Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tennessee to become an element (like California)

NEW YORK (AP) — You’ll soon see four new names on the periodic table of the elements, including three that honor Moscow, Japan and Tennessee.

The names are among four recommended Wednesday by an international scientific group. The fourth is named for a Russian scientist.

The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, which rules on chemical element names, presented its proposal for public review. The names had been submitted by the element discoverers.

The four elements, known now by their numbers, completed the seventh row of the periodic table when the chemistry organization verified their discoveries last December.

Tennessee is the second U.S. state to be recognized with an element; California was the first. Element names can come from places, mythology, names of scientists or traits of the element. Other examples: americium, einsteinium and titanium. Continue reading

Shelby Democrats pick new chair, seek criminal investigation of old chair

Shelby County Democrats elected a new party chairman Thursday night and voted to refer a matter involving a former chairman to authorities for criminal investigation, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Members of the Shelby County Democratic Party’s executive committee voted in favor of a resolution to pursue criminal charges with the Shelby County District Attorney or the sheriff’s office against former party chairman Bryan Carson.

The resolution accuses Carson of “unlawful embezzlement of funds in the amount of at least $25,000” during his term as chairman from March 2013 to January 2015.

The county party had previously attempted to reach a settlement that would have had Carson repay $26,336, an amount that was reached after two reviews of the party’s bank accounts found what party officials have called “unsubstantiated activity.”

Carson declined to comment on the matter last month, but his attorney, Robert Spence, said Carson rejected the allegations of fraud. Spence said Carson might not owe the party anything.

Party leaders said they needed to take action to move beyond the Carson matter.

…Also during the meeting, Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Lt. Michael Pope, who had been acting chairman, was elected chairman. Virgie Banks was elected first vice chairwoman.

Pope said after the meeting that the party would consult with counsel before formally taking action on the resolution to pursue criminal charges against Carson.

TN Trump delegate advocates death for violators of Constitution

A Donald Trump delegate to the Republican National Convention from East Tennessee was also a delegate to a “Continental Congress of 2009” that advocated replacing the Department of Homeland Security with citizen militias and recently advocated the killing of U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution, according to Richard Locker.

The Trump campaign approved M. David Riden of rural McMinn County as one of its delegates. Voters in East Tennessee’s Third Congressional District elected him as a Trump-committed delegate and his wife Perry Riden as an alternate, in the state’s March 1 Republican presidential primary.

Gov. Bill Haslam will be a Marco Rubio delegate at the convention, although Rubio withdrew after the Tennessee primary. Asked to comment on Riden’s views, Haslam’s press secretary, David Smith, would only say, “The governor has a strict policy against elected officials being assassinated.”

Riden’s views attracted the interest of the national liberal magazine Mother Jones, which published an article on its website Thursday linking him to the murky world of far-right militias and “patriot” groups. (Note: It’s HERE.) Riden did not return repeated calls and emails from the News Sentinel for comment, but the Mother Jones article reported that he discussed his views in an interview with the magazine.

The article quotes Riden as saying that U.S. leaders who violate the Constitution may have to be done away with: “The polite word is ‘eliminated.’ The harsh word is ‘killed,'” Riden reportedly told Mother Jones. And he said all three branches of the federal government are “way off from the Constitution right now.”

Tennessee Republican leaders appeared to be distancing themselves from the delegate they’ll be sitting with on the floor of Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena next month.

“If true, those views are not reflective in any way of the Tennessee Republican Party. We advocate for reforms by electing smart, principled conservatives and our record proves that. We would refer you to the Trump campaign for any additional information regarding individuals serving as their delegates,” TNGOP Chairman Ryan Haynes of Knoxville said in a statement.

Note: Another quote from the Mother Jones article:

Riden said his wife, Perry Riden, who is an alternate Trump delegate from Tennessee’s 3rd Congressional District, also thinks Obama is dangerous. “My wife looks at me and says, ‘Remember, he is one of them.’ Meaning he is a Muslim, he is on the side of the terrorists, he will…let Iran have nuclear weapons, which would destroy Israel and the United States, because his way of thinking is right in line with Iran, North Korea, and Russia.”

Trump bashes GOP gov; Haslam says that’s ‘not helpful’

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump says New Mexico Gov.Susana Martinez is not doing her job. Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam says Trump is not being helpful.

Further from Richard Locker:

At a rally last week in Albuquerque, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee attacked GOP Gov. Susana Martinez in a speech, saying she “isn’t doing the job,” blaming her for the city’s unemployment rate and apparently erroneously asserting that she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in New Mexico.

Martinez, the highest elected Hispanic woman in the country, has criticized Trump’s campaign rhetoric over the last several months, had endorsed Florida Sen. Marco Rubio before his withdrawal from the presidential race, has not endorsed Trump and did not attend the rally.

Although fellow Republican governors rushed to her defense, Trump’s top campaign aide, Corey Lewandowski, repeated his boss’s criticisms of Martinez in an exchange on Fox News Sunday.

“The governor is not doing the job,” he said. “We stand by our statement.”

Asked about the Trump attack on Martinez on Wednesday, Haslam said: “At the end of the day, I don’t think that’s helpful. I think you have a lot of Republican governors who would like to see the next president be Republican and we want to help.

“But we also think, from a state perspective there’s a lot of things we’d like to share with the candidate from our party about what’s important in terms of state and federal relationships. So we hope to have productive conversations.”

Haslam said last week that he and a small group of fellow GOP governors have been trying to set up a meeting with Trump to discuss state-federal issues but setting a meeting date has been difficult due to the number of governors and Trump’s campaign schedule.

Haslam: Legislators ready to cut spending to cover lost Hall tax revenue

In a Knoxville appearance Tuesday, Gov. Bill Haslam said legislative leaders have assured him they will be ready to cut state spending to make up for loss of revenue from the Hall tax on investment income, reports Richard Locker.

“I told the Legislature my concern was they were promising to cut taxes without promising to make commensurate expense cuts, and if the economy slowed down and revenues didn’t continue where they are, then that would be a problem. Their leadership assured me that if that time came, they would make the appropriate adjustments,” Haslam said in a brief question-and-answer session with reporters after a speech to the Knoxville Rotary Club.

The governor also said the reduction and ultimate loss of Hall tax revenue by cities and counties who share in its proceeds didn’t weigh heavily into the decision to approve the bill.
Since the Hall income tax on certain dividend and interest income was enacted in 1929, its proceeds have been divided between the state and local governments, with 5/8ths flowing to the state’s general fund and 3/8ths to the city or county where the taxpayer resides.

That formula favors the most populous cities and counties and its most affluent suburbs where more people who own stocks and bonds live.

…Haslam said that from the state’s perspective, the Hall tax was never really fair because some communities were better able to rely on it than others. “Some local communities just happen to do really well because they have a lot of people who paid it, whereas a similar community wasn’t getting anything.”

Memphis refunds $2.38M in ‘jock tax’ collections

As the clock runs out this week on Tennessee’s infamous “jock tax,” the city of Memphis is about to turn over $2.38 million to more than 900 professional basketball players as part of a 2015 settlement, according to the Commercial Appeal.

The city will return its portion of the money — a third of the $7.27 million it’s collected since Tennessee’s professional privilege tax was approved in 2009 — within the next three or four weeks, said Brian Collins, the city’s chief financial officer.

“(The money) was reserved a long time ago, and it won’t have an impact on the city’s budget this year or any year,” Collins said. The city set the funds aside in fiscal year 2015.

The flat tax of $2,500 per game up to $7,500 for NBA and NHL players was widely criticized for eating up most — and in some cases all — of the income lower-paid athletes received from basketball games in Memphis and hockey games in Nashville.

Gary Kohlman, general counsel for the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), which sued the state over the tax, said “dozens” of players earning the legal minimum paid more in the tax than they earned from the games.

“That was not an isolated event,” he said.

A spokesman for the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), which also sued the state, said its players lost money playing against the Nashville Predators too.

Kohlman said some NBA players were also charged the tax just because they were on the team’s roster — even if they didn’t play.

The Tennessee General Assembly voted in 2014 to repeal the tax, effective immediately for hockey players and June 1, 2016, for basketball players.

Some legislators unhappy over leaked bathroom emails

From a Tennessean story following up on last week’s report of email exchanges between House Republican Caucus members on whether to hold a special legislative session in response a federal directive on transgender bathroom use in schools:

An ongoing discussion about leaked emails between House Republican lawmakers has led one member to say whoever provided them to the media has betrayed their own party, another to suggest a colleague should “grow up” and a third to raise the possibility of asking the attorney general to look into the matter.

On Monday, Rep. Susan Lynn, R-Mt. Juliet, sent out an email to the House Republican Caucus asking “whoever released our email discussion of whether or not to hold a special session” to out themselves. Continue reading

Stan Butt, legislator’s husband, avoids indictment for trailer theft

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A state lawmaker’s husband, who hitched someone else’s utility trailer to the back of his pickup and drove it back to his house, insisted to police that he had no intention of stealing the equipment.

Stan Butt, a businessman, minister and executive director of the Tennessee Dairy Producers Association, told investigators that he’d previously seen a “For Sale” sign on the trailer that was parked in a lot near the Ace Hardware in Columbia, a police report says. Butt, who is married to state Rep. Sheila Butt, R-Columbia, said he tried “every avenue he could think of to find out the owner of the trailer,” the report says, but was unable to find out who that person was.

At least one of 12 grand jurors believed him. A grand jury failed to indict Butt on charges in connection with the trailer incident, which happened last month in Columbia, Maury County District Attorney Brent Cooper said.

It turns out that the city of Columbia owns the trailer that Stan Butt took home. It was part of a sting operation that police were using, similar to a bait car, that would help officers determine who was stealing similar types of equipment around town, Cooper said.

The prosecutor insists Butt was not given special treatment and that’s why it was left up to a grand jury to decide whether to charge him.

“Whether it was Stan Butt or John Doe, the facts of this case were so unusual we would have investigated further and taken the case to the grand jury,” Cooper said. Continue reading

Durham files criminal trespass charge against journalist

Embattled state Rep. Jeremy Durham has brought criminal trespass charges against Nashville Scene reporter Cari Wade Gervin, contending she tried to enter his Franklin home while seeking an interview.

In an affidavit, the Republican lawmaker contends Gervin on Tuesday evening “attempted to enter the residence over multiple objections and demands” from Durham and his wife, Jessica, that she leave.

“The Durhams were able to physically prevent Ms. Gervin’s body from completely entering the residence. However, Ms. Gervin then placed her foot in the doorway, preventing the door from closing,” says the affidavit, posted by former state Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, on his Facebook page.

When the door was subsequently closed, the affidavit says, Gervin “remained in the front yard of the property for another 5-10 minutes.” Continue reading

Haslam: Courts will resolve Obama’s ‘heavy-handed’ bathroom directive

More than a week after several Tennessee Republicans bashed President Obama’s directive on transgender bathrooms (previous post HERE), Gov. Bil Haslam has joined in a perhaps somewhat milder manner in a statement distributed to media on Monday.

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today issued the following statement on the guidance to schools released by the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education:

“The White House itself has said what they issued last week is not an enforcement action and does not make any additional requirements under the law. Congress has the authority to write the law, not the executive branch, and we disagree with the heavy-handed approach the Obama administration is taking. Decisions on sensitive issues such as these should continue to be made at the local level based on the unique needs of students, families, schools and districts while working closely with the local school board counsel, understanding that this is an emerging area of law that will ultimately be settled by the courts.”