Friday, August 28, 2015

The Farmer from Hog Dump: EPA Fines Rep. Holt $177K for Unauthorized Dumping

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 12:25 PM

After years of dodging and weaving with state and federal officials about issues with his hog farm, state Rep. Andy Holt is facing up to a $177,500 fine from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly violating the Clean Water Act.

As reported by WTVF-TV, Holt is in the process of "negotiating what the terms of settlement will be," but found the fine to be "stiff" and said he "loves a good fight."

The agency says he dumped a total of more than 860,000 gallons of waste water in three days from his overflowing lagoons into a tributary leading to the Mississippi River without authorization. The incidents occurred on two back-to-back days in 2011 and one day in 2013 although the EPA says that it has evidence of more incidents outside the five-year statute of limitations.

Holt, vice-chair of the state House's Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, abandoned the pig farming business around December of 2014, focusing more on a pumpkin farm and his wife's soap making. But the state had been hunting him down for years while he operated his hog operation without a permit, and the EPA has said he hasn't answered questions about pumping out waste from his lagoons.

Other issues have speckled the farmer's past, such as an inspector saying enforcement action against Holt was "discouraged by upper management" after finding improperly buried hogs on Holt's farm along with the 2011 dumping. Holt has publicly criticized the EPA, calling it a politicized agency. And Gov. Bill Haslam has vetoed one of Holt's bills, saying the legislation would have reduced criminal penalties for pollution.

Holt has stressed to Pith and to the TV station that he self-reported to the state any time he had to pump waste from his lagoon, which is apparent in the EPA filing and other state records with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Here's the EPA complaint against Holt.


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Megan Barry: The Complete Scene Interview

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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Below is the long version of the Q&A session Aug. 21 with mayoral candidate Megan Barry from this week's Scene cover story. Present were myself, Scene reporter Andrea Zelinski, Scene editor Jim Ridley and NashvillePost editor Geert de Lombaerde. An extended introduction appears online here. The transcript has been edited for clarity. Coming next week: our interview with David Fox.

Full disclosure: Megan Barry is married to longtime Scene contributor Bruce Barry. David Fox is married to longtime Scene food writer Carrington Fox.

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#MayoralChatter: Kane Endorses Fox, Urges Support for Cayce Place

Posted By on Fri, Aug 28, 2015 at 7:30 AM

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Standing on the sidewalk running along Cayce Homes public housing units, former mayoral contender Jeremy Kane offered his endorsement of David Fox for mayor.

Kane can’t offer a lot of votes after having finished last in the Aug. 6 election. And he can’t offer a ton of money, having been one of the lowest financed in this campaign. But the founder of LEAD charter schools can offer his message — such as the importance of the Cayce Homes, Nashville’s largest public housing project, just over the river into East Nashville. 

“We’re in sight distance of downtown and it can feel like a world away and ultimately ... the mayor has to be creating opportunity,” Kane said, when asked what Fox can do for the proposed Envision Cayce project investing $602 million into making the area mixed use and mixed income. LEAD has taught kids from this neighborhood, he said, and some still live close. The project has yet to be approved by the Metro Council, but it's the most important project in Nashville’s future, he added. 

"[Fox] helped me create opportunity for kids, and I think that’s what this project can do for Nashville,” he said.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

The Daily Links: Uni Watch, the Second Amendment, and Graphic Images

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From ESPNThe 2015 Uni Watch college football preview

From National Review OnlineAn Open Rant Aimed at Those Who Would Repeal the Second Amendment

From Rolling StoneN.W.A: American Gangstas

From New YorkDonald Trump Is Going to Lose Because He Is Crazy

From CityLab9 Super-Annoying Things You Do At Restaurants, According to Restaurant Workers

From The Society of News Design: The quandary of graphic photography (Warning: disturbing images)

Those are the links. This is a lynx... 

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS
  • PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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TDOC To Undergo Independent Review

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 3:55 PM

At a specially called Senate correction subcommittee on the status of the Tennessee Department of Correction today, the department's head, Derrick Schofield, said the system would now go through an independent evaluation from the American Correctional Association.

This comes after current and former employees have brought concerns of staffing shortages and safety issues amid overcrowding in the state's prisons. Also at issue was the way the department has classified (or reclassified, depending on who you ask) incidents where inmates assaulted officers.

Former warden of West Tennessee State Penitentiary, Jerry Lester, who worked for the department for 27 years, told legislators Schofield asked wardens to diminish incidents to "staff/inmate provocation" rather than classify them as "assaults" or they would be fired.

Lester himself was injured on the job — an inmate broke his arm — and says the commissioner called him in and told him not to "get his feelings" hurt if he saw in the media that the commissioner did not say he was injured. His broken arm was classified as a "participation in a security threat group."

"Wardens were directed to reduce (incidents) like mine to a lesser, nonviolent incident," Lester told the packed hearing room.

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#MayoralChatter: ‘If Anybody’s a Centrist in This Race, It’s Me’

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM

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This week's cover story is the Scene's interview with At-Large Councilwoman and mayoral candidate Megan Barry. 

We talked about transit, taxes, education, her attacks on David Fox, his attacks on her, and a little bit about that mysterious meeting with Bill Freeman (which is no longer a mystery). 

Here's an excerpt from my introduction to our interview:

All this plays out as the Fox campaign seeks to paint Barry as a member of the “far left,” which strikes many political observers as a bit like painting a hammer-and-sickle on a Target handbag. Her council record has been a source of interest and irritation, depending on the point of view, precisely because of the ways it has not matched that description. The irony of Fox’s attack is that ever since she was elected in 2007 as a pro-neighborhoods progressive fighter, her harshest criticism and skepticism has come from people on the left, worried that political ambition and calculation were pulling Barry to the center.

As has been chewed over many times by now, her council tenure included sponsorship of a nondiscrimination ordinance and a living wage for Metro workers — 14 of them. But she also provided a reliable yes vote for the corporate tax incentives and big downtown development projects that have bothered, among others, some of the neighborhood activists and progressives who would be Barry’s natural constituency.

But Barry has not shied away from her record in the least. At the close of our interview, she had this to say on the topic of the seeming partisan nature of the race:

I think that by saying, “Hey, look, here’s Megan and here’s all the rest of us” — all the rest of us are unions, teachers, firefighters, the business coalition, you know. And so, I think it’s kind of a false dichotomy. If anybody’s a centrist in this race, it’s me, and I’ve got the track record to prove it.

You can read the condensed version of the interview as it appears in this week's print issue here. We'll have the complete transcript on Pith tomorrow morning. 

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#MayoralChatter: We Do Not Know What To Think About This New David Fox Ad

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 12:01 PM


David Fox has a new ad. It's a spoof. And an attack. It's a spooftack? Watch it. Drink it in. Then meet us after the jump:

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Ashley Madison Users of Tennessee, Let's Talk

Posted By on Thu, Aug 27, 2015 at 9:46 AM

Hi guys. Yes, you six guys from tn.gov who signed up for Ashley Madison with your work email, the seven guys who work for the city of Memphis, the eight guys who work for the city of Nashville, the two Chattanooga city workers, the rumored political operatives and ex-political operatives, I am talking specifically to you, but also, in general, to all men who might find this helpful.

First, if you're going to cheat on your spouse, get an email that is something other than yourname@gmail.com or yourname@tn.gov. Second, don't cheat on your wives, you dickbags. If you want some strange, tell your wife you want some strange. Give her the opportunity to divorce you before you bring home something she can't live with (or, hell, maybe she'll be cool with it; stranger things have happened). In this day and age, if you both want to stay in a relationship and want to cheat on your spouse without him or her knowing it, it's because you find titillation in seeing how close you can come to hurting your spouse. That's a gross impulse.

But here's what I really want to say to you guys: Women are people. For thousands of years, men have tried to insist that women were less than whole people, that our only jobs were to be pretty, baby-making machines that will cook and clean for you. And for thousands of years, we have disappointed you by failing to be only those things.

There's no magic place you can go—not Russia, not Asia, not Ashley Madison—where you can open your wallet, choose all the characteristics you want in a sentient sex toy, and come up with a woman who will actually care about you. You can't buy love and affection. You can only buy the appearance of love and affection.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Daily Links: Larry King, Katrina Oaks, and the Roanoke TV Murders

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 5:05 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The New York Times MagazineLarry King Is Preparing for the Final Cancellation

From The Daily BeastHow Cops Caught Roanoke’s TV Murderer

From The Marshall ProjectDoubting Jennifer Herndon: An appeals lawyer who has represented more than a half-dozen men put to death in Missouri faces questions about her competency.

From Wired: Think Like a Tree: What We Can Learn From the Oaks That Survived Katrina

From The Washington PostWhat Colin Trevorrow got right about women directors and big movie franchises

Those are the links. This is a lynx...

click to enlarge PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS
  • PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS

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Quiet Night At the School Board

Posted By on Wed, Aug 26, 2015 at 3:01 PM

Following weeks of contention on issues like charter schools and who to hire for superintendent, the Metro Nashville School Board cruised through its meeting last night without incident. 

The board unanimously approved zoning changes within the Glencliff cluster, heard a breakdown of last school year's test scores and renamed Stratford High School — which will absorb Bailey Middle School next year — as Stratford STEM Magnet School. They also talked, briefly, about wanting to lead the state in literacy growth amid a statewide lull in reading scores.

Here's a the tweet-by-tweet of last night's meeting, after the jump.

Continue reading »

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