Tag Archives: Summerville

Senator Wants Losing Label on Lottery Ads

A state legislator who once proposed banning nearly all advertising for the Tennessee Lottery now is trying a different tack: a warning label.
From The Tennessean:
Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, filed a bill Thursday that would require all lottery advertising to prominently include this notice: “Warning: You will probably lose money playing the lottery.”
If enacted, it could make Tennessee the first state lottery with a warning label. Summerville said his goal is to make consumers more aware of their chances of winning.
“We have warnings on cigarettes, and we should have warnings about lottery tickets,” he said. “States that sponsor gambling should fully disclose the risks.”
The measure would require displaying the notice on all print, outdoor and point-of-sale advertising, including in foot-high letters on billboards, beginning Jan. 1, 2014. Those words also would have to be announced at the end of radio and television spots aired on and after that date.

DCS Investigations of Severe Child Abuse Faulted

There’s a new round of complaints about the Department of Children’s Service, reports the Tennessean, that come from Dickson County and center on contentions that cases of severe child abuse are not being investigated properly.
Severe abuse cases are being miscategorized as lesser offenses, and opportunities to intervene to protect children are being lost, said Jeff Bledsoe, sheriff of Dickson County.
“I have been advised of documented cases, in which reported cases meeting the definition of ‘Severe Child Abuse’ are not being classified as such in accordance with the statute,” Bledsoe wrote.
“This is very concerning to me, as there may be only one opportunity to intervene and protect or save a child’s life,” he noted in a letter to state Sen. Jim Summerville, a Republican from Dickson.
Summerville, who forwarded the letter to DCS, said he is working with child welfare officials in his district to set up a meeting with DCS about the issues raised. He said he was aware of “four or five cases” in his district that had been improperly classified.
Classifying a case as “severe” requires authorities to immediately intervene, Bledsoe said. Cases without that classification may not rise to a criminal offense, often aren’t required to be reported to police and may result in children being left in abusive homes, he said.
…DCS Commissioner Kate O’Day, who staff said was out of state Monday and unavailable, has responded in writing that she will investigate.
“We consider this a very serious matter and intend to conduct a thorough investigation,” O’Day wrote in a Sept. 3 letter, requesting that names and dates of specific incidents be turned over to DCS.
…In Dickson County, “children have been placed in danger due to the process that is currently in place,” Kim Stringfield-Davis, Child Advocacy Center executive director wrote in a separate letter.
“Events of severe child abuse are being ruled as non-severe and not being investigated,” Stringfield-Davis said, also in a letter to Summerville, her district’s representative. The Child Advocacy Center is part of a statewide network of agencies that work with abused children.
“Evidence that could be used in the prosecution of perpetrators is being lost due to cases being screened out and never reaching the investigation process,” she wrote.

Sunday Column: Musing on Sticks, Stones & a Roden’t Posterior

n politics, sticks and stones may break your bones, though they rarely do in the literal sense these days. But words, especially your own, can really harm you.
Or so it sometimes seems.
Whether you’re a Republican congressman who mentions “legitimate rape,” a Democratic president remarking “you didn’t build that” or a vice president speculating on people being “back in chains,” national political news seems dominated by exaggeration and extrapolation of rhetorical missteps made by those who stray from scripted talking points prepared by well-paid public relations professionals.
Here in Tennessee, we have a long history of entertaining, controversial and seemingly impolitic utterances. Say, for example, Davy Crockett’s famous statement: “The hell with you all, I’m going to Texas.”

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Diversity and Sensitivity Training Suggested for TN Legislators

By Lucas Johnson, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Democratic leaders point to insulting comments made by two Republican lawmakers to the Legislature’s black caucus in calling for legislators to undergo diversity and sensitivity training.
State Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson has been criticized for an email he sent earlier this month to the chairman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators saying: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks.”
His Republican colleague, Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, has supported the comment and even called the black caucus a “segregationist organization” that should be ignored.
Three years ago, Democratic Rep. John Deberry of Memphis held two diversity training sessions for legislative staffers following the revelation that a Tennessee legislative staffer sent a racist e-mail about President Barack Obama from her state computer.
About a year later, Deberry gave the same sessions to state Safety Department officers who provide Capitol Hill security after a state trooper accidentally sent an e-mail proclaiming white pride to 787 state employees.
Those attending the sessions spent at least five hours being coached to avoid discriminatory behavior unacceptable in the workplace. It was the same training Deberry’s marketing firm gave to some clients before he became a legislator.
Deberry, who is a member of the black caucus and a former chairman, said the recent comments reveal a culture of insensitivity that still exists at the Capitol and that maybe it’s time for lawmakers to go through some sessions.
“Statesmanship is the ability to know what to say, when to say it and how to say it,” said Deberry, adding that he would be willing to once again oversee the sessions.
“That’s what we have to do if we’re going to be successful in making good public policy and having good public image. We’ve got to … learn how to communicate better.”

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An Unrepentant Sen. Summerville: Which Part Wasn’t Clear?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — State Sen. Jim Summerville on Friday resigned from the Senate Education Committee after being stripped of his subcommittee chairmanship over an email that insulted the Legislature’s black caucus.
The Dickson Republican has been criticized for sending an email to the chairwoman of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators saying: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks.”
Senate Education Chairwoman Dolores Gresham stripped Summerville of his chairmanship of the higher education subcommittee for the remark, but the senator appeared unrepentant in brief remarks to reporters on Friday morning.
“Which part wasn’t clear? The matter speaks for itself,” he said. “Maybe I could have used a more artful term like a ‘rodents posterior.'”
The black caucus had sent Summerville an official response to a hearing over complaints about Tennessee State University’s handling of grade changes. The group called the allegations “much ado about nothing” and questioned why the historically black university was singled out for a legislative investigation.
Summerville did not give a reason for his resignation from the committee in a handwritten letter to Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville.
Democrats have demanded an apology, but Summerville hasn’t given one.

Note: WKRN reports Summerville also made an obscene gesture to a TV news crew, story HERE.

Senator’s Email: ‘I Don’t Give a #*&!%$ What the Black Caucus Thinks’

State Sen. Jim Summerville was removed Thursday as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee after an email sent from his personal email account used a graphic term to convey to the legislature’s black caucus his view of its response to a hearing Summerville chaired last week on grade changes at Tennessee State University.
Further from Richard Locker:
“I am very disappointed in the unfortunate choice of words and tone used by Senator Summerville in responding to Rep. (Barbara) Cooper,” Senate Education Committee Chairman Dolores Gresham, R-Somerville, said in a statement Thursday. “There is a standard of courtesy that must be observed by members of the General Assembly and this went beyond what is acceptable. He has been removed as the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee Chairman.”
Summerville, R-Dickson, did not return repeated calls and emails from reporters to his home and office for comment. The email was sent to Cooper, D-Memphis, Wednesday night and, apparently at Summerville’s request, she forwarded it to her colleagues in the black caucus and other legislators. Summerville is a freshman lawmaker known for his candid public statements.
The message from a personal email address that Summerville has publicly posted as his says: “I don’t give a rat’s ass what the black caucus thinks. Jim Summerville”
The subject line of Summerville’s email to Cooper says “Please share this response with your colleagues”.
The email address, mapheus@prodigy.net, is one that Summerville has publicly posted as his personal contact for several years on various websites, including the National Association of Scholars, of which he was Tennessee chapter president. He is an adjunct professor of history at Austin Peay State University.
Cooper could not be reached for immediate comment but Rep. Larry Miller, D-Memphis, chairman of the legislative black caucus, said that if the message is from Summerville, “that’s appalling. Not only does he embarrass himself, he embarrasses the entire state of Tennessee by making a statement like that. It makes you wonder what his state of mind was at the time. Why would a state senator even think that and why would you put it out publicly?


Note: Statement from House Democratic Caucus, Democratic party below.

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Who Let the Dogs Out? Allegedly, Sen. Jim Summerville

State Sen. Jim Summerville, R-Dickson, has been served with a criminal summons citing him with a misdemeanor for “dogs at large” after an ongoing dispute that has Dickson police scratching their heads, reports The Dickson Herald via The Tennessean.
Germaine Paltzer, who lives down the road from Summerville, has filed two complaints over the lawmaker’s dogs, and called Dickson police four times on him in the last four months. Paltzer had just undergone knee surgery when she filed the first complaint.
“I had knee surgery; that’s how this started. The dog ran out in front of us and we had to brake,” Paltzer said.
Residents can cite other residents for minor infractions such as violating leash laws, but an officer must sign off on the citation. The senator was cited April 12 for having dogs out and paid the fine. Ricky Manley, animal control officer for the city of Dickson, cited Summerville again May 12.
Summerville paid $157 in court costs for the first citation without having to appear in court. The second citation required an appearance by Summerville, but the date was moved because city attorney Jerry Smith was not in court.
…The first police report April 9 reports dogs belonging to Summerville came running out at Paltzer in the street. The report further states Manley “then went over to Mr. Summerville’s house and advised him about the dogs running after the car and stated that he was sorry and he would keep the dogs up but didn’t know they were getting out of his yard.”
Paltzer dispatched animal control again May 12. The May report states she went to Summerville’s house and asked him why the dogs were still loose when he had a fenced-in backyard. Paltzer said Summerville “made a face at her and jumped towards her as if to make her flinch,” according to the report.
Manley said he’s gone out to Summerville’s house a number of times and did not see dogs out, but picked up two puppies that belonged to Summerville when Paltzer called in a police report in May.
“I have gone through there numerous times, and have yet to see the dog loose, but she took pictures of [Summerville’s dog] this time, so she’s got proof of him being loose,” said Manley.
…When approached about the issue, Summerville said he believed The Herald wanted a “little piece of sensationalism guaranteeing your readers, a few of whom who read at about a sixth-grade level, so I am not going to cooperate with your investigation.”
…Summerville wrote a column entitled “Dickson County has long history with man’s best friend” that appeared in the June 1 edition of The Herald. He wrote: “When we first get to heaven, all the dogs we’ve ever loved will come running to greet us.”

(HT/Stephen Hale)

Senate Approves Automatic High School Teacher Licenses for College Profs

After beating down several Democratic amendments, the State Senate Monday night passed a bill that would allow any college instructor to receive a license to teach his subject in high schools with no additional educational training.
More from WPLN:
Sen. Jim Summerville, a Dickson Republican, is the sponsor and an adjunct instructor himself, though he says he wouldn’t take advantage of the automatic teaching license.
Under his bill, a former college professor would be presumed to be able to teach on the basis of knowing his subject. An amendment (sponsored by Republican Sen. Mike Faulk and passed, while several Democratic amendments were defeated) would require an instructor to be in good standing with the college.
“But the bigger question is, should we do this, period.”
Senator Andy Berke, a Chattanooga Democrat, asked if the proposed law sends a mixed message. He says trained teachers were key to the state winning half a billion dollars in the federal “Race to the Top” program.
“And one of the things that we talked about was the professionalism of teaching, and raising the bar, and raising standards.”


UPDATE: Mike Carpenter, state director of Students First, which he says did not draft the bill but supports it, sends this by email::
Just saw your post on the Summerville alternative licensing bill for college faculty. A few comments:
1. The amendment by Summerville ensures they cannot be addict to drugs or intoxicants and must be of good moral character.
2. TCA 49-5-413 requires the LEA to background check before hiring
3. They would not escape evaluation, presumably six time per year
4. State Board can promulgate rules as they deem necessary
5. Sen. Berke’s reference to RTTT is a convenient one. RTTT also mentions alternative licensing, teacher shortages and the need to have a report card on teacher training programs, which has since shown that our traditional teacher prep programs do not fare as well as alternative programs like Teach for America.

Bill Honoring Lottery Officials Passes Senate — Barely

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A resolution honoring officials with the Tennessee Education Lottery Corp. has passed the Senate with the minimum number of votes needed.
The measure brought by Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis passed 17-5 after a Republican colleague tried unsuccessfully to table the resolution. Nine people abstained.
Sen. Jim Summerville of Dickson is among some Republicans who have criticized the Tennessee Lottery, particularly the high salary being paid to its president.
But regardless of the criticism, Kyle said the lottery has been highly successful in exceeding $8.4 billion in lottery ticket sales since its inception in 2005 and raising more than $2.2 billion for education programs across Tennessee.
Last month, lottery officials told lawmakers that the lottery has set record gross sales every month since July.

Ramsey: Axing Roberts ‘Toughest Thing I’ve Ever Done’

Michael Cass has a story on Sen. Kerry Roberts being redistricted out of a run for re-elecction by his fellow Republican senators – starting with the observation that Gov. Bill Haslam hosted a fundraiser for Roberts just a day before the redistricting plan was announced.
The redistricting plan, unveiled less than 24 hours after the fundraiser, left some people wondering where Roberts had gone astray and whose bad side he had wound up on. But Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, speaker of the Senate, insisted Friday that it was legal necessity, not political grudges, that spawned the proposal.
“I am catching a lot of heat over this,” Ramsey said in a phone interview. “But there comes a time when you have to say that all you can do is what’s legal. This is the best we can do.”
“I want to stress that Kerry Roberts is my friend,” added Ramsey, who, with House Speaker Beth Harwell, co-hosted another fundraiser for Roberts in Gallatin on Dec. 12.
Roberts, a certified public accountant and bicycle enthusiast who owns The Bike Pedlar, did not respond to a phone message and two emails seeking comment Friday. He was elected less than a year ago in a special election to fill the vacancy created by former Sen. Diane Black’s move to Congress.
…Ramsey said population shifts and a constitutional requirement to avoid splitting counties between legislative districts forced a move to bring Robertson County, where Roberts lives, into a newly drawn District 25 with Dickson County — which is (Sen. Jim) Summerville’s home — as well as Cheatham, Humphreys, Perry and Lewis counties.
…Ramsey said Senate Democrats split some counties between districts in the last redistricting process 10 years ago, but they were never challenged on it.
However, the state attorney general’s office told Ramsey and the rest of the Senate redistricting team a few days before Christmas that splitting Robertson County into two districts would have left them vulnerable to a legal challenge. So team members went “back to the drawing table” and “lived on a conference call” between Christmas and New Year’s Day so they could find a solution.
Unfortunately, Ramsey said, that solution put Roberts in the electoral wilderness.
“I don’t see another option,” Ramsey said. “This is no doubt the toughest thing I’ve ever done in my 20-year legislative career.”
Ramsey said he had been exploring another potential option for Roberts. Under that scenario, if Roberts moved to Sumner County and could get a waiver of the constitutional requirement that candidates live in a district at least a year before the election, he could run in District 18 again this fall.
Ramsey said the idea was worth a shot since Roberts didn’t have a chance to live in Sumner County a year before the November election. He said he had talked to Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper about the matter twice already.
“It’s hard to get a waiver on the (state) constitution,” the lieutenant governor said Friday afternoon. “But we’re checking into it to see if it can be considered an extenuating circumstance.”
But he said later in the day that Roberts’ chances of making the move and withstanding a legal challenge were slim.