Tag Archives: council

Corker Weighs in Against Union at Volkswagen

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Friday said top Volkswagen leaders aren’t pushing United Auto Workers’ efforts in Chattanooga and he contended there’s no link between plant expansion and setting up a factory works council.
Further from the Chattanooga TFP:
A UAW official said VW employees won’t be “intimidated by outside forces,” and that the German automaker has “an outstanding track record” of working with organized labor globally.
The two sides weighed into the VW issue as a Washington, D.C., group Friday officially launched a summerlong “education campaign” about the UAW and its efforts to organize the VW plant.
Corker, a Tennessee Republican who helped negotiate the incentives package to bring Volkswagen to Chattanooga, said he has talked to VW leaders numerous times and “there’s not a push by the executive leadership or the board toward the UAW.”
“I know for a fact that at the highest levels of VW, they’re aware that if the UAW became involved in the plant, it would be a negative for the future economic growth of our state,” he said.
However, Gary Casteel, a UAW regional director in Lebanon, Tenn., said the auto companies and their employees represented by the union are prospering.
The Spring Hill, Tenn., plant run by General Motors has been resurrected and now has 2,000 workers, he said. Ford Motor Co. employees at a plant in his region last year received $8,000 profit-sharing bonuses and could receive $10,000 each this year, Casteel said.
Chrysler, meanwhile, is recording the fastest-growing market share among automakers, he said.
“We’re doing fine,” Casteel said.
Still, Corker said the possibility that the UAW could represent workers at the VW plant has affected recruitment of other businesses to Tennessee.
“It has already created some obstacles to us,” he said. “I think the leadership at the [Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce] believes that if the UAW established a stronghold in our area, it would be a negative,” he said.
The former Chattanooga mayor termed “totally and absolutely false” a claim last week by a top German VW works council official that it would block the possibility of Chattanooga landing new production until the issue of a works council is clear at the plant.

TN Labor Council Looks Up Legislator Voting Records

The Tennessee AFL-CIO Labor Council will focus on voting records, and not on political labels, as it evaluates candidates in coming state races, reports The Tennessean, quoting President Gary Moore.
“We’re going to look at and endorse candidates who support labor regardless of party affiliation,” he said. That’s a shift for the council, which represents about 300 unions and affiliates with 60,000-plus members in Tennessee and has a history of heavily favoring Democrats.
In the 2012 state legislative campaign, it endorsed 53 Democrats, one independent and one Republican. The council previously based its political endorsements largely on the candidates’ party affiliations and pledges to support workers but never really followed up to verify whether their votes matched their words, Moore said.
When the council did so for the 2013 legislative session, there were some surprising results.
“We found out that not all Democrats are friends with working people,” Moore said, singling out Rep. Charles Curtiss of Sparta as an example.
Curtiss voted against the council’s position on six key bills, including Gov. Bill Haslam’s workers compensation reform measure. Moore said that could cost Curtiss the council’s endorsement in the 2014 campaign.

Three State Agencies Recommended for Termination

 A legislative panel has recommended termination of three state government entities as requested by
Gov. Bill Haslam‘s administration through the state Department of Health.

In all three cases, officials told a joint House-Senate Government
Operations Subcommittee that most of the duties and responsibilities of
the bodies are covered elsewhere in state government. Assuming the full
Legislature goes along next year, which is traditional, these groups
will “sunset” and cease to exist:

n The Advisory Council on Child Nutrition and Wellness, created in 2006 when
Gov. Phil Bredesen
was in office with no appointments made to fill vacancies since 2010.
Laurie Stanton, who is with the Health Department’s Office of Child
Nutrition and Wellness, said her staff now handles the data collection
and fitness promotion functions of the office.

n The Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Health, created by an executive order from then-
Gov. Ned McWherter
in 1989 and put into law by the Legislature in 1991 with the goal of
“promoting healthy lifestyles.” Stanton said the council once sponsored
a “Tennessee Sports Fest,” but that hasn’t occurred for several years.

Otherwise, she said the only direct impact will be to end an annual
“Shining Stars Awards” banquet, which the department’s website says
recognized with trophy presentations “the promotion of healthy
lifestyles by groups of Tennesseans” in the categories employers,
communities, “educational settings” and media.

n The Tennessee Alliance for Fitness and Health, set up as the fund-raising arm of the Governor’s Council.

“Unfortunately, they haven’t raised funds,” said Stanton. “They’ve run out of money.”

She said “Project Diabetes,” which received an extra $3 million in
funding through Haslam’s budget proposal for the coming years, is
largely devoted to promoting healthy lifestyles, as is an anti-obesity
initiative operated by the Health Department.  

U.S. Attorney’s Speech to Muslim Group Draws Protests

(Note: Expands and replaces earlier post)
MANCHESTER, Tenn. (AP) — The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee tried to explain tolerance to an audience in Manchester. Most wanted none of it.
William C. Killian’s speech was constantly interrupted by boos and heckling Tuesday evening at the Manchester-Coffee County Conference Center.
The meeting was billed as “Public Disclosure in a Diverse Society” and was sponsored by the American Muslim Advisory Council of Tennessee.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported shouts of “traitor,” ”serpent,” and “go home” were directed at Killian by a crowd of more than 300 people. Others, who had staged a protest outside before the meeting, were angered at being turned away when the room reached capacity.
Some who remained outside hurled labels including “communist,” ”socialist” and “Muslim” at law enforcement officials who denied them entry.
Inside, Killian told the crowd hateful speech is allowed by law, but threats are not.

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Gov to Coal Executives: ‘Do the Math and Come to TN’

Tennessee doesn’t have many coal mining jobs, but Gov. Bill Haslam was selling the state to a room full of coal executives Tuesday, reports the Kingsport Times-News.
“We’re not blessed with quite as much coal or as much oil or natural gas as other folks are, but the little we have is an important part of our economy,” Haslam, a Republican, told members of the Eastern Coal Council on the final day of their annual conference.
“We think it’s about 17,000 (energy sector) jobs in Tennessee…It enables us to be competitive with other folks in attracting industry who want low-cost reliable power.”
Haslam trumpeted Tennessee’s low-tax environment, business-friendly regulations and workers’ compensation reform efforts.
“For those of you who don’t live in Tennessee and live close, if you move to Tennessee, we don’t have an income tax,” Haslam told the group at the MeadowView Marriott. “You do the math and move to Tennessee. We would love to have you…We’ve cut the sales tax on groceries and the inheritance tax…Local taxes and state taxes together, we think we’re the third lowest state in taxes.”

TN Legislators Taking Expense-Paid Trips to Turkey, Azerbaijan

At least nine state legislators have signed up for a trip next month to Azerbaijan and Turkey that is financed by groups with ties to a famous Muslim imam, according to WTVF-TV. Five legislators went on a similar trip last year.
In the waning days of this year’s legislative session, lawmakers debated whether proposed changes to the state’s campaign finance laws would open the door to foreign influence.
“If you want to know who contributes to my campaign, it’s as easy as the click of the mouse,” said Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, a Smith County Republican.
Still, what you won’t find online — and what Weaver did not mention — is that, in late May, a select group of state lawmakers will be jetting off for a 12-day, all-expenses paid trip, landing first in Azerbaijan, then heading a few days later to nearby Turkey.
The invitations came from a group called the Turkish American Chamber of Commerce of the Southeast — with the money coming from a sister group called the Turquoise Council of Americans and Eurasians.
Both groups have ties to a movement headed by a moderate Muslim imam named Fethullah Gulen.
…(Memphis Republican Rep. Mark) White is one of the nine lawmakers who have accepted the invitation to go on the trip.
Others, according to a list provided to NewsChannel 5, are:
Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville; Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown; Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah; Rep. Roger Kane, R-Knoxville; Rep.  Antonio Parkinson, D-Memphis; Rep. Joe Towns, D-Memphis; Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis; and Terri Lynn Weaver.
Tennessee Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons has also agreed to go, as has his assistant commissioner David Purkey.
…Fethullah Gulen has generally drawn praise for his moderate religious views and his message of tolerance. Time Magazine just named him to its lists of the 100 most influential people in the world.
But a U.S. State Department cable published by Wikileaks describes his movement as being one that “officially professes to be interested in ecumenical understanding, but whose roots are intensely Islamic.”
As 60 Minutes reported last year, the movement is also behind a secular network of science and math charter schools that began in Turkey and has now spread to the U.S.
One of those is in Memphis.
…House Education Committee Chairman Harry Brooks, a Knoxville Republican who has been helping to coordinate the upcoming trip, keeps in his office mementos from both Azerbaijan and Turkey from a trip he accepted last year. Brooks said that there were five Tennessee lawmakers on that trip.
Other lawmakers, according to Brooks, were: Sen. Reginald Tate, D-Memphis; Rep. Joe Armstrong, R-Knoxville; Rep. Josh Evans, R-Greenbrier; and Rep. Gary Odom, D-Nashville.
It was trip that Brooks described as part economic development, part goodwill.
“What we gain is, one, an understanding of a society that wants to be a friend to this country,” he added.
But Brooks insisted that charter schools were never discussed
.

Bill Lets Counselors Reject Clients Based on Religious Beliefs

Legislation declaring that student counselors can reject clients with religious beliefs differing from their own is advancing over the objections of psychology professors who say the bill is counter to the profession’s ethical code and could threaten academic accreditation.
The bill (SB514) is similar to a Michigan law enacted last year after courts upheld the dismissal of Julea Ward from an Eastern Michigan University counseling program when, based on her Christian beliefs, she refused to counsel a homosexual student.
The bill is pushed by the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a Christian activist organization headed by David Fowler, a former state senator from Signal Mountain.
The measure declares that public colleges and universities “shall not discipline or discriminate against a student in a counseling, social work, or psychology program because the student refuses to counsel or serve a client as to goals, outcomes, or behaviors that conflict with a sincerely held religious belief of the student, if the student refers the client to a counselor who will provide the counseling or services.”
Dr. Brent Mallinckrodt, a professor in the University of Tennessee’s psychology program, was joined by four other past or present academicians in urging defeat of the measure in testimony before the Senate Education Committee.

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Racial Remarks Spark Call for Resignation of Cleveland Councilman

The Cleveland City Council deadlocked Monday on a nonbinding request that Councilman Charlie McKenzie resign over racial slurs he allegedly made while working for the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
The council voted 3-3 on a proposal of formal disapproval of McKenzie’s actions and a call for him to abandon his position as District 1 councilman. Councilmen Bill Estes, Avery Johnson and Richard Banks supported the measures; Councilmen David May, Dale Hughes and George Poe opposed them
The proposed sanctions, introduced by Estes, came two weeks after McKenzie, fellow councilmen and members of the Bradley County NAACP met about the situation. At that meeting, McKenzie said he apologized if he had ever said anything to offend anyone.
“I’ve said and I’ve said and I’ve said,” McKenzie responded Monday to a request for a statement.
Two white deputies with the sheriff’s office, Anthony Liner and Kristi Barton, both of whom worked alongside McKenzie when he served as a part-time deputy, filed statements Jan. 18 about racial slurs they maintain they heard McKenzie make, records show.
“Over the last several months, while training Deputy Charlie McKenzie, I have heard him make a number of derogatory statements regarding race,” Liner wrote. “I have heard him refer to African-Americans as spook, coon, spade and n —- .”

With KKK Coming to Town, Memphis Council Bans Masks

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Memphis City Council has given preliminary approval to changes in parade permits that would ban the wearing of masks.
The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/Y3texd ) reported the change was proposed after the Ku Klux Klan requested a parade permit to protest an effort to rename three city parks.
The KKK wants to rally on March 30 in downtown Memphis. The council is considering renaming parks that memorialize the Confederacy from Civil War times.
Police Director Toney Armstrong said masks are a problem, but he is more concerned about concealed weapons.
“Certainly I cannot allow (armed) people walking around this city with masks or concealing their identity, even if you have a handgun carry permit, because I have no way of knowing who you are,” Armstrong said.
Council member Shea Flinn said members must be careful to not curtail free expression.
“You are having some real potential for government suppression of speech here, and I want to make sure we’re not way on the other side of that,” Flinn said.
The council must pass the proposal on two more readings before it would become law.
If ultimately approved, it would require groups receiving parade permits to “secure the police protection deemed necessary” and pay for it. The proposal would also make it unlawful to wear a mask or disguise with the intent to violate state civil law outlawing civil rights intimidation.
Additionally, it would ban any person at an assembly to carry weapons that would violate state law banning carrying weapons in public parks, civic centers, and public recreational buildings and grounds.
The white supremacist group applied for the parade permit after a proposal emerged in the council to change the names of the parks. If it is approved, Forrest Park would become Health Sciences Park, Confederate Park would be renamed Memphis Park and Jefferson Davis Park would be known as Mississippi River Park.
Forrest Park is named for Confederate cavalry officer Nathan Bedford Forrest, who was the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The park is also his burial place.
Also on Tuesday, the council appointed a committee to review the proposal to change the park names.

Norris to Chair Council of State Governments

News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
NASHVILLE — Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, will
chair the national Council of State Governments (CSG) beginning in 2014
following his unanimous election in Austin, Texas this week.
CSG is the bipartisan professional association which is the only national
organization serving all three branches of government in all 50 states and
Puerto Rico. International affiliates include the Provincial and Federal
governments of Canada.
Norris is the first Tennessean elected to the national leadership post.
“I am honored to assume this responsibility and look forward to continuing our
work throughout the United States and North America,” said Norris, who will
serve next year as Chair-elect under Senator Gary Stevens of Alaska who was also
elected to serve as 2013 Chairman. “State governments face many challenges, and
CSG is frequently on the front lines with solutions.”
Norris is an attorney with the law firm of Adams and Reese LLP. He has served in
the Tennessee Senate since 2000 and as Senate Majority Leader since 2007.
Founded in 1933, CSG’s region-based forum fosters the exchange of insights and
ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled
regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders,
collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.
The organization is based in Lexington, Kentucky and also has an office in
Washington, D.C. It has regional offices in Atlanta, New York City, Chicago and
Sacramento. Norris served as Chairman of the Southern Region in 2010-2011.