After the controversial removal of William “Chink” Brown from the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission in February, Gov. Bill Haslam has finally appointed a replacement, reports Nooga.com David Watson, an executive and part owner of Mountain View Ford Lincoln in Chattanooga, will serve out the remainder of Brown’s term as the District 4 representative on the TFWC. The TFWC is the governing body over the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.
The 13 members have authority over hunting, fishing and boating regulations in Tennessee.
In the letter notifying Watson of his appointment, the governor wrote, “In the thorough and aggressive search for candidates, your individual characteristics and professional qualifications were exceptional among the number of nominees who expressed interest.”
Watson’s appointment will last until February 2015; however, insiders think it is possible that Watson will be reappointed for another six-year term at that point, although that is not guaranteed.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The University of Tennessee plans to continue allowing pregame prayers at Neyland Stadium after receiving a letter from an organization arguing that the practice is unconstitutional.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek asking that the university stop the use of prayer at university functions and sporting events. Cheek released a letter Wednesday in which he said he had discussed the matter with the school’s counsel and was told that “nonsectarian prayer at public university events does not violate the First Amendment.”
Cheek told the Wisconsin-based atheist group that he had given the issue “careful consideration” but that the school would continue to allow prayers before university events.
Annie Laurie Gaylor, the Freedom From Religion Foundation co-president, said the use of the word “nonsectarian” indicates that Tennessee shouldn’t have a clergyman conducting prayers with overt Christian references.
“They’ve been praying to Jesus and inviting clergy to come lead the prayer,” Gaylor said. “Nonsectarian would be (that) you wouldn’t have a member of the clergy who’s tied to a denomination, so they’re not going to talk about Jesus. They shouldn’t be talking about the Bible. In my opinion, they shouldn’t be praying at all.”
Gaylor added that she would encourage students upset with the university’s decision to remain active about the issue.
UT-Chattanooga decided last week to stop its use of a pregame prayer after receiving a similar letter. The public address announcer instead invites the crowd before the national anthem to observe a moment of silence “in consideration of the safety of today’s players, the service of those who protect us at home and abroad and the needs of those who suffer.”
“We didn’t want our events to be something that anyone felt excluded from,” UT-Chattanooga spokesman Chuck Cantrell said. “We recognize that we have a diverse community here in Chattanooga and especially on campus, and we just didn’t want to be doing anything that made any of our guests feel unwelcome. We felt a moment of silence offered equality and parity for everybody.”
— Note: This updates and replaces earlier post.
Picking up on a theme that made former Gov. Phil Bredesen a favorite Democrat among national Republicans on the subject of health care reform, Bill Haslam said Tuesday a dose of “economic reality” is needed to keep down the cost of medical services.
A further excerpt from the TNReport: Haslam said patients typically don’t think much about costs when they shoulder little or none of the burden of payment. The governor even phrased his diagnosis of what ails Medicaid in the way Bredesen used to. Low-income recipients of care — and for that matter, consumers in general — don’t have “enough economic skin in the game, if you will,” said Haslam.
Haslam delivered his remarks before hundreds of high school girls at the Volunteer Girls State organization at Lipscomb University in Nashville. The annual event involves rising seniors from schools throughout the state who are chosen based on academic and leadership potential. First Lady Crissy Haslam joined her husband in answering questions after he gave a speech.