Wed
Feb 21 2018
05:28 pm

In a concerted effort to attract jobs, cities, counties and states give private companies huge tax incentives to locate their operations within that jurisdiction. According to former Kansas City auditor and mayor Mark Funkhouser, these tax breaks are essentially fraudulent bribes and should be illegal.

When cities go to war: why tax incentives are 'terrible'

“If you’re looking at the competitiveness of a region, the most important thing a region can do is to focus on education. And this use of incentives is really transferring money from education to businesses.”

As Companies Seek Tax Deals, Governments Pay High Price

Wed
Feb 21 2018
04:27 pm

What: Book Sandwiched In welcomes Dr. Mark Harmon
When: Wednesday, February 28, 2018 - 12:00pm
Where: East Tennessee History Center

American Spirit Coverart.jpgJoin Dr. Mark Harmon for a discussion of The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For by David McCullough. Bring your lunch or pick up something downtown. Drinks are available for fifty cents. Reading the book is optional. Books Sandwiched In is generously sponsored by the Friends of Knox County Public Library.

"David McCullough, twice recipient of a Pulitzer Prize, is a national treasure," Harmon said. "His latest, The American Spirit, shows that this historian not only can write compelling books, but also can take a routine speech and make it into an uplifting tale about humanity."

Continued...

Tue
Feb 20 2018
04:40 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

So, the prospect of Marsha Blackburn in the US Senate is freaking out Republicans, too?

Bredesen must be amused. Concerned, but amused.

Tue
Feb 20 2018
03:28 pm

Washington Post/AP: The House Ethics Committee is confirming that it’s investigating Republican Rep. John Duncan of Tennessee, who is serving his 16th term in the House and has previously announced he won’t seek re-election.

Also: Statement of the Chairwoman and Ranking Member of the Committee on Ethics Regarding Representative John Duncan, Jr.

Tue
Feb 20 2018
11:37 am

201802bhr_privateprobation_tennesseegraphic.jpg

In addition to corporate run prisons, private companies are now taking over fee-based probation. And failure to pay the fees can lead to more charges and more fees that many cannot pay. It's like a payday loan scheme with spiraling debt, except under the color of law.

US: Private Probation Harming the Poor

The 142-page report, "'Set up to Fail': The Impact of Offender-Funded Private Probation on the Poor," documents private probation company practices in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. These states allow private companies to supervise probation for minor crimes, including misdemeanors and criminal traffic offenses. Individuals pay their probation fees directly to the company. But many courts fail to recognize that when an individual is living in poverty, the fees force them to sacrifice basic needs, such as food, housing, and transportation, to pay the probation company. When an individual cannot afford payments, they can face arrest, extended probation, or even prison.

And in Knox County, inmates are isolated from their families and may only communicate via video feed. Inmates get one video visit per week. After that, families must pay for each video visit. Families are also charged up to 10% to deposit money into inmate jail accounts.

Evidently, crime pays... if you're a corporation with a criminal justice outsourcing contract.

Alexander, Corker back bill to strengthen background checks on gun buyers

"The bill provides financial incentives to states and federal agencies to work harder to comply with laws requiring them to report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS."

So in other words, vague steps to enforce regulations already on the books. Too little, too late.

Tue
Feb 20 2018
06:53 am

Jamie Satterfield reports on a disturbing situation involving a possible school security threat, a communication breakdown trying to respond, and a broken electronic alert system...

Knox County Schools was warned of shooting threat but security unreachable, alert system down

Meanwhile...

Knox Board of Education members say security is adequate

Topics:
Mon
Feb 19 2018
06:07 pm

What: 6th Dems Social & Candidate Speech Event
When: Friday, March 2, 2018 - 7:00pm
Where: Casual Pint Hardin Valley Rd

6TH DISTRICT DEMS SOCIAL, FRIDAY MARCH 2nd 7 - 9pm
Hardin Valley Casual Pint

Come have a beer and listen to local Democratic candidates speak. Speakers include 2nd Congressional candidate Josh Williams, 89th House District candidate Keifel Agostini and Knox Co. Commission At-Large Seat 10 candidate Tori Griffin.

email: 6thdemsKCDP@gmail.com

Center for American Progress - Election Security in All 50 States
Tennessee receives D/F pg. 168 -

Tennessee’s use of paperless DRE machines and insufficient post-election audit procedures leave the state open to undetected hacking and other Election Day problems. Tennessee should immediately transition to a statewide paper ballot voting system and update its post-election audit requirements. In doing so, the state should look to risk-limiting audits like those in Colorado as a potential model. Tennessee should also strengthen its ballot accounting and reconcilia- tion procedures by requiring that precincts fully account for all ballots—used, unused, and spoiled—at the end of Election Day, and reconcile any discrepancies between the number of ballots and the number of voters who entered the polling place. Finally, pre-election logic and accuracy testing should be conducted on all machines that will be used in an upcoming election.

Paper ballots making a comeback...

THE NATION’S SECRETARIES OF state gathered for a multi-day National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend, with cybersecurity on the mind.

Panels and lectures centered around the integrity of America’s election process, with the federal probe into alleged Russian government attempts to penetrate voting systems a frequent topic of discussion.

[..]

One way to allay concerns about the integrity of electronic voting machine infrastructure, however, is to simply not use it. Over the past year, a number of states are moving back towards the use of paper ballots or at least requiring a paper trail of votes cast.

Did you know that Tennessee passed bipartisan legislation ten years ago requiring voter verifiable optical scan ballots for all elections in the state? There was federal funding available through the Help America Vote Act to pay for it, too.

Then Republicans took control of the legislature and governor's office and repealed the law.

Note that the company that makes the eSlate voting machines used in 30 counties, including Knox and Blount, makes optical scanning machines that are compatible with the back end tabulating systems already in place. The existing eSlate electronic voting machines can also be retrofitted with printers to provide a voter verifiable printed audit trail.

The DRE (direct recording electronic) system currently in use provides no possible way to perform a manual recount. All you can do is run the same report again and get the same result again. Optical paper ballots would provide a human readable way to perform a recount independent of the electronic system.

Why don't Tennessee Republicans want assurances that all votes are being counted and counted accurately? They sure went to a lot of trouble to "protect the integrity" of the vote with photo ID.

Previously:

Tennessee Republicans do not want voter verifiable voting in 2010

TN House votes to continue unverifiable black box voting

Fri
Feb 16 2018
07:25 pm

In other news: Fincher was running for Senate?

Veteran DTV Host Dr. Mark Harmon moderates a panel discussion with East Tennessee Permaculture Research Institue Chairman David Bolt and ETPRI VISTA Volunteer Mark Carper on Democratic TV at 7:30 PM on Friday, Feb 16th. This discussion will inform you about the sustainability research underway at the East Tennessee Permaculture Research Institute in South Knoxville.

Tune in on the following cable channels or stream it live from your computer (here!)
Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

Fri
Feb 16 2018
02:36 pm

Tennessee mentioned as target of misinformation campaign:

"The indictment points to one account titled Tennessee GOP (@TEN_GOP), which gained over 100,000 followers yet had no affiliation with the actual state political party."

Grand Jury Indicts Russians Linked To Interference In 2016 Election

Also:

"In an indictment announced Friday in Washington, Mueller describes a years-long, multimillion-dollar conspiracy by hundreds of Russians aimed at criticizing Hillary Clinton and supporting Senator Bernie Sanders and Trump."

Mueller Accuses Russians of Pro-Trump, Anti-Clinton Meddling

If you sometimes look for "greatest hits" collections because you don't want to buy six or seven albums of filler to get a few songs you like, you can't go wrong with the "20th Century Masters, the Millennium Collection" series. I have a few of these, some on CDs ripped to my library and others downloaded. Sound quality is reliably pretty good to excellent.

Lately I've gotten them as downloads from 7 Digital. They have both MP3 and CD quality FLAC for most titles and they're reasonably priced. They have hundreds of titles from the series covering everything from James Brown to Iggy Pop. Bonus: many of the albums have songs available as individual downloads if that's all you want. Download delivery is instant and there's no DRM or goofy software involved.

Here's a link...

Topics:

The NYT reports Diane Black took $225,000 from a Crossville trucking company to successfully influence Pruit's EPA not to close a loophole on diesel engines emissions controls. Tennessee Tech's role in questionable research paid for by the same trucking company is also being internally investigated, thanks to an outcry from concerned faculty.

The E.P.A. estimates that over the life of every 10,000 trucks without modern emissions systems, up to 1,600 Americans would die prematurely, and thousands more would suffer a variety of ailments including bronchitis and heart attacks

Thanks Diane.

I'm sure we'll be hearing more about this from Karl Dean and Craig Fitzhugh.

(link...)

Thu
Feb 15 2018
08:10 pm

Marsha Blackburn says anyone who doubts her qualifications for U.S. Senate is a "sexist pig."

Uh, sorry to break it to you, but no, you're just a clown, and even Republicans know it.

Thu
Feb 15 2018
04:34 pm

Oh, wait. He was never charged. The other defendants, except Karen Mann, convicted of various charges. Sentencing is set for June 27th. KNS, WBIR...

Thu
Feb 15 2018
11:08 am

Candidates for governor:

Diane Black: 93% NRA rating, 90% Gun Owners of America rating, 0% Brady Campaign rating.

Beth Harwell: NRA A rating, Tennessee Firearms Association A rating.

Craig Fitzhugh: 0% Tennessee Firearms Association rating, 0% NRA lifetime score, NRA A rating in 2008.

Randy Boyd: No info.

Karl Dean: No info.

Candidates for U.S. Senate:

Marsha Blackburn: 93% NRA rating, 90% Gun Owners of America rating, NRA A rating, Gun Owners of America A rating, 0% Brady Campaign rating.

Stephen Fincher: No current info, received NRA endorsement for U.S. House in 2012.

Phil Bredesen: Received NRA endorsement in 2006 for governor. Vetoed guns in bars bill as governor.

Candidates for U.S. House, Tennessee 2nd District:

Tim Burchett: 100% Tennessee Gun Owner's Association score, 0% NRA lifetime score.

Jimmy Matlock: 93% NRA rating, NRA A rating, 71% Tennessee Firearms Association rating.

Jason Emert: No info.

Renee Hoyos: No info.

Joshua Williams: No info.

Thu
Feb 15 2018
10:26 am

House Speaker Paul Ryan on the Florida school shooting: "There's more questions than answers at this stage. I don’t think that means you then roll that conversation into taking away citizens' rights - taking away a law-abiding citizen's rights. Obviously this conversation typically goes there. Right now, I think we need to take a breath and collect the facts."

Does that include the inalienable right to slaughter innocent school children using military grade weapons?

What an insufferable asshole.

Oh, and Paul Ryan received more than $230,000 from gun lobby groups such as the NRA in the last two election cycles.

People should just stop voting for any local, state, or federal candidate who receives money from the NRA or other gun lobby group or who receives a favorable NRA rating. Unfortunately, that appears to be the minority opinion.

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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. (Source)

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