Thursday, June 13, 2013

Bill Haslam and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2013 at 3:20 PM

It's as if the political universe has seen fit to test the premise of the current cover story in The City Paper, on Bill Haslam as the Teflon Governor.

On Tuesday, we passed along the news that Phil Williams was all up in the guv's business regarding a $330 million contract the state recently signed with a company that candidate Haslam listed in 2010 as a "major investment."

Then came the news late yesterday afternoon that U.S. District Court Judge Aleta Trauger had ruled that state officials violated the First Amendment rights of Occupy Nashville protesters in October 2011. You remember, when state troopers scooped up 55 people over two nights, including former Scene reporter Jonathan Meador.

The nut graph from Trauger's stinging ruling:

The First Amendment cannot yield to the enforcement of state regulations that have no legal effect. The defendants had a number of options to respond to the legitimate policy issues created by Occupy Nashville’s continued occupation of the Plaza. In choosing to adopt and implement new regulations by fiat without seeking necessary approval from the Attorney General, they made an unreasonable choice that violated the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights in multiple respects. Had the defendants utilized the appropriate procedures — particularly consultation with the Attorney General — the court is confident that the “Use Policy,” which was facially unconstitutional in multiple respects and which had no legal effect, would never have been enforced in the first place.

You may also remember that Assistant Attorney General Dawn Jordan revealed in earlier testimony that the governor was mistaken when he told reporters the week following the arrests that his office had touched base with the Attorney General's.

So it can't have been a welcome development for the governor to hear this afternoon that Speaker of the House Beth Harwell and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey are seeking a review of the aforementioned state contract with Jones Lang LaSalle.

Hang in there, governor. The legislature will be back in no time to take the heat.

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