Tag Archives: accountability

Haslam’s Astonishing Corporate Offer: Have a Skyscraper

Tower for SaleRather than building an economy from the bottom up and middle out, Bill Haslam has doubled down on risky mega-tax handouts that don’t always deliver the jobs they promise and too often favor big corporations instead of small business.

On Monday, we learned just how far Haslam’s administration is willing to go to please big corporations and CEOs.

In 2011, the Haslam administration packaged nearly $600 million worth of tax breaks and giveaways — including the 31-story Tennessee Tower! —  in an attempt to lure Sears to Nashville.

Watching Phil Williams’ report really leaves you wondering — with Haslam in charge, what part of our state isn’t for sale?

As soon as Haslam took office, his administration expanded Tennessee’s cash giveaways to big businesses even though The Nashville Business Journal reported that these programs gave more than $60 million to companies that never produced the jobs they promised.

Though the $100,000-per-job tax break never happened with Sears, another big corporation has benefited from a similar, secret arrangement.

Last year the Haslam administration approved a $30 million tax handout to Eastman Chemical, a Fortune 500 company and a big Haslam campaign contributor, for a project that might only add 300 jobs — that’s $100,000 per job.

In December 2012, The New York Times estimated that every Tennessee taxpayer chips in $249 a year — totaling at least $1.6 billion — to pay for state tax breaks and cash giveaways for big business.

The worst part of these giveaways is the absolute lack of accountability. In November, the state comptroller’s office issued a scathing report showing how little Haslam’s administration expects of the businesses lining up for a cut of our tax dollars.

We can’t make the critical investments our state needs to strengthen the middle class if we’re wasting our tax dollars on handouts that aren’t creating good-paying jobs.

To be fair, Haslam does believe in accountability for some Tennesseans — just not his administration or his business pals. In 2012, Haslam signed a law requiring drug testing for welfare recipients. So there’s that.

Brandon Puttbrese is a public relations specialist and former communications director at the Tennessee Democratic Party. Find him on Twitter and Facebook.com

Morning Coffee – Strength In Numbers Edition

Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment. Even though the official date isn’t until next Thursday, on the 26th, yesterday was the day that Tennessee signed on to the amendment, effectively ratifying the amendment. It’s a great day in the history of the United States, and Tennesseans should be proud of our role as the final vote that put it over the top.

Next week, there will be celebrations all over the state for the 90th birthday of the 19th Amendment. These celebrations don’t just commemorate the victory of women’s suffrage, but also the work involved in getting such a monumental change passed.

Big changes require a big effort. I can’t think of a single instance where something big changed that was a revolution of one. Sure there are leaders, but there are also organizers and activists and foot-soldiers. When all of these elements work together, eventually, the change you seek can happen. Such was the case with the suffragist movement.

If you look at the history of the women’s suffrage movement, it took over seventy years from the Seneca Falls Convention for an amendment to the Constitution to gain the approval of enough people to pass. Despite advances in communication over the 160 years since this convention, there’s little reason to believe that significant changes will take any less time. Technology changes faster than minds.

Which is why it was with great interest that I read this post on Grand Divisions last night. I encourage you to go read the whole thing yourself, but the Cliff’s Notes version is that stuff doesn’t get done in a vacuum. It takes a movement of like minded people to make lasting change happen, whether it be in local, state, or federal affairs.

We’ve got a lot of great voices here in Tennessee. People who are passionate about their issues and willing to put that passion out there for the world to see. But sometimes I feel like much of that passion is spent on specific instances or particular situations, rather than confronting the big picture thing in an organized manner. Maybe this is how movements get started, the problem is posed in the public sphere until enough people coalesce around the issue to confront it directly, but more often than not it seems like a lot of individual voices calling out in a crowded field rather than a movement.

As Chris’ post notes, we can make a much bigger impact as a group than as individuals. We have to get involved in the process beyond just talking about the change we want. We have to work together as a group for people who are interested in making that change happen, and we have to engage those who may be on the fence to make the case for the change we seek. We have to engage to a degree far beyond our comfort level to push things in our direction. Conservatives realized this in the 70’s and started working for it, now we’re facing many of the same challenges that conservatives did in that time. Its our time to organize.

We have a lot of strong voices in this state, but we suffer from a lack of organization. Until we build some strength in numbers, we’ll continue to suffer the consequences of our inaction. The floor is open to suggestions.

On to the Coffee

Joe Powell has been on fire this week, and he keeps the momentum going with this post.

Looks like the Yarbro-Henry recount will be decided on Monday.

The Feds are helping big time on the flood recovery funds, I’m sure somewhere conservatives are freaking out.

Campfield in the crosshairs.

In Shelby County, the finger has been pointed.

Accountability returns from a long absence in Memphis City government.

Test your electric cars here.

Carpenter wants an opinion on Mayor Ford’s impending veto, and in the process is preparing for a veto override.

Ok, have a good day!