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Tennessee editorial roundup

September 26, 2018

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

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Sept. 21

The Mountain Press on Knoxville native Randy Boyd being chosen as interim president for the University of Tennessee system:

This month’s announcement that Knoxville native Randy Boyd had been chosen as interim president for the University of Tennessee system, taking over the reins from retiring Joe DiPietro, was met with mixed opinions from our editorial board.

On one hand, we know the self-made millionaire is a shrewd businessman. He’s taken Radio Systems Corporation (PetSafe), which he founded in 1991, to the top of the heap in its industry. The company employs hundreds of Tennesseans and taken in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales. Boyd has also been successful in his recent work in Minor League Baseball, where he acquired and operates the Tennessee Smokies, Greeneville Reds and the Johnson City Cardinals. ...

He’s also shown what appears to be a genuine desire to improve economic and quality of life issues in the state by serving as Tennessee’s economic development commissioner. ...

Ultimately, his desire to serve culminated in a run for the Republican gubernatorial nomination this year, which fell just short.

But, in spite of his business acumen and meteoric rise as a public servant, one almost has to ask the question: What makes Boyd the best candidate to run a major university system?

Though unquestionably intelligent, Boyd — who is a UT alumnus — has never worked in an educational setting of any kind, let alone an academic setting with the power and influence of the University of Tennessee system. ...

Boyd will be the first non-academic to hold the position since former governor Lamar Alexander was appointed to the post in 1988 and served for three years.

Many around the state undoubtedly rolled their eyes at Boyd’s selection, as the waters surrounding UT’s leadership have been roiling for some time.

The Haslam family — major donors to UT who wielded even more power with Bill serving as governor — has been seen either as interlopers or potential saviors in the ongoing reorganization, based on the point of view of the observer.

Boyd, of course, is seen by many on the non-Haslam side in the UT debates as a simple Haslam pawn because of his close connection to the outgoing governor.

Will an “outsider” be able to succeed in the world of leather-elbow patch academia? Only time will tell. Boyd could be a roaring success, or his time may eventually be viewed as a disaster. His expected 12-24-month stint at the helm could be a time to cut through bureaucratic red tape and make big, needed adjustments and changes — or it could be a boondoggle, like the embattled year John Peterson served as UT president 15 years ago.

Ultimately, we’d guess Boyd’s will fall somewhere in the middle. He’ll likely do an admirable job learning the ropes as a university president and holding the spot for next administration.

Boyd seems to be a man of character with big ideas and the will to make them happen. But if the job is truly interim, he most likely won’t have time and influence to implement the kind of sweeping changes that would ultimately result in a memorable tenure, good or bad.

Online: https://themountainpress.com/

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Sept. 21

The Commercial Appeal says Memphis should review and reconsider police traffic stops:

Local officials did the right thing by asking the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to conduct the investigation of last week’s police shooting of Martavious Banks after a routine traffic stop.

But like the TBI’s five-month investigation of the 2015 police shooting of Darrius Stewart, after a routine traffic stop, it’s not nearly enough.

Routine traffic stops by police too often result in tragedies, here and across the county, and especially when the stops involve African American drivers or passengers.

The car in which Stewart was a passenger was stopped in Memphis for a missing headlight.

Walter Scott was stopped in North Carolina for driving with a broken taillight.

Philando Castile was pulled over in Minnesota with a broken brake light.

Samuel DuBose was pulled over in Ohio for driving a car with a missing front license plate.

Sandra Bland was pulled over in Texas for allegedly failing to use a turn signal.

Five different states. Five different minor traffic offenses. All the same deadly results. Four victims were killed by police after routine traffic stops. Bland died in police custody three days later. All victims were African Americans.

Department of Justice statistics show that African American drivers are more likely to be pulled over by police for routine traffic offenses. And those stops are more likely to result in a violent confrontation and tragic end.

It happened again her when 25-year-old Martavious Banks was pulled over by two police officers on a street in South Memphis, and critically wounded by a third officer a few minutes later. ...

Police said they pulled Banks over after checking the license plate on the car he was driving. The scan raised questions about insurance coverage. It was his mother’s car.

We don’t know why they decided to check his plate. Or why he sped off when an officer asked him for proof of insurance. Or why a third officer shot Banks as he was fleeing. Or why that officer’s body cam wasn’t activated. Or whether Banks had a gun or used it. Or whether the officers knew Banks had active warrants for his arrest, including four separate ones for assault, driving with suspended licenses, and violation of probation.

“There are many questions that still need answers,” Memphis Police Director Michael Rallings said. Too many.

The TBI should investigate all police-involved shootings, regardless of whether the victim survives, and regardless of the cost. Public trust demands it. And even the most conscientious police departments shouldn’t be asked or expected to investigate their own.

But investigating the police shooting of Martavious Banks won’t resolve the larger issues that affect every police officer and every driver at every routine traffic stop.

Local officials should launch a larger, comprehensive review of Memphis police policies and practices — in particular:

—The use of deadly force during a routine traffic stops with few if any public safety implications. ...

—The use of deadly force against someone who is fleeing a routine traffic stop, in car or on foot. ...

—The practice of routine traffic stops for minor violations that pose no immediate threat to public safety — broken lights, expired car tags and so on. Why can’t officers use patrol car cameras like traffic cams and send the offender a ticket in the mail?

—The use of traffic stops as a form of “stop and frisk” pretext to search without a warrant for contraband, suspended licenses, outstanding warrants, drugs, weapons and so on.

—Racial bias and profiling in traffic stops. ...

...

With digital technology and rising distrust between police and minorities, we must deploy safer, more effective and non-discriminatory ways to enforce traffic and driving laws.

Online: https://www.commercialappeal.com/

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Sept. 22

The Cleveland Daily Banner on autumn:

...

Autumn brings beauty. Too, she brings change. In the worries of some, change is bad. Change can be scary, and equally as unpredictable. Change for many is little more than a necessary evil.

But in this case, even the timid will agree. The change to autumn is good. It is long-awaited. It is welcome. It is needed. And it is so delightfully invigorating.

Autumn comes as a gift, one whose rainbow packaging tickles our senses and excites our creativity.

No man can take credit for the miracle of autumn, nor should he try. Such creation is in the hands, and in His hands alone, of a much higher power. By whatever name He is known, He is known best by those who believe.

In that spirit, let us borrow from past editorials while adding a little new in this much-deserved tribute to the year’s grandest season.

Autumn has arrived and brings with it more than just the word.

Autumn ushers in mild days, brisk nights and crisp morns.

Autumn opens heavy canopies of summer shade through showers of colorful leaflets spiraling to the inviting bosom of Mother Earth.

Autumn lightens the spirit, widens the smile and lessens the load of duress.

Autumn guides restless feet along winding wooded trails curiously layered in vibrant shades of red and yellow and orange.

Autumn arouses the appetite with scintillating whiffs of fresh-baked pies, backyard barbecues and buttered popcorn bouncing up and down and to and fro within glass casings near storefront windows.

Autumn breaks out the rakes and rakes in tempting mounds of browned leaves whose afternoon mass is best measured in child’s play and playful smiles.

Autumn is outdoor football, tailgating in crowded lots and unchained laughter heard near and far.

Autumn is an afternoon picnic in a slow and lonely park, a quiet walk along a bubbly stream, and pensive moods and knowing stares.

Autumn is crisp air, light moods and unseen smiles.

Autumn is faded blue jeans, oversized sweatshirts and stringy toboggans from a forgotten day.

Autumn is love unconditional, one best treasured in years together and lives shared.

Autumn is dancing eyes, soft hearts and a warm embrace.

Autumn is a way of life, a lifestyle of the spirit and a peace of mind.

Like all seasons, autumn is what we make it. Let us make this one magnificent.

May each and all enjoy this rainbow ride to our pot of gold. All have earned it. And each deserves it.

Now shall we reap our just reward.

Welcome, beloved autumn . our “Hallelujah Season!”

Online: http://clevelandbanner.com/

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