July 13th — Bill Haslam’s Day of Reckoning

Will He or Won’t He?

forrest proclamation jpegGov. Bill Haslam’s call to remove the bust of Forrest from the state capitol comes less than a year after he proclaimed “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day” in the Great State of Tennessee. And coming up next Monday is the day that is designated by law for such an occasion. Here is the relevant statute.

Title 15  Holidays
Chapter 2  Days of Special Observance

Tenn. Code Ann. § 15-2-101  (2014)

15-2-101.  Additional special observance days.

Each year it is the duty of the governor of this state to proclaim the following as days of special observance: January 19, “Robert E. Lee Day”; February 12, “Abraham Lincoln Day”; March 15, “Andrew Jackson Day”; June 3, “Memorial Day” or “Confederate Decoration Day”; July 13, “Nathan Bedford Forrest Day”; and November 11, “Veterans’ Day.” The governor shall invite the people of this state to observe the days in schools, churches, and other suitable places with appropriate ceremonies expressive of the public sentiment befitting the anniversary of such dates.

HISTORY: Acts 1931, ch. 2, § 1; C. Supp. 1950, § 7520.1; Acts 1953, ch. 91, § 1; impl. am. Act of Congress, June 1, 1954, ch. 250; Acts 1969, ch. 166, § 3; 1973, ch. 23, § 2; T.C.A. (orig. ed.), § 55-204.


So-o-o-o-o. Will Bill do what he has done 4 times in the last 4 years and proclaim a day of “special observance” for Ol’ Nathan? Or will he adhere to his recently acquired politically correct convictions that Forrest should be cleansed from history like a dead member of the old Soviet Politburo?

Either way, the governor – once again – has placed himself in a quandary of his own making.

Please Jim Henry, for the love of God – make him stop.

Who the heck is Grant Starrett?



One of RTP’s most reliable tipsters has provided this little political gem.

Some 27-year-old guy named Grant Starrett is running for Congress in the 4th district against Scott DesJarlais.

Fair enough. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise that Des Jarlais would have a credible opponent for the fourth time in as many elections (and Lord knows he’s asked for it each time). But “credible” is the key word here. For starters, Starrett says he is running to the right of Des Jarlais. Is that even possible? That’s like trying to run to the left of Barack Obama – ain’t a whole lot of room over there.

Perhaps the most curious aspect to the Starrett candidacy is where he’s from and how he is funded. Starrett got into the race back in April and promptly announce he had already raised $500,000 for his campaign – an impressive sum. But upon further examination, Starrett wrote his campaign a $250,000 personal check. How many 27 year olds do you know who could stroke a check for a quarter million dollars for a political office?  We have no idea where the rest of his money came from.  His next campaign report is due out this month.

Perhaps the answer lies in the source of such a large disposable income. Most folks in the 4th district will never see $250,000 in one place in their lifetime. But there are places where that kinda dough is plentiful. One of those places is California, specifically Pacific Palisades, CA. And it appears Starrett’s parents, who still live in the family mansion there, are loaded. It’s believed it is their money that is bankrolling young Grant.

Until recently, Starrett called this exclusive enclave in southern California his home. The only reason he is even in Tennessee now is because he went to Vandy Law School a couple of years ago.

And now this Stanford-educated, SoCal trust funder from TinsleTown has picked a Tennessee district to buy himself a seat in Congress –in a district that is about as rural and small town (and so not California) as it gets.

But RTP thinks we should give young Grant a chance.  Who knows?  With a degrees from a couple of expensive schools and a long history living in the Land of Conspicuous Consumption (aka California), maybe Starrett can bring a measure of “California culture” to the backwoods citizens of the 4th district.

The “Brie vs. Barbecue” Congressional race: Could be the most entertaining storyline of the 2016 election season.


[Editor’s note:  Are there others out there who know of/about this young whippersnapper?  Send your info to the RTP Tipline (www.rtptipline@gmail.com) and we will disseminate it to the appropriate muckrakers.]


The “Smartest Man in the Room.”

Richard Briggs: State Senator, Thoracic Surgeon or just money grubbing, conflicted opportunist?

In a profession where outsized egos are the norm, Dr. Sen. Richard Briggs has perhaps the largest one in state government. Thinly veiled condescension accompanies many of his comments from the dais, and his colleagues privately say that Briggs considers himself the smartest man in any room he walks into.briggs stupid edited

But aside from the chutzpah that can come from someone trained to cut open other people’s chests, what other things does the Dr. Sen. bring to the table?

Conflicts of interest. And lots of them.

As the point person for his friend Bill Haslam’s effort to expand Obamacare into Tennessee, Briggs was downright gleeful over last Friday’s Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. Briggs rushed right out and crowed about how that decision would help pass InsureTN.  Obama’s lobbying trip to Tennessee yesterday must have thrilled Briggs to no end.

To help put all of he Dr. Sen. Briggs’ enthusiasm for socialized healthcare  into perspective, RTP has taken a look into the capitalistic roots of Dr. Sen. Briggs’ personal agenda. You see, for Briggs Obamacare and Medicaid expansion are not only good for what ails the proletariat, there is the added advantage of lining the pockets of Dr. Briggs and his cronies with taxpayer dollars.

This from Tuesday’s  Chattanooga Times/News Press:

“Briggs, a physician who stepped up to lead the second attempt to pass Haslam’s Insure Tennessee, noted that groups [like the] Tennessee Hospital Association, Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and others back the Medicaid expansion.”

While Briggs was highlighting all those “powerful” groups that have (unsuccessfully) supported InsureTN, he just kinda sorta forgot to mention one of the main players in the THA, which is also one of the biggest hospital conglomerates in the country, and one who is supporting InsureTN because it will benefit them financially, big time. And just who is this medical corporate behemoth who will be feasting on the taxpayers with the extra money from InsureTN (money that doesn’t really exist, of course, but will instead just be added to the national debt)?




And just who is Tennova? Why, Dr. Sen. Richard Briggs’ employer, that’s who. Pay attention, peasants! Briggs works for Tennova and Tennova will rake in millions in extra fees from InsureTN. That will sure help pay Briggs’ huge salary.

But Dr. Sen. Briggs does more than just draw a paycheck from Tennova – he sits on their Board of Directors. In that position he gets to help make decisions on how much money the senior executives and others can siphon off from the taxpayers. What a deal!

And just to put a cherry on top, it is important to know just who the Tennova Board of Directors chose to represent them in Nashville on InsureTN. With the Republicans holding super-majorities in both houses of the legislature, who did they select to lobby for them at the capitol?   Jerry Askew — a longtime, unrepentant Democrat who, along with his wife, have contributed to numerous Democrats and listed themselves on committees like “Democrats for Haslam.”  So Briggs and Tennova are getting their healthcare policy advice from Democrats.  Are we the only ones who see a problem here?

But wait. There’s more! To complete this sleazy little picture, the Washington Post recently highlighted the 50 biggest “rip-off” price-gouging hospitals in the country and three of the top 50 were in Tennessee. One of the three hospitals was in the Knoxville area and is owned by – yep — Tennova. Wonder if Dr. Sen. Briggs will bring that up at the next Board of Directors meeting?

Dr. Sen. Briggs apparently thinks concerns about conflicts of interest are only for others, not special people like himself.

Physician, heal thyself.

Yeah, but not showing up now won’t make people forget your earlier “Obama Lovefest”

Gov. Haslam’s office issued a terse statement that he will neither be at the airport to greet President Obama nor will he attend the photo-op in Madison.  Curious, since the reason Obama is in town is to lobby Tennessee to buy into his god-awful Medicaid expansion program — the very program Haslam tried unsuccessfully to pass twice in the last few months.

But just last year, the governor could not wait to get his picture taken with Obama.  RTP provides this convenient reminder.

Obama haslam

Okay, now y’all just being stupid.

forrest bust

First came Ryan Haynes, who nearly mowed over Mary Mancini in an attempt to capitulate before the altar of political correctness. Then Brave Bill Haslam nearly wet himself trying to get to the head of the parade to prostrate before the thought police.

[Note to Bill: Remember how they taught you back in Sunday School that the measure of character was when you did the right thing when no one was looking? You walked by that bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest nearly every day without saying a damn word. Then the Washington Post and the New York Times demanded an apologia from people who had nothing to do with the tragedy in Charleston, and you suddenly got religion and demanded the state do something you never saw fit to call for in your previous 4+ years in the office. Pitiful – just pitiful.]

Then came Bob “Raise the Federal gas tax” Corker demanding the same thing and we were off to the races. And don’t get us started on WalMart – who never saw a problem selling stuff with the Stars & Bars on it, even while Hillary Clinton sat on their board of directors but never opened her yap about what they were selling until Charleston.

Today, Williamson County got into the “Guilt Tour” by saying they were going to review their county seal. Huh, you say? It seems that buried deep on the seal is a rocking chair that had a Confederate flag drooped across one arm – a homage to the brutal Battle of Franklin. How many of you ever noticed that? Hell, how many of you even knew Williamson County had a seal?

What does it say about the level of the debate when it falls to Ron Ramsey to point out that people appear to have lost their freakin’ minds and are acting in a “knee jerk” manner about the whole flag/bust thing? Ramsey was almost right: people are acting like jerks.

RTP’s favorite commentary came from a local industrialist who sarcastically marveled that he had lived to “see the end of racism” and that all it took was getting rid of the Confederate flag and a bronze bust to accomplish such a historic feat.

You want to make a substantive contribution to ending racism, Governor? Invite some black people to join your country club. As for Bob Corker, how about you encourage your daughters to date more minorities? Maybe then we will start to believe in your attempt to take the moral high ground with your asinine pronouncements.

Until then, Y’all quit acting like jerks and being stupid. It’s embarrassing.

Funny, the rest of us feel the same way about your new state logo.

Gov. Haslam on the controversy over the Confederate battle flag and the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust in the state capitol:

“I feel like that that Confederate battle flag is something that I think people are ready to see move to museums” Haslam said Tuesday after an event south of downtown Nashville.

Brave Bill also wants to remove the bust of Forrest from the State Capitol building.  We wonder if the governor also wants to shut down and/or change the name of the Nathan Bedford Forrest elementary school in Chapel Hill?

forrest school






Or how about Nathan Bedford Forrest State Park In Benton County?

forrest park


See, this is what happens when you react to a major tragedy by playing politically correct politics.  We hear that the governor wants to ban anything and anyone that refers to the Confederacy.

No comment yet from Rep. Steve McDaniel.  steve-mcdaniel-at-parkers


The Dean doesn’t actually call the Governor a liar, but…..

Tom Humphrey’s column this weekend is akin to Martin Luther burning the papal Bull n defiance of corrupt church authority. But the martin luther 2“Bull” Humphrey exposed is not a religious doctrine, but the first half of a word that accurately describes the proponents who want to raise the gas tax — especially the Governor.

The B.S. began with the state’s $500 million dollar revenue surplus. The governor and some legislative leaders began to grab at the “found” taxpayer moola like a stressed out mother at a Starbucks drive-through reaching for her double latte. Pork barrel projects from museums to agricultural centers sprang up faster than weeds in a cow pasture.

But Humphrey laid out in clear language that the governor’s claims of transportation funding and a lack of revenue to solve the problem is complete B.S.

“One part of the governor’s problem is what might be called inconsistent messaging by public relations professionals. For years now – up to and including this summer – the governor has been declaring things are great with the Tennessee budget.

“Insofar as overall messaging goes, this is all utterly at odds with saying the state needs more tax money.”

RTP provides a classic example: TDOT said it was going to be about $20 million short this year on its budget. By amazing coincidence, that is roughly the same amount as the permanent annual $20 million fuel tax break the state is giving FedEx CEO Fred Smith. By amazing coincidence, Fred sits on the board of directors for Pilot Oil. By yet another amazing coincidence, Pilot will be the #1 collector of any new gas tax (which will be included in the price at the pump).

This is a political daisy chain, with only the taxpayers getting screwed.

The FedEx tax break alone could fund this year’s alleged transportation short-fall in perpetuity. But let’s not stop there. The $120 million history museum would fund the shortfall for six years. The $500 million surplus could satisfy half of TDOT’s claim that it has $1 billion in backlogged transportation projects. Why, that amount of money could fund 10,869 new state logos, with change left over.

With all due respect to Humphrey, this not a failure of “inconsistent communication” by the governor and his allies. It’s lying, pure and simple. But despite Humphrey’s more genteel approach to such prevarications, he should be roundly praised for his courage in pointing out the Emperor is buck-naked sitting on his high horse.

Thanks, Dean. You’ll make a fine journalist someday.Tom Hunphrey

Is Rocky Top good, or what?

Tennessee logo 4

The TNWatchdog is reporting today that the governor’s new state logo boondoggle just got much worse.  It seems the infamous $46,000 logo that everyone hates cannot be trademarked.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office rejected the state’s trademark application.

Just 6 days ago ol’ Rocky Top Politics was warning that this was exactly what might happen, and now it has:

The governor, ever the legal expert, opines that they couldn’t use the popular “Tri-star” logo because “it wasn’t possible to trademark” that design.  Oh, really Bill?

Let’s see how well your trademark holds up when someone outside state government decides to use it and your crack Attorney General tries to stop them.  We were not aware that turning the state flag 90 degrees to the right, then replacing the Tri-stars with an acronym (TN) that was created by the U.S. postal service and has been in the public domain for 50 years  was “trademark-able.”  What a load of hooey.  Just like your bogus inference that people were upset with the logo because they “thought it would replace the state flag.”

For those of you who doubted the crew at Rocky Top, perhaps it is now clear to you that we know what we are talking about and that we are not afraid to say it.

And so we will ask the rather obvious question:  Does ANYONE over there know how to govern?  The incompetence of this administration is reaching embarrassingly absurd levels.  Paying a bunch of money for an ugly logo that the governor then tried to shove down the throat of the taxpayers is bad enough.  But having your trademark rejected (while claiming you could not use the popular tri-star logo because it “couldn’t be trademarked”) speaks to the very heart of why this governor is in such trouble.

No Bill, this is not the result of a recalcitrant GOP legislative caucus, or lobbyists and the Chamber of Commerce losing the clout.  And it is not because of Obama.

No, this all on you,

How to play with RTP

RTP has received numerous email messages from readers who have tried to “sign up” or otherwise communicate with the one or more of the RTP crew.  So we thought it might be helpful to go over the “rules of the game,” so to speak.

RTP is a one-way street.  We never directly answer any inquiry, comment or email for security reasons.  That’s why we say in the FAQs that “Comments Not Accepted.”  We would turn off the “Comment” section entirely, but our technology-challenged volunteer contributors haven’t figured out how to do that (It is so hard to find good help these days, right?)

gossipHowever, we welcome your tips and other information.  We have used a great number of them over the last year and encourage you leakers, informants, malcontents and axe-grinders to keep those emails coming.  Send your scoops to our famous Rocky Top Politics Tip Line:


If we like your stuff, we will use it.  If we don’t, we won’t.  Either way, do not expect us to answer you directly.  We don’t do so because we are jerks (although that may be debatable), but because we don’t want the public officials using their considerable powers to track our sorry butts down and hassle us.

And as always, we protect your identity.  If you have any doubts about our sincerity, then set up a fake email account and send your info anonymously.  We truly do not care who you are, but that your information is sufficiently interesting and can be confirmed in some way.


Haslam takes it in the shorts. Again.

spanking 2

Administration get “schooled” by judge for illegal shut down of Virtual Academy.

Pity poor Bill Haslam. He can’t seem to catch a break. He could try to attribute his latest setback to the Flying Fickle Finger of Fate, but in reality he has only himself to blame.

The Virtual Academy – K12’s controversial online school – has had its problems, to be sure. But its biggest problem was not in the classroom, but in the halls of the education bureaucracy, where Haslam officials have engaged in an almost pathological attempt to shut down the school before it even had a chance to succeed. They did so under the leadership of the governor’s office (aka, Mark Cate), the past Education Commissioner (Kevin Huffman) and his successor (Candice McQueen).

Tellingly,after the decision the administration refused to make any comment about the ruling.  No threats of further legal action, no macho posturing — just crickets….

Not to bore everybody with the minutiae, but late last week Judge Lyle ruled on a lawsuit brought by parents with children who attend the Academy and he essentially determined that the Haslam bureaucrats were trying to impose on the VA a different standard than they applied to other under-performing schools, and that the state tried to do so retroactively (i.e., illegally).

Despite the howls of protest from the Haslam administration before the legislature and during the trial, the judge kept the VA open for at least another year and perhaps longer. You can add this defeat to a long list of Haslam screw-ups and defeats, including Common Core, Insure TN (twice), InsureGate, Advance Tennessee, The Logo and host of other missteps.

And now the Guv says he wants to raise gas taxes?  Our advice to him:

grab your ankles







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