Thursday, April 29, 2010

Mayor Proposes Third Budget Without Property Tax Increase

Thursday, April 29, 2010 Mayor Proposes Third Budget Without Property Tax Increase Debt Restructure Allows Mayor to Fully Fund Schools, Preserve Core Public Services For the third straight year, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean today announced that he will submit an operating budget to the Metro Council without a property tax increase and with fully funding the budget for Metro Schools. Mayor Dean made the announcement during the annual State of Metro Address, which he delivered this morning at the Court of Flags at Riverfront Park downtown. “Our city is faring better than most,” Dean said. “But still, many families in Nashville are sitting down at their kitchen tables, examining their budgets, and facing real financial challenges with how they’re going to get by … As a government, we do not need to add to their burden. In addition, raising taxes in a down economy would potentially stifle our already-slow recovery and hamper our growth. Whatever financial gain our government would get would be more than offset by the negative financial impact it would have on our community as a whole.” In addition to not raising property taxes, Mayor Dean said he made it a priority to preserve essential public services, especially in the areas of education and public safety. With revenue projections flat for fiscal year 2010-2011, the mayor’s budget proposes restructuring a portion of the city’s debt to lower payments on capital expenditures for the next two years, which will help the city absorb the rising cost of employee benefits and other contractual obligations. “We have to prepare a balanced budget – operating on a deficit is not an option for local government, nor would we want it to be. So to make ends meet, we are faced with three choices – raise taxes, drastically cut services, or instead, find a practical approach to getting through the remainder of the recession. And that’s what we’ve done,” Dean said. “We can do this, and still protect our city’s finances in the long run, because we will take advantage of the historically-low interest rates that have come about as a result of the current economy,” he said. If approved by Council, the mayor's budget calls for Metro departments to receive an average 2 percent cut, allowing Public Works, Metro Parks and the Nashville Public Library to maintain current service levels. Police and Fire will retain all sworn / frontline positions. Metro Schools will receive a $25 million increase over the general fund dollars allocated last year. The mayor’s budget also allows for a number of service enhancements, including: Additional general fund dollars to continue and expand afterschool programming for middle school students and a new program that allows high school students to access materials from the Public Library at school
Funds to support the implementation of the Poverty Reduction Initiative, a comprehensive plan developed through a community-wide process with the goal of reducing poverty in Nashville by 50 percent over the next 10 years
Following a recent study commissioned by Dollar General and the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce that found roughly 12 percent of adults in Davidson County, or 52,000 people, lack basic reading a comprehension skills, the mayor committed to hiring a full-time staff member in the Mayor’s Office to work in the area of adult literacy with Dollar General providing half the funds for salary and benefits.
Mayor Dean called Nashville “a city on the rise” and said despite the economic conditions over the last two years, the city has continued to improve. “We’re making progress in our schools. We have a fully-staffed police department. Crime is down. And we are creating new jobs. We’re making Nashville an even better place to live. This community deserves the credit. And it’s my job to continue working on those things that ensure our city and our citizens thrive,” he said. In conjunction with the operating budget, Mayor Dean said he will file his second capital spending plan. Projects funded by the plan include the construction of the 28th Avenue Connector, the construction of two additional police precincts in the Madison and South Nashville areas, the planning and design of a new Public Health headquarters facility to replace Lentz, and planning and land acquisition for library in Bellevue, among others. The mayor also allocated $5 million in the capital budget for the creation of an Open Space Revolving Fund to support the creation and conservation of open space and green space through public / private partnerships. “With good fiscal management and a determination to see our city thrive, we can continue to invest in our city’s infrastructure, and in the areas that matter most; and we will be in an even greater city when the economy begins to recover,” Dean said. Read the full State of Metro Address online:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 State of Metro Address

Davidson County neighborhood crime report: April 17-20

New Orleans considers Chief Serpas

DAVIDSON COUNTY Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas is one of six finalists being considered to take the top police job in his hometown of New Orleans. The New Orleans Times-Picayune reported Tuesday that in addition to Serpas, five others are being considered for the position: former NOPD Capt. Louis Dabdoub; John M. Harrington, chief of police in St. Paul, Minn.; Bruce Preston Marquis, chief of police in Norfolk, Va.; John R. Batiste, chief of the Washington State Patrol; and Ronald Davis, police chief of East Palo Alto, Calif. The field may be narrowed to three today. — RYAN UNDERWOOD THE TENNESSEAN

Judge closes health firms

Smart Data, ATA assets may be seized to pay medical claims By G. Chambers Williams III • THE TENNESSEAN • April 28, 2010 A judge's ruling late Tuesday could pave the way for state regulators to pay at least some of millions of dollars in medical bills left unpaid by a pair of Robertson County businesses with a national reputation for taking customers' monthly health insurance premiums and not delivering promised services. Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered the permanent shutdown and liquidation of the Springfield, Tenn.-based American Trade Association and Smart Data Solutions LLC, two firms state insurance officials say collected almost $22 million from consumers nationwide and left many with unpaid bills for doctors' visits and surgeries. An appeal of the court order by Springfield resident Bart S. Posey, who owns the two companies, could postpone distribution of any money to customers in all 50 states. Posey said Tuesday night that he plans to appeal. "I'm glad justice has been served," said Karen Saltsman of Mt. Juliet, an ATA policyholder who says her medical bills were never paid. "This renews my faith in the system. Even though the appeal will probably take a long time, they have been exposed for what they are." Saltsman said she was left with unpaid bills totaling about $2,500 from doctor's appointments and visits to a pain clinic, along with $800 worth of prescription drugs. She was paying $370 a month for what she thought was an insurance policy to cover some of her bills. Barring a reversal on appeal, the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance hopes to use what it says is $2.1 million in assets in company bank accounts to pay at least some of the nearly 24,000 claims that may total $5 million or more. Petition sought closure On Tuesday, Lyle ruled in favor of a petition filed March 23 by the insurance department seeking to seize and close Posey's two businesses, alleging that they were illegally selling and administering health insurance policies to dues-paying members of the American Trade Association. Neither company was licensed to sell or administer health-insurance policies in Tennessee or any other state, the regulators said. About 10 other states have issued cease-and-desist orders against the companies; national consumer advocates have warned consumers against buying ATA products. Posey, however, contends that the state has unfairly interfered with his business operations and that if left alone he would have been able to place the ATA members' health policies with a licensed insurer and licensed benefits administrator to provide services and handle claims. He says he did nothing wrong and contends that he was victimized by a Bermuda-based insurer that didn't live up to a contract to underwrite ATA's health plans. Headquarters raided The case came to a head on March 24 when state regulators raided Posey's Springfield headquarters, seized business records and froze company and some personal bank accounts. In his defense, Posey's attorneys argued that he was not acting as an insurer and that he had no obligation to pay any insurance claims out of ATA or SDS bank accounts. State officials say Posey bought the previously dormant American Trade Association from an Indiana businessman about three years ago for the purpose of selling health insurance policies to members solicited by marketing companies under contract to him. Marketers used fax blasts and other methods of advertising to seek out customers, some with pre-existing medical conditions and no other access to insurance. Consumers who signed up were paying from $200 to $700 a month, depending on which ATA membership package they selected. But consumers began to complain that most of their medical claims were never paid and that the ATA marketers had misled them by promising that their policies would cover pre-existing conditions. Posey said the policies mailed to members clearly stated that no pre-existing conditions would be covered. He acknowledged that some of the marketers may have misled people but contended that he wasn't responsible for their actions. Judge delayed ruling Lyle had ruled after an April 6 hearing that the two companies would be liquidated, but she postponed the effective date until hearing more evidence from both sides on whether the companies were truly insolvent financially. On Monday, she took testimony on the financial condition of the companies, hearing from the state regulators who raided the businesses last month. The state officials said they found boxes full of thousands of unpaid medical claims on the floor in the companies' offices in Springfield. In her Tuesday ruling, Lyle said the two businesses clearly were insolvent, which allows the state to liquidate them. She also denied a request to remove Posey and his wife, Angie, as defendants in the case, and said that any of their personal assets that were obtained by improper use of ATA and SDS funds could be confiscated and sold by the state to help pay claims. One asset in question is the ATA and Smart Data headquarters building at 4676 N. Highway 41 in Springfield. Posey wrote a check from an SDS bank account in December to pay off a $588,000 mortgage on the building, half of which he leases to the state Highway Patrol. The building is in the Poseys' names. Owner says he is broke Posey said Tuesday that he is "broke" and that his other real-estate holdings are heavily mortgaged, including his home in Springfield, a farm in Robertson County, and a weekend retreat on the banks of Lake Malone, near Lewisburg, Ky., about an hour north of Springfield. The state also has suggested that it would try to recover about $140,000 in sports contributions that Posey donated to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide boosters club from Smart Data bank accounts since last November.

Monday, April 26, 2010

TSU graduation on May 8

By ANDY HUMBLES • THE TENNESSEAN • April 22, 2010 Tennessee State University will hold graduation services Saturday, May 8, at the Gentry Center on campus. At 9 a.m. will be the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and College of Public Service and Urban Affairs At 2 p.m. is the College of Business, College of Engineering, Technology and Computer Science, College of Health Sciences, School of Agriculture and Consumer Sciences, School of Nursing. About 400-500 graduates are expected in each ceremony. Dwight Lewis of The Tennessean is the speaker.

Nashville Mayor adds 3 aides to make city healthier, greener

3 aides aim to make city healthier, greener By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • April 26, 2010 Mayor Karl Dean has hired three young aides focused on making Nashville a healthier, greener and even more volunteering city. One is an attorney, a French horn player and, like Dean, a Boston Red Sox fan. Another is a one-time "Nashville's Most Beautiful People" recipient and has led a radio station's outdoors program since 1997. The third is a veteran city planner who was already in charge of Dean's efforts to add bike lanes and sidewalks around Nashville. In the past month, Dean has named a director of healthy living, Toks Omishakin; a director of the new Mayor's Office of Environment and Sustainability, Chris Bowles; and a chief service officer, Laurel Creech. Each of them will be paid with federal or private grant money, not city tax dollars. But at a time when Dean has asked Metro departments to prepare for 7.5 percent budget cuts and potential job losses, he'll have to work to explain that his office isn't eating caviar while others chew chopped liver. "It's just a timing issue," said Councilman Erik Cole, an ally of the mayor. "It's a harder job to communicate that to the council and constituents. It's a difficult task for the mayor to talk about these initiatives when we're in this budget climate." Dean, who will release his budget recommendations Thursday, said he's accustomed to explaining which pools of money are eligible to pay for which jobs, services and projects. He said his administration rightly applied for grant funds that will allow the city to do more than its own tax revenues can pay for. "If we didn't do this, we'd be leaving money on the table, which I don't think is my job to do," he said Thursday. Funds fight obesity The largest pot of money comes from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department, which awarded Nashville $7.5 million to support public health efforts to reduce chronic disease and childhood obesity. While the Metro Health Department will administer the two-year grant, Omishakin will coordinate the work of other departments, Dean said. The work will include creating safer routes for children to walk to school, putting fresh fruits and vegetables in neighborhood markets and increasing awareness about the need for motorists and cyclists to share the road. Omishakin, 33, has worked as a planner for Metro for about eight years. For more than a year he has been Dean's bicycle and pedestrian coordinator, a job he'll continue to hold. In an e-mail interview — Dean's office declined to make the aides available by phone or in person — Omishakin said he was looking forward to the challenge of "creating a paradigm shift in a city this large." "We want Nashvillians to take steps towards walking and riding buses and bikes," he said. "It would be great to see families and neighborhoods throughout the city more committed to a healthier lifestyle. This paradigm shift starts with informing and educating the community at large about healthier options, but we have to continue to build the infrastructure to support this lifestyle, as well." Metro also is getting a two-year, $200,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation to develop and implement a plan to increase volunteerism. Nashville is one of 10 "cities of service" that won the money under a program initiated last year by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. As chief service officer, Creech, 35, is in charge of the volunteerism plan, which will focus on education, the environment and disaster preparedness. A student of Irish poetry and African-American studies in college, she created and ran Lightning 100's Team Green outdoor adventure program. "She's a real healthy outdoors person who knows a lot of people who are involved in a variety of efforts to make Nashville a better place to live," Dean said. Volunteers wanted Creech also has advised the mayor on environmental issues and increasing bicycle and pedestrian activity. "My goal is to create easier access and offer more selections for our community to volunteer in an area(s) that they are passionate about," she wrote. "... Having passion about the environment that surrounds Nashville and a greater sense of working together will only further improve our community's lifestyles both individually and as a whole." Bowles, 29, was an environmental attorney at Bass Berry & Sims for about two years after graduating from Vanderbilt University Law School in 2008. He co-founded and edited an environmental law and policy review at Vanderbilt. He'll be responsible for implementing the recommendations made last year by Dean's Green Ribbon Committee, as well as implementing a $6 million U.S. Department of Energy grant if Nashville wins it. Bowles' salary will be paid out of grant funds the city already has received. Bowles, who worked as a freelance musician in Wisconsin for two years after college, said he was grateful for an opportunity to "make a difference for Nashville in an area that I am passionate about." He said he wants to create a culture in which thinking green becomes second nature. "I believe that Nashville will have succeeded in its mission to become a truly green city when we also regularly ask ourselves whether the choices we make as individuals, family members, citizens and professionals will help ensure that our resources will also be available to future generations and whether those choices will enhance the quality of life in Nashville," he wrote. Dean said it was important to have someone on his staff coordinating the city's environmental work. "You've got to keep moving forward, and that's why you need somebody in this office leading that effort. The mayor's office, the strength we bring to something is, when we want to do it, it's pretty clear that's a priority of the government."

Compromise bill on guns in restaurants now in doubt

Rep. Tindell challenges lawmakers to keep word By Nate Rau • THE TENNESSEAN • April 26, 2010 A compromise to allow guns in restaurants, but not bars, is in doubt amid questions from lawmakers and Second Amendment advocates as the measure moves to full votes in the state House and Senate. A House committee last week approved Rep. Harry Tindell's amendment to a guns-in-bars measure that would allow permit holders to carry guns into establishments that serve alcohol, but force any establishment with less than 50 percent food sales to post signs banning firearms. Tindell said legislators should keep their word from a year ago, when they said they would deliver a bill that would allow guns in restaurants, but not bars. "We're really breaking our promise if we don't do this," Tindell said. The legislature passed a guns-in-bars law last year, but a Nashville judge ruled it unconstitutionally vague. The law was challenged by Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn, among others. Rayburn said that if other issues such as signage requirements were ad-dressed, he would not challenge the bill as long as Tindell's amendment was passed. But with a full House vote possible in the next week, the compromise has faced an array of questions. "The proposal is poorly crafted and does not achieve the objective that (Tindell) apparently was seeking," said John Harris, executive director with the Tennessee Firearms Association. "It also has serious unintended consequences based upon on what was being said about it in the committee hearing." Enforcement is an issue Harris pointed out that Tindell's proposal would inadvertently apply to various other establishments that serve alcohol, such as hotels, bed-and-breakfasts and art galleries. Sen. Doug Jackson, a Dickson Democrat and lead sponsor of the bill in the state Senate, also questioned whether Tindell's proposal had any enforcement mechanism if an establishment failed to post but didn't meet the 50 percent food service requirement. "I think we want to come to the best law we can develop that provides for the Second Amendment rights of citizens and at the same time provides public safety and something that works well," Jackson said. "Mechanically, I don't know how (Tindell's amendment) would work." Collierville Republican Rep. Curry Todd proposed a bill earlier this session that would allow permit holders to carry guns into establishments that serve alcohol. Owners have the right to post signs banning guns, and anyone carrying a weapon is forbidden from drinking under Todd's proposal. "I think it's a near certainty the bill is going to pass," Tindell said. "The question is going to be in what form? There are a lot of people who know it has a chance, and they're going to take a purist's view that there shouldn't be any restrictions. "My problem with that is that's not what we promised the people of Tennessee last year." Nate Rau can be reached at 615-259-8094 or

Friday, April 23, 2010

Car-sharing plan launches in downtown Nashville

Nissans are available hourly or overnight downtown By Anne Paine • THE TENNESSEAN • April 23, 2010 Don't own a car? Share one. The WeCar made its debut downtown Thursday at Fourth and Commerce Street with a few remarks by Mayor Karl Dean and then a ride-along in one of the program's Nissan Cubes. "If you live downtown and need a car, the WeCar is for you," said Tom Turner with the Nashville Downtown Partnership. "This is car sharing made simple." A person also can grab a bus or bicycle to go downtown and then avail themselves of one of the cars that will be at four locations. Businesses can use them, too. The program helps make downtown living more attractive, giving residents the option of occasional car use as needed. Their mainstay can be public transportation, walking, bicycling or other less-polluting forms of getting places. Fewer car owners also may mean less traffic and fewer jammed parking lots. A similar program called Zipcar was unveiled two years ago on the Belmont and Vanderbilt University campuses and is still operating there. The choices with WeCar include the Nissan Cube and Nissan Rogue, available for hourly or overnight rental with prices starting at $8 an hour. That covers fuel, insurance and maintenance. Drivers must be 21 and over. Dean urged people to use the car, which he called "a major step forward" for the city. "Give it a try," he said. Online reservations Run by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, members make reservations online to use a car and they have a card that is scanned to unlock the car and get the key from the glove compartment. There's a $20 application fee and an annual membership fee of $50. There will be four cars to start with — one at each location. If demand grows, more could be added. The locations where the cars can be found are: • Southeast corner of Fourth and Commerce • 211 Union St. • 209 10th Ave. S. • The Gulch on 11th Avenue South, near the intersection of 12th Avenue South

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Titans select Morgan 16th overall

WKRN Channel 2 Posted: Apr 22, 2010 8:25 PM CDT NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Titans took Georgia Tech Defensive End Derrick Morgan Thursday night with the 16th pick of the NFL Draft. Morgan had 18.5 tackles for a loss last season and 12.5 sacks for the Yellowjackets. Most draft experts had Morgan going in the top 10 picks of the draft.

Make-A-Wish grants Harry Potter fan's wish

WKRN Channel 2 News
Posted: Apr 21, 2010 10:07 PM CDT Tenn. – Five-year-old Hunter Bernhardt was born with a heart defect and last year, was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma. He loves Harry Potter and has seen all six movies. "He was born with a heart defect," explained his mother, Susan Jaco. "When he was 20 days old he had a heart transplant. He'd been doing well with his heart until this past summer [when] he was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma." Jaco said Hunter spent more than 100 days in the hospital last year and watched the Harry Potter movies "over and over." Recently, he wished to meet Harry Potter. His wish will come true this summer, thanks to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Belmont University's Greek community raised money and teamed up with Make-A-Wish to set up Wednesday's "Potter Party", where Hunter and his family learned they'd be taking a trip to Florida this summer. They will see the grand opening of the "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" theme park at Universal Studios in Orlando in June. "I get to go see Harry Potter!" Hunter exclaimed. "I am so proud," said Jaco. "I wish I could be half as tough as he is because he is so strong and so brave, and I wish I could be like that." Read more about the Make-A-Wish Foundation at

Record number to participate in 11th annual marathon

WKRN Channel 2 News NASHVILLE, Tenn. - More than 32,000 runners are expected to participate in this year's Country Music Marathon and 1/2 Marathon, an increase over last year and the ninth straight year event has grown. Runners from across the country and the world began arriving in Nashville Thursday morning and will continue to do so over the next two days. Adam Zocks, general manager for the Country Music Marathon, told News 2 more than 50% of participants travel from out of state, which is a giant boost for the local economy. "We want out-of-towners coming here and being a part of this event and seeing Nashville and hopefully coming back other times during the year," he said. "It's a $40 million-plus economic impact event so its one of the biggest in Nashville and as the event grows, that number is going to just keep going up." More than 4,100 children in kindergarten through sixth grade will be running in the Kids Marathon Friday night at LP Field, up from only 35 participants the first year. Centennial Park will once again be the start of the full and half marathon. Runners in both will cross the finish line at LP Field. The weather is becoming a big concern for race day as severe weather is in the forecast. Race organizers were expected to present their plan should severe weather arise later on Thursday. Runners looking to participate in the race can still do so by registering at the marathon's Health and Fitness Expo. The expo, held at the Nashville Convention Center in downtown, opens at 1 p.m. and will feature more than 100 exhibitors with the latest in sports apparel, health and nutritional information and more. It is free and open to the public. The fee to sign up is $145. There were about 500 spots left. To accommodate the marathon, roads will be closed throughout Music City on Saturday. West End Avenue, from 31st Avenue to 21st Avenue, will close at 3 a.m. Saturday and reopen at 9 a.m. West End, from 21st Avenue to 16th Avenue will close at 6 a.m. and reopen at 8:30 a.m. Broadway, from 16th Avenue to 4th Avenue will be closed from 6 a.m. to 9 am. Demonbreun Street from Fourth Avenue through the Music Row Roundabout will also be closed from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. The marathon will also impact interstate traffic. The following off-ramps will be closed in both directions beginning at 6:15 a.m. •I-40 to Broadway, will reopen at 9 a.m. •I-40 to Demonbruen Street, will reopen at 9:30 a.m. •I-65 to Rosa Parks Boulevard, will reopen at 1:30 p.m. Click here for a complete list of road closures. Visit for complete marathon details.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Nashville council approves $114,000 to tear down 17 eyesores

By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • April 21, 2010 Seventeen buildings Metro considers public safety hazards soon will be history, eyesores no more. The Metro Council voted Tuesday to take $114,000 from the city's reserve funds to allow Metro Codes to demolish the buildings, which are at the top of a list of 37 run-down structures that need to be destroyed. An East Nashville house that had been an eyesore for years burned on April 1. The fire spread to surrounding homes and displaced about two dozen people. The demolition money is part of a $4,593,200 supplemental budget appropriation the council approved. Mayor Karl Dean requested the money to help several city agencies get through the current budget year, which ends June 30. Almost half of the money will subsidize the Metro Hospital Authority, which runs Nashville General Hospital at Meharry and two other facilities. At a budget committee meeting Monday, council members asked why the authority needed $2.2 million — about 50 percent more than the $1.5 million it projected it would need during a midyear budget review in January. Jason Boyd, Nashville General's interim CEO, said the hospital has controlled its expenses this year, staying about $100,000 below budget. But revenues fell short of expectations as inpatient volume, TennCare patient volume and the hospital's billing collection rate declined slightly. Councilman Charlie Tygard lamented the ongoing struggles of the hospital, which cares for many of the city's poorest, least-insured residents. "It just seems we get further and further behind," Tygard said. But Boyd noted that the hospital started the fiscal year with a budgeted deficit of $2.8 million and will need $600,000 less than that to close the gap. Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said the hospital won't start the next budget year with a deficit. "I think we're all better served by having General Hospital than by not having it," he said. Councilwoman Edith Taylor Langster, whose district includes the hospital, said the facility's management wouldn't ask for millions of dollars if it didn't need the money. "They find no joy in coming up and asking for this, but I'm glad they do," Langster said. Fee increases In other business, the council: • Voted 27-8 to raise the fees it charges developers for building permits, inspections, plan examinations and similar services. The fees will go up about 30 percent on average, effective May 1. Metro Codes Director Terry Cobb has said the fee increases are necessary so his department can recover the costs of providing services to developers and contractors. Fees fell $2.4 million short of costs in 2009, meaning taxpayers subsidized the people who used the services. • Rejected a nonbinding resolution expressing support for state legislation that opposes the new federal health-care reform law. The vote was 9-23.

TN bill would ban guns in bars, allow them in restaurants

Restaurateur says he's not likely to challenge amended legislation By Nate Rau • THE TENNESSEAN • April 21, 2010 Tennessee's guns-in-bars bill became a guns-in-restaurants bill Tuesday when a House committee amended it to ban guns from any establishment that makes more than half its money from booze sales rather than food. That would effectively ban guns from bars but allow state carry permit holders to bring their weapons into restaurants that serve alcohol. Drinking while carrying a gun would still be illegal. Nashville restaurateur Randy Rayburn — who took a previous guns-in-bars bill to court, where it was killed — says he isn't likely to challenge the amended bill, with a couple of other changes. Rayburn questioned how the amendment would affect establishments that serve only beer, which are licensed by local governments. The state licenses restaurants and bars that serve liquor. Restaurant owners still could ban guns by posting signs. Rayburn said those signs — and the signs on bars — should have simple language and be a smaller, standard size. He favors a 4-inch-by-4-inch square showing a gun inside a circle with a line through it, copying the universal "not allowed" symbol. Sen. Doug Jackson, a Dickson Democrat, has proposed an amendment to the guns bill in the Senate that would address Rayburn's concerns about the signs. "If the signage issue is addressed, and the issue of beer taverns is addressed, then I will not personally challenge the constitutionality of this bill," Rayburn said. The bill will be up for a vote in the full Senate as soon as next week. Senators would consider the House amendment before voting on the bill. Amendment clears way Before the guns bill was amended Tuesday, the finance committee was almost evenly divided on it, mostly along party lines. With the amendment, it passed 20-6. It now goes to the calendar committee, which routinely sends bills on to the House floor. Rep. Harry Tindell, a Knox County Democrat, proposed the change, which says that any establishment with less than 50 percent food sales would have to post a sign banning guns. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Curry Todd, a Republican from Collierville. The legislature passed a similar law last year, but a Nashville judge ruled it was unconstitutionally vague. Todd filed new legislation this year that would have allowed permit holders to carry guns into any establishment that serves alcohol. Tennessee law says all businesses that serve liquor are restaurants and must make more than 50 percent of their take from food sales. But many restaurants across the state do not meet that requirement. Those establishments pay a monthly fine to the state's Alcoholic Beverage Commission. The fine is a pittance compared with the money made serving liquor. Under Tindell's amendment, those bars would be forced to post signs banning guns. "It just says the owner, who will know what his or her sales are, will post the sign if they're not primarily a food establishment," Tindell said. Before the amendment, the bill faced opposition from the business community and restaurant owners, who worried that posting signs to ban firearms might hurt business. Todd said after the meeting that he needed time to consider Tindell's amendment. "I've got a grasp of what I think it will do," Todd said. "Seeing it today, I haven't had a chance to read it, so I will try to go back and see what's actually in there. "On the concept, it sounds good." At the beginning of the legislative session, Todd filed a bill aimed at fixing the state's vague liquor laws. Todd's bill would revoke an establishment's restaurant license if the 50 percent food requirement is not met. That bill remains in a House subcommittee.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Metro Nashville website now maps addresses of people recently arrested

Residents can check Web to see where defendants live By Nicole Young • THE TENNESSEAN • April 20, 2010 Janice Lampley doesn't know her neighbors as well as she used to, and that scares her. When she and her husband, Wallace, first moved to their Charlotte Pike neighborhood 30 years ago they knew everyone on their street, but not anymore. "People come and go, and we have no idea who they are,'' she said. "They may be hard-working people that don't have time to get acquainted, and that's fine, but you just don't know. If I had a child, I'd be very concerned all the time." Now, with the click of a mouse, Lampley and others can at least know whether their neighbors have been arrested recently. Requests from community groups across the city led the Davidson County Criminal Court Clerk's office to implement a new mapping system that tracks the addresses of people arrested in any given week. To access the information residents can go to the clerk's website at and click on "View & Map Arrest Data." Service is free Each day, the clerk's computer system is updated automatically at 2 a.m., said Chief Administrative Officer Tommy Bradley. Bradley said a computer program goes into the court files, grabs the addresses of everyone arrested in the past 24 hours and posts it online in the mapping feature. Everyone arrested seven days earlier is automatically removed from the mapping system during each daily update, he said. The system does not list where the crime occurred. "The program uses existing resources that we already use, so it doesn't cost us anything," Bradley said. And, the service is free for citizens. Nashville defense attorney David Raybin said arrest information is public record regardless of whether it is viewed on paper or a computer screen. "There are no privacy issues with the system because addresses are listed on warrants anyway,'' Raybin said. Lampley used it but she didn't find anything to worry about. "I thought it was a great tool," she said, "but I don't think many people will use it. Lots of people don't look up things. On the plus side though, I do think neighborhood leaders will check it. I know we will." Contact Nicole Young at 615-259-8091 or

Major health insurers start early to extend coverage of young adults under parents' plan

By Alison Young • USA TODAY • April 20, 2010 Thousands of college students scheduled to lose their parents' health coverage when they graduate this spring got a reprieve Monday from several major insurance companies. UnitedHealthcare, Kaiser Permanente, Humana and WellPoint said they will enact some provisions of the new federal health-care law ahead of schedule to let adult children stay on parents' plans until age 26. The law's provisions on young adults won't take effect until Sept. 23, but the companies said they are changing rules now to prevent young adults from falling into a coverage gap. Many plans have required adult children stay in school to keep dependent coverage; age cutoffs vary by state. "That change is really significant," said Sara Collins of The Commonwealth Fund, which studies health policy. "Particularly with the downturn in the economy, to find a job is difficult, even more so one that offers insurance." UnitedHealthcare and Humana will immediately let young adults remain on parents' plans until age 26. At WellPoint, which operates 14 Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans nationally, the change takes effect June 1. Kaiser plans to extend coverage before September to consumers who have individual policies and is in discussions with employer groups about their policies. Details are still being worked out, "but our intent is to avoid an interruption in coverage for them," said spokesman Chris Stenrud.

TennCare expects to delay most cuts for a year

Funding reprieve fills budget gap By Chas Sisk • THE TENNESSEAN • April 20, 2010 TennCare officials say they would likely delay most of the cuts to the state's Medicaid program proposed earlier this year, but said Monday the reprieve would only be temporary unless lawmakers find new ways to fund it. "It's important not to lose focus on this," said Scott Pierce, TennCare's chief financial officer. "We'll be back here next year talking about these same issues." Officials told lawmakers Monday that a "coverage assessment" proposed by the Tennessee Hospital Association would raise about $203 million — enough money to put off most of their plans to cap benefits for TennCare recipients. The assessment follows a decision in February to let TennCare keep $121 million in money that the state owes the federal government for Medicare prescription drug coverage. TennCare had proposed $430 million in cuts in state spending during the upcoming budget year. Those cuts would have included a $10,000 cap on TennCare recipients' inpatient hospitalization coverage, a reduction in reimbursement payments for hospitals and doctors, and limits on office visits, outpatient visits, lab tests and X-rays. In a presentation to the legislature's TennCare Oversight Committee on Monday, officials said they have covered all but $106 million of the program's state budget gap. Administration officials are reviewing ways to fill the rest of that gap, TennCare administrator Darin Gordon said.

Monday, April 19, 2010

TN economic chief recruits for medical trade center

Matt Kisber helps fill trade center space planned at Nashville Convention Center site By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • April 19, 2010 When a Dallas-based company recruits tenants for a $250 million medical trade center being planned for downtown Nashville, the state's top economic development official sometimes helps out with the sales pitch. Matt Kisber, Tennessee's commissioner of economic and community development, has joined Market Center Management Co. executives several times when they've met with potential tenants. Kisber said Reagan Farr, the state revenue commissioner, has also made some of the trips. "I see this as very similar to a corporate headquarters," Kisber said in an interview Thursday. "It brings with it a substantial amount of related activity. We're always working to identify the ancillary companies that would need to be in close proximity to that corporate headquarters." Kisber and Bill Winsor, Market Center's CEO, declined to name the companies they had visited or even the cities they had traveled to. Market Center plans to turn the three-story Nashville Convention Center into a 15-story medical mart where hospitals and other health-care companies can comparison shop for beds, technology and other products. Nashville is building a new convention center nearby; it's scheduled to open in 2013. Before it can start construction at the existing convention hall, Market Center needs to pre-lease 65 percent to 70 percent of the planned space. Winsor said the company plans to have that done by the fall. The facility is expected to feature permanent showrooms for 600 to 1,000 companies. Winsor likened the showrooms to "corporate marketing headquarters." Lease terms will depend on the size of the space and the number of years a company commits to but will be similar to rates for the best office space downtown. "And the early movers probably will get a better rate," Winsor said. He declined to say what percentage of the space has been pre-leased since Market Center, Gov. Phil Bredesen and Mayor Karl Dean announced the plan on Nov. 30. But he said it was important to have the Department of Economic and Community Development's help. "They've agreed to accompany us on some calls," Winsor said. "Having the support of the state and Metro on something of this significance is critical." Pitch includes jobs Kisber and his staff also have provided less time-consuming assistance in some cases, like giving Market Center the right contacts at health-care companies. When Kisber travels with Market Center, he talks about the concentration of such companies in Tennessee, especially Nashville, and urges executives to bring other jobs here along with their showroom operations. "This project is for Nashville, in my opinion, similar to a megasite in other parts of the state," he said. "It has the opportunity to seriously transform economic activity in the metro Nashville area." Dean's administration expects to become much more involved in bringing the project to fruition once the pre-leasing activity reaches critical mass. Dean aides and Market Center executives have already talked in general terms about a lease of the current convention center building, but negotiations won't get serious for a few more months, Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said. "We're sort of on standby to help any way we can," he said. "They're completely focused right now on lining up tenants." Winsor said Market Center will have some announcements soon about the companies buying showrooms. He said he hasn't asked Kisber to make any more trips yet. But Kisber said he's not surprised when things come up. "I'm sure I will be doing more of these," he said.

Nashville airport work may delay travelers

April 18, 2010 Twitter FarkIt Type Size A A A Work on a new rental car facility and renovations of the terminal at Nashville International Airport will affect some travelers beginning early Monday morning. No flights will be delayed. On Monday, the entrance to the short-term parking garage will be closed between 1:30 and 3 a.m. Blasting of rock for utility trenches will begin Monday. Blasts are tentatively scheduled for 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. These blasts will not close any roads or pedestrian walkways. On Tuesday, vehicles will be stopped for about 10 minutes at 9:25 a.m. on Terminal Drive for blasting. Renovation work inside the terminal will close one of the two baggage-area restrooms for 14 weeks. And beginning next Sunday, the north entrance vestibule on the ticketing level and the north entrance vestibule on the baggage claim level will close for 10 days. — JENNY UPCHURCH THE TENNESSEAN

Stand Down offers vets legal help

DAVIDSON COUNTY Veterans with legal issues, including Davidson County civil cases and criminal misdemeanors, have until May 31 to register for a special one-day event where they can get assistance. The event itself will be June 25, according to the local nonprofit Operation Stand Down, which serves honorably discharged veterans. "We decided to conduct a Legal Stand Down based on the legal needs we see every year at our three-day Operation Stand Down event," said Bill Burleigh, executive director of the nonprofit. "Much of our work is targeting homeless veterans. This one-day event will help remove barriers to housing and employment, which directly helps in the reduction of homelessness." Veterans must pre-register by the end of May at the Operation Stand Down offices, 1125 12th Ave. S. Office hours are 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. The Legal Stand Down event will deal with misdemeanors in Davidson County only. Local judges will be available to deal with civil cases, criminal misdemeanors and traffic citations. Civil cases targeted are related to divorce, landlords, leases and child support. Criminal cases will only deal with misdemeanors, citations and warrants. Traffic cases will address tickets and licenses for Tennessee only. Reinstatement fees will not be waived. — ANNE PAINE THE TENNESSEAN

TN system gives patients access to health records

By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • April 19, 2010 Mary Ann Peugeot got her doctor to modify her medicine dosage without picking up a phone, visiting his office or shelling out a co-payment. With a few strokes on a keyboard and the click of the mouse, she sent him a message through a computerized warehouse of health information. She was fatigued, and her blood work, shown online, suggested the dose might be high for her. Her doctor agreed, he wrote back. "It allows you to be a partner in your own health," Peugeot said about online access to her patient records at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "It is my body and they are my records and they are freely sharing it so I can be a better a patient and be healthier." Health experts are examining how to bestow to all Americans the access Peugeot enjoys to see her lab results, track health indicators and e-mail her doctor. They have to do that without violating a dense labyrinth of privacy issues. Tennessee is employing $11.7 million in federal stimulus funds to get health providers to espouse electronic health information technology and build an online medical record infrastructure, said Will Rice, executive director of the state office of e-health. "As we move in the digital world, patients want real-time access to lab results and other procedures," Rice said. "We won't have to carry physical films from one building to the next or wait three days for labs to arrive in the mail." Less than 20 percent of health providers nationwide keep electronic health records for patients, according to research published in The New England Journal of Medicine. The state's e-health office is probing what the acceptance rate is among Tennessee doctors. Electronic prescribing, a system in which doctors send patients' prescriptions to a pharmacy via a computer network, has been gaining ground in the state. About 1.78 million prescriptions in Tennessee were sent through an online network in 2008, about 4 percent of those that could have been sent electronically. That figure is on par with the national average. The goal under the Obama administration is to extend health record portability and access to every American by 2014, and more than $20 billion has been put toward the effort. VU system expands Vanderbilt's MyHealth system, launched about six years ago, is an example of what might be created on a larger scale. The health portal, accessed with a user name and password, began as an avenue for patients to send messages to doctors with whom they had appointments. It expanded later to include lab results, online bill payment, health tips and more, said Dr. Jim Jirjis, chief medical information officer for Vanderbilt and an internal physician. More than 100,000 people are signed up for MyHealth, and doctors find it a valuable communication tool, he said. "Doctors were worried it would overwhelm them," Jirjis said. "But they found it means our staff doesn't have to spend time licking envelopes, and they spend time engaging with the patient." The toughest sell for electronic records will be to skeptics who question safety and efficiency. Charles Jones, a Mt. Juliet resident, said if a health records system is designed with security protocol in place, it would be a useful tool. "Access to my own records would keep everything in one place and be easier to manage and update," Jones said. "Having them online could also make it easier for me to keep track of my health status, compare it against that of other people in my demographic group, identify food choices and other changes that may help me manage my health better." Privacy concern Not everyone is so sure. In a recent survey, about 59 percent of people said they were concerned about electronic records being kept private, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the Harvard School of Public Health and National Public Radio. About 76 percent of people surveyed feared unauthorized people would gain access to the information. Rice, of Tennessee's e-health office, said an "opt-out" provision would be presented to patients, and there would be an audit measure in place to show patients every person who logged on to access their records. Redundancies avoided Electronic health records will cut costs because doctors could avoid duplicating tests already done in another health facility, said Dr. Clifton Meador, who sits on the board of Middle Tennessee eHealth Connect, a nonprofit working to electronically connect all hospitals, health clinics and ambulance services. Meador also is a member of the board of the Health Information Partnership for Tennessee, or HIP-TN, a nonprofit that is studying for the state how to implement electronic records. "You see patients who have a CAT scan done and when they get to another doctor get another CAT scan," Meador said. "Eventually, when electronic records mature, a doctor in any system could punch out your record in detail." He said patients could use computer health records to track their blood sugar levels if they are diabetics and check for any possible risky drug interactions on medications from different doctors. Eventually, doctors and clinics could pool health data to find successes and failures in treatment for certain conditions. "It makes medical information portable — wherever you go, there it is," Meador said. "Ultimately, we would have a much better informed public, and it would make health costs visible."

Mayor Dean seeks demolition funds

He wants $114K to level dangerous derelict houses in Nashville By Jenny Upchurch • THE TENNESSEAN • April 19, 2010 Metro Council on Tuesday will consider spending more money to tear down some of Nashville's most dangerous derelict houses. But that comes too late for Victoria Boyd. A condemned house next door caught fire April 1, and it spread to Boyd's home and two others on Wilburn Street in East Nashville. "We lost everything," Boyd said. "My mom lost the only photo she had of her mother, my grandmother. "I told my mom, 'They need to tear this house down,' " when they moved next door to 316 Wilburn, a Victorian two-story with a collapsed roof and burned-out doors and windows. Metro Codes had that house under a demolition order for months after a fire in 2008. But the money ran out last fall, leaving 37 properties to wait until more funding is allocated in the new budget beginning July 1. Mayor Karl Dean last week requested $114,000 to tear some of those properties down now. That should take care of 17 of them, and Codes has a priority list. Too late, says Councilman Jamie Hollin, whose district includes Wilburn Street. "It should have been gone — it shouldn't have been there," Hollin said of the abandoned house. The fire was arson, Metro says. Leaving houses like that is a "lose-lose situation," Hollin said. Twenty-three people lost belongings and homes. A block of tidy homes is now a burned-out debris field. Metro has lost future property taxes. The fire spread to two homes Mike O'Neill owns. One was damaged. The other, which Boyd's family rented, was destroyed. It would cost about $300,000 to rebuild the 1900 Victorian cottage, "but you're never going to re-create it," he said. Cleveland Park is steadily gentrifying, and O'Neill expects that house would have been restored as a single-family home as in nearby Lockeland Springs, adding to its value and the property taxes. Instead, he'll demolish it and perhaps the other. "That building should have been secured better," O'Neill said of 316 Wilburn. "My tenants said people were constantly in and out." If Codes lacks money to tear all the dangerous buildings down, he said, "Why don't they take 10 percent of that amount and board them up properly? That might be an interim measure." Compliance problems Codes can order property owners to board up buildings, but it can't do the work, says Bill Penn, head of the property standards division. "We can get the authority to demolish a building, but Metro is not responsible for the building," he said. Penn has cases in court against several property owners, but some just won't comply. One owner has been fined, even jailed, but has not repaired or removed any of his buildings. The extra money "will put a significant dent in what needs to be torn down," Penn said. "Any properties that remain will have to wait until our next appropriation." Codes had $155,000 this year for demolitions. The amount in the new budget hasn't been determined. Metro will place liens on all of the demolished properties for costs, typically $7,000, but might not collect for years. Hollin wants to tap another source. Metro received $2 million from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program to buy and rehabilitate homes and then sell them. Rules were relaxed this month so the Metro Development and Housing Agency could buy uninhabitable homes with lingering code violations. MDHA officials said Friday they would work with Codes to buy homes in the demolition backlog, tear down the derelict structures and build new houses. "Why not let MDHA give money to Codes or let Codes and MDHA use it together to clear that list?" Hollin said.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Volcanic ash cloud chokes U.S. travel plans

By Michael Tarm • ASSOCIATED PRESS • April 16, 2010 CHICAGO — A volcanic ash cloud that shut down airports and tied up air traffic across Europe could turn into a long, costly headache for businesses, airlines and tourists in the United States. The ash spewed by an eruption in Iceland forced airlines to cancel flights and redirect planes around the ash. Those diversions caused jetliners to burn more fuel and created delays in the air-cargo business that could quickly run into tens of millions of dollars. The slowdown could affect everything from package shipments to business meetings and long-planned vacations. "The costs could be extraordinary," said Jeffrey Price, an aviation professor at Metropolitan State College of Denver. Many in the travel industry on Thursday weren't asking if they would be affected — but how badly. "This is the ultimate act of God," said Chicago-based transportation expert Joseph Schwieterman. "It's hard to imagine a weather scenario that would disrupt the entire Atlantic flight system like this." Anxious clients called Boston-based Garber Travel, one of New England's biggest travel agencies, asking how they might rearrange flights. But for some travelers bound for Europe, it was too late. The flight cancellations jeopardized a $6,000 trip planned for more than six months by Robert and Barbara Breault of Coventry, R.I. Barbara, an avid gardener, had scheduled a vacation that coincided with tulip bloomings in the Netherlands. But their outbound flight Thursday night from Boston's Logan Airport to London Heathrow was marked "See agent." "It's not supposed to do this," Barbara said with a laugh. "I had already planned the whole thing." She had paid not only for the airline tickets, but supplemental charges for window seats and for a private guide, as well as a cruise through Holland's famed canals dubbed the "Tulip Festival Cruise." Flights to U.K. grounded On an average day, U.S. airlines operate about 340 flights to and from Europe, according to the Air Transport Association. On Thursday, American carriers canceled about 165 of those flights because of the ash, and the ATA expected at least as many to be canceled today. An FAA spokeswoman said the cancellations affected England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, United Arab Emirates, Finland, France, Belgium and Denmark. The FAA issued an order holding flights destined for the United Kingdom on the ground. Other flights to and from Europe were being diverted around British airspace, which has been closed until 3 a.m. CDT today. For one British man trying to make it back to London, the consequences were deeply emotional. "It was my grandmother's funeral tomorrow so I am going to miss that," said Gary Alderson, who was at an airport hotel. Elsewhere, flight cancellations undermined pending business deals. Mark Kiefer, a Boston-based aviation industry consultant, said he initially planned to send a proposal to a company north of Amsterdam by air courier to meet a Monday deadline. "They told us that they wouldn't take a package tomorrow, and they wouldn't guarantee you Monday," Kiefer said. Instead, he planned to e-mail the proposal to colleagues in The Hague, have them print it out and then drive about an hour to hand-deliver the document. Air cargo companies conceded they were scrambling to cope. FedEx, the world's second-largest package-delivery company, started rerouting flights bound for Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris. It also moved some packages by truck instead of air. Company spokesman Steve Barber could not specify what types of shipments were most affected. Although rare, flight problems caused by volcanic ash are not unheard of. The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state grounded hundreds of flights for days. Associated Press writers Samantha Bomkamp, David Koenig, Joan Lowy, Glen Johnson, Ray Henry, Adam Pemble and David Porter contributed to this report.

Saturday walk in downtown Nashville to aid homeless

The Key Alliance will hold its second annual Walk A Mile in My Shoes, a fundraiser to create awareness of homelessness in Nashville, on Saturday in downtown Nashville. Registration will begin at 8 a.m. at LP Field in Lot R at the entrance to the Shelby Street pedestrian bridge. A $25 donation is suggested. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. Participants will cross the bridge to Fourth Avenue and Broadway before ending at the Hall of Fame Park. Partner agencies will have booths set up, and WSIX 97.9 will provide music. At the end of the walk the Soul Choir will perform. Other attractions include an art display by the homeless, food and beverages. For more information, visit — NICOLE YOUNG THE TENNESSEAN

Bredesen: Lift sales tax cap or cut state salaries

5% state pay cut threatened By Erik Schelzig • ASSOCIATED PRESS • April 16, 2010 Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen said Thursday that lifting Tennessee's sales tax cap to plug an $80 million budget gap would avoid a pay cut for all state employees. Bredesen told reporters after a speech to educators that the alternative to lifting the cap would be to require a 5 percent salary decrease for all state workers. "We'd probably have to do an across-the-board salary reduction," Bredesen said, "and this was sitting out there as an exception that I think is not really justified by any public policy." The state limits sales taxes to the first $3,200 of purchases. Bredesen wants to remove that cap to allow the state to collect sales taxes on the full purchase price. The cap would remain for vehicles, boats and homes. While some consumers, like those buying expensive jewelry, would be affected, the change would mostly apply to businesses, Bredesen said. The governor challenged Republican lawmakers who are skeptical about the proposal to come up with a solution to the budget gap. "You can't just say no to everything," Bredesen said. "At some point you've got to decide what it is we're going to do to get through these things." State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville said he and fellow Republicans felt blindsided when the governor first informed them of the sales tax proposal a day earlier. "We will have an alternative, absolutely," Ramsey said. "We'll figure out where to make those cuts, but we're going to need a week or so to do that." Ramsey, who is running for governor, said the changes in the sales tax rules would hurt small businesses "that buy those backhoes and Bobcats to create jobs." A constituent planning to buy $12,000 gas pumps for his convenience store might reconsider the purchase if he had to pay the full sales tax on them, Ramsey said. Bredesen said the state is facing a $105 million shortfall in addition to cuts already planned for the budget year that begins July 1. Lower-than-expected enrollment at public schools has freed about $25 million, but the governor said officials must work to make up the remainder. But Ramsey warned that the GOP majority in the Senate remains opposed to related efforts to remove a tax break on cable boxes and isn't certain about another measure to increase driver's license fees. The total budget gap may be closer to $150 million, Ramsey said. Bredesen said state economic development officials think lifting the sales tax cap wouldn't affect investment in Tennessee because other states like Alabama, Mississippi and Texas also don't have a cap on sales taxes. "We have an exception here in Tennessee that just doesn't exist in a bunch of other states," Bredesen said. "I'd rather ask (businesses) to step up to this than I would try to cut salaries by 5 percent."

New Nashville convention center's bonds sell fast

Metro finds heavy demand in $623.2M sale By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • April 16, 2010 The Metro Convention Center Authority has completed the sale of $623.2 million in municipal bonds to finance construction of the Music City Center, enjoying heavy demand from investors. Two series of bonds went on sale Tuesday, and each series was in enough demand to lower the city's interest rates. Metro's use of $571 million in federally subsidized Build America Bonds also helped lower the overall interest rate to 4.53 percent, "which is really low," Metro Finance Director Rich Riebeling said in an interview Wednesday. The rate is about 0.25 percent lower than what the city expected. "I have always been confident in our financing plan for Music City Center and in the viability of the project," Mayor Karl Dean said in a news release. "The market has now validated that confidence." Site set to open in 2013 Construction is already under way on the convention center, which is scheduled to open in 2013. Riebeling said the city will close on the transaction on April 21. After receiving the proceeds from the sale, Metro will pay off a $75 million bank loan for land acquisition, invest the rest and use it to build the convention hall. Construction itself will cost $415 million, with land acquisition, design work and other expenses driving the final price tag north of $580 million. The bond proceeds also will pay for a $40 million debt service reserve fund. The city plans to pay off the debt over the next 33 years with a series of revenue streams targeting visitors to Nashville. But it has pledged to use a $130 million-a-year pool of general fund revenues — excluding sales and property taxes — if there's a shortfall, as critics expect based on the struggles of convention halls around the country. Metro payments on the debt will average $39 million to $40 million a year. Opponents worry Fitch Ratings lowered Metro's general credit rating as a result of the convention center deal last week, writing that "even the moderate amounts of general fund support that appear possible for debt service and operations would contribute to increased strain on the government's finances." On Tuesday, the day the bonds hit the market, Bloomberg News quoted Councilwoman Emily Evans, a vocal opponent of the project, as saying it was "a riverboat gamble with very little upside." Evans, a retired municipal bond underwriter, told The Tennessean she wasn't talking about the bond sale. She said the Bloomberg reporter asked her why she was opposed to construction of the convention center, which the council approved by a 29-9 vote in January. "Nobody hopes I'm wrong more than me," she said. Supporters of the project say Nashville's appeal to tourists will generate enough visitor activity to pay off the debt with the dedicated revenue streams, leaving the general fund untouched. Riebeling said a trip he and Dean made to New York, Boston and the Philadelphia area last week appeared to have helped drive up demand for the bonds. They met mostly with insurance companies and large fund managers to talk up the bond issue, which was underwritten by Goldman Sachs, a New York investment bank. "I asked our financial adviser and Goldman Sachs, and they said there's no question that those trips took people from being lukewarm to being very positively inclined to take an order for the deal," Riebeling said.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Community Safety Fair and recycling scheduled in Hermitage

Leadership Donelson-Hermitage to hold event By ANDY HUMBLES THE TENNESSEAN • April 14, 2010 Leadership Donelson-Hermitage project team will hold a free “Health and Heroes’’ Community Safety Fair, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, May 1, at the Hermitage Community Center, 3720 James Kay Lane. Leaders to Benefit is the project team from the 2010 class of Leadership Donelson-Hermitage. Activities will include health screenings provided by Summit Medical Center, safety demonstrations, pet adoptions provided by the Nashville Humane Association and hands on activities by local vendors and government organizations. Leadership Donelson-Hermitage alumni will be held in conjunction with the fair for families to bring up to two boxes of paper to be shredded. Electronics and prescriptions will be accepted for disposal as well. The Metro Parks and Recreation Department will co-sponsor the event.

Nashville Mayor Dean says he'll try to fully fund schools

District says it's $25 million short of meeting needs By Michael Cass • THE TENNESSEAN • April 14, 2010 Mayor Karl Dean said Tuesday that he would try to come up with full funding for the Metro school district's $633.3 million budget request. At the end of a budget hearing with the district's elected and appointed leaders, Dean said his goal is to help the city's schools keep moving forward. "We don't want to go back," the mayor said. "We'll do the best we can." Dean has asked most Metro departments to prepare for the possibility of 7.5 percent budget cuts as the city continues to wrestle with the fallout from the nation's economic meltdown. He could seek a tax increase but might be reluctant to do so for political and economic reasons. Schools officials said they need a 2 percent increase in their operating budget for 2010-11, partly to cover legally mandated salary increases. That amounts to about $12.6 million over the $620.7 million the school district is working with this year. But the district also needs an additional $12 million from Metro's general fund beyond what it received last year. All told, the district says it is about $25 million short of funding the needs it has identified for 2010-11. Using reserves not an option This year the district was forced to take $12 million from its own reserves to meet its budget. But tapping the reserves is not an option in the coming year because it would bring those funds down to dangerously low levels. Schools Director Jesse Register said officials believe using the reserves again would be illegal. "We've pretty much hit the wall," Register told Dean. Register said he and his staff started the budget process with one "major assumption": that they wouldn't allow the money going to schools in the form of teacher, principal and assistant principal compensation to be cut. The district eliminated 150 teaching positions a year ago and expects to add about 1,700 students in August. Dean, who has consistently called education his top priority, said he was pleased that Register and the school board had worked to preserve classroom instruction. But protesters gathered outside the Metro Courthouse an hour before the hearing to voice their displeasure at the district's plan to eliminate the jobs of more than 600 janitors and groundskeepers, whose work would be outsourced to a private company. The move is expected to save about $5 million. Even full funding of the school board's budget request wouldn't restore those jobs, which are part of nearly $11 million in cuts the board agreed to in a 5-4 vote. Register has said the district would save on benefits, and existing employees would be given hiring preference once the private contractor is selected. Union tries to save jobs Doug Collier, president of the Service Employees International Union Local 205, urged the crowd of about 60 people to put pressure on Dean and the Metro Council to save the jobs. Some people wore stickers on their shirts that said "No Privatization." "If we forget it, they're going to forget us," Collier said. "You can bank on that." Dean noted in a session with reporters that he has no say in how the school district spends its money. He can only recommend the amount it should receive. The mayor must submit an operating budget proposal to the council by May 1. The council must approve the recommendation or come up with an alternative by the start of the next fiscal year on July 1.

Last-minute tax filers have places to go for help

DAVIDSON COUNTY With a midnight deadline for income tax filers, here is where to find help: VITA sites are for those making less than $49,000. Its Super Site at Woodbine Community Organization, 222 Oriel Ave., will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. today. To see if another VITA site near you is open, call 211. AARP sites are for those 60 and older. The site at the Knowles Senior Center, 174 Rains Ave., is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. A site at Edmondson Pike Library, 5501 Edmondson Pike, will be open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Main Post Office, 525 Royal Parkway, will have workers on hand until midnight to accept tax returns. Its retail area will be open until midnight to buy stamps.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Nashville Mayor Karl Dean appoints 2 new staff members

April 13, 2010 DAVIDSON COUNTY Mayor Karl Dean added two people to his staff Monday, appointing Laurel Creech as chief service officer and Billy Fields to lead the Mayor's Office of Neighborhoods. Creech has worked for Lightning 100 for the past 13 years, heading up the radio station's Team Green outdoor adventure organization. She has also been a member of Dean's Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee and his Green Ribbon Committee on Environmental Sustainability. Creech will lead Metro's efforts under the national Cities of Service program. She'll be in charge of putting together a citywide plan to increase volunteerism by June 1. Her position is funded by a Rockefeller Foundation grant. Fields, a special assistant to Metro Codes Director Terry Cobb — who proposed eliminating Fields' position if a 7.5 percent budget cut is necessary — is a longtime city employee and the chairman of the Davidson County Democratic Party. He is a former director and deputy director of the Office of Neighborhoods, which was started by the previous mayor, Bill Purcell. Fields succeeds Brady Banks, who resigned last fall and is now outreach director for the Governor's Books from Birth Foundation. — MICHAEL CASS THE TENNESSEAN Comments >> Be the first to share your thoughts on this story. Related Stories ■Predators prospect has shot at college title Contextual linking provided by Topix

TN House expresses opposition to federal health plan

By Lucas L. Johnson II • ASSOCIATED PRESS • April 13, 2010 Tennessee lawmakers against a resolution that opposes federally mandated health-care initiatives said Monday that it is unnecessary because of the recent passage of President Barack Obama's reform legislation. The resolution proposed by Republican Rep. Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet was passionately debated for more than an hour before it passed 66-29. The proposal "expresses opposition to ... the creation of a federal health insurance exchange or connector, and the creation of a federal health insurance plan (public plan) option." Several lawmakers questioned the timeliness of the measure after the recent passage of the federal health care bill. "This has already passed ... and we just have to wait and see what happens," said Rep. Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville. But despite those who said the proposal is outdated, Lynn said it is needed "to send a message to the federal government that we can't afford this." "This is protesting them taking away our authority to make these laws, and forcing us to implement what they want us to implement," she said. "It's about ... respecting what we do." Several lawmakers said the proposal could actually reflect badly on the state considering its low ranking in the delivery of health care and because thousands of Tennesseans will be insured as a result of the federal overhaul plan. "If any state needs health care, it's this state ... at the bottom," said Rep. Ulysses Jones, D-Memphis. "By passing this, we're turning our back on the citizens ... who need health care the most." Earlier Monday, the state Senate voted 21-7 to pass a resolution urging the Tennessee attorney general to join states challenging the constitutionality of the federal health-care overhaul. The measure was sponsored by Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, who is running for governor. Also Monday, the House voted 70-23 for legislation that would prohibit Tennessee tax dollars from being used for abortion services. The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Matthew Hill of Jonesborough, said the federal health-care bill allows states to opt out of abortion funding within new insurance plans that states are required to start. He said his proposal "will make sure that Tennessee tax money does not go to pay for abortions" within those plans.

Middle TN agencies offer adoptive families vital services

By Janell Ross • THE TENNESSEAN • April 13, 2010 For two weeks, Kathy and Arthur Fourier thought they'd adopted the perfect set of Russian twins — girls, almost 4 years old. But once the girls figured out they were with the Williamson County couple for good, things changed. "All hell broke loose," Kathy Fourier said. The girls, from an orphanage in a war zone, plotted together in Russian, laughing maniacally. One of the girls decided her toy closet was a potty. They were terrified of thunder and the family's dogs. Fourier, who once worked as a social worker and had an older daughter, said she was prepared for things to be tough, but not so exhausting. The Fouriers talked to their adoption counselor and went to support group meetings. Between their families, church and friends, the couple never felt alone. After about a year, things calmed down. Today, the Fouriers have intelligent, well-behaved 15-year-old girls. The story of a Shelbyville, Tenn., woman who returned her adopted 7-year-old Russian son alone to Moscow has local adoptive parents reflecting on what they had to do to make their families work. Institutional settings dominate Russia's child welfare system, making it difficult for some abandoned children to bond with their new parents, but there are services available in Middle Tennessee to help families navigate the transition. The Shelbyville mother, Torry Hansen, apparently sent a note along with her son saying he had severe psychological issues, and her mother said the boy threatened to burn the house down. "The challenge for children who are internationally born and older is that the majority have been in an orphanage, an institutional setting that — even under the best conditions — is not the best place for a child," said Debbie Robinson, executive director of Miriam's Promise, a Nashville adoption agency that helps arrange international adoptions but was not involved in the Shelbyville case. "Then we pick them up and move them to a family and expect them to know how to respond. It doesn't really work that way."

Nashville may have unhealthy ozone levels today

By Anne Paine • THE TENNESSEAN • April 13, 2010 People with lung problems, including asthma, children and active adults, such as joggers, should take care today. An unhealthy level of ozone is forecast to build up in the air, according to the Clean Air Partnership of Middle Tennessee. "This is a bit earlier in the season than we typically see in this area," said Melissa Stevens, partnership spokeswoman. The alert is an "orange level" warning. Higher levels are possible when everyone should be wary. Ozone at ground level, a hot weather phenomenon, forms when emissions from vehicles, coal-fired power plants, boats and other fossil-fueling burning sources react in sunlight. It can irritate lungs, even searing them like a sunburn, and harm plants, too. Ozone high in the atmosphere is protective of the earth, shielding it from ultraviolet rays. Changing habits helps: • Carpool and combine errands into a single trip. • Avoid idling your car. • Refuel your car after dusk, when it's cooler and ozone production has dropped. • Don't use gas-powered lawn equipment today. Go to for details.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This is a great day for my friend Catherine

Hello Friends: This is a great day for my friend, Catherine. She is celebrating such an important milestone in her life. By her living she has helped and is helping many women that share her struggle. I know that you will be moved by what she sent me today. Thank you for reading and thank you for giving. Gratefully, Vivian Catherine writes: Today April 12th, marks sixteen (16) years since I was first diagnosis with HIV. Out of the mist of uncertainty, certainly I have seen many challenges over the years. Last years eight day hospitalization was unmistakably AIDS at its best. I have experienced parts of AIDS I had not known. (Read more)........ Today April 12th, marks sixteen (16) years since I was first diagnosis with HIV. Out of the mist of uncertainty, certainly I have seen many challenges over the years. Last years eight day hospitalization was unmistakably AIDS at its best. I have experienced parts of AIDS I had not known. Often I heard, “you don’t look like you have HIV.” Trust me, I look like AIDS! It never leaves me. Lurking in the shadows in seclusion AIDS strikes more often than in the past. It knocks me down but I get back up. Truly what satin meant for my harm all those years ago, God in His mercifulness has chosen to use for His glory! In my time on the path of AIDS many have lost their lives to AIDS related illness while the stigma deepened its hold and rates of infections continued to skyrocket. The color of HIV/AIDS has become African American/black/mocha/chocolate/tan and the gender of AIDS has become female. HIV/AIDS has become me. Sixteen years ago I didn’t know my destiny would be tied to a 501 © 3 community based organization called W.O.M.E.N. The lessons I have learned are priceless. An extraordinary fact of W.O.M.E.N. is that it is the only 15 year old HIV focused CBO founded, organized, facilitated and ran by an African American mother and author living with AIDS in the state of Tennessee. Sixteen yeas have taught me that globally, nationally, regionally and collectively, the greatest need is education, education, education. Without education, we parish. Education is the key to awareness. For example, I find it problematic that black women comprise only 12 percent of the female population in the United States, yet we accounted for more than 64 percent of women living with HIV/AIDS. HIV disease was the third leading cause of death for black women, ages 25- 34, in 2004. I find it not only problematic but troubling in that funding to provide education, outreach, mobilization and advocacy has not kept pace with the new face of HIV/AIDS. The leading cause of death for black women is heart disease but again the appropriate resources are not in place to reach this population. However, against the backdrop of these challenges what needs to be done is the creation of a facility I call W.O.M.E.N.’s HOUSE. My vision for W.O.M.E.N.’s HOUSE is an educational platform that is culturally sensitive, gender specific, safe and prolongs economic and sustainable health outcomes for women. I believe these challenges need to be met head-on with a facility offering women a secure, regimented, and compassionate community. Personally the larger need I see is a comprehensive facility in one location that links prevention and intervention coupled with continued gender specific education built on social and economic skills as well as cultural awareness. My experience says the facilities strength would be the development of a research infrastructure integrated into the residences lives. My life is given for others. Thousands of lives have been touched but nonetheless this is a hard journey. If you are familiar with the story of Moses, his destiny was tied to leading the people out of bondage but the trip with arduous. He is remember for bring freedom but he paid the price for their freedom. Today clearly God’s plan for my life was not only to educate through the creation of W.O.M.E.N., but to exceed that in the creation of W.O.M.E.N. HOUSE. God has shown me that W.O.M.E.N.’s HOUSE will be unlike any other facility in the southern part of the United States. So through illness and pain I will not give up. My time has not yet come. W.O.M.E.N.’s HOUSE will materialize! Hopefully my actions have spoken loud and my legacy has not been in vain. Catherine Wyatt-Morley Founder and Chief Executive Officer Women On Maintaining Education and Nutrition National Minority Women with AIDS Coalition 460 10th Circle North Nashville Tennessee 37203 615 256-3882 Phone 615-256-3885 fax If you are moved beyond complacency and really want to make a difference in the lives of others please consider donating to W.O.M.E.N. towards the construction of W.O.M.E.N.'s HOUSE. Paying it forward for future generations is all of our responsibility. Your donation is tax deductible and you will help frame a foundation for the advancement of women locally, nationally and internationally. Join me in doing your part. You can make a difference! If you are HIV+ and want to become a resident of W.O.M.E.N.'s HOUSE or want more information please contact number below. If God has been good to you and you are looking for a way to give back consider volunteering. W.O.M.E.N. 460 10th Circle North Nashville TN 37203 615-256-3882 Fax us at 615-256-3885 Look us up on the web at

Nashville neightborhood crime reports April 3-5

12,500 workers at MetroCenter want restaurants, retail

North Nashville Community Plan asks what's next for area? By Andy Humbles • THE TENNESSEAN • April 12, 2010 MetroCenter has grown as a daytime business and industrial area, but the environment in North Nashville hasn’t supported additional residential development or brought in sit-down restaurants and retail. That could be the next step for the neighborhood, home to Watkins College of Art, Design & Film and the Tennessee Titans practice facility. “Strictly daytime activity,’’ a North Nashville resident Hershell Warren said about MetroCenter, and that opinion seems to be a consensus. “Retail failed and residential never developed,’’ he said. Warren is among those residents who are actively participating in a series of meetings about the North Nashville Community Plan held by the Metro Planning Department. Meetings began earlier this year and will continue into September, when a document will be drafted. Each meeting focuses on specific areas of North Nashville, and the last one on March 30 dealt with MetroCenter. No longer a ghost town Back in 1999, the Fountain Square Shopping Center and with its restaurants, stores and movie theaters closed completely, leaving it something of a ghost town. All of that has changed as MetroCenter has flourished as a business and industrial area. Several businesses have office parks there. Watkins College moved into the old Fountain Square building. The Tennessee Titans practice facility and offices increased visibility. Fast-food restaurants and car sales opened. MetroCenter now has about 12,500 employees and just a 4.3 percent vacancy rate, according to Planning Department figures. “All of a sudden, it’s been discovered again as a well-kept secret,’’ Councilman Frank Harrison said, “but it is still a daytime type venue.’’ Several apartment complexes are the only residential footprints within MetroCenter, estimated to be 835 acres. Workers have needs Retail options that would allow MetroCenter workers to run errands and shop in the same place they work were suggested by Lori Rochelle, who works in the corridor at Southeast Community Capital. Rita McDonald of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce believes a big box anchor like a Target would draw well within MetroCenter and from much of North Nashville. And that could multiply with additional retail and sit-down restaurants. “Metro Center has been identified as an ideal location because of the large lots still remaining, access to daytime employees, access to much of North Nashville, and because it is already perceived by many to be safe and inviting,’’ Metro planner Tifinie Adams said. Retail options and better pedestrian access could help better connect nearby neighborhoods like Germantown and Salemtown and provide further rooftop support for retail. What's next? Adams presented pictures of Atlantic Station in Atlanta and Belmar in Denver as mixed use communities with commercial and retail amenities and residential living that MetroCenter could use as a model for the community plan update. Adams emphasizes important aspects to those communities are residential areas within walking distance, or part of, the office, retail and commercial components of such a mixed use development. Much of the available land at MetroCenter or such projects would need to be rezoned from industrial uses. More commercial and retail amenities have been discussion points throughout the North Nashville update sessions. Discussion points have included Jefferson Street being a tourist draw with entertainment and small business and Buchanan Street with more daily-needs like grocery stores, pharmacies and cleaners. The next meeting is May 6.

Health-care law is gift to adult kids

Young guitarist looks forward to coverage By Alex Nussbaum • BLOOMBERG NEWS • April 12, 2010 When Brian Howell, a 23-year-old Nashville guitar player, feared a lingering cold had turned into an infection last year, he decided against seeing a doctor. It would have cost too much, he said. "I decided just to drink a lot of tea and take some Mucinex," Howell said. "It turned out OK — thankfully." Howell hopes to stop gambling with his health next year, he said. That's when young adults up to age 26 who aren't covered by a company insurance plan will be able to join their parents' policies under the health overhaul signed into law last month. The change may save Howell $800 a year in premiums, money he said he plans to put into savings and a diet that's less dependent on road-tour fast food. Fourteen million Americans age 19 to 29 were uninsured in 2008, the largest group among the 46 million without coverage, according to a January report by the Kaiser Family Foundation, a research group. The expanded benefits, effective next year, will help people seeking their first jobs, those working for companies that don't offer insurance and risk-takers starting their own businesses, said Landon Gibbs, executive director of SHOUTAmerica, a Franklin-based health-care advocacy group. "Many of them have been forced to make the very rational decision of putting gas in the car or food on the table rather than buying health insurance," said Gibbs, 27, whose group focuses on young adults. Amid the worst economic decline since the Great Depression, fewer entry-level jobs offer insurance, and those that do so increasingly require waiting before coverage starts, Gibbs said. Entrepreneurs may also gain, he said. "There's a lot of young adults who want to go out and start their own company, but they're scared to leave the security of health-care coverage through their jobs," he said. Among uninsured people in their 20s, half lived in families with incomes below $15,000 a year, according to the report by the Menlo Park, Calif.-based Kaiser Foundation. Half were full-time workers. Forty percent worked in farming, construction or service-industry jobs less likely to offer insurance, Kaiser said in its study, which used U.S. census data. Kids may rejoin The health-care law requires employers and health plans that offer dependent coverage to let children stay on parents' policies until age 26. Dependents with access to insurance through their own employers are ineligible until 2014, said Linda Douglass, a White House spokeswoman, in an e-mail. The change kicks in six months after the overhaul was signed into law and will affect parents' policies as they come up for renewal, she said. Adult children who are on their parents' plans now but are set to lose that coverage when they graduate from college can rejoin under the same schedule. On average, the added policyholders will probably boost premiums for large employers by less than 1 percent, said Randall Abbott, a senior consultant with Towers Watson & Co., a New York-based benefits consultant to Fortune 500 companies. Young people tend to be healthier and generate fewer medical bills, so insurers charge less for them, he said by telephone. The cost will rise for businesses that add children with expensive or chronic conditions, Abbott said, citing hemophilia as one example. Expanded access may also accelerate a trend of employers adding extra fees for dependents, rather than charging a flat rate for family coverage, he said. The legislation leaves it to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department to define what "dependent" means, as well as whether and how employers can charge extra for the benefit, Abbott said. Plan is limited Howell, a Raleigh, N.C., native, was on his father's policy until last year, when he realized his move out of state made him ineligible. The replacement insurance he bought last year, through BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, charges $65 a month in premiums and carries a $3,500 deductible with no coverage for prescriptions or preventive-care visits, Howell said. It's a manageable cost for someone in good health, as a shield against the bills that might arise from an accident or serious illness, he said. Still, with money tight, medical care has sometimes come second. "I make enough to get by, but it's little enough to where having my own private insurance is a strain," said Howell, a bass player who tours with The Carter Twins, a country duo. His parents' insurance plan, purchased through his father's commercial real estate and instructional video business, offers a lower deductible and covers drug costs and at least one preventive-care visit a year. Mary Thompson, a Blue Cross spokeswoman, declined to comment, saying she was bound by privacy rules.

Dentists see more teeth grinders

Gnashing attributed to economic anguish By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • April 12, 2010 The daily grind can be painful — literally — for your teeth. Stress from overworking or even looking for a job can lead to teeth grinding, also called bruxism. And with the recession taking a toll on daily life, some dentists believe the sluggish economy could be catching up with their patients — in their mouths. "I've seen more cracked teeth in the last six months than I have ever seen, and I have been practicing for 40 years," said Dan Hixon, a dentist in Hermitage. "They include a lot of people who grind or clamp their teeth." Studies have already shown that stress can cause people to clench or grind their teeth. But recent evidence from the Chicago Dental Society suggests the economy has created a new group of grinders. The organization surveyed 250 dentists about stress and oral health, and 65 percent reported seeing increased teeth grinding in patients who admitted they were anxious over the economy. "It's a way of releasing stress, but they need to find something else to do to help their stress," Hixon said. Many people don't even know they grind their teeth. Then, they suddenly are plagued with jaw pain, find a cracked tooth or wake up with a headache. They may find out at a routine dental checkup that their subconscious nocturnal habit is wearing down teeth. East Nashville resident Neil Ward doesn't believe he was a grinder until he was laid off from his job as a graphic designer in May, or at least no dentist had mentioned it to him until recently. During a visit to the dentist a month ago, which he had to pay for out of pocket, he was told he probably grinds his teeth. Now, he notices when he does it during the day. "I clench my teeth, and usually it happens when I am looking at the online posting boards for jobs," Ward said. "The longer I go without work, I think I notice I am doing it much more." He pops a piece of gum in his mouth to interrupt the clenching, and he exercises to relieve stress and anxiety. If people don't cope with their stress, their grinding can get worse, according to a study released in March in Head and Face Medicine, an industry journal. Researchers found that people who suffered from high daily stress were more likely to grind their teeth. People can learn coping techniques to alleviate jaw tension and diminish grinding, and the Chicago Dental Society offered tips. Practices such as exercising, meditating and avoiding late-night caffeine can help prevent the problem. People who wake up with a sore jaw could take a pain reliever, massage their jaw muscles and eat softer foods that aren't hard to chew. If pain continues, the grinder could end up visiting a specialist such as Dr. Samuel McKenna, who practices oral surgery at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. McKenna finds that a lot of his patients have sleep issues, sometimes caused by stress, and that may contribute to their grinding. He prescribes patients a small dose of an anti-depressant called Amitriptyline, which helps patients sleep better and relieves the grinding. "We see a lot of people with facial pain here, and bruxism is an important component for the facial pain we see," McKenna said. "When people clench and or grind their teeth, they overuse their chewing muscles. Stress certainly plays into it all." But his dentist told him if the grinding and clenching don't subside he could need a mouth guard, which is worn overnight, to prevent wearing down his teeth.

Cancer-fighting agencies in Nashville area earn Komen grants

Tennessean April 12, 2010 MIDDLE TENNESSEE Susan G. Komen for the Cure Greater Nashville is awarding more than $690,000 in grants to 13 area agencies in the fight against breast cancer. Grants will be presented at 8 a.m. Friday at Healthways World Headquarters in Cool Springs. Recipients are the American Cancer Society, Bastion Inc., Gilda's Club Nashville, Friends In General, Meharry Medical College, Metro Public Health Department, Middle Tennessee Medical Center, The Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation, Primary Care & Hope Clinic, Saint Thomas Health Services West, Siloam Family Health Center, Tennessee Department of Public Health and YMCA of Middle Tennessee. "All these organizations work diligently to address the breast health needs of the underserved population throughout Middle Tennessee, and Komen Greater Nashville is pleased to support our fellow nonprofits," said Kathy Parolini, executive director. The bulk of the money used to fund the yearly grants comes from the annual Race for the Cure event. The 2010 race will be Oct. 9 in Maryland Farms. — HARRIET VAUGHAN THE TENNESSEAN

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nashville neightborhood crime reports April 3-5

Juvenile court candidates debate

April 9, 2010 DAVIDSON COUNTY Candidates for Davidson County Juvenile Court clerk will have their first showdown Saturday, just four days before early voting begins. The Juvenile Court clerk debate will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday at Tennessee State University's Avon Williams campus downtown, 330 10th Ave. N. Registration begins at 1:30 p.m. Candidates will answer a round of questions from a moderator. After that, audience members can ask questions of the candidates. Questions can be e-mailed in early to After the debate, those attending will have the chance to meet the candidates. The event is free. The Juvenile Court Clerk is responsible for all records in the Davidson County Juvenile Court, including but not limited to youth offenses, child custody and child support. Early voting for county primaries will run April 14-29. For more information contact Rasheedat Fetuga at 615-481-2866. — STAFF REPORTS

TN medical students want soda tax to fight childhood obesity

Group favors use of funds for athletic fields, parks By Christina E. Sanchez • THE TENNESSEAN • April 9, 2010 PageSoda makers pay a penny per half-liter in West Virginia to sell pop, and dental, medical and nursing schools get a funding boost. In Arkansas they pay about 2 cents per gallon and the money goes to help the state health insurance program. Medical students in Tennessee want the tax here to tackle a different problem: the childhood obesity epidemic. About 36 percent of the state's children are obese or overweight. Soda manufacturers and bottlers already dish out a 1.9 percent tax on gross receipts from soft drinks and malt beverage. A portion of the money, about $5 million, has been used for litter cleanup and prevention in the state's 95 counties since the early 1980s. But the students want counties also to be able to use the money, if they choose, to create athletic fields, parks and greenways. The increased recreational opportunities, they said, should be part of dealing with the childhood obesity epidemic. No new or added taxes would be created. The bill is working its way through the state legislature. "We would be totally naive if we thought that our bill would address the magnitude of obesity in the state of Tennessee, but there is evidence that access to recreation increases physical activity," said David Marcovitz, a second-year medical student at Vanderbilt University who spoke to state lawmakers Wednesday. "This would be a very small step. Our hope is also to raise awareness about the link between obesity and sugar-sweetened beverages." The Beverage Association of Tennessee, which represents the soda industry, disagrees with the proposal and says the money should not be diverted from litter control toward "a back-door funding" solution for health problems. "We are either in the business of raising tax money to deal with litter or we are going to be in the business of taxing our industry to deal with some health issue," said beverage association representative Raymond Thomasson, who expressed his opposition before a state Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. "It's unique. I just don't support it. If we're going to deal with obesity, let's do it straight up."