Democrat Frank Eaton, who faces state Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, in the upcoming election, says he supports allowing businesses in Hamilton County to distill liquor, reports the Chattanooga TFP. “We can already legally sell and responsibly drink a product with Chattanooga’s name on it right here in Hamilton County. ‘Chattanooga Whiskey’ should be made in Chattanooga,” the 27th Legislative District candidate said in a news release.
A 2009 state law lets county commissions approve distillation of spirits in counties where referendums have been approved allowing liquor-by-the-drink sales and package-store sales.
Hamilton County currently is excluded from the law.
The owners of Chattanooga Whiskey have said they want to produce their whiskey in Chattanooga instead of having it made in Indiana, where it’s now produced.
Citing his convictions and concerns about the impact of alcohol on driving, Floyd has said he opposes local whiskey manufacturing.
“I tell you alcohol kills more people every year than all illegal drugs put together,” Floyd has said. “People who make it [alcohol], people who sell it and people who buy it, they have a share of responsibility [in such deaths.]”
“By my faith, I vote against every alcohol bill,” he said.
Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he expects the question of using taxpayer dollars to fund private school vouchers will be a major issue in the General Assembly come January, reports Andy Sher. But the horses already are out of the barn in several Southeast Tennessee legislative races where a full-fledged debate over vouchers is under way.
Some Republicans argue vouchers are necessary to advance school-choice initiatives already under way with public charter schools.
Democrats counter that any redirection of funding undermines support of public education, which they say is already too little.
Republican Rep. Richard Floyd, whose District 27 includes Red Bank and Signal Mountain, fully supports vouchers.
“Anything that we can do to give these kids a better shot at getting a better education we need to try,” Floyd said. “It may not work. If it doesn’t, we can come back and reinvent the wheel.”
Frank Eaton, Floyd’s Democratic opponent, has serious reservations about vouchers.
“I don’t think they’re in general a great idea,” Eaton said. “If our public schools were properly funded, we wouldn’t be faced with so many failing schools. We need to focus on making sure there’s a good public school available for every child.”
…House District 30, Rep. Vince Dean, R-East Ridge, said the state “should explore some ways to include some vouchers and hopefully do so without making a large impact on the school systems.”
It would be “far better to have a pilot project than to go statewide with it right off the bat,” said Dean. State officials could use a pilot program to evaluate vouchers’ effectiveness.
His Democratic opponent, Sandy Smith, a retired Hamilton County teacher, said a voucher program is “taking more money away from public education.”
…Fault lines on vouchers often cut along partisan lines. But a number of Republicans in rural areas are lukewarm on the issue.
In the seven-county Senate District 16 contest, which includes Marion, Sequatchie and Coffee counties, Democrat Jim Lewis, of Kimball, is staunchly anti-voucher. Vouchers and any number of education initiatives passed or proposed by the Republican-led General Assembly amount to “outright theft from public schools,” he said.
“We haven’t funded public schools adequately in the first place, and if your design is to destroy public schools, then you find a way to suck more money out of them,” said Lewis, a former state senator.
Republican Janice Bowling, his opponent, is a former teacher who home-schooled one of her children for several years. Vouchers and other education initiatives often spring from “perfectly noble ideas and hopes,” she said, but end up as “kind of knee-jerk, ‘we’ll do this and this to fix it,'” responses, Bowling said.
“I haven’t had the opportunity [to look into vouchers] to see what the unintended consequences might be or what the benefits would be. I can see both sides.”
Democratic candidate Frank Eaton, who is running against Republican Rep. Richard Floyd of Chattanooga, charged that House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick took down two of Eaton’s campaign signs on Highway 153, reports the Times-Free Press. McCormick…acknowledged removing the signs Saturday in a telephone call he made moments after a confrontation with Eaton. The lawmaker said the signs were illegally posted on the public right of way in front of a shopping center that he partially owns and manages.
McCormick said Eaton’s two signs and one belonging to a treecutting service were taken down as mowers cut grass. He said he called the treecutter, whose sign included a phone number, and left him a message to come pick up his sign. Not knowing how to call Eaton, McCormick said, he called and left a message for Floyd asking how to contact him.
Then, he said, Eaton and his wife drove up and the candidate demanded to know what he was doing.
“They jumped out and started taking pictures and put me under cross-examination,” McCormick said. “I was out in broad daylight on one of the busiest streets in the county doing my job and my private business, and he got upset about it.”
“I would have pulled down anyone’s sign,” McCormick said.
Eaton sent out a news release in which he described seeing McCormick carrying off one of his signs. (Note: There’s also a video of McCormick in his car, talking with Eaton, HERE.)
“He said the signs had been on his private property and he was removing them,” Eaton said. “I questioned whether the property was his, and then he said the signs were not allowed in the ‘right of way’ of that road.”
…According to Eaton, McCormick said he didn’t know exactly where the property line was.
“I asked if it was his statement that he had removed my signs from a public road without knowing whether they were on his private property or not. He became visibly angry and said, “Are you a lawyer? Is this a cross-examination?'”
He also said McCormick said, “I don’t give a [expletive deleted] what you do. If you want to turn this into a fight, that’s your choice. I guess I’ve given you a reason.”
McCormick said he would have removed anyone’s signs, including Floyd’s, had they been there.
He acknowledged he “may have used some stronger language than necessary but after 10 minutes of being seriously berated … I was fed up.”