Investigations into severe child abuse were left incomplete and failed to address the complicated needs of families, according to a new report by experts tasked with examining the “worst incidents of child abuse in Tennessee,” according to the Tennessean.
The Second Look Commission’s 2012 annual report recommends more training for child abuse investigators, including Department of Children’s Services caseworkers, mental health providers and police.
And those professionals must communicate better to close “gaping holes” in the child welfare system, which still misses opportunities to protect kids, including in cases in which abusive families are already known to officials, the report says.
“The SLC determined there are significant problems with the manner in which severe child abuse cases are being handled in Tennessee,” the report states. “It will take a concerted and sustained effort to peel away the many layers of this complex issue to get to the core.”
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — In the months following his first legislative session, freshman Gov. Bill Haslam frequently boasted in speeches about earning unanimous approval of his budget plan and a near perfect record with his legislative agenda.
The Republican’s sophomore effort wasn’t as much of a slam dunk.
Haslam’s $31 billion spending plan went to a conference committee for the first time since the income tax fights of more than a decade ago, and 29 lawmakers voted against the final version. The governor nevertheless declared himself pleased with the results.
“In the end, we’re very grateful that such a larger percentage of our agenda was approved, including the budget, which obviously is one of the biggest things we do,” Haslam told reporters after a groundbreaking ceremony at Middle Tennessee State University least week.
(Note: Of the 55 bills in the Haslam legislative package introduced at the outset of this year’s session, 45 were passed.)
Early in the session, Haslam had to abandon an effort to lift a cap on average classroom sizes after educators and parents expressed fears about growing teacher-to-student ratios.
His effort to seal records used to decide which private companies receive cash grants from the state stalled over concerns about keeping the identities of individuals receiving taxpayer money secret.
By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee state troopers for the second straight night arrested Wall Street protesters for defying a new nighttime curfew imposed by Republican Gov. Bill Haslam in an effort to disband an encampment near the state Capitol.
And for a second time, a Nashville night judge dismissed the protesters’ arrest warrants.
The Tennessean newspaper reported early Saturday morning (http://tnne.ws/vE2PXN) that Magistrate Tom Nelson told troopers delivering the protesters to jail that he could “find no authority anywhere for anyone to authorize a curfew anywhere on Legislative Plaza.”
Occupy Nashville protesters — including many of the 29 arrested in a pre-dawn raid on Friday — returned to the Legislative Plaza that evening and remained through the 10 p.m. curfew.
“To see it from the other side is even more infuriating,” said Chip Allen, one of the protesters arrested in the first raid. “When you’re in it, it’s almost surreal. This takes on a whole ‘nother flavor.”
Tennessee had the second-lowest voter turnout rate in the nation in last November’s congressional election, according to a U.S. Census Bureau survey released Wednesday and reported by The Tennessean.
Just 37.7 percent of Tennessee citizens over 18 voted. Only Texas, with 36.4 percent, had a lower rate.
Last year’s state rate is also the lowest in a congressional election since 1998. More than 45 percent of Tennesseans voted in 2006 and 2002.
The figures are estimates taken from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.
Bruce Oppenheimer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University, says the state’s low 2010 turnout can be explained by a lack of high-profile, closely contested races.
“We had a very noncompetitive gubernatorial race, and we didn’t have a U.S. Senate race last year, so we were largely depending on the middle of the ticket to drive interest for the top of the ticket, and that doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
Oppenheimer said races were competitive in just two congressional districts — the 4th District represented by Rep. Scott DesJarlais and the 8th District represented by Rep. Stephen Fincher.
Census Bureau surveys dating back to 1990 show Tennessee has consistently ranked lower than most states in congressional election turnout. It has numbered among the bottom 15 in all but the 2002 election.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Highway Patrol has finished second in the 2011 National Law Enforcement Challenge.
It was based on traffic safety enforcement, officer training, public information and crash reduction.
The THP finished third in 2009 and 2010, and first in 2006.
This year it competed in the state police/highway patrol category for agencies with 501 to 1,000 officers. The competition was sponsored by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Gun enthusiasts are angry and threatening political reprisals against Republican state lawmakers for failing to expand Second Amendment rights in the first year of the party’s large majority in the legislature, reports Jeff Woods.
After helping the GOP gain power in last year’s elections, activists are complaining that they’ve gotten the cold shoulder in Nashville this year, dashing their dreams of an unchallenged dominion in the legislature.
John Harris, director of the influential Tennessee Firearms Association, painted Republicans as ingrates and accused them of treating gun proponents as “the unwanted stepchildren” of Tennessee politics.
He denounced some Republicans as “spineless.” Likening the legislature to a garden badly in need of weeding, he suggested supporters should recruit challengers for these lawmakers in the 2012 elections.