For once, greedy overreaching catches up with McMahan.
RTP doesn’t usually get down in the weeds on something as mundane as a committee vote and the like. But one of our loyal Rocky Top Tipsters (www.rtptipline.com) delivered this doozy and we just couldn’t resist sharing it with all our readers (both of them).
It was quite the scene this past week when Rep. Curry “Armed and Loaded” Todd tried to highjack a wine-in-groceries correction bill at the direction of his lobbyist buddy, David McMahon.
For RTP readers outside of the LP who are not familiar with McMahan, he is a “juice” lobbyist like the legendary Tom Hensley — someone who uses his clients’ money to help “grease” the wheels of the legislative process. Now before anyone rushes out to call their lawyers, we are not suggesting that David McMahan and his lobbying firm have done anything actually, ya know, illegal.
We do, however, reserve the right to term what he did this week (as he has done countless times before) as sleazy.
It all started when the grocery store people, who are supposed to start selling wine in their facilities come July 1st, realized wine wholesalers and distributors would not be able to supply them their product instantaneously. They would need a little lead time to get the vino moving and into place so that desperate housewives from Germantown to Brentwood to Sequoyah Hills would be able to score a reasonably priced pinot noir when they pick up a steak for dinner. Those shoppers have been waiting a ridiculously long time for the privilege and helpful legislators offered to speed the process up so that consumers could pop their corks on the first of July and not have to wait weeks or months while the supply caught up with the pent-up demand. Practically every person in the Senate supported the effort. So the House should be easy-peazy, right?
Oh, were it that simple, you dear, clueless, Trump-addled taxpayers. Not when there was an opportunity for some “honest graft” to be made by a lobbyist known for self-dealing to improve his personal bank accounts.
McMahan proceeded to get his buddy, Rep. Todd, to sneak a clause into the legislation that would reverse the very thing he and his clients, the liquor store owners, had insisted upon when the WIG legislation was being approved nearly two years ago – to take the limits off of the number of stores any one person could own. Now they wanted to reverse the law they previously asked for by restricting the number of allowable liquor stores to just two per person.
Why would they do that, you may ask? Well, it was because large wine retailers were planning to open wine “supermarkets” around the state and deliver some serious competition to the liquor store owners. Now we can’t have any of that ol’ free enterprise competition stuff going on in the Volunteer state, now could we?
When the large retailers fought back, Rep. “Armed and Loaded” Todd proceeded to throw a temper tantrum and cried that he would “pull the bill” if anyone fiddled with McMahan’s sweetheart clause.
This ain’t the first time Ol’ “Armed and Loaded” has engaged in an unseemly close relationship with a lobbyist. Hell, he even shacked up with a lobbyist for a time in 2011. Ethical piety and political good judgement are not exactly the hallmarks of Rep. Todd’s legislative career.
But back to our story: Then came the critical vote in the House Finance committee. McMahan was in his usual cock-of-the-walk strut. When opponents offered an amendment to strip out the McMahan clause, Todd declared the amendment had not been offered within the required 24-hours prior notice, so it could not be allowed. That was when the committee informed Todd that when he had earlier sneaked the bill out of the previous committee by suspending the rules to do so, the rules were still suspended and that included no 24-hour notice.
But even though the amendment would be voted on, McMahan was still cocky because he thought he had the votes to defeat the amendment. That appeared to be the case when the roll was called and the amendment locked in a 9-9 tie with two passing on the first roll call, which would kill the amendment. At that point McMahan hopped and skipped out of the committee to break out the bourbon, cigars and, one would surmise, the campaign checks from his PAC.
Not so fast there, Davy boy. No sooner had the committee doors hit McMahan in the rump on his way to his victory party, than Rep. Joe Armstrong quietly asked the chair to change his vote from “pass” to “yea,” giving the amendment the required number of votes to pass. McMahan’s carve-out was kaput.
Out in the hall, there was pandemonium. McMahan was said to be cursing and blaming the staff, specific legislators, the speaker, the cash register ladies in the LP cafeteria and anyone else he could spit out of his trembling lips.
To all this, RTP says: “Bwaha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.”
— Couldn’t happen to a more deserving money-grubbing martinet.
Of course, McMahan has thrown so much money around over recent years that there is every possibility he will somehow be able to get the amendment reconsidered. But it would be cold comfort and a short-term victory since the big retailers have vowed a lawsuit to stop the obvious self-dealing, anti-competition, picking-of-winners-and-losers.
Such a lawsuit could easily delay tens of thousands of soccer moms from getting their hands on their elixir vitae for weeks or months longer than originally planned. If that happens, McMahan and Todd would be wise to stay away from any school pick-up lines. Accidents can happen, you know. Especially with desperate mothers behind the wheels of SUVs full of screaming kids.
UPDATE: Even though Rep. “Armed and Loaded” Todd petulantly withdrew his bill when he couldn’t deliver the goods for McMahan, word is that Rep. Jon Lundberg has helpfully stepped in and offered essentially the same bill, but with the anti-competition sweetheart deal provision stripped out.
*** SPECIAL REPORT ***
Many Tennesseans grew up in the shadow of Oak Ridge, home of the Atomic Bomb (in fact, some of the RTP crew come from the vicinity of the Secret City. We know this because they sometimes glow in the dark – they’re great fun at parties). As a result most of us know the basics of a scientific phenomenon called a “chain reaction” — where atoms smash into each other in ever-increasing numbers until it reaches “critical mass,” that results in either a controlled (think nuclear reactor) or an explosive (think Hiroshima) result.
Is Tennessee about to experience the political equivalent of a chain reaction?
Rumors are ricocheting off the walls in Tennessee’s political world regarding the 2018 elections. Undoubtedly, some of what we will present here won’t happen, and some new angles we don’t cover will emerge. But there is a certain logic to the rumors, and they are accompanied by considerable circumstantial evidence as to their validity.
Throw into this radioactive brew the desire of the establishment Republicans (Haslam, the donor class, etc.) to control the chain reaction by signaling to their allies and preferred candidates that something is up and trying to arrange the pieces on the chess board before other candidates have a chance to get organized. Sometimes attempts to control chain reactions work, but more often they do not (see: “Trump, the Donald”).
The scenarios are endless, but most repeat a central theme. And they all start with:
The Big Bang Theory: Lamar Resigns.
Oh, come on now, don’t tell us you haven’t heard this one. Anyone who hangs out at Jimmy Kelly’s or the LP cafeteria has heard it. Lamar’s health, and/or the fragile health of his wife Honey, will necessitate his resignation before his term is up in 2020. When will that happen? Best guess is sometime after this year’s general election, but well before 2018. Such an event would result in Gov. Haslam naming a temporary replacement, followed by a possible 2-year wait until the 2018 election to fill out the last two years of Lamar’s term (see the “Beavers/Littleton Variable below).
If that happens, buckle up boys & girls, we are about to take a ride on the political chain reaction merry-go-round.
We will begin with one of the most recent developments:
Steve Fincher retires from Congress.
Many have assumed for a long time the Farmer from Frog Jump would seek higher office. Perhaps Governor, perhaps U.S. Senate. Personal reasons are cited for his not running for re-election and there is probably a measure of truth Fincher needs to attend to problems within his immediate family and with his business.
But with over $2,000,000 left in his campaign bank account, speculation centers on Fincher’s future ambitions and Lamar’s senate seat. The senate seat would allow him to transfer all $2 million of the congressional campaign fund to a senate campaign fund. Even so, he would probably join a line of competitors. But in the Unified Theory of Grand Political Conspiracies, a Fincher run for the senate fits quite nicely.
Diane Black runs for Senate (or is it Governor?)
Black’s decision is key. Her ambition is well-known (just ask Marsha Blackburn, Beth Harwell, Lou Ann Zelnick and Jim Tracy). She possesses great personal wealth and could self-fund (that blur you saw flash by was Tom Ingram looking for another client). But Tom may already have his hands in Black’s future. In one of the most significant rumors (believed to be true) Black has signed on with none other than Ingram cohort and fundraiser to millionaires, Kim Kaegi. It is impossible to believe Kim would go to work for Black without first conferring with and receiving permission from the Haslam/Ingram combine. The only question is for which office will she run: Governor or the Senate in 2018? It doesn’t seem to make since that she would sign on Kaegi this far in advance of a 2020 senate run when Lamar’s full term ends. And signing up Kaegi for a governor run flies in the face of the Haslam’s preferred choice for that seat (see below). So that leads to the speculation she may know something is up with Lamar and that the race for his senate seat will begin much, much sooner. In such an event, the following people would have some serious political calculations to make.
The state senator (R-Clarksville) has wanted to run for governor for some time, but always assumed Diane Black would be one of his competitors. If she runs for Senate instead, the odds he gets into the governor’s race increase. Look for him to spend the next few months with more than one sleepless night (with or without Saddam Hussein).
Business partner and close friends with the Haslams, the governor moved Boyd into the ECD position so that he could move around the state and get comfortable with those donors who view state government as a place to make a quick buck. Think of Boyd as the Common Core/Jones LaSalle/Gas Tax candidate. Boyd also has a piss-load of personal money from his pet products company and has sent every signal he is running, despite his contrived public reticence. If he gets in, that screaming sound you hear will be:
Harwell has long been a minor threat to every major elective office. Her flirtation with running for Congress is well known, as is her desire to run for governor. Black running for senate instead of governor would seem ideal for Harwell, were it not for that whole Randy Boyd thingy. Harwell has sucked up to the Haslams for decades, and their signals they favor Boyd has to cut her to the quick. Still, she has well over $1 million in her campaign and PAC accounts, so there’s that.
But Harwell’s embarrassing mishandling of the Durham debacle as left her political judgement and viability in serious question. After raising a stink about Durham and drawing the AG into the controversy, she now has to come up with 66 votes to expel him or leave every Republican legislator wondering why the hell she put them through such hell. Barring some new revelation about Durham doing it with a chicken, she ain’t got the votes.
In years past, Marsha would be at the top of every speculative list, but her time may have passed. Besides, she has good seniority in Congress, where she seems to be genuinely popular. Unless she is in some kind of “up or out” mode, look for her to stay where she is.
No President Jeb! means no Secretary of State Corker – especially after his disastrous Iranian nuclear deal that is quickly being proven to be one of the worst foreign affairs debacles in history.
But since he is up for election in 2018, he wants to make certain he doesn’t draw a credible primary opponent. With a crowd like this, he is likely to get his wish.
The Littleton/Beavers Variable
In the midst of all this is an innocuous little piece of legislation making its way through the legislature. It seeks to take away a major component of the above chain reaction by having the state fill vacant U.S. Senate seats the same way state law does U.S. House seats: a special election must be held within 107 days of resignation or vacancy.
Chris Butler of the Tennessee Watchdog has an excellent story on this.
A Premature Extrapolation for 2016?
It is unlikely, but possible, that Lamar gets out by early May of this year, and that would set off a sprint for his seat to be filled in this year’s general election. Only the immediately well-funded (Black, Boyd and possibly Fincher) would have the resources to compete at the highest level for the August primary. Boyd, as surmised before, would likely hold off to run for governor in 2018. That would leave a Black-Fincher race as a possibility.
RTP will leave to another time the discussion of the congressional races. With the above and other factors, it is possible as many as four House races may be in play in the 2018 election.
The Fat Lady is Warming Up
TEA teachers get a big pay increase, thanks to Rep. Billy Spivey
The opera may not quite be over when it comes to the TEA’s liberal, pro-Democrat campaign contributions, but the veritable “Fat Lady” is shining up her spear and about to break out in an aria (“aria” – that means a “song” for all you folks in Sneedville).
In what was likely the TEA’s best chance at stopping a bill to end the practice of having the government collect TEA’s dues directly from teacher’s paychecks, a House education subcommittee passed a bill offered by Rep. Spivey over the objection of the TEA. It passed 6-2. The only Republican voting for it was union sympathizer Harry Brooks.
One of the key moments came when TEA Lobbyist Jim Wrye tried to sidestep a question from Rep. Debra Moody about TEA dues going to the NEA for political purposes. Wrye said that most all of that money went to pay for UniServe employees working for the TEA. When another witness pointed out that UniServe/TEA employee Chris Brooks had repeatedly attacked GOP Sen. Todd Gardenhire, among others, committee members began to nod knowingly. At that point, TEA lobbyist and former Republican legislator Philip Johnson placed a bag over his head and tried to become invisible. The die was cast.
So what does this mean? Well if other states who have done this are any guide, the union in Tennessee can expect a large percentage – possibly a majority – of it’s members will elect not to have the hundreds of dollars in annual dues taken out of their paychecks. Given the option, most teachers elsewhere have said “goodbye” to the union. That means a huge loss in membership and in money for the TEA.
Perhaps the most cutting payback for the TEA was when Rep. John DeBerry, one of only two Democrats on the panel, voted for the bill. Did he do so because Jim Wrye screwed the Black Caucus on campaign contributions in an effort to suck up to the GOP majority? Or was it because Wrye & Co. is currently trying to screw the union teachers in Memphis (who have broken off from the state TEA)? Paybacks are hell, eh Jim?
Back in 2010, The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the government was not obligated to collect such dues on behalf of partisan organizations like the TEA. Joining the majority in that decision was one Justice Antonin Scalia. His ruling made today’s vote possible.
God bless you, Justice Scalia. We know you are smiling from above.
*** SPECIAL REPORT***
Excuse us if we don’t believe you, Governor.
[Editor’s note: If you’re new to this issue, start HERE to get up to speed.]
In an article this weekend, Gov. Bill Haslam said he had “no plans” to spend a lot of money on legislative races. But just a few weeks ago his PAC held a $10,000 per table fundraiser for his Jobs4TN PC – the same organization that in 2014 funded Haslam allies in GOP primaries and conducted opposition research and polling believed to have been used against incumbent conservative legislators. Which begs the question: if Haslam is not going to spend that money on legislative races, just what the hell is he going to spend it on?
Regarding involvement in Republican primaries, Haslam said: “We haven’t done that, and we won’t do that. I just don’t see that’s the appropriate role for the governor.”
Please excuse us until we can stop laughing at the obvious absurdity of that statement. The fact is, Bill Haslam directed his former chief of staff, Mark Cate, to help recruit candidates and to lead the Governor’s friends to contribute to the infamous Advance TN PAC. He even defended it’s activities.
And as RTP pointed out in the previous posting, the consultants hired by Job4TN PAC in 2014 and their subsequent activities strongly suggests collusion between Job4TN and Advance TN.
Don’t piss on our leg then tell us it’s raining, Guv.
The governor also said he did not plan to spend a lot of money. That’s cold comfort: “not a lot of money” to a billionaire is a hell of a lot of money to the rest of us. He could dump $1 million into defeating Republican legislators and it wouldn’t amount to ½ of 1% of his net worth.
If the past is prologue, you can expect the governor’s promises to not go after Republican legislators will turn out to be complete BS. We now know that Bill Haslam and Mark Cate were the geniuses behind Advance TN PAC and its attacks on Republicans. We also know that the governor had his campaign give over $150,000 to Jobs4TN PAC, an organization that lay dormant for nearly three years until just before the attacks started on the conservative legislators they targeted for defeat.
And now Jobs4TN is gearing back up again with a $10,000 per table fundraiser. It is also important to remember, the governor has over $1 million remaining in his campaign account (not to mention the billions in his personal account) and has shown he will transfer big money in a heartbeat if he thinks he can knock off a conservative Republican.
At this point, RTP wants to provide some serious advice to any conservative Republican legislator (or any other GOP legislator who dares disagree with the governor): The governor of your own party is coming after you – again. He and his cronies seek to destroy your reputation with “oppo research” and to end your political careers — again. If you cannot understand that, or choose to ignore the obvious, then you are beyond the help of the crew here at RTP.
And don’t think for a minute this governor and his allies are satisfied with picking on a handful of the most conservative of the caucus. Committed, non-establishment conservatives now comprise a powerful segment of the caucus, with estimates ranging anywhere from 25-40 members. Current leadership has kept the establishment in power by almost completely shutting out these 25-40 members from committee chairmanships or any meaningful leadership duties.
It is remarkable that in a year of voter outrage over the business-as-usual establishment in both political parties, Bill Haslam and the House leadership are circling the wagons and shooting the wounded in their own party to keep their gravy train running and conservatives away from power. In addition, their incompetence and maneuvering over such things as the Durham Debacle only adds fuel to the fire. They are scared and they are desperate to keep their power. And that makes them dangerous.
So what to look for and what to do?
As usual, RTP is Johnny-on-the-spot with some helpful guides and tips on how to fight back. We offer a few of those today.
Tip #1: Beware the lobbyists.
And not just the 80% of the lobbyists who are dyed-in-the-wool Democrat holdovers from the Naifeh days. The “Republican” lobbyists are just as complicit, if not more so. In later posts, we will provide a list of those lobbyists who gave to Jobs4TN PAC and/or AdvanceTN PAC. Some of them may shock you. Study them, know them, and tell them they are persona non grata in your office. Let their clients know why — that their lobbyists tried to defeat you. Here’s just a couple of examples of people who are always lurking around your office, who also gave money that ended up trying to get you beat:
- The Tennessee Chamber — $12,500 to Jobs4TN (2014 GOP primary)
- CCA — $50,000 to Jobs4TN (2014 GOP primary)
Tip #2: Just close your office door.
Exactly what incentive does any conservative legislator have to welcome the governor’s staff and the Kiddie Corps he calls legislative liaisons into his or her office? Let them cool their heels in the hallways of the WMB until hell freezes over. Do not think for a minute they are there to help you.
At the very least, just stop subjecting yourselves to the humiliation and duplicity of being collared in the hallway or called into the governor’s office for a meeting, just to have that same governor kick you in the political ass when you have left.
Tip #3: There is safety in numbers.
If indeed there is actually a Conservative Caucus, and if you have not yet joined it, then RTP suggests you consider doing so.
Tip #4: Start looking for some new leadership (or at least put them on notice).
Tip #5: Watch Kim Kaegi and Mark Cate
Because the Advance TN concept blew up in the governor’s face, he is unlikely to revive it in its old form. Instead, look for them to use an out of state super PAC or for them to piggyback on one of their cronies’ existing PACS. In any event, you will not see it coming, but you can watch for some clues. For instance, the governor’s chief fundraiser, Kim Kaegi, is in charge of the Jobs4TN PAC. Mark Cate started his own “strategery” company and hired the governor’s chief political gopher, Jeremy Harrell. The powers-that-be then lined them up a lucrative contract to raise money for the new state history museum, among other benefits. Cate may have left the building, but he just moved his obnoxious political bullying down the street – ready to direct the successor to the Advance TN PAC
Current House leadership has lost all moral authority to ask you to be a team player after they were actively involved in the unprecedented attacks on conservatives or were silently complicit, quietly standing by and doing nothing. A year and a half later, we are still waiting for Beth Harwell to utter one single word condemning what happened to members of her own caucus.
And remember all those times these last few years when House leadership asked you to “go along” so as “not to embarrass the governor?”
Well screw them all. Because they are most assuredly trying to screw you.
Everyone from DOE head Candice “Butterfly” McQueen to (Mis)Measurement Inc were ducking for cover over the TNReady debacle yesterday. But one individual’s pronouncement really stood out as particularly problematic:
“‘Any time there’s a glitch in test administration — because there’s such high stakes — that’s worrisome,’ said Wayne Miller, executive director of the Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents.”
Well, Duh! Ya think, Wayne?
But despite the insipid nature of the quote from Miller, that was not the worst part. For you see, dear readers, Wayne conveniently failed to mention — and the reporter neglected to notice — one itsy-bitsy fact. Wayne’s organization (TOSS) was founded by Chuck Cagle, who is TOSS’ long-time lobbyist and who hired Wayne to his current job. And Cash Cow Chuck is also the lobbyist for Measurement INC — the incompetent doofuses who caused the the TNReady crash and who paid Cagle big bucks to help them get their $108 million state contract and represent them in the legislature.
Kinda takes Wayne’s credibility and smashes it to all to hell, doesn’t it?
And let’s not forget that Wayne and Chuck have refused to address questions about how their “Supervisor of the Year” and fellow board member Martin Ringstaff got caught texting photos of his junk to another man’s wife and was fired less than a week ago. All Wayne did was take his name off of TOSS’ website. Yeah, that makes it all better, Wayne.
And for all this, RTP names Wayne “The Worm” Miller:
IDIOT of the WEEK
(Note to Wayne: You can pick up your certificate in John Forgety’s office.)
Haslam Administration Royally Screws Up.
Millions of Tax Dollars Wasted in School Test Crash. Teachers Furious.
Chuck Cagle at the White Hot Center of the Disaster.
Oh good Lord – where do we begin?
Just when you thought the Haslam administration’s arrogance, incompetence and corruption of our state’s education system could not get any worse – it does.
The much ballyhooed on-line testing system crashed yesterday – big time, leaving students and teachers hanging out to dry. After millions of dollars paid to scam-artist vendors and for the purchase of computer equipment to take the new test, the whole damn thing collapsed. Now, after months of preparing students to take their tests on-line, students will have to do so with paper and pencil.
There is plenty of blame to go around, so let’s start with the most obvious:
Bill Haslam and his Dept. of Education
Ever since Haslam hired Kevin “I Voted for Obama” Huffman, Tennesseans have been subjected to one corrupt education program after another: Common Core, TNReady, Teach for America….the list goes on and on. Contributors, cronies, mega-education companies, etc. have raked in untold millions in consulting fees and contracts.
The sheer arrogance of the governor and his appointees is hard to comprehend. At every turn in this debacle, Haslam was warned by voters, teachers, legislators and a host of others about his policies. But Haslam, aided by Huffman and his acolytes, blindly plunged ahead, flipping off their critics and engaging in end-arounds and executive orders that would make Obama blush (not an easy thing to do). The result: a bunch of vendors made millions and taxpayers, teachers and students got screwed.
Now the state is faced with giving a test whose results are almost guaranteed to be discounted and thrown into the evaluation waste bin. If it is not, you can count on Haslam and his administration getting their asses sued off in court.
This is not the first time the DOE has screwed up their own test. Remember Erin O’Hara? The DOE has a pattern of incompetence in this area accompanied by a long string of screw-ups. DOE uses these test scores to determine which schools are failing and to require accountability. Shouldn’t the DOE be judged and held accountable for their performance in administering the very test they use to pass judgement on individual schools and school systems? It’s damn near impossible to criticize others when you are failing spectacularly to run your own shop in a competent manner.
RTP’s assessment: It couldn’t happen to a more deserving bunch of arrogant idiots.
More on this train wreck as it develops. But first…..
Take the Rocky Top Make-up Assessment Test
Since every student in the freakin’ state is going to have to take a make-up test because of the Major Fail that occurred yesterday, we thought it might be helpful for our readers (both of them) to take a practice test of their own as an expression of solidarity with the teachers and students who got screwed over.
The short quiz focuses on the individual perhaps more responsible than anyone else in the state for the recent
disaster: Chuck Cagle.
Question #1 – Reading Comprehension
Cash Cow Chuck Cagle is a lobbyist who gained previous notoriety making tons of money as the #1 conflict-of-interest lawyer/lobbyist in town, representing education giant Pearson while it tried to jam Common Core down the throats of every state in the nation and charge taxpayers billions in new textbooks and programs for the privilege.
Based on the above passage, would you say that Chuck Cagle is:
- A grotesquely conflicted piece of bovine excrement.
- An ethically-challenged lobbyist whose primary professional qualification is a law degree from a school that doesn’t allow him to practice outside the state?
- A flaming butt wipe?
- All of the above.
Question #2 — Math
Cash Cow Chuck Cagle now works as the Tennessee lobbyist for Measurement Inc, the company whose testing program crashed and burned yesterday. As such, he helped Measurement Inc. get a $108 million contract to create and administer that test while collecting a handsome fee for his services. Based on your calculations (please show your work), would you infer that Cagle and Measurement Inc:
- Are guilty of misfeasance, malfeasance and a whole bunch of other feasances we haven’t thought of yet.
- Should both be tarred & feathered and ridden out of the state on a rail.
- Should be required to pay back every dime they have been paid to date and assessed criminal and/or civil penalties until they bleed through the nose.
- Should be covered with honey and staked to the ground over the top of an ant hill.
- Should never be allowed back into the state Capitol.
(Hint: there is more than one correct answer. Circle all that apply)
Question #3 – Language Arts
Now that Measurement Inc.’s reputation has been totally destroyed in the Volunteer state, it has been highly recommended they change their company’s name (if for no other reason than for them to be able to travel through the state without taxpayers beating them to a pulp). The following are suggested new names for the company. Which one do you think is the most applicable?
- Measurement RED Inc.
- Mis-Measurement Inc.
- Unethical Charlatans Inc.
- Flaming Bags of Dog Poop, Inc.
Question #4 – Social Studies
Chuck Cagle has made a small fortune off taxpayers by representing companies who produce crappy, self-serving education products that damage the reputation of our state and our deprive students of a quality education. Despite this, he is welcomed with open arms in the offices of some legislators. Based on what you have observed, are those legislators:
- Harry Brooks
- David Byrd
- John Forgety
- Any other legislator who has previously had his/her brain surgically removed.
Time’s up. Put away your laptop — uh — pencil & paper, close your exam booklets and bend over and kiss your chances of getting into a prestigious university goodbye.
Test scores will be posted just as soon as Measurement INC and Chuck Cagle cash their last paychecks or until sometime after your sophomore year in college – whichever comes later.
To close this segment, we took a poll of taxpayers (okay, okay, the RTP crew went to Loser’s and asked every drunk in the place) and we came up with the following questions:
- Who is going to be held financially responsible for this disaster? Measurement Inc. got a $108 million contract to administer the test. How much have they been paid, and how much can/will we demand they pay back?
- It has been 24 hours since the crash. Why has Measurement Inc. not already been fired?
- Why is Chuck Cagle even allowed to enter Legislative Plaza? Shouldn’t all the troopers at the guard stations be given a picture of this creep with orders to shoot-to-kill if he tries to lobby anyone?
- How much of his $3 billion will Bill Haslam have to pay in order to buy a clue?
- Is anyone going to have to do a “perp-walk” over this? And if not, why not?
The RTP crew will offer more insights in later posts as information seeps out of the cesspool that has become the Haslam administration’s education policy.
Until then, we leave you with RTP’s next topic for discussion:
John Forgety: Representative of the 23rd District – or just Chuck Cagle’s butt-boy?
And no, we will not grade on the curve.
McCormick had first-hand knowledge of the Durham accusations nearly a year ago.
At first, both Majority Leader Gerald McCormick and Speaker Beth Harwell could barely hide their glee at the opportunity to take a shot at one of their political opponents (Durham), who handed them the opportunity on a silver platter as the result of his extracurricular shenanigans. What better way to strike back at the controversial cocky architect of the legislation that eventually killed InsureTN?
Now, as Harwell desperately thrashes about trying to find cover from the result of her (continuing) incompetence in handling the Durham matter, we are treated with the metaphorical image of Majority Leader Gerald McCormick hiding in his office with a bag over his head, hoping no one will ask him questions about exactly how long did he sit on the Durham information before the public learned of it.
After jumping on the Destroy Durham bandwagon, Gerald has now retreated to uncharacteristic reticence about speaking publicly on the matter, except in the vaguest terms. The reason for this is simple: Gerald has more exposure, but fewer resources to mitigate the damage than does Beth.
Beth has squandered her powers while simultaneously shooting herself in both feet, but she at least has the power to do things like call on the AG to investigate (even though she managed to screw that up too — asking for the investigation before clearing it through House rules. Sheesh.). Gerald, on the other hand has only his previous actions to fall back on, and increasingly those actions aren’t a very good fallback position.
If the coming AG investigation does its job, it will likely reveal McCormick knew about at least one of the women who complained about Durham as long as nearly a year ago. McCormick followed his conversations with the woman by offering a desultory suggestion she report her complaints to someone. McCormick essentially threw her and a second woman who complained to him later under the bus and possibly risked their reputations and safety so he could sit on the information he had on Durham until it was more politically profitable and expedient to roll it out in a political hit piece. His first ham-handed attempt allegedly came when Durham visited Chattanooga and criticized McCormick’s leadership abilities on a local radio station. McCormick, always quick to lose his temper, called Durham to yell at him and, in the process, used the information about the women’s complaints to try and intimidate Durham into silence. Talk about two rattlesnakes in the same feed sack.
These revelations about misbehavior followed by political intimidation and malfeasance have not been lost on members of the House caucus. Nosiree.
Can caucus members be certain McCormick and Harwell won’t try a similar political hit-job on one of them? No, they can’t. In fact, they already know of numerous instances of leadership employing similar tactics against legislators who dare stray from the governor’s and leadership’s agenda. Remember Advance Tennessee? And where do you think all those primary opponents running against conservatives come from – the Tooth Fairy?
It is also comical the way the InsureTennessean repeatedly inserts “temper” and “bullying” references into their stories about Durham. But McCormick’s bullying and tantrums are the stuff of legend, yet the media continue to give him a pass. Perhaps Dave Boucher is reluctant to burn one of his best sources?
McCormick better pray to the Almighty the investigation doesn’t include what happened in the run-up to the Durham news stories and that they do not look back at Gerald’s own complicity in the matter. If that happens, he’s toast.
It is for these and other reasons, RTP votes McCormick as the leader most likely to lose his job over the Durham Debacle.
Former state senator Paul Stanley presented his analysis about the Durham Affair. Stanley knows whereof he speaks, since he was forced to resign over his own affair with an intern that turned into a blackmail attempt on Stanley by the girl and her boyfriend back in 2007.
His take seems to closely parallel what the crew at Ricky Top published earlier this week. If he plagiarized any of our thoughts, he is welcome to them. That’s what we’re here for…
“This entire situation is a sorry spectacle.”
— former State Sen. Paul Stanley
TOSS Board Member gets caught taking photos of his member and texting them ala Anthony Weiner.
As “Cash Cow” Chuck Cagle gathers his Tennessee Organization of School Superintendents (TOSS) together for a $15,000 reception at the Hermitage tonight, attendees may want to ask Chuck if the TOSS 2015 “Superintendent of the Year” and TOSS board member, Martin Ringstaff, plans to attend the soiree.
Ringstaff’s appearance is decidedly doubtful, since he has been quite the subject of conversation down in Bradley County, where he is the head of Cleveland city schools. It seems Ringstiff, er, Ringstaff got caught with his pants down — literally.
Ringstaff was apparently having a torrid affair with another man’s wife, sexting graphic sexual messages back in forth with her. He also allegedly sent a nude picture of himself holding his (uh, how can we put this) — his “junk.”
All this in the town that is home to the international headquarters of the Church of God. Want to know how conservative Bradley County is? Compared to Bradley, Williamson County is like San Francisco.
You can check out this link for more on the story. The crew at Rocky Top have seen the texts and we were passing them around like kids in the 8th-grade boys bathroom before determining they were NSFW. Even RTP has certain standards below which we will not go (but which are apparently higher than those of lawyers like Chuck Cagle). That said, we did decide to publish the photo of Ringstaff’s privates (below):
Nah, that’s just a photo of Chuck Cagle — but trust us, the resemblance is remarkable.
All this is all the more problematic for Cagle and TOSS, since they have repeatedly trotted out Ringstaff as the very epitome of education administrative excellence.
No word from the Hermitage whether Ringstaff was in charge of this evening’s entertainment. If you do go to the TOSS reception, you might want to take some Handi-wipes or something.
And stay away from the weiners.
Rep. Timothy Hill defeated Rep. Ron Travis in what almost everyone considers an upset. Travis was recognized as the candidate most acceptable to leadership and his defeat is seen as a repudiation of that leadership.
Is this the harbinger of rough days ahead for Beth Harwell and Gerald McCormick?
Damn right it is.