Sunday, February 7, 2016

GOP Debate Recap: Leadership vs. Truancy Edition

Posted By on Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 9:30 AM

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While the Republican presidential candidates were taking the debate stage in New Hampshire Saturday night, Nashville’s Long Players were on stage down at 3rd and Lindsley covering the Rolling Stones album “Some Girls.” It was a fitting choice by Bill Lloyd and crew for a gig alongside the GOP debate: Side one of the album opens with a eulogy for the recently departed Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, and Mike Huckabee and the excluded Carly Fiorina (“Miss You”), and offers up tributes to the campaigns of Chris Christie (“When the Whip Comes Down”), Ben Carson (“Just my Imagination [Running Away with Me]”) and Ted Cruz (“Lies”). Side two celebrates Jeb Bush (“Before They Make Me Run”) and Donald Trump (“Beast of Burden” – you knew that was coming), and the album closes with a new anthem for a nation led by any of these jokers (“Shattered”). Sadly no song quite fits Marco Rubio, though he does come off at times as a respectable fellow with far away eyes.

A spirited time was in the cards on both stages, though only New Hampshire’s was charged with expectations of high drama given several floundering campaigns swerving on fumes toward a crackup in Tuesday’s primary. “Without a breakout moment” on Saturday, the Washington Post’s political writers foreshadowed, “the candidacies of Jeb Bush, Chris Christie and John Kasich could end.” Note the omission of Ben Carson from that sentence. Yes, he was there Saturday in all of his usual somniferous glory (having completed his offbeat brand of debate prep), but even a breakout moment won’t revive his medically induced coma of a campaign.

Odds are pretty good you were doing something more, um, exciting with your Saturday evening than debate watching (like, say, catching the Long Players). But fear not pithheads, once again we watch the candidates so you don’t have to. So here’s the blow by blow...

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Former CM Greene Indicted in Connection With Cousin's Domestic Violence Case

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 9:26 PM

click to enlarge Loniel Greene Jr. - METRO NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT
  • Metro Nashville Police Department
  • Loniel Greene Jr.
A week after his resignation amidst a brewing scandal surrounding his involvement in his cousin's domestic violence case, former Metro Councilman Loniel Greene Jr. was indicted Friday and charged with coercion of a witness. Metro police say in a media release that Greene turned himself in at police headquarters a short time ago. 

Greene is accused of attempting to coerce a domestic violence victim, the woman who was allegedly abused by his cousin Tavares Buchanan.

Last week, a court filing from the Davidson County District Attorney's office
accused Greene of lying when he told a judge that he would pay $10,000 for a bond to get Buchanan out of jail after Buchanan had been charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The filing, a motion to revoke Buchanan's bond, also included transcripts of a recorded jailhouse telephone conversation in which Buchanan and Greene openly discuss their desire to keep the alleged victim from cooperating with authorities.

In the conversation, according to the transcripts, Greene says he's going to "deal with" the alleged victim. 

“My problem with her is she think she smart," Greene says at another point, according to the court filing. "And I'm like bitch, I’m smarter than you. 'Cause this game you try to play the system. Motherfucker, I am the system.”
 
After resigning, Greene appeared in court Wednesday. He admitted that it was him speaking to Buchanan in the recorded phone calls and that he had previously lied under oath about the source of the money to pay Buchanan's $10,000 bail. The money, he testified, had actually come from a bag at Buchanan's mother's house.  Through a deal with the DA's office, Greene was granted immunity from perjury and money laundering charges in exchange for his immediate resignation and his testimony in court. The DA's office made clear on Wednesday that the deal did not preclude other charges. 

Greene is currently being held on a $10,000 bond. 

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The Daily Links: John Wall, the Planetary Defense Office and Lord Lucan

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 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 The New York TimesCrane Collapse in Lower Manhattan Kills One Person

From WPLNBittersweet: The Bees Atop Music City Center Have Died

From The New York TimesLord Lucan, Missing Since 1974 Murder, Is Declared Dead (Again)

From DeadspinThis Photo Of John Wall Will Probably Get More Viewers Than Colin Cowherd's TV Show

From The Washington PostDear Colin Cowherd: Here’s how John Wall is different from Johnny Manziel

From The Los Angeles TimesBill Cosby's court defeat: How it happened, and what happens next

From Scientific AmericanNASA's New Planetary Defense Office Gets to Work Protecting Earth

From The Hollywood ReporterWarning! This Shane Smith Interview Has 52 F-Bombs: "If I Can Come Up With the New Algorithm, Then I Win"

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

PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS
  • PHOTO: AMIEE STUBBS


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Fletcher, Funk Deny Any Wrongdoing in Chase Case

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 2:30 PM

As Pith reported yesterday, documents from an ongoing civil suit in Williamson County filed by David Chase — the prominent developer at the center of a domestic violence controversy in 2014 — contain allegations of extortion, blackmail and possible bribery. There were several developments in the story late Thursday afternoon, Here's a rundown.

Bill Fletcher:

On Thursday afternoon, Fletcher sent a statement to the Scene rejecting any claims of wrongdoing. For background: The Chase family had hired PR pro and longtime Democratic political operative Fletcher to do crisis communications work amid the controversy surrounding David Chase's 2014 criminal case, in which he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend twice in 24 hours. Those charges would later be dismissed, with the DA's office saying the alleged victim's statements weren't credible.

But in depositions taken in September 2015 — before the criminal case against Chase was dropped — Chase's parents, say they were approached with a request for $2 million. Dean Chase says someone requested $2 million from him that was not for legitimate work and, later in the deposition, says that in his opinion Fletcher tried to extort his family. In her deposition, Sandra Chase says the $2 million request came from Fletcher. And in a text message to his mother, David Chase says "my PR guy went beyond the extortion of me and told my dad he needs $2 million to, quote, 'make this go away.' 

According to the documents, the Chases rejected the request and fired Fletcher. At one point in her deposition, Sandra Chase says she believes her husband inferred that the purpose of the $2 million was for a bribe. For obvious reasons — primarily that he would be the one with the ability to make Chase's charges go away — Funk comes up in the deposition. But after questioning, Sandra Chase says, “I did not get that feeling at all, that Glenn Funk asked for a bribe, no.”

In his statement, Fletcher denies the allegations:
Allegations made in media reports about my business relationship with the Chase family with regard to criminal charges filed and then dropped against David Chase are completely false.

I have never proposed any payments of any kind to anyone regarding the criminal case.

I never had any contact at all with District Attorney Glenn Funk, anyone in the Office of the District Attorney, or anyone representing Mr. Funk or his office in my representation of Mr. David Chase, his family or the D.F. Chase Company.

I will explore all my options to see to it that these false and scurrilous allegations are corrected on the public record.
In an interview with News Channel 5 Thursday night, David Chase said he had talked to Fletcher — it's not clear when — and that Fletcher told him that "make it go away" was supposed to refer to the negative press attention surrounding the Chases. 

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Dem Debate Recap: Artful Smear Edition

Posted By on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 9:00 AM

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Going into last nights Dem tilt in New Hampshire the imperative for Bernie Sanders was maintaining his copious lead in the polls so that he doesn’t find himself falling short of  expectations in next Tuesday’s primary. For Hillary Clinton the goal was partly to erode his lead a bit, but mainly just getting this whole New Hampshire thing over with so she can move on to more promising territory south and west. Although the debate vibe is less exciting now that we’ve lost the policy stylings of Marty the Party O’Malley, things did get spirited at times. Let’s go to the play by play.

8:03 The very first words out of Sanders’ mouth: “Millions of Americans are giving up on the political process.” That’s an upbeat start! It’s also actually sort of wrong. Given the chronically horrendous levels of voter participation in the U.S. compared to other advanced countries, it feels like those millions gave up long ago.

8:04 Clinton in her opening declares that “special interests are doing too much to rig the game.” A fair point, but it’s a bit, shall we say, rich coming from someone who just one night earlier on CNN couldn’t cogently answer a question about why it’s been okay for her to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wall Street interests to give speeches.

8:06 Moderator Chuck Todd asks Clinton why she thinks Bernie’s ideas are untenable – why he won’t be able to make the things he’s running on actually happen. Her answer goes a bit wonky on several issues but doesn’t really answer the specific process question Todd posed. She concludes with a canned aphorism: “A progressive is someone who makes progress.” As a snappy way to synthesize her view on the (im)practicality of Sanders’ ideas, it’s mildly clever, but it’s also facile and wrong. It matters quite a bit what one makes progress on. Trump, for instance, plans lots of progress on his fabulous Mexican wall, but he ain’t no progressive.

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The Money in the District 7 School Board Race

Posted By and on Fri, Feb 5, 2016 at 7:00 AM

As you might've heard, there's a Metro school board race underway in South Nashville's District 7, one that promises to be a friendly, respectful contest between two gentlemen. After all, this is about the kids. 

The first set of financial disclosures in that race, between incumbent Will Pinkston and challenger Jackson Miller, was due this week. Miller announced on Monday that he had raised just more than $25,000 in support of his bid to unseat Pinkston, a man who's never encountered a political confrontation he didn't publicly relish.

Pith has both disclosures, which you can peruse for yourself after the jump:

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Funk Files $200M Defamation Suit Against News Channel 5, Phil Williams

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 5:34 PM

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Davidson County District Attorney Glenn Funk has filed a $200 million defamation lawsuit against Scripps Media, parent company of News Channel 5, and the station's investigative reporter Phil Williams.

The suit stems from a story Williams reported Wednesday night — one also independently reported by Pith Thursday — about allegations from an ongoing civil suit involving David Chase, the developer who was at the center of controversy less than two years ago after he was charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend twice in 24 hours. Those charges were eventually dropped. But documents from an ongoing suit, in which Chase has accused an array of individuals with conspiring against him, contain allegations of extortion, blackmail and possible bribery. 

Political consultant Bill Fletcher is accused of approaching the Chase family with a request for $2 million to make David Chase's criminal charges go away — a request they suggest they believed might have been for a bribe. In a statement to the Scene, Fletcher strongly denied the allegations. The documents also include an allegation by David Chase that Funk "blackmailed" him. Funk has denied any wrongdoing, but did acknowledge that he dismissed the criminal charges against Chase under the condition that Chase drop a federal lawsuit he had filed against the Metro Police Department. 

Funk's suit against News Channel 5 accuses the station of libel, defamation and false light.  

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Erin Coleman to Challenge Steve Dickerson for Nashville Senate Seat

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 1:35 PM

Erin Coleman, the political newcomer who made the runoff in last year's Metro Council at-large race and made a name for herself in doing so, has announced that she will run as a Democrat in Nashville's state Senate District 20, aiming to unseat incumbent Republican Sen. Steve Dickerson.

Coleman is a small business owner, civil engineer and U.S. Army veteran who says she's running to stand up for Nashville against the state, which is always finding ways to interfere with local affairs. 

"Nashville is the number one target of the Tennessee General Assembly,"she said in her announcement Thursday. "On a growing number of issues, they usurp our authority to govern our city. District 20 needs a senator that will fight for the people of Nashville."

She lists mass transit, local control of education, and non-discriminatory hiring as areas where she believes the state been overly intrusive. 

But although she'll be facing a Republican in what is still a largely blue city, unseating Dickerson won't be easy. The first-term senator and doctor is a popular moderate in a moderate district. He is backing a bill to legalize over-the-counter birth control and has previously supported medical marijuana. He has also voted against bills bringing back the electric chair as a backup to lethal injection and criminalizing drug-addicted pregnant women. 

Interestingly, Coleman's path — run, lose, run again — mirrors the successful one Dickerson took. In 2010, he won the Republican primary and went on to face Douglas Henry, then a nearly 40-year incumbent. He knew he had little chance of winning and he didn't. But four years later he ran again and won, albeit against a barely-present Democratic opponent and in a newly drawn district. 

In any case, this shapes up to be an interesting race. More from Coleman's announcement after the jump:

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Documents Show Allegations of Extortion and Possible Bribery in David Chase Case

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 12:27 PM

click to enlarge David Chase
  • David Chase
In late 2014 and well into 2015, talk in Nashville’s media circles was that Bill Fletcher, of the consulting firm Fletcher Rowley, was working reporters on behalf of David Chase, the developer who had been arrested and charged with assaulting his ex-girlfriend twice in 24 hours in June 2014. The veteran Democratic political consultant was trying to quell the public relations crisis facing Chase, the Chase family, and their prominent construction company D.F. Chase, Inc. after the incident and the array of public controversies that followed.

Fletcher, in fact, was angry when Pith noted his work for the Chases at the time. But it turns out working pliable reporters is the least of what Fletcher is accused of doing.

An incident less than two years ago that sparked controversy for, among other things, appearing to expose a good-old-boy network that led to Chase’s early release — leaving a woman at risk after she had allegedly already been assaulted — has now led to a tangled web of legal maneuvers and allegations that include extortion, blackmail and possible bribery.

In documents obtained by the Scene — including transcripts of sworn testimony and text messages between David Chase and his mother, Sandra Chase —  Fletcher is accused of coming to the Chases with a request for $2 million to make it all go away. The allegations arise from an ongoing civil lawsuit filed by David Chase against an assortment of people he claims conspired against him.

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Tennessee Legislature Joins Wacky Call for Constitutional Convention

Posted By on Thu, Feb 4, 2016 at 10:55 AM

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Tennessee today became the fifth state to join the Tea Party in calling for a constitutional convention to fix the federal government once and for all.

The resolution, which passed the state Senate last year, cleared the House this morning by a vote of 59-31 with one lawmaker calling it “the atomic bomb of politics” aimed at that evil Washington, D.C. It’s fair to say Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, is a little wound up over this.

“The federal government has usurped its constitutional authority,” he said. “The state is the fulcrum of power in this country. In this day and age the federal government allows all of us to exist. This is the atomic bomb of politics. The constitutional founders knew this was necessary if nothing else worked. The federal government must know the states have mobilized and we have put an atomic bomb on a plane and it is flying over the District of Columbia and, if they don’t listen, then we’re going to get done what needs to get done.”

We guess "getting done what needs to get done" means dropping the Big One on D.C. We bet Matheny would like to ride that bomb all the way to its target, whoopin' it up like Slim Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.

Calling a constitutional convention—the first since 1787—needs the consent of 34 of the 50 states, or a two-thirds majority. Conservatives think it’s a great idea to amend the Constitution to require a balanced budget, impose term limits and who knows what else to reign in the federal government and give power to the states. And that’s the problem, as even some Republicans pointed out today in the House. The convention might open the way for any issue to be raised and could result in changes to, say, the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms.

“It’s all on the table,” Rep. Rick Womick, R-Murfreesboro, warned.

He pointed out it’s not known how states would pick delegates to the convention or who could qualify to serve. And you know you’ve got problems when Womick, who’s not known for common sense, thinks something’s impractical.

“As far as I know, Colorado is going to be sending people who are high,” he said.


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