Mary Mancini, the high priestess of the Looney Left is now reaping what her party sowed when it took political correctness to its illogical extreme. She is undoubtedly in favor of Memphis Democrats’ plans of digging up Nathan Bedford Forrest and his wife and moving them to a more remote location. Nothing like a good phony issue to detract the masses from other Memphis issues like government corruption and failed schools, eh, Mary?
Mary has now “opened a discussion” about Andrew Jackson’s place in Tennessee and Democratic Party history
(which really means she is in favor of digging up and reburying the reputation of Jackson). Why stop at Jackson? What about Thomas Jefferson, Mary? He was not only a slave owner but a misogynist as well (just ask Sally Hemings).
Want to dig him up too? And let’s not overlook another Democrat Tennessee President, James Knox Polk, who was a major slave owner before and after he was president.
The only Tennessee President who would pass muster under Queen Mary’s rules was Andrew Johnson who did not own any slaves. But he was a Republican, so that might be a problem.
While they are digging up bones, Mary and Democrats may also want to exhume the body of Al Gore, Sr. and move it to a more obscure location. The father of the former vice-president was one of the infamous cabal of southern Democrats who voted against the 1964 Civil
Rights Act. He even joined the 76-day filibuster by southern segregationists (of whom all but one were inconveniently Democrats) to try and block the bill from ever coming to a vote. That sure looks like a racist to us. Off with his head and away with his body!
We suggest Mancini take her witch hunt to West Virginia where the late Robert Byrd, Democratic Leader of the U.S. Senate, not only used the “N-word” on occasion, but was a former member of the Ku Klux Klan. Of course the people there may object to Mancini’s crusade of moral superiority.
Before Mary tries to expunge the name of Robert Byrd in that state, she might want to take a gun for self-defense, it being West Virginia and all. Oh, wait, that’s right: Mary and her merry band of hypocrites are against guns.
Have a nice trip, Mary. Write and let us know if you find a clue.
“Hi there. My name’s Bill Haslam and I am here to raise your taxes.”
Fresh from his resounding “victories” on InsureTN, Common Core and in-state tuition for illegal aliens, the governor has announced the “Bill Haslam I-want-to-raise-your-taxes Tour.” It’s sure to be a big hit with the common folk.
That’s right, Bill Haslam wants to make every family in the state pay more for gasoline, just as we finally got a break in the price at the pump (We can’t have taxpayers putting any of their own money back into their own pockets, can we?)
Haslam just announced a 15-city tour around the Volunteer state to sell his tax hike. (“Gee, Chrissy, if Don Sundquist had only done a big tour like this, we could have a state income tax right now!)
Haslam is doing this just as the state announced it had “over-collected” taxes by over $500 million. That’s right. We have a big honkin’ surplus and you know what that means – time to raise taxes! Speaker Beth Harwell fired a warning shot across the bow of the SS Stupid, making the modest suggestion we use part of the $500 million to help pay for road projects. But the governor ignored her slightly veiled threat and instead insists we need to “restructure” the revenue formula for transportation. For those of you who are uninitiated in poli-speak, “revenue restructuring” is code for “I’m going to raise your taxes.”
This guy never seems to learn. He has had one agenda item after another shoved where the sun don’t shine, but he keeps plugging away. The fact that he wants the legislature to do this during an election year has left legislators, political observers and pundits slack-jawed at his political ineptness.
You have to give Bill Haslam credit for persistence.
Fiscal Review Director Resigns. Rep. Mark White Cites “Tension.”
Jeff Spalding announced he was leaving as the state’s chief Fiscal Review guru, less than 9 months after he took the job. Joint Fiscal Review chairman Mark White said there was “tension” between some of the lawmakers and Spalding. In this case, RTP speculates “tension” is nothing more than a euphemism for Spalding being asked to essentially lie through his teeth to come up with bogus numbers leadership needed to kill bills they disagreed with.
Anyone with half a brain knows that leadership and committee and subcommittee chairmen like Mike Harrison, Charles Sargent, Mark White, etc. regularly used the fiscal note as a bludgeon to kill legislation they didn’t like – especially legislation that likely would pass if the entire legislature got a chance to vote on it. More often than not, controversial and dubious fiscal notes are produced with no one claiming or accepting responsibility for having requested them. It’s a tactic people like Harrison learned at the knee of Jimmy Naifeh.
Big fiscal notes are then used to kill legislation outright or as an excuse to put a bill “behind the governor’s budget” – an almost certain sentence of death.
Abusing the fiscal note is a slimy, dishonest and underhanded tactic, using highly questionable criteria, sometimes created out of thin air and within hours or minutes of when it is needed to kill legislation that leadership doesn’t like. RTP has exposed the practice before (See “Lies, Damn Lies and Fiscal Notes”). In that article RTP suggested that then-Fiscal Review Director Lucian Geise might want to get his resume updated. In fact, Geise was gone less than 9 months later, replaced by Spalding, who lasted a mere 6 months.
A great example of how it’s done was the open carry gun bill sponsored by Rep. Micah Van Huss a while back. He got his bill out of subcommittee, and then magically, overnight, a ludicrous $100,000 fiscal note gets attached to his bill. The Van Huss bill’s fiscal note was almost comical in its reasoning: It claimed the state would have to reprint permit cards to reflect the new privilege of open carry. And just where did the anonymous $100,000 calculation come from? It was obviously pulled right out of leadership’s butt.
One of the more notorious examples of fiscal note abuse by the leadership was a Hall Income Tax bill by Rep. Billy Spivey. For weeks, his bill carried a nominal $50,000 fiscal note. One afternoon, his bill got put on notice to be heard the next day. Then at 3:00AM (as in the middle of the night) someone anonymously had the Finance Review staff put a $5 million fiscal note on Spivey’s bill – an astronomical increase. Hours later, the bill was defeated with the excuse that it just “cost too much money.”
What’s more, leadership has for years blatantly ignored or twisted their own rules on fiscal notes. Fiscal notes are supposed to be calculated and attached to a bill shortly after a bill’s introduction or being placed on the calendar, to give legislators time to research, consider, discuss and/or dispute the note and the merits of the bill. That rule is rarely followed and many bills not favored by the leadership are jerked around and slapped with a B.S. fiscal note at the last second.
RTP also reported on this phenomenon: (“Let’s Get Fiscal”). We are nothing, if not thorough.
We will likely never know for sure if Spalding resigned over such shenanigans, but what is clear is that the fiscal note process is regularly used to cheat the process and to deny the voters the right to have legitimate floor votes on legislation.
Word is Speaker Harwell is going to replace Spalding with some former Enron accountants who are now out of prison and looking for work. Or maybe one of the bean-counting geniuses at Lehman Brothers?
Any way you add up the numbers, count on the taxpayers to get screwed.
The murders in Chattanooga by an Islamic terrorist brought out the expected gaggle of politicians, replete with hand-wringing pronouncements and oozing sympathy for the families of the slain.
Without a doubt, most of the expressions of grief and support – even by politicians – was genuine and heartfelt. But the state’s chief politician, with his dismal record of addressing radical Islamic issues, chose to dither in the wake of the tragedy.
Even after governors in at least 14 other states quickly allowed National Guard recruiters to carry firearms to protect themselves, Bill Haslam is still “studying” how he should respond. Maybe this is his version of “leading from behind.” In the past he has been quick to criticize and marginalize past state legislative attempts to address concerns about a situation that has now left five dead on Tennessee soil. The result of such inaction was illustrated by an article in Politico this weekend headlined: “Tennessee is the Capital of American Jihad.”
Rep. Judd Matheny called out Haslam a few days ago by reminding the public that he personally warned the governor as far back as 2012 that something like this could happen and urged him to take preventive measures. The governor’s response to Matheny’s information? That Matheny somehow “owed the Muslim community an apology.” In light of his own neglect, RTP wonders if the governor now owes the families of the slain an apology.
RTP joins other Tennesseans and Americans of honoring our military personal and offering heartfelt condolences. But Tennesseans should have no sympathy for posturing politicians who ignore threats, try to block protective measures and then after a tragedy in our own state, can’t summon the courage to give our military personnel the means to defend themselves.
The new membership numbers are in from the National Education Association teachers union and the staff at Tennessee Education Association (TEA) must be celebrating. The TEA placed in the Top 5 — top five losers, that is.
Over the last five years, the TEA has lost nearly one out of every three members (28.7%). Just last year, the TEA lost 9% of their membership.
These are horrific numbers for the troubled labor union. Word is the TEA tried to pad the numbers by including some positions which had not been included in past. Regardless of rumors of “cooking the books,” the report that was released was bad enough on its own.
Under the current leadership, look for more of the same. You can’t staff your organization with Yellow Dog Democrats like Jim Wrye and unrepentant Socialists like Chris Brooks and expect the Republican legislature to play along.
One of the Rocky Top crew attended the big AFP soiree at Wills Johnston spread
Tuesday night. There were all kind of activists, political hacks, hangers-on, etc. Republican Megaphone Steve Gill emceed the event and there was even an appearance by Gov. Scott Walker — one of the 378 people running for the Republican nomination for president.
But what caught the eye of many was the surprise appearance of former Rep. Debra Maggart. Yeah, that Maggart. The Maggart of humiliating defeat fame. The same Maggart who joined a Democrat lobbying firm headed by Tom Lee (loyal RTP readers will remember it was Democrat Lee’s Democrat wife, Laurie, who the Haslam administration used to leak legislators’ private health insurance information in an attempt to exact revenge on those legislators who had the nerve to oppose the governor’s attempt at Obamacare/Medicaid expansion scheme called InsureTN).
Many in the party had long been sharpening their political long knives for Maggart, and here she had just walked right into their midst. We assume Maggart checked in advance to make sure the cutlery on the buffet table was of the plastic variety — a girl can’t be too careful, ya know.
Maggart seems to possess a certain immunity to the normal social cues that most people would pick up on and realize that they are not wanted and would either leave the scene or not show up at all. When Maggart roams the halls at LP these days, some Republican legislators will actually duck into doorways or around a corner hallway to avoid having to talk to her. Clients such as Live Nation should know that they have hired a pariah to be their lobbyist. Maybe that’s why they have been taking it in the shorts from the StubHub folks.
We hear Rep. Courtney Rogers is going to host a fundraiser soon. Maybe Maggart will show up there as well.
A couple of weeks ago, RTP asked the question: “Who the heck is Grant Starrett?” Now, thanks to his first campaign filing, we have a clearer picture – and the picture ain’t pretty.
We polled everyone on the crew of RTP, and each of us polled several more old political hands and the answer was pretty much the same: Rarely – if ever – have we seen someone amass as much campaign cash as did Starrett, but do so almost exclusive of the state and district in which he seeks to serve.
Starrett, the Californian-recent-transplant-to-TN running in the 4th Congressional District against Rep. Scott DesJarlais rolled up $731,000 in just one quarter of reporting. Impressive, right? But a simple look at the numbers reveals a very disturbing pattern that should worry anyone in the Volunteer state who holds the quaint notion that Tennessee should be represented by Tennesseans.
71% of Starrett’s itemized contributions came from California — 71%! There are California congressmen who do not get 71% of their contributions from California, but young Grant has done it while running 2,500 miles away in Tennessee. And the overwhelming majority those contributors came from West Los Angeles.
Only 1 (count ‘em – one) person in the 4th District has given Starrett a contribution. You read that right – out of over 300 individual contributors, Starrett managed to find only one yahoo inside the district to give him a contribution. There is also a husband and wife from Signal Mountain who gave him a contribution, but it is not clear whether they live in the 4th District.
With or without the couple from Signal Mountain, over 99% of Starrett’s listed contributions came from OUTSIDE of the district he wants to represent. Look at it this way: What would people in a New York City congressional district think about a candidate in their Upper East Side neighborhood who received most of his money from Murfreesboro or Shelbyville?
“So,” you say, “Surely Starrett got a lot more contributions inside of Tennessee, but outside of the 4th District.” Nope. He got only 28 contributions elsewhere in Tennessee. That means 97% of his contributions are from OUTSIDE the volunteer state. Starrett got almost as much money from Texas or New York as he did from Tennessee.
What’s going on here? Is this a freakin’ joke? Where the hell does Starrett get off thinking he can waltz into our state after only living here a couple of years, tap into his trust fund and his Daddy’s Hollywood friends and purchase a congressional seat populated with hard-working people — nearly every man, woman and child of whom have lived in the 4th District longer than Starrett?
It doesn’t matter whether you like DesJarlais or not —
This is wrong.
Is there a connection?
Two news stories ran in the last 48 hours got RTP to thinking. And as our loyal readers know, that can be dangerous:
In an uncharacteristic move for someone who has been slavishly loyal – at least in public – to the governor, Speaker Beth Harwell blindsided Bill Haslam’s gas tax. Haslam, playing the role of useful idiot, reacted just like Harwell hoped he would:
“[A] one-time fix, a one-time spot of money really doesn’t solve our issue,” Haslam told reporters. “We have a long-term, multi-year, multi-billion dollar problem and we’re going to have to address that at some point in time.”
That’s why, the governor said, he plans to travel the state later this summer and make the case to Tennesseans for more money. The state’s $1.81 billion transportation program, which derives funding from dedicated gas and diesel taxes, is at a virtual standstill when it comes to making progress, he said.
Many observers (i.e., political hacks like the crew at Rocky Top) saw this as an attempt by Harwell to:
- Avoid having to push what is sure to be an unpopular tax increase, and
- Show some distance from an increasingly hapless chief executive who is rolling up one political defeat after another.
If Beth wants to run for Governor in 2018, she needs to show some separation from Haslam, and knee-capping him on the gas tax was ready-made for the task.
And Speaking of Running for Governor…..
Less than 24 hours after Harwell’s bolt from the blue came this little gem from Ingram:
Veteran political operative Tom Ingram has confirmed that he’s no longer serving as a paid consultant to Gov. Bill Haslam, ending a financial relationship that dates back to 2009.
“We’re still friends and I’d do anything I could to help him personally,” Ingram said in an interview.
He declined comment on reports the move was sparked by the governor refusing to follow Ingram’s advice on some matters, including Insure Tennessee. Ingram said he decided it was best to end official consulting “to avoid any issues or questions.”
A little dissection of this curious piece would be helpful here:
The first observation: Among those in the know (which obviously includes RTP), it has been known that Ingram had a falling out with Haslam and/or his consigliere, Mark Cate nearly a year ago. Odder still is why the Dean thinks that a year-old event (which was formalized by the contract ending at the end of last year) now merits a news article.
Seriously, why now with the Ingram piece? Here’s why: The article was classic “Ingram.” He obviously peddled this story to Humphrey and everyone who knows Ingram knows that everything he does is for a reason. Ingram likely said to Humphrey: “Ask me if my departure had anything to do with InsureTN,” to which Humphery dutifully asked: “Did you’re departure have anything to do with Insure TN,” to which Ingram grinningly replied: “No comment.”
See how that works? Ingram is the master of the planted story (aka: slipping in the velvet dagger) to ensure his version of events is the lead meme. But, again, for what purpose? What does this have to do with Harwell?
RTP speculates the pants right off of that rhetorical question and posits that this has everything to do with Harwell. Last year at a reception (conveniently attended by a RTP source, naturally), Harwell spied Ingram speaking to a small group of people and sashays over to him and says: “Tom, I was just telling some folks over there that Lamar, Bob Corker and Bill Haslam are all here tonight and that I may be the only person in the room for whose campaign you have never consulted. We may just have to fix that, won’t we?” The implication was clear to those who witnessed the incident: Harwell wanted people to gin up the rumor mill that she was going to run for governor in 2018 and that Ingram could/would be her consultant.
So Harwell declares her independence from Bill Haslam just hours apart from Tom Ingram doing the same thing.
We gossip. You decide.
Looking positively California chic in his blue blazer and open-neck checkered shirt, short-term Haslam chief of staff Mark Cate held forth on a panel discussion at the RGA senior staff retreat in Dana Point, California earlier today and yesterday.
Sitting under cream-colored umbrellas while overlooking the Pacific Ocean at the St. Regis Hotel, Cate must have enthralled his luncheon tablemates while they noshed on quinoa salad and mini soft tacos.
The title of the panel led by Cate: “Education, Healthcare and Public-private partnerships.” Quite possibly the worst three subjects from Cate’s portfolio as Haslam’s chief of staff.
First was Education – Cate should have regaled those in attendance with stories on how the governor, Cate and their allies spent millions promoting Common Core, only to have its heart ripped out by the legislature, then running an unsuccessful campaign against several legislators who opposed the governor on Common Core.
Then on to Healthcare – no mention from Cate on the strategic genius behind the decision to call a failed special session on Obamacare/Medicaid expansion, getting bitch-slapped by the legislature, and then trying to pass is again a few weeks later (and getting humiliated again).
And as for Public/Private Partnerships – Cate should have used the opportunity to bring some clarification to the speculation that the $120 million in public money for the new state history museum that Cate shepherded through the legislature could now become a private revenue stream for Cate if, as rumored, he is put in charge of raising the $40 million in private funds required to build the museum. Making money for your friends off the taxpayers’ dime seems to be a recurring theme of the Haslam administration.
The original lobbyist for a state income tax has been recruited to bring adult supervision to the governor’s office and manage the governor’s agenda.
What could possibly go wrong?
Jim Henry has been named the new nanny, er, chief-of-staff for the nursery that is known as the governor’s office.
It’s not that the Haslam office is populated entirely with wet-behind-the-ears 30-something political neophytes (although there are plenty of them who fit that description). It’s just that even the more, ahem, mature members of the governor’s staff have operated like they just graduated from political prep school (we of course are thinking about Mark “Haters Gonna Hate” Cate as we write this). The Haslam administration has been one misstep after another with legislators and now the news media openly questioning the basic competence of the governor and his team. In an attempt to salvage what remains of his political credibility, the governor is bringing in an old hand, but one with serious baggage.
Jim Henry has the experience, the smarts and the demeanor to communicate with the legislature. By all accounts he is a good person. But he faces the unenviable task of promoting Haslam policies such as Insure TN and a gas tax. All the skill sets in the world can’t get the job done if the agenda sucks.
But that is not the biggest drawback for the Jim Henry appointment. Despite all his attributes, old-timers remember the last time Jim roamed the halls of the LP — as a registered lobbyist for Democrat Ned Ray McWherter and his attempt to pass a state income tax. And Jim won’t find many pro-tax GOP colleagues from that time or the days of the infamous Don Sundquist state income tax efforts. In fact, exactly one GOP legislator who voted for the income tax is still in office — Steve McDaniel. Every other Republican who voted for a state income tax has either been retired or defeated.
High on the governor’s agenda is a major increase in the gas tax — a move that looks depressingly like a cheap imitation of the state income tax (more on that in later RTP posts),
Jim Henry certainly has his work cut out for him. The crew at Rocky Top find ourselves in the conundrum of personally wishing him well while also hoping he is spectacularly unsuccessful in passing Haslam’s agenda of Obamacare expansion and higher taxes.