2021 conveniently forgotten
Fans of the Atlanta Braves probably noticed recently that Major League Baseball awarded the 2025 All-Star Game to Atlanta. The selection, however, did not come with an apology that should have accompanied it.
The Braves, you may recall, had been awarded the 2021 game but had it yanked out from under them three months before the game by Commissioner Rob Manfred after the Georgia legislature passed election laws that tightened up some practices and loosened others. The prediction by aggrieved groups was that it would greatly reduce voting rights. What happened, instead, was that the state broke records for the number of people voting.
When the 2025 game was awarded to Atlanta earlier this month, no mention was made in the official story by Major League Baseball of what happened in 2021. Manfred and Braves officials only accentuated the positive. Many other media outlets also ignored the rest of the story.
Naturally, though, a few in the media did ask the commissioner about 2021, and all he could muster was: "I made the decision in 2021 to move the event, and I understand, believe me, that people had then and probably still have different views as to the merits of that decision."
Indeed, they do.
Of course, the same laws that prompted Manfred to move the game are still in place.
ESAs for all?
The devil will be in the details if, as several state lawmakers are saying, Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee proposes to expand his Education Savings Account program statewide next year.
The governor's original 2019 plan -- stripped to offer the savings accounts (state money used for eligible students to attend private schools willing to accept it) to only Shelby County (Memphis) and Davidson County (Nashville) -- passed narrowly. But after the plan was finally implemented in 2022 after approval by the state Supreme Court, it was widened this year to include Hamilton County.
State Rep. Bryan Richey, R-Maryville, said he was told the new proposal would affect students in households that earn as much as 200% of the poverty level and then slowly increase over the next 10 years until all students are eligible.
State Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, told the Tennessee Lookout that he offered to carry to legislation for Lee. He wasn't sure if the bill would be any different from what it currently offers.
"I know that's Gov. Lee's wish that it open up to parental choice statewide," he said, "so that's what the conversation will be when we go back in session. A lot of people say it takes money away from public schools. I'm not a believer in that. ... When you have choice, you have competition, which opens up innovation."
Republicans have supermajorities in the Senate and House, so Democrats who are almost unanimously against similar school choice programs will have little say in the matter. But since Republicans passed the bill only narrowly four years ago, expanding the program to 95 counties will undoubtedly come with a few questions.
Hamilton at risk
Hamilton County is the fourth highest county in the state at risk for human trafficking, according to a new state report called "Engage Together."
Its Vulnerable Population Index (risk of the presence of human trafficking) score is 96.8%, which trails only Shelby, Madison (Jackson) and Davidson counties. The report noted that the 25 counties in the East Tennessee region (Upper East Tennessee is a different region) have the greatest concentration of high-risk counties in the state.
Indeed, 11 of the 25 counties have a risk greater than 60%, including four counties that border Hamilton County (Bradley, 95.8%, Sequatchie, 89.5%, Rhea, 84.2% and Bledsoe, 65.3%).
The report says the region's greatest risk factors are youth vulnerabilities (which include the prevalence of chronically absent, homeless, justice-involved, and/or disconnected youth, and minors with disabilities), followed by demographic vulnerabilities (which include population density and prevalence of identified risk factors within that population, e.g., foreign-born and not a citizen, single-parent households, and individuals with disabilities).
It also notes that 41 programs in the region are working to address human trafficking, of which 76% are nonprofits.
Safe biking is no accident
Credit bike lanes, more temperate weather, better road conditions or what have you, but a new survey by Ohio personal injury lawyer John Fitch based on National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data says Tennessee is the fifth safest state for cycling.
All of the four states ahead of it, South Dakota, Wyoming, Vermont and Nebraska, are largely rural, so the Volunteer State's 42 deaths from 2017 to 2021 look much worse than, say, one each in South Dakota, Wyoming and Vermont. But the rate of cyclist deaths to all road deaths (42 out of 3,930 -- 1.07%) accounts for its good ranking.
Florida, with cyclist deaths accounting for 8.5% of its 9,472 road deaths, is the deadliest state. New York and Hawaii were the next deadliest states.