Saturday, September 17, 2005

Where's The Movie Review?

The normal schedule here on yer Cup Of Joe is a movie feature and recommendations, but oh faithful readers, not this weekend. I've been a wee bit sick and haven't the energy.

Let me substitute with a few links to More News Ignored by the local and even state media. For instance, a big hullabaloo was made when protestors againts TennCare cuts ended the round-the-clock presence, which 'news' groups reported. But it's only half-true. They no longer sleep in the Capitol Building, but the protesters are there every day. Sept. 18th is day 90.

In the midst of the disaster in the Gulf Coast, V.P. Cheney made sure the "oil kept flowing". So why did much of the South, including Tennessee see gas prices jump a dollar higher for almost a week??

Oh, but the best is for last here. Former TN Gov. Don Sundquist, whose 1990s administration is still undergoing federal investigation, who handed multi-million dollar contracts to his pals who then invented companies just to get contracts, and who oversaw the budget of TnCare run to the tens of billions is chairman of the Federal committe studying Medicaid -- and how to dismantle it. No, that last line is not in their charter, but that is obviously "Sindquist's" duty here. On Sept. 1, his panel issued the first of its two reports due -- the first idea is to cut $10 billion nationwide from Medicaid. I hate to even think what "Sindquist" offers up next.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Recommended Reading

Several items in the news -- though not to be found in your local media - have my attention as we head into the weekend. First, Hamblen County Commissioner Linda Noe has info about the 'minute clinics' which are handling patients quickly, about 15 minutes of wating time and charges averaging $69 at middle-Tennessee CVS pharmacies.
Another of her fact-checking efforts locally are mentioned further below, which saved Hamblen County taxpayers $1.2 million. Commissoner Noe writes:

I just read an interesting article in the Tennessean about health clinics that are operating out of CVS pharmacies in the Nashville area. They are designed to provide fast healthcare service at a low price.

These CVS pharmacy clinics are called "Minute Clinics" with nurse practitioners available to treat and even prescribe medications for minor illnesses. Among the illnesses they can treat are strep, mono, ear infections, and bladder infections."

In a later post this week she noted, that YEARS AFTER the full Commission requested documentation regarding an annual inventory of county vehicles, she finds more delays. Although most department heads have quickly supplied the info at her request, she writes:

Based on the track record of the County Mayor's Office and over three years of vicious personal attacks in response to financial and audit questions, I had no reason to expect at any time that either Finance Director Nicole Epps or David Purkey would help me get the [county vehicle] mileage information. Co-operation and a positive response when questions are asked would be appreciated instead of belated efforts to look co-operative after-the-fact.

But there is good news on the accountability front:

In my September 13 post, I mentioned that most elected officials and department heads are responsive and willing to share information about county (taxpayer) property."

In fact, Commissioner Noe refers to a quick response to her questions two months ago by County Tax Assessor Keith Ely which helped lead to a discovery of a rather large error by the state which "reduced the new property tax rate for Hamblen County taxpayers by 11 cents. That 11 cents meant a total savings to county taxpayers of nearly $1.2 million dollars, and it was all taken care of in one day."

Her weblog is recommended reading, especially for Hamblen County taxpayers.

An ET Soldier's First Person Account of Iraq

I'd like to urge you to read the web postings for East Tennessean Travis Stuart in Iraq, who just received a promotion. Congrats, my friend!!

I had a brief chance to know and work some with Travis at the Radio Station I refuse to name, since they yanked my show off in mid-sentence so the locals can now hear the "doubtful wisdom" of Sean Hannity and R. Limbaugh. The residents here in Hamblen Co. are left without a local voice, but I believe that was the owners goal.

That rant aside, Travis is a talented fellow, with a fine gift for words as well as music. I see our duty as his supporters at home to keep in touch with him and to learn from his experiences. Godspeed, Travis. His post on September 11, 2005 alone is worth the read.

I know he as well as other good friends and my own family members are daily facing situations we can barely imagine. You can link to his blog in my Links section, and or you can link here. I know he'd love to hear from folks and friends back here in TN. As with all the others I know (and those I don't know) who are serving, we all hope for your safety and look forward with much anticipation for his speedy and safe return.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

State AG Again Says Local Board In The Wrong

The State's Attorney General has twice now issued rulings showing it is illegal for Sessions Court Judge Herbert Bacon to hold a board seat on the Morristown Utilities Commission, the latest issue on Sept 12, 2005. The first time was in April of this year, but an appeal was filed citing that Judge Bacon was merely a "part-time" judge. Great work if you can get it.

Here's a thought - why not include a board member who isn't already on any of a dozen other boards, isn't a corporate chief. Why not -gasp! - a customer representative?

Will the MUC even bother to change given these two opinions? Since no local media covers the story, I have my doubts.

The AG's opinion in part reads:

Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution prohibits the judge of an
inferior court from holding any other office of trust or profit. For the reasons discussed in Op. Tenn.
Att’y Gen. 05-064 (April 27, 2005), this Office has concluded that membership on the Morristown
Utilities Commission is an office of trust or profit within the meaning of this provision. The
Constitution contains no exception for an inferior court judge whose position is part-time. The fact
that a continuing part-time judge is not subject to compliance with Canon 4C(2) prohibiting service
on governmental committees does not change the constitutional prohibition.
This opinion responds to a request to clarify Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 05-064 (April 27,
2005). That opinion concludes that a general sessions judge is prohibited from serving as a member
of the Morristown Utilities Commission. The request asks if this rationale applies to a part-time
general sessions judge, particularly since part-time judges are expressly exempted from Supreme
Court Rule 10, Canon 4C(2).
Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution provides:
The Judges of the Supreme or Inferior Courts, shall,
at stated times, receive a compensation for their
services, to be ascertained by law, which shall not be
increased or diminished during the time for which
they are elected. They shall not be allowed any fees or
perquisites of office nor hold any other office of trust
or profit under this State or the United States.

The Opinon concludes:
Since, for the reasons discussed in Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 05-064, membership
on the Morristown Utilities Commission is an “office of trust or
profit” within the meaning of Article VI, Section 7, of the Tennessee Constitution, a part-time
general sessions judge may not serve as a Commission member during his or her term in judicial

The full opinion can be found on this page, labled Opinion OPO140.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Unknown and Known News

No details yet, but the Koch Foods plant workers voted successfully to create a union for workers this weekend. Still no mention of this in the local media, but Kim Miller says more info is on the way. The rumors (and that is all I have at this point), say the facilities owners did nothing to block this vote, deciding that if it did pass, they would simply work on relocating the plant somewhere else rather than deal with Labor Union concerns. If true, expect an major change by year's end. And other than Kim's reports and those on this humble-yet-loveable blog, the local press has reported zero on these events.

Reports do abound in the press about the anti-tanning bed actions for 911 office in Rogersville. Yeah, that's a front page story.

One woman, says WBIR, has been busted for impersonating a Katrina victim. At least it is only one and not 100. There are growing concerns too about how Katrina victims may get TennCare while residents still search for assistance. With the vigil at the State Capitol now ended, tens of thousands struggling to make a way to pay for medical needs far beyond their ability to pay, the rumblings of healthcare may become a bona fide storm. Local and state officials I've talked with are reaching the breaking point from frustration and the public outcries are growing. Sadly, we are likely to see the issue become a political punching bag stuffed with campaign promises, which will provide no solutions.

And the AP is reporting on the 123 Tennessee residents who got 47.6 million dollars from the Small Business Administration in a program meant to help businesses impacted by the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001. Among the highlights of the story:

Motels, restaurants, travel agencies and tour guides and all businesses that might reasonably have been hurt by declines in travel after the jetliner hijackings benefited from the program in Tennessee.

But so did a chiropractor in Cordova, a dentist in Goodlettsville, a jeweler in Chattanooga, a tobacco shop in Memphis, a Baskin-Robbins in Brentwood and a boat builder in Spring Hill.

A review by the Associated Press found that $5 billion in loans was distributed nationally through a program so loosely run that some companies at New York's ground zero were turned down while others qualified that didn't need terrorism aid or didn't even know that was the loans' purpose.

"I was not aware of any 9/11 (connection)," said David Horner, owner of Classy Lady Inc., a Knoxville women's clothing store that got a $998,000 loan. The company used the loan to move out of a mall and into its own building."

Whew. Must be a Monday. So while you are here, allow me to direct you to some friends at my alma mater, Carson-Newman College. From now thru October 12, you can view the works of the very talented faculty and staff, including Mike Alvis, Scott Palmer, David Underwood and William C. Houston. Hey, guys!! Looky here - I gots me a blog!!!

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Thoughts On Our Religious War

"The corporate, political and religious right converge here, led by a president who, in his own disdain for science, reason and knowledge, is the most powerful fundamentalist in American history."

The 21st Century America -- a description is elusive. Tolerance, once the hallmark of Democracy, seems to have been erased as we divide and divide along every issue imagineable. War was not part of the vision most of us had as we moved into the year 2000. Long before Sept. 11, 2001, the nation was battered by a religious-political agenda from within, and on that day the homeland felt the horrors of religious warfare that had been raging overseas for decades. In the scope of human history, religious-political warfare has held center stage, dominating our very existence.

I do not have the words or the skills to explain our times, though I have seen and heard and read and wrestled with the conflicts of a nation still trying to fulfill the ideals of the American Revolution which saw the need for equality, liberty, and freedom from oppression. I can point you to an address given to students at Union Theological Seminary this week by Bill Moyers, where the quote above originated. It is a long essay, which will raise many questions. You can read it here, and hopefully you will think for yourself about where we are and what challenges lie ahead.