Tag Archives: Christmas

UT diversity website gets a new overseer

The author of the University of Tennessee’s holiday party guidelines that sparked a national controversy accusing the school of a “war on Christmas” won’t be writing such suggestions anymore, reports the News Sentinel.

Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Inclusion Rickey Hall “has been counseled,” UT Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said in a news release. The website for Hall’s office will now be overseen by Vice Chancellor for Communications Margie Nichols — not by Hall or any of his staff— and the original advisory, posted online, has been taken down.

Hall will remain vice chancellor, and his role and salary will not change, Nichols said. She said her office manages several other administrators’ websites, including Provost Susan Martin and Cheek.

“As an education institution, it’s our job to listen and learn,” Cheek said. “We are sorry that we did not communicate very well. We’ve learned a lesson from this.”

TNGOP seeks end of UT diversity funding; TNDP sees ‘smokescreen’

The Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee has approved a resolution calling on the Legislature to eliminate funding for the University of Tennessee Office of Diversity.

State Democratic Chair Mary Mancini, meanwhile, has declared Tennessee Republicans are following a tradition of “manufactured problems” that creates a “smokescreen for their ineffectiveness and secrecy.”

The TNGOP resolution, approved by voice vote Saturday, and the TNDP press release are below.

UPDATE: Georgiana Vines talks with Hobart Rice of Dandridge, who brought up the resolution for discussion at the executive committee meeting, HERE.
Continue reading

A Task Force on Christmas Poem, of Sorts

The following was written for a Capitol Hill Press Corps seasonal holiday gathering last week and read aloud by Corps Chair Andrea Zelinski:
The Task Force on Christmas, meeting out at the residence
had cabinet members stirring, although with some hesitance.
A draft proclamation had been hung on a wall
with a Deputy Claude memo explaining it all.
Don’t-Call-Me-Dave and Silent Mike Morrow
had instructions to write puff pieces starting tomorrow.
And the gov in his necktie, with rolled-up shirt sleeves
Sat with Chrissy at a desk, completely at ease.
When at the Conservation Hall door there arose such a clatter,
Bill sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he ran like a flash
Tore open the shutters and pulled out his stash.
(Pause) Of Alexia Poe talking points
The moon on the breast of the parking lot pavement
Gave the lustre of mid-day when the staff watched in amazement.,
As, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a busload of legislators, all dressed as red state reindeer.
With the lieutenant governor driving, and Beth riding shotgun
All knew in a moment, the new normal Supermajority was out for some fun
More rapid than eagles the reindeer Republicans came,
And the speakers whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, Campfield! now, Beavers! Courtney Rogers, McCormick
On Kelsey, On Ketron, On, Frank Nicely and Womick
To the top with vouchers! More guns! Less tax!
No health care exchange! Let’s start a reindeer leadership PAC!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So into the bunker the coursers they flew,
Filled with conservative joy, for the governor’s top-to-bottom review.
Bold Bill bade them welcome, and Chrissy did, too
And the task force on Christmas knew just what to do.
“We’ll study your wish list,” said Chief of Staff Cate.
“And the governor has presents to present while you wait.”
Deputy Claude’s eyes twinkled. His dimples how merry.
Emkes’ cheeks were like roses, Roberts’ nose like a cherry
Leslie brought forth packages, tied with red ribbons,
All wrapped with safety by Commissioner Gibbons.
She carried fiscal notes in one hand, in the other letters called flags
But slung across her shoulders were a couple of bags.
Leslie laid them reverently at the governor’s feet
And he smiled and said, “I have for you all a Christmas treat!”
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his beardless chin was as white as the snow;
He had a narrow face and very little belly,
But because of recent bike riding was a little bit smelly.
He said, “For you, Ron Ramsey, a cut in the Hall tax there will be
And for you, Beth Harwell, a signed picture of me!”
“From Julius Johnson to Dolores Gresham, a renewed agriculture enhancement grant
“From Kevin Huffman to Brian Kelsey the promise of a pro-voucher slant.
“For all of you free tickets to a Cleveland Browns game
“And coffee cups bearing the Pilot Flying J name.”
“Proclamations drafted by Legal Counsel Herbert Slatery
“Will provide each Republican legislator with individualized flattery.”
He spoke lots of words: Agenda 21 he would shirk
Denounced Sharia law, called Craig Fitzhugh a jerk.
Henceforth, he said, we’ll all be best buddies
Subject only, of course, to a few task force studies.
“Finally, no I promise no Obamacare exchange.”
And the legislators cheered, and praised his name.
Then Speaker Beth sprung to the bus, Speaker Ron gave a whistle
And away red legislators flew, like the down of a thistle.
The task force heard them shout, as the bus went out of sight
“A Merry conservative Christmas to all,
Our governor’s gone to the right.”

Gov’s House Open for Holiday Visitors

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Governor Bill Haslam and first lady Crissy Haslam are inviting Tennesseans to tour the executive residence during the first two weeks of December.
This year’s holiday decor theme is Tennessee Music, and it incorporates pieces from the collections of the Museum of Appalachia, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and the Stax Museum.
Tennessee students also contributed to the holiday decorations by creating ornaments representing holiday songs, gospel music, patriotic music and Elvis Presley.
And there is a tree with ornaments by local artists from all 95 Tennessee counties.
Open home tours will be held Monday through Friday, December 3-14 and on Saturday, December 8.
More information is available at www.tn.gov/firstlady.

Occupied For Christmas

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Members of Occupy Nashville spent time with their fellow protesters at the Tennessee Capitol on Christmas Day in hope of showing continued solidarity for the movement.
Casey Jones, 18, was among about 60 protesters set up on the plaza across the street from the Capitol.
She said she’s been part of Occupy Nashville since it started in early October and plans to continue participating.
“I come out here every night almost,” said Jones, who works at a gift shop during the day and has an apartment.
If the weather is not too cold, Ricky Adams said he’d usually be somewhere fishing on Christmas. However, the 61-year-old Vietnam veteran said he and his wife plan on being around long after Christmas.
“We’re going … to be right here till the end,” said Adams, who retired from the Army after 22 years.

Continue reading

Blackburn’s Bright Idea for Christmas Giving

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn says she’s stuffing stockings with a bright present this year: the kind of light bulbs that are due to be phased out next year.
The Brentwood Republican had backed a provision to cut funding for an energy efficiency law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, effectively ending the manufacture of 100-watt incandescent light bulbs.
Congress on Saturday passed a reprieve for the bulbs, delaying until October the impact of the 2007 light bulb law signed by President George W. Bush.
Blackburn says in a statement provided to The Tennessean that she will fight “so that people can keep their light bulbs.” (http://tnne.ws/tz7Ec8).
Conservation advocates say the energy savings can’t be argued with. Opponents say it’s government intrusion, too.

Shelby Employees Get Christmas Bonuses

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Shelby County Commission has stuffed the Christmas stockings of the county’s 5,700 employees with bonuses of about $650.
The flat-rate bonus comes from an unexpected surplus in the county general fund, according to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/sihL1l ).
Mayor Mark Luttrell had proposed giving workers bonuses equal to 1.5 percent of their salaries. The commission changed it to a flat-rate spiff after Commissioner Walter Bailey said that would be of greater benefit to lower-paid workers.
The administration said the surplus came from job cuts, holding positions vacant and strong delinquent tax collections.

Capitol Christmas Tree Lit With Indoor Ceremony

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam has lit the Capitol Christmas tree in a ceremony moved inside because of rain.
He and his wife, Crissy, lit the 27-foot-tall Norway spruce Monday evening in the first such ceremony for the governor, who took office last January. The tree was donated by Ed Mascolo of Nashville.
The tree is decorated in red, silver and blue with Tennessee flags. It features an oversized tree topper bow, which was handmade in the state. There are more than 3,000 LED lights on the tree.
Two years ago, the state Christmas tree toppled over at one point during high winds.

Haslams Pick Eight Christmas Trees for Governor’s Residence

News release from Department of Agriculture:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The eight local Christmas trees Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and First Lady Crissy Haslam will display at the State Capitol and the Tennessee Residence will be adorned with slightly more than ornaments this year.
Donated from tree farms across the state, the six trees at the Tennessee Residence and two at the Capitol will have a mobile phone “quick response,” or “QR,” bar code displayed with the trees, linking many smartphone users directly to the Pick Tennessee Products Christmas tree directory.
The Tennessee Department of Agriculture created the bar codes so Tennesseans only have to point their phone’s camera at the bar code to launch an application giving instant information about local tree farms.
“Choosing locally grown products is one way everyone can join the effort to strengthen our rural economies,” Haslam said. “It’s a great way for us to help each other, and that’s something we all think about during this time of year.”
Pick Tennessee Products is the state’s promotional campaign to connect consumers with local farm products. Through the website, visitors can access directories, seasonal recipes and find local artisan products from wines and cheeses to aged hams and local honey. The site’s Taste of Tennessee Online Store provides links to numerous Tennessee produced or processed products popular during the holidays.
Christmas tree farms grow a completely renewable and recyclable resource which is 100 percent biodegradable. While growing, natural Christmas trees absorb carbon dioxide and other gases and emit fresh oxygen. Christmas trees are often grown on soil that doesn’t support other crops, and their root systems serve to stabilize soil, protect water quality and provide refuge for wildlife. Grown on farms just like any other crop, one to three new seedlings are planted for every tree harvested to ensure a constant supply.
After the holidays, cut trees can be turned into mulch for area trails, and live trees can be replanted. Buying a live tree from a nearby farm guarantees that variety grows well in the area, and farmers are happy to share tips on planting and care for a transplanted tree. Always call ahead and confirm hours of operation and activities.
For more information about locally grown and processed products, visit www.picktnproducts.org or follow on Twitter or Facebook @PickTnProducts