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Ballot order

By jbr, Wed, 2014/10/29 - 4:20pm

Just curious what determines the order of names on the ballot?

For instance, why are Haslam, Alexander, Duncan, Briggs, Smith, all listed first in their section on the ballot? I don't understand the logic of the order.

It isn't alphabetical or the incumbent. How was the order determined?

Knox county Sample Ballot

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CAC Volunteer Assisted Transportation seeking volunteer drivers

By R. Neal, Wed, 2014/10/29 - 4:01pm

CAC Volunteer Assisted Transportation announcement...

Want to Help a Senior Out?! Become a Volunteer Driver Today!

CAC is excited to provide the Volunteer Assisted Transportation program to Knox County seniors & people with disabilities who require aid and assistance to travel safely...but we need YOUR help!

Volunteer Drivers are needed to assist seniors to medical appointments, shopping trips, beauty appointments, and other fun activities!

Volunteers will drive agency-owned, hybrid sedans and receive training to include First Aid & CPR certification! AAA Membership Discounts are also available to program volunteers!

Volunteers are needed for weekdays, evenings and weekends. Thank you for considering to donate your time to help Knox area seniors.
For more information on volunteering call 865-673-5001 or

Flyer with more info...

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Obamacare: Who Was Helped Most

By jbr, Wed, 2014/10/29 - 8:29am

Check out the map.

From the NY Times ...

That state boundaries are so prominent in the map attests to the power of state policy in shaping health insurance conditions. The most important factor in predicting whether an American who had no insurance in 2013 signed up this year was whether the state that person lives in expanded its Medicaid program in 2014. (Just consider the contrast between Kentucky, which expanded Medicaid, and Tennessee, which did not.)

Obamacare: Who Was Helped Most

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Chickamauga Lock closed for repairs, Knoxville barge traffic cut off

By R. Neal, Wed, 2014/10/29 - 7:27am

Tennessee River barge traffic to Knoxville has been cut off by the temporary closing of Chicamauga Lock for emergency repairs. Work was started years ago to build a new lock, but Congress won't fund it. They talk a lot about it, but nothing ever seems to happen.

Times Free Press: River traffic locks up

"The bomb that we have been warned to expect for the past three or four years seemed to hit us Monday afternoon," said Pete Serodino, president of the river shipping business founded by his father. "We've had scheduled shutdowns before, but in my 30 years in the business I don't ever recall an unplanned shutdown for this long."

According to TVA, one barge can transport as much tonnage as 60 semi-trucks or 15 rail cars. This reduces highway traffic, fuel consumption, air pollution and wear and tear on highways. Barge shipments also save consumers about $550 million per year in transportation costs (about the estimated cost to finish the new lock).

TVA also says that the Tennessee River "provides the least expensive form of transportation for dozens of Valley industries that either produce or use raw materials. For example, commercial navigation makes it possible for east Tennessee to be a major distribution center for fertilizer, road salt, and asphalt that moves upriver by barge. Zinc mines in Jefferson County, Tennessee, depend heavily on barge transportation to deliver zinc concentrate to customers downriver."

Thanks a lot, Rep. Duncan (who is on the House Transportation Committee), Rep. Fleischmann, and Sens. Alexander and Corker.

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By Mark Harmon, Tue, 2014/10/28 - 11:51am

Romanian Journalist and Professor Dr. Brindusa Armanca was a guest this week in my Political Communication class. She spoke about the upcoming Romanian election (Nov. 2nd); 14 Presidential candidates virtually assure there will be a runoff.

Armanca lamented Romanian low voter turnout, uninformed voting, hidden big money being used in campaigns, corruption, superficial news coverage, and negative appeals. Imagine that.


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Regal reports Q3 results, discusses possible sale

By R. Neal, Tue, 2014/10/28 - 9:02am

Knoxville based Regal Entertainment Group announced third quarter results yesterday, posting a 14.7% decline in revenues and a 64% decline in net earnings year over year for the quarter. The company also announced a special dividend.

In the earnings press release, Regal said that its Board of Directors "has authorized the exploration of strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value, which may include a potential sale of the Company."

Shares are up in extended hours trading on the news.

According to Reuters, "The movie industry saw one of its worst summer slumps this year. Theater chains have also been besieged by problems such as piracy and stiff competition from online streaming websites like Netflix Inc."

According to Regal, the average ticket price is now over $9 and average concessions per patron are nearly $4. For a family of four, $52 for one movie outing will buy nearly six months of unlimited Netflix streaming.

Reuters mentioned AMC and Cinemark as potential buyers should Regal's board decide to pursue a sale.

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John Stewart: Amendment 3 would bring higher sales, food, business taxes

By Mike Knapp, Tue, 2014/10/28 - 6:33am

John Stewart, of Knoxville, pens a solid op-ed in the KNS on why to vote no on Amendment 3.

Rendered in understandable English, the meaning of the words is clear: the Legislature will have authority to raise only the sales tax, businesses taxes, the tax on dividends and income, and perhaps to institute or increase state fees (state parks, for example). Some people have even raised the possibility of creating a statewide property tax.

It's hard to understate how horrible of a public finance idea Amendment 3 is. Without revenue diversification the state will have a hard time paying for critical services, infrastructure etc. They are not prone to investing anyway, hence the income tax ban, but if they are forced to for some strange reason they'll have to do it with sales tax revenue spikes and such. They'll cut and cut and cut because revenue shortfalls. Their hands are tied...

If this passes our state's public finances will rely even more heavily on the taxation of disposable income. Tennesseans who make less have their disposable income exposed to the highest sales tax in the nation. This is tax policy which at its core is exceedingly regressive on both economic and moral grounds. This is terrible budget policy of unimaginable proportions, completely unimaginative and indeed dangerous wrt vertical and horizontal equity. What's in store? Here are a few guesses: local governments and their decisions: the homeless, potholes, decreased support from the state for schools with an updated BEP shoveling 40-50 students in your kids' classrooms, infrastructure.

Finally, the other piece which comes along with decreased state and federal spending is a solid and steady decline in public employee unions. But surely that's just a coincidental, unintended consequence.

Further Reading
National Conference of State Legislators Principles of a High-Quality State Revenue System

CBPP June 2011 - Better-Than-Expected State Tax Collections Highlight Importance of Income Taxes

CBPP June 2013 - Strategies to Address the State Tax Volatility Problem Eliminating the State Income Tax Not a Solution

Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy - Who Pays? A Distributional Analysis of the Tax Systems in All 50 States

Nevin Economic Research Institute - Wealth Tax: Options for its Implementation In the Republic of Ireland

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The Best #Democracy Money Can Buy?

By Andy Axel, Mon, 2014/10/27 - 4:12pm

"If you want to take the one everyone is talking about, take this one," said the poll worker to the woman in front of me at the table.

She was referring to the "I Voted" stickers that were being placed on the table for people to take as they leave.

There are some traditional ones, and then there are these:

Question for our Secretary Of State:

Just how many thousands of dollars in public money did you just spend to create a campaign advertisement for yourself?

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Siler re. Briggs Medicaid expansion cost claims: "I doubt his source on that."

By R. Neal, Mon, 2014/10/27 - 12:54pm

The Farragut Press has a bit of back and forth between State Senate District 7 candidates Cheri Siler and Richard Briggs on a couple of issues. One is Medicaid expansion. Here's the article...

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Is school choice an empty promise? What Nashville can learn from NOLA

By Mike Knapp, Sun, 2014/10/26 - 7:35pm

What: Is school choice an empty promise? What Nashville can learn from NOLA
When: Sunday, November 2, 2014 - 3:00pm
Where: East Park Community Center, 600 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN 37206

Time is central. Seating is limited. RSVP online here is recommended.
More info here.

TREE and Gideon’s Army are excited to announce an important event in Nashville, Sunday, Nov. 2. Karran Harper Royal and Dr. Kristen Buras will discuss the impact of education reform on the students, teachers, and schools of New Orleans, LA–the nation’s first all-charter school district, and one that is frequently hailed as a blueprint by various ”reformers” in Tennessee.

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Separation of Church and State?

By Knoxgal, Sun, 2014/10/26 - 10:53am

I just saw an ad for this event (link...)
Robertson County is north of Nashville, and the event "Cover Robertson County in Prayer" is sponsored by the Robertson County Chamber of Commerce. A quick glance of the chamber's website didn't reveal the sources of their funding, but aren't all Chamber of Commerces at least partially funded by public dollars? Is this a violation of church and state?

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Every Republican in the U.S. is running against Obama, and it's expensive

By R. Neal, Sun, 2014/10/26 - 10:33am

Obama must be the most powerful president ever and is apparently a formidable opponent. Every Republican candidate in the U.S. is running against him and he isn't even on the ballot.

Because of Obama's superpowers, this is the most expensive mid-term election in U.S. history. Spending is approaching $4 billion so far, including nearly $900 million in outside (PAC, 527) spending.

More than $95 million has been spent so far for a single North Carolina U.S. Senate seat, including $67.5 million in outside money. Ohio's 8th U.S. House district race has cost more than $17 million so far. Arizona's 2nd U.S. House district seat is apparently the most coveted by outside special interests, racking up nearly $10 million.

Wall Street has spent over $126 million so far, with 62% going to Republicans. Lawyers have spent more than $91 million, 70% of it going to Democrats. Environmental groups have spent $47.5 million, with 90% going to Democrats, while the oil and gas lobby has spent $37 million with 87% going to Republicans.

Here in Tennessee, Lamar Alexander has raised more than $7 million to fend off Democratic challenger Gordon Ball, who is mostly self financing. Gov. Haslam has $3 million on hand and has loaned his campaign $3.5 million and he doesn't even have a credible challenger.

Closer to home, Republican Eddie Smith has raised more than $51,000 in his bid to unseat Gloria Johnson for State House 13, who has more than $121,000 on hand. In the State Senate 7th district, Cheri Siler has raised more than $58,000 to take on Republican Richard Briggs, who loaned his campaign $132,000 and has raised another $320,000 from special interest groups and wealthy Republicans. (Is this the most expensive State Senate race ever?)

The Supreme Court says money is speech, because money talks.

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Supreme Court Dogs explain why vote No on 1

By Mark Harmon, Sun, 2014/10/26 - 10:31am

Thanks to Becky for being the voice of this fun little video, and to John Oliver's "Last Week Tonight" for making the footage available. Enjoy and share.

Link to video, too

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Inside the lonely "newsroom of the future"

By R. Neal, Sat, 2014/10/25 - 12:39pm

Nashville Scene: High-profile exits leave The Tennessean even thinner-staffed than planned

From conversations with nearly a dozen current and former Tennessean staffers -- none of whom would speak on the record for fear of retribution -- a portrait emerges of an almost epically mismanaged situation.

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Tennessee needs $38 billion of infrastructure improvements

By R. Neal, Sat, 2014/10/25 - 11:41am

Tennessee needs at least $38.8 billion of public infrastructure improvements during the five-year period of 2012-2017 according to a new report by the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR).

According to the report, "Local officials are confident in obtaining funding for only $11.6 billion of the $31 billion identified as local needs," leaving $19.3 billion of improvements for which funding is not yet available.

TACIR found that Knox County has $2.6 billion in infrastructure needs, including $710.7 million for transportation, $95.8 million for school renovation and replacement, and $55.7 million for water and wastewater treatment.

Source: TACIR: Building Tennessee's Tomorrow: Anticipating the State's Infrastructure Needs

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Spend a day in a High School Student's shoes

By metulj, Sat, 2014/10/25 - 11:03am

This piece about a teacher who shadows a couple of students is the most edifying thing you will read today. In all the bickering about education, so often the kids are forgotten and:

Students sit all day, and sitting is exhausting.

I could not believe how tired I was after the first day. I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot – in front of the board, pacing as we speak, circling around the room to check on student work, sitting, standing, kneeling down to chat with a student as she works through a difficult problem…we move a lot.

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What you need to know a bout Ebola

By R. Neal, Sat, 2014/10/25 - 10:59am

1. You aren't likely to get it.



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Mayor Burchett leads local Wreaths Across America effort

By R. Neal, Sat, 2014/10/25 - 10:48am

Knox Co. Mayor Tim Burchett, a long time supporter of veterans' causes, will again this year lead an effort to place holiday wreaths on graves at the three veterans cemeteries in the Knoxville area. The Wreaths Across America program helps families know that their loved one's service and sacrifice are not forgotten. More info in the press release after the break.

Go here to sponsor a wreath.

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Vote Early Now! Here's one way to explain the Dark Money...

By Mark Harmon, Fri, 2014/10/24 - 1:37pm

People need to get out and early vote now! We cannot allow the voucher people and the Koch Brothers to buy our state representative. Here's how to explain it to others in an amusing way. Please share widely.

Dark Money Guys

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'No' votes on Amendment 1 changed to 'Yes'

By R. Neal, Fri, 2014/10/24 - 12:03pm

Voters report issues at Maury County polls - WSMV Channel 4

COLUMBIA, TN (WSMV) - Early voting is well underway, but several people in the same county said they cast "no" votes that were changed to "yes."

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