Tag Archives: Jeff Woods

The Living Wage And Disclosure


Bill Haslam is now dealing with what most folks have to go through every day. LINK


As a national discussion on taxes and the rich continues to heat up, a report from the Memphis Commercial Appeal has revealed Gov. Bill Haslam overstated his personalincome tax rate during last year’s campaign. 

Instead of disclosing personal income from family-owned business Pilot-Flying J, the 11th largest private company in the nation, the investigation showed that Haslam only offered reporters a summary of $28.5 million in non-Pilot incomes earned between 2003 and 2008. 

While the governor claimed at times his tax rate topped 48 percent, it turns out his effective federal tax rate was much lower.

Yet, there is also this for Gov. Haslam on the living wage from Jeff Woods. LINK

“I’m not a fan of the living wage,” our gazillionaire governor told reporters. But asked whether he’s for state legislation to handcuff cities and counties, Haslam said: “Governments should be able to decide for themselves if they want to do that.”

That state legislation is the brainchild of Rep. Glen Casada, R-Franklin, who lastsession gave us the law invalidating Nashville’s anti-gay bias ordinance. His new idea would bar local governments from passing not only living-wage laws but also health-care coverage and family-leave allowances that go beyond the requirements of state law.

Haslam signed Casada’s anti-gay bill into law. So the governor’s comments today caused reporters to cock their heads in puzzlement. Why would Haslam oppose Casada’s new legislation if he was OK with the anti-gay bill? The principle is the same: State legislators shouldn’t impose their political will on the elected representatives of cities and counties.

Southern Beale is talking about things about mountain top removal. LINK

Remember Don Blankenship, the Simon LeGree of coal mining? The man Rolling

 Stone called “the dark lord of coal country”? The guy who called the Upper Big Branchmine disaster that killed 29 mine workers “an act of God” and blamed mine safety regulations for the disaster?

Photo of Zeb Mountain


 This has been going on for a couple of years. Go see Vibinc here on Mountain Top Removal from posts from session this year when the Tennessee Scenic Vistas Bill was in subcommittee. LINK

A living wage should be something we all should be having a conversation about. Compassion is a groovy thing. LINK

A living wage has been one of the rallying cries for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but some Tennessee state lawmakers are making a move to prohibit cities from forcing businesses to implement one.

The plan would prohibit cities from requiring businesses to implement any wage above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

It would also keep them from requiring any insurance mandates or family leave beyond state and federal law.

Opponents say it’s not only an issue of people not being able to live on their salary, it’s also part of a trend they believe is disturbing.

Biz Girl has a question at Knox Views. LINK

Why are there so few women running for political office in Tennessee?
So, are we gonna let people starve? Tom Humphrey with the presser. LINK
Representative Scott DesJarlais (TN-04) announced that “Stop Rewarding States for Recruiting Additional Food Stamp Recipients” was the winner of last week’s YouCut program. The congressman is now in the process of drafting legislation that will prevent the 
federal government

 from issuing bonuses to states for signing up additional food stamp recipients.
Currently, the Department of Agriculture’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as the Food Stamp program) pays state governments bonuses – with taxpayer dollars – for recruiting additional people to sign up for food stamps. 

Quick Hits

  • The Southern Political Report highlights congressional races in Tennessee focusing on Eric Stewart and Roy Herron. LINK
  • Depending on where you read it, the living wage debate can be a bit confusing. LINK
  • Sean Braisted schools Gov. Bill Haslam.
  • Not a lot can explain thisLINK
  • A letter to Newt Gingrich from a Tennessee blogger on the politics of fear. LINK
  • Rep. Chuck Fleishmann has more competition in the GOP Primary. Joe Lance has the update.  LINK

Get It Right And Get The Message Across



“Now it’s on to Chicago, and let’s win there…” And so, the die was cast.

Minutes after saying those words to supporters the night of June 5, 1968, Bobby Kennedy laid mortally wounded in the kitchen floor of the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The next day, he was gone, and that summer, I became a Kennedy Democrat.

The closest you could come to the Kennedys in Tennessee was John Seigenthaler, editor of The Tennessean. When I got a job working for him in 1975, it was, as we now say, the bomb.

John’s years with the Kennedys are well documented. So is his storied career as a sentinel for justice and one of the leading journalists of our time. I have known him as boss, antagonist, protagonist, mentor and friend.

I carried so much away from my years working for John, but four words of his still come to mind again and again: Pity the poor reader.

In John’s newsroom, you had to grasp this or go home.

Truth won’t set anyone free if it is not delivered in a fair, clear and compelling way. Get it right, and get the message across, or you’re wasting everyone’s time.

Under John’s leadership, Nat Caldwell went undercover (literally) in a nursing home to write a Pulitzer Prize-winning expose. Jerry Thompson donned the white hood to tell of the Klan from the inside out.

But neither of those legendary investigations, and many more conducted during John’s tenure, would have ever made a flip had he not demanded that they resonate. No matter how great the message, it is useless if you fail to breathe life into the words you use to deliver it. Pity the poor reader.

We, as Tennessee Democrats, might take John’s words to heart.

It doesn’t matter how important our message about jobs or education or health care is. If we don’t connect with the folks in Sylvan Park as well as the ones in Selmer, our words ring hollow, and we go home, leaving Tennessee to those whose message is: “The board room comes first.”

As a young Kennedy Democrat from Tennessee, I was so blessed to work with and learn from John Seigenthaler. As an aged-in-the-wood Kennedy Democrat from Tennessee, what he taught me matters more now than ever.

(Terry Reuther Quillen worked for more than 30 years at The Tennessean, much of that time as editor of the oped page and Sunday political section. She is currently a communications consultant. Seigenthaler will be a featured speaker on Saturday at Jackson Day.)


Tuesday Roundup


An editorial in the Tennessean says that poverty in the South is devastating and we are at a point where we have nothing to lose. LINK

In January, MDC’s State of the South report called this a year of reckoning. “No one can enter the year 2011 without a sobering sense of progress and equity at risk,” the report said. The latest figures show the danger was worse than imagined. Not only has poverty increased, but the nation’s median income has gone down as well, signifying that the stress is not just at the bottom, but in the middle class. The median household in Tennessee makes $3,089 less than when the recession began.

Erik Schelzig writes the governor is saying that his brother has the right to lobby for Pilot. LINK

Gov. Bill Haslam is endorsing his brother’s right to speak out against privatizing interstate rest stops, a move opposed by his family’s truck stop chain.

The Republican governor has recused himself from handling issues that could affect Knoxville-based Pilot Flying J, but says brother Jimmy Haslam as president and CEO has a responsibility to try to influence politicians on matters that affect the business.

Southern Beale writes that the majority of people in this country voted for bipartisanship, something they aren’t getting in Washington. LINK

We don’t need a third party. We need the people in Congress to do what they were elected to do: represent the people, not the coporations. We need them to just say no to lobbyists every now and then. We need some election finance reform so that money loses some of its grip over our politics.

Jeff Woods at Pith in the Wind has some words of advice for Sen. Lamar Alexander regarding health care and as usual, he is direct and  doesn’t stutter. LINK

People signing up for a life-saving benefit that they’re actually already entitled to receive-that’s what Alexander is complaining about. Here’s the question he should ask: If there are so many people out there entitled to Medicaid who don’t know it, why isn’t the state already trying to let them know? In the long run, that would save money by curtailing the number of uninsured who go without care until arriving at hospitals for the most expensive treatment.

At Newscoma, I write that politics are local and working on things you have some measure of control over is crucial in a post called Democracy is Not a Spectator Sport. LINK

National interest groups want people to be angry because it goes two ways. It either paralyzes or it is a call to action. If it is a call to action, working on what we can in our own backyard can be effective. Everyone may have a different message and that’s okay, but then again we don’t need to get into a game of  “my message or cause is more important than your message or cause.”

State democrats ended a six-day job tour of Tennessee on Saturday. In a story from TN Report, they say they garnered a great deal of information. LINK

“We’ve talked to a lot of people. Jobs are what’s of concern for Tennesseans,” Craig Fitzhugh, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, said at a stop Saturday in Cookeville. “We’re just trying to get ideas about what we can do as a Legislature to increase the jobs. We’ve got some good ideas.”