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Running For Office In Tennessee

January 21, 2014 - Author: newscoma

Petitions are being pulled and if they haven’t been, then consideration is being given on whether the time is right to commit to running a campaign this election year. Some folks come right out of the gate while others wait until the last minute before deadline. Both methods are fine. Questions are being asked. Teams are forming behind candidates. Polls, if they are affordable which is not always the case in smaller house and senate races, are being bought and studied.

The big thing about deciding to run is pretty simple. Are you ready and do you have a plan?

John Jay Hooker said on the occasion of his 8oth birthday when he was honored on the floor of the Senate that one thing to know about him is he wasn’t afraid to lose. And he didn’t win the two times he ran for governor for a variety of reason but he also added something quite valuable for anyone running for office: you don’t always have to win to make a contribution. (The video is here and his statement starts about the 1:45 mark.)

I think that is important. It used to be that people would wait their turn to run for office. Those days are over as we live in a new world order when it comes to modern politics. There are no “annointed ones” anymore waiting their time to serve.

You are going to need money and call time is crucial in the early days of getting those financial commitments. Can you do that on your own or do you need help? It’s something anyone running for office needs to think about. (A guide/series that is quite helpful for anyone thinking about throwing their name into the mix was written last year by Joe Lance of Chattanooga. Go grab a cup of java and read every word he has written. It’s thought-compelling stuff.)

If you aren’t ready to run for elected office, and some people aren’t because God knows a person has to be in it for the long haul, there are other things that can be done. Run for executive committee for the Party because the more people that run gives interest to a race that isn’t going to cost you very much and that will teach you the ins and outs of running a campaign. (Just a little food for thought.)

Just a couple of things:

1. You can’t do it all by yourself. You are going to need support staff. When you are doing call time remember, your campaign is only as good as its weakest link. Make sure each one of your staff members is ready and you ARE going to need staff. Can you afford a couple of folks that will make your transition from call time to candidate seamless and that will take care of you because you are going to need that. It’s important. Once again you can’t do it all by yourself and trust is very important as it is not their name on the ballot, it’s yours. You might also want to ask yourself, is your campaign team in it for the paycheck or do they believe in you. The answer, quite frankly, is usually both because folks have to eat but if they believe in your message they will work harder for you during the election year.

2. Give a clear and concise example to voters on why you are the best person to serve in that district and for pete’s sake don’t talk at people, talk to them and listen. Your message matrix needs to be on topic. And keep your stump speeches short. One big problem that happens during campaign/speech season is that people want to be able to have a sense of who you are and what you can do. They don’t want a monologue that rivals Othello’s and leaves them without a clear message.

3. Talk to people that have worked campaigns before, and even if you can’t hire them full-time because money is everything these days, it’s worth your time to get honest and clear feedback from a professional who knows the ropes. It’s even worth a limited, hourly consulting fee if you have it to talk to someone who has had some skin in the game.

4. Don’t be a robot in your social media if you are doing it yourself. Be a person that folks want to know. A good example is Gloria Johnson, Andy Berke or even Cory Booker on a national scale for that matter. And be sure to interact with your followers. Keep your personal message flowing that you control or I can guarantee that someone else will hijack what your matrix is. You don’t want that.

5. National issues will come up but don’t go down that rabbit hole. Plants closing in your area, talk about that. Is your hospital closing due to the lack of Medicaid expansion? Talk about that. Unemployment going through the roof in your district? Talk about that! Talking about Chris Christie when you only have about 15 minutes will eat up your time and accomplish nothing except helping/hurting a governor who is a day and a half drive from Tennessee.

Those are just a few things on my mind. Right now is the time candidates (especially the new ones I’m thinking about) begin the journey to elected office. Running the race is just as important as getting to the finish line. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

Good luck!

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Maybe It’s Time To Pick A Fight

January 9, 2014 - Author: newscoma

The story that so many folks are talking about right now are frozen geese rescued at Centennial Park, Chris Christie writing his own comedy skit aka today’s presser and a look at the Tennessee General Assembly’s time machine on what our robot overlords are going to be throwing at us this session.

So you might have missed Ed Arnold’s story this morning in the Memphis Business Journal  which I think needs to be discussed.

According to Stateline, Tennessee will be among the slowest when it comes to job creation this year. Stateline is predicting that the state will be 44th in overall job creation with a growth rate of 1.23 percent in jobs, adding only about 34,000 new jobs in 2014.

The pill is even harder to swallow when compared with the state’s neighbors in the south, which are predicted to have some of the best job creation numbers in the nation.

Mississippi placed 20th on Stateline’s list while Arkansas placed 24th and Kentucky 22nd.

Hey kids, Tennessee stands at a stellar (sad trombone) #44!

Now let’s head back to Andrea Zelinski’s story in today’s edition of the Nashville Scene.

With the next election a short 10 months away, state lawmakers are hoping to spend as little time as possible at Capitol Hill this spring so they can kick off the campaign season.

The Republican-led legislature plans to descend on Nashville Tuesday, Jan. 14, to draft new state policies and spending plans until what many expect to be mid-April — if not sooner.

She has a comprehensive list of what our GOP legislators are scheming for this year and nowhere on the list is there any discussion of jobs. Nada! Nothing! It is an election year so basically elected folks want to get out early so they can fund-raise because you can’t do that during session.

Discussing unemployment and poverty isn’t sexy, campers. It’s not but it is important to remember that these, as well as other issues such as infrastructure, school funding, jobs etc. is the reason why we elect people. Instead we are going to be listening to political babble about guns in trunks for what feels like the 20th year.

And if you are running for office in a statewide capacity, and right now it looks like Haslam and Co. are going not going to have much competition, we need to talk about all the rural, community hospitals that are going to close. Write it down, it’s going to happen.

I’ll let Frank Cagle from Metropulse explain:

So the conservative Republicans in the Legislature can posture and tell like-minded constituents that they oppose Obamacare. But they don’t have to pay a price. They don’t have to vote to refuse a billion dollars in health care this year for the working poor. They don’t have to explain to the voters back home that they voted to close the community hospital. They are getting a free ride.

It is an election year. If legislators had to vote to kill their local hospital, or deny care to people who work at low-wage jobs, you might be surprised at the number of them who will hold their nose and vote for the Medicaid expansion.

But we won’t know that because the governor won’t make them vote on it.

A leader might be able to galvanize his party members to support him on a crucial vote, if Haslam were that kind of leader. A Ned McWherter or a Phil Bredesen. You won’t find anybody in the current Legislature who is afraid of voting against the governor. They do it with impunity. They know that he is not constitutionally capable of punishing them for defying his wishes.

But sometimes a leader needs to do the right thing even with only a long shot at success. He needs to do what’s right and force the members of his party to do the right thing or suffer the consequences.

This is happening.

I can’t tell you to vote this year but I wish you would. As Bruce VanWyngarden wrote today it’s still harder than hell to get a photo ID although that issue has also been put on the backburner because the state GOP won that one.  I probably should rephrase that if you can vote, I wish you would contemplate it.

The forecast for this session looks bleak for another year in a row. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to pick a fight for regular Tennesseans who stand to lose more than they will gain this session. Chris Christie’s saga this week which will own the headlines for a bit of time or Phil Robertson dominating the airwaves during the holidays are interesting, but those folks don’t have anything to do with what is happening in Tennessee’s backyard.

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Mabel For Governor, Again?

January 2, 2014 - Author: newscoma

Well the news is in and to the surprise of two elderly raccoons with rabies living in Spring Hill, Sara Kyle is not going to challenge Gov. Bill Haslam.

Ahh, the joys of seeking a position as a public servant in the modern age has once again reared itself. I don’t blame Kyle, I know what it is like to have to take care of a parent with cancer. It’s not easy and running for statewide office is a challenge even in the best of circumstances.

So I guess it’s up to Mabel. Again.


No, I haven’t updated her campaign poster from 2010 as I haven’t spoken to her recently. And, of course, as she is roughly 16 years old in dog years so let’s just say she isn’t as spry as she once was. On a more serious note, when we have a governor who is being scrutinized for some very serious ethics issues, it would be nice to have a candidate that can take on the corporation politics in this state right now aka Haslam.

Granted, it’s going to take a ton of money to run a viable campaign for governor in this state. And messaging (and more importantly the distribution of said message when it comes to real Tennesseans) across this state is abysmal.

With that said, if there is one thing Mabel knows is that it takes each and every part of the state to make sure there is a victory. She has spoken to Steve Ross about this. (Well, her spokesperson has on occasion.)

Rural Communities – If there’s one thing that guaranteed the GOP’s victory in 2010, it was the support of rural communities. Which is why its puzzling that rural communities are getting screwed over so hard under GOP rule. I mean, screwing over Nashville and Memphis (and soon Chattanooga and Knoxville), that’s a no-brainer. But when most of your elected officials owe their position to rural folks, screwing them over as well is…well…ballsy to say the least. But that’s what’s happened. Unemployment is high, hospitals are closing their doors, and the only opportunity right now is the opportunity to move or continue to suffer.

The worst part is, there are no signs folks in rural TN see the connection. They’re still buying in to it being Washington’s fault.

Why is this happening? Simple, and I wrote about some of the problems over my eight years of blogging and my time in the newspaper business as well as talking about it a bit in a post from this morning. It’s about messaging. And it’s about a commitment to messaging to everybody all across the state.

Who is going to do it? A campaign gets the message out. And being afraid of Haslam money is valid, but we need a brave soul who isn’t afraid to throw some coconuts at what is going on in Nashville.

Mabel is just waiting to see. She might try to talk Zeus into it as he is in his glory years. He could walk across the state in a red flannel shirt, no problem.

I guess we will just have to wait and see.


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Gov. Bill Haslam Needs To Be Accountable

- Author: newscoma

Let us go and say AMEN BROTHER to Steven Hale on this:

1. We hope that the Media will learn not to chase every red (headed) herring:

Don’t get us wrong. Here at Pith, we’re well-aware that we have Stacey Campfield to thank for thousands of clicks, retweets, and shares. But in 2014 we hope that we, and the rest of our friends in the news racket, realize that not every thought or word that comes out of the wayward state senator from Knoxville is worthy of all the ink so often spilled in his name. Mark it down. Campfield will say and/or propose some nutty things this year. Some of them have to be covered, because he intends to make them law. Some of them, though, are shiny objects, distracting us from God only knows what else the legislature is pushing through at the same time.

Of course, Hale is our spirit animal/human today.

So speaking of what is going on in the legislature in plain sight, feast your eyes on the quality work that Newschannel 5 in Nashville has been working on in regards to some questionable activity in the governor’s office.

The sad thing about living a state that is 440 miles long tip-to-tip is that news such as what is happening to Tennessee tax dollars sometimes gets put under the carpet. There are large gaps of prime real estate that aren’t getting what is happening on the Hill here in Nashville. As someone who was a rural Tennessee liberal for many years before moving to mid-state, when I go home to Hoots, it disturbs me that there is a lot of news not making it over the Tennessee river. I hear Fox News talking points but that is about it. Most of the “local” television news comes from Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri. I’m not talking Memphis or Jackson, I’m talking smaller communities that aren’t getting Tennessee political news and are just drinking from the fountain that cable news has created. You aren’t going to be hearing about Jones Lang Lasalle, Tom Ingram or Bill Haslam on national news outlets unfortunately.

It is still a compelling investigation that needs to go viral. We don’t know Haslam’s personal interests in companies that are getting contracts without much of a bidding process and he has been adamant about not releasing his personal finances.

We have a few state democrats such as Sen. Lowe Finney, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep Craig Fitzhugh and Rep. Sherry Jones (you can hear them in the video available at the link above at Newschannel 5 as well as some skeptical members of the GOP) staying on top of these contracts but this is one time to remember that this aren’t partisan issues. We have a handful of media and political bloggers watching the chain of events, but as long as Haslam keeps getting a pass in the media that reaches all Tennesseans on all these issues that he has been either inactive on or that have been haggled over behind the eyes of the public, our state is going to keep floating aimlessly with legislation that will take years to fix.

This is about state money and I don’t know about you guys but $330 million isn’t anything to sneeze at. That is money we can use elsewhere instead of lining the pockets of consultants and lobbyists.

It’s just a matter of common sense.


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Unnecessary Damage

December 30, 2013 - Author: newscoma


“Actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the over-compensations for misery.”  ~Aldous Huxley

Steve Ross is doing a series on The Good, The Bad and The Ugly when it comes to politics. It’s a good, comprehensive list worthy of your attention.

I think the only thing I can add to his analysis is that this year has buried deeper seeds of regular folks becoming more and more suspicious of government, which is a shame. Let’s not forget, citizens are the boss although nothing is going to happen if we put more attention on pop culture celebrities instead of government. Pundits aren’t journalists, they are side-show barkers selling snake-oil and are paid for by the highest paycheck.

Government should make sure our bridges aren’t going to fall into rivers, that roads can get us to school and work and that we have a workforce ready for a changing and ever evolving market. Instead we have seen politics at its worst where public service has been dismissed and replaced with electroshock therapy in not only our media, but in our daily lives. Why do we need to find a villain?

Victims are put into a category of not being worthy although many times things are not their fault but they are blamed anyway. It has become a game of who can play offense and who is good at blocking.  We have forgotten our lessons with it comes to social studies (how is that for a throwback term) and replaced it with outrage without a concrete floor. We don’t need to “Plow Congress” as Rep. Stephen Fincher campaigned on.

We need to make sure that government is effective.

Tom Humphrey basically called this the year that nothing happened and I can’t help but agree it could have been worse due to some of the very intrusive legislation presented this year.

The year 2013, thus, was a follow-up, step-along-the-way year of passage in Tennessee politics from the monumental transition from Democratic rule to Republican rule.
In past years, that actually meant that some things were accomplished, as in instant approval of GOP agenda matters such as “tort reform” and the like.

The “new normal,” to echo phrase used by Haslam in his first inaugural address, is a stalemate in the squabble between the establishment Republicans and their more populist-oriented former allies — tea party people, if you will.

Nothing happened this year. There’s always next year, but the suspicion is that a pattern has been set. And considering some of the things that could have been done, maybe nothing is not so bad.

I go back to we need effective government without a lot of hand-wringing over things that really do not help day-to-day lives of Tennesseans. I can’t help but return to something that has troubled me in the past couple of years watching Tennessee politics and it is simple: we have lost our empathy.

Jack Neely writes:

Most of our powerful do some sort of generous good. There’s a pervasive feeling, especially among established interests, that when people are basically good, if they’re important to the community, support good things, we should let them cause a little harm now and then. They giveth and they can taketh away. It’s their right.

A lot of folks understand that, as if it were the simplest sort of math. These people are so good that when they do something bad, our job is to take it like a man. Not all philanthropists or corporate executives or institutional administrators are expert in everything, like urban design, architecture, American history, or transportation. But our job is to respect them as if they are.

They don’t need to explain, or have any tin-pot reporters cross-examining them or their motives or solutions.

Anybody that complains about their unnecessary damage, it’s assumed, must be ungrateful, or out to get somebody.

As I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I was reminded by a friend sometimes we miss that people are drowning because it is so much more palatable to think they are just waving. And when they tell you they are drowning, why are they so easily dismissed? There is no, as Neely writes, reason to think that the Gotcha Monster has come yet he is right, that is today’s society’s reaction to too much these days.

Politics is a funny thing. It always has been. We are so busy complaining though we forget we are witnesses to seeing bad things happening to good people.

And it is happening in plain sight.

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Annoying Autobiographical Pause: Closing Down The Holidays

December 28, 2013 - Author: newscoma

There are things you might know about me. There are things that you probably don’t. That’s good. We can have a beer or a cuppa and be friendly. You don’t need to know all the details. If I share things with you, in my mind it is a gift. I have thought about that a lot lately.

If we live in a Buzzfeed world, here is a dumb list but it’s my list so there:

1. I survived Christmas. I was a cheerful chipmunk but next year I’m just renting a cabin where everyone can just chill together. I missed that this year. I spent too much time alone this year.

2. I tried to buy a bra today. This, of course, means I hate America because American fashion hates me. It’s okay! No really, asshats. And I love walking through the maternity section to find a DAMN TOP! Thanks for the reminder that I don’t need a maternity outfit as I’m just a fabulous, yet poor chubby gal who is reminded daily that clothes for me are as a short person I’m a second class citizen. Ain’t pregnant campers, just marvelous and if you don’t think so, that’s okay.  I’m asking for an affordable bra, not a new Kia. This also means that jeans are out of the question.

3. I look like a hobo because of #2.

4. An eccentric hobo … so that’s good. I like being an eccentric hobo when it comes to fashion.

5. I cried in a restaurant today after my family left today and no one noticed. I think that’s good. I’m not good at the crying stuff, but someone came over to me and was very nice. That is of the good. Our hearts are filled with many things and sometimes the eye dams leak.

6. My youngest niece picked out the worst movie to watch on On Demand last night and we decided to do Mystery Science Theater 3000 with it. We laughed so hard that we cried and I had the best sleep I’ve had in eight months. Laughing is my favorite part.

7. Saw the class pictures for my graduating niece and they were more than beautiful.

8. She does not look like a hobo. She is smashing. She is going to make herself, and then someone she chooses in the future, very happy not only because of her charm and beauty, but because she is damned smart.

9. 2014, I am getting my best heavyweight boxing stance on for you this year. We can do this sweetly or I will fight you like a bear. I am not afraid. Write that shit down.

10.  Hated to miss the Nashville is Talking reunion, but family … you know … family is everything.

And there you go. Back to doing whatever the hell I do here next week.


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Grubs, Soap And Cell Phones

December 26, 2013 - Author: newscoma

In a society where we constantly react, it seems to me we have lost the ability to absorb what is in front of our own two eyes. There is so much stimulation going on in our lives from the constant pings of our cell phones to the latest celebrity train wreck that we forget the basics. I’m as guilty as anyone, yet this holiday I spent a lot of time alone. It was good though as I had a lot of time to reflect on this past year to what is to come as I head toward 50. (It’s coming.) We all have our paths to walk and the journey usually is taken alone. It is the way it has always been. We walk alone yet we find interesting people and painted hills of green and blue while we are on our odyssey.

While everyone is yelling about a War on Christmas (which I have never seen as it appears that Bing Crosby threw up a White Christmas at my house) or Duck Dynasty, there was a child that lost a father, a mother who lost a son, a holiday spent in a hospital, a new love filled with possibilities, a lost soul seeking answers without knowing the questions and fire mixed with ice.

My grandfather did not have running water when he was growing up. I woke up this morning and had a glass of water that I didn’t have to go fetch from a well. When I think about this at its very core.  I did not have to get up before dawn to harvest cotton fields by hand.

I’m lucky indeed.

There are people much less fortunate. You see, we are heroes to some, villains to others but the bottom line is that mainly we sit somewhere in the middle. We are pleasant or annoying diversions to people we meet who then go about their day wondering what they want to watch on TV when they get home.  Yet there are times that each and every single one of us want our voices, whether it is quiet or a loud roar of raw pain, to be heard. Listening and absorbing everything, we grow and we find solace and empathy. Everyone want to be heard through the billowing noise of daily life.

It’s human nature.

I’ve thought about experiencing things that are joyful if we are can’t absorb the beauty of not only the magnificent, but the mundane. Life is not always filled with feelings of being buried in dirt covered in grubs, there are also times of exquisite understanding with  the welcome wind in our hair as we had on our first solo bike ride when we were children. We are missing both of those things.

We all have bones in our closet.  Everyone does, but there is a balance. I need to remember this.  Creating a soap opera to drink from the drama only leads to your mouth tasting like soap.

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Christmas Morning Observations

December 25, 2013 - Author: newscoma
Christmas Zeus

Christmas Zeus

Doctor Who is on, I made a bag of sausage balls (not as good as homemade but beggars can’t be choosers) and the dog is sleeping quietly with his massive head on my leg.

Merry Christmas, kids!

Here is a list for this holiday:

1. Sausage Balls. A little known fact is that sausage balls were the favorite snack of Frank Sinatra which is indeed a fact I just made up.

2. Eggnog. A little known fact is that during the 19th century Eggnog was known as Sugary Horse Slobber, filed under another thing I just made up.

3. Children crying on Santa’s lap in photographs are all given dental floss for Christmas in their stockings.

4. Elves are cantankerous and prone to alcoholism.

5. Codswallop means balderdash. This is a true fact that I didn’t make up.

6. Dogs can talk, they just choose not to because it takes too much energy to explain why they constantly lick themselves in the privates.

7. We really have nothing to complain about as long as water is available in our houses. Two generations ago this wasn’t always an option in this country.

8. Spending some holiday time alone is a time for reflection, a pants-free environment and having a conversation with the dog on who the best Doctor Who is. As the dog chooses not to speak, he doesn’t seem to have an opinion on my ongoing monologue. He has requested a sausage ball though which I obliged.

9.  The zombie apocalypse could have come during the Duck Dynasty media circus these past few days and not a soul would have noticed.

Christmas morning observations from the west side …

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Annoying Autobiographical Pause: Ripping Skin Off To Feel Alive

December 16, 2013 - Author: newscoma

Gnome Down! I repeat: GNOME DOWN!!


I’ve heard two things in the last little bit of time that has stayed with me. A pal of mine, who loves his tattoos, is getting a new one soon that says “I’m not waving, I’m drowning.” He played me the song by P.O.S that inspired him and it’s stuck with me. I looked it up and there is also a poem by Stevie Smith that has the same theme.

I’m not waving, I’m drowning.

Pretty profound, campers. Isn’t that the way things are these days? No one can see other folks fighting for breath in plain sight and many choose to see what they wish to see as they go about their day. They don’t want the complications of pain that is not their’s and instead choose to paint what is in front of them in a way that is minimal commitment.

That is okay. It really is for reasons I’ll get to.

I guess this resonated with me as I’ve had a year filled with a lot of the feelings of drowning in plain sight. Sitting at tables where I would smile so I wouldn’t start blubbering incoherently.I have learned that it is okay to close a door to some and open the door a little bit more to others. I have learned that grace under pressure is sometimes a very hard thing to do, and I’ve also learned that when I need to talk about the events of this year, there are certain people that I know I can lean on and others I can’t. These words are not an indictment, they are knowing that some people are open to raw friendships and there are others who have a skill-set that meets other needs.

And you know what that is also more than okay (word of the day.)

Who knows when you are drowning and not waving because it is a hard emotion to see. It’s an intimate embrace and each embrace is different with the various and beautiful complex people who we have in our lives.

I also know that there are other times that quiet introspection is crucial as I gaze at what is good instead of all the things that make my lungs squeeze all the air out of my body. It is a healing, blessed thing that can be replaced with a solemn yet healing gratitude for what I have and what is lost. What is lost can’t be replaced, but there are times, I humbly say where I’m waving vigorously. Depends on the damn day, kids.

I have taken a look at this from a personal perspective, but also thoughts that there are so many people waving and drowning and I need to make sure I remember that, as we are human beings, that none of us are alone in less we chose to be. Are we witnessing the truth of the moment or ignoring our fellow man? I think about these things.

Which brings me to another thought about another term I read recently that made my very tiny squirrel brain wrap around its relevance to me on many levels as we wind down 2013.

The second thing I read recently was in an essay that I cannot find about people being “in love with sadness.” This one I’ve pondered quite a bit in a different way. Why would anyone want to be in love with sadness, although I get it it sort of makes my head hurt. I understand we live in a society that is “in love” with being angry and outraged although I don’t necessarily like it, yet I can’t understand why certain people must embrace a perpetual sadness and anxiety to feel alive. I’m not talking psychological chemical disorders, it’s more about embracing sadness and pain for the sake of embracing … you know, sadness and pain.

Sometimes the scabs needs to be ripped away from the skin to reveal a new level or to move forward, but I don’t think that is a practice I want to do on an ongoing basis. I want to feel alive in the sun and not under a sky filled with clouds in the middle of a dark night.

These aren’t words of advice by any stretch of the imagination but it’s what comes to mind: Embrace your gray hair, notice the twinkle in people’s eyes, give a little to others but don’t give everything you are, don’t hide your smile even if you think it is crooked, don’t need people too much just need them enough and be willing to let them need you. This isn’t a sad post, this is a post about being alive.

And most important, life isn’t about things.  It’s about connection. As Stephanie said, always appreciate the extra gravy on your biscuits, that means you got a gift that day. And on a final note, our skin gets ripped off sometimes although it is no fault of our own. So I choose not to rip off my very own skin, there are people out there that will do that for me.

I’m looking to see if you are waving and I promise to try to make sure that you aren’t drowning. I just hope to Christ I can see the signs and I will throw you a life preserver as people have done for me.


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Morton’s And The Rules Of Being Nice

- Author: newscoma

I’m going to be honest, I am too poor to eat at Morton’s. I know a lot of people who work downtown go there but I don’t have the money or the patience to pay $7 for a beer I can get at other places for $2.50. With that said, Morton’s doesn’t give a crap if I hang out there. Yet I don’t also give a crap about what Morton’s thinks.

And I can tell you, I won’t be going there anytime soon even if I win the megamillions this weekend.

A steakhouse in Nashville has responded to complaints that its staff forced a cancer patient to remove his hat over the weekend because he did not have a note from his doctor.

According to WZTV, the controversy started when a group of 16 people were finishing up a $2,000 company Christmas dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse when one man, who is being treated with chemotherapy and is sensitive to the cold, decided to put on a wool cap for warmth.

“When he put on a wool beanie in the restaurant to keep warm, he was immediately asked to remove it… which he did,” Amanda W. explained in a Yelp review. “When his family mentioned his condition and questioned the treatment from Catrina, the assistant manager, they were told he could wear it if he presented a doctors’ note… or if we had given them previous notice so we could be accommodated elsewhere. (Out of sight, out of mind?)”

“In short, what followed was shock/disbelief (can’t say that I blame them) and the cops being called (huh?), and we were (all 16 of us) asked to leave,” she said.

Listen, I’m no foodie and I tend to go to places that make me feel comfortable, where I can enjoy time with my friends and that treat me the way I want to be treated. I also like places (I prefer local) that treat others well and don’t fall into a puddle of self-righteous pretension. I grew up in dives, so I don’t need a chandelier to make me happy. (Full disclosure: I don’t know if Morton’s has a chandelier nor do I care.) I also don’t want to shell out of a lot of money to a place that can’t practice basic kindness.

My mom had cancer and hated wigs so spent the better part of the last year of her life in a ballcap because her head was cold. I have had friends with cancer that talked about the way the disease created a feeling of being in the arctic tundra. This man just put on a beanie, not an AK-47 (would that have been alright?)  Anyone who has ever had cancer or been with a loved one who was fighting the disease knows it’s hard enough without the stress of outside indicators of impatience and rudeness.

So, Morton’s, not cool.

You created this PR nightmare, and you also stressed an ill man and his companions out by treating them terribly after they paid you thousands of dollars for a Christmas gathering. What did you lose, credibility and kindness points. Yeah, that’s it, and folks who aren’t going to come to your establishment although the loss of income probably doesn’t matter or you wouldn’t have pulled this horse dookey in the first place.

Shame on you.

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Haslam, Jones Lang Lasalle And Tennessee’s Tax Dollars

December 12, 2013 - Author: newscoma

Let us talk about Jones Lang Lasalle, shall we? I think we shall. If you haven’t heard about JLL and state government contracts, you might be interested.

Tax money belongs to all of us and this is what is happening.

I’ll let Bill Freeman explain in his column this week from the Tennessean (subscription possibly required):

In recent days, Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam has had his own “heckuva job, Brownie,” moment in blithely dismissing a scathing audit of how his administration gave a huge contract to a Chicago real estate firm without bothering to bid the job. It’s a contract — with a company Haslam was invested in before he became governor — that puts the financial interests of the vendor ahead of the taxpayers of Tennessee.

Soon after taking office, Gov. Haslam launched an ambitious program of closing outdated state buildings and moving state workers into leased office space. The basic concept is sound — government should always look for better, more efficient, less costly ways to do business — however, the administration ran off the ethical rails soon after it hired Jones Lang LaSalle in 2011 to study the state’s real estate needs.

That $1 million contract was won through a competitive process — but another firm, CBRE, claims it was the lowest bidder except for a math error. The administration refused CBRE’s request to correct its bid.

Having started on the wrong foot, the Haslam administration then made a series of increasingly questionable amendments in the original contract, expanding the scope of work and vastly increasing the price tag.

Let us revisit recent history from November of last month:

NewsChannel 5 Investigates asked Oglesby, “The audit was very blunt that JLL cannot be trusted to give impartial advice when it has a profit motive. Do you disagree with that?”

“That’s not the way I read that at all,” the commissioner responded.

So we went back to the audit, and there it was on page 29.

“Because JLL can benefit financially from the advice it renders the state, we believe that it cannot offer unbiased, impartial advice in the state’s best interest,” auditors said.

We asked Oglesby, “So what’s wrong with that statement?”

“Which part of that statement?” he asked.

“That JLL cannot be trusted to give impartial advice when it has a profit motive,” we answered.

“I’m not even sure I understand that comment,” he answered.

As our investigation first revealed, JLL was first awarded a $1 million contract to study the conditions of some of the state’s buildings.

That million dollars quickly grew to almost $8 million as JLL got paid to carry out its own suggestions.

Now, the administration is preparing to pay JLL the additional $5.3 million to study more state buildings — and make more recommendations.

Let’s walk a little further back into July with this story from WPLN:

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam says he doesn’t see a problem with granting a state contract to a company he once invested in. Questions have been raised about the state’s new outsourcing agreement with real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle.

The Chicago-based company secured* a $38 million contract to manage most state-owned properties for the next five years.

Governor Haslam says he’s not sure if he still has a stake in Jones Lang LaSalle because most of his assets were put in a blind trust.

He’s not sure? Let’s look again with Tom Humphrey from June, 2013:

A Democratic legislative leader said Tuesday he will ask legislative committees to review a five-year $330 million contract with the Chicago-based multinational consulting firm Jones Lang LaSalle , reports the Commercial Appeal.

Gov. Bill Haslam disclosed an investment in the company while running for governor in 2010, but not the amount of that investment. He now has most of his investments — except for Pilot Flying J — in a blind trust.

Yet didn’t he say he doesn’t know with what’s going on with the IRS/FBI investigation into Pilot Flying J?

When he became governor in January 2011, Haslam put all his financial assets in a blind trust — except for his Pilot holdings. The governor said he has no role in managing the company, though he retains a substantial but undisclosed financial interest.

Haslam said he is leaving management to his brother, CEO Jimmy Haslam , and added, “I have faith and confidence in him.” In fact, the governor said he is not trying to learn any details of what happened and why.

As that is a sidebar, when Haslam was campaigning he did discuss his investments in JLL. All of the governor’s financial assets are not privy to the public, how does the public know what is going on? What is going on here, campers?

As for JLL, Stephen Hale is succulent in three sentences.

It seems that as a candidate, Bill Haslam listed JLL as one of his “major investments.” And, whaddya know, the state recently signed a five-year, $330 million contract with the company to manage the state’s buildings.

So, what’s up with that?

Good question, what is up with that?

What is up with our governor, what he knows, what he doesn’t and what exactly is he doing?

I wonder.

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‘It’s Human Beings’

December 3, 2013 - Author: newscoma

Rep. Mike Turner and Rep. Craig Fitzhugh

I spent a huge chunk of my life in rural west Tennessee as anyone who has read me throughout the years knows. And the idea that rural healthcare is basically under attack due to political maneuvering makes me seethe.

I’ll let Jeff Woods break it down for you:

Rural hospitals in Tennessee have been laying off workers and cutting services “to the bone” thanks to our Republican supermajority’s refusal to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

That’s according to hospital administrators surveyed by The Tennessean and the Jackson Sun in some solid journalism over the weekend. Many rural hospitals are thinking about closing maternity wards and ending cancer treatment, among other services.

Contrast that bad news with this happy Washington Post story from Kentucky, where the Affordable Care Act is running smoothly and enrolling people right and left.

“Cashiers from the IGA grocery, clerks from the dollar store, workers from the lock factory, call-center agents, laid-off coal miners, KFC cooks”—all have been signing up at a clinic in Kentucky’s Breathitt County, one of the nation’s poorest.

When my mother was ill in the late ’90s, there wasn’t a local oncologist. A doctor did come every couple of weeks to Martin to administer chemotherapy but there were times that I would have to drive her to either Jackson or Paducah for treatment. After sitting five to seven hours on a drip of liquid poison, the ride home for her was excruciating. It’s a bit frustrating living in Nashville knowing that my father, if he needed immediate medical attention, would be basically put further away from help.

This is the reality of living in rural areas.

I know that our governor is politicizing and considering a long-term strategy which is mired in his future elections, but I think we need to listen to House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh on this matter who was recently quoted in the New York Times.

Mr. Haslam is only the latest Republican tailor trying to figure out whether to expand the state’s Medicaid rolls as prescribed by President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. In his case, it involves trying — so far unsuccessfully — to balance some sharply conflicting concerns: struggling hospitals, local business groups, dwindling state resources and fierce conservative opposition to the new health care law.

And it has left him hanging out there, with no resolution in sight, while almost every other state has made a decision, and with many of his impatient constituents wondering how long it is going to take.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make a tough call,” said Craig Fitzhugh, the State House Democratic minority leader, who is pushing for expansion. “It’s time to say yes or no. I don’t want to get morbid or dramatic about this thing, but it’s lives we’re talking about here. It’s human beings.”

I wrote back in March a serious question.

The possibility that hospitals could potentially be sold for pennies on the dollar is what worries me as well as that 300,000 people in Tennessee could have been helped with the expansion. This is all about money.  Steve Rossexplained yesterday in a post about the money and Medicaid expansion. If Gov. Bill Haslam is going to discuss market-driven healthcare he might want to read Mr. Ross.

Rural hospitals are suffering and urban hospitals and healthcare are also strained beyond belief. These federal dollars could have helped. So what’s the plan now? That’s all I’m asking.

I ask again in December, what is the plan for people like my family. Ross broke down the numbers of what we as a state could gain. Let us revisit, shall we?

• Between 330,000 and 450,000 additional people would be covered (5% to 7% of the state population)
• An additional $10.5b in direct money to the state in the first five years.
• That money doesn’t get spent and stop. At $2.60 per dollar spent, total impact would reach as high as $27b in the first five years.
• More than 10,000 good paying, skilled jobs.
• We’ll have to educate those 10,000 new workers, increasing our post-high school education numbers and enrollment in institutions of higher learning.
• A huge drop in uncompensated care, saving the state up to $1.6b in the first five years.
• Less uncompensated care means hospitals all over the state will be more economically viable, especially in rural areas where they are struggling.

One of my family members was in a serious car wreck earlier this year. Three Med-Evac helicopters were needed and it took time for them to get to that rural area as people had to be flown to Memphis and Nashville. Think about that for a moment.

Throw out the political grandstanding and remember that real lives are at stake.

As Fitzhugh said, “It’s human beings.”


Comments are closed - Categories: Tennessee