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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.”


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Annoying Autobiographical Pause : Seeking The Good

November 26, 2013 - Author: newscoma
Zeus Says Hey!

Zeus Says Hey!

As we head into the Thanksgiving holiday and the eventual non-existent war on Christmas, I have been thinking about a few things. Mainly that we have a lot more shit to worry about than fighting over holiday media missives which are basically weapons of mass distraction.

I don’t know but I’m rather tired of the negative. In the last few months, I’ve had to adjust my thinking that outrage for the sake of being outraged is not something I really want to be apart of. And I’ll be damned if I haven’t become a hell of a lot happier.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can tell you what has worked for me.

1. Leaving my comfort zone has been a good thing for me. I have some habits (good or bad) that I still embrace but I realized that one thing I needed to do was become hungry for positive. I like snow flakes, dogs make me happy and people that smile easily.  It’s hard to be excessively angry all the time. Life is going to occasionally give you a shit casserole that you are completely powerless of avoiding and you’re just going to have accept. Might as well just swim through it because their is going to be some tasty brie on the other side of the river. French cheese heals all that ails you.

2. I have learned that it is okay to be pissed off. It is not okay to let that be an anchor. If you want to punch the air, take two seconds and go watch Kid President, who is from Tennessee. Taking his advice, I’m trying desperately how to learn the Ray Lewis Squirrel Dance. It’s angry enough to release a lot of aggression. Find some grass and slam it against your chest. Trust me, just go ahead and do it.

3. Avoiding the news on the weekend has helped me immensely. Binge watching British television is extremely therapeutic.

4. If you think the country is going to hell in a hand basket covered in bees, what can you do to help in small meaningful ways? Listening to a friend or a stranger without judgement can be a small gesture and it helps me. I want that, so why can’t I give it? Oh, but you see, I can do that. Problem solved campers. I want this country to quit being crazy too yet I’m learning the value of the small.  Bees are tiny but pollinate the planet. See what I did there.

5. I’ve been trying to do what I think is right not only for me but for other people. If I’m wrong, that’s okay too. All I got is a cup of try and if the tea in the mug tastes like it came from a grub garden, the best I can do is make another cuppa.

6. I learned that there is a difference between being a 24/7 critic of everything. Yes, I will judge folks bad behavior and I own it. Yet have you ever noticed the pretty smile of the woman that sells you a six-pack and a pack of smokes? Those things are important and I’ve learned that saying Thank You to other people makes me feel better about myself.

7. On a last note, as I get older and my brain doesn’t work as well as it used to I have created an exercise for myself. I don’t have a photographic memory, but I do try to take note of intimate things that make my friends and family happy. It works for me.

8. Finally, if we need to look at things that are absurd that we cannot look away from, let me leave you with the fact that Mike Huckabee wants to move DC to Nashville because of George Jones. Yes. This happened. It is kind of like Balloon Boy, which we should never forget.

9. Laugh.


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What Makes You Vote?

November 19, 2013 - Author: newscoma

I’ve had several conversations this past week about the election next year and then the metro elections in 2015.

The issue that presented itself in these discussion that I had with various folks went back to are we voting for people who will actually govern or casting votes for social issues.  It honestly is a discussion that has gone on for eons but it still gave me some pause that some things are not that easily put into a box. It’s not that simple, but sometimes it comes down to that one particular issue that forces a person angrily to the voting booth instead of a complete package of what is going to happen in the coming years.

With so much attention being put onto different issues such as civil rights, the different theories on education reform, rural economic loss and the impending growth of population in urban areas and wasteful government spending that only benefits those in control, which issues of infrastructure growth do you concentrate on? How do the people who govern deal with the incredible anger that is projected and then grows like The Blob daily as there is honestly no news cycle.  Our society gets angry, it blows up and then we go to the next day’s cup of outrage which is like pouring the morning’s coffee.

I don’t think I have any concrete answers to issue-based voting versus the reality that we still need governance in regards to actually running the state or this country. Yet there are things we know, if your house is on fire you’ll want the fire department to show up. Roads need to be maintained as public transportation is not where it needs to at in urban areas and is completely non-existent in rural communities. If you like food, you’ll want those farming implements to be able to get down backroads during harvest season. We need teachers to be allowed to teach and not just robotize our children into memorization experiments to justify educational bureaucracy. Do we want privatized services that are paid for by tax payer dollars which I think is a huge question we need to be discussing.

We also need to be talking about women’s reproductive health issues, which have are consistently being interfered with as well as treating all citizens in this country as equal. It can’t be piece-milled by elected officials who are currently not governing because they are too busy obstructing progress. And what is the opposition of progressing forward? It is regressing backwards which is something we just do not need in this country.

I will admit that in my voting history I’ve voted both ways. I have voted right down the ballot on candidates I thought would ignite social change and I’ve also held my nose when I cast a ballot for someone who had a plan for infrastructure that I knew would benefit my community. Mind you, I wouldn’t have asked some of those folks to dinner at Chez Coma because I didn’t agree with much of their social platform, but I knew when it came to getting needed services to my community, I felt their plan would work.

We live in an angry world right now, so I’m looking at candidates that aren’t just telling me what I want to hear but those that have a plan they are willing to fight for. On both different planes, because I truly believe that is what we need right now.

And although I adore history, I don’t want to hear about what your grandpa did. I want to hear what you are going to do for my nieces and their children and their children’s children.

Tell the public what you are willing to fight for if you are running for office. What kind of seeds are you going to plant that will grow a tree which will be here much longer than we will be.

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Frank Talk About Absolutely Nothing

November 18, 2013 - Author: newscoma
I also own this hat. You know I do!

I also own this hat. You know I do!

Things. All the things tied up together:

  • I do not own a bowtie. I think I would look smashing in a bowtie. People have discouraged me. I think their negativity means that they are made of bees. To repeat myself, I would look smashing in a bowtie. Also, I hope you are never eaten by a shark but I wouldn’t mind if they scared you a little bit you bowtie detractors. I do, however, look rather horrible in suspenders.
  • There are times that I go in public to shop, and I have written about in the past, I get overstimulated. This happened this weekend at Goodwill but I bought a groovy shirt. One of the people standing next to me had on perfume made out of cheap whiskey but seemed cheerful enough. Not judging just needed to get out of there quickly. P.S. It was in Franklin.
  • Is Elisabeth Hasslebeck high? Elderly pregnant women? What does Fox News give their anchors before they go on air. Whip-its?
  • Is Bob Woodward high and is he still living in 1973?
  • Do not look at my nose until the weather has properly changed as I do not want to have to defend the term “bats in a cave” as Tennessee weather has a lot of bats. You know, in caves on your face, that are of course disgusting. It is true though that only your close friends will hand you a tissue. Others will just be grossed out and leave you alone abruptly leading you into life-time therapy bills to struggle with your (Okay, my) abandonment issues.
  • I find this to be incredibly gross. Why not just pay folks?
  • Bobo Fay knows what Bigfoot likes to eat. I am not making this up. I think Bigfoot really doesn’t want to break bread with Bobo Fay but maybe that is just me.
  • I need to remind you that Rob Ford is a real person. He is also the mayor of Toronto. He is REAL, CAMPERS!! I think he should visit Hoots just for the hell of it. If bad and horrendous behavior can get you on a reality show (which is happening) then do I need to steal a car, throw rabid raccoons at 4th-graders and burn down a Taco Bell? (disclaimer: I do not want a reality show.)
  • Hate to say it (no I don’t) but Fox News’ Stuart Varney can cheerfully kiss my ass.

On an ending note, I think that dogs have souls. If you don’t agree with me, tell that to your dog.

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JLL, Ducking Reporters And Recent History

November 13, 2013 - Author: newscoma

The only time that you really need to duck a reporter is if you are seeing Tyler Durden on a regular basis and are a member of Fight Club.

Apparently this has not been taught to some folks down at the legislature.

From our fine friends at Pith in the Wind:

Secondly, our Andrea Zelinski tells us that the state’s corrections commissioner just completely ducked Channel 4’s Jeremy Finley at the state’s budget hearings.

We presume that Finley wanted to talk with Commissioner Derrick Schofield about his I-Team’s work documenting cell phones at maximum security prisons.

At a press availability after the hearing, Finley kicked it off by asking about the TBI investigation into documents and video Channel 4 has aired.

“Can we talk about budget today?” Schofield said.

“We can ask about budget, but I’ve got questions for you as well about the cell phones,” Finley said.

“We’ll talk about budget. We’ll do a separate for you,” responded the commissioner.

?Finley was satisfied with that. Then, post-interview, as Finley suggested they go further down the hall into the belly of the Capitol Building, the commissioner ducked into a nearby elevator and his flack said the commissioner only wanted to talk about budget today and would talk with Finley another time.?

Finley didn’t ask about Fight Club. He asked about cell phones in prison which is a damned good question.

This is just part of the story. A scathing audit on the business practices of Jones Lang LaSalle was released this morning. For those of you who haven’t been following along at home, Phil Williams from Newschannel 5 can keep you up to speed.

Take, for example, JLL’s recommendation that the state demolish the Cordell Hull state office building and sell off four other state buildings.

The company not only got paid for that advice, but the State Building Commission has already approved commissions of $2.7 million for JLL to negotiate just five leases for new space.

On top of that, invoices show that the Haslam administration agreed to pay JLL another $1 millionto supervise the decommissioning of the state buildings.

And when state employees are moved, JLL also gets paid to supervise that process, as well.

“If I were JLL and I got money for each building that I said to tear down and then I got to oversee that and get money and then I got to oversee leasing space and I got money for that … I could find lots of places for people to go, I could find lots of buildings to tear down,” Jones said.

But the best example of the potential conflict may be a building in MetroCenter.

JLL got paid to advise the Tennessee Lottery to move out.

Then, the company got paid to advise the Department of Children Services to move in to the very same building.

There’s more, campers as Williams reported in June that our governor of the state of Tennessee knows JLL pretty darned well.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Does Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam have a financial stake in a massive new contract to outsource the management of state buildings?

That’s the question uncovered by NewsChannel 5 Investigates.

The Haslam administration insisted that the contract is about saving taxpayer money, not about making the governor richer.

But our investigation discovered the governor’s office was directly involved in the decision to give hundreds of millions of dollars of your money to a corporation he knew well.

Recently, the state signed a $330 million, five-year contract with a multinational corporation, Jones Lang Lasalle, to manage all of the state’s buildings. It’s a company that, our investigation discovered, candidate Bill Haslam listed among his major investments.

“The fact that he was invested in this company that got this contract is disturbing if he’s still invested in it,” said House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner of Nashville.

Let’s remember that Bill Haslam’s financials are hidden from public view.

Connecting the dots is always an interesting game to play. Unfortunately, this is all of our tax money playing musical chairs. It’s something we all need to be aware of.



Comments are closed - Categories: Tennessee

A Day In The Life In Nashville

November 12, 2013 - Author: newscoma

I’m sitting alone.

This is my time of the day before every day life catches up with me. The Temptations, Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye and Earth, Wind and Fire have played within the last 25 minutes. The waitress, who is named Michelle and has a smile that could light a fire in a blizzard told me it is Motown day.

I find it agreeable.

There is a man sitting alone at the bar, slowly draining a bottle of Budweiser. He looks sad. I am just speculating, but there is a weary fatigue hanging over him like a wet wool blanket. I hope “There Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” comes on soon to cheer him, as it usually cheers me.

We will see.

The coffee isn’t very good, but it is warm so I’ll take it. In my pocket there is a grocery list and I’m looking where to buy a cord of wood for the next couple of days. Small things as I read political articles for the next day to include in the Buzz.  Politics is rather mean-spirited these days, so I listen to the rolling guitars playing loudly in the background for comfort, and I think of my mother who knew when I was drowning in work and disbelief, due to the bad behavior of so many elected leaders, would put on Miles Davis and John Coltrane to comfort me.

The lady sitting at the table next to me has her back to me. She is most likely in her late sixties but I can see a red ribbon tattoo on her back that is surrounded my angel wings. It is peaking out shyly from the top of her sweater, one which you see older women wear all the time. I know there is a story here. I don’t know what it is, but my imagination has comes up with several scenarios.

The sad-looking man just laid his phone down and is rubbing his eyes. Marvin Gaye and Tammy Terrell can’t show up quickly enough as the Supremes are just not cutting it right now.

It would have been my parents 50th anniversary on Sunday. She isn’t here anymore but Cari Wade Gervin wrote the story of her father yesterday on Twitter. It was beautiful and I will not lie that I found it dusty reading it yesterday and then again today.

And then, unexpectedly, my friend Bohan showed up out of the blue and it was a good thing.

A good day in Nashville watching how things work while Marvin Gaye serenaded me from beyond. As Warren Zevon always said, “Enjoy every sandwich.”

Damned skippy.

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Close At Hand

October 30, 2013 - Author: newscoma

I wrote yesterday about legacies and that politics as usual were hurting good folks. Today, I read a story that was very interesting about the consequences of politics of this Modern Age via Vibinc.

Shouts erupted at Rep. Scott Tipton’s (R-Colo.) town hall in Montrose, Colo., on Saturday, according to the Montrose Daily Press, with the congressman facing heat for the government shutdown.

“You don’t hold America hostage,” one attendee yelled at the congressman.

Resident George Schupe added, “No more shutdown, no more de-funding.”

Tipton called Obamacare “broken from the start” and told anecdotes of insurance costs increasing as a result of the law.

“That’s not true!” yelled people in the audience.

Tipton ultimately voted for the bill that lifted the debt ceiling and ended the shutdown.

I feel this is a two-fold story. One is that there CAN be consequences to bad behavior in politics. Leaders who are disingenuous can be voted out of office.  The second issue is that it is up to the American public to hold our elected officials accountable. That is up to us.

There is a lot of word soup out there right now. Yet may I introduce you to Madison Kimbrey, who doesn’t mince words. Did I mention she is 12 years-old?

Things aren’t broken, campers. They are not despite what everyone has been screaming from the top of the hill. We are just fed a lot of remains of the Southern Strategy which has been expanded by Koch Brother interference and a culture of fear.

Walt Kelly, the cartoonist and satirist of the cartoon Pogo, once wrote “We have met the enemy and he is us.” The quote was his way of attacking McCarthyism. And it worked.

We all have to find our way to stand up to the bullies be it in the way an eloquent 12 year-old did or in pointing out the obvious, as Kelly did.

I leave you with another Kelly ancedote.

Traces of nobility, gentleness and courage persist in all people, do what we will to stamp out the trend. So, too, do those characteristics which are ugly. It is just unfortunate that in the clumsy hands of a cartoonist all traits become ridiculous, leading to a certain amount of self-conscious expostulation and the desire to join battle. There is no need to sally forth, for it remains true that those things which make us human are, curiously enough, always close at hand. Resolve then, that on this very ground, with small flags waving and tinny blasts on tiny trumpets, we shall meet the enemy, and not only may he be ours, he may be us. Forward!



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A Legacy Of A Million Papercuts

October 29, 2013 - Author: newscoma

I don’t think I would want my legacy if I were a politician to be that I allowed people to die of a million paper cuts. That my lasting impression in the history books to say I gridlocked instead of forging a path to make government more efficient. It would be horrendous to people I know that did try to create a better world who are looking upon us know with millions of talking points to decipher before we as an American society know what the actual facts are.

There was a government shutdown a couple of weeks ago and I am not reminding you dear readers, but I do wish the media would mention this on occasion instead of BORKED WEBSITE!!  Yes, it’s borked like a dog with three sprained paws but it is fixable. The Affordable Care Act is the law. If you have a problem with that, give the Supreme Court a call. I’m sure they will appreciate your outrage.

It’s the facts that get confusing. Which new education “reform” is the right one? Why aren’t we taking care of our veterans the way that we did in the past? Do we have the infrastructure we need for the next decade, or the for the next generation for that matter? We apparently have a political structure, so far divided in so many ways, that only lives for the next news cycle. These days that cycle runs hourly and has become a cyclone that the Weather Channel couldn’t keep up with. It appears that although there appears to be motion, there isn’t much activity when one is running in place. It’s stagnant and the losers are your average Americans who have fallen on hard times.

This week, food stamp benefits will be reduced. Meet fellow Tennessean Angela Phillips who is from Knoxville, and you will see that this could have just as easily happened to a member of your family:

The SNAP program has become a last resort for people like Angela Phillips, 44, who never thought that she would have to accept food stamps.

Phillips, who is divorced with three kids, worked for years as a paralegal and executive assistant, at one point making about $45,000 a year. Then the economy turned, and she suffered a string of job losses along with some health issues related to a shoulder injury from her time serving in the Army years ago.

Phillips, who lives in Knoxville, Tenn., said she juggled things as best she could for a long time, eating little while her kids were with their dad so she could feed them well when they were staying with her. Still, she said she struggled to explain why she couldn’t always give them pricier, healthy foods like fresh fruit.

She ended up applying for SNAP benefits in July of 2012, while working part-time.

“It was a huge benefit for me to be able to know that I could feed my family,” she said.

Phillips is currently working as a temporary administrative assistant for a national lab, but the employment is erratic and she says she makes about $17,000 a year. She’s also a full-time student.

These are the stories that our elected officials need to read. She is a veteran and someone who got slammed by economic realities in the last few years. There is an old saying that most people really just do want a hand to help them up, not a hand out and this is a perfect example that we must recognize this instead of fearmongering and dismissing people living in poverty and the working poor.

Ms. Phillips could be me. I’m one of so many folks that are one paycheck away from a crisis and a lot of people I know are in the same boat.

Legacies are important. Politicians do not need to put a throat on the necks of people for political gain and media exposure. When we go to war, we are Americans, not political parties. Maybe we should just consider we are all Americans who need to help one out all the time. It’s something I would love to see happen but I’m not holding my breath.

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