Some suggested TN political junkie weekend reading

The Douglas Henry State Museum Commission’s efforts to block Victor Ashe, or any other board member, from making negative comments about museum operations have generated a round of negative comments about museum operations.  Here’s a sampler, along with other articles not involving Ashe or the museum appearing around the state during the past few days:

‘Bizarrely’ quoted editor backs Ashe

News Sentinel Editor Jack McElroy notes (HERE)  that Commission Chairman Tom Smith “bizarrely” quoted from a past McElroy column in pushing the new museum code of ethics.

That column compared crude social media posts by President Donald Trump and a University of Tennessee sociology lecturer, noting that either post would have violated the code of conduct of my employer, Gannett, which expects employees not to undermine the credibility of our news organization.

What Smith overlooked was that the Museum Commission is government, and commission member aren’t employees. It’s the job of commissioners to assure that the museum is well run, and it’s their duty to speak out, on behalf of taxpayers, if it isn’t.

A low point in TN open government ethic?

Opening lines of a column by Deborah Fisher, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition on Open Government:

This week’s account of a state worker snatching a meeting agenda packet from a news reporter’s hands was a low point in the open government ethic of Tennessee. I wish it were the only one.

Ashe: AG Slatery hostile to open records

Ashe, a TCOG board member, opines in a Shopper-News column that recent actions involving state government privatization efforts and the Sevier County wildfires show that Attorney General Herbert Slatery “has failed to champion openness in state government,” HERE. Excerpt

Slatery, through his attorney Janet Kleinfelter, indicated the state may appeal (a court order on release of state park privatization records). Kleinfelter is known for her hostility to open records and disclosure. Slatery is developing a reputation as adverse to public disclosure because he supports her actions. What is the public policy that says these records should be withheld from taxpayers?

Recently, it was discovered by the News Sentinel that the ban on releasing records surrounding the fire in Sevier County and the Smoky Mountains was lifted by a judge but the state Attorney General’s office sat on it for over three weeks thanks to the silence of Deputy AG Kleinfelter. Kleinfelter consistently tries to restrict the use of open records and in this case simply hid the court order allowing disclosure.

Time for Duncan to ‘retire with dignity?’

Excerpt from Frank Cagle commentary on Congressman Jimmy Duncan paying family members through his campaign fund:

Duncan, who has been an exemplary House member for 30 years, following his father’s long tenure, has been badly hurt by his prodigal son. He got John III elected to a cushy job as Knox County trustee. All the boy had to do was hire a good deputy and go to lunch. And collect a salary of more than $100,000. But the boy was too stupid to realize what had been delivered to him on a silver platter and he managed to get himself charged with a crime and thrown out of office. So there he is, unemployed and with no discernible skills. It is illegal to hire family on the congressional payroll, so Duncan puts him on the campaign payroll and pays him thousands of dollars. Paying family members to run faux campaigns is one thing, but when it runs to hundreds of thousands of dollars, somebody is going to notice.

… Duncan has been a good representative for his district for all these years and he can retire with dignity. And it should be obvious by now that the family business is not going to pass to the next generation.

On steel imports and TN whiskey

Conservative columnist Greg Johnson, after a visit to Italy where he found Tuscany-Tennessee conversational common ground on Jack Daniel’s whiskey,  frets over the impact President Trump’s trade policy plans could have on the Lynchburg distillery, HERE. Excerpt:

Tennessee’s best-known global brand could be watered down in Germany and France if the Trump administration decides to follow through on threats to slap tariffs on steel imports from the European Union. Using a ruse of “national security,” President Donald J. Trump can raise the cost of imported steel without congressional approval.

The E.U. is not naïve, preparing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products, including whiskey. The E.U. is locked and loaded, ready to launch in a matter of days should Trump strike first. “I’m telling you this in the hope that all of this won’t be necessary,” said E.U. President Jean-Claude Juncker. “But we are in an elevated battle mood.”

Trumpeteers will likely love that language, welcoming a fracas with those continental weenies. Steel workers will be tempted to encourage the guy who punched out the CNN icon to go after steel dumpers. But down in little Lynchburg, Tennessee, regular folk who make smooth liquor will feel the effects of Trump swaggering into a fight over trade.

‘Serious professional counseling’ recommended for GOP legislators

Keel Hunt’s latest column is series of five “short takes,” two of them dealing with state stuff rather than Washington stuff. They involve a recommendation that Republican legislators suffering from “an involuntary partisan disorder called state pre-emption” get serious professional counseling and his grandmother’s fear of the state Capitol cupola.

A City Council/Cop encounter in Chattanooga

The Times-Free Press has a report (including video camera footage) on a Chattanooga police officer’s conversation with Chattanooga City Councilwoman Demetrus Coonrod after pulling her car and writing a ticket for traffic law violations to the man who was driving it.

She asked him to call Chattanooga Police Chief Fred Fletcher at one point and at another suggested that she would call herself.

Fletcher subsequently told the newspaper he believes Coonrod “appreciates now that it is inappropriate to attempt to skip six levels of supervision/command and how this made an officer’s difficult job even more difficult.” Coonrod she thought “it was appropriate to notify the department administration in case proper procedure was not being followed”  and “Even though I hold elected office, I expect to be treated like all other Chattanoogans.”

Good old – uh, make that new – Rocky Top, TN

WBIR TV has done a thorough report on how things are going in Rocky Top, Tenn. – the town formerly known as Lake City that got the legislature to change its name in 2014.  Basically, the theme park and other major economic developments that had been anticipated have yet to appear – but local officials are still professing optimism. It’s HERE.


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