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The Ledger - Est. 1978 - Knoxville Edition

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Editorial Results (free)

1. Some politicians just can’t hide their inner biases -

Something about being in the public eye seems to invite foot-in-mouth disease.

Example 1: Last November, a newly elected Democrat from Memphis, State Rep. London Lamar, offered her social and political analysis in a Facebook video she made after the midterm elections:

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3. Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame a bit short on details -

Everybody knows about the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. But Tennessee is awash in halls of fame.

I began to suspect this when reading of the recent death of David Wright in Lebanon. Wright, who transported students for 50 of his 76 years, was laid to rest in a specially designed coffin made to look like a school bus, befitting of his status as a member of the Tennessee School Bus Drivers Hall of Fame.

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6. Mama's family visited 'kin' without a single qualm -

Cousin Glen is coming to Nashville! Mama would be so envious.

Cousin Glen is Glen Campbell, and he’s not exactly coming to Nashville, having moved on from this earthly plain a little more than two years ago. He’s also not, strictly speaking, my cousin. Or, so far as I know, related to me in any way. But I did meet his parents.

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8. State's tricked out license plates over the top -

It may be the one thing Tennessee legislators enjoy more than designating official state dogs, rocks and such: authorizing new specialty license plates.

Before the recent General Assembly session, the state was already offering more than 100 plate options for private vehicles.

9. Bulletproof backpacks reflect grim reality at school -

This isn’t the back-to-school column I had in mind writing. That was derailed when I came across news like this, from Futurism.com:

“From Texas to Tennessee, Florida or Idaho, local news stations are reporting an uptick in the number of parents purchasing bulletproof backpacks for their kids in anticipation of the 2019 school year — a disheartening sign of how desperate parents are to keep their children safe as gun violence rages in American schools.’’

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11. Endangered cats get local love, comfort, care -

Consider this an enthusiastic thank you to the Nashville Humane Association, which is helping to find homes for 80 cats and kittens rescued from deplorable conditions in Killeen, Texas.

If the number seems mind-boggling, consider this:

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13. Ledger wins five categories in state competition -

The Knoxville Ledger has won five first-place awards in the annual University of Tennessee/Tennessee Press Association newspaper competition.

The Nashville Ledger and Hamilton County Herald, both sister publications, won four and five first-place awards, respectively. The three publications had a combined 30 top-five commendations.

14. ‘Veggie burger’ bill wilts on closer examination -

Tennessee legislators may have dodged a bullet. Mississippi legislators definitely did not.

Maybe you’ve seen some of the resulting headlines lately. They’re intended to attract attention, and they do a good job. They sure got mine.

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16. Why would anyone pay taxes on sales of illegal goods? -

Dig around in laws much and you turn up some doozies. For example, the book “Planet Cat” asserts that in Natchez, Mississippi, “cats may not drink beer.”

Why the discrimination against our feline companions, you may be wondering. What about dogs and beer? Parakeets? Ferrets?

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18. My cell phone will do everything – except phone calls -

My phone has suddenly, annoyingly decided that it will no longer make or accept calls.

It’s still “smart,” in the sense that it continues to do many things that would have seemed magical not so very long ago.

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20. Before you make fun of Southerners’ city pronunciations ... -

So, is it pronounced Nash-ville, or Nash-vul? Should Maryville be referred to as Murvil, Marvull or Mehrvul?

And do the good folks of Santa Fe, Tennessee, really think of themselves as living in Santa Fee?

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22. All our Tennessee ex’s helped make Texas what it is today -

Texans stand second to none in their (often vocal) appreciation for their home state, but if it weren’t for Tennesseans, they’d be bragging in Spanish.

OK, I might be guilty of a little Texas-style exaggeration there. But still …

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24. Flowery terms for death just won’t ‘leave this world’ -

People don’t seem to die very often in the South. I don’t mean that Southerners live forever, though some sweaty July and August days can seem to last an eternity. They’re just less likely to be described as having died.

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26. What happened to Legislature’s more unusual bills? -

The General Assembly has rolled out of town, but not without leaving some sordid debris in its wake.

The House speaker’s chief of staff was obliged to resign over sex, drug and perhaps rock ‘n’ roll indiscretions, and the speaker himself came under fire for lewd texts he has termed “locker room talk.” (That explanation seems vaguely familiar.)

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28. New anti-litter campaign tosses aside punishment -

Capital punishment is perhaps too harsh a penalty for litterbugs – emphasis on “perhaps.”

They are the human equivalent of the stray dog that leaves its calling card in your front yard. Only worse, since dogs aren’t supposed to know any better.

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30. There’s a good home somewhere for Forrest bust -

A smallish group of folks passed by on Church Street the other day holding signs declaring their opposition to the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Tennessee Capitol.

It’s what passes for a Confederate monument controversy in Nashville, Forrest being infamous to many for both his Rebel command officer status and his association with the Ku Klux Klan.

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32. Do we really have to welcome all to our state parks? -

The South prides itself on being welcoming, my native Mississippi going so far as to officially bill itself as “the Hospitality State.” In general, it serves us well.

But Tennessee might be a little too hospitable.

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34. Griffey ignores constitution with Trump shout out -

This week’s topic requires that I temporarily forsake my goal of making this a Trump-free zone.

For that I blame Rep. Bruce Griffey.

The president, as you might recall, has vowed to end what is known as birthright citizenship with a swipe of his executive order pen. I had ignored the threat, as I try to ignore virtually everything from the current White House occupant for purposes of my own personal sanity.

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36. Proposed state honor needs a name, preferably not ‘Pioneer’ -

The sponsor, Rep. David Hawk, readily admits that his proposal is not necessarily the most important matter facing Tennessee legislators this year.

“But this is an issue that I think our legislature can have a little fun with,” he told me the other day, “and recognize some good folks at the same time.”

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38. Time to explore ending ‘ridiculous’ spring, fall time change -

A few years ago, I arrived at church one bright Sunday morning just in time to see everyone else walking out. A moment of confusion followed. Had the early-bird service been moved to 7 a.m. without my knowledge?

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40. State’s Official Waste of Time? Naming official favorites -

The issue before the House subcommittee was whether the annual Robert Spicer Memorial Buck Dance Championship in Dickson County should become the official buck dancing competition of the State of Tennessee.

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42. Why must we fix problems caused by scooters? -

The Vanderbilt trauma surgeon neatly put his finger on what, to me, was the real puzzler for the evening:

“I can’t wrap my head around this, that all of a sudden we’ve decided scooters are great transportation,” said the surgeon, Dr. Oscar D. Guillamondegui.

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44. Reed’s Southern accent is heavy on pretention -

A question for my fellow Southerners: Which South are you from? I don’t mean which part of the South. I mean, what kind of South.

A while back, a friend and fellow Mississippian passed along a book of columns written by yet a third Mississippian. My friend’s thinking was probably that, given our mutual geography and writing forms – columns, essays – I would appreciate the author’s work.

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46. Where exactly does God fit in the Tennessee Constitution? -

A Tennessee legislator is trying to insert Almighty God into the Tennessee Constitution, after falling short in 2018. And in 2017. And 2016. And 2015. He certainly doesn’t lack for persistence. Bless his heart.

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48. How hard can it be to find the perfect church? -

“Church shopping” sounds slightly off-putting. So, I prefer to think of my current repatriated Nashvillian process as spiritual home seeking.

I began with certain parameters, based on geography and beliefs. Google Maps advises there are four churches within a seven-minute walk of my downtown apartment, the closest just five minutes away.

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50. Old aquaintance finally finds peace after early prison release -

The phone rang as I was driving up Eighth Avenue, just past Zanies, on the way home from some Christmas shopping.

“Is this Joe Rogers?” the guy on the other end asked. I told him it was.

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52. Lamar says he’ll miss his friends from both sides of aisle -

It’s not normally big news when a 78-year-old man decides to retire – at age 80.

Yet Sen. Lamar Alexander created a flurry of chatter recently when he announced his decision not to run for a fourth term in 2020.

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54. Closed primaries are actually a pretty good idea -

Generally speaking, I can sum up my political leanings by pointing to Republicans and saying I’m against what they’re for, and for what they’re against. But, the Tennessee Republican Executive Committee recently called on the Legislature to require party registration for voters who want to participate in primaries.

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56. Sure, you can shoot a bear but why would you? -

When I recently came across news that Tennessee is on track for a record bear harvest this year, two questions sprang to mind:

1. People in the 21st century still hunt bears?

2. Why?

I am of course aware of the long historical association between Tennessee and bear hunting, an awareness I owe partly to that catchy little 1950s Disney ditty about Davy Crockett.

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58. Nashvillians seeing red from an island of blue -

When I decided to move back to Nashville, everyone I told in New York seemed to approve of the destination. People had either been here and liked it, knew someone who’d been and liked it or wanted to come, expecting to like it.

59. Prine is great but Rock Hall isn’t the right fit -

John Prine is an American treasure. People should be naming their pets – and maybe their secondary kids – after him.

But he shouldn’t be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

60. Do we really want more people voting? -

Almost 56 percent of Tennessee voters took part in last week’s election, the most for a midterm since 1994, reports indicate.

This is considered the good news, an indication of relatively high engagement by the electorate even without a presidential contest on the ballot to stir the juices.

61. Why do we have 28 candidates in governor’s race? It's simple -

Libertarians have flooded the Tennessee ballot for governor in an effort to show how hard it is to get on the Tennessee ballot. Let me explain.

It is in fact ridiculously easy to get on the ballot in Tennessee. Any Tom, Dick or Funkmaster V (more about him later) can qualify simply by meeting age and residency requirements for office and providing a petition with the valid signatures of 25 voters. There’s no fee.

62. UT Medical Center’s Sheridan to retire -

The University of Tennessee Medical Center has announced that John Sheridan will retire at the end of June.

He currently serves as vice president of community and government relations and established the first Office of Development at the hospital while working as a fundraiser for UT.

63. Right vs. far right: State Republicans itching for a fight -

A rift within the Tennessee Republican party, whether a tempest in a teapot or the early signs of implosion, isn’t likely to hit the big tent party hard at the polls this fall.

But make no mistake, there is some trouble in paradise.

64. Designing materials for future needs -

In 2015 the Obama administration recognized the state’s manufacturing star power when it selected the University of Tennessee as the site for a major national manufacturing initiative – the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation (IACMI).

65. Yogi’s feats greater than any quotations -

For the guy who said “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” it’s over. Yogi Berra – catcher, coach, manager and quip-coining character extraordinaire – died Sept. 22 of natural causes. He was 90 years old.

66. East Tennessee cities receive green grants -

The state last week awarded more than $3.1 million in grant money to fund energy efficiency projects in Tennessee.

The grants, according to news.tn.gov, are for local governments and municipalities, utilities and state entities across Tennessee.

67. Building from a new blueprint -

When recruiting new businesses, East Tennessee economic development officials have long touted the benefits of partnering with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee.

The lab and the university both have a history of working closely with private business to develop cutting-edge manufacturing techniques, technologies and new products. That research effort recently received a major boost with President Obama’s announcement of a new manufacturing innovation hub based in the Knoxville area.