Tuesday, January 14

Fortune 500 company to bring tech jobs in Nashville expansion (WKRN-TV) A Fortune-500 company will expand to Nashville later this year and will bring 165 new tech jobs with it. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee announced Monday that Accenture will expand with a new space in the Sylvan Supply Project at the former Madison Mill site at Sylvan Park. “Accenture’s decision to invest in Nashville reinforces Middle Tennessee’s booming economy and growing number of high-quality jobs. Our pro-growth policies continue to appeal to global businesses, and I thank Accenture for creating 165 jobs and opening up new employment opportunities for residents in this region,” said Gov. Lee. LINK

Accenture to expand in Nashville and create over 150 new tech jobs (WSMV-TV) Fortune 500 professional services firm Accenture announced Monday plans to expand in Nashville, adding 165 new technology jobs. The announcement comes as the company plans to open new space in the Sylvan Supply project at the former Madison Mill site. “Accenture’s decision to invest in Nashville reinforces Middle Tennessee’s booming economy and growing number of high-quality jobs. Our pro-growth policies continue to appeal to global businesses, and I thank Accenture for creating 165 jobs and opening up new employment opportunities for residents in this region,” said Governor Bill Lee in a statement. LINK

Accenture Creating 165 Tech Jobs In Tennessee (Business Facilities) Global professional services firm Accenture is expanding in Nashville, TN, with new space in the Sylvan Supply project at the former Madison Mill site, which it will occupy in 2020. As part of its commitment to Nashville, the company will also add 165 technology jobs … “Accenture’s decision to invest in Nashville reinforces Middle Tennessee’s booming economy and growing number of high-quality jobs,” said Governor Bill Lee. “Our pro-growth policies continue to appeal to global businesses, and I thank Accenture for creating 165 jobs and opening up new employment opportunities for residents in this region.” LINK

Recidivism, recruitment & more; Gov. Lee visits Oak Ridge (Oak Ridger) Rotary Club of Oak Ridge expanded its noon meeting room on Thursday to allow more Rotarians — as well as city, county and state officials — to listen to and welcome Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, who pointed out that he’s coming up on his one-year anniversary in office. Lee discussed his “deep appreciation” for skilled trades and the Tennessee Colleges of Applied Technology, which serve as the premier suppliers of workforce development throughout the state. LINK

Maryland To Make Good on Bet With Tennessee After Ravens Loss (iHeartRadio) As if a loss in the playoffs doesn’t sting enough already, now we have to fork over CRAB CAKES! Looks like Governor Hogan & Mayor Young will have to make good on their bet they made with their Tennessee counterparts over the Ravens/Titans game this weekend. At this point, we’re all painfully aware that the Ravens lost to the Tennessee Titans this past weekend and will not be advancing in the playoffs. This sad reality means Gov. Hogan will have to put up the crab cakes he bet Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, while Mayor Young will have to fork over a bushel of crabs from Faidley’s Seafood, along with two dozen crab cakes from Jimmy’s Famous Seafood and a case of Duckpin Pale Ale from Union Craft Brewing. LINK

Governor claims ‘executive privilege,’ denies public records (AP) Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee’s administration has invoked executive privilege multiple times to withhold documents from public records requests, even though such privilege is not defined in the state’s law, nor mentioned in its constitution. Officials in Lee’s office say they are using it interchangeably with a separate protection when documents are deemed part of the executive office’s decision-making process. Supreme courts in a handful of states have upheld a governor’s right to claim executive privilege in some circumstances. LINK

Rudd announces raises to get lowest-paid workers to $13 by July 1 (Daily Memphian) The lowest-paid workers at the University of Memphis will get an 89-cent-an-hour raise on April 1 and an additional $1 on July 1, bringing them to $13 an hour within six months. It is not the $15 workers have been pushing to get. University of Memphis President David Rudd announced the news Monday morning in an email to faculty and staff. Since he became president in 2014, Rudd said he and the university’s leadership have worked to raise the pay of its lowest-paid workers. LINK

U of M to Raise Minimum Wage to $13 an Hour, Campus Workers Say It’s Not Enough (Memphis Flyer) University of Memphis president M. David Rudd announced Monday that the university has a plan to increase the minimum wage for campus employees to $13. In an email sent to the university’s staff and faculty, Rudd laid out a two-part plan to increase the minimum wage of all regular hourly employees to $13 an hour by July. “Since I started my tenure as present, our leadership team has made a firm commitment to raise the wages of our lowest-paid employees,” Rudd said in the email. LINK

University of Memphis increasing minimum wage (WHBQ-TV) The University of Memphis is increasing the minimum wage for its lowest-paid employees. According to President David Rudd, the UofM is increasing the minimum wage to $13 an hour, up from $11.11 previously. The pay increase will happen in two installments. The first one will occur on April 1 to $12 an hour. The final increase will happen by July 1. LINK

Tennessee FAFSA deadline set for February 1, 2020 (WZTV-TV) The TN Promise Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) filing deadline has been set for Saturday, February 1, 2020. That will mark the final day for both TN Promise high school and college students to complete the 2020-21 FAFSA to retain scholarship eligibility. The FAFSA, a federal application, is the primary financial aid application that any student enrolling in post-secondary must complete in order to determine state and federal scholarship and grant qualifications. LINK

How Tennessee schools rank for the best online programs (News Sentinel) Tennessee colleges and universities were ranked in the top 100 for online programs in several subjects, according to the latest U.S. News & World Report ranking. The University of Memphis has the most programs ranked in Tennessee by U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of the best online programs released on Tuesday. The rankings look at several academic programs, including online bachelor’s degrees, MBA programs and other master’s level programs. LINK

Tennessee driver license outage repaired, officials say (WVLT-TV) The State of Tennessee said an outage that prevented them from issuing driver licenses across the state has been repaired. “Between 10 a.m. – 12:20 p.m. EST today, the network that connects motor vehicle agencies across the United States to each other and to various verification services experienced an outage. During this time, there was no ability to process messages that support transactions of driver licenses and motor vehicle titles.  LINK

UPDATE: Network back up. Outage caused delays at DMVs across nation, including Tennessee (WATE-TV) A national network outage put Tennessee Driver Services offline across the state. Between 10 a.m. and 12:20 p.m. the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators network that connects motor vehicle agencies across the United States to each other and to various verification services experienced an outage. “During this time, there was no ability to process messages that support transactions of driver licenses and motor vehicle titles,” Wes Moster, a spokesperson with the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security for which Drivers Services is a part of, said. LINK

AAMVA: Systems restored after outage impacts Tennessee DMVs (WTVF-TV) A nationwide outage that affected Tennessee’s ability to issue driver’s licenses has been resolved. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) said after experiencing a systems outage for several hours on Monday morning, the systems are back up. The outage prevented a number of motor vehicle agencies from issuing driver’s licenses nationwide. It’s unclear what caused the issue. Just before noon, the issue was believed to be resolved, however, the AAMVA says the system restoration was “momentary” and the outage resumed. LINK

On again, off again: Statewide driver’s licensing offline due to computer outage (Times Free Press) For the second time in less than a month, a computer outage has brought statewide driver licensing to a grinding halt. Monday’s outage is the result of the loss of service from a network that connects motor vehicle agencies across the U.S. to each other and to various verification services. A news release from the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security sent around noon Monday said the problem had been fixed after lasting about two-and-a-half hours, but a follow-up release sent around 1:30 p.m. said the computer system was again not working. LINK

Nationwide computer outage temporarily halts Tennessee driver’s license facilities (Tennessean) Driver’s license facilities throughout Tennessee once again experienced a technology problem Monday, the third such system outage since October. The latest outage, however, was due to a nationwide problem, according to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, which oversees the state’s driver’s license facilities. The department said the issue came from a system outage with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, which helps motor vehicle agencies across the nation connect with one another for verification services. LINK

After spending $841,000 last year on receptions and events for Tennessee lawmakers, businesses and groups are ready for 2020 (Times Free Press) After spending a record-breaking $841,000 last year on receptions and events for Tennessee lawmakers, state business, advocacy and nonprofit groups are ready for Tuesday’s start of the General Assembly’s 2020 session. It begins late Tuesday afternoon with AT&T, joined by Vanderbilt University, Bristol Motorway and Southwest Airlines, hosting a reception for the 33 senators and 99 representatives at the Tennessee State Museum. LINK

Health care, abortion and marijuana among top issues in new legislative session: Here’s what to know (Tennessean) As the Tennessee legislature returns Tuesday for the second half of the 111th General Assembly, there’s little indication yet that one overarching topic will dominate the session. But one issue that could prove notable in the coming months is how the legislature will respond to Gov. Bill Lee’s December decision to continue accepting refugees through a federal resettlement program. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally and House Speaker Cameron Sexton aren’t pleased with the governor’s decision, exposing the most significant disagreement so far between between Lee and top Republicans. How lawmakers react to the decision could spark a new era for the legislature and Lee. LINK

Tennessee lawmakers to decide whether to overturn Gov’s choice to accept refugees (AP) Tennessee lawmakers will spend the next few months deciding whether they should try to overturn the governor’s choice to keep accepting refugees. Other top issues include deciding whether to deliver Gov. Bill Lee’s promise of criminal justice reform and whether to follow the national trend of passing abortion limits destined for court. The election-year legislative session starts Tuesday. LINK

First up in Tennessee Senate: Bill allowing adoption agencies to deny same-sex couples (Tennessean) In its first order of business for 2020, the Tennessee state Senate is set to take up a controversial bill Tuesday that would allow adoption agencies to decline to place children with same-sex couples. But it is legislation the Senate’s top leader, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, continues to express concerns with. Despite the House bill easily passing its version of the bill in early April, SB 1304 never made it to the upper chamber’s floor last session. If passed, the bill could be the first to head to Gov. Bill Lee’s desk this year. LINK

Pinnacle developer hires Ramsey, seeks state law preventing Boones Creek business poaching (Johnson City Press) An area retail developer hired Tennessee’s former lieutenant governor to push for state legislation that would prevent existing businesses at his Bristol development from moving to the Boones Creek incentive district. “All we care about is that they don’t poach from existing sites, period,” said Ron Ramsey, a lobbyist who confirmed Monday he was hired by Steve Johnson, developer of the Pinnacle shopping center in Bristol, Tennessee, to push for a rules change. LINK

Rep. Hill calls allegations of pay-for-play politics with Boones Creek developers “stupid” (WCYB-TV) Following a News 5 report that developers interested in a Boones Creek retail district donated thousands to a political action committee benefiting state Rep. Matthew Hill, the Jonesborough Republican said any suggestion of quid pro quo was ‘stupid.’ Five local businessmen interested in establishing a tax incentive retail district in the Boones Creek area of Washington County, Tenn. donated $45,000 to a political action committee that supported Hill’s failed run for Tennessee House Speaker in the month after Hill successfully pushed the legislation through the General Assembly. “That’s an absurd allegation and is just stupid,” Hill said last Friday. LINK

New bill would create designated plates for drivers with certain disabilities (WTVF-TV) A bill proposed in the 2020 General Assembly would allow for a license plate that would help police know if the driver has an intellectual or developmental disability. State Representative Brandon Ogles (R-Franklin) filed the legislation. House Bill 1584, says with the knowledge from a medical doctor the state can issue registration and registration plates to a driver with who has an intellectual disability, a developmental disability, or a medical condition that may impede communications with, or impact the driver’s encounter with, a first responder, including a law enforcement officer, during a traffic stop or welfare check. LINK

TN bill would decriminalize marijuana possession statewide, allow counties to vote on legalization (WBIR-TV) A Knoxville lawmaker wants to decriminalize marijuana possession statewide and allow voters to decide if they wish to legalize it in their county. Rep. Rick Staples (D-Knoxville) introduced House Bill 1610 on Monday. The bill would change Tennessee’s controlled substances laws to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana statewide. It would also authorize counties to hold referendum elections to allow marijuana growing, manufacturing, delivery and retail sales within their boundaries. LINK

Civics 101: Tennessee General Assembly reconvenes Tuesday (Kingsport Times-News) Tennessee’s 111th General Assembly convened at noon on Jan. 8, 2019. It adjourned in December. The 111th General Assembly, second session will start at noon on Tuesday. The General Assembly is made up of the Tennessee Senate and the Tennessee House of Representatives. The state is divided into 33 senatorial districts, from each of which one senator is elected. Senators are elected to four-year terms with those from even-numbered districts being elected in the same general election and those representing odd-numbered districts being elected two years later. LINK

Lawmakers wrestle with scathing audit of prisons (AP) Tennessee’s correction agency failed to provide adequate oversight to ensure the safety of the state’s inmates and public, a scathing new audit has found. The report has sparked alarm among state lawmakers, many of whom raised concerns on Monday about the 18 negative findings and observations outlined in the audit. “I’ve never seen a 200-page report like this,” said Rep. Mike Stewart, a Democrat from Nashville, speaking at a Monday hearing meant for a procedural vote that included hours of discussion about the audit. LINK

Department of Correction survives scathing audit despite proof it misclassified deaths (Daily Memphian) The state Department of Correction escaped a harsh audit unscathed Monday, Jan. 13, even though critics accused it of corruption amid proof of critical problems including incorrectly classifying some inmate deaths. The state Legislature’s Joint Government Operations Committee extended the department for another four years and ordered a two-year follow-up by the comptroller’s office to check on 18 serious findings in its audit released four days ago. House members on the committee gave the necessary approval on a voice vote, even though Senate members failed to reach the majority needed on their side to keep the department alive. LINK

Tennessee lawmakers discuss state prison audit (WTVF-TV) A scathing state audit of the Tennessee Department of Correction released last week continued to draw bi-partisan concern at the state capitol on Monday morning, as lawmakers spent hours grilling the department’s top leadership over issues related to inmate care and the safety of state run prisons. On Friday, an audit released by the State Comptroller’s office revealed that TDOC is not “fulfilling its responsibility to protect and serve inmates, their families and the community.” LINK

Lawmakers grill TDOC following scathing comptroller report on prisons in Tennessee (WZTV-TV) The Tennessee Department of Correction was called to a Judiciary and Government committee hearing by state legislators Monday following the release of a scathing state comptroller audit of Tennessee prisons. The Tennessee Comptroller of the Treasury audited state prisons ran by both CoreCivic and the state from October 2017 through the end of July 2019. In the recently-released 234 page audit, the comptroller’s office reported finding a slew of issues including inaccurate reporting regarding the nature of inmate deaths and untimely recording of sexual abuse and harassment allegations. LINK

Responding To Harsh Audit, Tennessee Prisons Propose Move To Electronic Medical Records (WPLN Radio) The Tennessee Department of Correction has identified technology to solve many of the issues found by the State Comptroller. The report released Friday has 18 negative findings questioning prison management. Currently, the department uses a paper health record system. Commissioner Tony Parker describes it as “very cumbersome and antiquated.” Parker says this is the reason why a recent audit found that inmate files have not been updated with medical and mental health records. LINK

Tennessee lawmakers approve Department of Correction despite withering audit (Tennessean) Tennessee prison leadership has failed to ensure that Department of Correction data on inmate deaths, assaults, medical treatment and day-to-day operations can be trusted, the state comptroller told lawmakers Monday. State Comptroller Justin Wilson said shoddy recordkeeping, short staffing and a bevy of other problems at the state agency were so pervasive it amounted to running airport security without metal detectors. Wilson spoke to the Joint Subcommittee of Government Operations three days after his office released a withering 210-page audit detailing the agency’s deficiencies. LINK

Tennessee correction commissioner says he ‘needs help’ from state after critical audit (WKRN-TV) “We have a lot of work do,” and “I need help from the legislature,” says the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Correction. It comes after the release of a scathing state audit Friday and hours of testimony Monday before a legislative committee. “We have a lot of work to do–obviously,” said Correction Commissioner Tony Parker after the nearly four hour hearing by a joint government operations sub-committee where lawmakers themselves are trying to get their arms around the highly-critical audit of the state’s prison system. LINK

The latest edition of the Blue Book is yellow (TN Journal) This year’s version of the Tennessee Blue Book honors the 100th anniversary of the state’s ratification of 19th Amendment granting women  the right to vote. The book’s cover is yellow — the color of the women’s suffrage movement. It’s the first time the bianniel volume has appeared in a non-blue cover since the 2013-2014 edition, which was orange to honor Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit. About half of that year’s edition appeared with the orange cover, while almost all of the newest version will appear in yellow. LINK

Tennessee Republican lawmakers meet in Johnson City ahead of 111th General Assembly (WJHL-TV) On Tuesday, the 111th Tennessee General Assembly will reconvene. Senators and house representatives from all across the state will weigh in on hundreds of policies. Some hot topics this year include the fetal heartbeat bill, education, vaping and refugee resettlement. On Monday, members of the Republican Party, as well as lawmakers, met in Johnson City less than 24 hours before reconvening for the legislative session. GOP Chairman Scott Golden says this marks the start of an interesting session, with Congressman Phil Roe recently announcing he will not seek re-election. LINK

GOP chairman believes Trump vote will set record in Tennessee (Johnson City Press) State GOP Chairman Scott Golden told area Republicans Monday that even with an impeachment trial pending in the U.S. Senate, he has no doubt President Donald Trump will be his party’s nominee in November. “We all recognize the president is not going anywhere,” Golden told members of the East Tennessee Republican Club Carnegie Hotel in Johnson City. He noted the president’s re-election coffers are in a “fantastic position,” with the Republican National Committee and the Trump campaign raising a combined $335 million. LINK

Trump Jr. to visit Tennessee to boost Hagerty US Senate bid (AP) Donald Trump Jr. is coming to Tennessee to help raise money for Republican Bill Hagerty in his bid for an open U.S. Senate seat. A fundraiser invitation says President Donald Trump’s oldest son and former Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle will headline a Hagerty campaign event on Jan. 28 in Gallatin. Hagerty has been eager to tout the president’s endorsement of him in the race to replace retiring Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander. Hagerty served as U.S. ambassador to Japan under Trump. His main GOP primary opponent is trauma surgeon Manny Sethi, who also has stressed his support of the president. LINK

Former Roe intern running for Congress supports legalizing marijuana, abolishing gun laws (WJHL-TV) Nichole Williams says she started campaigning for Congress months before Rep. Phil Roe announced that he would not seek a seventh term as representative of Tennessee’s First Congressional District. “I had no doubt in my mind that he was going to retire because he’s not a liar,” Williams told News Channel 11’s Josh Smith. “It just seemed to me that no one else was paying attention.” LINK

Grassroots group says Second Amendment Sanctuary movement ‘sweeping’ across Tennessee (WZTV-TV) A grassroots group says its mission to make cities into Second Amendment Sanctuaries is “sweeping” across Tennessee. “Tennessee Stands United” says 14 counties have already passed resolutions to prioritize gun rights even if gun restrictions are passed at the federal level. The group says residents in another 60 counties are taking “proactive measures,” including Rutherford County. LINK

TVA “aggressively” releasing water from nine dams on the Tennessee River (WBIR-TV) The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing for another round of storms today. Flows from the dams are higher than normal. The plan for TVA is to continue releasing water from nine dams along the Tennessee River. “We’ll be looking at flows on the river and doing what we can to reduce flooding on the mainstem of Tennessee,” said James Everett, Manager of TVA’s River Forecast Center. “That includes Chattanooga, Knoxville, Huntsville Alabama … even all the way out to the Ohio River.” LINK

People in Anderson County call for independent testing over Bull Run coal ash concerns (WBIR-TV) A typical Anderson County government meeting took a surprise turn on Monday.   Concerned neighbors shared their worries about potential environmental risks posed by the Bull Run plant, calling on leaders to establish independent oversight. The Tennessee Valley Authority plans to close the Clinton facility in 2023, saying it’s expensive to operate and not efficient. TVA hasn’t made any final decisions on the future of coal ash being stored at the Bull Run site, but says it’s in the early stages of an environmental investigation with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. LINK

Frist reveals new company, backed by $40 million and two acquisitions (Nashville Business Journal) We now know why a group of Nashville health care leaders has been raising millions of dollars over the past year. Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, along with three former or current Aspire Health executives, announced Monday that they’ve raised $40 million to form a new long-term support company called CareBridge. As part of the company’s formation, CareBridge has bought Chicago-based Sinq Technologies and Knoxville-based HealthStar, according to a news release. Terms of the deals were not released. LINK

Bill Frist launches CareBridge, a new health care tech company backed by Google (Tennessean) Former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist will lead a new Nashville health technology company designed to improve care for an increasing number of elderly and disabled Americans who receive medical or support services in their homes. CareBridge, announced in a news release on Monday, is headquartered in East Nashville and backed by more than $40 million of investments from Google and venture capitalists. LINK

Study: Tennessee is 2020’s 6th worst state to retire in (WKRN-TV) WalletHub released its report on the best states to retire in 2020. They compared the 50 states across three key dimensions: 1) Affordability 2) Quality of Life 3) Health Care. They used dimensions using 47 relevant metrics. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the most favorable conditions for retirement. WalletHub officials then calculated each state’s weighted average across all metrics to determine its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order their sample. LINK

OPINION

Guest column: Thank you, Bill Lee and John Cooper, for your leadership in Tennessee and Nashville (Tennessean) The strong, decisive, and compassionate leadership that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Nashville-Davidson County Mayor John Cooper have recently shown deserves our praise. Their policies on paid family leave, immigration resettlement, and transparency and accountability are admirable. It’s refreshing to learn that neither is a party-line parrot, but both are committed to considering individual issues on their own merits. It’s also a reminder that despite our strongly held and divided beliefs, we owe it to our citizens to identify and cultivate mutually supported initiatives. LINK

Victor Ashe: Cigna tries to strong-arm state Rep. Martin Daniel while guarding its records (News Sentinel) Cigna is not only resisting efforts by state Rep. Martin Daniel to open up financial records held by state government relating to the company, but has now sent a chilling letter to Daniel telling him to preserve his records. Daniel has been seeking access to records related to Cigna in his role as chair of the House Government Operations Committee. The issue here could be whether millions of tax dollars which may have paid out in error are being recovered and where those monies go if recovered. It is basic that the public should be informed. LINK

Frank Cagle: Speakers can block statue removal (KnoxTNToday) Sometimes (often?) the Tennessee legislature passes little-noticed housekeeping bills that slide by during session while the body is busy debating who can use what bathroom, the Bible as the state book or whether babies should be issued carry permits. Bear with me while I quote you Tennessee Code Annotated 4-8-101 Care of Buildings and Fixtures: “(2) It is the duty of the department of general services, through the commissioner acting with approval of the Speaker of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to take care of and preserve the Second Floor of the state Capitol, including all chambers, galleries, offices, rooms, hallways, balconies, storage areas and other spaces therein, and all associated furniture and fixtures, and to keep the same in good order.” (Emphasis added) LINK

Otis Sanford: Get ready for more of the same from TN lawmakers (WATN-TV) The Tennessee General Assembly kicks off its 2020 session this week – and again Democrats are hoping to have an impact on legislation. And again, they will likely be disappointed. Republicans have such a Super Majority, that whatever they say goes. Nevertheless, there just might be a bipartisan effort to repeal the controversial voucher bill that was passed last year. Memphis Democrat Karen Camper is co-sponsor on a House bill to rescind the voucher legislation, formally called the Education Savings Account Program. That bill barely passed last year because several Republicans opposed it. LINK

Guest column: Voters must hold Tennessee’s leaders to their oaths of office (Tennessean) Throughout 2019, the people of Tennessee were forced to watch our elected officials routinely make headlines because of corruption and unethical behavior. Then we were subjected to lies, arrogance and utter contempt by the leadership of the House. Before assuming office, our lawmakers must take an oath in which they say: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully support the Constitution of the United States, vote without favor, affection, partiality, or prejudice; and that I will not propose or assent to any bill, vote or resolution, which shall appear to me injurious to the people, so help me God.” LINK

Editorial: Qualities we’d like to see in our next congressman (Elizabethton Star) Rep. Phil Roe has decided to call it quits as congressman from the First District of Tennessee. His retirement has prompted a number of persons in the area announce their intentions to seek the congressional job. We hope each of these future candidates are serious about serving the communities in the First District, not just about being a congressman and going to Washington. We are still a depressed region, lacking good-paying jobs and opportunities to advance. Many of the jobs created — most in service industries — lack stability and security. LINK

Jackson Baker: Bloomberg Gets Key Boosts from Local Political Figures (Memphis Flyer) A weekend meet-and-greet in Memphis on behalf of the presidential campaign of Mike Bloomberg made obvious the all-purpose appeal of the former New York mayor as a focus of anti-Trump political sentiment, and boasted at least two major endorsements of Bloomberg by local political figures. Attendees filled to capacity the Midtown law office of Mike Working in Cooper-Young on Saturday. They heard 9th District Congressman Steve Cohen extol Bloomberg’s efforts as a candidate willing to lend his efforts and his financial support to a campaign to defeat the re-election of President Donald Trump. LINK

Randy Boyd: The greatest decade awaits U-T (Elizabethton Star) While I may not be the first, let me be among the many to wish you a Happy New Year from the University of Tennessee! It is such an honor to serve the great state of Tennessee. I’m incredibly proud of the accomplishments our team has made this past year. From providing more opportunities for students’ success to new platforms for research and discovery, to our impact in the lives of Tennesseans in every community across the state, it was an exciting and transformative 2019. I am convinced, more so than ever, that there is no better time in the University of Tennessee’s history than now. The next decade will be the greatest in the history of the University of Tennessee. LINK

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