INTERVIEW: JB SMILEY JR., CANDIDATE FOR GOVERNOR

We’re joined LIVE by JB Smiley Jr., a Memphis councilman running for governor of Tennessee as a Democrat.

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW below. CLIP HERE. Listen to the PODCAST HERE.

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE: GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

SETTING A BAD EXAMPLE:

GOV. LEE’S FAILURE TO LEAD COMES AT GREAT COST

At Governor Lee’s press conferences, in the presence of statewide media and TV cameras, he presents himself as someone who personally believes masks work. It’s not that he shares the opinion of anti-mask extremists who think masks are tyranny, he assures us – it’s just that he believes people in Tennessee should have the final say over whether or not their kids wear masks to school.

Clearly he has done the polling and decided that middle ground is the safest place for him to live.

Not firmly on either side. One foot in each camp. Tell the pro-mask parents they’re right about the efficacy of masks, while telling the anti-mask parents they’re right about “freedom” and all that.

His opt out executive order was the legislative manifestation of this wishy-washiness – not a “mask mandate ban” by name, but one in spirit. It allowed the anti-maskers to feel like they had won, while allowing Lee to pretend he hadn’t actually banned mask mandates – even though he had (as a judge in Memphis seems to have figured out).

But underneath it all, Lee’s attempt to present himself as a personal believer in masks doesn’t pass the smell test. He may have spent state money on a “mask up” ad campaign… his Health Department may have “recommended” them… but if Lee really thinks they work, why isn’t he wearing one?

Why with cases skyrocketing and hospitalizations at all time highs was he just recently pictured with kids, inside a school, maskless? And why did he POST IT ON SOCIAL MEDIA, as if to say it was the right way to behave? Why even bother pretending to think masks are the right thing to do if he’s not going to lead by example?

The truth is, Lee is either an anti-masker at heart, or a coward.

If he truly believes wearing masks are the right thing to do, he should be doing it. But doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do is not in Lee’s DNA.

Leadership is simply not in his bag of tricks.

Lee has shown us time and again he will always say the most politically convenient thing in the moment. He will always follow the way he thinks the polling goes.

But leaders aren’t supposed to follow the way the wind is blowing. Leaders are supposed to lead.

And because our state doesn’t have a leader, but instead has a man in charge who is first and foremost worried about pandering to extremists, 27 school districts are closed, at least 8 teachers are dead, our hospitals are pleading for help, and we have the worst outbreak in the country (one of the worst in the world)

We are paying a heavy price for Lee’s failure to lead.

Setting a bad example comes at great cost.

Justin Kanew is the founder of the Tennessee Holler

TODAY’S HOLLER: LEE’S MASK MANDATE BAN BLOCKED

LEE’S OPT OUT ORDER BLOCKED


U.S. District Judge Sheryl Lipman just issued a temporary restraining order sought by the parents of 2 kids with health problems who argue Lee’s opt out order endangers students with health conditions.

The Temporary Restraining Order remains in effect until Sept. 17. Yet again, Lee doesn’t pass laws, he passes lawsuits.

Meanwhile Governor Lee continues to do nothing to help teachers and students feel safe in our schools. TENNESSEAN EDITORIAL BOARD just called out Gov. Lee for being “reactive”, which is generous since he isn’t really reacting at all, and said he should rescind his mask mandate opt out order. ??

TEACHERS DYING don’t even seem to be moving him. In CHEATHAM COUNTY It seems yet another teacher died tragically of COVID, ? and SCIENCE HILL in Johnson City lost one also. Far too many Tennessee educators have been lost to this disease, while far too little is done.

Governor Lee has not mentioned them.

KNOX TEACHER just came on the Holler to issue a plea TO LEE & OTHER LEADERS: “PLEASE HELP… every failure to take action affects the entire state, not just those in public education.” ?

Please keep speaking out. We’ll keep hollering the truth and trying to do our part. We’re able to do what we do because of your support, so if you’re not yet please consider chipping in – the monthly support truly keeps us going. No monthly amount is too small.

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TODAY’S HOLLER
HOSPITALS FULL OF REGRETFUL UNVACCINATED:  Truck Driver who listens to conservative radio: “I didn’t think I was at any risk.” Elderly Woman: “Guess I should’ve taken that vaccine.” As Tennessee hospitals set new records, the most critical are almost all unvaccinated. ICUs are filled with regretful patients.
1 IN 5000: “How small are the chances of the average vaccinated American contracting Covid? Probably about one in 5,000 per day, and even lower for people who take precautions or live in a highly vaccinated community.” ? #GetVaccinatedNow
A GRAPHIC from Williamson Medical Center showing how clear it is everyone should #GetVaccinatedNow.

SPONSORING THE WAR ON WOMEN: AT&T, NBC Universal, CVS Health and more are the biggest donors to the Republican politicians behind the Texas abortion bill/war on women… Yet they remain silent.

FLORIDA DOC WON’T TREAT THE UNVACCINATED ANYMORE: “This is where it draws the line in the sand for me.” – Dr. Linda Marraccini in FLORIDA is telling patients she won’t treat the UNVACCINATED in her office anymore.

BREAKING RECORDS: “Tennessee continues to set RECORD COVID-19 HOSPITALIZATION NUMBERS… 3,597 now hospitalized across the state…. 1020 in ICUs… 699 on ventilators… 74 of those hospitalized are children…” ?

LABOR DAY HYPOCRITES: Governor Lee had ZERO workers or worker reps on your COVID economic recovery group. He helped keep Volkswagen from unionizing. Republicans (Lee, Blackburn, Hagerty, etc) posting nice things about workers on Labor Day but fighting against unions, who started the holiday and gave us weekends, overtime, child labor laws, etc…  should have all the seats. ? ?

LABOR DAY REMINDER: Unions and the middle class go hand in hand, and politicians who don’t support unions don’t really support workers. (Again: Anti-union Governor Lee had ZERO worker reps or workers on his COVID “economic recovery group”)

? TN AFL CIO CHIEF BILLY DYCUS: “The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor…“Right to Work” laws originated during Jim Crow and strip workers from having a voice… it means LESS freedom for workers, NOT MORE.” #LaborDay #UnionStrong

GOP JESUS – THE MOVIE: ”Rabbi, surely you can heal me!” — “Yes… but who would pay for it?” ? #GOPJesus helps us understand many of our Republican friends much better… especially our TN GOP delegation. 

IVERMECTIN CALLS: “The Tennessee Poison Center has seen a dramatic increase in calls for people experiencing issues after taking (horse de-wormer) IVERMECTIN for COVID-19” ?

Nice recap of how Governor Lee has *handled* COVID, with TN having the worst outbreak in the country – from the Williamson Young Dems. ?

RENKL: “We need to take health and public safety out of the hands of Republicans because this is not a game” – ? Margaret Renkl on how Governor Lee and Republican leadership throughout the South are exacerbating climate/COVID disasters… and costing lives.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY Moms for Liberty making it clear with this absurd post about American Girl dolls they have no clue what Critical Race Theory actually is, and proving all they care about is making sure our society stops fighting racism??(PSA: Nobody is “color blind”. That’s a lie they tell themselves. The point isn’t to not see color, it’s to see all everyone’s uniqueness and differences and love each other for it.)

? ?MEMPHIS MAGIC: “It’s important to get vaccinated… not only for yourself, but for those around you.” The great MAGIC JOHNSON gives SHELBY COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT JORIS RAY an assist to tout the vaccine. (90%+ of those hospitalized are unvaccinated) ?

“HOST BODY”: Florida’s former GOP Speaker of the House repeatedly calls a pregnant woman a “host body” ☹️ But sure, let’s keep letting these guys dictate women’s reproductive rights?

HOLLERIN’ ON TAMRON HALL: “At the end of the day, if we’re wrong about the efficacy of masks- sorry, you had to wear a mask. But if you’re wrong, someone dies or our kids get sick.” Yesterday the Holler’s Justin Kanew joined THE TAMRON HALL SHOW to discuss the chaotic Williamson Board meeting.

TAMRON HALL DISMANTLES ROD LUNN: Who threatened the dad in Williamson County… the guy humiliated himself further. Obvious limelight chaser. He’s a party to lawsuits against masks where he claims to have asthma, yet oddly never mentions it.

? ??‍♀️

? ?❤️? The kids are alright

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LEE: “NO PLANS TO CHANGE STRATEGY”

REPORTER: “Hospitals preparing to run out of resources…. 11 school districts closed… US Ed Dept launched a civil rights investigation… any plans to take back your (mask mandate ban)?”

GOVERNOR LEE: “We have no plans to change our strategy.”
Welp.

HOLLERIN’ COMMON SENSE GOES VIRAL

HOLLERIN’ COMMON SENSE GOES VIRAL

The Wilco board speech by the Holler’s Justin Kanew continues to circulate.   It has now been featured in NewsweekPeople Magazine, Today.comGood Morning AmericaABC News, and TONIGHT Kanew is on NBC Nightly News and Primetime with Chris Cuomo talking about the message he gave to the Williamson County School Board.

Even the great Leslie Jones posted about it!

His message was simple: Wear a mask. Take care of each other. It’s a simple thing to do. And if we’re wrong, sorry you had to wear a mask. But if you’re wrong, your kid may end up in the hospital, and you or someone you know may die.

This should be an easy decision. And judging by the reaction to Kanew’s speech at the school board, it’s an attitude shared by many throughout the nation. Turns out  a little common sense goes a long way where there’s little of it.

We’ll keep spreading this common sense, and we’re able to do what we do because of your support, so thank you for those who are chipping in monthly, and if you’re not yet please consider doing so – the monthly support truly keeps us going. No monthly amount is too small.

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TODAY’S HOLLER:

CRITICAL CARE DOC JASON MARTIN: “Our Governor completely abdicated his responsibility throughout this pandemic… no statewide response… arrogant… kids can get sick despite what he told Fox”
He isn’t just talk—He’s about to step up and run for gov against Lee 

STATE REP. ANTONIO PARKINSON: “Republicans on the campaign trail talk about local control, but in reality they’re for state control when it comes to something that runs counter to the national Republican agenda and the defunct Trump playbook.”

 “START TO UNIONIZE” – According to Danielle Marie Goodrich of TN Stands Tri Cities, Suddenly right-wing anti-mask/vaccine folks are pro-union as employers require vaccines to keep folks safe! (Where were they when Gov. Lee was Union-busting & GM cut off UAW health care?)

WATCH: “THAT WAS IN NO WAY A THREAT.”  – Rod Lunn, the man (with 0 kids) who threatened a dad at the WILCO board meeting, attempts to defend his actions says the dad almost hit a kid and claims he’s received “powder” in the mail (SPOILER: IT WAS A THREAT)

Reminder: Rod Lunn once fancied himself a musician and was plaintiff on multiple TN Stands lawsuits claiming mask mandates harm him because he has asthma… but at a rally in Franklin he bragged about never wearing a mask and didn’t mention asthma once.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY DEPUTY INSURRECTIONIST: sheriff’s deputy Ronald Colton McAbee arrested Aug. 17 after the FBI received a tip he was the man in officer-worn body camera footage who attempted to fight a Metro officer and drag another into the mob storming the Capitol.”

DC BOMB THREAT: “On his now-removed Facebook page, he frequently made pro-Trump posts and posted videos from former Trump’s Million MAGA March on November 14.”

TENNESSEE PASTORS TO GOV. LEE: “STOP THIS FOOLISHNESS… DO BETTER, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY.” They call on school districts to “love thy neighbor” and defy Lee’s unchristian opt-out order that endangers children— pleading with them to institute mask mandates anyway.

US ED DEPT QUESTIONS THE LEGALITY of Lee’s mask mandate opt-out order (seems they realize it’s really just a cowardly mask mandate ban also)

GOV. LEE’S COVID TASK FORCE MEMBER “FED UP”: “We just had a 31yo teacher in the Memphis area die of COVID after catching it in class… the whole idea of mask mandates taking away our freedom is ASININE to me.” – Dr. Cross, member of Governor Lee’s COVID task force team (that hasn’t met in over a year), is “FED UP”

ASSISTANT PRINCIPAL IN HOT WATER: As first reported by Memphis Holler— an assistant principal in Germantown is now “under investigation” for equating vaccines with yellow stars Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust:

TEXAS UPHOLDS BAN BAN: The Texas Supreme Court just temporarily banned Governor Abbott’s mask mandate ban (while he’s in quarantine with COVID)

“TAKE MY CHILDREN”: “Governor Lee, I freely offer you my children to use for the solidifying of your political legacy and furthering your future aspirations.” — humor writer Joe Thomas highlights the absurdity of Lee’s disregard for our children

ANTI-VACCINE SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN DIES OF COVID: Republican County party leader Pressley Stutts, who once joked about making fake vaccine cards… dies of COVID.

INBOX: NO SCHOOL AT FAIRVIEW MIDDLE TODAY “BECAUSE OF FACULTY/STAFF ILLNESS”   (And so it begins…)

CHATTANOOGA STUDENTS WALK OUT: “Tyner Academy is supposed to be an educational facility—instead it looks like a crack house on broad street.” – Jaylan Sims…. GOP budgets starve schools while the state sits on BILLIONS —> Seniors WALK OUT demanding better building conditions

MEMPHIS MASK MANDATE: With hospitals reaching their breaking points and a health care collapse “imminent” — “Shelby county to institute county-wide mask mandate”  

FEDERAL LAWSUIT: 14 TEXAS kids with disabilities are SUING Governor Abbott over his mask mandate ban, saying “the order discriminates against students with disabilities and their rights to public education programs.”

FLASHBACK – GOV. LEE BACK IN JULY 2020: “If hindsight were 20/20 and we had a mask mandate in March we probably wouldn’t have had to close anything down… it’s not a political statement…” – in JOHNSON CITY he  touted mask mandates—now he issues orders undercutting school boards.

NOOGA’S HEARTLESS BOARD MEMBER: CHATTANOOGA DAD: “What should parents of cancer patients do (without a mask mandate)?” — SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER RHONDA THURMAN: “I don’t know… I can’t take care of 40,000 kids.” — NOOGA DAD: “Isn’t that your job??” Chattanooga’s heartless board member RHONDA THURMAN tells the dad it’s his problem — and compares cancer to acne/hives??

BOWLING FOR VACCINE SKEPTICS: Meanwhile Tennessee Republican state Senator Janice Bowling (Tullahoma) just hosted a summit of anti-vaccine *doctors* at the state legislature building, and they slinked into an office when Natalie Allison showed up.

TEXAS LOOPHOLE: “The Paris Schools Board held an emergency meeting and decided to require masks as part of the dress code — which they say falls within their authority”

SENATOR YARBRO:  “Gov. Lee made a BIG MESS… it’s MADNESS… schools all across the state are trying to open, facing a COVID spike, Lee lobs in this bomb for political reasons.”

FUNK WON’T PROSECUTE: NASHVILLE D.A. GLENN FUNK: “I will not prosecute school officials or teachers for keeping children safe.” Teachers/schools that disobey Lee’s anti-mask mandate opt out order and continue to require masks will not be prosecuted.

LAWMAKER CLASH: After Nashville & Memphis say they won’t comply with Gov. Lee’s order to allow parents to not comply with their mask order, Lt. Gov. Mcnally says they “will not allow lawful orders to be defied” — But was it “lawful”? Some legal minds seem to think not.

BIDEN TO ANTI-MASK GOVERNORS: “If you’re not going to fight COVID-19, at least get out of the way.” – He threatens legal action against governors who ban mask mandates (which Lee essentially just did with his opt-out order)

MEMPHIS TEACHER PASSES FROM COVID: 2nd grade teacher Ashley Leatherwood has died from COVID – her family says she caught it in the classroom. 

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MUZZLEGATE: DR. MICHELLE FISCUS DEFENDS HERSELF

Tennessee has made the national news more than our share lately. One of the most recent instances was the political firing of Dr. Michelle Fiscus over the Health Department’s outreach to teens for the COVID-19 vaccine. We won’t go into all the details here, but the bottom line is she shared a summary of existing case law with vaccine providers which stated that teens over 14 were able to get vaccinated without a parent’s permission.

Republicans didn’t like that (even though it’s STILL state policy). They made a big stink over it, and the marketing to teens – only one problem: Fiscus had not been responsible for that marketing. Governor Lee’s office had. Lee’s office had also blessed the summary Fiscus shared. But Republican legislators were out for blood, and the sword fell on Dr. Fiscus.

She was fired, although neither Health Dept. Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey or Governor Lee would say why at the time. Lee pointed to Piercey, saying it was her decision, although he claimed not to even have asked her why she made it.

On her way out Dr. Fiscus pulled no punches. She gave interviews about the mess that was going on inside the health department, even sharing details about a no-bid contract given to a Utah company with zero COVID testing experience that was clearly awarded for political reasons by Governor Lee, a contract which fell apart – costing Tennessee taxpayer $6 million for literally nothing and slowing down an already horrific COVID-19 response.

It was no surprise then that there were people who wanted Dr. Fiscus to stop talking. Reports even surfaced of Dr. Fiscus receiving a dog muzzle in the mail – to which she responded that it would take more than that to keep her from talking.

The muzzle was a minor detail in a much bigger national story about a Governor firing a top vaccine expert to appease anti-vaccine extremists (appeasing extremists appears to be Lee’s specialty). Fiscus asked for an investigation into what she perceived as a threat, and now weeks later a story has come out from the new Nashville arm of Axios, run by Nate Rau (formerly of the Tennessee Lookout) and Adam Tamburin, saying that an investigation by the state concluded Fiscus had “sent the muzzle to herself”. (the story has been updated to reflect that the investigation did not conclude that, only that she “bought the muzzle” – meaning a card in Dr. Fiscus’ name was used)

Dr. Fiscus responded, saying she did not send it to herself, pointing out that she was the one who asked for the investigation, and that the 2nd Amazon account was created using a burner phone in Washington state, where she has not been.

The Fiscus family has openly shared the state’s findings, and says they have asked for an unredacted version of the report. Dr. Fiscus also released a follow up statement, and did an interview with Channel 5 where she pointed out that the state had her credit card on file and could easily have set her up if they so desired.

It seems clear 1 of 2 things happened here: Either Dr. Fiscus lied, sent herself a muzzle to garner sympathy, and asked for an investigation thinking she would never get caught by something as simple as a subpoena to Amazon… or someone at the state intentionally sent her the muzzle with her own card so that it would come out and look like she did that to discredit all the other things she has said about Governor Lee’s administration and health department.

Dr. Fiscus says those who already think she did this won’t listen to her side of the story anyway, which is likely true.

To believe the latter version you’d have to believe this administration was also capable of handing out military promotions to get private school vouchers passed… or that other close Republican pals of Lee were under FBI investigation for campaign finance issues… or that they had handed out no-bid contracts like candy throughout the pandemic to the tune of around $500 MILLION… had people peeing on a fellow Republican’s chair… framed civil rights activists and had them charged with 14 different counts… or felonized protestors for wanting equality and justice… had a trooper lie about a megaphone color to get a leading activist imprisoned

Bottom line: You can disbelieve Dr. Fiscus, but if you think Tennessee Republicans are above framing a doctor who was taking a sledgehammer to their credibility using nothing but the truth, to discredit her in the eyes of the state, and the country… you simply haven’t been paying attention.

WILCO MAN WHO THREATENED DOC WAS PARTY TO TN STANDS LAWSUITS

Last night at the raucous Williamson County School Board meeting, where they became the 4th county to impose a school mask mandate (for 1 month), two men could be seen in a video by the Williamson Home Page following a doctor to his car and yelling at him in a threatening manner that “WE KNOW WHO YOU ARE!” and “WE WILL FIND YOU!” and “YOU’LL NEVER BE ALLOWED IN PUBLIC AGAIN!”

Since we amplified that clip some eagle-eyed Holler Follerers have let us know that one of the men is Rodney H. Lunn Jr., a childless former musician who seems to enjoy the limelight and claims to have retired at 38 years old after 11 years in the diamond business.

Lunn has been a plaintiff in multiple lawsuits with regular shit-stirrers Tennessee Stands against Governor Bill Lee and Williamson County Mayor Rogers Anderson for imposing mask mandates. The suit was tossed by a judge for lack of standing, but that hasn’t stopped TN Stands from claiming it proves School Boards can’t impose mask mandates. Governor Lee disagrees.

Again: He attended the Williamson County School board meeting this week despite having no children.

It’s also worth noting that in the TN Stands lawsuit Rodney Lunn Jr. claims to suffer from asthma… which oddly he never mentioned at a Franklin rally when he bragged about never wearing masks. 

The other man in the video (who told Lunn to “calm down” before himself turning and threatening the doctor) is Christian musician Dwayne Larring, who puts out a “Worship Musician” newsletter and was at one point in a band called Audio Adrenaline. It seems he also once got epically fired on stage by Kelly Clarkson.

The board meeting was generally wild, with many anti-mask protestors speaking out of turn and yelling at the board members, but these two took things to another, more sinister level in following a doctor who was there to speak his mind to his car and launching threats in this manner.

The board members were elected democratically by the people of Williamson County. The people gave comment. The board voted. The process worked. If these guys don’t like how it went they should run for office, not make people feel unsafe just because they disagree with them. (also, please don’t run for office).

They said they know who the doctor is – now he knows who they are too.

WILLIAMSON COUNTY’S WILD MASK MANDATE MEETING

A WILD NIGHT IN WILLIAMSON

Last night Williamson County became the 4th Tennessee county to pass some version of a mask mandate since Speaker Sexton’s threat to call a special session if they did, joining Shelby, Davidson, and Hancock County in East TN.

It was a wild meeting, with large groups attending on both sides of the issue. Anti-maskers showed up in force, chanting “No More Masks!” all night long and carrying lots of signs about “freedom” and “choice” – an interesting word for them to be using considering their stance on women’s reproductive rights, but we digress.

Pro-mask parents had shown up around 2PM for the 6PM meeting to secure the majority of places in line to be among the 30 who were allowed to give 1 minute public comments, many of which they ceded to doctors and nurses who showed up to lend their voices to the cause.

Early on it began to feel inevitable that the vote would end with some sort of masking requirement for elementary school-aged children. The justification given for the focus on younger kids was best articulated by Board Member Sheila Cleveland, who made the point that kids above 12 years old had the option to vaccinate, wear a mask, or learn remotely, but younger kids are not yet eligible for the vaccine, and remote learning is not an option for them. She summed up her decision: “What I feel is more damaging (mentally) than wearing a mask is when kids were sent home when schools closed.”

Superintendent Jason Golden was on hand to provide a recommendation to adopt the mandate for elementary school kids, but adding: “There is no clear answer. And if you disagree we respect that. Schools can’t solve COVID or end the pandemic… what we can do is mitigate.

Jay Galbreath offered a few amendments to make the inevitable mandate slightly more palatable for the anti-maskers, in particular adding an end date for the temporary mandate of September 22nd, two days after the next board meeting, which would mean just one month of masks, and would give the board time to review Williamson-specific data about the spread of COVID-19. Galbreath says he respects both sides, but pointed out “The only place in the county elementary school age kids would be required to wear masks would be in school.”

The amendments did not appease many of the angry anti-maskers, however. One man dressed in nursing scrubs, who we were told works at St. Thomas in Nashville, had been getting in the faces of pro-mask women before the meeting started – telling them “there is no pandemic”. He was the first to be kicked out by board chair Nancy Garrett for his repeated outbursts. Many followed him out, faces twisted in anger.

Another man who identified as a veteran hurled threats at the board.

At close to 10PM, after 4 hours of respectful deliberation between the board members and deeply disrespectful, childish interruptions from the anti-maskers in the audience – more than a few of which were forced to leave – the eventual vote ended 7-3 in favor of a temporary mask mandate for elementary students in the county.

The most commonly cited reason board members gave for voting in support was that they felt better about living with the consequences of imposing a simple mitigation tool than they would about the consequences of not doing so and allowing the disease to spread.

Jennifer Aprea pointed out that she believes in “choice”, but that the choice must stop when that choice can impact the health of others around you, using the example of parents not sending nut-based products to class when other students have a debilitating nut allergy: “Sometimes we have to make a decision for the good of the whole.”

Despite Speaker Sexton’s warnings, there are no signs at this point that Governor Lee plans to call for a special session to ban such mandates. In a press gathering this week Lee said he believes parents should have the choice about masking their kids, but ultimately agreed that school districts DO have the legal authority to impose a mask mandate – something which many anti-maskers disagreed with (although most did not appear to be lawyers).

Many of the anti-masker parents could be heard yelling “DO NOT COMPLY!” after the decision was handed down. (Fascinating to hear that refrain from the same people who tell unarmed black people all they need to do to stay safe is obey police orders)

September 20th will be the next battle in Williamson County. Below are some video highlights from the raucous event.

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

DESPITE SEXTON’S THREATS, HANCOCK COUNTY PUTS KIDS’ SAFETY FIRST

Despite skyrocketing COVID-19 hospitalizations – including the deaths of children – this week at a press conference Tennessee Speaker Cameron Sexton warned school districts that if they dared to take measures to protect their kids by instituting mandates, separating unvaccinated kids, or closing schools if needed, he would ask Governor Lee to call a special session to punish them for it.

So much for “small government” or “local control”, right?

Well it didn’t take long for one Tennessee county to defy Sexton’s threats. And it wasn’t the county you might expect, either.

It wasn’t Davidson, or Shelby, or Hamilton, or even Knox – all of which are bigger cities and generally more prone to Democratic leadership.

Yesterday, after seeing a spike in cases among students, HANCOCK COUNTY, under the leadership of Dr. Charlotte Mullins, became the first county in East TN (Shelby is keeping theirs) to decide to implement a mask mandate anyway, despite Speaker Sexton’s threats.

We called Dr. Mullins up there in the Northeast part of the state to ask her about her decision to blaze this trail. She says she was just trying to keep kids safe and keep the schools open, and that politics did not factor into her decision. Imagine that! That’s what leadership should sound like.

What follows is a transcript of that conversation.

HOLLER: This decision was made when?

DR. MULLINS: It was made late yesterday afternoon (Tuesday). We started school on Monday thinking we could start without masks and hoping for a safe, positive school year – but we had several children test positive yesterday, and several more that had been in contact who were pending test results. So we felt like we had to make a decision quickly.

HOLLER: And were you aware of the press conference Speaker Sexton had prior, essentially threatening to call a special session if school districts did that?

DR. MULLINS: I am aware of that, but at this time I had to try to take care of our students here in Hancock County. No disrespect toward any state official. I feel like it was necessary for our county.

HOLLER: What did you think of them taking the position that no school district should be able to do that if they felt it was right for their students?

DR. MULLINS: I can’t comment on why they felt the way they do about it. At this time I want us to be able to have school. I want our students to be safe. I want our teachers to be safe. And our regional health department made the announcement that if our students wear a mask inside the classroom we wouldn’t have to quarantine them. And for the most part we aren’t having pushback in our county.

HOLLER: Were you aware you were the first county in East Tennessee to do that? To issue a mask mandate? (Shelby County is keeping theirs in Memphis)

DR. MULLINS: Not until it was on the news.

HOLLER: It seems like this wasn’t political at all. You were just trying to keep kids safe. Is that right?

DR. MULLINS: Not a bit. I realize the statements that were made, and I knew those were in place, but this was just more important. This is so important that we try to keep our kids safe so we can have school.

HOLLER: You blazed a trail here, and did something pretty brave. Some might even say heroic. Other districts may follow suit, and when they do people may look back at what Hancock County did and appreciate it.

Hancock County’s Official Statement:

Hancock County students returned to in-person instruction Monday, August 2, without a mask protocol, hopeful of a safe, positive school year.  By Tuesday afternoon, significant changes in local covid data prompted our system to consider additional measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our students.  Based on guidance from the CDC and the regional health department, and with respect to all local and state leaders, Hancock County Schools issued a mask directive effective Wednesday, August 4.  This measure was taken to protect the health of our students, teachers and staff, while continuing to provide high quality in-person instruction.  We would like to thank students, parents, and community members, as well as, Tennesseans from across the state for the tremendous outpouring of support for our decision. We will continue to monitor the rapidly changing situation and adjust procedures as necessary to ensure the safest learning environment possible for our students.

 

Many other (bigger) districts have meetings in the coming days about their own mask rules. It will be interesting to see how their decisions end up after Dr. Mullins and Hancock County blazed this trail, wittingly or unwittingly. They deserve a lot of credit for taking politics out of it and focusing on the health of the children, even in the face of threats from Speaker Sexton and the legislature.

 

REP. GLORIA JOHNSON ON “UNHINGED” SPEAKER SEXTON’S THREATS

Watch the FULL INTERVIEW with Rep. Gloria Johnson about Speaker Sexton’s “unhinged” presser threatening to call a special session to punish school districts that take measures to keep their students safe.

LISTEN TO THE PODCAST