Tag Archives: cabinet

Interim Finance Commissioner Larry Martin No Longer Interim

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Larry Martin as commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration (F&A).

Martin has been the interim commissioner since June 1 after former commissioner Mark Emkes’ retirement.

“I want to thank Larry for continuing to serve Tennesseans as the F&A commissioner,” Haslam said. “Putting together the budget is one of the most important things we do, and Larry’s skills and experience with complex systems and organizations is unmatched.”

Last year, he joined the governor’s staff as a special assistant to the governor, working alongside Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter to oversee the implementation of Haslam’s civil service reform, the Tennessee Excellence, Accountability and Management (TEAM) Act; and reviewing state employee compensation.

From September 2006 to December 2011, Martin, 65, served as deputy to the mayor in Knoxville for both Haslam and Mayor Daniel Brown. He was responsible for Finance, Public Works, Community Development, Information Systems, Purchasing and Risk Management for the City of Knoxville.

Prior to joining city government, Martin was an executive of First Horizon/First Tennessee Bank, joining the company in 1969 and serving in various capacities before retiring as the chief operating officer for First Tennessee Financial Services with responsibility for all Tennessee Regional Bank Markets; Merchant Services Processing; Hickory Venture Capital; and the Commercial, Corporate and Middle Market Divisions of the bank. A native of Jackson, Tenn., Martin received his bachelor of science from the University of Tennessee’s College of Business.

“I look forward to continuing the good work of the governor and applying his thoughtful and comprehensive approach to the budgeting process,” Martin said.

Haslam: Five Quitting Commissioners Is Not So Bad

Governor Bill Haslam says he doesn’t expect any more departures from his cabinet, following the resignation of Steve Cates.

From WPLN:

The General Services commissioner is the fifth person to leave the administration since February.

Speaking to reporters at the Nashville Farmers’ Market, Governor Haslam said the resignations should be kept in perspective. He pointed out that only 5 people in his 32-member cabinet have stepped aside.

“That’s really not a lot,” he said “But a handful, several of those folks said, ‘Hey, I’m just coming for two years.”

Haslam said everyone else should stay in the cabinet through the end of his term.

On Haslam’s Hiring of Departed Davis, Diversity and Lawsuits

The Tennessean continues its reporting on the troubled Department of Labor and Workforce Development with a trio of Sunday stories, led by Chas Sisk’s review of the recruiting of now-departed commissioner Karla Davis and questions about her credentials.
How Davis, a little-known nonprofit administrator, could be named to lead a major state agency says much about how Gov. Bill Haslam has structured his administration. His twin emphases — bringing in fresh blood and building a diverse cabinet — have helped him shake up state government.
But in a couple of cases, the governor has put people in charge who critics say lacked the experience or skills to run state departments. Davis, who resigned in March, citing family reasons, left shortly before the release of a scathing audit of her department. In addition, the department is facing at least three wrongful-termination lawsuits, including two that allege racial discrimination.
Race and gender appear to have been factors in Davis’ hiring. But she also convinced the governor himself that she was the right person for the job, shining in interviews and enduring a lengthy vetting process.
“Karla was bright,” Haslam said, “and she had been working with enough folks in situations like the people our Labor and Workforce Development Department serves that I thought she could add some value.”
…Tom Ingram, the head of Haslam’s transition team, said the governor was looking to assemble a diverse group for his administration but added Davis had to clear several rounds of interviews, including one with Haslam directly.
“She was highly recommended or she wouldn’t have been in it,” Ingram said. “Did she meet our diversity criteria? Absolutely. Was that the reason that she was appointed? Not unless we thought she was qualified.”
…While not disputing the criticisms of Davis and O’Day, Haslam defended how he had assembled his cabinet.
“We have 23 commissioners, and of those, 18 or 19 are from outside state government,” he said. “We’ve had some commissioners that were incredibly successful.”
But the governor added that the task of naming senior leaders was harder than many might think. He said there is little time for an incoming governor to find the right people for every position, contrasting it to the deliberate way in which people are chosen by private businesses.
“You basically have 30 really critical positions to fill and you have a very tight window to do that,” he said. “If I’m hiring somebody for a business, I know what that existing department that I’m hiring them to run is like. … You don’t have that advantage when you’re coming into state government.”

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One sidebar focuses on lawsuits claiming race discrimination during Davis’ tenure:
Filed by two former employees, one suit in local court and another in federal court allege that leaders in the Department of Labor and Workforce Development forced out employees based on race — that white staffers were replaced by blacks.
The complaints, which cite the labor department and former Commissioner Karla Davis, stem from the two years Davis ran the agency. Davis, along with Deputy Commissioner Alisa Malone and former Assistant Administrator Turner Nashe, resigned in March, days before a stinging audit exposed the department’s mismanagement of millions of dollars
.
The other sidebar begins:
If you’re unemployed in Tennessee, you are less likely than most jobless in other states to get a benefit check. And if you do get one, it will be for less money, according to federal data.
In the past year, Tennessee’s average weekly unemployment check paid $235 — sixth-lowest in the nation — and just 17 percent of the state’s unemployed actually got benefits, ranking fourth.

Emkes Retiring as State Finance Commissioner

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State finance chief Mark Emkes is retiring after presiding over three annual spending plans for Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration.
Emkes, formerly the CEO of Nashville-based tiremaker Bridgestone Americas, was one of Haslam’s highest-profile Cabinet choices following the 2010 election.
As Department of Finance and Administration commissioner, the 60-year-old Emkes has been responsible for budget matters and managing the state’s day-to-day finances.
Emkes’ retirement comes following Haslam’s decision to forgo — at least for the time being — $1.4 billion in federal money in the upcoming budget year for Medicaid expansion while pursuing a special arrangement with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Emkes will be the third Haslam Cabinet member to leave this year, after Children’s Services Commissioner Kate O’Day and Labor Commissioner Karla Davis.

Note: News release below.

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Haslam Raises Salary of TennCare Director to $256K

Gov. Bill Haslam has quietly raised the annual salary of TennCare Director Darin Gordon to $256,000 while leaving other top administration officials with only the 2.5 percent salary boost given to all state employees this year.
“Tennessee is fortunate to have Darin in this role. He is well-respected across the country and has saved the state millions by keeping the program’s growth trend below national averages,” said Haslam spokesman David Smith in an email response to a question on Gordon’s salary increase.
“He is responsible for managing the state’s Medicaid program, TennCare, which is significant in terms of the number of Tennesseans the program serves as well as the dollars — both state and federal — that fund the program,” Smith said.
The Gordon pay raise took effect in September. All state employees got a 2.5 percent increase effective July 1, in accordance with a Haslam-proposed budget approved by the Legislature. After the 2.5 percent increase, Gordon’s pay was $234,734, Smith said. The subsequent increase to $256,000 amounts to another 7.3 percent hike.
TennCare’s overall budget, meanwhile, continues to expand.

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On Gov’s Secret Evaluations & Evaluating the Gov’s Openness

Earlier this year, state Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter told state legislators that Gov. Bill Haslam believes so strongly in evaluation of employees that he has personally evaluated the performance of everyone in his cabinet.
Curious how our state government’s top managers fared under gubernatorial scrutiny, yours truly made a request — in accord with the state’s open records law — for a copy of the evaluations. In a week or so, the reply came back: Sorry, there are no such records. The governor’s evaluations of his commissioners were done orally.
So, while Hunter’s comment made it sound like the governor is a hands-on, businesslike manager making professional evaluations, the significance of his reviews — if there is any — remains secret. Maybe it was just, “Hey, Rebecca, you’re doing a really great job!”

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Crissy to Co-Chair Children’s Cabinet (with that guy she married)

News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam today announced the governor will issue an executive order refocusing and restructuring the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet, which they will co-chair.
This makes the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet the only one in the country co-chaired by both a governor and the spouse, according to the National Forum for Youth Investment, and the group through collaboration and cooperation will create a comprehensive strategy focused on issues such as children’s physical and mental health, education, safety and overall well-being.
The group also will work to coordinate, streamline and enhance the state’s efforts in providing resources and services to Tennessee’s children.
“An old proverb says the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago and the second best time is now,” Haslam said. “Providing the best services and creating the best opportunities for Tennessee’s children to succeed must be a priority. By bringing together the Children’s Cabinet, Crissy and I want to share policy, coordinate, collaborate and cooperate so the future for Tennessee kids is as bright as possible.”
The Haslams will co-chair the group consisting of commissioners from the departments of Children’s Services, Education, Health, Human Services and Mental Health as well as the TennCare director and any other individuals the governor may deem appropriate. This executive order will replace Executive Order No. 7 from the previous administration.
“Bill and I are grateful that so many people have been working hard to serve children and families in our state,” Crissy Haslam said. “The Children’s Cabinet is a wonderful opportunity for state agencies and stakeholders to work together toward a common goal of improving the future for Tennessee’s children.”
The Children’s Cabinet will be directed by Jude White, who brings a mixture of experience in judicial and private law practice, non-profit management and state government services. White recently served as the executive director of Renewal House, a local non-profit agency in the Nashville community serving families in recovery from addiction. She worked formerly as assistant general counsel for the Tennessee Department of Children Services, after practicing law and serving as a judicial clerk.

Haslam’s Cabinet Logging a Lot Less Travel Than Bredesen’s Cabinet

Gov. Bill Haslam’s cabinet members have 24 fewer trips out-of-state trips this year than their predecessors did during the last six months of former Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration, state records show.
Bredesen’s department heads made 42 journeys outside the state from July 1 through Dec. 31 of 2010 with at least some of the costs charged to state government, according to reports posted on the Department of Finance and Administration’s website – a practice begun by Bredesen and continued by Haslam.
Some of the Bredesen cabinet travel occurred just weeks before the commissioner left office.
Former Finance Commissioner Dave Goetz went to Washington Sept. 29-Oct. 2 for what is described on the department’s website report as a meeting at the “Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information.” Goetz announced Nov. 8 that his resignation to become a vice president of Ingenix, a health care information technology and services company.

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Haslam to TSEA: No Apology for Raising Cabinet Salaries 11 Percent

(Note: Updates & corrects earlier post)
From Richard Locker in the Commercial Appeal:
Gov. Bill Haslam today defended the pay raises he gave to most of his Cabinet compared to what their predecessors were making and said that compared to the Cabinet officers’ former positions, they’ve taken a collective million-dollar pay cut.
The pay raises are 11 percent for 13 Cabinet officials compared with what their predecessors were paid under former governor Phil Bredesen and one 32 percent hike — for the commissioner of the state Department of Safety.
Seven positions received no raises. One position is new — the commissioner of the Department of Intellectual Disabilities.
“I had commissioners who had very good jobs making good salaries and gave up something to come to work for the state. I won’t apologize for that. My job is to get the very best people we can to help us as we had to cut $1.8 billion out of the budget, which we are unfortunately going to have to do,” Haslam told members of the Tennessee State Employees Association at the start of their lobby day on Capitol Hill.

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Haslam Raises Cabinet Salaries 11 Percent

By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Republican Gov. Bill Haslam has increased how much his agency heads earn compared with what their counterparts made in the administration of his Democratic predecessor, an Associated Press analysis of public records has found.
Haslam, who has proposed a 1.6 percent raise for state employees, has increased the minimum pay for commissioners by 11 percent to $150,000. The raises come as Haslam seeks to eliminate nearly 1,200 government positions to help cope with the $2 billion in federal stimulus grants ending in the upcoming budget year.
“It’s my philosophy that in government we should probably have fewer people — but people that we pay better,” Haslam told the AP in an interview on Wednesday.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, who was sworn into office Tuesday, is the best-paid agency head. The former Teach for America vice president is making $200,000 per year, up $20,000, or 11 percent, from his predecessor in Gov. Phil Bredesen’s administration.
Meanwhile, Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons’ nearly $178,000 salary is $43,000 more than his predecessor, a 32 percent increase. Gibbons during last year’s gubernatorial contest endorsed Haslam after giving up his own bid for the Republican nomination..
“The governor is working to transform state government, and in order to do that he has attempted to make salaries more market comparable across state government,” Gibbons said in a statement.

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