Friday, December 28, 2007

Above Average

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2007 at 11:10 AM

The City Paper reports today that Nashville is above the national average for unemployment (4.9 percent vs. 4.7 percent nationally). And, as it turns out, we're also above the national average for power derived from coal (66 percent vs. 50 percent nationally). We're also above-average for CO2 emissons. This, according to a handy EPA site. (Via Knox News, via VV.) Here's how the "eGrid region SERC Tennessee Valley," which includes 37206, shakes out:

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007


Posted By on Tue, Dec 25, 2007 at 12:00 AM

Merry Christmas, Nashville.

Friday, December 21, 2007

The Wright Stuff III

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 2:30 PM

Metro public school parents are scratching their heads over the latest earth-shaking wrinkle in the MNPS school attire saga: the crucial matter of hoodies. Although the “standard school attire” policy was implemented systemwide, it’s an open secret around the city that different principals have implemented it with varying degrees of tolerance for deviation and enforcement alacrity. Now that colder weather has arrived, bringing with it chillier buildings, some principals are allowing students to wear hooded sweatshirts, while others are apparently sticking with the policy’s formal guideline on outerwear: “a single blazer, suit jacket, vest, sweater, or cardigan is permitted as a garment that may be worn over the Standard Attire top” (shirt with a collar). This raises challenging questions: Is a hooded sweatshirt a type of “sweater”? Or perhaps it can be framed as a “blazer”? Will hooded sweatshirts in classrooms bring down the Republic? Who can possibly sort out this mess? Clearly, it’s another case for intrepid MNPS Chief Administrative Offer Ben Wright, who earlier this week offered up the latest in his ongoing series of must-see communiqués, this one an email to all MNPS principals (reproduced here verbatim as provided to Pith by Wright):
I am getting many calls from parents and principals about hoodies; please remember that we do have a policy against hoodies in school, however we no not have a policy in regards to what outer garment students may wear to school. I recall this exact question coming up at the principals meeting in regards to hooded sweat shirts that were being sold at school with the school logo on them in regards to students being able to wear those. Parents have called to question why should they purchase clothing form the school that their children cannot wear; we have told parents that the policy is what it is, therefore I am asking you to use your best judgment in dealing with these issues. I know that some of you think that this mean that hoodies are allowed to be worn during school, when in reality, the policy did not change.
Wright points out that the word “hoodie” appears nowhere in the school attire policy. School officials, he tells us, will be discussing these matters further during the first week of January.

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CNN Reports Eric Volz Free

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2007 at 2:17 PM

Finally, this poor kid's hell will end.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Judge to State: Release Paul House

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 1:48 PM

A post from the Scene's Sarah Kelley, reporting from the road: After spending more than two decades on Tennessee’s death row, Paul House might finally be exonerated for a murder even the U.S. Supreme Court says he probably didn't commit. A federal judge in Knoxville today issued a ruling saying House must be released and his conviction thrown out unless the state commences a new trial in the next 180 days. Although House has maintained his innocence all along, it wasn’t until more than 10 years after his conviction that DNA evidence cast doubt on his guilt, instead pointing to the victim’s husband as the likely killer. Despite this new evidence, the state has continued to fight his release, even after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that “no reasonable juror” would have convicted House given the new evidence. U.S. District Judge Harry Mattice Jr. stated in today’s ruling that House “is entitled to a new trial on all the evidence,” or else the state must release him. In his ruling, Judge Mattice further faults prosecutors for failing to turn over key information regarding the mishandling of blood evidence by authorities, and the fact that the victim’s husband had sex with the victim the morning of the murder, information that would have assisted defense counsel in refuting the claim that their client raped the victim.

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Lamar's Captain Ahab Quest

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 11:42 AM

Lamar Alexander, whose crusade to wipe out windmills borders on the monomaniacal, is at it again. This time, as this week's Munday Message from Democratic Party flack Wade Munday chronicles, Alexander championed an amendment to end tax credits for alternative wind energy. It failed miserably by a vote of 79-14, with even Alexander's buddy Bob Corker voting against it. So did Sen. Ted Kennedy, who used to team up with Alexander to tilt at windmills. Both senators own property on Massachusetts' Nantucket Island where a wind energy project has been proposed offshore. In 2005, the Senate slam-dunked their bill to cripple the wind power industry. Now, even Kennedy apparently is too embarrassed to keep up the fight. Not Alexander. He won't give up. He just hates windmills. In a 2005 speech, he said, "These wind turbines are not your grandmother's windmills, gently pumping water from the farm well." No, the senator fumed, painting a frightening picture of flashing, red monsters in our midst, "just one of these giant wind turbines" ... "would rise to more than twice the height of the highest skybox" in the mammoth Neyland Stadium. "Its rotor blades would stretch almost from 10-yard line to 10-yard line. And on a clear night, its flashing red lights could be seen for 20 miles." We're beginning to worry about Lamar's mental state.

Fred Watch

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 at 11:19 AM

Fred Heads are hoping their guy pulls a Christmas miracle in the presidential campaign, but there's no sign of it yet. The latest poll shows Thompson tanking at 5 percent in Iowa, despite his supposedly winning performance in last week's debate and the kickoff of his bus tour of that state. It looks like a two-man race between Huckabee and Romney. If anyone is making a comeback, it's McCain. Thompson's not doing so great in South Carolina anymore either, dropping to third in all the polls lately, behind Huckabee and Romney. And even his 50-stop barnstorming of Iowa hasn't stopped the Fred-is-lazy stories. The Politico's Roger Simon was upset because Thompson didn't walk down the main street of Waverly, Iowa, as promised, and because he wouldn't don a fire hat or sit in the fire truck at the local fire hall. Simon wrote:
When he was supposed to go out and find voters in shops and diners, talk to them and answer their questions, he decided to skip it and get back on his luxury bus instead. That’s not retail politics. That’s not Iowa. And that’s not laconic. That’s lazy.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Culture of Sleaze

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 3:23 PM

This week's Scene looks at the culture of sleaze in the legislature and considers whether Democrats will ever suffer at the ballot box for the transgressions of Jerry Cooper, et al. State GOP flack Bill Hobbs:
"Can I forecast that we definitely will win Cooper’s old seat? No, but we’ve seen this on the national level and on the state level—when there’s a steady drip, drip, drip of news and scandal that seems to focus more on one party than the other, that party eventually pays the price at the polls.”
Which gives me the opportunity to point to the latest from Rob Briley (courtesy of John Rodgers in the City Paper). Turns out Briley was actually trying to drive himself to rehab when he got plastered, hit another car and led police on a 100-mph chase. And he only called police Nazis and kicked out the window of their squad car because his elbow was broken and it really, really hurt when they handcuffed him. And don't forget that the only reason he crawled into the bottle again in the first place was because he started remembering that he had been abused as a child by somebody. Poor bastard. The really crazy thing is that Democrats are always pointing to Briley as one of the brightest bulbs in the legislature. Update: The City Paper editorializes against the culture of sleaze and even Sean Braisted can't muster much defense of Democrats, pointing out the outrageous plaudits for Cooper from Senate leaders when he resigned.

Fred Vs. Mitt

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 12:35 PM

Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney are mixing it up on the campaign finance reform issue in a really silly squabble. Limiting the influence of big money in politics was a centerpiece of Thompson's '94 Senate race back when he was running in Tennessee and didn't have to worry that much about appealing to right-wingers. But Republicans hate McCain-Feingold because it curbs the influence of pro-life, pro-gun and other single-issue groups. So now Romney is roughing up Thompson on the issue. And Thompson is hitting back today in Iowa, saying Romney was a bigger reformer than he was. Which is true because Thompson was never for spending limits and public financing of campaigns like Romney was. It tells you something about the Republican Party when it's a good thing if you want to give special interests more power in politics. An interesting side issue: In Iowa, Thompson, who is polling far behind Romney, was asked why Romney is bothering to criticize him. "They have plenty of money to run all kinds of special polls and do special research," Thompson replied. "I think they know what's going on here."

Youth Center Takes Another Hit

Posted By on Wed, Dec 19, 2007 at 11:39 AM

Last month, we reported on the death of two teens and the abuse of countless others at the Chad Youth Enhancement Center, a treatment facility for troubled youth located just outside of Clarksville. Now the family of one teen who died at the hands of Chad's staff is fighting back. Yesterday, the family of Omega Leach, a 17-year-old from Philadelphia who lived at Chad for a mere month before he died of strangulation when two male counselors put him a physical restraint, sued the city of Philadelphia. As described here, the lawsuit claims that Philadelphia's child welfare agency acted in “shocking disregard” by sending Leach to the facility for treatment in May—even after a Chad employee called the city in 2005 to report that staff were too rough with residents. The family also named Chad and the company that owns it, Universal Health Services, in the suit. The suit described conditions at Chad, a facility that is still licensed by Tennessee's Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, as “manifestly unsafe and dangerous.” But Chad is certainly not the only state-licensed facility to come under fire recently for abuse. Read the Scene report about a similar facility in our own backyard.

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