Green Street Church of Christ has been on a mission to help Nashville’s homeless for years, but now the church says that mission is under fire, reports The Tennessean. In late June, the Metro Nashville Codes Department cited the church for having tents on the property where the homeless sleep, saying the property’s zoning does not allow camping.
The church vows to challenge the citation in court.
“It is the position of the church that they’re protected under federal statute and under the Constitution of the United States,” said William “Tripp” Hunt, the attorney representing the church.
Church leaders say they are following a biblical directive, in the 25th chapter of the book of Mark, to help house the poor.
“In that chapter, it says that if you help the poor you are helping Jesus himself,” Hunt said. “Under that basis alone they feel that it is their obligation to help the poor.
“Where it stands now, the city’s prosecuting them for having the homeless encampment there.”
Hank Hayes reports on a trio of minor party candidates from Northeast Tennessee:
History suggests Kermit Steck, Bob Smith and Suzanne “Flower” Parker have no chance of being elected to public office, but the three Northeast Tennesseans have won the right to put their names before the electorate.
They all insist third political parties are viable alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties.
On Aug. 9, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Tennessee’s ballot access law for newly qualified political parties and ordered the state to put Steck, Smith and Parker on the ballot for the Nov. 6 general election.
They are among about a dozen candidates listed statewide as “minor party candidates” for the general election ballot.
Steck, 56, is the Constitution Party’s candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican incumbent Bob Corker. Smith, 70, is the Green Party’s candidate for the 1st Congressional District seat held by Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Phil Roe. And Parker, 40, is the Green Party’s candidate in Tennessee’s up-for-grabs 3rd House District.
While Republican Bob Corker remains virtually assured of re-election to the U.S. Senate, an unprecedented race for runner-up status has developed with ramifications on Tennessee political contests in 2014, and perhaps later.
And it could lead to headaches in this November’s vote-counting as well.
For the first time in many decades, there will be four candidates for the U.S. Senate on the state’s November ballot who are identified by party affiliation. A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision this week means that the Green Party nominee Martin Pleasant of Knoxville and Constitution Party nominee Kermit Steck of Kingsport will join Republican Corker.
Mark Clayton, a flooring installer living in the Nashville area, will apparently be the Democratic nominee — though state Democratic officials are still in something a dither about that since disavowing Clayton’s candidacy for what party Chairman Chip Forrester calls “extremist, tea party right-wing positions.”
Still hanging is a complaint from Larry Crim, fourth-place finisher in the Democratic Senate primary, asking the party to throw out Clayton’s nomination.
A 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling Thursday assures that Green Party candidates will have a place on Tennessee’s November general election ballot in several races – including Martin Pleasant of Knoxville as the party’s U.S. Senate nominee.
“That’s wonderful,” said Pleasant, 43, who said he now plans to take some time off his job with the Knox County Engineering and Public Works Department for campaigning.
State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said the court ruling came in requests for an expedited ruling on two issues in a lawsuit brought by the Green and Constitution parties challenging the state’s ballot access.
Currently, Democrats and Republicans are listed by party affiliation but others are listed as independents unless they go through various steps that a U.S. District Court judge in Nashville ruled in February are too burdensome. The state attorney general’s office appealed that ruling.
In Thursday’s decision, the court declared Green and Constitution party candidates must be on the ballot and listed by party name, Goins said. But the court ruled for the state in another issue up for “expedited” decision – letting stand a present law requiring the “majority party,” now Republicans, be listed first on the ballot, followed by the “minority party,” the Democrats, with others following lower on the ballot.
Tennessee Green Party candidates for public office will have to wait more than three weeks before their names will appear on the state’s elections website, says The Tennessean. State officials do not plan to publish the official list of candidates for the November election until Aug. 30, state elections director Mark Goins said Tuesday.
That’s when Goins’ office is required by state law to finalize and announce results from Tennessee’s recent primary elections, he said.
“Their names will be there unless the court tells us otherwise,” Goins said.
A federal judge earlier this year ruled that members of third parties have a right to appear on the ballot, identified by their party, as opposed to being included in the listing of independent candidates.
The state has appealed that decision, and a federal appeals court has yet to rule on the issue.
“There’s a decent chance that we’ll know by Aug. 30,” Goins said.
If not, the state plans to include a reference to the pending appeal, noting that Green Party candidates could be removed from the ballot if the original ruling is overturned.
In recent days, candidates from the Green Party have been raising concerns that state officials were dragging their feet on updating the lists of candidates on the elections website.
As of Tuesday, only Republican, Democratic and independent candidates were named.
“This has really hurt our candidates,” said John Miglietta, who is running as a Green Party candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 5th District. Candidates from the party have been missing out on candidate forums and being mentioned in lists of individuals who will be on the ballot this fall, he said.
Knoxville’s state Reps. Joe Armstrong and Bill Dunn drew no opponents to their re-election this year when the normal qualifying deadline passed for legislative candidates in April, but both could now wind up with challengers from the Green Party.
The Green Party of Tennessee last month nominated candidates for several offices in accord with a federal judge’s decision in February – including Calvin Cassady of Knoxville as an opponent to Democrat Armstrong in state House District 15 and Bryan Moneyhun as an opponent to Republican Dunn in House District 16.
U.S. District Court Judge William Joseph Haynes ruled that several aspects of state law dealing with third party candidates are unconstitutional, including provisions that have generally kept party names – other than Republican and Democrat – from being printed with candidate names on the ballot.
Part of ruling allowed the Green Party and the Constitution Party, which filed the legal challenge, to nominate candidates later than the regular qualifying deadline – April 5 this year – and have their names appear on the ballot with the party label.
The state, however, has appealed the judge’s ruling. A hearing on the appeal is scheduled for July 25 before the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which will decide whether the candidates will be on the ballot or not.
News release from TACIR:
NASHVILLE–Dr. Harry A. Green has retired his post as executive director of the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (TACIR) after 39 years of service to the State of Tennessee.
Dr. Green began his career with the State in 1978 as Chief of Research and Statistics for the Office of the Comptroller of the Treasury and was appointed executive director of TACIR in 1981.
The Commission was created in 1978 in response to legislative findings indicating the need for a permanent intergovernmental body to study and take action on questions of organizational patterns, powers, functions, and relationships among federal, state, and local governments. It was initially staffed by the Comptroller’s Office, the State Planning Office, and the Office of Legal Services. The Commission has served as a source of expertise to state and local officials and has been instrumental in improving education funding, local planning, industrial development, emergency communications, and the administration of the property tax.
Dr. Mark Green – Republican hopeful for the District 22 state Senate seat currently held by Democrat Tim Barnes – fired an opening campaign shot at his presumed opponent Friday evening.
From the Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle: Speaking to a dinner audience of almost 100 campaign supporters at the Hilton Garden Inn near Exit 4, Green didn’t mention Sen. Barnes by name, but said, “I won’t ride on the coattails of (state Rep.) Joe Pitts.”
Backed at the complimentary dinner by leading Tennessee Republicans including U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, Green, who has lived in Clarksville for 10 years, officially launched his bid for the GOP nomination for Tennessee’s Senate. Earlier in the day, Blackburn and Ramsey had led other fundraising efforts for Green’s campaign.
Green is CEO of Align MD, a Clarksville-based health care company serving hospitals in five Southeastern states. He also founded Align MD Foundation, which provides physicians for humanitarian mission trips to Ethiopia and Cambodia. Green served in the Army as a ranger and as a special operations physician, participating in the capture of Saddam Hussein. He interviewed Hussein on the night of his capture.
In an evening event emceed by retired Gen. Hugh Smith, Green was hailed as a “true American hero” by Ramsey. Blackburn said Green joins the party platform focused on “jobs, the economy, and out-of-control government spending.”
“I am a warrior, and I am a fighter,” Green told his audience, “and I want to fight for this community.”
A federal judge has ruled in favor of Tennessee’s Green and Constitution parties’ joint lawsuit in a U.S. District Court in Nashville that claimed laws on the books violated the state constitution by making it unreasonably hard for third parties to get their names on the ballots, reports the Johnson City Press.
The decision says both the Green and Constitutional parties can have their names on Tennessee’s 2012 ballot with their candidates. It also strikes down a state law declaring that the majority party’s candidates are listed first on the ballot. “This is a great victory for voters in the state, because now we’ve made it easier for new parties to form,” said Alan Woodruff, a Johnson City attorney who announced his plans to represent the parties during a visit to the Johnson City Press last summer. “This ruling removes limitations and gives people an option. I believe in democracy and that everybody that has something to say should be on the ballot.”
(Note: The full 90-page ruling is available HERE) Woodruff, a Democrat running against U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-1st, said that though he is affiliated with a major party, he got involved in the suit to fight for equity for all parties.
On Feb. 3, Judge William J. Haynes Jr. ruled in favor of claims by the plaintiffs and against Deputy Attorney General Janet Kleinfelter and defendants Tre Harget, secretary of state, and Mark Goins, coordinator of elections.
Both the Green and Constitution parties are recognized by state law as a “minor” parties, which, by definition means they are required to file a nominating petition with the state’s coordinator of elections. That petition must bear the signatures of a minimum of at least 2.5 percent of the total number of votes cast for gubernatorial candidates in the most recent election for governor.
Haynes wrote in his Feb. 3 order and/or judgment that he agreed with plaintiffs that that mark gives Goins leeway to raise the number at his discretion and therefore was “unconstitutionally vague, and imposes impermissible burdens on Plaintiff’s First Amendment right to associate as a political party.”
For a “minor” political party to get its name on the Tennessee ballot in 2012, more than 40,000 signatures would have to be collected by April 5. This law has not applied to the Republican and Democrat, or “major,” parties.
Haynes wrote in his opinion that the deadline was too early and unconstitutional, and that a more reasonable number of signatures for the nominating petition would be 10,000. This will need to be settled in the General Assembly.
“Any deadline in excess of 60 days prior to the August primary for the filing of petitions for recognition as a political party is unenforceable,” he wrote.
Haynes also declared that minor parties cannot be required to conduct primaries, which currently is state law. Woodruff has claimed that primaries are much too expensive, especially for smaller parties, and that nominating conventions would help relieve that burden.
The judge also enjoined the state from banning the words “independent” and “non-partisan” in a party’s name as it appears on a ballot, stating it violated the First Amendment rights of free speech.
He also said the state’s requirement that major parties be listed highest on ballots followed by minor parties and independents was unlawful, saying this is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause in the Forth Amendment. He also ordered the state to hold a random drawing regarding the order of party names.
He also ruled against current state law that requires signatures on nominating petitions to be accompanied by party affiliation, stating this also violated First Amendment rights to privacy and political beliefs.
(Note: The state’s attorneys can appeal the decision. Meanwhile, a “caption bill” pending in the Legislature could be amended to make changes in the current law in accord with the judge’s ruling.)
About 20 Occupy Nashville protesters took to the Mall at Green Hills Friday afternoon, decrying corporate greed, reports The Tennessean. The group showed up around 4:20 p.m. and, about 20 minutes later, broke out into chants and a variation of Jingle Bells.
“Buy no-thing, buy no-thing, buy no-thing today,” they sang for the chorus. “Better sales will come in time, but family can’t wait – hey!”
The group then marched up the stairs and toward the exit chanting, “Buy nothing!”
The group then got ejected from the property by mall security..