Mar 20 2019
12:59 pm

Traditional pensions are disappearing in America, and the federal government just made it easier for employers to get rid of them.

With no fanfare in early March, the Treasury Department issued a notice that allows employers to buy out current retirees from their pensions with a one-time lump sum payment. The decision reverses Obama-era guidance, issued in 2015, that had effectively banned the practice after officials determined that lump-sum payments often shortchanged seniors.

Now, advocates for the elderly worry that millions of people receiving monthly pension checks could be at risk.

It just became easier for employers to dump retirees' pensions

Mar 20 2019
11:52 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL


Mar 20 2019
09:00 am

The Belmont Bruins have won their first NCAA tournament game.

“This is an historic night for Belmont University and our basketball program,” Byrd said postgame. “Just 48 hours ago, we didn’t know if we were gonna be in this. And I didn’t know if [seniors Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain] were gonna ever get to play in the NCAA tournament. And now they’ve got Belmont’s first win.”

Rick Byrd grew up in South Knoxville. He attended Doyle High School and was a star basketball player. Anyone who attended Doyle during those years and enjoyed basketball knew Ricky Byrd.

It's obvious Rick Byrd really wanted to be a basketball coach. In 1976, he started out at Maryville College making $5,000.00/year. Two years later he was making $8,000.00/year. Byrd started at Belmont in 1986.

Congratulations to Rick Byrd and the Belmont Bruins!

Mar 20 2019
05:57 am

As reported in the Knox New Sentinel,

Zagster, in partnership with Spin, will launch 250 scooters here after holding a news conference with city officials in Krutch Park on Wednesday morning, according to Christy Jensen, Zagster's marketing manager for the Knoxville area.

I can't seem to find the rules of the road for scooters. I see how much it costs to ride. I see where you can probably find one for rental. I see where there have been problems across the country when scooters were introduced.

I Googled. I went to the City of Knoxville website. Can someone help? Where can I find the rules/laws for riding/renting an electric scooter? Are they treated like bicycles? Can they only be ridden on the road, not on sidewalks? Do you have to wear a helmet? Can they be ridden on greenways/trails? Do riders have to obey all traffic laws? Who teaches people these days about hand signals for turning? :)

Mar 19 2019
06:08 pm

AC's internationally acclaimed Big Ears music festival is back in town this week. Here are the details. Bonus: Ashley's picks after the break....


From Digby's Hullabaloo, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll, a majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans favor a Medicare buy-in plan for adults 50 and older and a Medicaid buy-in plan for individuals who don’t receive health coverage through their employer.

Democrats and Independents also favor a national health plan similar to Medicare for anyone, but would allow people to keep their existing coverage as well as a Medicare for all plan. Republicans polled don't go for these options, but are almost there (47%) for the Medicare for anyone but not required.

Interesting how 56% of those polled favor Medicare for all, but then if it requires paying more taxes those in favor drops to 37%. It could be how the question is asked, as with any poll. If you get Medicare for all and do not have to pay insurance premiums, then wouldn't you expect that taxes would have to be raised to pay for the plan? Otherwise, you will be paying premiums to the government. Either way you'll have to pay, I think.

Mar 18 2019
06:12 am

In 2011 a law was passed in Tennessee to protect businesses from hefty punitive damages awards in cases of civil wrongdoing, placing a cap on punitive damages — awarded in cases in which a jury finds the wrongdoer acted maliciously, fraudulently or recklessly — no matter a jury’s decision on the amount to be paid."The law was designed to improve the State’s business climate and its economy by offering businesses a way to quantify risk with some degree of predictability and, thus, encourage businesses to create jobs in Tennessee by locating and expanding here." The cap is currently $750,000.

In late December 2018, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Tennessee law as unconstitutional.

"The Appeals Court ruling is a result of a jury penalizing Jackson National Life Insurance Co. with $3 million in punitive damages for bad behavior in trying to keep from shelling out $350,000 in life insurance benefits to two children whose father died in 2013".

Now, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III, a host of business lobbyists and a handful of state legislators are intervening in the case, trying to get the appeal decision overturned and get the case in front of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Ah, yes. Protect business, not individuals.

Mar 18 2019
06:11 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

The King of Surf Guitar has died at the age of 81.

We had the good fortune of seeing him live sometime back in the 90s at a nightclub in Florida. He blew the doors off the place.

I remembered this brief interview from years ago with some sage advice for young musicians...

Mar 17 2019
11:09 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Alexa, what time is the SEC championship game?

“On December 1st in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama beat Georgia, 35 to 28.”

Alexa, what time is the SEC championship basketball game today?

“Leading the Championship are Norwich City, with 69 points, a record of 20 wins, 9 draws, and 6 losses, and a goal differential of plus 26.”

Hey Google, what time is the SEC championship game?

Today, Auburn will play Tennessee at 1 PM.

Mar 15 2019
06:55 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

UT (interim} President Randy Boyd announced the UT Promise scholarship program.

In case you missed it, it provides last dollar (after all other grants and financial aid) scholorships to pay tuition for any student attending the University of Tennessee for any family with income of $50,000 or less.

This is a good thing.

Boyd should have been governor, if we have to have a Republican governor, which seems to be a given. Too bad he miscalculated and went all Trump on us.

His move is in sharp contrast to our elected governor, who seems intent on dismantling public education.

Mar 15 2019
08:24 am

Trump says the police, military and bikers have his back and it could get "very bad."

Mar 14 2019
07:53 pm

...are apparently off the table. Thanks, Trump!

DTV Host Greg Mackay discusses current legislation under consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly with Knox County Representatives Rick Staples (D-15) and Gloria Johnson (D-13)

DTV airs on Friday, March 15th at 7:30 PM and can be viewed online (here!) or on your local cable channels:

Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

Mar 14 2019
10:27 am

The City of Knoxville has announced $595,158 in historic preservation grants for properties in the downtown area. Projects include work on the Bijou Theatre exterior, improvements to the Fourth and Gill "Birdhouse" neighborhood center and funds for obtaining National Register of Historic Places designation for Standard Knitting Mills, among others.

Details in the press release after the break...


Mar 13 2019
11:01 am
  • Homeless

According to a report from the KNS, many people showed up at the Vestal Community Organization Monday night to discuss the growth of the homeless population in South Knoxville. Some of the people blamed the increase on the closing of the homeless camp on Broadway.

Michael Dunthorn, the city’s program coordinator for the Office on Homelessness, said "he had calls from people concerned about the homeless population before the “day space” was created and he’s had some afterwards. It’s hard to tell."

Eric Johnson is the Vestal Community Organization’s president, but he also works as a social worker for Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee Office on Aging. He is quoted a saying "As a social worker, I think (cleaning up homeless camps) is literally more favorable. Now, I know it’s impacting residents and properties, but what it is is homeless people congregating in places that are safer for them.”

  • Opioid use

The KNS report also discusses how South Knoxville has been hit hard by opioid use.

An average of four people a day in Knox County received naloxone from emergency workers to counter opioid overdose, a new report says, and the South Knoxville saw a massive increase.

South Knox County, in particular, saw a significant increase — 61 percent — between the two years studied, October 2016-September 2017 and October 2017-September 2018. The report showed the areas most affected were the Vestal area (including Montgomery Village housing development), South Haven, South Knoxville close to downtown and Old Sevier.

The Knoxville City Council will vote tonight whether it will give up to $151,000 to artist Addison Karl to paint a new alleyway mural on the Market Square Garage that will feature a rainbow spectrum of colors and multiple local faces

Market Square garage mural

Mar 12 2019
09:11 am

The Trump budget also proposes to slow spending on Medicare, the federal program that gives health insurance to older Americans, by $845 billion over the next 10 years, in part by limiting fraud and abuse and payments to hospitals. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said he would not cut Medicare or Social Security, the retirement program for the elderly, but his budget last year also included a proposed cut of more than $550 billion to the program.

With the millions of baby boomers at or near the age for Medicare, it seems odd to reduce Medicare spending. It is understandable and important to limit Medicare fraud. I don't get cutting payments to hospitals. If you don't know already, Medicare payments to hospitals are already low.

The South made up 52% (19,968) of the new HIV diagnoses in the US, followed by the West (7,270; 19%), the Northeast (6,011; 16%), and the Midwest (5,032; 13%). US dependent areas made up 458 (1%) of new HIV diagnoses.

The rates (per 100,000 people) of HIV diagnoses were 16.1 in the South, 12.3 in the US dependent areas, 10.6 in the Northeast, 9.4 in the West, and 7.4 in the Midwest.

In most of the Deep South, it is difficult for people at risk of contracting HIV to find the medication [,PrEP/Truvada, the once-a-day pill that protects users against HIV infection,] critical to protecting themselves from the virus that causes AIDS and ending the 38-year-old epidemic.

Pre-exposure prophylactic medication, better known as PrEP or Truvada, is more than 90 percent effective at preventing HIV infection via sex and more than 70 percent effective in blocking it in injection drug use.

Truvada sells for more than $1,600 a month. Is that why it is not as freely available in the South or is it something about Southern culture?

Contact your state legislature and back this one ...

As introduced, the bill expands the current offense for talking on hand-held devices while driving within marked school zones to talking on such devices on any road, highway, or street.

Tennessee Rep. wants to ban talking on hand-held devices while driving

House Bill HB 0044


You can zoom into small areas ...

The Radiance Light Trends website, which went live last week, presents a world map that shows where night skies are still relatively dark and where there are hot spots — areas where the blues and black indicating darkness are replaced by greens, yellows and reds indicating the glow of artificial light at night.

New interactive map shows how light pollution affects your hometown

Radiance Light Trends website

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

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