Monthly Archives: May 2017

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!”

Allison Burchett, ex-wife of Knox County mayor, gets probation in ‘cyberstalking’ case

Knox County’s former first lady  — the ex-wife of county Mayor Tim Burchett — confessed Thursday to cyberstalking the cancer-stricken estranged wife of her millionaire beau, reports the News Sentinel.

Allison Burchett, 35, pleaded guilty in Knox County Criminal Court to six misdemeanor charges of unlawful access to the computer accounts of Nicole Strickland, the estranged wife of Burchett’s live-in lover and Bandit Lites owner Michael Strickland.

She will serve no jail time. Instead, she will spend four years on probation. She is not barred from the internet but must give her probation officer access to her social media accounts and stay away from victim Nicole Strickland.

The deal has been mired in controversy, with Nicole Strickland objecting to the proposal and crying foul over her treatment by the Knox County District Attorney’s office…  Burchett is now under investigation for another hacking that occurred while she was on bond and involved two potential witnesses in the cyberstalking case.

The hearing itself proved controversial, with Senior Judge Don R. Ash blocking Nicole Strickland from reading a victim impact statement — a violation of the Tennessee Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights law.

Tribute paid to five servicemen who made ‘ultimate sacrifice’ in TN Memorial Day ceremony

News release from state Department of Veterans Affairs

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, Tennessee Department of Veterans Services Commissioner Many-Bears Grinder and Tennessee Military Department Adjutant General, Major General Terry “Max” Haston paid tribute to five service members who gave the ultimate sacrifice during the state’s Memorial Day service today.

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Haslam on calls for veto of gun bill: ‘Probably wasting your breath’

Questioned about the most controversial gun bill approved by the legislature this year, Gov. Bill Haslam says there’s no point in vetoing a measure that passed by lopsided majorities.

The bill (HB508) makes it easier – perhaps even profitable – for gunowners and groups such as the National Rifle Association to sue cities and counties over any restrictions imposed on carrying firearms by persons with a concealed carry permit. A successful plaintiff, under the bill, could get triple the attorney fees paid in a legal challenge to a local ordinance.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and several groups have urged Haslam to veto the measure. Asked if he will, Haslam said he’s still officially reviewing the measure, then added (as quoted by WPLN):

“You can veto it, but if something passes two-to-one, you’re probably wasting your breath,” Haslam says. “So you’re better off to try to work on the front end to try to get the bill in as good a shape as it can be.”

In Tennessee, lawmakers can override a governor’s veto with a simple majority.

The bill passed the House 70-24. The Senate vote was 26-6. It also came back to the House for concurrence on a Senate amendment and that vote was 71-14. The bill reached his desk on May 18, according to the legislative website. Under the state constitution, he has 10 days from that date — excluding Sundays — to make a decision (which, it appears, would actually fall on Memorial Day).  Besides signing the bill or vetoing it, the governor can let it become law without his signature

Corker criticizes ‘awkward process’ of closed-door Senate development of Obamacare replacement

There has been some media attention to Sen. Bob Corker’s recent criticism of secrecy surrounding development of a Republican U.S. Senate plan to replace and repeal Obamacare – a process where fellow Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander has been actively engaged, though the committee Alexander chairs was bypassed.

Corker’s comments, as initially reported by the Huffington Post Tuesday:

“It’s a very awkward process, at best,” he told reporters. “There are no experts. There’s no actuarials. … Typically, in a hearing, you’d have people coming in and you’d also have the media opining about if a hearing took place, and X came in and made comments.”

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UT gets diversity funding back; legislator waits to see if ‘they’ll clean up their act’

Amid considerable controversy, the Legislature last year diverted $445,882 of University of Tennessee-Knoxville funding from its Office for Diversity and Inclusion and into a minority engineering scholarships fund. But the legislative mandate expires June 30, meaning UT officials could again spend it on promoting racial and cultural diversity on campus.

From a News Sentinel review of the matter:

It’s one of the first major decisions new UT Chancellor Beverly Davenport will have to make on campus and one that state lawmakers, many of whom have voiced opposition to the diversity office in the past, will closely be watching.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

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

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