TNGOP contends Ball holding illegal raffle

News release from Tennessee Republican Party:
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The Tennessee Republican Party today filed a formal complaint with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming due to the Democratic U.S. Senate nominee Gordon Ball’s illegal raffle the campaign alerted supporters to yesterday.

“All donations made to support Gordon Ball in the next 24 hours will be entered to win” reads the campaign email.

According to the Tennessee Code, “only a qualified 501(c)(3) organization that has submitted an application to the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming, and that has been approved by the Tennessee General Assembly, can hold a raffle.” Additionally, Gordon Ball’s campaign raffle is not shown on the approved list of events on the Secretary of State’s website.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney remarked, “Once again, Gordon Ball is trying to skirt the rules the rest of us abide by — first it was by failing to pay tens-of-thousands of dollars in fees and taxes, and now it’s with this illegal raffle. We’ve filed the appropriate complaint with the State of Tennessee to stop the illegal event in question. Who knows? He probably got the idea from another Democrat and decided to copy and paste it here. But Tennessee’s laws don’t work that way. His campaign will soon be over thanks to Tennessee voters who have grown tired of his continual efforts to distract from his liberal record and questionable personal history.”

Sara Heyburn named new XD at state Board of Education

News release from state Department of Education:
NASHVILLE—The Tennessee State Board of Education announced Friday morning that Sara Heyburn will become the board’s executive director upon the retirement of current executive director Gary Nixon.

Nixon, set to retire at the end of this year, was recognized at Friday’s board meeting for his decades of service to Tennessee students.

“Dr. Nixon provided excellent leadership over the last decade, and we believe that Dr. Heyburn is the right person to follow in his footsteps,” Fielding Rolston, chairman of the state board, said. “The board was impressed with Dr. Heyburn’s leadership in key areas over the past years. We also have been impressed with her ability to build consensus among different education groups and her willingness to meet with and listen to all stakeholders.”

Heyburn has served as the assistant commissioner for teachers and leaders at the Tennessee Department of Education since 2011, where she leads the state’s efforts related to increasing teacher and leader effectiveness. Prior to that, she served as an education policy adviser for the state and also worked for Vanderbilt University as a policy analyst at the National Center on Performance Incentives. Heyburn holds a B.A. in English and a master’s degree in teaching, both from the University of Virginia, and she earned an Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University in 2010. She began her work in education as a high school English teacher in Jefferson County Schools in Kentucky and Williamson County Schools in Tennessee.

“I am humbled by the board’s decision,” Heyburn said. “It is an honor to work on critical issues affecting Tennessee children, and I will work diligently to ensure that the board continues to pursue student-centered policies.”

Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS), added, “Dr. Heyburn has always been very easy to work with and open to the ideas that TOSS brings to the table. I look forward to many opportunities to collaborate with her and the state board as we continue to improve the academic experience for all of Tennessee students.”

Heyburn will assume the role early next year.

MTSU Poll: Amendment 3 outcome uncertain; Haslam leads Charlie Brown 50-19, Alexander over Ball 42-26

News release from Middle Tennessee State University:
The election night fate of a proposed amendment constitutionally banning a state income tax remains uncertain, given close percentages of supporters and opponents and a large proportion of undecided voters, the latest statewide MTSU Poll shows.

Meanwhile, Republican incumbents Gov. Bill Haslam and Sen. Lamar Alexander hold substantial leads over their challengers in the Nov. 4 election despite the tumble their approval ratings took last spring.

The amendment to constitutionally ban a state income tax, known as Amendment 3, drew the support of 30 percent of registered voters, while a statistically equivalent 25 percent oppose it, and 24 percent are unsure. Fourteen percent of respondents said they would cast no vote at all, and the rest decline to answer.

The recent poll of 600 registered voters has a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

Amendment 3 would constitutionally prohibit the legislature from levying, authorizing or permitting a state or local tax on income. The amendment carves out an exception for the state’s existing tax on some income from stocks and interest.

“Given the statistical tie between supporters and opponents as well as the large number of voters who are still making up their minds, we can’t say for sure from these poll results how Amendment 3 will fare,” said Jason Reineke, associate director of the poll at Middle Tennessee State University.

“Remember, too, that, in order to pass, the amendment will have to receive a number of votes equal to a majority of however many votes are cast in the race for governor. In our sample, 166 likely voters said they supported the amendment, while 416 planned to cast a vote in the race for governor. That comes to only about 40 percent. So, Amendment 3 appears to have some ground to cover among all of those voters who are still undecided about it.”
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Sen. Douglas Henry, the video, now available

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
He’s been called a statesman, a fiscal expert and a champion of the less fortunate. Now State Senator Douglas Henry’s life has been chronicled in a new documentary produced by the Tennessee State Library and Archives.

The video, which has a running time of just under 30 minutes, is narrated by former Gov. Winfield Dunn. It covers some of the highlights of Henry’s career and includes remarks from people who worked with him through the years.

Henry is retiring from the Tennessee General Assembly this year after over four decades of service. He served in the General Assembly longer than anyone else in the state’s history.

Henry was known for his ability to crunch numbers and his insistence that the state handle its spending responsibly. He was particularly passionate about the state’s need to effectively manage its debt and its pension fund for public employees.

He also championed many social welfare and conservation initiatives.

“The true challenge in producing a documentary on such a remarkable man as Senator Henry is trying to do justice to his amazing career of public service in the span of thirty minutes. For a lover of history, it’s a fitting way we are able to include a significant part of his life’s history ” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “I had the pleasure of serving with Senator Henry in the General Assembly for 10 years. Senator Henry is someone who earned the respect of those with whom he worked for the betterment of our state. Senator Henry is a legend, a scholar, and a gentleman.”

In addition to his service in the General Assembly, Henry is also active with other civic organizations throughout the community, including the YMCA, the Tennessee Historical Society, the Tennessee State Museum Commission, Kiwanis Club, American Legion, the Tennessee State Museum Foundation Board and the Tennessee Foreign Language Institute Board.

This is the second documentary produced by the State Library and Archives. Last year, the State Library and Archives produced a video chronicling the history of the Tennessee State Capitol. The Tennessee State Library and Archives preserves important state historical documents and makes these records available to the public.

Note: The video can be seen HERE.

Board of Ed listens to complaints, praise of new history course

The state Board of Education heard Thursday from a small contingent of supporters and critics of the new Advanced Placement U.S. History course, but members offered no comments and took no action, reports The Tennessean.

Jane Robbins, of the conservative advocacy group American Principles Project, was the lone detractor to discuss the new course work. Robbins echoed some of the national criticism of the course, saying the new framework is “leftist” and focuses too much on negative aspects of U.S. history as opposed to “heroes.”

Trevor Packer, a senior vice president for The College Board who helped develop the new course framework, said Robbins’ criticism was “absurd.” He said the college board changed the course framework to help give teachers more flexibility in what they teach, and he’s received overwhelmingly positive responses from teachers nationwide since enacting the changes.

Thomas Schwartz, a history professor at Vanderbilt University, also voiced support for the new course framework.

Robbins was joined at the board meeting by members of the Tennessee Eagle Forum, a conservative advocacy group in the state. They want the state board to adopt a resolution that expresses “official disapproval” with the new test, and to potentially boycott the AP course if the framework isn’t changed.

The board offered the hearing after several state Republican lawmakers called for a review of the course. Board Chairman B. Fielding Rolston said the hearing fulfilled the requirements of the legislative request and the board couldn’t take any action on a resolution it just received moments before the meeting.

TN whiskey talk continues as prelude to legislative session

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The passage of several months since a heated legislative debate over the legal definition of Tennessee whiskey has done little to mellow the dispute between two global liquor giants and the growing number of craft distillers caught between them.

Jack Daniel’s master distiller Jeff Arnett on Thursday urged state lawmakers to stick with the state law enacted in 2013 that required any product labeled as Tennessee whiskey to be made from 51 percent corn, aged in new charred oak barrels, filtered through maple charcoal and bottled at a minimum of 80 proof.

Arnett said the law passed at the behest of Jack Daniel’s ensures minimum quality standards will be upheld now that the state has removed barriers to the foundation of more craft distilleries in the state.

“It has been understood for 150 years that this is what Tennessee whiskey is,” he said. “It’s only the fact that we’ve had a lot of new distillers coming that we feel like there needs to be some rules for the playground, if you will, just to keep everyone honest.”

Jack Daniel’s is owned by Louisville, Kentucky-based Brown Forman Corp., while George Dickel, which is made about 15 miles up the road, is owned by British liquor conglomerate Diageo.

Dickel is made by the traditional process laid out in the new state law, but Diageo has led the effort to revise or repeal those rules on arguments that they are unnecessary, could prove too restrictive in the event of a barrel shortage and stifle innovation.
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Flinn adds $90K in self-funding to Senate District 30 campaign

George Flinn loaned his campaign for state Senate $90,000 on Oct. 10, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Flinn, a Republican, is running against Democrat Sara Kyle in the special election in District 30, which is thought to lean Democratic. Flinn has spent millions in futile bids for Congress in recent years.

Kyle raised $28,100 in the period covering Oct. 1-25 and spent $19,864, bringing her cash balance (when factoring in her starting balance) to $14,766.

Flinn, a local radiologist and radio station owner, gave his campaign $20,000 on Sept. 19. Flinn had $45,531 left to spend on the race as of Oct. 25.

Flinn spent more than $70,000 in October at local firm Caissa Public Strategy, and his contributions include $1,000 from a political action committee associated with State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey.

Alexander spent $548K, Ball $325K from Oct. 1 through 15th

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander spent more than $548,000 during the first two weeks of October, mostly on an advertising blitz, reports The Tennessean.

The splurge put a dent in Alexander’s campaign account, which typically doesn’t dip below seven figures. He had $767,787 left as of Oct. 15, according to his latest Federal Election Commission report.

Alexander is running for a third term against Democrat Gordon Ball.

Ball reported $728,940 left in his account as of Oct. 15. He has loaned his campaign about $1.4 million.

Between Oct. 1 and Oct. 15, Alexander’s campaign spent $459,691 producing and airing TV ads. Five days after the media buy, his campaign started airing a negative ad that calls Ball a “slick-talking” lawyer. His campaign’s final ad, which doesn’t mention Ball, started airing statewide Monday.

…Alexander has spent about $9 million in campaign money since his last election in 2008, when he won with 65 percent of the vote. His campaign also shows $150,000 in debts from the August primary.

Ball, a Knoxville lawyer, has raised a total of $218,344, not including the loans, according to a summary of his reports compiled by the Federal Election Commission. He has spent $880,105.

During the first two weeks of October, Ball’s campaign spent $325,470, including $290,798 on media advertising.

Norris Dryer, Green Party candidate in 2nd Congressional District, dies age 71

Green Party candidate for Congress and accomplished concert violinist Norris L. Dryer is being remembered as man who was as committed to his friends as he was his politics, according to the News sentinel. .

Mr. Dryer died Thursday after a prolonged battle with cancer. He was 71.

A native of Elkhart, Ind., Mr. Dryer was a longtime member of the Knox County Green Party, and the party’s nominee for the 2nd District U.S. House of Representatives seat in the Nov. 4 general election.

He also was noted as the first openly gay candidate for Knoxville City Council in 2003.

“He’s always been engaged in activist causes, activist issues,” said Martin Pleasant, a friend and fellow Green Party member. “He inspired a lot of us to get involved.”

Mr. Dryer was a 1965 graduate of Indiana University who also held a master’s degree in music history from Boston University. He took violin lessons from Albert Lazan and Ulrico Rossi while an undergraduate and went on to play in numerous orchestras, including the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Symphony and the Indiana University Philharmonic.

Mr. Dryer was beginning his 47th season with the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra until he had to resign for health reasons.

Additionally, he was a well-known radio personality with WUOT, where he worked for 34 years.

Victor Ashe reports on monitoring Ukraine elections

A recent election in Ukraine shows the country is aligned more with Western Europe than Russia, according to a former Knoxville mayor who traveled there to observe the balloting, reports the News sentinel.

Victor Ashe, who also has been an ambassador to Poland, told the News Sentinel about his experience in Ukraine via an international phone conversation Thursday.

A pro-Russian rebellion began in eastern Ukraine in April, inspired by Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula weeks before.

Since then, bloody fights and cease-fires have happened between pro-Russian separatists and Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin had warned that international sanctions on his country in response to the occupation could threaten global stability.

Ashe said the results of the election he and others helped observe Oct. 26 brought the first parliament in years without a Communist in office.

“It’s a repudiation of an effort to intimidate the Ukranian people,” Ashe said. “Ukraine wants to be Ukraine, and doesn’t want to be an adjunct of Putin’s Russia.”

He said he observed elections in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, and that the process went smoothly. He co-chaired a delegation with Iveta Radicová, former prime minister of Slovakia, that observed more than 150 polling stations.

A news release from The International Republican Institute said that elections were held everywhere except for two cities where Russian-backed militants prevented voting, and in Crimea, where Russia still illegally occupies Ukrainian territory.

Note: The IRI news release is below.
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