By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A state lawmaker hit back Tuesday at critics of a YouTube video she posted of her dog Pepper being held outside a moving car for what she called an “air swim.”
Freshman Rep. Julia Hurley said in an interview in her legislative office that her Chinese crested named Pepper enjoys being held out into the wind.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported that Hurley’s short video titled “Pepper Air Swims” was pulled two days after being posted on YouTube. Hurley, a Republican, said she removed the video because she “didn’t want to deal with” criticism she calls politically motivated.
“I think it’s a liberal ploy to take the attention off the bills and the legislation I’ve passed and the positive things I’ve done, to make me look like a bad person,” the Lenoir City Republican said.
Hurley said people who complained about the video should explain why they don’t have a similar reaction about other unrestrained dogs in the beds of pickup trucks or leaning out windows.
“My dog obviously enjoys it,” Hurley said. “She’s very happy.”
A brief YouTube video linked to state Rep. Julia Hurley showing a small dog being held outside a moving convertible was removed from the Internet Monday, two days after it was posted.
More, lifted from the News Sentinel’s website:
The video, titled “Pepper Air Swims” shows the small dog being held out the passenger window, its front legs moving in the air, as two people laugh in the background. (Note: Though the video has been taken off YouTube, the KNS has it up, HERE.)
The faces of neither person are shown. Only the forearms of the person holding the dog are seen. The video was posted to the freshman lawmaker’s YouTube channel under the user name “repjuliahurley.”
Hurley, a Republican seeking re-election to a second term in the 32nd House District, owns a Chinese crested, a hairless breed of dog that she named Pepper. She drives a BMW convertible.
Hurley didn’t return repeated calls and emails seeking comment Monday.
A Roane County resident blasted the video Monday.
“I find Ms. Hurley’s behavior to be extremely unkind and irresponsible,” the Rev. Peggy Blanchard stated in an email.
You can still jump into a swimming pool at 27 state parks this summer, but Morgan Simmons reports that might not be true next year.
“We’re constantly reviewing our operations and trying to make everything better,” said Brock Hill, the state’s deputy commissioner of parks and conservation. “We talk about pools all the time in connection with whether or not to close them.”
Early this year at a state budget hearing in Nashville, Bob Martineau, commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, proposed closing six state park swimming pools and replacing them with splash parks, which would be cheaper to maintain. The closures were expected to save about $200,000 a year.
The proposal was rejected, and this summer, pools at Tennessee state parks are open as usual.
There are 27 swimming pools throughout Tennessee’s state park system. Of those 27, seven pools are reserved for inn guests, and the remaining 20 are open to the public for a small fee.
All of the state park pools are staffed with lifeguards. The pools lose money, but other state park amenities such as restaurants, campgrounds, and inns generate enough revenue to cover the loss. As a whole, park hospitality operations generate about $36 million each year, enough to break even.
Hill said that of the 20 general admission state park pools, about one-third stay extremely busy throughout the three-month season from Memorial Day to Labor Day.