Confederate Gen. John Bell Hood, often blamed for the Confederacy’s staggering loss during the battles of Franklin and Nashville, might finally get his due 148 years later, reports The Tennessean.
A never-seen-before cache of Hood’s personal papers — including handwritten notes, letters and field orders written by Hood and other Civil War luminaries — is now being pored over by historians who say they paint a fuller, more sympathetic picture of Hood.
Sam Hood, a retired West Virginia businessman and “collateral descendant” of the general, and Eric Jacobson, Battle of Franklin Trust chief operating officer, discussed the papers on Friday. They are in the midst of transcribing the letters and documents.
….Union Gen. John Schofield’s troops crept by Hood’s men camped in Spring Hill on Nov. 29, 1864, giving them time to erect fortifications in Franklin that proved devastating to attacking Confederates the next day. Sam Hood said eyewitness accounts in the papers, including Hood’s medical records, dispute the popular story that the general was under the influence of painkillers when the Union troops slipped by and put the blame on other officers.
“There’s more than one letter from eyewitnesses (identifying) who it was on the Confederate side who was responsible for Schofield’s escape at Spring Hill,” Sam Hood said.
(The article does not suggest who was responsible.)
Gov. Bill Haslam’s proposal to overhaul the Tennessee Regulatory Authority scraped though a Senate committee last week with a “neutral” recommendation and could be headed for more trouble this week, reports Andy Sher. Two area lawmakers pointedly told Haslam’s legal counsel, Herbert Slatery, that officials need to come up with better answers to criticisms of elements such as turning the agency’s full-time director slots into part-time positions.
“I think, going forward, you will find it much more difficult and you will need to answer the questions,” Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, warned Slatery in the Government Operations Committee hearing. Bell is committee chairman.
At one point, Slatery couldn’t recall the names of people in the regulated utilities who were asked for advice about the proposed changes.
….Haslam’s original bill called for creation of a full-time executive director, appointed by the governor.
Critics, including TRA Chairman Kenneth Hill, charged that effectively would put the governor in charge of the independent agency and its part-time board.
Haslam retreated; new language provides for an executive director jointly appointed by the governor and the House and Senate speakers for a three-year term.
On Friday, Haslam told reporters he “strongly” believes the TRA needs a full-time executive director with a professional background. Currently, directors rotate the chairmanship and management responsibilities annually.
“You can’t show me another management structure like that [which] is effective,” Haslam said.
“At the end of the day, what the TRA bill is about is providing utilities at the lowest price possible for those people who use those regulated agencies,” Haslam said.
The amended bill also would save more than $347,000 a year, the administration says.
The four full-time directors now are paid $152,400 plus benefits. Part-time directors would be paid $36,000 a year, plus benefits. Qualifications would include at least a bachelor’s degree and at least three years’ experience in a regulated utility industry or in “executive-level management,” plus expertise in an area such as economics, law, finance, accounting or engineering.
A last-minute amendment gutted a bill intended to ban the blowing off of Tennessee mountaintops and ridges, during the Senate Energy and Environment Committee meeting Wednesday, reports Anne Paine. Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, offered the change that deleted the language of the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Protection Act to protect ridgelines above 2,000 feet from a practice often called “mountaintop removal.” A paragraph was substituted saying that leftover rock, dirt and debris that is blasted away could not be placed in streams.
Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, (the sponsor) who said the bill was no longer what he had proposed, noted that support for protecting the state’s mountains and ridges had “taken on a life of its own.” Churches held a series of 40 days of prayer for the mountains, for one, he said.
“If we truly want to put this to bed, we’re going to have to sit down and talk about it,” Stewart said, referring to parties on all sides. The bill, as amended, passed 8-1, with most supporters of the bill as originally written approving it. Stewart said he wanted to keep it alive to have discussion.
JW Randolph of Nashville with Appalachian Voices said while the amendment left the bill with little if any impact, he hoped its passage would allow a healthy discussion of the issue on the Senate floor.
Legislation authorizing Tennessee city and county governments to display the Ten Commandments in public buildings has been introduced by Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, and Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.
The bill (SB2641) includes the Ten Commandments as appropriate for display in city and county buildings and property along with the U.S. Constitution, the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence as and other documents “recognized to commemorate freedom and the rich history of Tennessee and the United States of America.”
Last year, the House approved a resolution – which has no legal effect – urging all Tennessee counties to display the Ten Commandments. That measure (HR107), sponsored by Watson, says that 88 of Tennessee’s 95 counties “have already adopted resolutions acknowledging the historical significance of the Ten Commandments and pledging to defend their right to display them.” Note: Andy Sher has a thorough report on the bill, HERE. Some excerpts: Bell said Friday he thinks “it’s important that our local government buildings and our local legislative bodies know they have the right to post those documents.”
He said displays that include the Ten Commandments should withstand legal challenges in a state where several counties, including Hamilton, have been directed by federal courts to remove stand-alone Ten Commandments displays.
…Barry Lynn, executive director of the Washington-based Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, said he thinks such moves are constitutionally suspect.
…Suzanna Sherry, a Vanderbilt University School of Law professor and expert on constitutional law, said the legality of such displays “depends on exactly the context” in which governments act to install them.
“This is a really difficult question, and the Supreme Court has visited it and visited it a number of times,” Sherry added.
She said justices have examined “what were the circumstances under which it was posted. What were the likely motivations of those who posted it? … What was the message that both was intended to be sent and received … by those who viewed it?”
Some East Tennessee legislators outside of official leadership who may play a noticeable role in shaping the course of events during the 2012 session of the 107th General Assembly: Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville. An outspoken critic of the state’s judicial selection system as a “fraud on the voters,” Bell is in a new position this year to put more power behind his voice. He has been named chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee, which has first shot at deciding whether various state boards and commissions will die or be given new life and, if so, under what conditions. Up for “sunset” this year without favorable action by his committee is the Judicial Nominating Commission, a centerpiece of the judge selection system, along with the Court of the Judiciary, which disciplines judges and has been accused of laxity by some legislators. Sen. Andy Berke, D-Chattanooga. The only Democratic senator living in East Tennessee, Berke has been targeted for defeat in a Republican Senate redistricting plan that takes Democrat-oriented voters in Marion County away from his Chattanooga-based district and adds Republican-oriented voters in Bradley County. A lawyer, he is already something of a point man in arguing against the majority view on issues and may enhance his efforts in what could be his last year as a legislator — starting with redistricting. He’s also eyeing a run for Chattanooga mayor. Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville. Often on the cutting edge of conservative crusades, Campfield may face a challenge in getting around an apparent tendency this year toward controversy avoidance by Gov. Bill Haslam and some legislative leaders. He’s talking up drug testing for recipients of government benefits this session along with a “loser pays” system of tort reform. Leftovers from last year include issues given the slogans of “don’t say gay” and “guns on campus.” The first prohibits discussion of homosexuality in grades K-8 classrooms; the second allows some handgun permit holders to take weapons to colleges and universities. Rep. Bill Dunn, R-Knoxville. The House sponsor of a Senate-passed bill creating Tennessee’s first school voucher system, Dunn has accepted Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to study the bill for another year before acting on it, albeit expressing disappointment. He has similar decisions to make on other issues, such as whether to push ahead with the “don’t say gay” bill that Campfield got through the Senate last year or whether to prod senators to act on a bill dealing with teaching of scientific theories. Dunn got the bill through the House last year, despite critics who contend it is a backdoor means of promoting creationism, but it stalled on the Senate side. Rep. Bob Ramsey, R-Maryville. A dentist who built a reputation for gentlemanly conduct in ruling a subcommittee, Ramsey has been elevated to the chairmanship of the House State and Local Government Committee, replacing Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, who awaits trial on DUI and gun charges. The panel has a heavy volume of legislation, dealing — as the name implies — with every bill impacting operations of government at both the state and local levels. That includes election bills, which this year will include Democratic proposals to repeal or revise a new law mandating a photo ID for voting. Last year, Ramsey was one of the very few Republicans to vote against the photo ID law.
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
(December 14, 2011, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey has announced the appointment of Sen. Mike Bell (R – Riceville) as the new Chairman of the Senate Government Operations Committee. He replaces Sen. Bo Watson who serves as Senate Speaker Pro Tempore.
“As Republicans, one of our highest callings is to increase accountability and efficiency in government,” said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. “Government Operations is where the real work of shrinking the size and scope of government gets done and Senator Mike Bell is the perfect choice to lead that effort.”
“Speaker Pro Tem Watson and Chairman Johnson have done great work transforming this committee into an active and industrious engine of reform,” Ramsey continued. “I am confident that Mike Bell will continue in that mold and excel in this new position.”
“I appreciate Lt. Governor Ramsey giving me the honor and opportunity to serve as Chairman of this committee,” said Senator Bell. “I look forward to working with the Lt. Governor to reduce the size of government and make Tennessee’s system more efficient and effective.”
The Government Operations Committee is responsible for legislation concerning the creation or reauthorization of new departments, commissions, boards, agencies or councils of state government. It also oversees licensing and certification of occupational and professional groups and reviews regulations promulgated by Tennessee departments, commissions, boards or agencies.
Business groups and trial lawyers, traditional adversaries on many issues, are poised to unite in pushing to preserve Tennessee’s current system for selecting state judges as it faces an upheaval without action by the Legislature next year.
In this year’s legislative session, attorney organizations lobbied against business groups as Gov. Bill Haslam pushed tort reform legislation. Business won that round with enactment of a law that puts limits on the amount of money juries can award in some lawsuits.
But spokesmen for the opposing sides in that round now basically agree that they do not want to be fighting each other — through campaign contributions and otherwise — if Tennessee should shift to the popular election of judges on the state Supreme Court and appeals courts.
On the other side are a substantial number of legislators, backed by socially conservative organizations such as Family Action Council of Tennessee, who argue the present system violates a state constitutional provision declaring that the judges “shall be elected by the qualified voters of this state.
” “I think we continue to perpetuate a fraud on the voters of this state every year we allow the system to continue,” said Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville.
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Tech University President Bob Bell has announced plans to retire next July.
Bell has been president for 12 years and has been at the school for 36 years, including dean of the College of Business.
According to the Cookeville Herald-Citizen, he disclosed his plans in a message to the campus community.
The Tennessee Board of Regents will pick his successor.
News release from Administrative Office of the Courts:
Nashville, Tenn. – The Tennessee Supreme Court today upheld the Court of the Judiciary’s decision that Cocke County General Sessions Court Judge John A. Bell violated the Code of Judicial Conduct for taking too long to decide a personal injury case and participating in an ex parte communication. The high court also affirmed the Court of the Judiciary’s sanctions against Bell, which included a 90-day suspension.
The Court of Judiciary’s disciplinary action came as a result of a complaint from David Pleau, who filed a lawsuit in Bell’s court following a car accident with an uninsured motorist. Pleau, who was acting pro se, named his insurance carrier but not the uninsured motorist in the suit. Merastar Insurance Company, Pleau’s insurance carrier, filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. At the end of the hearing, Bell said he would issue his decision in a week.
Legislation revising state law on home schools will delete a current requirement that parent-teachers have a college degree in some cases and repeal the present penalty for failing to register a home-schooled child on time.
The Repulbican sponsors of SB1468, Sen. Mike Bell of Riceville and Rep. Bill Dunn of Knoxville, say the measure basically conforms the law – which has not had a major rewrite since 1985 – with “current practice” in home schooling.
Some Democrats voiced skepticism about repealing the degree and penalty provisions in committee hearings, but wound up supporting the bill after hearing explanations.
Current law requires a home school teacher to have a high school degree for teaching grades kindergarten through eight and a college bachelor’s degree for grades nine through 12. The bill allows teaching for all grades with a high school degree or a GED certificate.