Saturday, April 19, 2014


Reposted from TN Eagle Forum:

SB 1602 by *Bell , Gresham, Stevens, Yager, Johnson, Tracy, Hensley, Crowe, Tate, Ketron, Campfield, Haile
HB 2249 by *Casada , Womick, Butt, Dunn, Sargent, White D, Matheny, Evans, Brooks K, Weaver, Rogers, Sparks, Goins, Coley, Ragan, Moody, Holt, Bailey, Hall, Eldridge, Faison

As introduced, restructures the textbook commission and the textbook selection process
As amended, SB1602, passed the Senate on March 17, 27-3; HB2249 passed the House on April 16, 73-15. The problem was that the two versions were different -- the main sticking point being who appoints the members of the Commission.  The Senate bill required 3-3-3 (the Governor appointing three, each speaker appointing three); the House bill required 5-2-2 (the Governor appointing five, each speaker appointing two).  The bill was sent to a Conference Committee to come to agreement, which, thankfully, was the 3-3-3 provision. You can read the Conference Committee Report HERE.  The Report was adopted in the Senate 29-3-1; in the House 75-20. Folks, please understand, this is HISTORY Making legislation and a HUGE 'thank you' goes out to all those to read the textbooks, testified in the various committees, and who contacted their lawmakers urging them to make these much needed changes!!! Deep appreciation also to Sen. Bell and  Rep. Casada for their sponsorship of this legislation and to Sen. Gresham, for holding the hearings in the fall about the entire Textbook Commission debacle and review process.
My Comment:  There was a lot of very good legislation passed this year. It matters who governs. There was also some embarrassingly bad legislation proposed but it was so amended to not be objectionable by the time it passed or it failed to pass.  The system usually works pretty well and not a lot of really dumb stuff passes. 

Among the bills I am most pleased to see pass this year is this one.  In the past, our text book selection process has been a joke. In committee hearings last year, members of the text book selection committee admitted they were unable to read the text books they were charged with selecting. Time and structure of the committee simply made it impossible.

I admit  that some of the activist who helped mobilize this effort to change the text book selection process, are people whose judgement I would not trust in critiquing text books. Also, I am sure that under this new law, many text books will be objected to because they present global warming as science, or present evolution as a fact without offering the "intelligent design" alternative theory, or that mention the historical fact that during the Middle Ages Jews were treated better under Islamic rule than in western Christian kingdoms.

Also, however, I expect that textbooks can not get away with presenting Mao Zedong as a great unifier and reformer of China without mentioning the madness of the great leap forward, land reform, and the cultural revolution and Mao's responsibility for the death of 77 million people or more. Neither can Castro be presented as a folk hero reformer. I expect a textbooks that in tone is critical of free markets and capitalism and praises big government solutions to social problems will be tagged for bias. I expect that a text book that presents native Americans prior to the arrival of Columbus as a gentle people living in harmony with nature and one another in a bucolic existence to be tagged. What about the ritual continuous human sacrifice of the Aztec who ripped the beating heart out of their victims? That ought to be in the text books about native Americans for a balanced view.

This new bill may profoundly change text books. Text books are written, for the most part, by full-time academics and academia is dominated by people with a liberal to leftist bias. They should not be allowed to pass their left-wing bias on to our children. Education is too important to be left up to educators. Society needs to have input into what pubic schools teach.

For this new law to have impact however, responsible sensible educated conservatives must get active in reviewing text books. A lot of parents and other citizens must be reviewing the text books, writing convincing rational reviews of the books, passing that on to the members of the text book commission and asking them to not approve the books found to be objectionable. If the only criticism is coming from persons with an outlier minority view of scientific issues, Christian Zionist, and right wing crack pots, then the critics will be marginalized and not much will change. People who are conservative, but not crack pots, must get involved.  If that does not happen, the new commission will ignore the crack pot critics, and approve books as presented and not much will change.

If I get tired of blogging, my next contribution to the conservative cause may be as a citizen text book reviewer. I think I could enjoy that. There are a lot of educated, retired people with a lot to offer, but who spend their time in idleness or sit on the sidelines watching others influence events and complain.  This change in the textbook law has opened the door for many people who want to have an impact, to do so. I hope they step up to the plate and do not let this opportunity slip away.

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Tennessee Black Alliance for Educational Options Saddened to See Lack of Support for Parent Choice in Tennessee Legislature

Memphis, TN — The Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is disheartened to learn the 12-member House Finance, Ways and Means House Subcommittee refused to grant Representative John DeBerry’s, parent choice focused bills a chance at a vote during its Committee meeting today.  Opposing Committee members also blocked the Tennessee Choice & Opportunity Scholarship Act bill, which was supported by Governor Bill Haslam, although this bill passed the House Education Committee and the state Senate last week with bipartisan support.
“The bills that were refused a vote today would have been a step in the right direction of increasing parents’ power to access high-quality educational options when making decisions about their children’s future,” said Tennessee BAEO State Director, Jennifer Littlejohn. “We believe all children deserve a right to receive an education that will allow them to compete globally and practice in the freedom of choice.”
The House Finance, Ways and Means Subcommittee denied a vote on whether to hear DeBerry’s bills by electing not to make a motion to take up either for a vote. One bill proposed would have allowed low-performing, turn-around schools to recruit students outside traditional school zone lines. The other bill would have lowered the number of votes needed from parents to exercise “parent trigger”, which allows parents to step in when a school is doing poorly and to make alternative decisions about how to manage the school.
“BAEO applauds Representatives DeBerry and McCormick and Senator Norris for showing courage to fight for the educational futures of low-income and working class children,” said Littlejohn. “When our education systems remain unchanged, so do the prospects of our children. Though disappointed with this outcome, we’re hopeful we can return to the Capitol next year and continue searching for ways to increase access to high-quality educational options for those that need them most.”

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Thought for the day

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Schools want $32.5 Million more. MNPS Mayor's budget hearing.

Below are news reports on the budget hearing.

This Tennessean article provides a very good summary of the  Schools budget request:

Mayor praises pre-K but doesn't pledge funds yet 

The Tennessean, by Joey Garrison, April 16, 2014 - Mayor Karl Dean called a plan to expand prekindergarten "a very innovative and thoughtful idea" Wednesday but stopped short of promising funds for it just yet as his administration reviews $32.5 million in requested new education spending.
Dean, following his annual budget hearing with the Metro school board, pointed to unfinished work on a final 2014-15 budget proposal when asked whether he endorses what has turned into Director of Schools

New spending
Highlights of $32.5 million in new spending proposed by MNPS:
  • $7.4 million for 2 percent salary increase for school employees
  • $3.4 million to expand pre-K to 340 students and open three pre-K centers in East, South and North Nashville
  • $14.7 million to open three charter schools and to increase seats at existing charters

Nashville Public Radio - Nashville Mayor Karl Dean wouldn’t give a “yes” or “no” to any of the initiatives in Metro Schools’ budget presentation Wednesday, which asked for $32.5 million more than last year.

The changes would lift the school system’s total funding, which was already the largest chunk of Metro’s budget, to $779 million.

School officials want to keep a 2 percent raise for teachers and support staff, after Governor Haslam reneged on his plan to increase teacher pay statewide. The Mayor wouldn’t give a definitive answer on if the salary boost would make his final proposal to the Metro Council.
This is an excellent article that explains the conflict between Dean's vision and the School Boards resistance to change.
Has Karl Dean missed his chance to shape Nashville public education? 
 The Nashville Scene, by Bruce Dobie, April 17, 201-   This week's hearings were to give Dean an opportunity to challenge the board's request for its large increase, in light of the school system's inability to work or play well with charter schools and reluctance to move toward the portfolio approach. Dean is on the right side of the argument — the tide has turned so dramatically on the issue of education reform that it's not a matter of "if" but "when." But he has two strikes against him. First, the school board has all the power: It comes up with the budget. And second, Dean has yet to articulate what a new portfolio-based budget should look like.

Months ago, Dean might have written a new budget himself — one with a portfolio-based financial model that pushes decision-making down to individual schools while dramatically reducing overhead. Budgeting is a dry domain, but numbers never lie. With Register and the board refusing to move his direction, the mayor might have provided a way forward by writing his own budget. It may not be his job, but he still controls the purse — and writing one would have changed the conversation.

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America's Most Challenging High Schools: What trends emerge. Hume-Fogg ranks 61 out of 2092.

By Hunter, originally posted in TN Edu-Independent 

Jay Matthews, columnist for the Washington Post, came out with an interesting list of the "most challenging high schools" last week. Their methodology:

"We take the total number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year and divide by the number of seniors who graduated in May or June"

It made me wonder how Nashville and Memphis high schools fared in the rankings, and how TN was doing.

Obviously, it's not a perfect way to tease out which are the nation's "best" high schools, since "best" can mean a lot of things to different people. A ranking that looks at outcomes of those advanced level programs would be even better, but this methodology does provide some important insight and reason to reflect on our local contexts (Nashville and Memphis).

Just looking at the number offered relative to the student populations would provide some indication about the level of rigor in many of our high schools (even offering the advanced tests in the first place).

Some interesting trends have emerged, which he details here. Important ones among them include:

  • Low-income students aren't always at a disadvantage (poverty doesn't have to be destiny).
  • the South is a hotbed of innovation
Here are the TN high schools that made the list:
Some takeaways:
  • it's concerning that only 12 high schools statewide made this list
  • really concerning that Shelby Co Schools only had 1 (Germantown's Houston High)
  • Hillsboro was the only non-magnet high school in Nashville to make the list (probably because of its IB focus)
  • Hume-Fogg and MLK did well ranking wise nationally speaking
  • While Hume-Fogg and MLK did well, it's concerning to see the disparity among other Nashville high schools (those not even making this list at all)
I hope we work to raise the rigor of our system to see the day when at least half of Nashville's 12 non selective academic high schools are on this list. 
Doing that means significantly improving the elementary and middle tiers that feed our comprehensive high schools.

We have much work to do.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Common Core slowed but not killed in Tennessee

The House reached agreement with the Senate and passed a bill that delays for a year the testing tied to Common Core and  requires that if Common Core standards are expanded beyond the current math and language arts standards in Tennessee, that the State Department of Education give the State Legislature a 60 day notice.

The vote on the final version of the bill, HB1549, was 85 voting "aye", and 8 voting "no."  The eight no's were: Carr J, Coley, Cooper, Keisling, Stewart, Towns, Windle, and Womick.

To follow the history of the bill and read the final version, follow this link

Here are other reports on the issue:

Published April 17, 2014 by Andrea Zelinski - Critics of a new student exam linked to controversial education standards won a small victory Wednesday when the House adopted a compromise putting off testing for one year. The House of Representatives voted 86-8 in favor of a deal hammered out largely by leadership behind closed doors, although members acknowledge the agreement left open loopholes.

“Today is an example of the art of the possible,” said Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, who helped assemble the bill’s hijacking last month. “I know you don’t like this, but this is a win.”

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Early voting begins Wednesday, April 16th

Early Voting Location April 16 Through April 26 
Howard Office Building (only),  Sonny West Auditorium, 700 2nd Av. S. 
Times below for Howard office bldg only:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 17, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Friday, April 18, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 19, 2014 - 9:00 a.m. to noon
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, April 24, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Friday, April 25, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 26, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Other Early Voting Locations & times other than the early, early at Howard School.

Howard Office Building, (in addition to the above)
Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Road
Bordeaux Library, 4000 Clarksville Pike
Edmondson Pike Library, 5501 Edmondson Pike
Green Hills Library, 3701 Benham Avenue
Hermitage Library, 3700 James Kay Lane
Madison Library, 610 Gallatin Pike

Times for the above location:
Monday, April 28, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 30, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
There are Republicans on the Ballot.  
are urging you to vote in the Democrat Primary. 

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Metro Council meeting of 4/15/2014. The debt report and bicycle parking meeting.

This is a shot meeting at only 46 minutes long and it is a real boring meeting so there is no point in watching it.

If you are gong to watch it and wish to following the meeting with the agenda, staff analysis and my analysis follow this link. Here are the meeting highlights:

All but three resolutions are on the consent agenda. Those on the consent agenda pass and none are pulled. One not on consent is an insignificant memorializing resolution honoring a person. The other two are these:

  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1051 which appropriates over $9 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund (the 4% fund) for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of The Metropolitan Government. It passes unanimously without discussion. I see nothing controversial in this resolution so assume it is all Ok.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1052 which is four proposed charter amendments. If approved by the the Metro Council, they would be placed on the ballot to be voted on by the people. Some of these proposed amendments need to be rejected. Following the recommendation of the Charter Revision Committee of the Council, this bill is differed to the May 20th meeting of the council. There are two very important proposed amendments. One would reduce the size of the Council and extend term limits to three terms instead of two and the other controversial proposed amendment would make it easier for Metro government to dispose of the fairgrounds. 

All bills on First reading pass without discussion as is customary and all bills on Second reading pass without discussion.

Bills on third reading
  • BILL NO. BL2012-302 is an amendment to a portion the Nashboro Village Planned Unit Development Overlay District for a portion of property located at Nashboro Boulevard to permit neighborhood retail uses not to exceed one story, where 27,600 square feet of commercial uses was previously approved. I have not followed this issue, but six people vote against it and only 21 vote in favor. I was unaware of a controversy about this bill. There was no discussion. The "no" votes are the more conservative members of the Council such as Duvall, Dominy, Stites, and Tygert. Anytime a property is down zoned that is a "taking" of property unless the owner agrees to the down zoning. I assume that is what is going on here but have no specific knowledge of this bill. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-696 amends the Metro code to require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council on the debt of this city. This is an excellent bill and will give the Council greater insight into the debt obligations of the city. This bill passes unanimously without discussion 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-714 amends the Metro code to require bicycle parking spaces be provided for commercial property in certain circumstances. This seems as reasonable as requiring auto parking. With Nashville becoming more of an urban community and this seems reasonable to me.
  • BILL NO. BL2014-715 would require that the applicant pay the fees for advertising and posting of signs on property proposed for rezoning. In most cases this would appear reasonable but in the case of, for instance, at the request of a community numerous properties would be subject to an overlay or a rezoning to single family, this could cost thousands of dollars. This bill, in its current form, is a bad bill in my view. It is differed one meeting.

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Liberty on the Rocks, Thursday, April 17, at 5:30 PM at Mafiaoza's

Liberty on the Rocks - Tennessee, Thursday, April 17, 2014, 5:30 PM Mafiaoza's, 2400 12th Ave S Nashville, TN 37204.

There is no program, just a chance to have good food and drink and conversation with people share a right-of-center point of view. 

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Update: Remember Samar Ali?

Does the name Samar Ali ring a bell?

You may remember that in 2012 the Haslam administration hired her to work in the Department of Economic Development as the Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs. What should have been a routine hiring of a talented person created a furor.  What caused the controversy was that Ms Ali is a Muslim and has expertise in Sharia compliant finance. In her capacity with the Department of Economic Development it was not anticipated that she would have the occasion to use her knowledge of Sharia finance, but because she had those credentials and simply because she was Muslim, some of the right wing fringe went ballistic. Never mind that she was a native of Milan Tennessee and graduate of Vanderbilt University and that her father was a distinguished medical doctor who headed a statewide medical association and was a colonel in the Tennessee National Guard, the fact that she was Muslim was enough.

Some factions of the energized right wing used her hiring to weave their fanciful theory that Governor Haslam was in the process of imposing Sharia Law on Tennessee. I guess they thought that day after tomorrow all the crop tops and shorts were disappearing from Walmart and being replaced by burqa's. Luckily, it was a very small fringe, but they were noisy and adamant. Some of the fear being spread about Muslims called to mind how at other times in history Jews were blamed for poisoning wells and witches for casting spells.  A handful of county Republican Parties passed resolutions condemning her hiring and a group led by the local 9-12 group took out a full-page, $5000 ad in the Tennessean critical of Haslam over the issue.  My disagreement with this action let to me being expelled from the local 9-12 chapter, although I never lost any sleep over it.

Governor Haslam did not budge and at a meeting of First Tuesday, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Mr. Bill Hagerty strongly defended the hiring of Ms Ali.

While I recognized the threat of radical Islam in the world, I think the threat of irrational bigotry is also a threat. Thankfully, I hear a lot less irrational anti-Muslim bigotry now than just a couple years ago.  There was a lot of other right wing crazy stuff bubbling to the surface then also, but much of it seems to have gone away, thank goodness.

I had not thought of that episode until just recently, when I got a notice from the Nashville chapter of the World Affairs Council that Ms Ali was the guest speaker at an event tonight. She has gone on to bigger and better things. I will be attending the event where she is the guest speaker. speaking on the topic, “Is the Middle East in a Cold War with Syria at the Center?”

Below is her profile that accompanied the announcement: 

Samar Ali is currently an advisor to the United Nations Envoy for Syria and is working with both the Carter Center and the U.S. State Department to facilitate peace in the Middle East and a negotiated settlement of the Syrian crisis.

Samar Ali
A member also both of Baker Donelson's Corporate/Mergers & Acquisitions Practice Group and its Global Business Team, Ms. Ali concentrates her practice in international law and public policy.

Prior to joining Baker Donelson, Ms. Ali served as the Assistant Commissioner for International Affairs under Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Ms. Ali also served as a White House Fellow in President Obama's administration and worked closely with Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Nepolitano. In this role, she focused on both foreign and domestic policy issues relating to national security in the US, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. She also co-led the 2010 White House Fellows Delegation to China and served in an advisory position on the White House Arab-American Kitchen Cabinet to the Office of Public Engagement and Intergovernmental Affairs. Following this appointment, Ms. Ali joined President Jimmy Carter on an International Election Monitor Delegation to witness the presidential elections in Egypt.

A graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law, Ms. Ali was a law clerk to the Honorable Gilbert S. Merritt of the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and a judicial intern and law clerk to the Honorable Edwin Cameron, now in the Constitutional Court of South Africa.
 To learn more about this controversy that surrounded the hiring of Ms Ali, read here, here and here.

Update: I attended the meeting last night and Ms Ali spoke for about 45 minutes.  She has been meeting in Oslo at Syrian peace talks, has traveled throughout the Middle East trying to help find solution to the crisis and she has toured the refugee camps were hundreds of thousands of people linger in desperate conditions. She spoke about the "Arab Spring" and how it had become an "Arab nightmare," about the geopolitical players in the conflict, the tribal, religious, and political  factions involved in Syria and the efforts to find a solution to the conflict. Her talk was very enlightening and informative and I was very impressed.  Those who disparaged this talented, intelligent lady who obviously cares deeply about humanity and peace in the world should be ashamed of themselves.

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Metro Council meeting of April 15th, 2014

check back for updates.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

It is April 15th. Where does all of that tax money go?

It went primarily to pay for government benefits.

Source: Office of Management and Budget.

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Council's Budget and Finance Committee of 4/14/2014

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URGENT Call to Action: Fairgrounds once again in Jeopardy

From Save our Fairgrounds:  
There is an amendment to change to referendum being presented by Councilman Sandra Moore on Tuesday's METRO COUNCIL meeting.  

Please contact your councilman \ all councilmembers and tell them to VOTE NO to this amendment The following is the language which will be up for vote:

AMENDMENT NO. __________ 11.602 of Article 11 of the Charter of The Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County shall be amended by deleting subsection (d) in its entirety and substituting with the following new subsection (d):

(d) All uses of and activities conducted on the premises of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds as of December 31, 2010, including, but not limited to, the Fair, Expo Center Events, Flea Markets, and Auto Racing, shall be continued on the premises unless the elimination or modification of such uses or activities is approved by the Metropolitan Council by an ordinance receiving twenty-seven (27) affirmative votes. Likewise, no redevelopment or demolition of the Tennessee State Fairgrounds premises shall occur without the approval of the Metropolitan Council by an ordinance receiving twenty-seven (27) affirmative votes.” 

Sponsored by: Sandra Moore

This will change and make the fairgrounds once again vulnerable, giving authority to the Council \ government and not the people.  The people spoke with 72% voting for this referendum to keep the fairgrounds and it's existing uses.  This is a total disregard to the wishes of the people!!!! 

We urge everyone to contact their councilman and ask them to VOTE NO to this amendment.  

You can also contact all metro council members by emailing

Thank you for your support in helping us SAVE OUR FAIRGROUNDS!

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Charter authorizer bill passes House, goes to Haslam

Nashville Post - The House gave final approval to House Speaker Beth Harwell's push to let the state Board of Education OK charter schools reject by local school ...

My Comment: YES!

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Marsha Blackburn stand up to phony "war on women" charge.

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn explained to a skeptical Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation Sunday that Republicans’ voting against the Paycheck Fairness Act does not mean they are against equal pay for women.

Noting that she found the “war on women rhetoric” to be “silly,” Blackburn said that “the legislation was something that was going to be helpful for trial lawyers.”

“I have fought to be recognized with equality for a long time,” she said. “A lot of us get tired of guys condescending to us.” Blackburn went on to cite access to capital for women who own small businesses and the negative effects of Obamacare on women as issues that need addressing. “We’re all for equal pay. I would love for women to be focused on maximum wage,” she said.

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Open Gun Carry Bill Defeated In Tennessee House Panel

From - A bill seeking to allow Tennesseans to openly carry firearms in public without permits has been defeated in a House subcommittee. Full Story >>

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Correction: Mark Winslow survives challenge. Will remain on ballot as TNGOP Executive Committee candidate

This is a corrected version of this report. Previously, I had stated that the Democrat candidate being supported by Mark Winslow did not have a Republican opponent in that race. In fact, she does. Rod

In addition to Matt Collins who failed to survive a challenge to his candidacy to run for a seat on the Tennessee Republican Party's executive committee, there were 20 other Republicans who were challenged, most of them for seats on the Executive Committee but some for other positions. Among those challenged were Mark Winslow and Karen Bennett. Both Winslow and Bennett are current members of the Executive Committee representing district 19.

Tony Roberts
Both Winslow and Bennett were challenged for supporting Melissa Blackburn, a Democrat running for General Session Judge, Division II. Blackburn has three Democrat opponents. The Democrat candidate will be selected in the Democratic Primary of May 6th and will face the Republican candidate in the August election.  The Republican seeking that seat is Marian Fordyce.

The challenges to Winslow and Bennett were brought by Tony Roberts and Melissa Gay. Tony Roberts is the Second Vice Chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. He is also one of founders of  Conservative  Groups of Middle Tennessee, an organization designed to bring together right-of-center activist, Republicans, and Libertarians for mutual cooperation and networking. Tony also is chair of GOP Minority Coalition of Tennessee, which does outreach to minority groups and immigrants.

I caught up with Tony at an event last week and asked him about his challenge of the candidacy of Winslow and Bennett. He told me that the party bylaws say a member of the Executive Committee cannot endorse a Democrat and he says if they do, he does not think they should be allowed to hold a seat on the Executive Committee.

I think it inappropriate for a member of the Executive Committee to be endorsing a Democrat in a Democrat primary even if there is no Republican running for that seat.  To vote for the candidate they endorse, one would have to vote in the Democrat primary. You do not build the Republican Party if Republicans vote in the Democrat Primary.  In this case it is even worse however, because there is a Republican candidate for that seat.  Marian Fordyce is running as a Republican and will be on the ballot unopposed on May 6, and will then face the Democrat who wins the Democrat primary in August.

It is my understanding the Mellisa Blackburn is the wife of one the attorneys who represented Mark Winslow in his legal action against Chuck Fleishman and the State Republican Party. Also, if what I have been told his correct, Mark Winslow is not simply supporting someone who happens to be a Democrat out of friendship, but has a paid position in her campaign. This is an outrage and should not be tolerated.

TNGOP Chairman Chris Devaney's explanation of why Winslow and Bennett were not removed is that he ran out of time to do so. While admitting they violated party bylaws, he said he was not comfortable making the decision himself, which the rules says is his responsibility.  Rather than making that decision alone he wanted the input of the Executive Committee and he says there was not time to convene the committee. This is lame. By not removing them, he made the decision not to remove them. The decision was his and there is no evading that he made a decision. If the Chairman should not have that authority to remove or not remove a person from the ballot, then the procedure needs to be changed. Until it is changed, by not removing someone who is challenged, the Chairman is making a decision to keep them on the ballot.

Mark Winslow
Mark Winslow has long been active in Republican Party politics. He was the former Chief of Staff of the Tennessee Republican Party.  When Chris Devaney took over as Chair of the Party, he wanted to select his own chief of staff and he terminated Winslow and awarded him severance pay of $12,504. This latter became an issue in a campaign between Robin Smith and Chuck Fleishman who were primary opponents seeking the 3rd congressional seat nomination. Fleishman used this payment of Winslow's severance as an attack on Smith's management of the Party. This ended up with Winslow suing the state party. To read more about this issue go here, here, and here.

Each district must have a male and female member on the Executive Committee of the Party.  Karen Bennett is the female representing the same district as Mark Winslow. Karen Bennett is also a member of the Metro Council.

Karen Bennett
The number of challenges this year to people seeking a spot on the ballot to run for a seat on the Executive Committee is underrepresented. Some election cycles there are no challenges.  The number of challenges and who were being challenged went national. Scottie Huges, the news director and chief journalist for the Tea Party News Network wrote about it and reported it as a fight between establishment republicans and the Tea Party. (link)

I cannot find a statement as to the result of the 21 challenges. One could compare the list of those who were challenged to those who are on the ballot but even it a name was on the first list and not the second list, one would not know if the person was ousted or voluntarily withdrew.  Other than Matt Collins, I do not know who was removed.

Here is the Tennessean's coverage of the issue: As GOP dominates, ballot challenges get weird.

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

What is on the Council Agenda for April 15th with commentary

Council meetings can be really boring it you don't know what the Council is voting on. When you do, they are still boring, but not quite as boring. To get your own copy of the Council agenda click here; to get your copy of the Council staff agenda analysis click here.

There are 15 appointments to boards and commission on the agenda. The council abrogates its responsibility to scrutinize these appointments and always rubber stamps the mayors appointees so don't expect any to be questioned or rejected. None of the 15 on this agenda are to the controversial or troubled boards however, so unless someone knows why any of these appointees should not be appointed, the Council is probably OK in approving them.

There are no bills on public hearing.

There are twelve resolutions on the consent agenda.
A bill is put on the consent agenda if it is assumed to be non-controversial and it stays on the consent agenda unless it fails to pass the committee to which it was assigned unanimously. Any council member may have a bill pulled off of the consent agenda.  Here are bill of interest:

  •  RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1051 appropriates over $9 million from the General Fund Reserve Fund for the purchase of equipment and building repairs for various departments of The Metropolitan Government. I see nothing unreasonable here, I just hope it gets careful scrutiny in committee.
  • RESOLUTION NO. RS2014-1052 are four proposed charter amendments. If approved by the Charter Revision Commission and the Metro Council, they would be placed on the ballot to be voted on by the people. Some of these proposed amendments need to be rejected.
    • Amendment number 1 would prohibit members of the Council from holding any other elected office. I think this is a good proposed amendment. In the past we have had several Council members who have held a seat on the Council and served as a state representative. I have always thought this was a conflict of interest. I support this proposal. 
    • Amendment number 2 would allow the Metro Council by ordinance to prohibit the metropolitan government from inquiring about a job applicant’s criminal history on the initial job application unless a criminal background check for the position is required by state or federal law. Bad amendment in my view. Metro should be allowed  to inquire about a job applicant's criminal past. I would not support this.  
    • Amendment number 3 would reduce the size of the council from 40 members to 27 members and would allow members to serve three terms instead of the current two. I tend to think term limits have been a mistake. With term limits, the council has less institutional knowledge. Term limits weakens the Council and strengthens the bureaucracy and the administration. After having thought about it a lot and having at one time supported the large 40 member Council, I think a smaller Council might be more efficient. Since the 40 members almost always vote the same way, I see no benefit in having such a large Council. I am not 100 percent committed to a smaller Council, but do support allowing this proposed amendment to go to a vote of the people.  
    • Amendment number 4 would allow the Council to redevelop the fairground or modify current use at the fair ground with 27 votes of the Council. We fought so hard to save the fairgrounds, I do not support an amendment that would make it easier to redevelop that property. 
There are six bills on First Reading. First reading is a formality that allows bills to be on the agenda. Merits of the bills are not discussed until second reading. I have not reviewed the bills on first reading.

Bills on Second Reading: I see nothing particularly controversial among the bills on second reading.

Bills on Third Reading: Most of the bills on Third Reading are zoning bills that would interest no one but the neighbors of the proposed rezoing. Here are two bill of general interest worth watching:
  •  BILL NO. BL2014-696 would amend the Metro code to require the Director of Finance to submit an annual debt report to the Metropolitan Council. This is an excellent bill and deserves to pass. 
  • BILL NO. BL2014-715 would require that the applicant pay the fees for advertising and posting of signs on property proposed for rezoning. In most cases this would appear reasonable but in the case of, for instance, at the request of a community numerous properties would be subject to an overlay or a rezoning to single family, this could cost thousands of dollars. This bill, in its current form, is a bad bill and needs to be deferred and reworked or defeated.

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Caffeinated Conservatives April Meeting - How High Edition

At my monthly coffee talk tomorrow, we have Paul Kuhn, spokesperson for the legalize marijuana lobby in TN, coming to tell us all about it. JOIN US!

Saturday April 19th, at 12:00pm - 2:00pm
Bagel Face Bakery 700 Main Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37206
Come hear the sales pitch for medical marijuana legalization from the TN NORML (the pro legalization lobby in TN) spokesperson and board member Paul Kuhn and talk back! 

Some say marijuana is a miracle drug that can save lives; some say it's a harmless drug that it's nobody's business if you smoke it or not; and some say it's a gateway to ruin. Bring your opinions for great coffee, mind blowing bagels, and good conversation! All opinions welcome!

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Southeast Nashville Conservatives' Breakfast, April 19th. Meet the Candidates.

Saturday, April 19, Breakfast/Social: 8:30 - 9:00 am,  Meeting/Speakers: 9:00 - 10:00 am 
Shoney's (Antioch),  Bell Rd. @ Cane Ridge Road (I-24E, Bell Road Exit) 
Meet the Candidates
Speakers May 6 County Primary Republican Candidates
Jim Roberts
Chancellor, Chancery Part II  

Sabrina Johnson-Orr
 Chancellor, Chancery Part IV

Marian Fordyce
General Sessions Judge,Div II

Adam Dread
General Sessions Judge, Div IX

Rick Dumas
General Sessions Judge, Div VIII 

Toni Eaton
County Clerk

  All other Republican candidates welcome and will be given one (1) minute to introduce themselves.  Southeast Conservatives' Breakfast plans to provide an opportunity for all 2013 Republican Candidates to be our featured speaker(s) over the next few months) .  
Breakfast Cohosts: Robert Duvall & Pat Carl

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