Attorney Jeff Yarbro has taken a commanding fundraising lead in the Democratic primary to replace longtime state Sen. Douglas Henry, hauling in more than four times the figure of his opponent, Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, according to The Tennessean. Yarbro raised $95,225 in the financial quarter that ended June 30, giving him a total war chest of $101,089, while Holleman raked in $22,200. The deadline to submit financial disclosures for 2014 state elections was Monday.
…Besides these two, no one else has publicly expressed intentions to run for District 21, which now stretches from West Nashville to parts of East Nashville and Madison after Republican-controlled redistricting.
The contest between Yarbro and Holleman, considered a bitter rivalry, is likely to be Davidson County’s most watched race in 2014. The winner would be heavily favored in the November general election.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A Knox County commissioner has pleaded no contest to public indecency nearly a year after he was accused of engaging in oral sex in a park.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/199eDTh ) that Commissioner Jeff Ownby was fined $500 plus court costs for the misdemeanor charge on Friday.
He must also serve six months of supervised probation and is banned from being within 100 yards of the North Knoxville park he was arrested in.
Knoxville police arrested Ownby and another man during a prostitution sting on May 24, 2012. Ownby, who is married, has maintained that the incident was a one-time indiscretion.
Ownby rejected calls for his resignation following his arrest.
State Sen. Douglas Henry’s announcement that he will retire from the Legislature this week has already led two men to say they will run for the Democratic nominationn to succeed him.
They are, says the City Paper, Nashville attorney Jeff Yarbro, who nearly defeated Henry in a 2010 primary challenge, and Metro Councilman Jason Holleman, who is term-limited at the courthouse and whose ambition is well known in Nashville’s political circles. Holleman, who has called Henry a hero of his, confirmed his plans to The City Paper.
“I intend to run for the state Senate next year, because I think it’s the place where I can do the largest good,” he said, noting that he has lived in District 21 his entire life.
With the caveat that formal announcements and campaign organizations are still a ways off, Holleman said education is a top-of-mind issue for him at the state level, where policy decisions “have a tremendous impact on the classrooms in our local school system.”
“Beyond that, we’re in a time when there is a lot of discussion about the interplay between state and local government,” he said. “I think that there is a need to be sure that our local government interests are represented. And with the background in local government, both as an elected official and an attorney, I think I can contribute in a meaningful way to that discussion.”
If he were elected, Holleman would join, at least for a bit, the ranks of council members who have held seats at the state and local level simultaneously. While his first state Senate term would begin in January 2015, his final council term would end in August.
Yarbro also confirmed that he intends to run, but said he will make a formal announcement later.
“I’m looking forward to a conversation about Tennessee’s future and this Senate seat, but there’s plenty of time for the next campaign. I’ll make an announcement when the time’s right.”
He declined to comment further, saying he’d “love for this week to be about Sen. Henry,” and his “faithfulness to the state over the years and his service.
From The Tennessean: Democratic Reps. Mike Stewart and Sherry Jones and former Metro Councilman David Briley each told The Tennessean on Wednesday that they wouldn’t be running in the District 21 Democratic primary in 2014, which is still 15 months away.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee lawmakers gave rousing applause to welcome a Georgia senator who opposed a resolution calling for redrawing the border between the two states.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris of Collierville introduced Republican Sen. Jeff Mullis of Chickamauga, Ga., during a floor session on Wednesday.
Norris joked that Mullis was not in exile because of his position on the Georgia-Tennessee border dispute.
Republican Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga gave Mullis a signed coffee cup of water to take back to Atlanta.
Georgia lawmakers argue that an 1818 survey misplaced what should have been the state line at 35th parallel. If Tennessee’s southern border stretched along the parallel, Georgia could take water from the Tennessee River.
The resolution calls for Georgia’s attorney general to sue if negotiations with Tennessee fail.
News release from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s office:
(February 25, 2013, NASHVILLE) – Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) congratulates Dr. Jeff McMillin of Bristol on his election as chairman of the Tennessee Fish and Wildlife Commission (TFWC). The TFWC works with the State Legislature to provide direction and oversight to the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA). Dr. McMillin was appointed to the commission by Lt. Governor Ramsey in 2009 and elected chairman at the commission’s February meeting.
“I am extremely proud to see Jeff elected chairman of the TWRA. His deep and abiding love of the outdoors cannot help but be transmitted to everyone with whom he comes in contact,” said Lt. Governor Ramsey. “As a fellow outdoorsman, I have appreciated Jeff’s dedication to serving on this commission. He is a treasure to the state and the perfect person to oversee TWRA’s mission of conservation and preservation of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife.”
A native of Sullivan County, Dr. Jeff McMillin has been a practicing dentist in Bristol, Tennessee since 1981. After graduating with honors from the University of Tennessee Knoxville in 1978, he acquired his doctorate of dental surgery (DDS) from University of Tennessee Memphis in 1981. Dr. McMillin has lived his entire life in Tennessee and his hobbies include hunting ducks, turkey and big game, saltwater, river and stream fishing. He also enjoys planting food plots and improving wildlife habitat on his hunting property in East Tennessee. Dr. McMillin and his wife, Debbie have two adult children, Bart and Sara, and one grandson, Colt.
Tennessee Fish & Wildlife Commission oversees Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The TWRA was established in 1949 and completely reorganized in 1974. It now consists of more than 600 professionals dedicated to the preservation, conservation, and enhancement of Tennessee’s fish and wildlife for the enjoyment of all Tennesseans and visitors.
– Note: The selection of McMillin as chairman comes after the previous chairman, William ‘Chink’ Brown of Chattanooga, was effectively removed as a member of the commission by the Legislature’s refusal to confirm Brown’s appointment to a new term by Gov. Bill Haslam. Previous post HERE. A spokesman for Ramsey says McMillan’s election as chairman, preceeded the effective rejection of Brown’s confirmation, contrary to an earlier version of this post.
The newest mover and shaker in East Ridge politics likes to eat shrubbery, weighs 40 pounds and goes by the name Oreo, according to the Chattanooga TFP. The 1-year-old, black-and-white-haired pygmy goat scampered into the spotlight last week, when his owner Jeff Viar came before the East Ridge City Council and pleaded with the city not to take away the pet goat.
City code outlaws goats and other livestock in residential areas, but Oreo’s family say they did not know that until they found a citation on their front door this month.
…The city’s Facebook has been flooded with comments like “Save Oreo!!!” and “Awww let Oreo stay.” Some residents have discussed starting a petition to keep Oreo in East Ridge.
The goat has found some sympathy among city leaders, who say Oreo’s case is unusual because he’s domesticated and clean.
“Oreo is cute, no question about it. I’m actually kind of a fan of goats,” said East Ridge City Manager Tim Gobble, who has posted photos and “notes from Oreo” to the city’s Facebook page. “But we have to enforce the ordinance or come up with an alternative.”
Gobble said the city’s animal control officer cited the family after receiving several anonymous complaints about the goat.
The Viars have had Oreo for a year — since he was just a spindly-legged kid. They got him from a family friend in Chickamauga, Ga., after their two children begged for a goat.
“They just didn’t want a dog. They wanted a different kind of animal,” Samantha Viar said.
…East Ridge Mayor Brent Lambert said he can relate.
“I have young children; I can imagine how devastated they would be over losing a pet,” said Lambert. “If we can create a narrow exception in the law for Oreo and similar animals, certainly I’d be willing to look at that,”
…Gobble said he will ask the council for a 120-day moratorium on enforcing the anti-Oreo ordinance until the Hamilton County Regional Agency can look at the issue and provide some suggested course of action.
The council plans to continue the discussion at next month’s council meeting, set for Sept. 13.
The case against a Knox County commissioner accused of engaging in sexual activity with another man in a public park is on hold after a judge Tuesday recused himself from the case, the News Sentinel reports. Commissioner Jeff Ownby was set Tuesday to appear in Knox County General Sessions Court on an indecent exposure charge filed after Knoxville Police Department officers arrested him late last month for allegedly engaging in a sex act with another man in the Sharps Ridge public park.
However, the case was put on hold after Sessions Judge Tony Stansberry recused himself, citing the commission’s budgetary authority over his court. Although sessions court judges are state employees, Knox County contributes money to the operation of the court.
Knox County District Attorney General Randy Nichols’ office also is expected to step aside for the same reason.
Horse slaughter, deer farming and raw milk sales might be ignored in most political campaigns, but not in this summer’s four-candidate, six-county Republican primary race that will decide who succeeds retiring state Sen. Mike Faulk.
“The horse is a very intelligent animal. In my personal opinion and the opinion of humane societies I’ve talked with, we don’t need to be killing them for human consumption,” said candidate Jeff Brantley of Sharp’s Chapel. “What’s next? Dogs and cats?”
Candidate Frank Niceley of Strawberry Plains, as a state representative, has pushed legislation that would clear the way for operation of horse slaughter facilities. The bills have failed.
He has also unsuccessfully sponsored legislation that would legalize keeping whitetail deer in captivity and selling them — an idea Brantley said he also opposes.
Critics say such a move would raise the risk of Tennessee’s native whitetails becoming infected with illnesses brought in by imported, domesticated deer, including chronic wasting disease. Proponents say such concerns are mistaken and deer farming would be a new source of income in rural counties.
During his weekly meeting with reporters Thursday, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey read from a blog post by Jeff Woods on the amendment to the so-called “mountaintop removal” bill and proceeded to criticize Woods in particular and the media in general for coverage of the issue.
Woods thereupon posted a rebuttal that includes a chunk of Ramsey’s commentary: “I had one environmental group that said, ‘Well, we can start getting our coal from China.’ They actually said that to me. The ultimate goal for them is to keep coal mining out of the state,” Ramsey said. “The bill that we passed yesterday outlaws mountaintop removal mining in the state of Tennessee, period. I think there’s just a general philosophy of the press on this issue. Democrats good, Republicans bad. From day one, I’ve said I’m against this. There’s no trick.”
Extolling his environmental credentials, Ramsey went on to discuss his love of hunting and fishing and “diesel therapy,” which he said he receives by prowling the bucolic countryside on weekends astride his fume-belching tractor. It turns out he loves the smell of diesel in the morning.
You can tell I get a little fired up on this. I get a little upset that we do honestly, honestly from the bottom of my heart try to do what we think is the right thing to stop this and there’s not one ounce of coverage basically because I’m a Republican and I can’t do good on this issue. I’m one of the most outdoorsy kind of people you’d ever want to meet. Every weekend, I am outdoors all weekend. I’m a big hunter. I love fishing. Well, I don’t fish that much but I like it. I hunt a lot. I can’t wait until tomorrow to be on my tractor riding around. I call it diesel therapy. I want to protect the environment. There’s no better protector of the environment than farmers. They realize if it’s gone, they’re gone. You have to be a member of the Sierra Club to be pro-environment. That is absolutely, positively ridiculous.
Note: Related prior posts HERE (Ramsey statement) and HERE (environmentalists’ take on the amendment)..
Gov. Bill Haslam has been traveling the state with the dual role of “part cheerleader and part reassuring family member,” reports Jeff Woods in an update on the administration’s efforts to enhance economic development. The article gets into both statistics and the politics involved. Since Haslam took office in January, about 9,500 new jobs have been created in Tennessee, either through the expansion of existing businesses or via new companies locating in the state, according to figures the state Department of Economic and Community Development provided to The City Paper.
But the unemployment rate remains at a stubborn 9.8 percent statewide… To the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development, companies have reported laying off 6,886 workers in the past six months, with the biggest loss coming with the shutdown of Union City’s Goodyear Tire and Rubber plant, where 1,900 were furloughed. And those are just some of the layoffs. (Note: Reports, I think are required only when 50 or more layoffs are involved.)
All states face these new fiscal constraints, and many are in worse shape than Tennessee. Without the money to attract new businesses in traditional ways like public spending on infrastructure improvements, state governments have dreamed up a slew of ideas to help.
Among the new programs from a summary by the National Conference of State Legislatures:
• Alabama established a mortgage guarantee fund with $6 million from state oil and gas royalties. Trying to boost the state’s housing market, the fund will reimburse investors suffering foreclosure losses on loans.
• Florida is loaning money — up to $250,000 at 2 percent interest — to small businesses to expand through capital purchases, worker training and new hires.
• Colorado is providing tax credits for job creation and encouraging private lending to small businesses. Public funding in the loan program is expected to leverage more than $50 million in private financing.
• Hawaii transferred money from environmental cleanup to economic development.
Haslam refused to even consider any such stimulus programs this year, insisting that the state can’t create jobs through legislation. That prompted Democrats to accuse Haslam of failing to do enough to help the economy.
Haslam dismisses the criticism as politically motivated, noting, “My response is really that I don’t think we can create jobs by legislative work or we would do that.”
But House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley said it’s the Republicans who are playing politics, tossing Democratic ideas into the trash heap rather than giving their opponents credit for thinking outside the box. Democrats introduced a dozen bills, all of which died in committee.