Far be it for RTP to agree with with the Chief of the Largely Irrelevant Tribe (aka House Dems), but Craig Fitzhugh is the latest to notice the governor has no clothes.
Haslam seems hell-bent on trying to jam through major policy changes (such as Common Core, Medicare expansion, etc.) that he knows he could never get through the Republican legislature, but if he thought he could count on Democrat votes to support his liberal social policies, he may be severely disappointed.
First Haslam said he was waiting on a report from Vanderbilt as to whether years of billions of dollars spent on Pre-K programs had made a dimes worth of difference in the education of Tennessee kids (short answer: No.). But it seems the study will be just a tad late — about 5 years late. But after repeatedly insisting he need the study to make a decision, Haslam wasted no time swinging into action and doing what he does best — begging the Obama Administration to spend more tax dollars.
The governor wants to take the Fed’s money but only apply it to Shelby and Davidson counties. This is to be acknowledged for what it is: get the other 93 counties to notice that they are not getting anything, then they will start demanding their legislators support an even larger expansion. But Fitzhugh noticed just one teeny problem with that strategy.
It’s probably illegal.
Will someone please tell this governor that if he wants to spend tax dollars like a drunken Democrat why doesn’t he just go ahead and join the other party? Or at least try to do so without breaking the law? Or maybe he could spend a bunch of money trying to defeat Republicans in the legislature who disagree with him.
Oh, wait, he’s already tried that.
Governor’s “friends” PAC Spent nearly $250,000 dollars to defeat one (count ‘em, 1) GOP legislator.
Election reports released over the weekend should that the Haslam & Cate concocted Advance Tennessee PAC spent considerably more than the $135,000 they reported right before the primary – try nearly double that amount.
In what is now considered one of the most classic bone-headed, shoot-yourself-in-the-foot, counter-productive political debacles in recent history, “friends” of Gov. Haslam (meaning all evidence points towards Haslam asking his “friends” to do it) targeted eight incumbent legislators of the governor’s own party for defeat. Haslam nearly wet himself dissembling when reporters Andrea Zelinski asked him about his involvement in the fiasco. The guv’s chief of staff Mark Cate was directly involved, but as yet hasn’t been man enough to come forward and admit it. (Now don’t ket all huffy Mark, and fly off the handle. Your contrived temper tantrums are old news around the LP and people are starting to laugh about your feeble attempts at intimidation).
The net result: The Advance Tennessee money resulted in the just one targeted legislator losing – Rep. Tony Shipley. RTP does not count the Stacy Campfield race – by the time Advance TN spent a paltry last-minute sum on that race, Campfield was already long gone under the onslaught of Dr. Briggs’ $350,000 expenditure.
The new report shows that unregistered lobbyist Brian Kaegi was paid even more money than originally thought. His firm received nearly $75,000 (is it too late for Scott Niswonger to get his money back for non-performance?).
Great job, guys.
Has Hooker Finally Hooked Something?
Ever since the curious turn of events regarding the decision of a recent grand jury to not indict Speakers Ron Ramsey and Beth Harwell, there has been speculation on what happens next.
The controversy stemmed from their alleged violation of state law regarding the appointment of members to the Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission. John Jay Hooker (the Patron Saint of Failed Legal Filings), on his umpteenth Don Quixote legal quest, apparently had finally found a legal challenge of some merit.
Despite claiming they had more than sufficient evidence, the grand jury did not indict. Only after the jury was dissolved did members come forward to say they did not realize that they, as a jury could indict. If they had known that, they said, they would have done so.
Case close, right? Not so fast.
RTP has learned that a new grand jury has been impaneled and that the foreman of that grand jury has been briefed on the findings of the previous jury. The speculation is the new grand jury will indict one or both Speakers. We’ll see.
But the threat of an indictment has raised questions among many, especially many state legislators, as to what an indictment of a sitting Speaker would mean. That is especially true as it regards Speaker Harwell. Harwell set a precedent in the Curry Todd case that she may have to adhere to when it comes to her own position. Harwell forced Todd to resign his chairmanship after he was merely arrested for drinking & driving & packing a gun and before his case was adjudicated.
It would be reasonable to expect the same standards would be applied to Harwell if she was indicted in connection to the JPEC appointments, especially since it involved her official duties as speaker. If Harwell is indicted before the leadership elections in December, it would be difficult to convince members of the GOP caucus that she could continue as Speaker and not be distracted from he job, not to mention the embarrassment of having a Speaker go on trial while sitting in office.
If Harwell’s indictment comes after the leadership elections, it is hard to see how she could continue in that office without at least taking a “leave of absence” from her duties as speaker. In that case, her duties would likely fall to Speaker Pro-Tem Curtis Johnson of Clarksville.
Oh, my, John Jay. What hath you wrought?
Haslam explaining how to handle an anti-Common Core legislator:
In a recent TNReport article, “Republican” Gov. Bill Haslam breezily dismissed concerns about Common Core:
Haslam said he still supports the controversial nationally focused education-standards system, which appears to be growing in unpopularity among Tennessee teachers. There’s also a sizable contingent of Republican lawmakers in the state’s General Assembly who’ve committed themselves to thwarting it.
“There is some disagreement about where they came from and how they originated; I think there are some misconceptions, and I also think it is a little irrelevant.”
Haslam went on to offer a vague promise to establish a policy-discussion forum on Common Core that provides “everybody a chance to have some comment on it.”
“We are trying to figure out the appropriate vehicle to do that, and we will come back to you soon with how we propose to do that across the state,” said Haslam.
Would this be the same secret closed-door meetings Haslam held around the state back in July? Meetings set up in coordination with TOSS, whose lobbyist is also the lobbyist for Pearson? Surely not.
Rocky Top has a suggestion for the Guv on what would be an “appropriate vehicle.” It too was announced with great fanfare and publicity and Common Core seems headed for the same results:
The rumor mill is a-buzzin’ with the prediction that Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman will be replaced soon by his close buddy and non-Tennessean, Chris Barbic – the highly paid Achievement School District superintendent.
Of course, there’s the little problem of not one, but two multi-million dollar lawsuits against Huffman and Barbic. One of the lawsuits sued Barbic personally as well as in his official capacity. Should make for interesting discussion during hearings at the LP next session.
If Barbic’s appointment happens, that would beg the whole question of why, out of 95,000+ Tennessee educators, 9 public universities and a population of 6,500,000 people Haslam seems incapable of finding just one person to head up the education of Tennessee’s children.
Guess there’s not that many Democrats left in the state for him to choose from.
Stayed tuned in to Rocky Top for more revelations about Chris Barbic, regardless of whether or not he gets the top job.
Gregory Butts Out.
Butt, no-o-o. Gregory Gets Spanked.
Hullett to stop “Bringing up the Rear?”
Williamson County Chairman Search Starts From The Bottom.
Gregory’s Reign Comes to a Big Fat End.
Oh, RTP could go on indefinitely with this sophomoric prattle, butt the headlines just write themselves, don’t they?
Less than 72 hours after RTP posted our story on ButtleGate, Chairman Mark Gregory finally saw the handwriting that had been blasted on the wall and resigned as chairman. Seems everyone had had enough from both the embarrassment that was the Buttle Opener as well as the ego-driven, sour grapes embarrassment that is Belly-aching Bob Hullet.
For you die-hards, here is one last shot:
Now maybe everyone can focus on educating kids instead of ogling rear-ends.
*Apologies to David Lee Murphy and his hit song “Dust on the Bottle.” We could have used another hit of David Lee’s called “Loco.” That would have worked just as well.
We have all heard about “Race To The Top.” Now comes the “Race To The Bottom.”
What did they put in the drinking water down in Williamson County?
If other readers around the state wonder why RTP sometimes writes about Williamson County education issues it’s because two of RTP’s crew members have kids in Williamson County Schools. That, and we found out about this issue late on Friday while we were sitting in a bar and well into our third beer trying to convince each other UT could beat Georgia. (Editor’s note: They didn’t.)
So we get this email, telling us there is a real snit-fit going on between the newly-elected chairman of the Williamson County school board, “Butt-boy” Mark Gregory, and the guy he defeated for chairman, “Bellyaching” Bob Hullet. We figured what the hell — this calls for some drunk-blogging on our part.
The Tennessean has breathlessly reported that Chairman Gregory is the proud inventor of an essential piece of bar ware called “The Buttle Opener” (see the photo below):
Classy, huh? We swear to God we are not making this up. As this embarrassing revelation was roiling the bluebloods of Brentwood, the Tennessean followed up with another article saying Gregory was late in paying some of his taxes (Egads! Get a rope and let’s hang the bastard!). No one who knows any overworked reporters believes the Tennessean dug up all this info on their own. Nah, someone was feeding them the negative information on “Butt-boy” Gregory. And many believe the chief leaker was “Bellyaching Bob Hullett.” It’s a pretty safe guess, since just before the chairman’s vote, Belly-aching Bob circulated photos of the Buttle Opener to fellow board members. (No word on whether any female members of the board were offended enough to file sexual harassment charges against Hullet, who obviously has some sort of obsession with women’s derrieres.)
For those not familiar, Bob is known around Williamson as a “minor threat for every major position” that opens up on the political scene. Folks have heard him brag he is going to replace Rep. Charles “Last Term” Sargent in the state legislature. Does Sargent know about this? Bob better be careful or ol’ Charlie will sic Mary Kate Brown on him.
Bellyaching Bob sent out a long email a few days ago, whining about Gregory and defending Common Core (bet Bob wishes he had held that email until after the Vandy Teachers Survey results were out). He took a particularly petty shot at Butt Boy for his over-use of the word “I” in an email that he sent out after being elected Chairman. What made that funny was if you stayed awake through the entire boring email, down at the bottom Bob offered up his curricula vitae and used the word “I,” “me” or “my” nine times in two short paragraphs.
And now we learn that Bob has called a “concerned parents” rump meeting (synonym gratuitously intended) for Monday night in Brentwood. Free beer is provided. However, it will be imported beer (this is Brentwood, after all) so none of the bottles will have twist off caps. Butt we are confident Bob can come up with a creative solution (see photo above).
Maybe Gregory can clear this all up and come out with a MALE version of the Buttle Opener and use the proceeds to pay his taxes. Hullet can serve as Gregory’s model for the prototype (bend over, Bob).
The bottom line (or the “butt-line,” if you are still paying attention at this point) is this. Neither one of these yahoos needs to be school board chairman and the board would be well advised to go back to the drawing board and at least find someone who wasn’t a stripper or a drunk in a previous life. Considering all the trophy wives and well-stocked bars in Brentwood, that might be a difficult task.
[Editors' notes: If any other school board out there has an entertaining story, please send your entries to the patented Rocky Top Tip Line (email@example.com). The Buttle Opener is pretty stiff competition, though. Maybe if you've got photos of Chuck Cagle wearing a French maid's outfit. Yeah, that would definitely make the cut....]
Back in ancient times, when dinosaurs ruled the earth and print newspapers were a profitable enterprise, one of the favorite ways for editors to impose their personal biases on the public was to “spike” stories that did not align with the editors’ ideological prejudices. The MSM still practices selective story selection of course, but it an age of the Internet and alternative news sources (such as RTP), it has been increasingly difficult to hide bad news, especially when they are big stories.
The Vanderbilt study that stomped on Common Core and the governor’s agenda was one such story. It was too big to ignore for the Tennessean, but that did not keep others who have financial and political interests in Common Core from making a lame attempt to paper over the 5,000 lb. teacher’s survey sitting in the corner of the room.
[Editor's note: We are pretty sure it is one of the Seven Signs of the Apocalypse when a conservative outfit like RTP can't get accurate reporting of a news story from Republican leadership and has to turn to the Tennessean to get the whole story.]
First up was Speaker Beth Harwell’s daily news feed that she sends out to legislators and others. Her office dutifully reported the article about the governor’s spin on “vetting Common Core” but somehow completely missed the article about the Vandy study. Misinforming (or more accurately, “not informing”) her GOP caucus members about the biggest state political news story of the day is inexcusable. What else is she not telling her members?
SCORE’s sins of omission were even more odious. As of this morning, their website still had no reference of the Vanderbilt study, even though the very reason for SCORE’s existence is to defend , promote and pimp for Common Core.
Pitiful. Just pitiful.
“To the lifeboats!” says Capt. Bill
Common Core is taking on water. What could ultimately prove to be a fatal blow Gov. Bill Haslam’s education agenda came from a most unusual source: Vanderbilt University.
Normally a bastion of political correctness and leftwing thought, Vanderbilt released a massive survey of 27,000 Tennessee teachers and the result showed a hemorrhaging of support for Common Core across the state. The ObamaCare-level disapproval numbers showed support of the governor’s landmark legislation had collapsed from 60% a year ago to just 39% today. Less than1 in 3 teachers do not want to continue the Common Core program. To say the governor’s office, education commissioner and legislative leadership were in full panic mode would be a gross understatement.
Even the reliably liberal Tennessean could not ignore the numbers and published an additional story on how the wheels were falling off the hated Common Core and how Haslam is now hedging his bets, his words and his legacy before he even enters his second term. Haslam said he was “seeking a full vetting of Common Core.” Yeah, right. If you believe that, you’ll believe he’s also seeking a weekly proctology exam. Gee, Bill wouldnt the time to seek a “full vetting” have been before you, Huffman and Woodson spent millions forcing Common Core on the taxpayers? Enjoy your proctology exams.
The fallout is likely to first affect education commissioner Kevin “I voted for Obama” Huffman, who has relentlessly pushed the Common Core agenda while alienating huge numbers of teachers who have found his communication skills lacking, not to’ mention his arrogant attitude.
So what a come-uppance it was to see IVFO Huffman resort to a completely inane response to such devastating numbers:
Tennessee Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman, a supporter of the standards, called the survey results a “replay of the discussion” from the last legislative session in the spring, when the survey was conducted
“You have a contingent of people saying ‘stay the course,’ a contingent of people saying ‘slow down’ and a contingent of people saying ‘stop,’ which is not dissimilar to the discussion that was happening then. And the place where we wound up was a ‘slow down’ place.”
We ask: Does anyone have any idea what the hell this fool is talking about? Does he? That’s the best he could come up with? RTP offers another “replay of the discussion” that Huffman should also remember:
You have a contingent of teachers who think Common Core is a bad idea, a small contingent of teachers who think it’s a good idea, and a large contingent of teachers who think Huffman is an arrogant, elitist prick. That’s “not dissimilar to the discussion” that was taking place on the floor of the House last March 13th. And the place where we wound up is a revolt against Common Core taking place among teachers
Nice try, Kev. There is just no good way to put lipstick on this pig. It is a debacle.
So is that it for Haslam, Huffman and Common Core? Not quite. The same stubborn bullheaded, elitist attitude that got the Guv into this mess is likely to keep him going, at least through the next legislative session. The word from McMinn County is that Haslam’s minions have circled the wagons and are trying to hijack conservative legislation that seeks to establish real Tennessee Standards (not the fake ones where they just tweak Common Core, slap a new name on the same old garbage and claim it “made in Tennessee”). We’ll see if the GOP caucus members will fall for it. But like all good politicians, they can read poll numbers.
And this poll was a disaster.