By Pat Nolan, NEWSCHANNEL5 Political Analyst
March 17, 2023
NASHVILLE VICE MAYOR JIM SHULMAN ON INSIDE POLITICS; THE MCNALLY SCANDAL GOES NATIONAL AS THE LT. GOVERNOR TAKES A NEW TACK ON SOCIAL MEDIA; WHAT IS SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE? PHIL WILLIAMS HAS MORE DISTURBING STORIES ON NASHVILLE AREA CONGRESSMAN ANDY OGLES; TENNESSEE RIGHT TO LIFE NOW SUPPORTS A BILL ALLOWING AN EXCEPTION TO THE STATE’S ABORTION BAN; MOVEMENT ON THE THIRD GRADE RETENTION BILL; INFLATION AND SPENDING CONTINUE TO EASE A BIT BUT WORLDWIDE BANK ISSUES EMERGE; DEVELOPMENTS SURROUNDING THE WAR IN UKRAINE CREATE CONCERNS
NASHVILLE VICE MAYOR JIM SHULMAN ON INSIDE POLITICS
The move to reduce the size of Nashville’s Metro Council from 40 to no more than 20 members is now the law of the land.
What are city officials doing in response?
It’s somewhat complicated. They are both filing a lawsuit to overturn or delay the new measure, while also taking some steps towards complying with the law, if the legal challenge is not successful.
One of those helping to decide what to do is the city’s Vice Mayor Jim Shulman, the presiding officer of the Council.
He is also our guest on INSIDE POLITICS this week.
We welcome the Vice Mayor, and thank him for joining us.
INSIDE POLITICS can be seen on its regular weekly schedule on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS.
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THE MCNALLY SCANDAL GOES NATIONAL AS THE LT. GOVERNOR TAKES A NEW TACK ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Tennessee’s Lt. Governor Randy McNally has continued to see the scandal over his social media activities grow.
It even went national last weekend when SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE lampooned him.
Then, a conservative media outlet and other conservatives in the state spoke out and urged him to resign his leadership post.
McNally did not do that, but he did issue a new statement that reversed course from what he said when the scandal broke last week. Now, instead of continuing to be an avid and frequent poster on Instagram and other social media sites, he is stepping away from the on-line world to better learn and reflect on how it works.
UPDATE: NEWSCHANNEL5 reported Wednesday, Speaker McNally’s Instragram has been deactivated.
And there is this quote reportedly made by Dolly Parton. I found it in a meme on Facebook.
“I dress more provocative than any drag queen in Tennessee. Lord, I hope they don’t outlaw me!”
But whether she said that, or not, remains unproven.
There are those who call McNally a hypocrite for his on- line activities, while also supporting anti-LGBTQ and anti-drag legislation. Others are speaking out offering a defense of Randy McNally, balancing this scandal with his long career in the General Assembly.
Others, including one TENNESSEAN columnist says McNally’s explanation of his behavior falls woefully short.
To this point, no member of the Senate has spoken out for Lt. Governor McNally to step down and just one House Republican lawmaker has signed a letter calling for the Senate Speaker to resign. But even with McNally serving in the first year of a new four- year term, you can wonder if he thinking, privately, at age 79, how long he wants to remain Lt. Governor. You can sure there are already GOP Senators analyzing their chances to replace him if he leaves after the end of 113th General Assembly.
Meanwhile the effort to pass still more legislation aimed at the LGBTQ community continues. The State Senate passed a bill that seeks to define gender, requiring on state documents such as a driver’s license it must either male or female, depending on which sex is assigned at birth.
Senate roll call records on the bill, SB1440, show Speaker McNally voting yes on this bill, by the way..
The companion bill is being held up in the House because of its fiscal note. It appears the cost of enacting such a law is into the billions of dollars in aid from Washington because it violates federal rules.
WHAT IS SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE?
Following the old adage that, “what is sauce for the goose, can be sauce for the gander,” some Lower Broad bar owners are pushing to pass legislation to take their regulation from Metro to the State Alcoholic Beverage Commission.
Some of these businesses have been at odds with the city over a number of issues, and the Legislature is looking at all kinds of anti-Nashville legislation, I guess they think why not try it?
Elsewhere on Capitol Hill, efforts to add the firing squad to capital punishment options for Death Row inmates appears to be dead for this session. This comes as it appears the use of lethal injections remains in limbo as an option for now.
Finally, late this week came news that Republicans in the General Assembly are seeking to pass legislation that would dissolve the state’s independent children's advocacy commission and distribute its responsibilities to other state agencies.
The move comes as a shock to child advocates, especially since lawmakers and Governor Bill Lee, constantly claim they are proposing bills to assist and protect children. That’s something that eliminating the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth won’t do.
The commission released a report finding Tennessee foster kids experience the highest levels of instability in U.S.. It is one of several recent scathing audits into systemic failures at the Tennessee Department of Children's Services.
So are GOP lawmakers seeking to eliminate the agency, rather than address the problems our youth face?
PHIL WILLIAMS HAS MORE DISTURBING STORIES ON NASHVILLE AREA CONGRESSMAN ANDY OGLES
Another local politician who can’t seem to avoid questions being raised is Tennessee’s new congressman from the Nashville area, Republican Andy Ogles.
While Ogles continues to refuse to explain or even comment, NEWSCHANEL5’s Chief Investigative Reporter Phil Willams, again this week, has another story raising questions about the Congressman’s resume, more particularly his claims to be a successful business leader. THE WASHINGTON POST has picked up on the story.
This week, Phil has another story about the Congressman that raises even more questions. Itconcerns Ogles’ role in raising almost $25,000 for a children’s burial garden. But the garden has never been built and no one seems to know (and the Congressman won’t say), about what has happened to the money.
On Thursday, the Congressman did put outa statement to the conservative TENNESSEE STAR and picked up by THE TENNESSEAN. It is still short on some responses. Ogles instead uses the statement to launch an attack on the journalistic integrity and veracity of Phil Williams, traits for which Phil is held in very high esteem.
TENNESSEE RIGHT TO LIFE NOW SUPPORTS A BILL ALLOWING AN EXCEPTION TO THE STATE’S ABORTION BAN
In a major development this week, the Tennessee Right to Life group endorsed an amendment to a bill that would allow an exception to the state abortion ban.
The amended bill allows preserving the life of the mother, in some circumstances, but even legal experts are not exactly sure how it would work, especially to protect doctors from being charged and prosecuted for performing an abortion banned under the existing state law.
Several other efforts to provide exemptions to the abortion law have failed this session, including for rape and incest. One of the latest unsuccessful efforts saw a lawmaker make a personal plea about how important this issue has already been in her life.
The bill allowing an exception to save the life of the mother passed in a House committee and could be on the floor of the full House for a vote as early as Monday night. The companion bill in the Senate has several more committees to navigate.
MOVEMENT ON THE THIRD GRADE RETENTION BILL
Tennessee already has a law on the books that requires third graders to be retained at that level if they can’t prove, on the state’s annual proficiency test, that they can read at grade level.
The law takes effect this year and it is estimated close to 60% of Tennessee third graders might be retained. Obviously lots of parents and teachers are concerned and want the new law delayed or repealed.
Lawmakers are getting ‘blown up” on this issue as one State Senator put it this week.
But so far it appears the bill would amend the law only to give parents more information about how to appeal their case and what else they can do. But even that may not help much, as the pending bill, if passed, won’t take effect until next year.
INFLATION AND SPENDING CONTINUE TO EASE A BIT BUT WORLDWIDE BANK ISSUES EMERGE
Another week of mixed news reports about the economy.
The Consumer Prices Index for February saw on an annual basison an annual basis That’s better than months past, but still three times higher than the 2% annual inflation rate the Federal Reserve wants to achieve and maintain.
Consumer spending also resumed its slowdown after an unexpected jump in January.
What really roiled the markets and economies worldwide were the unexpected closures of two significant U.S. banks and serious problems arising for a major bank in Europe.
So far, the damage done is not causing any other banks to close, and the Swiss bank has been stabilized. But concerns continue. THE NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL has story that Nashville banks did lose $1.4 billion in value from one of the American banks (Silicon Valley) collapse. One of the U.S. banks is being stabilized by several other banks contributing billions of dollars to keep it going.
There is one remaining question. When the board of the Federal Reserve meets next week, will it continue to raise interest rates in the U.S? Would it be another ½ or ¼ per cent or will the Fed, in light of these bank issues, take a pause.
DEVELOPMENTS SURROUNDING THE WAR IN UKRAINE CREATE CONCERNS
The war between Russia and Ukraine continues to be a grinding stalemate, waiting to see what happens when spring offensives, on both sides, begin later in the spring.
Meanwhile, more questions are arising over the continued bipartisan support for the US to aid Ukraine in the struggle. In one of his major forays into foreign policy, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a likely Republican candidate for President in 2024, described the conflict as just “a territorial dispute” that is not “a vital U.S. interest. ”
The comments are somewhat similar to questions and statements made by former President Donald Trump who is likely to be DeSantis’ major GOP rival next year. But plenty of other Republican leaders, including Senators and other presidential candidates are slamming DeSantis’ statements about the war in Ukraine.
The other major development related to the war this week, was a Russian jet fighter forcing down a U.S. surveillance drome operating in the Black Sea near the Crimea. The U.S. says its drone was operating in international air space. Russia claims its plane did not strike the drone, but a video released by the U.S. appears to indicate otherwise.
Fortunately, It appears this matter is being defused, with both sides talking to each other. But it does indicate how, even a small development, can move things to the brink quickly and unexpectedly.