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MONDAY, AUGUST 8, 2011 Tennessee ranked No.

1 in auto manufacturing strength (Columbia Daily Herald)


A national economic development publication has named Tennessee the No. 1 state for automotive manufacturing strength for a second consecutive year. The state earned the distinction from Business Facilities magazine largely because of investments made by Volkswagen and Nissan in Tennessee. Last month, Volkswagen announced the hiring of its 2,000th employee at its newly opened Chattanooga plant. The factory has the capacity to produce 150,000 vehicles a year. It is building the 2012 Passat sedan. Construction is also progressing on Nissans manufacturing facility in Smyrna, which will produce lithium-ion batteries to power the Nissan LEAF zero-emission vehicle. Maury County leaders are hoping a large investment is in store for General Motors assembly plant in Spring Hill, which is without a product. About 1,200 people are working at the plant producing engines and components, but thats down significantly from the 4,000 people who worked at the factory when it was producing a car. http://www.columbiadailyherald.com/articles/2011/08/07/top_stories/07briefs.txt

Families welcome tax free holiday savings (WBIR-TV Knoxville)


It's back to school for many East Tennessee systems Monday morning. Parents and students came out in droves to shop for supplies on this tax free holiday weekend. The sales tax rates range from 9% to 9.75% depending where you shop. W ith back to school gear costing families hundreds of dollars, they welcomed the break. "Our ticket was $215," said Carrie Trew, who spent the afternoon shopping at Super Target in Farragut. The store was packed with people Sunday afternoon, all taking advantage of the final day of the holiday. The Trew family saved around $20. "Every little bit does help when you have to get two pages worth of supplies," she said. She said the supply lists get longer every year. "Just in my son's kindergarten class, he had to have 4 boxes of crayons and 20 glue sticks for kindergarten so that takes quite a bit," Trew said. http://www.wbir.com/news/article/179348/2/Families-welcome-tax-free-holiday-savings

Tennessee driver centers to cut waits, beginning in Nashville (Tennessean/Sisk)


Teresa Sloan shares a typical tale about how hard it is to get a drivers license. A long drive across Nashville. A 20-minute wait to speak with an attendant. Then, to be told to come back tomorrow. She told me she didnt have time to service me because they had to enter that into the computer, Sloan recalled the next morning. We had gotten there an hour and a half before they closed. And I chose that location because they were open later. Countless Tennesseans could have told a similar story. Long lines, multiple waits, erratic hours, confusing documentation requirements and, at the end of it all, an unflattering photo. But the angst is not going unnoticed. A new voter identification law has refocused attention on the ordeal of getting a drivers license, and the administration of Gov. Bill Haslam says it is working on a plan to help make the experience less unpleasant. The Tennessee Department of Safety, which oversees drivers licenses, has launched a pilot program in Davidson County to reduce waits. It hopes to reduce the amount of time Tennesseans spend in driver service centers from the current average of more than 50 minutes to less than 30 minutes. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110808/NEWS0201/308070082/Tennessee-driver-centers-cut-waitsbeginning-Nashville?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

Overriding a Key Education Law (New York Times)


Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has announced that he will unilaterally override the centerpiece requirement of the No Child Left Behind school accountability law, that 100 percent of students be proficient in math and reading by 2014. Mr. Duncan told reporters that he was acting because Congress had failed to rewrite the Bush-era law, which he called a slow-motion train wreck. He is waiving the laws proficiency requirements for states that have adopted their own testing and accountability programs and are making other strides toward

better schools, he said. The administrations plan amounts to the most sweeping use of executive authority to rewrite federal education law since W ashington expanded its involvement in education in the 1960s. Conservatives said it could inflame relations with Republicans in the House who want to reduce, not expand, the federal footprint in education. But Mr. Duncan and White House officials described their plan as offering crucial relief to state and local educators as the No Child law, which President George W. Bush signed in 2002, comes into increasing conflict with more recent efforts to raise academic standards. The law made its focus the use of standardized test scores in schools, particularly those serving minority students. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/education/08educ.html?ref=todayspaper (SUBSCRIPTION)

Consumer Affairs warns of employment service scams (Associated Press)


Tennessee's Division of Consumer Affairs is warning job seekers to be wary of employment service firms that charge a fee to help clients find a job. A news release from the division advises job seekers to reject firms that guarantee to get you a job. It also advises consumers to read a company's contract carefully and stay away from high-pressure sales pitches. Job seekers can also check with Consumer Affairs to see if any complaints have been filed against an employment service. The division can be reached at 800-342-8385 or consumer.affairs(at)tn.gov. http://content.usatoday.net/dist/custom/gci/InsidePage.aspx?cId=tennessean&sParam=37168307.story

MTSU to offer free virtual technology (Daily News Journal)


Students, staff will be able to access desktops from any PC Middle Tennessee State University students, faculty and staff will soon have free, anytime access to virtual desktops, programs, personal files and network resources. The technology will be installed by Citrix Systems. Citrix and MTSU officials said the university will have the largest virtual desktop service in Tennessee's higher-education system. With the help of Citrix Consulting Services, MTSU will virtualize more than 2,000 devices by the fall. "MTSU prides itself in being the largest undergraduate university in the state of Tennessee, and as such, we are focused on taking a leadership position with the most modern technologies," said Bruce Petryshak, MTSU's vice president for information technology and chief information officer. MTSU has named this new service MyMT. Secure access will be as simple as opening any browser, going to the URL and logging in with a username and password, added Lorenzo Hines, the University's assistant director of classroom technology support. A follow-up phase will enable remote capability: students, faculty and staff will have simple, secure access to virtual desktops, applications, network resources and file storage from any personally or device university-owned PC, Mac, notebook, tablet device or smart phone on- or off-campus. "It will allow faculty and staff greater flexibility in accessing work-related apps and data without being physically on campus," Hines noted. http://www.dnj.com/article/20110808/NEW S01/108080306/MTSU-offer-free-virtual-technology

Committee narrows Walker judge search (Times Free-Press/Lukachick)


A state commission has narrowed the search for the recently opened Walker County State Court judge seat to two final candidates. The Judicial Nominating Commission has recommended LaFayette attorney Bill Slack and Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit Assistant District Attorney Bruce Roberts to Gov. Nathan Deal, who will make the final decision. The State Court judge position was vacated when Judge Donald Peppers retired earlier this year. After interviewing nominees the week of July 18, the commission announced the two final candidates online. The Walker County State Court handles all criminal misdemeanors, domestic violence, traffic and civil lawsuits. But officials say Walker County is one of the few counties in North Georgia to still use state courts. Slack, 62, received his law degree from Mercer University. He has practiced law in LaFayette for 30 years, taking mainly civil cases, an office employee said. Slack was out of his office all week and didn't return messages seeking comment. Roberts, 45, said he also received his law degree from Mercer University. He's practiced law for 20 years, and for 16 years he's been a prosecutor in the Lookout Mountain Judicial Circuit. Roberts said he prosecuted most of the drug cases in the circuit. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/08/committee-narrows-walker-judge-search/?local

Amazon deal Paper/W oods)

despite troubling

state

leaders

is jump-started

(C.

The states deal with Amazon.com sparked a donnybrook at the state Capitol, pitting Republicans against Republicans with high-powered lobbyists slugging it out and threats of lawsuits and political reprisals flying. But after months of escalation, is peace finally at hand? W ith plans now in the works to open three distribution 2

centers in Tennessee and hire thousands of people, Amazon is said to be negotiating with state officials on a new agreement under which the Internet retailer no longer could decline to collect sales taxes from Tennessee shoppers for online purchases. Haslam administration officials are treating the talks like CIA Black Ops. From the governor on down, all they will reveal is that discussions are taking place. Its to be determined, Gov. Bill Haslam said. Were in ongoing discussions with Amazon, which are incomplete. But House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick said he expects Amazon to come to terms before the start of next years legislative session, when some lawmakers are threatening to push a bill to compel the company to collect taxes. McCormick said he believes Amazon will agree to charge Tennessee sales taxes not immediately but after a moratorium of perhaps a few years. In South Carolina, where Amazon is building a $125 million warehouse, the company now is hiring workers after receiving a 4 -year tax exemption. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/amazon-deal-despite-troubling-state-leaders-jump-started

Congress recent debt deal likely to hit Nashvilles social services (CP/Hale)
Its a little quieter now on Capitol Hill, after President Barack Obama last week signed into law a debt ceiling increase. It put an end albeit temporarily to months of political bickering, played out in daily floor speeches and multiple interruptions of primetime network television. The 11th hour deal sent members of Congress to a monthlong recess and the President to a fundraising celebration of his 50th birthday. But now, social-services providers in Nashville and around the country must wait while the effects of the deal trickle down. No one is yet sure how the weight of the deals spending cuts will be distributed, but here, federally funded agencies arent expecting their burden to be light. Thats because the deal struck in W ashington looks to have rather one-sided results, locally. The long-sought agreement raised the debt ceiling by $400 billion and mandates $917 billion in spending cuts by way of discretionary spending caps over the next 10 years. The deal did not include any of the revenue increases the president and Democratic leaders had at one time insisted upon. http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/congress-recent-debt-deal-likely-hit-nashville-s-social-services

FEMA OKs fewer grants in area (Chattanooga Times Free-Press/Martin)


As federal disaster registration wraps up in areas hit by the April storms, Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama have some of the lowest numbers of grant applications approved compared with other states in the region affected by the storms. However, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials said comparing numbers among different states and different types of disasters is not an accurate comparison and each community differs in how many people receive assistance. Tuesday is the final deadline to register with FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration for disaster relief in Tennessee. The individual assistance grants provide money for housing, personal property, medical expenses and funeral expenses, among other needs. Registration in Alabama and Georgia already has closed. So far, FEMA has awarded more than $7.4 million in grants in Tennessee, while Georgia has received $4.7 million. FEMA had not provided its Alabama numbers by late Friday. In all three states, about 18 percent of the people who registered with FEMA for grants received some money, officials said. The money was used for temporary housing, repairs to houses or vehicles or to replace personal belongings. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/08/fema-oks-fewer-grants-in-area/?local

Disaster aid deadline nears (Jackson Sun)


Residents who suffered damage or loss in the spring's severe storms, tornadoes and flooding must register for federal disaster assistance by Tuesday. To register with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for disaster aid, call (800) 621-3362 from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. The TTY phone number is (800) 462-7585. Visit disasterassistance.gov to register online, or visit m.fema.gov if registering by smartphone or tablet. When applying, have the following information ready: The address of the affected property. A brief description of the damage. A current mailing address. Social Security number. Insurance information, including policy numbers. A contact number or alternate such as a cell phone or work number. Those registering with FEMA may receive a loan application from the Small Business Administration. SBA applications also should be completed and returned by Tuesday. Residents do not have to borrow money, but they may be eligible for additional FEMA grants if they are not qualified for an SBA disaster loan. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20110808/NEWS01/108080307/Disaster-aid-deadline-nears

Rising revenues explained: Are states really getting a windfall? (Stateline)


New York lawmakers ushered in a new era of austerity this spring, curtailing their state Medicaid program and slashing funds for schools. The states leaders said they had little choice: New York lacked the money to meet its 3

old commitments. But just a few months later, the state comptroller reported that tax collections were up by 25 percent from a year earlier, and that in just three months the state had collected $639 million more in taxes than it had expected when lawmakers wrote the budget. Just as the era of austerity was starting, it seemed as if New York was flush with cash. The truth, though, is more complicated. After years of dismal revenue reports, many states are seeing their tax collections pick up. Some are now celebrating budget surpluses. But those positive signs dont mean that states have emerged from their fiscal crisis. http://www.stateline.org/live/details/story?contentId=592443

Small Airports Struggle to Get Off Ground (W all Street Journal)


Facilities Across U.S. Go Largely Unused as Air Traffic Veers Toward Big Players Every major economic development project is a potential white elephant, but for smaller cities, airports have been a particularly tough bet. Though air traffic continues to grow nationally, more of it than ever is served though the largest airports, and this is putting a squeeze on smaller players. At MidAmerica Airport here in southern Illinois, birds fly inside the sleek white metal and glass atrium of the deserted passenger terminal. Airline check-in desks, rental-car counters and luggage carousels sit unused. The parking lot is sprouting weeds, and St. Clair County taxpayers have to cover more than $1 million a year in operating losses. To cut red ink, airport officials have leased some land to farmers and are trying to turn the airport into a cargo hub for Chinese shippers. But that strategy faces major problems, including competition from the bigger airport in nearby St. Louis, which has similar plans. Some members of the county board are ready to throw in the towel. Craig Hubbard said closing down MidAmerica "is something we have to do. If not now, very shortly." http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903635604576476170691580238.html?mod=ITP_pageone_3 (SUBSCRIPTION)

What went wrong (Nashville Post/Duncan)


On July 15, a fellow journalist in Canada called to ask whether NashvillePost.com had heard that IQT, Nashvilles newest potential corporate darling, was laying off hundreds of workers at its various call centers in Canada. The story soon exploded, with local, state and international news outlets posting story after story about the debacle. In a flash, IQT had left more than 1,000 Canadian workers on the street. Meanwhile in Nashville, the recent promise of some 900 new jobs was fading by the second. Critics circled, pointing to an apparent dearth of due diligence by local and state leaders. In some cases, they debated the relevance and moral repugnance of taxpayer-funded corporate incentives, like the $1.6 million that had been initially offered to IQT. The speed with which the deal imploded was staggering. In a little more than 96 hours, the deal went from all but done to completely dead. And the comments from Mayor Karl Deans office made it clear the citys chief executive was just as shocked as the rest of us at the news. So what happened? Every interested observer with an ear to bend has had ample opportunity to armchair-quarterback the deal. http://nashvillepost.com/news/2011/8/8/what_went_wrong

Area south of Franklin targeted for growth (Tennessean/Wiersma)


Hotel may anchor revived Tollgate Village development If youre driving through south W illiamson County looking for a hotel, youre out of luck. But that could change. New developers at Tollgate Village have set aside a 2.3acre lot for a boutique hotel near the frontage on Highway 31. Right now, the site is in a part of the county thats covered more by farmland than rooftops. Yet Tollgate sits just a few miles south of Berry Farms, a planned blend of offices and retail along Interstate 65 in an area that developers have suggested could become the next Cool Springs. Boyle Investment Co. hopes to present plans for the areas first major grocery store there this year. Officials in Thompsons Station say the area is also well positioned to change soon with the completion of State Route 840, quick access to I-65 and arrival of a corporate headquarters for Mars Petcare, the worlds largest pet food company. My personal opinion is that once 840 is open all the way through, theres going to be a need for hotels, said George Ross, a member of the town Planning Commission, which recently approved changes to the concept plan that includes the hotel. Were going to have restaurants and some businesses there that would be attractive to travelers. And that will bring revenue into our town, Ross said. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110808/NEWS01/308080034/Area-south-Franklin-targeted-growth? odyssey=tab|topnews|text|News

Time crunch, (CA/Roberts)

anxiety

will

greet

new

state-ordered

teacher

evaluations

The school year always looks daunting, but for teachers this year has a nail-biting quality unlike any other thanks to the scrutiny of new state-ordered job reviews. If their students, who begin classes today, don't perform, many will be out of a job by spring. Teachers accustomed to being evaluated as infrequently as twice every 10 years will now be observed four times a year: two times in the fall semester and two times in spring semester. To get all the visits in, many teachers will have their first one this week. Memphis City Schools alone must conduct 29,000 observations -- each at least 15 minutes long -- followed by the estimated 30 minutes it will take to compile the details and share reflections with teachers. Besides principals and assistant principals, every certified administrator in MCS -- about 500 -- will help. "The actual process you do when you go into the classroom is very, very detailed. You are trying to capture everything being said and done in the classroom," said Brett Lawson, principal at Overton High. "Then you have to go back and code all that information in the rubric to see whether or not all of these things that are supposed to happen to meet the expectations." http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/08/making-the-grade/

Scores slightly higher in non-bargaining districts (Associated Press)


An Associated Press analysis of student testing data shows Tennessee school systems without teachers' collective bargaining rights performed slightly better than those with negotiated contracts, but posted weaker gains. Thirty-eight of the state's 135 local school districts did not engage in collective bargaining with their teachers before a new law eliminated those rights this year, according to the Tennessee Education Association. Those districts averaged a higher percentage of students earning proficient or advanced scores in the four categories tested. The largest difference was in math, where non-bargaining districts averaged 3.5 percentage points higher than the rest of the districts, while social science scores were just a half percentage point apart. But the districts that allowed collective bargaining which included the state's four largest cities averaged larger gains in all four categories compared with last year's scores. The mostly Republican supporters of a new law that replaced collective bargaining rights with a concept called "collaborative conferencing" argued that the move put a priority on teacher performance over workplace issues. But Democrats and the state's largest teachers' union characterized the legislation as a politically motivated attack. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20110808/NEWS01/108080303/Scores-slightly-higher-non-bargainingdistricts

Can a teacher-led approach turn around a struggling school? (CP/Garrison)


Bureaucracy seems as central to public schools as textbooks, chalkboards and desks. Students look to teachers for guidance; instructors and faculty fall under the domain of principals; and those school administrators operate below a higher superintendent. The hierarchy can be inflexible. But at one of Metros 144 schools East Nashvilles Jere Baxter Middle School, a place with all the inherent challenges of educating an urban student population teachers are overhauling the system and taking administrative duties into their own hands. For the past few months, instructors at Jere Baxter have helped bring a teacher-led system to the historically lowperforming middle school, a transition that came at the behest of the local teachers union and followed group trips to Denver and Los Angeles, where educators watched teacher-run schools operate firsthand. Its a scheme growing in popularity within some school systems, but Metro is just now dabbling in the experiment, with Jere Baxter set to become the districts first teacher-led school. What it all means is that teachers not a principal acting unilaterally are to make budgetary, hiring, scheduling, disciplinary and other decisions in a democratic process.http://nashvillecitypaper.com/content/city-news/can-teacher-led-approach-turn-around-struggling-school

Shelby Co. Schools cracking down on residency before Monday start (WMC-TV)
Thousands of students will show up for the first day of classes at Shelby County Schools Monday. Shelby County Schools are expecting crowded classrooms, so they are taking extra steps to make sure every student can prove residency. "This year, we've changed the procedure where they have to make an appointment and go down to student services," said Shelby County Schools spokesman Mike Tebbe. School officials said the focus of the new rules is on shared residency situations, and will require that the homeowner or renter provide a mortgage, lease or other proof. The individual who claims to share the residence must also provide proof, like a drivers license or check stub with their name and address of the Shelby County home where they tell officials they live. Tebbe said the district's been advertising the new residency guidelines since early June. "W e've had over 3,400 people call to make an appointment at student services," said Tebbe. "This far, they've approved for the shared residents just under 2,000. They've also turned down 578 individuals." http://www.wmctv.com/story/15224726/shelby-co-schools-cracking-down-on-residency-before-monday-start

Authorities discover 3 meth labs in 5 hours (Jackson Sun)


5

Two in custody, three more sought Authorities have arrested two people and are seeking three others after three meth labs were discovered within five hours on Saturday in Madison County. At approximately 5 p.m. Saturday, Madison County Sheriff's deputies responded to a disturbance call at a home on Tenn. 138 near Mercer, where they found precursors, reagents and equipment previously used to manufacture methamphetamine. Investigators from the Jackson-Madison County Metro Narcotics Unit took over the drug investigation and processed the lab materials. Officers recovered approximately 128 grams of material from one of the bottles that field-tested positive for meth along with .8 gram of finished meth. The two residents Jason Paul Jones, 38, and Tabitha Renee Stanley, 32 were arrested and charged with initiation of meth manufacture, felony possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of meth with intent to sell or distribute. They were taken to the Madison County Criminal Justice Complex, where they await arraignment in Madison County General Sessions Court. http://www.jacksonsun.com/article/20110808/NEWS01/108080306/Authorities-discover-3-meth-labs-5-hours

911 call on prowler leads to meth lab bust (WVLT-TV Knoxville)


The Morristown Police Department discovered a methamphetamine lab Friday after a morning 911 call reporting a prowler. Officers responded to the call at an abandoned house on Ridgecrest Street and discovered the active lab. Joshua Mumford, 30, was inside and police say he was carrying a syringe and a knife with a six inch blade. On the scene narcotics officers found tubing, acids and drano. MPD Chief Roger Overholt stated in a press release, This is one of those cases that highlights the importance of citizens making law enforcement aware of suspicious behavior. These methamphetamine operations pose a hazard not only for individuals involved in the manufacture of meth but, also other people in the area. We appreciate the continued support we receive from our citizens in helping us keep our community safe." http://www.volunteertv.com/news/headlines/911_call_on_prowler_leads_to_meth_lab_bust_126870483.html

Georgia: Atlanta School Year Begins Amid a Testing Scandal (New York Times)
After a summer of scandal, Michele Alford will welcome her new third-grade class on Monday the way she always has: with a test. After her students realize that the school year has begun and their grumbling subsides, she will ask the children, W here did I go to college? and What are my interests? I call it the Teacher Test, Ms. Alford said last week as she readied Room 111 at Toomer Elementary School. I do it so that they can ask me questions and see me as a real person. One month after Atlanta was rocked by revelations of a widespread school cheating scandal nearly 200 teachers and principals admitted to tampering with standardized tests to raise students scores Ms. Alford and her Toomer colleagues are bracing for some much more difficult questions from students this year, and a test of their own. Many students will know that two Toomer teachers admitted wrongdoing in the investigation, and that a former principal was implicated. Although all have either left voluntarily or are on administrative leave pending a procedural hearing, their actions echoed down the cinderblock hallways as the teachers prepared their classrooms for Mondays new year. First bell rings at 8. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/08/us/08atlanta.html?_r=1&ref=todayspaper (SUBSCRIPTION)

MORE

OPINION Editorial: NCLB waiver should be granted, goals made more realistic (N-S)
Tennessee might be the first state to seek a waiver from the performance standards of the No Child Left Behind Act, but it likely won't be the only state to do so. Gov. Bill Haslam said late last month that the NCLB law, enacted with bipartisan support during the first term of President George W. Bush, has outlived its usefulness as written. The Obama administration is seeking a new law or revisions to the current one, which has been up for revision since 2007. However, given the contentious climate in Washington these days, a new law doesn't appear in the offing. Obama's goal had been to have a revised law in place by the beginning of this school year. Thus, Haslam, with support from state Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, the state's congressional delegation and Knox County Schools Suptinendent Jim McIntyre, has asked the U.S. Department of Education to waive NCLB's stringent requirements in Tennessee. Haslam's announcement coincided with the release of the annual progress reports for Tennessee's schools. The reports show that about half of Tennessee's schools do not meet the current NCLB standards. http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2011/aug/08/nclb-waiver-should-be-granted-goals-made-more/

Guest columnist: Flower's resurgence a model of conservation (Tennessean)


Last week presented a truly rare moment for this state, one that brought together a partnership of businesses, government, the conservation community and dedicated individuals in Middle Tennessee to celebrate a flower. On Aug. 4, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service was in Lebanon to do something it seldom gets to do: remove a species from the federal Threatened and Endangered Species List because it has returned to a sustainable level. The services decision is also the culmination of a conservation approach that is a model for long-term sustainability initiatives. The newly delisted species is the Tennessee coneflower. Echinacea tennesseensis grows nowhere but in the cedar glades of three counties of Middle Tennessee. Discovered here by Vanderbilt University botanist Elsie Quarterman in the late 1960s, when the Tennessee coneflower was thought to be extinct, this iconic wildflower faced a tough future. Thats where the conservation partnership demonstrated its effectiveness and patience. Quartermans pioneering work awakened us to the problem. The Nature Conservancy, which has always worked to develop partnerships with private landowners, business and government for conservation work, took the lead. http://www.tennessean.com/article/20110808/OPINION03/308080005/Flower-s-resurgence-model-conservation? odyssey=mod|newswell|text|News|p

Times Editorial: Rick Smiths challenge (Chattanooga Times Free-Press)


When Hamilton County students officially begin the 2011-12 school year this week they will do so in a system that has new leadership at the top, significant changes in administration and a raft of problems both old and new. Newly minted Superintendent Rick Smith promises to address the issues in a timely and practical manner. Whether he can do so and remain above the political fray that has crippled the system in recent years is the most 7

pressing question the school system faces at the moment. There is no ready answer. Smith clearly understands the educational and financial issues that currently confront the system. He readily admits there are academic and other shortfalls at many schools. He agrees, too, that remedying those problems in a manner that satisfies state and federal mandates and that addresses local concerns will be difficult. He acknowledges, as well, that population growth in some parts of the county and the shifting census at several schools complicate the task of planning for both the current year and the future. He knows, too, that the schools have an image problem. Still, he remains optimistic despite those problems and the lingering fallout over his appointment. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/08/rick-smiths-challenge/?opiniontimes

Editorial: Treading water on job creation (Commercial Appeal)


Outlook remains bleak: Congress has shown that it is inept at finding real solutions to a serious national problem. There are two good things that can be said about July's unemployment rate of 9.1 percent: It's lower than June's 9.2 percent, and it allayed, perhaps only temporarily, market fears of a double-dip recession. But reading behind the figures reveals a disturbing fact about job creation since we officially came out of the recession in July 2009: Only twice since then has the rate fallen below 9 percent. The July figure showed improvement only because the workforce shrank by 38,000 and perhaps as many as a million simply quit looking for work and thus weren't counted in the unemployment figures. Private employers added 117,000 jobs. But the economy needs to add 125,000 jobs a month just to stay even with the demand for work. The total number of jobless dropped over the month from 14.1 million to 13.9 million, but that's still almost double the number before the recession. To put a serious dent in that number we need to create 250,000 jobs a month, and that requires serious economic growth. The increase in gross domestic product for the first six months of this year was just under 1 percent. The underemployment rate, which some feel is a more accurate picture of how the average person experiences the job market, fell only one-tenth of a point, to 16.1 percent. That rate combines part-timers who want full-time work and those who are not even looking for work. http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/aug/08/editorials-treading-water-on-job-creation/

Free-Press Editorial: Medicare and the nanny state (Times Free-Press)


Suppose you had an operation in a hospital, and that just before you were released, you were furnished with a prescription and told that you should have a checkup with your doctor in a couple of weeks. Now, whose responsibility is it to see that you take the prescribed medicine and that you go to the doctor for your checkup? It's yours, of course! Or at least common sense tells us it should be. But now, hospitals are going to be paid less for the Medicare patients they treat if a relatively high percentage of their discharged Medicare patients are readmitted in a fairly short period of time. In many cases, the penalties will be assessed against the hospitals even if they had nothing to do with the reason why a patient was readmitted -- such as a patient who won't take his medicine or go to the doctor as advised. The Washington Post reported that the idea of the penalties is to get hospitals "to make sure patients see their doctors and fill their prescriptions." But since when is that the hospital's duty once a patient is released and out of the hospital's care? Hospitals cannot force patients to take their prescriptions and to set up follow-up appointments with their doctors. http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2011/aug/08/0808-b7-fp2-medicare-and-the-nanny-state/?opinionfreepress ###