Saturday, September 27, 2014

(update) Grand jury says Ramsey, Harwell should face charges

(9/28/2014 update) Frank Daniels editorializing in today's Tennessean says he has lost a lot of respect for newly elected DA Glenn Funk, because Funk is refusing to indict Ramsey and Harwell. See, Will Nashville's new DA ignore grand jury?

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -  A Nashville grand jury is recommending Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker of the House Beth Harwell face charges for manipulating the rules when it comes to judges.

Ramsey and Harwell have not been charged with anything at this point, it is simply a recommendation from the grand jury for the district attorney to consider. (link)

My Comment: I would hate to see either indicted, but maybe they should be. I like both Harwell and Ramsey, but elected officials should not just ignore the law when they don't like the law.  That is the same thing President Obama has done time and time again. President Obama should not ignore the Federal Constitution and Ramsey and Harwell should not ignore the State Constitution.  Elected officials should follow the law.

What this is about is appointments to the  Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission which makes recommendation as to which appellate judges should be retained or replaced. The Commission no longer exist as of June 30, 2014.  However, the law that was in effect the last time appointments were made said that the commission should "mirror" the state in its makeup of women and minorities. It did not. The last commission was comprised of seven white men, one white woman and one African-American woman.

Harwell's office said she appointed four commissioners, two men and two women, including a Hispanic person and an African-American person. Assuming that is true, Harwell did follow the law, but not Ramsey. Just because you don't like a law (and I don't like this law) it should not be ignored. The rule of law is too important to allow laws to be ignored. (For more on this, follow this link and this link.)

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TN House of Representatives District 53 & Senate 21 Event at Nashville's East Ivy Mansion

Tonight Oct. 2
Tennessee Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales & Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney request your presence at Nashville's East Ivy Mansion on October 2, 2014 from 6:30 PM - 9:30 PM for an evening of wine, cocktails, hors d'oeuvres and cigars.
209 S. 5th Street Nashville, TN 37206
Please join Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, House Majority Leader GeraldMcCormick, Former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney and multiple members of the Tennessee State Senate and House of Representatives in meeting two very special candidates running for state office. 
 Running for House District 53 is John Wang. John is an insurance broker and real estate investor. Before immigrating to America, John was a doctor in China. He left it all behind to have a chance at the American dream. Once in America, he started from the bottom as a dishwasher. After graduating from East Tennessee State University with an advanced degree in biochemistry, John moved to Tennessee's 53rd House District where he met his wife Vivien, a Nashville School of Law graduate specializing in political asylum cases for individuals being persecuted for their faith around the world.

House 53 is composed of approximately 60% immigrants, which makes John wildly popular across the District. John has earned the support of Representative Beth Harwell, Madam Speaker of the Tennessee House of Representatives. 
 Make Checks Payable To: "John Wang for State Representative", or process your payment online HERE
If unable to attend, please mail checks to: John Wang For State Representative 2720 Nolensville Pike Nashville, TN 37211 
Running for Senate District 21 is Diana Cuellar. Born in the heartland of America, Diana grew up in the Midwest before moving to Tennessee's 21st Senate District. Currently, Diana works as a financial adviser with Lawing Financial where she develops economic strategies for both businesses and individuals. Her success in the finance industry comes from a long career working for industry giants such as Oil-Dri Corporation of America, Bank of America and Chicago Equity Partners. Diana's advanced knowledge and training in the financial sector makes her a natural choice for Senate District 21 voters who are looking for accountability in government. Diana has earned the support of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Make Checks Payable To: "Friends of Diana Cuellar", or process your payment online HERE
If unable to attend, please mail checks to: Friends of Diana Cuellar P.O. Box 111924 Nashville, TN 37222

Donors are encouraged to donate to both candidates. However, if you are only interested in one, then you may donate to that single candidate. If you decide to donate to both, you will receive tickets for both donations. To RSVP & Address Questions Call 615-586-0771 / 615-598-1215.

Another reason for attending this event in addition to supporting two great candidates is that the venue is an experience in itself.  I recently had to opportunity to attend an event at this place, and the grounds and the house make you feel like you are a guest at a European villa. The mansion is an experience.

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Bellevue Republican Breakfast Club talks Amendment 2 this Saturday Oct. 4.

Betty Hood writes:

Dear BRBC Friends, Welcome Fall and the color changes of the leaves.  I'm ready for the crisp mornings with cooler weather.

Yes, it's that time when we meet again for our monthly breakfast club.  It will be Saturday, October 4 at 8 AM at the Shoney's in Bellevue.  Our topic will be voting NO on Amendment 2 on the November ballot.  Dr. John Emison from Alamo, TN will be our guest to talk about that.  Also, Sterlina Brady, candidate for state Senate, will share some thought as well.  As always, there will be time for Q and A after the presentations.
Hope to see you there!

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Friday, September 26, 2014

Davidson County Early Voting Schedule Set for October 15-30

Davidson County voters have two weeks, including two Saturdays, to cast their ballots in the State and Federal General Election during early voting.
Early voting begins on Wednesday, Oct. 15 and continues through Thursday, Oct. 30. Voters have a choice of 11 locations for early voting.
The ballot for the upcoming State and Federal General Election includes races for the U.S. Congress, Governor, Tennessee State Senate and House of Representatives, four amendments and the Wine-in-Grocery Stores referendum.
Early voting is available at Metro’s Howard Office Building, 700 Second Ave. South, Oct. 15-30.  Additionally, 10 other voting locations will be open Oct. 21-30.  Those locations are:

  • Belle Meade City Hall, 4705 Harding Pike, Nashville 37205
  • Bellevue Community Center, 656 Colice Jeanne Road, Nashville 37221
  • Bordeaux Library, 4000 Clarksville Pike, Nashville 37218
  • Conexión Américas @Casa Azafrán, 2195 Nolensville Pike, Nashville 37211
  • Crossings Event Center, 5380 Hickory Hollow Parkway, Antioch 37013
  • Edmondson Pike Library, 5501 Edmondson Pike, Nashville 37211
  • Goodlettsville City Hall, 105 South Main Street, Goodlettsville 37072
  • Green Hills Library, 3701 Benham Ave., Nashville 37215
  • Hermitage Library, 3700 James Kay Lane, Hermitage 37076
  • Madison Library, 610 Gallatin Pike South, Madison 37115
Polls open at 8 a.m. each day.  Polls remain open until 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; until 8 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and until 4 p.m. on Saturdays.  Polls are closed on Sundays.
Registered Davidson County voters can vote at any location during early voting.  However, those voting on November 4 must go to their designated Election Day polling location.
A sample ballot with an early voting schedule will be mailed to all households with a registered Davidson County voter.  Early voting locations and times, and a sample ballot are posted at  Voters are encouraged to review the sample ballot, make their selections and bring the sample ballot when they come to vote.
When voting, all voters must present a Federal or Tennessee State government-issued photo ID unless an exception applies.
The Davidson County Election Commission (DCEC) is responsible for providing free and fair elections to every eligible citizen.  The Election Commission is regulated by State of Tennessee law and funded by Metro Nashville government. The main office is located at 1417 Murfreesboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37217.

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Thursday, September 25, 2014

(update) School Board meeting of 9/24/2014: Jesse Register will be leaving.

9/25/2014 I have still not watched all pf this school board meeting and may not get the opportunity to watch it and provide time stamp notations, but another report of what happened is added to this report.

Here is the link to the Agenda.  

This big news from last night is that Jessie Register, Director of Schools, will not seek an extension of his contract. I hate to see that.  I have not always agreed with everything he has done but he has done some good things, such as the privatization of janitorial service which saved the system money and took courage to stand up to the unions.  Most recently I have been pleased with his proposal to deal with failing "priority" schools by being willing to close some failing schools, giving parents school choice and transitioning some schools to charter schools.

My early preference for a new director, should he want the job,  would be Dr. Alan Coverstone, the Executive Director of the Office of Innovation of Metro Schools.

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Sept. 24, 2014- Jesse Register says he will not seek a contract extension as director of schools of Metro Nashville Public Schools, ending silence on his future and paving the way for a closely watched search for his replacement. (link)

Below is a report from Brett A Withers posted to

 - Dr. Register acknowledged the East Nashville United group's efforts
to get parents/community members out to participate in the meetings that
have been scheduled with the priority schools. A few of us were in the
audience and acknowledged Dr. Register's comments.
- School Board Member Elisa Kim reported that Dr. Register's
announcement has captured the "undivided attention" of East Nashville
families and urged him to create an advisory committee that represents the
diversity of East Nashville. East Nashville United tweeted our
appreciation of Ms. Kim's championing of this central point of our platform.
- School Board Member Amy Frogge complimented the East Nashville United
group's communication pertaining to the complex issues surrounding school
- School Board Member Will Pinkston asked Joe Bass to clarify what
efforts MNPS is making to inform parents about the priority school meetings
in writing and whether any written communications have been provided in
translation for the benefit of parents who have limited English language
ability. Mr. Bass offered to provide a copy of the written notices, and
Dr. Register indicated that live translation services can be arranged. I
assume that such a request would come from the school principal.
- School Board Member Anna Shepherd asked whether transportation
arrangements are being provided for families with limited transportation
options. School Board Member Jill Speering touched on this issue in a
follow-up conversation with me after the meeting.
- School Board Member Jill Speering asked when the ASD take-over and
KIPP school conversion location decisions would be announced. Dr. Register
replied that he would expect an announcement after January 1st.

In other school board news, Dr. Register announced that he will not seek a
one-year extension of his contract when it expires in June 2014, but he
pledged to work with MNPS to ensure a smooth transition when the new
Director is identified.

School Board Chair Sharon Gentry announced new committee assignments.
Board Members Pinkston and Pierce will chair the board's Community
Engagement Committee. Board Member Kim will chair the Director Evaluation

All in all, the East Nashville United group was pleased that the school
board members seem to be responsive to our communications urging
consultation with affected families prior to making decisions to close or
convert schools. Thanks (or thanks in advance) for your support on these

Brett A. Withers
Eastwood Neighbors


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Common Core losing support of Tennessee teachers, survey finds

In Case you missed it:

Common Core losing support of Tennessee teachers, survey finds 

by Joey Garrison, The Tennessean, Sept. 24,2014 - Most Tennessee teachers now oppose the academic standards, new statewide survey shows.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mayor Appoints former Tennessean Journalist Michael Cass as Communications Advisor

Press Release, Sept. 23, 2014, NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Mayor Karl Dean today announced that he has appointed veteran reporter Michael Cass as Communications Advisor/Speechwriter in his office, where his responsibilities will include preparing and writing speeches. Cass has worked for 19 years as a reporter, including at The Tennessean since 1999 with the last nine years covering Metro government and politics. He will assume the post starting Oct. 20.

"Michael brings a wealth of experience having been a journalist for his entire career," Mayor Dean said. "He has a deep understanding of Nashville and Metro Government, and I know that will serve the city well as Michael helps our office communicate with the public."

Janel Lacy, who has served as Communications Director since 2011 and as Mayor Dean's primary speechwriter for the past seven years, is joining Metro Schools in early October as Senior Communications and Outreach Officer. Bonna Johnson, who currently serves as Press Secretary in the Mayor's Office, will take on the additional role of Communications Director, taking the lead on communications planning.

While working at The Tennessean, Cass has written about everything from Metro policy debates to the 2012 Democratic National Convention and President Barack Obama's visits to Tennessee. He also has written about the lives of Nashville's civil rights heroes. Cass covered Middle Tennessee's higher education scene for six years before moving to the politics beat.

"After covering governments of one kind or another for 19 years -- from school boards to city and county governments and congressional elections -- I'm looking forward to this new experience in public service," Cass said. "I appreciate Mayor Dean's trust in me to help him as he continues to lead the city over the next year."

A native of Macon, Ga., Cass previously worked as a reporter for The Macon Telegraph and The Augusta (Ga.) Chronicle. He earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., and a master's in mass communications from The University of Georgia. He and his wife, Heather, and their two daughters live in Bellevue and are active members of St. David's Episcopal Church.

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Lamar Alexander on Obamacare Website Costs Exceed $2 Billion, Study Finds.

Bloomburg Businessweek, September 24, 2014 - The construction of involved 60 companies, supervised by employees of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services instead of a lead contractor, according to the inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department. The project was marked by infighting among the contractors, CMS officials and top officials at HHS, the Cabinet-level department that oversees CMS, according to e-mails released Sept. 17 by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. 
Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican who has scrutinized the Obama administration’s construction of as the senior Republican on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said the cost of the site exceeded the combined value of his state’s three professional sports teams. 

Despite the spending, the site “still isn’t secure, doesn’t let people easily compare doctors and medications covered by each plan, and has not processed all of the applications from last year’s open enrollment,” he said in an .....(link)

My Comment:  If they can't even build the website, why would anyone think they could manage the healthcare system. 

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Sunday, September 21, 2014

Haslam, Bredesen talk up Amendment 2

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam is leading the charge to amend the Tennessee Constitution to eliminate any language in the state’s guiding document that alludes to direct elections of Supreme Court judges by the voters. Haslam is being joined in that effort by former Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat, who served for eight years as Haslam’s predecessor. The two spoke together in favor of Amendment 2 at a Sept. 17 campaign event for the measure in Knoxville, after which they took questions from the press.

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How our Reps and Senators voted on funding of the Syrian opposition to fight ISIS

President Obama has not asked for Congressional authority to use force in Syria, relying upon the 13-year old resolution that authorized President Bush to wage war against Al Qaeda. In my view, this is a terrible mistake.  There should be some buy-in from Congress and debate.  The closest we have had to a vote by Congress to show support for the President's action in this war is a vote on House Joint Resolution 124 which is a continuing resolution that authorizes continued funded for a lot of agencies and programs.  Included in this is was this language:

Sec. 149.
(a) The Secretary of Defense is authorized, in coordination with the Secretary of State, to provide assistance, including training, equipment, supplies, and sustainment, to appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition and other appropriately vetted Syrian groups and individuals for the following purposes:
(1) Defending the Syrian people from attacks by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), and securing territory controlled by the Syrian opposition.
(2) Protecting the United States, its friends and allies, and the Syrian people from the threats posed by terrorists in Syria.
(3) Promoting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria.
The resolution also contains requirements and time period of what must be reported back to Congress. In the House, the amendment to add the Syrian section passed by a vote of 273-156. Republican voted in favor 159 and 71 opposed and Democrats voted 114 in favor and 85 opposed. That is, 69% of the Republicans voted to support the President's policy and only 57% of the Democrats. Here is how the Tennessee House delegation voted:

Yea       R   Roe, Phil TN 1st
Nay       R   Duncan, John TN 2nd
Yea       R   Fleischmann, Chuck TN 3rd
No Vote   R    DesJarlais, Scott TN 4th
Nay     D   Cooper, Jim TN 5th
Yea      R   Black, Diane TN 6th
Yea     R   Blackburn, Marsha TN 7th
Nay     R   Fincher, Stephen TN 8th
Yea     D  Cohen, Steve TN 9th

As you can see, there is not an ideological divide on this issue with the most liberal member of the Tennessee delegation, Steve Cohen, voting with Republicans like Marsha Blackburn and Diane Black. On the other hand, the very conservative John Duncan voted "no" as did Democrat Jim Cooper. 

This had to be a difficult vote. It is going to be hard to vet the forces we are training if we are not embedded with those forces. Also, as I continue to listen to experts discuss the matter, it is going to be difficult to vet the factions to ensure they are moderate. The Free Syrian Army seems like the most moderate and viable of the factions but it is not clear that they are reliable and it they are defeated by ISIL, then those arms would fall into ISIL hands. I can see opposing this amendment because it does not do enough, however if I was in the Congress I would reluctantly have voted for it.

Among the House Republicans who voted "No" there were not any high profile Republicans except Trey Gordy. Among Republicans voting "yes" were Paul Ryan, Steve King, and Tom Cotton.

In the final vote on the bill as amended in the House was 319 to 108 with Republicans voting in favor 176 to 50 and Democrats voting in favor 143 to 55.  In the Tennessee delegation, Marsha Blackburn changed to a "no" vote, otherwise they voted the same as they did on the amendment.

In the Senate, there was not a separate vote on the amendment, but only on the final bill. It passed 78-22, with 33 Republicans voting in favor and 12 voting "no," and among Democrats a 44 to 9 vote in favor.  Both Senators Alexander and Corker voted in favor. Prominent Republicans who voted "no" included Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Jeff Sessions, and Mike Lee.  Marco Rubio voted in favor.


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