Blog Entries

Durham lawsuit contends his ouster was unconstitutional

Former state Rep. Jeremy Durham filed a federal lawsuit Monday contending his ouster from the state House was unconstitutional and the state should still provide him his pension and health insurance, reports The Tennessean.

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A couple of columns on the governor’s race: Black bashed, gimmickry noted

U.S. Rep. Diane Black’s recent criticism of weak kneed Republicans in Nashville, delivered at a gubernatorial campaign forum, didn’t resonate with Frank Cagle. Here are the first and last paragraphs of his column on the subject:

Congresswoman Diane Black has a lot of gall, I’ll give her that. She has come down from her leadership position in the dysfunctional U.S. House and criticized the “meek Republicans” in Nashville that run state government.

…Instead of praising the progress that has been made by her Republican colleagues and offering to build on it, Black has decided to appeal to the radical fringe around Nashville. If she can’t distinguish the difference in our state’s progress, as opposed to what she has been doing, she is too clueless to be governor.

On guber candidate theatrics

Robert Houk observes that candidate “gimmickry” of the past – Lamar Alexander walking across the state in 1978, Fred Thompson’s 1994 tour of Tennessee in a red pickup truck – is being echoed this year in “similar stunts” by Republican gubernatorial candidates Randy Boyd and Bill Lee, HERE. (Boyd is running across the state; Lee is touring Tennessee in a tractor.)

Note: It’s not a column, but The Tennessean has a report on Democrat Craig Fitzhugh venturing into solidly-Republican Williamson County that begins with a depiction of the House minority leader having “a Southern drawl and plucky spirit,” HERE. (Southern drawl?? Well, maybe compared to Karl Dean… but certainly not compared to the late Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville.)

Councilman calls for special legislative session on Confederate monuments

In a Commercial Appeal op-ed piece, Memphis City Councilman Bill Morrison urges Gov. Bill Haslam to promptly call a special session of the General Assembly to repeal Tennessee Heritage Protection Act of 2016.

That’s the law that requires two-thirds of the 29 members of the Tennessee Historical Commission to approve any changes in monuments to historical figures, no matter where they are or what they stand for. Five members live in Shelby County.

The law.. was co-sponsored by some of our own, including state Sen. Mark Norris, who is President Trump’s nominee for a federal judgeship position in Tennessee. Another co-sponsor was state Sen. Mae Beavers, a Republican candidate for governor.

…The law is wrong and must be repealed. It doesn’t protect our heritage. It only serves to protect memories of white supremacy and shrines for modern-day followers.

Sen. Sara Kyle, D-Memphis, has introduced a bill that would exempt Shelby County from the law in question (SB1467) which, of course, will not be up for consideration – barring a special session – until the legislature returns to Nashville in January, 2018. (It is suggested that Haslam calling a special session on Confederate monuments is about as like as the U.S. House approving Rep. Steve Coehn’s proposed impeachment of Donald Trump.)

Note: The media generally is awash this weekend with opinion pieces on the fallout from Charlottesville, Va., troubles and efforts to remove Confederate memorials from public property display. Here are snippets from a couple of Tennesseans at opposite ends of the state:

From Memphis’ Otis Sanford: Above all, it is now time to completely ignore the sitting president of the United States.

From Knoxville’s Greg Johnson: Both fringes have lost their minds.

 

 

Wheel tax referendum fell short on valid signatures in Hawkins County

A petition drive seeking a special election to consider repeal a recent $40-per-vehicle increase in the Hawkins County wheel tax fell 127 signatures short of the number required, according to the Rogersville Review. Indeed, county Election Administrator Donna Sharp says there were more invalid signatures than valid. Advocates needed 1,095 valid signatures.

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Memphis police block Forrest cover-up, arrest eight protesters

Police twice blocked protester efforts to cover a Memphis monument to Nathan Bedford Forrest on Saturday, then arrested several participants and dispersed the angry crowd, reports the Commercial Appeal.

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Corker gets critical calls after latest Trump commentary, hopes president will ‘grow in his office’

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he’s been inundated with critical phone calls since questioning President Trump’s competence in Chattanooga earlier this week, according to WPLN. In a Nashville appearance, the senator also elaborated a bit on his remarks, saying he isn’t sorry he supported Trump in the general election or for his past praise of the president — but he does want Trump to become a unifier, rather than a divisive figure.

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On the history of Nathan Bedford Forrest’s bust at the TN state capitol

One of the leaders of the successful 1970s effort to place a bust of Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest in the Tennessee state Capitol building tells Cari Wade Gervin – in one small part of a comprehensive review of that history, including commentary – that race was not a factor.

Kenneth P’Pool, a Sons of Confederate Veterans member who headed the group’s Forrest Bust Committee in 1973 (and who supported George Wallace for president in 1968), teamed with the state Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, and Lanier Merrit, a Civil War expert and collector, in promoting the idea — which quickly became the subject of black protests at the time that have continued today.

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Haslam family gives Knox County schools $1.3M (half for high school bands)

The Haslam family, through Pilot Flying J and the Haslam Family Foundation, is giving $1.3 million to Knox County Schools’ marching bands and academics, reports the News Sentinel.

“The Haslam family is proud to call Knoxville both our home and the headquarters for our company,” Pilot Flying J Director of Giving Back Will Haslam said in the announcement. “When we think of school pride, we think of the marching bands and their dedication.”

An equal portion of the money will go to each of the district’s 13 high schools, pending acceptance Sept. 13 by the Knox County Schools Board of Education.

… Half of the $1.3 million, coming from Pilot Flying J, will buy band uniforms, instruments or other equipment, according to a news release. The other half, coming from the Haslam Family Foundation, will give $50,000 to each high school for “materials or activities that will enhance the academic experience and outcomes for students,” the announcement said.

… This donation follows a 2015 pledge of $10 million for artificial turf football fields at all 13 high schools, with construction running through 2018. That gift included $100,000 to each school for classroom improvements.

Former TN education commissioner calls for resignation of DeVos as U.S. education chief

Former Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman says Betsy DeVos should resign as the nation’s education chief because of her boss’s ambivalent response to racist violence in Charlottesville undercut her ability to work on behalf of public school students, reports Chalkbeat Tennessee.

Huffman, who was appointed commissioner by Gov. Bill Haslam in 2011 and served through 2014, initially called for DeVos to resign in a series of tweets Thursday, then elaborated.

“There have been a lot of generic calls on people in the administration to resign, but it’s too easy for everyone to duck responsibility,” said Huffman, now an education consultant and writer living in Nashville. “I think it’s appropriate for people to call out specific people in our own field.”

He said the education secretary’s main responsibility is to uphold civil rights in schools — and Trump’s comments mean “she has lost the moral authority to do her job.”

“I can’t imagine Secretary DeVos walking into a room of educators and explaining that your civil rights agenda is to advance all kids, particularly children of color. How would you have the moral authority to have that conversation, given the things your boss has said, particularly when you’re unwilling to call out your boss?” he said.

DeVos posted several tweets over the weekend criticizing the “behavior and the violence and hate-filled rhetoric displayed” in Charlottesville.

Lawsuit filed over White County jail inmate birth control program

From an Associated Press report:

A Tennessee sheriff and judge violated the constitutional rights of jail inmates by promising to reduce their sentences if they underwent birth control procedures, an ex-inmate says in a federal lawsuit.

Christel Ward was among the misdemeanor-level White County Jail inmates who took the deal, according to the lawsuit. She said Thursday that she still has the unwanted birth control device in her arm that authorities injected in her.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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