Sun
Feb 25 2007
11:48 pm

While Al Gore was cutting up with Leonardo DiCaprio it became clear that he will not run for President. He seemed very happy at the Oscars. Say what you will, he is much more popular than George Bush.

Next stop Nobel Peace Prize.

45
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Sun
Feb 25 2007
10:41 pm

Please sign this petition and/or email/write your state senators and house members asking them to support Gov. Bredesens Heart of The Cumberlands Project. Some state law makers (Ron Ramsey) are opposed to the idea of doubling the size of Frozen Head State Park (Morgan County) and protecting and conserving 124,000 acres in Morgan, Scott, Campbell, and Anderson Counties. I would bet that Ramsey has not even seen this amazing piece of land before unless it was in a picture. But anyways I am not going to preach, but I am taking this petition and a massive letter campaign to Sen Ramsey and the House and Senate Members soon, on behalf of my county and everyone who enjoys this amazing place in East Tennessee that I am lucky enough to call home. Please help me by just quickly signing this form. IF IT ASK YOU FOR MONEY, JUST CLOSE THE PAGE, IT IS SOME POP UP PROBLEM. SORRY. tHANKS FOR YOUR TIME AND HELP.

This petition is to ask your state lawmakers to approve Gov. Bredesen's budget proposal for his Heart of The Cumberlands project. Some state lawmakers who have probably never even stepped foot on this land, (Sen. Ron Ramsey)are opposing this project. This project would preserve 124,000 acres in Morgan, Scott, Anderson, and Campbell Counties. The land is valued at $150 million but the state will only pay around $82 million. The land will be protected and used for recreation and conservation uses. This project would double the size of Frozen Head State Park in Morgan County. Preserving land may not sound like much of a use to some folks, but this project will bring in a large amount of tourism and recreation dollars to these small areas, which in turn could be used to improve the local education systems in these already lagging behind areas. Which I assume means that some state law makers are against the idea of improving the welfare of rural areas. If nothing else, this land has some of the most amazing natural areas left in the United States that have not been tampered with by humans in some shape or form. It would be a shame to let a few state lawmakers let it go to private timber companies to destroy and make a quick buck. We have a duty to protect areas like this so that we can pass them on the future generations, and for everyone to enjoy, not for one timber company to reap financial gains from. Thank you for your time.
"If we human beings learn to see the intricacies that bind one part of a natural system to another and then to us, we will no longer argue about the importance of wilderness protection, or over the question of saving endangered species, or how human communities must base their economic futures – not on short-term exploitation – but on long-term, sustainable development. "
- Gaylord Nelson, Founder of Earth Day

"I recognize the right and duty of this generation to develop and use our natural resources, but I do not recognize the right to waste them, or to rob by wasteful use, the generations that come after us."
- Theodore Roosevelt, speech, Washington, D.C., 1900

Nicholas Bishop
Morgan County Commissioner
P.O. Box 352
Sunbright, TN 37872
nbishop3@utk.edu

(link...)

86
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Sun
Feb 25 2007
11:43 am

HB2100 would establish a non-profit "Tennessee Broadband Access Corporation to facilitate the deployment of broadband technologies across the state."

HB2103 requires "the department of economic and community development to establish a ConnectTN program to bring statewide broadband expansion."

HB2099 "Expands the membership of the Tennessee Broadband Task Force to include a representative of the department of education and requires the task force to submit an assessment of the state of broadband deployment on an annual basis."

Why this is important is discussed here.

The flip side is the lobbyist written SB1933 that eliminates local control of cable franchises, regulates local franchise fees, restricts or eliminates customer service and quality standards, provides state regulation of local public right of way for the benefit of cable companies, restricts or eliminates local build-out requirements, and allows cable companies to create statewide franchises. Why this is a bad idea is also discussed here.

113
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Sun
Feb 25 2007
11:42 am

The Tennessee Minimum Wage Act is back (HB0062), after being killed last year by 11th hour Republican parliamentary trickeration. It would set the state minimum at $6.15 per hour.

Joint resolution SJR0047 introduces a constitutional amendment to require a minimum wage in the state. There is currently no such provision. The amendment would set the state's minimum wage at no less than the federal minimum wage and give the state legislature authority to raise it and expand coverage to more workers.

The flip side, though, is HB1576 that would prohibit local governments from passing "living wage" ordinances. I have mixed feelings about this one, but it ought to be up to local governments.

46
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Sat
Feb 24 2007
03:11 pm

A baby is deprived of oxygen just after birth. If the baby can get aggressive medical now, her chances for a more normal life improve. If not, the drain she will place on her parents and the social service systems in decades to come will be enormous. The services she needs are not covered by the meager services provided by TennCare. Her own medial providers convince the parents to hire a lawyer; this is the only way the baby can obtain the resources needed now, resources that will yield huge savings later.

47 Million Americans don’t have health insurance. Millions more are at risk for loosing coverage. We are at the bottom of industrialized nations in regarding to healthy life expectancy and infant mortality, yet we spend twice as much per person as other developed countries. The total cost of American health care: $2.2 trillion.

Universal health care will be the domestic issue of the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

57
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Tom Humphrey has this legislative roundup.

The lede is about a stupid and illegal bill that would require drug testing of anyone receiving public assistance. Even though he knows it is prohibited by federal law, the sponsor (Knoxville Sen. Tim Burchett) wants to send a message that people should be getting a job instead of laying around smoking pot on the taxpayer's dime. It's hard to argue with that, and I'm sure it will have wide appeal among the folks back home even if it is illegal (and how much would it cost and who would pay for it and how prevalent is the problem?), so I don't have much to say about that.

But the second item is about a measure that would require driver's license testing in English only. According to the article, the bill's sponsor (Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro) says it's "the first step in protecting the sovereignty of our country." Say what? But I guess that will play well back home, too.

Have these folks considered that there are lots of legal immigrants right here in Tennessee? Yes, it's true! They're among us! Some of them are Japanese who work for Denso right here in Blount County. There are Iraqi expats in Nashville. Oh, yeah, there are some Mexicans, too. Some of them here illegally, but plenty here legally. And some of these people don't speak English!

The article notes that the tests are currently given in Spanish, Korean and Japanese. What exactly is this bill supposed to accomplish besides "protecting the sovereignty of our country"? I guess it will help ensure more unlicensed and uninsured motorists on Tennessee roads.

217
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Sat
Feb 24 2007
10:01 am

The shocking and distressing Appeals Court decision allowing the US to detain 'suspected terrorists' without charges, without access to lawyers, and without an end date seems to have passed virtually unnoticed. But here's some reason for hope: Civil rights, human rights, and the rule of law are being protected in Canada. Since this reminder is so close at hand, maybe someday the United States will restore the rights that we claim to be protecting.

From the New York Times...

108
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Sat
Feb 24 2007
09:44 am

Jim Gray has been fired from his job at the County Clerk's office. Besides supporting an opponent of term-limited County Commission candidate Billy Tindell who is now his boss as County Clerk, Gray apparently screwed up by not being related to anyone on County Commission.

258
like
Sat
Feb 24 2007
09:36 am

Lee Tramel threatens the KNS. The Editor and Publisher respond.

191
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Stacey X has introduced a series of interesting bills regarding housing and real estate.

HB983 (PDF format) completely redefines "blight" and severely narrows the current definition. The change eliminates "dilapidation, obsolescence, overcrowding, lack of ventilation, light and sanitary facilities, deleterious land use, or any combination of these or other factors, [that] are detrimental to the safety, health, morals, or welfare of the community" as elements of blight. It also specifically excludes loss of property value to surrounding properties as an element of blight, and restricts "blighted areas" to a single parcel.

HB1649 (PDF format) would limit damages for improper variances from zoning or building codes to the local government that approved them. Developers would be held harmless and could not be named as a defendants.

HB778 (PDF format) prohibits a local government from condemning blighted property and transferring it to another private entity. Instead, it allows only repair or demolition, with the property owner being charged for the costs by way of a tax lien. And if I read it correctly, the owner of the blighted property would have two years to get their condemned property back. (The bill appears to have a defect, though. It defines "economic development" as a legal term for the purposes of the statute, but the term is never used or referenced in the text of the statute.)

57
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Stacey X has introduced a bill that would charge a 25% tax (PDF format) on money orders, cashier's checks, traveler's checks, and the like purchased by non-citizens.

It's pretty obvious what this is all about, but there are plenty of legitimate reasons for a non-citizen to be buying money orders and cashier's checks. Why should they be penalized and discriminated against?

It should also be noted that immigrants, legal and otherwise, have typically higher numbers of "unbanked" and are therefore dependent on these services to pay their bills.

162
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
08:55 pm

Gene Patterson will have KNS Editor Jack McElroy on Tennessee This Week to discuss the county commission lawsuit. That should be interesting.

He will also have local blogger Terry Frank on to discuss her incontrovertible proof of an Iraqi nuclear weapons program based on documents that she has access to but that apparently George Bush, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, Joe Wilson, Bob Novakula, Tony Blair, the CIA, the UN, et. al. did not. That should be interesting, too. Breaking NYT/WP/LAT front page news? Well, at least it made Stacey X's front page. Here's a roundup of reaction from earlier in the week. (And not to toot my own horn, but SKB was all over this in Aug. of 2002.)

Larry Smith is scheduled to be on, too, to talk about the Tyler Harber affair, which he says is "moot" but that he expects to come up at a county commission meeting on Monday. Word has it that the Sheriff's Office has prepared a Massive PowerPoint Presentation for commissioners. Apparently Scooter and Lumpy need pictures and lines and arrows to connect the dots and help them carry out their Ragsdale vendetta. (Warning, that last link is a huge PDF file from the Halls Shopper.)

48
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
06:44 pm

WBIR has news on Brownlow. County admits blowing it.

50
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
02:38 pm

Stacey X has introduced "loser pays" bill (PDF format) for civil cases. This is backdoor "tort reform" designed to protect Corporate Goliath from Victim David and his contingency lawyer.

54
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
01:45 pm

It has begun. I just read at another place where Bill Haslam is apparently having an event to begin his campaign. His supporters now include Carlene Malone and Randy Tyree as well as Rachel Craig, Kim Trent, and Dr. Bill Snyder and Indya Kincannon. Ashley Capps is supposed to be supporting him too. This is very interesting based on the election last time. Anyone think there will be an opponent?

51
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Fri
Feb 23 2007
01:34 pm

Stacey X has introduced a pair of interesting bills.

HB995 (PDF format) would require the petitioner (i.e. the person seeking an order of protection) to pay all legal costs if the order of protection is denied.

HB990 (PDF format) would give the respondent (i.e. the person the petitioner is seeking protection from) the right to conduct discovery and to depose the petitioner (the person seeking protection).

Does the second one open up fishing expeditions into matters unrelated to the order of protection and create an opportunity to intimidate the person seeking protection? Does the first one also introduce an element of financial risk that, say, a battered spouse might not be willing or able to take?

Just asking, because I don't know and I haven't studied the law these bills would amend or what problem with the law they are trying to fix.

UPDATE: It occurred to me that the first one might actually be an improvement if the petitioner currently always pays, and this would make it so the respondent has to pay if an order is granted. But I don't know how it works now. Can any lawyers out there explain what this is all about?

UPDATE: Checked the existing law. It says:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the petitioner shall not be required to pay any filing fees, litigation taxes or any other costs associated with the filing, issuance, service or enforcement of an order of protection authorized by this part upon the filing of the petition. The judge shall assess court costs and litigation taxes at the hearing of the petition or upon dismissal of the petition. If the court, after the hearing, issues or extends an order of protection, petitioner's court costs and attorney fees shall be assessed against the respondent.

Here's what Stacey X's bill would make it say:

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the petitioner shall not be required to pay any filing fees, litigation taxes or any other costs associated with the filing, issuance, service or enforcement of an order of protection authorized by this part upon the filing of the petition. The judge shall assess court costs and litigation taxes at the hearing of the petition or upon dismissal of the petition. If the court, after the hearing, issues or extends an order of protection, then the petitioner's court costs and attorney fees shall be assessed against the respondent. If the court, after the hearing, dismisses the petition, then the respondent's court costs and attorney fees shall be assessed against the petitioner.

So it looks like under the old law the petitioner only had to pay their own costs if the petition was denied. Now the petitioner would have to pay their own AND the respondent's costs, which could now be even more if they hired expensive lawyers to do $50,000 worth of discovery and depositions.

UPDATE: The third semi-related bill (PDF format) in this trifecta would assess all legal fees of the accused to an accuser if the court finds that the accuser "knowingly" makes false accusations of sexual abuse and the accusations are thrown out, and would also hold the accuser in contempt of court. I suppose "knowingly" is the key here, but again this is a bill that could give an accuser and/or their lawyer pause. And what "the court finds" is a roll of the dice sometimes.

UPDATE: CE Petro already covered this last week. I'm a little behind sometimes.

121
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
01:09 pm

Stacey X has introduced legislation that would prohibit anyone receiving public assistance of any kind from collecting lottery prizes (PDF format). Do lottery prizes include scholarships?

120
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
11:41 am

From the Upfront Page by Jack McElroy comes the news this morning that Don Williams will no longer write for the Knoxville News Sentinel.

A farewell letter to the readers from Don Williams is part of the post.

60
like
Fri
Feb 23 2007
11:12 am

Only one day after the Governor's Land and Water Forum, his proposal to protect the last great lands in Tennessee is being attacked by Lt. Governor Ramsey and Ex. Lt. Gov. Wilder.

Taking land out of "production" means keeping their buddies from getting their hands on it.

More

Steve

44
like

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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