As part of a rambling but readable report on the state Senate District 10 campaign, Chris Carroll says that Republican primary competitors Todd Gardenhire and Greg Vital “spar over vehicles, not bumper stickers.”
During a break in the Flint Springs action, Vital touted his 16 years as president and CEO of Morning Pointe, a chain of assisted-living centers based in Ooltewah. He said he created 800 jobs after starting the company in 1996.
Then he whipped out the scarlet letter of the “1 percent” era: “He’s a Wall Street businessman,” Vital remarked of Gardenhire, who manages funds for foundations, pensions and endowments.
“I created jobs while he was moving money around for Wall Street,” Vital added.
Gardenhire scoffed and said Vital briefly worked for the brokerage firm Dean Witter, which merged with Morgan Stanley in 1997.
True, Vital said, for “two years, 25 years ago.”
Gardenhire hit back again, pointing out Vital’s “high-class BMW” at the Flint Springs luncheon.
Vital said it’s a 2005 model with 150,000 miles on it, adding that he has a Toyota Tundra himself.
“And a Ford farm truck,” he said.
After loaning himself $75,000, Vital had out-raised Gardenhire 12-to-1 by the end of March. Gardenhire counted $5,270 on hand while Vital reported $63,869 in the bank, records show.
“Who are people going to relate to?” Gardenhire wondered aloud. “Me, who’s driven a  Toyota Tundra I’ve had for a while, or somebody that drives a BMW?”
“That seems a little desperate,” Vital fired back.
Chattanooga developer Greg Vital said Friday he plans to run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Andy Berke, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, is reconsidering a run for Berke’s Senate seat after the two top House Republican leaders told him they want him remain in the House, where Dean serves as floor leader.
Vital, 56, said he plans to file his qualifying petition next week to run in the 10th Senate District Republican primary in August.
“I waited until Andy made his decision, looked at the map and decided to run for what will be an open seat newly created because of redistricting,” said Vital, who is president of Independent Healthcare Properties in Collegedale.
“Half the district is in Hamilton County and half is in Bradley County and I think I can do an excellent job, having been in both districts.”
The new 10th Senate district leans Republican and Vital said he can bring a fresh business perspective to the Legislature. He is a former executive for Life Care Centers of America in Cleveland who started building assisted living centers, nursing homes and other senior housing projects in 1986.
Greg Johnson has a different take on the Occupy Nashville protesters: They’re a greedy, selfish lot oppressing the homeless with the help of “union goons.”
The crowd that decried Gov. Bill Haslam’s efforts to keep Legislative Plaza safe and sanitary for the people in downtown Nashville who have to work for their food instead of having it donated to them are now bringing in union goons to police the area and issuing directives on how to dress, speak and behave.
….Occupiers want to decrease income inequality and, ultimately, they want the rich taxed more, which, ultimately, means redistributing resources from those who earned it to those who didn’t. Yet, when those with much, much less — the 0.5 percent — come to their camp for food, Occupiers line up and shout at them.
In just a few weeks, Occupy Nashville has implemented its own stratified society, created its own caste system that casts out the homeless. Occupiers want to take from the rich but refuse to give to the poorer. In Nashville, the Occupy movement proved selfish and entitled, the very values Occupiers supposedly disdain.
Far from egalitarian and inclusive, Occupiers want to get for themselves, which is greed defined.
State Financial Institutions Commissioner Greg Gonzales has made 14 out-of-state trips in the past 18 months, receiving about $14,000 in reimbursement for his travel expenses from a department budget financed by the businesses it regulates.
The trips, Gonzales says, are for keeping open lines of communication with other state banking regulators, federal officials and officials in the lending business.
“The more dialogue we can have in the industry, the better, I think,” he said in an interview. “Dialogue is just the key… given the complexity of the regulatory environment and the way it is changing.”
The commissioner, who has held the same position under both former Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen and current Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, also said that it is inappropriate to state – as the News Sentinel did in a recent overview of gubernatorial cabinet travel – that his trips are at taxpayer expense.
The Department of Financial Institutions develops a budget that is subject to approval of the governor and the General Assembly, as with the rest of state government. But unlike the others, the department then makes an “assessment” of state banks to cover the cost of oversight activities, including audits, during the year. Other regulated industries – credit unions and so-called “payday” lenders, for example – also pay fees intended to cover their share of regulating costs.
“We are self-funding,” he said of the department budget, which is about $8.5 million this year. “It’s not taxpayer dollars.”
But Dick Williams, chairman of Common Cause of Tennessee, both as to frequency – he wonders if there is duplication of information or “overlap in content value” at the various conferences – and the general nature of the arrangement.
“The fact that it’s not direct taxpayer monhy is kind of fungible,” he said. “Anything charge to a bank ultimately gets back to be charged to its customers. It’s not like it’s free money.”
“If state government is looking to a top-to-bottom review on expenses, they ought to look at regulatory fees, too, in addition to direct taxpayer money,” he said. “And maybe he ought to go visit some groups of consumers, too, not only the people who run the banks… to hear the other side of the story.”