Tag Archives: night

Bill Haslam: ‘No Night Sweats’ Over Pilot Flying J; Democrats Respectful (sorta)

After 12 minutes of “easy questions,” Gov. Bill Haslam was asked about the Pilot Flying J investigation during a summit on manufacturing in Washington last week “to give you the chance if you want to say anything,” reports Chris Carroll.
“Oh, well, thanks,” Haslam murmured. “I guess.”
When the laughter died down, the governor offered a full-throated defense of the family business, but Jordan’s question prompted a pained hesitation that may redefine Haslam as political opponents search for chinks in his armor.
…Democrats already are connecting the FBI investigation with an old fight with Haslam. Soon after taking office, the governor rolled back financial disclosure rules for himself and other top officials. That meant he didn’t have to disclose his assets, many of which originated with Pilot.
“I thought it was a mistake before the FBI raid. I think it’s a double mistake to continue down that path now,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron said. “I don’t think any of us know how severe the conflicts are or how much he’s personally profited from what appear to be — what apparently the FBI thinks — were wrongful actions.”
..In an interview after the Washington Post event, Haslam emphasized the ongoing nature of the investigation, saying he has “no doubt that the top management of the company always intends to do the right thing.”
“No night sweats,” he said. “At the end of the day, I’m going to run a re-election campaign based on what I’ve done as governor.”
Like Ingram, Haslam stressed that it’s been more than a decade since he played a direct role in the company. (Note: Tom Ingram is a political consultant to Bill Haslam and has been retained as a PR consultant to Pilot Flying J and CEO Jimmy Haslam during the federal investigation.)
“It’s been so long since I’ve worked there that a whole lot of the folks that are mentioned [in the affidavit] are people I don’t even know,” he said.
The governor made that statement six hours before The Tennessean newspaper published a story that implied otherwise. The newspaper identified 10 Pilot executives in the FBI affidavit who gave a total of $56,000 to Haslam in campaign contributions.
… (Democratic party tweets cited: “Nine Pilot executives mentioned in the FBI affidavit gave a combined $56k to @BillHaslam’s campaign.” “Gov. @BillHaslam, political campaign directly benefited from Pilot Flying J’s scheme to cheat truckers, small biz.”)
In response to the Tennessean report, a Haslam spokesman stressed the governor’s army of contributors and said, “It’s natural that a Pilot employee would be one of those.”
…Chattanooga Tea Party President Mark West said he thought the government’s aggressive approach means there’s something sinister behind the scenes. Some have speculated pure politics; leading the investigation is Bill Killian, the U.S. attorney in East Tennessee appointed in 2010 by President Barack Obama.
“It’s more than likely politically motivated,” West said.
Haslam rejected that outright.
“I’m not typically a conspiracy-theorist type of guy,” he said, “and I’m not in this either.

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A Task Force on Christmas Poem, of Sorts

The following was written for a Capitol Hill Press Corps seasonal holiday gathering last week and read aloud by Corps Chair Andrea Zelinski:
The Task Force on Christmas, meeting out at the residence
had cabinet members stirring, although with some hesitance.
A draft proclamation had been hung on a wall
with a Deputy Claude memo explaining it all.
Don’t-Call-Me-Dave and Silent Mike Morrow
had instructions to write puff pieces starting tomorrow.
And the gov in his necktie, with rolled-up shirt sleeves
Sat with Chrissy at a desk, completely at ease.
When at the Conservation Hall door there arose such a clatter,
Bill sprang from his chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he ran like a flash
Tore open the shutters and pulled out his stash.
(Pause) Of Alexia Poe talking points
The moon on the breast of the parking lot pavement
Gave the lustre of mid-day when the staff watched in amazement.,
As, what to their wondering eyes should appear,
But a busload of legislators, all dressed as red state reindeer.
With the lieutenant governor driving, and Beth riding shotgun
All knew in a moment, the new normal Supermajority was out for some fun
More rapid than eagles the reindeer Republicans came,
And the speakers whistled, and shouted, and called them by name.
“Now, Campfield! now, Beavers! Courtney Rogers, McCormick
On Kelsey, On Ketron, On, Frank Nicely and Womick
To the top with vouchers! More guns! Less tax!
No health care exchange! Let’s start a reindeer leadership PAC!
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So into the bunker the coursers they flew,
Filled with conservative joy, for the governor’s top-to-bottom review.
Bold Bill bade them welcome, and Chrissy did, too
And the task force on Christmas knew just what to do.
“We’ll study your wish list,” said Chief of Staff Cate.
“And the governor has presents to present while you wait.”
Deputy Claude’s eyes twinkled. His dimples how merry.
Emkes’ cheeks were like roses, Roberts’ nose like a cherry
Leslie brought forth packages, tied with red ribbons,
All wrapped with safety by Commissioner Gibbons.
She carried fiscal notes in one hand, in the other letters called flags
But slung across her shoulders were a couple of bags.
Leslie laid them reverently at the governor’s feet
And he smiled and said, “I have for you all a Christmas treat!”
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And his beardless chin was as white as the snow;
He had a narrow face and very little belly,
But because of recent bike riding was a little bit smelly.
He said, “For you, Ron Ramsey, a cut in the Hall tax there will be
And for you, Beth Harwell, a signed picture of me!”
“From Julius Johnson to Dolores Gresham, a renewed agriculture enhancement grant
“From Kevin Huffman to Brian Kelsey the promise of a pro-voucher slant.
“For all of you free tickets to a Cleveland Browns game
“And coffee cups bearing the Pilot Flying J name.”
“Proclamations drafted by Legal Counsel Herbert Slatery
“Will provide each Republican legislator with individualized flattery.”
He spoke lots of words: Agenda 21 he would shirk
Denounced Sharia law, called Craig Fitzhugh a jerk.
Henceforth, he said, we’ll all be best buddies
Subject only, of course, to a few task force studies.
“Finally, no I promise no Obamacare exchange.”
And the legislators cheered, and praised his name.
Then Speaker Beth sprung to the bus, Speaker Ron gave a whistle
And away red legislators flew, like the down of a thistle.
The task force heard them shout, as the bus went out of sight
“A Merry conservative Christmas to all,
Our governor’s gone to the right.”

Six Republicans Unseated in Legislative Primaries

At least six sitting Republican representative – including the chairman of the House GOP Caucus and the Education Committee – were defeated in Thursday’s primary elections and a couple of others had close calls.
On the Democratic side, four incumbents were also unseated, but that was the result of redistrictign that had pitted incumbent-versus-incumbent in four races.
The upset of the evening statewide was the defeat of House Republican Caucus Chairman Debra Maggart of Hendersonville by Courtney Rogers, an Air Force veteran who benefited by more than $75,000 worth of spending by the National Rifle Association. The NRA’s Political Victory Fund targeted Maggart for attack radio ads and billboards after blaming her for failure of a so-called “guns parking lots” bill that would have allow gunowners to keep their weapons in locked cars, even in the parking lots of companies that ban guns.
House Education Committee Chairman Richard Montgomery, R-Sevierville, was the second most prominent member of House GOP leadership to lose. He was narrowly defeated by Dale Carr, a Sevierville auctioneer who said the incumbent had lost touch with Sevier County voters.
Both Maggart and Montgomery had outspent their opponents overall by substantial amounts and both had staunch support from Gov. Bill Haslam, House Speaker Beth Harwell and other established state Republican leaders.
Also losing bids for reelection in the Republican primaries Thursday were Reps. Julia Hurley of Lenoir City, defeated by Kent Calfee of Kingston, and Dale Ford of Jonesborough, defeated by James “Micah” Van Huss, an Army veteran; Don Miller of Morristown, defeated by Tilman Goins; and Linda Elam of Mount Juliet, defeated by former Rep. Susan Lynn.
The only incumbent Republican state senator to face a serious challenger, Doug Overbey of Maryville, had a win of almost two-to-one over Scott Hughes. The win was tantamount to election with no Democrat on the ballot.

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Occupy Nashville’ ‘Hero’ Previously More Harsh on Protesters

By refusing to issue misdemeanor warrants sought by state officials against Occupy Nashville protesters, reports the Tennessean, Night Court Commissioner Tom Nelson “was transformed from one of Nashville’s least- known judicial officers to a folk hero.”
And just like that, a man who has failed five times since 1990 to become a judge solidified himself as a star jurist within the small but passionate encampment on Legislative Plaza.
“His interpretation of the law was very even-handed,” Occupy protester Buck Gorrell said. “It probably took some courage to tell the Tennessee Highway Patrol and the governor that they didn’t hold water.” As protesters awaited a third straight night of arrests that never materialized, cheers erupted when it was announced that Nelson was on duty again that night.
…Signs declaring Nelson an “American hero” and “defender of theConstitution” are among those posted around Legislative Plaza. Protesters signed an oversized thank-you card and marched it to the Metro Courthouse. There’s even talk of creating T-shirts with Nelson’s face on them.
“It’s not really an endorsement thing, it’s just like a thank-you,” said Occupy protester Phillip Schlicher, 31. “You did your job with dignity, and we respect that.”
Just four years earlier, Nelson came to a very different conclusion when 16 homeless advocates were arrested for protesting too late into the night outside the Metro Courthouse. Nelson signed off on the arrests and set bail for each of the protesters at $2,000. The group included Charlie Strobel, a former Catholic priest and founding director of the Room in the Inn homeless shelter. General Sessions Judge Aaron Holt dismissed the charges the next morning, and the arrests, especially of Strobel, were widely panned.
Strobel said that the arrests of Occupy Nashville protesters reminded him of his own arrest, and that he was happy to see Nelson order the demonstrators released.
“Maybe the lesson learned from that was that we need to take these peaceful protests more seriously,” Strobel said.
Nelson declined to be interviewed for this story, so it’s not clear why hehandled the 2007 arrestsof protesters differently. However, Metro had an existing law that closed city parks such as Public Square at 11 p.m., while the state-imposed curfew on Legislative Plaza was created in the middle of the Occupy Nashville protest, after the protesters had been on the plaza for three weeks.