Barack Obama will visit Chattanooga on Tuesday for the first time as president to pitch his vision of helping expand middle-class jobs, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Obama will tour the 1 million-square-foot distribution center Amazon opened in the Enterprise Industrial Park two years ago. The fulfillment center in Chattanooga employs 1,800 full-time workers and is among five facilities Amazon has built in Tennessee since 2011 that collectively have added more than 5,000 full-time and seasonal jobs in the Volunteer State — the biggest job addition in the state by a private company in the past decade.
Obama will use the Amazon expansion to help highlight what he says is an improving economy but one that needs to do more to help boost the middle class.
In a speech Wednesday in Galesburg, Ill., Obama cast himself as the champion for middle-class Americans struggling to make ends meet. He chided Washington for having “taken its eye off the ball” and declared that the economy would be the “highest priority” of his second term.
White House officials said Tuesday’s speech will focus on manufacturing and high wage jobs for durable economic growth. The president is expected to promote his budget proposals to jumpstart private sector jobs with more infrastructure and education spending in the federal budget.
But Republicans object to what they see as too many government regulations and too much deficit spending by the Obama administration, which they say has failed to restore the U.S. economy. Nearly three years after the end of the Great Recession, the U.S. unemployment rate remains at a stubbornly high 7.6 percent.
“President Obama has presided over the worst economic recovery since the Great Depression, so a visit to a right-to-work state like Tennessee to learn a thing or two in how to get things done should be expected,” Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney said. “Thanks to Republicans, we’ve cut taxes, balanced our budget, and have the lowest debt of any state in the union.”
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The nation’s new energy secretary said Monday that a breach in security at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant was unacceptable and he’s taking steps to make sure it isn’t compromised again.
Ernest Moniz, who was sworn in last month, made the Oak Ridge National Laboratory his first official trip in office. Later in the day he planned to visit the Y-12 National Security Complex, which was broken into by a nun and two other protesters last year.
“Clearly this was an unacceptable breach of security,” Moniz told reporters after a brief tour of the lab’s $1.4 billion Spallation Neutron Source facility.
“With or without the Y-12 incident, safety and security are essential core elements of our mission. I’m in discussion in the department, in the administration and in the Congress right now, talking about how we will move forward on some organizational changes.”
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s first visit to Oak Ridge was short and busy, but he still came away impressed, according to Frank Munger. Cantor was keynote speaker Thursday at the Tennessee Valley Corridor Summit, offering his views on budget battles in Washington, taking a few light jabs at the White House and showing he’d done a little research on Oak Ridge before he arrived and went straight to the stage.
“From the beginning, I know that Oak Ridge has been one of America’s strongest forces for peace,” Cantor said, referencing the Atomic City’s role in the World War II Manhattan Project.
The Virginia Republican tied the early atomic work on weapons, which ultimately were used to “help break the back of the Soviet Union” in the Cold War, to Oak Ridge’s pioneering role in producing radioisotopes for cancer therapies, which he called proof “of the serendipity of science.”
He said these were “amazing feats” and a source of inspiration and innovation.
Cantor said there’s a lot of discussion in Washington these days about the proper role of the federal government, and he said it is “appropriate and desirable” for federal policy to serve as a catalyst for the discoveries that take place at the facilities in Oak Ridge.
“The job in Washington is to encourage the innovation,” he said. “It is not to allow gridlock to stand in the way.”
Following his remarks, Cantor got a 25-minute tour of the Y-12 National Security Complex.
He fielded a few questions from the news media, and then was whisked away to speak at a $500-a-plate fundraiser for his host, U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.
— Note: See also the Chattanooga Times-Free Press report, HERE.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Queen Elizabeth’s youngest son, Prince Edward, visited Tennessee on Thursday to promote one of the British royal family’s charities, the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award.
The prince presided over an awards ceremony at the governor’s mansion for the first batch of young Tennesseans to participate in the leadership and character program.
“Most of you are — how should I put this — guinea pigs? The first ones to go through the award,” the prince said. “So you’re leading the way here.”
About 80 youths received the award by participating in community service, skills development, physical fitness and adventurous journeys through the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, LEAD Academy, Montgomery Bell Academy or the Miss Tennessee Scholarship Organization.
The Duke of Edinburgh’s Award is a self-development program for people between the ages of 14 and 25 that aims to instill confidence and skills. More than 8 million people in more than 140 countries have participated since it was founded in 1956 by the queen’s husband, Prince Philip.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Michelle Obama will be the guest speaker at a Nashville public school’s graduation exercise next month.
The Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools announced Thursday that the first lady will address the graduating class at Martin Luther King Jr. Academic Magnet School on May 18.
Principal Schunn Turner made the announcement to students Thursday morning and the first lady announced her plans in a video played for the school.
There are no public tickets for the event.
The high school has nearly 1,200 students in grades 7 through 12 with a curriculum that emphasizes mathematics and science.
State Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has visited all 136 Tennessee school districts and now has a goal of visiting 10,000 teachers in settings where they can ask questions, reports The Tennessean. And he has reorganized the education department’s regional offices into a school district support network instead of eight offices that tell districts whether they’re complying with state policy. “I’ve become obsessed with how do you spread the best practices on the ground?” Huffman said.
…He constantly sees districts of the same size with the same issues and same amount of money, but one will have a better academic record than the other.
“People are reinventing the wheel; the connection (communication between the districts) has to be made,” he said.
About three months ago, Huffman reorganized the eight regional offices and hired new leaders who meet once a week to help districts meet their goals.
Their evaluations will be based on whether the districts in their region have met academic goals, so they have a vested interest in helping as much as possible, Huffman said.
“Historically, they focused on compliance and would go and make sure the rules were followed and the paperwork was done,” Huffman added. “People often incentivize the wrong actions. We’re trying to get into the support business.”
He thinks districts will react favorably to the plan because of the gratitude they showed during his visits.
In some districts, Huffman would be surprised when he walked through a door to find 100 or more community members ready to ask questions. In other districts, it was top central office administrators and principals.
“Tennessee is still one of those places where shaking a hand and looking people in the eyes is important,” he said.
Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson came to Nashville to ensure he made the state’s ballot as an independent presidential candidate in November, including meeting one requirement that candidates sign every nominating petition his campaign submitted.
More from the Tennessean report: Later in the day, his campaign was also getting additional petitioners to nominate him after more than half of the people who tried to nominate the former New Mexico governor were considered invalid by state election officials.
Jim Tomasik, the state director for Johnson’s campaign, said he picked up Johnson himself from the airport Wednesday morning so he could meet an obscure part of state code and sign each petition to qualify for the November election.
The afternoon before, he was told the petitions the campaign had filed were 74 signatures short of qualifying.
According to state election rules, independent Presidential candidates must have 275 signatures from registered Tennessee voters to be named on the ballot. More than half of the 415 signatures the Johnson campaign turned in earlier this month were apparently not from eligible voters.
“Over 50 percent to be rejected, that’s an awfully high margin,” Tomasik said. He quickly said it was the campaign’s responsibility to step up and get Johnson, a fiscal conservative and social liberal, on the state’s ballot.
Gov. Bill Haslam Wednesday stopped at the University of Tennessee Medical Center to visit a critically injured state trooper and pass on his well wishes to gathered relatives and law enforcement officers, reports the News Sentinel. Haslam was in Knoxville for the dedication of an electrical engineering and computer sciences building at the University of Tennessee. During that visit, he mentioned his plans to visit Tennessee Highway Patrol Sgt. Lowell Russell.
Haslam has spent time with Russell in the past. When a U.S. Marine who Russell helped raise was killed last year in Afghanistan, Haslam attended the marine’s funeral.
Russell, who was working the overnight shift, suffered numerous injuries in the crash about 2:50 a.m. Tuesday on Interstate 40 near Walker Spring Road. Trucker Eric D. Lewis, 32, of Orlando, Fla., is in jail on charges of aggravated assault and reckless endangerment. His bond is set at $10,500.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s campaign has provided a schedule of events during his trip to Nashville on Monday. A campaign spokesman says all seats are taken at the events except for the “town hall rally,” which is open to the public.
Here’s the schedule:
10:00 a.m. Health Care Roundtable
Baker Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz Law Offices
211 Commerce Street, Suite 800
Nashville, TN 37201
12:00 noon First Tuesday Luncheon
Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis Law Offices
Nashville City Center
511 Union Street, Suite 2700
Nashville, Tennessee 37219
2:30 p.m. General Media Availability
Old Supreme Court Chamber
600 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37219
3:00 p.m. Tennessee Town Hall Rally
State Capitol East Front
600 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37219 Callista Gingrich To Speak to TN Chapter of Women With Newt
Location: State Capitol
Room LP 16
600 Charlotte Avenue
Nashville, TN 37219
A Kurdish group making a good will tour of the U.S. visited with officials at the state capitol in Nashville, reports WPLN. Yusief Mati is a pastor of a Christian evangelical church in northern Iraq. He says the group is looking at American approaches to justice, education and political representation.
Mati says he’s helped start American-style schools in Kurdistan, and now the region is looking at setting up an American-style university.
Nashville is home to a sizeable Kurdish population, having been chosen as one of nine balloting sites for last year’s Iraqi elections.