Tag Archives: york

Haslam Ready to Cut Funding to Alvin York Institute… But When??

For a while Tuesday, Gov. Bill Haslam proposed to continue providing $2.4 million in annual funding to the school founded by World War I hero Alvin York for three more years, rather than shutting the money off after one more year as planned in the governor’s budget.
But spokesmen for about 200 supporters of York Institute – including a son and daughter of the sergeant who won the Congressional Medal of Honor – said that a cutoff of special state funding in three years is still inappropriately compromising a state government promise made to York in the 1930s.
“There’s probably going to be a floor fight in both chambers and we don’t know how it’s going to come out,” said House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, who is carrying Haslam’s bill on York Institute funding (HB1278). “With this bill, we’ll have that fight in three years instead of this year.”
The bill also set up a “transition planning committee” to assist in transferring financial responsibility for operating York Institute to Fentress County from the state.
But after the cool reception for what the administration saw as a compromise, McCormick at first moved to put off a vote on the proposal until today. Then – after a meeting with Haslam – he returned and yanked it from further consideration by the House Education Subcommittee, effectively withdrawing the offer and leaving in place plans to shut off direct state funding on July 1, 2014.
At that point, York Institute would be treated just like any other public school with Fentress County operating the school and receiving state funding through the Basic Education Program (BEP) formula. Local officials said that a property tax increase would likely be needed to offset the loss of $2.4 million in the special allocation.
McCormick said that Herbert Slaterly, the governor’s legal counsel, is reviewing “a stack of old documents” provided by York supporters to determine exactly what commitment was made by the state when York Institution was created by a legislative act in 1936.
The governor’s administration “wants to ween them off the money,” said McCormick. Beyond that, he said specifics of what to do are up in the air.
Legislators defending the present setup – Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, and Reps. Kelly Keisling, R-Harriman, and John Mark Windle, D-Livingston – all wore “York Forever” buttons. Basically, they contend that York wanted a school for rural youngsters and agreed to raise money and donate land to build the school in exchange for a state commitment to provide operational funding for the future.
In debate Tuesday, Rep. Joe Pitts, D-Clarksville, said that eliminating the state funding would “tarnish the image and the memory of Sgt. York and that’s something we just don’t want to do.”
But Rep. Mark White, R-Memphis, chairman of the subcommittee, said York’s legacy is not the only consideration. He declared that legislators also have “a fiscal responsibility to our state” because “unlike federal government, we have to balance our budget.”

Maggart Goes National in Counterattack on NRA

Former House Republican Chairman Debra Maggart, defeated in her bid for reelection after being attacked by the National Rifle Association, has penned an attack on the NRA for the New York Times. An excerpt:
They ran 12 full-page newspaper ads featuring my picture with one of President Obama stating I was for gun control. They ran radio ads, robo calls, posted a “Defeat Maggart” Web site, produced a YouTube video of their chief lobbyist explaining to their members why I should be defeated, and did nine mailings. They posted my photo with President Obama’s on three of the five billboards in my Republican hometown.
..Because of N.R.A. bully tactics, legislators are not free to openly discuss the merits of gun-related legislation. This stifling of discussion does not serve the interest of the public nor of the gun owners. But the N.R.A. gets their way because they know how intimidating they are and they know that lawmakers are afraid to speak openly about what needs to be done.
The N.R.A.’s agenda is more about raising money from their members by creating phantom issues instead of promoting safe, responsible gun ownership. N.R.A. members should ask about the million dollar salaries they pay their lobbyists and why they spend money to defeat proven Second Amendment defenders like me.

She’s also done an interview with Huffington Post. And here in Tennessee… well, previous post HERE.

Haslam Optimistic About State’s Bond Rating

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Gov. Bill Haslam said meetings with three credit agencies this week went well and he is optimistic about the outcomes.
Tennessee currently has triple-A credit ratings from Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Inc. and a double-A-plus rating from Standard and Poor’s.
Haslam said in a conference call Tuesday from New York City that credit agency officials were impressed by the state’s low per-capita debt and revenue that has exceeded expectations.
He said officials wanted to know how threatened federal cuts would affect the state.
Department of Finance and Administration Commissioner Mark Emkes said the state could lose about $40 million for education and more in indirect federal spending.
However, Haslam said that Tennessee officials feel the state is in a good position to weather cuts compared to other states.

Campfield to Remain on High School Wall of Fame

A New York high school will continue to honor a Tennessee state senator despite controversy over his comments about the origins of the virus that causes AIDS, according to The Tennessean.
The Vestal Board of Education refused to take Sen. Stacey Campfield, R-Knoxville, out of its high school’s Wall of Fame, despite an online petition and a public hearing on the issue Tuesday night.
A Vestal student started a campaign to take Campfield’s picture down because of his views on homosexuality. School board members said Tuesday night that Campfield’s opinions do not disqualify him from the Wall of Fame, reports the Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin, a sister paper to The Tennessean.
“You may be surprised to know that we have heard from many, many people, including students, who understand and agree with our position,” Board President Kim Myers read from a statement at the meeting as some audience members booed. “Many who feel intimidated and fearful to publicly state their approval for fear of being labeled a bigot or anti-gay. When you attempt to shout down opposing voices, who is the bully?”
Campfield graduated from Vestal High School in 1986 and has frequently drawn fire, especially from gay rights groups. Campfield was the primary Senate sponsor during the recent legislative session of the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would have discouraged discussion of homosexuality in elementary and middle school.
…Protesters promised to return to board meetings every two weeks until the portrait is removed.
Campfield said an interview Wednesday that the campaign to have him removed from the Wall of Fame is an attempt to squelch views that homosexuality is immoral.
“I think the homosexual community is one of the biggest bullies in politics that there is,” he told The Tennessean. “They’ll go nationwide on a national issue to try to intimidate anyone who disagrees with their lifestyle.”

Students at Campfield’s Home High School Protest His AIDS Comments

A group of students, teachers and alumni at a New York high school are calling for the removal of state Sen. Stacey Campfield from its hall of fame based on his comments on homosexuality and AIDS, reports The Tennessean.
Several people denounced Campfield at an apparently raucous school board meeting in Vestal, N.Y., the small town near Binghamton where the Knoxville Republican grew up. The group called for his portrait to be taken down from Vestal High School’s Hall of Fame, with one woman shouting “Cowards!” at school board members when they did not immediately agree to do so, according to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, a Gannett sister paper.
Campfield told the paper they “are welcome to their point of view.”
The source of the controversy is a view Campfield shared with a radio host in January that AIDS entered the human population via a sexual encounter with a monkey. Most scientists believe humans first contracted AIDS by eating infected primate meat.


Update: The board voted to keep Campfield’s portrait in place. AP story below.

Continue reading

Harold Ford Jr. Still Showing a Conservative Streak

While Bob Corker prepares for a ho-hum reelection (recent post HERE), the man he narrowly defeated back in 2006, Harold Ford Jr., is doing his thing and still showing a conservative political streak up in New York…. and Jackson Baker has an update on Ford six years later.
Even during his 2006 Senate run, Ford was at pains to distance himself from Democratic orthodoxy, vowing, during the opening of his Memphis campaign headquarters that year, “I’m not a Democrat … running up to Washington yelling, ‘Democrat, Democrat, Democrat, Democrat.’ Somebody’s going to go, and I know I make some Democrats upset at times, because I’m just a believer if it works, you have to support it.”
As a congressman, Ford supported President Bush’s policies in Iraq more vigorously than most of his party mates. Inter alia, he voted for the Bankruptcy Act of 2005, which imposed new restrictions on debtors, sided with the Republicans on the Terri Schiavo case, voted for some restrictions on abortion, and advocated drilling for oil in the Arctic wilderness.
On the stump in Tennessee in 2006, Ford opposed same-sex marriage, and, when he attempted to jump-start a Senate candidacy in New York in 2010, that position came back to haunt him. He was basically booed off the stage when he attempted to address a group of gays in New York City. By last year, he had amended his position on the issue and became the spokesperson for a marriage-equality campaign in a TV ad — a possible indication, along with his 2010 memoir, More Davids than Goliaths: A Political Education, that he still intends an active electoral career.

In Protest of ‘Creationism’ and ‘Gateway Sexual Activity’ Bills

In a New York Times opinion piece, Amy Greene sees a violation of Tennessee religious traditions in the “gateway sexual activity” bill and the measure she calls “the creationism bill.”
A lot has changed in Tennessee since frontier times, but our feelings about religion remain strong. I know our hearts are in the debates we have over whether biblical theories should be discussed in public schools, whichever side we come down on. But I’m not sure the politicians’ are.
They claim their goal is to better our education system, and to give us more freedom of religious thought in the bargain. But it seems to me they’re taking away the individualist liberties we’ve always prized and giving us more government regulation instead.
I fear that these bills, written to give us what they think we want, will have the opposite effect. By legislating our Christianity, what they’re really doing is taking it away from us.

TN Evolution Bill Continues to Draw National Attention

Tennessee and Gov. Bill Haslam get prominent mention in a New York Times piece on social issue activism in state legislatures around the country, which some Republicans fear could hurt the party in national elections.
Tennessee enacted a law this month intended to protect teachers who question the theory of evolution. Arizona moved to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, and Mississippi imposed regulations that could close the state’s only abortion clinic. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach about abstinence instead of contraception.
The recent flurry of socially conservative legislation, on issues ranging from expanding gun rights to placing new restrictions on abortion, comes as Republicans at the national level are eager to refocus attention on economic issues.
Some Republican strategists and officials, reluctant to be identified because they do not want to publicly antagonize the party’s base, fear that the attention these divisive social issues are receiving at the state level could harm the party’s chances in November, when its hopes of winning back the White House will most likely rest with independent voters in a handful of swing states.
One seasoned strategist called the problem potentially huge. But others said that actions taken by a handful of states would probably have little impact on the national campaign.
…Tennessee enacted a law this month intended to protect teachers who question the theory of evolution. Arizona moved to ban nearly all abortions after 20 weeks, and Mississippi imposed regulations that could close the state’s only abortion clinic. Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a law allowing the state’s public schools to teach about abstinence instead of contraception.
The recent flurry of socially conservative legislation, on issues ranging from expanding gun rights to placing new restrictions on abortion, comes as Republicans at the national level are eager to refocus attention on economic issues.
Some Republican strategists and officials, reluctant to be identified because they do not want to publicly antagonize the party’s base, fear that the attention these divisive social issues are receiving at the state level could harm the party’s chances in November, when its hopes of winning back the White House will most likely rest with independent voters in a handful of swing states.
One seasoned strategist called the problem potentially huge. But others said that actions taken by a handful of states would probably have little impact on the national campaign.
….After Tennessee’s Republican-led Legislature passed a bill to protect school teachers who review “the scientific strengths and weaknesses of existing scientific theories” in areas including “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning,” it drew denunciations from a number of scientists and civil libertarians. Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, decided this month to let the bill become law without his signature.
Mr. Haslam said in an interview that the law had passed by a wide margin, so the Legislature could have easily overridden a veto. And he said that while he feared that the law would muddy state policy for teachers rather than clarify it, he had been assured by state education officials that it would not actually change the way science is taught in Tennessee.
But he said he also worried that the law could damage the reputation of a state that was home to another famous legal battle over the teaching of evolution, the Scopes “monkey trial” of 1925.
“One of the things as governor, you’re always out — I’m out selling Tennessee all the time to businesses and other folks,” Mr. Haslam said during a recent visit to New York, adding that the state had heavily focused on the teaching of science, technology, engineering and mathematics in recent years. “So you worry about misperceptions, sure. I wouldn’t be honest if I said I didn’t do that. But if I thought it was actually going to harm the scientific standards, I would have vetoed it.”

New York Post: TN ‘Gun Nuts’ Have Declared ‘Civil War’ on New Yorkers

From a New York Post report on Frank Niceley’s recently-filed resolution (previous post HERE):
Gun nuts in the Tennessee state legislature have declared civil war on New Yorkers — saying they will retaliate for the prosecution of a woman who was carrying an illegal pistol at the 9/11 Memorial.
A resolution winding its way through the Tennessee legislature warns New Yorkers not to drive through their state — because the Highway Patrol is “gunning” for us.
A Knoxville-based legislator, who moonlights as a farmer, is so angry over the Tennessee tourist’s gun arrest last month that his resolution condemns it as a “grave miscarriage of justice” — and reminds New Yorkers to “drive carefully” if we come visit.
“We remind the citizens of New York, especially those residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great state of Tennessee, paying extra attention to our speed limits,” reads House Resolution 585, which urges charges be dropped against Meredith Graves.
The resolution also “urges” New York officials “to use common sense and sound judgment in the disposition of the case against Meredith Graves.”
“Well, that’s just — you know, this resolution has no power of law,” the Tennessee measure’s sponsor, Rep. Frank Niceley, (R-Knoxville), chuckled to The Post while speaking of his measure’s not-so-veiled ticketing threat.
“All it does is bring attention to the case,” Niceley insisted. “And sometimes, a little humor brings more attention.”
So, you don’t really mean it?” he was asked.
A long, purposeful pause stretched northward from the Tennessee end of the phone line.
“Well, I don’t know that the Highway Patrol would be any kinder or any harsher” to New York drivers, Niceley finally said. “But it’s something to think about.”

‘A Little Humorous Threat’ Coupled With Legislator Plea for TN Woman Arrested on New York Gun Charges

State Rep. Frank Niceley has coupled a plea for New York officials to show leniency toward a Blount County woman arrested on gun charges with what he calls “a little humorous threat” for New Yorkers traveling in Tennessee.
In a resolution introduced by Niceley would formally put the state Legislature on record of supporting Meredith Graves, who was arrested in New York City on felony gun charges last month after asking a security guard the proper procedure for checking in her pistol after seeing a “no guns allowed” sign at the World Trade Center Memorial.
Graves has a handgun carry permit for her .32 pistol in Tennessee and was unaware that New York law strictly prohibits carrying weapons at the time of her visit, according to supporters.
“We hereby urge the state of New York to use common sense and sound judgment in the disposition of the case against Meredith Graves,” says HJR585.
“Be it further resolved that we remind the citizens of New York, especially those residing in New York City, to drive carefully through the great state of Tennessee, paying extra attention to our speed limits,” says the resolution, which calls for a certified copy to be transmitted to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Niceley said he is confident the resolution will be approved by the House and Senate. Eleven other legislators had signed on as co-sponsors as of Thursday.
The Strawberry Plains Republican said he had discussed the resolution with Graves’ New York lawyer, who approved of the idea in hopes it will help Graves.
Niceley said Graves, a nurse practitioner studying to become a physician, is now facing possible prison time and the end of her professional hopes simply because “was trying to do the right thing.”
“What’s as bad as that is Mayor Bloomberg jumping the gun and telling the world she had cocaine in her purse and all she had was a BC powder,’ said Niceley, referring to a Bloomberg comment on the arrest at a news conference.
Other officials have acknowledged Graves had no cocaine. BC is a powdered aspirin that Niceley said is apparently not well known in New York.
The lawmaker said the reference to New Yorkers traveling in Tennessee is “just a little humorous threat.”
“What we’re trying to do is draw attention and show what a ridiculous thing this is,” he said. “A little humor helps. But then, I don’t know how Tennessee highway patrolmen are going to take this. They’ve got a mind of their own.”
Niceley said two of his three daughters have handgun carry permits and one has spent time in New York.
As a college student, Niceley said he himself traveled to Mexico with a pistol, not realizing until later that the country punished such behavior as a felony subject to penalty of life in prison at the time.
“It’s a sad state of affairs when people try to obey the law and get in trouble for it,” said Niceley. “This could make New York like a third world country, where people are more afraid of the police than they are of the banditos.”