The $82.3 million in bonds owed by the symphony have already been called in, but The City Paper has learned that the financial institutions involved have given the symphony a deadline of this week for payment on outstanding debts or foreclosure proceedings could begin. The foreclosure process would take about three weeks.
What would be expected to occur in short order is that the Nashville Symphony could declare bankruptcy in an attempt to avoid losing the Schermerhorn Symphony Center. In a letter to patrons last month, Ed Goodrich, chairman of the symphony board, and Alan Valentine, president and CEO, said the board’s goal was to “achieve a comprehensive financial restructuring that significantly reduces or even eliminates the Symphony’s long-term debt.” The letter went on to say that the board would “consider all available alternatives.”
Read the full story here. Developing.
We will not proceed to present the governor's bill on Opportunity Scholarships, a.k.a. vouchers, this year, not the first half of this session. There were members of the Education Committee who sought to transform the bill to a vehicle of their making, which was not in keeping with what the governor thinks is appropriate for a program of this importance just getting under way at this time. He wants a more measured approach to introducing vouchers to the state of Tennessee and did not want it to become a political football at the expense of the children who his initiative is designed to serve.
Haslam wanted to give vouchers only to low-income children in failing schools. All this session, he delayed votes on his bill in the Senate while he tried to persuade some Republicans—led by Sens. Brian Kelsey and Dolores Gresham, the Education Committee chair—not to expand his program. But Gresham and Kelsey wanted the program to apply to the children of families earning as much as $75,000 a year. As many as 10,000 vouchers could have gone out next fall under that plan, dwarfing Haslam's bill.
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey was among the Republicans who backed expanding Haslam's bill. Conceivably, they still could resurrect vouchers through another bill. But the Education Committee closed for business a few minutes ago for the year, and the session is supposed to end in two weeks.
Rich Republicans from outside Tennessee dropped a ton of money into this state this session to promote vouchers. The American Federation for Children funded an $800,000 TV and radio ad campaign to pressure the legislature to expand Haslam's bill.
More from Norris:
Gov. Bill Haslam announced this morning he's decided against expanding Tennessee’s Medicaid program under the federal health care overhaul—at least for this year—avoiding a big fight with many members of his own party over the last weeks of this legislative session.
In a speech to a joint session of the legislature, the governor said he was negotiating with the Obama administration for a better deal, seeking permission to enroll new Medicaid beneficiaries in private insurance plans. He said he wanted assurances that the state won't wind up saddled with increasing costs in the later years of expansion.
“Until we get those assurances, I cannot recommend that we move forward on this plan,” he said, as Republicans burst into applause.
If Haslam is recommending expanding Medicaid, he's betting that he can use his personal popularity to overcome the Republican supermajority's visceral opposition to ObamaCare. It would be the first real test of Haslam's political skills as governor. To reporters, he talked about this a little bit yesterday.
“The politics of it are difficult,” he said. “We’ve recognized that from the very beginning. But again, I think you’re elected to try to make the hard decisions on the big issues, and there’s no question that health care is as big an issue facing Tennessee and the country as there is, and so that’s why we’ve worked so hard to get to the right answer.”
Update: Possibly foretelling Haslam's decision, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry has come out in favor of Medicaid expansion. The Chamber's statement:
"Do we have a motion on the bill?" asked the chairman, Sen. Steve Southerland, R-Morristown. "Do we have a motion on the bill? Do we have a motion on the bill? The bill dies for lack of a motion."
One Democrat on the committee, Sen. Charlotte Burks, fled the room before the bill came up. Another one, Sen. Ophelia Ford, was missing in action, too. That left the sponsor, Democratic Sen. Lowe Finney, to twist in the wind. He knew what was coming and pleaded with the committee to listen to testimony against blowing the tops off our mountains. But the committee refused as coal miners in attendance burst into cheers.
"I hope the committee will be open to what we’re bringing before you today," Finney said. "And if there’s a way to make it better, I’m all for it. I hope we can start with the basic approach that we have a real treasure in East Tennessee, and this is one way we can work to protect what we have."
With some conservatives hopping aboard the bill this year, environmentalists hoped for a different result. But this idea is going no where as long as King Coal is playing Senate speaker Ron Ramsey like a Grand Ole Opry fiddle.
Update: In a press release, Appalachian Voices singled out the committee's missing Democrats for criticism, suggesting they sold out to the coal industry despite their past support for the bill.
The committee chairman, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, was the crucial no vote. Supporters expected him to vote yes but he flipped because he said he was upset that they moved to cut off debate quickly and force the committee to decide. That motion was made by Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, who mistakenly thought Hill would vote yes and the bill would pass.
House Speaker Beth Harwell—one of the bill's supporters—attended the meeting and would have kept the bill alive by breaking a tie vote. She didn't get the chance.
Hill said he reversed his position and betrayed Harwell because he wanted to debate and vote on 10 amendments that never were brought up. Can you imagine a committee chairman pulling such a stunt when Jimmy Naifeh was House speaker? Hill stabbed Harwell in the back with her sitting right there in the room with him.
"I think we’ll continue to garner support for this piece of legislation as lawmakers listen to their folks back home," she said afterward. "I’ll take one day at a time. No predictions."
By House rule, Harwell can vote on any committee, and she exercised that right for the first time this session to save the wine bill. It narrowly escaped the Senate State and Local Government Committee a couple of weeks ago. That was the first time wine-in-supermarkets had ever cleared any committee in umpteen years in the legislature. That took backroom arm-twisting by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.
Only a couple of months after the Newtown, Conn., shootings as the rest of America debates restrictions on firearms and ammunition, the legislature now has adopted a major new expansion of gun rights in Tennessee.
“Today we’re telling businesses they must allow guns on their property, and the question is, what will we do next?” House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh asked. Rep. Johnnie Turner, D-Memphis, wondered if "God forbid, guns in churches" is on the NRA's to-do list.
It’s a big victory for the NRA, which has demanded this so-called safe commute law for years. It lets the state’s nearly 400,000 handgun carry permit owners keep weapons in their vehicles in parking lots at work or school or anywhere else they please.
The Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry and big employers—such as Volkswagen, FedEx and the University of Tennessee—always have managed to beat it back in the past, citing security issues and claiming the right to control their own properties.
We can thank Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for today’s vote. He twisted arms in the backroom to ensure the bill made it out of committee. On the Senate floor, Ramsey says the bill’s on its own. But with upwards of 70 percent of Tennesseans demanding wine on their supermarket shelves, he insisted that it deserved a full Senate vote, at the least. Viva la RonRam!
In the umpteen years this bill has been introduced in the legislature, it always has fallen victim to a seemingly unbeatable lobbying combination: the liquor industry and Christian crazies.
This year, the bill’s sponsors are taking a different tack and they think it’s a game-changer. They’ve altered the bill to allow referendums on the issue in cities that already permit liquor by the drink or retail package stores. This way, weak-kneed lawmakers can claim they’re not really voting for wine in stores but only to let the people decide.
“Kate has informed me that she felt the time was right to step down,” Gov. Bill Haslam said. “She was concerned that she had become more of a focus than the children the department serves. I appreciate Kate’s service to this administration and to our state. She has done a lot of good work in identifying longstanding problems that have hampered the department, and we will build on those efforts as we move forward.”
O'Day has come under heavy criticism for her agency's care of children. The state Senate Health and Welfare Committee was to hold hearings on the department's operations tomorrow. Some Democrats had called for O'Day's resignation.
In January, Chancery Court Judge Carole McCoy ordered the department to surrender records of more than 200 children who died or nearly died since 2009 after having some contact with the agency. That ruling came in a lawsuit by media outlets to open the records. O'Day became the agency's commissioner in 2011 when Haslam took office.
Update: Rep. Sherry Jones calls O'Day's resignation "long past due." She adds, "There are still many questions that need to be answered about the administration of DCS over the past two years.”
@Kosh III: The economy collapsed because of "toxic" securities derived from "affordable home loans," loans…
Sad and regrettable, and really inexcusable for a man in his position especially, and hard…
heh - Jim Collins said "hostile Indians".
To the re-education camps, please.
It's like Comcast deciding there will only be 3 networks from this day forward. Newspapers…
Not sure if the drugs should be a secret (and I acknowledge the authors interest…