Monthly Archives: December 2017

Leslie Hafner leaves Harwell’s office

Press release from House Speaker Beth Harwell’s office

NASHVILLE – Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell today announced that Leslie Hafner, Senior Advisor to the Speaker, will be leaving the House of Representatives to return to the private sector.

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Diane Black resigns as House Budget Chairman

Press release from Diane Black campaign

This morning, Diane Black announced in a Fox News Op-ed that she will officially step down as Chairman of the House Budget Committee to focus on her campaign for governor.  Continue reading

Trump schedules Jan. 8 speech to Farm Bureau at Nashville

Press release from Tennessee Farm Bureau Federation

Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States, will address farm and ranch families from across the nation at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s 99th Annual Convention, Jan. 5-10 in Nashville, Tenn.

“The American Farm Bureau Federation is honored to host our nation’s president,” said AFBF President Zippy Duvall, a beef and poultry farmer from Georgia. “President Trump has said all along that he would make sure agriculture has a seat at the table when it comes to the top issues facing America’s farmers and ranchers. Now, it is our privilege to reserve a spot for him at our podium.”

(Note: The Tennessean says Trump’s speech will be the morning of Jan. 8, a day before the 2018 session of the state Legislature convenes. It will be his second trip to Nashville since his inauguration, the first being in March on the occasion of President Andrew Jackson’s 250th birthday.)

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Haslam eyes downsizing UT board, changing leader selection process

Gov. Bill Haslam is considering reducing the number University of Tennessee Board of Trustees, reports Nashville Ledger. Lt. Gov. Randy McNally  says the governor is also eyeing changes in the process for selecting a new UT president or the chancellors who head individual UT campuses.

Haslam spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals declined to address specifics Friday but said “the governor is having conversations about ways to help the UT Board of Trustees operate more efficiently and effectively.”

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‘Grinch of a storm’ knocks down Nashville’s official Christmas tree

From an AP brief:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — O Christmas Tree! A Grinch of a storm has toppled the official holiday spruce in Tennessee’s capital city.

Area media outlets report that Nashville’s 40-foot (12-meter) Norway spruce was toppled overnight, with officials blaming a combination of wind, rain and possibly a defective anchor.

More than 2,000 people had turned out Dec. 1 for the tree’s lighting ceremony with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry, including a performance by the husband-and-wife duo of Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires.

Adds WTVF: Wind gusts were recorded between 40 and 50 miles per hour across the Mid-State. The lights were still lit after the tree fell… The tree was decorated with more than 5,000 LED multicolored lights.

On Saturday, Mayor Megan Barry said on social media they could not save the tree, but she told the public another tree stood in Centennial Park that was also donated by the Jenkins family.

Note: The official Tennessee state Christmas tree, a 35-foot Norway spruce located outside an entrance to the state Capitol building, survived the storm.

Erik Schelzig named editor of Tennessee Journal

Erik Schelzig, an Associated Press reporter on Tennessee state government and politics for a dozen years, has been named editor of The Tennessee Journal.

He succeeds Ed Cromer, who is retiring after 20 years of researching and writing astute weekly reviews of Volunteer State governmental and political doings as editor — preceded by years of newspaper reporting, much of it also on politics and state government.  Cromer announced Schelzig’s appointment in Friday’s edition of the Journal, which also hosts this blog.

Schelzig, a married father of three with a master’s degree in political science, spent a year in Germany working for the Washington Post and the German news magazine Der Spiegel before signing on with the AP in 2003.

“Erik’s knowledge of state government and politics and his many contacts will serve Journal readers well,” writes a “delighted” Cromer.

Note: Having been privileged to know both Ed and Erik for years, this old guy is delighted, too. The fellows have different personalities, but they are both smart, intensely interested in government and politics and dedicated to being as objective as possible in reporting. In these changing times, The Tennessee Journal is positioned for building in the future on the remarkable foundation of its past. As for that past, see previous post HERE on what some politicians have to say about Ed on retirement. In this case, being as objective as possible, they’re absolutely correct.

TN officials on retirement of Ed Cromer as Tennessee Journal editor

Sharing some comments received from public officials on the retirement of Ed Cromer as editor of Tennessee Journal for two decades:

Gov. Bill Haslam: “For 20 years, if you wanted the full story of what was happening at the State Capitol or Legislative Plaza, you turned to the Tennessee Journal. Ed Cromer has a depth of knowledge and understanding of how state government works that is matched by few in his industry. His knack for explaining the most complicated and important political issues in witty and simple ways will be sorely missed. I will personally miss Ed’s thoughtfulness and kindness and I wish him much happiness in this well-deserved retirement.”

Lt. Gov. Randy McNally: “Ed Cromer’s Tennessee Journal is read each week cover-to-cover, word-for-word by anyone and everyone involved in Tennessee politics and state government. For Tennessee politicos, it is as essential as food and water. A highly-skilled reporter and an excellent writer, he has reported the news thoroughly, accurately and with integrity throughout his career. Ed’s professionalism is the gold standard for political journalism. I offer my sincere congratulations on his retirement and mourn this significant loss of institutional knowledge in the Tennessee press corps.”

Attorney General Herbert Slatery: “It is very difficult to express how much I will miss the weekly writings of Ed Cromer – he is one of a kind. Ed combined a deep knowledge of state government and politics with a sharp wit and unmatched journalistic integrity. The Journal has been a must read for decades thanks to Ed. I have often said “we need more like Ed Cromer” knowing full well that finding someone who could teach you and make you chuckle at the same time is virtually impossible. While much deserved, Ed’s retirement is a big loss for the media industry and an even bigger loss for our State.”

Senate confirms four Trump nominees to TVA board

The U.S. Senate has confirmed four of President Donald Trump’s nominees for positions on the Tennessee Valley Authority’s nine-member board of directors, reports the Times Free Press.

Among those approved was Jeff Smith, deputy lab director for operations at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, who was named to one of the five-year terms. Smith was the lone new appointee from Tennessee to the board that oversees TVA operations in all or parts of seven Southeastern states.

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Alexander hails passage of bill to preserve civil rights history sites

Press release from Sen. Lamar Alexander

NASHVILLE, December 22, 2017 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today said the Senate has sent President Trump legislation to be signed into law that will recognize and connect important landmarks of the Civil Rights Movement, including two potential sites in Memphis. Alexander said the legislation will preserve history for the next generation.

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Speakers ban protest signs, animals from legislative quarters — guns permitted

Senate Speaker Randy McNally and House Speaker Beth Harwell have approved a new policy that prohibits “hand-carried signs and signs on hand sticks” at the Legislature because they “represent a serious safety hazard,” reports The Tennessean. The speakers had earlier approved a policy change to allow handgun permit holders to bring their weapons to legislative hearings and offices.

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