VIDEO: LIGHTS FOR LIBERTY ACROSS TENNESSEE

Tennesseans across the state gather to protest the Trump administration’s inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants at the border, especially children.

Rep. Weaver Won’t Call For Rep. Byrd To Resign

Despite Rep. David Byrd apologizing ON TAPE to 1 of 3 women who say he sexually abused them in high school, Weaver tells (rumored primary challenger) Luke Tinsley she won’t ask Byrd to resign, defends disgraced Rep. Jeremy Durham who was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct – including sexual harassment – by 22 women.
 
Rep. Weaver was previously seen defending her decision not to call for the removal of the bust of the KKK’s first Grand Wizard from the capitol by saying “some of my best friends are black”.
 
PSA: ALL TENNESSEE REPS should be asked if they’ll call for Byrd’s resignation, and if they’ll call for the removal of the first KKK Grand Wizard’s bust from the capitol.
 
These things are about basic human decency, not partisanship.

GOV. LEE SIGNS FIRST KKK GRAND WIZARD DAY PROCLAMATION

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.

Holler at your reps to support Freeman’s legislation, and holler at Governor Bill Lee if you think he should not be reaffirming Nathan Bedford Forrest Day.

CHAINING PREGNANT WOMEN TO CHAIRS

Below is Channel 5’s new report on Clay County jail shackling pregnant women to chairs for days at a time.
Not mentioned in the report: State Senator Raumesh Akbari and Rep. Karen Camper had a bill to rein in this heinous practice, but it was VOTED DOWN by Republicans Rep. Andrew Farmer, Justin Lafferty for State Representative 89th District, and Rep Chris Todd
 
While Gov. Bill Lee & the GOP supermajority tell us how great things are in Tennessee, Clay County just lost their hospital and their jail is so poor they’re shackling pregnant women for extending periods. #RealStateOfTheState
 
Holler at Farmer, Todd, and Lafferty if you disagree with what they did.

MORALLY INEPT: Byrd Lies to A Reporter, Lee Avoids Doing the Right Thing (again)

There was a sequence of events yesterday that was so ridiculous we just wanted to make sure to connect the dots for everyone.

As you all know by now, here in Tennessee we have a state representative named David Byrd who apologized on tape to one of 3 women who say he sexually abused them when he was their basketball coach in high school.
Despite hearing the tape, and hearing Byrd apologize for what he had done, Speaker Glen Casada helped Byrd get re-elected by attacking the victims as “fake news”, and then promptly made Byrd chair of an education subcommittee after he won.
Casada would later remove him, only after a group of brave women relentlessly pointed out that it was a disgusting thing to do (and only after Byrd went against Casada on a key vote to help Governor Lee privatize public schools dollars through his school voucher program).
During the ordeal, Speaker Casada lied to The Holler about meeting with the victims. Governor Lee actually did meet with one of them, and then finally, 70 days later – only after Speaker Casada went up in flames and agreed to stop being speaker – Governor Lee said he believed the victims… but stopped short of asking Byrd to resign.
That brings us to just this week, when brave Tennessean Anna Grabowski confronted Lee, asking him to get Byrd out of the legislature. Lee told her it would happen “soon”, seeming to imply Byrd would be expelled at the upcoming special session to remove speaker Casada in August.
WATCH:

Wonderful! Better late than never, right? Finally it seemed Governor Lee was going to do the right thing and get the Tennessee Republican supermajority to expel David Byrd (aka Tennessee’s Jeffrey Epstein) during the special session in August.
Not so fast.
The same day we posted that video (yesterday), Governor Lee then spoke to the Tennessean and told them he wasn’t asking Byrd to resign, and Byrd wouldn’t be expelled at the special session. Instead, Lee told them he had called David Byrd and asked him not to run again… in 18 months.
In other words, Governor Lee believes the victims, and believes David Byrd did sexually abuse those children, but he’s willing to let him stay in office for nearly TWO MORE YEARS. 
Not only that, but Lee also told channel 5 news that when Anna Grabowski asked him to get the “child molester” out of office, Lee thought she was asking him about Speaker Casada, and he says he was talking about removing him as speaker, not expelling Byrd.

This is literally impossible to believe. Anna was 1 foot from him. The exchange is clear.
On top of that, when AP reporter Kim Kruesi reached out to Rep. Byrd to ask him if Lee had in fact asked him not to run again, Byrd told her that wasn’t true.

Byrd then immediately tried to backtrack and say it was a “private conversation” he had had with Lee. But it was too late. He had already outed himself on the record to a reporter as a liar, while also essentially calling Governor Lee a liar.
So, TO RECAP: Governor Lee almost did the right thing, only to find a way to do the wrong thing, then lied about why he seemed to almost do the right thing… while Byrd lied about Governor Lee doing the wrong thing and essentially called the Governor a liar.
Got all that?
Bottom Line: The truth does not matter to these people.
Meanwhile, Byrd is still in office, as is Speaker Casada, and Governor Lee manages to show us his true colors daily, putting his moral incompetence and inability to actually do the right thing on full display.
This one should’ve been easy all along. Child sex abuse should not be a partisan issue.
Byrd must go. And he should take speaker Casada with him. Holler at Governor Lee if you agree.

VIDEO: BETO COMES TO NASHVILLE

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.

VIDEO: Lee Says Byrd Will Be Gone “Soon” (But Didn’t Actually Mean It)

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.

INTERVIEW: Andy Spears of the TN Ed Report on Voucher Vultures

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.

Voucher Vultures Swoop Down On Nashville

This post was first seen on the Tennessee Education Report. Follow @TNEdReport for more information on Education.

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