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Governor calls VW offer "statement of reality"

As the UAW claims state interference in the VW union vote, the governor tries to explain what "being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee" means:

“It wasn’t a threat at all,” he said. “It was just a statement of reality.”

The governor said in all discussions with Volkswagen it had been made clear that if the UAW gained a foothold at the plant “it was going to be much, much more difficult” to get the Legislature to approve the incentives. But Haslam maintained that a UAW win would not have scuttled state incentives for the plant.

“We never, ever have said if the UAW vote is approved we’re not doing a deal there. Ever,” he said. “We’ve been real clear that that’s not at all true.”

Apr 3, 2014 7:01 AM

Chip Forrester says he has no secret plan

The former TNDP party chair says he's not masterminding a coup against Roy Herron.

Apr 3, 2014 6:57 AM

Documents show slow pace of Medicaid expansion talks

Documents obtained by the Memphis Business Journal through a Freedom of Information Act request show that up until Feb. 17 — a full year after Gov. Bill Haslam sent a letter to the state Department of Health and Human Services regarding a possible "partnership model" — little progress had been made.

Apr 2, 2014 5:10 PM

Kris Gore raises $50K in House 43

From the Inbox:

Iraq War veteran Kristopher Gore has reached a significant fundraising milestone in his campaign for the Tennessee House in District 43, bringing in more than $50,000 in donations in the first quarter.

“The grassroots support we’ve seen pour in from all three counties in the district has been nothing short of phenomenal.” said Gore, a Democrat.

Tennessee State House District 43 includes eastern and southern Warren County and parts of White and Grundy Counties. Rep. Charlie Curtiss (D-Sparta) was elected to the seat in 2012 but has since retired from public office. The primary election will be held August 7, 2014, and the general election will be held November 4, 2014.

Apr 2, 2014 4:31 PM

Ramsey says hearings on VW incentives 'silly'

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey told the Nashville Post he's is uninterested in holding legislative hearings on the Haslam administration's controversial VW incentives. House Speaker Beth Harwell said she was willing to have the hearings, until learning Ramsey doesn't want to go along.

Apr 2, 2014 3:49 PM

Annexation bill heads to governor

The bill banning annexation by ordinance is heading for the governor after final approval was given by the House this morning.

Apr 2, 2014 11:47 AM

Rep. Rich not seeking re-election

Somerville Republican Barrett Rich makes it official:

"Without a doubt, I love the people of our community and I love serving as the voice of our district in Nashville. However, at this point, I have decided to devote the majority of my time to my little girl, Alexis. She was born two years after I began my service, and I have spent a large portion of her formative years on the road to Nashville. She now has two more years to go before entering school, and I want to be there for her in every way I possibly can.

It has been an absolute privilege to serve as State Representative, but it is not and should not be seen as a profession. Our state’s founders envisioned a legislature that would serve and then go home to live under the laws they pass, and this is a principle I fully support."

His announcement comes a day before the qualifying deadline for this year's elections.

Apr 2, 2014 9:44 AM

Governor doesn't apologize for VW offer; Turner calls for investigation

After Phil Williams uncovered documents showing that $300 million in incentives to VW were "subject to works council discussions ... being concluded to the satisfaction of the State of Tennessee," the governor defends himself:

"That proposal said these incentives are contingent upon our satisfaction with the process," we noted.

"Right, and that's exactly right," Haslam responded.

"But you never admitted that," we continued.

"There's nothing to admit to," the governor said. "We've been really clear all along that we had an interest in the outcome of that vote. That's never been a secret to Volkswagen or anybody else."

In fact, it was a secret to the public that the Haslam administration was using the offer of taxpayer money as a way for them to have a say in VW's labor relations.

 

The autoworkers union has filed the documents uncovered by Williams as part of its case to get a new vote ordered at the plant.

Mike Turner has asked for legislative hearings.

Apr 2, 2014 7:04 AM

DeBerry thought for-profit charter bill would die

A push to allow three new charter schools a year to hire for-profit companies to run their schools won a narrow 8-7 victory in the House Education Committee Tuesday.

Going into today’s committee meeting, Rep. John DeBerry, D-Memphis, thought the bill would likely die if put to a vote. He had resolved to delay the measure for a week, he said, adding “I know for a fact going in I probably didn’t have the votes.”

Under the bill, local school districts would have the final say over whether a charter school can hire the outside help from a for-profit management company. DeBerry argues the shift would allow schools to contract out what they need, not unlike contracts state or local governments engage in.

Before voting, the committee agreed to cap the reach of the bill. The measure now limits a total of three charters per year statewide to contract with for-profit school operators. The limit would hold for five years, allowing three new charter schools to ask the district for that option each year.

The bill now heads to the House floor. The version is different from the Senate, which never debated possible caps. The Senate bill also awaits a floor vote.

Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, is wary operators will be more profit-driven and less focused on students. “They’re contracting out the entire operation of the school, not just the lunch room, not just the bus service, not just landscaping. The entire operation and that’s the distinction,” he said.

Apr 1, 2014 5:45 PM

Riebeling: City's credit rating is fine

Despite the downgrade by Moody's, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling says all is well:

"I would point out that Nashville's bond rating is now exactly where it stood when Mayor Dean took office in 2007 as the rating was upgraded in April 2010 when Moody's undertook a ratings methodology analysis," he says. "I would strongly suggest that Nashville is in the same, if not better, financial condition today than it was in 2010 when the ratings upgrade occurred."

Apr 1, 2014 2:45 PM