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Capitol View Commentary: Thursday, July 9, 2015

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Jul 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-08-30 17:05:46-04

CAPITOL VIEW

By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice-President, DVL Seigenthaler Public Relations, a Finn Partners Company

July 9, 2015

ANOTHER WHIRLWIND WEEK IN THE MAYOR’S RACE; BILL FREEMAN ON INSIDE POLITICS; THE FINAL FOUR; OTHER METRO ENDORSEMENTS AND AT-LARGE DEVELOPMENTS; NEWTON’S THIRD LAW; IT COMES DOWN TO TEENAGE PROCASTINATION; MAYOR DEAN’S NEXT ASSIGNMENT

ANOTHER WHIRLWIND WEEK IN THE MAYOR’S RACE

As the Nashville mayor’s race enters its final month of campaigning for the August 6 vote, the week began with another internal campaign poll released by one of the candidates. This is the fourth such poll coming out from this seven candidate field. This time it’s Megan Barry following earlier surveys released by Bill Freeman, Howard Gentry and Linda Eskind Rebrovick.

Not to be a broken record, but polls given out by campaigns are always suspect on their face. They are usually released to boost up the efforts of the campaign putting it out. They doesn’t mean they are completely wrong, and in this case, it certainly brought a strong rebuttal response from one of Barry’s opponents.

The Barry survey shows Bill Freeman in the lead (21%) as he has been in almost every survey that’s come out (except Gentry’s). But Barry in her survey holds the all-important second place position (at 16%) qualifying her to be in the September runoff against Freeman. That’s because nobody in the poll is anywhere close to the 50% plus one vote margin needed to win the election outright in August.

That is probably the major message Barry is trying to send out in releasing her internal poll: that she is the most likely candidate to make the runoff against Freeman and therefore is the best “anybody but Freeman” candidate that some in the community are looking for to defeat the Nashville businessman.

Almost all of Barry’s opponents ignored her poll. But Charles Robert Bone did not. The Nashville lawyer and entrepreneur came in a distant sixth in the Barry poll at just 8%. That’s behind Freeman, Barry, Gentry (13%), David Fox (11%), Rebrovick (9%) and ahead of only Jeremy Kane (3%). Bone issued a stinging statement saying the Barry poll is “disingenuous” because his name was not even included in some of the polling.

The Barry campaign admitted that was true. Some of the questions asked, especially those that reportedly involved negative statements about some of her opponents and then measuring how that impacted support (known as a push poll) did not mention Bone.

But the Barry campaign is insistent it included all the candidates in random order when it asked its first questions asking who voters planned to support in August and their (unaided) negative or positive opinions about all the candidates. A spokesman for the Barry campaign told THE TENNESSEAN (July 6) they did not include Bone in the “push pull” segment of the poll because “he’s not relevant in this race right now.” For what it’s worth, the Bone campaign did not release any of its own polling to show where he stands in the race.

The only other candidate to comment on the poll was Kane who told THE TENNESSEAN (July 6): “I will let the other candidates duke it out over political polls and name calling. My focus continues to be on what matters most to Nashvillians like better education, more accessible transit and safer neighborhoods.”

But Kane did take time to release on-line and TV ads containing a new high-profile endorsement from Marcus Whitney, a local African American entrepreneur and tech company start-up founder. The link below is the longer on line video production. It’s a strong statement, but the endorsement takes a while to getting around to talking about Kane …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhgR8Ut1EZE&feature=player_embedded

The biggest TV ad development came late in the week when Howard Gentry announced he will begin his mayoral spots this coming Monday (July 13). That move means that finally all seven candidates will be on TV from now until August 6. Gentry put up his first TV spot as a sneak peek for supporters on his campaign Facebook page Wednesday night. As you might expect the spot is introductory in nature.

You can see it here…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O4Pq1Gn2Xv0&feature=player_embedded

There were a couple of other new ads (on-line and TV) put up this week by the Barry and Bone campaigns. With early voting about a week out (begins July 17) the theme from both groups was endorsements. Why not? If f the Barry poll is accurate undecided is down a bit from its previous estimate of about one-third of the electorate. But it’s still coming in at 18%. That’s a number that would still be second in the race if that was a candidate in the field. So maybe endorsements will help the undecided….

Here’s the Barry spot…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5tuMLwjacpg

While Barry in her spot showcases her business and community support, the Bone campaign went in a little different direction with this on-line e-mail fundraising endorsement by two life-long Nashville sisters from the Cane Ridge area of Nashville…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=urek1avVvtg

As for Bill Freeman, he’s run so many TV spots he’s now sending out to supporters on Facebook ,a nearly three minute long “best of” compilation of what he’s aired so far. Believe or it, I actually saw a few snippets here I hadn’t seen before…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4G87CK-1wEQ

But perhaps the most interesting TV ads to watch in the last week or so are coming from David Fox. The Megan Barry poll gives him credit for a bit of a spike in support in its latest poll (going from 6% to 11%) in their latest poll. That also mirrors the time Fox has been up on TV. In fact Team Fox sent out a blast e-mail fundraiser that claims since there’s been at least five more days of Fox on TV since the Barry was taken, “we’re probably sitting at about 13% now, tied for third place---and gaining.”

Fox has now released his third new TV ad in the last week. This one never directly mentions his tagline to save “The Nashville Way” but he does says it’s time to concentrate and do “the small things” such as

infrastructure repair, new sidewalks and water and sewer lines rather than all the “big things” he says Nashville has been doing the last several years. Is it a message voters find appealing?

Here’s Fox’s latest ad…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUyrbfYwW98&feature=player_embedded

Fox also had his Editorial Board visit with THE TENNESSEAN this week (Wednesday) as all the candidates are doing. But Fox made a news story out of it, taking the occasion to go after the perceived front runner Freeman. According to an article by the paper (July 9), Fox said Freeman is “vulnerable” and won’t make the runoff. Fox maintains that while Freeman leads in the polls, his numbers do not seem to be growing despite all the money he’s been spending on TV ads. As Fox puts it: “So he has 100 per cent name ID, and 80 per cent of the people are choosing someone else.”

Fox may be the first candidate to make such a charge publicly but the possible “ceiling” on Freeman’s support has been gossiped about for several weeks (and even mentioned in this column). So why say it out loud? Well, I think Fox may be doing it so he can position himself as a viable, rising candidate and someone who (if Fox’s prediction isn’t true) can be the “anybody but Freeman” candidate if somehow Freeman still has enough support to make the runoff field. Besides during the entire campaign. Fox has never been shy about making bold, controversial statements. I remember in the first candidate forum I did with him back last fall, he all but directly criticized Mayor Dean (“ As mayor, I am not going to cram my ideas down other people’s throats”). Fox said that at a time when no political leaders were calling out the Mayor that way.

David Fox also got some company this week from rival Bill Freeman, who has joined him in asking the Metro School Board to defer its search for a new Schools Director. Fox said that’s what should happen back in May. He said the field of director candidates would be stronger by waiting and that putting the matter “on the pause button” would allow the new mayor to be more involved in the process.

With the School Board still divided over its fight late last month to select, then un-select and re-select a new acting director, and with at least one of the four permanent director finalists already garnering controversy, Freeman (who is also my guest on INSIDE POLITICS this week) sent a letter to Board members saying a delay to wait until a new Mayor and Council are selected is the way to go because “the Board has more work to do in an effort to insure that indeed a clean and fair search process is conducted.”

And now at least one School Board member Will Pinkston seems to be supporting a delay. Pinkston told reporters: “I disagreed earlier with slowing the search. But under the circumstances, and given the chaos created by the board chair and vice chair, it’s probably a good idea to slow the process and get this right.”

Meantime Megan Barry issued her own statement within hours of Freeman’s (July 9). The candidate took a somewhat more neutral stance saying the School Board “should take as much time as they need to find the best candidate to lead Nashville’s schools.” She said if that meant “extending the search… I’m completely comfortable with that.” But she also seemed to say she’d be OK if the Board moved ahead with the current finalists commenting “if the school board moves forward I look forward to having the chance to meet with them over the coming weeks to hear more about their qualifications….” She did add she believes any new Director “should have proven success in working in an urban school district”

and be someone with “the communication skills to bring together parents, teachers and the school board around a common vision…”

Other mayoral candidates weighed in as well, and actually for one of the few times this election cycle, they offered some differing opinions. Both Howard Gentry and Linda Eskind Rebrovick seem to favor moving ahead with the selection process. “They’ve got a great slate of finalists and they need to move forward,” says Gentry, adding: “ I don’t see the mayor having a better idea of what kind of person (needs to be hired) than school board members who are so personally and passionately involved in this.” Rebrovick said: “ We (need to) keep the recruiting process moving forward since we are so far into the process. We’ve hired a recruiting firm with a proven methodology. The firm had presented four candidates with good credentials. Let’s continue the interviews and gather public input on these candidates.

Among other candidates, Jeremy Kane says he hopes the school board “won’t be held hostage by a particular timeline or swayed by self-serving agendas…In my administration we won’t put the city through a game of political chicken. We’ll work together. For kids.”

Charles Robert Bone says the next mayor needs to play a role in the selection of a new schools director but he didn’t set out a timetable on that. He added the new schools chief needs to “win the hearts and minds of the community” while also being able to work with non-profits and universities “and challenge the status quo.”

By the way, both Mayor Karl Dean and the Nashville Area Chamber had previously urged a delay in the schools director selection process. (More on that later in the column).

You’ll note there were no announcements this week by candidates about their most recent fundraising totals. The reporting period ended June 30 with all reports due by July 10 (Friday). Both Bone and Freeman made some preliminary disclosures late last week. Everyone else has been quiet. I suspect quite a bit of $$ information will come out tomorrow (Friday July 10). But since this column is going out a day early this week, I plan to deal with whatever is disclosed in next week’s Capitol View.

BILL FREEMAN ON INSIDE POLITICS

Bill Freeman will be my guest on INSIDE POLITICS this weekend. He will be the sixth out of a field of Nashville’s seven mayoral candidate to sit down with me for an in-depth, one-on-one conversation about who he is, why he’s running for mayor and his thoughts and vision for Nashville.

These have been fun to conduct with all the candidates and I hope you have found them interesting and enlightening.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS. Those times include 7:00 p.m. Friday; 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday; and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m. on Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 182 (note new channel) and on NEWSCHANNEL5’s over-the-air digital channel 5.2.

For those who can’t see the show locally, you can watch it with live streaming video on NEWSCHANNEL5.com. All the mayoral candidate interviews will also be posted in full on line the

following week after they air (under the INSIDE POLITICS tab of the NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS section of NEWSCHANNEL5.com).

Next week our seventh and final mayoral candidate guest on INSIDE POLITICS is scheduled to be Megan Barry.

We do hope to have both mayoral runoff contenders to join us on INSIDE POLITICS the weekend after the August election and during the runoff race itself. So we are far from through with our coverage of this important contest for Nashville’s future.

THE FINAL FOUR

As mentioned earlier in the column, the Metro School Board is down to its Final Four to be the next Metro Schools Director. The list submitted for consideration by its outside consultant team is already raising some eyebrows and creating controversy, and that is occurring even before the Board begins it public Q&A sessions with the candidates (Thursday & Friday). Following those sessions the Board is supposed to narrow the field to three.

One finalist, John Covington is raising concerns about some of his past spending practices and the way he abruptly left his last two Director’s posts in Kansas City and with the Michigan Achievement District. There are also concerns raised by the Metro teacher’s union (the Metropolitan Nashville Education Association) that one of his references is actually a sharp critic of his work in Kansas City (THE TENNESSEAN, JULY 8).

Another of the four finalists is Mike Looney. He is causing a stir because he’d come to the Nashville post after being Director of the Williamson County school system next door. Looney also says he was encouraged to apply for the new job by Metro’s consultants.

Williamson County schools have the best test scores in the state and are among the best in the nation. But from what I can tell it faces much fewer challenges than what is found in a larger urban school system like Nashville in terms of poverty and English-language learners.

Looney does have a school board in Williamson County that rivals the one in Nashville in terms of being dysfunctional and divided. Already one of his board critics says she plans to seek to fire him for applying for the Nashville job. So maybe Looney is used to dealing with controversy with his bosses?

Looney’s contract in Williamson Country is up in 2018 and there are media reports (THE TENNESSEAN, July 8) that the Board was about to decide about opening talks with him about a new contract. So is Looney serious about the Nashville post or using it for leverage in those contract talks?

There is so far less somewhat less controversy about the other two finalists. Angela Huff, Chief of Staff for the Cobb County system in Atlanta, is a Nashville native but she has never run a system as big as Nashville. There are also questions, says a story on NEWSCHSANNEL5’s website, about a whistleblower’s complaint about how she used a teacher on school time to help her do her dissertation for an advanced degree.

Meanwhile, Barry Shepard is a retired superintendent from Cabarrus County in Concord, N.C. Again that is a smaller, much less urban system than Nashville.

There’s already a pushback from some questioning whether the finalist field is a good one and whether the Board ought to reject it and search again (TENNESSEAN July 8). In fact NEWSCHANNNE5 reports (July 8) the MNEA teacher’s union says the outside consultant firm ought to refund its fee to Metro. Late Thursday, the chorus to delay and re-do the director’s search grew even louder as 10 groups including MNEA, The Nashville Area Chamber, the Hispanic Chamber, the NAACP, the Urban League, the Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship, Nashville Organized for Action and Hope, Urban Housing Solutions an two others all signed a letter to the School Board requesting the delay (TENNESSEAN July 9).

The school’s outside consulting firm is defending its work and its national reputation. As one of THE TENNESSEAN articles mentions there was similar unhappiness with the same consulting firm the last time the city went through this process back a few years ago. But upon further review the Board founded Dr. Jesse Register to be the person for the job and he has served as Director the last several years before retiring last week.

And so the Metro School Board begins its interviews with the finalists. On first blush, not one of them seems a perfect fit for sure. Maybe (like last time) something will click for one of them with the Board, with community leaders and with the public as this whirlwind process to hire a new director continues with the goal of selecting a new Nashville schools leader before the end of this month (July 23).

Or maybe it won’t.

Let’s also hope this process doesn’t continue to grow as a political football as it continues to track with the Metro election and the Mayor’s race. That timing actually stinks in my opinion. But we are stuck with it for now. And even a delay may still leave a hurtful mark on the process, whenever or however it might resume. It’s a mess.

OTHER METRO ENDORSEMENTS AND AT LARGE DEVELOPMENTS

It won’t just be mayoral TV ads you’ll be see a lot of (and I mean maybe wall to wall stuff every commercial break) in the weeks to come. You’ll also see spots for some of the Metro Council At-Large candidates.

Businessman John Cooper, brother of Congressman Jim Cooper began his ads a few weeks back. Now lawyer Bob Mendes will be up on the air too starting Monday (July 13) with this spot…… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfX24i7erb8

Mendes is spending $100,000 between now and August 6 so you ought to see his spot several times with that kind of budget. Other At-Large candidates such as current West Nashville Councilman Jason Holloman are expected to start airing TV ads soon. In fact, in a fundraising blast e-mail to supporters this week, Holleman is giving a sneak preview of all three of the TV spots he plans to air between now and August 6….

Here they are….. https://vimeo.com/133006973 https://vimeo.com/133001068 https://vimeo.com/132933445

Holleman says he will also be employing “livability-focused e-mail messaging and will introduce direct mail and radio spots in the next weeks.”

And then there are new endorsements coming out this week from groups such as The Nashville Business Coalition, which is affiliated with the Nashville Area of Chamber of Commerce.

The headline on their endorsement list is the group in not endorsing anybody for Mayor in the August ballot. I am told the group was significantly split over who to back so I guess they’ll wait out to see who the choices are for the September runoff. I’d also guess whoever winds up opposing Bill Freeman will be their choice.

As for the other Metro races, believe or not, the Business Coalition endorsed both candidates for Vice Mayor (David Briley and Tim Garrett). So I guess in the business community’s mind you can’t go wrong either way. The duo endorsement may actually tilt a bit in Briley’s favor since Garrett is considered the more conservative of the two candidates.

Speaking of the vice mayor’s race, David Briley is airing the first TV ad of that contest. It’s all about his “super powers” of listening. It is by far the most amusing, entertaining and the best ad I think of the entire campaign cycle so far. And it includes a closing that parents with pre-teens or teenagers will surely relate to and give a chuckle.

However, I’ll bet Mayor Karl Dean doesn’t like the ad much after the smack down he gets from Briley about mid-way through the spot (although His Honor is not mentioned by name).

See the ad here… https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=1hAnhdGdYxY

Briley’s opponent Tim Garrett is also expected to start his TV ads soon. I know he brought his time for the ads some weeks ago.

Getting back to the Business Coalition, its endorsements for the five At-Large Council positions are even more interesting, if again, rather divided. There are 26 candidates in the countywide race. The Coalition is endorsing 13 or exactly half the field.

Heck, voters can only pick five. I guess endorsing 13 is like going to the Chinese restaurant where with 6 you can get eggroll.

I’d also say if you are using this list as a voter guide you’ve got plenty of choices to make your selections (and I am sure the list will be further updated for the runoff in September).

Previous experience also seems to play some role in the business group’s choices for At Large. 9 of the 13 endorsed candidates have current or past council experience. The same is true in the Coalition’s district council race endorsements. There are backing 15 incumbents in their re-election bids. Given how few of the current Council can run again due to term limits, that is just about all of them on the ballot.

The Coalition also endorsed multiple (two) candidates in three districts (13, 17, 34) and endorsed nobody in Districts 1, 2 & 3. Again the runoffs could change this Council endorsement list.

There is one other old political saying that comes to mind in looking over this Business Coalition endorsement list. “We are with our friends.”

NEWTON’S THIRD LAW

Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Physics says: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

Politics is that way too.

A couple of weeks ago lots of Tennessee politicians were quickly lining up to support removing the bust of controversial Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest from the State Capitol. This came after there was a nationwide controversy over almost all the symbols of the Old South as it relates the Civil War. That erupted after the brutal murder of nine members of an historic black church in Charleston, South Carolina. The white terrorist murderer had many pictures taken of him featuring the Confederate flag.

But now there has been a bit of an equal and opposite reaction to the move to ban or remove Confederate symbols with even one key state lawmaker, House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick saying, while he still supports removing the Forrest bust, he wants to slow things down and have a more extended, expanded conversation about the issue.

I am not sure exactly what he means. I guess we will begin to find out next week (July 16) when the State Capitol Commission meets. That group has to begin the process of removing General Forrest’s likeness by asking for a waiver from the Tennessee Historical Commission so that can happen. McCormick is a member of the Capitol Commission so let’s see what kind of motion or action he recommends. But some who want to see Forrest gone as soon as possible ask if the bust has been on display for over 40 years how much longer do we need to study the matter before acting?

Our re-fighting of the Civil War continued this week on the local level. The Memphis City Council has voted to move the remains of General Forrest from a city park (that used to bear his name) to a local graveyard. That move is stirring a push back at from what I am seeing on my Facebook feed.

The Nashville Metro Council approved by voice vote (some no votes were heard) to ask the state of Tennessee to plant large trees and other vegetation along I-65 south of Nashville to block the view of a statute of General Forrest. One councilmember, mayoral candidate Megan Barry, said Governor Haslam had told her he was supportive of the idea and she said she would help raise private funds to do the work.

But in the wake of the Council’s vote, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) issued a statement that seemed to be much less supportive of the idea (NEWSCHANNEL5, July 8). “The statue is on private property. Planting trees or other vegetation in this location raises serious questions about

what role TDOT should play in covering statues, billboards or signs on private property that may be offensive to some.”

That position seems to be quite a change from several years back, when at the behest of elected officials such as then State Senator Douglas Henry, TDOT cleared the interstate right of way in that part of I-65 so the Forrest statue could be easily seen.

Newton’s Third Law also seemed to be at work in the state in backlash to the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage. GOP House Leader McCormick also told a Chattanooga civic club this week that he and other Republican lawmakers are still looking at calling a special session of the General Assembly to protect business people (caterer, bakers, florists and others) in the wake of the Court’s ruling. There is a similar concern about protecting the tax exempt status of local churches. To that end, Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert Slatery has joined 14 other state AGs asking Congress to act on the matter.

McCormick also expressed concern about local county clerks and their employees who feel issuing same-sex marriage licenses violates their religious beliefs. One Tennessee County Clerk and the entire staff has quit in one county (Decatur). That may be their only option under the law right now although McCormick told his audience he and GOP lawmakers are “open to anything short of armed insurrection” to protect their liberties.

By the way, last week I raised the question about whether the General Assembly had ever invoked the provision in the State Constitution to call itself into special session by a two-thirds written request of members in both houses. I am told that indeed they have. It happened back in 1971`.

I am informed of that by one my distinguished readers, former Knoxville Mayor Victor Ashe. Ashe is also a former State Senator and House member. It was during his time in the lower chamber that he led the effort to call the special session in order to have Tennessee be the first state in the nation to ratify the 26th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to give 18-years old the vote.

That amendment was the quickest change ever ratified to our federal constitution. Unfortunately, Tennessee was not the first state to do so, being joined by four other states (Connecticut, Delaware, Minnesota and Washington) on the same day March 23, 1971. The amendment reached the required number of states by July 1 of that year and became law.

Actually I remember that very well. I was 19 at the time and went down to the Metro Courthouse to register the very first day. There was a huge line to sign up and lots of candidates as there was a very hot mayoral race going on that year too. Also somewhat like the dispute with government clerks and same sex marriage, the local long time Nashville Voter Registrar, Mary Ferrell, was quite opposed to 18-year olds getting the suffrage. So she marked all our permanent voter records with a big red marker than declared “Under 21”. I am 63 now but I am pretty sure my voter card is still marked “under 21.”

I’m flattered.

Thanks to Mayor Ashe to sending me the special session information. It brought back some great memories. By the way, why did the General Assembly need to go into special session when it usually is in regular session every March anyway? Again another fascinating story from Mayor Ashe. The spring of 1971 marked the first time in 50 years Tennessee had a Republican governor (Winfield Dunn).

Democrats, who controlled the Legislature, were so concerned about his first budget, they voted to adjourn for two weeks to “study” his spending plan in detail. So that’s why the special session was needed to approve the 18-yer old vote.

Getting back to Majority Leader McCormick, he is also having more that second thoughts about efforts (broached by Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam) to raise the state gas tax to keep up Tennessee’s roads and bridges. That levy has not been increased for over 25 years. Yet McCormick reportedly told his Chattanooga civic club that he would rather have the state issue bonds (go into debt) to take care of its road needs than raise the gas tax.

Suggesting the state issue bonds and go into debt to keep its roads and bridges is repair is almost anathema in Tennessee politics (maybe second only to supporting an income tax). Elected leaders in both parties have long prided the Volunteer State for handling its road needs on a “pay as you go” basis and avoiding going into any kind of long term debt.

So Leader McCormick’s comments created quite a stir to say the least and they led the Representative to quickly issue a “clarifying” statement. It said in part: “In no way am I advocating our state take on debt to fund construction on our roads and bridges. I was simply stating that option might need to be part of a larger conversation to address the problems we are encountering with the shortfall in funds for transportation projects… I firmly believe that a tax increase should be the absolute last resort and is by no means a foregone conclusion.”

Governor Haslam says he plans a statewide road tour later in the year to discuss our transportation issue. Given the comments of one of the top leaders of the Republican Super Majority in the Tennessee House, it looks like he has a long, windy and rocky road ahead on this topic.

IT COMES DOWN TO TEENAGE PROCASTINATION

The size (and maybe the success) of Governor Haslam’s widely praised Tennessee Promise program could come down to teenage procrastination.

News reports say only 25% of the Tennessee students who have applied for the program have fulfilled the requirement of eight hours of community service which must be done by August 1.

The Tennessee Promise provides two years of free tuition for students to attend local community colleges and technical schools. School officials are having a hard time planning on how many students to expect with all this uncertainty. But, hey, how many of us waited until the last week or so of vacation to begin those summer reading and other projects we were assigned to do during school break?

Fess up. We all did it. We all waited until the last minute.

So I expect the numbers of those fulfilling the community service requirement will improve dramatically in the next few weeks, and state officials seem to be doing all that can to remind young people and to make as easy and convenient as possible for them to comply.

Hopefully, parents are making it important, and the youngsters involved should take it seriously as well The Tennessee Promise can change lives, and it can mean a lot to our state’s future.

MAYOR DEAN’S NEXT ASSIGNMENT

So what is Mayor Karl Dean doing when we finally select his replacement and he leaves office sometime in mid to late September? Well, he’s going back to school too.

His Honor announced this week (Wednesday July 8) he is going to be a Distinguished Visiting Professor of History and Political Science at Belmont University.

The mayor says he is not sure what exact coursework he will teach but it will focus on American politics, city government and current events. It sounds fascinating, can I audit his course? The Mayor says he will miss the day to day of being mayor and being involved with everything going on in the city. But he adds he is excited to be working with young people particularly working and talking with them about history and politics.

The Mayor has taught before at Vanderbilt Law School, but says he doesn’t want to teach law right now (maybe it reminds him of arguments he got into with the Metro Council).

The Mayor will also assume a volunteer board position involving a new non-profit organization, Project Renaissance, which he helped create recently. Project Renaissance aims to improve education outcomes in Davidson County (in particular through charter schools).

As to his long term future and possibly running for office again, the Mayor says: “I’m not planning anything in my basement right now. Obviously I’d like to stay involved and I’m interested in the future of our state and the future of our city. But we’ll just after to wait and see what all transpires (NASHVILLE BUSINESS JOURNAL, July 8).”

We are planning to have the Mayor on INSIDE POLITICS at least one more time before he leaves office.

He’s booked to join us the weekend of July 24-26. Now that he’ll be an ongoing local political, history and government expert, I will be looking for more reasons to book him to come back and join us several times in the future.