Democrats Blast Latest Haslam Privatization Plan
Survey finds TN teachers worried by testing
Former Tennessee Congressman Calls For Reining In Super PACs
Pat Nolan: State Of The State
Former Rep. John Tanner told reporters on Tuesday that the lack of controls over spending has created a system of what he called “election by auction.”
Political strategist Tom Ingram, who has managed the campaigns of Republican Sens.Lamar Alexander, Bob Corker and Gov. Bill Haslam, said the lack of restraints on spending has made it near impossible for anyone without personal wealth to become a candidate for statewide or federal office. LINK
Former Tennessee Congressman Calls For Reining In Super PACsFormer Tennessee Congressman John Tanner is joining an effort to rein in "dark money" in politics.
The Democratic lawmaker says he's joining a group of about 75 former members of Congress that will try to change the rules for funding federal campaigns. Tanner says super PACs funded by anonymous donors are unraveling the fabric of American democracy. LINK
Survey finds TN teachers worried by testingWith new tests on the way in math and English for students in grades three through 11, a survey released Wednesday shows Tennessee teachers worried that they’re spending too much time on testing and test preparation.
TNReady will be given to students in the spring. It’s part of the Tennessee Comprehensive Assessment Program, which includes achievement tests and end-of-course exams for science, social students, math and English.
Officials say the new test is designed to measure students’ understanding of the material, not just memorization and test-taking skills. They say it will better measure students’ progress and make sure they are on track to succeed after graduation.
State education officials told reporters last week that the best thing teachers could do to get students ready for the test would be to provide “strong instruction every day.
However, the survey of nearly 37,000 teachers showed 60 percent say they spend too much time helping students prepare for statewide exams, and seven out of ten believe their students spend too much time taking exams. LINK
Democrats Blast Latest Haslam Privatization PlanBig corporations should not be making big profits at the expense of Tennessee taxpayers.
That was the message from Tennessee Democrats, as they sounded the alarm Tuesday over a plan to privatize more of state government.
Their target: a plan now under consideration by the Gov. Bill Haslam's administration to outsource the maintenance and operation of, potentially, every building that the state owns.
"Tennessee is not for sale. Tennessee jobs are not for sale to Governor Haslam's buddies," said Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Mary Mancini.
Mancini was joined at a morning news conference by Nashville Reps. Mike Stewart and John Ray Clemmons.
Two years after outsourcing the operation of state office buildings, the Haslam administration is now looking at doing the same for state prisons, as well as potentially every college and university building across Tennessee.
"In privatization," Mancini said, "what usually happens is a private company comes in and the first thing they do is cut jobs and they cut wages and benefits. So this is absolutely is about jobs."
That's what happened after the Haslam administration hired the Chicago corporation, Jones Lang Lasalle, giving it a multi-million-dollar contract to manage state office buildings.
Now, university employees fear more corporate profits could come from cutting jobs -- and services.
"So you are going to cut corners," Clemmons said. "You are not going to provide the same level of services because you are always looking for a way to make your investors and your stockholders happy." LINK
State Supreme Court Won't Hear Judge Joe Brown's AppealThe Tennessee Supreme Court is refusing to hear an appeal from former TV judge Joe Brown over a jail sentence for contempt of court.
In a one-sentence ruling issued Aug. 14, the court denied Brown's application to appeal a Court of Appeals ruling from March, multiple media outlets report. The March ruling upheld Brown's 5-day jail sentence stemming from an outburst last year in Shelby County Juvenile Court.
On March 24, 2014, Brown was briefly jailed after Juvenile Court officials said he caused an outburst in the courtroom while there representing a client. Magistrate Judge Harold Horne initially sentenced Brown to one day in jail, but upped the sentence to five days after a verbal exchange with Brown. Brown was arrested and released later that day.
"Excuse me, on what authority do you sit, by the way?" Brown asked Horne, according to an audio recording of the proceedings. "... This tribunal on a General Sessions Court's authority is insufficient to establish you. Therefore, I challenge your authority to hear it. ... This is a circus, sir."
In his appeal, Brown said the audio recording was manipulated. LINK
Welfare is a dirty word: How the right hijacked American political discourse“Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never harm me.”
A fine sentiment, but any child subjected to cyber bullying knows that words do indeed matter.
Language evolves. Sometimes a word that once was negative becomes positive, like “terrific” which originally meant terrifying. Sometimes a word that was once positive becomes negative, as when “awful” changes from awe inspiring to very bad.
In politics too words matter, and in politics too language evolves. In the last 50 years we have witnessed a politically motivated sea change in the meaning of old words and the introduction of new words, all intended to undermine our sense of compassion. LINK
Pat Nolan: State Of The StateThere were some interesting (even perhaps) conflicting signals coming out of the administration of Governor Bill Haslam this week about the fiscal state of our state and what that means for operating the government and next year's budget.
Despite a tax revenue surplus of now over $600,000,000 the Governor is asking departments to submit requests for Fiscal Year 2017 reflecting a 3.5% spending cut. Mr. Haslam has made similar requests almost every year he's been in office (since 2011). For the most part, those kinds of cuts have not occurred when the final spending plan was enacted. So perhaps this is just another budget planning exercise to see what state commissioners believe are their department's top priorities.
But this year, there was suddenly a different twist. Without any fanfare, the Haslam administration has posted a “Request for Information” proposal. It seeks potential plans from private companies to outsource or privatize the operations and management of such facilities as state parks, prisons even state college and universities along with National Guard armories.
The Governor has already implemented the privatization of the management of all state offices and he claims it has saved the state a good deal of money. He says no decision has been made as yet about this much more sweeping privatization possibility, which would seem to effect virtually every state-owned facility and surely would impact (eliminate) a number of state jobs. Mr. Haslam says he just wants to see what kind of response such a privatizing request might elicit and how much more efficiently the state can do its job. THE MEMPHIS COMMERCIAL APPEAL (August 18) is reporting already “a small group of major national vendors, including Aramark and Delaware North are making site visits at several Tennessee state parks” in both Middle and West Tennessee.
With knowledge now of the Haslam administration's privatization plans, Democratic state legislative leaders are expressing concerns. They want assurances that the process regarding state privatization contracts be fair, responsible and open. Nashville Representative Mike Stewart claims previous privatization efforts by this Governor regarding state motor pool operations has cost the taxpayers money including state government now paying $300,000 more than market rates from rental car companies.
As for the group that really runs the show on Capitol Hill, the Republican Super Majority in the State House and Senate, I didn't read or see any reactions so far from their leadership. Stay tuned. LINK
Several Presidential Candidates Making Stops In Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee is in the national political spotlight with several presidential candidates visiting the state over the course of just a few weeks.
Republican candidates Donald Trump and Rick Santorum are scheduled to speak Saturday at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies Conference in Nashville.
This comes after Jeb Bush visited Brentwood for a fundraising reception, and attended the Southern Baptist Convention earlier this month. Texas SenatorTed Cruzspoke to supporters in Murfreesboro and Franklin two weeks ago. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker also attended a fundraiser for Franklin State Senator Jack Johnson in July.
Brent Leatherwood, Executive Director of the Tennessee Republican Party said the state’s early primary date is partially behind the increased number of visits.
“When they come to Tennessee, they get a strong Republican voting electorate,” said Leatherwood. “They get more bang for their buck with a number of media markets that touch other states. They get a higher return on their investment.”
Leatherwood said, at this point, there is no frontrunner.
“We probably mirror the national Republican electorate,” said Leatherwood. “We are up for grabs. No one candidate is grabbing all the votes just yet.”
The National Federation of Republican Assemblies Conference will be Aug. 28-30 at Rockettown in Nashville. The conference will complete a caucus to endorse one of the primary candidates in the Republican presidential race. LINK
Crockett Policy Institute