Tag Archives: communications

New $120M Highway Patrol radio system in place

News release from Department of Safety
NASHVILLE- Department of Safety and Homeland Security Commissioner Bill Gibbons and Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) Colonel Tracy Trott on Wednesday announced the completion of a new statewide radio communications system that will enhance the safety of the public and state troopers and increase efficiency between public safety agencies.

The statewide radio system, engineered by Motorola Solutions and Buford Goff and Associates (BGA), was completed on time and within budget.

Replacing a system that was nearly 40 years old, the new interoperable radio system provides enhanced communications between state troopers and dispatchers as well as the THP and partnering public safety agencies.
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Video, news release on TDOT comish seeking safety slogans

News release from state Department of Transportation:
NASHVILLE – “Eyes on the Road & Head out of Your Apps”, “Buckle Up Y’all, It’s the Law”, and “Ho Ho Hold Your Calls”. Those are just a few of the overhead sign messages that have caught the attention of Tennessee motorists recently. Think you can come up with one better?

For the first time, TDOT will offer drivers the chance to craft their own highway safety messages. Beginning Monday January 5, TDOT will begin taking entries for the Dynamic Message Sign Contest. Entries will be considered for five highway safety categories: seatbelt usage, impaired driving, distracted driving, speeding, and aggressive driving.

“Love them or hate them, the messages we’ve been running have helped us accomplish our goal – to get the attention of drivers,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. “We don’t want these important safety reminders to be so mundane that people stop noticing. This contest can start important conversations about driving behaviors, and maybe make people think about some of their own driving habits.”

Entering the contest is easy! Just go to TDOT’s website and click on “TDOT Safety Message Contest”. The contest web page will list the categories, and will allow you to type your message and submit your entry. The contest will run from January 5 through January 16. TDOT will then give the public the opportunity to vote on the best messages, also via the TDOT website. The winning messages will then be placed in rotation to run on the overhead Dynamic Message Signs statewide throughout the year.

Keep it clean! Any message containing profanity or lewd comments will be disqualified.

A total of 163 Dynamic Message Signs are located in the state’s four urban areas (Chattanooga, Knoxville Memphis, Nashville), and in some rural areas across the state. The main purpose of the signs is to alert motorists of incidents, lane blockages, hazardous road conditions, or Amber Alerts. In 2012, TDOT became the first DOT in the nation to display roadway fatality numbers on the overhead signs. In addition to the fatality statistics, safety messages are displayed during off-peak travel times

Blackburn goes ballistic over Internet control; ‘delusional’ says critic

Excerpt from an article in the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle:
When the Commerce Department recently announced it wanted to move a key function of Internet administration over to international “stakeholders,”’ Rep. Marsha Blackburn, like a number of House Republicans, went ballistic.

“We cannot let the Internet turn into another Russian land grab,” the Brentwood representative said.

“America shouldn’t surrender its leadership on the world stage to a ‘multistakeholder model’ that’s controlled by foreign governments. It’s imperative that this administration reports to Congress before they can take any steps that would turn over control of the Internet.”

…But some legal and technical experts say such remarks reflect the hyper-partisanship all too common in Washington these days, as well as a lack of understanding of how the Internet works.

“They are delusional,” John Cary Sims, a law professor at the University of the Pacific and co-editor of the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, said in an interview.
And the Internet Governance Project, an alliance of academics on Internet policy, said: “The role of Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee revealed the confusion and inconsistency that underlies the conservative critique.”

The proposed transition, which the department said was envisioned as far back as the 1990s, drew immediate praise from U.S. companies such as Google, Microsoft and Comcast, as well as from groups such as the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Computer and Communications Industry Association.

The Commerce Department made the same point. “There is no one party – government or industry, including the United States government – that controls the Internet. The Internet is a decentralized network of networks,” it said in a statement.

All sides acknowledge, however, that the Internet was created by the U.S. Department of Defense.

And for the last 16 years, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a Southern California nonprofit – under a contract with the Commerce Department – has overseen a key part of it, the assignment of domain names. Those are what allow users to find websites with easy-to-remember words rather than long strings of numbers interspersed with periods.

In what some called a “bombshell,” the Commerce Department said in March it wanted to begin a transition away from U.S. government stewardship of domain names and toward oversight by multi-national stakeholders, “including businesses, governments, technical experts, civil society groups and others.”

The handoff would come in October 2015 when the current Commerce Department-ICANN contract expires.

The department added it wouldn’t agree to any new system that didn’t follow U.S. principles, including that no government or inter-governmental body, such as the United Nations, have control over domain names and other aspects of the Internet address system.

…Blackburn, vice chairwoman of the powerful House Energy and Commerce Committee, immediately joined other GOP members in introducing legislation to prohibit any relinquishing of U.S. stewardship without congressional approval. During a hearing, she said there was “a low level of trust” about administration promises of Internet openness.

TN 911 Sharing ‘Mountain of Information’ Through Online Mapping

The state agency that oversees emergency communications is upgrading to what’s known as Next Generation 911, reports WPLN, and a bi-product is a sophisticated map that is going to be shared with other parts of state government.
Just as a map, this is more detailed than anything available online and will be updated constantly.
“You know, Google may get out to Perry County every couple of years and we have people who are there on the ground every day.”
(So says) Andy Spears (who) handles public affairs for the Emergency Communications Board. He says the 911 map compiles a mountain of information from property ownership to criminal records. It also has the ability to link cell phone numbers with people and places.
So Spears says the map is going to be used to improve voter registration, enforce drug-free zones and even collect taxes.
“I mean this is a way to make sure people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. So if they are evading taxes, we want to make sure they pay taxes, absolutely.”

Legislator Mailing Accounts: Some Overspend, Some Build Fat Surplus, Some Help Friends

While four legislators have overspent their taxpayer-funded “constituent communications” accounts as their terms in the 107th General Assembly wind to a close, one lawmaker will be sitting on a $100,000 when the 108th General Assembly begins on election day, a review of records shows.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle, D-Memphis, ran up the biggest deficit with an account that was $6,023 in the red. The shortfall would have been larger had not state Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere, who is giving up his Senate seat to run for Congress, transferred $2,652 from his account to Kyle’s account.
Smaller amounts are owed to the state by Reps. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, ($47.34); Mike Kernell, D-Memphis, ($1,406), and Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough ($162.92).
The four lawmakers with deficits all faced stiff re-election challenges in primaries this year. Kyle won his race, defeating Sen. Beverley Marrero in the August Democratic primary in a contest set up by legislative redistricting. Because he has no general election opponent, his account will get a fresh infusion of state funds — $6,832, to be precise — when his new term officially begins the day after the Nov. 6 election.

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Republicans Bash Barnes on Constituent Mailers

Republicans are faulting Democratic state Sen. Tim Barnes for spending $15,517 from his taxpayer-funded “constituent communications” account on two mailers this year, one in June and one in September, reports the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle.
“It’s pretty clear that constituent communications need to be done when the legislature is in session,” said Jordan Young, Senate Republican Caucus executive director.
“Saving all that money and using it during the campaign when his services are completed is wrong,” Young said. “Wouldn’t you want to know about a particular issue before you vote on it?”
Legislators are given an allowance for mailers for communications with constituents, but those mailers are prohibited during the 30 days before a primary or a general election.
In this case, the June mailer went out about a week before the cutoff, which Young said indicates Barnes was “flirting with that rule.”
But, he said, “whether it follows the rule or not doesn’t make it right. Sen. Barnes is using taxpayer resources to build up his name” and that’s not fair, he said, when “our candidate has to pay for it himself.”
On Nov. 6, Barnes faces Republican Mark Green for the District 22 seat, which includes Montgomery, Stewart and Houston counties. Young characterized it as the only “highly contested” state Senate race where the incumbent is a Democrat.
…Barnes responded that there’s nothing unusual or unethical about the mailers.
“I’m sure they would call it that, but if you look into when legislators mail these out, they do it during the session and after the session,” Barnes said.
“It is not only perfectly ethical, it is common practice and a vital and needed way to communicate with constituents.”
“A lot of these are summarizing what we did in the legislative session to get feedback. It gives us the opportunity to plan for the next session.”
…Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis called the accusation “unfounded criticism.”
“All legislative mail – from the content to the timing – is approved by the speaker’s office, therefore if they have an argument, they have to take it up with Speaker (Ron) Ramsey, who the last time I looked was a Republican,” Kyle said.
“And I guarantee he reads every one of those word for word.”


Note: For more on the ‘constituent communications’ accounts — which are exploited on a bipartisan basis — see this story written with the primary pending and mostly focused on how incumbents — Republicans included — transferred money from their accounts to help colleagues with the mailers under question.

Hank Dye Retires; UT Shifts Lobbyist Lineup

The University of Tennessee will split its government relations and communications department next month following the retirement of the vice president who oversaw those duties, President Joe DiPietro told staff in an email Wednesday.
From the News Sentinel:
Hank Dye, vice president of public and government relations since 2005, will retire July 11, something he had discussed with the president since the beginning of the year, DiPietro wrote. Anthony Haynes, UT’s lobbyist in Nashville, will become vice president for government relations and advocacy, reporting directly to DiPietro.
Kurt Schlieter, UT’s advocate in Washington, D.C., will become assistant vice president for federal relations and continue to work out of D.C. DiPietro wrote in the email that he is still examining the system’s communications strategy and has asked a seven-person review committee to give recommendations for how to structure a department to handle communications, marketing and branding.
In the meantime, Gina Stafford, assistant vice president and director of communications for the system, will manage day-to-day operations.

Blackburn Names New Spokesman

News release from Rep. Blackburn
WASHINGTON- Congressman Marsha Blackburn (TN-7) today named Mike Reynard as her new Communications Director. Reynard most recently served as Communications Director for Senator Jim Bunning of Kentucky, who retired in 2010.
Prior to his service with Senator Bunning, Reynard served both Chairmen Bill Goodling and John Boehner, of the House Education and Workforce Committee. Blackburn’s office marks a return to the Tennessee delegation for Reynard, who served on the staff of Senator Fred Thompson in 1997.
Blackburn’s previous Communications Director, Claude Chafin, was named as Communications Director for the House Armed Services Committee today.
“For my whole congressional career, I have been blessed with a strong communications team to help me advance the priorities of Tennessee’s 7th District. I know that Mike will continue that tradition and I am honored to welcome him back to the Tennessee delegation,” Blackburn said.