Monthly Archives: March, 2014

Anti-Jack Daniels Bill Dies. Drinks are on Jack!

Jack DanielsOne of RTPs favorite state senators, Mark Green, likes to keep an open mind. Word is, he also likes to keep an open bottle of fine Tennessee Whiskey on hand (strictly for medicinal purposes. He’s a doctor, you know). Jack Daniels has spent the last 100 years or so making sure that if somebody’s going to make something called “Tennessee Whiskey” it has to have a certain level of quality in order to qualify.

So it was somewhat of a surprise when Green’s name showed up as a sponsor of a little bill that, if passed, would allow any fool calling himself a distiller to put horse piss in a bottle and call it “Tennessee Whiskey.” Upon further research, RTP came to the conclusion that Green just carried the bill as a courtesy to it’s House sponsor, Rep. Sanderson. After careful consideration, Green decided to let the bill quietly die in committee.  Small batch start-up distillers, like Charlie Nelson of Nelson’s Greenbrier Distillery, who testified they were more interested in making a fine whiskey than trying to freeload off gentleman Jack’s good name, were delighted.

Thanks Sen. Green. Rocky Top Politics will gladly drink to that!

Oh, and of course NOT cutting taxes is a Republican principle, right?

This weekend the mainstream media organ, Politico, published a big piece on what they call the GOP civil war in Tennessee. Politico is staffed primarily by liberal reporters who have lost their day jobs from the meltdown that is the MSM these days.

There is nothing quite as credible as a Democratic screed like Politico opining on divisions in the state GOP, so it should come as no surprise that they missed the 5,000 lb. elephants sitting in the corners of the room – the dominant conservative wing of the GOP caucus in each chamber as well as the complete lack of the Haslam administration to engage that wing in any meaningful way. As only someone whose head is stuck up their Beltway, Politico immediately defaults to declaring the spat is because of “Washington heavyweights” and “outsiders.”  It all revolves around the attempt to once and forever eliminate the hated Hall income tax.  Most of the legislature says Yes.  Governor Haslam says “no.”

Politico begins by, predictably, blaming the Koch brothers.tax 1  (As we all know the Koch bros. are responsible for everything bad in the world. We have it on good authority that among their many misdeeds, the Koch bros. were the ones who hired Lane Kiffen, created the Obamacare website and they were also responsible for Justin Beiber – the bastards).

For good measure they also blame Grover Norquist. True, Grover can sometimes be a complete ass, but the rebellion in the GOP ranks was hardly his doing. The real villains here are the voters. After all, they were the ones who overwhelming elected all those nasty old conservatives. How dare they?

Politico even wheeled out GOP re-tread Ed Rollins for a pithy comment about how divisions in the Republican party would “look bad in an election year.” Ed added these anti-tax efforts are “confusing the message.”

Well here’s a message for ya, Ed: “Real conservatives DON’T LIKE TAXES!”

They think citizens are taxed enough as it is and RINOs – be they governors or state senators – who are so reluctant to cut taxes, show few such reservations when it comes to spending millions of tax dollars on projects like, say, Common Core.

But it is Tennessee homeboy Andy Ogles who is spearheading this effort and that inconvenient truth just doesn’t fit the narrative – with or without the Koch bros. involvement.

You can read the whole thing here:

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/grover-norquist-koch-brothers-tennessee-republicans-investment-tax-104919.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews

Cash Cow UPDATE: Ethics-Schmethics. Rules are for the Little People

RTP has been told by an unreliable source that when Chuck Cagle caught wind that others might be interested in knowing a little more about his activities, he ran right down to the Ethics Commission and got a ruling that he hadn’t done anything wrong.

Oh, puh-leeze. You can get a favorable ethics ruling to cover your ass faster than you can say “Tom Ingram.”

But the lawyers’ Board of Professional Responsibility might be a whole ‘nother story.  It seems working both sides of an issue may not violate what passes for ethics laws in Tennessee, but it is seriously frowned upon if you are an officer of the court.

Stay tuned.

Part Three: The Chuck Cagle Common Core Cash Cow Conga Line

Businessman Throwing his Money AroundOkay Class, time for your exam review.

And remember, it’s not whether you get the right answer – it’s whether or not you employed Common Core “critical thinking” tools to come up with whatever half-assed attempt you made to answer the question. No wrong answers!  Everyone gets a trophy!

This will also help prepare you for the PARCC test.

To summarize our lesson so far:

Lobbyist Chuck Cagle has figured out not one, not two, not three, but FOUR different ways to make money off public education in Tennessee and to do so directly or indirectly with taxpayer dollars. He has achieved this “quadruple-dipping” through lobbying legerdemain by:

  • Lobbying for the School Superintendents in Nashville.
  • Using those relationships to sign up local school districts as legal clients for his law firm.
  • Serving on the board of S.C.O.R.E., who are the main promoters of Common Core.
  • Lobbying for Pearson and the Common Core agenda.
  • Receiving yet another revenue stream from his wife’s position as the Tennessee Common Core sales executive for Pearson.

That last one really strikes a nerve with some folks. The sad part is that what Chuck Cagle & Co. is doing is sleazy — but apparently legal.  And if the legislature goes along with this scam, they are no better than Cagle and his pal Kevin Huffman (you remember Kevin — the Obama supporter?).

 

Part Two: The Chuck Cagle Common Core Cash Cow Conga Line

Cagle photo

Printin’ Textbooks is like printin’ cash.

Why is Chuck Cagle so darned interested in helping Common Core become the latest unproven expensive teaching fad? Because if Common Core goes through in its current form, it will require every student in Tennessee to have a brand new textbook that complies with the new Common Core curriculum. And them books ain’t cheap, either (especially the pornographic ones).

Yep, major book publishers stand to make millions selling books and materials to the state and to school systems that were forced to buy new books because of Common Core. And who is by far the biggest textbook publisher in the world? Pearson. And who is Pearson’s lobbyist (c’mon now, you know the answer, don’t you). Chuck Cagle! In fact, Chuck’s lobbying generated huge sums paid him by Pearson over the last couple of years.

And who, pray tell, plays a major role at the local level in deciding what textbooks get bought with taxpayer money? Why, the School Superintendents, silly. And who represents the School Superintendents in Nashville as their personal lobbyist? (This is an open book test. Feel free to go back and figured it out. Hint: it’s Chuck Cagle).

PARCC Testing, 1-2-3. Testing, 1-2-3

And don’t get us started on PARCC testing. For the uninitiated, PARCC tests have caused great discomfort among teachers who face evaluations based on a test that hasn’t even been written yet, but the real discomfort should be felt by the taxpayers who will pay millions more for the PARCC test (some estimates predict the PARCC test will eventually cost more than double the current TCAP tests) as well as tens if not hundreds of millions more in unfunded mandates to local schools systems for purchasing the computers required to take the new PARCC tests. Gee, we wonder if Chuck works for the computer manufacturers too?

And who runs PARCC? Yep. Pearson.

Scooping up taxpayer cash like an Electrolux set on “Maximum Suck” is okay, as long as you keep it in the family…

Ah, but now we come to the piece de la resistance (that’s French for: “We are so screwed”).

So far we have learned that Chuck Cagle is helping himself to taxpayer money by lobbying for TOSS and doing legal work for local school systems. Add to that the six-figure income from representing Pearson, the textbook publishing and testing giant and you begin to see the enormity of his empire.

But we have saved the best for last. Not satisfied with just fleecing taxpayers and doing the bidding of companies that fleece taxpayers, Cagle has added yet another revenue stream – his wife.

Sandra Cagle has a very important job. According to LinkedIn, she is a regional account manager, overseeing Tennessee and several other southeastern states. Among her duties is running the Common Core sales department for the company. And the name of that company? (Wait for it, wait ….TA DA!) Pearson!

Yes, you are reading this correctly. Pearson, the company that is pushing Common Core, the same company that stands to make millions from new textbooks, the same company that will make millions every year from administering new standardized tests required by Common Core, the same company that pays Chuck Cagle huge fees to represent them – that same company also pays Cagle’s wife to hustle Pearson’s Common Core products in Tennessee.

WOW.  BREATHTAKING, ISN’T IT ?

And to think we were all told that Common Core was just about “raising standards” for our precious little school children. Man, were we stupid or what?

Now that legislators know the SCORE, the big question is what are they going to do about it? Whatever they do or don’t do, you can count on it being a big, BIG issue in the August primaries.

The REAL Kevin Huffman Revealed ———– “I voted for President Obama”

Kevin and Obama edit 2Bill Haslam has some explaining to do.  After an “exhaustive” search for a new education commissioner, Haslam settled on Kevin Huffman.  Tennesseans responded with a collective “Who?”

Now, after exhaustive research by the crack RTP team, the answer to that question is both astonishing and disturbing.  “Astonishing” in that how this guy ever made it past the interview process.  “Disturbing” that the Haslam administration either didn’t do its homework and hid or ignored what they discovered or — most disturbing — that Haslam actually agrees with Huffman’s left-wing ideology.

Read for yourself the public pronouncements of one Kevin Huffman:

In 2009 Huffman was a guest columnist for the far left-wing Democracy journal (“The mission of Democracy is to build a vibrant and vital progressivism…”) where he praised Barack Obama and his administration’s attempt to nationalize education as it is embodied in the Common Core curriculum.

In a series of columns he wrote for US News & World Report, Huffman:

  • Belittled those who feel Christianity is under attack by the liberals and the  media (“Bah Humbug”) and criticized Republicans for trying “to play the majority-victim card” on Christmas like they did “on behalf of whites” as well as heterosexuals. (12-21-2010).
  • Promoted gay marriage and declared those who were opposed were “limited to the old and to self-identified Republicans.” (1-18-2011).
  • Denied there was main-stream media liberal bias and went after Rush Limbaugh “and the whine of right-wing radio.” (1-11-2011)
  • Then, on December 28, 2010, shortly before Haslam named him education commissioner of Tennessee, Huffman wrote:   “I voted for the president (Obama).”

We encourage RTP readers to take a moment to call or email people like Ron Ramsey, Jack Johnson, Beth Harwell, Gerald McCormick, Harry Brooks and Mark White, etc and ask them a simple question:

 WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING DEFENDING THIS GUY AND HIS POLICIES?!?

Time for a floor Senate floor vote like the Common Core/PARCC “no confidence” vote that passed the House 82-11.  What about it, Ron?  Cat got your tongue (or does Haslam have you by the short hairs)?

**** SPECIAL REPORT ****

PARCC & Common Core:  Taxpayer Rip-Off, a Cash Cow for Chuck Cagle, an Incredibly Bad Idea or All of the Above?

WE REPORT.  YOU DECIDE.

In this series, RTP decodes SCORE and the Common Core money-grubbing scam (we will also take a shot at figuring out where Jimmy Hoffa is buried).  RTP has been working on this for weeks and figured the timing could not be more appropriate, consider what happened last week in the Houses and the current activity in the Senate

Today’s Installment:  Chuck Cagle’s Cash Cow Conga Line

“Double Dipping” is bad enough, but “Quadruple Dipping”?


cash-cow

We begin today with the first installment of our series on one Chuck Cagle, a lawyer and lobbyist who has made a fortune in the education business.  His is a long, tangled story full of dashing lobbying and legal derring-do and RTP will do its darndest to bring you the facts.  For all you legislators who are fond of singing Cagle’s praises as an “expert” in education policy and law, you may want to pick up a new hymnal.  Because once you hear the tale of “Quadruple Cagle” you may to want to change your tune.

T.O.S.S. me some clients, won’t you?

We start with perhaps Cagle’s most lucrative client base – The Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS).  Been sued by an irate teacher or parent?  Have a contract dispute?  Need interpretation of a regulatory requirement?  Call Chuck and retain his law firm.  Seeing that there are over a hundred school systems in the state, you can understand how cornering the market on school law might bring in some serious moolah.  Cagle has maneuvered himself into the role of the “go-to” guy for numerous school systems on all things legal.  Why he even advertises on School Buses (not really, but it wouldn’t surprise us if he did).

But that is not where the short bus stops for its latest pickup on the Quadruple Cagle Cash Cow Caper.  Oh no.  You see Chuck is also the lobbyist for TOSS and as such is seen flitting the halls of LP representing their interests before the legislature.  The relationship is so cozy that reportedly, when TOSS wants to have a board meeting, they use Cagle’s law office for their meetings.  And Chuck has a non-voting seat at the table during the discussions, of course.

So let’s review today’s lesson, class.  Chuck gets paid with tax dollars by individual local school system (run by school superintendents who all belong to TOSS) to be their lawyer.  Then he gets paid again (with tax dollars) to lobby for TOSS.  There’s no telling how many tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars the Cagle law firm nets from representing school districts and from his lobbying fees, all paid with tax dollars.

So what’s wrong with that, you say?  What’s the big deal about a lawyer generating fees by representing both a school system and also lobbying for the superintendents who also hired or recommended him as their lawyer?

Read on, dear taxpayer.  Read and weep.

S.C.O.R.E.  another scam for Cagle

As we all know by now (or should know by now), Bill Frist has pumped millions into a little organization called SCORE.  And SCORE has become the de facto Dept. of Education for Tennessee.  Any wonder that Kevin “Mr. Popularity” Huffman arrived in the Volunteer State brimming with enthusiasm for Common Core?  Well, SCORE helped recruit him.  In fact, Huffman’s Deputy Commissioner for Legislative Affairs came straight to the department from – you guessed it – SCORE.  Yes, Stephen “Having a Bad Hair Day” Smith was the lobbyist for SCORE before he became the lobbyist for Huffman.

So when Jamie Woodson and Frist were looking to put together a board of directors for SCORE to push through the Obama-backed education program called Common Core, who was one of the first people they put on the board.  Yep – Chuck Cagle.

So Chuck found himself in the veritable catbird’s seat, advising an organization that was providing the political and financial muscle to ramming Common Core through the legislature.  Why is that important?  Glad you asked…..

In our Next Installment we explore the Pearson connection, the Common Core Scam and the millions of taxpayer education dollars Cagle helps direct from your pocket to his pocket and those of his clients.

[Editors’ note:  Chuck Cagle reportedly recovered recently from an undisclosed illness.  We wish him well regarding his health.  However, that has absolutely zero relevance to the issue reported here.  Even RTP has got feelings.  But we also have the facts.]

Lock the Chamber Doors, Ma! The “Commode Caucus” is lookin’ to make a run for it.

toiletIt seems a significant share of the House GOP caucus has had their fill of the strong-arm (and some would say dishonest) tactics of the leadership and the governor to ram Common Core down the throats of Tennessee taxpayers and into the classroom.  And last week in the House they let leadership and the governor know about it in spades.

The GOP leadership will try any tactic to keep members from voting up or down on controversial programs like Common Core.  Such tactics range from sending bills to the dead-end of the legislative calendar (as they did with Common Core) to creating spurious fiscal notes while ignoring the governor’s own budget-busting expenditures (which also happened with Common Core).  Our favorite is also one of the Speaker’s favorite tactics:  giving the signal to several GOP legislators to suddenly heed the call of nature and disappear off the floor into the bathrooms until the vote is over, thereby denying the requite 50 votes needed to pass any bill.

But the rebellion on the House floor came so quickly, the leadership did not have the time to get the bathroom doors unlocked before the hammer came down.  Unfortunately for leadership, even a mass flush couldn’t have saved them.  The final vote margin was so huge ( 80-11), that giving a bathroom hall pass would have made no difference.  The opposition had the votes to pass the bill regardless of the faux incontinence of some of its members and the House leadership was handed a humiliating defeat that required Ron Ramsey to bail them out.

But March 13, 2014 may be the day leadership and the governor and their business-as-usual allies were forced to face a grim (for them) reality:  conservatives dominate the House GOP caucus, and they are now beginning to realize they can do something about the way they have been treated by those Republican “leaders” who take glee in blocking conservative legislation from ever coming to a vote.

This should be fun to watch.

 

After much pressure from Tea Party types, the Governor finally opted out of the Obamacare HealthCare Exchanges. Now about that whole Medicaid expansion thingy…

Never one to let a dead horse avoid being flogged again and again, the Governor and his allies in the hospital business refuse to give up.  This despite a “don’t go there” admonition from Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey.

After incessant dithering, Governor Hamlet finally quit second-guessing himself on whether or not the state should run its own Obamacare Health exchange.  Considering how the federal Obamacare exchange has been an unmitigated disaster (motto: “16 people served and counting….”), RTP thinks the governor should be thanking the Tea Parties for helping prevent his self-immolation.

On one hand you had the combined might of the Chamber of Commerce, the Tennessee Hospital Association and the Red Boiling Springs Ladies Quilting Society lobbying their butts off trying to stick taxpayers with the increased costs of joining Obama and his expansion scheme.

What makes this even more interesting is that almost every single lobbyist or PR guru hired by the private sector to try and turn the tidal wave in favor of expansion has his or her roots in the Democratic party.  Yeah, that’ll work:  Hire Democrats to influence a legislature with a Republican supermajority.  Genius!  Why didn’t we think of that?

That’s sort of like UT re-hiring Lane Kiffen to be their new recruiting coach.

And the result was predictable:  a slam dunk, in-your-face bill that requires the governor not to do anything until he asks the legislature for permission – sort of like a hall pass to go to the bathroom.

Already, numerous Republican governors in numerous states have rejected, paused or expressed serious doubts about ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion taxpayer boondoggle.

Now if Tennessee just had a conservative Republican governor, we would be in good shape.  Oh, well…..

“Oh, the wheels on the bus go round-and-round….”

bus

 

 

Pity poor Rep. Ryan Haynes.  After fronting for the governor’s buddy on the Proton Therapy center by introducing legislation to require the state to pay for the more expensive cancer treatment, Haynes found himself in the hot seat in a Channel 5 (Nashville) interview.  When asked a seemingly innocent question about investors in the project, Haynes blew his top, ripping off his microphone and declaring “this interview is over” and stomping off camera.

So how did playing the good soldier for the governor’s crony work out for Rep.Haynes?  On the same day the interview aired the governor publicly withdrew his support for the legislation, which would explain the tire tracks Haynes has been sporting around the LP.

The Proton Therapy Center will now have to rely on the skills of their lobbyist, Tom Ingram to pull their rears out of the fire.  After witnessing how quickly the governor threw the Rep. under the bus, Tom might want to look both ways before crossing the street.