Tennesseans Broadly Agree On These Two Gun Restrictions
TN forfeiture laws deemed ‘appalling’
Study finds Tennessee, Georgia among top states for murder-suicide
Speculation that Freeman — who finished a close third in Nashville’s mayoral race just three months ago — could be considering a Democratic run for governor of Tennessee in three years got attention in a Chattanooga Times Free Press story earlier this week.
In it, an unnamed “Freeman intimate” is quoted as saying that Freeman is “taking a long, hard look” at a run for what would be an open governor’s seat with the exit of Gov. Bill Haslam, who will be term-limited in 2018.
Reached by The Tennessean, Freeman downplayed the report but didn’t shut the door on a possible run.
“I’m concentrating on other things right now,” Freeman said. “That’s a long way off.
“I don’t want to rule anything out or anything in, but that’s not anything I’m working on at the moment,” he said, adding: “I’m hoping we find some great candidates, and I’m concerned about some of the candidates on the other side, and I think it’s important that a good Democrat step up. And I think we've got several looking, and I hope I can find one that I can get behind.”
Among those considering a run for governor as a Democrat in 2018 — or perhaps for the U.S. Senate during the same election cycle — is former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, who recently told The Tennessean that he’s interested but is a long way from making a decision. Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke also has been floated as a possible Democratic contender for governor, although he told the Free Press in Augusthe's still solely focused on his current job. Tennessean
TN forfeiture laws deemed ‘appalling’Tennessee law enforcement agencies seized almost $86 million in cash from 2009 to 2014 through use of state civil forfeiture laws allowing the money to be confiscated without criminal charges, according a new report that the focus of a Times-Free Press story.
The total take is likely even higher since figures don’t include values of real or personal property such as cars and boats taken, according to the report, issued by the Institute for Justice, a libertarian public-interest law firm.
And that’s not counting another $69 million Tennessee police agencies received between 2000 and 2013 through a U.S. Department of Justice asset-splitting program known as equitable sharing. That was enough to win Tennessee the 26th place in the national rankings on equitable sharing. Agencies also got another $10 million or so from another joint federal asset seizure program. Add them all up and state law enforcement agencies have received at least $165 million since 2000.
The state’s civil forfeiture laws now have earned Tennessee something else: It’s a D- grade from the Institute for Justice in its report, “Policing for Profit: The Abuse of Civil Asset Forfeiture.”
Calling Tennessee’s policies “appalling,” the report takes aim at the Volunteer State. Humphrey on the Hill
Tennesseans Broadly Agree On These Two Gun RestrictionsMore than 80-percent of Tennesseans think that private gun sales should be more regulated and the mentally ill should be barred from purchasing firearms. New polling from MTSU finds broad agreement, even among gun rights advocates.
This poll of 603 registered voters found nearly 70-percent of Tennesseans favor gun rights over gun control.
But on both sides, most agree there should be background checks for sales at gun shows and between two private individuals. And firearms should be off-limits to those with mental illness.
"Our poll of Tennessee voters suggests that if these two measures can find strong general support here, they can probably find it just about anywhere,” MTSU poll director Jason Reineke said.
Tennesseans diverge on other forms of gun regulation, though. There are wide gaps on the issue of a federal database to track all guns and a ban on military-style rifles. Nashville Public Radio
One year into their first terms, can outgunned state Democrats John Ray Clemmons and Jeff Yarbro play defense without giving offense?Remember the early 1960s identical-twin sitcom The Patty Duke Show and its theme song, "One pair of matching bookends, different as night and day ... "? That could apply to Yarbro and Clemmons. Both were raised on farms — Yarbro in Dyersburg, Clemmons in Wilson County. Both attended Ivy League universities — Harvard for Yarbro, Columbia for Clemmons.
Both are attorneys. [Full disclosure: Yarbro's wife, attorney Tyler Yarbro, has represented theScene on occasion.] Both have strong liberal credentials: Yarbro worked on Al Gore's 2000 presidential campaign, Clemmons interned for George Stephanopoulos. Both are progressives who replaced legislators many Democrats had come to view as Blue Dog dinosaurs.
Now one year after their elections and with another legislative session looming, the chattering class is informally evaluating the two new legislators' first year in office, in both substance and style.
Consider the environment in which they operate. As Democrats, the two are in the minority among a Republican supermajority. They spent their first year scrapping to be effective legislators for their urban districts without the safety in numbers that GOP freshmen currently enjoy.
"It's extremely tough to be a Democrat in the legislature now," says former Democratic House Caucus Chair Mike Turner, who did not overlap in the legislature with either man. "If you are too tough, there's retaliation from the other side, so there's a temptation to be too quiet, and that's a mistake."
Being quiet wasn't an option. With only five Democratic senators out of 33, and 26 representatives out of 99, the two freshmen had no choice but to step up. Yarbro found himself elected Senate Democratic Caucus chair.
"My first year, I sat back and listened, but these two didn't have that luxury," says House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh.
As Yarbro himself points out, his very first day in the Senate, he was the only Democrat on the committee deciding the future of Insure Tennessee.
"Right out of the box, we had to fight those who were against it, and that was reflective of the rest of the year," Yarbro says.
There's general agreement from both sides of the aisle that both young Turks were as effective as minority caucus members could be, regardless of tenure. In the upper chamber, Yarbro managed to pass 14 bills into law, no small feat. Down the hall, Clemmons sponsored 14 bills and passed three of his major five bills. Holly McCall at the Nashville Scene
Study finds Tennessee, Georgia among top states for murder-suicideBoth Tennessee and Georgia are among the top eight states in the nation for the frequency of murder-suicides, according to a new report by the Violence Policy Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that conducts research, education and advocacy to reduce gun death and injury.
Data for the first six months of 2014 counted 282 murder-suicide events in the United States that resulted in 617 deaths. There were 285 suicides connected to 332 homicides, the report found.
Twenty-six of those incidents happened close by in Tennessee and Georgia. Three days before Anderson was shot, a man shot and killed his estranged lover, his 8-year-old son and himself at a gas station in Varnell, Ga. And on May 8, a Hixson man killed his long-time girlfriend and then himself in their home.
As those cases suggest, the majority of murder-suicides — 72 percent — involve an intimate partner, the Violence Policy Center report found. Of the offenders, 89 percent were males who acted alone.
Chronic domestic violence can escalate into a murder-suicide, said Valerie Radu, executive director of the Family Justice Center. But not all murder-suicides involve domestic violence, and there is no surefire way for anyone to recognize that a person may soon commit a murder-suicide. Warning signs aren't always clear.
"It's important to remember that there can be drugs and alcohol involved, there could be mental health issues involved — when you add that to the mix it can be very lethal," she said. "People can live next door to someone and not have a clue."
During the first half of 2014, 93 percent of all murder-suicides were committed with firearms, according to the Violence Policy Center report.
After she was shot, Anderson found out Held had bought the shotgun and ammunition he used from a Hixson Wal-Mart the morning of the attack. She wonders if the ease of buying a gun plays into Tennessee's murder-suicide pace. Chattanooga Times Free Press
Eaten alive by their own Ayn Rand/Koch brothers Frankenstein: The GOP destroyed themselvesIn the past few years, between Citizens United v. the FEC and other failures on the government’s part to rein in lavish spendingon nonprofit organizations that are attempting to influence elections, there has been an absolute flood of money into campaigning. This money can’t go directly to candidates but has nevertheless had a dramatic impact on the culture of money in politics.
Liberals have reasonably raised the alarm about this, pointing out that allowing a few rich people to spend unlimited amounts of money trying to influence elections is anti-democratic. It allows wealthy people to dominate the political conversation even more than they did before. Democratic politicians also perceive, again quite reasonably, that unlimited spending usually benefits the Republicans at the expense of the Democrats.
But has the rush of unlimited funding been the great boon to the Republicans that everyone, likely on both sides of the aisle, thought it would be? There’s an increasing number of reasons to suspect the Republicans might just be regretting this financial free-for-all. As an investigative report from Politico demonstrates, this new flood of money, while helpful for winning elections, comes with alarming strings attached. Republican candidates might have more money than ever, but the party is losing its independence and being quietly bought out by the biggest bidders.
The piece, written by Kenneth P. Vogel, focuses largely on the infamous Koch brothers, two oil billionaires named Charles and David Koch who have extreme libertarian views and an apparent willingness to spend as much money as it takes to turn the United States into a dystopia out of Ayn Rand’s wet dreams. That the Koch brothers, and many other billionaires, spend lavish amounts of money in our era of deregulated campaign law is not a surprise, of course, but Politico discovered that they are spending even more money than most political watchers had assumed.
But the money isn’t just going to help Republicans win more elections. Instead, and this is what is worrying many Republican insiders, the brothers are trying to reshape the Republican Party in their own image and take the already hard-right party even further to the right. “The Kochs and their allies are investing in a pipeline to identify, cultivate and finance business-oriented candidates from the local school board all the way to the White House,” Vogel writes, “and Koch operatives are already looking for opportunities to challenge GOP incumbents deemed insufficiently hard-line in their opposition to government spending and corporate subsidies.” Salon
Crockett Policy Institute