It's as if they planned it just so we couldn't include them in this year's Boner Awards.
Opponents of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro are at it again, this time in an effort to block an expansion of the ICM's cemetery. Last night, the Rutherford County Board of Zoning Appeals deferred a decision on the expansion until the new year.
BZA member Keith Bratcher on a 3-2 vote won approval of a motion that called for a deferral until at least Jan. 8 or until the ICM can answer his questions with third-party expert answers about whether the soils can handle burials without caskets or vaults and the impact of traffic at the mosque entrance on Veals Road as well as the nearby intersection of Veals and Bradyville Pike.
Fellow BZA members Joe Crowell and Joe Meshotto agreed with Bratcher, but Jerry Sartain and Chairman Zane Contrell disagreed.
The BZA meeting lasted about four hours with most of it including the public hearing on the cemetery request.
Since it's the only toad native to Puerto Rico, conservationists have made a concerted effort to try to raise the population of the southern toads. Enter the Nashville Zoo. According to FOX17, the zoo has sent thousands of tadpoles to the island.
The Nashville Zoo began efforts to breed the Puerto Rican crested toad since first acquiring the species in 2008 but was not successful until last year. A recent shipment of 3,774 tadpoles has brought the total number to more than 5,000 produced for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to release back into their native habitat in Puerto Rico.
I admit to being a little jealous. With December being what it is, who wouldn't want to go to Puerto Rico to make sure the little guys get settled in okay?
Anyway, we've had some good conservation successes here and it's nice to know that we're able to help other places have successes of their own.
From Bites: Chef Erik Anderson leaving The Catbird Seat
From The Atlantic: Why a Fair Death Penalty May Never Be Fair
The results of two polls released Wednesday morning offered conflicting pictures of the Republican U.S. Senate primary between Sen. Lamar Alexander and his Tea Party challenger, state Rep. Joe Carr.
The first, released by Democratic Senate candidate Terry Adams' campaign, declared the Senior Senator "surprisingly vulnerable" in the primary, and even suggested Adams might have a shot at the incumbent in the general election. Conducted by Public Policy Polling — a left-leaning operation that has drawn criticism for its methodology — the poll showed Alexander at 46 percent in the GOP primary, with Carr trailing closely at 40 percent (margin of error: +/- 5 percent).
The poll's general election figures seemed particularly curious. Amongst "uninformed" general election voters, the polls shows Alexander at 45 percent with Adams at 32 percent. But "after voters learn about Adams experiences as a veteran, and small business owner, middle class background, and statewide roots" Adams leads the incumbent by 4 points, coming in at 41 percent to Alexander's 37 percent.
After a quick gathering of the Metro Council last night, the Nashville Sounds new stadium at Sulphur Dell is a go.
From the Post:
Legislation enabling the project was the only thing on the agenda for Tuesday night’s special called meeting and it took no more than 30 minutes for the council to pass it all on third reading. The council approved the $65 million bond issue for the stadium by a vote of 29-7. Two other bills related to the project — one dealing with land acquisition and the other amending the Phillips-Jackson Street Redevelopment plan to accommodate the project — passed 31-5 and 34-2, respectively.
Along with the ballpark, which will sit on Jackson Street between Third and Fifth avenues, the project includes $87 million in expected private development. The current timeline would have the stadium ready for the Sounds opening day in 2015.
Read the full story here on what At-Large Councilman Jerry Maynard called a "historic" night. He wasn't alone in hailing the deal as a return to baseball's roots in the city, and a long-awaited public investment in North Nashville.
Sen. Lamar Alexander's Chief of Staff Ryan Loskarn is under an investigation involving child pornography.
A statement from Alexander:
“I was just informed by the United States Senate legal counsel’s office that law enforcement agents are conducting a search of the personal residence of Ryan Loskarn, the chief of staff of my Washington, D.C., office regarding allegations involving child pornography. I am stunned, surprised and disappointed by what I have learned. Based on this information, I immediately placed Mr. Loskarn on administrative leave without pay. The office is fully cooperating with the investigation.”
More as it develops.
Update (1:15 p.m.): Politico reports that Loskarn was taken from his home in handcuffs a little more than an hour ago. Citing a "Senate source, they report that "Agents put several bags of evidence and a computer in a postal inspector SUV. Agents also went to Alexander’s Senate office and sought access to Loskarn’s work computer."
Along with working under Alexander in the senator's office and at the Senate Republican Conference, Loskarn has also worked for Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn.
Whether you are for or against the death penalty, there's something about the lack of transparency in Tennessee's process that stinks.
Quite simply, if the state is going to be entrusted with the power to end a human life, it should do so in a way that doesn't inspire more questions than answers.
For example, where are the drugs that Tennessee executioners use coming from? In recent years, drugs in six states (including this one) were seized when it was found that they had been illegally imported from other countries.
States have sought to keep their new suppliers secret, reasoning that the companies might be harassed or otherwise influenced to shut off supplies if the public became aware of them.
Tennessee added an exemption in the Tennessee Open Records Act eight months ago in April to exempt from disclosure “an entity” directly involved in an execution.
Previously, the law allowed only for the names of people directly involved — such as those on the execution team — to be kept confidential.
The updated law explains that the entity could be one “involved in the procurement or provision of chemicals, equipment, supplies and other items for use in carrying out a sentence of death…”
The Tennessean reported in October that the Department of Correction had been waiting, in part, to get the confidentiality law in place before establishing its new lethal injection protocol that uses pentobarbital, common in animal euthanasia.
If the new one-drug protocol had been announced before the law change, it’s conceivable that a citizen might have requested information under the state’s open records act to successfully discover the drug supplier.
There is currently litigation over state secrecy laws in Arizona and Missouri working through the federal court system now.
If you are a death penalty supporter, laws like the one Tennessee enacted have the potential to introduce further delays into an already lengthy execution process. If you are a death penalty opponent, the state's statute raises the specter that drugs never intended for human application — or are expressly forbidden from being used in executions by their manufacturer — will be used to end lives, but we will never know because Tennessee is keeping it secret.
And as citizens, any time the state government mandates something be kept secret, we should be skeptical, if not alarmed.
(Full disclosure: I sit on the TCOG board)
Amnesty proponents want to wildly expand the Judeo-Christian duty to be charitable while severely contracting the obligation of aliens to obey the law. If being kind means that we ignore violations of our immigration laws, then being kind is little more than enabling lawbreakers. Enabling illegal aliens is exactly the reason that the immigration problem has mushroomed over the last several decades.
Got that? The Tennessee Eagle Forum is opposed to enabling the lawbreaking of immigrants. Usually.
And usually, they're kind of iffy on refugees. You may recall that they worked hard to help pass the Refugee Absorptive Capacity Act, that made sure Tennessee wasn't overburdening communities with refugees.
So, you'd think that, if the Tennessee Eagle Forum got wind of there being people here in Tennessee trying to claim refugee status after breaking laws in their home country, the Tennessee Eagle Forum would be first in line to throw those folks out of the country.
But you'd be wrong.
Three key takeaways from last night's Metro Nashville school board meeting:
1) After debating how much energy to spend picking another fight with the state, the Metro Nashville Public Schools board voted 9-0 for a resolution pressuring the governor and General Assembly to adequately fund education. The idea was brought to the board by the Coalition of Large School Systems to target the complicated Basic Education Program funding formula that dictates how much state funding school districts receive. According to a state review committee, Davidson County would be on the receiving end of an additional $12 million if the state fully funded the BEP this year.
Debate fell along what appears to be subtle lines of allegiance, with Chairwoman Cheryl Mayes, Amy Frogge and Will Pinkston stressing importance of the resolution and members Elissa Kim and Sharon Gentry warning against spending too much energy on this fight. School districts large and small dislike the state’s current funding formula, but Gov. Bill Haslam is uninterested in the complex task of changing it right now. Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman told the Scene Tuesday the state has finite resources, adding “There’s a pie and the question is how do you divide that pie. And reconstructing the BEP doesn’t make the pie bigger."
2) Nearly two dozen people signed up to talk at last night’s meeting, with more than half of them signed up with the help of the Tennessee Charter School Center. The students and parents from area charter schools — largely from Nashville Prep — each spent their three minutes articulating to the board their experiences with traditional schools that turned them toward charters, or what they or their students have gotten out of their education since joining the charter community.
The visit to the school board comes a month after the board voted 7-1 to limit next year’s charter school applications to those turning around low-performing schools or opening in high population growth areas mainly in South Nashville. Proponents of the policy at the district say this will focus charters to where the district needs them most, although charter advocates argue the move "amounts to a moratorium on charter school growth."
3) At next month's meeting look for Board Member Will Pinkston to propose the board prioritize money for pre-K over the next few years. Although the budget picture looks tight for MNPS, this is considered a way to begin slowly expanding what the district hopes will ultimately become a universal pre-K program down the line. At the state level, Haslam is reserving a decision on whether to expand the state's pre-K offerings until after a study by Vanderbilt University is concluded.
The nitty grity, after the jump.
Hey, Tennessean subscribers, do you like USA Today? Well even if you don't, Gannett is going to give it to you local.
The Gannett-owned newspaper will begin adding 12 to 15 pages of content from USA Today to its daily editions in January, according to a report in the New York Times, along with papers in suburban New York City and Cincinnati.
Gannett has been testing the program at four papers — in Indianapolis; Rochester; Fort Myers, Fla.; and Appleton, Wis. — since October and plans to add the new markets throughout the first quarter of 2014. Eventually it plans to extend the program to all of its 81 local newspaper markets.
The plan represents a major move for Gannett, which experienced a deep dip in third-quarter advertising revenue this year compared with 2012, when it benefited from advertising associated with the Olympics and the presidential election season. By incorporating USA Today into local papers, Gannett is able to increase the national paper’s circulation by roughly 1.5 million readers during the week and 2.5 million readers on Sundays, and then try to sell advertising against these larger numbers.
That's the key: circulation. As print circulation has tumbled down, Gannett has looked for ways to prop its national newspaper up. They will begin to count the local inserts as circulation for the flagship and give USA Today a multi-million reader footprint on Sunday, something it's never had.
The project, called "Butterfly" within the company, represents a continuation of a years-long shift within the newspaper chain, where local papers perform fewer tasks that can be handled by corporate.
Three years ago, Gannett eliminated copy editing and design jobs at local papers and moved production work to five different regional hubs (including one in Nashville). As Gannett papers, including the The Tennessean, have sought ways to cut costs, they have eliminated space and sections from the paper, particularly in so-called "commodity" coverage areas like like national news, finance and features. You could argue that the insert will add some of that content back to the paper, even though none of it will be local.
USA Today publisher Larry Kramer called it the application of a "network affiliate model," according to the Times. The insert will have nation, world, financial and lifestyle news, but sports coverage will remain in the current sports section.
Along with the rollout, Tennessean.com will likely be remade in USA Today's image soon, too. Redesigns of the Indianapolis and Rochester sites arrived within the last three months and the company announced plans to have 35 newspaper and broadcast sites converted to USAToday.com templates by the end of the year.
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