Well whattayah know — the Governor DOES read Rocky Top.

Or so we would like to think.

Just two days after RTP commented on an earlier Tennessee News Leader story about the Jackson Sun’s pissy little “expose” asserting the lack of economic development money from the state, the Governator himself called up the Sun to bitch:

Haslam complains report on West TN ECD grants “way off base”

The governor seemed a mite touchy to us, but then he’s not used to dissent.

Still though, it’s nice to know we are appreciated in the governor’s office.  Remind us to send Mark Cate a fruit basket for Christmas.

Or coal.

Mark Cate

Mark Cate





Sure looks that way.  Let’s go to the Merriam-Webster definition just to be certain:


noun    \ˈhi-pə-ˌkrit\

: a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs

Pity poor Candice McQueen.  No sooner had she been sworn in as Haslam’s new commissioner of education then WPLN reveals her rather contorted positions on Common Core.

Lipscomb Academy Chief Advocates For Common Core, But Not At Her School.

Operating under the elitist theory of “good for thee, but not for me,”  McQueen was revealed to be conflicted (and that’s being charitable) about her new position as head cheerleader for Common Core as opposed to what she did as head of Lipscomb’s private K-12 school when she didn’t think anyone was looking.

McQueen barely had a chance to walk into her first legislative hearing before she demonstrated that Common Core is just fine for the great, unwashed masses in public schools, but God forbid our privileged private schools should be required to be held to the same standards.

All those legislators who came out against Common Core (and RTP has your websites and your mailings on file) will be holding Dr. McQueen accountable for her hypocrisy,  because any good politician knows  the voters will hold them to the same standard in the next election.  Perhaps we would be more sympathetic if Bill Frist’s or Bill Haslam’s kids ever darkened the door of a public school.

Want to kill Common Core?  Just require McCallie, Baylor, Webb, MBA, Ensworth or MUS to adopt Common Core before they receive a Tennessee diploma.  It will be dead before nightfall.

Hypocrites all.




The New Commish:  Is it Candice McQueen?

mcqueenRampant rumors passed along to RTP say the governor’s new cabinet announcement this afternoon will be Dr. Candice McQueen as the new Education Commissioner.

If true, McQueen would be seen favorably among those who wanted someone from Tennessee and someone who also had actual public education classroom experience.

On the downside, some in the education have uncharitably called McQueen “Huffman Lite” — meaning she will continue Huffman’s policies of pro-Common Core, pro-testing that got Huffman in so much trouble.

Those we have talked to all agree her appointment would be primarily the result of her close relationship with Tom Ingram — the governor’s paid-under-the-table lobbyist.

The Jackson Sun’s Circular Firing Squad


In a hilarious post on the Tennessee News Leader website, the Jackson Sun gets exposed by their own “expose.”

While trying to bitch & moan about how Jackson lost out on a company’s deciding to locate in (gasp!) Mississippi instead of Jackson, the Sun whined that the decision was due to “clawback” demands from the state. (“Clawback” means you do what you say you will do, or you don’t get taxpayer money as incentives for locating in a state).

Problem is, legislation authorizing those clawback provisions was sponsored by a Jackson “favorite son” — Sen. Lowe Finney.  Finney is now running for mayor of Jackson and is proudly bragging about having created the clawback provisions the Jackson Sun is now complaining about.

RTP can’t wait until the Sun’s endorsement in the mayor’s race.



Good Lord, here we go again.

This from one of Gov. Bill Haslam’s first post-election policy statements:

“Governor says there’s no way around hiking the state’s gas tax some time in the future.”

Wow, really? Just as hard-pressed Tennessee taxpayers and consumers finally get a modicum of relief from the high Obama gas prices, the first thing that pops into our billionaire governor’s mind is to steal some of those savings back for the state bureaucracy.

Intermission for a Little History Lesson

In 1998, Don Sundquist was re-elected with approx. 70% of the vote. After promising not to support a state income tax during his re-election, Sundquist reversed himself and became the leading advocate of the tax, infuriating not only fellow Republicans, but the general public as well.

A front group called Citizens for Fair Taxation was formed to “educate” the public on the virtues of an income tax. It didn’t work, and the result was a horn-honking taxpayer rebellion that left Sundquist as one of the most reviled governors in history (yes, including Ray Blanton). It seems the citizenry were a mite peeved that the first action of a governor who won re-election as a fiscal conservative was to raise taxes. The fact it was a Republican governor merely rubbed salt in the wound.

Back To Our Story….

So now we have a governor, whose supporters bandy about a “70% approval rating” (compliments of those renowned fiscal and political conservatives at Vanderbilt), like it was some sort of magic elixir that would cause the legislature to tremble and acquiesce. Why, the Vandy poll even suggested that such ratings made Haslam “presidential material” (we are not kidding.)

And so Bill’s first act in his second term is to raise taxes on consumers and small businesses (who will pass along the costs to the consumer as well). Looks like the governor is going to need another front group like the old Citizens for Fair Taxation.

Oh, and who was the founder, major funder and co-chairman of the original Citizens for Fair Taxation? Why, none other than Jim Haslam II – father of the current governor. Big Jim and his fellow board members raised $1.8 million to jam through a state income tax, and failed. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

And don’t even get us started on the obvious conflict between raising the gas tax and the Haslam family business — which happens to be the largest independent retailer of gasoline in the country.even

We here at RTP should have seen this coming. After all, Jimmy Haslam, the governor’s brother, was the college roommate of Sen. Bob Corker. Corker – who was rumored to be interested in running for this tallpresident — torpedoed his already minimal shot at the White House when earlier this year he publicly advocated raising gas taxes at the federal level.

“Bill and Bob for President – They raised your taxes.” Yeah, that’s the ticket. Worked wonders for President Mondale.

With all this recent history and his familial knowledge of the income tax debacle, one would think that Bill Haslam would know better. One would be wrong.

The governor, and his Greek Chorus at the Knoxville News-Sentinel, say that because gas prices are falling, NOW is a perfect time to raise taxes. That’s like saying when mortgage interest rates fall, it’s the perfect time to raise property taxes. This perverted logic is disgusting, but it is also dangerous to any politician who buys into it (Ron Ramsey, are you listening?).

Bring it on, Bill. Radio talk shows are rooting for you. The Obama Administration is rooting for you. Don Sundquist is rooting for you.  You may be able to make Don the second most disliked governor in Tennessee history.

Honk, honk.

Cagle’s Cash Cow gets hit by a truck

"Oh, Chuck!  Someone from Bradley County with an early Christmas present for you!"

“Oh, Chuck! Someone from Bradley County with an early Christmas present for you!”

Looks like coal in the stocking of quadruple-dipping lobbyist, Chuck Cagle. Loyal readers of RTP will remember the special reports from last spring that blew the cover off Chuckles’ little scam of lobbying for school superintendents as well as Pearson (while his wife was working for Pearson and trying to sell their books to the same school districts in Tennessee). But perhaps the most lucrative cash flow cow was “Conflict-of-interest-Chuck’s” legal work on behalf of the county school districts themselves.

Word out of the Bradley County school board this afternoon is that ChuckBusinessman Throwing his Money Around Cagle and his law firm have been fired. Let go. Kicked to the curb. Eighty-sixed. Given the boot. The old heave-ho. RTP sources tell us the entire thing took about three minutes. Someone tried to get a one-month reprieve for Chuck, but that was quickly brushed aside. The termination was immediate.

Our sources also tell us much of the board’s displeasure came from Cagles’s multiple conflicts. Allegedly, they were upset with Cagle’s position on the board of S.C.O.R.E. – the folks who are trying to shove Common Core down the throats of Tennessee teachers, taxpayers and students. Cagle was seen by some as a key ally for the late, hated state education commissioner Kevin “I voted for Obama” Huffman. Now Huffman is gone, and in Bradley County, so is Cagle.kevin-and-obama-edit-2

“But it’s just one county” some will say. Yeah, but these things often have a domino effect. There were many school districts who were afraid to challenge Cagle’s near monopoly on education law. Now that Bradley County fired the first shot, look for Cagle to start ducking and weaving like a deer that wandered onto a firing range.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy. People say Cagle has strutted around the LP for years, glorying in his domain, sneering at his opponents and generally acting like a pretentious prick.

And to all this we just say:

“Moo.”         cash-cow

Shiela Butt wins Republican Floor Leader

sheila buttButt was unopposed, but her taking this position is another win for the conservatives.  Might help take a little sting off Womick’s defeat.

Kevin Brooks Lives!

Kevin brooks photoRep. Kevin Brooks turned back a spirited challenge from Jeremy Faison, 44-28.

Whip it. Whip it good.

durhamIn a close 38-34 vote that surprised many, Jeremy Durham has defeated Cameron Sexton for Majority Whip.

Durham is considered the more conservative of the two.  Sexton was backed by several House leaders, which made many think he was a likely winner.  But RTP has learned at least one House leader split off to support Durham.  A crack in the leadership wall?

Harwell prevails.

Unofficial results:  57-15.  1 not voting.

Congratulations to the Speaker.


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