Tennesseans across the state gather to protest the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants at the border, especially children.
From the Tennessean today:
Gov. Bill Lee has proclaimed Saturday as Nathan Bedford Forrest Day in Tennessee, a day of observation to honor the former Confederate general and early Ku Klux Klan leader whose bust is on display in the state Capitol.
Per state law, the Tennessee governor is tasked with issuing proclamations for six separate days of special observation, three of which, including the July 13 Forrest Day, pertain to the Confederacy.
There have been repeated protests of the bust of Forrest, the KKK’s first Grand Wizard, which is still featured prominently in the Tennessee state legislature to this day.
The Tennessean reports that Lee said “I signed the bill because the law requires that I do that and I haven’t looked at changing that law.”
They also remind us that Lee was found to have worn confederate uniforms in college, which he now says he regrets:
Lee earlier this year said he regretted participating in “Old South” parties at Auburn University nearly four decades ago as part of Kappa Alpha Order, a fraternity that lists Robert E. Lee as its “spiritual founder.”
The governor, a college student at the time, was also pictured in an Auburn yearbook dressed in a Confederate Army uniform, a common practice for members of the fraternity at the time.
“I never intentionally acted in an insensitive way, but with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that participating in that was insensitive and I’ve come to regret it,” Lee said in February.
Lee has said he may be open to “adding context” to the statue rather than removing it, but has done nothing to pursue that.
Rep. Bob Freeman has proposed replacing it with a women’s suffrage statue, and has vowed to introduce that legislation in the next session.
There was a sequence of events yesterday that was so ridiculous we just wanted to make sure to connect the dots for everyone.
🚨NEW VIDEO: “That’s gonna happen soon.”@GovBillLee Says Rep. David Byrd, who apologized on tape to 1 of 3 women who say he sexually abused them in high school, will be gone “soon”. Let’s hold him to it.
— The Tennessee Holler (@TheTNHoller) July 10, 2019
A spokesperson for the governor now says this video is a misunderstanding.
Laine Arnold told me the governor thought he was talking about Speaker Glen Casada and the special session to remove him from his position. @NC5
— Kyle Horan (@KyleHoranNC5) July 10, 2019
Video from Beto O’Rourke’s rally here in Tennessee this week. Beto was impressive, and the energy was great. We appreciate his optimistic message about immigration, and we also appreciate that he came to see us and spent time in the community.
We hope all the other presidential candidates will do the same.
Here’s Governor Lee yesterday telling Anna Grabowski Rep. David Byrd will be gone “soon”.
He has since said he didn’t mean soon, he meant he asked him not to run again – meaning he believes Byrd to be guilty of the child sex abuse he’s accused of, yet is willing to let him serve out his term anyway. Wonderful!
Meanwhile Byrd told a reporter Lee did NOT ask him not to run again… before then trying to walk that back.
So. Much. Moonwalking.
So. Little. Leadership.
Here’s a new Facebook Live interview from this morning with Andy Spears of the TN Education report.
Andy talks about the #VoucherVultures descending on Nashville thanks to Governor Bill Lee’s new legislation, and what we can do to push back against Lee’s all-out assault on public schools.
Roughly one month after Governor Bill Lee signed his Education Savings Account voucher scheme into law, a North Carolina-based private school announced it is expanding operations to Nashville.
Perhaps not surprisingly, tuition at the school is similar to the amount available to families in Nashville and Memphis under the ESA program.
The school, Thales Academy, is operated by the CEO of a commercial kitchen ventilation company. Bob Luddy is also a top GOP donor in North Carolina.
Here’s Luddy on how great his schools are:
“We get results. If you look consistently over a period of time, kindergarten students come in, they can barely walk in the door, they can barely sit down, and then you see them progress as they learn sounds, and they learn to decode. By the time they progress into the 3rd or 4th grade they’re doing very sophisticated work, which is going to prepare them to be excellent students in the long term,” Luddy says in a video on the Thales Academy website.
And here’s more on accreditation straight from the school’s website:
The accreditation process does not align with Thales Academy’s mission and would prevent Thales from maintaining our standard of the highest quality education.
Thales and Luddy are not new to Tennessee. In fact, in 2015, voucher advocate Lee Barfield paid for a private plane to take former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and then-House Speaker Beth Harwell to North Carolina to visit the Thales schools.
Like Bill Lee, Barfield is a long-time supporter of Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children and even served on the group’s Board of Directors.
Those in the GOP cozying up to Luddy should beware, though, he’s known for expressing his disappointment where it hurts politicians the most: Campaign contributions.
Here’s how he treated the House GOP in North Carolina:
A major conservative donor’s decision this week to divert a planned $25,000 contribution away from state House Republicans highlights an increasingly bitter divide within the party over tax policy and government spending.
Raleigh businessman Bob Luddy, who chairs the board of the conservative Civitas Institute think tank and is an influential financial supporter of conservative candidates, emailed a sharp critique of the House budget to House Republicans, who are in the majority.
Luddy complained that the budget advancing to a major vote on Thursday does not include new tax cuts and extends tax breaks for specific industries. He called the spending plan too “liberal” and said he’s decided to withold his planned, annual donation to the House Republicans’ campaign committee.
Luddy instead directed his money to Americans for Prosperity and then issued this sharp rebuke to those who had taken his money in the past but were not doing his bidding:
But Luddy says the state shouldn’t prop up the solar industry. “These guys couldn’t exist without government subsidies, and those subsidies have to come from every working taxpayer who are capable of creating way more jobs than the solar industry could ever create,” he said.
Here’s a guy who plans on using public money to fund his private school scheme and he’s decrying the use of public funds to support an industry he simply doesn’t like. Perhaps if public money shouldn’t be used to “prop up the solar industry” it also shouldn’t be used to prop up Luddy’s Thales Academy.
Those who warned that passage of vouchers would lead to “pop-up” private schools have already been proven right. Thales Academy and Bob Luddy were invited into Tennessee by Bill Lee and friends and are now perched like hungry vultures ready to suck funds from Nashville’s public schools.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport