Gov. Lee Gets Vouchers Help From Porn-Addict Who Made Wife Watch Sex With Prostitutes

This post was first seen on the TN Ed Report. Make sure you follow @TNEdReport to stay updated on Education in Tennessee.

We’ve already seen Bill Lee and his team of school privatizers use desperate measures in order to win votes for their “educational savings account” voucher scheme, but the latest effort reaches a new low. Team Lee turned to conservative mega-donor Lee Beaman (who gave Lee’s gubernatorial campaign $8000 in 2018) to pen an article in defense of school vouchers.

While the opposition to school vouchers includes resolutions from 44 school boards around the state, groups of parents, teachers, charitable foundations, civil rights groups, and even a former Senate sponsor of voucher legislation, the support appears to come from a small group of big money backers.

The public face chosen for this group? A guy with a porn addiction who taped himself having sex with prostitutes in order to teach his wife how to better please him. You might say he’s certainly a fan of choice.

Beaman and Lee have been working together for years to bring school privatization to Tennessee. Both Bill Lee and Lee Beaman have been consistent supporters of the Tennessee affiliate of Betsy DeVos’s American Federation for Children, a group that works to undermine public education and advance school vouchers.

It’s no surprise, then, that after bringing Betsy DeVos to Nashville, Bill Lee would turn to his other voucher buddy, Lee Beaman, to advance his privatization agenda.

In fact, as I wrote in December, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that Bill Lee is taking our state down this dangerous road:

Even though as early as 2016, Bill Lee was extolling the virtues of school voucher schemes and even though he’s a long-time supporter of Betsy DeVos’s pro-voucher Tennessee Federation for Children and even though he has appointed not one, but two voucher vultures to high level posts in his Administration, it is somehow treated as “news” that Bill Lee plans to move forward with a voucher scheme agenda in 2019.

Now, we’ve got Lee Beaman as the face and voice of vouchers ahead of a week when the privatization scheme known as ESAs will face key votes in the House and Senate.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport

BREAKING: Casada Removes Byrd as Education Sub-Committee Chair

Sometimes, people do the right things for the wrong reasons.

At 10:30 a.m., the Tennessean broke the news Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada had removed Rep. David Byrd as chair of the House Education Subcommittee.

Byrd, of course, is the former girls basketball coach accused by several of his former high school players of sexually assaulting them – some in exchange for court time – in the 1980s. In a taped conversation with Christi Rice, one of the victims, Byrd apologized to her saying he “prays every week” about what he did to her, although he doesn’t give specifics on what he asks forgiveness for.

For months, supporters of Rice and other women involved have been asking Casada to remove Byrd as chair of the committee: It’s a clear slap in the face of education supporters to appoint an accused sexual predator to chair an education committee, but Casada maintained in a taped face-to-face interview with former congressional candidate and Holler editor Justin Kanew: “(Byrd) will do a good job.”


However, today’s removal of Byrd comes one day after the former educator voted against one of Casada and right-wing Governor Bill Lee’s pet projects: Education vouchers.

So, did Casada strip Byrd of his duties because a) the pressure from victim advocates got to him, b) the father of daughters and grandfather of girls finally saw the problem with having a molester as chair of a committee, or c) he wanted retribution for Byrd’s vote?

Casada hasn’t said, but sometimes people do the right thing for the wrong reasons.

Emily Tseffos, leader of Enough is Enough -Tennessee, had this to say:

“This is a good first step but it’s not enough. This campaign will continue until David Byrd is no longer in public office.”

Casada strips Byrd of chairmanship

This is a developing story.

VIDEO: Rep. Faison’s “Facts” Flub – On Guns & the Bahamian Death Penalty

This week Rep. Jeremy Faison made an inaccurate statement in his defense of HB 1264, a bill that would would create a new concealed handgun carry permit process that requires no fee and only a 2 hour online training, meaning people would be able to get permits and carry guns nearly everywhere without ever firing one.

Here’s our previous video of highlights from the hearing, in case you missed it.

The bill is being carried by Rep. Andy Holt. It passed the House Judiciary Committee easily, despite the fact that even Speaker Casada’s own polling shows 93 percent of Tennessee voters – including 93 percent of Republicans, 94 percent of Democrats, 88 percent of gun owners and 89 percent of current permit holders – support the state’s current permit requirement for carrying a handgun in public.

For some context: Tennessee is already the 11th worst state when it comes to gun deaths. 6 of the 10 that are worse have laws that make guns easier to get and carry everywhere. In 2017, Tennessee led the entire nation in shootings involving children with access to unsecured, negligently stored firearms.

Studies have repeatedly shown states with stricter gun laws have fewer gun deaths, but some refuse to accept that and cite exceptions to the rule – like Chicago, or in Faison’s case the Bahamas – to “prove” that the correlation is not causation.

At the hearing Rep. Jeremy Faison – who thankfully seems to be recovering well after his recent accident – decided to go with the Bahamas as his example, saying:

“The places where the highest amount of crimes where a gun was used in America… those were in places that we have some of the most strict, draconian, anti-constitutional laws. So somehow this notion that if we pass what y’all call ‘common sense gun laws’ – which don’t exist – that crime’s just gonna go away… ask the Bahamians how that works. In the Bahamas you can get the death penalty for having a gun, and they have major gun crime every day. So I just want to encourage you when you’re trying to use that as an argument – you might want to research your own facts.”

Here’s the video:

Ok Jeremy, let’s “research the facts”.

Faison is simply wrong that “you can get the death penalty for having a gun in the Bahamas”. From the Bahamian Firearms Act:

Any person who purchases, acquires or has in his possession, uses or carries a gun without a licence therefor shall be liable —

  1. (a)  on conviction on information, to imprisonment for a term of ten years and to a fine of ten thousand dollars;
  2. (b)  on summary conviction before a Stipendiary and Circuit Magistrate, to imprisonment for a term of five years and to a fine of ten thousand dollars

There’s more to it, and the years have since been amended, but absolutely nothing in their laws that says “you can get the death penalty for having a gun.”

As one lawyer in the Bahamas told us:

“I have not heard of anyone being subject to a penalty of death upon being convicted of possessing a firearm in the Bahamas. Those convicted are often given a custodial sentence or made to pay a fine at the discretion of the court.”

Another Bahamian resident:

“Frankly, I don’t think you’ll get the death penalty for anything in the Bahamas. The Privy Council has effectively abolished the death penalty.”

Turns out the last execution in the Bahamas was in the year 2000, and as of August 2012 only one man was under the sentence of death – and he killed a police officer.

So that’s a big ol’ whiff from Jeremy there.

Where Faison has an inkling of a point is that the Bahamas does have restrictive gun laws and yet still high gun violence rates, but pointing to that as proof that in general stricter gun laws don’t work is no more valid than it would be to say that one country with much stricter gun laws has almost no gun violence proves they DO work.

Say Japan, for instance.

Again, studies of the issue in general have shown repeatedly there is a relationship between gun laws and the amount of guns, and gun deaths.

This is a complicated problem with many factors playing a part. The Bahamas and some other impoverished countries do have higher gun violence rats, but when it comes to the richest countries in the world, the United States is simply off the charts regarding gun deaths and gun ownership:

 

The Key Word is “Rich”.

The element that often gets left out of the gun violence conversation is the societal factor that has the highest correlation with gun violence is far and away poverty and wealth inequality.

The World Bank has a study that found:

“violent crime rates decrease when economic growth improves… faster poverty reduction leads to a decline in national crime rates.”

As Mark Kaplan professor of Social Welfare at the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs put it:

“There is a strong correlation between homicide per million and income inequality… countries that are most equal have the lowest rates of gun-related homicides.”

Here’s a good conversation about it.

So yes, the Bahamas and Chicago have high murder rates. They also have high poverty rates.

When poverty and inequality are rampant in certain countries/neighborhoods, and people are in dire straits and desperate, bad things happen – particularly when guns are extremely accessible within the vicinity. (Chicago has states with lax gun laws right next door, and the Bahamas has the United States nearby)

This doesn’t mean gun safety laws don’t work. On balance the numbers are clear: They do.

What it does mean is if we’re serious about addressing gun violence in our communities, making them cheaper and even easier to get in already dangerous states is not the answer. Instead, we should be focusing on gun safety legislation and policies that address inequality and poverty:

…Raising our $7.25 an hour minimum wage to a livable one…expanding medicaid… subsidizing daycare for low income families… lowering health care costs and drug prices… tax reform that actually helps regular Americans (rather than corporations and the wealthy)… criminal justice reform…

Programs that put more money directly in people’s pockets, makes their lives better, and takes them out of desperate situations will save lives when it comes to gun violence.

In summation: The Bahamas doesn’t tell us gun laws don’t work. The Bahamas reminds us gun violence is a poverty/inequality problem as much as anything else.

And with all due respect to Rep. Faison, maybe next time you should “research your facts” before saying things that aren’t true on a legislative committee, especially one that’s helping to create a more dangerous environment for our children.

Letting people carry in public without ever firing one is like doing away with Driver’s License tests. If you agree, holler at Rep. Faison HERE.

(P.S. – Gun safety laws and the 2nd Amendment are not incompatible. Ask Justice Scalia.)

 

Heartbeat Bill Van Huss “Can’t Find Evil” In Coach Raping/Impregnating Teenage Girl

Yesterday at a Health Committee hearing Rep. Micah Van Huss (R) once again presented his “Heartbeat Bill” – HB 0077 – and reiterated that the bill, which outlaws abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, often around 6 weeks, does not provide exceptions for rape and incest.

Critics note that many women don’t know they’re pregnant until after 6 weeks, particularly in the case of an unplanned pregnancy, and that the committee is almost entirely male.

Van Huss made headlines last week with his responses to questions from Rep. Vincent Dixie (D), saying that incest is “either consensual or rape” implying that incest should not be included in the abortion exemption conversation, and that rape was a “sin” of both the father and mother that the “baby” should not pay for.

At today’s hearing Dixie and Van Huss again went toe to toe, and again Van Huss gave an answer that elicited gasps from the audience when Dixie presented a detailed scenario in which a high school basketball player was raped by her coach, impregnated, and forced to carry his baby to term.

Dixie asked Van Huss if he can find the evil in that scenario, to which Van Huss replied:

“I cannot. Because the evil I find is what you left out. I don’t believe it’s right to rip an innocent baby limb from limb.”

Watch the video here:

HB 0077 does not provide exceptions for rape and incest. It forces a woman to carry her rapist’s baby to term, and would make it a Class C felony for a doctor to perform an abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

The bill passed 15-4 along party lines, with only 3 women voting. It will now be voted on by the legislature.

The bill has been called “constitutionally suspect” by the committee attorney and the attorney general has also questioned its constitutionality, which means costly legal battles are ahead which the taxpayers of Tennessee would be on the hook for.

Time to holler at your reps loud and clear.

‘CAPITOL’ OFFENSE: Casada Chief of Staff Fibbed About Emails Before Clash

At the capitol on Thursday, Speaker Glen Casada had a run-in with a group of young engaged and active citizens who have become regulars in the halls of the Tennessee legislature expressing their disgust with the bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, the first Grand Wizard of the KKK, which is still featured prominently in the lobby.


The group had been trying to schedule a meeting with Casada for weeks. In emails obtained by The Holler, Justin Jones, one of the leaders, emails Casada and his chief of staff Cade Cothren with reporters copied on the email asking to schedule 20 minutes for the group to come in and plead their case for why the bust should be removed:

After repeated attempts to communicate, Cothren finally responds to an email saying “it looks like we can get you in during the first week of March”:

Jones then immediately responds affirming that date works, and asking for Casada’s position on the bust so they can be prepared when they get there:

A few days go by with silence from Cothren, so Jones replies again:

Two days later, on Thursday, the group showed up in the lobby to talk to Cothren in person. The video can be seen below, in which Cothren asks to see Jones’ phone, then tells Jones he had the spelling of “capitol” wrong in his emails and makes the claim that that’s why he hasn’t responded.

As you can see in the emails above, that simply is not the case.

The claim is even more preposterous considering Jones was responding to an email Cothren had already sent.

In the video, Jones then sees Casada coming down the stairs and asks him directly for a meeting, to which Casada replies “we’re meeting!” before pushing Jones, who had slid in front of Casada’s path, aside.

Troopers then forcibly removed Jones from the door Casada disappeared behind as Jones shouted through it.

Nobody was hurt, and things immediately calmed down as Jones and fellow protestors, including Jeneisha Harris, talked to the troopers, who assured them they were there to protect everyone.

As they talk to the trooper Rep. David Byrd can be seen walking by, which Jones points out might be something they should be more concerned with considering he has apologized on tape for sexual misconduct with high school players he coached, as CNN pointed out yesterday.

Casada can be seen in one of our previous videos about that topic lying on tape about meeting with those victims also. Anyone else sensing a theme here?

If you are, holler at Casada HERE to tell him and his office to stick to the truth, meet with the protestors, pull down the bust, and get rid of Rep. David Byrd, the admitted sex offender Casada promoted to chair of an education subcommittee.

UPDATE: Rep. Byrd’s Accusers Say They Never Met With Speaker Casada

Yesterday we posted a video, picked up by the Tennessean, News Channel 5, Slate, and the Huffington Post, where former congressional candidate Justin Kanew confronted Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada about his support for Rep. David Byrd – who has admitted on tape to sexually assaulting players he coached at Wayne County High School.


Former Speaker Beth Harwell asked Byrd to step down. Speaker Casada instead ran attack ads against the victims, then promoted Byrd to chair of the education subcommittee when he was re-elected with 78% of the vote.

In the video, Kanew asks Casada if he has heard the victims’ side of the story. Casada says that he has, and that in fact he met with the victims:

“They came into my office and spoke.”

Turns out that’s news to the victims.

Christi Rice, who has been the most outspoken of the three women who have leveled the allegations at Byrd, responded to Kanew’s video on twitter saying:

Meanwhile Robbie Cain said in a message to Christi Rice obtained by The Holler that she had no idea who Casada was:

The 3rd victim has remained anonymous apart from the initial WSMV interview. Christi Rice is in contact with her and says she is “absolutely” sure she has not spoken with Speaker Casada:

The Holler has reached out to Casada’s office for comment, and so far has not heard back. We will update the story if we do.

So not only did Casada attack the victims, he also didn’t even take the time to talk to them to hear their stories- then lied about whether or not he did.

There’s nothing defensible about any of this. Since posting the original video the Holler has heard from countless women of all political stripes who have stories like this of their own.

Meanwhile a reliable source has told us they saw Channel 4’s Jeremy Finley and a crew being escorted from the building by security, after going down to Casada’s office to ask around about Byrd. And we also heard CNN is down there knocking on Byrd’s door.

If you agree we don’t need an admitted sex offender in the state legislature chairing the education subcommittee, holler at Casada and Byrd, and lend your support to Enough is Enough.

 

 

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.

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.

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.

OPINION: “That is not infanticide. I know. I went through it.”

This week, before the racist images on his yearbook page came out, Virginia’s Governor Northam’s comments about a proposed late-term abortion bill caused a stir. 

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