Over at the News Sentinel, they have a story about the sorry state of affairs when it comes to the number of women serving on the University of Tennessee System's Board of Trustees.
Thousands more women than men take classes at the four University of Tennessee campuses across the state.
Yet the 26-member governing board that oversees the statewide university system has only seven women on it. Three of those are faculty or student trustees who serve only one year as voting members.
Yes, only seven women. And it's fun to blame Gov. Haslam for this, since he's replaced the people who've left the board during his tenure with people of matching gender. But this has obviously been a problem longer than Gov. Haslam has been in charge.
But it's a strange thing when more women use a service than men do (say, college, in this case), and more women than men are going into the line of work that provides the service (say, teaching college, in this case), but the real power positions that guide the direction of that service are still primarily men.
It'd be great if Haslam made a real effort to get more women on the Board. We're over half the population. It's not like one or two or even seven of us can speak to the experiences of all of us.
Back in July, when the leaders of several county chapters of the Republican party were suggesting she had connections to terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood, Samar Ali was understandably quiet.
But during a recent trip to east Tennessee, the state Department of Economic and Community Development's international director spoke with the Chattanooga Times Free-Press, and commented on the furor for the first time:
Ali, who grew up in Waverly, Tenn., and was once student president at Vanderbilt University, said such attacks were "hurtful." But she called them "silly" and untrue. The 30-year-old lawyer said she has been pleased by the support of the Haslam administration and others across the state as she tries to expand the international reach of the state's products and services.
She says she is focused on expanding the state's trade offices around the globe and working to boost exports from Tennessee by 10 percent in each of the next five years.
"I really believe that adversity does introduce you to yourself," she said during a recent visit to Chattanooga. "I joined this administration because I really love Tennessee and believe in Gov. Haslam's vision and leadership."
For the record, in a letter sent in August to state GOP chairman Chris Devaney, Deputy Gov. Claude Ramsey sought to assure nervous party members that "there is no effort by the Haslam administration, the state of Tennessee, or any agency or department of the State to promote or advance Shariah law or Shariah compliant finance."
Now, if Tennessee secedes from the United States and forms its own country, then all bets are off.
Staats, a Republican, admitted to police that he “pushed his wife ... down onto a bed then left the location,” according to a Metro Nashville Police Department affidavit. The report also indicates that Staats' wife Bethany called police to their Hermitage home and told police Staats slapped her.
“Ms. Staats did have a red mark on her left cheek consistent with her statement,” the affidavit reads.
The former Republican candidate for Tennessee's 5th District was booked into Davidson County Jail at 3:39 a.m. on Sunday morning. Staats, 43, was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic assault, posted a $5,000 bond and was released.
Back in August, I profiled Staats, a self-described "family-matters" conservative whom party officials described as a "top-tier candidate." He attracted national headlines last month, when he posted a picture of a gun on his Facebook page with a caption in defense of the Second Amendment including the message "Welcome to Tennessee, Mr. Obama."
Later, in an interview with the Tennessean, he was shocked at the suggestion that he might have been alluding to violence, telling the daily that he's "not one of those that would ever threaten the president."
In the Washington Post, there's a story about the shifting political demographics in the South which contains this interesting tidbit:
The nation’s first black president finished more strongly in the region than any other Democratic nominee in three decades, underscoring a fresh challenge for Republicans who rely on Southern whites as their base of national support.
Obama won Virginia and Florida and narrowly missed victory in North Carolina. But he also polled as well in Georgia as any Democrat since Jimmy Carter, grabbed 44 percent of the vote in deep-red South Carolina and just under that in Mississippi — despite doing no substantive campaigning in any of those states.
What I find especially worth chewing over is the reason Obama did so well. Contrary to the kind of analysis we've heard up until now, Obama did well in the Southern coastal states among whites. Unlike, say, Mississippi (or, to a lesser extent, Tennessee), where someone's skin color was a pretty accurate predictor of which party they voted for, coastal states saw whites voting Democratic.
Over at 107.5 The River, there's a lot to be thankful for.
But it doesn't stop there. Today, the hit kickers at The River should be thankful for the all-you-can eat digital content buffet known as the Internet. Need something to drive some pre-Thanksgiving web traffic, but don't want to slave away in the kitchen all day? Just grab something that looks nice and pop it in the microwave.
Blessings upon blessings, y'all. But let's back up.
Writing for The New York Times, Tennessean reporter Bobby Allyn gives a national audience an overview of Mayor Karl Dean's wager that the behemoth Music City Center blooming downtown will strengthen Nashville's metropolitan bona fides.
To my mind, the most intriguing bit comes at the end, with a quote from Councilwoman Emily Evans — one of only three remaining council members who voted against the convention center — who points to the over half-a-billion dollar project as an example of a different approach to growing Nashville's profile.
This Week In The 'Drome: Historic wins, next steps, Dromeversary and more
Ceilings Vs. Feelings : What more can James Franklin do?
In two seasons on West End, the Vanderbilt Commodores coach has already exploded expectations. Two straight bowl appearances, a winning SEC record, a devastating display against arch-rival Tennessee.
This is no average Vanderbilt tenure, but had Franklin accomplished in 10 years what he's already accomplished in two, they'd be renaming Dudley Field as Franklin Field if only the latter weren't already taken.
So what does he do for an encore? We asked this last year, too, thinking he'd perhaps just caught lightning in a bottle with the 'Dores' run to the Liberty Bowl. But the second act was even better than the first. Vandy has a chance at nine wins for the first time since 1915. They've won five conference games for the first time since 1935, when two of those wins were against Georgia Tech and Sewanee. He has more wins in two years (13) than any coach not named Dan McGugin and that guy invented the onside kick.
Franklin intimates that he's at Vandy for the long haul, that he wants to make the 'Dores conference contenders the way Stanford is in the Pac-Whatever. But is that realistic? To do it, he'll have to compete with Florida, Georgia, Alabama, LSU and, presumably, one day again, Tennessee.
Isn't what he's done enough? Hasn't he set the table for a successor to have continued success? "Same Old Vandy" rarely crossed the lips of football watchers this year and seven, eight, nine wins a year will make it a memory. No one is making much of this, but Franklin has to be a name considered for any number of coaching vacancies. Gerry DiNardo went 5-6 in consecutive years and the way schools lusted after him, you'd think he invented the touchdown.
Someone will wave a check at Franklin but he must decide if Vandy is a stepping stone for him — as it was for DiNardo and for Steve Sloan before him — or if he's more in the mold of Kansas State's Bill Snyder or Chris Peterson at Boise State. They took moribund programs and turned them into forces and neither has ever felt the need to vault up the ladder. But plenty of others have. And with Maryland now in the Big Televenty, could a vacancy at one of the Great Lakes Land Grants entice Franklin to show up the school which originally eschewed him?
For now, we keep asking what Franklin will do next, but eventually we may wonder where he'll go next.
Out west at the The Arizona Republic, Anne Ryman is out with an investigation into the state's charter schools that should be particularly resonant in Nashville.
The paper reviewed tax returns, audits, corporate filings and other records from the state's 50 largest non-profit charter schools, and all non-profit charter schools in the state with assets of more than $10 million. The tax records of for-profit schools are not public, so they could not be analyzed.
In the end, Ryman reports they found "at least 17 contracts or arrangements, totaling more than $70 million over five years and involving about 40 school sites, in which money from the non-profit charter school went to for-profit or non-profit companies run by board members, executives or their relatives."
One charter operator Ryman mentions will come as a familar name to Nashvillians.
Like its collective waistline come Thursday, so too are Tennessee's prisons primed to burst at the seams.
WPLN's Blake Farmer reports that the prisons administered by the Tennessee Department of Correction will require an additional $100 million for its budget next year as a result of higher-than-anticipated prisoner populations. Fortunately for taxpayers and inmates alike, TDOC head (and Haslam pick) Derrick Schofield is eschewing his responsibility and passing the buck to another bureaucratic entity:
Last year, 2,000 more inmates than the state projected entered the system after being sentenced by local courts. At the same time, the number of prisoners released into the community dropped by more than a thousand.
Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield lays partial blame on the Parole Board, which comes into play on both ends. It has a tarnished record tracking felons released on parole and overseeing offenders who get probation instead of jail time. Schofield says his goal is to rebuild trust with judges, who have discretion with sentencing.
“It’s not just rebuilding, but establishing a different level of trust, a higher level. When you talk about public safety, there shouldn’t be a question. They should say, ‘we’re going to put this guy on probation, and Correction will do what they say they will do.’”
Schofield says it may also be time to revisit sentencing guidelines, which were last overhauled two decades ago.
In other words, it might be a good idea to stop throwing Tennesseans in jail just because they wanted a joint and forgot to get their brake lights fixed. Or maybe Tennesseans should change its attitudes toward those on parole in the first place and thus create a more accepting society in which they can reintegrate themselves. (Good luck with all of that!)
If you've been keeping score, this is just the latest bad news for the embattled agency, whose Draconian policies and lack of oversight were alleged to have contributed to a rise in prison violence, according to data released by the Human Rights Defense Center.
In Tuesday's Tennessean, when asked whether he's talked to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais about resigning, Gov. Bill Haslam says:
“I think the congressman’s decision is, can I effectively represent the people who elected me?” Haslam told reporters after a public appearance in Nashville. “It’s not my call. It’s his decision.”
Here is my question for Gov. Haslam: Have you been following this story even in the slightest? Because I'm having a hard time believing that if you were in the least bit aware of any facet of the story, you'd put any faith in DesJarlais being able to make a good decision.
According to court transcripts, this is a man who thought he was being an effective doctor while prescribing pain medication to a patient he was fucking. And the governor wants to believe that DesJarlais can discern whether he's being an effective representative for the people who elected him?
I guess it's nice that Gov. Haslam wants to treat everyone like mature, capable adults. But at some point, when people have long track records of not being able to conduct themselves like mature, capable adults, it makes the governor look foolish for trying to pretend they're something that they're not.
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