Archive for the ‘Tennessee’ Category

UNICOI COUNTY DEMOCRATS: Party questions official’s use of taxpayer money

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

record-logo-hdErwin (July 27th)– Local Democrats are questioning State Senator Rusty Crowe for transferring Tennessee taxpayer communication funds to Nashville Senator Steve Dickerson in the run up to the August Primary election, according to a press release from the Unicoi County Democratic Party.

“Our Republican State Senator Crowe has unethically funneled taxpayer money to his pal, Senator Steve Dickerson, to use for his re-election campaign,” said Mike Hampton, chair of the Unicoi County Democratic Party.

State law provides legislators with an annual budget for sending mail and using other methods to communicate with their constituents. While the practice of transferring these funds between members is no longer allowed in the House, Lt. Governor Ramsey has allowed, what the press release referred to as “the unethical practice” continues in the Senate. Many good government groups and several Republican legislators have tried to end the practice all together but have yet to succeed.

“Senator Crowe took taxpayer money meant for use communicating with his constituents here in Unicoi County, and instead he gave it away to Sen. Dickerson in Nashville so he can promote himself to voters in his re-election bid,” Hampton continued. “It looks like Senator Crowe feels protecting his political allies in Nashville is more important than letting his constituents know what he’s been doing to make life better for the folks here at home. This Republican culture of unethical behavior is disturbing; sadly their loyalty lies with Lobbyists and special interest and not with the people of Tennessee.”

Koch Political Industries: The GOP’s Shadow Party

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

ImageProxyiiiThe Koch brothers have poured millions of dollars into controlling the turnout in state elections and they have gained control of a political party in the process.

They have also expanded their activities in the area of messaging, polling, medial buying, election law and their political operation exceeds that of the Republican National Committee (RNC) in many important areas.

They also control several for-profit companies and their party infrastructure funds and controls Americans for Prosperity, youth voter outreach groups and a Latino outreach group in several states. This gives Republicans. in Koch controlled states, support of two parties [the RNC and the Koch shadow party]. This unholy alliance has allowed the Koch brothers to buy legislatures in many states including Tennessee. As the acquire state legislatures they impose laws crafted by ALEC.

This is what Democracy faces in America. The sad news is elections are now bought and sold by the Koch bothers [dark money]. They have bought legislatures and congressman but can they buy the presidency?

The $9.4 Million Bypass/Sky Bridge to Nowhere

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

6990_nERWIN — The Erwin bypass/bridge is complete at an estimated cost of $9.4 million.

The railroad overpass project has been ongoing for two decades and was completed this week. The project connects Tenn. Highway 107 to Main Avenue through the construction of a one-half mile “bridge” that will pass over the CSX railroad tracks that cross Second Street. Years of random complaints about traffic delays due to trains crossings on Second Street are the justification for the $9.4 million.

The overpass allows motorists to bypass the potential train delays and downtown Erwin to get from Main Avenue to Second Street, and vice versa. It does not seem to matter that you can avoid the traffic jams by driving south and/or north in minutes to bypass the train related delays.

Drive the bypass and you will enjoy a breath taking view of the Town of Erwin and the mountains. One obvious observation was startling, the bypass takes you away from downtown, a location where millions have been spent to attract folks downtown.

Of course, local officials were excited about the project being completed. These are the same officials who spent millions of taxpayer dollars on remodeling downtown Erwin in hopes of attracting people to downtown. You can toss fiscal responsibility out the window when it comes to the inconvenience of folks waiting a few minutes for a train to pass. Is the expenditure of $9.4 million justification for the demand for self-satisfaction and self-indulgence? Seems this money would have been more wisely spent for a worthwhile cause like providing the 280,000 Tennesseans with health insurance or providing needy Tennesseans with SNAP food assistance – but no, according to Republicans… that would be wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars.

WILL DARK MONEY HELP TNGOP TURN THE TN SUPREME COUNT INTO A PARTISAN POLITICAL POSITION?

Friday, May 16th, 2014

150px-Business_moneyNow that Tennessee Republicans have captured the executive and legislative branches of state government, they are going after the top tier of the judicial branch — the state Supreme Court.

Their target is three Democratic state Supreme Court justices that will be on the Aug. 7 ballot to be retained or not by voters. Tennesseans are going to be exposed to an advertising campaign blitz by dark money, this summer, telling them to reject the justices.

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, will be playing a key role in the political move, to make the Tennessee Supreme Court a partisan affair, in the retention election.

Business leaders, across the state, are interested in this project, as Tennessee Republicans continue to sell out the welfare of middle class Tennesseans and business leaders will be the beneficiaries of this political sell out. This is an orchestrated plan, by Republicans, not to retain the three Democrat Supreme Court judges.”

The three Democratic justices seeking retention are Cornelia Clark from Middle Tennessee and two East Tennessee justices, Chief Justice Gary Wade of Sevierville and Sharon Lee of Madisonville.

In April, Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, told the Kingsport Times-News that he will play an “informative role” in the August retention election for three state Supreme Court judges, all Democrats, who will be seeking new eight-year terms.

There’s been much talk about an anti-Supreme campaign and supporters of the three justices are taking it seriously. Five prominent attorneys — Lew Conner, Frank Drowota, Robert Echols, Hal Hardin and Aubrey Harwell sent a letter to fellow lawyers urging attendance at the May 14 fundraiser, two days ago, for the three Supreme Court justices. In the letter, they pointed to “credible information” indicating more than $1 million in out-of-state “dark money” will be spent attacking the judges.

In 2010, control for the Tennessee Legislation was flipped in a landslide victory by Republicans after 2.5 million dollars of “dark money” flooded the last the last two days, basically allowing the Republicans to buy control of the state government.

In 2010, across the United States, State Legislations were bought and sold to the GOP by a flood of “dark money”. The landmark ruling by the activist conservative Supreme Court of the US opened the door to this wholesale selling of elections across the nation when the ruled in favor of Citizens United against the Federal Election Commission.

Will our democracy drown in a sea of “dark money”?

Attack of Obama visit typical for today’s GOP

Friday, February 7th, 2014

tndp logoThe distinguished Tennessee Republican state chairman, in a Jan. 29 op-ed, criticized President Barack Obama for “campaigning” by coming to a Nashville public school. But the president no longer has to campaign: The American people already re-elected him.

Three-fourths of Chris Devaney’s op-ed attacked Obama and it is another example of how a once reasonable and respected Republican Party has become a tea party not of ideas but of extreme ideology, not of solutions but of reflexive opposition, not of bipartisan cooperation but of endless antagonism.

Unlike the Republican leader, students and faculty at McGavock High School appreciated the president coming to Tennessee. As the students listened to the president tell of overcoming struggles and trials during childhood — raised by a single mother, his family too often barely scraping by, his own sins and shortcomings — I could see in young eyes the growing belief they, too, could overcome their obstacles and achieve their own dreams.

Indeed, I was reminded of the words of St. Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary use words.”

His life’s story demonstrated and amplified his words of opportunity and responsibility.

My Republican counterpart touted recent student test scores to claim credit for reforms put into place by Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen, who worked with Democratic and Republican legislators and with teachers to earn Tennessee one of the first two Race to the Top grants — before Gov. Bill Haslam even took office.

The chairman also claimed Republicans have produced a thriving state economy, but we have watched GOP legislators waste time and our tax money on increasing the number of places where we can buy booze and pack pistols.

Meanwhile, Republicans haven’t produced any effective jobs legislation, and our unemployment rate still far exceeds the national average.

My esteemed colleague says Republicans want an “opportunity-for-all” economy to lift up Tennesseans “regardless of ZIP code” by creating “high-performing schools.” But, in fact, legislative Republicans are attacking public school teachers, undercutting public schools and want to give away our tax dollars for “vouchers” to subsidize not just respected private institutions but also sectarian schools and segregation academies.

Meanwhile, Republicans are abolishing inheritance taxes for millionaire and billionaire heirs and heiresses to create an “opportunity-for-the-rich” economy, helping a very few at the expense of working middle-class Tennesseans who pay the bill for these giveaways.

Tennessee Democrats, by contrast, are working to provide real solutions for jobs and education. We are fighting to raise the minimum wage, seeking tax incentives to grow small-business jobs, protecting public school students, fighting for pre-K education and demanding that Republicans let our family doctors and community hospitals care for 300,000 working Tennesseans and children instead of sending our Medicaid money to New York and California.

Tennessee Democrats aren’t wasting time casting partisan stones at someone from Washington who came to learn from, praise and inspire Tennessee teachers and students.

Instead of doing the bidding of moneyed special interests and the mega-rich, Tennessee Democrats are seeking to serve all Tennessee families.

Bill Haslam’s Crusade Against the Middle Class

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

tndp logoBrandon Puttbrese was the Communications Director for the TNDP. Our families should be working their way into the middle class, not falling out of it. Tennesseans used to know that if they worked hard and played by the rules, they’d be able to care of their families, send their kids to college, and have a secure retirement, but today, the rules have been rewritten by lobbyists for the wealthy and well connected.
We have to reclaim security for working families and we can do it by restoring Tennessee values. To make progress for all Tennesseans, we must: put an end to the extremism and corruption in the government; invest in our future by rewarding hard work, expanding quality health care to all Tennesseans; and make sure everyone, from CEOs to working families, does their fair share and plays by the rules.

We’re not going to cut our way to prosperity or build a stronger middle class by giving more tax breaks to big corporations and millionaires. To expand the middle class, we must encourage and support our innovators, educators and builders. We need an economy that creates jobs of the future and rewards all hard-working Tennesseans — not one built on inside deals for well-connected CEOs and risky handouts for big special interests that threaten our entire economy and shortchange working and middle class families.

We need to restore security for the middle class and create an economy that rewards hard-working families. Instead, Bill Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme agenda that doesn’t create jobs and pushed top-down economic policies that pad his own pockets, reward his wealthy friends and damage the middle class.
Haslam’s tax plan will rack up $1 billion worth of massive tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires, while he’s made big cuts to children’s services, higher education, health care, public safety and programs that help Tennesseans find work.

Bill Haslam has doubled-down on extreme policies that hurt working and middle class Tennesseans — denying 400,000 citizens fully funded Medicaid coverage, letting big business and lobbyists write their own rules, cutting programs that invest in workers and their families, and eliminating rules and oversight that hold government officials accountable.

Haslam’s anti-public school policies fail our students and threaten our state economy—cutting teacher salaries, over-relying on expensive standardized testing, and diverting funds away from public schools to an out-of-state, for-profit corporation that streams classes on the internet.

Not only did Haslam pass the biggest budget in Tennessee history, Haslam’s corrupt inside dealing outsourced hundreds of Tennessee jobs and directed hundreds of millions worth of state contracts to business partners and wealthy campaign contributors.

Haslam made his fortune at Pilot Oil, where he and his family have made millions from a scheme that preyed on their own customers. Pilot Oil executives have admitted stealing from truck drivers and even targeting honest, hard-working new Americans.

Haslam has rubberstamped an extreme tea party agenda that doesn’t create jobs and, worse yet, harms security working and middle class families; from Haslam’s discriminatory voter ID law and guns in parking lots (even when business owners don’t want them) to defunding Planned Parenthood and eliminating workplace protections for LGBT Tennesseans.
Bill Haslam’s special interest dealing and constant secrecy proves he can’t be trusted. He won’t come clean about his secret relationships with high-powered lobbyists and he’s still hiding his income tax returns because he pays a lower rate than working Tennesseans. If we can’t trust him to be honest about his dealings, how can he be trusted to build a stronger middle class?

WEAKENING MIDDLE CLASS SECURITYRebuilding a fair economy that strengthens the middle class by attracting good American jobs investing in education, and expanding access to affordable health care should be our top priority. But Bill Haslam has a different view. Haslam slashed security for working families, rigged the rules to favor big special interests, and cut programs that strengthen the middle class. Instead of asking everyone to do their fair share, Haslam gave the wealthy and big corporations massive new tax breaks and hopes that job growth will trickle down from the top.

Hurt Working Families to Pad Profits for Corporate Special InterestsIf we’re going to build a fair economy, big corporations and wealthy CEOs have to play by the same rules as working families and the middle class. Bill Haslam and lobbyists have re-written the rules to put profits for special interests ahead of working families.

• Good-paying jobs are key for middle class security, but Haslam has signed multiple laws that drive down the wages of working men and women.

o Haslam eliminated prevailing wage rules on state contracts, which allows wealthy contractors to pad their profits by slashing the wages of workers.

o Haslam repealed local wage ordinances, boosting profits by cutting worker pay back to $7.25 an hour.

• One of Bill Haslam’s signature laws doesn’t put one more Tennessean back on the job, but it does cut payments to workers who get hurt on the job — by a third.

o It’s already difficult to make ends meet when a family member is out of work. Haslam’s new law not only increases bureaucratic red tape and burdens working families, it gives businesses a new financial incentive to fire injured workers.

• In Bill Haslam’s world, special interests don’t have to play by the same rules as the hard-working middle class. Haslam’s cap on damages law shields irresponsible and reckless businesses that injure and kill Tennesseans from being held fully accountable in court.

o By putting a price tag on Tennesseans, the law protects profits for businesses and corporations that harm our families. Haslam signed the measure into law even while his multi-billion dollar company Pilot Flying J faced lawsuits for negligence.

Eliminated Programs that Put Tennesseans Back to Work
With more than a quarter million Tennesseans looking for jobs, we need to build an economy that rewards responsibility and increases opportunity for our families. Bill Haslam’s top-down agenda has boosted profits for his business friends and out-of-state corporations while cutting programs that help hard-working families find jobs. As a result, there are more Tennesseans looking for good jobs today than there was a year ago.

• To date, Bill Haslam has blocked Medicaid expansion, a move that would create 18,000 good-paying jobs and provide a billion dollar boost to Tennessee’s health care economy.

• Instead of bolstering efforts to get Tennesseans back work, Bill Haslam shut down 34 career centers that helped citizens find and apply for jobs. The change in priorities means residents in 34 counties will have to drive elsewhere to get help with creating and posting resumes, skills training and other job-finding services.

• With unemployment rising in the state, the Haslam administration eliminated a rapid-response team that helped workers caught in mass lay-offs prepare for new jobs.

• Haslam fired 71 Economic and Community Development workers who assisted city and county leaders in planning for new growth. The move passed planning expenses onto local taxpayers.

Destabilizing Public Schools, Shortchanging StudentsThere is nothing more important to our economy than educating our children, and that’s not going to happen if we overcrowd our classrooms and divert money away from public schools. Preparing the next generation of leaders and innovators begins at home, but our public schoolteachers play a vital role in equipping our kids with the skills and knowledge they need to compete for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow. Bill Haslam’s top-down privatization agenda threatens our students’ economic future by driving away high-quality teachers and leaving our public schools less secure.

• Bill Haslam’s first education decision put a commissioner with only three years of classroom experience — Kevin Huffman — in charge of a $6 billion education budget.

o This shortsighted experiment has been a costly and abject failure for students. The top-down management style of Haslam’s education commissioner has drawn the ire of school superintendents, educators and parents, crashed morale, and driven away high-quality teachers.

o In September 2013, nearly half of the superintendents in the state signed a letter to Haslam saying educators did not “feel respected or valued” by his administration and that teachers felt “voiceless and powerless.”

• Our kids need great teachers, and we’re not going to recruit and retain those teachers if Haslam’s administration keeps attacking them. In 2011, Haslam signed a law taking away teachers’ right to negotiate together for decent wages and benefits, small class sizes and the kind of things only teachers know about like what works best in the classroom.

o The next year, Haslam proposed increasing classroom sizes — meaning your kids would get less one-on-one time with their teachers.

o While Haslam gave tax breaks to millionaires and billionaires, his administration cut teaching salaries and financial incentives for teachers who earn advanced degrees.

o Haslam instituted a flawed teacher evaluation system that scores more than half of educators on the test scores of kids they don’t even teach; Haslam’s new mandates put less focus on student learning and more focus on bureaucratic paperwork.

o Rather than attracting great educators, Haslam’s top-down orders are costing us great teachers. In 2010, the year preceding Bill Haslam and Commissioner Kevin Huffman taking office, 1,524 teachers retired; by 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, 2,197 teachers retired — a stunning 44 percent increase. In 2012, one in five teachers who were eligible for retirement did so, approximately double the rate in 2010.

• Even though a standardized test never taught a child anything, Haslam’s administration has doubled down on high-stakes testing — at a cost of nearly $200 million year. Haslam’s top-down education policies are robbing students of critical thinking and forcing schools to “teach to the test.” Too many of our tax dollars are going to investors when they should be spent on students.

• Bill Haslam put corporate profits ahead of our children’s education. Instead of investing in small class sizes or expanding pre-K, Haslam diverted millions of tax dollars from public schools to a for-profit corporation that streams lessons to students over the internet.

o Last year students enrolled in Haslam’s for-profit school showed less growth than students in every other public school in the state.

o Haslam’s for-profit school scheme has failed students two years in a row. News reporters even caught the company deleting the bad test grades of students.

o Haslam’s own education commissioner called the for-profit school’s performance “unacceptable.” But instead of holding the for-profit school accountable for failing students, Haslam signed a new law protecting their multi-million dollar contract.
• When we should be strengthening public schools, Bill Haslam has proposed privatization schemes — like private school vouchers — that divert money away from public schools and have failed to deliver on the results that were promised wherever they were tried.

• Bill Haslam punished students by cutting $3.4 million from Nashville schools because the elected school board refused the application of a well-connected charter school. In retaliation, his administration then supported efforts to strip local school boards of the authority to approve charter school applications.

• On top of diverting money from public schools and undermining the educators who are shaping our students, Haslam’s top-down approach ignores the harsh realities facing Tennessee families:

o We will improve education by improving the lives of children. One out of four children in Tennessee live in poverty and Haslam signed a law to cut benefits for the children of Tennesseans who are out of work.

o More than 40 percent of expecting mothers in Tennessee don’t receive adequate pre-natal care. And while healthy mothers raise healthy children, Haslam has blocked funding to expand Medicaid, which could extend quality health coverage to 191,000 women in Tennessee.

• If Tennessee is going to win the good-paying jobs of the future and strengthen our economy, we must increase graduation rates at our colleges and community colleges. Unfortunately, Haslam’s plans are putting a good education out of reach thousands of Tennesseans.
o Under Bill Haslam, tuition rates have increased on working and middle class families in Tennessee every year, saddling students with more debt that hurts our economy.

o While tuition rates in Tennessee are increasing faster than most of the country, Haslam has slashed funding for higher education.

o Instead of investing in Tennessee colleges or in students by lowering tuition costs, Bill Haslam spent $5 million to advertise for an out-of-state, online college.

Blocking Health Care Security
Instead of working to strengthen Medicaid and improve access to affordable health care for all families, Bill Haslam has cut funding for important health care programs. Access to affordable, quality health care is key to building a stronger middle class, but Bill Haslam has made it harder for Tennessee families to get the care they need.

• Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and has blocked federal funds to expand Medicaid, an expansion that could extend quality health coverage to more than 330,000 working Tennesseans and invest billions in Tennessee’s economy.
o If Haslam continues blocking Medicaid expansion, more Tennesseans will die because they lack health coverage. Studies show Medicaid expansion would save lives; health coverage especially helps poor women and children in rural counties, the elderly, and black Tennesseans.

o Bill Haslam’s decision to deny working families Medicaid coverage has already caused hospitals to shut down programs and fire thousands of workers, which has costs our economy millions. Haslam’s continued indifference puts more than 50 hospitals at risk of closing, a shameful scenario that threatens to make health care less accessible to the rural families who need it.

o Haslam’s inaction on Medicaid is punishing the poor. 161,000 Tennesseans in working poor families who would qualify for Medicaid coverage will have nowhere to turn but emergency rooms, which hurts our hospitals and our economy.

• After spending $10 million of taxpayer money to study health exchanges, Bill Haslam evaded his responsibility to Tennesseans when he decided against building a locally operated health insurance marketplace that would help our families get insured.

• Instead of working to solve health care problems facing Tennesseans, Haslam opposed the Affordable Care Act and would:
o allow insurance companies to deny coverage because of a pre-existing condition, putting as many as 2.8 million Tennesseans at risk;

o re-institute lifetime caps on coverage, meaning those with long-term and life threatening illnesses may be cut off from their coverage;

o take away free preventive health care screenings like mammograms for women;

o no longer allow young people to stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26;
o charge women up to 50 percent more for their coverage than men.

• As governor, Haslam cut funding for a program to aid Tennesseans with disabilities.

Slashing the Safety Net for Seniors
Tennesseans who’ve worked their whole lives deserve dignity in their golden years — they’ve earned it, and they deserve it. But to pay for his massive tax giveaways for corporations and the wealthy, Haslam slashed vital programs that Tennessee seniors rely on for a secure retirement.

• Bill Haslam cut millions from in-home care for seniors, forcing elderly Tennesseans out of the home they have lived in for years and into nursing homes.

• Haslam supports repealing the health reform law that has strengthened Medicare and saved Tennessee seniors $109 million on life-saving prescription drugs.

Tennessee Not Prepared for Affordable Care Act Enrollment

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

logoRev1Major health care changes are just around the corner but Tennessee is ill prepared for these changes.

Will the 180,000 uninsured Tennesseans be able to tap into new health insurance coverage through a TennCare expansion? Why is there virtually no publicity given to the new online health insurance marketplaces available to state residents in October? These are just a few important questions related to health care changes in Tennessee.

Tennessee Republican leaders have been vocal to criticize Obamacare but they have had nothing to prepare Tennessee consumers of the upcoming changes.

Recently, Gov. Bill Haslam announced a new statewide health initiative but he failed to mention the impact of the federal Affordable Care Act on Tennesseans. He also failed to mention one of the largest health care dilemmas facing our state: whether to expand TennCare under his proposed “Tennessee Plan.”

Negotiations are ongoing with the federal government on Haslam’s proposal that will put $1 billion a year in federal Medicaid money toward getting uninsured adults to buy private insurance on the federal health insurance exchanges. It is unclear when the Governor will act, as a deadline to act, quickly approaches.

It is still unknown whether Tennessee’s online insurance marketplaces will be ready for Tennesseans by October. This is the mechanism that will provide Tennesseans to buy coverage for themselves or their families. This is an important aspect of the Affordable Care Act which requires every person to have health insurance or pay a fine.

Because leaders in Tennessee has left it to the federal government to set up and run the exchanges, rather than doing it themselves, Tennessee will received tens of millions of dollars less in funding for outreach and education about the exchanges. States that have chosen to run their own marketplaces have informational websites up and running while it is virtually impossible to find resources about the Tennessee marketplace.

Haslam said he decided to hand the marketplace over to the federal government based on a desire for an easier transition. Tennessee’s failure to implement the exchange themselves will hurt Tennesseans who will not know that they can benefit from the health care changes.

Across the state, as the Government has does nothing to prepare for the exchange, others including Insurance companies and health care providers are taking action to start enrollment education programs for Tennessee’s uninsured residents by launching informational ads and websites.

According to Walter Davis, director of the Tennessee Healthcare Campaign, volunteers are sharing information across the state daily.

“Everywhere we go there’s a high degree of interest, Tennesseans want to know how it affects them personally. I think as we get closer, we’ll see a spike of interest.”

VW Demand in Tennessee: Seat Labor at Table or No Expansion – No New Jobs

Sunday, June 23rd, 2013

In March of 2009 Volkswagen (VW) came to Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was welcome news for the Tennessee economy and job creation. Volkswagen has been a good company creating thousands of jobs. The EPA recently honored them for being a leader in Green Power. VW America is the largest automotive maker in the US using solar power and the largest of any industry in Tennessee.

VW has created jobs which has been invaluable to Chattanooga. In March, VW announced they would add 800 to 1000 more jobs by the end of 2013 bringing the employment to 3500. They also want to have labor represented at the table and insist this must happen or they won’t expand their plant in Chattanooga.

A top global official for the VW works council says the group will block the automaker’s expansion in Chattanooga unless a labor panel is implemented. A German newspaper reported that VW Group deputy council chief Stephan Wolf said, “We will only agree to an extension of the site or any other model contract when it is clear how to proceed with the employees’ representatives in the United States.”

The Republicans and Chamber of Commerce have maintained that government should stay out of private business; yet, they are not doing so in this case. Their contempt for the American worker is obvious that their love of big corporations is stronger than their desire to keep government out private business. Both the Chattanooga Chamber and Republican Gov. Bill Haslam have criticized the effort to include labor at the table. Obviously the TNGOP war on labor continues.

It is refreshing to see a company display real corporate leadership and class.

“Dumping” the Homeless in America

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

“Dumping” the homeless – is this the new American response to homelessness? The growing way we treat and look at those who are homeless in this country is disgraceful. There has been a lot of coverage about the Detroit Police Department “dumpling” the homeless in areas unfamiliar to them, all in an effort to clean up tourist areas.

Recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a Department of Justice complaint against the Detroit Police Department. The ACLU has been investigating these reports after receiving complaints by individuals who had experienced this practice.

The officers are approaching, handcuffing and picking up those who they perceive to be homeless, and taking them away in a van or police vehicle. Once in the vehicle, the officers drive to a remote area far away from the familiar surroundings the homeless person is accustomed to. The officers take any money they possess and leave the individual stranded. Without a means to pay for transportation, individuals have no choice but to walk several miles back to their original location, sometimes having to travel at night, during freezing temperatures and through unsafe neighborhoods.

This practice is shocking in how those who are expected to uphold and enforce the law treat those who are most vulnerable in our society.

In 2011, the Tennessee Legislation and Governor took a similar approach to homelessness after being humiliated by Occupy Nashville, when they made it illegal to pitch a tent on publicly owned land. This was simply an attempt to hide the homeless problem in Nashville, at the doors of the state capital. Similar laws are popping up across “red” parts of the country.

When it comes to the homeless, people have the homeless (Not In My Backyard) complex. Countless organizations are increasing as those without homes in our cities, states, and country increase. Some go out of our way during the holiday season to help these organizations so that they will have adequate food, clothing, and monetary resources to provide for those who have fallen on hard times but many of these organizations are falling under increasing difficultly to help those in need.

On the other hand, we do not want these individuals in our backyards/neighborhoods. Just several years ago, the sheriff of Unicoi County had the idea to have inmates have a community garden to help provide food for the area homeless. The response of the citizens of Unicoi County was shameful. There was such uproar over the idea, that every site suggested, drew an increasing outcry from citizens.

They looked at these individuals as being “dirty,” “lazy,” and “dangerous/menaces” to society. Our society increasingly demonizes those in need. We want the homeless to receive help… just somewhere else.

”Dumping the “homeless reveals a disturbing lack of compassion about a growing segment of our society. In 2012, the Housing and Urban Development Department reported that 636,782 individuals were homeless in the United States. These figures show that America has increasing problems with individuals and families becoming homeless.

Is this injustice becoming the “norm” in America in regards to how we address the issue of homelessness?

TENNESSEE REACTIONARY AND RADICAL REPUBLICAN LEGISLATION

Friday, April 19th, 2013

The following critique of the Tennessee Republican “Radical Agenda” Legislation was written as a response to examples of National Republican wing-nut laws that will be used by Democrats against Republicans. The following is a close critique of the TNGOP wing-nut legislation by TNDP Chair, Roy Herron.

So, what about Tennessee?

If the national media thinks the above controversial bills

could impact races,

what if they look at what has been happening in Tennessee?

And if voters are disturbed over some of these proposals,

what if we communicate clearly

what the Republicans have been doing in Tennessee?

Here is a quick and only very partial list

of some of the Reactionary and Radical Republican legislation

in Tennessee in recent months.

WAR ON WOMEN.

1. FORCING CHILD RAPE VICTIMS TO BEAR RAPISTS’ CHILDREN. SJR 127, which already has been approved by the Republicans and goes before the voters in 2014, would remove any state constitutional protection for any woman, including child rape victims, allowing these Reactionary and Radical Republicans to force all victims to bear the rapists’ children.

2. FORCING WOMEN WHOSE LIVES ARE ENDANGERED TO DIE. SJR 127 also would remove any state constitutional protection for a woman to choose to end a pregnancy. The Republicans voted down an amendment that would have at least let women whose very lives are endangered to save their own lives.

3. FORCING VICTIMS TO WATCH ULTRASOUNDS. The Republicans have legislation, which they say they are going to delay a bit, which would force women to watch ultrasounds and/or to listen to a doctor describe the ultrasound before ending a pregnancy, no matter the circumstances or need.

4. VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Tennessee’s Republican Congressional Delegation, every Republican, voted “no” on the Violence Against Women Act.

5. WHAT ELSE?

WAR ON WORKERS.

1. HURTING INJURED WORKERS. The Republicans are passing legislation that will drastically slash and in many instances end compensation to injured workers. Another example of their “hurting the hurting.”

2. REFUSING MEDICAID FUNDS AND LEAVING 300,000 TENNESSEANS WITHOUT HEALTH CARE. The Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid, refused to accept billions in federal funds, leaving 300,000 workers and members of working families without health insurance and without health care. Make no mistake: it is the working people who are hurt by this. The politicians and the prisoners, the lawmakers and the law-breakers, have government health care. But the Reactionary and Radical Republicans refuse to let working people have what they have. Eight or so other states with Republican governors have opted to take the federal funds, but our Radical Republicans would rather Tennesseans have to pay for those states and other states to care for their citizens at our expense.

3. DENYING A LIVING WAGE. The Republicans are outlawing and preempting cities like Nashville and Memphis from joining many other cities and states that require a minimum wage above $7.25 an hour.

4. WHAT ELSE?

WAR ON CHILDREN.

1. STARVE THE CHILDREN. Legislation that would slash already minimal support ($185 for a mother with two little ones) for impoverished single parent or no-parent families if children do poorly in school continues to move forward. This “Starve the Children” bill has drawn national attention and would be another instance of Tennessee “leading” the country—in the wrong direction. The legislation is the brain child and the only child of a 44-year-old bachelor.

2. STARVE THE SCHOOLS. Legislation to take funds from public schools and give the tax dollars to private schools, including segregation academies and sectarian schools, this week may have been stopped for this year. Why? Because of strong Democratic opposition and because the out-of-state companies and entities pushing this may have over-played their hand for now by getting even greedier than some Republicans could stomach.

3. STEAL FROM THE SCHOOLS. A company with a major investor who stole millions on Wall Street and went to prison now is stealing millions from Tennessee taxpayers, thanks to a Republican law that gives our tax dollars to K-12, Inc., a “virtual school” company that takes our money but fails to educate our children.

4. ATTACKING OUR CHILDREN’S TEACHERS. The Radical Republicans have attacked our children’s teachers in a host of ways, including taking away their rights to representation in seeking better schools and conditions for the children. When they hurt our children’s teachers, they hurt our children.

5. CHARTERS GONE WILD. The Radical Republicans want to over-ride local school boards and have an ideologically-driven, politically-appointed board or band of Republicans order that local governments turn over tax dollars to out-of-state, for-profit companies who come with their hands out to profit from Tennessee’s taxpayers at the expense of our children.

6. WHAT ELSE?

WAR ON DEMOCRACY.

1-5. MAKING IT HARDER TO VOTE. The Republicans already have made it harder for People to vote by:

1. BIG GOVERNMENT IDENTICATION CARDS. New restrictions requiring big government ID cards.

2. LESS EARLY VOTING. Cutting back days to early vote.

3. FEWER VOTING LOCATIONS. Cutting back voting locations.

4. PURGING VOTERS. Purging law-abiding citizens from voting rolls (e.g., Rep. Lincoln Davis and Rep. Butch Borchert’s wife).

5. YOUR VOTES MAY NOT BE COUNTED. Even doing away with paper verification so you don’t know if your vote is counted.

6. APRIL FOOLISH: REPEALING THE 17TH AMENDMENT AND STEAING THE PEOPLE’S RIGHT TO VOTE. On April 1st, the Senate was about to play an April Fool’s Joke and take away Tennesseans’ right to vote for our nominees to run for the U.S. Senate. This was also the 100th anniversary of Tennessee ratifying the 17th Amendment that gave us the right to elect our U.S. Senators.

Democrats believe that the People should pick the Politicians, instead of the Politicians picking each other. But now the Radical Republicans want to steal the People’s right to vote to nominate our United States Senators.

Senate Bill 471/House Bill 415 came flying out of a Senate Committee on a 7-1 vote and is endorsed and supported by the Republican Speaker of the Senate. It was about to fly through the Senate until we Democrats fought back and demanded to be taken out of the bill. We think we will ultimately prevail, but the bill is not yet dead. In the words of Speaker Lois DeBerry, “You can’t make this stuff up.”

7. WHAT ELSE?

CONCLUSION.

The Reactionary and Radical Republicans

want to take us back a couple of centuries,

to the 1800s when the legislature picked our senators

until corruption and the people finally ended the practice

by Constitutional Amendment in 1913.

This is consistent with the legislation they passed

(with every Republican voting for it)

urging Congress to reject the Constitutional understandings

of the Supreme Court during the middle part of the last century

and to adopt those misunderstandings from the twenties—

citing two cases from the twenties, the eighteen-twenties (1820s).

(And no, I am not making this up.)

These Reactionary Republicans want to go back to a time

when African-Americans were property

and Women could not own property,

when Workers had few rights

and Children had none.

Now we know what Reactionary and Radical Republicans mean

when they claim to be for smaller government:

they want to take power away from the People

and let a small number of Republican politicians grab the power.

They want to make the government smaller

by taking the people’s tax dollars

and giving them away to their friends.

These are some of the worst bills and laws of recent months.

But I bet you also have some favorites.

Please share them.

And then let’s use the worst bills to let Tennesseans know what is happening to them.

And to elect Tennessee Democrats who will do right by the People.

Roy B. Herron, Chair

Tennessee Democratic Party

1900 Church Street, Suite 203

Nashville, TN 37203

roy@tndp.org

O 615.327.9779

F 615.891.7453

www.tndp.org