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FLASHBACK: Speaker Candidate Rep. Jay Reedy Fails Basic Civics

Rep. Jay Reedy (R-Erin) has thrown his hat in the ring to replace Glen Casada as the next speaker, so let’s take a quick trip down memory lane to remember a few of his greatest hits.

First, there’s the time Reedy used the derogatory term “wetback” multiple times in a committee meeting about a sanctuary cities bill.

Then there’s the time Reedy posted incredulously (and Islamophobically) about “Muslim Day On The Hill”:

And then there’s this – an ad from Reedy’s challenger in 2016, Andy Porch, in which Reedy fails to answer 2 basic civil questions: What is America’s economic system? (capitalism!) and how many Supreme Court Justices are there? (9!)

Watch the VIDEO:

Needless to say, Reedy isn’t ready.

VIDEO: Detective/Pastor Fritts Doubles Down On Hate Speech

“I am not an anomaly… If they hate you it means you’re doing the right thing.”

On Wednesday, in his first appearance since becoming national news, Knox Detective/Pastor Fritts said he’s “not calling anyone to violence” – while reiterating his monstrous attacks on LGBT people and calling out fellow preachers as “weak” and “spineless” for not backing him up.

KINGSPORT’S BALLAD HEALTH PROTEST ENTERS 40TH DAY

Residents in the Sullivan County/Kingsport, TN area have just entered their 40th day of protesting a recent hospital merger that will put the health care of many at risk. The merger is a demonstration of the intersection between political and corporate corruption.

Dani Cook, a local advocate from Bristol, Tennessee, explains the situation in detail below… And watch our brief VIDEO from Day 39:

BALLAD HEALTH: 

Where Apparent Healthcare, Political, & Corporate Corruption Meet

In one of the most unusual healthcare-related actions ever taken by 2 states, State Senators, Representatives, Departments of Health, Attorneys General, and Community Business and Education Leaders joined together with two separate healthcare systems to create a medical monopoly, intentionally displacing competition and granting state and federal antitrust immunity.

The State of Tennessee and the Commonwealth of Virginia have executed a “COPA” – a Certificate of Public Advantage/Cooperative Agreement – unlike any in the history of healthcare in America.

The COPA annual review has just finished, and the TN Health Dept. couldn’t “grade” Ballad Health as laid out in the Terms of Certification. Because the Terms of Certification included a Plan of Separation requiring Wellmont Health System, Mountain States Health Alliance, and Ballad Health (the new health system) to keep 90% of their assets separate for the first 18 months after the COPA was issued, there is a unique window of opportunity to have the COPA modified or terminated!

The COPA law states:

“This COPA is subject to modification if at any time the Department (of Health) determines the likely benefits resulting from the Cooperative Agreement no longer outweigh any disadvantages attributable to any potential reduction in competition that may result from the Cooperative Agreement.

This COPA is subject to termination if the Department determines the benefits resulting from the Cooperative Agreement no longer outweigh any disadvantages attributable to a reduction in competition that may result from the Cooperative Agreement, and modification of the COPA is not obtained.”

Read the COPA Agreement HERE.

Since the COPA has been executed, there have been reductions in pay, changes in services, repurposing and deletions of services, and a severe reduction in access to quality healthcare.

The changes have caused severe staffing shortages, true emergencies being treated in triage/waiting rooms, significantly increased wait times, patients being held in the ER for days to weeks, increased transports (often not covered by insurance), over-billing, and lawsuits from the health system against patients for bills, among other negative effects.

The region is rural, and has a poverty rate of 20-30%.

The people here are suffering. Doctors and nurses are leaving. And those that cannot leave are scared to speak out for fear of retaliation from Ballad Health.

Those fears are well founded, as several employees have already been admonished, warned, and even fired for doing so.

If we are going to save our healthcare system, the time to act is now, before the assets are combined on July 31st, 2019, which is why 10 residents have signed onto a federal lawsuit requesting Declaratory and Injunctive Relief.

HOW WE GOT HERE

The original COPA legislation – The Hospital Cooperation Act of 1993 – allowed health systems that were in financial trouble to work together in order to reduce costs, remain profitable, and still provide quality healthcare.

It did not, however, allow those health care systems to merge.

In 2014, Wellmont Health System announced it was looking for a strategic partner to help keep their hospitals operating, and reduce their $411 Million debt. The concern with this prospect was that Mountain States, with their own $892 Million debt, would be forced to do the same.

Shortly thereafter, prominent local businessman and BancTenn Chair, Bill Greene, was in the hospital for cellulitis in his leg. According to several interviews Greene gave in the press, it was  this hospital stay that set off a chain of events that would change healthcare in our region.

It started with Greene’s cardiologist stopping by to check on him during the stay. Green asked the cardiologist to take a look at his chart, but he explained he could not do so because he was a Wellmont physician, and Greene was in a Mountain States Health Alliance hospital.

On a subsequent golfing trip Greene expressed his dissatisfaction that the two systems could not access each other’s information, especially given their proximity to each other (although this is common with all competing hospitals).

Greene asked Alan Levine, the new CEO of Mountain States, what the options were to rectify the situation. Levine explained that the two health care systems would not be allowed to merge by the FTC because they would be creating a medical monopoly, and that the FTC has a 70% success rate in blocking such acquisitions/mergers.

Levine then shared the idea of a COPA – a so-far unused state mechanism that put price and competitive controls in place, and shielded health system mergers from FTC scrutiny. 

Per Greene, he and a group of self-proclaimed “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” members gathered together at his home to determine if it was “worth it” to pursue the idea. This group of 15 local business, education, and community leaders who manage approximately 65% of the region’s employees spent 4-5 hours discussing the option, and determined that it was worth it.

Over the course of the next few months the “Hole in the Wall Gang” began to hold public forums, created a website, and leveraged the local media to convince the public of two things:

1. Their hospitals were failing financially and were in such terrible shape that they were about to be sold to an outside healthcare system who would have no knowledge of or interest in the local region, and would dismantle, reduce, and close hospitals.
2. That the merger of Wellmont Health System and Mountain States Health Alliance was their only chance of survival.

In addition to spreading their message to the public, the Hole in the Wall Gang needed to change the existing COPA Law, since it did not allow for the hospitals to merge. To accomplish that mission and get around the FTC’s 70% success rate blocking such mergers for antitrust reasons, The Gang would need to get new legislation introduced and passed.

Fortunately for them, one Gang member – Mountain States Health Alliance – had the Chair of the Tennessee Senate Health Committee on the payroll: Senator Rusty Crowe (R-Washington & Carter Counties).

Crowe had been a contracted employee for Mountain States for several years, and was the perfect vehicle through which these new pieces of legislation could be passed. On April 8, 2015 Senator Crowe introduced SB0994 to the Health and Welfare Committee.

Senator Richard Briggs (R-Knox County) abstained from voting due to a conflict as he also works for a healthcare system in nearby Knoxville TN.

Senator Doug Overbey (current U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of TN) abstained, stating:

“What is being proposed is an attempt to provide some insulation from anti-trust scrutiny under traditional anti-trust principles under both federal and state law and in fact, I think that’s what it says what it’s trying to do in Section 2.8.”

Senator Rusty Crowe – again, a paid hospital employee/vendor of Ballad Health – declared Rule 13, which states that he has a personal interest in this law being passed but that he promises his vote is in the best interest of the people.

As laws were being drafted, sponsored and passed by the politicians, the healthcare system administrators and Hole in the Wall Gang members were busy getting letters of support together from local businesses and organizations.

On June 2015, Commissioner of Health John Dreyzehner sent a letter to FTC Staff asking for an opinion. His question: If the New Health System that results from the merger under the COPA was subsequently sold to a non-COPA healthcare system outside of the region, would that trigger an antitrust review?

Better question: Why was he asking that?

At the time, Wellmont and MSHA had not filed a letter of intent to apply for the COPA or submitted the application. So why was the TN Commissioner of Health asking a question that appeared to only be of informational benefit to two private healthcare systems?

After 6 months, and subsequent phone conversations with the TN Dept. of Health, the FTC finally responded to this request for opinion, saying that typically once a merger is allowed to happen, and the assets have been combined, it is extremely difficult to undo.

They said it’s like trying to unscramble an egg.

A few weeks later, Mountain States Health Alliance and Wellmont Health System submitted their application for a COPA.

Over the next two years, there were public hearings held in the local community, but with the local news media only being fed information from the two health systems and the Hole in the Wall Gang, the public was unaware of just what’s at stake, and hardly participated. 

The local and state politicians, businessmen, and education leaders did attend those hearings, and advocated for the merger to be approved and COPA granted.

(*Important to note the participants in these public hearings because of their positions, the companies they own, and roles in the community – See “Cast of Characters” below… Also important to note the expert testimonies of FTC Staff and Bob Leibenluft, a DC antitrust attorney, formerly of the FTC Healthcare Antitrust Division)

(**It’s also interesting to note the investment Bill Greene seemed to have in this outcome. He’s a banker. Why the interest in healthcare?)

During the course of the public hearings, several independent investigations and subsequent reports were conducted, 2 of which are of particular importance, as they were financed by the FTC and by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

(Spoiler Alert: They both said “DO NOT DO THIS” – a merger is not necessary to accomplish the efficiencies and commitments promised, and no detailed plan has been provided to prove through clear and convincing evidence that this will be an advantage to the public.)

Independent Report by Robert Town (Commonwealth of VA Hired Expert): Here

Independent Report by Kenneth Kizer (FTC Hired Expert): Here

While there is a lot of information and additional players to be mentioned in this section, including people who worked with Alan Levine at his past companies coming to work with him, one of which was fined $260 Million for fraud, a CEO coming out of retirement, and more questionable political connections, let’s keep moving…

Fast-forward to January 31st, 2018, when the COPA is issued.

Even though the State of TN and Commonwealth of Virginia knew this day was coming, and the laws passed required oversight for the granting of the COPA, no COPA Oversight had been set up at that time.

In fact, it was approximately 4 months before the external COPA Oversight Monitor, Larry Fitzgerald was hired.

During that 4 month unsupervised period, the new health system – Ballad Health – made a move to refinance their debt through hospital municipal bonds. Keep in mind, between the two health systems they had approximately $1.3 Billion in debt.

As a combined system, their overall value was $3 Billion.  The current rating on their bonds was a BBB+, so they shopped around to get the bonds refinanced, with the goal of getting a better bond rating to reduce their debt.

They located the Greeneville TN Health and Education Facilities Board, a board whose members had just been in trouble for not bothering to meet for 2 years, and had a better rating than Ballad’s bonds.

Keep in mind, Ballad Health is a nonprofit organization, and therefore a bond that refinances their debt is not allowed… unless you know a couple of politicians – in this case former TN Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey, who called U.S. Representative Diane Black, who chaired the House Budget Committee and could rewrite the wording that allows the refinancing to take place. 

Still crunching the numbers… but over $100 Million of them were traded between May 10th– May 15th, and the bonds weren’t delivered until 6/6, so the question is: Who had the bonds before the rating was improved, and who bought and sold the bonds?

The CFO of Ballad Health, Lynn Krutak – who helped CEO Alan Levine get the bond to refinance the debt – is also on the Healthcare Advisory Board for PNC Bank.

PNC Capital Investments is one of the three underwriters for the bonds, along with B of A, Merrill Lynch, and US BancCorp.

Bond Series A: Click Here

Bond Series B: Click Here

Ballad Health states in the SEC paperwork that they do not have the money to repay this debt or meet the COPA commitments, and that these funds (during their Forward-Looking Statements) would be derived from merger synergies and consolidations/deletions of services.

In this paperwork they outline certain changes that were not announced to the public or TN Health Department until 6 months after they had already begun implementation.

These changes, specifically the downgrading of the Level III NICU at Holston Valley Medical Center (FULL DISCLOSURE: where my granddaughter was born in 2017 weighing 1 pound 3 ounces), are what prompted my interest, subsequent research, and activism against Ballad Health, the TN Health Department, and VA & TN politicians.

(Yes, there is a lot that happens in Virginia as well… it’s just too much to go into here.)

You may be wondering why people weren’t upset and outraged by all of these things prior to November 2018… Well, it’s pretty simple: Within days of the COPA being issued, Senator Rusty Crowe introduced SB2048 (the revised version of HB2020 first introduced by Rep. Gary Hicks) which is a law protecting the information from the public:

SECTION 1. Tennessee Code Annotated, Title 68, Chapter 11, Part 13, is amended by adding the following as a new section: 68-11-1310.

(a) The following records received by the department or the attorney general and reporter from the recipients or applicants of a certificate of public advantage for a cooperative agreement issued pursuant to this part shall not be subject to disclosure pursuant to title 10, chapter 7, part 5:

(1) Operating and capital budgets;

(2) Existing and future business plans other than any plans, and any modifications to those plans, that are required to be submitted to the state pursuant to a certificate of public advantage or application for a certificate of public advantage;

(3) Financial audit working papers as defined in § 4-3-304(7);

(4) Contracts or agreements with payors and payorpricing information;

(5) Physician recruitment plans and contracts or agreements with physicians;

(6) Contracts or agreements with vendors;

(7) Complaints, including hotline complaints and open investigations of such complaints; and Senate Health and Welfare Committee 1 Amendment No. 1 to SB2048 Crowe Signature of Sponsor AMEND Senate Bill No. 2048 House Bill No. 2020* SA0731 014499 -2-

(8) Employee personnel files, including performance evaluations, disciplinary actions, individual compensation amounts, and employment contract terms not otherwise publicly available.

In addition to these items being protected by this piece of legislation, it also stipulates that if you request this information, are denied, and then sue to obtain it, you – the citizen – are required to pay the attorney’s fees for the healthcare system/TN Dept. of Health.

So to recap: They created a medical monopoly, gave it anti-trust immunity on a state and federal level, protected non-proprietary information including complaints and changes to services,  and on top of all of that they have placed the financial burden of seeking this information directly on the citizens for whom this COPA is supposed to be an advantage.

REVIEW

There are 1.2 Million people in rural Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Northwest North Carolina, and Southeast Kentucky who are at the mercy of a medical monopoly that exists ONLY because a healthcare corporation, run by a CEO with an employment history that includes two companies that received judgments of $1.7 Billion and $260 Million in healthcare fraud, a group of local and state politicians, and a “Hole-in-the-Wall Gang” of city business, education, and community leaders banded together to change state law that allowed them to merge and granted them IMMUNITY from federal and state antitrust laws.

This unprecedented use of state law borders on unconstitutional given the protections of the Sherman Antitrust Act. And if not quite unconstitutional, certainly unconscionable, unethical, and immoral considering the impact on an already impoverished, under-served community.

We do not have a healthcare crisis in this country, we have a corruption crisis in this country, and corporations, politicians, and governmental policies and practices create, perpetuate, and celebrate its existence.

That is why we need you. No one is watching them. No one is hearing us.

And despite Ballad Health’s motto “It’s Your Story, We’re Listening.”

Our cries are falling on deaf ears.

Please help.

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Alan Levine, CEO Ballad Health, HMA (Health Management Associates) 2010-2013 – President & CEO of the Florida Group of Hospitals  – DOJ $260M Fraud Judgment for 2008-2012 false claims.

2017 Broward Health Whistleblower Case Referencing Alan Levine Kickbacks 2006

Columbia/HCA Fraud Judgment (Where Alan Levine first works with/becomes friends with Rick Scott) 

Alan Levine is a member of the Federalist Society (his page as a “Contributor”) and is extremely active in political campaign contributions

Bill Greene – Chairman, banquet 

Articles for Reference:

http://bjournal.com/effort-to-influence-wellmonts-merger-strategy-spreading/

https://www.heraldcourier.com/news/majority-voice-support-for-merger-ftc-opposition-continues/article_e2b48c1e-8136-5bce-91b5-d931f6a78840.html

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2017/09/23/How-a-case-of-cellulitis-and-a-meeting-of-the-hole-in-the-wall-gang-led-to

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Health-Care/2018/01/31/Ballad-Health-merger-timeline

https://www.johnsoncitypress.com/Business/2017/08/24/New-ETSU-stadium-named-for-William-B-Greene-Jr

https://www.juniorachievement.org/web/ja-tnva/william-b.-greene-jr.

Scott Niswonger – President Niswonger Foundation (Money Influence)

Brian Noland – President, East TN State University & Member of Ballad Board of Directors

David Golden – SVP Safety & Sustainability, Eastman Chemical Company

Tony Keck – Worked with Alan Levine in Louisiana & SVP at Ballad Health

Andy Hall – Ballad Health Gov’t Relations

Eric Deaton – Ballad Health Marketing

Bart Hove – Wellmont CEO – came out of retirement to help make the COPA happen. Was supposed to stay on as 2nd in command at Ballad Health but left the day the COPA was issued.

Melody Trimble – Worked with Alan Levine at HMA and came to work with him at MSHA – also left the day the COPA was issued.

Identified Hole-in-the-Wall Gang Members (10 of 15): Bill Green, Brian Noland, David Golden, Scott Niswonger, Alan Levine, Dennis Phillips, Keith Wilson, Roy Harmon, Jerry Miller, John Tickle, Dr. Bill Hazel  (Secretary of Health & Human Resource for the Commonwealth of Virginia met with the Hole in the Wall Gang Sept. 2014.

Politicians —

Tennessee: Senator Rusty Crowe, Senator Mark Norris, Speaker Ron Ramsey, Representative Gary Hicks, Senator Diane Black, Representative Bud Hulsey, Senator Jon Lundberg, Representative David Hawk  – Also on COPA Advisory Council

Virginia: Terry Kilgore

Dani Cook is a local advocate from Bristol, Tennessee.

TN ED REPORT: “Like A Dad Out Of Hell?”

This post was first seen on the TN Ed Report. Follow and subscribe to them for more updates and great information.

Back in April, conservative commentator Steve Gill, who publishes the Tennessee Star, wrote an attack piece on Knox County teacher Lauren Sorenson. Gill’s beef with Sorenson seems to be that she had the gall to stand up and speak out for her fellow teachers and also advocate on behalf of students across the state. Gill used Sorenson’s affiliation with the “Badass Teachers Association” (BATs) to label her a “BAT out of Hell.”

Like so many in leadership roles in our state, Gill apparently prefers that teachers keep their voices quiet rather than highlight the unpleasant facts about the teaching profession and our state’s chronically under-funded schools.

Gill has been a consistent supporter of using public money to support private schools by way of voucher schemes. More recently, he’s come to the defense of embattled (and soon to be former) House Speaker Glen Casada. He’s even backed admitted sex offender David Byrd.

That’s why it is so shocking to learn that while Lauren Sorenson is busy fighting for all kids and educating young minds in Knox County, Gill is failing to live up to his parental responsibilities.

The Tennessean has more:

Conservative commentator and former political candidate Steve Gill must pay his ex-wife $170,000 in 10 days or go to jail, a Williamson County judge has ruled.

In a ruling entered into the court on Sunday, Judge James G. Martin sided with Kathryn B. Gill, who was seeking nearly $236,000 for various expenses related to the divorced couple’s sons.

Kathryn Gill was seeking $86,000 in child support from Steve Gill, in addition to $4,400 in medical expenses, $133,000 in college expenses and another $11,000 for a car she purchased for the children’s use.

Or, maybe it is not at all surprising that a guy who defends Glen Casada and David Byrd would attack a strong woman fighting for a better future for our state.

Hargett’s Voter Registration Criminalization Bill Passes TN House Despite Protests | TN Holler

Despite protests, yesterday Tennessee House Republicans passed HB 1079 – which would make it the first state to criminalize voter registration efforts… just 6 months after the Tennessee Black Voter Project registered 90,000.

The vote was 71-26, with Republicans voting for and Democrats voting against.

Watch the VIDEO:

Here’s our previous article about the topic.

SB 971 now awaits a vote in the senate. Holler at your state senators, Governor Lee, or Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

VIDEO: BLOCK GRANTS VS. MEDICAID EXPANSION (Floor Debate Highlights)

Tennessee has lost $3.1 Million every single day since refusing to expand medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, which amounts to over $7 Billion and counting. 300,000 Tennesseans remain without coverage as a result, including 25,000 veterans.

The state leads the country in rural hospital closures, which even some Republicans say would be helped by expanding Medicaid.

Governor Haslam wanted to expand Medicaid. 37 other states have expanded Medicaid, including in “Red” states like Louisiana, to very positive results.

Instead, Tennessee’s Republicans are trying to have the Federal Government send the funding to the state in the form of a block grant, despite the warnings of many experts, who point out that block grants would cover fewer people, not more, and would do nothing to address the health care inequities in our state or to help with rural hospital closures.

Watch the FLOOR DEBATE HIGHLIGHTS:

The refrain from Republicans like Rep. Andy Holt is that we shouldn’t get “tangled up” with the federal government – which seems to ignore the fact that Tennessee is already tangled up with it plenty – between, the TVA, the V.A., Fort Campbell, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP, Oak Ridge National Lab, K-12 Federal funding, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the list goes on.

In fact, for every $1 Tennessee sends to the Federal Government it receives $1.46 in Federal spending.

This isn’t fiscal responsibility, it’s putting politics ahead of people.

“OPTICS” UPDATE: School Board Senator Johnson “Voucher-Shamed” Is 50% African American

Yesterday we posted a video from a Williamson County legislative update Friday in which Senator Jack Johnson aggressively defended Governor Bill Lee’s school vouchers plan which would allow public school money to be used to partially fund private school educations.

Supporters of the vouchers say they will help some kids in failing schools escape to a better education.

Opponents say we shouldn’t be steering public money away from already struggling public schools to do that, that it amounts to the privatization of education, and that the private schools in receipt of the money wouldn’t be subject to the same kind of accountability and would be able to discriminate against certain kids using public funds.

(Watch our highlights of the Education Committee debate HERE. The TEA says Vouchers have been a “disaster” where implemented and remains against them, as are a number of other organizations.)

Senator Johnson seemed particularly upset by a resolution passed by a the Franklin Special School District school board here in Williamson County, which he called the “wealthiest and whitest county” in Tennessee:

“So when I hear a school board in Williamson County passes a resolution opposing this initiative… do you understand the optics of that? We’re the wealthiest, whitest county in the state. And we’re saying we don’t want to do something to help inner-city kids who are poor and predominantly minority. Shame on you. SHAME ON YOU.”

It’s worth pointing out that many school boards across the state have passed resolutions against it, including ShelbyWilson County and Montgomery County – home of Clarksville, which has a significant minority population relative to other areas of Tennessee.

Shelby is majority African-American.

And while Johnson is right that Williamson County is the wealthiest, it is by no means the whitest – but more importantly, the Franklin Special School District board represents schools where 50% of the students are on reduced lunches, and where the school board itself is half African-American:

This begs the question: Senator Johnson mentioned the “optics” of a Williamson County school board standing against the concept of steering public money to private Schools, but what about the “optics” of the Senate Majority leader in an all-white Republican legislature yelling “SHAME ON YOU” at a half-black school board looking out for a district where 50% of the kids are on reduced lunches?

Seems like looking out for all kids, not just a few, is the job of a school board, so it should come as no surprise that these resolutions are being passed throughout the state.

As for the FSSD Board, it’s highly decorated. From their website:

The Franklin Special School District Board of Education is a six-time Tennessee School Boards Association (TSBA) Board of Distinction and was 2015 Tennessee School Board of the Year. The Board was recognized by TSBA for its development, application and monitoring of policy; involvement in long-range planning; promotion of quality education through involvement with the legislature, city/county commission, State Board of Education, community and staff; participation in board development activities, including boardmanship award levels for each member; and exhibition of a positive relationship with the media.

As a Board of Distinction, a two-year designation, FSSD was honored by TSBA as a Board of Distinction for its work as a whole, meeting specified requirements in four key areas: planning, policy, promotion and board development. The FSSD Board of Education was previously awarded TSBA School Board of the Yearin 1998, and accomplished the requirements necessary to become a Board of Distinction in 1999-2001, 2001-2003, 2007-2009, 2009-2011, 2014-2016, 2016-2018.

If you agree that Senator Jack Johnson was “inappropriate” with his comments, holler at him HERE.

VIDEO: Rep. Jim Cooper Fires Up The Crowd At The CLC Lunch

This week Rep. Jim Cooper visited the Central Labor Council lunch in Nashville and spoke to a rapt audience about the need for unity and togetherness in the coming election, when the labor movement would be a key part of a “winning strategy” in the hopes of preserving key programs like Medicare and social security.

Cooper spoke about rampant inequality the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Gilded Age, acknowledged that the system isn’t fair, but reminded everyone that “the rich people are out there voting”.

Watch the HIGHLIGHTS:

‘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.

VIDEO: Survivor Speaks Out At Williamson Town Hall, Casada A No-Show

This morning in Williamson County at a Town Hall event Speaker Casada was billed to be attending, Casada was a no-show.

The rest of the Williamson delegation – Senator Jack Johnson, Rep. Sam Whitson, and Rep. Brandon Ogles -were all there, as were some CNN cameras, but Casada was nowhere to be found.

Had he been there he would’ve been confronted by survivor Ashley Massey of Lawrence County, who bravely spoke up anyway about Casada’s support for David Byrd, who can be heard admitting on tape to sexual abuse with his former high school basketball players.

Here’s the video:


Sam Whitson got up and left, and Brandon Ogles attempted to perpetuate the false notion that anything in the Casada video posted earlier this week was being taken “out of context”.

Please share the video on Twitter and Facebook, and if you have a problem with the way they reacted, holler at Sam Whitson HERE and Brandon Ogles HERE.