Thu
Mar 22 2007
01:20 pm

If it's springtime, state legislators are in session and tort reform is again a hot topic in states where it hasn't already been passed.

Here in Tennessee, a proposed comprehensive "health care liability" bill (HB1993/SB2001) would, among other things...

Continued...

90
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Thu
Mar 22 2007
11:51 am

From the Roane County News

Diesel Engine Parts, Inc is moving Roane County.

At a grand opening event for the spec building at Roane Regional Business and Technology Park, Henderson announced Diesel Engine Parts Inc. has purchased the building and will invest $5 million in the site. It also brings 35 employees from its current location on the waterfront in South Knoxville.

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Thu
Mar 22 2007
11:40 am

There will be an opportunity to learn about and comment on Knox County's proposed Stormwater Ordinance on March 26th at 6 p.m. in the Small Assembly Room of the City County Building, 400 Main Street.

There are some areas of concern with the ordinance, which is supposed to be at least as strict as the City of Knoxville's ordinance. Specifically, there are some concerns about how much monitoring and inspection will take place and whether written standard operating procedures for enforcement and other areas will be part of the ordinance, and whether the construction best management practices will be adequate to protect water quality.

According to an article in the Farragut Press on March 15th, 2007, "Farragut has the Cadillac of stormwater ordinances." It follows that Knox County citizens should expect the same of their ordinance, and should be supported in this goal by Mike Ragsdale, the county Mayor, who lives in Farragut.

Please try to attend this important meeting to let our Knox County officials know that citizens care about this important issue. Those who are unable to attend can provide input by e-mailing stormwater@knoxcounty.org or leaving a voice message at 215-4418. You may also call 215-4357 to speak with a staff member.

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The Editorial staff of the Knoxville News Sentinel has penned yet another in the series of “Can I carry your water Mr. Mayor” Editorials. Except this time it is a different Mayor, it is Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam. Bonus points for also carrying the water of the Knoxville Police Chief Sterling Owen IV.

The subject of this waste of ink and paper is how the defeat of a bill in the General Assembly that would require 5 second Yellow Lights where there are Red Light cameras is a victory for public safety. It is not a victory for the people, it is a victory for the revenuers.

C.E. Petro at “Thoughts of an Average Woman” has more as does Joe Powell at “A Cup of Joe Powell”. Here on KnoxViews a poll shows 97% of 77 respondents prefer a 5 second Yellow Light over a 3 second Yellow Light.

The Red Light cameras from RedFlex Inc. have been a stunning success. With over 62,000 violations the City of Knoxville and RedFlex are in the money with much more money just around the corner. Both the News Sentinel and the City of Knoxville know that increasing the Yellow Light duration from 4 seconds to 5.5 seconds reduces Red Light tickets by 96%. You can read the Virginia study here that proves just that. It also makes intersections safer, something that Police Chief Owen says he wants. Yet for some unknown reason he will not support a safe Yellow Light duration.

Which is worse in this Editorial? The glee the News Sentinel has that the bill was “properly killed”, or the closing line, “It would have been better for the lawmakers to seek those answers directly from city officials before trying to make a circus out of a serious traffic issue”? What kind of writer uses “properly killed” in an Editorial about public safety? The News Sentinel goes on to say, “The Tennessee Legislature certainly has better things to do than second guess and micromanage Knoxville's decision to use traffic-light cameras to ticket speeding motorists.”

Let’s be clear about this. This is not “micromanagement”. The Tennessee Legislature had to step in because the Mayor and the Police Chief have put revenue over public safety. Yet the pressure from the public is beginning to show. The Sentinel quotes Police Chief Owen, “Owen said he was not necessarily opposed to a longer yellow-light time if it can have a positive effect on reducing accidents, although he acknowledged the matter was more for traffic engineering than law enforcement. Let traffic engineering follow it up, then, perhaps giving the benefit of any doubt to motorists and increase the yellow-light time where warranted.”

So what exactly does Police Chief Owen mean? Does he mean if enough people are hurt then the traffic engineering people will increase the Yellow Light duration? Do people have to get hurt for the City to do the right thing? We live in a place of unaccountability. Neither the Mayor nor Police Chief Owen have any accountability for public safety, only the few people in the City traffic engineering department? Wonder if those poor people in traffic engineering are under orders from high above?

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Thu
Mar 22 2007
10:35 am

CNN is running an article this morning about a new freedom for Iraqis, tattoos. Under Saddam, having a tattoo was a crime punishable by death. It seems they were associated with The Great Satan.

A young Iraqi was interviewed as he was being tagged with the initial of his fiancé. The artist bragged that his work would last forever.

Uh, yeah, forever. Maybe just semi-forever.

The correspondent mentioned one popular reason for getting a tattoo in post-Saddam Iraq, it makes it easier for families to identify the victims of the car bombings.

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Thu
Mar 22 2007
10:23 am

Fire! Polite Applause
My Final Column for Knoxviews.com

By Don Williams

Barring a change of heart* on someone else's part, this is my last column for Knoxviews. Here's all I know about the reasons why. On Monday, Randy Neal left half-a-message on my answering machine telling me he was cutting me back...

Click here to continue reading...

Continued...

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65
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Wed
Mar 21 2007
09:24 pm
By: Les Jones  shortURL

This is one of my new favorite bourbons. It's right in the narrow price range between Wild Turkey 101 and Maker's Mark and I like it better than both.

Based on the Wikipedia entry, it doesn't look like Elijah Craig bourbon is really related to the Baptist preacher who invented bourbon, but it's nice of them to honor the good Reverend with such a fine whiskey.

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
08:21 pm

Sorry to keep hyping this show, but I hope everyone who likes Good TV caught Friday Night Lights tonight. As far as I'm concerned, this is the Best TV on TV this season. It probably won't survive past this season, though, because it's Good TV. Enjoy it while you can. (P.S. It's not about football, really.)

Topics:
45
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Wed
Mar 21 2007
04:50 pm

Just heard a U.S. commander being interviewed by Wolf Blitzer about a disturbing report from Iraq that suicide car bombers are using children as cover to get through checkpoints and then blowing up the cars with the children inside.

Apparently this is good news. Rear Adm. Mark Fox says this is proof that the surge is working, because the stepped up security at checkpoints in Baghdad is causing the insurgents to change their tactics.

Dear God, please help us all.

UPDATE: From the transcript:

BLITZER: What we've heard is that a couple of kids are in the back seat, the suicide bombers, they pull up. They then escape themselves, pull some trigger, some remote device, blow up the car, killing the kids. And from their perspective, killing other people nearby.

Is that what they are trying to do?

FOX: Well, it seems to me that what happened was, it was at a checkpoint -- you know, the effectiveness of the new checkpoints that the Iraqi security forces are using, I think this is evidence of that kind of working. They are changing the profile.

Typically you would expect a single person, a single male to be in a car that's going to -- you know, a car bomb. And so to put children in there is going to change their kind of profile.

But -- so it's a change in tactics.

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157
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It's sad that President Bush is attempting to roadblock a congressional investigation by trying to prevent open testimony. If he has nothing to hide, why not let his staff testify under oath? Seems like he's afraid of the truth. I think Bush is realizing that with two years to go, his "popular and effective" presidency, according to CBT, may be over. It's starting to sound more and more Nixonian in its desperation.

How sad.

via Salon

Tony Snow - Op-Ed - St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 29, 1998 :

(HEADLINE: "Executive Privilege is a Dodge")

Evidently, Mr. Clinton wants to shield virtually any communications that take place within the White House compound on the theory that all such talk contributes in some way, shape or form to the continuing success and harmony of an administration. Taken to its logical extreme, that position would make it impossible for citizens to hold a chief executive accountable for anything. He would have a constitutional right to cover up.

Chances are that the courts will hurl such a claim out, but it will take time.

One gets the impression that Team Clinton values its survival more than most people want justice and thus will delay without qualm. But as the clock ticks, the public's faith in Mr. Clinton will ebb away for a simple reason: Most of us want no part of a president who is cynical enough to use the majesty of his office to evade the one thing he is sworn to uphold -- the rule of law.

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
10:45 am

This is a Lockheed C-130E Hercules intratheater airlifter. It's 97' 9" from nose to tail. Just so ya know.

(Here's how this lovely bit of legislation came about.)

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Wed
Mar 21 2007
08:31 am

Apropos of the latest scandal, here's an interesting report from the Congressional Research Service on Congressional Investigations: Subpoenas and Contempt Power. It has analysis of the law and lots of historical case studies.

Here's their conclusion:

Committee subpoenas and contempt citations have been effective instruments for gaining access to executive branch documents that are initially withheld. The pressure that builds from these two techniques generally results in the Administration offering new accommodations to satisfy legislative needs. Although both branches at times seek assistance from the courts, the general message from federal judges is that an agreement hammered out between the two branches is better than a directive handed down by a court.

The executive-legislative conflicts described in this report offer several lessons about access to information. Congress has as much right to agency documents for oversight purposes as it does for legislation. Executive claims of “deliberative process,” “enforcement sensitive,” “ongoing investigation,” or “foreign policy considerations” have not been, in themselves, adequate grounds for keeping documents from Congress. On the issue of withholding information from Congress, there are often sharp differences within an Administration, especially between the Justice Department and the agencies.

Further, these case studies show that statutory language that authorizes withholding information from the public is not a legitimate reason for withholding information from Congress. Sharing sensitive information with congressional committees is not the same as sharing information with the public. Courts assume that congressional committees will exercise their powers responsibly. Legislative committees have demonstrated that they have reliable procedures for protecting confidentiality. Finally, congressional capacity to subpoena agency documents from private organizations is not an adequate substitute for receiving them directly from the agency.

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Gore's numbers continue to rise, while many other candidates are sliding off the map. Meanwhile the "Draft Gore in 2008" campaign is turning red hot.

Gore does seem like a proven winner, a man with ethics, and a politician who is not afraid to expose corruption and ignorance in Washington. Hillary and Obama would be political firsts, and that has excited many voters, but both have obstacles to overcome. Hillary is an insider with plenty of past history. Obama has too little history.

Gore's proven abilities and his newly found comfortability with himself might be the spoiler here.

What do you think? Should he run?

Polling Data

Support for potential 2008 Democratic presidential nominees, among Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents who are registered to vote. From a Gallup poll conducted from Mar. 2 to Mar. 4, 2007.

Mar. 2007 Feb. 2007 Jan. 2007
Hillary Rodham Clinton 36% 40% 29%
Barack Obama 22% 21% 18%
Al Gore 18% 14% 11%
John Edwards 9% 13% 13%
Joe Biden 3% 1% 5%
Wesley Clark 2% 1% 2%
Bill Richardson 1% 4% 3%
Mike Gravel 1% -- --
Chris Dodd -- 1% 1%
Al Sharpton -- -- 1%
John Kerry n.a. n.a. 8%
Other 1% -- 2%
None 3% 1% 2%
No opinion 4% 3% 4%


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45
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Tue
Mar 20 2007
05:07 pm

He isn't firing Gonzales. Says neither he nor AG Gonzales are happy with they way it was handled or the confusion it has created. (Pushing blame down the chain of command, of course. Paging Lynndie England!)

He says Gonzales and key staff will be "allowed" to testify before Congress, and that he is giving "unprecedented" access to White House staff to explain how this US Attorney situation was handled. (Access that will not involve testifying under oath so they can continue lying as usual.)

Actually, I was surprised to not see Gonzales walk out with Bush to announce his resignation. I suppose they just don't care any more. They already got reelected, but they've since lost the House, Karl Rove has lost his radical Christian-right base, and now they're just running out the clock in hopes that someone will come along to clean up their messes and create some sort of Bush "legacy" out of thin air that is somehow less embarrassing than world-wide disaster on a Biblical scale.

Gonzales should never have been confirmed in the first place by either side in the Somnambulate Senate because of a) the so-called "torture memo", and b) his apparent lack of familiarity with the Constitution, enhanced Patriot Act notwithstanding (or maybe that's Exhibit A, take your pick).

On the other hand, this latest scandal is among the least of the Bush administration's transgressions.

Hopefully Congress will soon grow a spine and call them to account for all of it. Or at least try. But filibuster and veto are tough rows to hoe. At this point, Democrats may have to settle for "we tried."

But maybe it's time for them to step up the "trying" part, and issues boxes and boxes full of subpoenas. The upside might be that the White House and their key staff and lawyers will get so tied up they'll be prevented from doing any more damage. Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

OK, then.

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Tue
Mar 20 2007
10:28 am
By: rocketsquirrel  shortURL

Commenter CBT claims that with Dems in Congress comes "investigations and politically motivated attacks like the AG firings."

Unfortunately, it's about the documents, not the Democrats.

These were politically motivated firings.

On Nov. 5, a month before she was formally notified along with others that she was being fired, Chiara e-mailed McNulty about her fears of being out of work with no job prospects.

"While I live in hope that this dire prediction is untrue, I am contacting you because I need assistance to remain in federal service with a comparable compensation or, quite frankly, I will lose everything I have been working toward for the past five years," she told McNulty. "I trust that I can count on you to intervene or provide an alternative."

Two days letter, on the morning of the midterm election, she again turned to McNulty.

"Paul," she said in an e-mail. "As soon as the 'election dust settles' I ask that you tell me why my resignation may be requested. Since you have not taken exception to the [eventuality], I now assume that it is likely. I need to know the truth to live in peace with the aftermath."

BONUS COVERAGE: La Times hears that Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson, Fred Thompson is being considered for AG, along with John Danforth. Won't ace business reporter and political blogger Michael Silence be thrilled?

46
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Tue
Mar 20 2007
09:54 am

If last Sunday's opinion column by News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy, on the need for a County government Ombudsman, was not enough hypocrisy, then how about today's unsigned Editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel advocating the loss of Constitution Rights for Knox County employees?

The all knowing oracle of what is right and just, the News Sentinel, has now decided what rights Knox County employees should be allowed to have. In a stunning act of again carrying the County Mayor's water the daily paper has endorsed the breathtakingly unconstitutional Maury County bill in the General Assembly that forbids Knox County employees from being allowed to hold elected office.

What are the implications? Adios to Knox County schoolteacher and County Commissioner Tony Norman. Likewise Commissioners Craig Leuthold, Sharon Cawood, Chuck Bolus, and of course Lee Tramel. If they could only hire Lumpy Lambert for a part time County job they could get rid of him too. In the U.S.S.R. purges were a common occurrence. They are rare in America.

In a demeaning unsigned Editorial, the Sentinel’s Editorial staff writes, “Commissioners have family members who work for county government, calling into question their objectivity on various measures, including finances.

Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale said the topic should be taken up by the nine-member Ethics Committee just appointed by the Knox County Commission. We agree.

We all deserve representatives who have the best interests of their constituents foremost in their minds, rather than thinking first about how they can help a family member or themselves. It should be about service, not one's own interest.”

One must wonder at this time what the keen interest the News Sentinel has in redoing the Knox County Commission. Curious how the News Sentinel calls into question the objectivity of County Commissioners, isn’t it? One might question the objectivity of the daily Knoxville paper. Today’s Editorial wins this weeks Pot and Kettle Award.

49
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Tue
Mar 20 2007
08:01 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

Having hundreds of donuts left over from the anti-war protest on Saturday (which 200+ people attended, contrary to what was reported in the KNS), I decided to drive them down on Sunday morning to the SmartFix site to distribute among the homeless, if I could find any outdoors at 8 am in 20 degree weather.

No problem, there were dozens already on the street, including women and children. Now that's Moving Knoxville Forward.

They appreciated the donuts ..

42
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Lost Medicaid Funding

To date, the failure to expand Medicaid/TennCare has cost the State of Tennessee ? in lost federal funding.

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