Monthly Archives: August 2010

High School Students Question Candidates on Guns, Obesity, Money, Mosques

High school students peppered gubernatorial candidates Bill Haslam and Mike McWherter with questions on topics ranging from guns and obesity to money and mosques without any contrasting answers.
Republican nominee Haslam and Democratic nominee McWherter were introduced by Gov. Phil Bredesen at the “Student Town Hall,” which was organized by his wife, Andrea Conte. Bredesen called himself a “has been” at the outset and said the occasion was a “bittersweet moment” as he winds up his term in office.
The format called for high school students to take turns asking each candidate a question. The opposing candidate was not allowed to respond to the same question and there was little opportunity for presentation of contrasting views.
Perhaps the closest the candidates came to a disagreeing was in McWherter’s response to a question on his views, as a National Rifle Association member, on a situation where a student threatened a teacher with a gun.
“I did not join the NRA to run for governor,” said McWherter, a reference to Haslam joining the organization shortly before becoming a candidate – a statement that is part of McWherter’s stump speech on Second Amendment rights.
“There are appropriate places for guns and there are inappropriate places for guns,” said McWherter. “School is not an appropriate place for gun.” He voted to fully prosecute anyone violating a ban on guns in schools.
Haslam was asked by another student for his views on a law, passed by the Legislature over Bredesen’s veto, to allow “guns in bars.” The Knoxville mayor replied that “I do support the legislation” so long as it includes – as the new law does – a right for the owner of an establishment serving alcohol to ban firearms if he or she chooses.

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D.C. Group Using Big Brothers/Big Sisters Name Without Permission

News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Challenge Nation, a Washington D.C.-based company, is facing $10,000 in civil penalties for soliciting contributions of behalf of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee without the group’s knowledge or consent.
Challenge Nation sponsors “urban adventure races” – which essentially are scavenger hunts – in cities across the country. Challenge Nation has a race scheduled in Nashville Sept. 12. In promotional material for the event, Challenge Nation stated that Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee would receive a portion of the proceeds from the event.
The Department of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming conducted an investigation of Challenge Nation with the assistance of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee and concluded that Big Brothers Big Sisters had not authorized Challenge Nation to use its name nor did Challenge Nation have a written agreement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee to engage in a commercial co-venture with it.
The division determined that Challenge Nation committed two violations of the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act and assessed a $5,000 civil penalty for each offense.
“It is always a good idea to check with the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming before donating to an unfamiliar group or donating through a third-party company,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “I would hate to see a company use a charity’s name to swindle money from Tennesseans, as it would make people think twice about giving money to charities that are legitimate and deserving.”
Todd Kelley, the Director of the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming said “this action should be a reminder to anyone who seeks to raise money for a charity that they must have that organization’s authorization prior to doing so. Further, if a for-profit company wants to partner with a charity to conduct a commercial co-venture, the law requires that there be a written agreement between the two organizations.”
Information about charitable organizations registered to solicit contributions in Tennessee is available at:
To report potentially fraudulent or misleading activities by a charitable organization, contact the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at (615) 741-2555 or local law enforcement authorities.

Executive Order Sets up Council on Service Members, Veterans

News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Governor Phil Bredesen today signed Executive Order No. 71 establishing the Governor’s Council on Service Members, Veterans and Their Families. The Council is charged with facilitating collaboration and coordination within the current system of care to effectively meet the health, mental health and substance use disorder needs of service members, veterans and their families.
“There are an estimated 500,000 veterans in Tennessee, and meeting the needs of those veterans, service members and their families can not be the sole responsibility of any one agency or entity, but must be a collective responsibility of the entire state,” said Bredesen. “We must continue to expand and strengthen the system of care for these individuals and their families so that Tennessee is able to serve them in more coherent, effective ways.”

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ACLU Uses Mosque Fire as Recruiting Tool

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee is citing the Murfreesboro mosque controversy in an effort to recruit new members. Here’s the emailed message:
“Everybody knows [Muslims] are trying to kill us,” said one woman testifying before the Rutherford County Commission about the proposed mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. “I’m afraid we’ll have a training facility in Rutherford County,” said another.
Their sentiments were later echoed by a gubernatorial candidate who questioned whether Islam “is actually a religion…or a cult.” This past weekend rhetoric turned to violence as a fire was set at the mosque’s construction site.
Voices of prejudice are filling the airwaves–many of them, unfortunately, from Tennessee. It’s time to push back against the demagoguery. It’s time to let the country, the state, our leaders, and, especially, the members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, know that many in Tennessee support the right of all people to worship, or not, as they choose by signing the “I Stand for Religious Freedom in Tennessee” petition. (Link HERE)
Let’s be absolutely clear: our laws protect the right to build a house of worship whether it’s a mosque, a church, or a synagogue. And preventing Muslims or any other group from practicing their faith is unconstitutional and un-American.
Especially in times of controversy, we must boldly oppose religious discrimination based on cultural stereotyping-and resist those who seek to trade away our most precious values for political advantage.
Throughout our nation’s history, Jews, Protestants, Catholics and Muslims have all been victims of fear and discrimination. In the end, tolerance and fairness usually prevail–but only after principled voices have transcended the fear and hatred.
Speak out now. Join the ACLU of Tennessee to say “I Stand for Religious Freedom in Tennessee” and show your support for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.

Bredesen: ‘Guns in Bars’ Law ‘Still a Stupid Idea’

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bredesen on Tuesday voiced support for a Nashville waiter’s claim that a new law allowing guns in bars creates an unsafe workplace.
The Democratic governor told The Associated Press that while he’s not familiar with the details of the complaint, he supports the effort to challenge the law allowing handgun carry permit holders to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol.
“It was a stupid idea when they passed it. It’s still a stupid idea,” Bredesen said. “I hope somebody will figure out a way to turn it around.”

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Bredesen Seeks Flood Aid for Cumberland Plateau Counties

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bredesen is requesting assistance from the Small Business Administration to help Putnam and bordering counties recovering from flood damage that occurred earlier this month.
The additional counties that would be eligible for SBA loans are Fentress, Overton, Jackson, Smith, DeKalb, White and Cumberland.
A survey by the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and the SBA indicates more than 25 homes and businesses in Putnam County sustained uninsured losses of 40 percent or more of their estimated pre-disaster fair market value.
The SBA provides low interest disaster loans to homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes and private, nonprofit organizations to repair or replace real estate, personal property, machinery and equipment, inventory and business assets that have been damaged or destroyed in a declared disaster.

Bredesen, Haslam and McWherter on Mosque Fire

Gov. Phil Bredesen said that, if the Murfreesboro mosque fire turns out to be arson, he still believes it “relatively muted” in light of past American actions such as the federal government’s mass interment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.
Further excerpts from a report by Andy Sher:
But when it comes to issues such as the mosque and illegal immigration, the governor urged Tennessee politicians to “please remember who we are as a country and, you know, have some tolerance. Perhaps if you’re a Republican and want to gig a Democrat or a Democrat and want to gig a Republican then find some places to do it that don’t drive these kinds of passions and hatreds in a way that I think is very un-American.”
…Asked for the mayor’s thoughts Monday in light of the Murfreesboro incident and Bredesen’s remarks, Haslam spokesman David Smith said via e-mail that “the mayor’s faith is very important to him, and he respects the right of others to practice their faith, so long as they are respectful of the communities in which they live and the laws of the land.”
Democratic nominee Mike McWherter, meanwhile, said in an e-mailed statement that “regardless of political or religious beliefs this hateful act of intolerance is not acceptable in Murfreesboro or anywhere else in the country. Furthermore, those individuals responsible for this cowardly act should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”

Harold Ford Jr. to Lose TN Voter Registration

Former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr. should lose his Tennessee voter registration since he is now a registered voter in New York, a state official said today.
Blake Fontenay, spokesman for Secretary of State Tre Hargett, said state Division of Election officials had checked Ford’s status as a voter after receiving media inquiries. Late Monday, New York officials verified that Ford had registered as a voter in New York, Fontenay said.
Tennessee law would have allowed Ford to retain his Tennessee registration if he intended that Tennessee remain his permanent home while living in New York temporarily, he said. But when Ford registered as a New York voter, that should have terminated his Tennessee registration.
Under applicable law, Fontenay said, New York officials should have notified Shelby County, Tenn., election officials of Ford’s registration. Shelby County officials should then have purged Ford’s name.
Fontenay said Ford did nothing wrong and on his New York registration has noted that he was previously registered in Shelby County, Tenn.
He said it was unclear whether New York officials failed to notify Shelby County officials, as they should have, or whether Shelby County officials received a notice and failed to respond by dropping Ford’s Tennessee registration.
Democrat Ford, who lost to Republican Bob Corker in 2006 U.S. Senate race, last voted in Tennessee in 2008, records indicate. He publicly considered a run for the U.S. Senate in New York earlier this year, but ultimately decided against it.
Fontenay said state election officials have notified Shelby County election officials of Ford’s registration in New York.
“It is our recommendation that he be purged from voter rolls in Tennessee,” said Fontenay.
Previous posts HERE and HERE.
A different situation applies in the case of Ford’s father, former U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Sr., who is now living in Florida while maintaining a voter registration in Tennessee. There is no indication, however, that the senior Ford has registered to vote in Florida, he said.
Ford Jr. last voted in Tennessee in November of 2008 and registered in New York in November, 2009, according to Fontaney.

Stacey’s Choice Applies for Temporary State Senate Seat

Steve Hill, who lost to Stacey Campfield in the state Senate District 7 Republican primary on Aug. 5, has applied for the job on a temporary basis, the News Sentinel reports. That’s apparently with Campfield’s blessing, since the state representative had suggested Hill as the ideal temporary senator in a recent blog post.
Hill is one of eight to apply so far for appointment as successor to state Sen. Tim Burchett, R-Knoxville, who will resign as senator after being sworn in as Knox County mayor on Wednesday. The Knox County Commission will appoint someone to succeed him until the Nov. 2 election – basically a two-month appointment with no duties other than collecting the senatorial salary of $1,500 per month or so. (Unless Gov. Phil Bredesen calls the Legislature into special October session or some such.)
Also applying is Chuck Williams, who is running for the Burchett seat as an independent against Campfield, the Republican nominee, and Randy Walker, the Democratic nominee.

More on Murfreesboro Mosque Fire

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — A suspicious fire that damaged construction equipment at the site of a future mosque in Tennessee has some local Muslims worried that their project has been dragged into the national debate surrounding Manhattan’s ground zero.
Authorities told leaders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro that four pieces of heavy construction equipment on the site were doused with an accelerant and one set ablaze early Saturday morning. The site is now being patrolled at all hours by the sheriff’s department.
Federal investigators have not ruled it arson, saying only that the fire was being probed and asked the public to call in tips. Eric Kehn, spokesman for the Nashville office of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said arson is suspected.
The site has already seen vandalism, said Joel Siskovic, a spokesman for the FBI in the Memphis office. A sign at the site was spray-painted with the words “Not Welcome” and then torn in half. The FBI is investigating the fire in case it is a civil rights violation.
“We want to make sure there are not people acting with the intent to prevent people from exercising their First Amendment rights,” Siskovic said.

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