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Opinion - Column
264 results total, viewing 241 - 260
On September 11, 2001, there were so many heroes who gave their lives as they bravely went to the aid of those trapped in the Twin Towers in New York City. more
There are certain things we see we wish we could unsee.   more
According to CNN, pandemic fears and enhanced unemployment benefits have left the nation facing a serious shortage of qualified school bus drivers.  more
I love to talk about my research with anyone who’ll listen. To me, the intricacies of life, how it works, and how things can go wrong are all fascinating to ponder. I currently study melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer, and when I tell people I do cancer research, one question invariably arises: “where’s the cure?”... more
Do you consider yourself a scientist? I’d argue that you are. Picture this. You wake up one morning craving a bowl of cereal, but to your great disappointment, the milk is past the expiration … more
The policy of the Times-Gazette is to only print reader submitted "Letters to the Editor" which clearly identify the author. Sometimes without supplying that information, readers miss out on some good points, because we refuse to print. I am going to refer to a letter-to-the-editor from this week which was apparently from someone who wished to remain anonymous. They only identified themselves as "Outraged and Saddened."... more
Colonial Pipeline's operations recently ground to a halt, and a major component of our nation's infrastructure was substantially crippled-at least temporarily. From the public's perspective, the harm was caused by bad actors in cyberspace seeking a ransom which, according to most news reports, was eventually paid... more
The roads to our homes, no matter your location, connect each member of our community. Roads mapped by surveyors. Roads marked by signage. Roads that connect our families. Roads that function as connective links for the regions' various industries and businesses. ... more
"Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat." - Laura Ingalls Wilder I got my second COVID vaccine last Friday and I hope most of you are working on getting vaccinated to help us all beat this virus. I also had a fun UT experience last Friday. ... more
This community received some sad news this week upon the notification that Bill Doak had passed away. While we grieve this great member of our community leaving us, as many who knew him said on Facebook this weekend, he was a man of great integrity and faith... more
"My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government." - Thomas Jefferson The Governor's supplemental budget came out Tuesday. I had been anxiously awaiting the document to see what else would be funded this year. ... more
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds you plant." - Robert Louis Stevenson The first week of April in the Tennessee House of Representatives was a very busy time with 388 bills going through the committee system. Six of the subcommittees closed last week with another 14 set to close this week. The House leadership is predicting that we should be able to adjourn by the 1st or 2nd week of May... more
You may have noticed over the past few weeks that there is a new phrase entering into the political elites lexicon and that phrase is Vaccine Passports. The idea of "Papers Please" before entering a restaurant, sporting venue, aircraft or church should alarm even the most apathetic... more
"Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work." - Pat Summitt Legislators are hard at work at the State Capitol this week. The committee system and the House floor sessions are packed with many pieces of legislation. The State House has 482 bills in our committees this week. Many of these bills will die in committee or will not be funded and therefore not pass into law... more
The Tennessee Walking Horse Breeders' and Exhibitors' Association is pleased that the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) recently concluded their study entitled, "A Review of Methods for Detecting Soreness in Horses (2021)", recently published... more
During the pandemic, members of local and state governing bodies have been allowed to conduct meetings electronically per executive order by Gov. Bill Lee. They have not had to hold physical meetings in a physical place. They can hold meetings on Zoom or even by telephone conference call, as long as they allow the public real-time live audio or video access and follow other rules. In some instances, this has meant that the governing body is on videoconference, and the public must show up physically at city hall to watch them through a government computer. It has not been ideal for citizens, who have lost the benefit of interaction with their representatives before and after physical meetings of county commissions, city councils and zoning boards. But the minimum - the ability to follow the discussion, know who is speaking and how a person is voting - has been protected under provisions in the governor's executive order. After the pandemic eases, the regular rules of Tennessee's Sunshine Law will go back into effect. But some local elected officials, county commissioners specifically, want to continue to be able to patch into a meeting and vote by phone instead of physically attend. Problem is, this time around, the protections for the public that were carefully preserved in the governor's executive order would disappear. House Bill 327 and Senate Bill 301, sponsored by two Knoxville lawmakers at the request of the Knox County Commission, would permit almost half of a county legislative body to participate and vote in a given meeting by calling in instead of appearing in person if they meet certain requirements. A healthy debate should take place on whether legislating by phone and not in front of constituents is a good idea. The Tennessee Constitution prevents state lawmakers from doing this. But if the General Assembly thinks it's important to allow county commission members to call in and debate and vote by phone, then surely the public needs protections to assure that citizens can hear and understand who is talking on the phone at any given time and how those members vote. How did such legislation emerge? The idea as presented by its sponsors is noble and kind. It would allow county commissioners who are having a family emergency or medical emergency to stay at home and still participate and vote in a meeting. However, it's unclear what would constitute a "family emergency" or even "medical emergency." The legislation gives authority for that determination to the county commission, raising questions about potential misuse or abuse. Another reason is more straightforward - the member is out of the county for work, but even that could be abused. The fourth reason is specific and seems unlikely to be abused - the member is called into military service. The bill requires that a quorum of the county legislative body be at the physical location of the meeting before other members are allowed to call in and vote by phone. For example, on a county commission with 25 members, only 12 members could call in for any given meeting. On the 40-member Metropolitan Council of Nashville and Davidson County, only 19 members could participate electronically at the same time. While it may seem an unlikely scenario for so many to call in, the bill permits it. And it would not be completely outside the imagination that with such large governing bodies, you might have six or seven people taking advantage of the electronic participation. Like with any slippery slope, we ease into new realities slowly. The legislation creates an exception to the entirety of the Open Meetings Act, not just the section that sets out rules on how electronic participation in meetings should take place - rules that have been developed largely for state boards. This means if the legislation became law, it would trump where it conflicts with any part of Tennessee's open meetings law. The bill instead envisions that the county legislative bodies would come up with their own rules to protect the public's interest in open meetings. This assumes that each of the state's 95 county legislative bodies would impose stricter standards on themselves than what is required in the open meetings law - an idea that deserves more examination and thought. Finally, the bill's sponsors point to a natural limitation in the legislation: An elected official could participate electronically in only two commission meetings a year. It's a seemingly small hole in the open meetings law for the state's 95 county legislative bodies. But if passed, it likely won't be long before city councils, boards of aldermen and other local governing bodies ask for the same. And the limits of twice a year? Why not three? And how about expanding it to county budget committee meetings, too? We should proceed cautiously and thoughtfully down this route of permanent exceptions to the open meetings law. The enthusiasm of an elected official for more personal convenience should be tempered with the duty of appearing before the public they represent and conducting business in the open. more
Most of the time we reflect on the prior year's passing in January. But I felt like it was only appropriate to bring to light in March 2021 the passing of some of those rough waters from 2020. Let's get the doldrums out of the way first. Then I want to accentuate the positive, because there really is a lot to be thankful for in this community... more
Bedford County has a new school superintendent - Dr. Tammy Garrett of Murfreesboro. Congratulations and welcome from a product of the local education system. Garrett was appointed by Bedford County Board of Education on Tuesday after receiving a majority vote (7-2.)... more
We started back in Legislative Session at noon on January 12. We always start Session on the second Tuesday of January every year. Each start is full of excitement and this year was no different with lots of new people and lots of extra security. This year starts the 112th General Assembly, which will last for 2 years. ... more
I was so excited to learn the other day that Barry Gibb - a member of one of my all-time favorite singing groups, The Bee Gees - and Tennessee's own Dolly Parton are doing a remake of the brothers' Gibb song, "Words." Due to current circumstances, they should have remade another famous Bee Gees hit, "Stayin' Alive."... more
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