Tag Archives: Rusty Crowe

Columnist on Sen. Rusty Crowe in ‘full Pander Bear mode’

In a Johnson City Press column, Robert Houk says state Sen. Rusty Crowe was in “Pander Bear mode” when he suggested that state employees who oppose marriage equality should have the right to refuse service to same-sex couples… and it’s not the first time.

Crowe told his colleagues in Nashville last week that he had received an email from a public official who was uncomfortable with performing his duties as an employee of ALL the citizens of Tennessee. Rather than telling that state employee he ought to find another job, Crowe launched into full Pander Bear mode.

And we’ve also seen him do that many times before.

Instead of discussing the disastrous impact their refusal to expand Medicaid is having on Tennessee hospitals, state lawmakers are carping about the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling on gay marriage. Perhaps these Republicans should follow the sage advice they gave to Democrats back in 2000 when the Supreme Court ruled in Bush v. Gore:“Get over it. Move on.”

Crowe’s fans (and even some of his critics) are often quick to defend him by saying: “Rusty’s heart is in the right place.” And both his supporters and detractors agree Crowe sometimes has feet of clay. Even so, Crowe is this region’s longest-serving member to the state General Assembly. His longevity must be based on something, but what?

Is it his easy-going style? Or is it he is a chameleon — a Leonard Zelig of politics — who seems to take on the identity of any group he speaks to? Maybe it is his dedication to the job he’s been doing it for 25 years.

Crowe has had a controversial career in the Senate. He first got on the ballot in 1990 after winning a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. Months later, he defeated former Rep. Bob King, R-Johnson City, to win his first general election.

…This September marks the 20th anniversary of Crowe’s defection to the Republican Party. Both he and the late Milton Hamilton Jr. of Union City switched parties at the same time, which gave the GOP control of the Senate for the first time since Reconstruction.

Many Democrats have never forgiven Crowe for switching parties. Likewise, some Republicans have never fully welcomed Crowe to the fold. All the while, Crowe keeps on making headlines.

Sen. Crowe a convert in Insure TN revival?

Excerpt from a column by Robert Houk:

A town Hall meeting last week on the Insure Tennessee plan had something of a tent revival feel about it, and it wasn’t because it was held at a church in downtown Johnson City. No, it was hearing the panelists talk about how expanding TennCare (Medicaid) would be moral, just and in keeping with the Golden Rule that made me think of a fervent religious gathering.

Of course, one presenter was a member of the clergy. The Rev. Jane Taylor, a pastor at First United Methodist Church… got an “Amen” from many in the audience… and from her fellow panelists, including Dr. Patrick MacMillan, an assistant professor at East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine. MacMillan said expanding health coverage to 288,000 of Tennessee’s working poor “is simply the right thing to do.” He also got the loudest applause of the evening when he said: “Politicians have health insurance. Why can’t the working people of Tennessee have health insurance?”

This was in reference to recent reports that many lawmakers in the state General Assembly are receiving state-subsidized medical insurance. One of them, state Sen. Rusty Crowe, R-Johnson City, said he was perfectly fine with the public knowing of his health care coverage. Crowe, who helped defeat Insure Tennessee during a special session in February, only to play a crucial role in trying to revive it a month later, said he is now convinced the plan is a good thing for Tennessee.

That’s also the thinking of 64 percent of state residents polled on the subject by Vanderbilt University.

Crowe also told the crowd Wednesday that politics and ideology are the reasons many of his Republican brethren on Capitol Hill are willing to turn down nearly $2.8 billion in federal funds to help the low-income Tennesseans.

News & Opinion Notes on Matters Before the Legislature

‘Deeply Torn’ Vs. ‘Revenge Politics’
Sen. Rusty Crowe is “deeply torn” on teacher collective bargaining legislation, which is forcing him to “make one of the toughest decisions he has ever had to face in his (20-year) legislative career,” reports Robert Houk in a Sunday column based on appearances of two legislators before his ETSU journalism class. As for the other legislator:
Meanwhile, his colleague in the House, Rep. Dale Ford, R-Jonesborough, says he suffers from no mental anguish or political confusion when it comes to collective bargaining. Ford (always a plain talker) told my students last week he believes the effort by some of his GOP colleagues to end collective bargaining is “baloney” and amounts to nothing more than “revenge politics.” Ford said he refuses to support any legislation that would hurt teachers.
“I’m for helping teachers,” he said. And you don’t help teachers, Ford said, by eliminating collective bargaining.

Budget Cuts State Library Services
Upcoming budget cuts will affect those interested in studying Tennessee history, according to a Cumberland University history professor writing in The Tennessean.
The budget proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam recommends the cutting of seven full-time positions at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. Under former Gov. Phil Bredesen, proposed cuts to TSLA were delayed by federal stimulus funding, but that funding is no longer in place.
According to the 2011-12 budget, beginning this summer, public access to TSLA will be reduced from 60 hours to 37.5 hours. State Librarian Chuck Sherrill has indicated that TSLA, which is currently open Monday-Saturday from 8 a.m. to 6 p. m. will change its hours to Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. These changes in the hours of operation will not meet the budget as currently written, however, so another five hours will need to be cut beyond what Sherrill has identified.
The seven TSLA staff positions targeted for elimination, which is the other major identified cut, will almost certainly be longtime staff members. These losses are in addition to the five positions lost under the last budget.

Layoff Notices Delivered at Greene Valley
About 280 of the more than 1,000 workers at Greene Valley Development Center received written notice (last week) that they may be without a job when the new state budget year begins July 1, reports the Johnson City Press.
The notices are part of Gov. Bill Haslam and the state Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities’ proposal to reduce Greene Valley’s work force by 600 positions, including 103 unfilled positions and another 211 workers whose jobs will be eliminated if the budget is passed without amendment.
The governor’s budget proposal also includes the elimination of 248 jobs at the Clover Bottom Developmental Center in West Tennessee that is in the process of closing, leaving Greene Valley as the state’s last remaining residential development center for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities.

Summers Vs. Beavers
The Tennessean has a guest column by former Attorney General Paul Summers supporting the current system of selecting the attorney general by Supreme Court appointment and another by Sen. Mae Beavers, sponsor of bills to change the status quo. The newspaper also sides with Summers.
God in the Classroom?’
Under a headline declaring ‘Bill Would Let God in the Classroom,’ The Tennessean has a rundown on legislation that proponents say is a means of encouraging “critical thinking” in science classes and which opponents say is a backdoor means of promoting the teaching of intelligent design and such.