Dec 29 2014
08:20 am

Gloria Johnson has dropped out of the race for TNDP chair, and says she is in talks with Organizing For America to be the Tennessee Director. She endorses Mary Mancini of Nashville for the TNDP post. Tom Humphrey has this report, see also Georgiana Vines.

Dec 27 2014
07:20 pm
By: Tess  shortURL

The print version of the KNS published today the boards and commissions that the state legislature has decided to ax as of 2015.

The online version of the paper doesn't list the committees/commissions/boards, but a number of them related to the selection of the judiciary.

Such as oversight committees that would screen would-be judges. Wasn't one of the issues in the last election about letting the legislature have more control over the selection of judges on all levels, so that the voters didn't have to be bothered with thinking about that? And, then suddenly, quite suddenly, all oversight about such is cut from the books. Sooooo, who is now going to be selecting judges? Just curious?

Dec 26 2014
01:46 pm

Yes, it's behind the paywall, but I've taken some time to point out a couple of things about the incoming Tennessee Education Commissioner. One of them is of particular note for Stick.

Dec 26 2014
12:36 pm

Knox County residents can bring their unwanted, live Christmas trees to participating Knox County Convenience Centers for free disposal.

Knox County residents will be able to drop off trees throughout the entire month of January at no cost. Trees must be cleaned of all ornaments, lights, wire, string and other decor before bringing them to a center.

Participating Convenience Centers:

• Dutchtown Convenience Center – 10618 Dutchtown Rd
• Halls Convenience Center – 3608 Neal Dr
• John Sevier Convenience Center – 1810 John Sevier Hwy
• Powell Convenience Center – 7311 Morton View Ln
• Tazewell Pike Convenience Center – 7201 Tazewell Pike

Dec 26 2014
12:05 pm

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero is proposing a pay increase for police and firefighters after a recent survey showed they are paid less than their peers in other Tennessee cities and bordering states. City Council is scheduled to vote on the proposal at their Jan. 6th meeting.

The News Sentinel appears to have taken an editorial position against the proposed salary increases. In a Dec. 9th editorial, they question the findings and say they "expect the administration to fully justify the additional obligation."

In a Dec. 19th article, the Sentinel says "Proponents of a pay hike for uniformed workers have pointed to high turnover rates and expensive training as reasons to keep salaries competitive. But turnover, it turns out, isn't much of a problem."

The problem is, nobody in the mayor's office ever cited turnover as a reason for the salary increase. The Dec. 19th article quotes chief policy officer and Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons as saying that turnover was "never an explicit reason" for the recommendation. Instead, he said the main reason is "it’s the right and the fair thing to do."

In response to an inquiry about a recent City Council workshop on the proposal, Jesse Mayshark from the mayor's office said:

...neither the Mayor nor anyone from the administration has ever cited a retention problem as a motivation for any salary increases. That was raised along with other issues by the FOP representative at the workshop, who spoke during the public forum. We know that our retention rates are high -- we see that as a good thing. It is good to have and keep experienced people. We want to continue to do that."

This study originated with a commitment Bill Haslam made when he was mayor, to make sure City workers are paid at the median of comparable positions in comparable cities. He commissioned the Mercer report in 2008, which led to salary increases for many City workers, along with a commitment to revisit the issue with a follow-up study in five years. (It has actually been six now.) As expected, this study showed much less discrepancy than the previous one, thanks to the adjustments already made. But -- also as expected -- there are still some issues with base pay in some positions, mostly among police and fire personnel. The Mayor's recommendation would get those positions up to about the 48th percentile in comparable pay -- not quite median, but very close.

So this isn't about a retention problem, it's about paying people fairly for their work.

So it appears the Sentinel is creating controversy where none exists to muddy the water and stir up opposition to a pay increase for police and firefighters. Our view is that police and firefighters should be fairly compensated at market rates for the tough, dangerous work they do, and shouldn't have to work overtime or second jobs to earn a decent living.

RELATED: City of Knoxville, TN Public Safety Total Compensation Survey Results

Dec 24 2014
11:23 am

A tech guru looks at big changes in enterprise/workplace IT in 2014 and has some predictions and recommendations for 2015. He has some interesting observations about on-premises v. cloud data centers, tablets, and iOS v. Android. A pretty good read that makes me glad I'm not an IT manager.

Forecast: Workplace Trends, Choices and Technologies for 2015

Dec 24 2014
07:37 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL

Favorite Christmas Carols...

God Rest ye Merry, Gentlemen
Good King Wencelas
Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
Jingle Bells
O Christmas Tree (O Tannenbaum)
O Come All Ye Faithful
Silent Night
Jingle Bell Rock

We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Not that I have caroled in many years, I always thought it was fun. It usually brings a smile to the recipients. Our neighbors went caroling a couple of years ago and I wasn't there to enjoy the cheerful singing of their two young daughters. Here are some carols to put a smile on your face.

Dec 22 2014
10:17 pm
By: Pam Strickland  shortURL

I've been thinking about how to give back ever since I learned about something that a friend of mine did recently. This has nothing to do with Tennessee aside from the fact that the guy who created the Endowed Chair at his alma mater, Illinois Institute of Technology, is a friend of mine. My friend retired from Apple Inc. last year with the title Distinguished Engineer. He'd been with the company since the Lisa Project, and done a lot of very cool things along the way. He titled the Facebook post "Giving back for what I have been graced."

I'm not going to create an endowed chair at UT. Or do any other grand gestures. I regularly do small things, but maybe I can do more.


from Nashville Public Radio ...

“The question is how many of them are working in a job that offers them health insurance benefits that they’ve declined because they were unable to afford it,” Graves said.

The governor’s office thinks about half of the newly eligible population — around 100,000 people — fit into this category. Vouchers will be available to knock down monthly health bills.



This is an outrage! TVA has rebuilt this landfill three times that I know of and it's failed all three times, including a large gypsum spill into the Clinch that I'm just now finding out about. Haven't we the people of Roane County suffered enough at the hands of TVA and TDEC?



Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses

No amount of legal pretzel logic can justify the behavior detailed in the report. Indeed, it is impossible to read it and conclude that no one can be held accountable. At the very least, Mr. Obama needs to authorize a full and independent criminal investigation.

The American Civil Liberties Union is to give Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. a letter Monday calling for appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate what appears increasingly to be “a vast criminal conspiracy, under color of law, to commit torture and other serious crimes.”

The question everyone will want answered, of course, is: Who should be held accountable? That will depend on what an investigation finds, and as hard as it is to imagine Mr. Obama having the political courage to order a new investigation, it is harder to imagine a criminal probe of the actions of a former president.

Dec 22 2014
05:59 am

Winter officially began yesterday, Sunday, December 21, 2014, at 6:03PM. It was the shortest day of the year.

Even though daylight slowly increases after the solstice, many places don’t see their coldest days until mid-January. This happens because the Northern Hemisphere continues to lose more heat than it gains for several more weeks.

It's been a little colder than what I was expecting. I'm hoping this does not mean January and February are going to be horribly cold this season.

Dec 21 2014
02:54 pm
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

is not necessarily what you get. The box is 4-3/4" x 9-1/4". The tissues are 4" x 8" (folded in half). There's no description on the box, except "2-ply facial tissues" that are "Made in the USA of domestic and imported materials."


Kimberly-Clark has apparently done the same with their Kleenex brand.

In recent months, we have been faced with escalating prices for pulp and rapidly changing energy costs. Similar to other manufacturers, we cannot absorb these increased costs indefinitely without making an adjustment. While one of our competitors recently increased their price by six percent, we chose to maintain our existing price but decreased the number of sheets in some cartons. This direction allows us to offer lower promotional prices.

Also, we recently adjusted the sheet to a size equal to other tissues currently on the market, standardizing the sheet size in the facial tissue category.

Maybe it's time to go back to cotton handkerchiefs.

Dec 21 2014
08:12 am


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Dec 20 2014
10:25 am

More on impact of air pollution

from Scientific American ...

Children whose mothers were exposed to high levels of fine particulate pollution in late pregnancy have up to twice the risk of developing autism as children of mothers breathing cleaner air, scientists at Harvard School of Public Health reported on Thursday.

The greater the exposure to fine particulates emitted by fires, vehicles, and industrial smokestacks the greater the risk, found the study, published online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

Autism Risk Linked to Particulate Air Pollution

Earlier studies on air pollution and ...

USC study links smoggy air to lung damage in children

For Heart Attack Survivors, Living Near Roadways Linked with Death

How air pollution hurts your kids' lungs


Tim Devaney at The Hill - NLRB hits McDonald’s as joint employer

McDonald's argued it shouldn't be held responsible for labor decisions made by independent franchise operators, but labor groups accused the popular fast food chain of "inventing a make-believe world in which responsibility for wages and working conditions falls squarely on the shoulder of franchisees." "McDonald's is the boss," said Micah Wissinger, the attorney who is representing McDonald's workers in New York City. "McDonald's requires franchisees to adhere to such regimented rules and regulations that there's no doubt who's really in charge," he added. Griffin alleges that McDonald’s disciplined employees who participated in fast-food worker protests around the country by reducing their hours and firing others, among other disciplinary actions.

McDonald's is a joint employer. The joint employer ruling is considered by some a veritable "nightmare before Christmas". Franchisers may get in trouble for violating workers' rights but at least they can direct their employees to social services they don't provide them.

Graphic via NELP

Yeselson has it about right on this issue, from the Cohn TNR article below.

If you’re organizing these places store by store, you’re never going to get anywhere—and with the mom-and-pop owners, there’s not all that much they have to give. The big franchisors love it this way. They take a top line percentage every month, whether the franchisee makes any money or not. At the same time, the franchisors legally impose their standards on every franchisee. So if Hilton decides that every room of every Hampton Inn must contain a micro-wave, the franchisees are required to comply—at their own expense. Then the franchisee has to deal with labor supervision and costs.

Also recently NLRB ruled unions can use email to organize and we are still waiting on the Browning Ferris ruling.

Further Reading
NLRB Office of Public Affairs Press Release

McDonald’s Statement on NLRB Actions (12/19/14)

Alexander on NLRB General Counsel Ruling

Jonathon Cohn in TNR Happy Labor Day. Are Unions Dead? An interview with Rich Yeselson

Dec 19 2014
11:30 pm

Back from the Circle Modern Dance annual showcase of Knoxville's creative and musical talent. Two more performances tomorrow night at 7:00pm and 9:00pm.

Be certain to read the fine print. The first dance "My Way" is dedicated to the staff of Metro Pulse not Stacey Campfield.

Dec 19 2014
07:02 am

Happy birthday to the Mr.

Congratulations Randy On Your




Dec 18 2014
10:53 pm

The melting pot, known as the US, is more melted together than we thought. But geneticists are finding surprising patterns.

In the United States, almost no one can trace their ancestry back to just one place. And for many, the past may hold some surprises, according to a new study. Researchers have found that a significant percentage of African-Americans, European Americans, and Latinos carry ancestry from outside their self-identified ethnicity. The average African-American genome, for example, is nearly a quarter European, and almost 4% of European Americans carry African ancestry.

I have tested at 23andMe partly to prove kindship to a potential maternal relative I found and partly to know my ancestry, and yes, my "spit test" is used for research. I found that my ancestry composition pretty closely followed the paper trail I had built for my maternal side, and I was able to determine most of my paternal heritage partly from what didn't match my maternal paper trail and mostly because I had a close match to someone (at 26% shared DNA) that was not on my maternal side, but that person hasn't be able to accept that DNA doesn't lie).

But, I digress. One of the things this study found was genetic patterns in the 3 largest ethnic groups were different depending on which state a family lived.

The new study adds an unprecedented level of detail to patterns that had been noticed in previous, more general studies. For example, the 23andMe data reveals that the proportion of different ancestries, even within one self-identified ethnic group, vary significantly by state. Latinos with the highest proportion of African ancestry (about 20%) are from Louisiana, followed by states such as Georgia, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania. In Tennessee and Kentucky, Latinos tend to have high proportions of European ancestry. And in the Southwest, where states share a border with Mexico, Latinos tend to have higher proportions of Native American ancestry.

A lot of a states history can be found in ones genetic ancestry. But, the bottom line is racial lines are getting blurred, irregardless of ones self described ethnicity. While this is truly a great melting pot, one problem we will see is that doctors will have no choice but to consider the whole person in their genetic glory and not ethnic categories.

Do go check out the full study, it really is fascinating.


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