In The News

High Alc Beer Incites Legislative Furor

Many industry members thought that brewing high alc beer was already allowed under state law.  Nashville Brewery Yazoo held a liquor manufacturer’s license and had been brewing a high alc beer named “Sue” for some time.

But the law was not clear and a large brewery looking to locate in Tennessee wanted to clarify state law to specifically allow high alc beer production, before it spent millions of dollars to build a brewery in Tennessee.

Tennessee beer laws are unusual.  In most states and under federal law, beer is beer, regardless of the alcohol content.  Tennessee law caps the amount of alcohol in beer at five percent by weight, which includes almost all popular brands of beer.  Regular beer is sold under a beer permit issued by cities and counties, but high alc beer requires an ABC license.

In recent years, beer aficionados have been increasingly enamored by beer that is stronger than five percent.  This is a growth area for high-end craft breweries.

Seems easy enough.  But in the strange world of Tennessee liquor laws, the clarification about brewing high alc beer caused a firestorm.  Lobbyists descended on the bill and turmoil ensued.

During the final hours of the legislative session, an industry compromise was adopted.  Brewing high alc beer was specifically authorized under a liquor manufacturing license.  Tap rooms can serve pints and sell growlers of both regular and high alc beer.  The law is not perfect, but it legitimizes a practice that is vital to most craft breweries.

Stephen Zralek speaks on the American Dream and is featured in the Tennessean.

American Dream Continues To Draw People Here


When I think of the immigrants joining our community in Middle Tennessee, I think of my own ancestors. I think of the dream they had for their families, and the sacrifices they made so that my life could be better than their own.


My mother’s family came to the United States in the 1700s. Their stories begin long ago and are harder for me to access. My father’s paternal grandparents came to Chicago in the late 1800s, looking for a new life for their family. My great-grandfather worked in the stockyards in Chicago. The father of seven children, he was killed when a meat-hook ripped through his back. His wife, who spoke hardly any English, was offered a mere $100 to settle any claims she may have against the company. She had no one to advocate on her behalf. She needed whatever money she could get.


My grandfather, himself still a boy, had to grow up quickly. As a child, he got a job to help care for the family. He had five children, saw all of them go to college, find meaningful careers and start families of their own. One of them was my father, who moved to Nashville in the 1950s.


This story of arrival is the same story for almost all of us. Our ancestors’ countries of origin and the dates of their arrival may be different, but they all decided to come to this country because of its promise of opportunity — because of the American dream. They all sacrificed so that we could have better lives, and so we could reap the benefits of their hard work.  Today, our great country continues to welcome new arrivals from all parts of the globe. People continue to leave behind everything they know in hope that they can give their children a better life. Some people literally risk their life in order to enter our country.


Once they come here, they start over from square one — with nothing, taking the lowest paying jobs and working some of the hardest jobs. Their economic, social and cultural contributions to our community are immeasurable.


This Thursday, we will honor the contributions of three Latino small-business owners, whose businesses have persevered in the middle of the Great Recession. All three graduated from Conexión Américas’ small-business program, and they contribute to the prosperity of both their families and our entire community. You can join us as we "Change the Conversation" to focus on the contributions made by Latino immigrants on May 26 at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel at 7:30 a.m.


For more information, visit ConexionAmericas.org.


 

James Crumlin to Present at the Nashville Business Journal’s “HR Summit for a Changing Workplace”

Bone McAllester Norton attorney James Crumlin, along with five other panelists, will present challenges and demands for everyone, from the board and CEO to the entry-level employees at the Nashville Business Journal’s “HR Summit for a Changing Workplace.”


The breakfast and panel discussion will take place beginning at 7:30am on Tuesday, May 17 at the Hutton Hotel.


Click here for more details and to register.


 

Conexion Americas hosts WaterCooler

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WaterCooler Networking Event to Feature Conexión Américas

The next WaterCooler event is set for Monday, May 9, 2011 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM at Conexión Américas.  Co-hosted by Stephen Zralek of Bone McAllester Norton, Renata Soto of Conexión Américas and Wade Munday, WaterCooler is an open invitation, informal networking group for young entrepreneurs.

This month we're headed to Conexión Américas, where we'll hear from Renata Soto, its co-founder (and our great friend and co-founder of WaterCooler).  An example of social entrepreneurialism, Conexión has the mission of "promoting the social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee."  Founded in 2002, it is the "go-to" Latino organization in Nashville, and seen as the authority on Latino issues by civic and business leaders in our community.  Our visit to Conexión Américas comes just after the recent census revealed that over 10% of Nashville's population is Hispanic, and that Nashville has the fastest-growing Latino population of any major city in the country.

We'll also hear from Karla Ruiz, a graduate of Conexión’s small business program, who recently launched her own catering company, and we'll get to taste some of her tapas inspired from her native Mexico.  Karla previously worked at Martha's at the Plantation and at Fido.  If you've been to the West Nashville Farmer's Market in recent weeks, Karla is the one with the long line of folks dying to taste her food.

Around 6:30, we'll head two blocks over to Tavern (on Broadway near 19th) for drinks and more time to catch up.

If you can make it, please let us know by sending an rsvp to Kristi no later than Friday, May 6.

WHO:   Renata Soto, executive director of Conexión Américas, & Karla Ruiz, graduate
WHEN:  Monday, May 9 from  5:30 to 6:30 PM
WHERE: Conexion Americas, 800 18th Ave. South

WaterCooler is an informal networking group for young entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s and 40s that meets (almost) every month for drinks, networking and the chance to hear vibrant speakers on a variety of topics.  There is no official membership and no dues -- just come when the speaker interests you or you want to meet some new people in Nashville.

WaterCooler began in September 2009 and has featured the following speakers/topics:

April 2011: Darek Bell & Andrew Webber (Corsair Distillery)
March 2011: Mark Rowan (Griffin Technology)
January 2011: Scott Witherow (Olive & Sinclair Chocolate Co): Tour & Tasting
November 2010: Linus Hall (Yazoo Brewing Company): Tour & Tasting
October 2010: Christine Madella (WKRN): "Molding Your Image in a 24/7 World"
September 2010: Ed Nash (Oxford Fine Arts): "The Art of Buying Fine Art"
July 2010: Alan Young (Armor Concepts LLC): "Secrets of Starting a Successful Company"
June 2010: Laura Creekmore (Creekmore Consulting): "Using Social Media as a Young Entrepreneur"
April 2010: Networking for WaterCooler attendees
March 2010: Sid Chambless (Nashville Capital Network): "Investment Capital for Young Entrepreneurs"
February 2010: Bob Bernstein (Bongo Java)/Jose Gonzalez (Belmont): "Entrepreneurship with Heart"
January 2010: Freddie O'Connell (SearchViz): "Search Engine Optimization"
December 2009: Becca Stevens (Magdalene/Thistle Farms): "Walking in Gratitude"
November 2009: Chris Ferrell (SouthComm): "The Changing Delivery of Information"
October 2009: Clint Smith (Emma): "The Art of Everyday Innovation"
September 2009: Kimberly Pace (Owen School): "Personal Marketing"


 

Video: Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone.  My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel. 

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Last night was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen.  With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media."  We had a great crowd and a good conversation.  For a link to the video, go here





Video: Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone.  My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel. 

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Last night was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen.  With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media."  We had a great crowd and a good conversation.  For a link to the video, go here





WaterCooler goes to Corsair Distillery for Exclusive Tasting & Tour

 
If you missed the last WaterCooler, you missed a great event!  Nashville's only distillery, Corsair, gave us a behind-the-scenes tour of how they make and distill what is quickly becoming one of the most sought-after small batch liquors in the U.S. when they hosted us in April 2011.
Located in Marathon Village, which used to house Yazoo Brewery, Corsair had to work mighty hard to even get up and running in Tennessee.
Darek Bell

Because Tennessee's laws and Nashville's laws were so onerous, Corsair actually began in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Only after they were able to convince the state and local lawmakers to allow them to "manufacture intoxicating liquors" were they able to come back home.
As part of a private event for WaterCooler, co-owners Darek Bell and Andrew Webber showed us around, told the story behind Corsair, and gave us samples in their tasting room.  The Tennessean just reported that members of the public won't get this same opportunity until the laws are changed.
Andrew Webber
To join the invitation list and receive news about upcoming WaterCooler events, shoot me an email. Thanks to everyone who showed up.  See you at the next on on May 9 at Conexion Americas!

Here are some photos from WaterCooler at Corsair:












Video on Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone. My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel.

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Speaking at Lipscomb was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen. With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media." We had a great crowd and a good conversation. Here's a few minutes from my presentation that we recorded.



Video on Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media

I was recently invited to speak on "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment" at The Leadership and Civility in a Digital Age speaker series, presented by Lipscomb University’s Nelson & Sue Andrews Institute for Civic Leadership and Department of Communication and Journalism and by Centerstone. My friend Debi Tate, a former commissioner on the FCC, invited me to join First Amendment scholar Gene Policinsky on the panel.

Typically when I speak on legal issues in social media, it is to an audience of business leaders or marketing professionals.  Speaking at Lipscomb was an opportunity to look at these issues from the perspective of the individual consumer and citizen. With that in mind, I titled my talk "Protecting Your Family & Your Reputation when Using Social Media." We had a great crowd and a good conversation. Here's a few minutes from my presentation that we recorded.



Music & Margaritas: Preview Party for Conexion Americas' Annual Breakfast

How lucky was it to stumble upon the first night of incredible weather in early April when we held a garden party kicking off the annual breakfast for my favorite non-profit in town Conexion Americas?

We called it "Music & Margaritas."

Everyone expected a good margarita and some great conversation, but no one expected to hear "Rumba," the number one band in Nashville's corporate band challenge, hosted by the Arts & Business Council!  When my friend Leon said he would take care of the music, we thought he meant he and another guy would bring their guitars, but he showed up with an entire Latino rock band.  Incredible.

Conexion Americas serves as a bridge between the established community in Nashville and the recently-arriving Latino community.  Its mission is to promote the social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee.  It was a great chance for friends to learn about the amazing work of Conexion Americas, and a great opportunity for Conexion Americas to make some new friends.

Mark your calendars for the annual breakfast on May 26 at 7:30am at Loews Vanderbilt!

Here are some photos from Music & Margaritas:











Music & Margaritas: Preview Party for Conexion Americas' Annual Breakfast

How lucky was it to stumble upon the first night of incredible weather in early April when we held a garden party kicking off the annual breakfast for my favorite non-profit in town Conexion Americas?

We called it "Music & Margaritas."

Everyone expected a good margarita and some great conversation, but no one expected to hear "Rumba," the number one band in Nashville's corporate band challenge, hosted by the Arts & Business Council!  When my friend Leon said he would take care of the music, we thought he meant he and another guy would bring their guitars, but he showed up with an entire Latino rock band.  Incredible.

Conexion Americas serves as a bridge between the established community in Nashville and the recently-arriving Latino community.  Its mission is to promote the social, economic and civic advancement of Latino families in Middle Tennessee.  It was a great chance for friends to learn about the amazing work of Conexion Americas, and a great opportunity for Conexion Americas to make some new friends.

Mark your calendars for the annual breakfast on May 26 at 7:30am at Loews Vanderbilt!

Here are some photos from Music & Margaritas:











James Crumlin Recognized on “Forty Under 40” List by Nashville Business Journal

Bone McAllester Norton is proud to announce that James Crumlin was named to the Nashville Business Journal’s “Forty Under 40” list.


  The annual awards go to young professionals who are making a difference in their companies and their community in Middle Tennessee.  The winners were honored at an awards ceremony on March 10.  At the ceremony, each winner was invited to say THREE WORDS.  As added twist, each winner could say additional words with the understanding that if you said four or more words, the winner would make a $25 donation PER WORD to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee (BBBSMT).  As the Immediate Past President of the Board of Directors for BBBSMT, James said 56 words at the ceremony which translated to a $1,400 contribution.


Bone McAllester Norton congratulates James on this well-deserved recognition.


Click here for a full list of this year’s winners.








 

Bone McAllester Norton Hosts Tennessee Bankers Association "Day on the Hill" Luncheon


Cheeseburgers in paradise?  What do Jimmy Buffett and a group of bankers and lawyers have in common?


Our financial institutions team hosted banking professionals from across the state at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville in downtown Nashville a few weeks ago as part of their annual “Day on the Hill” event.  As a proud associate member of the Tennessee Bankers Association and committed legal partner in the Tennessee banking community, Bone McAllester Norton enjoyed supporting this annual program as the luncheon sponsor for the second year.


Held annually, the “Day on the Hill” program is organized by the Tennessee Bankers Association’s Young Bankers Division to provide an opportunity for current and future leaders from banks across the state to explore the inner workings of the Tennessee legislative process.  Trace Blankenship, one of our attorneys who advises bank executives and boards of directors on strategic transactions and regulatory matters, emceed the event, which featured a keynote address from the commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Financial Institutions, Greg Gonzales, and remarks about Tennessee’s banking industry from the law firm’s chairman, Charles W. Bone.  Several attorneys from our financial institutions team described “Eleven Things That Could Keep a Banker Awake at Night” (and some hair-raising stories to illustrate) including Jack Stringham, Charles Robert Bone, David Anthony, Andrea Perry, Johnny Garrett, Rob Pinson and Tucker Herndon.  Tracie Lomax, immediate past president of the Young Bankers Division, and Jay England, incoming president, welcomed the group, and officials of the Tennessee Bankers Association, Tim Amos, Colin Barrett, Amy Smith, were responsible for organizing the “Day on the Hill” event.


 

Protecting Patient Privacy in Discarded Medical Records

Over the past few years, physician practices have implemented many policies and procedures to protect their patients' privacy in an effort to comply with the Privacy and Security Rule under HIPAA.


 They have adopted compliance plans and procedures to protect their patients' privacy in the transmission and storage and use of their protected health information (“PHI”).  The need to protect the privacy and security of this information does not end when the medical record is no longer needed by the practice.  Failing to implement reasonable safeguards to protect PHI in connection with disposal of your medical records could result in impermissible disclosures of PHI with the same risks and penalties as the disclosure of information from active medical records. In addition to the policies that your office has in place to secure its active medical records, every medical office should have developed a HIPAA compliant policy to dispose of medical records that are no longer part of a patients active medical file. This is particularly important in the age of electronic records. Any procedures for the proper disposal of medical records should specifically address the disposition of electronic PHI and the hardware or electronic media, such as PCs, hard drives, and disks, on which it is stored.


A physician’s office may not simply abandon PHI or dispose of it in dumpsters or other containers that are accessible by the public or other unauthorized persons. However, the Privacy and Security Rules do not provide any particular disposal method for PHI that will guarantee compliance. Instead, a practice should determine what is reasonable for their office and consider a methods potential risks to patient privacy, keeping in mind the form, type, and amount of PHI to be disposed of. For instance, the disposal of certain types of PHI such as name, social security number, driver’s license number, debit or credit card number, diagnosis, treatment information, or other sensitive information may warrant more care due to the risk that inappropriate access to this information may result in identity theft, employment or other discrimination, or harm to an individual’s reputation.


The Office of Civil Rights provides some guidance for disposing of PHI.  Depending on the circumstances, proper disposal methods may include (but are not limited to):


• Shredding or otherwise destroying PHI in paper records so that the PHI is rendered essentially unreadable, indecipherable, and otherwise cannot be reconstructed prior to it being placed in a dumpster or other trash receptacle;


• Maintaining PHI for disposal in a secure area and using a disposal vendor as a business associate to pick up and shred or otherwise destroy the PHI;


• In justifiable cases, based on the size and the type of the covered entity, and the nature of the PHI, depositing PHI in locked dumpsters that are accessible only by authorized persons, such as appropriate refuse workers;


• For PHI on electronic media, clearing (using software or hardware products to overwrite media with non-sensitive data), purging (degaussing or exposing the media to a strong magnetic field in order to disrupt the recorded magnetic domains), or destroying the media (disintegration, pulverization, melting, incinerating, or shredding).


There are also outside vendors who can assist a medical practice to appropriately dispose of PHI on its behalf.


 

Stephen Zralek to Discuss Laws of Social Media

Bone McAllester Norton attorney Stephen Zralek will discuss the laws of social media for "Digital Citizenship and the First Amendment: The final segment of Leadership and Civility in the Digital Age," a series moderated by former FCC Commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate.


This event features Gene Policinski, senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center as he joins Deborah Taylor Tate for a discussion of the tenets of the First Amendment – religion, speech, press, assembly and petition – and how all have been affected in a digital world. Stephen Zralek will also join the conversation to discuss the evolving laws of social media, including defamation, marketing to children and employment issues.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011, 6 p.m.
Mullican Television Studio, Ezell Center, Lipscomb University
RSVP to Leah Davis at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (615) 966-6155


 

April 2011 Newsletter Features Human Rights Leaders, ATHENA, Top 40, Margaritaville, Real Estate, & Medical Records

Bone McAllester Norton attorneys continue to gain recognition in the Nashville community.  The firm also sponsored "Day on the Hill" Luncheon for the Tennessee Bankers Association Young Lawyers Division, and made sure to keep the theme fun.  To read the rest of our newsletter, click here.

What are the roles of a Trademark Administrator?

By Paul Kruse

Last week we talked about the importance of having a trademark administrator. Here is a detailed list of what you should expect from yours:

A trademark administrator will periodically audit a company’s records  to:

  • Identify all  active trademark registrations currently owned by or assigned to the company  broken down by issuing country or entity.

  • Identify all  pending trademark applications currently owned by or assigned to the company  broken down by issuing country or entity.

  •  Identify all  trademark registrations and applications abandoned, cancelled or expired in the  past twenty-four months broken down by issuing country or entity.

  • Specify whether  the trademarks appearing in such applications or registrations are either still  being used or for which there is an intention to use at any point during the  next twelve months.

  • Provide a copy  of all trademark clearance searches and/or opinions relating to the  availability of a trademark obtained in the past twenty-four months.

  • Identify which  of the searched trademarks are being used or for which there is an intention to  use at any point during the next twelve months.

  • If applicable,  provide examples of all tags, labels, instruction manuals, containers and  product packaging used for any and all of the company’s goods.

  • If applicable,  provide examples of signs, photographs, brochures or advertisements for any and  all of the company’s goods and services.

  • Identify all  trademarks the company has considered adopting in the past twelve months.

  • Identify any  and all of the company trademarks that have been the subject of a potential or  actual trademark dispute being either asserted by or asserted against the  company.

  • Identify any  and all third party trademarks which the company knows or has reason to believe  conflict, or which others have claimed conflict, with those owned or licensed  by the company.

  • Identify any  litigation (including administrative proceedings before a government body)  involving a claim of trademark infringement and/or unfair competition in which  the company was a party.

  • Identify all  agreements and/or licenses (including those terminated or expired within the  past twelve months and those that have not yet begun) whereby the company is  given the right to use a third party’s trademarks.

  • Identify all  agreements and/or licenses (including those terminated or expired within the  past twelve months) whereby the company has given to a third party the right to  use any of the company’s trademarks.

  • Provide any and  all trademark assignments involving trademarks currently being used by the  company including those where use of the trademarks stopped within the  preceding twelve months and those where use of the trademarks is contemplated  to begin at any point during the next twelve months.

  • Identify any  and all domain names currently owned by the company.


Once information about the portfolio of marks is consolidated, active  management can begin.  For example, uniform  use of marks in the marketplace can be assured.   Core marks can be identified and focused upon.  Expansion  of trademarks can be decided based on a company’s strategic interests.  Licensing programs outside a company’s  traditional space can prove surprisingly lucrative.  With a trademark administrator in place, brand  extension opportunities can be easily identified and analyzed.

A trademark administrator also generates company wide awareness of the  value of the company’s marks.  This encourages  the proper use of marks within a company as well as a heightened awareness of  the need to protect marks in the marketplace.

Finally, by placing responsibility for a portfolio of marks with a  trademark administrator, a company will be able to easily grant security  interests in its marks if desired or ready them for sale in the event of an  asset purchase, merger or acquisition.

Paul Kruse is Best Lawyers 2012 Trademark Lawyer of the Year and  creator of CoreFour, a Trademark Vigilance Program.

Want to Limit Liability Against Copyright Infringement Claims when Hosting User Content on your Website?

If you host a website that invites the public to submit content, often called UGC (or User Generated Content), you may want to read the recent summary judgment decision in Arista Records LLC v. Myxer Inc. and stay tuned to the final outcome at trial.  Website hosts that allow UGC run the risk of being sued for copyright infringement, among other claims, because users sometimes submit material whose copyright belongs to someone else.  If a copyright owner sues you for copyright infringement in your role as a website host, one of the most common defenses asserted is that the web hosting is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). 

On April 1, 2011, a federal court in California issued the above decision in a case pitting content owners against website hosts.  UMG Records and other music companies sued Myxer and its principals for copyright infringement because Myxer hosts a website that invites the public to upload music and then download it as ring tones on cell phones.  Myxer doesn't pay UMG anything, and UMG argues that it loses money every time a ring tone is downloaded through Myxer.

Myxer asserted two primary defenses: that its use was fair use and that it was protected by the DMCA's "safe harbors."  On summary judgment, the court rejected Myxer's fair use defense, finding that converting the songs into ring tones did not qualify as a "transformative" use and finding that Myxer's business model likely cut into UMG's market. 

But the court kept alive Myxer's DMCA defense.  It found that genuine issues of fact existed regarding Myxer's implementation of a DMCA policy and regarding the speed with which it removed allegedly infringing material.  Now it will be up to Myxer to prevail on this defense at trial.

Just like Myxer is hoping to do, businesses that allow the public to post content on their websites may limit their liability against copyright infringement lawsuits by following some steps under the DMCA.  As a ground rule, if you create or direct content on your website that infringes on another's copyright, you can't turn to the DMCA for help.  But if all you do is host content created by others, to get the benefits of DMCA protection you need to (1) adopt a  DMCA policy and communicate it to your users, (2) appoint a DMCA agent, (3) follow the DMCA steps of quickly responding to accusations of hosting material that infringes another's copyright, (4) permanently remove repeat infringers, and (5) receive no financial benefit directly attributable to any infringing activity on your site. 

To read more about how to protect your business under the DMCA, check out this great resource from the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), or contact an attorney with experience in copyrights and intellectual property law.

Change at the TABC

In March we saw a change in the  composition of the Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission.  Governor Haslam appointed two new members,  and in an unusual political move, reappointed longtime TABC member John  Jones.  Given his historical ties to the  Democratic party, Jones was likely reappointed to provide continuity and  historical perspective to the three person commission and bring consistent  application of the complicated and often arcane laws that regulate liquor in Tennessee.  Jones’ father served on the original TABC  when it was established in the 1960’s, and a Jones family member has always  served as a TABC Commissioner.  We see the appointment of Jones as being consistent with the Governor’s broad vision  of enhancing Tennessee's  reputation as a business-friendly state.

The two new Commissioners are  Mary McDaniel and Bryan Kaegi.

Commissioner Kaegi, the Middle  Tennessee representative, has a long history of support for prominent  Republican campaigns.  He currently works  with Persuasion Partners, a high-profile political campaign service.  Commissioner Kaegi served on the 2010  Tennessee Victory Leadership Team that led and funded the successful TNGOP get  out the vote campaign, was Finance Director for Senator Lamar Alexander and  also the former Finance Director for the Tennessee Republican Party. He served  as Finance Director for the Tennessee Victory program for President Bush in  2000 and 2004.  His sister, Kim Kaegi,  was Governor Haslam’s finance director.

Commissioner McDaniel, the West Tennessee representative, is recently retired FedEx  Vice President of Aircraft Materiel.  Her  career with FedEx spanned 30 years and she managed aircraft parts inventory and  technical support for the FedEx global fleet.   She is President of the Board of Trustees for Southwest Tennessee   Community College, her  alma mater, and leads fundraising efforts for the college.

We say farewell to Senator Harlan  Matthews and Cynthia Bond, who served the state as Commissioners for the past  eight years, and welcome Commissioners Kaegi and McDaniel to our insane little  world.  We are glad to see the return of  Commissioner Jones for another term.

At the conclusion of April's  regular TABC meeting, Commissioner Jones announced that he was stepping down as  chair. Commissioner Jones has chaired the Tennessee ABC for longer than we  recall.  Commissioner McDaniel was  appointed the new Chair and promised to spend a lot of time with the staff  helping out with TABC functions.  For  example, Commissioner McDaniel attended the National Conference of State Liquor  Administrators and spoke to the group.

Commissioner McDaniel’s  assistance could not come at a better time.  The staff at the TABC is pretty thin and seems to be getting thinner all  the time.  There are numerous high level  vacancies.  Acting Assistant Director  Melinda Arrington departed in May. Former Assistant Director Carolyn Smith  departed late last year. Senior ABC agents Mike Cawthon and Al Watson have  retired.  Hiring freezes have left a  number of key positions vacant.

The ABC was already a thinly staffed agency charged with overseeing several thousand licenses.  Director Danielle Elks is now filling the role of three staff attorneys and also leading the agency. ABC agents are  sparse.  Although licensees do not look  forward to stings, ABC agents are vital to conducting inspections necessary for  issuance of licenses to new businesses and changes of ownership.  In addition, the General Assembly is passing laws that create more classes of licenses and opening up the number of eligible  locations and entities that can obtain licenses; thus, further increasing the workload of a diminished staff.

So far, the ABC has done an admirable  job of working through this tough time. We hope that help is on the way, as  backlogs are certain to build up and morale can easily suffer.