2015 Lump of Coal Nominees Announced

December 14, 2015 1:42PM

Over the past year, many government and other entities have been extremely naughty. But as is tradition, the Beacon Center is giving you the opportunity to send them a lump of coal for their dirty deeds. Below are the four finalists who have done the most egregious things with taxpayer money in 2015. Between now and Friday, December 19th, cast your vote for the “winner” of our infamous Lump of Coal Award at the bottom of this page.

Here are your 2015 Nominees:


Memphis Economic Development Growth Engine (EDGE)- The only thing worse than elected officials wasting our hard-earned money on stupid projects and programs is unelected officials who do the same since there is no way to hold them accountable, and that’s exactly the problem with Memphis EDGE. The mission of Memphis EDGE is essentially to redistribute money from the hardworking taxpayers of Memphis to big corporations. With disturbing levels of poverty and roads filled with potholes, it seems that the local government could be spending taxpayer money much more efficiently by improving the city rather than padding the pockets of Fat Cats at the expense of those taxpayers. To date, EDGE has spent hundreds of millions of Memphians’ money, including $9.5 million on a new IKEA store. Instead of continuing to feed its spending addiction, maybe we should replace this taxpayer money with a lump of coal.



The Hospital Lobby- Perhaps the most infuriating assault upon taxpayers in 2015 came from the very entities supposedly tasked with assuring our wellbeing: Tennessee hospitals. In cartel-like fashion, some of the largest hospitals across the state teamed up to lobby for Insure Tennessee, Gov. Haslam’s version of Medicaid expansion. Yet, despite claiming they were operating on “razor thin” margins and looking to use expansion as a bailout, several of these same hospitals were found to be overcharging the uninsured by as much as 10 times the actual cost of care. On top of that, Tennessee hospitals have been pocketing savings meant for low-income patients through scamming federal discount drug programs, while also providing less than the national average in charity care. The Grinch would be proud!

The University of Tennessee’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion- The Office first made national news in August when it “encouraged” (get used to this word) other students to use “gender neutral” pronouns like “ze” or” xe” lest one commit the grave offense of using “he” to refer to a man. Now the Office is “encouraging” (there’s the word again) students to take a few simple steps when celebrating the holidays so as to, and this is an exact quote, “[e]nsure your holiday party is not a Christmas party in disguise.” When UT uses your money for something that manifestly does not further higher learning, it lacks a legitimate basis for taking it in the first place. That makes it theft. It is unconstitutional and immoral.


Rutherford County School Board Chair Wayne Blair- The incoming chairman of the Tennessee School Boards Association sure cut his political teeth early. Before the gavel even passed, Wayne Blair, who also serves as chairman of the Rutherford County School Board, got himself in hot water. Blair was recently chastised for possibly violating the law when he convened a meeting of local teachers to rail against what he refers to as “anti-public school legislation” such as opportunity scholarships and charter schools. One statewide watchdog has questioned whether Blair’s actions are illegal. Even if they aren’t, it’s in poor taste to make teachers think they must align with your political agenda as the school district’s highest ranking elected official. Maybe if demagogues like Blair would actually help teachers, you know, teach, rather than using them as pawns for a political agenda, then Tennessee wouldn’t even need school choice options in the first place. In the meantime, now that Blair has received one promotion to head the school boards’ statewide lobbying group, voters in the Lump of Coal Award poll have the opportunity give him another title for his resume: Tennessee’s biggest Scrooge.

Want to be among the first to find out who wins this year’s Lump of Coal? Sign up here.