Well, he’s sure running Tennessee with the same openness and competence exhibited by the current occupant of the White House.
First there was the refusal to publicly release his taxes (even in the face of a major corruption investigation into his family’s business). Then there was the under-the-table payments to his lobbyist/consultant (nah, that didn’t look sleazy at all). There was the attempt to open state lands to fracking — by a company associated with a member of the board of Pilot/Flying J, who hired the brother of the governor’s chief fundraiser to lobby the administration. And let’s not forget the sweetheart deal with Jones-LaSalle uncovered by Nashville’s Channel 5 that just reeked of crony capitalism, if not outright corruption.
Yep, Haslam has learned how to govern “the Chicago Way.” Haslam apparently admires Barack Obama so much he even hired one of the president’s most ardent supporters — a fellow Democrat (Kevin “I voted for Obama” Huffman) to run Tennessee’s schools.
But this week the governor has taken his penchant for running Tennessee like Obama a step further. He is currently holding secret meetings and excluding the elected officials who the voters elected to represent them in such matters. Word leaked out of Bradley County that yesterday the governor held a closed, invitation only meeting with a small group of educators, most of who are supporters or paid representatives of the administration Common Core agenda. According to sources on the Bradley County School Board, the governor’s office instructed participants NOT to invite members of the school board and NOT to tell the media about the meeting. RTP’s sources tell us that the Secret Tour moved to Clarksville today, with the same instructions and the same closed door/no-opposing-voices-allowed meeting.
After 15 Republican legislators sent the governor a letter asking for the removal of Kevin Huffman, the governor sneered that the legislators “weren’t interested in open dialogue.”
Clearly, the governor has a different definition of “open dialogue” than the rest of us.
Yeah, yeah. We know the title of this article is likely to cause conniptions among some of those at union headquarters. But what are we to think when the TEA continues to refuse to make a formal call for Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman’s firing? Does the TEA lobbyist have his nose so far up the governor’s nether regions that he cannot bring himself to join the 15 legislators, 58 school superintendents, a couple of newspapers and thousands of teachers (and thousands of TEA’s own members) who have sign petitions to throw Huffman’s sorry butt out of the Volunteer state?
Here is today’s quote in TNReport.com from TEA lobbyist, Jim Wrye:
And the Tennessee Education Association, the state’s largest teachers’ union, believes that the TCAP delay is another in a line of issues with the state’s top education executive, said Jim Wrye, government relations manager for the TEA.
“The policies were placed in that it would be anywhere between 15 and 25 percent of a student’s grade, and that it wasn’t ready at the end of school just threw a huge wrench into what is one of the most important things — which are final grades — for students, and especially for teachers,” Wrye said.
Wrye, though acknowledging he’s not a lawyer, said he found the AG’s opinion interesting because “the idea that you could be exempted from student assessments was something that was prohibited in that flexibility bill. It was something we had discussed at length during the legislative session.”
Notice that for all his blathering and “concern,” he never got around to actually calling for Huffman’s resignation. Oh, and it should also be noted that TEA sits on the board of S.C.O.R.E., the wholly-owned subsidiary of Pearson, Inc. who has been Huffman’s greatest supporter and protector.
Leadership got your tongue, Jim? We noticed you have started to make contributions to Republicans in a rather pathetic attempt to get them to forget that your organization spent the last 50 years or so trying to make sure that no Republican got elected or re-elected. You think we didn’t noticed the moola you sent to Jimmy Naifeh, Bob Rochelle, Randy Rinks and the rest of the Democrat Party?
Just say the word, Jim. Say it:
We know you can do it. The only question is why you won’t.
Touched a nerve did we?
Recently RTP revealed Rep. Charles Sargent’s campaign manager is the wife of the lobbyist for Pfizer, a firm that has funneled thousands in campaign contributions to Sargent. Lobbyist Josh Brown took to his wife’s Facebook page to respond, but in so doing created even more questions about his cozy relationship with Sargent.
Brown says he wanted to “make the facts known.” But he did nothing to refute the following facts listed by RTP. They are (we repeat):
1. Josh Brown is the paid, in-house lobbyist for Pfizer. In that role, he frequently lobbies the chairman of the House Finance Committee, Charles Sargent.
2. Pfizer made thousands in campaign contributions to Sargent, with Brown’s sign off.
3. Charles Sargent hired Brown’s wife as his campaign manager and has already paid her thousands of dollars in consulting fees.
Brown claimed this infromation was somehow an attack on his family. That’s absurd. No, what RTP did was simply make public what was already public information. Employing the “Hamas Defense” of using others as some sort of shield against criticism is pretty lame. One cannot lobby and also have their spouse be a paid campaign staffer for the person you are lobbying, then whine when someone notes that they are engaged in politics.
Brown made the claim that just for “this year” his wife is donating her Sargent paycheck to a charity. Gee, really? And just when did they make that decision? Was it about an hour after RTP revealed she was on Sargent’s payroll? Why not just have Sargent’s campaign make a direct contribution to said charity? And why would the Browns suddenly feel the need to earmark just her political paycheck? Josh Brown is in politics too. Why isn’t he donating HIS paycheck as well?
But for the sake of argument, would Brown care to provide contemporaneous physical evidence of a paycheck earmark from his wife to the specific “charity?” Or is such a claim just a ruse to try to wash the smell off the money she got from Sargent? Random altruism? We have our obvious doubts.
Brown’s claimed he has never tried to exert “undue influence” on Sargent. Love that word — “undue”. Just what is “undue” and who sets the standard? “Undue” is what we here at RTP call a “weasel word.” We noticed Brown did not deny the thousands of dollars in contributions from his employer to Sargent, some of which Sargent then uses to pay Brown’s wife. Nah, move along — there’s no conflict or unseemly “undue” activity going on here.
Would Brown might like to tell us every piece of legislation he has ever discussed with Sargent (likely to be a long list). Has Brown ever asked to Rep. Sargent to carry, vote for or against, or kill a piece of legislation that would benefit his client? Of course he has — that’s what lobbyists do. Nothing wrong with that and nothing wrong with being paid to do it. But don’t sit there wrapped in a “holier-than-thou” attitude and try to peddle crap about how such an incestuous relationship with a politician is all hunky-dory. It’s not. And don’t pretend that double dipping into the political coffers by having your wife on the payroll of an elected official to whom you funnel thousands in contributions is okay. It’s not.
Look, the folks at RTP are not out to “get” the Browns. We simply pointed out the unseemly nature of their cozy relationship with Sargent. The Browns chose to enter the political arena and be paid handsomely for doing so. But it’s the appearance of such relationships that is the reason the public has such a low opinion of government and politicians these days.
Lobbyists and political operatives like the Browns would be wise to remember that theirs is a profession that requires a level of moral and ethical gymnastics that most people can’t stomach. Lots of people are involved in the political arena (In fact, every single contributor at RTP has been actively involved in politics and has been paid for their efforts). But when someone gins up contrived “outrage” for having someone else reveal what they do for a living, don’t be surprised when their complaints are not viewed sympathetically by the voters or anyone else.
Less than 24 hours after RTP published our story about the connection between Williamson Strong and the scuz buckets at SEIU, a central figure in that unholy alliance, Susan Drury, tried to whitewash her LinkedIn page.
Drury removed her professional status, thinking foolishly that doing so would help conceal her involvement in the “grassroots” organization that just appeared from nowhere to influence next month’s school board elections.
Lois Lerner tried to make her emails disappear. Drury tried to do the same with her internet resume.
We now await the protests and fulminations of other members of Williamson Strong that theirs is truly a spontaneous and genuine group of “concerned parents” and not just the front group for a thug union like the SEIU. SEIU clearly wants access to taxpayer money in the form of new members for their union, and Susan Drury is their “community organizer.” With a resume like Susan’s, why maybe she could someday run for governor –even president! The current occupant of the White House was a “community organizer” too, and look how well that turned out.
In the interim, here is yet another screen shot of Drury’s recently deleted LinkedIn page. As an added bonus, the listing also showed that Drury worked with the SEIU to help pass ObamaCare! How nice.
Unlike Lois Lerner’s email, Susan would do well to remember: the Internet is forever.
It’s getting close to the silly season that marks the last stages of the August primary election. And some legislative wannabe candidates are swinging for the fence, and whiffing in the process.
Some guy named Clark Boyd wants to be a state senator in the seat now held by Sen. Mae Beavers. This district is one of the most conservative in a conservative state. For years now, Beavers has been regarded as one of — probably the most — conservative members of the state legislature. The not so subtle word on the street is that the establishment types in the GOP, including Gov. Haslam, would love to see Beavers defeated. Their main complaint seems to be her annoying habit of bringing attention to those members who are conservatives at election time, but legislate back to the Left when they get to Nashville.
So the “powers-that-be” and their Lobbyist allies went out and recruited some poor schmuck to take on Beavers. And this is what he and his campaign came up with as a winning strategy:
Seriously? Mae Beavers “failed to defend our conservative principles?”
The only thing more ridiculous than claiming Mae Beavers is NOT a conservative is trying to claim Bill Haslam IS.
You gotta hand it to the Common Core Caliphate known as S.C.O.R.E.
Just when you thought they couldn’t spend any more of those millions of dollars they got from the Race To The Top taxpayer-funded slush fund, they find yet another way to waste our money on everything but the actual education of our children.
But this time they are walking real close to a dangerous line. Last week they trotted out yet another new “initiative” (how many does that make now, 143?) called the Tennessee Educator Fellowship. It looks for all the world like they are training and paying teachers to promote SCORE’s policies and legislative initiatives. The following comes from their website:
Score will select… 20 classroom teachers. The Fellows will … inform policymakers, and advocate for policies…
The fellowship… will weigh in on policy conversations at the state and local level.
Each Fellow will receive a $5,000 stipend.
Sure sounds like paid lobbying to us. The minions at SCORE tried their best to employ weasel words in their announcement and application to avoid calling them lobbyists, but to no avail. Does SCORE intend to register these teachers with the Tennessee Ethics Commission? It appears such activities would clearly fall under the Tennessee Ethics legal definitions of lobbying:
“Lobby” means to communicate, directly or indirectly, with any official in the legislative branch or executive branch for the purpose of influencing any legislative action or administrative action. (T.C.A. § 3‐6‐301(16)(A))
“Lobbyist” means any person who engages in lobbying for compensation. (T.C.A. § 3‐6‐301(18))
Sign up now to be the first to file a complaint with the Ethics Commission.
Whenever a slick new “parent education organization” or similar “grass-roots, do good” venue is launched, one should be advised to hold on to their wallets — because extracting more money from the taxpayers for their political agendas is usually not far behind.
But this week’s “Chutzpah Award” goes to Williamson Strong, a “parent organization” that seems to have sprouted miraculously from the “grassroots” for the purpose of “public awareness for the need for people to educate themselves on school issues.” Their website shows that they are setting themselves up to get involved in promoting certain candidates, especially for school board. And just who are some of those behind this seemingly benign organization?
That’s right: Williamson Strong is believed to be the brainchild of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). This is the same union that slavishly promote every left-wing cause known to man and who are among the biggest financial backers ($61 million) of Barack Obama and his education agenda aimed at removing local and state control over schools. SEIU staffers and Obama campaign staff were practically interchangeable in the last election. You cannot get more left-wing than the SEIU.
This is also the same union whose thugs savagely beat an African-American man in St. Louis because he attended an ObamaCare protest meeting:
So what’s the connection between the goons of the SEIU and Williamson Strong? Meet Susan Drury.
According to the Franklin Homepage, Ms. Drury is one of the founding members of Williamson Strong. Her day job has been the SEIU’s Regional Research and Strategic Campaign Director. That’s right: Susan Drury is a union organizer for one of the most brutal and morally corrupt unions in the country.
RTP is also hot on the trail of a very similar organization in Sumner County called Strong Schools. Same website platform, same glamour shots of key players, same verbiage, duplicate links, etc.
Is the SEIU behind that organization as well?
Few things are as transparent or absurd as a liberal columnist for a liberal newspaper offering advice to conservatives.
In a Sunday column, Frank Daniels “The Third” tried to spin a ridiculous meme that being in favor of the expensive ObamaCare Medicaid expansion was actually a conservative value. Sure, Frank. And rooting for the Vols is a demonstration of your support for the Crimson Tide. What’s next: Nancy Pelosi taking advice from Ron Ramsey?
Frank The Third just glossed over the glaringly obvious pitfalls of expanding Medicaid and its potentially devastating impact on Tennessee taxpayers and the state budget — pitfalls that have caused 24 states to reject the expansion. For good measure, The Third said that those who opposed Medicaid expansion were “juvenile and petulant,” “obstinate” and “childish.” Whew! Been working the ol’ Thesaurus overtime to expand your name-calling capabilities, eh, Frank?
Here are the facts about the glorious and wonderfuil Medicaid expansion that every lefty from Barack to Bill Ayers has been trying to sell:
The expansion is not “free.” To suck in states and get them addicted/committed to the whole Obamacare scheme, the feds say they will pay all or most of the costs until 2020. What happens then, Frank? You expect us to believe the federal government will continue funding the expansion at the 90% level? The same damn thing happened to TennCare until it got so bad, Gov. Phil Bredesen cut hundreds of thousands from the rolls because the state could no longer afford even their smaller percentage of matching funds in order to attract the federal dollars. On the same day Frank was trotting out his argument, no less than the Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson said expansion could be black hole for taxpayers:
One is the assumption that the 90 percent reimbursement rate remains permanently. Why should it? To curb budget deficits, Congress might cut it. “The ACA says what it says. Future Congresses can repeal or modify it”….. Could the favorable reimbursement be bait-and-switch? States’ actual costs could be higher than assumed. Why make a bad problem worse?
Frank is like those gullible consumers who fall for the old scam of signing up for a lifetime of huge interest payments because some credit card company made a “Free Introductory Offer: 0% Interest (for the first 3 months). Taxpayers have Been There, Done That on everything from income taxes to “users fees.” But liberals like Frank The Third keep trying to convince us “down is up.”
But towards the end of his column Frank the Third’s liberal slip finally shows when he advocates the expansion of TennCare through a “special sales tax.” Geez, Frank, couldn’t you keep up the “Ich bin ein conservative” charade long enough to make it all the way through just one column?
Having a liberal like Frank The Third try to tell us what is and is not “conservative” is a hoot.
It was no accident Frank’s column came exactly at the same time Gov. Haslam was meeting with the new U.S. HHS secretary, in which he made his 43rd pitch to let us spend the fed’s expansion money “the Tennessee way” (whatever the hell that is). The secretary gave the Guv the predictable “middle finger” response to his attempt to force feed us a Medicaid expansion the state legislature has already bagged, tagged and buried.
Maybe you and the governor should get together and compare notes, Frank. A couple of “hard-core, right wing conservatives” like you two should have a lot in common.
Haslam to Talk with New US Health Sec. About Medicaid Expansion
Associated Press, July 9, 2014
Talk all you want Bill, you still need a permission slip from the General Assembly.
You got to give “Republican” Gov. Bill Haslam some credit — he’s consistent on at least some things. In the case of the expensive Medicaid expansion the Obama administration is trying to force on the states, Bill just won’t stop beating that dead horse. His obsession with doing Obama’s bidding is exactly why the legislature passed a bill that requires the governor to get permission from them before he does anything on Medicaid expansion.
Why did they do that? It’s simple — they don’t trust him. Nor should they.
Now if only the legislature would do the same thing to get the Guv and his minion, Kevin Huffman, to stop promoting Obama’s education agenda.
For all of those politicians, bureaucrats and hangers-on who were hoping — praying — that Rocky Top Politics would fade away, sorry.
Instead, we have hit another milestone! RTP has been in business for only a little over three months and already we have had over 75,000 unique visitors to our little site. When we started we had less than 150 viewers per day. Now we get nearly 1,200 per day. What’s more, we have steadily grown each month of operation to the point we are now averaging 30,000 viewers per month. Not bad for a group of obviously deranged and socially-maladjusted malcontents.
Why if we didn’t know better, we might think people were tuning in because we are filling a rather obvious void in political analysis and commentary in Tennessee.
Or maybe they think we’re a porn site.
Either way — thanks for reading.