Tag Archives: miscellaneous

House sub’s killing of ‘pro-Azerbaijan’ resolution gets international attention

Some things that get very little attention here in Tennessee get a lot more attention elsewhere. Following, for example, are excerpts from Public Radio of Armenia’s website:

A key committee of the Tennessee House of Representatives rejected, today, an anti-Armenian resolution initiated by pro-Azerbaijan forces, once again dealing a serious setback to Baku’s efforts to undermine the independence of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, reported Armenian National Committee of America – Eastern Region.

HR 145 lead sponsor Representative Joe Towns (D) introduced a motion to move the resolution forward, but none of his committee colleagues offered a second in support. Committee Chairman Ryan Haynes declared the motion failed. Tennessee becomes the fourth state in less than two months to reject deeply flawed pro-Azerbaijan measures, joining Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming.

“We welcome today’s decision by the Tennessee House of Representatives State Government Committee to stand strong against the Azerbaijani Government’s efforts to mislead state legislators about the good people of Nagorno Karabakh and their commitment to peace,” said Steve Mesrobian, ANCA Eastern Region Board Chairman. “We are particularly proud of ANC Tennessee and Armenian American activists throughout the state, who spoke forcefully in support the rights of our brothers and sisters in Artsakh. We look forward to broadening our relationship with Tennessee legislators and find areas of cooperation on a broad range of Armenian American concerns. ”

….Tennessee ANC and community members also met with the lead sponsor of HR 145, Rep. Joe Towns (D), shared stories of the horrors of the Baku pogroms and urged him to reconsider his support for the bill. Unfortunately, Rep. Towns refused, paving the way for a Committee defeat of the measure.

“Today’s vote was proof-positive that our democracy is not for sale, as our legislators joined with those in Hawaii, South Dakota, and Wyoming in standing up for truth and against Azerbaijani dictator Ilham Aliyev’s campaign to export anti-Armenian hatred to our shores,” said ANC Tennessee leader Bearj Barsoumian. “It was particularly inspiring to work with the broad range of Armenian American grassroots advocates here in The Volunteer State and across the country – all bound by a deep commitment to Artsakh freedom.”

Note: The resolution failed for a lack of a second in the House State Government Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Curry Todd had earlier moved to postpone consideration until 2020, but that motion was ruled out of order. (I am reliably advised that Eric Schelzig of the AP and Daniel Potter of WPLN both tweeted on the matter, but otherwise it appears to have had little Tennessee attention.)

Some miscellaneous TN opinion and news links

Gail Kerr on the legislature
Gail Kerr has been regularly weighing in on proposals in the General Assembly, mostly those she doesn’t like.

Most recently, Kerr opines that a bill to change the name of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission to the Tennessee Affirmative Action Commission – and shakeup its appointive process – amounts to bigotry, HERE. Also criticized is the “Religious Freedom Act,” which Kerr says could give the commission plenty of work.

Kerr further says that legislators fixation on UT Sex Week is unhealthy, HERE, an opinion apparently shared by fellow Tennessean columnist Frank Daniels Jr., who declared it “ludicrous that a legislator thinks that his prudish view of sex should be imposed on other adults,” HERE.

She doesn’t like the bill on for-profit charter schools, but is Tennesseans “won a big one” with approval of wine in grocery stores.

Breaking: Republicans hate unions
Have you noticed that Republicans really, really, really hate unions? Robert Houk has.

Two years ago, the Republican supermajority in the state General Assembly took great glee in gutting the collective bargaining rights of the Tennessee Education Association.

Legislators have vowed to do much worse to any public union that even dares to stick a nose in Tennessee.

Attack on Supreme trio coming?
Trent Siebert writes in Tennessee Watchdog that there may be efforts to reject three state Supreme Court justices who will be on the ballot in August in a yes-no retention election.

It’s clear a fight is revving up this year over the future of the Tennessee judiciary. The three justices facing retention are Justice Cornelia A. Clark, Justice Sharon G. Lee and Chief Justice Gary R. Wade.

Some political watchers point to one case signed off on by Clark, Wade and Lee that saved a man from death row after he was found guilty of killing an elderly woman who fought back as he tried to rob her. (Note: The case is Smith vs. State, in which the first degree murder conviction was upheld, but the death sentence vacated; opinion HERE.)

Gibson seeks profit from penalty
Remember that Gibson Guitars of Nashville got raided by federal agents and was accused of braking the law by illegally importing rosewood, adamantly denying guilt but agreeing to pay a $300,000 penalty?

Now the company has a “government series” guitar, made out of the questioned rosewood, selling at $1,099 each that the company says “suitably marks this infamous time in Gibson’s history.” Tennessean story HERE.

Miscellaneous TN political news and opinions

On DesJarlais, Tracy and a Muslim cemetery
U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais is taking a swipe at the decision to allow a cemetery at a Rutherford County mosque — and perhaps also his opponent in this August’s Republican primary, observes In Session:

DesJarlais drew fire from Muslim activists and others for a post Friday on his official Facebook page in which he seemed to lament a recent vote to let the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro build a cemetery.

“Although this is a state issue, I am deeply concerned over the impact it might have on our community,” he wrote. “Unfortunately the Tennessee Religious Freedom Act, passed by the TN General Assembly, may have played a key role in allowing this cemetery to be approved.”

…DesJarlais appears to be referring to a 2009 law, the Tennessee Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that was meant to protect religious groups from burdensome regulations. The mosque, arguably, has benefited from that law, as activists in Rutherford County have tried unsuccessfully to stop, first, the building’s construction and, then, the cemetery.

DesJarlais has said little about the mosque until now, but he has an incentive to take a shot at the law. His main opponent in August, state Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville, was one of its co-sponsors.

Well, we’re not at the bottom
Politico has done a “best states/worst states” rating based on 14 criteria all averaged together, more less. Mississippi comes out at the bottom; New Hampshire at the top. Tennessee is 48th.

Former Rep. seeks GOP SEC slot
Former state Rep. Julia Hurley, who represented the Legislature when she lived in Lenoir City, is seeking to become a member of the Tennessee Republican Party’s State Executive Committee in the 5th Senate District, which includes Loudon and Anderson counties and a portion of Knox County.

Since being defeated in the GOP primary two years ago by state Rep. Kent Calfee of Kingston, Hurley now lists 119 Lee Drive in Knoxville as her address. As of Friday, no other candidate had picked up a petition for this position in any of the three counties.

Georgiana Vines full column, with more on party executive committee races, is HERE.
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Forbes’ 2013 richest list has five from TN, two with brothers named Bill

In the Forbes magazine list of the 400 richest Americans for 2013, there are five Tennesseans and two have political brothers named Bill.

The two with political brothers are Thomas Frist Jr., whose listing says “and family” beside his name and Jimmy Haslam, whose listing does not. Tommy Frist’s brother, of course, is Bill Frist, former U.S. Senate majority leader; Jimmy’s brother Bill is governor.

Here’s the Forbes commentary on each of the Tennesseans listed among the 400 in order of rank.

Thomas Frist Jr. & family, tied for 90th, with $5 billion, up from No. 92 in 2012.
Thomas Frist is still the largest shareholder in HCA Holding, the hospital conglomerate he and his father founded in 1968. He took the company public for the third time in 2011, after two management buyouts. Frist and family now own a 15.6% share in HCA and have received more than $1 billion of dividends since 2010, including $315 million issued in late 2012 prior to new tax rules. HCA purchased three hospitals in Tampa Bay, Fla. this year. The company also paid $7.1 million to the U.S. government to settle allegations that 23 of HCA’s hospitals used higher-priced inpatient procedures instead of less expensive outpatient spinal surgeries to get bigger Medicare payments. The Frist family is building a 500-bed hospital in China through a joint venture with that government; the hospital is slated to open in December.
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If you’re looking for some TN political commentary…..

Here are a few examples of Tennesseans with opinions and observations, recently available online and collected in rather random looking, about this, that or the other.
President Bill Haslam? The Tennessean collects Washington commentary on the matter. Heslam is a “solutions-oriented conservative” and a “conservative pragmatist.” But, well,that might not make everybody in the GOP happy.
.Under the headline, “Drinking the Hemlock Kool-Aid,” Trent Siebert critiques the 2008 decision to give big incentives to the company’s Clarksville company and that “there seems to be little desire from current Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, to see if taxpayer money can be saved.”
Sen. Lamar Alexander is running hard for reelection at age 72, determined not to be this year’s version of Richard Lugar or Bob Bennett (which seems highly unlikely), observes Frank Cagle.
George Korda has no respect for anonymous commenters. “They’re either scared or they would be embarrassed if they identified themselves. It’s that or they themselves believe their comments are so insipid they don’t want their names associated with them.”
Robert Houk, after listening to the Tennessee Hospital Association’s explanation of what Medicaid expansion would mean, says “doing the math shouldn’t be that much of a head-scratcher for GOP lawmakers. But it will.” (The Commercial Appeal, editorially, pretty much agrees with him.)
“Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith moved last month to kick from the party’s board members who leak details to the media, criticize party operations or publicly question his performance as chairman. Chris Carroll reports.
State Democratic Chairman Roy Herron says being a Christian and a Democrat just go together. The op-ed piece, which hit the “most popular” list on the newspaper’s website, is HERE.
Otis Sanford on the Great Parks-Naming Controversy in Memphis: “Let’s sell the naming rights to these parks and make some money on this deal.” HERE. But did anybody notice there’s something missing in the debate?

TN Political News Notes, 9/16/12

GOP Legislators Collect $475K
Republican House and Senate members had a hugely successful joint fundraiser Thursday in Nashville, hauling in an estimated $475,000, reports Andy Sher.
Tickets for the Nashville event ranged from $2,500 for a courtyard reception outside the War Memorial Building to a $10,000-per-ticket event inside the War Memorial’s auditorium and $25,000 for a dinner at the Hermitage Hotel with top legislative leadership and special guests.
…Proceeds are split between the House and Senate Republican caucuses
Koch Tennessee Touch
The Koch brothers, the Kansas billionaire industrialists known for financing the tea party movement and countless conservative groups, extend their generosity to the Tennessee congressional delegation as well, reports The Tennessean.
So far for the 2012 elections, the Koch Industries political action committee, Koch PAC, has spread $42,500 among five Republican members of the delegation.
Getting the most has been Rep. Marsha Blackburn ($17,500), followed by Reps. Diane Black of Gallatin ($10,000); Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump ($7,500); Chuck Fleischmann of Ooltewah ($5,000); and Scott DesJarlais of Jasper ($2,500).And the Tennessee Republican Party has received $5,000 from the PAC.

On Changing Nashville Election Dates
A proposal to save money by having Nashville’s mayoral, vice mayoral and Metro Council elections at the same time as other elections is raising concerns among council members who might not support it enough to give voters a say in the matter, says the Tennessean.
And columnist Gail Kerr is not too keen on the idea, either.
Matalin & Carville Do Memphis
There were moments in the “Political Perspectives” Centennial luncheon Friday at the University of Memphis, featuring political consultants Mary Matalin and James Carville, when a more complete picture of the long-running, right wing-left wing, made-for-TV act emerged. The CA’s rundown HERE.

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Miscellaneous TN Political News Notes

Corker Helps Ann Romney With Fundraising
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker will host a fundraiser with first lady nominee Ann Romney in Chattanooga later this month, according to Chas Sisk.
With Democrats distancing themselves from Corker’s challenger in November, the senator and his wife will host a $10,000-per-person dinner at their home this Friday. Budget-conscious Republicans can choose to attend a reception and photo op prior to the dinner for $5,000 a person or couple, or they can go to the reception only — without the photo op — for $1,000 a person or $2,000 a couple. The fundraiser is probably as close as Tennesseans are going to get to seeing the two presidential campaigns on the ground this fall.
With much of the candidates’ time devoted to stump speeches in battleground states, surrogates such as Ann Romney are expected to be tasked with representing the campaigns in Tennessee — even at private fundraisers.

Gov in Search of Special Supremes
Gov. bill Haslam said Friday he is working to find “three great replacements” for the three special Supreme Court justices who recused themselves from hearing a constitutional challenge to appellate judge selection process, according to the Chattanooga TFP.
“We’re in the process of coming up with another three we’ll nominate as well,” Haslam told reporters after a ribbon-cutting for a new Saks Direct fulfillment center in La Vergne. “Hopefully in the next week or so. We’re not far away from that.”
Haslam called appointing someone as a special justice “something you have to make certain people are willing to do.” “We’re in the process of doing some background checks and then checking people’s availability. I wouldn’t think it would be more than a week,” he said.

Congressmen & Their Bills
The Tennessean has a count of bills introduced by members of Congress representing Middle Tennessee and observations on how most have no chance of passage.
The 112th Congress, which still has four months to go, has produced plenty of such measures. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Brentwood, leads the way among delegation members, sponsoring or co-sponsoring 424 bills. Rep. Diane Black, R-Gallatin, comes next, with 244.
She’s followed by Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (211), Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Jasper (187), Republican Sen. Bob Corker (171), Rep. Stephen Fincher, R-Frog Jump (159) and Rep. Jim Cooper, D-Nashville (123).

Unemployment Tax Down a Bit
Tennessee business will get to pay less into the state’s unemployment trust fund, at least for a little while, according to WPLN. It’s first time there’s been a decrease in three years.
Payments are going down about one percent, but the decrease could be short lived.
Danny Burk is with the Department of Labor and Workforce Development:: “It’s certainly conceivable, if not likely, that rates would change again on January 1.”
The amount of money in the trust fund can fluctuate wildly. Just two years ago, the amount was so low the state needed loans and federal stimulus money to pay out benefits. Now Tennessee has over $568 million in the unemployment trust fund. Burk says the fund has replenished because of a lower jobless rate. Also, the General Assembly increased the amount of a worker’s salary that’s subject to the tax

TN Primary Election Day News Notes (early edition)

Super PACs Spending to Last Hours
A few Super PACs are keeping political ads – most of them negative – on the air in Tennessee through Election Day, according to WPLN.
The biggest spending is in the 6th Congressional District. Nashville health care investor Andy Miller has spent more than $230,000 attacking Rep. Diane Black of Gallatin. He’s supporting Lou Ann Zelenik, who narrowly lost to Black in the Republican primary two years ago.
ANDREW MILLER: “I honestly believe with my entire heart that she will not be bought out by special interests.”
REPORTER: “Are you a special interest?”
ANDREW MILLER: “I suppose to some degree I am, but my interests are to see the primary process find a more level playing field.”
As the incumbent, Black has been able to raise nearly a million dollars from political action committees. She’s also gotten her own Super PAC help from the American College of Radiology.

Kernell Cries Foul on Hardaway
A campaign flyer for state Rep. G.A. Hardaway, one of the candidates in the hotly contested House District 93 Democratic primary race, drew attacks Wednesday from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen as “not honest,” while backers of state Rep. Mike Kernell, Hardaway’s opponent, say their names were used without permission in the flyer. HERE.
Slowdown in Shelby?
In an effort to make sure all voters receive the proper ballot, the Shelby County Election Commission has added an extra step that chairman Robert Meyers said could slow the voting process for everyone in Thursday’s elections. Ballot problems following redistricting of state House and Senate and U.S. House voting boundaries led to more than 3,000 voters appearing to cast ballots in incorrect races during the early voting period. The majority of the incorrect ballots involved state House party primaries, although some of those are uncontested. HERE.
Still More on Maggart vs. NRA
From a Frank Cagle column on why today’s elections are important: If the NRA defeats Maggart and some other members they have targeted, one of two things will happen. The members will bow down to the NRA lobbyists, shaking in their boots, and do what they are told. Or, they will be so angry at the tactics used against one of their own that they may revolt. Given that none of them wants $100,000 spent in a race against them in two years, I suspect it will be the former.
Incumbent Advantage in Roane?
Early voting should be moved out of the Roane County Courthouse to avoid potential problems about campaign boundaries and uniformed officers near polling places, the county’s District Attorney General says. Russell Johnson’s recommendation to the Roane County Election Commission is based on the premise that voting in the courthouse “provides what is perceived as an unfair advantage” to courthouse officeholders, the incumbents. HERE.
Hurley Signs Vandalized
State Rep. Julia Hurley said she is “sick and tired” of having to replace campaign signs due to vandalism and ready to press charges if the perpetrators can be identified. Hurley, facing a primary today against challenger Kent Calfee for the Republican nomination in the 32nd District, said the sign damage increased as the campaign progressed.
Since the campaign began, Hurley said she has replaced dozens of signs. Replacing vandalized signs has become a huge drain on campaign funds she said. … Hurley said she has had to replace many small signs that are found ripped up by the side of the road. She also lost two large signs to vandalism. The two signs alone cost more than $3,000 to replace, including the fence posts. More HERE.
An Omission in Rutherford
A printing error that left a few words off thousands of voter registration cards sent out last month shouldn’t affect voters when they go to the polls today, according to Rutherford County’s elections administrator…. The Rutherford County Election Office mailed 130,000 new voter registration cards to registered voters in July, in addition to information about 46 voting precincts and voting district lines, in preparation for today’s county general election and state and federal primary vote.
…The omitted words are on the part of the card with the voter’s name, address and voter registration card number. Just above the voter’s signature and that of Administrator of Elections Nicole Lester, the cards say, “The above is entitled to vote on and after the issuance of this card, provided the …” Missing are the words “registration has not become void.” HERE.

TN Political News Notes, 8/01/12

Silence on Chuck’s Stalled Bills
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann enjoys telling voters about legislation he has introduced to freeze government spending, eliminate capital gains taxes and abolish “wasteful” federal programs. However, the Ooltewah Republican never tells campaign audiences that his legislative output — six resolutions in all — has stalled in various House committees. Story HERE.
Cohen Offers Voter Advice
Some involved in Shelby County school board races are riled at U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen for endorsing candidates in Memphis-specific races he says had the “foresight” to vote against dissolving Memphis City Schools to force Shelby County schools consolidation. HERE.
Property Assessor Plans False Arrest Lawsuit
Rutherford County Republican Property Assessor Bill Boner said he has until Friday, the day after the election, to turn himself in to authorities on a sign vandalism accusation.
“I’m going to file a false arrest lawsuit,” Boner said during an interview at his property assessor office Tuesday. HERE.
Knox Fundraising
State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey has $166,344 in her campaign chest with no opponent going into Thursday’s Republican primary, while Evelyn Gill, the only Democrat in the race for the 6th District post, has $1,927.. Part of a roundup on campaign balances of Knox County legislative candidates, HERE.
Anderson County’s High-Spending Mayor’s Race
An unprecedented amount of campaign money (into six figures) is being spent in a special election for Anderson County mayor, the county’s administrator of elections said. HERE.
Editorial Bashes Vital
Start of a Chattanooga Free Press editorial: Another day, another allegation of dirty campaigning against Greg Vital. On July 25, this page endorsed Vital in the Republican primary for the open 10th District state Senate seat, but we expressed our concern about his “win-at-all-cost mentality.” Since that time, that win-at-all-cost attitude has turned Vital from a promising candidate into a loathsome embarrassment. HERE.

TN Political News, Briefly Noted

No Helmet Notions
The Tennessean has a story on the annual crusade for repeal of the state law requiring motorcyclists to wear helmets.
The Motorcyclist Liberty Restoration Act currently before the Tennessee legislature would put an end to the helmet requirement for motorcycle riders 21 and older. Even though no state has repealed a helmet law since Pennsylvania did it in 2003, the rising popularity of libertarian ideas gives the anti-helmet movement a boost. Medical associations in the state are keeping a close watch on the legislation, which will be discussed Tuesday during a noon hearing before the House transportation subcommittee.
Haslam Q&A
Jeff Woods has put together a partial transcript of questions and answers at Gov. Bill Haslam’s media availability last week.
‘Stupid’ Councilman’s Political Future
Gail Kerr opines that Metro Councilman Brady Banks “plain stupid” to get arrested in a prostitution sting…. but that doesn’t necessarily mean his political career is over.
Just Sayin’
Brandon Puttbrese, quoted in the City Paper, on the Republican presidential nominee’s prospects of carrying Tennessee this fall.
“I’m not pretending that Tennessee is going to go for Obama, but I think it’s going to be much tougher in 2012 than it was in 2008,” Puttbrese said.
ECD Comish Stumps for Romney
Bill Hagerty, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, is scheduled to speak at a regional rally for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney late today, reports Georgiana Vines.