Gov. Phil Bredesen’s quick move to dump Mike Miller as state Department of Children’s Services commissioner underscores one of the ways running state government is different for Bredesen from his days as Nashville mayor.
Miller had been the respected head of the Metro Department of Social Services for a dozen years before Bredesen recruited him to the state when he became governor. This week, Bredesen asked for Miller’s resignation after just 10 months on the job. The ouster apparently reflects Bredesen’s concern about the slow pace of change in the long-troubled department, which is the focus of a federal court suit over the quality of care for children in the state’s custody.
Concern over Miller’s leadership was apparently stirred by the department’s responses to the federal court in a formal status report earlier this month, and to a negative state audit earlier this fall. The department, with responsibility for overseeing the welfare of nearly 10,000 foster children, could be a major political liability, and Bredesen is obviously not prepared to let problems fester (even though it could be argued that no manager could reverse the department’s problems in just 10 months’ time). Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has suffered serious damage to his reputation due to problems involving foster care in his state. In New Jersey, state politicians are under fire after social workers failed to notice that boys in foster care were not being fedone 19-year-old had wasted away to 45 pounds. When discovered, the boys were scrounging in the garbage and eating wallboard.
As mayor, Bredesen inherited a team of department heads protected by civil service and stayed with a number of them long after he had lost confidence in their abilities to manage their departments. A number of the problem personnel areas were left behind for his successor, Bill Purcell, who was undaunted by the civil service protections and wasted little time in making them so miserable that they resigned.
State department heads serve at the pleasure of the governormaking the governor more responsible for the level of their performance. As a consequence, Bredesen has acted more quickly to deal with this problem, particularly given that he was been responsible for hiring Miller.
Internet tax fight continues
Sen. Lamar Alexander continues his stand for states’ rights in the Internet access taxation question.
Pending legislation that he opposes would bar states from collecting Internet access charges, including some states like Tennessee that already collect such taxes. The issue is currently worth about $18 million in annual revenue in Tennessee, but critics contend the actual risk is much higher because it might also cost states telecommunications taxes they currently collect as customers shift to Internet-based telephone services.
The bill has already rumbled through the House, and it appeared headed to similar victory in the Senate until faced with opposition from a group of former governors, including Alexander, who pointed out that Congress was being awfully generous with someone else’s tax base.
Sticking points on striking a compromise have been duration of new legislation and language about the definition of Internet access. In its analysis of the bill, the Congressional Budget Office noted, “It is possible that states could lose revenue if services that are currently taxed are redefined as 'Internet access’ under the definition in the bill. Revenues could also be lost if Internet access providers chose to bundle products and call the products 'Internet access.’ Such changes would reduce state and local revenues from telecommunications taxes and possibly revenue from content currently subject to sales and use taxes.”
Where to go, where to go?
In the old days, a Boston Irish politician may have led a delegation of faithful constituents to go and visit the Vatican. Louisiana’s good-time rogue Gov. Edwin Edwards once led a fund-raising trip to Las Vegas. But where would you take your followers to bond if you represented the rich Republican suburbs? What is the spiritual home of Brentwoodites?
Apparently, it’s Saks Fifth Avenue.
Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn led a group of constituents who coughed up $1,000 campaign contributions this past weekend to New York for an evening cocktail reception, entertainment and a day of shopping a Saks, including a fashion show. Participants were responsible for their own transportation and lodging.
With material like this, who needs satire?
A Ludye greatest hit
Metro Council member Ludye Wallace apparently is dissatisfied with his cell phone planor its charges. He’s filed a resolution that makes some of the body’s worst legislation to date seem wholly relevant.
Specifically, Wallace is requesting the FCC, President George Bush, Senate majority leader Bill Frist, House Speaker Dennis Hastert, Congress and the Tennessee General Assembly to “examine the feasibility of requiring all wireless telecommunications providers to charge customers only for the amount of time per call actually used and allow customers to carry over unused minutes.”
Readers may be saying “Amen,” but trust us: This isn’t an issue for the Metro Council.
I think mothers should be able to go out with their children no matter their…
Yeah, I guess we should expect all mothers — or fathers — who are out…
R Stephen Traywick Shows that he has NO argument against Tea Party ideas by his…
this mother sounds like a rude, elitist yuppie with extremely poor parenting skills. She sounds…
Nashville actually has three rugby teams, the Grizzlies (fielding a Division 3 side in the…