Friday, September 28, 2012

Democrats Hold Fundraising Raffle with Ashley Judd as Prize

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 11:16 AM

Tennessee Democrats are holding a “Dinner with Ashley Judd” contest to try to raise campaign cash. According to deputy fundraising director Katy Graham in her latest email on the topic, “there's been an incredible response from our grassroots supporters who would love to have Dinner with Ashley Judd.”

“Ashley is passionate about moving our country forward, and she's excited to share her values with a supporter like you,” Graham adds. “A dinner like this doesn't happen very often — this is your shot. Donate $10, $20 or whatever you can give now in order to be automatically entered to win.”

Party flack Brandon Puttbrese is treating the contest like a state secret, declining to reveal much about this event except to say that it’s modeled after this summer's “Dinner with Barack” series of fundraising contests.

“I'll decline to give an exact number of entries so as not discourage people from signing up, but I can tell you the response from Democrats has been strong,” Puttbrese says. “It's an exciting event. It's not every day folks get an opportunity to have dinner with Ashley Judd. “

Puttbrese did say the dinner is Oct. 13 and the hosts “live in a beautiful home in Brentwood.”

“It's going to be an intimate evening with only a handful of guests,” he adds. “Similarly to the Dinner with Barack campaign, some VIP contributors will also be in attendance for the evening.”

Tennessee Democrats definitely are stepping up in the world — from a fundraiser last year at the Nashville Zoo, where we imagined supporters coughing up $5 apiece to pet the goats, to an evening with a glamorous movie star. Maybe they’ll actually offer a Democrat as their U.S. Senate candidate next time.

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The Hippodrome: You Want Butter Or Jam On That Toast, Honey?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 8:09 AM

This Week In The 'Drome: A classic conundrum, a predictable outcome, flicking the scabs and more ...

Get it while its hot!
  • Get it while it's hot!

Opening Face-Off

Boring And Good vs. Exciting and Bad : This week in the dead-tree, I talk about the takeaway from the Titans' win in the Music City Mayhem game against Detroit.

The four-hour trampoline act that was the game against the Lions produced plenty of talking points and lots of questions, the most notable of which was, "Who are these guys?"

The Titans' taste for blandness dates back to those heady days when they first planted roots on the East Bank. They were boring then, too, but we didn't care because they were good at it.

The problem has been — and especially in the last two seasons — that they've been boring and bad.

It's OK for a football team to be boring if they are winning games. Gary Danielson described Alabama's 58-0 52-0 thrashing of Arkansas as analogous to watching someone get a piano dropped on their head. At their best, the Crimson Tide's offense is the gridiron equivalent of someone driving railroad spikes for three hours. Even for Alabama fans, there is little joy in Nick Saban's process. The ends justify the means, but the means are as captivating as the The McLaughlin Group blooper reel.

What the Titans produced on Sunday was sublime, surreal. It was Dorothy walking into the Technicolor of the Land of Oz after growing up in the sepia tones of Depression-era Kansas. It was Chris Tavare turning into a slogging, skyballing madman in Kent after dribbing, drabbing and blocking his way to three-day 50s for England.

Did the Titans turn some philosophical corner against the Lions, or was this monsoon the result of a perfect storm? There may be future slot-machine scores in their future — Jake Locker, at the least, has a propensity for throwing down field. But for the excitement to result in wins, the defense must stiffen.

But if they must be bad, let them be bad with an exclamation point.

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Mayor Dean's Night at the Movies Draws Criticism from Teachers' Union

Posted By on Fri, Sep 28, 2012 at 5:07 AM

We were surprised to learn Mayor Karl Dean made the opening remarks at one of this week’s special screenings of the school choice movie Won’t Back Down.

Dean is held out as the great hope of Democrats for returning to statewide power in some capacity. Yet there he was participating in the showing of this movie that promotes parent-trigger laws by painting unionized teachers as lazy louts. Cultivating hostility to teachers’ unions is what Republicans do, not Democrats. By appearing at the screening, Dean associated himself with the alliance of wealthy corporate interests and right-wing ideologues behind the movie and its parent-trigger push.

Dean’s attendance also comes after he sided with Great Hearts Academies in that controversy, a position that put him at odds with many public school teachers. The mayor is a big supporter of charter schools, as many Democrats are. That’s one thing. It’s another to seem to give your stamp of approval to a movie like Won’t Back Down.

The mayor, in a statement to Pith, says his goal was to encourage discussion about charter schools. As you might imagine, the Metro Nashville Education Association is not amused. MNEA president Stephen Henry tells Pith:

The whole thing, both the movie and the Great Hearts issue, really is insulting to Nashville teachers. To insinuate that some outside entity knows better about our students and how to reach them and how to achieve success … it makes you wonder whom [the mayor] represents.

Henry went on to call the movie "a distraction. We should all be pulling together and tackling the problem. Issues like this trigger confrontation. It pits teachers against parents. It pits parents against parents. It pits parents against schools. When you’ve got those crucial ingredients working against each other and not collaboratively, you aren’t going to solve any problem."

We asked the mayor's office to respond to this criticism, and press secretary Bonna Johnson sent this:

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Videos: Haslam, Huffman, Others Talk Vouchers

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Gov. Bill Haslam answers questions about vouchers, after this morning's HCA announcement, courtesy of TNReport

After the jump: Kevin Huffman, the state's education commissioner, and Chris Barbic, superintendent of the state's Achievement School District — both members of the governor's voucher task force — and Jerry Winters, chief lobbyist for the Tennessee Education Association, the state's largest teachers union.

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Tennessee Voter ID Law Upheld in Nashville, Plus Other Voter-ID-Related Bits

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM

A few newsy bits from the voter ID beat:

* A Nashville judge yesterday upheld Tennessee's voter ID law, ruling that voting procedures have changed over the years and that the law does not violate the state's constitution. It's true that voting procedures have changed over the years. It's just that in the last two years, state legislatures passed just about as many voting restrictions as they had in the past 100.

This afternoon, outgoing state House Republican Caucus chair Debra Maggart released a statement on the ruling:

"This is a victory for common sense.

"Time and again, Tennesseans have told us that the simple requirement of presenting a photo ID to vote ensures the integrity of our ballot boxes. While government should never be a burden on citizens, it should always protect the constitutional rights of citizens.

"This decision, once again, proves the only individuals who should be concerned about the Voter ID requirement are those who seek to undermine our free and fair elections in the Volunteer State."

Actually, there are other people who should be concerned about the Voter ID requirement. To the next item.

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Badass Motherfucker Urges Suffrage, Fear of Romney

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:25 AM


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RIP The Hole: 2007-2012

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM

From this morning's joint news conference with Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Bill Haslam, J.R. Lind reports that HCA will be relocating two corporate headquarters to the West End Summit property at the West End/Broadway split, which are expected to bring 2,000 jobs by 2017.

More importantly, that means: They're filling The Hole. From the Nashville Post:

The $200 million project is expected to begin construction in early 2013, with Mayor Karl Dean joking he expected the water in what Midtowners derisively call "Lake Palmer" to be pumped out soon.

The proposed development would consist of two towers of approximately 20 stories each with a total of 900,000 square feet of office space. HCA and Palmer's company have a memorandum of understanding for a 15-year lease beginning in 2015. Parallon is expected to occupy approximately 350,000 square feet in one tower and SCRI about 150,000 square feet in the other tower. The office complex will include a parking facility with approximately 2,500 parking spaces. Another 300,000 square feet of new Class A office space will be available either to attract other new companies or for expansion by the HCA entities.

Parallon Business Solutions will relocate 750 jobs to Nashville from Williamson County with plans to add approximately 800 to its workforce by 2017. SCRI will consolidate 200 Nashville-area employees into one office with plans to double in size by 2017.

Read the whole article here.

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Rigorous Debate: Vouchers Immediately or Shortly Thereafter?

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 10:08 AM

Two choice quotes, from this Associated Press report on yesterday's meeting of the voucher task force appointed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

"It blows my mind that we would even consider not implementing it immediately," he said. "I thought the whole point was to get it started and see how it does and move forward from there."

— Republican state Sen. Brian Kelsey who, the AP reports, argued that the first vouchers should be issued by fall 2013.

"Parents get to figure out where they buy bread and toothpaste, and we're going to limit their options on where they send their kids to school?"

— Achievement School District Superintendent Chris Barbic distilling the pro-voucher argument.

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Commemorating the Battle of Buchanan's Station

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 8:55 AM

The the Buchanan's Station cemetery sits on a bluff above Mill Creek along Massman Drive just north of Elm Hill Pike. There, on Sunday at 2 p.m., the Friends of the Buchanan's Station Cemetery are putting on a brief commemoration for the 220th anniversary of the Battle of Buchanan's Station.

If you are any kind of history buff, this is a great story, full of intrigue and drama and women yelling at men to get to fighting. Weirdly enough, considering how little-known it is in town, it's also a major turning point in U.S. history.

Before the Battle of Buchanan's Station, Spain thought it could arm Middle Tennessee's Indian tribes to attack settlers along the Cumberland, in hopes of driving them out of the area or into the arms of Spain. The Cherokees and Creeks thought that they could wage a vicious enough war to get the United States to abide by its treaties and leave the land between the mountains and the Mississippi to them. And indeed, settlers seriously wrestled with the idea of becoming Spanish subjects.

After the Battle of Buchanan's Station, however, Spain agreed to stop arming the Indians. The Creeks and Cherokees realized they couldn't count on Spain as an ally. And the Cumberland settlers realized their future was as U.S. citizens, not with Spain. We may not realize it here in Nashville, but on the night of Sept. 30, history took a sharp turn down a new road.

That quote is from a story I wrote about the part of the Battle of Buchanan's Station I find most peculiar: Why did a Cherokee man who was in the middle of drumming up support for Nashville's slaughter suddenly change his mind and warn the town the attack was coming?

But I hope it's also a nice introduction to the importance of the battle, not just for Nashville history, but for U.S. history. So, you can read the story and you'll be well-set for the commemoration on Sunday.

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Suffer the Little Children at Bryan College

Posted By on Thu, Sep 27, 2012 at 7:52 AM

I want to say something about the situation at Bryan College over in Dayton, but I am kind of at a loss. Here's the deal: Alex Green, the editor of the student paper at Bryan College, discovered that Professor David Morgan did not leave the college to — as the official college statement said — "pursue other opportunities,” but because he is facing charges related to driving to Georgia to meet a minor child (or two, according to the Times Free Press) allegedly for sex.

Green was going to publish a story in the student paper, but the school's president Dr. Stephen Livesay, ordered him not to. Green took matters into his own hands and distributed the story himself. Jim Romenesko then picked up on it, and the story hit the big time:

“I placed them around campus and at the doors of dorm rooms and at public areas around the school,” he tells Romenesko readers. “They were primarily in the main administration building, the library and the student center. … [A PDF] was emailed and entrusted to a select few current students and alumni in the case that fake papers began to surface.”

Green knows he could be expelled for distributing the story, but “the school has not made any comment or remark about me or my future at the school at this point,” he says. “The president has planned a campus-wide announcement at 4:30 p.m. As of now, that is all I’m aware of in terms of their response.”

And from there, things appear to have started to get very complicated for Green. Romenesko further reports:

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