Category Archives: boards and commissions

Beacon Center sues state over shampoo licensing

News release from Beacon Center of Tennessee
In its first statewide legal challenge, the Beacon Center Legal Foundation filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Memphis resident Tammy Pritchard. The lawsuit is in response to Tennessee’s unfair and unconstitutional occupational licensing regulation on shampooing.

The state of Tennessee forces hair washers to get a license before they are legally allowed to shampoo hair. Due to the state’s licensing requirement, residents must spend hundreds of hours in educational programs that cost thousands of dollars before they are able to carry out this simple task in return for money.

Even worse, no one can currently acquire a license to shampoo hair in Tennessee. This is due to the fact that there is currently no school in the entire state that offers the course that is a mandated component of the hair washing license. That means that unless you already have a hair washing license from years ago or from another state, you are unable to wash hair in Tennessee without obtaining a full cosmetology license, something that requires 1,500 hours of schooling and costs as much as $35,000 in tuition.

Beacon Director of Litigation and former U.S. Justice Department Attorney Braden Boucek stated, “The idea that a person needs to have a license to do something as simple as washing hair is not just foolish, it is unconstitutional. These laws are designed by people already in the business who are attempting to unfairly shield themselves from competition at the expense of hard working Tennesseans. That’s not what laws are for. People want to work, and this regulation hurts the very people who need a job the most. The government is preventing low-income Tennesseans from getting a good a job, and we at the Beacon Center are ready to put a stop to that.”

Boucek went on to note, “The worst part of this regulation is that the state requires you to go to a school to get a license but is unaware of any school that actually offers the program.”

For more details about the case and to read the full story of Tammy Pritchard, click here
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Ramsey appoints Hill to new 6-year term at TRA

Kenneth C. Hill of Blountville, first appointed a director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority in 2009, has been named to another six-year term by Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

Hill, father of state Reps. Mathew Hill and Timothy Hill, House and Senate resolutions confirming the appointment of Hill, is a past chairman of the utility oversight agency.

Resolutions confirming Hill’s appointment (SJR693 and HJR758 await approval by the Legislature on Wednesday, expected to be the final day of the 2016 session.

Museum board opens meeting on ‘succession planning’

In a change of plans, the board overseeing the Tennessee State Museum will hold an open meeting for discussion of procedures in selection of a new museum executive director rather closing the session to the public.

Tom Smith of Nashville, who chairs a museum board committee on “succession planning,” initially announced the March 28 “workshop” would last eight hours and would be held behind closed doors.

That brought a protest last month from former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, a member of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission as well as the board of directors for the Tennessee Coalition on Open Government, and Smith recently notified members that the plan had been changed.

“We are retooling the session to take out the items related to all museum personnel and instead just have a session related to strengths we envision in a new executive director,” Smith wrote in an email. “Since we won’t be working on all of the museum’s personnel analysis we can and will make this an ‘open meeting’ and all who care to can attend.”

Ashe, a former U.S. ambassador to Poland, lauded the change.
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Ashe protests closing of museum board ‘workshop’

Former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe, recently appointed to the board of directors of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government, is protesting a closed meeting planned by another board where he serves as a member.

The board governing the Tennessee State Museum, officially known as the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission, has scheduled an eight-hour “workshop” March 28 on selection of a new museum executive director to succeed Lois Riggins-Ezzell at some point.

In an exchange of email with Tom Smith of Nashville, who chairs a museum board committee on “succession planning” that set up the workshop, Ashe said the meeting should be open to the public. Smith said that it should not and suggested Ashe was being unreasonably critical. Ashe provided a copy of the email exchange to a reporter.
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New museum plans unveiled, new leadership debated

Tennessee State Museum commissioners on Monday saw a conceptual design presentation for a new $160 million facility before later arguing over how quickly to replace the museum’s longtime director, Lois Riggins-Ezzell.

Further, from the Times-Free Press:

Meanwhile, Riggins-Ezzell was named a non-voting member of the very search committee named to replace her. She later told reporters she doesn’t want to leave the post she’s held for 35 years.

“I want to help the new museum,” Riggins-Ezzell said, later adding, “I want to stay. I am the museum director.”

Earlier, members of the Douglas Henry State Museum Commission heard from presentations from project coordinator Mark Cate, former chief of staff to Gov. Bill Haslam.

The governor is taking the lead role on raising $40 million that will supplement a $120 million state appropriation approved last year for the facility. The new building will replace the current museum housed in the basement of the James K. Polk State Office Building. Work is scheduled to begin this spring.

Museum commissioners also heard from Patrick Gallagher, president of Gallagher & Associates, whose firm is designing the exhibit experience for the 50,000-square-foot building that will go up on the state’s Bicentennial Mall near the state Capitol.

“This could easily be a multi-day experience for visitors,” said Gallagher, as he described various galleries with artifacts and interactive displays outlining Tennessee history, culture and more.

He also presented conceptual drawings, which officials stressed were not yet set in concrete.

museum

Commissioners later followed up on their October meeting where they agreed to begin a succession plan for Riggins-Ezzell.

A state comptroller’s performance audit last year raised concerns about the lack of a succession plan while the new $160 million museum is under development. Riggins-Ezzell, meanwhile, has come under criticism for some actions and has been accused of engineering the removal of two members of the Tennessee Museum Foundation, who had raised operational and other concerns.

The foundation is the chief fundraising arm of the museum for purchases of historical artifacts and art.

Haslam’s Human Resources Department is helping commissioners structure the search, as well as aiding the museum on new workforce planning.
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Haslam revives council on homelesness

News release from the governor’s office
NASHVILLE –Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services’ Commissioner E. Douglas Varney, by the authority of Governor Bill Haslam, is reconstituting the Governor’s Interagency Council on Homelessness, with the aim of not just reducing but eliminating homelessness among veterans, the chronically homeless, families, and children.

“When he was mayor of Knoxville, Bill Haslam realized the high cost and impact homelessness has on neighborhoods, communities, governments and entire cities and regions,” said Commissioner Varney. “He saw the need and addressed it. Governor Haslam realized it takes a coordinated effort to bring about change, both in policy and how we perceive individuals who struggle with homelessness.”
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Haslam names Duncan, Kustoff to Board of Parole

Gov. Bill Haslam has appointed relatives of two prominent Republican political figures — U.S. Rep. John J. Duncan Jr. of Knoxville and former U.S. Attorney David Kustoff of Memphis — to seats on the state Board of Parole.

The appointees, listed along with 102 people appointed to 64 different state boards and commissions in a gubernatorial news release last week, are Zane Duncan, a son of the congressman, and Roberta Kustoff, wife of the political activist who headed former President George W. Bush’s Tennessee campaign before being appointed U.S. attorney by Bush.

David Kustoff recently said he is considering whether to seek election as Tennessee’s male representative on the Republican National Committee, succeeding the current Tennessee National Committeeman, John Ryder, who must step down later this year because of an RNC term-limits rule.

Members of the Parole Board are paid a salary of $95,000 per year to sit in panels and decide whether state prison inmates should be granted parole. The panel’s chairman — currently former state Rep. Richard Montgomery of Sevierville — gets $109,334.

Duncan and Kustoff replace two members of the parole board appointed by former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, former state Rep. Ronnie Cole of Dyersburg and Patsy Bruce of Nashville.

Haslam also reappointed Tim Gobble, a Republican who formerly served as Bradley County sheriff, to a new six-year term on the board. Gobble was originally appointed to the board by Haslam in 2013 to fill out an unexpired term.

Note: The referenced release on Haslam board and commission appointments is posted HERE.

Haslam’s latest appointees to boards, commissions

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (has) announced the appointments of 102 Tennesseans to 64 boards and commissions.

“I am grateful to these men and women for their willingness to serve and for their commitment to our state,” Haslam said.

The governor continues to evaluate the state’s complete range of boards and commissions to ensure Tennesseans have a government that is responsive, effective and efficient.

Appointment terms are varied due to differing statutory requirements or term limits determined by specific qualifications.

Note: To see the whole list, click on this link: boardappointments

TRICOR blasted; Yager wants ouster of CEO, directors

Senate State and Local Government Committee Chairman Ken Yager says the the state agency that oversees prison labor, Tennessee Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction or TRICOR, needs a new board of directors and a replacement for its CEO, Patricia Weiland.

So reports The Tennessean. Further:

“I don’t have any confidence in her ability to clean up this problem that has been created under her watch,” Yager said Thursday when asked whether Weiland should resign.

The comments followed a tongue lashing from Yager and other lawmakers during a Thursday morning legislative hearing. Lawmakers remain upset over the findings of an audit from the Tennessee comptroller. The audit outlined substantial financial mismanagement and mistakes that led to TRICOR operating at a $4 million loss and deciding to end its prison food program.

In addition to criticizing Weiland and TRICOR over financial mismanagement, Yager also blasted the longtime CEO for spending $5,000 of TRICOR funds on Nashville-based public relations firm McNeely Pigott & Fox to help prepare her to testify in 2015.

“I think to pay a public relations person to coach you up for a hearing is a waste of taxpayers’ money … and frankly when I received this email I was absolutely shocked,” Yager said.

“I think that as an official, you’re an appointed official and not elected, you’re expected to make your own case without hiring a publicist to help coach you through it.”

Weiland initially declined to comment on the hearing, trying to avoid questions as a spokeswoman attempted to waylay reporters in the corridors at the statehouse. She eventually said she plans to fix the issues at TRICOR, arguing there aren’t a slew of lawmakers questioning her leadership capacity.

“I only heard one senator say that. I’m a 36-year public servant; my record is open to the public. I’ve been a very passionate public servant for the state of Tennessee,” Weiland said.

“We’re moving forward. There’s a 20-year history. This is a blip on the radar. Taxpayer money was not sacrificed, it was not lost. It was used to provide food to the Department of Correction.”

…But Jason Mumpower, chief of staff to Tennessee Comptroller Justin Wilson, argued that money is taxpayer money because most of TRICOR’s clients are state agencies.

“TRICOR’s deficiencies were eye-opening and they need to be addressed,” Mumpower told lawmakers, adding the agency created an environment where fraud was “ripe to occur.”

TRICOR operated what it called the “Tennessee Cook Chill” program for several years, sending millions of meals to Tennessee prisons. Weiland told The Tennessean in December that TRICOR will end the arrangement with the department by June.

Morgan resigns in protest of Haslam Regents breakup

Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan today told Gov. Bill Haslam he will resign his post Jan. 31 in protest over the Republican governor’s plan to break up the TBR system of universities and community and technical colleges, reports the Times-Free Press.

In his letter today to Haslam and TBR Vice Chair Emily Reynolds, Morgan questioned the workability of the Republican governor’s plans to split the six universities off into their own self-governing orbits and leave the community and technical colleges within the TBR system.

“Given the announcement of plans to form separate boards for the six TBR universities, I cannot, in good conscience, continue as Chancellor for another year,” Morgan says.

“Simply put,” Morgan said, “I believe the path being proposed is the wrong one for many reasons. However, as an employee of the Board, I will not act contrary to the Board’s stated interests and objectives, and because of my feelings, I would not be in a position to help implement a proposal that, in my view, will do nothing to further TBR’s work to accomplish the State’s goals.

“I cannot be objective on this topic,” Morgan said. “I believe the proposed FOCUS plan is unworkable and will seriously impair the critical alignment of the state’s needs, the TBR’s oversight responsibility, and each institution’s accountability.”

Haslam has proposed splitting off the state universities, arguing it would allow the Board of Regents to put “concentrated focus” on their mission while allowing each of the universities to deal with “unique needs and regional economies.”

Memphis leaders for decades have pushed for the University of Memphis to get its own board.

A former state Comptroller and top advisor to former Gov. Phil Bredesen, Morgan said that in a 40-year plus public career, he has “observed that ambiguity is the ally of ineffectiveness and inefficiency. Intentionally, clear accountability was designed as the heart of the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010.”

Note: The text of Morgan’s letter is available by clicking on this link: morganletter

Note II: The Board of Regent press release is HERE.