News release from state Department of Veterans Affairs:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder somberly announced former Department of Veterans Affairs Commissioner William H. (Dusty) Roden, Jr. passed away on July 20, 2013 at the Hospice Chattanooga Care Center. Commissioner Roden was 90 years old.
Roden served in the United States Army Air Corps as a fighter pilot from 1942 to1945 and retired as a Lieutenant Colonel from the United States Air Force Reserves in 1972.
Commissioner Roden was appointed by Governor Lamar Alexander in 1979 and remained TDVA Commissioner until 1987. In 1979, Roden founded the United Tennessee Veterans Association (UTVA) which was created to bring the state’s Veteran Service Organizations together to be briefed by leaders from the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the Tennessee Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure accomplishments, concerns and developments impacting veterans would be shared with UTVA representatives. Commissioner Grinder recognized Roden for this milestone contribution during a UTVA meeting on December 4, 2012.
Larry Martin is a man with a “mediator mindset,” according to Gov. Bill Haslam, who has been assigning negotiation tasks to the 65-year-old former banker for several years now.
The most recent assignment is perhaps the most formidable — overseeing $32 billion in spending by almost 40,000 state employees as commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration and resolving the inevitable conflicts that come up in doing so.
“F&A is an intense workout. … If I’d known there were 43 different committees and commissions I have to serve on, my answer to the governor might have been different,” said a smiling Martin in an interview at his office in the state Capitol last week.
But he did say yes to Haslam, of course, and not for the first time.
Martin took the job on an interim basis after the retirement of his predecessor, Mark Emkes, on June 1.
The first time Martin was recruited by Haslam came after his retirement in 2006 from a 37-year career with First Horizon/First Tennessee Bank and its predecessors. He started with First National Bank of Memphis, a predecessor, shortly after graduating from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, with a bachelor’s degree in banking.
Full article HERE.
Opponents of a new Tennessee teacher pay plan are taking their fight to social media and asking for the ouster of Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, reports The Tennessean. Two Facebook pages created just after the State Board of Education approved pay plan changes last week call for Huffman’s firing, and a Change.org petition calling for the same action has more than 800 signatures. The petition appeared to be growing Friday afternoon.
No one stepped up to claim authorship of the Facebook pages after The Tennessean posted interview requests, but one page administrator sent an anonymous message saying he or she did not want to be known.
…The author of the petition is West Tennessee parent Jennifer Proseus, who said she belongs to a group of mothers, fathers and grandparents from across the state who call themselves “Momma Bears.” The petition is addressed to Gov. Bill Haslam and states that he might not get the votes of its signers for a next term.
Haslam, the Republican who appointed Huffman, defended him in a statement, though. It reads, “Kevin has brought an innovative approach to improving education in Tennessee, and we’re seeing results. When you tackle significant change, it isn’t usually easy, but our state has lagged behind in education for far too long. We have to do better than the status quo for our children and our state.”
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Burns Phillips as the new commissioner of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Phillips had been serving as acting commissioner of the department, after coming over from the Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) where he was managing director of customer-focused government initiatives administration-wide.
“I am very grateful to Burns for taking on this role,” Haslam said. “He has both public and private sector experience and has served in multiple departments at the state level, and I appreciate his willingness to continue serving at Labor and Workforce Development.”
Phillips, 64, received both a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Middle Tennessee State University, and he earned his law degree from the Nashville School of Law in 1978.
He worked in the Budget Office of F&A early in his professional career before working in medical sales and marketing in the private sector. In 1991, he founded a surgical instrument company that conducted business in the United States and 30 other countries.
“I am deeply honored that Gov. Haslam has given me this opportunity to serve Tennesseans,” Phillips said. “I am committed to the people and to the work of Labor and Workforce Development, and I will continue to build upon the foundation we have established at the department.”
Phillips and his wife, Sally, live in Nashville and have two children and four grandchildren.
Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy said Thursday that he thought he might help a half dozen people by donating a kidney to any stranger who could use it on April 30, reports the Commercial Appeal. But the chain of kidney recipients that Mulroy’s donation in Memphis triggered stretched much further and much faster than anyone could have hoped.
The chain reaction ended on Wednesday with 28 people across the country receiving kidneys from 28 donors in the five week’s since Mulroy volunteered his kidney at the Methodist University Hospital Transplant Institute in Memphis, operated in partnership with the University of Tennessee.
Known as “Chain 221” at the New York-based National Kidney Registry, Mulroy’s was the second-largest chain, only shorter than a 30-recipient string made between August and December 2011, according to the national registry.
“I’m just so gratified that I’ve been able to help so many people in such a dramatic way,” said Mulroy, 49, a University of Memphis law professor.”I had originally hoped that I might help a half of a dozen people, but to know that the chain has grown to 28 — 10 of whom were chronic, desperate people who would not otherwise have received kidneys, I’m must overjoyed.”
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Larry Martin will become the interim commissioner of the state Department of Finance and Administration (F&A) when Commissioner Mark Emkes retires at the end of the month.
Martin becomes interim commissioner at F&A June 1 after Emkes’ retires effective May 31.
A year ago, 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.
“I am grateful that Larry has agreed to step into this position and serve Tennessee taxpayers in this capacity,” Haslam said. “He has been critically important in helping us establish the systems and organizational structure to begin recruiting, attracting and retaining the best and brightest to serve in state government, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as interim commissioner of F&A.”
News release from governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced Debra Payne as the new commissioner of the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (DIDD) as Jim Henry becomes the permanent commissioner at the Department of Children’s Services (DCS).
Payne currently serves as deputy commissioner of DIDD and Henry as the interim commissioner of DCS.
“These two departments handle some of the state’s most difficult work concerning our most vulnerable citizens,” Haslam said. “I want to thank Debbie for taking on this new role in such a young department. Her experience and hard work will continue to serve the state of Tennessee very well.”
As deputy commissioner of program operations at DIDD, Payne has overseen two development centers, a statewide community-based service delivery system supported by more than 2,000 employees, 475 community providers and three regional offices.
“I want to thank Gov. Haslam for the opportunity to continue to serve Tennesseans with disabilities,” Payne said. “I look forward to working with this department and all of our providers in continuing to offer quality care.”
Payne has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Middle Tennessee State University. She has served in numerous capacities throughout her career and is credited with assembling a nationally recognized Protection from Harm system as the statewide director of Protection from Harm for DIDD.
Payne lives in Mt. Juliet with her husband, Mike, and she has three children, two step-children and one granddaughter.
Henry was the first commissioner of DIDD, which was formerly a division of the Department of Finance and Administration before becoming a state department on January 15, 2011. He has headed up both DIDD and DCS since February when he became interim commissioner of DCS.
“I am honored to serve in this capacity with Gov. Haslam,” Henry said. “We have taken important steps at DCS, and we will continue to strengthen our processes and policies as well as continue to improve the department as a whole.”
The appointments are effective June 1.
— Note: Interestingly, House Democrats have issued praise of the governor’s appointment of Henry. It’s below.
More Tennessee teachers are heading for the exits. Since 2008 the number is up by more than a thousand – nearly doubling – to a total last year of almost 2,200, reports WPLN. Exactly why is a bit of a mystery. Some teachers see it as a response to a couple years of politically charged upheaval in state education policy. But state officials say it’s not so clear-cut, and even go so far as to argue higher turnover has an upside.
…State education researcher Nate Schwartz agrees many teachers getting bad scores may see it as their cue to leave, in what he calls “self-selection.” He says this isn’t driven by explicit state policy. And because so much has changed in the state over the last few years, Schwartz says it’s hard to pin down a specific cause for the retirement spike.
(Note: The article has a table showing annual teacher retirements from 2008 through 2012. In 2008, there were 1,195 teacher retirements, average age 60.5 years and average experience 26.7 years. In 2012, there were 2,197 retirements, average age 61.4 years, average experience 26.7 years.)
Besides the new evaluations, many teachers were outraged when lawmakers tossed out their collective-bargaining rights in 2011, as well as the old tenure system. But the uptick in retirements might have less to do with shifting policy, says Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, and more to do with the economy.
Huffman notes people retired less “across all professions” amid the recession in 2008, “because their retirement accounts had been hit so badly.”
So if a lot of teachers already put off retiring a few years, Huffman says it’s no surprise to see more leaving now. The point he wants to emphasize is that teachers ranked at the bottom are retiring faster:
“Two years ago our best teachers and our lowest performing teachers retired at the same rate. And after last year, those rates completely diverge, so that our lowest performing teachers were retiring at twice the rate of our best-performing teachers.”
That trend points toward improving schools, Huffman says.
But it’s worth comparing more than just rates. In terms of real people, last year more top teachers retired – 129 of them, compared to 96 from the bottom. So even though 5s retired at a lower rate, there were still far more of them gone. State officials argue the rate is a more telling comparison, since in 2012 there were 6,704 teachers with 5s on the 1-to-5 scale, while 1s totaled just 2,644.
Friends and family are remembering the life of Al Bodie, a former Tennessee Department of Labor commissioner, government affairs professional, and a mentor and leader to many in Nashville, who died last Friday following a battle with cancer, reports The Tennessean. He was 59.
Alphonso “Al” Romeo Bodie, the eldest of five children, was born Sept. 29, 1953 in Miami, Fla. He was schooled in Jamaica and at the University of Miami, where he starred on the football field and earned a degree in marketing.
After graduation, Bodie moved to Nashville and worked for IBM, where he worked in the Data Processing Division for 17 years. In 1993, Bodie founded the Nashville-based government relations firm Bodie & Associates Inc. He served as its CEO and board chairman.
Republican Tennessee Gov. Don Sundquist in 1995 tapped Bodie to lead the state’s Department of Labor. In that role, Bodie is perhaps best known for his role in overhauling Tennessee’s workers’ compensation law.
“He was a very good commissioner and a strong leader,” said Sundquist, who talked to Bodie by phone two weeks ago. “He was a fighter up until the last few days.”
— Note: The legislature passed a memorializing resolution on Bodie, HERE.
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.