Miscellaneous TN political news and opinions

On DesJarlais, Tracy and a Muslim cemetery
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is taking a swipe at the decision to allow a cemetery at a Rutherford County mosque — and perhaps also his opponent in this August’s Republican primary, observes In Session:

DesJarlais drew fire from Muslim activists and others for a post Friday on his official Facebook page in which he seemed to lament a recent vote to let the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro build a cemetery.

“Although this is a state issue, I am deeply concerned over the impact it might have on our community,” he wrote. “Unfortunately the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, passed by the TN General Assembly, may have played a key role in allowing this cemetery to be approved.”

…DesJarlais appears to be referring to a 2009 law, the Tennessee Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was meant to protect religious groups from burdensome regulations. The mosque, arguably, has benefited from that law, as activists in Rutherford County have tried unsuccessfully to stop, first, the building’s construction and, then, the cemetery.

DesJarlais has said little about the mosque until now, but he has an incentive to take a shot at the law. His main opponent in August, state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, was one of its co-sponsors.

Well, we’re not at the bottom
Politico has done a “best states/worst states” rating based on 14 criteria all averaged together, more less. Mississippi comes out at the bottom; New Hampshire at the top. Tennessee is 48th.

Former Rep. seeks GOP SEC slot
Former state Rep. Julia Hurley, who represented the Legislature when she lived in Lenoir City, is seeking to become a member of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee in the 5th Senate District, which includes Loudon and Anderson counties and a portion of Knox County.

Since being defeated in the GOP primary two years ago by state Rep. Kent Calfee of Kingston, Hurley now lists 119 Lee Drive in Knoxville as her address. As of Friday, no other candidate had picked up a petition for this position in any of the three counties.

Georgiana Vines full column, with more on party executive committee races, is HERE.

‘Petty arrogance’ in JPEC?
The Tennessean editorially blasts the “Tennessee Plan” judge selection system in general and the Judicial Nominating Commission in particular after a ruling that JPEC is “invalid” for failing to have enough women members:

Defenders of the Tennessee Plan argue that voters are not competent to elect the best judges, that “big money” will sway our ill-informed electorate and give us an appellate court system that is capricious. They say we need a system that is not subject to the vagaries of the political process.

Yet the plan they defend has resulted in a process that blatantly excludes the people of the state at nearly every turn, that reveals a petty arrogance in the appointment and performance in its execution. And our faith in the independence and integrity of our courts is undermined.

Still more on Common Core
Common Core gets Frank Cagle column treatment:

Tennessee students made great gains on test scores this past year, indicating that somebody is doing something right in education reform in the state. But the gains cannot be attributed to the Common Core curriculum, which is still in the process of being implemented.
Anyone who suggests that Common Core is responsible is either misinformed or lying.

…There are people on both sides of the Common Core argument whom I respect. I haven’t made up my mind. But I do know that what we are doing now is working. We should keep that in mind going forward.

In the meantime, we should tell Michelle Rhee’s group, which gave us a “C” rating for our schools, to take her rating and stick it where the sun don’t shine.