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THURSDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2007 Tennessee Government and Politics
The expansion of the governor’s residence continues to generate a great deal of interesting and debate among bloggers this week. The Tennesseans for Accountability in Government took out an ad in opposition to the meeting hall, but put in the wrong phone number to call according to reports from Jennifer Peebles’ blog.
The Smell of Desparation (Southern Beale)
You know things are bad for the TN GOP when they have to turn this ridiculous “bunker” at the governor’s mansion thing into a statewide, GOP fundraising campaign Seriously, you guys don’t have any more important issues to worry about? Things that actually affect real Tennesseans? You know, like healthcare? Jobs? Education? Pollution? Veterans affairs? No? …..The jokes just write themselves. Lee Beaman, the uberpartisan who never saw a smear campaign he didn’t like (that Swift Boat Veterans donation really paid off for you, didn’t it?). Lee Beaman, whose wife Kelly formed an "ethics in government" group that strangely was only interested in one politician from one (rival) political party. Heh. http://sobeale.blogspot.com/2007/12/smellofdesperation.html Terry Frank (Frankly Speaking): http://terryfrank.net/?p=2899 Bill Hobbs: http://billhobbs.com/2007/12/democrat_math.html, http://billhobbs.com/2007/12/bunker_mentality.html Bob Krumm: http://www.bobkrumm.com/blog/?p=1678 Ben Cunningham (Taxing Tennessee): http://taxingtennessee.blogspot.com/2007/12/taxpayerbucksformore secrets.html Kay Brooks: http://kaybrooks.blogspot.com/2007/12/tagyoureitgov.html, http://kaybrooks.blogspot.com/2007/12/moneypriorities.html ‘
Mad about the ‘bunker’? Don’t call this number (Tennessean/Peebles)
You might have seen the fullpage ad in this morning’s Tennessean from the group Tennesseans for Accountability in Government, the group formed in opposition to the plans to build an underground meeting hall on the grounds of the governor’s mansion. Surely the people energized on this issue could go on and on all day about the veracity of the claims made in the ad. But here’s one thing we know is wrong: The phone number listed for Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey. The number listed there, 7412368, is actually the phone number for former Lt. Gov. (now Sen.) John Wilder’s office. We just got a call from Wilder’s office to say they’re being flooded with phone calls from people who saw the ad. The correct number for Ramsey’s office is 7414524. http://support.tennessean.com/blogs/?p=5975 Rob Robinson (ThinkTrain): http://thinktrain.net/2007/12/12/oopswrongltgov/ Reaction to Sen. Jerry Cooper’s resignation continued this week.
It's Only Kinda Illegal (Progressive Nashville)
Here’s the problem with politicians policing themselves: they make sure the punishment doesn’t really fit the crime. State Sen. Jerry Cooper thinks the regulatory board only has the authority to fine him up to 15% of the $95,000 he stole from his campaign and spent on himself. Now, it’s up to the state Attorney General to decide if he’s right. Answer me this: Why is it a lesser crime if a candidate steals from his campaign than if a staffer did it? That staffer would be in jail. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out Cooper is right—because politicians aren’t going to write laws that hurt themselves too much. This absolutely infuriates me. Hey, Republicans (that includes you, Hobbs)…
If you’re really outraged about Sen. Cooper because of his actions and not because he has a “D” after his name, then fix this law so it has teeth! http://liberalvoices.typepad.com/progressive_nashville/2007/12/itsonlykinda.html A.C. Kleinheider (Volunteer Voters): http://www.news2wkrn.com/vv/2007/12/13/actsofdeterrence/ Terry Frank (Frankly Speaking): http://terryfrank.net/?p=2908 Stacey Campfield (Camp4U): http://lastcar.blogspot.com/2007/12/registrytofightitsownfineagainst.html Jennifer Peebles: http://support.tennessean.com/blogs/?p=5924 Bill Hobbs: http://billhobbs.com/2007/12/the_cooper_loophole.html Bloggers continue to offer commentary and reaction to proposed changes to the state Open Meetings Law this week. Blake Fontenay’s Commercial Appeal blog post was a catalyst for comments and discussion among bloggers this week. Several bloggers also continued to warn readers about the implications of local governmental bodies voting in favor of the proposed changes.
Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not plotting (Blake’s Blog)
Call me paranoid, but if you ask me, the timing of a sudden increase in protests from elected officials about the open meetings law seems a bit suspicious. After all, this law was enacted in 1974 and, until this year, I had never really heard much complaining about it. Then along came a legislative study panel that was supposed to be looking at ways to make government more accessible to the public, not less. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, various elected officials around the state all started talking about how hard it’s been to do their jobs all these years because meeting in public is such a big hassle. The panel ended up recommending a change that would dramatically weaken the law, which will possibly be considered by state legislators next year. Then I read today’s story about an orientation session for our new Memphis City Council members. Apparently, the new council members spent a lot of time fretting about how the law would limit them and expressing confusion about what they could or could not do. http://commercialappealweb.com/blake/2007/12/11/justbecauseimparanoiddoesntmeantheyrenotplotting againstus/#comments Newscoma: http://newscoma.wordpress.com/2007/12/06/wedonotneedasolareclipseinourgovernment/ , http://newscoma.wordpress.com/2007/12/13/dontmeetinsecretandyoursafe/ Michael Silence (No Silence Here): http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/silence/archives/2007/12/slamming_the_do.shtml Vibinic: http://vibinc.blogspot.com/2007/12/sunshineintennessee.html Politico offered a list of potential vicepresidential candidates this week, including Gov. Phil Bredesen as a possible running mate for Barak Obama (should Obama get the Democratic nomination). John Rodgers and Adam Kleinheider offered their reaction to Politico’s piece.
Could Phil be Barack’s Veep? (Political Animals/Rodgers)
The Politico’s Roger Simon suggests that Gov. Phil Bredesen is a possibility to serve as Barack Obama’s running mate. Simon says: Phil Bredesen— Not a household name, he is now the Democratic governor of Tennessee and a former mayor of Nashville. Bredesen is known for cutting spending when he has to, which is why some Republicans like him even more than some Democrats do. He also started a successful health care company, which gives him both business credentials and knowledge about an issue that is sure to be important in the general election. Bredesen also cut 170,000 Tennesseans from the TennCare rolls, which angered some of his Democratic base and would be one possible weakness in his chances of being courted. Could Phil Bredesen be Barack Obama’s running mate? Or, if Obama loses his bid for the nomination, do you see the winner (likely Hillary Clinton) considering Bredesen? http://politics.nashvillecityblogs.com/?p=377 A.C. Kleinheider (Volunteer Voters): http://www.news2wkrn.com/vv/2007/12/11/obamabredesen08/ State Rep. Jason Mumpower wants to go back to using the balls to draw lottery winners instead of the current computer system. Blogger David Oatney supports the proposal while Progressive Nashville wonders if the legislature shouldn’t be more concerned with having the same standards of accuracy and a papertrail for state elections.
If the Tennessee Lottery ran elections (Progressive Nashville)
Mistakes happen. Just ask the Tennessee Lottery. The agency has reported that a keystroke error in programming new equipment to randomly select numbers for games instead picked numbers that were not so random. Now
imagine such a thing happening when programming voting machines whose results decide elections. The lottery's problem is unfortunate, but fixable. Elections aren't so easy to repair. State House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower wants to go back to the lottery's previous system of using numbered balls to select the numbers, saying the move is needed to restore confidence in the lottery system. If only the legislature would follow that same thinking in deciding how best to conduct Tennessee's elections. Instead of "black blox" voting machines, we need a verifiable paper trail so we know our elections are fair, honest and auditable. http://liberalvoices.typepad.com/progressive_nashville/2007/12/ifthetennesse.html David Oatney (World According to Oatney): http://oatneyworld.blogspot.com/2007/12/computersandballs.html Stacey Campfield discussed why the income tax won’t become an issue as well as proposed pay raises for some state employees.
The return of the I.T.? (Camp4U/Campfield)
Many people are speculating on the possible return of an Income Tax proposal. I for one do not think that form of tax increase will be in the mix again any time soon. The last time an income tax was brought forward many of the income tax legislative supporters were run out of Nashville on a rail. The only legislators who supported an income tax and survived were from districts full of people who would not pay an income tax any way because many of them did not have jobs. The thought of that form of taxation above many others made Tennesseans blood boil. Tennesseans hated the idea of punishing people for being hard working and industrious. By the time the vote was taken hard working people were ready to go after IT supporters. When the dust settled, Republicans picked up several new seats from Democrat and moderates who supported IT. The Republican governor who supported it was replaced by a Democrat. http://lastcar.blogspot.com/2007/12/returnofit.html
Shortage? What shortage? (Camp4U/Campfield)
Phil has his staff giving out permanent pay raises to their staff. Some get as much as a 55% raise. With the actual amount raised in the realm of $60,000.00 Tom Humphries has all the details. As many people warned last year, growing large permanent programs will lead to shortages when the economy slows. Then unless cuts are made (a rare occurrence in the legislature) taxes go up. The numbers show that we have already overspent our children's future but the pay offs continue. http://lastcar.blogspot.com/2007/12/shortagewhatshortage.html News of state revenue projection and collections made headlines this week. One of the first to react to the news was David Oatney.
He was warned (World According to Oatney/Oatney)
Governor Phil Bredesen is now warning State agencies and that revenue may fall short in the coming year because tax collections are not where he thought they would be:…The papers aren't saying this (and do not expect them to, most of the press in this State is on very friendly terms with the Governor) but Bredesen was warned that his new spending prerogatives in the most recent budget could end up leaving the State with a budget shortfall. He was told that his multiple new tax proposals and wasteful spending would lead to a shortfall of revenue. Now the inevitable shortfall that he was warned would occur if he did not change course has come to pass, and Bredesen is having a boohoo session in front of the press. He's saying "we're going to be short this year but I'll make sure it is okay." At one point he said "I'm not breaking into a sweat or anything." http://oatneyworld.blogspot.com/2007/12/hewaswarned.html ORNL reported that it was the target of an attack by hackers this week. Local blogger Russ McBee was one of the visitors who could have had his personal information stolen by the hackers. McBee discusses the potential for theft and laments the amount of time it took for someone at ORNL to inform him that his personal information could have been stolen.
ORNL data theft and me (Russ McBee/McBee)
Earlier this week, it was reported that hackers had compromised a database inside Oak Ridge National Laboratory; this database contained personal data on all visitors to ORNL from 1990 through 2004. The names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and addresses of all those visitors had been stolen by thieves. I was one of those visitors. The database was stolen through a targeted phishing attack:… I visited ORNL numerous times during that fifteen year time frame, mostly to conduct training for Lab personnel. Of all the places I've given out personal information,
ORNL is the last one I would have thought could result in the theft of that data. Although the data was stolen on October 29, I just received notification of the theft a couple of days ago, after the story first broke in the media. That gave the thieves five full weeks to do whatever they wanted with that data before I was notified http://russmcbee.com/archive/2007/12/09/ornldatatheftandme.aspx
The City Paper’s Rex Noseworthy speculated that Andy Bryd was a contender to challenge Lamar Alexander in next year’s Senate race.
A Byrd In The Hand (Volunteer Voters/Kleinheider)
The Nashville City Paper’s Rex Noseworthy throws out this morning (albeit misspelled) a name that has quietly been ringing out among those interested in the 2008 United States Senate Race in Tennessee, or more to the point, the lack thereof. After Mike McWherter closed up shop on his exploratory bid for the seat, Phil Bredesen, to much acclaim, handicapped the race and saying that the young McWherter had made a good choice asserting almost unequivocally that Lamar Alexander was a skilled politician who could not be beaten. Following those statements, Bob Tuke, the former Democratic Chairman and only other established name considering the race backed out. This left only political neophyte and attorney Kevin Doherty as the only reported name interested in the seat. With no name and no money, a path to victory for Doherty would be hard to map out. http://www.news2wkrn.com/vv/2007/12/10/abyrdinthehandanewpotentialalexanderchallengernamefloated/ Several blogs in west Tennessee offered live blog coverage of the murder trial of Calvin Jenks.
On the Texas Teens (Media Verse)
Deliberations of the jury are due to resume any minute now. Just before 10PM last night they rewatched the dashboard video of the shooting. The defense attorney asked that the tape be stopped just before the part where the citizen who found Jenks' body arrived. Was that shown in the trial part? I seem to recall it was. Not sure why the defense attorney wouldn't want it seen, other than the emotional pull on jurors during deliberations. Anyway, the tape was stopped and it wasn't shown. Then the jury was sent home for the night. http://mediaversememphis.blogspot.com/2007/12/ontexasteensjuryandverdict.html WREG Live Blog: http://trooperjenks.wordpress.com/ WMC Live Blog: http://talkingmemphis.com/calvinjenkstrial/ Nashville Mayor Karl Dean appointed a 40member task force to look at ways to raise graduation rates in Nashville schools. Progressive Nashville looked at the mayor’s new taskforce as well as several initiatives the mayor is promoting to help keep his campaign promise to improve Nashville schools.
Will talk turn into action (Progressive Nashville)
Two new initiatives were announced yesterday intended to help the quality of education in Nashville. Both seem to lack focus and that raises the question of whether they will produce any real results. The first comes from Mayor Karl Dean who has proposed a 40member task force to reduce the dropout rate in schools. The City Paper says "four subcommittees of the project will each focus on one of the key factors research has shown to contribute to students dropping out of school: chronic poor academic performance, student risk factors, lack of family or parental support, and community risk factors." It is to report in June. The second came from the Metro board of education which will create a new community task force with its members made up of appointees selected by board members. Since Marsha Warden chairs the school board, her appointee will serve as chair of the task force. The concepts is based on a similar idea from Austin, Texas. The task force has been given no agenda. http://liberalvoices.typepad.com/progressive_nashville/2007/12/willtalkturn.html
Republican presidential candidates held their final debate before the Iowa Caucuses Wednesday afternoon. Bob Krumm looked at how the debates are preparing the candidates for what they’ll face should they win the nomination and, beyond that, get elected to the Oval Office. Sharon Cobb wondered why the debates were during the middle
of the work day when fewer voters could tune in.
Forging steel with friendly fire (Bob Krumm)
Right after the Tim Russert debat last month, Democrats were critical of Democratic critics who had the audacity to point out how Republicans would attack Hillary Clinton. The attitude was best summed by a writer at the liberal blog, firedoglake: [N]ever repeat the talking points by which your opponents beat up on your own party . . . Republicans don’t adhere to such niceties, hence the recent criticism coming from the right of Mike Huckabee for gay and Mormon bashing. Nor have I heard of any countercriticism saying that Republicans shouldn’t repeat Democratic talking points. Only one of these two parties is preparing its candidates for what they will face in a general election. http://www.bobkrumm.com/blog/?p=1687 Sharon Cobb: http://sharoncobb.blogspot.com/2007/12/ihopedemocratdebatetodayisntask.html News that Mike Huckabee has experienced a surge in the polls generated a lot of interest among bloggers this week. It also have bloggers offering their analysis of Huckabee’s political career and campaign as well as looking at the impact of Huckabee’s newfound popularity on other Republican candidates.
Huck: Kneecapping Mitt and Rudy for Fred and John (Bob Krumm)
Is it possible that Mike Huckabee’s recent surge is actually good news for Fred Thompson and John McCain? What Huckabee has succeeded in accomplishing is pulling support away from the two longestablished GOP frontrunners Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney. Ironically, that’s probably not good news for any of those three Republican contenders. If, Huckabee can be taken down a notch–as seems quite likely given that his extreme views on a whole host of issues will now gain greater audience with increased attention–and also given that it’s easier to gain a fresh vote than it is to regain a vote once lost–it is quite possible that in the last few weeks before Iowa, Fred Thompson and John McCain are the two candidates best positioned to gain from latebreaking changes. http://www.bobkrumm.com/blog/?p=1682 Matthew Continetti (Campaign Standard): http://www.weeklystandard.com/Weblogs/CampaignStandard/default.asp#3469 Phil Ayres (Tennessee Talk): http://tennesseetalk.com/?p=575 Sean Braistead (Music City Bloggers): http://www.musiccitybloggers.com/2007/12/10/huckabeecrazyor stupid/#comments Stephen Brainbridge (Punditry): http://www.stephenbainbridge.com/punditry/comments/personal_presidential_elimination_process_the_case_of_mi ke_huckabee/
Fred Thompson liberated? (Toby Harnden)
Greetings from Johnston, Iowa and an incredibly cramped debate press room. I’ve been pretty tough – though, I think, fair and borne out by events – on the Fred Thompson campaign. But, credit where credit’s due, he turned in an assured performance in today’s debate – substantive, straightforward, witty and highlighting the absurdity of debate formats. Which made me wonder – has he thrown in the towel, subconsciously at least, and realised he’s not going to make it? As Dean Barnett puts it “Fred came to play.” http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/foreign/tobyharnden/dec07/fred_thompson.htm YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUn8GSbUl_4&eurl=http://volunteervoters.com/ Jeff Woods (Pith in the Wind): http://blogs.nashvillescene.com/pitw/2007/12/fred_leads_debate_revolt.php
Only Thing The Democrat Iowa Caucus Will Predict Is Who Won't Be Pres (Cobb)
It's bad enough that us politicos didn't get a break from Senate season to Presidential season. But for those of us who are Democrats, it's really aggravating. I mean, all that time and money and effort for what? To find out who won't win the Presidential race Winning Iowa seems more like a curse. In a contested race, the Democrat Iowa caucus winner has never gone on to win the general election. Ever. (see below) From David Speakman: Here is a breakdown of the winners of all the Iowa caucuses since 1972, when it first moved to become first in the nation: http://sharoncobb.blogspot.com/2007/12/ifpatternholdsonlythingdemocrat.html#comments Right Wing Sparkle speculates on what it would look like if John Edwards won the Democratic nomination.
President Edwards? (Right Wing Sparkle)
The one scenario no one is talking about. Hillary has her venom set on Obama, but what if, in all the fray, Edwards ends up with momentum? Maybe Democrats will see Hillary for what she is, a manipulating corrupt political machine, but honestly feel that Obama cannot win the general election because of lack of experience and past indiscretions? Edwards is saying all the things the left want to hear. He has been through the process before and he is handsome and charismatic and is from the south. Don't underestimate this man. I see him getting the nomination before Obama (although I honestly don't see anyone taking this from Hillary) Imagine Romney and Edwards being the nominees. The hair jokes. The Ken jokes. The two best looking men to ever run for President against each other. http://rightwingsparkle.blogspot.com/2007/12/presidentedwards.html
Around the Blogosphere Who’s In Charge Of The “New Media Hot Sheet? (Volunteer Voters/Kleinheider)
I batted a few emails back and forth this afternoon with the Governor’s Communications man, Bob Corney, regarding the new Bredesen Administration blog tracking service the “ New Media Hot Sheet set to debut this “ Thursday. The truth is this debut, like many an online product, is simply the 2.0 version of the release. The New Media Hot Sheet, which Corney tells me is based on Slate Magazine’s “Today’s Blogs” feature, has been in beta for the last few weeks being tested and tweaked by a select group of less than a dozen or so subscribers. In one email, Mr. Corney laid this little bombshell in my lap:… So who is this experienced blogger tasked as architect of the Administration’s blogging aggregation service? None other than one Michael Hickerson, better known as Big Orange Michael in the ’sphere, an employee in the Office of Finance and Administration. http://www.news2wkrn.com/vv/2007/12/10/orangeyoucuriouswhosinchargeofthenewmediahot sheet/#comments Sean Braistead (Music City Bloggers): http://www.musiccitybloggers.com/2007/12/10/thegovernorsofficetakes noticeofblogs/ Michael Silence (No Silence Here): http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/silence/archives/2007/12/tn_government_t.shtml
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