Monday, February 28, 2011

In the nick of time



Michelle Rhee is coming to Memphis......

I wonder if our governor will be present....

Tenure reforms

We had a little sit down with the governors staff tonight on the ideas for tenure reform. I feel a little more comfortable now with the legislation but some is a little more frustrating. The teacher evaluation period previous to giving tenure will be 5 years but the teacher can be fired at any time previous to that. After 5 years a teacher gets tenure if they are in one of the top 2 performance categories. Their previous press releases made it seem to me that they had to preform well in 2 categories out of 5. A little confusion.

If I understood correctly the tenure reforms will not affect any current teachers. Only new ones. Not a big fan of that. If a teacher is not improving their students they are not improving their students. I had some concerns about how special needs kids who are being mainstreamed will be worked into the evaluations. I was assured that would be worked out. Evaluations were also going to be more objective then subjective to keep personal points of view to a minimum. Concerns were also raised about how we would be evaluating teachers and staff in classes such as P.E., art, advisers, principals and such. Evaluation criteria is still being written.

I asked if there was any mandate to remove a teacher if they were repeatedly failing evaluations and they said no but principals would be evaluated on teacher performance so they would be foolish to keep a bad teacher.

TEA and ACLU slam critical thinking

The TEA and the ACLU slam a bill By Rep Bill Dunn that allows for critical thinking on disputed science theories in our schools.

Got to love the open minded liberals. Sounds like a winner to me.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Reform or no?

One higher ed teacher speaks on the quality of students he is getting.

"In my six semesters, I have seen students so ill prepared by their K-12 education that we should be ashamed to admit they came from our West Tennessee school systems. I am talking shockingly, even tragically ill prepared. How is it possible they have gone through 12 years of schooling and they don't know even the basics of the English language and are unable to write a simple sentence? How did our school systems let this happen? How did we let this happen? We owe these kids an apology for failing to give them an education.
Taxpayers should be outraged that children could spend 12 years in our schools and not know how to speak, use anything even close to standard English or write a simple sentence after we spent millions on teacher salaries.

And I am not talking about troubled students. I am not talking about students who are not very bright. I am talking about normal kids who come to class, who try to do the work, who come from normal families and who seem to care about going to college.

These are not troublemakers, gangbangers, troubled kids or students who are disruptive. What have we done to them by failing to educate them? We should be ashamed that we have let this happen, and we desperately need to fix the problem."


Jim Tracy speaks on why unions impede repair of the system

"First, it is our dedicated teachers, not the teachers' union, that truly impact the students of Tennessee. Teachers' unions are in the business of protecting membership and power, not serving the best interests of students or the teachers they represent. The lengthy contracts that unions negotiate include numerous provisions on salaries, insurance, leave and benefits, but provisions on student performance and improving outcomes are lost in the process. We must begin to focus on students with our decision-making, and collective bargaining stands in the way."

Mike Stewart thinks reform is not necessary and that things are fine.

"teachers are hard-working, dynamic leaders who are driving innovation, accountability and overall improvement. The contrary view embodied by the Republican leadership's bill is largely promoted by people from outside the state, who cite anecdotal evidence from highly dysfunctional districts that bear little relation to what is happening here.

We should avoid the temptation to "reform'' Tennessee's schools every time it is fashionable with one political interest group or another."

Union shakedown



Hat tip: Susan Lynn

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Burchett stands up for property owners

Knox co mayor Tim Burchett stands against a plan that would limit development for a huge chunk of Knox county.

A little off the top?

UT is facing state budget cuts that could lead to tuition increases. While the cost of higher education has increased faster then the cost of health insurance there have been few calls for cuts of top administrative pay.

Is the left ready to call their own number?

The bulls, the bees and the trees.


As you may have read, we passed legislation to protect farmers from people who get inside cages with bulls. Of course the farmers have to put up a sign first telling people not to do it or it is at their own risk. Now, I hear there is legislation to protect bee farmers from being sued if someone get stung by a bee. I am sure a sign is to follow.

Can't we just get together and combine it all into one bill saying if you get hurt by a non human entity it is no ones fault? What is next? Tree farmers having to put up a sign on every tree saying they are not responsible if you are hit by a falling stick or pine cone?

I have seen this sort of thing in full action up north in NY. There is a sign on about every tree along roads for miles. I am not kidding. Property owners are so sue scared they are required to have signs about every 15 feet to tell people to stay off their land or they could be liable.

We don't need to go down that road.

"Whatever happened to that kid?"

After talking with Rep. Bill Dunn about doing a resolution for Trevor Bayne I learned some more interesting info about the 20 year old Daytona 500 champion. He was home schooled! and also worked to support local charities.

Bill Dunn said he was just a neighborhood kid who his son was acquainted with (Bills son assured Bill he had been at the house before).

Dunn is also claiming some credit for the Daytona 500 win saying "Well, I never called the police as he was driving his go carts up and down the street. And it looks like the extra practice paid off, so....."

Friday, February 25, 2011

Tennessee union payroll deductions



Hat tip: Susan Lynn

Bio fuel boondoggle on choping block

What? The multi million dollar bio fuel refinery is not producing private sector jobs, quality research results or profitability? Who would ever have thought that? Next thing you know you will be saying all those solar farms we set up aren't making money either.

Results different (But really the same)

Another study has come out on pre K. This one claims to be different then the ones done in the past by the governor who set up the program. The past studies said that there was no noticeable difference in children after the second grade between kids who had pre k and those who did not.

This study is different.....or not. It claims wonderful results in children in grades K, one and two. After that no mention of results are made.

And one pass the buck comment by the person in charge of the study should send flags.

"The idea that the disadvantages these children have can be 'cured' by one year in pre-K and they will forever after do as well as their more advantaged peers is questionable. Their academic progress as they move forward will depend in large part to the experiences they have in kindergarten, first grade, and so on..."

The funds are for this one program that was sold as able to get lasting results. If it does not, then possibly those funds should be re allocated to programs that will work.

Education fruition

Some of the reforms set in motion last year as part of the Government Operations committee (Or as Sen. Bo Watson likes to refer to it "The center of the universe committee") are about to help Tennessee kids get quality transfer credits from one college to another.

It is good to see the fruition of past actions.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The answer is "Government does not create jobs"

Democrats want answers on the Republican job creation plan. Hate to let them down but the answer is government does not create private sector jobs. What they can do is balance the playing field, remove costs, red tape, barriers to start or grow, and possibly incentivize expansion or transfer of companies into our state.

The only jobs "created" by the state are government jobs and that sort of "Jobs creation" has nearly bankrupted our state and crippled our employers with taxes and regulation to keep afloat.

Cutting government growth and spending will allow our employers to survive and grow. Reducing regulation, taxes and employer adversaries will allow employers to adapt and compete with shifting needs of the consumer.

We are moving in that direction but 150 years of backwards thinking can not be overturned in 4 weeks. sorry.

Update: Metro pulse challenge

The Valentines day challenge by the metro pulse netted cards from 15 people, one teddy bear and one date offer.

Not bad.

Harper calls bill "Genocide" for lobbyist

A "Cooling off" bill that would say no one who oversaw a board or commission could become a paid lobbyist for a company they oversaw (for one year) was called "Genocide" by Sen. Thelma Harper on the senate floor today.

Incredible.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Ya pull the bulls tail, ya get the horns.

It is troubling to me that we even have to pass this sort of legislation. Now farmers if they don't want to get sued have to put up a sign saying if you get in a cage with a bull you could get hurt.



Well no kidding. It is a wild animal! This is the problem with a trial lawyer every 15 feet. No personal responsibility and you have to tell everyone not to do stupid stuff or you may get hurt.

Talkin bout a revolution

I was talking to a Capitol hill regular today and asked if there was anything interesting floating around. They said they found a section of bad wording in the code that has made the sale of liquor by the Jack Daniels distillery illegal for about the last 50 years.



I have an uncle who will be terribly distraught to hear the news. I wonder how many milliseconds it will take that bill to get through committee.

Who got the sign?

Monday, February 21, 2011

You can't clean a barn by standing on a pile of crap

There have been about 2k bills filed for this year. About 10% less then we had at this time 2 years ago. All the critics on the left are jumping up and down "Look! Look! That is more government! That is more government!" Well, As usual, they know so much that just isn't so.

While a chunk of the bills being run are by Democrats I will admit that a large chunk of proposed legislation is by Republicans.

Does it all mean more government? Not necessarily.

A good final evaluation might be to see how much the cost of state government grows (or shrinks) in relation to the Copeland cap at the end of the year, but for right now people need to remember to remove legislation you need to pass legislation removing it from the code. That is a bill. To pass a tax cut, that is a bill. To punish criminals, that is a bill. To allow more freedom where it is currently restricted, that is a bill. To reduce regulation, that is a bill. To cut government, that is a bill. To limit future government expansion, that is a bill. Even legislation to limit the number of bills submitted, that would take a bill.

The difference is, the legislation we pass hopefully will do those things and take government in a new direction. From an expansion mode to a contraction mode. From sloppy over regulation and taxation that restricts freedom, to an efficient government model of freedom that supports personal responsibility with reasonable, clear regulation and punishment for criminal activity.

While the left would love for us to leave the government barn as they have filled it for the last 150+ years, the voters have said enough of that. It is time for someone to start shoveling.

Texas to pass guns on campus

Texas is set to pass guns on campus allowing HCP holders to carry.

From the Huffington post article...

Texas has become a prime battleground for the issue because of its gun culture and its size, with 38 public universities and more than 500,000 students. It would become the second state, following Utah, to pass such a broad-based law. Colorado gives colleges the option and several have allowed handguns.

Supporters of the legislation argue that gun violence on campuses, such as the mass shootings at Virginia Tech in 2007 and Northern Illinois in 2008, show that the best defense against a gunman is students who can shoot back.

"It's strictly a matter of self-defense," said state Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio. "I don't ever want to see repeated on a Texas college campus what happened at Virginia Tech, where some deranged, suicidal madman goes into a building and is able to pick off totally defenseless kids like sitting ducks."

Until the Virginia Tech incident, the worst college shooting in U.S. history occurred at the University of Texas, when sniper Charles Whitman went to the top of the administration tower in 1966 and killed 16 people and wounded dozens. Last September, a University of Texas student fired several shots from an assault rifle before killing himself.


Hat tip: Ben Cunningham

Sunday, February 20, 2011

scuse' me while I clear my throat

The kids not the unions.

Sen. Jim Tracy brings the wood to the teachers union in this piece.

it is our dedicated teachers, not the teachers' union, that truly impact the students of Tennessee. Teachers' unions are in the business of protecting membership and power, not serving the best interests of students or the teachers they represent. The lengthy contracts that unions negotiate include numerous provisions on salaries, insurance, leave, and benefits, but provisions on student performance and improving outcomes are lost in the process. We must begin to focus on students with our decision-making, and collective bargaining stands in the way.

Been there, Done that.

Kay Brooks offers her personal experiences as a Tennessee school board member having to fire bad teachers with tenure, and the hullabaloo going on in Wisconsin as a former Wisconsin student. Well worth the read.

UPDATE: Tort reform

In a past post I wondered if the punitive damages cap was 500K or 1.5 million. The wording in the presser was vague.

non-economic damages in medical and personal injury cases would be capped at $750,000, and punitive damages should be limited to twice compensatory damages or $500,000. (Is the 500K the high limit or is the twice compensatory $1.5 million the limit?)

I have since learned the cap would be the 1.5 million.

Get tenure in ten years

Making tenure tougher to get and keep is big on the plate for our state. How strong the reforms will be could define the administration. Rep. Bill Dunn thinks tenure should come after 10 years of evaluation. Haslam is pushing for a softer review.

The Tennessean offers some more details.

Haslam wants to use the new evaluation system in tenure decisions, forcing teachers to score in the top two of five levels during their fourth and fifth years of teaching, after which they'd receive tenure. If teachers fell into the bottom two categories for two consecutive years, their tenure would be probationary until they met the original standard again. Otherwise, they would lose tenure.

Again, some questions arise on details. What if a teacher were terrible in years one, two, three and then only scored well in two of five categories in year four and five? Do they get tenure?

What is probationary tenure? Do they still have tenure or not? Can bad teachers be fired during that time? How long can they stay on probationary tenure 1 year? 10 years? If they improve for 1 year during the probationary tenure do they get full tenure back and start another 2 year process over? or do they start the 5 year tenure process over again?

If they fall off probationary tenure will they be fired or can they improve for one year and then get full tenure back or do they improve to probationary tenure or do they have to start the entire tenure process over again?

Is it ever automatic that a teacher will be removed even after 5 or 10 years of under performance?

It is looking like a bad teacher could qualify and have some form of tenure even after failing 36 of 40 evaluation standards over 8 years or even more.

I hope we can do better for the children.

Kelsey calls them out.

Sen. Brian Kelsey calls out the papers and other less scrupulous people for trying to stop his amendment to the constitution banning the (Non hall) income tax by forcing newspaper subsidies onto the bill.

Kudos to the Tennessean for giving the opposing point of view a forum.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

But we do

Some people feel regular employees should be willing to agree to a random drug test as a condition of employment or wealth....

Hate to let her down but most companies already require this.

Pill mills

This issue has flown under the radar for a few years but now is finally getting a good look. I was going to draft up some legislation this year but Sen. McNalley had already started working on some legislation and with his history as a pharmacist I figured he would be better running with that ball.

The problem is the biggest offender is Florida. Bus trips go to the lightly regulated Florida pill mills on a regular basis and that is tough to regulate from Tennessee.

It's our party and`you can cry if you want to

Haslam supporters spent 2.4 mill on the inaugural parties. Some people don't like it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Sorry Fido.

Well, he is used to dealing with larger numbers

Bill Haslam lays out his plan for tort reform.

The Haslam plan

In his plan, non-economic damages in medical and personal injury cases would be capped at $750,000, and punitive damages should be limited to twice compensatory damages or $500,000. (Is the 500K the high limit or is the twice compensatory $1.5 million the limit?)


THE STANDARD

There has been inflation, but Bush argued for a nation wide $250,000 cap in 2004. That seems to be about the standard for most states.

Here are some of the caps in other states. Sorry about the formatting a more clear version can be read here.

Non-Economic Damages Cap Total Damages Cap Punitive Damages Cap
Alaska X $250,000–$400,000
California X $250,000
Colorado X $300,000 $1,000,000
Florida X $500,000–$1,000,000
Georgia X $350,000–$1,050,000 $250,000
Hawaii X $375,000 with exceptions
$250,000—adjusted based on average
state wages; some exceptions
$500,000–$1,000,000—ruled unconstitutional but on appeal
Indiana X $250,000–$1,250,000
Kansas X $250,000 $500,000 with some exclusions
Maine X $500,000 in wrongful death actions
Maryland $675,000–$843,750
Massachusetts X $500,000 with exceptions
Michigan X $410,800–$733,500
Mississippi X $500,000
Missouri X $350,000
Montana X $250,000
Nebraska X $500,000–$1,750,000
Greater of $350,000 or 5x compensatory damages
New Mexico X $200,000–$600,000
North Dakota X $500,000
Ohio X $250,000–$1,000,000
Oklahoma X $400,000 with exceptions
Oregon X $500,000 in wrongful death actions
Pennsylvania X 2x actual damages
South Carolina X $350,000–$1,050,000—adjusted for inflation
South Dakota X $500,000
Tennessee
Texas X $250,000–$500,000
Utah X $400,000—adjusted for inflation
Virginia X $2,000,000
West Virginia X $250,000–$500,000
$750,000 for medical negligence Wrongful death: $500,000 for minors
$350,000 for adults
Wyoming
Source: American Medical Association Advocacy Resource Center, 2009.

I hate to say it but even if we pass the standard the governor wants, Tennessee will be at the very top end of all those states with caps by (in most cases) triple the amount.


THE GOAL
Texas capped noneconomic damages in liability awards and settlements at $250,000 per physician, with a total noneconomic cap for all parties of $750,000

Sixteen months after Texans approved a constitutional amendment to cap noneconomic damages in medical liability suits, the health care community has little doubt that the measure—Proposition 12—is making a difference where it counts: in lowering malpractice premium rates and reducing the number of lawsuits being filed.

For instance, the state's largest professional liability carrier, Texas Medical Liability Trust, reduced its rates by 12%, then dropped them another 5%. A member survey by the Texas Hospital Association (THA) found that members' malpractice liability premiums dropped 8% in 2004 and could fall another 17% this year.

The Texas Hospital Association reported a 70% reduction in the number of lawsuits being filed against the state's hospitals. Analysts also say that the exodus of both physicians and insurance carriers from the state has stopped and may even be reversing.

THE RETORT

The Trial lawyers fire back with what I can only describe as a pitiful excuse of a retort. I was expecting an argument on separation of powers or equal protection but instead they went with "Times are good, why mess with it?"

Weak.

Scaring 400

Well known blogger Terry Frank went to Washington, testified in front of congress and gave them what for. Great job Terry!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Marmaduke bill


WSMV does a story on Rep. Jim Cobb's and my bill saying dogs in the front seat of a car should be restrained.

Sorry I have seen too many situations where someone is driving down the road with a huge dog on their lap. I can only imagine how their visibility, reaction time and mobility is diminished should the worst happen and a child run into the street. Not a safe situation.

Use and lose bill

WKRN does a story on my drug testing if you receive govt services bill. If it passes Tennessee could be the 4th or 5th state to pass such a bill. Kentucky has it up for debate today.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

TEA V. TEA

The TEA party people are watching the education committee. Both of them.

The TEA, Tennessee Education Association (The teachers union) is in opposition to the TEA party, Taxed Enough Already (The free market supporters).

Who is teaching the children?

Because I think about every teacher in the state is up here fighting against the reform on collective bargaining bill.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A.G. Admits he and supreme court is partisan

Wow! This is big. The A.G. (Attorney General) admits his position was a partisan appointment and that the supreme court is partisan.

"The Democratic leadership feared that Winfield Dunn,
the first Republican governor in fifty years, would appoint a majority of
Republican justices, who in turn would appoint a Republican [as] Attorney
General, who at that time was a member of the powerful State Building
Commission.
This was not acceptable. So, the General Assembly removed the
Supreme Court from the Modified Missouri Plan during its 1974 session
over Governor Dunn’s veto."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Another criminal did not see the sign

There has been a shooting on the MTSU campus. Heavens to murgatroy! Doesn't he know that campuses are gun free zones?

Fairness at the light


The Comm appeal argues for fairness at the light.

Fairness and consistency. Reasonable limitations.

Some ideas such as the length of yellow being set, cameras not for use as revenue source and consistency of penalty between municipalities and police officers are a few of the ideas floating around. Some people like the idea of requiring actual Tennessee post certified officers being the ones deciding on who gets the tickets as well.

A different tack

NY is taking a different tack on judicial reform. In Tennessee, one of the major attacks against following the constitution is that if it is done judges could sit in front of lawyers they raised money for office from. Sort of like they are currently doing now to fight against judicial selection, but somehow it is different.

Any way, NY is running legislation that would remove a judge from a case if they had received a significant campaign amount from one of the competing attorney's. Pretty crafty in that the move does not violate the constitutional rights of the attorney's to donate money to a campaign or stop an election. It just moves the judge in some instances.

From the times article...

Campaign fund-raising of the more than 700 trial-level judges around the state who are elected has been a persistent source of complaints and allegations of corruption, with some judges doling out lucrative assignments to lawyers who were political contributors.

The decision takes the form of a new rule of the state court system and will be announced on Tuesday by Jonathan Lippman, the state’s chief judge. It is believed to be the most restrictive in the country, bluntly tackling an issue — money in judicial politics — that has drawn widespread attention.

The rule is more restrictive than similar measures adopted recently in Washington, Oklahoma, Michigan and other states, and would take the question of disqualification entirely out of judges’ hands. It flatly states that “no case shall be assigned” by court administrators to a judge when the lawyers or any of the participants involved donated $2,500 or more in the preceding two years, court officials said.

Georgia for more gun rights on campus

Following last year where Georgia passed legislation to allow guns on campus (With no problems), they are now considering expanding gun rights.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The court is partisan

How partisan is "the Tennessee plan" and its resulting selection of the state AG? One lawyer looks into the results...

The research indicates that for the 40-year period covered, all of Tennessee's attorneys general who served for any significant period of time were affiliated with the Democratic Party.

During the same period of time, out of 10 gubernatorial races (not counting the most recent gubernatorial race), a Republican won five of the races. Out of 15 U.S. Senate races, a Republican won 10 of the races. We also discuss in the paper the significant lack of democratic accountability for Tennessee's attorney general resulting from the current appointment structure.

The public can draw their own conclusions from the data, but it is clear that only one political party has significantly benefited from the attorney general appointment process. Interestingly, proponents of the Tennessee Plan refer to it as "merit selection.'' It seems odd that a "merit-based'' process would lead to single-party dominance of such an important office, particularly given recent, historic political trends in Tennessee. Perhaps the "merit'' attributed to Tennessee's judicial selection system is really politics as usual.

Given the history of the Tennessee Plan and the resulting appointment of attorneys general, it seems likely that the current system will continue to yield partisan results. If the ultimate goal is to appoint or elect or select the most qualified candidates for the judicial branch of government, including the attorney general, it is doubtful that the current system will achieve that goal in the long term. In the current legislative session, several bills have been filed addressing some of these issues.

Hopefully, those at the center of the debate will not forget that the Tennessee Plan and the appointment of Tennessee's attorney general are inseparable. Any proposal to fix one should necessarily consider the other.

Court attack on 287(G)

I thought they have already tried this?

Higher ed to take a hit

Sen Bo Watson predicts it will take the brunt of cuts.



The big challenge [to higher education] will be the budget," said Tennessee Sen. Bo Watson, R-Hixson. "It's expected to take a pretty big hit. I don't know what that number will end up being at this point because the governor hasn't put his budget forward yet, but most of the issues around higher ed will be around budgetary issues."

Haslam fine with union moves

Attacks on unions probably wont see much stop at the top.

Haslam has expressed little appetite for taking up changes to teachers' collective bargaining rules, but he did not move last week to quash the proposal in a speech to reporters and editors organized by The Associated Press and the Tennessee Press Association.

"I think that should be part of the discussion," he said. "I'm not ruling it out."

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A little e on the plate.

My e verify bill (SB 008) is up for its first vote on Tuesday. As amended it will require all employees in Tennessee (Private and public) to be run through the e verify system to check and make sure their name matches their SSN.

Friday, February 11, 2011

An arguement with no one.

About nothing. Ron Ramsey and Jimmy Kyle argue both sides of an issue that most people, outside of the Shelby county line, care little to nothing about.

The question is, why would Republicans even talk about it? Kyle would love to draw Republicans into a fight. ANY fight. He and his party are at the point of irrelevance. Unless an issue is a large, cut and dry, slam dunk, beat down opportunity, why give them a large outside platform where they can spew their false claims and rhetoric against you?

You justify and give a megaphone to their argument with a denial. It denigrates into "When did you stop beating your wife?" or "This is racist" type questions and comments. Where is the upside?

Save the reserves while we spend the reserves

Bill Haslam advocates saving extra income into the states reserve fund while we go ahead and spend down the reserve funds.

Joe six pack will have no problem grasping that solution. Total inside baseball.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Bring it!

The Metro Pulse advocates sending me gifts on Valentines day. While I think there is a legal value limit per person (I think $25.00 if you are a registered lobbyist) I say go for it. As most people know, I support LEGAL immigrants and refugees. If they want to send me gifts that is fine with me. If any show up I will check with legal and if necessary, donate to a good local charity.

I will inform my readers of the actual results from advertising in the Metro pulse after Valentines day.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Senate Republican caucus photo

Budget solutions

With the snow removal budget crisis and several out of work seniors in the state, some people have put forward an idea to solve the problem.

You use. You lose.

My bill allowing for drug testing for people on state government services is highlighted in this WREG report. If it passes, if you use, you could lose your state benefits.

 

And you thought Republicans were silly

Senate Democrat leadership tried to argue about accepting next weeks committee time schedule.

Petty.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Illegals in court

A rundown on the backlog of illegal alien court cases in Tennessee and where we rank on the issue are highlighted in the Tennessean.

From the article...

Tennessee had 4,261 cases pending at the Memphis Immigration Court as of Dec. 31. 2010, compared with 4,302 at the same time the previous year, the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University reported. The clearinghouse examines trends in the country's federal courts.

Of Tennessee's total, the largest portion, 2,051, involved Mexicans

Nationwide, the number of pending cases reached 267,752 in December 2010, an all-time record. This amounted to a 44 percent increase from the end of 2008.


While the number is down ever so slightly (Less then 1%) I am curious as to if that is because the court is running smoother due to experience? Are their actually less arrests? And if there are does that mean there are actually less illegals in Tennessee or are the budgets so stretched that many officers look the other way because they cant afford the incarceration costs?

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Reagan birthers?

As I watched the morning news shows one was being held at the Reagan library. Since it is Reagan's birthday I thought I would put up one artifact not shown on the show. Ronald Reagan's long form birth certificate.

I knew Terry frank had a copy of it on her blog so I googled it. Little did I know her post sparked a new national controversy over a year later. Reagan birthers.

Future national holiday?

Yes, it is that time of year. The day we wish happy birthday to a long time conservative leader. A free voice who many think should have his birthday made into a national holiday. Yes, I am clearly talking about controversial radio personality Lee Frank.

Husband of blogger Terry Frank (who just dropped her first article over at the Knoxville Journal).

Tenn Dems call for check on Obama eligibility

Are Tennessee Democrats advocating for a check on Obama's eligibility? It could be construed as such by this Jackson sun article...

State Sen. Roy Herron, D-Dresden, said he has called the state coordinator of elections to request that the citizenship rights requirement be included in the book of election law and in training for county election administrators.
Still, some legislators said, they might go a step farther and amend current law to make the requirements more clear.
State Sen. Lowe Finney, D-Jackson, said the Tennessee Association of County Election Officials will meet within the next two weeks to draft a list of proposed legislative changes before the Feb. 17 deadline to file legislation for the year. He said he predicts they will discuss housing the citizenship rights requirement in state election law.


Now will they be attacked as "birthers"?

Well what do you know?

The people of Tennessee want a conservative state legislature.

From the Tennessean article...

As the General Assembly starts a new term with Republicans firmly in control, Jimmy Turner feels good about what the next two years could bring.

"This is the first time I'm hopeful that we're going to see a truly conservative agenda going forward," said Turner, a law student and paralegal who lives in Murfreesboro.

A new Vanderbilt University poll indicates Turner is in the majority of Tennesseans. More than 65 percent of respondents to the poll said they approve of the job the legislature is doing.

Good question

George Korda drops the big question on planned parenthood teaching sex education in state schools

If the American tobacco company was coming into the schools to teach a segment on proper lung health what would the left say?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Knox co. pitches a one hitter for homeschoolers

After the TSSAA decision, Knox County moves in the right direction

From the article...

Homeschool proponents are cautiously optimistic about the change. Some public school officials locally and statewide are not as enthusiastic, however.

"If you decide you're not going to be in public schools, you're giving up the extracurricular activities associated with public schools as well," said Thomas Deakins, a Knox County school board member.

The board this week passed on an 8-1 vote the first reading of a policy that would allow homeschoolers' participation in the district's sports. Deakins, who cast the dissenting vote, said a concern was that homeschooled students may not have the same bonds as students who have been together in school all day.

The policy needs a second reading to be effective.

Forbidding homeschooled students to participate in any aspect of the school system because they opt out of one "makes no more sense than saying everybody who chooses to drive their own car should be forbidden to use public buses ever again because you're choosing to do part of the work yourself," said Laurie Leslie, a member of the Blount County Home Education Association.

She noted that homeschool families pay taxes to support public education. She added that the students who want to play sports still have to try out.

"If they're good, it's going to benefit the team, so it's a win-win," Leslie said.

Great arguement

A great arguement is going on in the comment section over at Say Uncle regaurding gun rights versus property rights. While the article is on the rights of landlords and tennants These simmmilar arguements could be made when deciding if an employer can restrict a gun from being in their parking lot.

Some highlights...


pdb Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 10:26 am
Can the landlord require that only people of a certain race rent there?

Can the landlord require that only Christians or Muslims can rent the house?

SPQR Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 11:28 am
This is an example of people not understanding the difference between constitutional rights, and anti-discrimination law.

Anti-discrimination law are statutes adopted that restrain the conduct of private parties. Hence prohibitions on discrimination against potential tenants on race.

Constitutional rights restrain governmental action, not private action. Hence no prohibition on discrimination of potential tenants on behavior like owning firearms.

10.Montieth Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 11:35 am
Yeah, I have to disagree with this as well.

Can an individual really give up fundamental constitutional rights via contract? Could a block of property owners in an area not allow their tenants to vote? Or read? Or talk to their congressmen?

11.Bryan S. Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 12:00 pm
SPQR nailed it.. this is a property rights issue, not a constitutional law issue. Unless the Tennessee constitution says something about it, but I highly doubt that.

Just like the people who move into an area with a HOA, and complain they cant put up a flag pole, when you agreed to the contract, you gave your word.

Although, in this case, the landlord sounds like he is changing the terms after the fact, but thats a contract law issue, I would believe.

IANAL and all that.

14.Chas Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 12:37 pm
What if the rental agreement included prohibition of exercising the right to vote, or free speech or other civil rights? How about a landlord prohibiting NRA members?

15.Jake Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 12:38 pm
Constitutional rights restrain governmental action, not private action. Hence no prohibition on discrimination of potential tenants on behavior like owning firearms.

While it’s not a Constitutional Rights issue, it is a natural Rights issue. Just like a tenant’s natural right to privacy in his home can create a legal restriction on the landlord’s right to access his property, a tenant’s natural right to armed self-defense can restrict a landlord’s right to ban certain items from his property.

By allowing someone else to use his property as a home, the landlord implicitly gives up certain personal rights in regard to that property in favour of certain of the tenant’s personal rights which are implicit in the concept of a ‘home.’

16.Mr Evilwrench Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 1:08 pm
If the landlord does not allow firearms, it does not interfere with your right to own firearms, just your right to do it there. You have the option to find a landlord who is more accommodating, so your right is intact. It’s the same thing with smoking. I don’t think there’s any dispute that a landlord may prohibit that. You do not have the right to violate the landlord’s right not to have firearms on his property.

18.TomcatsHanger Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 4:11 pm
If the government can force folks to rent to others regardless of their apparent race, religion, or sexual orientation, sure as he%% exercising armed self defense should be a protected class as well.

No discrimination is no discrimination. Either all or nothing. Property rights do NOT trump human rights.

19.Borepatch Says:
February 3rd, 2011 at 5:26 pm
IANL, but it seems that (a) the landlord is free to put whatever he likes in the lease terms, and (b) if as a result of his terms someone is harmed (e.g. robbed because they cannot have a gun), then there is action for a tort.

“But for the landlord’s actions …” and all that. You could also argue that the landlord’s act of prohibiting armed tenants creates and attractive nuisance, and so people without a contractual relationship with the landlord might also have cause of action if they are attacked nearby.

As I said, IANL. However, if our side took a leaf from the progressives, it would form a non-profit to look for cases where it could sue landlords for this sort of thing. If the Bradys/Mayors Against Gun Stores can sue legitimate businesses to shut down gun rights, why couldn’t someone sue legitimate businesses to advance gun rights?

Of course, this sort of scorched earth strategy is part of what’s leading this country to he%%, but it’s headed that way no matter what. And aren’t we all told that the Personal is Political?

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Not so fast my friend

The teachers union sues to say the school board MUST negotiate with them weather they like it or not. The school board fires back that the union truly did not hit the required number of members and the Maggart bill will make it all moot any way.

School board attorney Jim Fuqua said he believes the association might not have the majority needed to negotiate.

"Quite frankly, it is close enough that it is hard to tell," Fuqua said. "The staff said they had 52.5 percent of the gross number of people with teacher's certificates, but that is really irrelevant.

"The question is, did they have 50 percent plus one of the people holding jobs that 'require' a teacher's license? There are a number of union members who couldn't be counted because their job does not 'require' a teacher's license."


I fail to see why anyone has the guaranteed right to force an employer to negotiate with a union if they don't want to. Where else besides government does that happen in the real world?

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Even when you win, you lose

Tort reform. The words have several meanings and could do several things this year. Sen. Jack Johnson has a bill that limits punitive, non economic damages (Think pain, suffering, mental anguish or we don't like you paydays) at one million dollars.

Trial lawyers are going bonkers. They cry there will be no justice if it passes. No justice? Where have they been? Tennessee local governments already have a limit that blows that one away.

$300K is the absolute most you can sue the city for under ANY circumstance. In theory the city could burn down your million dollar house or business, on purpose, and the absolute most you would be allowed to recoup would be $300k. $300k not just on non economic damages but economic ones as well. The cost of your building, lost income, everything. $300k. That's it. Even I question the justice in that.

While the huge paydays are the dream for many a lawyer, the small ones are an issue as well. The Donna Rowland lawsuit is a prime example. We have a system where if someone sues for whatever and wins, they get paid, plus lawyer fees.

But the flip side does not hold true. If the defendant wins, the person who is punished is still the winner of the case. They are often still stuck paying their lawyers fees. These legal costs often run into the tens of thousands of dollars even for minor cases thrown out at the lowest level. This sets up a system where for financial reasons many people that are in the right will pay off the claimant and settle out of court just to make a court case and legal fees (that they have a pretty good expectation to never recoup) go away.

To me this reaks of extortion and exploitation.

I have heard one lawyers even brag how he often will sue a local paper company just to keep companies in fear of other lawsuits and to drain them of money.

If you are into the stock market this is similar to "Short selling" that was one of the major factors in our recent economic collapse. With short selling, the more the big stock trader bet a company was going to fail the lower the stock value went. The lower it went, the more money the trader made and the more they could bet against a company. It lead to a spiral that in the end, would lead a company to collapse. Our legal system is, and has been, heading down this same road for years.

The British have a system that stops this. Loser pays winners legal fees. Guess what? Their courts are much less clogged with frivolous lawsuits and only those of merit move forward. When someone wins, they are not punished for being right.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Just a dusting




Tennessee won't need any more money for snow or ice removal. As long as it doesn't snow again.

Watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat.

Bill Haslam starts his budget hearings.



I hope Bill has the strength.

Just kicking it around

I have been thinking about introducing a bill like this one so we don't have to hear the questionable claims against our president any longer.

Teachers unions to lose "Special rights"

The Tennessean looks at some of the "special rights" teachers unions could lose and what students could gain.

From the article...

Deep-sixing teachers' collective bargaining privileges would mean that Tennessee's school children will no longer be forced to settle for budget leftovers.
It would also give individual teachers the ability to negotiate directly with their administrators and school board. Teacher unions say that unionization is necessary for educators to be treated as professionals. The exact opposite is true. True professionals want to be rewarded for their individual performance, whereas the union's fixation on tenure protection and seniority rules have the effect of treating teachers as interchangeable workers, no better and no worse than any other.


It terms of serious education reform, it appears that HB 130 is the tip of a very large iceberg.