June 30, 2006
Candidate Forums and Debates I've Missed
I hope people caught the GOP primary debate for the US Senate race on the telly or on the web. I didn't. (I was wearing out my face practicing all the John Williams pieces that are programmed for this Monday's inaugural ETSO concert.) Adam Groves has posted a good set of links.
I also missed the Hamilton County School Board candidates forum at the Bonny Oaks facility. I attended this event in 2004, and it was very informative. David Carroll always does a great job at moderating, including dispelling myths right away (e.g., lottery funds are not earmarked for K-12, and so on).
What else have I missed? Comment away.
June 28, 2006
Register to vote this week, or I'll tell your momma
While the likelihood is low that readers of TennesseeTicket.com aren't already active voters, it's nonetheless imperative that as many people are registered for the 2006 elections as possible. This includes being ready to participate in the county general election on Thursday, August 3.
I therefore respectfully request that you take whatever action is necessary to become registered by the end of this week. (Technically, the last day is Monday the 3rd, but too many people will want to be in the throes of a four-day weekend for that day to be effective.)
Furthermore, spread the word to your friends and relatives, and let's pack the polls on Election Day.
UPDATE: Here are some links for your procrastinating posterior.
Voter Registration Form to register by mail
Backslap and backlash
Saying that he'd rather send a "preacher" than a "professor" to the United States Senate, Lynn Sebourn tips his support to Van Hilleary.
It must be all the vorticity that's getting Sebourn so dizzy and confused. Who in his right mind picks a largely emotional display over one "much more reserved and logical with an emphasis on policy"?
I wouldn't pick either Bryant or Hilleary, but if I had no other choices but these two, give me the "professor" any day. Furthermore, what he interprets as a United States Senate that "guts conservative principles" with "watered down" compromise is what I call a situation where "cooler heads prevail." (There are, without doubt, notable exceptions.) Van Hilleary -- the "preacher" -- doesn't seem to have that cool a head. The TN GOP establishment didn't work against Hilleary in 2002 because they are pro-income tax. That's absurd. No, they did it because it would be downright embarrassing to have Van Hilleary as our Governor, if you ask me, and Phil Bredesen is enough of a pro-business guy and is, in general, smart enough to have obtained their approval.
Elsewhere, the VOLuntary Conservative joins in the yelping about Roger Abramson's credentials. I'm amazed that more people don't see what's going on here. The issue is this: Conservatism is not something that can be measured on a 1-10 linear scale. Furthermore, the social/cultural brand of "conservatism" isn't even conservative, in most ways. For starters, it advocates big, meddlesome government on some very private individual matters. Witness another recent post by Huddleston, wherein he blasts Maryland's governor for appointing an openly gay man to the District Court up 'ere in Bawlmer. His The FRC's [sorry, Rob] use of the phrase "lurch to the left" betrays the fallacy in this kind of thinking. Governor Ehrlich claims a libertarian influence on his action, and I can't but agree. Keeping the government out of the bedroom is not a move leftward, it's a move upward on the, you know, the little diamond quiz thingy.
Limiting the field of potential public servants to the ideologically pure can only spell doom for a party -- especially when the doctrines in question are not shared that widely.
Inevita-Phil-ity - And when your choices aren’t your own
Nominee by Decree
Governor Phil Bredesen has managed his way through more than one seemingly intractable situation during his term. That figures, as he’s reportedly a highly skilled manager. He might have seen the TennCare crisis coming (who didn’t?), but the Tennessee Highway Patrol donations-for-promotions program, the multiple accusations of sexual harassment aimed at his team members, and, of course, Operation Tennessee Waltz (which continues to almost exclusively net corrupt politicians in the Governor’s party)—these were not likely obstacles with pre-calculated strategic approaches. Whatever value one places on public opinion polls, the fact remains that the Governor’s numbers have stayed high enough to count as a reasonably sure thing come election time. Executive acumen aside, there is also an historical precedent to consider. Tennesseans of late almost never fire their governor after one term. Taken together, these factors pretty much guarantee Bredesen a spot at the helm until early 2011.
Given the near inevitability of Governor Bredesen’s return to office, it would almost seem a waste of thought to delve into an analysis of the opposition; but there are forces and factors worth describing, as they demonstrate how removed our electoral processes really are from the concept of citizen self-governance. Many months passed, earlier in this election cycle, wherein one could almost feel the hands wringing and hear the sweat dropping in boardrooms at GOP Central. The problem—if you asked insiders and operatives – was that there was no one to run against the incumbent. And when those approval numbers were nearing their nadir, there could have been light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, only no lantern-bearer could be found. One by one, names were floated and then wistfully bid adieu: banker Scooter Clippard, 2002 primary runner-up Jim Henry, State Senators Ron Ramsey and Mark Norris—and the brightest light to never switch on, former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, whose star power does shine, but in a different way, on NBC’s Law & Order. Finally, one man did step up and accept the challenge. That man is State Senator Jim Bryson of Franklin.
That’s to hear the state GOP leaders, conservative bloggers, and golf foursomes tell it. There’s another side to this story, one that often gets buried in the media chatter. Months before Senator Bryson acquiesced to be his party’s sacrificial lamb, Chattanooga businessman Mark Albertini was building a serious campaign. Why wasn’t his a well-known name at party central? Albertini’s brand of conservatism does not differ greatly from that of many A-listers, so it’s not like he’s outside the big tent. A glance at his qualifications renders him no less apt for candidacy than relative newcomer Bryson. The difference is that the party recruited Bryson, and Albertini more or less recruited himself. Primary voters in both parties take heed: your choices are too often made for you. In addition to Mark Albertini, Republicans Wayne Thomas Bailey, David Farmer, Joe Kirkpatrick and Wayne Young are seeking the nomination.
Governor Bredesen also has opposition in August, including two more Chattanoogans. Tim Sevier of Hixson qualified for the ballot, and Walt “Combat” Ward vows to bring his unique brand of karate-infused politics into the ring. And don’t forget perennial candidate John Jay Hooker—sometimes independent, usually running in multiple races (this year included), and always feisty. Hooker’s game is campaign finance reform, not so much winning outright. It’s sad to say that his stated goal of cleaning up money’s muddying effect in elections remains elusive.
The Odd Bunch
If you’re not from around here, or if you’ve forgotten what you knew about your state government, you may need a reminder that Tennessee is among a few states that does not popularly elect its second highest office. The State Senate chooses a Speaker every General Assembly, and the conferee is simultaneously awarded the Lieutenant Governor post. That’s wild; but here’s something Wilder: one man has held this office in Nashville since 1971. Since our Constitution calls for the even- and odd-numbered Senate districts to alternate election cycles, Lt. Governor John Wilder’s (D-Mason) Senate seat is not up this year. He could, however, face losing the Speaker/Lt. Gov. position if the Republicans add to their slim majority in November. If that were to happen, Senate Majority Leader Ron Ramsey would very likely be the first new Lieutenant Governor in decades.
Due to gerrymandered districts and the built-in incumbent advantage, not many Senate seats will change hands this time around. Even the open seats, including the aforementioned gubernatorial candidate Jim Bryson’s 23rd, will likely be decided in the primary, since whichever party doesn’t hold it now doesn’t stand much of a chance at changing that. There are six Republican candidates in District 23, and it’s anyone’s guess right now as to the outcome, as there are somewhere around four very strong candidates, and the other two ain’t slouches. Their names, in alphabetical order, are Bob Barnwell, Jeff Ford, Jack Johnson, Tom Neill, Andy Ogles, and, coming in last with what has been described as “the whitest name in the 2006 elections,” Ray “Chip” Throckmorton III. [UPDATE: Andy Ogles has recently withdrawn his candidacy.]
Here at home, Sen. David Fowler (R-Signal Mountain) decided to step down and focus on private sector work (that’s a grey definition, as his consulting group will be working very closely with his former Capitol Hill colleagues on so-called pro-family legislative concerns). This open seat (District 11) is the exception to the exception, in that everyone pretty much got right out of Rep. Bo Watson’s way when he decided to go for it. Next door in the Ninth, we have a GOP contest. Another pro-family guy (cough), Jeff Miller of Cleveland, is also stepping down, and another State Representative, Dewayne Bunch, is seeking the win. Unlike Bo, Bunch has viable opposition in former Bradley County Commissioner Lindsay Hathcock and Veteran Affairs director Gary Benefield, so look for this to be a close race.
There is some Democratic primary action in a few seats too. The most interesting is in District 33, which is currently held by Sen. Kathryn Bowers. Bowers is the only woman (so far) indicted in the Operation Tennessee Waltz scandal, and has consistently maintained that she is innocent. The charges and the impending trial (provided she doesn’t plead out after seeing Roscoe Dixon fall hard) are like blood in the proverbial water for a few Memphians. One of them, Jennings Bernard, may himself be a little too close to all the Waltz action, so we’ll see how that candidacy plays out. The others are John A. Brown and Steve Webster. In the state capital, Sen. Thelma Harper is fending off a spirited challenge from Jesse Tucker. Elsewhere in Middle Tennessee, Sen. Charlotte Burks is opposed by David Gentry in District 15, and there will be a primary election in District 17, though it’s expected that former Sen. Bob Rochelle will easily defeat Aubrey Givens and go on to challenge Republican Sen. Mae Beavers in the general. Sen. Doug Jackson of Dickson has a challenger, Travis Wood. Ivon Faulkner and Richard Klenz are each trying to be the one to beat Paul Stanley for Curtis Person’s long-held seat in the 31st. There were initially quite a few interested Republicans when Person announced his retirement, but Stanley apparently received the kiss of approval early enough.
And that brings us to District 29, where voter and election worker fraud were uncovered after last year’s special election, and Ophelia Ford was summarily unseated after briefly taking over her brother John’s old office. Commentary on this election is useless during all the continuing legal wrangling, and then there’s Terry Roland’s wavering, so we’ll just all wait and see what happens. The only Senate district to feature contested primaries on both ballots is the 21st, which is in Nashville, and which has been represented for a tortoise’s age by Douglas Henry. Henry will face Gary Pennington, and the blogging candidate himself, Bob Krumm, will try to defeat firefighter Manuel Fonseca for the GOP nod.
Wherever you vote, make sure you are well armed with knowledge about all the candidates for the offices you help fill.
[This column appears in the June 28, 2006 Pulse.]
June 27, 2006
Endorsing Bob Corker: Roger and me
I don't claim the conservative heritage that Roger Abramson has. I'm coming at this from a different angle. However, statements like "I think we need some people up in Washington with the skills and real-life (and real-government) experience to help right the ship" and "I subscribe to the notion that conservatism is, at its heart, non-ideological, in the sense that it deals with the way things really are rather than how we might want them to be" make me appreciate his particular take on conservatism (and it's one that I think is shared by more people than is often realized).
I could go through my own personal political history and how I came to be a Corker supporter, but I would have more explaining to do than Roger did. Suffice it to say that I concur with Abramson's conclusion that Bob Corker is the candidate, of those running, who possesses the most comprehensive set of qualifications needed for the job. You weigh the practical matters and decide on the best fit, just as with any job interview.
And there has to be something to the fact that Corker can appeal to appraisers with as wide a band of political difference between them as is flanked by Roger and me. (Another perspective is that either this band is narrowing on both our accounts, or that each extreme keeps moving further in its respective direction, or both.) Would I love to see a viable progressive candidate for this office? Sure. Would that candidate, provided she were able to get elected by the Volunteer State, face six years of stone walls in the form of 98 other Senators (the exception being Sanders)? Absolutely. What real good would it do, then? Be honest.
I'm counting on Bob Corker to go to Washington and get things done like he did in Nashville and in Chattanooga. Nobody's perfect, and I will flatly disagree with him on several points. I do so right now. However, most of those points deal with issues that are very removed from the business of practical governing, and I'm aching for real change in what gets put on (more importantly, what gets taken off) Congress' to-do list. Somehow I don't have the confidence that Ed Bryant, Van Hilleary, or Harold Ford would contribute to that change. I can only cast my vote and hope that Bob Corker will.
Find your local news online
Tennessee Tax Revolt does some great things. Though my liberal friends probably find a few of their activities "revolting," I hope everyone can look past any ideological differences on revenue structure theory, and just find the good. I've met Ben Cunningham, once, and I came away from that meeting impressed with what a thoughtful and energized citizen he is.
For example, I haven't seen anyone else publish a list like this. Correct me if I'm wrong, but then go ahead and use TTR's site as your resource anyway. They deserve it.
State House District 6 Debate in Washington County
Courtesy of an e-mail from the Joshua Arrowood campaign:
The Washington County Republican Women on Tuesday will host a debate for several of the candidates vying to fill the 6th District seat of the Tennessee House of Representatives, officials said.
Those candidates participating will include Joshua Arrowood, Ethan Flynn, Patti Jarrett, and Lee Sowers, according to Laura Wheeler, WCRW president. Dale Ford will be represented by his wife, Joyce, and Michael A. Malone will not attend.
“Our club has done this in the past,” Ms. Wheeler said. “But this is the first one we’ve had this year.”
The public is invited to attend the event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Jonesborough Visitors Center, Ms. Wheeler said. Each candidate will speak for three minutes, answer five questions, and conclude with a three minute remark.
Debate chair Janel Prescott said the candidate have no prior knowledge of the questions they will be asked. She and Ms. Wheeler solicited the questions from club member and the public, she said.
“It had to be a state question, not federal or local,” Ms. Prescott said. “And it did have to deal with relevant issues.”
The primary election is scheduled for Aug. 3, with early voting beginning July 14. The general election will be held Nov. 7.
Read much more at TriCities.com.
June 26, 2006
A Hot Tip - if ever a disc gets stuck in your slot drive
I messed up, and slid a CD-R from a friend into my MacBook Pro's SuperDrive. I didn't really pay attention to the fact that the friend had placed a paper label onto the disc.
The track I selected played fine for a few minutes, then stopped. I went over to check on it, and found the drive making some very unhappy noises (one of which, intermittent, was somewhere between a foghorn and a fart). "Oh dear," I said. (Yeah, right.)
So, I immediately went searching for answers. The user guide stops cold at "reboot with the trackpad button depressed" and I knew that wasn't going to cut it. The problem wasn't that the drive wasn't responding, or that the Mac had "forgotten" its existence. This was a very specific physical problem.
So, I read about all kinds of scary remedies having to do with 45-degree angles, business cards, battery bubble pack cards, and -- gulp -- paper clips, and even tried one or two (no paper clip is going near my slot, thank you very much).
Then I read something that made sense. Just turn the thing off, place the machine where it can get nice and cool, and wait. This accomplishes two things, in my book. One, a person has time to breathe, and to avoid those irrational thoughts that could mean a heap of regret. Two, the glue on the disc has time to regain a solidity-ready temperature, and the paper, I guess, stops being swollen.
At any rate, I returned to the nicely chilled machine and touched the power button with as close to a prayer as I typically muster, and the first thing I heard was a smooth spin out of that disc drive, and I hit the eject button just as soon as I was able (note to all: I did NOT hold down any buttons during this boot). The disc ejected easily, and has been relegated to the old JVC boom box, where it has all the room it needs.
Now if I can just get the stuck DVD out of my 5-disc changer, I'll be a happy dude.
DISCLAIMER: I know that there can be many reasons why a disc won't eject from a slot drive, so let it be known that I am not arguing against using the trick-key restart remedies that probably do work in those other situations. This cooling-off fix had to do with a paper label, and yes, I now realize that I was stupid for putting the thing in there to begin with. That is all.
June 24, 2006
TypePad or MovableType?
UPDATE: I'm leaving this at the top for a while to gather a few responses.
Tech bleg time. I'm looking around for new blog digs, I think, and I am sorting through the several options.
For instance, Blogger goes into the recycling without being opened. I've tried that before. I don't think I'm impressed with what WordPress says it offers. Educate me if you feel differently.
I've been happy, so far, with using Movable Type here on Chattablogs. I'm a control freak, though, and so I think I would feel better owning my own license. That, and the fact that for over a year I've been relying on the kindness of strangers instead of being a paying customer who can thus demand quality, are what is driving me to look around.
Moving will be a pain, because there are a number of nice people out there in the world who have this address rolled, and whose feedreaders pick up my current signal. Oh, well. Others have done it, and we still know who they are.
As far as platforms go, I will likely stick with something of what Six Apart offers; but I'm just not sure which direction to go. I do like that one can easily up/downgrade among the three TypePad account types. MT on the one hand seems too involved -- I just want to blog, and keep up my candidate pages -- but on the other hand it may be the only option that satisfies my insatiable need for full control of my environs.
I've had my domain (tennesseeticket.com) parked since January and I want to take it out on the superhighway. Hosting is another question, but I'm following some good leads on that front.
Oh, so many questions, and, worse yet, so many viable answers. If you care to lend a hand down to a brother on his way up this learning curve, I'll really appreciate it.
Now if I can just learn some danged keyboard shortcuts for the Mac..who cares about the number of mouse buttons? What's a mouse? I need my Alt+Tab window switching!
June 22, 2006
We pause now for these interruptions
There's too much going on in the next few days to allow time for blogging. I am always torn between avoiding these rather inane messages about not blogging, and communicating with readers so that they know why the site hasn't been updated.
Looks like I chose the latter. There's always more info than your brain can hold on the candidate pages -- not to mention all the great Tennessee blogs. (That's another annoyance of mine: saying "not to mention" immediately prior to, uh, mentioning.)
Back in a bit.
June 21, 2006
The Long Arm of the Law
I know it's hard to know about all the candidates, especially for offices like Sheriff. I'm fortunate in that I haven't had to deal directly with the department, if you know what I'm sayin'. I freely acknowledge that I am relying on relayed facts and opinions from a trusted source (who's also a former Sheriff Department employee) to complete my thinking on this race.
I don't relish the fact that we have elections for certain non-legislative and non-executive offices; but the alternative (appointments) seems ripe for the worst kinds of abuse. At the least, though, let's move away from partisan elections of general services officers, like Sheriff, and the court clerks, trustees, and so on.
So please don't take this as a partisan stance, but I'm encouraging a vote for Billy Long for Sheriff of Hamilton County on August 3. The kicker (for me) is his promise to bring back the domestic violence and child abuse task forces, which were taken away by Sheriff Cupp. I can go either way on School Resource Officers, and I think DARE may be a somewhat misguided effort, but the women and children of this county need the specialized skills of the domestic violence units. Plus, the officers and inmates in the county jail are at extreme risk every day due to the overcrowding and the inefficient system there, and Billy Long is energized to change that, unlike his incumbent opposition.
Who’s Headed for Washington? Breaking down the 2006 federal midterm primary elections
There are a few weeks left during which we can imagine that our ideal slate of candidates has been elected. It’s like those fantasy sports games, only with a different kind of “player” and possibly fewer performance-enhancing drugs. In the interest of stirring up the most enthusiasm for local elections, we’ll examine the federal offices first, then state, and save the county general analysis for the couple of weeks right before the election.
The GOP Senate primary: “Brilleary” vs. Corker, or a genuine three-way race?
Former U.S. Representative Ed Bryant has been here before. Four years ago, Bryant, one of the Newt Gingrich-led swarm that took control of the House in 1994, assumed that his party’s so-called “base” (also described as the socially conservative wing), would favor him in the predictably ill-attended primary election, and thus propel him to the auspicious Senate chamber. It turned out that he was wrong, and that the wealthy, well-financed moderate (by comparison, that is) Lamar Alexander won handily. Now Ed Bryant seeks the other Senate seat, which is being given up by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (presumably in preparation for a White House run in 2008). Early on, it appeared that former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker would be Bryant’s sole major rival, and that we would see a do-over of 2002.
But then two things happened that changed everything. Most importantly, another former member of the class of 1994 decided that he would like to be Senator, since he didn’t get to be Governor. Of course we’re talking about Van Hilleary, who won the GOP gubernatorial primary four years ago, but lost in a close race to Democrat Phil Bredesen. Van’s entrance caused a rift among the GOP’s right wing, and even strained the friendship he had shared with Congress buddy Ed. Moreover, the right wing views Corker as a moderate, and most pundits agreed that two self-styled conservatives would split the party’s base and thus give the perceived moderate an easy primary victory.
The other dynamic-bending occurrence was Corker’s insistent and—depending on whom you ask—more or less convincing argument that he, too, is a conservative. Three candidates, all similar enough on issue positions, but one has more campaign funds than the other two combined: this sounds like a Corker victory in the making. The election will obviously settle the question for certain, and one should be prepared for an all-out media blitz from all three candidates. Corker is a lock in Hamilton County (a senior congressional aide privately predicted his win here at 70 percent), and will likely win big in the Knoxville area, but the sprawling 7th remembers Bryant fondly, and Hilleary has been working both the middle and the East pretty hard. Nail-biters are good for turnout, and that’s a good thing.
The Democratic Senate nominee: Harold Ford, Jr.
Republican strategists at the highest levels are anxiously attempting to affix the “liberal” label to the photogenic Congressman from Memphis. Ask many a West Tennessee Democrat, however, and you’re likely to hear “he votes too often with the Republicans.” The liberal wing of the party on the left was outraged by an apparent crowning of Ford by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (headed by New York Senator Charles Schumer) that effectively shut out State Senator Rosalind Kurita (herself no San Francisco hippie) and led to her withdrawal. There are a few Democrats remaining on the primary ballot, but none has the support needed to mount a serious challenge. Ford will win the primary and will only after that be stretching to cover his reluctant base while reaching out to as many swing voters as he can.
The national parties and political analysts view Tennessee as the make-or-break state for a Democratic comeback or a GOP retention in the Senate. Make sure to do your turn in the spotlight by voting in this important primary election. It will be interesting to see what happens in November if the bulk of voters are given a choice between two relative moderates (Corker and Ford). Some may view it an opportunity to branch out and vote for a third party or independent candidate (the Green Party’s Chris Lugo and four independents would appreciate that), and others may be tempted to sit the election out. Don’t pout. Vote, and vote your conscience -- or as close as you can get with the candidates at hand.
The two open U.S. House seats: Opposites attract
Do get to know your Third District candidates so that you can nominate wisely (Democrats Brent Benedict and Terry Stulce; Republicans June Griffin, Charles Howard, Doug Vandagriff, and incumbent Zach Wamp); but, thanks to gerrymandering, don’t look for much to change in any congressional districts other than the First and the Ninth. The latter is open because the aforementioned Ford family member is leaving it to run for the Senate. The First District is up for grabs due to U.S. Representative Bill Jenkins’ retirement.
One couldn’t find a more fitting pair of districts to study. Number Nine hugs the southwest corner of the state (just part of heavily populated Shelby County) and is Democratic, majority black, densely urban. Semi-rural and very hilly District One covers the narrow northeast finger of our long skinny state, and has almost never sent a Democrat to D.C. According to the historians, this district’s brand of Republicanism heralds straight back to when Abraham Lincoln was President; indeed, the area stayed loyal to the Union during the Civil War. These Republicans are somewhat different than today’s Santorum-style variety.
Each of these open seats has drawn a dizzying list of contenders, and it is no small task to understand the complexities of each race. Fortunately for those of us in Chattanooga, we can let others sort it out. Memphis alt-weekly editor and columnist Jackson Baker is in the process of profiling the District 9 candidates. Knoxville political columnist Frank Cagle has weighed in on those in the First, and I’m sure we’ll see more commentary as we near the big day.
Democrat: Harold Ford, Jr.
Republican: Bob Corker
U.S. House of Representatives
Democrat: Rick Trent
Republican: Richard Venable
Democrat: (not enough info)
Republican: Jimmy Duncan (incumbent)
Democrat: Terry Stulce
Republican: Zach Wamp (incumbent)
Democrat: Lincoln Davis (incumbent)
Republican: Alan Pedigo
Democrat: Jim Cooper (incumbent)
Republican: Tom Kovach
Democrat: Bart Gordon (incumbent)
Republican: David R. Davis
Democrat: Bill Morrison
Republican: Marsha Blackburn (incumbent)
Democrat: John Tanner (incumbent)
Republican: Rory Bricco
Democrat: Julian Bolton
Republican: Mark White
Next week: Gubernatorial and State Senate primaries.
[This column appears in the June 21, 2006 Pulse.]
I didn't hear the conversation, so I will simply point to others' commentary.
More links to follow..
UPDATE: Never mind, just read Volunteer Voters on this. He has the links to the good stuff (Bruce Barry, Roger Abramson), plus an amusing guesstimate of each major Senate candidate's IQ.
June 20, 2006
Battle for the General Assembly 2006: Senate Districts 1, 3, 5, 7
There aren't a lot of contested primaries in this year's Senate elections, but their small number is made up for in potential intensity. We'll walk through all of the odd-numbered districts in this series, but really just fly by the ones where there's no primary action, and revisit them in the Fall.
District 3 - Washington and Carter counties
Republican incumbent Rusty Crowe is unopposed.
District 5 - Anderson, Loudon, Monroe and part of Knox counties
Republican incumbent Randy McNally is unopposed. And why do I want to look at a map every time I see his name?
District 7 - Part of Knox County
Republican incumbent Tim Burchett is unopposed.
Okay, so this was a boring set. Don't worry: we'll pick up with the 9th District next time out.
To see all the candidates for the Tennessee State Senate, click here.
The Runway Bunny
"If you become a little tarmac bunny, I will be an A380 and chase you down the runway," said the mother bunny.
And so she did.
All TNs Considered
Don't forget to listen to NPR's story on healthcare in Tennessee, starting about now.
June 18, 2006
Strong Stuff 6-18-06
Happy Father's Day, everyone. Here are some 90-proof quotes from recent days:
"When the Van and Ed folks again start attacking Bob Corker for being unable to win the general election (despite his gargantuan lead in the latest polls), remember who the Ford people are scared of. It’s not Van. And it’s not Ed." -- MooreThoughts
"This editor's ranting demagoguery a few weeks ago was, in addition to being widely called down, also utterly unnecessary." -- Liz Garrigan, following up on the Scene editorial wherein she got all populist about baseball vis-à-vis Nashville's new symphonic performance hall.
"A lot of people look at politics and see it as the guy who wins is the guy who unifies the most people. I would disagree. I would say the candidate who wins is the candidate who polarizes the right bloc of voters." -- Allen Raymond, Republican operative convicted in New Hampshire phone-jamming scheme, quoted at Political Wire
"How we feel about a particular candidate is now defined by thirty-seconds of manufactured gravy coming through our television screens." -- Jonathan Lindberg
"If the [Democrats] want electoral victory, they're going to have to sell it to us that they have a road map for political equality and decent living for all [citizens] and know how to get there. If they cannot, they will not hold power for long, nor should they." -- Steven Maloney
June 16, 2006
Battle for the General Assembly 2006: House Districts 24-34
Now we're getting close to home, though not on the home stretch by any means.
District 24 (part of Bradley County)
Rep. Dewayne Bunch seeks an opportunity to serve in a different capacity, due to Sen. Jeff Miller's announcement that he won't be returning to the campaign trail. Miller, you'll recall, has had some explaining to do on several accounts: his extramarital affair and divorce in light of his "marriage protection" sponsorship; his receipt of $1,000 in E-Cycle money from convicted "bagman" Charles Love; and his threats against a local weekly paper after they sought answers on some of the above. But that's a different governing body, and this is about 24th House. The five Republican candidates, one of whom will likely become the next Representative with a mere plurality vote, are Kevin Brooks, Greg Cain, Garry Moore, Hal Roe, and Michael Willis.
District 25 (Cumberland County; part of Bledsoe County)
No primary here; we'll revisit the general election matchup between incumbent Rep. Eric Swafford and challenger Robert Safdie after Labor Day.
District 26 (part of Hamilton County)
Republican Rep. Gerald McCormick is unopposed.
District 27 (part of Hamilton County)
I lived in this district when former Rep. Bill McAfee retired and several newcomers sought the seat. I voted for Rick McAfee (no relation?) in the GOP primary, then for Stuart James, who's now chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party, in the general. This was all in an effort to prevent Chris Clem from winning. You know how that turned out. Now it's Clem that's moving on, and I no longer live there. Those who do will choose a Republican nominee, either Howard Cotter or Richard Floyd, to face Democrat and transportation executive Bill Lusk. The district leans heavily Republican, but Lusk is a well-financed candidate. We'll see what happens.
District 28 (part of Hamilton County)
No primary here; we'll revisit the general election matchup between incumbent Rep. Tommie Brown and independent challenger "Ike" Robinson after Labor Day.
District 29 (part of Hamilton County)
Democratic Rep. JoAnne Favors is unopposed.
District 30 (part of Hamilton County
My representative, whom I've never heard speak nor read of his votes on anything, is Republican Vince Dean. He's also mayor of East Ridge. Dean was appointed to the House by the county commission after former Rep. Jack Sharp passed away earlier this year. No one else qualified to run, so Vince Dean is unopposed in August and in November.
District 31 (Rhea County; part of Hamilton County)
This is another in the list of open seats that help define this year's battle. It's safe Republican, though, so in that sense it's just a replacement. Rep. Bo Watson is running (without opposition) for David Fowler's Senate seat, and the primary contenders looking to replace him are Jim Cobb, Randy Fairbanks, Chris Lanier, John McDougal, George Thacker and Ed Warren. The winner among these six will face the lone Democrat, Glenn Moseley, in the general election.
District 32 (Roane County; part of Loudon County)
Democratic Rep. Dennis Ferguson is unopposed.
District 33 (part of Anderson County)
No primary; we'll revisit the general election matchup between incumbent Rep. Jim Hackworth and challenger David Massengill after Labor Day.
District 34 (part of Rutherford County)
Two Democrats, Mary Esther Bell and Jimmy Richardson III, will square off for the chance at defeating Rep. Donna Rowland in the fall.
The numbering of districts doesn't always follow a nice geographical flow, does it? That's why District 35 was included with the East Tennessee set, and yet I don't have the energy right now to keep breaking things up according to the map. The next post on this topic will continue with 36 and keep the numerical sequence intact, I guess. It will all work out fine by the time we get to 83-99 (except 94 seems a little off track, to me).
To see all the candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives, click here.
June 15, 2006
One Proud Papa (Alt Title: "Mac Daddy")
We're celebrating Father's Day a few days early at the house.
Now before I say why, let me clearly state that the wife and the boy are the reasons I have happiness, and that no material thing can come close to being what they are in my life. Obviously.
With that said, though, let me just tell you that the wife completely surprised me with a gift that I'm still trying to comprehend.
I was home with the boy today, and the wife came home for lunch. It just so happened that the FedEx truck rolled up during that time, and dropped off a metallic, sleek, almost-new (refurbished) MacBook Pro. Oh. Heaven.
Y'all just don't know what it has been like to try and run a website, not to mention engage in other components of computing life, on a pc that's over seven years old and is chained to the basement.
I had no idea the MacBook was coming, which made it just the coolest thing ever. I haven't even hooked it up to the internet (mainly because I'm afraid I'll have to involve the competitor-free ISP I'll just call The Great Satan), and it's blowing me away. I spent part of the afternoon taking pictures with the iSight and putting together a little slideshow, then taking GarageBand for a spin around the, well, the garage, I guess.
So now I can be one of those trendy little people sitting in the coffee shop with my mocha java and my laptop/notebook/whatever you're supposed to call this thing. (I just call it the shiny happy wonder that's barely one inch thick.) I can make movies and score them myself. (Actually, I'll probably leave the movie part to the experts, but this will provide a great way to practice scoring.) I can learn all about OS X, and watch freakin' movies with my SuperDrive.
I'll be back to blogging about politics and elections soon, but right now I'm just too giddy. I'll have to be restrained when I go accessory-shopping, but I will have to at least procure a Bluetooth mouse, since not everybody in the house favors trackpads. And I'm probably wanting AirPort.
Much love and a gillion thank-yous to my amazing, beautiful, thoughtful wife.
As you were, then, and thanks for allowing me to so gushingly interrupt.
June 14, 2006
And the Understatement of the Day Award goes to..
"Voters are at times passive."
I found that funny, but Moore makes some good points. Go read.
Personally speaking, it insults my intelligence to be so inundated with public signs and billboards, thirty-second media ads, and glossy mailers. (Yard signs and bumper stickers are different: these are personal statements of support from fellow individual citizens.) I am capable of seeking out who's running (judging solely by this site, I am self-awarding a silver medal in the understatement category) and determining my personal election choices.
Dirty Deeds - How effective is Hamilton County’s pollution solution?
Emitting we have a problem
Fourteen months or so ago, Hamilton County implemented a vehicle emissions testing program as an EPA-approved alternative to actually having healthy air quality. Well, they had to do something. At issue is the dreaded status called “nonattainment.” What happens when a jurisdiction is designated thusly? According to statements published on the county website, industrial manufacturers have about a zero percent interest factor in locating there. Sites such as Enterprise South could risk losing all those exciting prospects that are lined up at the gates.
But, you so innocently ask, what about clean hi-tech industry, or another job-creating enterprise that has no negative impact on the air?
Never mind. Hamilton County is dead set on attracting an automobile assembly plant, and apparently those are dirty enough little busy bees that we need to regain “attainment” in order to be the sweet flower of their desire. Ergo, the Envirotest company set up a few strange-looking little boxes around town, and, just like that, the rule makers granted us the coveted status.
As with most public policy initiatives, confusion and misinformation make matters worse. For the last time, the County Clerk is not pocketing a ten-spot every time a vehicle is inspected. Also, on the matter of big trucks, not a whole lot of those are registered in Hamilton County, so they couldn’t be expected to fall under these guidelines.
However, the program’s detractors, which include 5th District County Commissioner Greg Beck and 2nd District candidate Joe Dumas, rightly point out that a whale’s portion of our air pollution does come from semi rigs, buses and many other noxious fume-throwers, while the newer cars only contribute a modest share of filth. Filter out the out-of-towners, and it’s difficult to see how what’s largely seen as merely a burden on local taxpayers has any leverage toward actually fixing the problem.
Just understand what the problem is that needs to be fixed. The issue is not healthy air quality; if it were, more effective measures would be sought and installed. The issue isn’t even a magic numeric threshold that declares air to be healthy – remember, the “attainment” status was granted solely by virtue of our creating a testing program, not because we had crossed that line. It was a quick fix, and those are hardly ever the best practices. There are obvious reasons why we all want air that won’t make us sick. Let’s keep a dialogue going with our elected officials as to how best to achieve that, irrespective of EPA rules or economic streetwalking.
Getting “trashed” at Riverbend
Please, people, throw away your garbage in the receptacles that are provided. Oh my god, who raised you, anyway? This happens every year. Maybe while you’re waiting in the massive line to get across Veterans Bridge after the fireworks, with strains of “Jessica” still skipping through your swill-soaked cortex, you’ll have time to digest that fried turkey leg – and to think about the mess you made, then promise the rest of us not to litter on our beautiful city again.
More signs of laziness
How fares the U.S. Senate campaign of Chattanooga’s most recent ex-Mayor? Well, look around, and if you see ground that’s not covered in large signage, blink and look again. Yard signs are sprouting too. Banners for the inevitable Democratic nominee, U.S. Representative Harold Ford, Jr., are beginning to appear; but scarcely any have been seen for Corker’s primary rivals, former Congressmen Ed Bryant and Van Hilleary. (It should be pointed out that there are some fourteen candidates in all.) Perhaps someday the masses will stop relying on being intellectually bludgeoned with meaningless repetition, and actually research candidates’ merits themselves; but in the meantime, this is more environmental baggage. Someone will have to clean up all these signs after the elections.
[This column appears in the June 14, 2006 Pulse.]
June 13, 2006
Early Voting starts July 14, and we have no machines
Well, I suppose we do have the existing ones. But there is an issue here not covered by the Chattanoogan post, which relates Election Commission Administrator Knowles' concern over poll worker training on the new touch-screen machines.
Voters need time to learn these as well. Hamilton County readers, be sure that I will follow this issue closely and that I will point to every available resource on using the new devices, as well as track their actual arrival from Diebold.
Oh, and I guess these machines will be paperless. Yikes.
June 12, 2006
Battle for the General Assembly 2006: House Districts 12-23
Picking up where we left off, here's a look at some more primaries to be decided on August 3.
District 12 (part of Sevier County)
Republican Rep. Richard Montgomery is unopposed.
District 13 (part of Knox County)
Neither GOP challenger J. Randall Parker nor Democratic incumbent Harry Tindell has opposition until they face each other in the general.
District 14 (part of Knox County)
Republican Rep. "Parkey" Strader is unopposed.
District 16 (part of Knox County)
Republican Rep. and House Minority Leader Bill Dunn is unopposed. If Republicans acquire a majority, Dunn will likely move up a rank or two.
District 17 (parts of Jefferson and Knox Counties)
Republican Rep. Frank Niceley is being challenged by fellow Republican Jim Bletner. Bletner also ran in 2004, though I'm not certain it was for this seat. It looks like it was. Someone correct me if I'm mistaken.
District 18 (part of Knox County)
Republican Rep. Stacey Campfield is one legislator who can answer me in kind, if he so wishes. Why? He runs a weblog, lastcar.blogspot.com, and he has used it for good and for ill. Many, and I admit I'm no exception, have taken exception to his, um, language skills. But to his credit, Mr. Campfield has taken these hits in stride, with a great sense of humor, and has kept on blogging. In essence, what he's done is a great thing. He has often given us insights into our citizen legislature that we would not have had. He got himself into hot water, after a failed attempt to join the Legislative Black Caucus, when he compared their admission policies unfavorably to those of the KKK. Oh, Stacey. I don't know whether it was that, or several other incidents, or just a general sense that change is needed, but he has drawn two opponents in the GOP primary. George Dodson and Gary Drinnen will each try to unseat him (and each seemingly has the funds to pull it off); the winner there faces two more opponents in November.
District 19 (part of Knox County)
Republican Rep. Harry Brooks is unopposed.
District 20 (part of Blount County)
Republican Rep. Doug Overbey is unopposed.
District 21 (parts of Loudon and Monroe Counties)
Republican Rep. Russell Johnson decided to give up this seat for a chance at the District Attorney's office, so there are two Republicans and one Democrat aiming to replace him. The GOP candidates are Robert Joe Lee and Jimmy Matlock. One of them will face Ann Barker.
District 22 (Meigs County; Polk County; part of Bradley County)
The incumbent here, Rep. Eric Watson of Cleveland, won a special election after former Rep. Chris Newton resigned in disgrace. (Attorney Sally Love served a brief appointment prior to being defeated by Watson.) You remember Newton: he was the only House member and the only Republican (so far) to be indicted in Operation Tennessee Waltz. He's serving his time. Eric Watson caused a small stir himself recently, by publicly decrying the rights of "queers and lesbians" to join the rest of us married folk. Some took issue with his use of the "Q word."
District 23 (McMinn County; part of Monroe County; additional)
Republican Rep. Bob McKee has vigorous primary opposition in one Mike Bell. Several have commented that McKee won't survive this challenge.
There's more to come, but that's all for now.
June 11, 2006
Kenny Rogers Roasters
Or, that's what I'm sympathetically calling my friends in the CSO orchestra (would-be editors: the 'O' stands for "Opera" so I'm not redundant) who have the joy of accompanying the country crooner tonight at Riverbend.
I don't believe I'll be dropping in to see what condition my condition is in, because I spent too much time in the hot sun already today. My landscaping is the better for it, and my toddler can't fall off the porch, so it was worth it.
I'm a little disappointed, though, because I won't be able to hear Kenny Rogers sing my favorite line from his many hits. It was sung with just the right tone, in "Lucille," and goes:
I ordered more whiskey.
June 9, 2006
Bad generalizations about education
I ran across this quote and found it a little disturbing:
"I've gotten the distinct feeling that Republicans are actually hostile to academic achievement--since they think that higher education itself is biased against them."
Let's pick that apart a bit. I wholly acknowledge that there is a certain, rather large class of persons who, whether it's due to intellectual jealousy or faith-fact conflicts, begrudge and bemoan all things academic. They are adherents to the old saw "those that can't do, teach" and view the letters "Ph.D." with an astonishing amount of revulsion. And, let's face it, a great many members of this class do happen to trend Republican in their voting habits. But is this a cause-effect scenario, or simply two disparate facts about the same group?
On the other hand, one has to be blinkered to think that there aren't superb intellects, who use their prowess and prominence to promote academic achievement, even, who also consistently vote Republican. A quick glance around renders names like David Brooks and George Will, and these are just from the rather gossamer world of media. Rational conservatives have reasons for voting Republican (until now, anyway), but those reasons exclude a distrust of knowledge or a disinclination toward enlightenment.
So what the young (I'm assuming, as he's a student at Carleton) writer really refers to in his offhand observation is the so-called "cultural conservative" point of view. One will find a parallel distrust of primary and secondary public education among this crowd, in addition to the anti-collegiate sentiment. And, like it or not, quite a few cultural conservatives vote for Democrats, especially at the state and local levels, and especially here in the South (and the Heartland). Often it's as simple as one's family tradition.
North Georgia columnist Mike North, when he wrote regularly for Chattanoogan.com, made sure to include "university professors" in every lineup of demographic stereotypes at which he hurled the typical cultural conservative screed. Others came and went: Hollywood actors, Democratic senators, environmental justice activists -- but the "university professor" had somehow garnered permanent residence on his target list. This may have had something to do with an element of North's personal background, but it's not uncommon among other right-wing pundits. And, I'll bet that Mike North votes Republican.
Still, a few examples do not make a universal pattern. We need to keep separate in our minds the base motivations of the "unintelligentsia" and the admirable, if sometimes contrary, classicism of the rational conservative. Cultural conservatives elbow their way toward defining an ever lower common denominator. They are "hostile to academic achievement" because said achievers can so powerfully and deftly undermine their worldview. But they are not all Republicans, and it is certain that not all Republicans belong in their ranks.
June 8, 2006
The clarion call of Justice
Shhh. What's that sound?
A federal District Court in Chattanooga has found Grammy winning trumpeter Phil Driscoll guilty of using his Christian ministry to cheat on taxes. Jurors acquitted Driscoll on one count, but convicted him of both conspiracy and tax evasion for funneling personal expenses through Mighty Horn Ministries, which he founded in Cleveland, Tennessee.
And so should it be for all who use "ministry" to defraud. Sure, it was the IRS angle that got him in trouble, but that's the technical part. The real problem is that we have these snake oil salesmen posing as leaders, healers, or whatever, and they con (or Conn, if you will) their way into places of power and wealth.
A person has to be criminally arrogant to perpetrate such a scam. I guess his trumpets aren't the only items made of brass. Or perhaps it was all the "blow."
As a fellow musician, albeit one not nearly as successful (if that's what it is), I hate to see this happen to a talented individual. Greed is like that, though, and I think there's a lesson here for all of us.
While "Taps" plays for a mighty career, consider the organizations and individuals in whom you place trust (i.e., to whom you send money). This trial and conviction may provide a good opportunity to re-evaluate some of those relationships.
Guilty verdicts drop in triplicate
Next up, former Sen. Roscoe Dixon of Memphis was found guilty on 5 counts of bribery and related charges resulting from the Waltz. I warrant that Sen. Ward Crutchfield just got really nervous, if he hadn't already been. In a related story, it seems that another former Senator, John Ford of Memphis, has been engaging in a little jury-pool-tainting of late.
Finally, closer to home, a Chattanooga jury found Nicholas Hilt guilty of beating, raping, and murdering a 5-year-old boy. I am staunchly against the death penalty, for a whole variety of reasons, but cases like this one allow me to experience the emotion behind the opposing argument -- in other words, I see where y'all are coming from. The prosecution was smart, though, for concentrating on getting this sicko put away quickly, for life.
Battle for the General Assembly 2006: House Districts 1-11 & 35
With less than two months remaining before the August elections, I had better step up the posting pace. 99 House seats are too many to make individual posts for, so I'm combining several at a time. I'm also going to focus "primarily" on primaries, since, even though I don't really care for public financing of party nominations, that's what's happening on August 3. General election info/analysis will come later. Here's the first installment.
District 1 (part of Sullivan County)
Rep. Steve Godsey decided to run for County Mayor (as incumbent Richard Venable set his sights on the open US House seat), and the resulting open seat is approached by two Republicans, two Independents, and one Democrat. County Commissioner John Crawford faces Bristol businessman John Lunberg in the GOP primary.
District 2 (another part of Sullivan County)
Democratic Rep. Nathan Vaughn is unopposed.
District 3 (yet another part of Sullivan County, plus Johnson County)
Republican Rep. Jason Mumpower is unopposed.
District 5 (Unicoi County; part of Greene County)
Republican Rep. David B. Hawk is unopposed.
District 6 (parts of Hawkins and Washington Counties)
See my earlier post on this all-GOP showdown.
District 8 (parts of Blount and Sevier Counties)
Republican Rep. Joe McCord is unopposed.
District 9 (Hancock County; part of Hawkins County)
Rep. Mike Harrison has attracted two challengers from within his own party, as well as one from the Democrats. A recent Rogersville Review article briefly mentions GOP candidates Ed Baird and Bill Sharp, and that Baird named healthcare reform as his top campaign issue.
District 10 (Hamblen County)
Democratic Rep. John Litz is unopposed.
District 11 (Cocke County; part of Greene County)
There are no contested primaries.
District 35 (Claiborne and Grainger Counties; part of Jefferson County)
"Coach" Roach faces a couple of mutineers as well. Rich Brewer and Judi Runions Swilling will each try to unseat Roach in the Republican primary and then ease past Ed Baldwin in November.
I'd really appreciate hearing from readers who know more about these candidates. I can't provide much in the way of analysis here, not to mention handicapping; but a good step toward becoming a full-fledged citizen is knowing what the ballot choices are, so hopefully I'm helping with that. If you have information, commentary, or candidate websites to offer, please leave a comment. Thanks!
To see all the candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives, click here.
From the "Heh" department
"Is it just me, or is the Middle East a lot like 7th Grade with RPGs?" -- your Instapundit
June 7, 2006
Bob Corker would have voted for it
Per his unofficial blogging supporters, Mr. Corker approves of the proposed Constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage.
I have to say that I am disappointed by this, but I maintain that Bob Corker is the best candidate of the lot in this go-round.
Maybe Kleinheider is right: do away with state involvement in marriage, period. He has his reasons for saying so; and I have mine.
Nightfall & Riverbend 2006
I suppose someone may have noticed that I haven't, as I said last September I would, renewed blogging on Chattanooga's excellent season-long free music series and its mostly-excellent not-so-free annual festival.
This still could change, but a couple of factors have made it impossible to do so far.
In the meantime, David Magee has some Riverbend commentary in today's Chattanooga Times Free Press; the Pulse provided several points of view on which acts to see; and the Pulse also has done a roundup of this year's Nightfall series.
So maybe there's not as much for me to say? We'll see.
Strong Stuff 6-7-06
It's an uncomfortable question, but it lingers in the mind: to what extent is the whole damn legislature corrupted? -- autoegocrat
With a slew of challenges and huge problems on his plate, President George Bush will soon turn to an issue that millions of Americans are talking about at the 7-Eleven, at water-coolers, over their kitchen tables — an issue that makes Americans wake up at night filled with preoccupation...and issue on which they demand immediate action and the allocation of his and Congress' valuable time.
Well, maybe not.-- Joe Gandelman
We've been told many times that the [Red Bank, TN] red light tickets are not revenue enhancement.
We're also told that it isn't costing anything - the tickets pay for the cameras, etc.
So I guess that means that when the company that installed this equipment is paid in full there will be no reason to collect fines because there will be nothing to pay, and at that point the collected fines really would become revenue enhancement. Right?-- Macel Holloway
[T]hink about the “social expectations” that our grandparents grew up with. It was just understood that EVERYBODY would eventually “get married, settle down and have kids.” EVERYBODY. And if you didn’t—if you somehow made it to age 45 as a committed bachelor, or a spinster, then you were an object of mixed scorn and pity, with just a dollop of suspicion tossed in for spice.
THAT’S the world the religious right-wingers want back. I honestly don’t think that most of them want gays thrown in jail, necessarily—but they DO want them subjected to social pressure and ostracism.-- a comment to John Cole
[A]s I have stated before, their exasperation can explain a lot of their behavior. [snip] This really is not about gay rights or marriage ending- it is their world view ending as they know it. As an example, even though we know better now, and we know about childhood obesity and all the complications it can lead to, there are still people out there who believe everyone should belong to the ‘clean plate club.” Even though ‘traditional’ marriage is not right for anyone, and heterosexuality is not the ‘norm’ for everyone, certain people want to demand it for their world view, not for the actual good of the nation. They may honestly believe that the world will end if their way is not adhered to, but it won’t. But good luck telling them that. -- more John Cole
Vote for the Newcomer in 2006 - End social promotion for legislators
The 2006 legislative session ended on Saturday, May 27. In order that we voters make the most informed decisions in the upcoming elections, it’s good to review what did and did not happen in Nashville. The most generous take on the proceedings would demand no less than a leadership change. The challenge will be to convince y’all to take a look around, without the aid of your partisan blinders, and find the most appropriate replacement.
First, the good news
State employees are now no longer involuntarily subjected to the dangers of secondhand smoke, thanks to a ban on smoking in state buildings. Low-income seniors are granted a property tax freeze, as are veterans and those who have lost a family member to war. Education received a boost at nearly all levels. There was something passed to try and tighten up Eminent Domain law, though this column has covered just how anemic that something really was. Health Savings Accounts were created, as was a Financial Literacy curriculum for high school students (because parents, in amazing numbers, are apparently incapable of imparting such knowledge). Last but not least, Cover Tennessee passed and was signed into law.
On the super-hot topic of illegal immigration, there might have been an expectation for a slew of new laws. Instead, only one bill made it through the haggling process. It seems like a no-brainer: it prohibits (for one year) any contracts with the state or a state entity for anyone who has been found employing undocumented workers. (There’s no word on whether there will be an effort to actually discover the offending employers.) It’s probably a good thing that we avoided getting the Tennessee Highway Patrol into the immigration business, but there were sensible reform measures that lacked support (read: well-heeled lobbyists).
Nicotine is a vegetable
Could you use a tax break on food? Some hapless soul (Sen. Doug Jackson, D-Dickson) chose to ignore the muscle in the tobacco corner and introduced a measure that would have traded some of the burden from food to tobacco purchases. The bill died by one vote in committee. Cartoonist Charlie Daniel (Knoxville News-Sentinel) reacted this way, using parent-child dialogue: “I’m hungry, Ma; what’s for dinner?” “Shut up and smoke your cigarette.” As cut-and-dried as it looks, there are three possible explanations for the swap’s demise. One report was that the aforementioned tobacco lobby was too powerful. Two, the political rumor mill has it that Governor Bredesen already plans for a stand-alone cigarette tax, and the swap would have reduced that idea to ashes. The third – this columnist’s favorite – is that the numbers just wouldn’t add up, since the proposal meant a decrease in how we tax all the poor, and replacing the revenue loss with an increased levy on just some of the poor.
Do not let them get away with this
The session that started with a special ethics conference ended with a day of “blatantly corrupt self-aggrandizing,” to paraphrase a recent local opinion letter. Go team. Multiple accounts of the final, extra day of lawmaking in the House of Representatives describe a scene ruled by nothing other than an arrogant political machine.
A self-term-limited State Representative (rarer in these parts than an ivory-billed platypus) honored his fellow citizens with the truth about the bandits’ banner day. Chris Clem (R-Lookout Mountain) is to be held in high esteem, despite sundry philosophical differences, for providing us the report from his membership vantage point. And though it’s likely that Clem would not follow, others have opined that approving assorted pension and salary increases for themselves and the governor, after failing to pass a minimum wage hike, made the act particularly grievous. Regardless of what one’s position may be on an artificial wage floor, the rush job done on this pension increase speaks to its aversion to sunshine. And as respected blogger Randy Neal (KnoxViews.com) pointed out, it’s interesting that the minimum wage bill was said to have been introduced “too late for review,” yet this self-serving raise (contained in an amendment by Rep. Frank Nicely, R-Knoxville) was passed without any review at all, and on the last day.
And that’s not all. The last-minute legislators also approved a change to election rules regarding write-in candidates. This General Assembly thumbed its nose at the nationwide (albeit snail-paced) trend toward more open ballot access and voted to increase the minimum requirement for a write-in candidate to advance to the general election from 5 percent of a primary vote total to 5 percent of an entire district’s registered voter count. Given our typical primary turnout, that’s HUGE. Widely called the “Incumbent Protection Bill,” this legislation has prompted calls for a veto, but we’ll see how that goes, since Democrats pushed it through. The bill’s sponsor was House Majority Leader Kim McMillan (D-Clarksville), who, conveniently enough, is not seeking re-election in the Fall.
No letup in lavish lobbying
Speaking of the comprehensive ethics package: it doesn’t seem to have stemmed the flow of wine nor diminished the mountains of free food given to the legislature. Though one-on-one and small group dinners are strictly taboo, the big boys can still legally entertain lawmakers, so long as they merely invite all 132 of them. And they have, this session, spent nearly a quarter million dollars doing just that.
Contemplating the outright electoral coup that’s needed this November may make some Democrats uncomfortable. Could it be possible to trust a member of the opposing party who promises to clean up the place? After all, that’s what the 1994 federal midterm elections were all about, and it has taken a shockingly short time for some serious erosion to occur on that lofty Hill. What’s more, one cannot wisely substitute brand loyalty – even if switching – for intense individual scrutiny of each candidate. Still, the problem remains: Speaker Jimmy Naifeh and Lieutenant Governor John Wilder, with their cohorts, utterly disregard the power vested in the citizenry to boot them onto their butts. And, sadly, they get away with it unless or until we use it. It’s time to take a chance on new members, new leaders: not because of the party to which they belong, but because of the establishment to which they do not.
[This column appears in the June 7, 2006 Pulse.]
June 6, 2006
Trip on this
The most excellent Center for Public Integrity has released study results from a 5-year-plus period tracking travel by members of Congress, their families, and their staff members.
But, even better, the Tennessean published an analysis of our delegation's participation.
Thanks to autoegocrat at The Flypaper Theory for the links.
Hawks and Davids
Here's some 2006 candidate trivia for you:
Did you know that there are two candidates in Tennessee for the US House of Representatives named David Davis?
Did you also know that there are two candidates for the Tennessee House of Representatives named almost as similarly? (David Hawk and David Hawks)
What if they all were to win? Both Houses would encounter some confusion. Here's more info on them:
Tennessee Rep. David B. Hawk, District 5, is unopposed in the GOP primary and in the general election -- he'll win for sure.
David Hawks, GOP candidate for state House, District 76, will face incumbent Mark L. Maddox (D-Dresden) in November. Incumbency is hard to overcome.
Four-term Tennessee Rep. David Davis, District 6, is running in the crowded GOP primary to replace retiring Congressman Bill Jenkins in CD 1. He's considered a strong entry in the race, but I wouldn't place any bets until I know more.
David R. Davis, GOP candidate for US House of Representatives, CD 6, will appear on the November ballot alongside independents Robert Garrison and Norman Saliba, as well as the winner of the Democratic primary (incumbent Congressman Bart Gordon vs. Patrick Lyons). I think we all agree that this election is pretty safe for US Rep. Gordon.
June 5, 2006
Six in the Sixth
Based on what their websites say about "the issues," Arrowood and Flynn don't differ too much. They're Republicans, as are the other four contenders. Arrowood offers a few measurements of his merit: he's "100% Pro-Life" and "100% Pro-gun." Both oppose a state income tax. Flynn's brief issue summary speaks most on economic development, while Arrowood offers his thoughts on education, healthcare, eminent domain law, and malpractice caps.
UPDATE 6/9: Found Patti Jarrett's site via a scathing blog post about a couple of East TN candidates' positions on (make that against) public education. Her site also reports an endorsement by Tennessee Right to Life.
To be continued..
Strong Stuff 6-5-06
I apparently didn't get the memo about where They were handing out snark pills this week. A couple of people apparently did.
"If Bob Rochelle is the Democrats' best hope to win a GOP seat, they may as well just pack it in." -- Roger Abramson
"According to a caption I see, CNN has dubbed itself "Hurricane Headquarters." Good to know. I now know where to turn for exclusive interviews of the storms.
I wonder, however: if Natalee Holloway is found the same day as a hurricane makes land, which story will lead?" -- Brian Arner
Not as snarky, but still strong:
"One term. If at the end of one term, I don’t deliver on my promise to give the people more control over their own government, then I don’t deserve a second term.." -- State Senate candidate Bob Krumm
"For the first time since I was 14, I am unemployed for a summer. Excuse me while I strip down to my underwear, grab a Bud, and watch judge Judy." -- David Holt