Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Scottie Hughes letter of qualifications and platform for position of chairman of the TN GOP, if she decides to seek it.

Scottie Hughes
Below is the letter from Scottie Hughes to members of the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party. She states she has not yet decided to seek the chairmanship of the party but lays out her qualifications and platform. Rod
Dear Members of the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party of Tennessee,

This past week with the announcement of Chairman Devaney's resignation, a whirlwind of political flurry has ensued with various rumors and announcements of potential candidates to fill the role. From elected to sitting SEC members to activists to fundraisers, various names with diverse backgrounds and talents are offering their willingness to serve and would do a good job as Chairperson. However, we as a Party have an excellent opportunity with this decision to change the narrative being cast upon us by those on the left as well as legitimately try and bring unification to a divided Party.

Tennessee is an amazing State filled with amazing citizens who are known for their willingness to Volunteer and participate in the election process. I saw this first hand as I started and organized the Young Republicans of Weakley County in 1999 while I was attending the University of Tennessee at Martin receiving my degree in Communication with a minor in Political Science. As a born Republican growing up in Williamson County, I saw this in all of the actions of my mother’s friends but I did not get to experience this as an adult until I joined the Republican Women of Williamson County in 2003 and later was honored to serve on the Board of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Women as their Press Secretary. As my journey in life continued and I married, I was quick to join the Republican Party of Sumner County and joined their County Party Board after successfully running or coordinating many of the local Republican races including the successful County Commission campaign of my husband and your SEC colleague, Chris Hughes. I can honestly say I have experienced the structure of the Tennessee Republican Party at every level and respect the important role each play. I was born Right, raised Right and will always fight for what is Right.

But while I was able to observe amazing Leadership in these various roles, it was really my work in the grassroots where my political philosophies were most shaped. In fact, this was where I met most of you and our friendships formed. Whether it was the reelect W bus tour I helped the Victory campaign coordinate in 2004, which gave me the great opportunity to travel to almost every County and hold great rallies or the various State House or Senate races I was able to help - including fundraisers, meet and greets, strategy sessions or general media pushes by being a part of the Steve Gill Show, The Phil Valentine Show, The Michael Berry Show and the Mark Skoda Show for over a decade. We all know the incredible power of talk radio in Tennessee and I am very proud of how these shows helped defeat unpopular policies and elect great Representation.

It was here that I learned that the most important part of being in elected office is TRUST. Trust that your representative body is carrying out the wishes of the people. Trust that time, effort, and financial resources are being valued and not wasted. Trust that good is being done and in the best interest of the people and that transparency is a priority.

My second lesson was that people want RESPECT. Regardless of status in life, age or even differing opinion, respect needs to be present and sincere in all interactions. We are truly the Party of diversity of opinion and all opinions within the GOP should be brought to the table equally with hope of finding common ground to build on.

The third lesson is the value of COMMUNICATION which is a key element if you want to build trust and have respect for the people you represent or you work with. Tennesseans are the #1 asset to the Republican Party and by giving them information, we are showing our appreciation for their hard work and motivating them to continue.

I am a woman who lives by the conviction of putting action behind the words we speak and when given the opportunity one should not pass up. Hence, why when approached to consider running for Chairman, I knew this was an opportunity I needed to seriously consider. I love my current work as News Director for an online media company (TPNN.com) which has allowed me to tackle politics, pop culture and business on the national media scene and with many national organizations but I never miss an opportunity to brag on the amazing spirit and stories of my home state and share the political happenings.

Ultimately, when you pick a Chairman I hope you look at their past but more importantly what their plan for the future is and do they have the ability to achieve those goals. My vision would be simple:

  • First: Bring the party together to win. No more infighting. We need peace in our County Parties and need to find common threads to tie them together for a stronger bond. I can honestly say I represent both sides of the party and view each side fairly and equally. 
  • Second: Raise more money than TN GOP has ever raised. I have been blessed to make several national contacts who I believe should have more involvement in our State and I promise to meet personally with the major donors here in Tennessee and find new ones. I also promise to find ways to recruit new donors at all levels and I believe we do this by communicating where their dollars are being responsibly spent to further the goals of the TN GOP as laid out by the SEC. 
  • Third: Implement the most cutting edge new media strategy the party has ever seen. Including social media, email, TV, Streaming video, Teletown halls. Build the party from the ground up. Recruit and involve the next generation of Republicans and channel their passion and creativity to achieve success for our candidates. 
  • Fourth: Highlight and share the success we achieve here in Tennessee with the National media and be a major partner in helping the RNC reclaim the White House after the primaries are finished. I am a firm believer in trickle down politics and the actions of our elected officials on the national level do affect us at home. 
  • Fifth: To honor the role of the State Executive Committee as the representatives of the citizens who elected you. The Chairman is acting at the power of the Board and I believe all decisions should be ruled on exactly as the bylaws of the TNGOP state. Any "gray" areas will be decided by the SEC and properly added at the next meeting. My life is an open book and my interactions are as well. If you have nothing to hide, then you don't need to close your door. I would keep this same theory unless in situations which need discretion because they involve private matters.

Over the next week, I will be upholding my promise to my family to completely disconnect from my professional life and spend some much deserved time focused on them. Because of the truncated schedule before the April 11 Special Call Meeting, the timing is not the best, but like all of you, family is priority and no position is important enough to break a promise to my husband and children. There is no cookie cutter GOP family today and I believe we need to appeal to these families and resist the urge to insult either the mother or father roles as I can personally sympathize to the stresses it takes to provide for a family in today's economy. More women (even those with young children) find themselves working in and out of the home and my job the past few months has called for me to be in New York City, advocating for our foundational conservative ideals during the week. Hence, why the next 8 days I must fulfill my promise and I ask for your prayers as I will use this time to make a decision regarding my running for Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party. I ask for your patience, your guidance and your support should I seek this great honor. 

 Scottie Nell Hughes

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Who is contributing to the Jeremy Kane campaign?

Jeremy Kane
For the report period ending January 15th, 2015, Jeremy Kane starts his campaign with no money on hand, shows receipts of $310,381, expenditures fo $39,297 and a balance of hand at the end of the campaign report period of $271, 084. As of this report, his campaign does not show any campaign loans. He has not put any of his own money into the campaign.

Below are the contributions I found of interest in his report. By no means am I the most well-connected political person in town, so others may find significant contributors that I overlooked or did not know of their significance. If you are an important civic-minded person reading this or someone seeking to maximize your influence and I didn't mention your name, please don't be offended. If you are a reader who wants to see for yourself who contributed to the Kane campaign, follow this link.

Kane's contributors come from a broad category of occupations.  There is no one profession that dominates like the numerous Vanderbilt professors who contributed to Megan Barry campaign or the many attorneys who contributed to Charles Robert Bone.

Kane received $6000 from AGC PAC located at 6070 Poplar Ave, Memphis, TN. I do not know who AGC PAC is and a Google search shows only Dobbs Management Service at that address. I have contacted the Kane campaign asking for clarification.

There is no first name listed but the last name of a contributor is “36 Venture Capital” who gave $3000, and also Mr. David Freeman CEO of 38 Venture Capital and his wife Melissa gave another $3000.

Other contributors on interest are Attorney Nicholas D. Bailey $300; attorney George Cate, one of the founding fathers of Metro Nashville Davidson County $250; super lawyer and Republican Lew Conner $3000; Colleen Welch, retired Dean at Vanderbilt School of Nursing and widow of the late Ted Welch, who was one of the largest Republican fund raisers in the nation, gave $3000.

May Dean Eberling who was the first Executive Director of the Metropolitan Historical Commission and a former Director of the Nashville Arts Commission and on the board of numerous non-profits contributed $534.  I also think she had some other important position in the administration of Richard Fulton. Why such an odd dollar amount, I have no idea.

Fred Dettwiller, CEO of Det Distributing and his wife Kathryn gave a total of $6000 to the Kane campaign. Dettwiller also contributed to $1500 to the Fox campaign. I guess he is hedging his bet. Butch Eley is another contributor contributing to more than one candidate for mayor. He gave $1000 to the Kane campaign and his wife gave $750, but he also gave $250 to the Megan Barry campaign. School Board member Mary Pierce contributed $500 to the Kane campaign but also contributed to $500 to the David Fox campaign.

Council member Emily Evans contributed $500. The Waller Lansden PAC gave $1500 and the  HG Hill PAC $2000. Show PAC located at 2033 Richard Jones Rd gave $7400. I do not know who Show PAC is or their purpose but the treasurer is listed as Steve B. Smith and the address is that of home builder and realtors Haury and Smith.

Retried Senator Doug Henry gave $200. Martha Ingram, Chairman of Ingram Industries, gave $3000. I don’t know if David and Sarah Ingram are related to Martha Ingram or not but they gave a combined total of $6000.

Representative Harold Love gave $250. Adam Nickas, former Executive Director of the Tennessee Repubican Party and now a lobbyist with Captol Resources gave $500.

Kane got a few contributions from out of state but nothing of much significants.

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School Choice Bill Continues to Gain Momentum, Passes in Tennessee Senate

Press Release - The Beacon Center is proud to announce that The Tennessee Choice &Opportunity Scholarship Act has passed the Tennessee State Senate. This is a big step in what Beacon hopes will lead to the eventual passage of a school choice program in 2015.

"We are extremely proud of the senators who stood with families across the state of Tennessee today," said Beacon CEO Justin Owen. "It is completely unfair for a child's future to be determined by his or her zip code. Every child deserves a quality education that meets his or her unique needs, and today's passage of this bill in the Senate was the first step to making that dream a reality."

The bill will next be reviewed by the House Government Operations Committee on Tuesday.

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Scottie Hughes seeking Chairmanship of Tennessee GOP

Scottie Hughes, one of the babes of  FOX News, is reportedly seeking the position of Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party.  In addition to being a beauty, she is a news analysis, smart, an author,  and a solid conservative.  She describes herself as a "God Fearing, Gun Toting, Baby Loving, Traditional Marriage Believing, SUV I don’t care about my carbon imprint driving, Border securing, Benghazi Truth Seeking, Fox News & The Blaze TV Watching, Lame Stream Media Smacking, Sip my Sweet Tea from a Big Gulp Drinking, RINO Hunting, Target of IRS Auditing, One Nation Under God Pledging, MOM."

Prior to her advance to the national spotlight, she was the executive producer of the Steve Gill Show here in Nashville. She is a  Magna Cum Laude graduate from the University of Tennessee at Martin with a broadcast communications/political science degree.

Her Husband is Chris Hughes, a member of the Tennessee Republican Party Executive Committee from Sumner County and a Sumner County commissioner.

I have not verified her candidacy for the position but have heard she is a candidate. I have emailed, seeking confirmation. If anyone has a solicitation from her please forward me a copy or if anyone can confirm she is actively seeking the position, please let me know. I will update this post if I have something.

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Policing for Profit may be coming to an end in Tennessee.

As unbelievable as it sounds, if the police stop you and you are carrying a large amount of cash the police can confiscate your money, never arrest you or charge you with a crime and you have to go to court to get your money back.  They can also confiscate some property such as your vehicle. That would appear to violate the 4th amendment to the constitution but the policy has been allowed to stand.  Getting the money back can take months and can be costly.  Some people never recover the confiscated cash or property. One has to prove the source of the money.

Legislation was introduced by Rep. Timothy Hill, R-Blountville, that would have repealed civil forfeiture laws that make the practice of  police confiscating cash and property legal. Hill has amended his bill so that instead of prohibiting all civil forfeiture, that civil forfeiture could still occur but only when there is an arrest. That is an improvement over what we currently have and would end most of the abuse. Police will argue that civil forfeiture is an important tool to curtail drug trafficking. It may be helpful in that regard but so would wiretapping without a court order or beating confessions out of people.  Civil forfeiture is wrong and needs to end. This bill needs to pass.

Channel 5 news has reported on "policing for profit" extensively. For more information follow this link.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Who is contributing to the Bill Freeman campaign for Mayor?

Bill Freeman
As of the date of the first required financial disclosure, Jan. 15th 2015, Bill Freeman had only raised $1500. Don't fret however, Freeman has the ability to self fund  what ever it takes to mount an effective campaign.  He started the report with no money on hand, loaned his campaign $30,000, received a single contribution of $1500 from Chip Forrester, former Chair of the Tennessee Democrat Party, spent $30,000 in advertising to put his ads on Gray’s Disposal trucks and that is all his report shows.

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NashvilleNext is ready for review and comment: The Draft Plan - Vision, Trends, & Strategies.

I was at the very first meeting of the NashvilleNext project and attended numerous of the various meetings that occurred over the last two years and I posted on their website and took the surveys.  Now the plan is prepared and ready for public consumption.  Somewhere along the way I lost my appetite.

I did my part; I brainstormed in small groups, I put little sticky dots on various options, and I answered surveys. I reached a point however in which I thought I was being led around by the nose. I reached a point to where I thought this is sham.  The plan is already written and there is a boilerplate template somewhere where they will simply change the name of the city. 

Surprise, surprise: Nashville wants less congested roads, affordable housing, walkable communities, good schools, low crime and economic opportunity.  I could have told you that without spending millions of dollars and two years. I don't know how much NashvilleNext cost, but I am sure it was not cheap.

While NashvilleNext did engage a lot of citizens, that does not necessarily make it any more democratic than if the same input would have been gathered from a single pubic hearing.  Council members are elected; no one elected the participants in the NashvilleNext process.  The planning staff and metro council could have come up with NashvilleNext plan and then had a single public hearing and I think the result would be the same.  Why should the opinions of those who showed up be given greater weight than those who didn't?

I am doing other things and I have not read the final report. I don't really know what is in the final product. I just know the generalities. However, to ensure, we are not getting a future we don't want a lot of people need to read it. They are calling this "the peoples plan." Anything that claims to represent "the people," somehow concerns me.  Especially if "the people" who contributed were self selected rather than democratically elected.

I do hope to read NashvilleNext soon. However, I hope some other skeptics of grand plans read it and makes sure it does not lead to the adoption of policies that impact our freedom and property rights.  It probably does not, but someone needs to be objectively reviewing the plan. Most plans gather dust on a shelf and never do more than inform the thinking of a few people. Also, plans can turn on a dime when circumstances change. Long range planning never envisioned Music Valley Dr. and Opry Mills and The Opryland Hotel and Convention Center, yet when an investor showed up with the money the plan changed.  A developer with money can turn a plan on its head and on the other hand, all the good plans in the world can not make something happen if someone does not want to develop in accordance with the plan.  Still, I am not opposed to planning. It is good to have some established guidelines even if they are subject to change. Some plans are really bad plans however and we should be pleased they never went into effect. Some of what causes our problems today are a result of plans that sounded good at the time.

Here is the link to the NashvilleNext website. I hope someone whose opinion I trust gets involved and can inform the rest of us what is in the final document.

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The battle to preserve open records however is not over.

In case you missed it, our right to view public records in Tennessee in safe for now. Last week State Rep. Steve McDaniel took off notice a bill that would have allowed new charges to be assessed citizens who want to inspect public records. The battle to preserve open records however is not over. The Tennessee School Boards Association had called passage of the bill its top legislative priority. Rep. McDaniel said in taking off notice his bill, that the Office of Open Records Counsel had agreed to conduct public hearings on the proposal to charge for viewing public records this summer and to make a recommendation on the bill by January 2016. (See Tennessee Coalition for Open Government web site for more info.)

There is a lot of waste and pure corruption that takes place in government. Construction projects have specs written to benefit a particular vender, change orders benefit the contractor once awarded and some politically connected people have jobs created for them but do little work.  You can't stop all of this but if no one is watching a lot of it occurs. You may recall the scandal at NES and the perks given to NES bigwigs by Gaylord management in exchange for not charging for some NES services in conjunction with the Opryland Christmas lights display. That investigation by citizen activist Ken Jakes led to other revelations of massive credit card abuse at NES and other abuses.

With a diminished local news media that does very little investigative reporting, it is often up to citizens to be the public's watchdog.  If public records can be kept secret the opportunity to expose waste and corruption pretty much disappears. In Montgomery County, Maryland recently when a citizen activist filed to get public records pertaining to a $89 million construction of a library and recreation center, she was told she had to wait three months for the records to be gathered and pay sum of $58,407. That could happen in Tennessee unless we are vigilant.

I am pleased to see that in Nashville the agenda's and minutes of all boards and commissions are on line and all meetings of the Metro Council, the School Board, the Planning Commission and some others are streamed and then archived. I think everything that can reasonably be on line should be on line.  I was pleased to recently see the Davidson County Election Commission put local campaign financial reports on line. Federal and State financial disclosure reports were already available on line, but not the reports of candidates seeking local office. I am in the process of reviewing those reports to see who is financially supporting which candidate. If not on line, if I would have wanted to view the reports, I would have had to go in person to the office of the Election Commission request the reports, pay a fee per page, then come back and pick them up.  To keep watch over the democratic process should not be so difficult in this age of instant knowledge.

Regardless of one's political persuasion, I think we can all agree that the actions of government should be accessible and transparent. Meetings should be open, not conducted in secret, and records should be available for public inspection.

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Who is contributing to the Fox campaign for Mayor

David Fox
I have reviewed the campaign financial disclosure report of mayoral candidate David Fox and recognized very few of his contributors. There are not many contributors from the same profession, unlike the many Vanderbilt professors who have contributed to Megan Barry or the many attorneys who have contributed to Charles Bone. Fox's contributors seem to come from a broad variety of professions.

Most of Fox's campaign money comes from a loan he made his campaign of $1,050,000. He started the campaign report period with no money on hand, raised 1,303,030, spend 256,666, leaving a balance on hand of 1,046,363.

Out of state contributors include Patrick Colman of Old Greenwich CT $1500; Benjamin Fox of Greenwich, CT $1500; George Fox of Samfort, CT $1500; Matthew Fox of Greenwich, CT $1500; Pamela Fox of Greenwich, CT $1500; Barbara Jonas of New York City $1500; Henry Klein of Rye Brook, New York and March Klein of Rye Brook, New York $1500; Laurel Miller of Greenwich, CT $1500; Ellen Wolfson of Lawrence, NY $1500; Donald Jonas of New York City $1500; Kyle Miller of Greenwich, CT $1500; and maybe six other contributors of $1500 each from Greenwich CT. He must have a supportive family in Greenwich Connecticut.

Contributors of interest include Fred Dettwiller of Det Distributing $1500, Walter Knestrick $1500 and Sarah Knestrick $1500, Mary Pierce of the Metro School Board $500 and Ryman Hospitality Properties PAC $1000. There are lots of important civic minded people in the city I don't know and you may recognize the names of some of his contributors that I do not. To view his campaign disclosure report follow this link.

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Who is contributing to the Kenneth Eaton campaign?

No one yet. His financial disclosure for 1/15/2015 shows no money raised, no money spent and no money on hand.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Who is contributing to the Charles Robert Bone campaign for Mayor

Charles Robert Bone
A review of Charles Robert Bone's financial disclosure report for the period ending 1/15/2015 does not show much of interest.

He started the report period with $509,742 on hand, raised $250,224, spent $268,410, leaving $491,556 on hand.

He raised a lot of money from attorneys but being an attorney himself, that is not surprising. Attorney Dewey Brandstetter gave him $250. A lot of attorneys from the firm of Bone McAllester Norton contributed and several from the firm of Butler Snow, LLP.

One of his biggest contributors is Plumbers and Pipefitters which gave him $7500.

He got money from a handful of contributions from out of state including $1500 from Sarah Lowery of New York City, $700 from James Fox of Richardson Texas, $1500 from Webb Sowden of Dallas Texas and $1000 from Dustin Huffine of San Pedro CA.

Other interesting contributions are these: Ryman Hospitality PAC $1000, H.G. Hill Realty PAC $1500, and Ron Gobble, President of Gobbell Hays Partners, Inc. $1500.

I do not know many of the people contributing to his campaign, but others may. To view his campaign disclosure report, follow this link.

One thing interesting about the Bone disclosure is that all of his contributions were marked as contributions for the "primary election." There is no primary election. The August 7th election is a general election.

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Kathleen Starnes seeks position of Chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party

Kathleen Starnes has announced she is seeking the office of Chairman of the Republican Party of Tennessee.

Go Kathleen, Go!!

I could not be more pleased. I am enthusiastically supporting her candidacy. Kathleen Starnes made a great Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party. She is qualified, hardworking, knowledgeable and capable and a great friend. She plays well with others. She advanced the Republican Party in the Democrat stronghold of Nashville. Below is her announcement. I deleted her phone number at my own initiative to protect her from unwanted phone calls, but I am sure if you email her, she will return you call. Rod

Kathleen Starnes
614 Summerwind Circle
Nashville, TN 37215
March 2015

Greetings to my fellow Republicans!

Under the leadership of Chairman Chris Devaney and his outstanding staff, the Republican Party in Tennessee has made tremendous progress. As a past Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party, I pledge to work with leaders across Tennessee in advancing the causes and principles dear to the GOP. Most immediately would be to elect and re-elect Republicans to the Tennessee General Assembly, elect a Republican President in 2016 and to continue advancing Red to the Roots. I promise to only serve out this term and not run in December 2016.

2009-2013 Chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party (DCRP):
  • Introduced a successful Chairman’s Circle ($1000 per couple)
• Established GOP Breakfast outreach across the county
• Worked on local, state and national campaigns
• Raised funds to keep the DCRP in the black
• Tennessee Republican Party Global Engagement Team 2013-present
• Romney Delegate National Republican Convention 2012
• RNC Blacktop to Blackboard 2012
• Tennessee Republican Party Victory 2012
• Charter Member Middle Tennessee Republican Women in 2014
• Past Board Member and Treasurer of the Nashville Republican Women
• Served as 1st Vice Chair of the DCRP in 2007-2009 Davidson County Poll Inspector

Commission and Boards
Governor appointee to the Tennessee Council for Interstate Adult Offender Supervision;
Charter board member of Tennessee Voices for Victims;
Current member of the Advisory Board of the Rochelle Center;
Former Board member of the American Red Cross, Bethlehem Centers of Nashville, Watkins Institute of Design, You Have the Power, Dress for Success and the Friends of Metro General Hospital.

Business Experience: Owner of Southern Scientific (healthcare) - 1997 - present, K.M.Starnes & Associates (Event Planner), 8 years and Head of Special Events for the Mayor’s office, Nashville

Hobbies -skeet shooting, painting, travel, calligraphy, reading, and spending time with my husband, Larry Maxwell, my family, friends, my Bichons (Belle and Angel). and enjoying 2 granddaughters. Active member of the Cathedral of the Incarnation.

I look forward to talking to each of you in the near future.

Other people mentions for the position  Vanderbilt professor Carolyn Swain, who says, ""I have not actively pursued the state party chairmanship, but I find the opportunity intriguing." State Rep. Ryan Haynes of Knoxville has declared his candidacy.  Rebecca Ann Burke, a sitting state executive committee member, is also being mentioned as a potential candidate. Former state Rep. Joe Carr of Rutherford County, who lost a bid to replace Devaney in  December
says he’s not decided whether to seek the position or not.

The Executive Committee of the Tennessee Republican Party will select a new Chairman at its April 11 meeting.

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Who is financially contributing to the Megan Barry Campaign?

Megan Barry
Campaign financial disclosures reports for candidates for local races are now on-line and I have started the process of reviewing those reports. The first to be reviewed is that of mayoral candidate and current Council member Megan Barry. The report is for the period ending January 14th, 2015. Candidates who had not yet raised money were not required to file a report.

 Below is what I found of interest in Ms Barry’s report. I am sure others would find other things of interest. Some of the people you know may not be the same people I know, so you might find it interesting that certain people contributed to her campaign that I overlooked. If you want to know more about who is supporting Megan Barry’s candidacy follow this link to view her report.

One of the most interesting things I found from reviewing her report is how much money she got from professors and others associated with Vanderbilt University. I have not reviewed the report of the other candidates yet, so I don’t know how her support from Vanderbilt compares, but she is getting a lot of financial support from Vanderbilt.

Lydia Howarth wife of  Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos gave $3000. Other contributions from Vanderbilt, most of them from Vanderbilt professors, include the following: Larry Churchill $500, Gay Welsh $1000, Richard Lloyd $1000, Bill Ivey $600, Vareen Bell $500, Bonnie Dow $1800, Pearl Sims $250, Beth Conklin $250, Dan Cornfield $3000, Ruth Brown $1000, Vicki Green $1000, Jaky Akbari $175, John McCammon $2000, Tae Park $500, Virginia Scott $1000, Ranga Ramanujam $1500, Ray Fiedman $1500, Ellen Clayton $1500, Lou Outlaw $500, Ginny Shepherd $1000, and Ted Fischer $1500.

Out of town contributors include Arthur and Joyce Skodney of New York City who gave a combined total of $6000 to the campaign. I don’t know who they are and a Goggle search did not turn up anything of interest, but I just found it interesting that a New York couple put $6000 into her campaign. Other out of town contributors are Janet Meuller of Overland Park, Kansas who gave $3000 and $1500 from Lanfred Claus of Viena VA and $1500 from Neta Moye of Viena Va.

Other contributions of interest are these: former council member Anna Page $1535, Renato Soto of Conexion America $250, former state Rep Janice Sontany and employee of the Davidson County Clerk's office gave $900, the manager of the Global Mall Ravishanker Shetkar $1500, School Board Member Will Pinkston $500, famed divorce lawyer Rose Palermo $1000, and former council member Betty Nixon $500.

The Venick for Council Campaign gave her $1500. Butch Eley, CEO of Infrastructure Corporation of America and former Chief of Staff  for Nashville Mayor Bill Bonner gave her $250 and philanthropist Martha Ingram gave her $3000. Actress Ashley Judd gave $500, attorney Bob Tuke $1000, attorney Elliot Ozment $500, and former councilman and member of the Planning Commission Stewart Clifton $250.

Community activist Gene Tesselle and his wife gave a combined total of $1100. Rusty Lawrence, Executive Director of Urban Housing Solutions, gave $500. Liza Quigley, chief of staff for Congressman Jim Cooper gave $1600. Women for Tennessee’s Future donated $7900, Gaylord Entertainment Co. PAC $1000, Americana artist Buddy Miller  $1000 and Thomas Wills, Director of Vending for the homeless newspaper, The Contributor, gave $1500.

This one surprised me. Roy Dale, who is a former Metro Councilman, a developer, and someone who I assume is a Republican gave her $1500 and his wife Lisa Dale who is an outspoken conservative and prolific poster on Facebook also gave $1500. Why these two people who I perceive to be conservative are contributing to the most progressive candidate for Mayor in the race, I don't know.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mayoral Forum at the Urban Land Institue. David Fox is looking better and better.

Fox's star is rising but I am still listening.

This mayoral forum which occurred on March 24th was organized and sponsored by the Nashville chapter of the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit research and education organization dedicated to the responsible use of land and to creating and sustaining thriving communities worldwide. To learn more about the Urban Land Institute follow the link.

All of the mayoral candidates except Kenneth Eaton took part in the forum.  The candidates each answer five questions; questions about traffic and parking, affordable housing, regional multi-modal mass transit, infrastructure, and the roll of government in building a healthier community.

On most issues the candidates were indistinguishable. Fox scored a point with me when in his comment on affordable housing said, I am more of a "carrot" person rather than a "stick" person and I oppose mandatory requirements on developers making them do things. I could support incentives that entices developers to develop affordable housing by awarding them density bonuses for building affordable housing, he said. He went on to say, it is simplistic to look at affordable housing as simply a "supply" problem, saying it is also a "demand" problem. He said that by improving education, that will negate much of the problem by giving people the means to afford housing.

On the mass transit problem, Bill Freeman scored a point when he said the "AMP was a solution looking for a problem." He said the AMP was a colossal waste of time and that we must look for a regional solution.

Howard Gentry lost a point when he bragged about the Music City Star as a success. These are the facts about the Music City Star:
The commuter line starts 30 miles east of Nashville in Lebanon and runs into downtown. When it launched seven years ago, proponents promised that 750 people per day would ride the train. Yet, an average of less than 550 riders climb aboard daily. And those riders catch a break, because they pay just 15 percent of the total cost to run the train round-­‐trip from Wilson County into downtown and back once per day. Ticket fares are expected to rake in a measly $779,400 this year, a fraction of the train’s $5.1 million operating budget. Where does the rest of the money come from to cover the difference? The pockets of federal and local taxpayers. Nashville taxpayers alone fork over some $1.6 million a year to keep the train on time. The Star has the second worst ridership in the nation. (link)
If Howard Gentry thinks The Star is model for solving our transportation problem, he does not need to be mayor.

Fox scored another point with me when he said the World War II culture of planning is what got us to this point to where we are. "It was a culture that separated everything we do; where we live, where we work and where we shop. It has maximized our need to get in the car and go everywhere." He said we need to encourage nodes of development where you live, work and shop in close areas. I think he is exactly right. What was considered the most enlighten progressive ideas of the time led us to the car-dependent urban sprawl culture of today. I could expound on this with examples but am pleased to see we have a candidate for mayor who recognizes it. Fox went on to say we need to "harness the private sector" in developing mass transit. Fox is looking more and more like my preferred candidate. I would like to see Nashville do something outside the box when it comes to mass transit. Fox appears the only candidate thinking outside the box. To see Fox's remarks about mass transit go to time stamp 49:25.

On the question of health, Jeremy Kane lost a point when he commended the role of Meharry-General hospital. In my view, just as we got out of the nursing home business, it is way past time to get out of the hospital business. For more on this issue follow this link. Bill Freeman scored a point when he said, "I have no idea on how to solve the obesity problem in Nashville."  Sometimes saying you don't have a solution to a problem is the best answer. I am tired of politician claiming they can solve every problem.

I am not yet to the point to where I know who I will support for Mayor but the field is narrowing. Megan Barry was never in the running as far as I am concerned and I am ready to remove Howard Gentry from consideration. Fox gave several answers that pleased me in this forum and said nothing that disappointed me. Fox's star is rising but I am still listening.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

School Choice One Step Closer to Reality in Tennessee

NASHVILLE, TENN. (Mar. 24, 2015) - ​Today, Tennessee's State House Education Administration & Planning Committee approved the Gardenhire/Dunn school voucher bill with 8 yea votes and 5 no votes. So far, the legislation has 26 co-sponsors and has received 32 out of 40 votes in committees this session. The Tennessee Federation for Children released the following statement in support:

"Parents and children are one step closer to finally having the opportunity to choose to get a high-quality education in Tennessee," said Tony Niknejad of the Tennessee Federation for Children. "Rather than being restrained by their zipcode or their income, this bill will allow parents to send their children to a school that best fits their needs. 60 percent of Tennesseans have said that they would consider using an opportunity scholarship if given the chance, and that chance is one step closer for children in struggling schools." ​

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Campaign financial reports for candidates for mayor, vice mayor, and metro council are now available.

The campaign financial reports for candidates for mayor, vice mayor, and metro council are now available on line. Candidates who had raised money prior to Jan. 16 were required to file a report. Also before a candidate was permitted to raise money they were required to appoint a treasurer. You can view the campaign finance reports for the period ending Jan. 15th at this link.

The next financial reports are due April 10th and will cover the period of January 16th 2015 through March 31, 2015.

If anyone examines the reports and finds any thing interesting, please post a comment and share it.

I commend the Election commission for making campaign financial reports available on line and I thank Councilman Tim Garrett for his effort in encouraging the Election Commission to make the reports available on line.

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Devaney: It’s Time to Embark on a New Journey

Chris Devaney
NASHVILLE, Tenn.—The individual who has been part of the Tennessee Republican Party’s rise to dominance is stepping down.

Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney today announced to the members of the State Executive Committee that he will be resigning his seat effective April 11th. That is the same date as the next meeting of the TNGOP SEC.

On a phone call with the SEC, Devaney announced he has accepted a position to lead CNP—the Children’s Nutrition Program of Haiti, a faith-based nonprofit headquartered in Chattanooga, Tennessee where Devaney and his family call home.

“We have had quite a ride. I have been honored and humbled to be a part of this remarkable history, but it is time for my family and me to embark on a new journey. Saturday, April 11, will be my final day as chairman of the Tennessee Republican Party,” announced Devaney.

At the conclusion of his tenure, Chairman Devaney will be remembered as one of the longest-serving chairmen in TNGOP history and the one who guided the Party to new heights.

Since 2009, when Devaney began serving as chairman, the TNGOP has become synonymous with success in the Volunteer State:
  • In 2010, the Party gained a working majority in both chambers of the General Assembly. 
  • In 2010, the Party helped turn our Congressional delegation to a 7-2 Republican majority. 
  • And, in 2010, the Party elected a Republican governor. 
  • In 2012, both the State Senate and State House attained supermajority status.

And just this past year, in our Red to the Roots program, we elected county and judicial candidates across the state, in some districts that haven’t had Republican representation since Reconstruction. In all, nearly 750 Republican candidates were elected at the statewide, federal, legislative, judicial, and county levels in the 2014 election cycle—a record for the Tennessee Republican Party.

“As a Christian and an American, I believe it is our duty, if we are fortunate enough, to help those who can’t help themselves, regardless of borders,” Devaney remarked about his next step. “Earlier this year, I traveled to the country of Haiti on a mission trip. It is a country where I have been on other similar visits. Haiti is a country that is a short plane ride from Tennessee. Yet, it is the most impoverished nation in the western Hemisphere.”

He continued, “That trip had a major impact on me and I feel it is time to get personally involved to help the children and families of Haiti. The CNP has a mission that I firmly believe in. As such, I have agreed to become the organization’s Executive Director. While it is in Chattanooga, its work is based out of Haiti. CNP’s mission applies, in my view, conservative principles to achieve its goals. It is not providing handouts, but is working to educate mothers and improve the health and development of Haitian children, particularly those suffering from malnutrition. I am excited about this new challenge and ready for the next chapter of my life.”

For more information about CNP, please visit cnphaiti.org.

In keeping with the procedure when Devaney was first elected in 2009 in a special election, he called a special meeting of the SEC to immediately follow the TNGOP’s regular session on April 11th. The special meeting of the SEC will be conducted by TNGOP Vice Chairman Betty Cannon.

Reacting to the news, Governor Bill Haslam stated, "During his time as Party Chair, Chris has helped lead Republicans to historic victories. He has been a driving force behind the history making streak the Party is on and Tennessee is a better state because of it.”

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander remarked, “The Tennessee Republican Party has become one of the country's most successful, and Chris Devaney deserves great credit for this. His leadership has encouraged diversity of opinion and welcomed new voters. As a result, our party is larger, more successful, and more conservative.”

"Chris has done an outstanding job of leading our party and building it so that it is strong for the future," said U.S. Senator Bob Corker. "Chris's tenure as chairman has been marked by tremendous success, and now, as he and Heather begin this new chapter of public service, I could not be more excited for them and their family."

Devaney concluded his announcement by saying, “The Republican Party of Tennessee has a long proud tradition. I am confident that tradition will continue.”

Chris Devaney has been elected Chairman four separate times: 2009 (to fulfill an unexpired term), 2010, 2012, and 2014.
Devaney, originally from Texas, graduated from the University of Oklahoma began his career in journalism working for NBC Radio News in Washington. His interest in politics led him to a job in the U.S. Senate Republican Conference. Eventually, he would work for three U.S. Senators: Phil Gramm of Texas, and Fred Thompson and Bob Corker of Tennessee. He and his wife Heather live in Chattanooga with their four children and are members of the Lookout Mountain Presbyterian Church.

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Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney resigning

GOP Executive Director Brent Leatherwood confirmed Devaney is stepping down effective April 11. Leatherwood didn't immediately cite a reason for Devaney's departure, but said a statement is coming soon. (link)

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(Update #2) Bob Ries elected Chairman of the Davidson County GOP

Bob Ries
Update #2: I received this report from a friend who attended the convention:

Bob Ries won by five points over Tres Wittum. Robert Duvall did not make the runoff. 

These are the other officers who were elected: 
1st Vice Chair - Connie Hunter, 
2nd Vice Chair - John Wang 
Recording Secretary - Diana Cuellar 
Corresponding Secretary - Joshua Rawlings 
Treasurer - Michele Waddell
Associate Treasurer - Aaron Snodderly. 
Regional Vice Chairs - Sabrina Orr, Tony Roberts, John Goetz, Big John Smith, and Chuck Grimes. 

The convention was a real mess. I have never seen such an unorganized mess and we could contest the whole thing but I'm just glad it is over. 

 I will continue to update as more information becomes available. If any one else would like to shed light on what happened, I would welcome hearing from you.

In a contest between Robert Duvall who was seeking a second term as chairman of the Davidson County Republican Party and challengers Bob Ries and Tres Wittum, Bob Ries won.

Robert Duvall has served as chairman of the Davidson County Party for the past term of two years.  Duvall is a member of the Metro Council who is serving his second council term and has previously unsuccessfully sought election for a State House seat. He is termed-out from seeking reelection to the Metro Council as a district councilman and is running for an at-large Council seat.

Bob Ries was the Republican nominee running against Congressman Jim Cooper in the last election and he has been an unsuccessful candidate for a Metro council seat.

I do not know Mr. Wittum.  In the first round of balloting, incumbent Chair Robert Duvall was eliminated and in a second ballot between Wittum and Ries, Ries prevailed. 

I did not attend this year's convention due to my wife's illness and having out of town guest.  I was selected as a delegate however and got the below solicitation of support from Mr. Ries, but did not receive a solicitation of support from Mr. Duvall.
Delegates to the Republican Party Convention:
My name is Bob Ries. I am running for County Party Chairman and I am asking for your vote tomorrow morning. A lot of you may know me and may have supported my candidacy for US Congress.
For those of you whom I have just met - I have Degrees in Business & Economics. I have started 3 businesses, built them up and sold them. I have been Director of Sales for a Micrographics Company and a major hotel, a Vice President of Sales for an Insurance Company, a Business Consultant and a military veteran.
From 1968 to the time I moved to Tennessee in 1978, I was involved in political party organization as a Precinct Captain and Ward Chairman. I have not only seen how party politics is done, I have helped make it work. In a nutshell, I have a lifetime of experience in successful marketing and organizing political parties. That is what it is going to take to grow and organize this County Party so we can elect more Republicans. Success for Republicans in Davidson County will take 100% dedication to the task of turning the ship around and I have the time and energy to do it.
I am not running for any other office other than party chair. My only aspiration is to build the party for the next slew of candidates from the upcoming council races to the next candidate for US Congress. I believe I can make a difference; we can change the direction of Davidson County and we can be successful in the next two years with Republican Victories.
I am asking for your vote tomorrow and look forward to speaking with anyone who may have questions about the plan I will lay out for the future of the Republican Party in Davidson County.
Thank you for your consideration.
Bob Ries
Robert Duvall is a solid conservative and is generally well-liked. The only criticism I have heard of him as chairman of the Party is that he is too close to Mark Winslow and that Mark Winslow had too much influence over Duvall. You may recall, that Mark Winslow is the Republican member of the State Executive Committee who campaigned for a Democrat nominee for a Davidson County judgeship instead of working for the Party's nominee.  By virtue of his position on the State Executive Committee, Winslow has a seat on the Davidson County Executive Committee. There was one particularly contentious Executive Committee meeting where  Winslow's conflict of interest became an issue and Duvall sided with Winslow.  When Winslow was seeking his reelection to a seat on the State Executive Committee in a contested race, Robert Duvall endorsed him which some content was improper. The County chair is supposed to remain neutral in contested Republican primaries.

While the party grew rapidly under the previous two terms of Kathleen Starnes, my understanding is that party growth has declined in the last two years.  Someone who attended the caucus the previous Saturday said attendance was considerably less than the previous three caucuses.  That may not solely be attributable to the role of the Party chairman however but may simply be due to the political climate or other factors.

I do not know the vote totals for the candidates but will update this post when such information becomes available.

I extend by congratulations to Mr. Ries and thank Robert Duvall for his service to the Party.

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Ramsey: Dickerson Could Be Convincing on Taking Next Step on Medical Marijuana

Discussing a couple of medical cannabis proposals with reporters in his office, Lt Gov. Ron Ramsey says he's in favor of the bill to legalize low-THC cannabis oil for use in treating intractable seizures in Tennesseans.

Below is a an excerpt from Nashville Post on the medical Marijuana bill being co-sponsored by Senator Steve Dickerson:

Dickerson, an anesthesiologist, is the only Republican of three senators representing Davidson County.
“There are a number of illnesses which medical science has not gotten enough answers for yet, so as a physician, I’m always interested in exploring new options for my patients,” said Dickerson. “One might think if it was a life-threatening illness you might be a little bit more willing to be experimental. If it’s something that’s less of, then you’ll probably be a little bit more mundane in your treatment.” (link)
I am pleased to see this proposal advance and pleased to see Senator Dickson sponsoring it. Apparently, cannabis oil has proven effective treating seizures and its use for that purpose has been endorsed by the Epilepsy foundation.

Actually, I think marijuana is relatively harmless and we should legalize recreational use of marijuana but we should certainly allow the medical use of marijuana.  Legalizing cannabis oil is a very small step and is a much more modest step than allowing general medical marijuana for treatment of an array of  medical reasons, such as combating nausea in cancer patients, but it is a start.  I commend Senator Dickson for taking the lead on this issue.

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President Obama recently suggested that voting should be mandatory in the U.S. It's already mandatory in 26 countries, in bastions of democracy such as North Korea, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Egypt . Some agree with Obama and think everyone should vote. I actually think that is a terrible idea. Mandatory voting is a basic denial of freedom of expression. Sometimes one may not vote because their is not much choice and none of the candidates represent your point of view.  One may not vote because you know you are going to vote Republican and your wife is going to vote Democrat so if you both abstain you have the same impact as if you had both voted. One may not vote because one simply does not care and pays no attention to politics or current events and feels unqualified to choose their leaders.

Not only do I think mandatory voting is a terrible idea, but I think pressuring people to vote by making them think it is their patriotic duty and making them feel guilty is a bad idea.  The Tennessean ran an essay recently and lamented Tennessee's low voter turnout.  "Civic engagement and voter participation are essential to preserving and protecting our democracy," the author said.  I don't agree.  I don't think simply having a greater number of voters helps preserve and protect our democracy. I would prefer a smaller number of informed voters rather than a larger number of uninformed voters.

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Membership Deadline is March 31st! Join MTRW today.

If you haven't joined the Middle Tennessee Republican Women for the new year, join now! Membership is open to women in the Middle Tennessee area including Davidson, Williamson, and surrounding counties through March 31st. Annual membership is only $25 for voting members and associate membership is $20.
Your yearly membership includes invitations to our luncheons where you will hear great speakers and learn what’s going on in the Tennessee legislation, and you will also receive discounts on special events. In 2015 we are planning a few evening events to socialize and hear informative speakers with wine and hors d'oeuvres.
Please join today! Just click on the link below to pay online, or send a check to:
Middle Tennessee Republican Women
P.O. Box 158365
Thank you,
Stachia Graham

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Caffeinated Conservatives Saturday March 28 from 12 PM - 2 PM at Sip Cafe

From Steve Clements:
Hi everybody, Saturday March 28 from 12 PM - 2 PM at Sip Cafe (3939 Gallatin Pike, Nashville, 37206) bring your education grievances, because we got a School Board member! Love charter schools, or think they're the Devil? Worried about school funding or Common Core? We have returning speaker MNPS Board Member Jill Speering to talk about education, education, education! All opinions welcome, so bring your appetite for good coffee and great conversation.
See you there!
Stephen Clements and Terry Torre
Caffeinated Conservatives

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Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast, March 28th

From Robert Duvall:
Update: Bill Freeman, candidate for Mayor will visit us Saturday as well.
When: Saturday, March 28 Shoney's (Antioch) Cane Ridge Rd. @ Bell Road (I-24E, Bell Road Exit)
Dutch treat breakfast & social 8:30 - 9:00 a.m. Program 9:00 - 10 a.m.
Guest Speakers: Council District 33 Candidates Sam Coleman and Jimmy Gafford & Vice Mayor Candidate* David Briley. *Vice Mayor Candidate Tim Garrett was invited but has not committed as yet.
All candidates welcome and will be given the opportunity to introduce themselves.
Hosted by Robert Duvall & Pat Carl

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Compromise Legislation Keeps Common Core Academic Standards for now.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey said an agreement has been reached on legislation that would keep the state's current academic standards intact. .... included the controversial Common Core standards for English and math. (link)

My Comment:
I know some conservative political activist will be incensed that Common Core was not overturned immediately, but I am pleased to see common sense prevail. Many on the right, including organizations I normally ally with such as Americans for Prosperity, Eagle Forum, and Heritage Foundation, have been active in a campaign to repeal and abandon Common Core.  I have heard and know their arguments; I am just not convinced by the arguments.

In the last few years, since Haslam has been Governor, Tennessee has ranked as the state showing the greatest improvement in education. This year's edition of the Report Card on American Education ranks Tennessee as the 24th best state in educational performance. Education Week's Quality Counts gives Tennessee a grade that puts our state in 40th place. U.S. News and World Reports ranking of states with the best high schools, ranks Tennessee in 41st place.

I know being in 40th or 41st place is nothing to brag about, but for as long as anyone as been doing any ranking, about all we could say was "thank God of Mississippi."  Tennessee has for generations ranked second or third place from the bottom in ranking of the state's educational systems. While Tennessee has ranked very low, nationally America's education ranking in the world has been falling. For a long time America was at the top as having a good educational system. Now, America's ranks in the middle. China and India are producing better educated citizens than America. For more on how our educational ranking is slipping as a nation, follow this link.

There are many things contributing to America's falling position in the world including a $18 trillion national debt, cultural changes such as the demise of the family, a social safety net that has zapped initiative and motivation, a burdensome bureaucracy that stifles growth and innovation, and anemic and inept leadership in the White House.  One of those things contributing to our decline as a nation however is that while other nations have been improving their education system, ours has been falling. A failing education system that does not produce a capable workforce and scientist to compete on the world stage puts our future economic standing and our national security at risk.

Maybe Common Core is not the answer to adequately improving American education but it is the best thing to happen so far. It appears to be part of the answer. Maybe we can come up with "Tennessee standards" that are as good as common core, but in the mean time we should not abandon what is causing Tennessee to show rapid improvement. In my view, our educational standards as a nation are too low. Also, our nations citizens are so mobile that there needs to be a minimum common core of knowledge that students across the nation are mastering in the same grade. If a family leaves Tennessee with a fifth grader who is excelling here and moves to Massachusetts or New Hampshire that fifth grader should not be performing at a third grade level in their new home state. I do not accept that a Tennessee child is not as smart as a child in Massachusetts or new Hampshire. I am not content to be ranked second to only Mississippi as having the least educated kids in America.  I am pleased that for now we are sticking with Common Core.

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Why Won't Obama Work with Bob Corker?

by John Allen Gay, The National Interest - The Obama administration appears to be on the brink of signing a nuclear deal with Iran. If it pulls it off, it’ll be its biggest diplomatic accomplishment in years, one likely to render America safer and tame a key source of instability in an increasingly consequential U.S.-Iran dyad.
If it doesn’t get blown up by Congress, that is. And if it does, the administration will, contrary to its endless protestations, be greatly to blame. How else are we to explain the administration’s impending confrontation with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker? Corker’s proposal to give Congress a vote on the Iran deal—a far more palatable approach than what many of his colleagues have tried—is likely to advance out of his committee next week, and the administration is scrambling to keep Democrats from supporting it. (keep reading)

The National Interest (TNI) is a respected American bi-monthly international affairs magazine published by the Center for the National Interest. It is associated with the realist school of foreign policy thought. This is an excellent article examining the folly of the President in trying to reach a deal with Iran without engaging Congress.

I cannot fathom the arrogance of the Obama administration in thinking the President can make foreign policy without the participation of Congress. The constitution in Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 says, "The President... shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur...." 

The President cannot make a treaty with another country.  Any understanding between the President and another foreign leader is no more than that if not endorsed by Congress. For a greater understanding of the treaty clause of the Constitution follow this link. There is no scholarship that endorses the view that the President can make a treaty without the treaty being confirmed by Congress. There is no tradition that the President can make a treaty without the support of Congress. Bob Corker has been the voice of pragmatism and compromise but President Obama apparently thinks Congress is an impediment to his divine right to rule. Rod

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Alexander and Corker to vote against Loretta Lynch for Attorney General

Senator Alexander press release, WASHINGTON, March 17, 2015 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today announced his opposition to the nomination of Loretta Lynch for U.S. attorney general. He released the following statement:

"I will vote against President Obama’s nomination of Loretta Lynch for attorney general of the United States. This is an opportunity, within the Senate rules, to express my disapproval of the president’s abuse of executive authority, and it’s an opportunity I intend to take. "

Alexander said that Lynch's confirmation "should be decided by a majority vote of senators, as cabinet nominations have been decided throughout the history of the Senate.” On Feb 4 Alexander and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)  introduced legislation to establish by Senate rule the Senate tradition of approving presidential nominations by a simple majority vote, rather than the 60 votes it would take to end a filibuster. Alexander said that, according to information compiled by the Senate historian and the Congressional Research Service, in the entire history of the U.S. Senate since Thomas Jefferson wrote the rules in 1789, no cabinet nominee has ever been denied confirmation by requiring 60 votes to end a filibuster.

Senator Corker press release, WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) today announced he will oppose the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be attorney general of the United States.

“The job of the U.S. attorney general is to enforce federal laws as written, not as the administration wishes they were written,” said Corker. “While I believe Ms. Lynch is an impressive attorney and a committed public servant, nothing revealed during our personal meeting or at her confirmation hearing has assured me that she will be an independent attorney general and refrain from selective enforcement of the law, and therefore I will not be supporting her confirmation.”

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Senate Health and Welfare Committee approves lifesaving “right to try” bill for terminally ill patients

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved major legislation this week that would allow a terminally ill patient that has an advanced illness to try an experimental drug that has completed Phase I of clinical trials but is still pending approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA).   Senate Bill 811 would apply to terminally ill patients who have tried all other treatment options that are currently available as long as their physician has recommended it and the diagnosis and prognosis has been confirmed by a second physician.   

Drugs and medical devices undergo three phases of clinical trials before they go to the FDA for review. The process can take more than a decade.  Other than clinical trials, which are difficult to qualify for, the FDA has provisions for patients who want to access experimental drugs under its compassionate use program, but that process is also lengthy and time-consuming.

The bill also releases the physician and treatment facility from liability for using the drug.
The proposal now heads to the Senate floor for final approval.

The above is reposted from Senator Jack Johnson's newsletter. Rod

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Job creation in Tennessee set new records last year

Job creation in Tennessee set new records last year, according to Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd, who appeared before the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee to present his department’s budget for the 2015-2016 fiscal year.  The presentation was made just hours before Boyd, Governor Bill Haslam, legislators and county officials joined Nissan North America to make a major job announcement that the company will invest $160 million to build a new supplier park at their Smyrna vehicle assembly plant. The project will support more than 1,000 newly created supplier jobs.

Over the past several years, the General Assembly has made great strides in preparing students for the 21st century marketplace and in creating a business-friendly climate which draws new and better paying jobs to Tennessee.  Nissan’s Smyrna plant has been noted as being the most productive automotive manufacturing plant in North America, as it produces almost 650,000 vehicles each year, including the Maxima, Rogue and Altima.

Boyd said Tennessee finished first in the Southeast in new manufacturing jobs created since 2011.  The state was also second in the Southeast for manufacturing jobs growth, which is something he said Tennessee has been targeting.  Other job creation accolades cited by Boyd include being first in the nation for jobs created from foreign direct investment, first for certified sites, first for overall infrastructure, and first in the education “Race to the Top” leaders.  Tennessee was also named 2014 and 2013 “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine.

“We have got a great base to build on,” said Boyd.  He said the state has 31 “shovel ready” sites in their “Select Tennessee Certified Sites” program.  The program sets a consistent and rigorous standard upon which companies can rely in making critical location decisions.   

Expansion of Tennessee companies is another key reason for the state’s economic development success, with 75 percent of jobs created by existing businesses.  Boyd said the department will continue its emphasis in partnering with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth.

An area where the department plans to put more emphasis is rural economic development.  “We are developing a more robust strategy for our rural communities.  That is a key area of focus,” Boyd added.

Finally, Boyd said the department will continue its efforts to align higher education with economic development.  “Too long we have had kids graduating from college with degrees that they can’t get jobs in,” he said.  “At the same time, we are talking to our businesses, and they can’t find the skills they need to fill the jobs they have.  The way that happens is that people just aren’t talking.  One of the things we are going to put a real emphasis on is making sure that economic development is in line with higher education, and we are going to work very, very closely with them.”

In 2013, the General Assembly passed model legislation that laid the foundation for the cooperative effort of government, higher education and businesses looking for skilled workers by providing on-the-job training.  The Labor Education Alignment Program  (LEAP) works with the state’s Complete College Tennessee Act and the “Drive to 55” initiative to raise the percentage of Tennesseans with post-secondary degrees from 32 percent to 55 percent by 2025.  The goal is to bring new industry to the state and give students the skills they need to compete for jobs in an increasingly global economy. 

The above is reposted from Senator Jack Johnson's newsletter. Rod

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Kane Campaign Announces “Just Jeremy” Town Hall series designed to engage voters across Nashville

Jeremy Kane
Press Release, Nashville, TN – Nashville Mayoral candidate Jeremy Kane today announced a series of eleven town hall meetings to be held across Davidson County. These events will give voters the opportunity to meet Jeremy and engage in meaningful conversations about the future direction of Nashville. Additional Town Halls will be added as dates and venues are confirmed.
Nashville Mayoral campaigns are traditionally dominated by a variety of multi-candidate forums – fourteen have been held thus far and thirty more are confirmed. Jeremy Kane has participated in every single one and plans to continue to participate in as many future multi-candidate forums as his schedule allows.
But with seven major candidates in the race, the multi-candidate format only affords each candidate limited time to convey their background, vision, and stance on important issues. Furthermore, campaign staff and supporters typically dominate those in attendance - often leaving few truly undecided voters in the audience.

“We’ve said from day one that our campaign will be a broad-based grassroots campaign focused on having a true dialogue about issues that matter to Nashville voters. I’m excited to have this opportunity to speak directly with voters across our county about what it will take to build a better Nashville for all,” said Jeremy Kane.

“In a race that seems aimed more toward showcasing gimmicks – from jingles, vans, and speed dating, to beer koozies and mascots - we feel the voters deserve a more serious conversation with their next mayor. ‘Just Jeremy’ is just that – a frank and open conversation with Jeremy. It puts the focus on topics that matter most to Nashville’s future in a format that encourages a true dialogue with voters where they live and work,” said campaign manager Darden Copeland.

“Some candidates will spend their millions on 19 weeks of television. We will spend the next 19 weeks hosting town hall meetings with voters across Davidson County. Instead of 60-second TV advertisements, Jeremy will have 60-minute conversations. Voters want the opportunity ask questions, offer their views, and meet their next mayor,” said Copeland.

The first in the series of town hall meetings is scheduled for Monday, March 23 and will take place at Fantasy Hall in Antioch from 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Scheduled “Just Jeremy” Town Halls
  • Fantasy Hall, 2332 Antioch Pike, Antioch, TN 37013 - Mon., March 23rd, 6pm - 8pm
  • Historic RCA Studio A (special focus: Music Industry), 30 Music Square West, Nashville, TN 37203 - Mon., April 6th, 6pm - 8pm
  • Tennessee State Fairgrounds (special focus: Historic Tennessee State Fairgrounds), 500 Wedgewood Ave, Nashville, TN 37203 - Sun., April 12th, 1pm - 3pm
  • Green Door Gourmet, 7011 River Road Pike, Nashville, TN 37209 - Thurs. April 23rd, 6pm - 8pm
  • Nashville Entrepreneur Center (special focus: Entrepreneurs and Technology), 41 Peabody Street, Nashville, TN 37210 - Thurs., May 7th, 6pm - 8pm
  • House of God, 2714 Scovel Street, Nashville, TN 37208 – Tues., May 12th, 6pm - 8pm
  • Chef's Market, 900 Conference Dr, Goodlettsville, TN 37072 - Sun., May 17th, 1pm - 3pm
  • Ruby, 2411 Blakemore Ave, Nashville, TN 37212 - Mon., June 8th, 6pm - 8pm
  •  Arts at Center Street, 401 Center St, Old Hickory, TN 37138 - Sat., June 20th, 10am - Noon
  • Cane Ridge Event Center, 12633 Old Hickory Blvd, Antioch, TN 37013 - Tues., July 14th, 6pm - 8pm
  • Cathedral of Praise, 4300 Clarksville Pike, Nashville, TN 37218 – Thurs., July 23rd, 6pm - 8pm 
Additional “Just Jeremy” events will be announced as locations and venues are confirmed.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

"Parent Trigger" Bill passed through the Tennessee Senate Education Committee yesterday.

Press Release, NASHVILLE, TN- Parent Revolution applauds the passage of The Parent Empowerment Bill through the Tennessee Senate Education Committee yesterday.  The bipartisan legislation, filed by Representative John DeBerry (D- Memphis) in the House and Senator Brian Kelsey (R- Germantown) in the Senate will give parents a stronger voice in determining the direction of their local schools.

The Parent Empowerment Bill also known as the "Parent Trigger" bill, HB 651/SB 600, will equip parents with the tools to take immediate and dramatic corrective action at their child’s school should they feel it necessary. Under the proposed law, at the request of a majority of parents, a struggling school would be subject to one of three options: a public charter conversion, turnaround strategies, or a transformation intervention. 

Parent leader Andrea Evans testified at the Committee hearing noting:
Inline image 4
  Parent leader Andrea Evans testifies at the Senate Education Committee
Mis-education needs to stop. I had to pull my children out of their school, because it was underperforming so badly. I had to put them in charter schools – but what about the rest of the children? What about everybody else? I’m here for everyone in my neighborhood. There has to be accountability and with this bill being passed it will allow parents to be involved. We have 333 signatures of parents ready to say we want to raise test scores and help with academics. With the bill being passed not only will my children have a better education, but all children will have a better education.
 Senator Kelsey introduced the bill urging his colleagues to support and empower parents to turn around schools that are persistently failing their children. Senator Kelsey reflected:
What we’re talking about now – these are schools that are failing these children. They are in the bottom 10% of schools in the state. There has been no action. That’s an extreme incidence in which we need to take action in favor of these children and their parents.
Inline image 2
Senator Kelsey speaks in
 support of the bill he introduced

The bill now heads to the Senate Finance Committee on 5 yes votes with no objections. Parent Revolution Regional Advocacy Director April Popescu had this to say: 
If local systems fail to deliver effective solutions for students, this bill will empower parents with the ability to make a transformation at the most essential level. Parents, sitting around the kitchen table should have the power to demand a high quality education for their kids. Accordingly, this bill not only provides parents with an accountability mechanism, but also with a real voice in determining the best way forward for their local school.
 Read the full text of the bill here

Parent Revolution transforms underperforming public schools by empowering parents to advocate for what is good for children, not adults, through grassroots community organizing.

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