MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Several plaintiffs have filed suit against the renaming of Confederate-themed city parks in Memphis, asserting only the mayor can change park names.
According to The Commercial Appeal (http://bit.ly/18AUpUg ), nine individuals and a group calling itself Citizens to Save Our Parks filed the petition Wednesday against the city and members of the Memphis City Council.
On Feb. 5, the council approved a resolution renaming Forrest Park, Confederate Park and Jefferson Davis Park.
They were given generic names, awaiting a committee recommendation. That panel has recommended Civil War Park, Promenade Park and Harbor Park. The council has not acted on the recommendation.
The lawsuit asks Chancery Court to void the renaming of the parks.
City Attorney Herman Morris said Wednesday he had not yet seen the lawsuit.
After President Barack Obama said in an interview published last weekend that he and his guests “do skeet shooting all the time” at the presidential retreat, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn has challenged him to a contest. From the Tennessean: “I think he should invite me to Camp David, and I’ll go skeet shooting with him,” the Brentwood Republican said on CNN. “And I bet I’ll beat him.”
Through a spokesman, Blackburn told The Tennessean she’s “not bad for a girl” at shooting skeet. She last went to a gun range nearly a year ago, but she used to co-host an annual “women’s skeet shoot-off” at a range in Maryland, spokesman Mike Reynard said.
On CNN, Blackburn said she doesn’t believe Obama’s “all the time” claim, since there are no photos of the recently re-inaugurated chief executive firing a gun and he hadn’t mentioned the hobby previously.
“Why have we not seen photos?” she said. “Why has he not referenced it at any point in time as we have had this gun debate that is ongoing? You would have thought it would have been a point of reference.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Monday — before Blackburn did her best to ignite “Skeetgate” — he didn’t know how often Obama goes out on the gun range. He said he wasn’t aware of photos of the world’s most powerful man pulling the trigger.
“When he goes to Camp David, he goes to spend time with his family and friends and relax — not to produce photographs,” Carney said archly.
Joanna Rosholm, a White House spokeswoman, said Tuesday that Obama had not responded to Blackburn’s challenge.
State House Assistant Majority Leader Kevin Brooks, R-Cleveland, said Tuesday he is eyeing a possible bid against embattled U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Tenn., in the 2014 GOP primary, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Brooks, an ordained Church of God minister, said he has “received a number of calls of support and had many conversations encouraging me to run for Congress in the 4th Congressional District.
“While I am firmly committed to serving my constituents in the 24th District, I wanted to publicly say that I am exploring what a solutions-based campaign for Congress would look like and how I can best serve the great State of Tennessee,” Brooks noted in his statement.
The legislator, who is public relations and conference coordinator for the Cleveland-based Church of God, added, “I plan to spend the next few weeks praying about the path forward with my family and talking with friends, neighbors and fellow Tennesseans about the future.”
— Note: Brooks’ statement is reproduced below.
In a Murfreesboro Daily News Journal column, Stephen Shirley discounts the prospectss of a successful challenge to 4th District Congressman Scott DesJarlais in the 2014 Republican primary. DesJarlais has already said he intends to run in 2014. Any candidate who chooses to challenge him then will have to find the argument of why he or she is a better candidate than the incumbent.
Bill Ketron couldn’t find that opening earlier this year. Despite having pandered to right-wing extremists for two years, Ketron still couldn’t find any room to the right of DesJarlais. Tacking more to the center was never going to fly for the rabble-rousing state senator, so he skipped the chance to challenge a first-term incumbent introducing himself to a new district.
The obstacles for any challenger two years from now will only be steeper. DesJarlais will have had two years to introduce himself to his new constituents in the 4th District and to voters in Rutherford County. He will have two more years to build his campaign war chest with the fundraising advantage of being a sitting representative. And most importantly, the personal baggage of the divorce proceedings will be in the even more distant past and the explosive nature of the details have already proved to be a dud.
In 2014, there will be plenty of room to center from which to challenge DesJarlais. But since it will be a GOP primary, moderation will be an incredibly tough needle to thread for a challenger. A primary electorate convinced that President Obama lacks a valid birth certificate and that creeping Shariah poses a viable threat to the American way of life isn’t going to be interested in words such as bipartisanship and pragmatism.
Chris Carroll, meanwhile, has a story rounding up comments on DesJarlais’ future from GOP local leaders in his district: County-level Republican Party leaders across the 4th Congressional District are split over supporting U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais if he seeks a third term in 2014.
On one hand, they take pride in proclaiming “the election is over” and praise their congressman for supporting conservative policies in Washington. On the other, they have a difficult time squaring DesJarlais’ anti-abortion, family-values platform with new details from his pre-political life.
And here’s an excerpt from the Tennessee Journal’s look at the situation: DesJarlais isn’t likely to resign, but whether he’ll run again in two years is an open question. He’ll have a hard time raising campaign funds in Tennessee. And if Washington views his reelection chances as slim, political action committee cash will be hard to come by as well.
On the other hand, if he has multiple challengers, it is conceivable he could win the primary with a relatively small plurality. Tennessee does not have a runoff law. But then, despite having survived the general election this year, he might be vulnerable to a Democratic bid.
Speculation is already afoot about potential challengers to U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais in 2014, though all are saying, more or less, that it’s too early to talk about it.
The Murfreesboro Daily News Journal has quotes from state Sen. Jim Tracy, Lou Ann Zelenik and state Rep. Joe Carr about the possibility of entering the Republican primary… and speculation about another Democratic run at the seat. “We are less than 18 months away from primary season, so it will be here before you know it,” said Gabriel Fancher, chairman of the Rutherford County Young Republicans and an executive committee member of the county’s GOP. “The thing about DesJarlais is you can’t knock him on his voting record, but he does have that past that haunts him. People hold their representative to a hire standard. As long as they do, his past will continue to haunt him.”
The Tennessean adds the name of Forrest Shoaf, a lawyer and retired business executive who ran unsuccessfully for the Republican nomination to the 7th Congressional District seat back in 2002 (losing to Marsha Blackburn). “We’ve worked a long time to win this (4th Congressional District) seat and I don’t want to lose it,” said retired Cracker Barrel executive Forrest Shoaf of Lebanon.
“I’m giving strong thought to running in the (2014) primary.”
If not Shoaf, it will be someone, several Washington political observers said. And none saw the Jasper Republican, just re-elected to a second term, making it to a third.
“It’s a fairly safe prediction that the congressman’s tenure will end in the GOP primary in 2014. His affairs could fill a whole season of a soap opera, and that’s not acceptable for the ‘family values’ party in the Bible Belt,” said University of Virginia political expert Larry Sabato.
By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — State Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey wouldn’t mind one bit having a super majority in his chamber, but the Blountville Republican acknowledges governing the group may be tough.
“No doubt about it, my leadership skills will be challenged,” he said.
He might want to start prepping.
With a financial advantage in their legislative campaigns, and a near dead heat in the presidential race, Tennessee Republicans in both chambers are poised to get a super majority — or more — on Nov. 6.
Currently in the Senate, Republicans have a 20-13 advantage. The margin is 64-34 in the House, with one independent. To get a super majority, Republicans need to claim two seats in each chamber.
Ramsey said it’s possible to win as many as six seats in the Senate, while House Speaker Beth Harwell has said the GOP may gain at least three seats in the lower chamber. (Note: She’s also predicted the GOP pickup will be from three to 10 seats.)
If Republicans do get a super majority, Vanderbilt University political science professor Bruce Oppenheimer said they may experience problems because sometimes “there’s more competition … within the party than between parties.”
“The general rule is that as parties get larger in Legislatures, they get less cohesive,” he said.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Davidson County election training session is coming under scrutiny for teaching poll workers to challenge voters they believe may not be U.S. citizens.
Davidson County Election Commissioner Eddie Bryan, a Democrat, told The Tennessean (http://tnne.ws/R1l8yV) he believed the training was designed to block immigrants from legally voting.
But Republican election officials said it was designed to teach poll workers how to deal with a potential challenge.
Under the state’s Challenge the Right to Vote Act, poll workers may ask a voter to take an oath that they have the right to vote. Those refusing the oath cannot vote.
The training last month told poll workers that citizenship requires the ability to read, write and speak basic English, but it noted exceptions for immigrants over 50 and those with impairments.
How much patients in Tennessee can recover for their pain and suffering could be significantly affected in the coming months if the state’s Supreme Court hears a challenge of a new law that limits medical malpractice awards, reports The Tennessean. The issue has taken on urgency as fungal meningitis victims start to craft medical malpractice lawsuits and attorneys weigh whether the suits will be filed in Tennessee or in Massachusetts, where injured patients can sue medical facilities for unlimited amounts of money for pain and suffering.
Gov. Bill Haslam signed the Tennessee Civil Justice Act of 2011 into law last July. The law does not restrict how much patients can recover in medical bills and lost wages in malpractice suits. But it caps rewards for nontangible injuries, such as pain and suffering, at $750,000. About half of the states limit awards for pain and suffering in malpractice cases, and for years legal battles have been waged throughout the country to overturn the caps. Tennessee could emerge as the latest battlefield.
Trial lawyer David Randolph Smith, a prominent progressive attorney who led the legal opposition to the guns-in-bars law and the English-only ballot measure, filed a federal lawsuit three months ago challenging Haslam’s landmark tort reform law as unconstitutional.
…Recent decisions in other states offer conflicting results.
Earlier this month, the Kansas Supreme Court upheld its $250,000 cap on pain and suffering damages.
In August, however, the high court in Missouri struck down caps on liability payouts. The Missouri court’s majority opinion said: “The right to trial by jury … is not subject to legislative limits on damages.”.
(Note: The different rulings may turn on differences in state constitutions and the federal court may send the case to the state Supreme Court for a decision on whether the damages limitation violates the Tennessee constitution. A relevant provision is in Article I, Section 6 of the state constitution’s Bill of Rights: “That the right of trial by jury shall remain inviolate, and no religious or political test shall ever be required as a qualification for jurors.” )
The Jackson Sun has some details on arguments presented by Shirley Curry to a subcommittee of the state Republican Executive Committee in challenging her four-vote primary loss to state Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah. One involves supposedly false campaign advertising. A decision on the challenge is still pending. Curry, who is a member of the committee, says a number of factors, including Dennis allegedly misleading voters and voter confusion over redistricting, contributed to her loss in the primary.
Dennis disputes Curry’s claims, though he does not want to address Curry’s specific arguments while the issue is pending before the committee.
“It is unfortunate that the loser in this race is asking a group, of which she is a part, to overturn the will of the voters,” said Dennis, of Savannah. “But I am confident the board will see this election contest was hard fought but fair in every way.”
In Curry’s written arguments, she said Dennis sent a piece of mail to voters in Wayne, Lewis and Lawrence counties that said he was “your representative,” even though Dennis did not represent those counties when the legislature was in session.
The counties have been added to the district through redistricting and will be represented by the winner of the election when the legislature reconvenes. Curry, of Waynesboro, also said Dennis illegally franked the campaign mailing with the state seal.
Another piece of mail displayed photos of Dennis, state Rep. Joey Hensley and Gov. Bill Haslam, calling them the “Lewis and Lawrence Counties’ Team!”
According to Curry, Hensley did not know his name was used until he received the mailing.
Hensley’s cousin put up Dennis signs until Hensley talked to him, Curry said.
Two people told Hensley that they voted for Dennis because they thought Dennis was Hensley’s choice, she said.
Hensley confirmed the accounts. He said he did not want to speak on the race publicly, but when asked privately, he told people he was voting for Curry.
“When Vance sent this mail piece out, it really was disconcerting to me that he would do that when I had told him that I did not want to publicly endorse either one of them,” Hensley said. “… It made it appear I was endorsing Vance when that really wasn’t the truth.”
State Sen. Stacey Campfield is in the middle of a four-year term but already has at least two potential opponents to re-election in 2014, reports Georgiana Vines. The latest is Knox County Commissioner Richard Briggs, a cardiothoracic surgeon and retired Army colonel who has served in active and reserve units.
Briggs, a Republican, acknowledges an interest and says he will wait until after the Nov. 6 elections before making a decision.
…Brian Stevens, a full-time lecturer in statistics and mathematics at the University of Tennessee, already is campaigning for the post. He considered running for the 15th House District seat as a Republican against Democratic incumbent Joe Armstrong this year but did not. He said at the time his long-term goal was to run against Campfield. He plans to run as a Democrat, he said.