Want Expertise? Come Holler At Us

“When you see us you shouldn’t just think of Black issues. If you want to think about climate issues, economic issues…come holler at us.”

Odessa Kelly, Executive Director of Stand Up Nashville, with Charlane and Tequila on #PorchPolitics talking about the broad expertise of the Black community.

Charlane and Tequila are Co-Founders and Co-Executive Directors of The Equity Alliance.

Porch Politics is recorded LIVE from our porch every other Thursday at 6 pm CT. You can stream it on The Tennessee Holler or wait for it to drop as a podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever else you like to listen.

Making Voter Protection Sexy

“Voter protection is not sexy, but if anyone made it sexier that’s Stacey Abrams.” Kayla Parker joined #HollerHour to talk about Organize Tennessee’s goal of empowering, educating and registering voters across Tennessee to push us toward progress.

Support Organize Tennessee

 

Tennessee Bar Association RIPS Rep. Rudd and the GOP

Rep. Tim Rudd and the Republicans are trying to remove a respected judge who ruled in a way they didn’t like – to let us all vote safely in a pandemic. Because, you know, Republicans don’t like when people vote. Yesterday the Democrats gave a press conference, and the Tennessee Bar Association has now issued a statement shredding the resolution and accurately pointing out how it threatened the separation of powers this country was founded on. Read their statement below.

By Barry Kolar on Mar 2, 2021. Originally posted on the Tennessee Bar Association’s Law Blog

NASHVILLE, March 2, 2021 — Since 1881, the Tennessee Bar Association (TBA) has represented the entire spectrum of the Tennessee legal community, from plaintiff and defense attorneys to judges, government and legal services attorneys, corporate counsel, and many attorneys residing outside the State who retain an interest in the Tennessee legal profession.The TBA is a strong advocate for the profession and the development and maintenance of our justice system. This statement is not intended to be political or partisan, but instead one of extreme concern and caution related to the fundamental importance of the separation of powers and maintaining an independent judiciary in the State of Tennessee. We believe House Resolution 23 (HR 23) will have a chilling effect on the administration of justice in our State, and threatens the bedrock principle of separation of powers, which lies at the core of Tennessee’s system of government.

Article VI, Section 6 of the Tennessee Constitution provides a process for removing judges and attorneys for the state from office for cause. HR 23 appears to be the first time the legislature has used Article VI, Section 6 of the Tennessee Constitution to begin the removal process of a judge from office for cause based on rulings in a judicial proceeding. After a thorough review of HR 23 and the underlying case, the TBA has significant concerns about the resolution’s impact on the constitutional separation of powers in our three branches of government. As stated in the Preamble to Rule 10 of the Code of Judicial Conduct, “[a]n independent, fair and impartial judiciary is indispensable to our system of justice.” Judges should decide matters based on a thorough analysis and interpretation of the law without concern for the decision’s potential political implications.

Article VI, Section 6 is not a tool used as a matter of course, and we respectfully believe that the legislature should not use it in this circumstance. The TBA is concerned that HR 23, if successful, will create a precedent that any time a judge rules against the state, or on a statute, or renders a politically unpopular decision, that decision could potentially trigger legislative removal proceedings against that judge. This also results in the potential for removing a judge any time a ruling is overturned on appeal, when in fact the act of the appeal is a clear measure that the legal process is working appropriately.

Tennessee law provides for multiple avenues to hold judges accountable should that prove necessary. One such avenue, the Board of Judicial Conduct, was created by the legislature itself. The board provides an orderly and efficient method for inquiring into, among other things, the fitness of judges, a judge’s manner of performance of duty, and the judge’s commission of any act that reflects unfavorably upon the judiciary or that may adversely affect the administration of justice. The board is comprised of 16 members, eight of which are appointed by the speakers of the Senate and House, respectively.

Further, the judicial system has in place an appeals process. The state utilized the appeals process in the matters outlined in HR 23. Ultimately, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned Chancellor Lyle’s temporary injunction, although one justice did agree with her.

The people act as another vehicle for judicial accountability. Article VI, Section 4 of the Tennessee Constitution provides that “…the Judges of the Circuit and Chancery Courts, and of other Inferior Courts, shall be elected by the qualified voters of the district or circuit to which they are to be assigned.” Chancellor Lyle, like many other judges across this state, is an elected judge. She will stand for reelection and face a decision on her continued tenure by the voters in her district. The voters in her district should exercise their judgment about whether or not she should remain in office. Reasonable minds can and will continue to disagree with judicial decisions even in cases like this one of first impression. The remedies related to those disagreements lie in the appellate process and at the voting booth.

Processes currently exist as a check on all judges, and those processes work. We strongly encourage members of the General Assembly and the citizens of this state to utilize the appeals process, make complaints to the Board of Judicial Conduct when necessary, and exercise their right to vote. We also urge the General Assembly to reconsider HR 23 and its impact on an impartial, independent judiciary.

“I Thought We Were Opposed to Government Overreach”

“We’re creating a culture war where none existed and we do so at the expense of society’s most vulnerable. I THOUGHT WE WERE OPPOSED TO GOVERNMENT OVERREACH. Creating legislation for a problem that doesn’t even exist sounds like big gov telling us how to live.”

Heidi Campbell speaks out against Senator Hensley’s anti-trans athlete bill.

 

Rep Sexton’s Racist Tirade

“It goes against OUR people and OUR culture.”

At a budget meeting, Rep. Jerry Sexton rips off the mask/hood and lashes out about having Diversity and Inclusion positions in state government, calling it “propaganda.”

 

Senator Lundberg’s Self Own

State Senator Jon Lundberg walks right into a trap set by News 5 WCYB’s Caleb Perhne and ends up ACCIDENTALLY AGREEING that the government doesn’t have the right to dictate what kind of protest should be allowed when discussing the ETSU basketball players kneeling in protest.

 

Rosa Parks and Tennessee

For Black History Month and in honor of Rosa Parks’ birthday (February 4th!), we take a look at her life, including the importance the Highlander Folk School in Monteagle, Tennessee had on her life and activism. Another connection Parks had to Tennessee were the words spoken by then-Senator Frist as she was lying in state in the US Capitol Rotunda.

FULL PODCAST available on Apple Podcasts here, and wherever else you like to listen here.

Students at Vanderbilt University hold Protest to Divest from Fossil Fuels

By Connor Warmuth, DivestVU Executive | (connor.n.warmuth@vanderbilt.edu)

“Hey, hey! Ho, ho! Fossil fuels have got to go!”

Over thirty student protesters chanted these words as they marched from the campus Central Library to Kirkland Hall at Vanderbilt University. The protest was designed to get the administration to seriously consider divestment of the university’s endowment from fossil fuels.

Fossil fuels are significant drivers of climate change. The release of carbon dioxide and methane from fossil fuel combustion, exacerbates the Greenhouse Effect, resulting in increased absorption of heat and higher average temperatures globally. Warmer temperatures will mean more extreme weather events, a climate refugee crisis, increased likelihood of famine, reduced water capacity, mass extinction of ecosystems, and exacerbated global inequities.

Furthermore, particulates and chemicals released at all stages of fossil fuel extraction and consumption pollute the Earth’s atmosphere, water, ecosystems. Pollution from fossil fuels directly results in a variety of serious health issues from asthma to cancer, particularly in minority communities. Pollution causes nearly 400,000 deaths per year.

So how much of the endowment is actually invested in fossil fuels? According to the 2020 Financial Report, four percent of Vanderbilt’s 6.9 billion dollar endowment is invested in “natural resources.” These investments are in “timber, oil and gas production, mining, energy, and related services businesses.” While the endowment supports a large portion of the students attending Vanderbilt, many question the idea of receiving financial aid from fossil fuel investments. As environmental justice advocate Luis Martínez puts it,

I feel morally opposed to having any monetary assistance I received for my education be sourced from fossil fuel investments, particularly in light of the education my own school gives me to clearly know the urgency of climate change in our lives. Our university education is a gift to effect change.”

The university has ignored support for divestment, despite the passage of resolutions favoring divestment in the Graduate Student Council (GSC) and the Vanderbilt Student Government (VSG), and the accumulation of 1100 student signatures in an online petition.  According to Emily Irigoyen, leader of DivestVU, a coalition of students advocating for divestment of the endowment of fossil fuels,

“The administration has not engaged with our divestment campaign and has ignored our attempts to reach out to high ranking officials in the endowment office.”

As a result, DivestVU, DoresDivest (a separate coalition of students advocating for divestment), and several other student-run university organizations agreed to host a protest.

“Unfortunately, climate change is too pressing of an issue to sit out on the sidelines–so we took action.” said Miguel Moravec of DoresDivest.

At the protest, students marched while holding up posters with messages reading “Divest Vandy Now,” “Anchor Down DivestVU,” and “You are on Native Land.” The protest even featured a giant fourteen-foot unicorn with the words “Divest Fossil Fuels” written on the side.

Finally, the protesters arrived at the steps of Kirkland Hall, the tall, brown building with a clock at the top, where many of the leaders in the Vanderbilt administration work. Each protester wore a mask and stood six feet apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Representatives from multiple campus organizations delivered speeches in favor of divestment. 

Speaker Luis Martínez urged the Vanderbilt community to join him in calling for the university to divest from fossil fuels. Born and raised in Miami, Florida by a Cuban father and a Venezuelan mother, he has witnessed firsthand the disproportionate effects of climate change from tropical cyclones, rising sea levels, and heatwaves on Black and brown communities.

“There is no place I love more in the world and I will do the best I can in this life to protect the communities it holds from the worst impacts of Anthropogenic climate change.”

Next, Emily Irigoyen acknowledged that Vanderbilt occupies the traditional lands of the Cherokee, Shawnee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek peoples.

“By offering this Land Acknowledgement, we affirm indigenous sovereignty and will work to hold Vanderbilt University more accountable to the needs of American Indian and indigenous peoples.”

Ana Fonongava’inga and Gabby Guarna of Vanderbilt’s Indigenous Scholars Organization added that:

“By continuing to invest in fossil fuels, the university is complicit in the destruction of our ancestral lands in the South Pacific, the destruction of Native lands here on Turtle Island due to toxic pipelines, the perpetuation of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls crisis, the displacement of our relatives, and the attack on Indigenous futures and wellbeing globally.”

Emma Tharpe, co-president of Hidden Dores, spoke out about white supremacy at Vanderbilt:

Despite the fact that climate change is already disproportionately impacting communities of color, the refusal [to divest] from institutions [like Vanderbilt] who claim to value their “minority” populations, and who have things like “perspectives” requirements to graduate, and more Instagram posts and pamphlet photos of Black and brown students than I could count is persistent. This is absolutely hypocritical.”

Finally, DoresDivest’s Ben Hayden and Miguel Moravec, DivestVU’s Hannah Bruns, and VSG’s Vice President Shun Ahmed shamed the Vanderbilt administration for their complete lack of morality:

“Investment decisions [made by Vanderbilt], like all other decisions, are moral decisions. And divorcing the two, and putting on blinders to all other effects of your decision making, is both a categorical mistake and a moral blunder,” Hayden said.

Bruns added,

“It’s embarrassing that we have to ask our own university to invest in our futures by divesting from fossil fuels.”

Ahmed said,

“Vanderbilt [needs] to realize that their students will not be quiet and sit in a meeting room and just watch these issues continue on.”

Looking to the future, Irigoyen hopes the university will be more engaged in the movement to divest from fossil fuels:

“The administration has to show a good faith effort in discussing fossil fuel divestment and the creation of an ethical divestment committee with student representatives. If they don’t we will be forced to escalate our disruptions until they listen to us. The University relies heavily on alumni donations and targeting alumni who care about climate change to withhold donations is a potential next step.”

 

 

TNGOP Doesn’t Care About Athletes’ First Amendment Rights

“Put the word out… ATHLETES — if you’re gonna go play in Tennessee, don’t bring your first amendment rights.” Kanew on #HollerHour talking about how the sports world should react to the TNGOP telling TN schools to “PROHIBIT” peacefully kneeling during the anthem.

 

TennCare Wasn’t Created to Save Money, It Was Created to Save Lives

Rep Bo Mitchell on the TennCare presentation boasting mostly of “SAVINGS” in our Medicaid program (very little about care) — meanwhile not expanding it leaves 350,000 Tennesseans uncovered.