical or recreational use. The information in the charts below comes from the Cannabis Voter Project, which aims to “educate Americans about how voting can impact cannabis policy.” The project was launched by HeadCount, a non-partisan organization working to increase voter engagement.

Nashville is adding tech jobs more rapidly than the national average — here’s what those jobs pay (Nashville Business Journal) If your company has tried hire a lot of tech workers in the past two years, it’s not the only Middle Tennessee business trying to doing so. Almost 3,000 new unique technology job postings were added to job boards each month in the Nashville area last year, according to the State of Middle Tennessee Tech report released Wednesday. The report was assembled by The Middle Tennessee State University Department of Information Systems and Analytics in partnership with the Nashville Technology Council.

36 Hours in Nashville (NY Times) One of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, Nashville offers vibrant restaurant and art scenes, and an ever-evolving music scene. Nashville has undergone a number of iterations in recent decades, from its longstanding position as the “home of country music” to its boozier, fun cousin “Nashvegas” to its most recent as home to one of the fastest-growing foreign-born populations in the United States (not to mention the country’s No. 1 destination for bachelorette parties). Tourism aside, Nashville lures those wanting the cultural heft of larger cities on the coasts without the price tag. Behind the swell of newcomers are the expected bonuses: flourishing restaurant and art scenes, and a new crop of gleaming hotels that have brought with them performance spaces and rooftop bars.

Former President Jimmy Carter’s affordable-housing initiative awarded $1M from THDA (Tennessean) Tennessee’s housing development agency awarded $1 million to the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build 20 affordable homes in North Nashville next year, the agency announced Wednesday. The 36th annual Carter Work Project will deliver 500 volunteers to the Park Preserve neighborhood from Oct. 6-11, 2019. They will erect homes for 58 low-income families in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Nashville. Country music stars Trisha Yearwood and Garth Brooks, who are volunteers with the organization, will participate. In the meantime, the organizations are seeking funding to build the homes.


Guest column: Roe offers scare tactics on single-payer health care (Johnson City Press) Before his Aug. 25 newsletter, I don’t recall Rep. Phil Roe making any detailed argument against single-payer health insurance. Now he’s out with a long paragraph running it down. Fact is, the Republican Party is beginning to run scared, with for-profit health insurance corporations worrying about their future role. They have reason. Public consensus is building around the idea that, yes, the federal government should backstop health insurance for all, and regulate corporate healthcare business. Polling results when people are asked about “Medicare for All” now show 63 percent favorable, higher than ever, back far as I remember.

Guest column: Medicaid expansion is inevitable (News Sentinel) Regardless of who wins in the November elections for governor and the state legislature, Medicaid expansion is an issue our elected state officials will face when the legislature convenes in January. And when they do, they will probably decide that it’s time for the legislature to finally listen to the majority of Tennesseans and say “yes” to expansion. At the moment, Medicaid expansion seems like a partisan issue. Democratic candidates have made it their cause, while Republican candidates say “no way.” But it’s really a practical question that responsible leaders of both parties – in Tennessee as in most states – have answered affirmatively.

Column: By debating here, candidates show that Shelby County won’t be an afterthought (Commercial Appeal) Mariah Wallace came to the gubernatorial debate at the University of Memphis as a supporter of Democratic candidate Karl Dean supporter. And she left as a Dean supporter. But she also left with respect for his GOP opponent, businessman Bill Lee, because, at least, he showed up. “I’m voting for Karl Dean, because of the way he carried his delivery, and he really knows what he’s talking about,” the University of Memphis journalism student said. “His opponent was doing good as well, but it seemed as if he was doing a lot of persuasion instead of really knowing what the subject was…

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