Tennessee editorial roundup

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

Oct. 21

Jackson (Tenn.) Sun on a healthier Tennessee goal of new foundation:

Tennessee consistently ranks near the bottom when it comes to the overall health of the state’s residents. From obesity to smoking-related illnesses to diabetes, stroke and heart disease, Tennessee currently ranks 41st in overall health. The latest effort to reverse this trend is the Governor’s Health and Wellness Foundation, and it is a step in the right direction.

Last week, The Jackson Sun editorial board had the opportunity to visit with the foundation’s CEO Rick Johnson. The foundation is a public/private partnership that has raised millions to get the message out to Tennesseans about the effects of poor lifestyle choices, and to offer help and inspiration to get people on track to more healthful living.

The most striking aspect of Tennessee’s poor health ranking is that most of the causes of poor health are lifestyle choices. In effect, Tennesseans are choosing to be unhealthy. Of course, reversing such a trend is easier said than done and will take time. …

The second area of concern is that too many Tennesseans, and especially children, aren’t getting enough exercise. The foundation recommends getting 30 minutes of exercise five times a week. Fortunately, that can be as simple as 30 minutes of brisk walking that even can be done indoors at local shopping malls. Home exercise equipment such as treadmills and elliptical trainers can be used to fit nearly everyone’s schedule. And schools are being encouraged to promote more exercise activities.

Finally, one of the biggest contributors to obesity in Tennessee is poor eating habits. Taking the lead from the foundation, people can use recommendations for eating a more healthful diet. Eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, and even learning to choose more healthful fast food options can make a big difference in people’s eating habits, and lead to weight loss.

Taken together, these three recommendations are simple, doable and results are measurable. The foundation hopes to get its message and its recommendations out to every Tennessean, and it is committed to monitoring long-term results.

Taking these actions can lead to lower health care costs, improved lifestyle, greater longevity, and even to better performance in the workplace. That’s a strong recommendation to give it a try.




Oct. 18

Johnson City (Tenn.) Press on clean water a vital resource that must be protected:

We applaud state officials for seeking an injunction against a drain cleaning business owner to stop his company from continuing to dump sewage near Brush Creek.

As Press staff writer Becky Campbell reported in Thursday’s paper, First Judicial District Attorney General Tony Clark and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation filed the injunction this week against Julian Robert Combs doing business as Roto Rooter Sewer Drain Service. The lawsuit claims that despite a cease and desist order, Combs’ business has continued to engage in “underpermitted pumping and disposal of sewage.”

In July, two of Combs’ employees, Charles Jones and Joseph Hiatt, were charged with dumping raw sewage in Johnson City next to Brush Creek. Clark said the criminal action against the pair is ongoing. …

It is also a slap in the face to clean water crusaders like Bill Francisco, a Johnson City attorney, who is helping to educate the public on the dangers of E. coli. Francisco — who got involved with the cause after his 6-year-old son, Jacob, died in 2004 from complications of an E. coli infection — is among those now involved with the Sinking Creek Restoration Project, which is tackling a major source of E. coli here in Johnson City. Sinking Creek has been identified as “impaired water” by the state of Tennessee because of E. coli contamination.

The source of this contamination is likely linked to stormwater/sewer and pasture runoff. This contamination can be eliminated, or at least dramatically reduced, with better pasture management and septic systems connecting to the city’s sewer system.

We also need vigorous prosecution of individuals and companies who knowingly contaminate our streams. The injunction filed this week is a good start.




Oct. 17

The Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn., on trust in justice system suffers in secrecy:

The over-the-top restrictions on information in the case of four former Vanderbilt football players accused of rape could well undermine the pursuit of the truth by disregarding basic tenets of public trust in the criminal justice system.

At issue is not the anonymity of the victim of the rape that is alleged to have occurred June 23 in the campus dorm room of one of the suspects. Nashville news media, including this newspaper, do not identify victims of rape without their permission.

Nor is it the threat of evidence being compromised by exposure in the news media. Yet these specters are being held up as convenient excuses for a protective order in the Vanderbilt case that prevents any explanation of the case proceedings. That order and the closed-door discussions held so far exceed what is reasonable in light of the public’s right to know.

For example, a closed-door meeting among Criminal Court Judge Monte Watkins, prosecutor Tom Thurman and defense attorneys on Wednesday apparently included discussion of scheduling a trial date for two of the defendants, Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey, a matter appropriately done in open court.

The Davidson County attorney general’s office has cited the protective order, which includes attorneys for all four defendants signing an agreement to keep video and photo evidence secret, as necessary to “the integrity of the case.”

The case won’t be simple. …

Being forthright with the community about the case — for example, having a public hearing about restricting access to the evidence — would help ensure impartiality.

Our system of law is meant to protect the public and the individual, not one at the expense of the other.



Comments are closed.