published Friday, December 23rd, 2011

Gov. Haslam says recommendation to close Taft center 'very persuasive'

The Taft Youth Center is located north of Pikeville, Tenn.
The Taft Youth Center is located north of Pikeville, Tenn.
Photo by Jake Daniels.
Follow us on Twitter for the latest breaking news

Should Taft Youth Center be closed?

NASHVILLE — Gov. Bill Haslam said a controversial recommendation to close Taft Youth Center near Pikeville is “very persuasive.”

If the center is closed, its 90 or so teen inmates would be moved to four other centers scattered across the state. The proposal, suggested by Children’s Services Commissioner Kathryn O’Day, would save about $4.4 million.

“I still have some homework to do,” Haslam said. “But I think Kate’s basic argument of does it make sense to have four facilities that are 100 percent full and five that are 80 percent full is very persuasive.”

In a wide-ranging Chattanooga Times Free Press interview last week about his first year in office, Haslam said he is “particularly inclined” to go along with the proposal sooner rather than later.

He cited O’Day’s argument that many of Taft’s 167 employees should be able to find jobs at the nearby $208 million Bledsoe Correctional Complex, a prison for adults that’s slated to open in 2013.

Haslam, a Republican who took office last January, said O’Day’s proposal emerged from his directive to all departments and agencies that they conduct exhaustive “top-to-bottom reviews” of their operations. The review’s purpose is to ferret out savings, streamline operations and make state government operate more efficiently as he prepared his proposed 2012-13 budget.

But the Taft proposal and another proposal to close Lakeshore Mental Health Institute in Knoxville are proving controversial.

A bipartisan group of area lawmakers already opposes closing Taft. They question the cost savings and O’Day’s assertions that the aging center is the state’s least efficient, is too remote and needs $37 million in improvements.

They also worry about the impact on the local economy if Taft is closed.

Rep. Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, whose district includes Bledsoe County where Taft is located, said the governor should take into account Bledsoe County’s low cost of living compared with Nashville and Memphis, where other youth centers are located. A fourth center is in rural West Tennessee.

“I appreciate the governor asking for more detailed information and taking a little closer look at the closing of Taft and using his business background and expertise before he presents his final budget,” Cameron said.

Taft is the most secure facility and already handles problem cases from the other centers, he said, so the state should look at closing one of those other facilities and shifting residents to Taft.

Haslam said he still is sorting through various cost-cutting recommendations he will present to lawmakers early next year.

“We’re trying to wrestle through the budget but also the kind of the service implications,” Haslam said. “I’ve asked for additional data on [Taft] and other facilities, as well, both in terms of their impact on, in this case kids that are served, but also financial implications for the facilities.”

He said he and his staff are “going through the budget now, literally line by line” in an effort to examine “cross-departmental consequences” of various recommendations.

The current budget largely followed the proposals sketched out by his predecessor, Gov. Phil Bredesen, which Haslam inherited when he took office.

It’s a move often used by new governors, who usually have little time to develop fully their own spending plans. Now Haslam is crafting a budget incorporating his administration’s ideas.

“It helps to be one more year into the budget,” Haslam said. “So again, the questions I’m asking the budget team this year — it’s not like I’m on the graduate school level — but I’ve definitely moved to a different level than I was before.”

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
pikeville said...

I hope our Govenor takes the time to look at the real numbers. I hope that he is not looking at mis-o-days and assuming that they are correct. If he looks at the real numbers against hers, he will find that she is as far off base as a football player.

December 23, 2011 at 1:04 a.m.
Rtazmann said...


December 23, 2011 at 3:10 a.m.
ThinBlue706 said...

What does being a Republican have to do with anything? I am a Repbulican and I am vehemently against closing either/or of the facilities. Closing the Taft center will only see a significant spike in violent crime ranging from robbery to murder wherever these juveniles are released to. We know the juveniles have no influential family members or role models otherwise they would not be there in the first place. If released, their role models will be whatever gang member, dope dealer, or abuser that takes them in. Released to prey upon the citizens of the state.

Where are these poor mental health patients supposed to go? The street? Under bridges? No support? No meds? Left out to starve, freeze to death, and live a life we would not deem fit for a dog. This leaves only the local LEO's to deal with these unfortunate people. What does this do to our local hospital (Erlanger)? Runs up their indigint costs. Who pays for that, Joe Taxpayer. When Erlangers' budget is short, what happens? Employees get laid off and needed services cut.

Closing either of these facilities "helps" the states budget, but throws the entire responsibility for these people on the local governments. Are we, as a local government, not short enough already? We desperately need a new form of taxation. Depending only on a sales tax puts undue burden on the poor, the working poor, and the disabled/retired/fixed income. 9.25% to a poor man with only $100 for groceries means a whole more than to a rich man with thousands. Even a income tax that only started at $250K income would be a significant help while not touching middle income Tennesseans. Democrats won't vote for that or any other state income tax. If we are going to alleviate these aggregious budget issues and get help to those that needed it and keep those incarcerated that deserve it, we are going to have to "fix" Tennessees' revenue problem. Democrats as well as Republican must face the music.

Lastly, Rtazmann why does a discussion have to be an attack? Liberals are supposed to be understanding and accepting to others thoughts and feelings. Your oh, so eloquent writing and language skills are inspiring. And you accuse others of being "below graduate school"?

December 23, 2011 at 8:12 a.m.
sbm362 said...



I never thought I'd say this to a republican, but you hit the nail on the head.

December 23, 2011 at 9:30 a.m.
onetinsoldier said...

The place is a tomb and not for human habitation. It looks like a prison shu.

December 23, 2011 at 9:57 a.m.
dustbowlblues said...

Whooa pump the brakes ThinBlue. Who said criminals were being release? It is about maximizing state operations. Perhaps that 4.4 million can go back into public education where the root of the problem spawned.

December 23, 2011 at 9:59 a.m.
zulalily said...

Costs have to be cut somewhere. There will be someone opposed to EVERY proposed cut because somebody's pocketbook is going to be affected. Local lawmakers will always come out wanting the cuts to be made in someone else's backyard!

December 23, 2011 at 10:02 a.m.
pikeville said...

How about saving 10 million. Taft is a well built, well maintained, clean facility. Taft has a capacity to house 200+ offenders. Compare this to the others. Close the Best save 4 million. Fill the Best save 10 million? You do the math. Staff there are experienced with troubled youth and are the best at it.

December 23, 2011 at 10:22 a.m.
GC said...

What is going to happen when Tafts kids are moved to places that house 14 year olds - even jails don't mix 14 with 18 year olds....looks to me like the liabilities would far outweigh any savings......!

December 23, 2011 at 10:40 a.m.
employee said...

Amen Pikeville!!!Fill up Taft.... Hire more people and show them how a facility is really run!!!

December 23, 2011 at 10:59 a.m.
pikeville said...

Don't forget save the taxpayers 10 million dollars!!!!! If its about saving us money?

December 23, 2011 at 11:32 a.m.
gameday63 said...

If the powers that be want to close Taft why are they still sending students to us they can not handle. Ms. O'Day needs to get out of her White Castle and take a look at the REAL WORLD AROUND HER, She must not know that Taft houses some of the worst students in the whole state, I WILL SAY AGAIN ( THE ONES NO ONE ESLE WANTS OR CAN HANDLE) I hope someone in Nashville has some sense and can see if they close Taft there are going to be some real problems at the other Facilities.

December 23, 2011 at 11:43 a.m.
GC said...

I worked at Taft for several years and decided the job wasn't for me - the kids there are HARD to handle and I applaud those who have dedicated themselves to the job at hand. I cannot imagine these kids being sent to places where younger kids reside. Taft can easily hold about 200 kids - WHY not look at moving the older kids from the other facilities there? They get most of them anyway because it has ALWAYS been the place that other facilities send their unmanageable kids.......I just DO NOT UNDERSTAND what is going on here !!!!!!!!!!

December 23, 2011 at 11:47 a.m.
pikeville said...

pikeville said... Ms.O'Day is a political appointed commissioner from Knoxville. She is a social worker from the private sector with little or no experience in Juvenile Justice. It has been reported that she has been misinformed from within her own dept. From what I have read in this article this could be the case. She states that Taft operates a 1932 era boiler, when in fact Taft has two new boilers that are powered by natural gas. The dormitories were renovated in 1982. The security complex, academic school/counseling center are new buildings built in 2003.It is evident that she has made her decision of closure based on incorrect facts.It seems to me before a decision of this magnitude was made one would make sure their facts were correct, or could there be another reason? If the departments mission is to help these seriously troubled youth,why would you close the highest performing facility

December 23, 2011 at 12:26 p.m.
outthere said...

If it's about money, then look at ALL the numbers, total cost of operation, overtime spent, cost of maintance, contracts for that maintance, (one facitlty is right now spending over a million to repaint and retile their place on contract work). Take out what Taft spends to run the Tricor dairy and the water plant that services the community.(Taft spends the money to run the water plant, yet the funds made by selling the water goes to General Services, it doesn't come back to Taft) How about workman's comp payments, which institution spends most on that? How much is spent on assault leave at all the instituions? How about Taft stays open and close one of the other institutions that can't house as many students? Taft has bed space for 208 students and none of the other institutions come even close to that. Close one of the institutions in the metropolititan areas where the employees can get employment. The last I checked, Nashville has over 500 secutiry positions available, and Knoxville metro area had nearly as many. One institution is right outside of Memphis, where Shelby County is opening a new juevinile facility.(privately operated, of course) I guess my question is...If you've got an institution that serves the students well, gets them the education they will need, the vocational training they need, and does it cheaper that the rest..Then why close it?? If you need to close one, and need the space for the students, Taft has the space, the experienced employees, and the desire to provide for the students what they need. If the taxpayers are to get the best "bang for the buck", then the closure of Taft is not it!

December 23, 2011 at 12:35 p.m.
Crossville said...

There are actually 4 facilities in Tennessee at this time (including Taft) that houses the male juveniles. The fifth facility (New Visions) is a girl’s facility. New Visions was built to separate the boys from the girl’s at Woodland Hills. One of the reason’s this was done was because so many of the girls were getting pregnant. From what I understand, the plan after closing Taft is to put the girls back at Woodland Hills and use New Visions for 50 of the most violent/troubled boys. I personally think that placing the girls back in the same institution as the boys is a very bad decision due to the troubles in the past. If it weren’t an issue then why was the facility built for the girls?

Also, they are assuming Taft employees can all get jobs at the new addition of South East Regional Prison. But why do this in a county whose unemployment rate is higher than the state and national averages? Employees who work at Taft are from all surrounding counties. All of those counties are above the national and state unemployment averages. The new positions that will eventually be available at the local prison should benefit those in the surrounding counties who are unemployed and need a job; and would therefore improve the local economy. Why can cuts not be made a little in all areas instead of a big chunk in one spot that is suffering in the first place?

It was said that juvenile crime rates are down which would suggest there is not a need for so much space to house them. But TBI statistics show that crime among male juveniles is only down .013%. That is only one- one hundredths of one percent!! That is NOT a significant drop in rate if you ask me.

December 23, 2011 at 2:04 p.m.
RealDeal said...

Anyone here who is reading this blog needs to look at facts as a taxpayer. Why? Because the taxpayer is who is going to pay the price, and it will be costly. Let me give you an excellent example. PREA stands for The Prison Rape Elimination Act. One of the YDC's in TN had the highest incident rate of staff on student sexual acts in the NATION! That facility was WHYDC in Nashville. What did the department do? They threw countless thousands of dollars at TRAINING ALL DCS workers, and promoted the superintendent at WHYDC to Assistant Comm.! Yea, let's reward poor performance. That is exactly what government is doing to the taxpayers. I don't care what your political party, religious views, color, creed or any of the other catergories that make us all unique are. If you live in Tennessee, you are a taxpayer and this does have an impact on you and your family. What is it going to take for people to take their rose colored glasses off and see things for what they are? And, as it has already been pointed out, there are a total of FOUR juvenile MALE institutions in the state. The fifth one is for the females. If they move the females back to WHYDC, all that money spent on PREA will be a drop in the bucket compared to what is to come. Do the research folks, look at the documentation! Taft Youth Center can support each and every statement they have made. It just feels like no one is willing to listen or accept facts.

December 23, 2011 at 4:23 p.m.
pikeville said...

You hit the nail on the head real deal!! Comm.O'day and Dep.Comm Dawson say they will save 4.4 million dollars if Taft closes. Here is some food for thought. In the first year alone the major maintanence requests from the other facilities will far exceed this number. The other facilities are not and have never been equiped for these type offenders. At Taft all 200+ rooms are equiped with institutional grade doors,furniture,and lighting. The reason for this is "Taft takes the bad ones" and have for decades. Fill Taft up and save 10 million dollars a year. Close Taft and spend more,place younger offenders and the public at risk. Taft is well built,well maintained,and clean. Oh yea they have the lowest return to coustody percentage,and higest graduation rate. Can anyone say FILL TAFT UP!!!!!!

. post comment related articles »

December 23, 2011 at 6 p.m.
GC said...

I CAN........FILL TAFT UP !!!!!

December 23, 2011 at 6:06 p.m.
teach_them_all said...

dustbowlblues said...

"Perhaps that 4.4 million can go back into public education where the root of the problem spawned."

So there were no parenting/family issues involved? Blame it on the education system because of course parents have no responsibility.

December 23, 2011 at 11:04 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

I hear what everyone is saying, but we need to point out a few flaws in O'Day's plan. First thing if it is about money then why did her and mr, Dawson get a raise first thing when they took their new positions, that seems to me that is a double standard huh!O'Day is making around 12,000.00 a month and Dawson is making around 9,000,00 a month.What O'Day makes in two months would almost pay a years pay for an officer that works in a YDC. Like realdeal said about the incident at WHYDC in Nashville, when the one that is responsibile for the facilitie is not held accountable,but gets promoted to a higher positions.Gov Haslam needs to check O'Day's homework and see that the people working under her are either really bad with their basic math skills and bad to state facts before they do their own homework.The bad thing about the whole thing is that DCS is being lead by a person that don't know anything about or how the YDC's are run or operated. For example when the governor ask O'Day what was the average stay of a child in a YDC she didn't know and had to turn and ask Dawson. What is this thing about saving ten millon and fill-up Taft?

December 24, 2011 at 12:45 a.m.
pikeville said...

It's simple Haslam said it is better to have 4 facilities at 100% capacity than 5 at 80% capacity. Taft has over 130 rooms sitting vacant ready for someone to move into. If all this is about saving our tax dollars, close the lowest performing YDC and move their population to Taft. Considering they all have budgets ranging from 11.3 million to 12.1 million the savings would be at least 10 million a year for the taxpayers.

December 24, 2011 at 2:01 a.m.
justsaying94 said...

Why don't Haslam just visit Taft to see what it needs or what it don't need, since O'Day's staff seems not to be able to do basic math or do their homework and get facts before they present them that affects peoples lively hood. Maybe Haslam jumped the gun when he appointed O'Day and O'Day appointed Dawson in his position. From what I have read that the law makers have been given paper documents to disclaim all the figures that O'Day presented to Haslam. Haslam needs to do his own homework and go visit Taft then there want be no he said she said and see for himself. If Taft can house 200 plus then it is a no brainer that they should close another YDC if it is about the money! The law makers shouldn't be put in this position and Haslam should wake up and smell the coffee and do the right thing and leave thing the way thet are, because if its not broke then don't fix it!

December 24, 2011 at 3:20 p.m.
pikeville said...

Taft doesn't "need"anything facility wise, but Taft does need the support of the public, and all the commited officals who are asking the "tough questions" Awnsers are coming!! They have to. Taft does have 200 clean,well maintained rooms. There is not a measurable area in the DCS JJ YDCs that Taft isn't first. Do your homework and check it yourself, Please.

December 24, 2011 at 5:57 p.m.
Crossville said...

Closing any of the institutions makes no sense to me. But closing Taft will end up a very bad mistake. I think they are either not realizing that or they don't care. When the students that Taft has are sent back to those same institutions that couldn't handle them, what do they think is going to happen? The student already knows why he was sent to Taft! All this is going to do is fuel his fire! I foresee more workman's comp claims for the state when they send the aggressive students back where they came from.

December 24, 2011 at 9:52 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

The thing about them sending them back to the other places quess what they dont have to deal with it.There's one thing that I have noticed that the people that make decisions(Nashville)usually don't effect them directly.The way it looks to me is that somebody just can't deal with that Taft does the best job in the state and since that is a fact how can Haslam even consider closing Taft just dont make any sense. If that makes sense to Haslam then the state of TN is in big trouble because where I am from 2+2=4 and where O'Day from 2+2= 37 million!

December 24, 2011 at 11:41 p.m.
pikeville said...

O'Day told Haslam during a November budget hearing that Taft is the system's most costly facility, with a $12 million annual operating budget and as much as $37 million in capital needs. By closing Taft, the department would save $4.4 million a year, according to O'Day. Most of the 167 people who work at Taft are trained by the Tennessee Department of Correction and should be able to find jobs at the nearby $208 million Bledsoe County Correctional Complex, slated to open in 2013, O'Day said. O'Day responded Friday, saying the $37 million in repairs and updates needed at Taft includes repairs to its 1932-era boiler, replacement of a security building and kitchen facility and construction of new dormitories, which were built in 1943 and 1963. Taft was built in 1918. These are direct quotes from the commissioner of children’s services Kate O’Day. This is the same commissioner that told Governor Haslam during budget hearings in Knoxville last month;“there is no differentiating line between Dependent Neglect/Foster Children and Juvenile Justice kids.” Either this commissioner is being badly misinformed from within her own department, or she is misleading the Governor and the taxpayers for another reason. This is the facts of the case! 1. Tafts total budget is 12,328,500. In this 12.3 million there is the operating costs of a water plant that serves thousands of residents, SETRCF, and Fall Creek Falls State Park. The state will not allow Taft to profit from the water sales, in fact they don’t let them break even. In this budget number TRICOR farm utilities are deducted. This is a large milk producing farm that runs 24 hrs a day 7 days a week. The costs to operate these things are 400,000 dollars annually. This drops Tafts budget to 11,928,500 in comparison WHYDC’s in Nashville budget is 12,148,400 Wilder in west Tn. 11,342,300 MVYDC in east Tn. 11,287,700. Considering Taft returned over 800,000 dollars in 2010 and 1.2 million in 2009 saying Taft is the most expensive is misleading. 2. Ms.O’Day says Taft needs 37 million in repairs of this 37 million she has listed 1932 era boiler, new security complex, and kitchen. 1948 and 1963 dorms. Even if all this were true it is a far cry from 37 million. The truth is Taft has 2 new boilers powered by natural gas installed in Oct.2005, There was a new state of the art security complex built in 2006, The dorms and kitchen were totally renovated in 1982. Taft was accredited by ACA in 2009 with a score of 99.9. The lowest score the kitchen has ever received from the health department going back 6 years is 93. As I said earlier either this commissioner is being badly misinformed from within her own department or she is misleading the Governor and the tax payers for another reason? You be the judge!!

December 25, 2011 at 8:33 a.m.
justsaying94 said...

From what I just read it seems to me that infact Haslam and O'Day both need to tour Taft and leave the weak link Dawson in Nashville and before they leave Nashville go by records and do their homework. Then they need to come to Taft and bring pen and paper and take notes but it want do any good because they don't seem to be able to read cause the figures are right in front of them already.They choose to ingnore the facts so it looks like the have a personal reason why they want to close Taft HuH!

December 25, 2011 at 10:52 a.m.
annie53 said...

Was the shooting in Chattanooga at the teen party gang related or has the investigation revealed any other information. If the shooters were teens they will not be going to an adult facility. I don't think foster care, group homes or any facility other than Taft could house offenders such as these. Talk to your representatives, vote no on the closing of Taft. The next shooting could be your teen or someone's you know.

December 25, 2011 at 4:15 p.m.
annie53 said...

I have read your post "justsayin94" and the cold hard facts is that if Taft is closed, other institutions will have to deal with the students and I feel it will result in injury to staff or weaker students. They will be no Taft to send them to. I think I would be safe in saying that most of the population at Taft has been in group homes and foster homes and both programs failed. At least at Taft they have programs that could give these students a chance.

December 25, 2011 at 4:25 p.m.
Crossville said...

Ms. O'Day certainly needs to put further investigation and thought into this decision if she is throwing out statements like “there is no differentiating line between Dependent Neglect/Foster Children and Juvenile Justice kids.” She evidently does not truly know what Juvenile Justice is. If she looked into it further, I believe she would have a "differentiating" view.

December 25, 2011 at 7:11 p.m.
csowife said...

Wow, their not thinking about alot of things in the closing of Taft Youth Center. I am a wife of a wonderful man that has dedicated 10 years at this facility, through wounds and broken bones his focus was to make a difference in at least 1 young life there. I have saw him not sleep trying to figure out how to get the attention of some of the students at this facility. I often wanted him to change jobs because of the calls i have had to go to the emergency room where he was assulted, he always refused and went back. We have 5 sons which are blessed to have a father with such dedication and huge heart. Come January 03, 2012 @ 5 pm This family will be there to support the wonderful employees, please from my family to yours lets pull together fill our court house and lawn.. We hope to see you there.

December 25, 2011 at 9:34 p.m.
pikeville said...

Crossville, Comm. O'Day had a meeting with a Rep.from Crossville last Tue. In this meeting she was educated about Tafts role in the JJ division. One would think that Dep.Comm.Dawson would have already done this being he was Tafts number 1 supporter just 6 short months ago at his preivious posistion as Superintendant at WHYDC. In a three year peroid WHYDC under Mr.Dawson sent twice the number of students to Taft than the other YDCs. The Represenitive had a few simple questions for her, and she nor Dep.Comm. Dawson had the answers. They said they would have them in 2 wks. From my understanding these questions were very basic, and anyone proposing to eliminate 203 jobs in an area that the unemployment rate is higher than the states average should have easily known. One or two things are going on here. Either Dawson is misleading his boss who has little to no experiance with JJ offenders for reasons unknown, or Comm.O'Day is setting the stage for large paydays when she leaves office. I hope Governor Haslam will speak with the represenitives and administration from Taft before making such a dangerous decision. If this happens I think he is a smart enough man he will reilize someone has promoted above their abilities. Maybe even two?

December 25, 2011 at 9:36 p.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

From reading all the post above, My conclusion to this is as follows: I think Ms.O'Day's agenda is to not only to close Taft Youth Center but to gain herself a nice severance package from private care. After Governor Haslam finds that she does not know the difference between children services and Juvenal justice and that she lied to the governor of the state of Tennessee, tax payers and to mislead the governor and the taxpayers is fraud. I have come to realize that "SHE" has done this before at other places that she may have worked to get her agenda or her way in life before. We the tax payers in the state of Tennessee should demand that Ms.O'Day resign her position along with Mr.Dawson and apologize to the citizens of the State of Tennessee and return their salaries that has been paid to them.

So,The citizens of Bledsoe,Van Buren,Cumberland,Rhea,Sequatchie,White and Warren Counties should expect that the powers that are in Nashville have no respect for the voters and work force in these counties where jobs are few and the unemployment rate is in the double digits. So Far it seems that the want to move this institution where the unemployment rate is lower than anywhere else.

December 25, 2011 at 9:54 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

To answer to your question Annie53 is yes the local news reported that the shooting was (GANG RELATED) between to gangs.Just alittle over a year ago that the police dept. in Chattanooga reported on tv that they didn't have a gang problem. My how quickely things change and for years Taft has gotten gang members from Chattanooga, Nashville,Knoxville, and memphis even from surrounding counties. But folks don't be alarmed Gov. Haslam and comm. O'Day and Dep. comm. Dawson have a plan.If you have ever kept up with the way state goverment works is if it makes sense then go yhe oyher way that don't make sense. Like I said before in Nashville 2+2=37 and you would think that haslam who owns the pliots truck stop's he could do the math, but 4.4 millon maybe to small amount for him it don't have double digits,has a little dot in between the two numbers.

December 25, 2011 at 11:16 p.m.
Crossville said...

It was stated by Ms. O'Day that Taft needed $37 million in updates. It would be very interesting to see how that figure was reached. Considering all the updates that have already been made to Taft Youth Center. To quote 'Pikeville': "...Taft has two new boilers that are powered by natural gas. The dormitories were renovated in 1982. The security complex, academic school/counseling center are new buildings built in.." 2006.... hmmm... There is not much left to "update"!! I really don't want to bash anyone, but it does seem that something fishy is sure going on here. Why WOULD someone lie that BIG? And I have no idea who it is that is lying, but someone sure is. Whether it be Ms. O'Day or the people she is getting her information from OR the people THEY are getting their information from.

December 28, 2011 at 2:17 p.m.
dustbowlblues said...

To Teach_them_all...

I didn't give parents immunity for having raised poor quality citizens. I simply stated that education is underfunded. I agree... blame parents for most of our youth troubles. But what is the solution for treating that problem?

And I would like to thank Pikeville for giving some great information. Communication is a golden thread.

January 5, 2012 at 2:54 p.m.
RealDeal said...

dustbowl, your last statement is priceless! COMMUNICATION IS A GOLDEN THREAD, but it is one thread that has been left out of the weave of DCS administration and their understanding of Taft Youth Center! Cameron Sexton asked for an itemized list for the 37 million that O'Day said Taft was in need of, and the most they could come up with was 24 million! And that was to tear down buildings due to their age. As Sexton said, if we are tearing down buildings because of age, we had better start with the capitol since it was built in the 1800's.
In all my life, I have never seen such a screwed up administration! Haslam and his buds have hunkerd down, circled the wagons, and been far to silent for way to long. The LACK of communication is unreal, and one would think that they forgot about the people of this state! Oh, Haslam goes to the high dollar meetings in Nashville and Knoxville, you know, 'his kind', but the working class, forget about us. I think they all need to sign up for the social work stipend program, go back to school and take some economics classes and basic math. As Mark Twain said "if you tell the truth, you never have to remember what you said", but if you lie, it just keeps getting deeper and deeper. They have lied. O'Day looks like a blooming idiot as does her underlings.
The truth will come out and it won't be long. Just last week, several of our Juvenile Judges toured Taft. As a result, DCS public information officer came out in the paper saying that students who were to graduate with their GED couldn't have their graduation because parents weren't notified. NO, they weren't notified because we were told DO NOT have the graduation because Sexton had been invited to speak at the ceremony. This is something that we have been doing for years and there has never been an issue, until now. So, I think it's safe to say that Haslam, O'Day, Dawson, Suddreth and company are all highly pissed because this 'dumb bunch of rednecks' didn't roll over and take this laying down. That's right, we didn't roll over and we are not going too. You see, that is something that they have never been able to understand about the employees at Taft....we are a team. They will never be able to cause the inner strife that they so desire.

This thing is far from over, and there are a lot of us that will fight until the death. I am one of those people. Haslam, O'Day and Dawson aren't the only ones that are pissed off. And, anyone who lives in this area should be too. This move is going to further depress an already depressed job market. I think everyone knows the costs of unemployment. And if they say one more time that the comissioners from DOC and DCS are not in contact, I will call them a liar to their face. STSCRF is BANKING on Taft closing because there is no way they will ever staff the expansion without the people who work at Taft. I'm tired of typing, but I will never give up the fight!

January 28, 2012 at 8:57 p.m.
Crossville said...


January 28, 2012 at 10 p.m.
pikeville said...

Thank you real deal for you comment,but DOC has nothing to do with this proposal. This proposal is PRIVITIZATION!!! The 208 million spent on the new prision is a drop in the bucket to 400+ students in private provider services for 3 yrs. Guess who will profit ? Can anyone say O'Day!!!!!!

January 28, 2012 at 10:02 p.m.
GC said...

WAY TO GO REALDEAL !!.......Finally, someone has the guts to speak the truth. Truth is something that has been obviously missing in this whole deal.

January 28, 2012 at 10:16 p.m.
RealDeal said...

Thanks Crossville and GC, and pikeville, you may be more on point with the privitization statement than I am with the DOC comment! If the taxpayers are worried about government spending/waste now, just wait until they privitize all of the Youth Development Centers, Group Homes, and Halfway Houses. They are already halfway there with the closeure of group homes and halfway houses. And, if they get Taft, it's just a matter of time before they start of the other YDC's. Except for New Visions and they won't touch that one because of Thelma Harper and the Red Hat Society! Disgusting I say, not to mention degrading!

January 28, 2012 at 10:22 p.m.
arrowspaint said...

Nashville says that Taft employees are a bunch of 'rednecks'. The students that receive their diplomas and GED'S get a diploma that says Taft High School not 'redneck university'. These students work hard at a positive task to help themselves. They also are very proud and hold their head high with a sense of dignity knowing that they have made a huge accomplishment. The staff and teachers congratulate these students and wish them success. Alot of students at Taft have moved from place to place and left with nothing. When these students leave Taft, they leave with a fighting chance that they have given themselves. The leave with respect for others...for that is what has been shown to them. All students at Taft are a 'somebody' to the employees that work there. These students are not there to fill a room, remember 'No Child Left Behind'...where does that fit in the budget???

January 28, 2012 at 10:34 p.m.
arrowspaint said...

Why is it that Nashville is sending in 'people' with less administration experience than what is available on site??? And funny to me i've seen them on campus once, twice at the most!!!

January 28, 2012 at 10:52 p.m.
GC said...

Degraded is how the employees of Taft must be feeling after the way they have been treated....employees who have dedicated years and years of service to this state. They are told nothing, can do nothing without permission - i.e. graduation which had never required an approval -and have had people sent in to "lead" them who have less experience than the employees there. I would venture to say that this is costing the taxpayers money too !

January 28, 2012 at 10:53 p.m.
RealDeal said...

And another thing I want to vent about here and now. They fired our superintendent on 12/6/11. Since then, we have had an 'acting' superintendent (nothing in writing mind you). And then, two or three weeks ago, they send an employee from another institution to Taft to be a 'co-administrator'? What is that? Does anyone know? And talking about taxpayer money being wasted, let's see: the co-administator gets milage too and from Memphis twice a week, a motel room three or four nights a week, and three meals a day for at least three of the five working days. Based on the state travel regs, that adds up to well over $1500.00 per month above and beyond his salary. And this 'co-administrator' sits in an office, and looks confused. Or he just looks. I'm not sure how to describe it. And they talk about saving money? Please tell me how they figure they are saving any money paying an employee from another institution and one from Central Office to come to Taft? They aren't running Taft, the people that have been employees at Taft for many years run Taft. The people they have sent in to 'co-administrate' have less experience than the majority of our senior managers and mid-managers. Does this not demonstrate to anyone that the people making these calls are out of their league? I wish I could find me a cash cow like this, but then I could never do that and be the loyal civil servant that I am. I'm telling everyone, you had better do some digging into this. This is just the tip of the iceburg. The deeper you dig, the dirtier it's going to be. "Co-administrator"......."Administrative Presence" give me a BREAK!

January 28, 2012 at 10:57 p.m.
RealDeal said...

Oh, and I forgot to mention that we have rattled their cage so bad that now they are going to take our civil service rights away. And our professional association (JOKE) TSEA is doing little to nothing to fight for us. Yea, they are going to screw Taft employees royally! Close us down, we will have no RIF rights, and a thirty day notice. Thanks Haslam. Too bad we can't all own part of the Pilot stations.
Now about this privitization, I have some property, and I have a contract, and I have experience, can we talk? I would like to open up a secure group home for young men between 16 and 19 years of age. I don't know if the community will go for it, but who cares about the community anyway? (PLEASE NOTE SARCASM HERE)

January 28, 2012 at 11:03 p.m.
GC said...

Hey Realdeal...BET you could find some GREAT Taft employees to help you run it ... lol !

January 28, 2012 at 11:10 p.m.
Crossville said...

You took the words right out of my mouth, Real Deal. I have no idea what one makes but the other is about $4300 per month. That is ASIDE from the perks of mileage, meals and hotel costs. And I wonder why they fired the Superintendent? He probably wasn't giving them good enough information to shut it down. From what I understand, since the untimely, unexpected departure of the superintendent, there have been SEVERAL DCS and DOC personnel touring Taft. It is supposed to be a "proposal" in the budget that has not been approved yet and they are acting like it is a done deal!! I can not wait to be present on February 1st in Nashville to see what goes on and what is said. My guess is there will be a lot of dancing around the subject. DCS has been really good at that for a long time.

January 28, 2012 at 11:11 p.m.
RebelBuck said...

Just as someone else said in a comment on a story about Taft, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease". This whole issue appears to be solely about privatization of the juvenile facilities. I for one, as a taxpayer in this state will not quietly stand by and allow my hard earned tax dollars be wasted on privately ran institutions and see that all these "wayward" youth loose a good chance at having another shot at being a productive member of society. Most of the youth in these institutions were never given a fair shake at life. In some cases these youth leave these institutions a better person because of the hard working staff members that have been charged with trying to make a difference in their lives. I challenge everyone who reads these posts, and believes that someone who has made mistakes in their lives can change if given the opportunity to stand up for what is right and let Commissioner O'Day and Deputy Commissioner Dawson know that with a little dedication and perseverance the underdogs can and will stand up, fight, and win. To quote someone I know that I will leave anonymous, "NO MAN STANDS AS TALL, AS ONE WHO STOOPS TO HELP A CHILD"

January 28, 2012 at 11:13 p.m.
arrowspaint said...

Way to go Realdeal!!!!!

January 28, 2012 at 11:14 p.m.
RealDeal said...

GC, I'll keep that in mind! Crossville, I too have noticed the large amount of visitors we have had coming through the gate as of recent. It's like they just discovered us on the map or something. Have we been placed on the map and nobody told us? Just curious. I have noticed too that they have this gleam of anticipation in their eyes, like they have plans for our facility. I bet they can get it up to par for their purposes for far less than any 24 or 37 million. Shoot, by now it's more than that the way these numbers keep going up. I've noticed that if the stock market goes down, the cost to renovate Taft goes up as much. And I sure didn't know that is cost $300+ per square foot to build any building in ANY TOWN in the State of Tennessee. We are pricey up here on the mountain.

January 28, 2012 at 11:17 p.m.
RealDeal said...

WOW Rebelbuck-that is a profound post. Thank you for such a eye opening post. We appreciate all the help we can get!

January 28, 2012 at 11:21 p.m.
daddysgirl said...

The people of Bledsoe, Van Buren, Cumberland, Rhea, Grundy, White, Sequatchie counties have been lied to by so called professional, political, appointees who have used deceit to fabricate figures concerning Taft Youth Development Center that don"t even come close to the truth. When people do not respond to these lies, these alleged professional politicians and there appointees get away with destroying our basic forms of government. Allowing people to get elected by buying there way into office is not government by the people but by the best that money can buy. Today's government is not to help the people of these Tennessee Counties that have a high unemployment rate , but rather to help them become unemployed so that they can help bigger cities get these jobs. We should not let people who have no experience at running juvenile institutions tell lies to close and institution that out preforms any institution in the state! WE should not allow Commissioner O'Day to close Taft Youth Center on fabricated lies that she has given to the public and Governor and other elected officials, WE should call her out and make her TELL the people of these Counties where she got HER figures and WHY she adamantly supports them. Obviously you don't have to know "simple math" to become a Commissioner in the State of Tennessee!! In closing if Taft is closed these students that will be turned back to other institutions, which cannot handle these students because they are afraid of them, they will eventually either escape or be released with NO rehabilitation, NO high school diploma, NO GED'S, NO vocational training and NO hope for a future!! Time will prove that every word in this article to be true, all Taft employees will be gone and Taft is closed, when they are destroying other institutions there will be not Taft Youth Development Center to send them to. The tax payers will be stuck with paying for the rebuilding of other juvenile institutions, O'Day will gone getting paid millions for privatizing all institutions in the State of Tennessee!! Look at her agenda before you make the final decision, but don't believe the lies that she speaks and be sure to check her addition and subtraction!!

January 28, 2012 at 11:22 p.m.
GC said...

Excellent post RebelBuck....and there are those who have stood up and fought for the right thing..especially Representatives Sexton, Harmon, Cobb and Burks...also Senator Stewart and many of our Judges. To these people, we say THANK YOU for standing up for whats right !!

January 28, 2012 at 11:26 p.m.
Crossville said...

Just looked it up and the two "Administrative Presence" that are there... one makes $4372 and the other $5086. This is MONTHLY, not including the perks of mileage, hotel and meals!! And the state is talking about saving money??!! That is not a way to save money! And yes, Real Deal, I'm sure if they do close Taft then all of a sudden it will NOT take that much money to fix it. Especially since it does not need that much in the first place! And Rebel Buck, that is an awesome quote and very true. But it does seem that the best interest of the kids have been left out of the equation by Nashville. And I do not see how they can expect to save 4.4 million by closing Taft. The are not taking into consideration the workman's comp claims or doctor bills on other students that will start flying once the kids that were placed at Taft by other institutions are placed BACK in those institutions after them not being able to handle them. You take a 16-18 yr old boy and put him in that situation with him KNOWING why he was sent to Taft and it will create nothing but chaos! And can anyone explain privatization? What does that mean for the students and the surrounding communities?

January 28, 2012 at 11:36 p.m.
RebelBuck said...

I too would like to thank these Representatives and I would also like to thank all the city and county officials that have passed resolutions and the citizens of the counties and cities that signed petitions to show thier support in keeping Taft Youth Center open. These folks know the real truth. It's hard to see what the real truth is when you never walk out of your "crystal palace" and visit places in your "kingdom". Don't piss down my back and tell me it's raining. These hard working folks at Taft Youth Center are tired of being lied to.

January 28, 2012 at 11:41 p.m.
Crossville said...

And DEFINITELY a very big thank you to Representatives Sexton, Harmon, Cobb, Burks and also Senator Stewart and our Judges. And everyone who has done anything to help! Daddysgirl, YOU SAID IT!! You are absolutely right!! And thank you, too!!

January 28, 2012 at 11:42 p.m.
GC said...

Not to mention placing 18 year olds with 14 (or younger) year old kids - the first major law suit addressing this when a younger child is hurt by an 18 year old will take the 4.4 million. Taft has always been the facility who handles the older, more aggressive youth. There must be a reason for this or so many would not have been sent there for disrupting other placements. I just don't understand how things have changed so much that anyone can think there isn't a need for Taft. And privatization - It is hard for me to believe that contract agencies will even accept some of the more aggressive gang related kids. I have been in this business for years and have NEVER seen them accept multi- offending violent youth. The costs would far outway the profit!

January 28, 2012 at 11:46 p.m.
RebelBuck said...

I’m sure that everyone that has read these comments, articles, press releases, watched the nightly news, and most of all, work at Taft Youth Center would like to know the real reason why DCS Commissioner O’Day has targeted Taft Youth Center. Could it be that these folks have been labeled as having a “mountain mentality”, or could it be that they are running an institution that has been in operation since the 1930’s and looks like a shining star up against Albert Dawson’s pride and joy, Woodland Hills? It’s clear it’s not based on the structurally soundness of the buildings on campus because all of the buildings have been remolded since the 1980’s and three of them were built new in 2005. Granted you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. As it seems that Commissioner O’Day thinks we are. The hard working folks at Taft have given it one hell of a shot by their dedication and teamwork, to improve one thing that the future of our state depends on, its youth. I have to agree with all of the people that have posted here. We all have valid comments and concerns. The real losers if Taft were to close would be the children most of all but the taxpayers in Tennessee.

January 29, 2012 at 12:10 a.m.
RealDeal said...

I'm going to Wal-Mart to buy three calculators. One for Haslam, one for O'Day, and one for Dawson. Anyone wanna go in with me? Maybe if we mail these to them, with the correct figures, they could punch in the numbers and do the math. Really, it's not that hard! I, too would like to thank all of our Representatives, Juvenile Judges, and Employees that have the MORAL FIBER to stand up for us. It is refreshing to see that somewhere, someone is hearing our voices. Thanks to the Times Free Press as well. Obviously, your publication hasn't been bought and paid for! I can't say that about another newspaper that is printed in Nashville.

January 29, 2012 at 12:45 a.m.
daddysgirl said...

Calculators....they will say "what is that"??? Don't you think we can add and subtract...LOL!! Our answer will be " No obviously you need to check your figures and listen to what everyone is trying to tell you, they don't add up correctly. SO GET THE CALCULATOR OUT!! Its the square thing with numbers that has addition and subtraction symbols on it!! Oh yeah its not your smart phone connected to your hip! Thanks to all Juvenile Judges, State reps., and State Senators that are battling for the young men at Taft that are real people just like you are the employees and there families!

January 29, 2012 at 10:40 a.m.
MyLifeSpeaks said...

I hope there are enough people left that care about the truth and can remember when your word was your bond. Because I have listened too and saw the appointees from Nashville stand in front of the State Rep., State Senator and Juvenile Judges and tell nothing but LIES! Not only does that show complete disrespect for the State Rep., State Senator and Juvenile Judges, but for the people that they are elected to represent. If you LIE to these people you have no respect for yourself and the people you think you know how to supervise. O'Day, Dawson and Suddreth have cost themselves any credibility with anyone they speak before or about on any subject. The Gov. needs to cut his ties with these people or he will lose his credibility with Tennessee. Their salaries are ridiculous, is the Governor paying for STUPIDITY??? He sure is getting his moneys worth in LIES! Congrats too him!

January 29, 2012 at 3:36 p.m.
Huckleberry said...

Commissioner O'Day and her sidekicks have tried to convince anyone who will listen to them that Taft is not a fit institution. Some of the buildings are old but in excellent architectural condition. The new school, security complex, and the counseling center were intended to be the start of an upgrade for the institution. Anyone who visits Taft will soon learn that the institution has one of the finest work forces in juvenile justice. The concept of teamwork is instilled in each employee the minute he or she is hired. That concept is emphasized in any dealings with each other as employees and in the dealings with the student of the center. This concept is not even introduced in the other facilities nor is it in practice. The reason for the success of Taft is this philosophy and its being carried out in the day to day activities.

The graduation at Taft was recently put on hold for who knows what by "someone" in Central Office. The real victims of this decision are the students who will not get to participate in the ceremony. The ceremony may not mean much to most people but to those 8 students and their family members it is many times the only family who has ever graduated from high school. It is a day to give praise to their son who has done something right. Two of these 8 young men and their families will not get this chance because "someone" wanted to make some kind of statement. What it is no one knows or will say!
The reputation of Taft will still remain as the best for what it does and for what it does for these students who enter its doors labeled as some of the worst juvenile offenders in the state of Tennessee. The employees of Taft just take each day in stride and work with them all. These students and their families will tell anyone who will listen that if they had not come to Taft, they would not have been successful in their program or have achieved what they have done. The success lies in the stories of its employees and its students. Governor Haslam, Ms. O'Day, and Mr. Dawson need to be listening. Keep up the good work!!!

January 29, 2012 at 6:24 p.m.
ashley26 said...

well the closing of taft is suppose to save so much money, well what about society and its safety well lets just put the inmates at a nursing home to work and save a lil more money. while we are at it lets close the governors mansion and probably we will save more money than the closing of taft. lets go all you republicans YAY

January 29, 2012 at 8:12 p.m.
justsaying94 said...

We can sit here and talk numbers all day and night, but we all know that money isn't the reason to close Taft no matter how you look at it. There are alot of things that shows how smart O'Day is, like her plan to save 4.4 millon is the closing Taft Youth Center. If you don't close Taft then what is your back up plan or plan B? Oh there's a need for a plan B, really if anyone has worked in State government the State always has a contingencey plan to almost everything. You think that Dawson with all his years of service that he was superintendent at taft for a while and you would think he would know alittle about that! Maybe the governor will wake up and smell the coffee or he can continue to keep his head in the sand, no matter what happens O'Day started this mess and thought she would walk right thru without a hitch, but quess what, we will stand up and take a stand for the students and the employee's of Taft that wish to carry on what Taft has done for years! It is a shame that the future of the students comes down to money and why don't O'Day and Dawson give their pay increase that they got if money is such an issue!!!!

January 29, 2012 at 9:38 p.m.
smd1211 said...

O'Day and Haslam have an agenda here and it involves privatization of this kind of work. Most of her experience is through private child welfare agencies. Haslam mistakenly believes that private providers will be able to provide the same or better service than state employees. While I am often quick to point out the failings in state employees, he is mistaken if he believes outsourcing in this manner will save money. The bottom line is their bottom line. To hell with rehabilitation or producing better outcomes for juvenile offenders.The bottom line is DCS has limited options to cut their budget because they are still under the Brian A. Settlement Agreement. But news flash...that federal lawsuit and settlement does not include the Juvenile Justice program. Therefore, they are targeting the area that is not being monitored through a lawsuit. This will only produce temporary savings. Taft is the only YDC that actually provides treatment and rehabilitation for juvenile offenders. Unless they bolster services at the other YDCS, which I can assure you will not happen, the state will just wind up paying for these offenders once they reach the adult system. Mr. Dawson may be a nice guy but he was a disaster as Superintendent of Woodland Hills and should have been fired for his ineffectiveness. But alas, that is not the way DCS operates. Instead, he was promoted and put in charge of the very facilities he proved incapable of running. Some may look at his continued employment as ignorance by those in charge and not knowing what is needed but that is not true. Mr. Dawson got moved to where he is today so that he can take the fall later on. Rest assured, when reality comes crashing down, Mr. Dawson will be thrust out front and center as the person responsible. And O'Day will do all she can to distance herself from the responsibility. Because the general public has a short memory in these matters, she will probably get away with it too.

February 1, 2012 at 5:37 a.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.