The Daily Buzz
February 17, 2012
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A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.
 


Peter Fenn

 

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McWherter
The Life and Career of Ned McWherter
by Billy Stair
 

  

    

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Jamie Hollin is concerned about the lack of transparency in the current Haslam/Ramsey administration. LINK

The acts of state government in our legislature couldn't be more opaque and closed when it comes to these matters. [Aside: the website is great and so is the streaming]. And SB 2207/HB 2345 only makes it darker. In the age of the Internet, we should be moving the other direction, which it seems Lt. Gov. Ramsey wants to go. At least according to his words. Just like Congress, the Tennessee General Assembly is not bound by laws that apply to others. Slippery? You bet.

I will believe this protestation of supporting transparent and open government when the legislature passes rules in each chamber at the outset of each organizational session mandating open meetings. It would necessitate a rule initiative because the well worn argument against same is one general assembly cannot bind a future general assembly. True indeed, so just make it a part of the rules to start.

Our apologies Mr. Dylan, there was no rage against the dying of the light in Tennessee.

 

Occupy Nashville lost a huge battle yesterday in the House. Democratic leaders fought back. Representative Mike Turner and Mike Stewart both declared that this went against the spirit of civil rights. Jeff Woods has the story. LINK

 

Democrats recalled sit-ins of the civil rights era and argued Occupy Nashville has the right to demonstrate on War Memorial Plaza just as the Ku Klux Klan and Tea Partiers have that right.

"We give the Ku Klux Klan, as reprehensible as they are to me and I hope to you guys, they have the right to protest in this country," House Democratic Caucus chairman Mike Turner said. "They were camping at Tiananmen Square and they put the tanks on them and they threw them out. Most of you would defend the right to carry a gun anywhere in the state. We're going to carry guns everywhere in the state of Tennessee, but by God, you can't camp."

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, called the legislation "unprecedented in our country."

"We've allowed super PACs to rise up such that any billionaire can roll out of bed and secretly fund somebody's campaign. The point is, here we are in a country right now where wealthy people have been given the power to literally control presidential campaigns with their money" because that's free speech, yet the legislature is outlawing Occupy Nashville's encampment.

 

The editorial board at the Jackson Sun are troubled by SB2207.  LINK

 

The potential for trouble with the bill up for consideration today is in the wording that would also allow a company's ownership to remain secret. A number of concerns arise from this, not the least of which is that state residents might never know who specifically is receiving and benefiting from our state tax dollars.

This also sets the stage for corruption that could involve hundreds of millions of dollars. An investor in a company, for instance, could make a generous donation to an elected representative, who could then advocate for an incentive deal for that investor's company. Or the investor could make a donation after the deal is done as a reward. No trail of public records would exist to connect the two.

  

Are you going to use your right to vote Super Tuesday? LINK

 

We have seen the leadership for the 2012 GOP nomination teeter on headlines and on results from even smaller turnouts, and shake our heads at the willingness of citizens to cede their voice to neighbors and strangers with whom they willingly argue over every little thing. In the Republican presidential primary alone, Tennessee could make a statement at a time when four contenders are still competitive nationally.

Then there are the primaries for local offices on the ballots in most counties. In a year when so many city and county governments are struggling to meet debt obligations and continue to encourage economic growth, the only real question is: Why would you opt NOT to vote?

Granted, this year state government has made voting more difficult for some groups of people, with a new photo ID requirement. That is all the more reason that every registered voter make the effort. Aside from the ID issue, early voting, which begins today, makes it convenient to get to the polls between now and Super Tuesday, March 6.

 

 

 
 Quick Hits
  • The very real story of how legislation and words can hurt. LINK
  • Planned Parenthood won a battle today but are still fighting the war. Bianca Phillips tells you why at the Memphis Flyer. LINK
  • The Guns in Parking Lots bill is being debated between the state republicans. LINK
  • Former House Rep. Mark Maddox tells his hometown newspaper he most likely will not seek a Senate run to replace Sen. Roy Herron, who is stepping aside and won't seek reelection. LINK
  • The actual tally on how people voted for the Don't Say Gay Bill, who voted yay or nay at Roane Views. LINK
  • Petitions have been pulled in Senate District 20 and House District 53. Sean Braisted with the details. LINK 

Trace Sharp

tracesharp@gmail.com

 

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