- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Recent editorials from Tennessee newspapers:

July 15

Knoxville (Tennessee) News Sentinel on food program needing stricter DHS oversight:

Auditors for the state Comptroller’s Office uncovered questionable payments totaling at least $1.8 million made by the Department of Human Services in its food programs last year. That is in addition to $4.8 million squandered in 2013, according to the Tennessean.

At the eye of the storm is a nonprofit that administers the federally funded Child and Adult Care Food Program in Camden, Tennessee. ABC Nutrition Program Inc. is alleged to have made unauthorized payments of $732,703 for bonuses, salaries, home improvements for the CEO and other questionable expenditures. The nonprofit’s CEO and both program directors face criminal theft charges.

In its findings, the Comptroller’s Office cited a lack of oversight by DHS as a major factor in the questionable purchases.

DHS distributes nearly $80 million each year to agencies to administer the Child and Adult Care Food Program and the Summer Food Service Program for Children. The programs provide meals to 180,000 children during the school year; 42,000 children each day during the summer; and 1,200 adults in adult day care. A review of selected nonprofits in the Child and Adult Care Food Program found other unauthorized expenditures, bringing the total to about $1.8 million. The auditors did not review every nonprofit that DHS oversees, so the total amount easily could be higher.

ABC Nutrition Program was operated by CEO Vivian Parker and her daughters, Lisa Carter and Tracy Coady, out of Parker’s home. The nonprofit used funding from the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program to distribute meals at 336 day care centers in Benton County, which is west of Nashville.

According to the Comptroller’s Office probe, Parker, her daughters and other employees received unauthorized pay and bonuses totaling $605,978 over a five-year period. Improvements to Parker’s home cost more than $27,000, while unauthorized bill payments and other questionable purchases amounted to nearly $100,000. To free up money for the unauthorized expenditures, ABC Nutrition Program contracted out program monitoring duties instead of using full-time employees, a violation of DHS and federal regulations. A Benton County grand jury, the Tennessean reported, indicted Parker, Carter and Coady on theft charges in February.

Two years ago the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which provides funding for the program, notified DHS of irregularities in the documentation for ABC Nutrition Program and other nonprofits and told the state agency to take action.

Responding to the Tennessean, a DHS spokeswoman wrote that oversight is a challenge for the agency because of the size and scope of the program. DHS personnel are inspecting more food programs and requiring that workers at all nonprofits with agency contracts undergo training.

Nutrition programs are vital for low-income children, but for too long, DHS has been too lax in administering the program. In their official response to the audit, DHS officials wrote: “The program is heavily reliant on the honor system and good faith.”

The honor system and good faith, however, are no substitutes for rigorous oversight.




July 12

Chattanooga (Tennessee) Time Free Press on Donald Trump:

With billions of dollars of his own money behind him, Donald Trump believes he can be as politically incorrect, as bold, as inelegant and as in-your-face as he wants to be.

In the end, his remarks won’t buy him a presidential nomination, sensitivity awards or sympathy, but is it possible his offensive remarks could have a ring of truth in them?

Way back, more than half a month ago when Trump announced his candidacy for the GOP presidential nomination, he blustered in a nonscripted speech about Mexican illegal immigrants “bringing drugs,” ”bringing crime” and being “rapists.”

Even though illegal immigration is still, well, illegal, polished, politically correct candidates don’t talk like that but speak in generalities about the border, about immigration reform and about Obama administration immigration overreach.

They don’t want to get their hands dirty by painting the voters they’d one day love to have with the broad brush of the criminal misdoings of some of the illegals.

But just how much misdoing is perpetrated by illegals?

According to the United States Sentencing Commission data obtained by Brietbart News, illegal immigrants account for 3.5 percent of the U.S. population but represented 36.7 percent of federal sentences following criminal convictions in fiscal year 2014.

If the percentage seems unbelievable, it does include immigration violations. But even without immigration violations, illegal immigrants account for 13.2 percent of all offenders following federal criminal convictions in 2014. That’s more than three times the percentage of their numbers in the country.

Of all federal cases that involved convictions, illegal immigrants represented 74.1 percent of drug possession sentences, 20 percent of kidnapping/hostage taking sentences, 16.8 percent of drug trafficking sentences, 12.3 percent of money laundering sentences and 12 percent of murder sentences.

The recent murder of a woman in San Francisco by an illegal immigrant who had been deported without success five times has heightened concern about the issue so much that even soft-on-immigration liberals like Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., criticized the system that allowed the alleged murderer to be free to commit such a crime.

Officials in San Francisco, which considers itself to be a “sanctuary” city for illegal immigrants, disregarded a request from immigration authorities to keep Francisco Sanchez, a repeat drug offender, locked up. Sanchez, in a jailhouse interview with a television station, as much as said he came to the city because of its sanctuary status. The gun he used even was found to belong to a federal agent, though it was uncertain how he got it.

Despite the incident and despite the glaring U.S. Sentencing Commission numbers, some politicians still don’t want to see the problem.

“Our policy,” said California Attorney General Kamala Harris, a former San Francisco district attorney who is running for U.S. Senate, “should not be informed by our collective outrage about one man’s conduct.”

Her statement brings to mind the statement attributed most often to 17th-century English Presbyterian minister and writer Matthew Henry: “There are none so blind as those that will not see.”

Trump’s presidential primary opponents are right to criticize the bombast of the billionaire, but those who don’t get the intent of his message may be doomed to second-tier status in the primaries or, eventually, to a second-place finish in the presidential race. And in presidential politics, second-place is first loser.

Most Americans are less afraid of the jobs illegal immigrants take than the lack of inherent fairness in their being able to sneak across the border to win those jobs, benefits, driver’s licenses and permanent homes. Since it is not physically possible to round them all up, send them back to their countries of origin and have them apply for legal citizenship, something needs to be worked out.

The Republican who comes up with and can articulate such a solution, which would include a secure Southern border and citizenship for those staying but not until fines are paid and thresholds are met, will appeal to Hispanic voters who will be key to future GOP victories but also to Joe Sixpack Americans who have willing, open hearts but also believe in sense of right and wrong.

Which all, in the final analysis, trumps Trump but good.




July 14

Paris (Tennessee) Post-Intelligencer on Iran nuclear deal:

The nuclear arms agreement with Iran is historic, no doubt. A triumph of diplomatic negotiation over armed conflict as a way of settling disagreement, to be sure.

Whether it serves its purpose of allowing peaceful use of atomic power while putting a lid on Iran’s military aims remains to be seen.

“If fully implemented, the agreement could be a turning point in relations between Iran and the international community, paving the way to new avenues of cooperation between the (European Union) and Iran,” the president of the European Council said.

The operative words here are “if” and “could.”

Not everyone is shouting hallelujah. Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any agreement that allows Iran to use nuclear technology is a mistake, a grave threat to his country’s security.

Netanyahu points out that Iran’s supreme leader has said his country should fight the United States regardless of the agreement.

The negotiated deal allows United Nations inspectors to press for visits to Iranian military sites in return for lifting of diplomatic sanctions. How quickly that could happen is not clear.

“Under the new nuclear deal, Iran has committed to extraordinary and robust monitoring, verification and inspection,” a White House statement said.

“International inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency will not only be continuously monitoring every element of Iran’s declared nuclear program, but also they will be verifying that no fissile material is covertly carted off to a secret location to build a bomb.”

Well, we shall see. Remember what President Ronald Reagan said: “Trust, but verify.”



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