Monthly Archives: May 2017

Paul Ryan schedules Knoxville fundraiser with TN Republican congressmen

U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan is scheduled to visit Knoxville Thursday evening for a private fundraiser hosted by Republican members of the Tennessee congressional delegation, according to a widely-distributed invitation.

The invitation says basic cost of admittance is $2,500 per couple — $10,000 to come early and have a photo made with Ryan and/or the congressmen. Checks go to Team Ryan, a political action committee set up by the House speaker that, in turn, is affiliated with the National Congressional Campaign Committee, fundraising arm of the U.S. House Republican Caucus.

Presumably, Tennessee congressional delegation members will get a piece of the proceeds..

The invite says you have to RSVP to get the location, but Brian Hornback reports the reception is at Knoxville’s Cherokee Country Club with another gathering apparently planned afterwards at the home of James A. “Big Jim” Haslam II, Gov. Bill Haslam’s father and founder of Pilot Corp., to benefit the governor’s political action committee. Admission to the Haslam PAC fundraiser is $25,000 per couple.

Corker says his criticism of Trump is ‘constructive,’ not ‘destructive’ — and gets White House cheers

While Sen. Bob Corker may be gaining a reputation as one of few Republican congressmen willing to publicly criticize Donald Trump – a notable example being his recent declaration that the White House is in a “downward spiral” – the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman tells BuzzFeed he makes the same points to Trump and his staff in frequent private discussions.

Coincidentally(?), Corker issued a press release Sunday basically praising Trump’s first trip overseas — after speaking with the president “at length.”

Excerpt from BuzzFeed:

Days (before the “downward spiral” remark), Corker had spoken to Trump over the phone about the firing of FBI director James Comey — an incident the Tennessee Republican publicly said would “raise questions.” And in a previous late-April private dinner, Corker said he made it clear to Trump that the turmoil in the White House was making it harder for Republicans to move forward with anything in Congress.

“I actually shared many of the same concerns, OK? Respectfully, of course,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed News Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve got close relations and talked frankly with people (at the White House) often,” he continued, repeating two words for emphasis: “Frankly. Often.”

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Sen. Mae Beavers announces intention to run for governor

News release from Sen. Mae Beavers

(May 27, 2017) State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mount Juliet) intends to formally announce a campaign for Governor of Tennessee at Charlie Daniels Park in Mount Juliet at 1 pm on Saturday, June 3, 2017. Further details for the campaign kickoff will be announced later this week.

“Over the past several weeks, it has become increasingly clear that conservatives in Tennessee are looking for bold leadership that will not shrink from standing up and speaking up on key issues facing our state,” Beavers said in making the announcement of her intentions to run. “President Donald J. Trump is taking the lead in Washington to “drain the swamp” there; but we have our own swamp in Tennessee and I intend to do the same thing in the Volunteer State.”

mae

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Haslam signs controversial gun bill

Gov. Bill Haslam signed into law Friday a bill (HB508) that requires city and county governments to install new security measures at public buildings where firearms are banned and makes them subject to paying triple lawyer fees of individuals or organizations that successfully sue local governments over gun issues.

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Rep. Joe Pitts won’t seek reelection in 2018

News release from House Democratic Caucus

NASHVILLE — Clarksville Rep. Joe Pitts has announced that he will retire from the State Legislature after the end of the 110th General Assembly in 2018.  In a letter to his supporters, (see attached), Pitts said, “It’s time for me to step aside and allow another citizen legislator to experience the excitement of helping their constituents…some of the finest people anywhere.”

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State officials give final approval to five-year outsourcing contract with JLL

News release from Department of General Services

The State of Tennessee has executed a five-year contract with Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL) to provide statewide facilities management services.  The contract is effective today (May 26, 2017).

JLL was selected following a two-year multi-step procurement process led by the state’s Central Procurement Office that included representatives from higher education, general government and the legislature.

As we have consistently said, the contract will protect the livelihoods of current state facilities management employees, and is another tool for state departments and institutions to use to keep their expenses low, reducing the need for cost and tuition increases.

To view the contract, (go HERE.)

 Contract Background and Highlights

 ·         The State of Tennessee began to look at opportunities in professional facilities management services after studying results from 10 million square feet of state-owned office buildings currently under a similar arrangement in which taxpayer savings of about $26 million were achieved over three years. An additional third-party inspection of the cost analysis upheld forecasted savings if the program were expanded to more state buildings.

·         Participation by state agencies and institutions is voluntary.

·         The contract includes strict provisions that JLL will retain all current state facilities employees (provided they pass a background check and drug screening).

·         JLL will provide compensation equalization for every employee that is transitioned to ensure that they are made whole at the time of transition.

·         Tennessee’s facilities management program implemented in 2013 is considered innovative nationally, receiving awards from the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) in 2014 and from the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) in 2015.

Today the state is also announcing Charles Burkett as the contract governance executive.  A Memphis native, Burkett is a 41-year veteran of the financial services/ banking industry, and most recently a member of the University of Memphis leadership team serving as advisor to the president.  In his role at the university, Burkett was responsible for a range of strategic initiatives including implementation of quality improvement measurements of student satisfaction and managing residence life and dining.

In his new contract governance role, he will be responsible for ensuring the overall oversight of the statewide contract to ensure best service across all stakeholders, and for serving as the main point of contact for interested entities that would like to request a quote for service.

Burkett is a former member of the state’s FM Steering Committee, and will continue to serve as a liaison between the statewide contract with JLL and committee members, which will transition in name to Board of Advisors. Representatives on this advisory committee are from higher education and general government leadership.

Note/UPDATE: The Nashville Post reports Burkett will be paid $95 per hour under a contract, which would be $197,600 for a full year of 40-hour week – more than $20,000 more than his salary at the University of Memphis. Further:

He (Burkett) also was a member of the Facilities Management Steering Committee, which oversaw the secretive two-year process that resulted in JLL’s contract. Roberson said the steering committee will transition to a “Board of Advisors” overseeing the contract.

Roberson said the membership of the new board of advisors could be shaken up, but as it currently stands it consists of the head of the Department of Customer Focused Government, Terry Cowles (salary: $150,000); Bob Oglesby, the commissioner of the Department of General Services (salary: $159,996); Mike Perry, the head of procurement in General Services (salary: $147,900); Larry Martin, the commissioner of the Department of Finance and Administration (salary: $190,260); Brock Hill, a deputy commissioner of the Department of Environment & Conservation (salary: $146,532); Russ Deaton, the deputy executive director of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (salary: $155,004); Rick Nicholson, the budget analysis director for the Senate (salary: $110,220); and David Miller, the CFO of the UT system (salary: $310,000). TBR has not had a member on the committee since Warren Nichols left for a new job at the beginning of the year but is expected to appoint someone soon.

Green Valley Developmental Center finally closes

News release from Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

GREENEVILLE – The final two people living at Greene Valley Developmental Center (GVDC) transitioned to their new homes on Friday, effectively closing the state institution after more than 5 decades of operation.

Tennessee joins 13 other states and the District of Columbia with no large, state-run institutions for people with intellectual disabilities, which is a significant milestone in improving the lives of people with disabilities in Tennessee.

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Eight new TN sites added to National Register of Historic Places

News release from Tennessee Historical Commission

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Historical Commission announced today (May 19) the addition of eight Tennessee sites to the National Register of Historic Places.

“As Tennessee grows, it is important to recognize the unique historic places that help define us,” said Patrick McIntyre, state historic preservation officer and executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission. “The National Register is an honorary designation that emphasizes the importance of these special properties worth maintaining and passing along to future generations.”

Eight sites recently added to the National Register of Historic Places are:

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GOP guber candidate forum draws Boyd, Black, Green and Lee; not Harwell, Norris and Beavers

The two active Republican candidates for governor, Randy Boyd and Bill Lee, were on hand for a Rutherford County GOP forum Thursday night along with two prospective candidates, U.S. Rep. Diane Black and state Sen. Mark Green, reports The Tennessean.  Three other potential candidates – House Speaker Beth Harwell, Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris and state Sen. Mae Beavers – did not attend.

Excerpts from Joel Ebert’s story:

Green, who recently withdrew as President Trump’s nominee for U.S. Army secretary, did not announce resumption of his suspended campaign for governor but “he certainly stoked speculation.”

“Part warrior … part businessman, part senator and leader, I’m honored with the gifts that God’s given me and I look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve in whatever capacity that is,” he said during his opening remarks.

… Some differences between the candidates was evident on a question about federal overreach. Although all the candidates says the federal government have overreached in various ways in recent years, Boyd, the Former Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner, said he is concerned that sometimes state lawmakers do things to inappropriately exert authority on local governments.

“I worry that sometimes the same things that we complain about Washington, D.C., we do when we go to Nashville and we do back to our local communities,” he said. Boyd said one of his rules would be if local governments can make a decision, they should always be diverted to first. “That will be a guiding principal in my administration.”

Note: Norris and Beavers both said they had conflicting commitments. Harwell cited a family medical situation, reportedly a sister who has been hospitalized in serious condition.

Sessions gives tough-on-crime speech in Memphis; draws protesters

Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of about 100 law enforcement officials in Memphis, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed opioid abuse, urged protection of the country’s southern border and vowed to dismantle transnational cartels, drug trafficking and gangs, reports the Commercial Appeal.

He cited a 43 percent increase in homicides last year in Memphis as showing the need for tougher action. About 100 protesters were outside.

“If you are a gang member, know this: You think you are targeting us. Well, we are targeting you,” he said. “We will find you. We will devastate your networks. We will starve your revenue sources, deplete your ranks and seize your profits. We will not concede a single block or single street corner to illegal gangs.”

Sessions said 230 more Assistant United States attorneys will be hired nationwide, and he reiterated that he has empowered federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense in each case.”

To reduce opioid abuse, deaths and crime, he said prevention programs “in the long run are the most important and effective thing we can do.”

About 100 protesters also showed up, according to a sidebar story. They marched from the Memphis City Hall to the federal courthouse where Sessions was speaking chanting slogans including “No justice, no peace!” and “No racist police!” and “Hey, ho, Jeff Sessions has got to go!”

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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