transition

Alexander: 40,000 Tennesseans could receive COVID-19 vaccine in December

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) speaks at a Tennessee Titans event in Nashville on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions Committee, says Tennessee is in line to receive enough COVID-19 vaccines to inoculate 40,000 people in December.

Alexander tells The Tennessee Journal he received a briefing from Moncef Slaoui, the head of the federal government’s coronavirus vaccine efforts, who said Tennessee could then receive enough doses for 50,000 people in the following month, and more beyond that. Slaoui told Alexander the majority of Americans could be vaccinated by the summer.

“It’s a spectacular achievement, which the president should be taking credit for — in a way that convinces people,” Alexander said. But the ongoing dispute over the presidential election results could hamper the rollout of the vaccine, he said.

“You don’t want to lose a day or an hour getting those 40,000 doses to Tennesseans because the transition was sloppy,” Alexander said.

Alexander expanded on his comments last week that Trump should be allowed to examine any claims of impropriety in the election results, noting that it took Democrat Al Gore 37 days to concede in 2000. But Alexander said there’s a limit to the strategies Trump should pursue in his effort to turn the tide against Democrat Joe Biden.

“There’s a right way to contest the election — others have done it — and there’s a wrong way. And the wrong way is this business of trying to get state legislators to send a substitute slate of electors,” Alexander said. “That really crosses the line.”

Alexander: ‘Very good chance’ Biden will be president

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) attends an event at the state Capitol in Nashville on Dec. 17, 2018. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) says the Trump administration should unlock transition resources for Democrat Joe Biden.

“If there is any chance whatsoever that Joe Biden will be the next president, and it looks like he has a very good chance, the Trump Administration should provide the Biden team with all transition materials, resources, and meetings necessary to ensure a smooth transition so that both sides are ready on day one,” Alexander said in a statement. “That especially should be true, for example, on vaccine distribution.”

Alexander’s former Senate colleague, Bob Corker (R-Chattanooga), also weighed in on Friday, saying Republicans have an obligation to “challenge demagoguery and patently false statements” in Trump’s election challenge:

Here’s the rest of Alexander’s statement:

Recounting votes and resolving disputes after a close election is not unprecedented and should reassure Americans that election results are valid.

Al Gore finally conceded 37 days after the 2000 election, and then made the best speech of his life accepting the result.

My hope is that the loser of this presidential election will follow Al Gore’s example, put the country first, congratulate the winner and help him to a good beginning of the new term.

The prompt and orderly transfer or reaffirmation of immense power after a presidential election is the most enduring symbol of our democracy.

Lee names Schwinn as education commissioner

A release from Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced the appointment of Penny Schwinn to lead the Tennessee Department of Education.

“Penny leads with students at the forefront and I believe her experience is exactly what we need to continue improving on the gains we have made in the past few years,” said Lee. “As a former teacher and seasoned administrator, she will help make Tennessee a leader in the nation on education.”

Schwinn currently serves as the chief deputy commissioner of education at the Texas Education Agency. In this role, she pursued a series of reforms including the transformation of a failing state assessment program. She also implemented the expansion of statewide externships and pathway development for improving students’ career readiness upon graduation.

Additionally, Schwinn oversaw the development of open-source instructional materials to empower teachers with high-quality resources for teaching. Prior to serving in the Texas Education Agency, Schwinn was the chief accountability and performance officer for the Delaware Department of Education where she led efforts to conduct a testing audit, which led to nearly a 20 percent decrease in student testing time.

A former teacher, Schwinn taught with Teach for America (TFA) from 2004-2007 with work in Baltimore City Public Schools and Los Angeles. She is also the founder of Capitol Collegiate Academy, a charter school that serves low-income students in South Sacramento.

Lee names commissioners for Health, General Service, Intellectual Disabilities

Gov.-elect has named three more commissioners for his incoming administration:

• Lisa Piercey – Department of Health.
• Brad Turner – Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.
• Christi Branscom – Department of General Services.

Here is the release from Lee’s transition office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced three appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Health, the Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and the Department of General Services.

“We have been committed to building a team that represents each Grand Division and I am pleased to add appointees who represent West, Middle and East Tennessee at the table,” said Lee. “I look forward to working together to implement a conservative vision for Tennessee.”

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Lee names 3 more commissioners

A release from Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced three appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Environment and Conservation and the Department of Human Resources.

“I am pleased to announce three additions to our cabinet who bring a high level of expertise and deep knowledge of our state,” said Lee. “I look forward to working closely with these appointments as we build forward-thinking solutions for Tennessee.”

The Governor-elect named the following appointments today:

  • Clay Bright – Department of Transportation
  • David Salyers – Department of Environment and Conservation
  • Juan Williams– Department of Human Resources 

Clay Bright, of Davidson County, currently serves as the vice president of Brasfield & Gorrie, one of the nation’s largest privately held general contractors. Bright has worked with the company for 36 years and was instrumental in opening the Nashville office of Brasfield & Gorrie. He managed some of the most complex projects in Tennessee including the construction of the AT&T Building. 

David Salyers, of Madison County, currently serves as the executive director of the West Tennessee River Basin Authority, a division of the Department of Environment and Conservation. Salyers is a registered professional engineer, geologist and certified professional hydrologist who has worked with WTRBA for more than 20 years to develop conservation solutions for West Tennessee streams and rivers. During Salyers’ tenure, he has helped secure millions in federal grants for Tennessee and was also instrumental in developing the statewide water plan known as TN H2O. 

Juan Williams, of Davidson County, currently serves as the operations manager for the Duke Energy Nashville Resource Center where he advises managers, supervisors and employees on matters including operations and workplace culture. Previously, Williams served as the Director of Change Readiness for Duke Energy, with focuses on business process, talent management and restructuring. In addition to nearly 17 years of human resources and operations experience, Williams is an active member of the community and serves on the Pencil Foundation Board of Directors

Lee places family HVAC and plumbing business in blind trust

Gov.-elect Bill Lee is stepping away from the Lee Co., placing his holdings in a bind trust while he runs the state.

Here’s a release from his transition office.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced his departure as Chairman of Lee Company as he places his holdings of the company into a blind trust.

“As I said I would do on the campaign trail, I have officially stepped away from my company and placed all of my company holdings into a blind trust to eliminate any potential conflicts of interest,” said Lee. “I look forward to this new chapter of public service and I leave knowing that Lee Company is in good hands with CEO Richard Perko and the Board of Directors.”

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Lee releases inauguration details

Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s transition office has release some more details about next week’s inauguration schedule. Here they are:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The 2019 Inaugural Worship Service will feature some of the nation’s premier performers in a celebration of song to begin inauguration-day festivities as Bill Lee becomes the 50th governor of Tennessee.

Michael W. Smith, CeCe Winans, Steven Curtis Chapman, Nicole C. Mullen, Matthew West and other acclaimed performers will headline the worship service at Ryman Auditorium, January 19, 8:30 a.m. Tickets for the worship service are required and free to the public at BelieveInTN.com based on seating availability. Attendees are encouraged to arrive early and be seated for the start of the worship service.

“Bill and I have been friends for decades,” said Smith. “His dedication to his Creator, his family, our community and now our state is unmatched. Starting the day of his inauguration in prayer and worship is a sincere and honest reflection of the type people Bill and Maria are. They will be outstanding servant-leaders for the great State of Tennessee.”

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Lee names West Tennessee Appeals Judge Gibson as adviser

Brandon Gibson, a judge on the western section of the Tennessee Court of Appeals has been named senior adviser to Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s incoming administration. She will be focus on long-term initiatives like criminal justice reform and prioritizing the needs of rural communities.

Here’s full release:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced his appointment of Brandon Gibson to serve as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Governor, a cabinet-level position.

“Brandon is a principled conservative with deep rural roots in our state,” said Lee. “She is widely respected for her service on the Court of Appeals and I am honored that she will continue her commitment to public service in this administration.”

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Lee makes 6 more Cabinet annoucements

From Gov.-elect Bill Lee’s transition office:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced six appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Children’s Services, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Economic and Community Development, the Department of Labor & Workforce Development, the Department of Revenue and the Division of TennCare.

“The six individuals joining our cabinet represent each of our Grand Divisions and bring vast experience in their respective areas,” said Lee. “I am excited to work with this group and look forward to building solutions for our state.”

The Governor-elect named the following appointments today:

  • Jennifer Nichols – Department of Children’s Services
  • Tony Parker – Department of Corrections
  • Bob Rolfe – Department of Economic and Community Development
  • Dr. Jeff McCord – Department of Labor & Workforce Development
  • David Gerregano – Department of Revenue
  • Gabe Roberts – Division of TennCare

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Former Rep. Courtney Rogers to head Veterans Services in Lee administration

Gov.-elect Bill Lee has named former Rep. Courtney Rogers (R-Hendersonville) as commissioner of veterans services and Army Maj. Gen. Jeff Holmes as the head of military affairs.

Here’s was he release from the Lee transition;

NASHVILLE, Tenn. Today, Tennessee Governor-elect Bill Lee announced two appointments to his cabinet for the Department of Military and the Department of Veterans Services.

“We are pleased to add two experienced military leaders to our cabinet today,” said Lee. “Our veterans and active duty personnel will be in good hands with these appointments and I look forward to working with them.”

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