Monthly Archives: August 2012

Corker Makes Senate Staff Changes

News release from Sen. Bob Corker:
WASHINGTON – The office of U.S. Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced today that Rob Strayer will serve as Corker’s legislative director and general counsel.
A 2000 graduate of Vanderbilt Law School, Strayer joins Corker’s staff from the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington where he serves as director of the Homeland Security Project chaired by 9/11 Commission Co-Chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton. The group is tasked with reviewing implementation of the commission’s recommendations and analyzing emerging national security threats.
Strayer is a veteran Senate aide, previously serving from 2006 to 2011 as deputy staff director of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. In that role Strayer oversaw a wide range of issues in the committee’s jurisdiction with an emphasis on improving counterterrorism policy. He also played a key role in a committee investigation from 2005 to 2006 into the government’s response to Hurricane Katrina.

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On Sen. Campfield and Other Tennesseans at GOP Convention

On the Internet, state Sen. Stacey Campfield may well be attracting more interest than anyone from Tennessee doing reports on the Republican National Convention. Posts on his blog from the convention have ranged from reporting that “I don’t give a rat’s ass” has become a catchphrase in the Tennessee delegation – it ties into Sen. Jim Summerville using the phrase in an email to the legislature’s Black Caucus – to a review the weather.
Some sample reaction: The “rat’s ass” remark prompted a Memphis Flyer post declaring, basically, that Campfield was confirming that Republicans are racist. Jeff Woods, meanwhile, pointed to Campfield posts in general on Tuesday – “So far with the festivities just getting under way, he’s managed to offend women, African Americans and residents of virtually the entire Gulf Coast.” (A day earlier, Woodsie declared that “Congressman Todd Akin’s unfortunate remarks about rape and pregnancy have produced an image-shaping PR bonanza” for Campfield.)
A Psychology Today blog, meanwhile, has joined the Campfield conversation by revisiting his past remarks on AIDs and monkeys and some research on homophobia.
But there are other reports:

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Election Officials Reviewing Davidson County Primary Ballots

State election officials plan to look at the histories of voters who participated in the Republican primary in Davidson County this month to help determine if voters were routinely given the GOP ballot by default, reports The Tennessean.
Mark Goins, the state’s elections coordinator, said Tuesday that he wants to figure out if Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall’s experience was isolated or common. Advocacy group Tennessee Citizen Action announced publicly Monday what Goins had known for 11 days: that Hall, an elected Democrat, had voted in the Republican primary after poll officials failed to give him a choice.
Tennessee Citizen Action said Hall and others were victims of Davidson County’s new electronic poll books defaulting to the Republican primary if voters didn’t express a preference for one primary or the other on Aug. 2.
While Goins said “default” is actually the wrong term, he acknowledged that the Republican primary was listed first in the poll books, which state law required because the GOP is currently in power in the General Assembly. He said the Republican primary also was highlighted, and poll officials either failed to ask voters if they wanted to vote in a primary or, if they did ask, they failed to highlight the Democratic primary once voters expressed that preference. As a result, those voters received a Republican ballot.

State Employees PAC Backs Hawk in House District 5

News release from Tennessee State Employees Association:
NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Employees Action Movement (TEAM) – the PAC of the Tennessee State Employees Association – proudly endorses David Hawk, R-Greeneville, in the upcoming general election for the District 5 seat of the Tennessee House of Representatives.
“Representative Hawk has always advocated for state employees and retirees during his tenure in the State Legislature,” said James Braswell, Chair of the TEAM Administrative Committee. “As demonstrated by his efforts to save Greene Valley Developmental Center, he understands that quality services depend on a motivated, effective, and efficient workforce. We are proud to endorse David Hawk’s campaign.”
Republican nominee David Hawk says, “I believe state employees are essential to all citizens of Tennessee and the work they do should be valued by all. I think it is the responsibility of all legislators to know the working conditions of State Employees, to support them, and to ensure they are treated fairly by the State Government.”
TEAM is the political action arm of the Tennessee State Employees Association, representing hundreds of state employees in the 5th District. Founded in 1974, TSEA has a rich history of improving the lives of its state employee members in Tennessee. For further information, visit TSEA’s website at www.tseaonline.org. You can also follow TSEA on Twitter @tseaonline.

Note: Hawk faces former Democrtic Rep. Eddie Yokley of Greeneville in the November general election.

Goat Ouster Effort Becomes City Political Issue

The newest mover and shaker in East Ridge politics likes to eat shrubbery, weighs 40 pounds and goes by the name Oreo, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
The 1-year-old, black-and-white-haired pygmy goat scampered into the spotlight last week, when his owner Jeff Viar came before the East Ridge City Council and pleaded with the city not to take away the pet goat.
City code outlaws goats and other livestock in residential areas, but Oreo’s family say they did not know that until they found a citation on their front door this month.
…The city’s Facebook has been flooded with comments like “Save Oreo!!!” and “Awww let Oreo stay.” Some residents have discussed starting a petition to keep Oreo in East Ridge.
The goat has found some sympathy among city leaders, who say Oreo’s case is unusual because he’s domesticated and clean.
“Oreo is cute, no question about it. I’m actually kind of a fan of goats,” said East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble, who has posted photos and “notes from Oreo” to the city’s Facebook page. “But we have to enforce the ordinance or come up with an alternative.”
Gobble said the city’s animal control officer cited the family after receiving several anonymous complaints about the goat.
The Viars have had Oreo for a year — since he was just a spindly-legged kid. They got him from a family friend in Chickamauga, Ga., after their two children begged for a goat.
“They just didn’t want a dog. They wanted a different kind of animal,” Samantha Viar said.
…East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said he can relate.
“I have young children; I can imagine how devastated they would be over losing a pet,” said Lambert. “If we can create a narrow exception in the law for Oreo and similar animals, certainly I’d be willing to look at that,”
…Gobble said he will ask the council for a 120-day moratorium on enforcing the anti-Oreo ordinance until the Hamilton County Regional Agency can look at the issue and provide some suggested course of action.
The council plans to continue the discussion at next month’s council meeting, set for Sept. 13.

Memphis Councilwoman, Husband Charged With Domestic Assault

Memphis City Council member Janis Fullilove and her husband Vernon Chalmers were arrested Tuesday in the latest in a series of domestic altercations at their home southeast of Memphis International Airport, reports the Commercial Appeal.
Each suffered minor injuries and both were charged with domestic assault causing bodily harm.
Police responded to the couple’s home in the 3300 block of Morningview at about 12:17 a.m. Chalmers, 55, told officers he had been out baby-sitting the couple’s grandchildren and visited a friend afterward. When he returned home, Fullilove, 62, accused him of cheating on her and began throwing dishes, according to police.
Chalmers told police that Fullilove had been drinking and that he pushed her to the floor and held her down. Officers reported that Chalmers’ arm was cut in the confrontation.
Fullilove passed out on the sidewalk while being taken to a police car.

Memphis Drops Federal Photo ID Lawsuit; To Re-file in State Court

The City of Memphis has withdrawn its federal court lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Tennessee’s law requiring photo identification to vote, but a spokeswoman for the mayor says it will be re-filed in state court, according to the Commercial Appeal.
Lawyers for the city and the two Memphis voters who were co-plaintiffs in the case voluntarily dismissed the suit, initially filed July 24 to force the state to accept new photo ID cards issued by the Memphis Public Library as the photo ID requirement to vote. After U.S. Dist. Judge Aleta Trauger of Nashville ruled that the state law doesn’t allow IDs issued by local governments to be used for voting, the city amended the suit to attack its constitutionality as an infringement on voting rights.
The notice of voluntary dismissal lists no reason for the withdrawal and the plaintiffs’ attorneys were not immediately available to comment, but the filing occurred two days after Trauger held a telephone conference call with lawyers for both sides. The state attorney general’s office is defending the state statute.
The attorneys dismissed the suit “without prejudice,” which means it can be resurrected at any time. Mary Cashiola, Memphis Mayor AC Wharton’s media and communications manager, said Tuesday the case will be re-filed in Davidson County Chancery Court in Nashville later this week.

State Sets Up New Identity Theft Law Enforcement Unit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee’s safety department is creating a new unit to investigate identity theft crimes that local law enforcement agencies don’t have the resources to target.
Commissioner of Safety and Homeland Security Bill Gibbons announced on Tuesday that the 14-member unit would be made up of personnel from the Tennessee Highway Patrol, the state Office of Homeland Security and the Driver Services division.
The unit will also work with the U.S. Secret Service in Memphis and Nashville, the federal Homeland Security Investigations department and the FBI’s Memphis division.
Gibbons said identity theft and fraud crimes are a growing problem in Tennessee, but many local law enforcement agencies don’t have enough resources or manpower to investigate these crimes.
“When you go to local law enforcement agencies across the state, they will pretty much tell you that identity crime is one of the toughest types of crimes for them to investigate,” he said. “Very few police departments have investigators that have the expertise to investigate these types of crimes.”

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Crim Drops Lawsuit Seeking to Void Mark Clayton Nomination

Larry Crim, fourth place finisher in the Aug. 2 Democratic U.S. Senate primary, indicates in a news release that he’s dropping legal action to void the apparent victory of Mark Clayton, who has since been disavowed by the state Democratic party.
This comes after U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp of Nashville effectively threw the lawsuit out — though telling Crim’s lawyer he could come back and try again.
Instead of litigating, the release says Crim is launching a new organization — he will be chairman — called Democrats United For Tennessee. It’s purpose, says the release, will be uniting Democrats and “providing leadership for a new direction focused on emphasizing the importance of every race for public office and on the vetting, selection, nomination, and general election of Tennessee Democrats dedicated to being a public servant for all Tennesseans.”
The full release is below.

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Senate Democrats Want ‘Full Inquiry’ Into Voting Irregularities

News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE Р­Senate Democrats are calling on Secretary of State Tre Hargett to launch a full inquiry into voting irregularities across the state.
“There are a lot of questions about the integrity of the August primaries, and voters deserve answers,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jim Kyle. “We didn’t have these problems four years ago.”
In Shelby and now Davidson County, there have been reports of voters getting the wrong primary ballot and voting in the wrong district. State election officials have admitted that poll worker training was inadequate. Davidson County officials were advised against using electronic poll books, but used them anyway.
“We need to know why the machines defaulted to a particular party’s ballot,” said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Lowe Finney. “We need to know who made that decision, and we need to know whether these machines will be used again.”
Democratic leaders called on lawmakers to reconsider the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, which requires that precincts use optical scanners that produce a paper ballot. The bipartisan law passed unanimously in 2008 but implementation has been delayed.
“People invest considerable time in deciding how to cast their vote, and when they leave the voting booth, they should be confident their vote counted the way they intended,” Sen. Finney said. “I hope state election officials will take these irregularities seriously and conduct a thorough review.”