Friday, July 29, 2011

Facing the Music

As citizens, we all have to begin to face the music on the national debt:

To lay the blame on the President alone, however, would be to hide a much deeper problem-we are all to blame for the current fiscal situation, whether we understand that or not. Even if you have never taken a federal grant, loan, or entitlement (and most of us have, in some way, either directly or indirectly-we aren't just talking about welfare and food stamps anymore), your local municipality, county, or school board probably has done so. Our local governments now depend on Washington to fund everything from more police, to school reform and funding, to fire and safety equipment, to recreational grants. As a society, we expect certain amenities from our local and State governments, yet we give little thought to the fact that much of the money for these things comes from Washington. Tennessee often uses federal money to fund many of the prerogatives of State government. Such has become the normal cycle of political life in this country and in our State, but it is not the proper constitutional order of things. States should not be dependent on Washington to sustain them, and the fact that they are is a telling example of why we have a debt crisis on the last weekend of July in 2011.

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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Do Your Job, Get Persecuted

Legislators do their jobs and get persecuted by those with a vendetta:

Some observers of the case somehow believe that it was the actions of Shipley and Ford that forced the Board of Nursing to change its initial decision to issue a summary suspension of the nurses' licenses, but an examination of the circumstances shows that a simple re-hearing of the case in an actual hearing room with live members of the Nursing Board present very way may produce a different result, considering that the hearing where the nurses' careers were initially destroyed because of allegations that their negligence lead to the untimely deaths of two patients was held via telephone. Yes, read that again. The charges put forth in the allegations against the three Kingsport nurses were that their actions lead to the deaths of three patients, and such serious charges were weighed over the phone. If it were this writer's career and he maintained his innocence, you'd better believe that calls would be put in to my legislator demanding a live hearing with evidence presented in a room before present members of the Nursing Board. Those are the rights of the accused persons, and their State Representatives were doing the very least of their duties to make certain that the rights of the accused were protected.

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hitting the Ceiling

East Tennesseans feel strongly about the debt ceiling issue:

To believe President Obama, one would think that most Republicans on Capitol Hill are engaging in "partisan rhetoric" and are turning the entire debate over the debt ceiling into one of political opportunism. Since this column is about State and local politics, it is not our place here to discuss or discern what members of Congress from other States are doing, but it should be noted that East Tennessee's Congressmen regularly take the pulses of their districts, and they would not be so willing to take on the Administration to the point of technical default if they weren't so certain that such stubborn resistance is exactly what the majority of people in East Tennessee elected these folks to do. There is, after all, a reason that East Tennesseans do not historically vote Democratic. Sure, we've elected the odd Democrat here and there-Eddie Yokley or Jon Litz, for example-but the occasional Democrat here is a blip on the radar. More of the country came around to our way of thinking in 2010, and now more Republicans are demanding that it should be the Obama Administration that abandons its reckless spending plans.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Ending Careers By Telephone

Apparently, a vote by telephone is enough to end someone's career:

How is it that anyone can claim that a fair and judicial process could be conducted on such a serious matter as potentially ending the professional careers of three people by way of a telephonic meeting? As further details of the suspensions of Nurses Reynolds, Killebrew, and Stout emerge, we now know that the hearing where the nurses' licenses were suspended was a meeting of the State Board of Nursing held by way of a telephone exchange. In other words, the members thought it fine and dandy to end someone's career without being able to see and talk to them in person, or examine potential evidence in the same room. These kinds of meetings are standard procedure for many of our State boards and commissions, and that's fine-so long as the matters being discussed do not involve a judiciary process of examining evidence and finding fact. Attempting to conduct a hearing based on presented evidence via teleconference is like trying to have umpires call a baseball game without being physically present, but watching on television-the calls may not be reflective of what is actually occurring. Anyone who has ever been on the board of an organization that regularly conducts telephonic meetings can tell you of the routine logistical problems that are a part of such a setup.

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Senate Should Follow Harwell

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell is attempting to keep public confidence in the legislative per diem system:

Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell has taken a critical step to restore public confidence in the workings of the General Assembly in deciding to limit the per diem legislators can receive for out-of-State travel. Until May 13th, legislators were allowed one out-of-State trip per year where they were not only paid per diem but their travel and hotel expenses were covered. That part of the present policy won't be changing, but what has changed is that legislators were able to take other trips besides their one allowed, and they couldn't claim travel and hotel expenses, but could claim per diem, and now, they are no longer able to do so.

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