Tennessee editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:
Cleveland Daily Banner on New Year’s resolutions:
Now a few days into a new year, some still ponder their New Year’s resolutions; like them, we challenge anyone to put forth the commandment (no, it isn’t the unknown 11th) that dictates all opening-year pledges must be made on Jan. 1.
If they come a day or two or three later, not to worry. The point is the resolution was made, and we shall keep our fingers crossed for their success.
Speaking of resolutions — whether they were made Tuesday or will be coming along somewhere down the January calendar — what are yours?
Some will resolve to lose weight.
Some will resolve to spend fewer hours at the office.
Some will resolve to show more patience toward others, even those “stupid” others.
Some will resolve to schedule at least one full-length vacation (five to seven days, or more) with the kids.
Some will resolve to read more . simply for the pleasure of it.
Some will resolve to watch less TV, especially the doomsday news channels whose prized commentators boast expertise in opposing . well, everything.
Some will resolve to be nicer people.
Some will resolve to improve their driving habits . like using turn signals, slowing down on congested city streets and stopping at red lights. Yes, really stopping . you know, slowing down at the yellow and coming to a complete halt at the red. Motorists approaching from other directions might like to use the intersection, too.
Some will resolve to be more courteous human beings toward other human beings.
And speaking of common courtesies, might we suggest a few New Year’s resolutions geared around life’s favorite device that everyone loves to hate: Yes, the cellphone.
Just a few tips for the new year:
. When using a cellphone, remember that not everyone wants to hear your conversation; a softer tone might better protect your privacy, as well as that of the person on the other end of the call.
. When using a cellphone, don’t do it while driving a moving vehicle; that’s called “distracted driving,” and it’s a habit that kills.
. When using a cellphone, try some etiquette: Don’t use them in theaters. Don’t use them in meetings. Don’t use them when someone else is trying to talk to you. ...
In truth, there’s a plethora of New Year’s resolutions that could be made in regard to cellphone use. These are just a few.
But they’re a few that just might make you a better you in 2019.
Johnson City Press on a University of Tennessee think tank’s projections for 2019:
If a University of Tennessee think tank’s projections for 2019 hold true, our local economic development leaders have an even tougher job ahead than we thought.
Alarm bells have been ringing about our prospects for economic growth as Northeast Tennessee’s cities lag well behind the major centers in Tennessee. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Washington County’s population grew just 3.9 percent between 2010 and 2017 compared to 10.6 percent in Nashville-Davidson County. Even more telling is the comparison with Nashville’s suburban neighbor, Williamson County, which grew a whopping 23.5 percent.
The median household income here is just $44,180, less than half of Williamson County’s $103,543 and well behind Nashville-Davidson at $52,858. The cost of living here makes living in Johnson City more affordable, certainly, but clearly people have more incentive to live where better paying jobs.
Year over year, the U.S. Bureau of Labor statistics reports that Carter County was the only Northeast Tennessee locale to see more than 1.6 percent job growth. Washington, Sullivan and Unicoi counties all realized between 0.1 percent and 1.6 percent.
Now, UT’s Boyd Center for Business and Economic Research projects that Tennessee’s economy will slow down in 2019. As Staff Writer Zach Vance reported, the Boyd report cites fading effects of recent federal tax cuts, rising interest rates, increased government spending and uncertainty surrounding the tariff war as reasons to expect a slowdown.
While the Boyd Center’s Matt Murray told Vance his report should not be misconstrued as a “recessionary outlook,” he warned that growth will be weaker in areas outside the larger metros.
“I think it’s going to be a significant difference. There will be some exceptions to the point I’m about to make here, but generally, the further you go away from the core of the metropolitan areas of Tennessee, you’re going to find weaker growth,” Murray told Vance.
Murray’s report only confirms what local Chamber of Commerce Board Chairman Andy Dietrich, his counterparts in Kingsport and Bristol, Ballad Health CEO Alan Levine and others have cautioned about in recent months.
If there’s a bright side in all of this it’s that those leaders already were formulating a game plan to stabilize and improve Northeast Tennessee’s economic prospects. It will mean considerable changes in the way we educate young people, develop the workforce and recruit business and industry. No more dog eat dog between cities.
A concerted regional effort is the only way our communities have a fighting chance of bringing better jobs here, thereby keeping our children and grandchildren in the area. That’s why regionalism is important to your family.
The UT report is just more kindling to the fire.
The Daily Times of Maryville on President Donald Trump lashing out against a Republican Senator:
Sometimes there’s a need to set the record straight. As U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s time in office winds down to Jan. 3, now is the time to do just that.
As everyone not named Rip Van Winkle knows, President Trump is an enthusiastic user of Twitter.
Reaction to the presidential tweets depends on one’s politics, and aren’t about matters locally specific to Blount Countians. But a presidential tweet sent Christmas Eve strikes close enough to home to prompt at least a notice when it unfairly targets a senator who has ably and honorably served Tennessee and the United States.
The presidential tweet was actually a reaction to an official resigning in protest over the order to pull U.S. troops out of Syria. This target was not Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, but the administration’s special envoy assigned to coordinate international efforts against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk. The president tweeted:
“For all of the sympathizers out there of Brett McGurk remember, he was the Obama appointee who was responsible for loading up airplanes with 1.8 Billion Dollars in CASH & sending it to Iran as part of the horrific Iran Nuclear Deal (now terminated) approved by Little Bob Corker.”
Actually, as The Associated Press reported, that was not the case. McGurk was indeed a chief negotiator of the Iran nuclear deal, but there’s more:
The $1.8 billion (actually $1.7 billion) was a debt owed to Iran, which bought military equipment from the U.S. that it never received because relations ruptured when the shah was overthrown in 1979.
The debt was in international arbitration for years. As part of that, Iran paid settlements of more than $2.5 billion to U.S. citizens and businesses.
As for McGurk being an “Obama appointee,” the veteran diplomat actually was appointed by President George W. Bush as a senior aide for Iraq and Afghanistan.
Here’s where the tweet hit too close to home: Corker was a leading opponent of the 2015 international agreement forged by the U.S. and other world powers to constrain Iran’s ability to build a nuclear arsenal. He argued that the pact was a treaty subject to approval by the Senate.
When Obama didn’t do that, Corker helped write legislation that subjected the accord to periodic congressional review.
The legislation would have blocked the deal if that effort received enough votes. It didn’t. Obama brought the deal into effect, not Congress.
Also, in December, Trump tweeted that Corker wanted to run for re-election and asked for his endorsement, but “I said NO and the game was over.” In fact, The Associated Press learned that Trump urged Corker to run during a private meeting in September 2017. And at the time, Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, said Trump called Corker afterward to ask that he reconsider his decision to leave the Senate.
Trump “reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times,” the aide said.
Just thought the record should be set straight. The former mayor of Chattanooga and soon-to be-former Tennessee senator at has at least earned the right to the truth.