Monthly Archives: October 2017

One arrest, but otherwise things were fairly peaceful at TN ‘White Lives Matter’ rallies

A pair of white nationalist rallies in two Tennessee towns went off relatively peacefully Saturday with only one arrest, after police prepared carefully to keep demonstrators and counter demonstrators under control, reports ABC News.

One “White Lives Matter” attendee who was standing with the white nationalists was arrested during the first rally, in Shelbyville. The white male, wearing a green fleece jacket, was approached by a flurry of cops who quickly pulled him through a temporarily detached metal barricade, pinning protesters on two sides of a street. Police took the unidentified man away in a golf cart.

At the second rally, in Murfreesboro, there were no reported injuries, damage or arrests, city officials said.

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Black uses Trump tweet praise for fundraising

President Donald Trump on Friday sent a tweet praising U.S. Rep. Diane Black. She promptly turned it into a fundraising effort for her gubernatorial campaign.

The Trump tweet: “Diane Black of Tennessee, the highly respected House Budget Committee Chairwoman, did a GREAT job in passing Budget, setting up big Tax Cuts.”

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Corker for president? ‘It’s way too early to be thinking about those things’

Retiring U.S. Sen. Bob Corker on Friday wouldn’t rule out a possible 2020 challenge to President Donald Trump, but stressed his primary focus remains on completing his third and final term in the Senate, reports the Times Free Press.

“The only thing I’m talking about now over the next 14 months truly is doing the best job I can as a senator,” the former Chattanooga mayor told reporters in Gatlinburg after a state economic and community development conference.

Asked whether he was thinking about or ruling out a Republican primary challenge to Trump in 2020, Corker said: “If you even begin thinking those things, everything you do becomes viewed through a different lens. I’ve got 14 months to do the best job that I can.”

“It’s way way too early,” Corker later noted. “Does [Trump] even run again? It’s way too early to be thinking about those things.”

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Blackburn defends her role in passage of opioid law

U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a key player in the passage of a federal law that critics say has made it more difficult to restrain the deadly opioid epidemic, says she has seen no evidence to back up the contentions and that it’s “absolutely absurd” to link political contributions to her support for the questioned law, reports Michael Collins for USA Today.

Blackburn, who is running next year for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Bob Corker, said Thursday her involvement in the law grew out of a sincere effort to make sure that people who have a legitimate need for prescription drugs are able to get them while at the same time cracking down on illicit opioid use.

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VA hospitals in Memphis, Nashville and Murfreesboro rated among worst in nation

Three of Tennessee’s four Veterans Administration hospitals — those in Memphis, Nashville and Murfreesboro — are rated among the worst in the entire VA network of nearly 150 hospitals in a new report, reports The Tennessean. That contrasts to northeast Tennessee’s Mountain Home VA hospital, which again was given 4 out of 5 stars.

The ratings show that each of the three poorly rated hospitals made improvements, and at two of them — Murfreesboro and Nashville — significant improvements. But even that upward trend didn’t change the overall rating.

In response to the ratings, the three hospitals issued almost the exact same response, each statement replacing only the name of the hospital.

“Secretary (David) Shulkin has been clear that transparency is a crucial component of our efforts to reform the department. That’s why we’re posting these important end-of-year ratings, which document improvements at 64 percent of rated VA medical centers,” the statement read (using the Memphis example). “Regionally, the Memphis Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center rates well above local area hospitals in almost every facet of outpatient care. It is most important to note the facility improved overall against its own baseline.”

…In some data sets generated by the VA itself, the hospitals do compare favorably to others. But other data sets that are included in the overall rating show mortality rates at Memphis three times higher than benchmarks, longer lengths of stays and higher readmission rates at all three.

 

MTSU Poll: Corker’s TN approval rating has dropped below Trump’s rating (both down following feud)

News release from Middle Tennessee State University

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — Disapproval of Republican Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker has risen to 41 percent among Tennessee voters, according to the latest MTSU Poll, a 14-point climb since last spring and in the wake of his public feud with President Donald Trump.

Disapproval of Trump edged up, too, from 32 to 40 percent during the same period. But Trump’s approval held steady at 50 percent, well above the national approval rate of about 37 percent. Corker’s approval dropped from 52 percent in the spring to 45 percent now, putting his approval rate below Trump’s but in the same range, given the poll’s 4-percentage-point error margin.

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TN September jobless rate 3 percent; all counties below 5 percent

News release from the governor’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Burns Phillips announced today that in September 2017, for the first time ever, below 5 percent in every county across the state. This is the second consecutive month rates have declined in each of Tennessee’s 95 counties.   Continue reading

TBI agents, investigating former Rep. Jeremy Durham, ask legislators about bribery

TBI agents recently interviewed at least two state legislators – House Majority Leader Glen Casada, R-Franklin, and Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden — in conjunction with a criminal investigation into former Rep. Jerry Durham, reports The Tennessean. The agents specifically asked about bribery, but Casada and Holt said they were unaware of any such activity.

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‘Veterans Coalition’ backs Bill Lee for governor

News release from Bill Lee campaign

FRANKLIN, Tenn. – Williamson County businessman and farmer Bill Lee announced the formation of the Veterans for Bill Lee Coalition. The group, consisting of Tennessee military veterans across every branch of service, will serve in an advisory role to Lee on state veterans and Tennessee Military Department issues.

“I’m honored and grateful to have the support and counsel of these great Tennessee leaders,” said Lee. “There is no group that we owe more to than our veterans, and I will make our state the number one state for veterans to live and work.”

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Rep. Charles Sargent won’t seek reelection

(NASHVILLE) — State Representative Charles Sargent (R-Franklin) today announced that he will not seek re-election to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 2018.

Instead, Sargent has chosen to focus on his health. The Chairman of the House Finance, Ways, & Means Committee has dealt with skin cancer in prior years and was recently diagnosed with a related condition that requires additional treatment.

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