Tag Archives: randy

TBI Seeks Source of Campfield Opinion Poll

After a conversation with Sen. Stacey Campfield, District Attorney General Randy Nichols said Wednesday he is asking the TBI to proceed with an investigation into whether state anti-harassment laws were violated by automated calls to voters asking their opinion of the senator.
Campfield told Nichols, according to interviews with both men, that he believes the calls were intended to make people mad at him and that a possible source of the calls was Ben Farmer, who owns Cyragon LLC, a political consulting company that has been paid $7,000 by the campaign of Richard Briggs, an announced opponent to Campfield in the 2014 Republican primary.
Briggs said he had nothing to do with the “robo poll” made late last month. Farmer has acted as a consultant to his campaign, he said.
Nichols said that preliminary inquires left it apparent that some people receiving the calls “felt they were harassed” and “we’re going to go a little deeper into it to see if we can determine who caused the calls to be made.”
Some people reported receiving repeated call backs – as many as 37 – and Campfield contends the calls appeared programmed to keep calling back the same number until the respondent gave an unfavorable opinion of Campfield.

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Ceremony Marks End to Coal Creek War of 1892

A peace treaty formally ending the infamous Coal Creek War of 1892, whick left 27 coal miners killed and more than 500 under arrest, was signed Friday in a ceremony on Vowell Mountain overlooking Lake City.
From the News Sentinel report:
The ceremony also recognized the site as the location of Fort Anderson, where Tennessee National Guardsmen fought a pitched battle with striking coal miners upset that the state had brought in convicts to work in their mines.
Trenches dug by guardsmen as battlements and protections from attacking coal miners are the only visible remnants of the fort.
The location, featuring nine markers describing that bloody chapter of Anderson County’s past, has been named to the National Register of Historic Places, said Barry Thacker, president of Coal Creek Watershed Foundation.
The nonprofit organization for 13 years has been working to improve the environment, living conditions and the education of residents of the isolated mountainous area, pockmarked by abandoned coal mines.
And Friday’s ceremony was another bid to acquaint students of tiny Briceville School with their area’s colorful past.
Thacker said the Coal Creek War was never officially ended, prompting Friday’s event.
“This is a really great way to involve young people in history,” said state Sen. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “We don’t spend enough time learning it and teaching it to young people.”
McNally, like other participants, wore a green bandana knotted around his neck in recognition of the occasion.
Striking miners wore such bandannas as a way to identify fellow members of their ragtag insurrection
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Senator’s Concerns Helped Sink UT’s Plan for $98M Investment

The University of Tennessee may have abandoned tens of millions of dollars over the next decade from a proposed partnership that it is no longer pursuing with a proton therapy center in West Knoxville because of legislative and financial challenges associated with it, reports the News Sentinel.
The proposal, which was strongly backed by key university officials, called for using the additional revenues generated to fund new academic and research programs and facilities that were considered a step toward becoming a top 25 public research institution, according to documents obtained by the News Sentinel through a public records request.
The university dropped its legislative efforts in March, a month after a bill was filed by Sens. Randy McNally and Doug Overbey, ending a two-year effort to affiliate itself with Provision Center for Proton Therapy, much like how the University of Florida has partnered with a proton therapy center in Jacksonville, Fla. (Note: The legislature’s website shows Overbey as prime sponsor of the bill, SB1194, with Rep. Ryan Haynes, R-Knoxville, as House sponsor. It has not been withdrawn, the website shows, but was never moved in the Senate and taken off notice in the House.)
… While the university was projected to receive a minimum total financial benefit of $80 million in 2023 that could reach more than $180 million, questions were raised about the financial risk to the university, and ultimately to the state of Tennessee, as well as uncertainty about lower reimbursement rates and effectiveness of the treatment.
Among those with concerns were McNally — chairman of the Senate Finance, Ways and Means Committee — and local health care officials.
“Even if it benefited the university, there were philosophical differences,” UT President Joe DiPietro said in an interview, noting that various people were sympathetic to McNally’s concern about using taxpayer dollars to benefit a private enterprise.
McNally worried the public-private partnership would put the university and state at too great of a risk and potentially compete with local health care providers. It also would set a precedent for other schools, while allowing the center to cherry pick the best patients with private insurance.
“I might be pessimistic when it comes to those projects, but the state would have taken a lot of risk through the university. We found that out with Hemlock. It has not performed like it had promised,” McNally said in an interview, referring to Hemlock Semiconductor in Clarksville that received some $130 million in state and local incentives and announced last month plans to lay off 300 of its 400 workers and shut down its facility.
“I can’t say that I’m right on this, but I felt it was a risk to the state that it didn’t need to be taking,” he added. “I couldn’t tell you with everything the return would justify the risk. It was something new the state hadn’t gotten into and would open itself up for others.”
Proton therapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses a beam of protons to more precisely irradiate tumors without harming surrounding tissue and reducing treatment-related side effects. Local businessman Terry Douglass has spearheaded the development of the proton therapy center currently under construction in Dowell Springs as part of a comprehensive clinical outpatient health care center.
… DiPietro said in the interview that McNally wasn’t the only person to express concern over the proposal, though he declined to say who the others were.
Douglass conveyed his frustration over the lack of progress to university officials in December, questioning why McNally’s “nonissues” took precedence over the benefits of the legislation.
“Why is it that one or two individuals can defeat something that is potentially so good for UT, our community and our state?” Douglass wrote in an email to DiPietro, Executive Vice President David Millhorn, lobbyist Anthony Haynes and Chancellor Jimmy Cheek. “I have been around long enough to know that when one door closes a better one opens. I just hate to see this door close for UT.”
… McNally brushed off any notion that he was the reason behind the university’s decision.
“It did concern me, but I’m one of 33 senators. I wouldn’t think that it was anything that I had to do with. I think it was a decision made by the university,” said McNally, who last year sponsored the original bill, which didn’t move forward.
McNally said he didn’t discuss the latest bill with its sponsors or any of his legislative peers, though he did talk with local health care officials, who questioned the university’s role in a business that also provided traditional radiation therapy services.
Covenant Health has been in a dispute with Provision over its radiation therapy center, which received a Certificate of Need in December 2011. Covenant declined to comment for this story, citing its ongoing appeal.
McNally works for Cardinal Health, which runs the pharmacy program at Methodist Medical Center, a Covenant Health hospital. McNally’s wife, Jan, retired as a Covenant executive in December.

Baptist Leader Sees More Harm Than Good in Wine Referendum Bill

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Opponents of a proposal to allow communities to hold referendums on whether to allow wine to be sold in grocery stores argued Monday that the votes could do more harm than good.
The Senate State and Local Government Committee heard from opponents and supporters during a nearly two-hour meeting. The measure would leave it to voters in cities and counties to decide whether to expand wine sales beyond liquor stores.
A full committee vote on Tuesday will decide whether the measure advances or fails for yet another year. While allowing wine sales in supermarkets and convenience stores enjoys strong public support, it is strongly opposed by the liquor industry, package stores and religious groups.
Randy Davis, executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Convention, told the panel that he fears putting the wine measure before voters would have consequences similar to a recent campaign over allowing liquor-by-the drink sales in Pigeon Forge.
“Right now Pigeon Forge is polarized, families torn apartment, friendships ruined, because in our small communities they are battling over this liquor-by-the drink issue,” he said. “And the same thing is going to happen.”
Davis said lawmakers should stop short of putting more liquor issues on the ballot on the basis of convenience.
“We don’t know where this idea of convenience is going to lead us, we don’t know what the next step is,” he said. “Others before you have not put it at the feet of the voters to have wine in liquor stores and I beg of you not to take it there.”
Republican Sen. Janice Bowling of Tullahoma, who declined to give her position on the bill after the meeting, told Davis that several issues will affect her decision.
“As a teetotaling Baptist myself, I can assure that my vote will not be based on convenience, it’s going to be based on Tennesseans and what I’m hearing from my constituents my district,” she said.

Governor Names Special Advisor on Higher Ed

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Randy Boyd will join his administration as special advisor to the governor for Higher Education to focus on affordability, access and quality of state programs.
Boyd will consult with a formal working group appointed by Haslam made up of the governor, executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (THEC), chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), and president of the University of Tennessee. Although Boyd’s position will be full-time, he will be working for the state on a voluntary, unpaid basis.

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Convicted Judge Seeks Reinstatement of State Pension

Just before the anniversary of one of Knoxville’s most horrific crimes, the judge who threw the case into legal chaos is now appealing the state’s move to rescind his pension, reports The News Sentinel.
“It burns me up, especially this coming upon the anniversary” of the Jan. 7, 2007, torture-slayings of Channon Christian, 21, and Christopher Newsom, 23, said state Sena. Randy McNally, a Republican whose district includes parts of Knox County as well as Anderson, Loudon and Monroe counties.
Former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner lost his pension after a jury in U.S. District Court convicted him in October of felony charges of misprision of a felony for his role in covering up a prescription painkiller conspiracy of which his mistress was a part.
His pension had been spared when, in March 2011, he pleaded guilty to a state charge of official misconduct for buying pills from a felon on probation in his court. He was granted a diversionary sentence that kept the charge off his record.
The entire case against him stemmed from a Tennessee Bureau of Investigation probe that showed Baumgartner had been committing a slew of crimes, including doctor shopping and using a graduate of the Drug Court program he helped found as his mistress and pill supplier, while presiding over trials including those of the four defendants in the Christian/Newsom case.
Revelations of those allegations and additional ones unearthed by a News Sentinel probe ultimately led to the granting of new trials for those four defendants. One, Vanessa Coleman, has already been retried. A judge is set to decide later this month if the remaining three suspects should be afforded new trials.

McNally: GOP Push for Repeal of Solar Tax Break May Be Renewed

A top state legislator in the solar tax debate tells the Nashville Business Journal that he’s awaiting an attorney general’s opinion on the matter, but acknowledged that Silicon Ranch’s application for state tax breaks “very well could” whet Republicans’ appetite for repeal.
On Thursday, the Nashville Business Journal reported that the company — run by top aides to former Gov. Phil Bredesen who helped pass the tax break — had applied for it in relation to eight projects.
State Sen. Randy McNally, the Oak Ridge Republican who last spring carried a bill to change the tax arrangement, said today the bill could come back to an invigorated debate in the 2013 legislative session. He made clear that his primary interest is whether Attorney General Bob Cooper will reaffirm a 1986 opinion that the state’s use of “pollution control” for taxation issues was unconstitutional.
“I think we’ll continue to look at that, and if it does come back that it’s constitutionally suspect or unconstitutional, consider bringing the legislation again to try and correct the problems,” he said.
In addition to the constitutional issues — raised by the office of Comptroller Justin Wilson — Republicans last year were eager to repeal the tax break. Some, including McNally, questioned whether solar investments deserved the tax break, and there was also suspicion that Matt Kisber, Bredesen’s economic development commissioner, and Reagan Farr, his revenue commissioner, had pushed the original tax break to later take advantage of it. They deny doing so, saying they were seeking to encourage an industry they believed key for the state
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Legislators Move Against Drugged Judge’s Pension

Two state legislators say former Knox County Criminal Court Judge Richard Baumgartner exploited a loophole in state law to collect a $58,800 annual pension and they want to close it.
Sen. Randy McNally and Rep. Bill Dunn have also asked officials for investigations into whether Baumgartner should face further charges and into whether the payments he authorized for defense attorneys in the 2007 Channon Christian-Christopher Newsom murder trials are valid.

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