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Songs by the Brook series kicks off at Springbrook Park

By R. Neal, Fri, 2014/08/01 - 10:16am

We went over to Springbrook Park in Alcoa (like we do almost every evening to walk pupster) for the kick off of the Songs by the Brook free summer concert series. Maryville-Alcoa-Blount Co. Parks and Recreation have done an outstanding job putting this together. Here's our report with some photos and video over at BlountViews.

Check out the schedule, and y'all come on out for some upcoming shows.

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ACA enrollment for 2015

By B Harmon, Fri, 2014/08/01 - 9:39am

The volunteers with the Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC) are starting to plan for the open enrollment period that will run from November 15 through February 15. Our enrollment activities rely heavily on volunteers, especially those willing to attend training sessions to be better informed. We can always use volunteers of all levels of expertise, so don't let classroom time discourage you. We will have enrollment activities/events on weekends, weekdays, and at least one evening a week.

Please consider becoming a volunteer to help the uninsured get access to affordable health care coverage.

Contact me at beckyharmon1714@outlook.com if you would like to join our local efforts.

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Sales tax holiday weekend starts today

By R. Neal, Fri, 2014/08/01 - 8:51am

The State of Tennessee's Annual Sales Tax Holiday is held every year on the first Friday in August and ends the following Sunday night. This year's tax-free holiday weekend begins at 12:01 a.m on Friday, August 1 and ends Sunday, August 3 at 11:59 p.m.

Tax free items include clothing ($100 or less), school & art supplies ($100 or less) and Computers ($1,500 or less).

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All in With Chris Hayes in Knoxville NOW

By B Harmon, Thu, 2014/07/31 - 8:07pm

We tuned in just now to All in With Chris Hayes (MSNBC) and he says he is in Knoxville and has our skyline including the sunsphere as the backdrop.

We are not sure why he is here in Ktown.

Will keep you posted.

UPDATE:

They are shooting a future series on coal up in Harlan County, KY.

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First Friday Celebration with Knox Co Democratic Party

By stalwartdem, Thu, 2014/07/31 - 2:21pm


What: First Friday Celebration with Knox Co Democratic Party
When: Friday, August 1, 2014 - 6:00pm
Where: Knox Co Democratic Party HQ - 311 Morgan St Knoxville 37917

Come party down with Knox Co Democrats as we celebrate our Great Candidates in advance of the August 7th Election.

as always, great food, drink and conversation.

brought to you this month by the 4th District Democrats

for info: linda haney (llinc@comcast.net)

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Master Chef Kevin Huffman's recipe for achievement

By R. Neal, Thu, 2014/07/31 - 1:36pm

Is Tennessee's Achievement School District (where failing schools get assigned) cooking the books? This report, Underachievement School District 2014 Edition, has a lot to digest.

(By way of Gloria Johnson.)

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E.W. Scripps getting out of the newspaper business

By R. Neal, Thu, 2014/07/31 - 5:44am

In a complicated merger/spin-off deal announced yesterday, Journal Communications of Milwaukee will acquire all of E.W. Scripps' newspaper business and E.W. Scripps will acquire Journal Communication's TV and radio broadcast business.

The combined Journal/E.W. Scripps newspaper business will be spun off as a separate publicly traded company, Journal Media Group, headquartered in Milwaukee. It will launch with a clean balance sheet and no debt, with E.W. Scripps retaining substantially all pension obligations. The Knoxville News Sentinel and the Memphis Commercial Appeal newspapers will be operated by the new company. The announcement also mentions "community publications," which presumably include Metro Pulse and the Shopper-News, also owned by E.W. Scripps.

The Journal Communications broadcast business will be folded into E.W. Scripps' existing broadcast operations headquartered in Cincinnati. The Journal Communications Broadcast Group owns several Knoxville radio stations, including WNOX 93.1, WWST Star 102.1, WCYQ Continuous Country 100.3, and WKHT Hot 104.5. After the merger, E.W. Scripps will own and operate TV and radio stations in 27 markets and will be out of the newspaper business.

Both boards have approved the transaction, which is expected to close in 2015 subject to shareholder and regulatory approval.

More:

E.W. Scripps announcement
Journal Communications announcement
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report

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Huffman caves

By Sandra Clark, Wed, 2014/07/30 - 7:50pm

Just got home from Union County where the board of education voted unanimously to keep those 626 students who had enrolled for their first year in the Virtual Academy. It was the right and honorable thing to do.

Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman penned a bombastic letter to the BOE before caving, but BOE attorney Mary Ann Stackhouse said it best: "He seems to be stating the law."

Yes, it'd an idle threat to close a school next year -- when it's already set to expire without a legislative extension ... and when it's very like that Commissioner Huffman won't be sitting in his swivel chair anyhow.

Background three items deep at (link...)

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BREAKING: Tom Humphrey retiring

By R. Neal, Wed, 2014/07/30 - 4:19pm

DSC_3564.JPG
Tom at work. It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it. Photo courtesy of Dan Andrews, Knox Focus. (Click for bigger.)

This just in, The Dean is calling it quits:

Tom Humphrey, the News Sentinel’s long-time bureau chief in Nashville and a superlative journalist and good guy, is retiring, effective July 31 (tomorrow).

This is a serious blow to Tennessee journalism and especially coverage of goings on in Nashville for us folks back East. We salute Tom Humphrey for his years of outstanding service and wish him the best in his retirement.

UPDATE: Statement from News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy in response to a KnoxViews inquiry:

We are going to miss Tom immensely. He’s been the dean of the statehouse press corps and one of the News Sentinel’s most productive and authoritative journalists. He’s also a really nice guy. Happily, he will continue to write columns and stories for us on a freelance basis and will maintain his popular Humphrey on the Hill blog. For the time being, we will be relying on Rick Locker, who covers state government for our sister paper in Memphis, The Commercial Appeal, for capitol correspondence. That may change in the future.

UPDATE: Tom Humphrey says via email "July 31 is my last day as a full time KNS employee and I'll start drawing a pension. But I intend to continue the blog, Sunday column and some other things on a per item basis for the KNS. (Will also start helping out at the Tennessee Journal). My goal is to do about half as much work and twice as much fishing, etc."

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Women in Black vigils

By michael kaplan, Wed, 2014/07/30 - 3:16pm

Those wishing to show support for the residents of Gaza in their resistance against the Israeli siege and military action are invited to weekly vigils on Tuesdays at noon in front of the Duncan Federal Building, 710 Locust Street, Knoxville TN 37902.

(link...)

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NLRB rules on Browning-Ferris: MickyD's workers have the right to know for whom they work

By Mike Knapp, Wed, 2014/07/30 - 10:13am

Steven Greenhouse at the NYT - McDonald’s Ruling Could Open Door for Unions

Yesterday the National Labor Relations Board invalidated a major argument made by fast food chains that they are not responsible for what happens to workers at chain franchises. This NLRB result is a big deal for workers at franchised fast food restaurants and "joint employers" like temp agencies and other large, mostly service industry employers who use contractors to gather labor.

This "fissuring" approach is a method corporations deploy to protect themselves from liability while impairing workers’ rights. Via the link to David Weil's work

"...large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. The result has been declining wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety conditions, and ever-widening income inequality."

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News Sentinel website paywall broken

By R. Neal, Wed, 2014/07/30 - 8:11am

If you're a subscriber trying to read the News Sentinel online this morning, good luck. It appears they have activated the paywall on their new website and it's not working.

If you try to read an article you'll get the "Full story available to subscribers only." message, even if you're logged in with a subscriber ID and your account type shows as "premium." If you click the "activate" button and fill out the form, you get "404 Could not find Host Subscriber."

Presumably they are working on it and will have it fixed soon. In the mean time, here's a tip: The Android tablet app still seems to work.

P.S. The paper edition also seems to be working fine this morning.

UPDATE: It appears they have temporarily turned off the paywall...

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GOP mayor marches to Washington to promote Medicaid expansion in NC

By jbr, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 5:22pm

From MSNBC …

NC mayor marches to DC to save hospital

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Ruby Tuesday cuts 4th quarter losses, closes stores

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 5:08pm

Ruby Tuesday reported 4th quarter and year-end results after the market close today. Revenues were down $8.8 million, "primarily due to a net reduction of 36 Company-owned restaurants during the year." The company posted a net loss of $0.9 million compared to a net loss of $27.0 million for the same quarter last year.

For fiscal 2014, revenues of $1.16 billion were off 6.6% from the prior year, and the company's net loss was $64.9 million as compared to $23.4 million last year. Same store sales declined 5.3% for the year.

Ruby Tuesday Reports Fourth Quarter and Fiscal 2014 Results

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Ball campaign says FEC reports were filed on time

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 3:25pm

U. S. Senate candidate Gordon Ball's campaign coordinator Lance Baker contacted me with more information about the campaign's FEC reports. Mr. Baker assured me that all reports have been filed in a timely manner. He said they have documentation, delivery receipts, etc. to confirm this.

As discussed before, the reports are sent to the Secretary of the Senate, who forwards them to the FEC. Mr. Baker said they filed the reports with the Senate on time and they are not sure why they aren't being forwarded to the FEC in a timely manner. He said their campaign finance people had contacted the FEC to inquire about the problem. They were told that the Senate is supposed to send the FEC a daily list of campaign reports received, but for some reason they had not done so.

Mr. Baker also noted that this is not a new problem, and that there had been earlier complaints from candidates about the Senate reporting process and erroneous late filing notices. He forwarded this article from the Center for Public Integrity citing similar problems.

Regarding the late notices posted on the FEC website, Mr. Baker said the campaign is supposed to first be notified via email with a follow up hard copy letter. He said they had recently changed internet providers and the emails went to an old account that was not being forwarded properly and that they had not yet received any hard copies by mail, so they were unaware of the problem.

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Heartless Haslam's ridiculous letter to Obama embarrasses Tennessee

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 12:41pm

In case you missed it. Gov. Haslam sent Obama a letter demanding "immediate answers" regarding 760 child refugees from Central America being sheltered by sponsors in our state.

It's now coming out that the policy for child refugees has been in place since 2002 and there's nothing unusual about it other than a recent increase in the number of refugees fleeing violence in Central America.

Gov. Haslam apparently did not know about this policy (and neither did I, but hey, I'm not a governor), and is simply using it as another means to attack the Obama administration ahead of Tennessee's upcoming "red to the roots" elections.

What an embarrassment.

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Advertising on KnoxViews.com

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 10:23am

Speaking of spam, did you know that you can advertise on KnoxViews.com for as little as $20 per week? We think that's a pretty good deal. Please consider us for your local business, campaign and/or promotional advertising needs. Tell your friends and colleagues, too. Honest, we're easy to work with.

Also, we have just updated our pricing and policies, effective Aug. 1st, 2014. More info here...

(Note: we are currently fully booked through Aug. 7th, 2014).

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ORNL was fixin' to learn y'all how to talk better

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 8:48am

The KNS reports that ORNL ditched a plan to offer a "Southern Accent Reduction" class for employees because some staff members were offended. The class description said "Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neutral American accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it."

OK, then.

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Open letter to spammers

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/07/29 - 8:06am

Dear Spammers:

I'm fairly certain that I do not have a message from someone on Match.com wanting to meet me, I'm not interested in learning seduction secrets, I'm not looking to have secret affairs with housewives in my area, I already know how to look up sex offenders in my area but I'm not that worried about it, I can't link to you on Linkedin because I don't have an account, I won't give money to the DSCC if you can't tell me who the Democratic candidates are, I won't give money to the DCCC if you won't recruit somebody to run against Jimmy Duncan, I don't really believe that your email is from Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reid, I don't need a free website makeover or SEO optimization, I'm not interested in your miracle herbal cure to reverse neuropathy, eliminate back pain, reduce blood sugar, lose weight, sleep better or improve my eyesight, I'm not interested in hair restoration, I don't need a HARP mortgage reduction loan, I don't want to learn to be a certified nursing assistant or to learn medical billing and coding, I don't need a half-off coupon for an oil change, I don't want to rent a yacht or a private jet just now, and I don't want 250 premium business cards, a new business phone system, an ADT alarm system (already have one), life insurance, faucets, a home warranty, a Genie Zip Bra, or replacement windows.

Sincerely,
rneal@127.0.0.1

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Two lanes of Blount Ave. to be closed for Baptist Hospital demolition

By R. Neal, Mon, 2014/07/28 - 5:51pm

City of Knoxville: Two westbound lanes of Blount Avenue between Gay Street and Chapman Highway will be closed through September 19 to accommodate demolition work at the former Baptist Hospital site.

Commuters will share the two eastbound lanes, with side-by-side lanes of eastbound and westbound traffic.

JW Demolition, which is doing the South Waterfront site preparation work, applied for the traffic control permit.

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