From the New York Times,

So far this year, Tennessee Republican have introduced bills that would:
further weaken lax gun laws, increase campaign-donation limits and undermine a progressive Nashville law passed by public referendum, amend the state constitution (they want it to insist that “liberties do not come from government but from Almighty God”), prohibit state officials from recognizing marriages between people of the same gender, deny birth certificates to babies born to undocumented parents and, most controversially, outlaw abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
...
According to historian and author Dr. [Nancy] MacLean, the Koch network’s goal — and the goal of all legislators in thrall to the Kochs’ PACs — is to weaken unions, suppress voter turnout, privatize public education, undercut climate science, roll back existing environmental protections, dismantle the social safety net and, of course, stack the courts with sympathetic judges. To enact that unpopular agenda, they’ve had to make common cause with the religious right.
...
Tennesseans should get down on their knees and thank God for the citizen-legislator model of government, because there’s no telling how much damage these people could do if they met all year.

It's hard to keep up with the idiocy in Nashville and in Washington D.C. We must be vigilant and pass on our vigilance to a new generation. Let's continue to give our support (and I don't mean money) and confidence to the new generations so that they protect our democracy.

Fri
Mar 22 2019
06:35 pm

No new indictments. AG says he may be able to report a summary of findings to Congress as early as this weekend. Intends to make as much public as allowed by policy and law.

Thu
Mar 21 2019
06:32 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

...you apparently have to apologize for stating the obvious. OK, then.

Topics:
Wed
Mar 20 2019
12:59 pm

Traditional pensions are disappearing in America, and the federal government just made it easier for employers to get rid of them.

With no fanfare in early March, the Treasury Department issued a notice that allows employers to buy out current retirees from their pensions with a one-time lump sum payment. The decision reverses Obama-era guidance, issued in 2015, that had effectively banned the practice after officials determined that lump-sum payments often shortchanged seniors.

Now, advocates for the elderly worry that millions of people receiving monthly pension checks could be at risk.

It just became easier for employers to dump retirees' pensions

Wed
Mar 20 2019
11:52 am
By: bizgrrl  shortURL

FIRST DAY OF SPRING 2019: THE SPRING EQUINOX
CELEBRATE THE VERNAL EQUINOX AND THE START OF SPRING!

Topics:
Wed
Mar 20 2019
09:00 am

The Belmont Bruins have won their first NCAA tournament game.

“This is an historic night for Belmont University and our basketball program,” Byrd said postgame. “Just 48 hours ago, we didn’t know if we were gonna be in this. And I didn’t know if [seniors Dylan Windler and Kevin McClain] were gonna ever get to play in the NCAA tournament. And now they’ve got Belmont’s first win.”

Rick Byrd grew up in South Knoxville. He attended Doyle High School and was a star basketball player. Anyone who attended Doyle during those years and enjoyed basketball knew Ricky Byrd.

It's obvious Rick Byrd really wanted to be a basketball coach. In 1976, he started out at Maryville College making $5,000.00/year. Two years later he was making $8,000.00/year. Byrd started at Belmont in 1986.

Congratulations to Rick Byrd and the Belmont Bruins!

Wed
Mar 20 2019
05:57 am

As reported in the Knox New Sentinel,

Zagster, in partnership with Spin, will launch 250 scooters here after holding a news conference with city officials in Krutch Park on Wednesday morning, according to Christy Jensen, Zagster's marketing manager for the Knoxville area.

I can't seem to find the rules of the road for scooters. I see how much it costs to ride. I see where you can probably find one for rental. I see where there have been problems across the country when scooters were introduced.

I Googled. I went to the City of Knoxville website. Can someone help? Where can I find the rules/laws for riding/renting an electric scooter? Are they treated like bicycles? Can they only be ridden on the road, not on sidewalks? Do you have to wear a helmet? Can they be ridden on greenways/trails? Do riders have to obey all traffic laws? Who teaches people these days about hand signals for turning? :)

Tue
Mar 19 2019
06:08 pm

AC's internationally acclaimed Big Ears music festival is back in town this week. Here are the details. Bonus: Ashley's picks after the break....

Continued...

From Digby's Hullabaloo, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) poll, a majority of Democrats, Independents and Republicans favor a Medicare buy-in plan for adults 50 and older and a Medicaid buy-in plan for individuals who don’t receive health coverage through their employer.

Democrats and Independents also favor a national health plan similar to Medicare for anyone, but would allow people to keep their existing coverage as well as a Medicare for all plan. Republicans polled don't go for these options, but are almost there (47%) for the Medicare for anyone but not required.

Interesting how 56% of those polled favor Medicare for all, but then if it requires paying more taxes those in favor drops to 37%. It could be how the question is asked, as with any poll. If you get Medicare for all and do not have to pay insurance premiums, then wouldn't you expect that taxes would have to be raised to pay for the plan? Otherwise, you will be paying premiums to the government. Either way you'll have to pay, I think.

Mon
Mar 18 2019
06:12 am

In 2011 a law was passed in Tennessee to protect businesses from hefty punitive damages awards in cases of civil wrongdoing, placing a cap on punitive damages — awarded in cases in which a jury finds the wrongdoer acted maliciously, fraudulently or recklessly — no matter a jury’s decision on the amount to be paid."The law was designed to improve the State’s business climate and its economy by offering businesses a way to quantify risk with some degree of predictability and, thus, encourage businesses to create jobs in Tennessee by locating and expanding here." The cap is currently $750,000.

In late December 2018, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals struck down the Tennessee law as unconstitutional.

"The Appeals Court ruling is a result of a jury penalizing Jackson National Life Insurance Co. with $3 million in punitive damages for bad behavior in trying to keep from shelling out $350,000 in life insurance benefits to two children whose father died in 2013".

Now, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery III, a host of business lobbyists and a handful of state legislators are intervening in the case, trying to get the appeal decision overturned and get the case in front of the Tennessee Supreme Court.

Ah, yes. Protect business, not individuals.

Mon
Mar 18 2019
06:11 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

The King of Surf Guitar has died at the age of 81.

We had the good fortune of seeing him live sometime back in the 90s at a nightclub in Florida. He blew the doors off the place.

I remembered this brief interview from years ago with some sage advice for young musicians...

Topics:
Sun
Mar 17 2019
11:09 am
By: R. Neal  shortURL

Alexa, what time is the SEC championship game?

“On December 1st in the SEC Championship Game, Alabama beat Georgia, 35 to 28.”

Alexa, what time is the SEC championship basketball game today?

“Leading the Championship are Norwich City, with 69 points, a record of 20 wins, 9 draws, and 6 losses, and a goal differential of plus 26.”

Hey Google, what time is the SEC championship game?

Today, Auburn will play Tennessee at 1 PM.

Topics:
Fri
Mar 15 2019
06:55 pm
By: R. Neal  shortURL

UT (interim} President Randy Boyd announced the UT Promise scholarship program.

In case you missed it, it provides last dollar (after all other grants and financial aid) scholorships to pay tuition for any student attending the University of Tennessee for any family with income of $50,000 or less.

This is a good thing.

Boyd should have been governor, if we have to have a Republican governor, which seems to be a given. Too bad he miscalculated and went all Trump on us.

His move is in sharp contrast to our elected governor, who seems intent on dismantling public education.

Fri
Mar 15 2019
08:24 am

Trump says the police, military and bikers have his back and it could get "very bad."

Thu
Mar 14 2019
07:53 pm

...are apparently off the table. Thanks, Trump!

DTV Host Greg Mackay discusses current legislation under consideration in the Tennessee General Assembly with Knox County Representatives Rick Staples (D-15) and Gloria Johnson (D-13)

DTV airs on Friday, March 15th at 7:30 PM and can be viewed online (here!) or on your local cable channels:

Comcast Channel 12
Charter Channel 193
Wow! Channel 6
ATT U-verse Channel 99

Thu
Mar 14 2019
10:27 am

The City of Knoxville has announced $595,158 in historic preservation grants for properties in the downtown area. Projects include work on the Bijou Theatre exterior, improvements to the Fourth and Gill "Birdhouse" neighborhood center and funds for obtaining National Register of Historic Places designation for Standard Knitting Mills, among others.

Details in the press release after the break...

Continued...

Wed
Mar 13 2019
11:01 am
  • Homeless

According to a report from the KNS, many people showed up at the Vestal Community Organization Monday night to discuss the growth of the homeless population in South Knoxville. Some of the people blamed the increase on the closing of the homeless camp on Broadway.

Michael Dunthorn, the city’s program coordinator for the Office on Homelessness, said "he had calls from people concerned about the homeless population before the “day space” was created and he’s had some afterwards. It’s hard to tell."

Eric Johnson is the Vestal Community Organization’s president, but he also works as a social worker for Knoxville-Knox County Community Action Committee Office on Aging. He is quoted a saying "As a social worker, I think (cleaning up homeless camps) is literally more favorable. Now, I know it’s impacting residents and properties, but what it is is homeless people congregating in places that are safer for them.”

  • Opioid use

The KNS report also discusses how South Knoxville has been hit hard by opioid use.

An average of four people a day in Knox County received naloxone from emergency workers to counter opioid overdose, a new report says, and the South Knoxville saw a massive increase.

South Knox County, in particular, saw a significant increase — 61 percent — between the two years studied, October 2016-September 2017 and October 2017-September 2018. The report showed the areas most affected were the Vestal area (including Montgomery Village housing development), South Haven, South Knoxville close to downtown and Old Sevier.

The Knoxville City Council will vote tonight whether it will give up to $151,000 to artist Addison Karl to paint a new alleyway mural on the Market Square Garage that will feature a rainbow spectrum of colors and multiple local faces

Market Square garage mural

Tue
Mar 12 2019
09:11 am

The Trump budget also proposes to slow spending on Medicare, the federal program that gives health insurance to older Americans, by $845 billion over the next 10 years, in part by limiting fraud and abuse and payments to hospitals. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said he would not cut Medicare or Social Security, the retirement program for the elderly, but his budget last year also included a proposed cut of more than $550 billion to the program.

With the millions of baby boomers at or near the age for Medicare, it seems odd to reduce Medicare spending. It is understandable and important to limit Medicare fraud. I don't get cutting payments to hospitals. If you don't know already, Medicare payments to hospitals are already low.

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