Tennesseans for Fair Taxation, which is almost the last lonely voice in Tennessee politics willing to publicly declare that a state income tax might not be so bad if coupled with a rollback of other taxes, held its annual convention recently and issued a news release on the event.
Interestingly, the release – by design or accident? – echoes at its outset the stump speech rhetoric of Republican gubernatorial nominee Bill Haslam in declaring that the Tennessee state budget is about to fall off a cliff. But TFT has a decidedly different notion about how to deal with the situation.
About 95 percent of candidates for public office in Tennessee this year declare they are ready to “stand up against an income tax.” (In the governor’s race, since there are only 19 candidates – the 2 major party guys, 14 independents and 3 duly-registered write-ins – the percentage might drop below that level because of that Green Party independent guy? And at least two state legislators are named as advocates of IT in the release.)
At any rate, here’s the latest from the powerful bunch of plotters that everybody is ready to fight:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — A Tennessee transportation official says interstate weeds don’t indicate favoritism, but scheduling.
A Memphis resident complained to The Commercial Appeal that weeds along Interstate 40 west of the Tennessee River were a contrast to Middle Tennessee’s manicured medians.
Tennessee Department of Transportation Region 4 director Chuck Rychen wrote Thursday morning that separate mowing contracts mean the regions of the state are mowed at different times, but each contract calls for four mowing cycles between April and October.
Rychen responded to an e-mail from reader Melissa Alexander, who wrote to Gov. Phil Bredesen, TDOT officials and others saying it appeared the highway median grooming was better in the region that includes Nashville.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A former Monterey police chief has pleaded guilty to official misconduct and theft after an audit found missing cash and weapons.
Tim Murphy entered the plea last week in Putnam County Criminal Court and is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 14.
According to an audit from the Tennessee Comptroller, investigators found six weapons purchased by the department are missing, along with $23,000 in cash.
Among the missing funds, the audit found that Murphy obtained $14,920 in cash from confidential narcotics investigation transactions and there was no evidence the money was used for police purposes.
The comptroller’s office said in a news release that Murphy admitted to investigators that he had taken cash and property from the Monterey Police Department and used it for his own personal benefit.
The full comptroller’s news release is below:
The U.S. Senate has confirmed the appointment of William C. Killian to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee and for Jeff Holt to serve as U.S. Marshall for West Tennessee.
Sen. Lamar Alexander’s statements on the confirmations are below.
Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen personally backed Nathan Vaughn’s 2nd House District candidacy during a Renaissance Center fundraising luncheon at Kingsport on Wednesday, reports Hank Hayes.
“(Vaughn) always represented what he thought the people in his district wanted,” Bredesen, a term-limited Democrat at the end of his administration, told about 120 Vaughn supporters at a $25 per plate event.
Vaughn, a Kingsport Democrat, is attempting to retake the seat he held for six years from GOP incumbent state Rep. Tony Shipley, who defeated him by 322 votes in 2008.
As Bredesen was speaking, the Tennessee Republican Party (TRP) issued a release saying Bredesen’s visit can’t change Vaughn’s liberal voting record. TRP cited Vaughn’s votes on taxes, illegal immigration and health care in the release.
Both candidates for governor told Nashville-area mayors Wednesday that they support mass transit but won’t commit to more state funding for it until the economy improves, reports Richard Locker.
Democrat Mike McWherter said he would be willing to consider shifting existing state funding into mass-transit systems, which he said are more efficient at transporting people to and from their jobs.
Republican Bill Haslam said that during his seven years as mayor of Knoxville, the city built a new transit center and doubled local funding to its local transit system.
“I support it as long as you understand I have to work within the budget,” Haslam told the Middle Tennessee Mayors Caucus, a year-old conference of city and county mayors in Nashville and nine surrounding counties.
The mayors have been working to secure a dedicated, earmarked source of revenue for a regional mass transit system centered on Nashville. Haslam said that as a mayor, he has “mixed feelings” on dedicated revenue sources because they restrict the ability of future officials to channel funding where needed at the time.
See also, TNReport’s Andrea Zelinski, who attended the same event but focused her story on budget talk — in particular Haslam’s “thousand little cuts” theme.
Candidates for Tennessee’s 13th Senate District hurled accusations of unethical and illegal behavior during debate at Columbia State Community College, reports the Daily Herald.
Incumbent Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, and challenger Debbie Matthews, D-Columbia, both quoted Ronald Reagan while highlighting their agendas.
Ketron said he planned to streamline state government and pointed to one bill he sponsored that consolidated two departments and saved taxpayers $600,000.
“Ronald Reagan was right when he said ‘government is not the solution, it is the problem’,” Ketron said.
Matthews said Ketron has spent eight years in office and half of his district is suffering from some of the highest unemployment rates in the state. However, Ketron’s home of Rutherford County has seen a net gain of jobs.
“Is Maury County better off now than it was eight years ago?” Matthews asked the crowd of more than 250, echoing Reagan’s 1980 campaign speech.
Rep. Stacey Campfield, “Knoxville’s weirdest politician,” is the subject of a profile by Jesse Fox Mayshark in the current Metro Pulse, including a fairly lengthy question-and-answer session. (First question, “Are you crazy?” There’s also a shorter sidebar story on his current state Senate campaign against Democrat Randy Walker.
Here’s a tone-setting excerpt from the Campfield profile portion:
In person, Campfield is engaging and even-keeled, if understandably wary of an interview with Metro Pulse. This is the paper, after all, that asked its readers in this year’s Best of Knoxville poll to propose the best way to get Campfield to leave the state. He has a sense of humor about himself–when told that this article would be called “What the hell is wrong with Stacey Campfield,” he laughed and said he hoped it would be a cover story. He can be defensive when challenged, but no more so than your average politician. He claims to not understand why he is so often singled out as kooky or odd, patiently explaining his positions and attributing disagreements to the normal push and pull of democratic governance.
And yet, it is hard to escape the contradictions underlying his geniality. He is a family-values conservative who has never married, a fathers’ rights advocate with no children, a professed preservationist who has been cited by the city for property neglect and sued by his tenants (though he is quick to point out that he has also won a suit of his own against a tenant), an advocate for education who litters his blog with spelling and grammatical errors, and a legislator who rarely manages to get his own legislation out of committee. He proposes bills more likely to generate headlines than laws. He is, to put it plainly, kind of weird.
The article on the Senate race includes some information on his opponent, namely:
That novice Democratic candidate is Randy Walker, who is presenting himself as a moderate, technocratic problem-solver. Unlike Campfield, he is “from here”–he was born and raised in Oak Ridge, where he still works. He is a transportation and logistics guy both by education (he has a business degree from the University of Tennessee) and by profession, currently on behalf of the Oak Ridge National Lab. His work over the years has included negotiating the trans-state shipment of radioactive materials, and, after 9/11, supervising the installation of radiation-detection equipment at trucking weigh stations. His wife, Cindy, was active for years in the PTAs at the West Knox schools their two children attended, at one point serving on the state PTA board. And Walker, who is 51, describes himself as “pretty conservative” and “pretty bipartisan,” adding, “My mother was a Republican.”
Having been endorsed by business earlier today, Bill Haslam now has the backing of a labor group as well — the Laborers’ International Union of North America or LIUNA – according to this news release:
NASHVILLE — Today, LIUNA members and affiliated local unions of the Southeast Laborers’ District Council announced their endorsement of Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam in the race for Tennessee governor, citing his ability to be an effective advocate for the working men and women of Tennessee and the strong support Haslam enjoys among LIUNA members.
“Now more than ever, it’s important that Tennesseans work together to protect the jobs that we have and to bring more jobs to our state,” Haslam said. “I’m pleased that LIUNA’s members believe in my vision for Tennessee’s future, and I’m honored by their endorsement. Together, we’ll build on this state’s strong economic foundation and make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
The Times editorial page, which leans Democratic, today endorsed Mike McWherter for governor. The Free Press editorial page, which leans the other way, had some nice things to say about Democrat McWherter but endorsed Republican Bill Haslam.
UPDATE: The McWherter campaign thought enough of the two editorials to issue a news release citing both. The release is below.