CHARLANE OLIVER: “IF YOUR VOTE DIDN’T MATTER THEY WOULDN’T BE TRYING SO HARD TO STOP YOU”

 

I know most of y’all won’t read this long post but nerds like me be tryna put y’all up on game for the Free 99 and some of y’all still be yelling “my vote doesn’t matter” but don’t understand that it actually does.

The Alabama abortion ban – and other restrictive laws in recent months – have been 10 years in the making by Republicans. It’s no coincidence that many states with the worst voting, education, healthcare, and incarceration rates are also the states with the most regressive laws, and mostly in the South.

When we say “local elections matter” or “elections have consequences” or “this is voter suppression” or “please go vote” this is the shorthand version of what we mean… Let’s revisit a series of unfortunate events shall we…

2008-2009: America elects the first black president, Barack Obama.

Early 2010: SCOTUS rules in ‘Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC)’ that political spending is a form of free speech protected under the First Amendment. The controversial 5-4 decision effectively opened the door for corporations and unions to spend unlimited amounts of money to support their chosen political candidates.

Hate that your politicians are bought and sold by corporations? Blame this.

Late 2010: Ahead of the midterms, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell vows to make President Obama a “one-term president” and Republicans declare a nationwide takeover of state legislatures.

2010 Midterms: Thanks to the Citizens United case, Republicans flood the airwaves with political advertising to influence down-ballot elections. Republicans pick up 675 state legislative seats; swept several governorships, including Tennessee; and Republican control increased from 14 states to 26 state legislatures.

They also take control of the U.S. House of Representatives, winning 58 seats.

2011: Now that Republicans effectively have the states on lock, states begin to enact strict voter ID laws, including Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and… wait for it…… Tennessee.

2012: President Obama is re-elected. All is well with the world because we now have Obamacare and our president is still Black. Meanwhile…

2013: SCOTUS guts the Voting Rights Act of 1965 in the ‘Shelby County v. Holder’ case. As in, Shelby County, ALABAMA versus Attorney General Eric Holder. Yeah as in, the same Voting Rights Act championed by civil rights activists like Dr. Martin Luther King and Congressman John Lewis who marched in Selma, ALABAMA.

The ruling basically said, nope racism doesn’t exist anymore so Southern states no longer need permission (i.e. “pre-clearance”) from the federal government to change their voting laws. The decision allowed 846 jurisdictions to close, move or change the availability of local polling places (mostly in predominantly African American counties) without federal oversight. There were also cuts to early voting and purges of voter rolls.

Virtually all restrictions on voting after the ruling were by Republicans.

2014: Here’s where it gets bad. Republicans continue their congressional takeover during the 2014 midterms. Democrats are asleep at the wheel and stayed home on Election Day…. because all is well in the world – my president is Black.

Meanwhile… Republicans gained control of U.S. Senate and picked up more seats in the U.S. House of Representatives. This is the year that TENNESSEE RANKED 50th IN VOTER TURNOUT.

Only 28% of eligible voters voted in this election.

Early 2016: Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia dies. Which means a replacement is nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate (both are elected by the voters, btw). President Obama names Merrick Garland as his nominee, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell blocks the nomination, claiming it’s too close to a presidential election so the next president should pick.

Late 2016: Donald Trump is elected president. Now Republicans are in control of the legislative branch and executive branch. Time to take over the judicial branch.

2017: Trump begins stacking the Courts by nominating conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. (Remember, elections have consequences and in 2014, just 36.4% of eligible voters nationwide turned out in 2014 – the lowest since World War II— and Republicans gained control of the Senate, who confirms all federal judges.)

2018: By now, 34 states have some form of voter ID laws. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announces his retirement. Trump nominates Brett Kavanaugh as his replacement. Senate confirms Kavanaugh in October, shortly before the midterms, solidifying the bench as a reliably conservative 5-4 majority.

2019: Republicans control the state legislature in 31 states. Congress is divided – Democrats take back the House, and Republicans still control the Senate, Presidency, and Supreme Court.

What we’re seeing play out today is a deliberate playbook, run by ALEC and their model bills, to challenge everything in the courts. The bills introduced by legislative branches across the country are so egregious and blatantly unconstitutional in an attempt to move the battle to friendly territory – the courts.

Muslim travel ban. The courts.

Separation of migrant families at the border. The courts.

School vouchers. The courts.

Partisan gerrymandering. The courts.

Census citizenship question. The courts.

Voter registration criminalization laws. The courts.

Abortion bans to overturn Roe v. Wade. The courts.

All of this is run by people who are elected by the People.

If they can make it a felony to…. say, have an abortion…. or register voters…. or build a wall to keep immigrants out….. and felons and immigrants can’t vote, then you limit the voting power of minorities.

Thus keeping the white male power structure in control over an increasing Majority-Minority America.

There’s an election happening in your city or state somewhere every year. You must pay attention, keep up with the news and current events, and VOTE in every election, every year.

But y’all don’t hear me tho….

Charlane Oliver is a candidate for state senate in District 19 (Nashville)

WHY DID TN ED COMMISH SCHWINN LEAVE HER HUSBAND’S EMPLOYER OFF HER DISCLOSURE?

This week some eagle-eyed Hollerers pointed out TN Ed Commissioner Penny Schwinn left TNTP, the company where her husband works, off of her source of income disclosure.

She listed it last year, but not this year, despite the fact that he remains on their website as a “Leadership Coach”.

This is especially noteworthy since TNTP was a recipient of an $16 MILLION contract from the Tennessee Education Department, a department Schwinn is in charge of… a fact that was not lost on legislators who raised the “Conflict of Schwinnterest” issue in committee last session.

Was leaving TNTP off the disclosure an oversight on Penny’s part? Was it intentional? Are they no longer married? Is he no longer at the company?

These are questions someone should ask, and we will next time we see her.

It’s worth noting that Schwinn has a history of conflicts of interest and self-dealing. They’ve been hallmarks of her career, showing up in both Delaware and Texas, her stops along the way since starting a charter school in Sacramento. She also ran for school board in Sacramento, where she was supported by Michelle Rhee, whose charters lobbyist organization 50 CAN now is affiliated with charter school lobbyist Victor Evans at Tennessee Can, who is now vocally pushing through the new TISA funding overhaul plan from Governor Lee, even standing with him at press conferences.

Victor does NOT want to talk to us about the connection between Michelle Rhee at his parent company and Schwinn, no matter how hard we try.

Shwinn is the tip of the spear for TISA, Lee’s ed funding overhaul plan, which will be the talk of the town this week as it appears the Tennessee legislature (mostly Republican) will pass it.

Supporters say TISA will tie funding to “students rather than systems”. Detractors say it really doesn’t do that to the extent Lee says it will, and that it will ultimately harm public schools by teeing up further privatization, triggering inevitable property tax hikes in counties around the state and enabling even more cronyism and political back-scratching by an administration that has repeatedly engorged itself on such things.

It seems to us how trusting you are of Penny Schwinn and her boss Bill Lee to do the right thing for the people of Tennessee rather than for themselves should play a big part in how anyone feels about TISA as a way to fund the education of our children going forward. And making sure they’re honest on their disclosures is part of that.

To be clear, almost everyone seems to agree the BEP needs to change, and since education in  Tennessee has not been fully funded (we’re at the bottom in per pupil spending) adding $1 BILLION to education is a good thing, something Democrats have been calling for for years.

But it’s important to make the distinction that the extra $1 BILLION has nothing to do with TISA. That $1 BILLION could be added to education regardless of the funding formula. What Lee has done is essentially hold our kids hostage, saying he won’t agree to adding that money unless he gets his formula overhaul.

That in itself is reason for skepticism, since we know what Lee wants, ultimately, is education privatization, which was his first focus upon taking office. Back then it was private school vouchers, which were held up in court as unconstitutional because they only focused on Memphis & Nashville (Republican legislators across the state didn’t want those vouchers anywhere near their own counties, no sir. How great they must think they really are!)

Now Lee has turned his attention to charter schools – asking right-wing profiteers at Hillsdale to bring 100 schools to Tennessee – and this education funding overhaul, which may very well amount to the voucherization of our entire public education system. Ohio passed a plan like this, and is now seeing the next phase of the operation where charter schools are swooping in to take that “student-based funding” to for-profit, ideological, and even religious schools.

Ultimately where you come down on TISA amounts to how much trust you have for Lee and his education commissioner Penny Schwinn, who has a long history of conflicts of interest, and has a lengthy charter schools background charter lobbyists don’t seem to want to talk about.

We’re curious why Schwinn’s company wasn’t on her disclosure after receiving a $16 MILLION contract from the ed department she runs, but more importantly we hope we aren’t looking back in a few years at this funding overhaul she’s spearheading as the moment public education in Tennessee fell off a cliff… right into the pockets of people who put money ahead of kids.

INTERVIEW: ED FUNDING OVERHAUL BILL SPONSOR REP. MARK WHITE

We spoke with Rep. Mark White for 10 minutes about charter schools and Governor Lee’s potentially poisonous ed funding overhaul.

TN STUDENTS HELP KILL BOOK BAN & LIBRARIAN CRIMINALIZATION BILL

MUMPOWER WON’T TALK ABOUT GETTING SUED BY MASON

GEORGIA’S GOV. KEMP TO SIGN GAS TAX PAUSE GOV. LEE WOULDN’T

Last week Tennessee Democratic representatives Bo Mitchell & John Ray Clemmons held a press conference calling for Governor Lee to impose a 90-day gas tax moratorium to help Tennesseans with the pain of higher gas prices – which is a global issue Republicans have incorrectly blamed on Biden. (Oil production is UP under Biden, so the idea that he’s choking off supply is ridiculous on its face)

By some calculations the state gas tax moratorium would mean Tennesseans keep hundreds of millions of dollars they would’ve otherwise had to spend at the pump. Since Governor Lee regularly brags about the BILLIONS in surplus funds Tennessee has, partly because we’re #1 in hoarding funds intended for poor folks, it would seem we could’ve handled the moratorium – but Lee has said he has no plans to implement it.

Lee’s exact quote:

“We’ll look at proposals, but what we need to do—and I’ve been working with governors across the country—is to reach out to the federal administration and say ‘Here’s what needs to be done. We need to reinstitute energy policies that take the burden off of Americans for higher energy prices.”

Anyone who follows this administrations knows that’s Lee Speak for saying he won’t do anything.

That decision looks even more heartless now that a similar measure has passed UNANIMOUSLY in Georgia, and their Republican governor is planning to sign it right away, giving them a gas tax break through May, and saving their citizens $300-$400 million by some estimates.

From the Athens Banner-Herald:

The Georgia Senate unanimously passed legislation Thursday temporarily suspending the state sales tax on gasoline, but not before a lengthy debate over who is to blame for record-high pump prices.

The bill, which the state House of Representatives passed last week, now heads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.

The governor and lawmakers acted after gas prices surged following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Suspension of the tax will save Georgians 29.1 cents per gallon of gasoline, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, said before Thursday’s vote.

“The 29 cents is not going to completely solve the problem,” he said. “But it’s a start and a statement.”
It UNANIMOUSLY passed the house & senate in Georgia… but Lee won’t even consider it?
With Tennessee failing to expand Medicaid even as we lead in rural hospital closures per capita and medical bankruptcies, and slashing unemployment benefits even as legislators gave themselves raises, and refusing to raise the minimum wage, or give people paid leave… this is yet another example of Governor Lee and this Republican supermajority putting the people last.

GOV. LEE TAKES CREDIT FOR 500 TRITIUM JOBS, EVEN AS TRITIUM CREDITS BIDEN’S BILL (ALL TN GOP REPS OPPOSED)

Yesterday President Biden made an announcement about a new TRITIUM CHARGING factory that will be opening up in LEBANON, TN – bringing 500 jobs to the area and having a “ripple effect” beyond the borders of Lebanon, and even Tennessee.

Tritium itself credits the BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGED passed by Biden and the Democrats, with the help of a few Republicans, none of which were members of the Tennessee delegation – which likely explains why every last member of the delegation has been silent about the development.

You would never know that the president of the United States just announced 500 jobs good paying (hopefully UNION) jobs are coming to Tennessee by looking at the feeds of Senators Marsha Blackburn or Bill Hagerty, or congress members Kustoff, Rose, Green, Fleischmann, Desjarlais, Harshbarger, or Burchett.

They seem to only mention things when their own party is responsible for them – a truly sad testament to how divided we are as a country.

Worse than that, GOVERNOR LEE took things a step furtherhe issued a press release about the Tritium announcement, but doesn’t even MENTION in it that Tritium itself credits the Biden bipartisan infrastructure bill with the jobs.

Instead, Lee’s highly misleading and disingenuous release makes it look like this happened thanks to his own leadership.

TO RECAP: When the FORD PLANT (to make electric cars) was announced in West Tennessee, Democrats expressed their support for the jobs and economic benefits coming to our state…

…Yet when TRITIUM makes their announcement, most Republicans are silent – while the Governor attempts to take credit, and doesn’t even mention Biden’s leadership and how his efforts are helping to create a market for these products and companies to prosper.

It seems Tennessee Republicans will only root for Tennessee – or America – if it benefits their own party. That, as their corrupt, defeated, one-term insurrectionist leader liked to say, is “Sad”.

VIDEO: “THE PEOPLE’S STATE OF THE STATE”

VIDEO of the protestors who showed up to make their disapproval of Governor Lee known at the capitol this week.

 

 

TODAY’S HOLLER: DID REP. FAISON PANTS HIMSELF?

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DID FAISON PANTS HIMSELF? 
BY TRYING TO PANTS THE REF, DID REP. FAISON PULL OFF HIS OWN
– METAPHORICALLY SPEAKING?

👖💥REF PANTSING CONTROVERSY UPDATE: REP. Brandon Ogles (R-FRANKLIN) re-posted a post today about TN GOP caucus chair Rep. Jeremy Faison making national news for trying to PANTS A REF, calling it “disgusting”, and seeming to question if he’s fit to serve both as GOP caucus chair and as a representative entirely.

The post also calls on Speaker Sexton to act. 👀

💥This comes after we learned from our own SOURCES that Republican Scott Cepicky has allegedly asked TN House GOP caucus chair Jeremy Faison to RESIGN as caucus chair over the embarrassing nationally viral ref-pantsing incident. Here’s some Video, ICYMI.
To be clear, neither Ogles nor Cepicky are picture perfect in their own rights, by any stretch. Cepicky in particular spent a long time calling COVID no worse than the flu, until he eventually stopped. (He also lists himself as a professional athlete on his legislative bio even though his NFL “career” consisted of being a walk-on punter cut in training camp… but we digress.)

The question remains: Will Faison survive as caucus chair? Is his seat at risk? By trying to pull off a ref’s pants, did he pull his own caucus chair pants off, so to speak?

Only time will tell. But we will be here watching.

We’ll make sure to ask Jeremy about this in person when the legislature starts back up TOMORROW. We’re able to do this work because of your support, so Please consider chipping in monthly if you’re not yet doing so, even if it’s just a few bucks – the monthly support truly keeps us going. 

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TODAY’S HOLLER:
REPUBLICANS TO CARVE UP NASHVILLE: “into multiple congressional seats”. Not content with a 7-2 split (despite a significant % of TN being Dems), Speaker Sexton & the TN GOP will try to take a blue seat from VERY BLUE Nashville. Not democracy. There is ZERO good faith reason not to have independent, fair districting. 🇺🇸

KNOXVILLE ACTIVIST HUMILIATED BY DEPUTIES: It seems the warrant Knox County Sheriff Spangler’s Office arrested activist/former council candidate David Hayes for outside a Knoxville PD meeting was for “obstructing a roadway” at a peaceful protest about the police killing of a student (Ant Thompson). They humiliated Hayes and carried him to a detention roomwhere he says they punched him. Here’s video of him being carried & humiliated. Here’s David telling Knox News about being punched by deputies while in custody.

So outside a CITY discussion about policing, Deputies grabbed, carried, humiliated a black activist (former council candidate) over warrants related to peaceful protests about the police killing of a black student. Knox County’s message is loud and clear. The man ran for City Council as the warrant was still active and was in rooms with police… he says he was never officially cited, and didn’t know about the warrants. They waited for the exact moment to send the largest message to arrest him. We have questions. Will Spangler and Mayor Jacobs have answers?

NOT-SO-GRAND, OPRY: “I am extremely confused by the welcoming of Morgan Wallen to the Opry stage last night… It felt like a slap in the face.” — Holly G, founder of Black Opry, writes a letter to Opry owners expressing dismay that they welcomed Wallen after his “N Word” usage.

MORE REPUBLICAN VACCINE DISINFORMATION: More vaccine disinfo from TN GOP state Rep Susan Lynn… ignoring all data, cherry-picking stories she *hears* — and Speaker Sexton says nothing. Some actual numbers… overwhelmingly most severely Sick are un-“vexed” 🧐

Maybe Governor Ron Desantis should talk to his own wife about his anti-testing crusade? 😳😷

HIJACKING MLK: The Tennessean picks up the story of Bernice King rightly calling out Carol M Swain & Moms For Liberty WILCO for the hypocrisy of using her dad’s image to raise💰at an anti-diversity event at the Factory when M4L fights against MLK/civil rights books.

COACH DIES OF COVID: GALLATIN HIGH girls basketball coach Jerry Landers has died of COVID-19 after being placed on a ventilator. Our hearts go out to his family, friends and the community. 😷

Rolling Stone rightly highlights *Pastor* Ken Peters in a story on the burned Planned Parnethood Knoxville clinic— “Did the rhetoric of Pastor Peters’s extreme anti-abortion church literally help stoke the flames?” The clinic noticed a change when he arrived. And he’s no stranger to “fire” references.

WATCH: “It was terrifying… nobody was hurt, thank goodness, but the fire was enormous… WE ARE DETERMINED TO REBUILD.” – Ashley Coffield of Planned Parenthood TN talked to us about the arson (terrorism) that burned their clinic in Knoxville. PODCAST

“THIS SAD MAN”: Chris Hayes roasted spineless Ted Cruz for groveling for forgiveness after calling the insurrection “terrorism” — he calls it a “mistake”, but he said it MANY times. His only “mistake” was telling the truth in a party where that’s the only sin. #TreasonDay

NASHVILLE DJ WALKS OUT: DJ AJ KANG says he walked out of his set after REBAR owner Rhonda Russell told him to “stop playing that ni*ger music” because there were “too many black people in the crowd” Adding: “I’m half black and I do not support racism”

UNLICENSED BOUNCERS UPDATE: “4 of 6 bouncers at Dierks Bentley’s Whiskey Row who held down DJ BARRETT until he died in August 2021 (charged for reckless homicide & aggravated assault) not properly licensed.” VIDEO of DJ: “I can’t breathe!”

RECORD JOBS: While Marsha & Hagerty ask “WhErE ARe tHe JoBS?” despite 3.9% unemployment, Trump Jr.  helped them out with a self-own by posting Biden’s historic first 11 months job growth: “Check out how much better Biden is doing than my dad!” 🤦🏻‍♂️

🗣 “IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.” — Barbara from Abingdon, VA writes a letter to the editor in BRISTOL, TN addressing the ARSONIST Who burned down Knoxville’s Planned Parenthood Clinic — pointing out the people they actually hurt.

NO-BRAINER: “Ossoff’s bill makes it illegal for lawmakers & their families to trade stocks” Any Senator/Rep who won’t support this ain’t there for the right reasons. And it ain’t just Pelosi. (👋🏽 Corker, Blackburn, Hagerty, Green, etc..) – good for Ossoff for leading on this. He says he wants a GOP co-sponsor for his congress stock trading ban… Does seem a little crazy to think that might happen, but kinda seems right to make a show of looking for one — If nobody bites, that says a lot in itself. Then he should push it anyway.

TOP: What’s actually happening.
BOTTOM: What the Bullshit Factory is focused on.

TOP SEED IN THE AFC: 91 different players. Lots of injuries to stars. And still… #1 seed in the AFC! Coach Vrabel should be the NFL Coach of the Year, and it isn’t close. #TitanUp

CARTOON OF THE DAY: “KING & CRT”

Josh Black sums up Tennessee in one tweet… 🎯 ❄️

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REP. TORREY HARRIS ON LOSING HIS DISTRICT TO GOP REDISTRICTING | TN Holler

Rep Torrey Harris, the first out LGBT black legislator in Memphis, and one of the youngest, shares his thoughts on likely losing his district to redistricting.