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Tennessee editorial roundup

January 3, 2018

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Jan. 3

Johnson City Press on vehicles crossing railroads:

It’s not uncommon to see a driver race through a railroad crossing in our area just as the red warning lights start to flash and the gates begin to lower. That’s not only stupid, it’s incredibly dangerous.

You have to ask: What is their hurry? Is getting to where they are going a few minutes earlier really worth risking their lives?

Tennessee, which has 2,651 miles of track and 4,600 highway railroad crossings, has one of the highest vehicle-train collision rates in the nation. A driver or pedestrian should never attempt to go around lowered gates at a railroad crossing.

If you come to a crossing and see flashing red lights, don’t ignore them. Come to a complete stop. These lights signal the approach of a train (or a service vehicle). Wait until the lights have stopped flashing and the gates rise completely before crossing the tracks.

Other things to remember when approaching a railroad crossing:

. Always expect a train. Railway crossings see train traffic at all hours of the day or night.

. Never race a train to a crossing. Remember, there is no tie in a race with a train.

. Never get trapped on a crossing. Proceed through a crossing only if you are sure you can safely clear all the tracks.

Online: http://www.johnsoncitypress.com/

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Jan. 3

The Tennessean on gubernatorial candidates’ transparency:

The recent revelations by gubernatorial candidates Karl Dean, a Democrat, and Randy Boyd, a Republican, hopefully will continue the wave of transparency that the majority of top-tier candidates now have embraced.

Although the pair initially declined a request by USA TODAY NETWORK Tennessee to share four years of income and tax statements, both men agreed to release some information in December.

Dean shared a tax summary, detailing information from 2013 to 2016.

Boyd released his tax returns for 2015 and 2016.

This is a good thing and a win for the Tennessean taxpayer and voter looking to make an informed decision in the August primary and November general election.

How much the candidates earn is not the most important thing to voters, who have identified issues like education, healthcare and jobs as most vital to them.

However, they deserve to know as much as they can about who will become the state’s next chief executive.

Candidates for public office owe voters an explanation about their background and finances, as uncomfortable as that can be. It is about establishing and maintaining trust and assuring citizens that they have made a living in a reputable way.

Disclosure of income tax returns are important for a variety of reasons:

—They reveal any potential conflicts of interest

—They attest to the candidate’s enterprise

—They document commitment to charitable giving

—They reveal that candidates are paying their fair share of the cost of government

In late November we commended the first three candidates to release income information: U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin; Tennessee state Speaker Beth Harwell, R-Nashville; and state Rep. Craig Fitzhugh, D-Ripley.

They early on understood the importance of setting an example for transparency.

Even though they did it later, Dean and Boyd deserve praise for coming around.

Now, we urge the two remaining holdouts, Williamson County businessman Bill Lee and former Wilson County state Sen. Mae Beavers, to do the same.

Openness is healthy for a democratic society, especially in today’s politically divisive environment.

The Republicans and Democrats who have been open so far show that this does not have to be a partisan issue.

Online: http://www.tennessean.com/

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Dec. 30

The Memphis Daily News on removed Confederate monuments:

They may be the most famous pedestals in Memphis - the ones where the horseback image of Nathan Bedford Forrest stood for 113 years and the relatively slender pinnacle where Jefferson Davis stood for a mere 53 years.

Since the removal of the city’s two most iconic monuments to the Confederacy five days before Christmas within two hours of each other, Memphians and tourists alike have stopped by to see what their absence looks like.

Some have even taken selfies with the pedestals in the background.

This has been a long time coming. And that is part of what some of us see where the monuments used to be - the passage of time and tumult and racist fairy tales defended long past their worth.

Soon, state lawmakers will take a closer look at the city’s actions to determine if they were legal.

But the monuments to the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and the only president of the Confederate States of America - two institutions more directly committed to oppression through slavery than any others in American history - are down. And putting them back will be much more difficult than it was to keep them up with a byzantine set of rules, regulations and procedures that attorney Allan Wade, legal counsel for the city, termed a “Confederate hell.”

The next step should be putting the parks’ past further behind us by developing and implementing plans for the future.

As quickly as possible, Memphis Greenspace, the nonprofit that bought the two parks from the city for $1,000 each, should begin the true “liberation” of these spaces through new uses and purposes that speak to our lives together in Memphis.

Make no mistake: Working quickly doesn’t mean working haphazardly. Take the time necessary to come up with a comprehensive plan to activate both parks. But avoid getting mired in so much talking and planning that action is delayed indefinitely.

We cannot allow that to happen to parks that have so much life and potential around them.

Memphis Park, where Davis’ statue stood, already plays a central role in the Fourth Bluff effort, which stretches south to the Cossitt Library and west to the parkland below on the other side of Riverside Drive.

And Health Sciences Park, where the Forrest statue stood, is the epicenter of an ongoing effort to link up the different parts of the Memphis Medical District.

“Liberation” is the term county commission Van Turner, the head of the nonprofit, used the morning after the statues came down to describe what has happened to the two parks.

There should be room in that liberation to bring together those who fought for the same general goal of removing the statues, but who had vastly different ideas about the timing and process, in hopes of finding some kind of common ground going forward.

Let it come with ideas and plans that point toward the coming spring and a new start for these places that once divided us.

Online: https://www.memphisdailynews.com/

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