By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam in his inaugural address on Saturday stressed themes of unity, educational improvement and job creation in what is sizing up a politically difficult second term.
Haslam in his 11-minute speech called on Tennesseans to join him in ensuring that he hands off the baton to the next governor with the state in a better position than when he started.
“The time is right for us to take longer strides, to run harder, to reach further and to gain more ground,” Haslam said. “To reach our full potential, we have to do it together.”
Haslam in November won re-election with 70 percent of the vote against nominal Democratic opposition, carrying all 95 counties in the process. But Haslam’s agenda faces strong challenges despite those lofty election results.
The governor has called a special legislative session starting on Feb. 2 to take up his proposal to extend health insurance to 200,000 low-income Tennesseans. The “Insure Tennessee” plan has strong support from hospital and business groups, but fellow Republicans are balking at the measure because it draws on money available under President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The governor has acknowledged that he will need the votes of all Democrats in the state House and Senate to give the proposal a chance of passing. Continue reading →
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Gov. Bill Haslam today was sworn in for his second four-year term as the 49th governor of Tennessee, addressing thousands of Inaugural attendees from across the state on War Memorial Plaza with the State Capitol serving as the backdrop.
“One thing I can guarantee you that we are not going to do in the next four years is coast to the finish line,” Haslam said. “The decisions that we make in the building behind me are too important; too important to the 6.5 million Tennesseans who are alive today and even more important for the generations that will follow us.”
The governor called on Tennesseans to work together to build on the state’s successes and momentum.
“It’s about all of us. The governor, legislators, state employees, teachers, parents, community leaders, business executives, health care professionals, faith leaders, and citizens of all kinds saying: ‘We are on the right path, but we can do better, and we must do better,’” he added.
“We can be a state government that treats its citizens like customers and gives full value for every tax dollar that is paid. Tennessee can be the very best location in the southeast for high quality jobs. Most importantly, we can make sure that we get education right. There is nothing more important for us to do.” Continue reading →
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann and his wife, Brenda, contributed a combined $605 to President Barack Obama’s inaugural committee, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Political observers may find the donations unusual because the Ooltewah Republican supported Mitt Romney and generally lines up against Obama whenever possible.
Records show Fleischmann was the only Tennessean in Congress to give at least $200 to the president’s second-term kickoff. Even the Volunteer State’s two congressional Democrats aren’t listed in the report naming inaugural donors, who gave more than $43 million.
Fleischmann contributed $300 and his wife donated $305. It’s possible that other Volunteer State lawmakers pitched in. People who gave $200 or less did not have contributions documented and itemized in Federal Election Commission records.
A Fleischmann aide acknowledged the donations Tuesday in a statement to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
“Congressman Fleischmann’s record shows that he fervently opposes the President at practically every turn,” Fleischmann spokesman Tyler Threadgill said in a written statement. “However, in the spirit of democracy he and his wife did attend a bipartisan event as part of the inaugural ceremonies.”
Threadgill said Fleischmann’s contributions covered the cost of two tickets for an official inauguration event. He said he didn’t know specifics beyond that.
The text of Sen. Lamar Alexander’s remarks during inauguration ceremonies for President Barack Obama, as provided by his office:
“The late Alex Haley, the author of Roots, lived his life by these six words: Find the Good and Praise It. “Today we praise the American tradition of transferring or reaffirming immense power as we inaugurate the President of the United States.
“We do this in a peaceful, orderly way.
“There is no mob, no coup, no insurrection.
“This is a moment when millions stop and watch.
“A moment most of us always will remember.
“A moment that is the most conspicuous and enduring symbol of our democracy.
“How remarkable that this has survived for so long in such a complex country with so much power at stake–this freedom to vote for our leaders and the restraint to respect the results.
“Last year, a tour guide at Mt. Vernon told me that our first president, George Washington, posed this question: ‘What is most important of this grand experiment, the United States?’
“And then Washington gave this answer: ‘Not the election of the first president, but the election of its second president. The peaceful transition of power is what will separate this country from every other country in the world.’
“Today we celebrate, because this is the 57th inauguration of the American President.
“Find the Good and Praise It.
“Now, it is my honor to introduce Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Sonia Sotomayor, who will administer the oath of office to the Vice President.
“Everyone please stand.”
On inauguration day in Washington, Sen. Lamar Alexander will be spending a lot of time with President Barack Obama, reports Michael Collins. The Maryville Republican and a handful of other Congress members will begin inauguration day by sharing morning coffee with Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the White House. Afterward, they’ll ride in the presidential motorcade to the U.S. Capitol, where the president and vice president will be sworn in for a second term and Obama will deliver his inaugural address.
Before Obama speaks, however, Alexander will take to the podium, look out on the National Mall and address the million or so spectators himself. His will be just a two-minute speech, but the whole world will be watching, so he wants to make sure he chooses exactly the right words for such a significant and historic event.
“It’s an important two minutes to me,” Alexander said. “This is a rare moment in American history, and I want to use the time well. This tradition we have of the peaceful transfer or reaffirmation of immense power is extraordinary.”
Alexander landed a speaking slot at the swearing-in ceremony Jan. 21 and an important supporting role in other inauguration activities because he is on the congressional committee that has been planning the events.
Alexander and other members of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies are in charge of the swearing-in, which will take place on the Capitol’s West Front, and a luncheon that will follow immediately afterward in the Capitol’s stately Statuary Hall. The inaugural parade, balls and other activities are handled by a separate group, the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
Many of the day’s events are dictated by tradition. The congressional inaugural committee’s job is to see that those traditions are carried out again this year and to avoid the problems that have marred previous inaugurals, like four years ago when thousands of ticket holders were left waiting in a tunnel to the National Mall and missed the ceremonies.
“We want to try to make sure we avoid those sorts of problems,” Alexander said.
State Rep. Joe Armstrong, D-Knoxville, already has taken the oath of office as president of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators although he doesn’t begin duties until Feb. 1, reports Georgiana Vines. The group had its annual conference the first week of December in Washington, D.C., when he was sworn in, Armstrong said.
“It was the same week we met with President (Barack) Obama,” he said on Friday. Caucus representatives, including Armstrong, met with the president on ramifications of the “fiscal cliff.”
Obama was a member of the caucus when he was a state senator in Illinois in 1997-2004 before being elected to the U.S. Senate.
Armstrong said there’s a delay in being president until the organization’s financial books close this month and the 401(c)(3) organization is audited in January.
Armstrong said he has been invited in his leadership role to Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21 and plans to attend. He also went in 2009.
Sen. Lamar Alexander and others engaged in a round of reminiscence Monday of events leading up to his early inauguration as governor on Jan. 17, 1979. From The Tennessean’s report: “I was in a pickle,” Alexander said. “A high-class pickle.”
That pickle, which eventually led to the decision to swear Alexander in later that day, was revisited Monday evening by a distinguished panel of the day’s key figures more than 30 years later at Vanderbilt University.
The panel was tied to an exhibit at Vanderbilt that included the pre-Senate papers Alexander donated to his alma mater. Alexander, now a U.S. senator, was joined by Hardin, former U.S. Sen. Fred Thompson, Tennessee Supreme Court Justice William Koch and others as they shared their sometimes balky memories of the dramatic early swearing-in of the state’s fourth Republican governor.
The panelists, helped along by former Tennessean editor and publisher John Seigenthaler, recalled the uncertainty leading to the early swearing-in.
Georgina Vines has collected some observations and comments on the inauguration of Madeline Rogero as mayor of Knoxville. A sampler:
Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero talked about “What makes agreat city” in her inaugural address, recognizing the city’s nationallyacclaimed authors and choosing lines from a contemporary figure to make a point.
…Among a city’s attributes is its creative spirit, she said. She mentioned James Agee’s writing that has kept the Fort Sanders community alive as has Cormac McCarthy’s descriptions of Happy Hollow. Poet Nikki Giovanni’s work describes the summers of her youth. Then she borrowed from R.B. Morris’ present-day words put to music: “Then — there is a city. Lifted up. There is sequence to unfold. Then, there is a city.”
…”It reminds me of when Harold Washington was elected mayor of Chicago,” Sylvia Peters said afterward. She’s a former Chicago educator who came to Knoxville 20 years ago to help form the Edison Project, now known as EdisonLearning Inc., for managing public schools. Washington was Chicago’s first black mayor.
Peters said first there was the selection of Councilman Daniel Brown, who is black, as interim mayor when Bill Haslam resigned after being elected governor. Then Rogero was elected.
“This is a great harbinger of things to come for Knoxville. My heart is open today,” Peters said.
…(Gov. Bill) Haslam made brief remarks, telling Rogero and four new City Council members there will be times when they wonder why they wanted the jobs.
“We think you’re off to a good start,” Haslam told Rogero. Then he offered her “three quick tips:”
Be the mayor.
From the AP:
Here is a list of the businesses and political action committees that donated the maximum $7,500 to Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s inauguration last month:
21st Mortgage Corp., Knoxville, Tenn.
AGL Resources Inc., Atlanta, Ga.
Allergan USA Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn.
Altria Client Services Inc., Alpharetta, Ga.
Ameresco Inc., Framingham, Mass.
American Promotional Events, Florence, Ala.
Amerigroup Corp., Virginia Beach, Va.
AMSURG, Nashville, Tenn.
Anderson Press, Atlanta, Ga.
AT&T Corp., St. Louis, Mo.
Averitt Express, Cookeville, Tenn.
Ayers Asset Management Inc., Parsons, Tenn.