The task ahead of state Rep. David Shepard does not look easy, says Chas Sisk, who states the task as: How do you win an election when your party’s standard-bearer could lose as much as 60 percent of the vote in the district you’re trying to win? Shepard, a Democrat from Dickson, says the answer is to convince voters that he is a bipartisan lawmaker with a strong record on constituent services.
“People know I’m available, accessible, that I listen to people,” said the 65-year-old pharmacy owner. “I think people generally like me.”
Shepard will try to hang on as one of the few remaining Democrats from rural Tennessee in the state House of Representatives, in a rematch with Republican Wayne White for the House District 69 seat.
Once the state’s dominant political force — especially in Middle and West Tennessee — rural Democrats have seen their ranks thin to 10 members in the House, making them a minority within the minority party. Unless Democrats can find a way to reverse the trend, they have little chance of regaining their footing in Tennessee.
…White, a 54-year-old amusement company owner from Slayden, said the difference in party is the main factor separating the two candidates.
“It’s not that he’s a bad guy,” White said. “We just think differently on some things.”
Kenneth Buser, an independent, is also running for the seat. He did not respond to interview requests.
Shepard appears to retain the edge. In redistricting earlier this year, Republicans moved several Dickson County precincts that White had won in 2010 into the neighboring House District 78, shoring up their strength there. In place of those precincts, the GOP moved several Democratic-leaning precincts in Maury County into House District 69.
There’s a new round of complaints about the Department of Children’s Service, reports the Tennessean, that come from Dickson County and center on contentions that cases of severe child abuse are not being investigated properly. Severe abuse cases are being miscategorized as lesser offenses, and opportunities to intervene to protect children are being lost, said Jeff Bledsoe, sheriff of Dickson County.
“I have been advised of documented cases, in which reported cases meeting the definition of ‘Severe Child Abuse’ are not being classified as such in accordance with the statute,” Bledsoe wrote.
“This is very concerning to me, as there may be only one opportunity to intervene and protect or save a child’s life,” he noted in a letter to state Sen. Jim Summerville, a Republican from Dickson.
Summerville, who forwarded the letter to DCS, said he is working with child welfare officials in his district to set up a meeting with DCS about the issues raised. He said he was aware of “four or five cases” in his district that had been improperly classified.
Classifying a case as “severe” requires authorities to immediately intervene, Bledsoe said. Cases without that classification may not rise to a criminal offense, often aren’t required to be reported to police and may result in children being left in abusive homes, he said.
…DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who staff said was out of state Monday and unavailable, has responded in writing that she will investigate.
“We consider this a very serious matter and intend to conduct a thorough investigation,” O’Day wrote in a Sept. 3 letter, requesting that names and dates of specific incidents be turned over to DCS.
…In Dickson County, “children have been placed in danger due to the process that is currently in place,” Kim Stringfield-Davis, Child Advocacy Center executive director wrote in a separate letter.
“Events of severe child abuse are being ruled as non-severe and not being investigated,” Stringfield-Davis said, also in a letter to Summerville, her district’s representative. The Child Advocacy Center is part of a statewide network of agencies that work with abused children.
“Evidence that could be used in the prosecution of perpetrators is being lost due to cases being screened out and never reaching the investigation process,” she wrote.
Voting Foulup in Dickson, Too?
At least two voters in Dickson County have experienced the same kind of incorrect ballot problems that affected at least 2,266 early voters in Shelby County, the state Democratic Party and a Dickson lawmaker said Monday. HERE. DesJararlais Has a Primary
Despite some suggestions to the contrary, Congressman Scott DesJarlais says he’s not taking his victory in the 4th Congressional District primary for granted. He’s even bought one TV ad in the primary season. HERE.
House Finance Chairman’s Finances
Rep. Charles Sargent is taking some heat for collecting 80 percent of his campaign money from outside his Williamson County District. Sargent’s challenger, Rob Hathaway, is a political newcomer who said voters are tired of feeling like their voice is shouted down by giant checks and special interests. Sumner Money Sizeups
The Tennessean has stories on campaign financing in Senate District 16, an open seat, and on two Sumner County House races (including Debra Maggart’s District 45. Non-endorsements Noted
There’s a flap over the Hamilton County Education Association not endorsing two longtime members in ongoing races. Rogers Gets an Endorsement
Courtney Rogers has been endorsed by state Sen. Kerry Roberts… and also has a press release taking a swat at Rep. Debra Maggart for using her state office phone number in campaign materials. HERE..
State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, has been served with a criminal summons citing him with a misdemeanor for “dogs at large” after an ongoing dispute that has Dickson police scratching their heads, reports The Dickson Herald via The Tennessean. Germaine Paltzer, who lives down the road from Summerville, has filed two complaints over the lawmaker’s dogs, and called Dickson police four times on him in the last four months. Paltzer had just undergone knee surgery when she filed the first complaint.
“I had knee surgery; that’s how this started. The dog ran out in front of us and we had to brake,” Paltzer said.
Residents can cite other residents for minor infractions such as violating leash laws, but an officer must sign off on the citation. The senator was cited April 12 for having dogs out and paid the fine. Ricky Manley, animal control officer for the city of Dickson, cited Summerville again May 12.
Summerville paid $157 in court costs for the first citation without having to appear in court. The second citation required an appearance by Summerville, but the date was moved because city attorney Jerry Smith was not in court.
…The first police report April 9 reports dogs belonging to Summerville came running out at Paltzer in the street. The report further states Manley “then went over to Mr. Summerville’s house and advised him about the dogs running after the car and stated that he was sorry and he would keep the dogs up but didn’t know they were getting out of his yard.”
Paltzer dispatched animal control again May 12. The May report states she went to Summerville’s house and asked him why the dogs were still loose when he had a fenced-in backyard. Paltzer said Summerville “made a face at her and jumped towards her as if to make her flinch,” according to the report.
Manley said he’s gone out to Summerville’s house a number of times and did not see dogs out, but picked up two puppies that belonged to Summerville when Paltzer called in a police report in May.
“I have gone through there numerous times, and have yet to see the dog loose, but she took pictures of [Summerville’s dog] this time, so she’s got proof of him being loose,” said Manley.
…When approached about the issue, Summerville said he believed The Herald wanted a “little piece of sensationalism guaranteeing your readers, a few of whom who read at about a sixth-grade level, so I am not going to cooperate with your investigation.”
…Summerville wrote a column entitled “Dickson County has long history with man’s best friend” that appeared in the June 1 edition of The Herald. He wrote: “When we first get to heaven, all the dogs we’ve ever loved will come running to greet us.”
The Dickson County Education Association – the local teachers’ union – is suing the Dickson County Board of Education over a recent negotiation dispute, reports The Tennessean. The lawsuit, filed in Dickson County Chancery Court, also claims that a new anti-union law is unconstitutional. According to DCEA chief negotiator Patricia Hudson, the two sides were discussing salary and fringe benefits when the school board halted negotiations, citing the state legislature’s passing of the Professional Educators Collaborating Conferencing Act (PECCA) in May.
Under the new law, collective bargaining rights of unions will be replaced by “collaborative conferencing,” when current teacher union contracts expire.
DCEA’s contract with the school board is valid through 2013 and includes a section about re-negotiating certain terms, including salary talks.
On May 26, the school board passed a budget without completing salary negotiations with the union, Hudson said.
The lawsuit claims that the board “revealed its bad faith intent to disregard its contractual obligations” by adopting the budget before negotiations were finished.
…Also, the Board of Education used PECCA as a reason to cease bargaining before the law actually went into effect on June 1, according to Hudson.
….In addition to asking for an injunction ordering the Board of Education to return to “good faith negotiations” and submitting budget amendments to the county commission, the lawsuit also takes aim at PECCA.
The lawsuit asks that “following a trial on the merits, the Court declare PECCA to be unconstitutional in violation of Article I, Section 20…of the Tennessee Constitution.”
Article I, Section 20 of the state constitution states “that no retrospective law, or law impairing the obligations of contracts, shall be made.”