Mon
May 21 2007
12:20 pm

The AT&T sponsored cable franchise bill is back on the calendar for tomorrow in both the House Commerce and Senate Commerce, Labor & Agriculture committees. Previous posts about the bill can be found here and here. (The Senate version now has ten amendments and I haven't had time to read them. Does anybody know what they say?)

The 40 cent cigarette tax is also back on the front burner. The tax, which is the funding mechanism for Gov. Bredesen's Schools First initiative, is on the joint House and Senate Finance, Ways & Means Committee calendar for tomorrow.

Sen. Rosalind Kurita, who was previously rumored to have said she wouldn't support it because she wasn't asked to sponsor it, is fully on board. She and Rep. Joanne Favors (D-Chattanooga), Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner Susan Cooper, and 98 registered nurses held a rally at the State Capitol last week to support the cigarette tax and promote awareness of teen smoking. Kurita, a registered nurse, has long been a supporter of higher cigarette taxes to help fund health care and as a way to reduce smoking.

Democratic Caucus Chairman Senator Joe Haynes conducted a constituent survey last month that showed 68% of the 807 respondents favored the cigarette tax increase to help fund education. (The survey of Nashville area voters also revealed that 78% support raising the minimum wage to $6.15 and 77% support state spending for alternative fuel research and development.)

The workplace smoking ban is also back on the Senate Commerce, Labor and Agriculture and the House Agriculture committees for tomorrow. There has been some previous (and sometimes heated) debate about this here. There are all kinds arguments on both sides, but even to a future ex-smoker like myself this one is a no-brainer that should be passed right away.

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Mon
May 21 2007
11:55 am

Well, what so many already knew is now a fact. A recent report showed that allowing gays to serve in the Bristish military was a non-problem, a non-issue, even though many feared it would cause all kinds of difficulties.

“There was a lot of apprehension among some senior personnel that there would be an increase in things like bullying and harassment based on sexual orientation, and some of them were almost predicting that the world was going to come to an end,” the Defense Ministry official said.

"Similar concerns were raised when, bowing to national antidiscrimination laws, the military began allowing gay personnel who had registered for civil partnerships to live in military housing with their same-sex partners. “But all the problems the services thought were going to come to pass really haven’t materialized,” the official said."

The American military (and most of the public) of course, remains ignorant, provincial and bigoted about the reality of homosexuality and the hardships caused by anti-gay laws. Here, we'd rather have felons fighting for us. There has been in the past and there are today many gay military heroes fighting to preserve a culture that dimishes them every chance they get.

They deserve to be recognized, and they really ought to be let out of the closet. There's many things going on in this day and age that are far more obscene than being gay.

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Mon
May 21 2007
11:52 am

Betty Bean has an update on the dispute between the City of Knoxville and Lamar Outdoor Advertising regarding electronic billboards. Scroll down to "Big boards are coming" (right after a great story about a promise kept).

According to the Beanster, the city has a temporary restraining order against them and Lamar's lawyer says a new state law trumps local ordinances. City Councilman Rob Frost disagrees. "State law says local governments have the option to enact something more stringent. It's up to local governments to decide if they want them or not," says Frost.

So what do you think? It makes sense for the advertising company to use the technology to be able to instantly update signs without all the expense of making giant posters and having people go out there to install them.

But they also want to change the sign electronically every eight seconds, and some think this will create a distraction resulting in a highway safety hazard. And what's next - high definition Really Big Screen movie trailers? TV style commercials?

Maybe the simple compromise is to have reasonable restrictions on the type of display permitted and the frequency with which it can change.

15
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Mon
May 21 2007
11:17 am

Way too cold for palm trees in Knoxville? I think not. I have had a Windmill Palm in my yard for the past 3 1/2 years. It is planted in the ground and has never been brought indoors.

My palm is now around 3 feet tall and doing well. It does get a blanket during the coldest weather and during long bouts of cold weather. It suffered more during the winter of 2005/2006 than this past year. They get tougher as they get older.

I ordered my Windmill palm from The Nursery at Ty Ty, GA. In 2005 at one of the UT Gardens plant sales, a local gentleman offered palm trees for sale. I purchase two (Windmill and Pindo (Jelly). The Pindo did not survive, primarily due to my lack of attention. There is a Southeastern Palm Society with a local contact in Chattanooga, TN.

We who love the tropics need not be penalized. Rumor is there are palm trees growing in Rhode Island!

133
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Mon
May 21 2007
07:32 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL

TOAAW, come back soon, don't give up. Get rested and refreshed. Your voice is needed.

Adieu for now.

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Sun
May 20 2007
09:41 pm

I have continued my review of the proposed Knox County Budget, and hope to raise additional questions at tomorrow's meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee, 8:30 a.m. Here are some more observations.

SRF200-235pdf file, p. 55. Highway/Bridge Maintenance. A zero to $50,000 jump in "other professional services." What are we buying?

SRF pp. 50, 47, 43. We go from zero to $100,000, $120,000 and $3000 respectively for the Employee Benefits Engineering and Public Works Fund, the Highway Fundwide, and Drug Control Fundwide. What are these?

SRF p. 40. Why $50,000 more than requested in Transfers under Tourism?

SRF p. 22. Why $300,000 more than requested in Convenience Centers Building and Grounds Maintenance and $289,000 more than requested in Service Contracts?

SRF p. 21. Is the $19,000 budgeted for Workers Compensation Charges realistic? Past years have been twice that or more.

SRF p. 11. What is the $50,000 for the State General Library?

Writing of libraries, if any of the above items prove unjustified or unwise, some funds clearly needed to be shifted to schools and libraries. Library book/media acquisition budget is more than $48,000 below last year: $141,000 below two years ago.

The stormwater ordinance in our packet for tomorrow's meeting also has none of the dozen-plus suggestions I presented to make it as rigorous as that of the city. All the best, Mark Harmon

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Sun
May 20 2007
06:45 pm

On Parson's Branch Road today.

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Sun
May 20 2007
06:26 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

The MPG/trip meter was reset to zero in the driveway on our way out, and here it is in the garage after an afternoon drive up to Townsend and around the Cades Cove loop with a short side trip up Parson's Branch Road.

Topics:
202
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Sun
May 20 2007
12:28 pm

What's a mother to do? You try to raise them right and they go embarrassing one of the most upright of mothers.

Dr. Laura has another addition to her long resumé as a respected advocate of proper child rearing so, if you need advice on family values, give her a listen at 570 KNRS, the brown spot on your dial.

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Sun
May 20 2007
08:08 am

What is the difference b/t a liberal and a progressive? are these not different labels for the same thing.

No...You're probably thinking about the labels, "conservative" and "liar".

Although I suppose you could be a liar without being a conservative. There are certainly other kinds.

Continued...

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Sun
May 20 2007
12:59 am
By: michael kaplan  shortURL

USPS has come up with a long list of changes in its services and pricing. It has also trademarked the term Post Office (TM). Most curious is the change in cost of a Post Office (TM) Box -- the rentable metal mail cabinet that carries the POB number. Read this:

"Prices have been adjusted up or down to reflect the commercial real estate value of each location."

Next we'll likely have the cost of a First Class Mail (TM) stamp based on the zip codes of the sending and receiving Post Offices (TM).

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Sat
May 19 2007
10:29 pm

Ok, folks, now that we've agreed that either Dayton or some place along I-81 is the most conservative place in Tennessee, what is the most liberal/progressive place in the state? This does not necessarily mean the most Democratic place, but it very well could be. And it might be a neighborhood of a city.

My nomination would be Summertown, home of The Farm. What do all y'all (or you'uns) think?

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Sat
May 19 2007
06:51 pm

Well, they're coming. The Smart cars, that is:
(link...)

The tour hits Knoxville in September (14 to 19th), and it is my understanding that they are stopping in cities where they will have dealerships.

I've seen them all over Europe for years, but how will they fare again the Suburbans and Expeditions of the US?

They start at 12K, and get 40 mpg around town, about 60 mpg on the road.

20
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Sat
May 19 2007
07:06 am

"Diethylene glycol, a poisonous ingredient in some antifreeze, has been found in 6,000 tubes of toothpaste in Panama, and customs officials there said yesterday that the product appeared to have originated in China."

What's up with China? They sure are lax in what they're sending out as exports. Notice that the USDA is looking into it. Will this be like the pet food where the onion keeps on peeling away? The fact that they obviously have the power to contaminate and disperse food that could kill worries me.

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132
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Fri
May 18 2007
09:14 pm

In four days I will finally be a Tennessee resident. I've already arrived in spirit, I suppose, but I'm always curious about the odd nooks and crannies of the Volunteer State. One thing I've always wonderered is: what is the most conservative place in Tennessee?

Remember, this may or may not also be the most Republican place considering Tennessee's unique Civil War heritage where many moderate East Tennesseans vote Republican and conservative West Tennesseeans vote Democratic. And you can't judge it simply by virtue of a particular legislator from the district: West Knoxville, home of Stacy Campfield, is not nearly as conservative as the legislator who represents it (though it's still a fairly conservative place). Consider both economic and religious issues.

My pick would be Cleveland, TN. Not only did Bradley County give the highest percentage vote of any county to Jim Bryson, but the city is the worldwide home to its own Pentecostal Church. What do you all think?

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Rick Hasen, curator of the excellent Election Law blog, examines the mysterious disappearance of the "American Center for Voting Rights." The slight of hand is dazzling.

In support of [ACVR counsel Thor Hearne's] position that voter-ID laws did not unconstitutionally suppress the votes of poor and minority voters, Hearne cited the decision of the DoJ to approve the pre-clearance of Georgia's voter-ID law, and a law review article supporting such laws, written under the pseudonym Publius.

Hearne didn't reveal that the decision on Georgia was made by political appointees of the DoJ over the strong objections of career attorneys there who believed the law was indeed discriminatory. Nor did he explain that (as I discovered and blogged about a few years earlier) Publius was none other than Hans von Spakovsky, then serving as one of the political DoJ officials who approved the Georgia voter-ID law. (President Bush later gave von Spakovsky a recess appointment to the Federal Election Commission.)

Digby has more on von Spakovsky.

20
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Fri
May 18 2007
02:17 pm

Advice to graduates:

If you choose to wear baggies, a line of work that requires minimum manual dexterity and no need to escape the long arm of the law is recommended.

24
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Fri
May 18 2007
08:15 am

State Sen. Jimmy Kyle (D-Memphis) got an amendment to the "guns in parks and public places" bill to also allow guns in the State Capitol building, including the House and Senate chambers and the Legislative Plaza, where guns are currently prohibited.

Sounds reasonable to me. After all, CCW promoters keep telling us they are the safest, most law-abiding people in the whole state of Tennessee. If families in state parks would be safer with CCW guns around, so would our elected officials, right? What's the big deal?

Apparently it's a big deal to the bill's sponsor, Sen. Tim Burchett (R-Knoxville). He withdrew his bill rather than allow it to pass with the amendment.

Money quote:

"I do not fear the permit holder. I trust that permit holder enough to have them up in that gallery," Kyle told colleagues, referring to a balcony area that overlooks the Senate floor.

"If we're going to be telling families visiting state parks that it's OK to carry a gun around them, it should be OK to carry a gun around us," said Kyle. "We set one standard for citizens, another for us. I'm tired of that."

Heh. Indeed.

165
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Fri
May 18 2007
05:23 am

They also cited Mr. Wolfowitz’s work in combating corruption, his signature issue.

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Thu
May 17 2007
02:48 pm

I received an email that I just had to share with folks. It's an Excerpt from Lee Iacocca's book, "Where Have All The Leaders Gone?"...and if anyone KNOWS what he's talking about when it comes to leadership, Lee Iacocca does.

Continued...

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