As was widely reported over the weekend, NBC's Meet the Press reached out to all 31 pro-gun-rights senators to invite them to share their views on the Sunday morning show, with (quoting the show's producer) "no takers." Bob Schieffer of CBS's Face the Nation indicated that he, too, could find no Republicans to come on air to talk about gun control.
Corker is a member in good standing of this group of suddenly very camera-shy gun-happy lawmakers. A glance at Federal Election Commission campaign finance disclosure data reveals Corker to be one of seven Republican Senate candidates on the receiving end of National Rifle Association dollars ($4,950 to be exact) during the 2012 election cycle. Our other faux moderate senator, Lamar Alexander, cheerfully accepted $9,900 of NRA largessse during the 2008 cycle. (Among Tennessee's U.S. House members, no Democratic legislators received NRA support during the 2012 cycle, but former Reps. Lincoln Davis and Bart Gordon both got NRA contributions in 2010. Davis, in fact, topped the list of Tennessee reps that year at $9,900.)
To recap, the Tennessee definition of a moderate: Advance the NRA's agenda while opposing fair treatment of people with disabilities.
A version of this post also appears at BruceBarry.net.
Lord knows the "Tennessee Democrats are Completely Hopeless" song, if someone wrote it, would have so many verses that kids would sing it on school trips instead of "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall." So it's nice to see Craig Fitzhugh making some noises that might change that tune.
Tom Humphrey reports on Fitzhugh's pondering of a run for governor:
"Democrats need somebody at the top of the ticket that people can rally around," Fitzhugh said. "We didn't have anything like that in this last election. Maybe there's somebody else out there who can be that type of person. That's sort of what I was thinking (when he decided to acknowledge an interest in running)."
In the story, he also acknowledges that he wouldn't be able to win, because Gov. Haslam is popular — so popular that even Fitzhugh really likes him. But people, let's just, for a few minutes, bask in the idea of a Democrat who is willing to take one for the team, who's willing to lose in order to benefit other Democrats.
Following the horrible news out of Newtown, Conn., on the AP:
NEWTOWN, Conn. (AP) — A shooting at a Connecticut elementary school Friday left 27 people dead, including 18 children, an official said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation was still under way. Another official, speaking on condition of anonymity for the same reason, said the gunman at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown was killed and apparently had two guns.
A law enforcement official in Washington said the attacker was a 20-year-old man with ties to the school and that one of the guns was a .223-caliber rifle. The official also said that New Jersey State Police were searching a location in that state in connection with the shootings.
The outpouring of fury and grief online is staggering, with as much argument over the handling of the story (whether to interview the young witnesses) as over gun control issues. Right now, I'm wishing, like countless other parents, that I had my arms held tight around my kids.
He gets the vacation homes in Ft. Lauderdale and Nantucket. She gets Bowling Avenue (for the next five years). He gets the buffalo head. She gets $2.1 million and the bathroom door from the Nantucket home. Pierce Greenberg in The City Paper reports on emerging details from the finalized divorce of former U.S. Sen. Bill Frist and his wife Karyn:
Karyn filed for the divorce due to “irreconcilable differences” in November. Documents filed in Davidson County Circuit Court reveal that she will receive a $2.1 million lump sum of cash, along with a split of other assets.
The ex-senator will retain the couples’ vacation homes in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Nantucket, Mass., while Karyn has the option of occupying the “marital residence” on Bowling Avenue for the next five years. Bill, however, must allow his ex-wife access to the Nantucket home for a quarter of the time over the summer months during the next five years. If he gets remarried, he’ll have to provide her comparable alternative housing at the beach.
The former couple will also split assets from the homes, with Bill gets the mounted buffalo head from the Nashville home, among other personal items from his time in the U.S. Senate. Karyn will receive art and furnishings from the homes — and even the bathroom door from the Nantucket home.
They will also divide up various stocks and investments, but financial details were not disclosed in the filing.
Karyn will also be forced to reapply for a “lady” membership to the Belle Meade Country Club but will receive a recommendation letter from Bill supporting her membership.
This Week In The 'Drome : Mid-majors flex, Titans vex, VY's specs, the Sounds hex and more ...
Fame vs. Infamy: Though forged by revolution, the idea of "Belgium" — tenuous though it has been for most of its existence — was embraced by Europe's Great Powers.
It was a conveniently located buffer state squeezed between bellicose Germany, powerful France and the ever-pragmatic Dutch. Plus it was a nice place to visit on your way to invading somewhere else. Except in times of great conflagration, it was largely ignored by its more powerful neighbors. Although maybe France should have looked at a map every now and then.
Yet, every now and then, little Belgium would stretch its chocolate- and beer-soaked wings and remind the rest of Europe it existed, as it did when King Leopold II of The Belgians (but not of Belgium) decided to set up a little real estate company down in Africa.
I make the case in the dead-tree that we are seeing similar attention-grabbing boldness from the Belgiums of college sport. MTSU finally making the move to Conference USA was obvious, but Western Kentucky hiring Bobby Petrino and his baggage was a haymaker.
Bringing in Petrino did the headline-grabbing deed for the 'Toppers — when was the last time their coach was a guest on national radio? — but it's a calculated risk, as hiring a lying, mercenary adulterer usually is.
In the long-term, WKU's dalliance with Petrino may work out. Or it may end like it did for Belgium, in an embarrassing protracted shambles, remembered only as the second B in an ABAB rhyme scheme, shoehorned into poetry with "Edsel is a no-go" in one of the most regrettable songs in a discography, rock and roll's equivalent of the list column.
A Nashville judge on Thursday morning dismissed allegations levied against Mt. Zion Baptist Church’s Bishop Joseph Walker III by a former parishioner.
Davidson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Brothers granted Walker’s motion for summary judgment based on the one-year statute of limitations on tort claims, freeing him from allegations of sexual assault, battery, fraud, false imprisonment and other claims filed against him by Valencia Batson.
Batson had claimed the last physical or verbal contact with Walker was in January 2005, meaning the suit filed last January was six years past the statute of limitations.
I'm not a lawyer, so I don't know why Batson made a tort claim and not a criminal complaint. I do know that coming forward and leveling these kinds of allegations, no matter what the venue, is difficult. We're pretty quick to dismiss these kinds of allegations as "gold-digging" or "a misunderstanding." Having the charges dismissed, even if it's on a technicality, is going to add to some people's belief that regardless of what happened to Batson, nothing really terrible happened to her.
This isn't just bad for Batson. If the allegations against Walker are true, but nothing ever happens to him, it's much harder for the people around him to protect themselves from him. Not only might they not know the danger that they're in, if something does happen to them, they've got a firm object lesson in how there's no use going to the authorities.
The outcome for Walker, if he's innocent, is not much better. The judge isn't saying that the incidents didn't take place — just that if they did, they happened too long ago for Batson to have a legal remedy. This means Walker will always have a cloud over him, because he didn't have a chance in court to clear his name.
So either way, this is an unsatisfactory result. And yet it's the legally correct one. Unfortunately, there's another bad outcome of that correct decision.
A report from the state Comptroller of the Treasury's office released this morning revealed a number of improper spending practices at the Nashville Electric Services, including a failure to ensure competitive bidding on contracts, personal purchases made on the company credit card, and a particularly friendly arrangement with Gaylord Entertainment.
After the report's release, NES president Decosta Jenkins held a press conference to address the findings.
From The City Paper:
NES president Decosta Jenkins told reporters at a press conference Thursday morning that the city’s electric utility had already begun responding to many of the problems cited in the audit. Policy changes cited by Jenkins included “revised and strengthened” policies with regards to bidding practices, a more restrictive travel reimbursement policy — which includes a prohibition on the purchase of alcohol — and a process under which hospitality items such as hotel rooms and event tickets are donated to charity.
In his report, Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said he “applaud[ed] NES officials for the corrective measures they have adopted in response to our findings.”
According to the audit, NES has maintained an exclusive arrangement with Kerite and Utilicor since 1998. NES, however, could only provide records for cable purchases dating back to the 2005 fiscal year.
Auditors from the comptroller's office found that NES specifications for electric power cable were “tailored to match” cable provided by Kerite.
Asked what ratepayers, who fund NES, should think about such a practice, Jenkins pointed to the success of the system during the 2010 flood, but acknowledged that some of the requirements and specifications for the cables were too restrictive.
Auditors found that NES entered into a contract with Gaylord Entertainment that allowed NES employees to attend events and play golf at Gaylord-owned properties for free in exchange for the lease of NES transformers.
The audit also found improper use of an NES credit card by the company’s vice president/chief information officer, stating that the vice president mixed personal and business accounts, many of which were established in the name of NES. The same vice president admitted to selling surplus NES items without authorization, according to the audit.
Jenkins told reporters that issues related to NES vice president and chief information officer, Vic Hatridge, had been handled internally. He declined to specify what disciplinary actions had been taken against Hatridge or others cited in the report.
Also, auditors found that six NES employees used altered documents to get reimbursement for education or training programs, according to the audit.
Jenkins said NES is “actively seeking restitution” for those claims of fraud by the employees and that those involved had been terminated.
The whole report from the state comptroller can be read here.
With just under two years to go until Gov. Bill Haslam faces voters seeking re-election, he knows the name of a potential challenger. Democratic insiders are saying that House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh plans to make a run at the state's top job, and the man himself is not denying it.
The City Paper's Andrea Zelinski has the scoop:
Sources close to the minority leader told The City Paper the Ripley Democrat is planning to put his name on the ballot for the state’s top job.
When asked directly whether he would run for governor, Fitzhugh said, “I wouldn’t rule it out at all.”
“I’ve got some experience, good, bad or otherwise. And feel like I understand the issues of this state, understand the budgetary process and just am concerned with some of the fundamentals of our state. Before we step too far back, we just need to keep things moving forward,” he told The City Paper Wednesday.
In 2010, Haslam took the governorship in a landslide, easily besting the feckless campaign of Democrat Mike McWherter. Our early 2014 analysis: The incumbent Haslam is the favorite because he's the incumbent. A popular Republican incumbent in an ever-reddening state. And he's looooaaaded.
But in any case, the race is (sort of) on.
Though he faced stiff opposition from Rep. Johnny Shaw of Bolivar, Mike Turner had enough votes to remain the chair of the House Democratic Caucus when it was up for vote on Wednesday.
According to WPLN, Shaw was advocating a more conciliatory stance toward the Republicans, saying, "We’ve got to find a way to work with people even if they disagree with us and even if we don’t get what we want."
And Turner is ... well ... Turner. It wouldn't surprise me if his middle name were "Irreconcilable."
It's not that I don't appreciate Shaw's sentiment, but the "best" example we had last session of a Democrat and a Republican working together was when G.A. Hardaway and Stacey Campfield went on a crusade to rewrite laws pertaining to child custody — a crusade so bizarre that one legislator finally confronted Hardaway and asked him, "I just want to ask, is this a bill that helps you personally with child support?"
That legislator? Johnny Shaw.
I'm just saying — if common ground is found only in instances such as Hardaway helping Campfield with his annual barrage of "Protecting You From Lying Bitchez" legislation, then it's for the best that Democrats don't try to find a way to work with Republicans.
According to a report released today by the ACLU of Tennessee titled Consequences & Costs: Lessons Learned from Davidson County, Tennessee’s Jail Model 287(g) Program [PDF], the Davidson County Sheriff's Office's implementation of the federal 287(g) program encouraged racial profiling and spread fear among Nashville's immigrant Latino community, in addition to wasting resources on detaining primarily minor traffic offenders — a common refrain from activists and other critics of the controversial program since its inception.
Although Sheriff Daron Hall effectively ended the widely unpopular immigrant detention and deportation program in October under the pretense that it was a victim of its own success, the ACLU-TN report finds that its harmful legacy continues to reverberate in Nashville and beyond.
"This program has been sold as an effective mechanism to deport dangerous criminals and make Nashville safer," the report's author, Lindsay Kee, said in a prepared statement. "Yet, our data indicates that of the nearly 10,000 individuals deported under 287(g), most had been arrested for minor violations. When you look at arrests of foreign-born people during 287(g)’s implementation, the percentage of arrests for the most dangerous crimes actually decreased.”
In the wake of the report, ACLU-TN urged the sheriffs of Rutherford and Knox Counties to rescind their pending applications to the program, and joined with its parent organization and 161 other organizations in writing a letter [PDF] to the Department of Homeland Security to terminate the program nationwide.
Some key findings from the report:
As an FYI the comments to the Chronicle article indicate this occurs with other states,…
You know who loved that particular piece of the Bible? Lenin. Dude couldn't stop quoting…
How about the most Laughable sweeps story of all: Nick ___ on Channel 5 some…
A gratuitous assertion, Frau Greta. Did the Fuehrer tell you that?
If you really want somebody to know something, you could just tell them.