Monthly Archives: September 2022

Hillsdale charter schools drop appeals … for now

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters in Nashville on July 6, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A charter school operator planning to use a curriculum developed by controversial Hillsdale College has dropped its challenges after being rejected by elected school boards in Rutherford, Madison, and Montgomery counties.

Hillsdale president Larry Arnn at an event featuring Gov. Bill Lee infamously described teachers as being “trained in the dumbest parts of the dumbest colleges in the country.” Lee has since refused to repudiate Arnn’s remarks.

The withdrawal followed an unsuccessful effort by American Classic Education to get the appeals board, the State Public Charter School Commission, to grant a delay of between six and 11 eleven weeks before deciding about whether to overturn the local decisions. The panel rejected the extension.

“I believe that’s a good decision by American Classical Education at this time due to the events of the last summer,” state House Education Chair Mark White (R-Memphis) told The Tennessee Lookout.

Former state Senate Education Chair Dolores Gresham (R-Somerville), the board chair of American Classical Education, issued the following statement:

American Classical Education has decided to withdraw its appeals to the Tennessee Public Charter School Commission. ACE initially asked for a delay to further address concerns and clarify confusion and misconceptions raised by the Commission staff in each of the public hearings earlier this month. We understand that the delay request was not granted. Additionally, when the Commission created additional public comment time for its meetings in October — we heard from many parents and students who will be on fall break during the newly reformatted Commission meetings and would be unable to travel to Nashville. This made us concerned that the Commission would not hear directly from the voices that really matter — the parents and students in these communities.

We believe, with complete conviction, that there will be many future opportunities in Tennessee as there are in most of America. The nationwide movement away from monopolistic public schools is an expression of the fact that parents have a natural love and, therefore, a natural say over how and what their children are taught in school. This parental love was evident in the efforts of the many parents who have supported our efforts and to whom we remain committed. It remains a much stronger claim than the claim of the bureaucracy that continues to stifle quality public education options for families. After all, parents are the purest form of “local control” when it comes to their child’s education. 

ACE remains committed to empowering parents and students to have access to high-quality public schools of choice. We look forward to applying for additional charter schools where local parents, teachers and students desire excellent education alternatives.

Lee looking for out-of-state troopers again

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters after a bill signing ceremony in Nashville on May 24, 2021. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Gov. Bill Lee is looking out of state again to attract new troopers to Tennessee. The Republican’s call last year for law enforcement officers to transfer to the state resulted in 25 troopers being added to the THP rolls. Another 57 new recruits came from inside Tennessee.

Here’s what Lee says in a video touting the program:

I got a message today for cops in New York, all the way to sheriff deputies out in LA. We want you to join the Tennessee Highway Patrol. Our force is one of the most professional in the country. And we won’t get between you and your doctor. We believe that you would be a great fit for our state. We’ll even help cover your moving expenses. Now let me tell you why Tennessee would be a great fit for you. Here in Tennessee. We have so much to offer like a low cost of living and no income tax. We got a beautiful state with everything from backroads to Broadway in Nashville. And for you, there’s an open road to opportunity. In Tennessee, you will be given our full support and respect and our work to make sure your freedoms are protected. We stand with our law enforcement and will stand with you, too. If you’re looking for America at its best, come to Tennessee. Visit today, and we’ll see you soon in a Volunteer State.

Here’s the full release from the governor’s office.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Today, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee released a nationwide Tennessee Highway Patrol (THP) recruitment video and renewed efforts to welcome out of state law enforcement officers to Tennessee.

In the video, titled “Join THP 2.0,” Troopers Da’Juan Clark of New Mexico and Louis Celaya of California share their experience moving to Tennessee to join the THP in 2022. Clark and Celaya now serve Middle Tennessee communities.

“In Tennessee, law enforcement officers get the respect they deserve, and we welcome qualified men and women from across the country to join our ranks,” said Lee. “Take it from our THP troopers – if you want to live, work and raise a family in a community where you’ll be given full support, come to Tennessee.”

Last fall, Gov. Lee launched a nationwide pitch to relocate qualified law enforcement to Tennessee. Since then, 82 new troopers have joined the THP, including 25 officers from out of state.
Tennesseans enjoy the lowest state and local tax burden per capita in the country. Additionally, the THP offers some of the most competitive benefits, including:

— Full benefits package

— A self-issued vehicle rather than a shared vehicle program

— Complimentary uniforms and equipment provided

— All fees for training academy paid for by the department

In addition to THP recruitment efforts, Lee has made proven crime prevention investments to strengthen public safety and directly support law enforcement across Tennessee:

— 100 additional Tennessee Highway Patrol troopers funded by the state

— Creation of a $100 million Violent Crime Intervention Fund for law enforcement agencies across the state to invest in evidence-based programming and resources

— $30 million to support recruitment and retention bonuses for out-of-state police officers seeking to move to Tennessee

— Expansion of state funding for law enforcement basic training and increasing the frequency of training for new recruits

Out of state law enforcement officials interested in joining the THP can learn more at

Living in a world gone crazy: Lee launches first general election ad

Gov. Bill Lee has released a new campaign ad declaring “we’re just getting started” following the first four years of his administration.

Here’s the transcript of the spot to run on broadcast and cable TV stations:

“You turn on the tv today, and it feels like the world’s gone a little crazy – but not in Tennessee. I’m proud of the work we’ve done the last four years: America’s fastest growing economy, America’s lowest taxes, a lot more skilled trades. We’ve put families first like we said we would, and I think we’re just getting started. Being your governor has been the honor of my life and I’d be honored to serve, again.”

New TNJ edition alert: This is the (Lamar!) way

New signs posted on the Capitol horseshoe indicate it is not named after Lamar Alexander. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

This week’s print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it.

— No cooling off required: Lawmakers quick to land government positions.

— United in indignation: GOP outraged over pediatric transgender clinic at Vanderbilt hospital.

— Vouchers go back to court, appeals panel hears from charter operators.

Also: Tim Burchett can’t understand Australian golfer or “country clubbers,” Glenn Jacobs’ former chief of staff pleads guilty, Bill Lee names a new head of the Governor’s office of faith-based initiatives, and the Capitol horseshoe gets a new name.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

MyTN app wins government experience award

The state of Tennessee’s MyTN app has won a Government Experience Award from the Center for Digital Government.

“Tennessee’s central technology division continues to win recognition for its advancement of services to citizens,” Finance Commissioner Jim Bryson said in a release. “The division is working hard to stay a step ahead in bringing the latest technology solutions to the state in today’s fast-paced technology environment.”

Here’s the release from the state Finance Department:

NASHVILLE – Tennessee’s mobile app connecting citizens to state services is named in the Center for Digital Government’s annual awards. MyTN provides a single point of access to a growing list of government services whenever and wherever users need it and offers notification and alert systems to keep users up to date. MyTN is a product of the Department of Finance and Administration’s Strategic Technology Solutions (STS) and the Customer Focused Government division.

“Tennessee’s central technology division continues to win recognition for its advancement of services to citizens. The division is working hard to stay a step ahead in bringing the latest technology solutions to the state in today’s fast-paced technology environment,” Commissioner Jim Bryson said. “It’s great to work with people committed to excellence in all they do for Tennessee.”

The MyTN project is one of 13 from across the nation receiving the center’s Government Experience Awards for projects having a single area of focus. The awards recognize the achievements and best practices of states, cities and counties that are radically improving the experience of government services.

Download MyTN in the Apple App store or in Google Play. Users can create an account in MyTN to access more features, such as bookmarking your favorite services, personalized alerts regarding your account and access to additional services.

The Center for Digital Government is a national research and advisory institute focused on technology policy and best practices in state and local government. CDG is a division of e.Republic, the nation’s only media and research company focused exclusively on state and local government and education. STS serves as the central information technology service bureau to state departments and commissions, providing planning, resources, execution and coordination in managing information systems needs.

New TNJ edition alert: Not dancing with who brung ya, House GOP nominee bucks GOP leaders, and delays in lawmakers’ trials

Gov. Bill Lee speaks to reporters following on Dec. 13, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

The latest print edition of The Tennessee Journal is out. Here is what’s in it:

— Education advocacy group breaks with former governor it was founded to help.

— Trouble in paradise: House GOP nominees not down with governor, speaker, majority leader, caucus chair . . .

— Party organs? Not-so-new trend of politics mixing with journalism.

— From the courts: Casada and Cothren join Kelsey in getting yearlong delay for trials.

Also: Getting the kids out of their parents’ basements, what it would take for Mark Green to drop his support for Donald Trump, suspended NBA owner’s company has given heavily to Tennessee candidates, and Bill and Phil’s excellent podcast.

As always, access the your copy of the TNJ here.

Or subscribe here.

So much for 6 months: Judge reschedules Phoenix Solutions trial for October 2023

Then-House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) presides over a floor session in Nashville on April 23, 2019. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

As part of his request for delaying his trial on public corruption charges, former House Speaker Glen Casada’s attorney asked for putting off proceedings by 180 days, or six months. U.S. District Judge Eli Richardson nearly doubled that time in scheduling the trial to begin on Oct. 3, 2023.

Here’s the order:

Defendant Casada’s Unopposed Motion to Continue Trial Date and Corresponding Deadlines (Doc. No. 24) and Defendant Cothren’s Motion to Continue Trial and to Extend Pretrial Deadlines (Doc. No. 25) are GRANTED. The trial in this case is rescheduled to October 3, 2023 beginning at 9:00 a.m. The pretrial conference is rescheduled to September 22, 2023 at 9:00 a.m. All lawyers who will try the case shall attend the pretrial conference; as indicated below, the time slot for the pretrial conference alternatively may (upon advance notice to the Court) be used as a change-of-plea hearing, but it is not intended to be a status conference and so counsel should plan and prepare accordingly.

All pretrial motions shall be filed no later than six weeks prior to trial. If a party does not meet this deadline, or any later deadline obtained via a timely motion to extend the deadline, it may be deemed to have waived any right to file pretrial motions. A response to a motion shall be filed within fourteen days after the filing of the motion. A reply in support of a motion, should the movant choose to submit one, shall be filed within seven days after the filing of the response.

Speedy Trial Act

The Defendants have filed waivers of speedy trial (Doc. Nos. 24-1 and 25-1, respectively). The Court concludes that the period of delay is reasonable and is excludable under the Speedy Trial Act, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3161, et seq. The Court specifically finds that the interests of justice served by granting the continuance outweigh the interests of the public and a Defendant in a speedy trial on the date previously scheduled. 18 U.S.C. § 3161(h)(7)(A), (B). The diminished weight of a Defendant’s interest in a speedy trial is reflected by his choice to submit a speedy trial waiver. Moreover, a Defendant is likely to be prejudiced if he is not adequately prepared for trial despite due diligence, and the public interest will not be served if such prejudice ultimately requires this case to be retried.

Change of Plea

Any plea agreement shall be consummated no later than two weeks before the above-stated trial date, and the Courtroom Deputy so notified. Likewise, if a Defendant opts to plead guilty without a plea agreement, the Courtroom Deputy shall be so notified no later than two weeks before the above-stated trial date. If a plea agreement is submitted or if a Defendant opts to plead guilty without a plea agreement, the hearing to take the plea will take place on September 22, 2023 at 9:00 a.m., or at such earlier time as the Court may schedule upon request of the parties.

Continue reading

Cothren also wants to punt federal trial date

Former legislative staffer Cade Cothren is following the lead of his onetime boss Glen Casada in seeking a delay in their trial on federal bribery and kickback charges.

Casada requested a delay of up to six months last week, noting prosecutors were not opposed to the motion. Cothren’s lawyer, who recently got the judge to approve pushing back the deadline for a motion by just one week, on Monday filed a similar request to put off the trial originally scheduled for Oct. 25.

Attorneys for both men say they plan to “vigorously defend” against the allegations made in the indictment.

TennCare alerts 1,700 enrollees of privacy breach

TennCare, the state’s expanded Medicaid program, says about 1,700 enrollees may have be subject to a privacy breach.

Here’s the release from TennCare:

Nashville – The Division of TennCare, which provides health care insurance to 1.7 million Tennesseans, announced today that it has notified approximately 1,700 Medicaid members of a privacy issue that may have impacted their personal information.

During a recent review, TennCare learned that a routine update to a computer system may have caused a limited number of individuals from one household to be able to view some information about individuals in another household that included some of the same people. This happened when a new application listed the name of a person who was already in another household.

For a limited time, the name and age of affected individuals and their dependents may have been visible to people who were at one time on the same case file. For fewer than 15 people, additional information, such as social security number, address, and date of birth may have been visible.

TennCare immediately took steps to determine the scope of the breach, address the issue, and notify impacted members, all of whom are being offered 12 months of free identity theft protection services.

Based on TennCare’s analysis, there is no evidence to suggest the information was misused; however, out of an abundance of caution, TennCare is offering free identity theft protection services through Experian to those affected. These services include 12 months of credit monitoring, $1,000,000 identity theft insurance coverage, and identity theft restoration services.

TennCare will incorporate the learnings from this incident to further strengthen its commitment to protecting personal information for TennCare members.

Answers to certain questions related to the incident:

What was the issue?

A routine update to a computer system may have caused certain individuals from one household to be able to view some information about individuals in another household that included some of the same people. This happened when a new application included the name of a person who was already part of
an existing case.

How did TennCare discover the incident?

TennCare received a few privacy communications from affected members, which led to the discovery of the issue.

When did this occur?

On July 12, 2022, TennCare found that members may have been affected by this issue. The issue was fixed on July 22, 2022.

Has TennCare corrected or will TennCare correct the household information potentially impacted by
this issue?

TennCare has addressed the programmatic issue so information is no longer visible to individuals from a different household. TennCare is reviewing the household members’ information in our systems and are making any necessary corrections, if required.

Who qualifies for the credit monitoring and identity theft protection services?

Any member who was affected by the incident. Those affected have been notified and were provided an enrollment code.

How do those affected enroll in the credit monitoring and identity theft protection services?

An individual who has been affected can enroll by following the instructions on the notice they received.

The deadline to enroll is December 5, 2022.

Casada seeks up to 6-month delay for public corruption trial

Rep. Glen Casada (R-Franklin) appears before the Tennessee Registry of Election Finance on March 3, 2022. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Former state House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) is seeking a postponement of up to six months for his federal trial on public corruption charges. Proceedings had originally be scheduled to get underway.

According to his waiver of his right to a speedy trial, Casada wants the trial moved up to 180 days. If the postponement were anchored to his original Oct. 25 date, the trial would be rescheduled for no later than April 23 next year.

Casada’s attorneys write in the motion Friday that the delay is not opposed by federal prosecutors. The document makes no mention of codefendant Cade Cothren.

Here’s is the filing:

The defendant Glen Casada, through counsel, requests that this Court continue the trial of this matter, presently set for October 25, 2022, and all pretrial filing deadlines. In support, the defendant would show as follows:

1. On August 22, 2022, the Grand Jury for the Middle District of Tennessee returned the above referenced Indictment. (Dkt. 3).

2. The following day, Mr. Casada appeared with counsel and entered a Not Guilty plea. (Dkt. 10).

3. By Order entered August 24, 2022, this Honorable Court scheduled the trial of this matter to begin on October 25, 2022. (Dkt. 17).

4. After the parties agreement to the Government’s proposed protective order (see Dkt. 20), the Government produced pretrial disclosures to the defense on September 7, 2022. These materials included documents consisting of thousands of pages, multiple recordings, and contents of various devices seized and searched by law enforcement. Specifically, the production includes 805 files and 151 folders totaling 296 GB. The government’s cover letter accompanying the above referenced information also indicates that additional tranches of evidence will be produced in a later production.

5. Mr. Casada intends to vigorously defend against the allegations in the indictment. In order to effectively do so, both he and his counsel require sufficient time to evaluate and analyze all of the Government’s disclosures (both already made and to be made in the future), conduct his own investigation into the Government’s disclosures, and conduct his own independent investigation.

6. In light of the above, Mr. Casada submits that it is in the interest of justice to continue the trial of this matter so that he can adequately prepare. This request is grounded in Mr. Casada’s constitutional rights to due process, a fair trial, and effective assistance of counsel.

7. A speedy trial waiver is attached to this Motion.

8. Undersigned counsel has consulted with the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding the requested relief. The Government does not oppose the Motion.


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