From Roll Call:
A meeting of Senate Republicans on Wednesday grew tense as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told his members he could have gotten a better deal on nominations than the one negotiated by rank-and-file Republicans.
McConnell’s tone, according to multiple sources, implied that he had been kept in the dark about the talks between some in his own ranks and Democrats. However, those same Republicans say they kept McConnell updated throughout their negotiating process.
Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., got so frustrated with McConnell’s presentation of events, that he called… (a word abbreviated b.s.) loud enough for the room to hear, nearly a half-dozen sources said. The heated exchange underscored the “buyer’s remorse” among some Republicans, especially leaders, one senior Republican said on background.
Corker’s office did not comment for this story.
Ted Welch, the man who has served as a central thread connecting the characters and campaigns of the now-dominant Tennessee Republican Party is entering a new phase, reports The Tennessean.
At 79, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease eight months ago, he is moving from the role of organizer of the party’s grandest events to honoree.
As his longtime friend (Lamar) Alexander gears up for a run at a third term in the U.S. Senate, Welch isn’t the one making calls to ensure the senator rakes in another $1 million during the next quarter.
Instead, the honorary finance chairman of Alexander’s re-election bid (the other being embattled Pilot Flying J CEO Jimmy Haslam) is the subject of the senator’s next fundraiser, a “Salute to Ted Welch,” set for Tuesday in Williamson County.
“Every other time, he’s been organizing,” Alexander said, looking back at his numerous campaigns.
Welch, a former door-to-door Bible salesman and master of the fundraising phone call — a not-so-easy task for even the most seasoned politicos — stuck to a pretty simple formula: one call after another, flipping through a Rolodex, as he turned personal and political connections into money.
For more than four decades, Welch has played GOP fundraiser extraordinaire: from Gov. Winfield Dunn’s victory in 1970 to Alexander’s gubernatorial and Senate triumphs, to the more recent victories of Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Bob Corker. In between have been Sens. Howard Baker, Bill Brock, Bill Frist and Fred Thompson, and new Republicans at the state level, such as House Speaker Beth Harwell.
…”If you’ve ever thought about running for politics in 30 years and you have not gone to have a conversation with Ted, you’re not doing it right,” said Bryan Kaegi, Alexander’s fundraiser and a Welch admirer.
Kaegi — along with his sister, Kim Kaegi, Corker’s chief fundraiser — is part of the next generation of Republican fundraisers who fall under the Welch tree. Another is Agnes Warfield, current fundraiser for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, a woman called both the “Money Maven” and “The Money Lady.”
NASHVILLE – The TennCare Standard Spend Down program will again offer open enrollment opportunities to new applicants on Monday, Sept. 12, 2011 beginning at 6 p.m. CST.
Standard Spend Down is available through a waiver to the Medicaid program for a limited number of qualified low income individuals, or those with high, unpaid medical bills who are aged, blind, disabled, or the caretaker relative of a Medicaid eligible child. Eligible individuals must have enough unpaid medical bills to meet the “spend down” threshold to qualify for coverage.
“We are pleased to again work in this collaborative effort with several entities including TennCare, the Tennessee Department of Human Services (DHS), the Tennessee Hospital Association, advocacy groups and the federal government in offering Standard Spend Down,” said DHS Commissioner Raquel Hatter. “This program offers additional assistance to qualified low-income individuals or those with very high medical bills who are not already on TennCare.”
A special call-in phone line through DHS has been set up for interested applicants. The only way to request an application is by calling the toll-free number — 1-866-358-3230 — which will be open between 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. CST on Sept.12. The phone lines will be open from 6:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on subsequent weekdays until 2,500 interested applicants call in.
Former Gov. Phil Bredesen may have been a champion of early childhood literacy, reports Chas Sisk, but it looks like Gov. Bill Haslam has done him one better. Haslam is the author of the foreword to a brand-new children’s book. That might sound like a strange undertaking, but this is not The Little Engine That Could or The Very Hungry Caterpillar. It’s the first children’s book by Sitel, a Nashville-based call center operator.
According to a press release issued Wednesday by Sitel, Agent D, Can You Help Me? teaches children ages two to eight “the importance of customer service representatives while teaching them to help others.”
Fans of children’s literature can think of it as a tribute to Frankie at the Call Center, Sitel says. In the foreword, Haslam shares his passion for customer service, Sitel says.
The book was written and illustrated by employees of Sitel’s call center in Asheville, N.C., where the book was unveiled. Sadly, it is not yet available on Amazon, tax-free or otherwise.
The state Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole has a new supervisory system in which criminal offenders are allowed to make a monthly call to a computerized telephone menu instead of dealing directly with a parole officer, reports The Tennessean.
It’s intended to alleviate crushing caseloads that have hurt the agency’s ability to supervise criminals The agency says the system is designed for offenders deemed a low risk and who have consistently met their obligations to the state. Nine percent of the offenders on this phone-in system in Davidson County — 42 out of 479 offenders — are murderers, according to June data obtained by The Tennessean.
An additional five offenders were convicted of attempted murder, and 51 were convicted of robbery.
The Board of Probation and Parole declined multiple requests to interview staff and Chairman Charles Traughber about the Interactive Offender Tracking.
As an example of an offender in the program, the newspaper cites Anthony Ussery, 30. He was convicted of manslaughter in the shooting death of a man in a Nashville Kroger parking lot, beating an ex-girlfriend and possessing cocaine. And, when released on parole, he was arrested at least six times in his first 2½ years of supervision