Attack on the burbling brook
Ignoring the protests of conservationists (what else is new?), the Tennessee House voted 72-22 to make it easier for road-builders and real-estate developers to pave over Tennessee's streams.
Here's how it'll work under this bill, which also has passed the Senate: To deal with a pesky burbling brook interfering with his plans, a developer will hire a "consultant" to write a report concluding that the stream isn't a stream at all. No, it's merely a "wet-weather conveyance" and therefore unworthy of any protections under environmental law. Just like that, the bulldozers will roll. That's because, under the bill, this so-called consultant's determination is presumed to be correct.
"It authorizes anyone who gets this determination to essentially do what they want to do, and that'll have drastic ramifications to our water supply, at least potentially. I think this presents a threat to our environment," said Rep. Henry Fincher, D-Cookeville.
Nashville legislators tried to remove Davidson County from the bill. But its sponsor, Rep. Joe McCord, R-Maryville, said, "These are waters of the state, not Davidson County. There's questions about whether this'll be constitutional." So the House voted 52-41 to table that amendment.
McCord said his bill "gives more clarity and consistency to the process." That's true. If developers want to destroy a stream, they'll just do it. Jeff Woods
The Spring Hill Conspiracy
Proving that it's never too soon to politicize bad news, particularly if it involves thousands of voters, super-sleuth Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has finally figured out who is ultimately responsible for the Spring Hill shutdown: GM's painfully incompetent corporate structure, right?
No, silly! It's Washington's fault! Duh.
From Blackburn's press release: "I fear that Spring Hill's families are now paying for Washington's folly. The uncertainty they are facing today could have been avoided. Late last year, I joined my colleagues in recommending a structured bankruptcy for General Motors and Chrysler. The bailout alternative that was pursued has failed. What we are left with is the near complete nationalization of what was once our nation's flagship industry, mountains of federal debt, families uncertain about their future now that the Spring Hill plant sits idle, and the parts suppliers and small businesses who depended on Spring Hill facing tough choices...."
So in other words, the entrenched, inept corporate leadership that for three decades has managed to turn a blind eye to innovation, market competition and buyers' continually evolving preferences is not the real problem. We should have just handed them a handsome bailout and let them sort it out the way they know best, since they've got such an unblemished track record.
Meanwhile, though not quite as unhinged from reality, Sen. Bob Corker also has faith GM's leadership can solve its own problems: "I think when this all began, we knew all the issues GM had as a company. Certainly, the administration is addressing those with all of these things it is doing. Should the company be doing it instead of government? Absolutely."
Of course, only time will tell if the Obama plan can save the company, and hopefully bring jobs back to Spring Hill. But to expect a corporate and organizational structure that has been headed in the wrong direction for 30-plus years to suddenly reform itself as a profitable, forward-thinking entity seems a little deluded.
It's like giving your brother who's been on a 30-year crack binge $1,000 because he tells you he needs it to get straight. Jack Silverman
Burger King denialists
Burger King's commercials like to pander to the basest impulses of red-meat America. Its one-upmanship of its absurdly caloric food is an arms race to the bottom in nutrition. And now a few Memphis Burger Kings are playing up to global warming denialists.
According to the Memphis Flyer, Burger King corporate confirmed that five restaurants owned by a local franchiser had the message "Global Warming Is Baloney" posted on their signs. This doesn't reflect the views of BK, a corporate spokesperson says, though the company certainly isn't very green. (It's been rated with across-the-board zeros by ClimateCounts.org.)
Sounds like the local franchiser got a stern rebuke from corporate, because the messages have since been removed. Brantley Hargrove