Sometimes, even we here at Pith are speechless.
Coffee County Commissioner Barry West posted the above photo on his Facebook page last Saturday, with the caption "HOW TO WINK AT A MUSLIM." We should've known his explanation would only make things worse, but even our cynical souls have not lost the capacity to be shocked.
West tells the the Tullahoma News he "thought it was humorous." Behold more of West's rationale, after the jump:
The terms of the swap give the state a scraped site paved for surface parking, with Metro paying an estimated $750,000 for the scraping and paving. This is a step backward to the bad old days of urban renewal. City officials should have learned by now that surface parking is toxic to downtowns. The lots erode the street wall and the pedestrian experience, bring walkers into conflict with cars accessing the lots, contribute nothing but ugliness to the streetscape and little to the tax base, even if privately owned.
The deal would obliterate a 1966 building of real architectural merit that’s ready for adaptive reuse due to recent expenditures by Metro. At the Council meeting, as Steven Hale reported in the City Paper, Metro Finance director Rich Riebeling “refuted claims from [Councilman Bo] Mitchell that the city had spent a significant amount of money rehabbing the building.” I guess it depends on what you mean by “significant.”
Since 2003 Metro has spent over $1.046 million on Ben West, a figure based on valuations of building permits for the property. Metro paid $395,000 to enable the old library to house the mayor and council during the rehab of the courthouse, according to the last Capital Plan Status Report (2007) submitted by the Purcell administration. But the report states that Metro spent more “to prepare the building for future occupants”: roof replacement, upgrades to plumbing and HVAC and asbestos removal.
As Riebeling explains in an email: “Over the past few years it is my understanding that what money was spent would be in the area of maintenance to prevent further deterioration.”
So this is what those economic-incentives scolds are always going on about.
WPLN's Blake Farmer reports that Hemlock Semiconductor of Clarksville is still receiving checks from the state of Tennessee, months after laying off all its nearly 300 employees.
The Department of Finance is making good on $95 million of promised incentives, having paid $92 million so far, according to a state spokesperson.
“This is something that the current administration sort of inherited,” says Finance Commissioner Mark Emkes. “I think we do have to be very careful and very thoughtful going forward on things like this.”
Farmer reports that Hemlock has received nearly $720,000 from the state this month.
Over at WPLN, Daniel Potter has a story about the number of teacher retirements doubling in the last five years.
More Tennessee teachers are heading for the exits. Since 2008 the number is up by more than a thousand — nearly doubling — to a total last year of almost 2,200. Exactly why is a bit of a mystery.
Some teachers see it as a response to a couple years of politically charged upheaval in state education policy. But state officials say it’s not so clear-cut, and even go so far as to argue higher turnover has an upside.
You can already see the root of the silliness in these two paragraphs. Teachers are retiring. Teachers say that it's because of job upheaval. It would seem logical to believe teachers about why they're retiring or thinking about retiring. But no, our silly state asks us to ignore teachers' own statements about why they retire, and instead accept that those teachers are mistaken or lying or ... I don't know ... ignorant of their own motivations. The state can tell us the real truth: "The uptick in retirements might have less to do with shifting policy, says Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, and more to do with the economy."
But, wait! It gets better. Because not only is Huffman going to try to sell us on his ability to know teachers' minds better than they know them themselves, Huffman is going to try to tell us all this retirement is a good sign — saying that "our lowest-performing teachers were retiring at twice the rate of our best-performing teachers.”
Twice the rate! Wow, that sounds like great news. Except Potter looks at the actual numbers, not the rate, and finds we're losing more good teachers than bad.
Like so many white men of Übermensch-a, the American Renaissance Conference likes to dream the impossible dream — of a pure white race unsullied by such notions as racial equality and democracy. AmRen was the subject of a Scene cover story in 2012, and comes across in this latest installment in the Nashville Docujournal series just as smug and hateful as you might imagine.
What kind of person would quote MLK sarcastically at the end of a speech in which proposing the establishment of a "white ethno-state on the North American continent" is an applause line? Well, the same kind who would say "we must give up the false dream of equalizing all races" so that white people can explore space while "fostering ... white people who are healthier, stronger and more beautiful, to the point that they can rival the ancients." But hey you liberals, don't misunderstand these people. They're just "race realists," after all.
In an unexpected victory for the little guy, a Davidson County Chancery Court judge has sided with the long-suffering residents of Camden, Tenn., who have been fighting a landfill that is literally in their neighborhood.
The ruling handed down last week by Judge Carol McCoy states that Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation commissioner Robert Martineau approved permit modifications at the site without sufficient evidence that the Jackson Law — a statute requiring public hearings, and approval by local government before the state can approve a permit — had been satisfied, or that landfill owner EWS had posted required notices. As a result, McCoy declares that modifications in 2008, changing the site's classification from Class IV to Class II, and in 2011, to expand the landfill's operation within its property, "null and void."
The case essentially hinges on two letters TDEC received in 2004, which the department argues were the basis for its belief that the Jackson Law had been followed, and that it could properly approve the 2008 and 2011 modifications.
Unlike most people on the left, I find Michelle Rhee more baffling than irritating. Rhee's whole schtick is that she, as an educational reformer, can see simple solutions for fixing our schools that, thus far, everyone has either been too stupid to see themselves or too afraid of the teachers' unions to implement. Which is fine.
But when this is the public stand you take — i.e., "I know better than all the rest of you dumbasses" — your actions should show that you really do know better than all the rest of us dumbasses. Which means that if you're going to label a politician an education "reformer of the year" on your organization's website, you should probably do some serious vetting to find out what his record really is.
That doesn't seem to have happened with Rhee's Students First PAC. The education-reform lobbying organization now finds itself clapping erasers over a page on its website labeling state Rep. John Ragan "Reformer of the Year."
Wait a minute, you're thinking. Ragan, Ragan ... why does that name ring a bell? Let Scott Wooledge from the Huffington Post refresh your memory:
StudentsFirst, a very prominent and controversial educational political action group named Tennessee House Representative John Ragan as the state's "educational Reformer of the Year" who "stands up for the kids of Tennessee" and "has also been a leading advocate for change."
I guess it's enough that the only kids Ragan supposedly stands up for are the heterosexual kids.
It turns out the honoree is the co-author and introductory sponsor of the latest permutation of the notorious Tennessee "Don't Say Gay" bill. The latest version would have forced select Tennessee school officials to notify parents of children who privately discussed their sexual orientation, essentially dictating forced "outing" of kids, even against their own objections.
We're not likely to see mandatory bulletproof school uniforms anytime soon, because it turns out they are a wee bit on the pricey side. But it is lovely to know that if you've got $1,000 to spare you can buy Junior a kids' ballistic puffer vest, which not only provides NIJ Level II ballistic protection (whatever the hell that means), but also comes in six "stylish colors for boys and girls," including fuchsia! There's also a kids' ballistic T-shirt for a cool $755 (white only, alas).
The head of the company that makes and sells this stuff, one AJ Zabadne, is quoted in the Guardian story describing his products as nothing more than a routine precaution: "It's like you find life jackets on ships or planes in case they go down. It's no different to having a seatbelt in a car."
Yes, quite right, small children wearing thousand-dollar body armor garments to elementary school ... the moral equivalent of a seat belt. Good lord.
A version of this post also appears at BruceBarry.net.
In an email sent from his public account, Republican state Rep. Andy Holt doesn't give a rat's ass ... wait, now we're mixing up our Republican jerks.
In this email from his public account, Holt, who sponsored the recently passed Ag Gag bill, tells the Humane Society of the United States' public policy coordinator, Kayci McLeod, that she works for "a pathetic excuse for an organization and a pathetic group of sensationalists who seek to profit from animal abuse" and says he likes to refer to the group's fundraising methods as “tape and rape.” Along the way, he also says the group wants to use animals "the same way human-traffickers use 17 year old women."
Our friends at 1100 Broadway have the full email exchange, and we couldn't be happier to link you to them.
Holt's respect for women who dare to speak out of turn was on display earlier this week, when he told anti-Ag Gag country star Carrie Underwood to "stick to singing."
With the legislature adjourned, in a non-election year, things are a little slow in state politics. There are no bills to fight about, and no campaigns to rev up. But state political parties can't just do nothing, and we have to write about something. So, this happened.
About mid-day yesterday, the Tennessee Republican Party sent out a press release declaring: Knoxville Deserves Better: First-term Lawmaker Gloria Johnson Had a Bad First Year in the Legislature.
The release, copied in full after the jump, included a bullet-point list of the freshman legislator's "embarrassing" record.
Later came a release from the Tennessee Democratic Party: Standing Tall for Knoxville: Johnson Worked to Protect Middle Class Families, Fought Republican Extremism and Corruption; Partisan Republican Attacks Fail Truth Test!
The release, also copied after the jump, aims to "set the record straight" after the TNGOP's "baseless partisan attacks against her" earlier in the day.
A religious man gives his opinion about the biblical sin of homosexuality and he's labeled…
Finally some truth about polar bears. There's also more of them then ever. They're in…
Jesus intervened and . . . stopped the execution. If he just wanted to expose…
I'd be willing to take your money. Bitch.
I'd be willing to bet those extolling the evils of capital punishment here are abortion…