[Editor's note: One of our team finally dragged her butt out of bed and hurried on down to the Sheraton, where she is now mainlining coffee, trying to wake up]
Womick and Andy Ogles walked in together ab out 15 minutes ago. Surprised the Governor’s men didn’t stop them for a full body cavity search…..
The scene looks like the Academy Awards for Nerds…..
Bill Spivey has the floor. This should be good….
Today is the big day! The Governor is going to host a “summit” that no one asked for, populated with hand-picked participants, the large majority of whom are big supporters of Common Core, on the governor’s payroll or have their snouts deep in the public trough feeding on education tax dollars.
The way the “summit” was announced spoke volumes about the motivations behind the confab. The administration is clearly feeling the heat over Common Core and the diffident incompetence of the governor’s commissioner of education, Kevin Huffman (D-Obama). The whole thing was called at the last minute, and as of a few days ago didn’t even have an agenda (Let RTP help you get started on that agenda: First, start with the Pledge of Allegiance. Then open with a prayer — oh, wait, no prayer. This is a public school “summit”).
While some are hoping the governor will take the opportunity today to announce Huffman’ s resignation, we here at RTP aren’t holding our breath. If Huffman’s mismanagement of the DOE and his arrogant dismissal of teachers and parents’ concerns weren’t enough to get his sorry ass fired, then we doubt the governor is ever going to do it. After all, “you can’t fix stupid.”
So back to our original point: It’s mighty hard to have an objective conversation when the large majority of those invited to attend are either on the government teat or are rutting around the slop bucket trying to make a fast dollar of the clueless taxpayers. To prove our point, there were a total of 24 groups invited. Of those, 21 were part of the governor’s staff, on the government payroll, are big supporters of Common Core or were businesses that pig out on education tax dollars. Here are some examples:
- Achievement School District [Run by Huffman’s pal, Chris Barbic, who along with Huffman, just got sued for $10 million. The two are accused of rigging contracts for a charter school company that Barbic founded (Souie-e-e, pig!). Both are on Haslam’s government payroll.
- SCORE — Took big dollars from Race to the Top taxpayer money. Board of Directors includes the lobbyist for Pearson as well as some of the people who gave big dollars to defeat anti-Common Core Republicans in the August primary.
- Tennessee Chamber of Commerce — in the bag for Common Core. Funded a pro-Common Core video and ad campaign earlier this year.
- TN Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) — also represented by Pearson lobbyist Chuck Cagle. Pearson has a HUGE multi-million dollar stake in making sure Common Core is jammed down the throats of our kids.
Yep, aside from a few token conservatives, the line up looks like a Common Core love fest.
This ain’t a “summit.” It’s nothing more than hog-callin’ time.
Strategy now focuses on the November election and helping Democrats defeat Republicans who opposed Haslam’s Common Core and Obamacare expansion agenda.
Forming a 527 to launder the money?
Do they REALLY want to go there again?
RTP has learned high-level meetings have taken place among some of the same individuals who carried out the unprecedented attack on sitting Republican legislators at the direction and/or consent of Gov. Bill Haslam, his chief of of staff Mark Cate and others.
Under discussion was an assault focusing on up to nine Republicans who have significant Democrat opposition and who are considered potentially vulnerable. All but two of the targets are incumbent members of the legislature. The idea would be to have a new PAC swoop in at the last minute and run negative ads against the Republicans, the theory being the winning Democrats would be more amenable to supporting the governor on Common Core and Medicaid expansion.
RTP will stop for a moment and let that last paragraph sink in for members of the GOP caucus. The governor and/or his staff and/or his allies are going to actually try to defeat Republicans who disagree with the governor and elect Democrats instead?
Breathtaking, isn’t it?
After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to defeat two of the eight targeted Republicans in the August primary, members of the Advance Tennessee PAC are still smarting from being exposed by Andy Sher, RTP, Andrea Zelinski and others. Advance Tennessee filed a last-minute PAC, which hired a close adviser to the governor to coordinate the attacks on numerous members of the GOP caucus, including Rep. Tony Shipley and Sen. Stacey Campfield (however, polls showed Campfield was trailing far behind his opponent well before the PAC made its expenditures, causing some analysts to conclude the $150,000+ expenditure actually resulted in the defeat of only one legislator, Rep. Shipley).
The consultant, unregistered lobbyist Brian Kaegi, apparently tried to hide his participation by running attack mailings through a Wisconsin company with which he is affiliated.
[Editors' note: Ya know, for a bunch of people who are supposed to be political pros, these guys are pretty ham-handed. We've seen better-kept secrets at Rachel's Beauty Shop in Blountville]
One source told RTP that after the embarrassment of filing the papers for Advance Tennessee in Washington, DC — only to be exposed within days of doing so — the group is now considering a 527 or equivalent in order to protect the identity of it’s contributors. Records show that the largest contributors to Advance Tennessee were board members of SCORE — the Common Core P.R. and lobbying group bankrolled by former Sen. Bill Frist and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Forming a 527 would allow contributions to be “laundered” or remain private. It would also help facilitate the hiring of non-Tennessee consultants and vendors to carry out the attacks.
The question that must now be asked is just how much of this will caucus members endure before they rebel against the governor? The August attacks were clearly “payback” for opposing one or more of the governor’s key pieces of legislation, and now it appears some of those same players are not finished with trying to punish Republicans whose major crime seems to be voting their convictions and those of their constituents. If this is not enough to start an outright rebellion, then individual GOP legislators will have only themselves to blame if and when the Governor’s henchmen come after them.
And what will leadership do? A curious aspect of this story is the complete silence from the one person who has the most to lose from the actions of the governor’s henchmen — Speaker Beth Harwell. More on that in later editions of RTP.
And to all of this, RTP gives its highest honor:
The Supremes have made their choice and selected RINO and close Haslam confidant, Herb Slatery, as Tennessee’s new Attorney General. Now that the dust has settled, who is the biggest winner in the process?
How’s that, you ask? Simple: does anyone believe the justices would not have stuck with Bob Cooper had Ramsey not initiated an aggressive retention challenge in the August election? To Ramsey, even a squishy Republican is better than any Democrat. The 150+ years of Democrats as AG’s has finally been broken, and Tennesseans can thank Ramsey for that.
Ron’s electoral challenge may not have been a victory, but in the process the Lt. Governor looks as though he just scored a TKO.
In our previous post, RTP listed incomplete answers to the “Sample Common Core test question.” Answer “c” was given as “Overpaid twit.” What we meant to say was: “Overpaid twit who apparently pimps for state sweetheart contracts for the company he founded.”
RTP regrets the omission.
1. Please match the following follicle-challenged men with their correct occupation:
a. Mad scientist
b. Insane genius
c. Overpaid twit
There are no correct answers, silly. This is Common Core. It’s not whether you get the correct answer, but whether or not you employed “critical thinking” in the process. Now please take all your money and make a check out to Pearson, Inc. and we will tell you what a bright student you are. Everyone gets a trophy and free tuition at a state community college! No ACT test required. We Promise.
Like a lot of labor unions these days, the TN Education Association is desperately trying to redefine itself so that it can remain relevant to its members. That task is especially important for the TEA, who some estimate have lost as many as 25,000 members (and their dues) over the last few years. To deal with the bleeding, staff has been slashed, budgets reduced, but with such cuts their influence to affect events important to teachers has noticeably waned.
So it has come as quite a surprise to teachers across the state that the TEA has ignored a singular opportunity to stand up for the union’s remaining members. The TEA has refused to call for the resignation of the one person who is the most disliked individual in public education in Tennessee today – education commissioner Kevin Huffman.
It has been 77 days since RTP tried to shame the TEA into doing the right thing for teachers and join the growing chorus of people wanting Huffman’s head on a platter. But all teachers have heard from the TEA is the sound of crickets.
In their panic to be relevant, the TEA leadership made a blatant gambit to “play ball” with the Republicans, especially Gov. Haslam and his administration (the same guy who promised a pay increase for teachers, then reneged and spent the money shoving Common Core and charter schools down teachers’ throats). Calling for Huffman’s ouster would have been a good way to stand with teachers. But it’s hard to stand up for teachers when you are on your knees kissing ass.
People are fond of saying ‘it’s never too late,” but in the case of the TEA’s deafening silence on Huffman’s tenure – it’s too late. The TEA has negligently missed the opportunity to eliminate the one person in state government who has made teachers’ lives so miserable.
Tomorrow is Day No. 78
On Monday a proposed charter school company who says they got shafted by Huffman and Barbic over a bid to run charter schools in Memphis, filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the two for what they claim was a rigged bidding process that favored Barbic’s old company, YES Preparatory Academy. Hmmmm, now where have we read something sleazy like this before? Oh,yeah– Rocky Top Politics:
This time however, the insider dealing with our education tax dollars is far more ethically insidious and potentially criminal. The lawsuit asserts that Huffman and Barbic rigged the authorication process so that only one company could get the contract – the YES Preparatory Academy. And just who is the founder and former CEO of YES Prep? Why, none other than Chris Barbic! Yep, if you can’t deliver millions in no-bid contracts to your former employer like Huffman did, just rig the process.
For those late to the game, Barbic and Huffman worked together at Teach For America in Houston, TX. When Huffman was brought to Tennessee by Bill Haslam, Kevin made sure his old buddy Chris joined the “Rape & Pillage Tennessee Taxpayers”gravy train. Barbic is now the grossly overpaid superintendent of the state’s Achievement School District, which focuses on the bottom 5% of schools, most of which are in Memphis. Barbic gets paid over $230,000 a year and since he began, the improvements in the ASD have been meager to non-existent. In comparison, the superintendent for the best school district in the state, Williamson County, is paid somewhere around $175,000. Of the 130+ school districts in the state, Barbic’s salary ranks #3.
Even if the lawsuit doesn’t go anywhere, the huge issue still left on the table is the grotesque conflict of interest inherent in having Barbic anywhere near a decision that involved a company he founded. Why the hell isn’t this illegal? For all we know, Barbic (or a close relative) still has a financial interest in YES Prep. If this had been road builders bid-rigging contracts, someone would already be in jail.
Instead, the governor goes on record saying Huffman and Barbic were “two of my best hires as governor.” At the rate this is going, the governor might someday be able to reward his “two best hires” with gubernatorial pardons.
At next week’s farcical “Education Summit” will anyone have the courage to confront these miscreants for what they are doing with our tax dollars? Will the legislature finally step up and take action to stop this kind of corruption?
And why hasn’t Huffman been fired? Rep. Womick and 15 legislators signed a letter in June calling for just that and were sneeringly dismissed by the Governor who characterized the letter as just a political stunt.
That letter sure looks different now, doesn’t it Governor?
The editorial page of the Jackson Sun appears to be a liberal island amidst a sea of conservatives. But isolated fuzzy-headed liberals can get at little, well, fuzzy-headed when they attempt to vilify conservatives as just political hacks with impure motives.
While attempting to go after Rep. Rick Womick for his comments about Haslam’s targeting fellow sitting Republicans, the Jackson Sun led with this beauty:
“…the article on Womick’s comments we saw by The Associated Press presented no evidence that Haslam had any hand in directing what his supporters did.”
No evidence? Really? A cursory examination of the state’s Election Registry (accessible by editors, reporters and 3rd graders from anywhere in the world) would reveal that some of Haslam’s biggest contributors as well as a key fundraiser and direct mail consultant (who works closely with the governor’s chief adviser, Tom Ingram) were directly responsible for the attacks. These aren’t just benign “supporters” carrying out some rogue operation. It would take a naïve idiot to believe or assert that Haslam’s hands were clean. Yet that is exactly what the Jackson Sun editors would have you believe.
In a subsequent article by reporter Andrea Zelinski, Haslam himself danced around her questions: “[Haslam] stopped short of denying any involvement the group.” Would the junior Woodward & Bernsteins at the Sun care to ask the obvious appropriate question formulated years ago by Howard Baker: “What did the Governor know and when did he know it?” Don’t hold your breath.
Weasel words from the administration have only served to fan the flames of resentment among many, perhaps most, of the GOP caucus members. The governor and his chief of staff need to stop squirming around the questions and own up to their political miscalculation and to try and restore at least some of their squandered trust by guaranteeing this will not happen again. Not sure if anyone in the legislature would believe them right now, but it would be a start.
For good measure, the Sun added this:
“People within political parties must be free to disagree on issues without worrying about their standing within the party … They must be free to vote their conscience without fear of retribution from their own party.”
Despite the Sun’s bloviating about “voting their conscience,” voting their conscience on Common Core appears to be precisely what generated the retribution of attacks on Republican legislators by their own “Republican” governor and his allies and staff. Anyone else see the inanity of the Sun’s line of reasoning?
We will end with one last gem from the libs at the Sun:
“Members of both political parties in [Nashville] must ditch the idea that someone is the enemy if they aren’t in lockstep on every issue.”
Yeah, Governor. If we didn’t know better, one would think they were talking about you.