News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Deputy to the Governor Claude Ramsey will retire at the end of August to spend more time with his wife, children and grandchildren in Chattanooga.
Ramsey has been integral to Haslam on several key initiatives, including civil service reform, economic development efforts, workforce development training and improved operation of state government.
“Claude’s experience at the state and local levels of government and his common sense approach have been invaluable assets to our administration, and I am incredibly grateful to him and his wife, Jan, for their time in Nashville and commitment to the state of Tennessee.”
When he joined the administration in January 2011, Ramsey agreed to serve as deputy to the governor for two years but has stayed on past his original commitment. Before joining the Haslam administration, Ramsey was in his fifth term as Hamilton County mayor, having played key roles in educational and economic successes in Southeast Tennessee.
“It’s been a true pleasure to work with the governor on the important issues of job growth, education reform and making Tennessee the best-run state in the country,” Ramsey said. “The governor is a man of integrity with a clear vision for the state, and I will do anything I can to help him in the future as he continues to serve.”
Ramsey, 70, was elected to the General Assembly in 1972 where he served four years. He was the assessor of property in Hamilton County from 1980-1994 and was a county commissioner for two years. He served 16 years as Hamilton County mayor.
Ramsey’s last day on the job will be August 31.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration is responding to what it calls “confusion” about the role of a Muslim staffer and a council that has advised two state departments on Islamic affairs.
The Republican governor was criticized this summer by several GOP groups over what they perceived as the growing influence of a version of the Islamic code called Shariah in state government.
(Note: There’s a website devoted to criticizing the governor on the subject, HERE, featuring a picture of “Bill Hislam” with President Obama.)
Claude Ramsey, the deputy to the governor, sent a letter distributed to the state GOP’s executive committee last week seeking to quell those concerns.
“I want to start by clearly expressing there is no effort by the Haslam administration, the State of Tennessee, or any agency or department of the State to promote or advance Shariah law or Shariah complaint finance,” he said in the letter.
“The promotion or advancement of religious ideology is an inappropriate role of state government that is unacceptable, and will not happen during this administration.”
Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has set up a website (HERE) to promote his 2012 legislative package and, as WPLN notes, much of it is dedicated to potential changes in civil service rules for the state’s 40,000 employees. The civil service overhaul, which brings the word “patronage” to mind for many state employees, would at first blush seem to be a potentially controversial topic. But administration officials say state employees like the idea.
Governor Bill Haslam said his 22 department heads agreed that the decades-old work rules were one of the biggest obstacles to government operating efficiently. But so did the 100 long-time employees that the Haslam Administration talked to in small groups. Deputy Governor Claude Ramsey says he heard the same thing in Knoxville as he heard at a meeting in Memphis.
“Two hours later we had our second hearing in Memphis, and I would have thought that the second group was standing behind the door somewhere listening to what the first group said.”
Ramsey says managers gave examples of losing good employees not because they were unhappy, but because their job was effectively a dead end. Haslam’s legislation would give managers the flexibility to pay for performance. The governor says not every employee is going to like his new rules, but he says the feedback so far suggests – quote – “it’s the right thing to do.”
Given the forces arrayed against him, Gov. Bill Haslam faces a major policy defeat because of his position on having Amazon.com collect sales taxes, argues Frank Cagle.
In addition to getting bad advice, his natural tendency to avoid confrontation and make everybody happy is putting him in an untenable situation.
Haslam first took the advice of his deputy governor to go along with a deal to allow Amazon to operate facilities in Tennessee without collecting sales tax. He didn’t get out in front of the issue and it’s coming around to bite him in the butt.
The forces arrayed against him, the article says, range from newspapers questioning the secrecy of the dealings to local governments “figuring out” that they are losing prospective tax money to an increasingly powerful lobby of regular retailers who do pay the tax and who have hired a bunch of lobbyists while finding frineds in the legislature.
Haslam does seem to face questioning about Amazon on a daily basis. Here’s an excerpt from Thursday’s episode, as reported in the Chattanooga TFP: Haslam, in remarks prior to speaking at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, said he’s having “very fruitful discussions” with the online retailing giant over collecting taxes.
“We’re having discussions with them about what the long-term relationship looks like,” he said. “My job is to create jobs but also to make a fair playing field.”
Haslam said he’s hopeful of coming up with a solution that will work for everybody, though he knows how important Amazon’s jobs are for Hamilton and Bradley counties.
Appearing in Sunday’s News Sentinel is a package of half-dozen stories on what might be considered Gov. Bill Haslam’s cabinet inner circle, the men and women who gather around a table in the state Capitol on most days to counsel the governor on what’s happening and what should be done.
The centerpiece is on Deputy Gov. Claude Thomas Ramsey, 68, won his first state government position almost 40 years ago as a third-generation strawberry farmer running against an incumbent state representative who “didn’t have the best reputation in the world.”
An excerpt from an interview with the deputy governor: “He’s not one to get out and kick, snort and throw rocks,” Ramsey said of the governor.
Is Ramsey such a person?
“Not in public.”
The deputy governor said that in today’s Republican party politics “I’m probably more to the moderate side … (though) I absolutely consider myself a conservative.”
Shorter items, in alphabetical order, are on:
-Mark Cate, the ‘utility man’ who ‘makes the trains run on time’ and carries the title of special assistant to the governor.
-The ‘young but bright’ Will Cromer, director of policy and research.
-Director of Legislation Leslie Hafner, who is the newest member of Haslam’s inner circle but by no means new to state government. (A Hafner quip: “Thank you technology, you’re ruined my life.”)
-Communications Director Alexia Poe, a mother of two who is now serving as spokeswoman for her fifth politician.
–Herb Slatery, who is legal counsel to the governor and a friend to Bill Haslam since childhood.