Haslam On Schools Consolidation

This is the full statement from Tn. Gov. Bill Haslam on Tuesday’s schools consolidation vote:

“The voters in Memphis spoke clearly that the schools in Memphis should be merged with Shelby County,” Haslam said.

“Now comes the time for city and county leaders – in government, in education and in the community – to come together to develop a comprehensive plan to create a unified school district. There are a number of issues to be considered, but I believe the people of Memphis and Shelby County will get the job done.

“The state Department of Education is prepared to assist in the transition and plan development. I have asked newly-appointed Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman to reach out to the two superintendents and the two mayors and offer his assistance.

“The issues in Memphis and Shelby County are about more than a vote or the development of a plan. The vote has occurred and a plan will be created.

“The real focus now needs to be on innovation, taking this opportunity and using the tools available to lay out a classroom approach that offers a quality education for all students.

“Resources already are in place with funds from the Gates Foundation and a number of charter schools that are part of the Memphis school mix. The threads for reform are there. The opportunity is to take them and weave them into a unified approach where there are the best teachers, great principals, strong elected leaders and supportive parents and community.

“Let’s take the opportunity after a local decision was made and transform the schools in Memphis and Shelby County into schools for the future.”

Bueller? BUELLER? (More MCS drama)

So today is election day.

In my opinion, one of the storylines that hasn’t gotten as much attention in the Memphis City Schools charter surrender brouhaha involves some members of the Shelby County’s Democratic legislation.

Say what you want about their approach – the GOP side of the delegation has been relentlessly effective in what they’ve tried to do.

Barring floor speeches from Jim Kyle and Beverly Marrero, I haven’t seen much of anything from local Democrats in the legislature on the issue.

Sen. Ford? Didn’t you go to the mat and fight tooth and nail to get into the Senate in the first place? I don’t know what you’re waiting on, but right now is, like, game time.

Election Day

The polls in Memphis close at seven this evening and there shouldn’t be any lines which doesn’t necessarily indicate a light voter turnout. That may be the case, but it is hard to tell because this is, for most city voters, a one item ballot.

The schools consolidation question is the only item on the ballot unless you live in state House district 98. In that case, you can add a one candidate uncontested race for the state house to the list.

It’s perfect weather for a low turnout based on what rain and even the threat of rain have done to optimistic voter turnout projections in past elections. The best example of that is the May 2010 county primaries. Early voting this time accounted for seven percent of the city’s 420,000 voters. So, read the tea leaves however you want.

When the polls close, we will begin our coverage of the numbers via our Twitter account @tdnpols with web stories at TDN online.

First to come will be the early vote totals which should be closer to 8 pm than 7:30 pm. The early vote will be a good indicator of how the rest of the vote count will go.

Spring Break Doesn’t Always Equal the Beach

Spring Break for some people might mean Cancun and days in the sun spent doing – absolutely nothing.

And then there are people like the group of University of Memphis law students who will be spending their spring break this week helping provide free legal service to elderly and low-income people in Memphis.

The Public Action Law Society and the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law are sponsoring something they’re calling an “alternative spring break.”

Seventeen students from nine other universities including Vanderbilt, Florida State, University of Pittsburgh, and Chase College of Law will participate.

Working with licensed attorneys, the students will offer help with divorces that are done without a lawyer, non-profit advocacy, wills and living wills for the elderly. Students will work with non-profit groups Court-Appointed Special Advocates, the RISE Foundation and Literacy Mid-South.

The students will spend 35 hours working and attending workshops and seminars related to their work.

Last year, the university sent 15 students to the University of Miami to get temporary protected status for Haitians affected by the hurricane there. This year, the students will offer the same outpouring of help, with the only difference being it will be done right here at home.

For more information, go here.

It’s the kind of news something like Facebook’s “like” button was definitely invented for, I’d say.

Alexander In Driver’s Seat

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander took delivery today of a black Nissan LEAF, the all electric car he has decided to lease.

Alexander will be paying for the leased vehicle from his own pocket and he will not be taking any of the state and/or federal tax credits that are available.

Alexander took delivery of the LEAF, made in Smyrna, this morning at the Twin City Nissan dealership in Alcoa, Tn.

“Plugging in my new LEAF will give me the patriotic pleasure of not sending money overseas to people who are trying to blow us up,” Alexander said in a written statement provided by his office.

“If enough Americans bought electric cars and trucks, that would be the single best way to reduce our dependence on foreign oil – and the best way to avoid $4 a gallon gas.”

Alexander already has a Toyota Prius that he has driven for the last two years. He had the car converted into a plug in electric vehicle.