Summary of recent Tennessee newspaper editorials

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Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

Nov. 15

The Tennessean, Nashville, Tennessee, on Bridgestone announcement:

Tuesday's news that Bridgestone Americas would be moving its U.S. headquarters to a new building in downtown Nashville is the kind of announcement we might assume would naturally occur.

Nashville's business leaders, who almost daily over the past 18 months worried whether they were doing enough, say that bringing Bridgestone to SoBro is a huge economic development win for Metro.

As one said, "There are some companies, some business brands, that are so synonymous with Nashville that losing them would start people asking questions."

If Bridgestone Americas had announced it was packing up the truck and driving north to expand, would we still be the "it" city?

Bridgestone has about 1,100 associates working at its headquarters on Marriott Drive, who earn about $100 million a year. They are a huge presence in our economy and our community.

Bridgestone Americas also has operations in Chicago and Indianapolis with an additional 600 well-paying jobs. Those operations were added to the mix for a future consolidated headquarters.

It was a high-stakes competition; Nashville could lose 1,100 high-value jobs or gain an additional 600 paying over $90,000 each.

Congratulations to Nashville business leaders and the Karl Dean and Bill Haslam administrations for making sure the rubber hit road.

In today's world economic development wins come with a cost, and this one did as well.

Metro will forgo property taxes on the real estate and building that will be erected at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Demonbreun for 20 years beginning in 2018, and it will pay $500 per year for each new job that Bridgestone Americas brings to the new 500,000-square-foot headquarters. Value of the incentives is estimated to be more than $50 million.

The incentives are comparable to those paid to bring up to 2,000 jobs to the new HCA building in the North Gulch area.

The state of Tennessee is kicking in additional incentives, including a reported $15 million cash payment.

The incentives make sense.

Even with the incentives, Metro government should have a positive $5 million in revenue versus a future without Bridgestone in Nashville, Burton concluded.

What impact would our communities feel without Bridgestone in town? We should be glad that we don't have to find that out.


Nov. 19

The Jackson Sun, Jackson, Tennessee, on homeless children:

With the cold weather comes acute awareness of how many people we pass on the street who have no place to go — no hot dinner to warm their bellies, no hot water to wash away the cares of the day. No warm bed to crawl into.

We could debate at length the reasons people wind up sleeping in the streets or bouncing from place to place — the nation's high poverty rate, lack of affordable housing, trauma, racial disparities, mental health issues, lack of a support system, and yes, the continuing repercussions of the Great Recession. But the question isn't why so much as how — How can we help?

Homelessness is a growing problem, and it's spreading among our children — the youngest members of our community, who have done nothing to cause this oppression, and can do nothing to relieve it.

A report released this week by the National Center on Family Homelessness estimates nearly 2.3 million American children were homeless at some point last year. That's 1 in 30 children in our country. And Tennessee ranked 41, with 1 being the best and 50 being the worst, in composite scores reflecting each state's overall performance across four domains: 1) Extent of child homelessness. 2) Child well-being. 3) Risk for child homelessness. 4) State policy and planning efforts.

So, the Volunteer State is at the top of the bottom 10 in caring for its homeless children, and this is unacceptable.

There is no stability for homeless children. No milk and cookies waiting for them when they come in from school. No safe place to study and do their homework. No homemade meal. No clean, warm jammies to slip into at bedtime. No bed.

Research finds these children are hungry and sick more often than their classmates, with the stress of wondering if they'll find a roof over their heads that night. Or the next night. Many struggle in school — missing days, repeating grades, often giving up and dropping out altogether.

All children need a safe environment in which to grow and learn. We have got to get them off the streets.

And the first step, where it really begins, is in our hearts — yours, and ours. Because if we don't care about these people, these children, then how will we ever sway the hearts and minds of the powers that be? How will we ever get these children off the streets?


Nov. 19

Chattanooga Times Free Press, Chattanooga, Tennessee, on TVA bonuses:

If the Tennessee Valley Authority has a successful year, the utility company should pay its executives more. Check. Pay its white-collar employees more. Check. Pay its blue-collar employees more. Check (coming in January). Pay down its debt. Check. Invest in capital improvements. Check. Supply cleaner and safer energy. Check.

Wouldn't it make sense if "significantly lower the cost to rate-payers" was also on the list?

Instead, TVA is using some of the $469 million it made on $11.1 billion in revenues in 2014 to give its 11,500 employees an average year-end bonus of $11,400.

As Times Free Press Business Editor Dave Flessner pointed out Tuesday, the average bonus is equal to what the typical Tennessee worker earns in more than three months.

If TVA is successful and meets its performance goals, it should compensate its employees. And its executives should make what other utility executives make, though the rates sound to the average person like the exorbitant salaries they hear professional athletes making. And its traditional employees should get raises — and maybe even modest bonuses.

But the employees got just over $10,000 in bonuses in 2013 and now an additional $11,400 in 2014.

And the rate-payers?

Well, rates have risen 1.5 percent for us in each of the past two years, though TVA, kindly, says the increase has been less than the rate of inflation.

Few rate-payers will begrudge TVA for compensating its employees after a successful year, but it only makes sense for the utility to share the wealth with the folks on whose backs those profits are made.


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