GOP Leader Ashe to Legislature: Leave Oversight Boards Alone

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Longtime Tennessee Republican leader Victor Ashe, former Mayor of Knoxville and former Ambassador to Poland under President George W. Bush, praised the work of Knoxville’s police oversight board and took a shot at the GOP-led legislature for attempts to weaken Nashville’s new oversight board.

“By a broad consensus, PARC (Police Advisory Review Council) has worked well in Knoxville and has stood the test of time. It has gone a long way to establish credibility and objectivity in disputes involving the Police Department,” wrote Ashe. “It is unfortunate that legislation to weaken it is pending, when it has been a credit to Knoxville.

Ashe wrote the comments Feb. 18 in a column for the Knoxville Shopper News, which is part of Gannett-owned daily Knoxville News-Sentinel.

Nashville voters overwhelmingly voted to support creation of a Citizens Oversight Board (COB) in the November election, but Rep. Michael Curcio (R-Dickson) has filed a bill in the Tennessee General Assembly to take subpoena power from the COB, legislation Governor Bill Lee has expressed support for. Curcio says his bill, co-sponsored by House heavyweights including Speaker Glen Casada and Majority Leader William Lamberth, has nothing to do with Nashville.

Ashe created PARC by executive order in 1998 and Knoxville City Council later ratified the commission. He pointed out every police chief has supported PARC since it was created.

Knoxville City Council approved a resolution Feb. opposing Curcio’s bill, as it would also strip subpoena power from PARC.

Ashe was elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives in 1968 and served through 1974. He was a state senator from Knoxville 1975-1984 and was elected Knoxville mayor in 1987 and served for 16 years.

VIDEO: Kanew Confronts Casada About Promoting Admitted Sex Offender Rep. Byrd

In a 2018 report, 3 women publicly alleged Tennessee State Representative David Byrd (Wayne, Lewis, Hardin, Lawrence counties) had sexually molested them when he was their women’s basketball coach at Wayne County High School.

The report included a recording of Byrd apologizing for it, expressing remorse, and saying he had been praying for forgiveness for it every Sunday.

Most reacted with disgust. Even members of Byrd’s own Republican party, including now-Senator Marsha Blackburn and then-Speaker Beth Harwell. Harwell even asked Byrd to step down.

Byrd refused. He ran for office again in 2018, and won in a landslide with 78% of the vote.

Newly-elected Speaker Glen Casada then promptly promoted him to chair of an Education Subcommittee, of all things.

You truly cannot make this stuff up.

Since Casada’s decision, very little has been made of Byrd’s continued presence in the legislature. A group called “Enough is Enough” has done all they can, showing up at big events like Governor Lee’s swearing in to remind Lee and Casada they’re watching, and supporting one of the victims – Christi Rice – at the Women’s March. But fellow legislators have been silent, and the media has stopped covering the matter.

Nobody has pinned Casada down for his decision – until now.

Recently, former congressional candidate Justin Kanew went to a town hall in Franklin where Speaker Casada was appearing with other members of the Williamson County delegation, and confronted Casada about his decision not only to ignore Byrd’s transgressions, but to run attack ads against the victims and elevate Byrd to chair of an education subcommittee.

Here’s the 6 minute video:

In the video Casada makes it clear he doesn’t believe Byrd did it despite his obvious admission of guilt, and even goes so far as to say if HE had been raped he would’ve come forward long before now.

As if he can possibly know what it would be like to be a young teenage girl in Wayne County who is being sexually molested by her basketball coach.

The entire situation is appalling. If you agree, please SHARE this video on FACEBOOK and TWITTER, and holler at Casada and especially Byrd and tell them you want this admitted sex offender removed from our legislature.

INTERVIEW: TN-32 State Senate Candidate Eric Coleman

TN-32 State Senate candidate Eric Coleman talks to former TN-7 congressional candidate Justin Kanew on Facebook live. Here’s the full interview.

In the Highlights below Coleman weighs in on:

Medicaid Expansion (“Flubbed”)
The Community Oversight Board (“No one should be above the law”)
Medical Marijuana (“Absolutely”)
School Vouchers (“Fail”)

SORRY, FORT CAMPBELL KIDS: Rep. Green Supports Taking Wall $$ From Fort Middle School

We’ve all heard by now that President Trump has declared a “National Emergency” at the border as an end-run around congress to get money for his Wall.

As we mentioned this weekend, Senator Lamar Alexander spoke out against the move calling it “Unconstitutional”, while the rest of the Republican Tennessee delegation has been supportive despite fancying themselves *strict constitutionalists* in favor of *limited government*.

That group includes Rep. Mark Green of TN-7, an army veteran who lives just outside of Clarksville in Ashland City.

What we’re now learning is that included in the list of 400+ projects the president would be steering funds away from to build the wall is “the operation of a middle school at Fort Campbell”, which would likely be unwelcome news to our brave men and women up in Clarksville, where half the base is located.

The Clarksville Leaf-Chronicle has already made note of this, asking Green for his position on it just yesterday. Green had this to say:

“I support it because I believe it’s a crisis. My biggest concern is the narcotics. I think it’s the right thing to do. I think it’s certainly within his legal rights. I think very clearly people want the legislative branch doing legislative stuff, and the executive branch doing executive branch stuff. But the legislative branch has given authority to the executive branch in those certain circumstances where emergencies require action that Congress can’t be quick enough to respond to.”

Reading betweens the line of this “stuff”, Green has tried to make the case that this emergency declaration by Trump is not unprecedented since there have been 58 emergency declarations by presidents in the past – but not one of those has involved a president going around congress to get money for a campaign promise.

As for why the “emergency” is suddenly an emergency now when it didn’t seem to be for the first 2 years of the Trump presidency, there doesn’t seem to be a clear answer.

Green added:

“This is all within the power that’s been granted to the president.”

That will be for the courts to decide. Lawsuits have been filed, and they will likely cite the president saying “I didn’t have to do this” in the very press conference where he made the announcement as evidence for why this emergency is not actually an emergency at all.

More from Green:

“He made a promise to the American people. I think he’s just doing what he thinks he was elected to do.”

Green on the other hand was elected to look out for the interests of Clarksville, a military-heavy district, and it will be up to the residents and the soldiers there to decide how they feel about his decision to prioritize a wall on the Southern border over a school in their own backyard.

Incredibly, when asked about this, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina actually said the kids will be better off not getting the money:

“I would say it’s better for the middle school kids in Kentucky to have a secure border. We’ll get them the school they need. Right now we’ve got a national emergency on our hands.”

It seems Rep. Mark Green agrees. We wonder if the parents up in the Clarksville area do too.

It’s funny how the people who are the loudest about their undying support for The Constitution seem to forget what it says when it gets in the way of the things they want.

Holler at Rep. Green HERE if you’re in Clarksville and have any thoughts.

In the meantime, enjoy a fun cartoon from Modman, showing that there really is nothing this president does that Mark Green won’t support:

 

OPINION: ROWE TO REP. ROE – “You’ve let your country down.”

This column is the opinion of Chris Rowe, 2020 candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Follow Chris on Twitter here

Friday, we saw our president appear on national television and declare a state of emergency for an artificial border crisis. At the same time, he admitted that not only was it unnecessary, but that he knew it was an abuse of his power.

He asked the supreme court to support his decision anyway.

Many members of congress, regardless of their party affiliation – including our own Republican Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander – saw this for the blatant “unconstitutional” act it was and decided not to back him.

Rep. Phil Roe on the other hand, in a move that added to a string of questionable decisions recently, has come out in support of the president’s illegal power play.

This is not a decision that should be taken lightly by Tennessee’s voters. We need to hold him accountable for his actions, particularly as a member of the party that purports itself to be in favor of the “Rule of Law.”

Therefore, Congressman Roe, I have an important issue to address: If law is to rule, then the onus falls to you to take the president to task for this action, and publicly rebuke it. We cannot simultaneously advocate for “law and order” while condoning the highest office in the land making a mockery of the same.

You’ve already supported multiple unconscionable actions by our president, including holding hundreds of thousands of hard-working Americans hostage for an unnecessary wall. But declaring an unconstitutional “state of emergency” that will divert funds from actual emergencies and cost American lives should be a firm red line for anyone.

Many members of your party have already seen this for what it is, so I ask you now: can you somehow not see for yourself how damaging this is to our union? Or are you simply too afraid to stand up and fight for what’s right just because it may cost you a handful of votes?

Whichever it is, you’ve let your constituency down, you’ve let your country down, and it’s time to step up or move aside and let someone else show you how it’s done.

It’s this type of abdication of your responsibility to protect and uphold the Constitution which has directly led to my challenge for your seat, and I intend to be certain that voters remember your failure to serve them come election time.

Chris Rowe is a Democratic Candidate for Congress in Tennessee’s 1st District. Chris is a 6 year veteran of the Air Force, and a current graduate student at East Tennessee State University. 

Chris has decided to take money only from real people and small businesses, not from large corporations or super PACs, to ensure he remains free of any obligation to “big” anyone.

Holler at Rep. Roe HERE, and donate to Chris HERE.

Reps Green/Roe/Rose/Fleischmann Support “NATIONAL EMERGENCY”, Lamar Calls It “UNCONSTITUTIONAL”

In a rambling press conference yesterday President Trump declared that he would be signing the bipartisan border security compromise, but that he would also be declaring a “National Emergency” to be able to steer funds away from other departments towards the Wall he wants so badly.

The Wall Mexico was supposed to pay for.

In his speech he openly admitted he “doesn’t need to do it”, which begs the question of what he thinks an “emergency” is, exactly.

Lawsuits have already started over this executive overreach, and it seems likely they will all site that sentence as exhibit A that the president doesn’t even believe his own tale on this topic.

The reactions from the Tennessee delegation were mostly to be expected. Rep. Mark Green was quick to declare his support.

Green cited the National Emergencies declared by previous presidents as evidence that this was not actually the departure from constitutional norms critics were making it out to be. What Green either didn’t realize, or failed to mention, was that none of the previous emergencies involved a president trying to make an end run around congress to raid the treasury to deliver on a campaign promise.

Green isn’t the only Tennessee Republican who has touted his undying “support for the constitution” and “limited government”, who seems to have conveniently abandoned those ideals in this moment. Reps Phil Roe and Chuck Fleischmann also rushed to support the move, as did Rep. John Rose.

Senator Lamar Alexander was the only Tennessee Republican who seemed to have a problem with it, calling it “Unnecessary”, “Unwise”, and “Unconstitutional.”

It seems safe to assume Lamar realizes a Democratic President would surely turn around and use the power for actual emergencies like gun violence, health care, and climate change, and Senator Alexander clearly doesn’t want that to happen.

Democratic Rep. Cohen was on the other side of the fence, questioning the hypocrisy of Mitch McConnell and the Republicans who spent all 8 Obama years bemoaning executive overreach.


Checks and balances exist for a reason. The hypocrisy on display here is truly remarkable. If you agree this declaration is nothing short of an abuse of power, holler at your reps.

Dems Meet Gov. Lee To Plead For Medicaid Expansion – Children’s Hospitals Against GOP Block Grant Idea

This week a group of Democratic state representatives met with Governor Lee to implore him to reconsider his stance against expanding Medicaid in Tennessee, as most states already have.

Studies show the states that have expanded Medicaid have seen better health results, economic benefits, and fewer rural hospital closures.

Tennessee is losing $26 Billion over 10 years by not accepting billions in federal Medicaid expansion dollars that would cover hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans, including 30,000 veterans, and as a result currently leads the country in rural hospital closures per capita. The 13th rural Tennessee hospital just announced closure in Celina this week, and Democrats held an emotional press conference in the state capitol about it on Monday.

The group of Democrats calls itself the House Democratic Caucus Medicaid Expansion Task Force. They weren’t sure what kind of impact they had on Governor Lee, but said they’ll continue to try.

The general feeling was that the Williamson County-based governor doesn’t seem to understand how desperate for care some Tennesseans are, many of which don’t have another year or two left to wait for a new plan.

They did however say one thing Lee agreed with was preserving the provision of the Affordable Care Act that guarantees the protection of those with pre-existing conditions from discriminatory insurance company practices, which a Republican lawsuit in Texas seeks to undo.

From Rep. Gloria Johnson:

“We will try to continue the conversation, but it’s going to take the people rising up. The current Block Grant bill the Republicans have only takes current TennCare and turns it into block grants, probably serving fewer people than we even do now.”

The Block Grants proposal is something Tennessee Republicans are starting to push hard, with Senate leader Jack Johnson talking to the Tennessean about it this week.

Medicaid expansion is popular in Tennessee.

Block Granting Medicaid is not popular in America:

President Trump is trying to find a way to provide states like Tennessee with a block grant waiver, since they are currently illegal. Even if the president does manage to push that legislation through, it would instantly trigger lawsuits.

Meanwhile the details of the Tennessee Republicans’ Block Grants plan are “vague”, and nobody seems to be sure how it would solve the problem of covering MORE people who aren’t currently covered.

If anything the opposite would be true. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office estimates recent Republican block grant proposals could cut Medicaid spending by as much as a third over the next decade. The cuts would start small, growing larger over the years.

Rep. Gloria Johnson also had this to say about Block Grants:

“Any waiver will instantly be challenged in court. This is not a good faith solution. This is folks who know they are getting hammered and want to appear as if they are doing something.”

It should also be noted that Children’s Hospitals, which rely heavily on Medicaid, are extremely against Block Grants, which they say would lead to cuts in coverage. Jim Kaufman, vice president of public policy for the Children’s Hospital Association, explained that proposals to simply block grant or shift costs to the states are the wrong way to go:

“Block grants cause cost-shifting that further burdens the financially strapped state budgets.  Instead, children’s hospitals want to improve access to care while reducing costs.”

And as Republican Senator John Chafee said in opposition to Medicaid block grants back in 1996:

“As states are forced to ration finite resources under a block grant, governors and legislators would be forced to choose among three very compelling groups of beneficiaries.

Who are they? Children, the elderly, and the disabled. They are the groups that primarily they would have to choose amongst. Unfortunately, I suspect that children would be the ones that would lose out.”

Just this week House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy was heard on a phone call explaining to donors that health care issues like this are the reason Republicans got shellacked in November, and that the pre-existing conditions issue was a particular weakness.

Republicans claim to be the ones protecting the provision, but since they are also suing to undo the provision at the same time nobody seems to be buying it.

Even if you aren’t covered by Medicaid, you probably know someone who would be affected by block granting Medicaid.

To encourage Governor Lee to start listening, holler at him HERE.

MUST BE NICE: New Nashville Tenant AMAZON Paid ZERO % In Taxes

The same week that we saw New York rise up behind Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez against $3 Billion in corporate giveaways to Amazon, forcing Amazon to change its mind about setting up shop there, we now have a report from the Institute of Tax and Economic Policy which tells us that despite doubling their profits to $11 Billion last year, Amazon will still pay an incredible 0% in Federal taxes this year.]

Must be nice!

This is the 2nd year in a row the Trillion-Dollar company will pay 0%. Here’s a good thread on what Amazon was getting and why the backlash happened.

The report goes on to say this about the Republican “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act”, which made the claim that despite cutting the corporate tax rate almost in half from 35% to 21%, it would somehow incentivize corporate citizenship and investment:

“The tax law failed to broaden the tax base or close a slew of loopholes that allow profitable companies to routinely avoid paying federal and state income taxes on almost half of their profits… included lavish new giveaways… a huge revenue loser.”

Meanwhile the federal debt, which Republicans claim to be very concerned about despite the fact that their new tax law exploded the deficit, has just crossed the $22 Trillion mark, and many Americans are reporting that they’re feeling it in their tax refunds.

All while inequality is at levels not seen since the days leading up the The Great Depression, CEO pay has skyrocketed, and corporate stock buybacks – not investment and wages – are at all-time highs.

If you’re wondering why things like the Green New Deal are being proposed, look no further.

Instead of mocking ideas that seek to fix these problems, maybe those people should focus on the fact that most economic incentives are given to the biggest corporations while monopolization and the centralization of wealth are killing the everyday American, especially in rural America. 

And let’s not forget about Wisconsin’s disastrous FoxConn boondoggle, where Koch brother favorite GOP Governor Scott Walker gave away billions to a company that has now had a change of heart, leaving Wisconsin taxpayers holding the bag.

This is something to keep an eye on as Amazon comes to Nashville, causing prices to spike for the people who are already there. The Republicans like to say we have low unemployment in Tennessee, which we do, but we’re also toward the bottom in how well our jobs pay.

$7.25 simply isn’t enough to live on, and Tennessee Republicans are the ones who refuse to raise the wage to a living one.

As Rep. Jason Hodges talked about in our interview with him, incentives may be necessary sometimes, but if companies want our support, they should have to pay our people a living wage.

Holler at the mayor and the governor to let them know we have our eye on the situation.

SPIN MARSHA SPIN: “Border Deal A Win For Trump, Dreamers Should Blame Dems”

Republicans and Democrats in congress struck a border security deal this week which gave President Trump far less than he wanted for his wall.

The deal pledges $1.375 billion for border enhancements like steel-slatted barriers and other “existing technologies”, and $1.7 billion for additional security measures and humanitarian aid. The proposed new “barriers” would account for just 55 miles, which is a far cry from the more than 200 miles the White House sought.

Of the deal, Trump said:

“I can’t say I’m thrilled.”

From the Democrats perspective, they averted a shutdown, agreed to additional border funding which they all support anyway, and didn’t have to go along with an end to end wall which they collectively oppose, and which even some Republicans have said would be a waste of money.

Needless to say, the far right, led by Awful Ann Coulter, isn’t happy about the deal, and has been vocal about calling Trump out for backing down on the shutdown in the first place.


Meanwhile here in Tennessee, ever the good soldier, Marsha Blackburn is putting on a brave face and telling Fox News this is actually a victory for Republicans and encouraging them to thank President in particular, who she rarely has a harsh word for.

In the interview with Fox News Marsha even goes so far as to blame Democrats for the fact that the fate of the Dreamers is still in limbo, even though Trump is the one who threw their status into jeopardy, and the Republicans are obviously the ones still holding them hostage.

Here’s what Marsha told Fox New yesterday, when asked about the deal:

“I’ve got to tell ya, I think it is a loss for the Democrats. Because the president and Republicans had offered to solve the issue around the Dreamers. And I hope that everyone listening to you who has a Dreamer in their family or a Dreamer that is close to them realizes through their obstinance of not coming to the table, Nancy Pelosi not making good on her word to negotiate, that is not a part of what is taking place at this point in time.”

So does that mean we can count Marsha as a vote for a clean Dream Act?

Democrats would pass a clean Dream Act tomorrow. Republicans would not. Marsha blaming Democrats for the situation the Dreamers are in is the hostage-taker blaming the negotiator for not meeting all of their ransom demands.

The onslaught of insults to the intelligence of her viewing audience is endless. Holler at Marsha HERE to let her know you see right through her.

“More War!” – All 7 TN GOP Congressmen Vote to Keep Fueling Humanitarian Nightmare in Yemen

In another bipartisan rebuke of Trump’s foreign policy in the Middle East, the House passed a bill yesterday to halt U.S. involvement in Yemen’s civil war, where the United States has been lending our support to a Saudi Arabian war effort that has created the worst humanitarian crisis in recent memory.

All 7 Republican Congressmen from Tennessee: Mark Green, Tim Burchett, Phil Roe, John Rose, Scott Desjarlais, David Kustoff, and Charles Fleischmann voted against the bill.

Both Democratic congressmen – Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen – voted for it.

18 Republicans voted with the Democrats to stop American assistance in the Yemeni war.

According to a Worldwide Threat Assessment report, Of the nearly 29 million people in the country, about 22 million — nearly 76 percent of the population — need some form of humanitarian assistance. Among them, 16 million don’t have reliable access to drinking water or food, and more than 1 million Yemenis now suffer from cholera.

Dave Harden, a former US official leading humanitarian development response to Yemen, told Vox:

“The only losers are the people — their grave suffering presents generational risk to Yemen’s future.”

Democratic Rep. Jim Mcgovern had this to say about the vote:

“Nearly all of the bombs that have fallen say the same thing, `Made in the United States of America’. They fall on weddings. They fall on hospitals and on homes. They fall on funerals, refugee camps and school buses. It is an aerial bombing campaign that hammers civilians every single day.”

Last year, a bomb that originated in the U.S. landed on a school bus in Yemen, killing 40 children.

The vote is yet another bipartisan rebuke of President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. The resolution would force the administration to withdraw troops from involvement in Yemen, in a rebuke of Trump’s alliance with the Saudi-led coalition.

Previously the Senate had passed a similar bill, but it was stopped in the house of representatives which was then controlled by the Republicans. If the senate were to take up this bill, it would land on the President’s desk.

This new resolution was introduced by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California), who said in a statement:

“Today is historic. This is the culmination of several years of legislative efforts to end our involvement in the Saudi war in Yemen. I’m encouraged by the direction people are pushing our party to take on foreign policy, promoting restraint and human rights and with the sense they want Congress to play a much larger role.”

Meanwhile the Saudi government still refuses to acknowledge its role in the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi despite all the evidence, and President Trump has still stopped short of blaming or taking action against Saudi Arabia for it.

In related news, there are many questions about the president and his family’s financial ties to Saudi Arabia, and what role that may be playing in these foreign policy discussions.

As the President himself once said:

“Saudi Arabia, I get along with all of them. They buy apartments from me. They spend $40 million, $50 million. Am I supposed to dislike them? I like them very much.

Holler at Mark Green, Tim Burchett, Phil Roe, John Rose, Scott Desjarlais, David Kustoff, and Charles Fleischmann and let them know if you feel their vote to perpetuate this war flies in the face of human decency.