The editorial page of the Jackson Sun appears to be a liberal island amidst a sea of conservatives. But isolated fuzzy-headed liberals can get at little, well, fuzzy-headed when they attempt to vilify conservatives as just political hacks with impure motives.
While attempting to go after Rep. Rick Womick for his comments about Haslam’s targeting fellow sitting Republicans, the Jackson Sun led with this beauty:
“…the article on Womick’s comments we saw by The Associated Press presented no evidence that Haslam had any hand in directing what his supporters did.”
No evidence? Really? A cursory examination of the state’s Election Registry (accessible by editors, reporters and 3rd graders from anywhere in the world) would reveal that some of Haslam’s biggest contributors as well as a key fundraiser and direct mail consultant (who works closely with the governor’s chief adviser, Tom Ingram) were directly responsible for the attacks. These aren’t just benign “supporters” carrying out some rogue operation. It would take a naïve idiot to believe or assert that Haslam’s hands were clean. Yet that is exactly what the Jackson Sun editors would have you believe.
In a subsequent article by reporter Andrea Zelinski, Haslam himself danced around her questions: “[Haslam] stopped short of denying any involvement the group.” Would the junior Woodward & Bernsteins at the Sun care to ask the obvious appropriate question formulated years ago by Howard Baker: “What did the Governor know and when did he know it?” Don’t hold your breath.
Weasel words from the administration have only served to fan the flames of resentment among many, perhaps most, of the GOP caucus members. The governor and his chief of staff need to stop squirming around the questions and own up to their political miscalculation and to try and restore at least some of their squandered trust by guaranteeing this will not happen again. Not sure if anyone in the legislature would believe them right now, but it would be a start.
For good measure, the Sun added this:
“People within political parties must be free to disagree on issues without worrying about their standing within the party … They must be free to vote their conscience without fear of retribution from their own party.”
Despite the Sun’s bloviating about “voting their conscience,” voting their conscience on Common Core appears to be precisely what generated the retribution of attacks on Republican legislators by their own “Republican” governor and his allies and staff. Anyone else see the inanity of the Sun’s line of reasoning?
We will end with one last gem from the libs at the Sun:
“Members of both political parties in [Nashville] must ditch the idea that someone is the enemy if they aren’t in lockstep on every issue.”
Yeah, Governor. If we didn’t know better, one would think they were talking about you.
After RTP’s earlier posting on the resignation of Huffman’s incompetent education data czar (Erin “TCAP” O’Hara) one of our crew stumbled across a news article from the Greeneville (TN) Sun that ran last weekend.
The Sun story revealed the incompetence of the state Dept. of Education in general and Ms. O’Hara’s shop in particular.
The Greeneville Sun
Education Dept. Error Raises Questions About Accountability
Apparent errors made by the Tennessee Department of Education in the first version of recently released 2014 School Accountability Lists have local educators questioning whether the labels the measurement system places on schools are doing more harm than good.
On Aug. 14, the Focus and Priority lists were first sent to superintendents statewide but embargoed from public release.
Greeneville City Director of Schools Dr. Linda Stroud saw that GHS and Tusculum View Elementary School were on the Focus list.
“Those are two of our highest performing schools,” she said.
“We knew we wouldn’t have any schools on Priority or Focus because we know the data of our schools, and they’re knocking the top out of it,” Stroud said.
With that data in hand, on Friday, Aug. 15, the city schools team reached out to Assistant Commissioner of Education Erin O’Hara, who serves as director of data and assessment for the state.
By Monday morning, Aug. 18, Stroud had not received a return call from O’Hara, so the decision was made to inform the schools’ principals in preparation for the list’s public release the following morning.
En route to GHS, Stroud received O’Hara’s return call. Bryant and Shelton participated in the conversation.
“She said, ‘Well, we looked at your data, and both of your schools are still on the list,'” Stroud recalled.
“I said, ‘Explain that to us. What are you looking at, because what we’re looking at, we’re in safe harbor. Why are we still on this list?'”
“We said, ‘Wait a minute. What are you doing? That’s not what the waiver says,’ and she [O’Hara] said, ‘What are you talking about?'”
Stroud pointed out the state’s waiver from No Child Left Behind — called the ESEA Flexibility Request — which includes in it guidelines for accountability and how safe harbor should be applied.
“There was a long silence. I didn’t even know if we were still connected. She just said, ‘I’ll have to have further discussions,'” Stroud said.
Stroud heard nothing else from the State Department of Education for the rest of the day, and the two schools’ principals operated as if they were going to be placed on the Focus list.
REVISED WITHOUT EXPLANATION
But on Tuesday, Aug. 19, when the School Accountability lists were released to the public — several hours after the scheduled release time, prompting an investigation by The Greeneville Sun — neither GHS nor Tusculum View Elementary School were included on the Focus list.
Stroud said that a comparison of the two versions showed a change in status for approximately 40 schools.
Although individual districts were apparently contacted to discuss the changes, no overall explanation for the changes was given to directors across the state, Stroud said.
Education Commissioner Kevin Huffman has not communicated with superintendents statewide “about why this happened or why the lists were changed,” Stroud said.
Department of Education Communications Director Kelli Gauthier confirmed to the Sun that the school districts received a preliminary embargoed list, and that safe harbors were applied, which changed the list.
Several questions from the Sun about how the safe harbor parameters were initially applied were not answered.
An Open Records request for the initial embargoed list had not received a response as of press time.
“It’s so hard to get people to understand how [accountability] is formulated anyway. But when you put a one-word label on somebody, that’s easy to understand,” Fraley said.
“It’s really hard to express. It sets a tone of distrust from here to Nashville. We don’t want our children labeled,” Donaldson said.
Stroud said she is relieved to have clarified the issue for Greeneville City Schools, but feels the state Department of Education needs to be held accountable.
“I don’t want people thinking that GHS and Tusculum View were on a list and I somehow got them off of a list. They should have never been on in the first place. They didn’t deserve to be on the list. They didn’t earn to be on the list,” Stroud said.
“This shows the lack of confidence that those in the field can place in our current data and accountability system.”
Stroud said she told Department of Education officials her thoughts about the situation.
“The Tennessee Department of Education needs to be held to the same high standards of accountability to which they are holding our teachers, students and school districts.
So Miss Erin really screwed up and it appears the Haslam Administration had no choice but to fire her, er, announce her resignation. And that begs the inevitable question:
Why does her arrogant, doofus boss still have a job?
[Editor’s Note: Typically, the major media completely ignored this story. Kudos to Sun reporter Sarah Gregory for a thorough job of producing an actual in-depth news story at a time when the large news outlets balk at writing more than a couple of hundred words on any subject. Sarah, you have a job waiting for you at RTP just as soon as we can get the Koch Brothers to write us a big check. That may take a while….]
With the slow-motion demise of the Tennessean, it was probably inevitable that former newspaper types (a booming group) would wax nostalgic about the “glory days.”
So when Bruce Dobie and others failed in their attempt to buy the grossly over-priced Tennessean for $200 million, they dusted of the old Nashville Banner masthead, prompting a spasm of glee from like-minded supporters. “Finally!” they said. “A real newspaper!”
Here’s the problem: One reason the Tennessean, and practically every other legacy unit of the Mainstream Media is failing is that their business model doesn’t work anymore (think “major record labels”). But another huge reason the journalistic re-treads are loathe to acknowledge is that they have been writing a product that ignores, even scorns, the large majority of their market.
While Tennessee has been galloping to the right, the Tennessean held fast to it’s liberal, Democrat biases (how noble), and watched while thousands of readers and million of dollars in advertising walked right out the door. The result was predictable and merciless. And now former liberals want to put a new masthead on a piece of newsprint and, we assume, revert to their old liberal ways and expect a different result. The irony here, of course, is that they want to “revive” the Banner, which was general considered a conservative outlet during its day.
FOX News and conservative talk radio are successful for a reason. There is also a reason for the failing fortunes of MSNBC and liberal newspapers like the Tennessean.
All this good advice comes straight from the fine folks at RTP. And it didn’t cost you a dime — much less $200 million.
The Department of Education bureaucrat who was at the center of the TCAP testing disaster in May has left the building.
Erin O”Hara, who was Kevin “IVFO” Huffman’s point person in his illegal delay, manipulation and misuse of the TCAP scores, has left (was fired?) her post, as reported by the Tennessean. We say illegal, despite AG Bob “Please let me stay” Cooper’s tortured “opinion” that attempted to exonerate Huffman’s clear violation of state law and the intent of the legislature.
As regular readers of RTP will remember, back on May 21st, our writers were the first to focus attention on Ms. O’Hara:
But here is the most important thing to remember about Ms. O’Hara-Block: she never spent one day as a teacher in the classroom. Instead she took her nose-bleed education and $50 million of our tax dollars and in one fell swoop made the lives of over a million Tennessee teachers, administrators, students and parents absolutely miserable. That leads to the inevitable question:
Why does Erin O’Hara block still have her job?
And why hasn’t her boss, Kevin “IVFO” Huffman been forced to resign?
So now that the proper length of time has elapsed to allow Huffman and Haslam a semblance of cover, Erin is out on her keister. No word yet on whether her miscreant boss will be held accountable for his role in this scandal. But rumors are bouncing around LP that Huffman’s day of judgment may be nigh. (RTP will have more on that later)
O’Hara says she is leaving in mid-career in order to travel to Europe.
We hear Ukraine is lovely this time of year.
In a “re-arrange the deck chairs” move, the Haslam administration has hastily arranged an “Education Summit”, with no published agenda and a dubious guest list.
These guys’ efforts would be comical, if they were not so transparent. Does anyone in their right mind believe Bill Haslam when he says this summit “is a chance to review where we’ve been, take a look at where we are today, and make sure we’re planning for where we want to go?” Remember, this is the same governor who secretly arranged 12 closed-door meetings around the state to discuss Common Core, then only invited Common Core supporters while also excluding legislators, news media and elected local school boards. Oh, and he used lobbyists to help set up the meetings, including one who works for the biggest pig at the trough — Pearson, Inc.
This is the same governor who directed his staff and consultants to recruit and fund candidates to try and defeat incumbent Republicans who dared to oppose his Common Core agenda.
So now he slaps together some half-assed conference, mostly attended by yes-men and women who either work for him or who are sucking down education tax dollars to line their own pockets. After trying to defeat fellow Republicans and stifle any public dissent, do they really think a bogus last-second “summit” will sufficiently whitewash the glaring deficiencies of the disaster that is Common Core? Do they think this will lessen the growing personal animus held by many in the GOP caucus towards their “Republican” governor?
NOW he wants to make nice?
“It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.” — Bill Clinton, 1998
Andrea Zelinski of the NashvillePost asked a couple of hard questions of Gov. Bill Haslam regarding the targeting and funding of efforts to defeat incumbent legislators of his own party.
In response, Haslam tried to duck and weave away from responsibility, but failed miserably to remove the odious nature of his activities and those of his staff and his friends. Instead, he revealed a bizarre disconnect between his actions and his painfully lame justifications for those actions. Here is RTP’s dead-on analysis of the prevarications and evasions our governor attempted as he twisted himself with moral gymnastics that would have made Bubba blush.
Asked whether he denies Womick’s assertion that the governor had a direct hand in targeting lawmakers, Haslam said, “Again, I have folks who have supported us who are concerned about who gets elected to the legislature, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
RTP: Note that the Guv did not answer the question. Does his reference to unnamed “folks who have supported us” include his chief of staff, Mark Cate? You’re damn right it does. Does it include state party chair, Chris Devaney and/or others that he encouraged and directed? Very likely. But isn’t it more than just a little cowardly to try to remove yourself from actions that you obviously knew about and either approved or did not try to dissuade others from carrying out?
Haslam said, “I didn’t select one opponent, I can assure you that.” He added he didn’t encourage anyone to run against targeted legislators.
RTP: He didn’t select one opponent”? Did he select more than “one”? There is scant difference in directing your chief of staff to recruit and doing it yourself. In fact, as a political matter, there is no difference between the two. His excruciating parsing is as artless as it is stupid. It’s the same defense one uses when trying to convince the cops that you were only driving the getaway car: “I didn’t actually rob the bank.” Same crime, same complicity, same guilt.
As you know, contests get very personal. And so you start to hear lots of conversation back and forth about who’s doing this or that, and you know, it’s not always accurate,” he said
RTP: No Sh**, Sherlock. Contests can “get very personal,” and the governor and his lackeys made it VERY personal. “Not always accurate” pretty much sums up the governors entire response,
The governor’s smarmy parsing of words only adds to the discomfort among legislators – even those he considers friends – who realize that at some point the governor is likely to do the same thing to them (“I know that Mark Cate and three cabinet members testified the administration supported your bill, but they were only speaking for themselves. Did you ever actually hear me personally say I was backing your legislation? Well, did you?).
Man up, Bill. Take responsibility for your actions. And quit trying to convince us of your version of “I never had sex with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” It’s unseemly, lacks character and it doesn’t work.
You not only govern like a Democrat. You’re actually beginning to sound like one….