Gaines Melvin Briley. a prominent businessman, politician and military veteran from Portland, has died from heart complications at age 81, reports The Tennessean. In the 1950s, his young entrepreneurial spirit encouraged him to launch Briley and Jernigan Insurance and Real Estate Agency in partnership with his brother-in-law, Joe Jernigan. For about 30 years, Briley was a partner in the flourishing business that still operates as Jernigan and Cage Insurance in Portland.
…Briley was also instrumental in the 18-year legislative career of state Rep. Mike McDonald, who knew the late politician for 40 years and considered him a mentor.
“I’ll certainly miss his friendship,” said McDonald, a former Volunteer State Community College professor. “Melvin made Portland a better place, and he’s highly respected by the entire community.”
Briley’s political career expanded beyond Portland when he helped manage the campaigns of former Congressman William Anderson and former Gov. Buford Ellington. Briley served Sumner County as a state representative in the 86th and 87th General Assembly sessions from 1969-72. During that time, he played an instrumental role in bringing Volunteer State Community College to Gallatin. The college was established in 1971.
State Representative Mike McDonald (D-44) used this session’s last Government Relations Meeting of the Gallatin Chamber last week to review his 18 year career, re-cap the good and bad of the most recent session and get a few things off his chest, reports the Hendersonville Standard
After re-capping highlights and lowlights from the past legislative session, McDonald drew fire from State Representative Debra Maggart for his comments on the Voter ID Bill.
“One of the most disappointing things to me this year, and I’m not picking on my Republican colleagues, I like both of them (referring to Maggart and State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver who was also in attendance), but when the paper runs headlines like “Back alley bills makes Tennessee tremble; Extremists groups push nutty legislation and it’s becoming law,” that’s kind of embarrassing,” he said showing photocopied newspaper headlines. “Stuff like the Tennessee Currency Bill and the Slaughter Healthy Horses bill and the Tax Strippers bill, and we’ve talked about the guns on college campuses, I just disagree with Debra and Ms. Weaver on the Voter ID Bill. It’s over, it’s done but I call it the Voter Suppression Bill. They never could prove fraud. I think people’s constitutional rights are going to be violated.”
McDonald recounted an account of the difficultly of a voter having to go back to the state of this birth, Georgia, to get a birth certificate and then presenting it to get a photo ID.
“Let’s be intellectually honest about this; the idea is to suppress young votes and to suppress elderly votes.”
Maggart took exception to the comment and interrupted McDonald saying, “Michael, I was going to say that I have enjoyed working with you…but I’m not going to sit here and let you say we did that… bless your heart, that’s not true.”
“I’m being real nice about this; we just disagree on this issue,” McDonald responded.
“On the last day (of the session), a sponsor of a bill to allow unlimited, unrestricted campaign contributions, he was going to try to pass it but said ‘everybody’s too tired and I don’t think we are going to work on this this year.’ That’s why you see headlines that say, “The Stealing of America,” again showing a photocopy of a newspaper.
McDonald said the article was about the “incestuous” relationship between corporate America and government, making a claim that private companies that operate prisons are modeling legislation to arrest more people to put them in prison, so the prison companies can make more money off the prisoners.
“I didn’t write this stuff,” he said. “I’m just reading what they are doing, and I think it’s wrong. We really ought to be concerned about unlimited corporate campaign contributions.”
Maggart again interrupted McDonald to make a point with a “Michael” but McDonald responded, “I’d like to finish, Debra, I’d just got five minutes and I’d like to finish.”
McDonald concluded by reading a piece explaining that corporations do not have the rights that the Constitution gives private citizens.
HT: Trace Sharp.
A House subcommittee voted 6-4 to kill legislation banning so-called “mountaintop removal” coal mining in Tennessee for the year, instead calling for another study of the issue.
The committee move came over the protests of Rep. Mike McDonald, D-Portland, who pleaded for a straight vote on the bill (HB291).
Mountaintop removal bills have been “delayed, delayed and delayed” since 2008 with repeated studies, he said, and as a “legislative courtesty” lawmakers should allow a vote in his final months in office. McDonald has announced he will not seek reelection.
But Rep. Richard Floyd, R-Chattanooga, said he made the motion because he is undecided about the legislation, being against “blowing the tops off of mountains” but also for “property rights.”
“We want to get it right,” said Floyd.
He said the move was not aimed at stalling, but to have a “true summer study” by the subcommittee on the merits of the idea.
The subcommittee vote comes after the Senate recently postponed a floor vote on the bill over objections of the sponsor there, Sen. Eric Stewart, D-Belvidere. Now that the bill cannot pass the House,
State Representative Mike McDonald (D-Portland) announced today that he will not be a candidate for the Democratic nomination for state representative from the 44th District this year, reports the Gallatin News..
After thoughtful consideration and conversations with my family, I have decided not to seek the Democratic nomination for state representative this year,” McDonald said. “This is my 18th year of public service and I have thoroughly enjoyed serving the people of Sumner County. Working together we have made real progress. The voters who live in the 44th District placed their trust in me and I have done my very best to be an effective and dedicated legislator,” McDonald said.
“I’m a native Tennessean and I love my home state. I will always be interested in public policy and the future of Tennessee. Also, I look forward to private sector opportunities and more time with my family. I wish to thank the voters who elected me nine times and made it possible for me to serve others. I am forever grateful to each and every voter and supporter and I will always treasure our friendships.”
— Note: With McDonald’s announcement, ten Democratic state legislators have now said they will not seek reelection to their current positions this fall.
William Lamberth, a Sumner County assistant district attorney, formally announced Monday that he will run for the State House 44th District seat now held by Mike McDonald (D-Portland,), according to the Tennessean.
Lamberth, 34, a Republican and resident of Cottontown, said he had contemplated the run for about six months before deciding in the last week to make the commitment. He said he will continue to serve as an assistant DA during his campaign and would resign his position if elected in November 2012.
“While I’m running, I’ll do everything I can to keep my campaign and job separate, although I may take a leave of absence before the primary and before the general election,” said Lamberth, who has been with the Sumner DA’s office for six years.
House Republicans have killed Democrat-sponsored bills to curb the hoarding and transfer of money from taxpayer-funded accounts used to send mailings from legislators to voters.
“If these were such great bills, why weren’t they introduced four years ago, five years ago, before we (Republicans) were in the majority?” grumbled Rep. Curry Todd, R-Collierville, at one point in debate over two bills by Rep. McDonald, D-Portland.
Both revolve around the “postage and printing” accounts maintained for each legislator. Representatives are allocated $2,019 per year and senators $6,832. The money is intended to cover costs of printing and mailing non-political materials to constituents.
In practice, some legislators never use the money and let it accumulate for years – then transfer it to another incumbent who is facing a serious re-election campaign. That legislator can then use the money to send mailings to voters in his or her district reporting on his or her accomplishments, providing pictures of meetings with prominent people and the like.
Rep. Kent Williams, the Legislature’s only independent, referred to the materials as “so-called-not-campaign fliers” during the discussion before the House State and Local Government Subcommittee last week.
“It’s a political tool. We all know that,” said Williams, who said he favored changing the law on the accounts – just not in the way proposed by McDonald.