Friday, August 21, 2015

Democrats Criticize Haslam for Funneling More Tax Money to Outsourcing Contractors

Haslam's former chief of staff to earn $120K with state museum

Nashville hotel cancels rooms for white supremacist event

Democrats criticize Haslam for exploring more outsourcing

Democrats claimed on Tuesday that Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is displaying hostility toward state workers by looking to outsource the management of more government functions to the private sector, but Haslam dismissed the allegation as politics.
“Our first responsibility is to care for 6.5 million citizens,” Haslam told reporters as he discussed his efforts to find efficiencies in state government operations. “People who say government is about creating more government jobs, that’s not our responsibility.”
The Haslam administration last week posted a request for information from private companies about how they would operate a wide range of state government facilities, including state colleges and universities, prisons, hospitals, armories and state parks.
The governor stressed that his administration is only in the information-gathering phase and has not yet decided whether to proceed with more outsourcing.
“No matter what you’re running, you should always go back and examine and say, ‘Are we doing this the very best way possible?’” he said.
Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris of Memphis said that saving money shouldn’t be the only measure when it comes to deciding how to run the government. Haslam is trying to “treat armories and prisons the same as campuses,” Harris said. “And they’re not the same.”
House Democratic Caucus Chairman Mike Stewart of Nashville called the governor’s initiative the latest move in his “privatization agenda.” LINK

Haslam's former chief of staff to earn $120K with state museum

Mark Cate, who resigned Aug. 1 as Gov. Bill Haslam’s chief of staff, has since signed a $10,000-per-month contract to serve as “project coordinator” in developing a new Tennessee State Museum, scheduled to open in December 2018.
“He will oversee the entire project,” said Robert “Bobby” Thomas, a Nashville attorney and chairman of the Tennessee State Museum Foundation. “Mark Cate knows all the players extremely well and I think he will be an excellent person to coordinate the effort.”
Officially, the contract is between Cate’s newly-established consulting firm — Stones River Group, LLC — and the foundation, which raises money to support museum operations and is now responsible for collecting at least $41.75 million in private donations to go with $120 million in state funds allocated for building a new state museum.
Effectively, Cate will be a middleman in coordinating efforts of the foundation, its fundraisers, a separate board that oversees general museum operations, the museum staff headed by veteran Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell, and Haslam’s administration. The state Department of General Services is lead agency in the project for Haslam, who presided last week in a “steering committee” meeting. LINK

West Tennessee-based company launches drone data collection service

The federal government may be limiting the use of drones across the country, but it has given an exemption to companies to use them in certain situations.

West Tennessee companies such as Farmspace Systems, LLC which will offer drone service to various business and public sector agencies, including farming.

Farmspace said it has 10 drones in its fleet.
Company leaders said their excited to be given the green light to launch their service.

"We can go out and fly for people, charge them for fees for flying over their crops, taking video of various industries whatever is necessary for us to do," said John Castellaw, president and CEO of Farmspace Systems, LLC. LINK

Hundreds Of White House And Congressional Workers Implicated In Ashley Madison Hack

Hundreds of U.S. government employees — including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies — used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.
Few actually paid for their services with their government email accounts. But AP traced their government Internet connections — logged by the website over five years — and reviewed their credit-card transactions to identify them. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.
The AP is not naming the government subscribers it found because they are not elected officials or accused of a crime. LINK

Nashville hotel cancels rooms for white supremacist event

The Nashville hotel where white supremacists planned to host an annual event this weekend has canceled reservations for the event, according to Guesthouse Inn director of sales Michelle Jameson.
Jameson said the hotel on Music Valley Drive decided three days ago to cancel reservations for a Council of Conservative Citizens event. She said the hotel decided to cancel reservations after "it was brought to our attention to what this group might possibly be."
The CCC is a white supremacist organization cited as the possible inspiration for Dylann Roof, the man charged with murdering nine black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C.
"This is definitely not what the Guesthouse Inn represents," Jameson said in a phone interview Thursday. LINK

Crockett Policy Institute

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