Thu
Jan 18 2007
08:33 pm

Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives make good on their First 100 Hours agenda with time to spare:

Democrats accomplished their early legislative goals in 87 hours, adopting new ethics rules and passing bills raising the minimum wage, expanding taxpayer financed research into embryonic stem cells, forcing more homeland security measures, directing the federal government to negotiate for cheaper Medicare prescription drugs and lowering interest rates on subsidized student loans.

Bonus, today they passed a measure rolling back tax breaks for oil companies and recouping billions in lost royalties. Now it's up to the Senate to deliver.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
05:14 pm
By: Bill Lyons  shortURL

I know many folks here are interested in Downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. I am sorry to announce that Jill Van Beke has resigned as Deputy Director – Downtown in the City of Knoxville’s Policy Development Department where she did a great job in a tough and demanding position. Jill is staying in Knoxville and will be working downtown in the private sector.

We have brought Madeleine Weil to take over for Jill in working with me on downtown and other issues, especially related to the surrounding neighborhoods. Madeleine grew up in Missouri and received her BA Magna Cum Laude from Carleton College where she majored in American Studies. She has a MA from Yale University in Environmental Management and later worked for the City of New Haven as an environmental planner. She also was a policy analyst and was involved in a number of downtown issue areas and worked with a variety of stakeholder groups. Madeleine received Connecticut’s Green Circle Award for environmental contributions in 2004. She wrote the smart growth proposal included in the Connecticut Governor’s climate change action plan.

Madeleine and her husband, Bob Morrissey came to Knoxville in August. They live in the Island Home community. Bob recently joined the History department at UT as an assistant professor. Madeleine is replacing Jill and Bob is replacing Bruce Wheeler. No pressure there!

I have already introduced Madeleine to a number of folks will continue to do so. She is very nice, friendly person and a real addition to the city.

Thanks, Bill Lyons

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
04:10 pm

By John Mark Hancock
Copyrighted – All Rights Reserved

As 2007 gets into full swing, without much snow yet in the Great Smoky Mountains, the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team is finding tough sledding on the road after some major successes in December. It appears that Head Coach Bruce Pearl’s young team, while they overachieved in the early part of this still-young season, has been humbled and brought back to earth with three straight losses on the road, all of which were bitter and hard fought at the end.

The fiery Pearl, who nearly got tossed out of the game on the Plains when he was assessed a technical foul down the stretch while protesting an egregious call by a referee, lost three games in a row for the first time in his entire 15-year coaching career last night at Auburn. The Volunteers blew a 14-point lead late in the game, which when combined with the very poor officiating and the fact that star Chris Lofton never got to the free throw line while the Tigers shot multiple free tosses throughout the game, led to a 3-point loss.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
02:54 pm
By: Bill Lyons  shortURL

Here is some background on the site for the transit center. I have been handling this phase of the project from the city end so any blame should be directed to me.

In early 2004 Mayor Haslam announced that the city was seeking a new site for the transit center because combining it with a movie theater on the 500 block of Gay Street was not proving to be workable. Following a lengthy process led by the Public Building Authority, which serves as the city’s manager for this project, the site was moved to State Street at the site of the large parking area behind the open spot on Gay near Wall Avenue. The County owns that site. Meanwhile construction of the Market Square garage necessitated moving the temporary transfer site to Main Street in front of the city county building.

Read more after the jump...

Continued...

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Bob Altemeyer, the social psychologist whose work John Dean used to write Conservatives Without Conscience, is posting installments of his own e-book. It's much like the Wingnut Function, but with actual research and stuff.

Here's an amusing anecdote.

Continued...

Topics:
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Thu
Jan 18 2007
01:44 pm

Senate Republicans filibuster ethics reform. It's the dawn of a new era of bipartisanship in Congress!

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
01:38 pm

"Every time you think television has hit its lowest ebb, a new program comes along to make you wonder where you thought the ebb was."

Art Buchwald was 81.

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"I Hate term limits and I hate the Tennessee Supreme Court!
I'm not ready to leave office, I've only been here 27 years! I'll appeal!
I'm a Winner! Do you hear me, I'M A WINNER!"

Thu
Jan 18 2007
12:41 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

It's the dawn of a new era in state government ethics.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
11:06 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

The Rep proposes a tax on porn with the proceeds used to eliminate the sales tax on groceries. Hilarity ensues. Michael Silence has the roundup.

Sounds silly, but I suppose it isn't any sillier than my idea from a while back to tax video games and fast food to help fund education and health care.

Except with my idea, it would be easier to identify what to tax. The Rep doesn't seem to have done much, uh, homework on his porns.

First, he isn't clear on how much porn there is to be taxed. He says in this KNS article that the "bill is in the process of being researched." Heh. I imagine it is. No, wait. I'd rather not imagine.

He also says "Movies with an 'R' rating or lower would not be taxed, but those with an X rating would."

Perhaps The Rep isn't aware that the MPAA rating system is voluntary, and that only a handful of major studio releases have ever received an 'X' rating (and most of those went back to the editing room).

The adult film industry does not submit their movies to the MPAA for rating. Instead, they made up their own "XXX" rating. We can't wait to see The Rep's definition of "XXX" in his proposed legislation.

Anyway, publicity stunt legislating is hard work, y'all.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
10:35 am

According to the Knoxville News Sentinel, Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale held a press conference yesterday to propose a procedure and a timeline for appointing replacement Knox County officeholders. He wants it done by Feb. 16th.

According to the article, Commission Chairman Scoobie Moore says the decision on how and when to proceed is up to County Commission, not the County Mayor, and that Commission will "consider all intelligent suggestions."

Commissioner Lumpy Lambert chimed in (as usual) and said that "the mayor stepped outside his authority today."

I almost feel sorry for Mayor Ragsdale. He has to assert leadership in this bizarre situation, but his hands are tied by the Tennessee Constitution, the Tennessee Supreme Court, and the State Coordinator of Elections. And he has to deal with "Scoobie" and "Lumpy".

In related term limit drama, Michael Silence has opened up his blog at the Knoxville News Sentinel for other KNS reporters to post all the latest gossip, rumors, and scuttlebutt.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
10:15 am

Former candidate Tom Salter announced that he's officially seeking appointment to County Commission Seat 5C and says he will "participate in whatever process evolves." See Tom's statements at his website and blog.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
10:08 am

Newseek asked several prominent baby boomers what three things they want to do in their remaining years.

Author Stephen King says "I'd like to outlast George W. Bush's second term of office." Number one on his to-do list is "To live to see George W. Bush tried for crimes against humanity." Number three is "To see American Idol canceled."

Also quoted are Bill Frist, Paula Deen, Cal Ripkin, Joan Jett, Bill O'Reilly, and others. Some are more interesting than others.

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Thu
Jan 18 2007
09:34 am

At one point during this war our exit strategy was 'Iraq will ask us to leave as soon as they are ready for us to leave.'

Iraqi leaders say the recent arrest of several Iranian diplomats by Americans violates sovereignty. It sounds like they might be ready for us to leave. Until Iraq's parliament votes for U.S. troop withdrawal, they can not claim to be sovereign.

I'm sure we have just cause for detaining the Iranians. Between Iranian espionage and all the missing money, oil and materials in Iraq, there's plenty of just cause to choose from.

If Congress wants to do something constructive toward bringing troops home, it should ask Iraq to hold a vote on whether we should leave. If they vote yes, we can leave. If they vote no, our continued presence is validated and they will have gotten a taste of that freedom America is famous for.

Topics:
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Thu
Jan 18 2007
08:00 am
By: Mark Harmon  shortURL

I'll be on Hallerin Hill's show about 7:40 this morning, talking about my plan for a non-binding referendum, aka plebiscite. I believe the mayor or a mayor's representative will be talking about the plan presented by the mayor yesterday. All the best, Mark Harmon

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Wed
Jan 17 2007
11:17 pm

There's an episode of "Friends" when Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) is talking to a pretty girl, gets nervous, and has to think of something to say. What comes out of his mouth is something to the effect of "So... you know that natural gas smell? That's not really the gas. Natural gas is odorless. The gas company puts that smell in the gas so you can smell it if it leaks."

This story will probably be about as exciting as that. Tonight I was outside playing with Katie. Melissa comes out and we talk a little, and after a few minutes we both notice a funny smell. Like rotten eggs. We decide we should call the gas company, just in case there's a gas leak in the neighborhood.

The Blount County Fire Department comes out shortly. I show them where the gas meter is and they check it with an electronic sniffer. They check the furnace and water heater. They check the LP gas BBQ grill. They check in the spot where Melissa and I were standing when we smelled the natural gas odor. Nothing.

Remember what Ross taught us all about natural gas? It's odorless. The gas company adds that smell.

The fireman told me something interesting, and the Atmos Energy person who came out later confirmed it. There's an 18 inch Duke Energy gas main going through Blount County. The gas in the main line is odorless. The odor is added at local Atmos natural gas pumping stations, and there's a pumping station at the far end of the next street. Sometimes the odor that's injected into the gas escapes. A few weeks ago four houses on that street reported natural gas odor. That's what we smelled earlier, and as the wind shifted we couldn't smell it anymore. Fascinating, huh?

Topics:
33
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Wed
Jan 17 2007
10:17 pm

Network news is abuzz about reductions in cancer deaths in the last few years. According to ABC's evening news,

The statistics were released a few days early so that President George W. Bush could comment on them while touring the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

"I'm pleased that we're funding cancer research. We're up about 25 percent or 26 percent since 2001," Bush said.

ABC also commented that the increased funding in 2001 was actually the result of an initiative late in the Clinton administration and cancer researchers paint a different picture of Bush and Co. generosity.

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Wed
Jan 17 2007
01:01 pm

Brittney over at Nashville is Talking has a map you should see. It is comical in many ways.

Topics:
15
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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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