Tag Archives: press

Cooper Hires Chattanooga TFP’s Washington Reporter

News release from Congressman Jim Cooper:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Jim Cooper (TN-05) announced three new additions to his Washington office.
Chris Carroll, a Tennessee native and most recently the Washington correspondent for the Chattanooga Times Free Press, will join as Cooper’s new press secretary on August 5. At the Times Free Press, Carroll reopened the Capital Hill bureau and won several awards for his reporting. He is a graduate of East Tennessee State University’s Honors Program.
Carroll replaces Katie Hill, who has taken a job as communications director for former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords’ organization, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
Cooper also announced the addition of a new staff assistant, Vic Goetz, a Nashville native and former intern, who graduated from Bucknell earlier this year. Goetz replaces another Nashville native, Kathleen Ambrose, who joined the staff of Rep. Mike McIntyre (NC-7) this spring.
Cooper is also pleased to welcome a new health care legislative fellow, Paul Shorkey. Shorkey is a Rhodes Scholar and current candidate for M.Sci. in Global Health Science at the University of Oxford with a focus on U.S. health policy and health systems. He also holds a M.Sc. in Neuroscience from the University of Oxford and is a Morehead-Cain graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Shorkey will work with Cooper on health care issues until the end of the year.
Shorkey succeeds Ruth McDonald, Cooper’s health care legislative aide, who will begin graduate school this fall.

Corker’s PR on Border Security Amendment

News release from Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON – In remarks on the Senate floor today, Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., commented on an amendment he co-authored with Senator John Hoeven, D-N.D., to bolster security on the nation’s southern border as part of the immigration bill now being considered by the Senate.
“Some people have described this [amendment] as a border surge…[W]e are investing resources and securing our border [in ways] that have never been [done] before: doubling the border patrol, $3.2 billion worth of the technology that we took from the chief of the border patrol, the technology that he needs to have 100 percent awareness and to secure our border, dealing with the [entry]/exit program, dealing with e-verify so that all of these things are in place,” Corker said on the Senate floor.
“I do think the American people have asked us if we pass an immigration bill off the Senate floor to do everything that we can to ensure that we have secured the border. That’s what people in Tennessee have asked for…I think that’s what this amendment does,” Corker added. “I want to thank all involved in crafting an amendment that I think tries to deal with the sensibilities on both sides and at the same time secure our border in such a way that we can put this issue mostly behind us and we can have an immigration system in our country that meets the needs of a growing economy – the biggest economy in the world – that focuses on making our country stronger, not weaker, and hopefully will put this debate behind us.”

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ACLU, Animal Protection Groups, Press Hail Haslam’s ‘Ag Gag’ Veto

Here’s a collection of statements to media from various groups on Gov. Bill Haslam’s veto of a bill requiring anyone making a photo or video of livestock abuse to turn it over to law enforcement authorities within 24 hours.
News release from Humane Society of the United States:
(May 13, 2013) NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Haslam vetoed the anti-whistleblower “ag-gag” bill, SB 1248/HB 1191, after hearing from thousands of Tennesseans urging the veto and a report deeming the bill constitutionally suspect by the Tennessee Attorney General.
Animal protection groups, First Amendment advocates and newspaper editorial boards across Tennessee opposed the bill, which would criminalize undercover investigations at agribusiness operations and stables. More than 300 Tennessee clergy also spoke out against the bill, as did several Tennessee celebrities, including Priscilla Presley, singers Carrie Underwood and Emmylou Harris, and Miss Tennessee USA 2013. The bill also received national criticism from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who invited Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, on her show to discuss the issue.
Leighann McCollum, Tennessee state director for The HSUS, said: “We thank Gov. Haslam for listening to his constituents and honoring the Constitution by vetoing this recklessly irresponsible legislation that would criminalize the important work of cruelty whistleblowers. By vetoing this bill, the governor is supporting transparency in horse stables and our food system.”

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Chattanooga Times-Free Press Going to ‘Metered Paywall’

The Chattanooga Times Free Press will start charging to read the newspaper online next week for those who don’t subscribe to the print edition.
From the newspaper:
The system will be a metered paywall, where readers will be allowed a number of free articles per month before having to pay. Breaking news stories, under the website’s “latest news” section, will remain free. Video and Associated Press stories also will be available on the Times Free Press website free of charge.
Jason Taylor, president of the Times Free Press, said metered access will help the newspaper cover the costs of maintaining the region’s biggest newsgathering team. The other major daily newspapers in Tennessee either already have moved or are moving this year to charge for their online content.
“We’re the market leader for information, but the content we produce is very expensive and we want to price that in a way that makes sense and reflects the value of what we offer,” Taylor said. “As much as we’ve been able to grow our print and online circulation, we also need to show solidarity with the industry as it moves toward charging for online content.”

Partisan Views on Rep. Gloria Johnson, D-Knoxville

Any thought that Rep. Gloria Johnson might not be top target for the state Republican party next year — and that the Democratic party will defend her — is surely eliminated by the following two post-session press releases,
First came this from the Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.–As lawmakers return home following the conclusion of the legislative session, Tennesseans are reviewing the public record of their lawmakers and some of what they are finding is embarrassing.
Take, for instance, the record of Representative Gloria Johnson (D–Knoxville).
In a short four-month period as a legislator, Rep. Johnson:
•Spent the last four months harassing and opposing Governor Bill Haslam’s common sense reform agenda for education and spending.
•Voted against a bill that protects doctors who provide free medical care to low-income patients who need urgent attention.
•Filed a self-serving bill she would personally benefit from.
•Supported the implementation of ObamaCare in Tennessee.
•Voted to strip worker’s rights protections from Tennessee law.
•Stood against Knox County teachers having the ability to protect students.
•Chose to not record a vote on a ban of the state income tax that would protect Tennessee families from having more of their hard-earned money taken by government.
•Voted against a balanced state budget that meets the needs of our state and cuts taxes for all Tennesseans.
•Voted against cutting the sales tax on groceries for all Tennesseans.
•Voted against phasing out the death tax to save Tennessee families and farms from being double-taxed on their assets.
•Voted against an initiative to find and remove examples of government waste.
Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney made the following statement about Rep. Johnson’s legislative performance.
“Representative Johnson was sent to Nashville to represent her constituents and this dismal performance was anything but that. It is troubling to see that her priorities were not carrying and passing good legislation, but rather being focused on updating her social media accounts with personal attacks on our leaders. Tennesseans hold their elected officials to a higher standard and expect them to work tirelessly on their behalf. Instead, she put petty personal politics above what’s best for Tennessee.”
He concluded, “I look forward to talking about Gloria Johnson’s embarrassing track record with her constituents over the next year and a half.”

Then, this from the Tennessee Democratic party:

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Some Press Releases on Haslam’s Medicaid Expansion Announcement

From the House and Senate Democratic Caucuses:
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Halsam promised a decision on expanding Medicaid today, but instead delivered a “no” dressed up as a year of delayed action and indecision.
“We expected clarity today on Medicaid, but all we got was confusion,” Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Sen. Lowe Finney said. “Our rural hospitals and the uninsured will be the ones to suffer.”
The governor gave a definitive “no” on expanding Medicaid. He instead pitched a so-called “Tennessee plan,” but it’s unclear whether the plan will work. Meanwhile, federal payments to hospitals for uncompensated care will end Jan. 1.
“This is a time when the people of Tennessee need clear, precise and bold leadership, and Governor Haslam offered none of that today,” House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Turner said. “It’s a failure of our moral obligation to protect the health and welfare of the most vulnerable among us. It’s a failure that will be paid with the lives of the working poor in our state – this is quite simply shameful.”
According to the Tennessee Hospital Association, the projected statewide job loss without the Medicaid expansion will be 90,000 jobs. In addition, they estimate that there will be an economic loss to the state of nearly $13 billion.
“I truly believed that the governor was going to use this opportunity to show real leadership,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh said. “Instead we’ve seen more of the hand-wringing and delayed action that we’ve become accustomed to. Lives will be lost while we wait for a real decision.”
Hospital administrators, health care advocates, chambers of commerce, mayors of cities both big and small, and many others have implored the governor over the past year to expand Medicaid.
“The governor made this decision in a vacuum without consulting leaders from either party,” Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle said. “We’ve heard from a broad coalition of groups who will suffer if we don’t expand Medicaid, and apparently their concerns fell on deaf ears.
“It matters who governs.”

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Bill Requires Newspapers to Publish Legal Notices Online (as well as in print)

The Senate has approved, 31-1, legislation that will require newspapers to post public notices on their websites as well as in their print editions with no extra charge starting in April, 2014.
The bill (SB461) faces a House floor vote next week after clearing committees without a dissenting vote. It is sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, and supported by the Tennessee Press Association.
In Senate floor debate, Yager noted there has been debate in the past about having public notices posted online on government websites rather than in newspapers with valid arguments on both sides. He said the legislation “tries to take the best of both and combine them into a bill that will preserve independence by allowing someone other than the government to disseminate notices.”
Besides requiring the notices be posted on newspaper websites, the measure also requires each newspaper provide a link to a website where such notices from newspapers statewide will be available. The Tennessee Press Association anticipates operating such a website.
The sole vote against the bill came from Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, who said he views the measure as “excluding everyone else who is not a Tennessee newspaper” from publishing public notices.

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AP Story on ‘Don’t Say Gay,’ 2013 Edition

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A bill that proposes forcing schools to tell parents if their children have talked to a teacher or counselor about being gay has set the stage for a new fight over social issues in the Tennessee Legislature.
Opponents call the legislation unnecessary and an inappropriate government intrusion in family matters.
The measure, filed Tuesday by state Sen. Stacey Campfield, is already drawing attention. The Knoxville Republican was mocked by talk show host Jay Leno last week, and he made headlines in 2011 when his legislation — often called the “Don’t Say Gay” bill — to ban classroom instruction or discussion of homosexuality passed the Senate. The companion bill failed in the House last year.
Campfield’s new legislation is a retooling of that bill. Like the previous measure, it would prohibit classroom discussion of anything other than natural reproduction, and it goes further by giving schools the authority to inform parents about children who talk to school officials about their sexuality.

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AP Profiles ‘Pragmatic and Peripatetic’ Bob Corker and His New ‘Outsized Role’

By Donna Cassata, Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Republican Sen. Bob Corker is spending a lot of time lately talking to Democrats.
The freshman lawmaker from Tennessee unveiled his own 10-year, $4.5 trillion solution for averting the end-of-year, double economic hit of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts and then spoke briefly last week with Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. Deficit-cutting maven Erskine Bowles had forwarded Corker’s proposal to White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew.
Corker also was on the phone with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton for a 15-minute conversation about Libya and other issues. Not only is Corker a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, he is poised to become the panel’s top Republican next year, with a major say on President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Clinton — possibly the divisive pick of U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice — and other diplomatic nominees.
Pragmatic and peripatetic, the conservative Corker has been deeply involved in negotiations on the auto bailout and financial regulations during his six years in the Senate, bringing the perspective of a multimillionaire businessman and a former mayor of Chattanooga to talks with Democrats and the White House.
“I don’t see him as a partisan,” said Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, another multimillionaire businessman who has worked closely with Corker on banking and housing issues. “I think he’s somebody who’s willing to work with anybody who he thinks has a good idea.”
Next year, in the Senate’s new world order of a smaller Republican minority, the 60-year-old Corker is certain to play an outsized role, not only because of his high-profile standing on the Foreign Relations panel but because he is willing to work across the aisle in his eagerness to get something done. It is something of a rare trait in the bitterly divided Congress and one that often draws an angry response from the conservative base of the GOP.
It didn’t affect Corker politically. He scored a resounding win last month, cruising to re-election with 65 percent of the vote.
“I can count. I went to public schools in Tennessee and learned that to pass a bill it takes 60 votes and I know we have 45 going into next year,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press. “I came up here to solve problems, not to score political points, and yes, it was rewarding that after throwing ourselves into the most controversial issues there were and trying to solve things pragmatically we ended up in the place where we were in this last race.
“I’m more energized than I’ve ever been,” he continued. “The last two years of my first term were like watching paint dry because nothing was occurring and it was fairly discouraging and one has to ask oneself is this worth a grown man’s time.”
There were some doubts whether Corker, who made a fortune in real estate and had promised to only serve two terms, wanted to come back for more of a Congress riven by dysfunction and partisanship.
“At times I wondered if he would really run again,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, who has known the senator for decades ever since Haslam’s older brother, Jimmy, the new owner of the Cleveland Browns football team, roomed with Corker at the University of Tennessee. “It kind of frustrates him, admirably so, when people aren’t focused on problem solving.”
Tom Ingram, a political consultant who has worked on Corker’s campaigns, said the senator deliberated on whether to run again. “He had to convince himself it was something worth doing before he did it,” Ingram said.
So Corker is back, with a black notebook that he grabs every morning to jot down problems and what he’d like to accomplish in a Senate where Democrats have strengthened their majority to 55-45, from 53-47.
On avoiding the so-called “fiscal cliff,” his 242-page bill challenges both Democrats and Republicans. Corker calls for a mix of tax increases and limits on Medicare and Social Security benefits. He would raise the Medicare eligibility age incrementally to 67 by 2027 and require wealthier retirees to pay higher premiums.
Although he would make all the Bush-era tax rates permanent, Corker wants to cap itemized tax deductions at $50,000, which would affect high-income taxpayers.
Corker recognizes that a final deal will be hammered out between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, but hopes his ideas earn some consideration.
A member of the Foreign Relations Committee since 2007, Corker has been frustrated with a committee that hasn’t produced an authorization bill in years and has become something of a backwater since its heyday of the 1960s and ’70s. His goal is to make the panel more relevant, and he wants to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all foreign assistance and spending by the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development.
High on the list for the panel early next year will be nominations, including Obama’s choice for secretary of state and possibly U.N. ambassador.
For all of Republican Sen. John McCain’s recent bluster about Rice and her initial, much-maligned account after the deadly Sept. 11 raid on the U.S. diplomatic mission in Libya, it is Corker who will render his judgment and provide a crucial vote on her prospects. Corker has described Rice as more of a political operative but has avoided saying definitively where he stands on the potential nominee.
While other Republicans criticized Rice after her comments based on talking points prepared by intelligence officials, Corker traveled to Libya the first week of October to meet with officials there and learn more about what happened. The senator has traveled to 48 countries since he joined the committee.
“He’s viewed as conservative, but he’s independent,” said former Republican Gov. Don Sundquist.
After being appointed state finance commissioner by Sundquist, it was Corker who brought together various factions and helped Tennessee lure the Houston Oilers to the state. To complete the deal, Sundquist had to work with Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen, a Democrat he had just defeated in the gubernatorial race.
Corker was like a child trying to make peace between warring parents. It paid off with the arrival of the Tennessee Titans in 1997.
One of Corker’s first jobs was good training for moving immovable objects, whether home-state politicians or members of the Senate. In college, Jimmy Haslam and Corker had a small business doing odd jobs, including removing tree stumps.
“I always give them both a hard time that the biggest thing they removed was the axle from two or three trucks that they ripped out trying to get the stumps out,” said Gov. Bill Haslam. “They were better at axle removal.”

Free Press Endorses Gary Johnson for President

In the third break with tradition for major Tennessee newspapers this election season, the Free Press side of the Chattanooga Times-Free Press is not endorsing the Republican nominee for president. Instead, the newspaper is editorially endorsing Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee who is on Tennessee’s ballot as an independent.
The News-Free Press maintained separate editorial boards after the Chattanooga Times and the Chattanooga News-Free Press combined a few years ago. The Free Press is traditionally conservative, the Times more liberal.
Earlier, the Tennessean, which traditionally has always endorsed Democrats for president, endorsed Romney in 2012. And the News Sentinel, which has varied its partisan preference for president over the years, decided not to endorse anyone this year.
Excerpt from the Free Press editorial:
This election, however, the Republican Party nominee has failed to demonstrate a consistent commitment to conservative principles. As a result of his failure to provide clear methods for reducing the size and scope of the federal government, unwillingness to address structural flaws with entitlement programs, reliance on government to intervene in issues best left to families and individuals, and sporadic support of the Constitution and America’s founding principles, Mitt Romney is too flawed to earn the Free Press’ endorsement.
Romney may be less eager to tax, spend, attack personal freedoms and disregard the constitutional limits on government than his Democratic opponent, President Barack Obama, but only slightly.
To the extent that Romney offers an alternative to Obama, the difference is in degree, not in kind.
As a result, the Free Press editorial page endorses Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson for President of the United States.
Johnson, a former two-term governor of New Mexico, has more administrative experience than Romney, who served just a single term as Massachusetts governor.
While serving as governor, Johnson slashed New Mexico’s gas tax, fought to reduce the state’s income tax and championed school choice. Romney, on the other hand, implemented a myriad of new fees on Massachusetts taxpayers and famously enacted a compulsory health insurance scheme which became the framework for Obamacare.
Unlike Obama, Johnson understands that government spending, unsustainable bailouts and stimulus schemes only lead to more unemployment, a higher national debt, a weakened dollar and a less stable economy.
Johnson’s platform includes presenting a balanced budget to Congress every year he’s in office, completely overhauling America’s ridiculous federal tax structure, and fundamentally restructuring entitlement programs to allow Americans more choice in health care and a greater opportunity to retire with dignity.