Friday, April 18, 2014

The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 7 of 7

As promised on Tuesday, today, on Freedom Friday, I am wrapping up sharing the video series, "Questions of Influence", NewsChannel5 ran concerning the questionable dealings of the Haslam Administration. Part 7 is basically a summary of the first 6 parts, but it does add some new information, too. The video for Part 7 is embedded below, or can be watched by clicking here.

Below today's video, I review what we've learned. | Nashville News, Weather

NewsChannel5 brought out the following in this investigative report :
  1. The state's motor pool was turned over to Enterprise Rental Car without any bids being taken.
  2. Maintenance of state vehicles was contracted out to Bridgestone without any bids being taken, and the current state Finance Commissioner, appointed by Haslam, once headed up Bridgestone.
  3. A $330 Million contract for the management of state buildings was given to Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), a company which has been one of Governor Haslam's "major investments." JLL was given the authority to negotiate leases on behalf of the state with third parties, and then collect a 4% commission on any new leases it completed.
  4. Haslam's personal political consultant, Tom Ingram, is a professional lobbyist with The Ingram Group. Ingram not only is Haslam's consultant, but he frequently lobbies state agencies and appears to have Haslam's ear on anything and everything.
  5. JLL recommended tearing down the Cordell Hull State Office Building due to a leaky foundation. Then, it was revealed that the leak wasn't that big of a deal, but JLL got paid for the advice anyway. As a rsult of its contract, JLL could get paid for every state building it recommends being torn down, overseeing each building's demolition, and for overseeing the moving of state employees from any state building it recommends be demolished.
  6. Tennessee's Comptroller of the Treasury, Justin Wilson, and others raised concerns about the multiple no-bid contracts. Those concerns were basically ignored by the Haslam Administration and the state legislature. An audit by the Comptroller's Office said JLL had an "unfair advantage" in the contract process. Once again, the findings were ignored.
  7. Current U.S. Senators from the state of Tennessee Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker also pay Tom Ingram for similar services as those Ingram renders to Governor Haslam. Alexander and Corker disclose those payments on their campaign financial reports. Haslam refuses to.
English: former Congressman and Governor of Te...
English: former Congressman and Governor of Tennessee Ray Blanton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
All these nice, cozy deals and contracts are, as Rep. Mike Turner said in the videos, "nice if you can get 'em." When watching this investigative report on TV, I was shocked at the news. My blood pressure went up, too. I thought back to another Tennessee Governor's Administration, Ray Blanton's, and how it eventually shamed the state of Tennessee. It was rocked by multiple scandals including :
  • Extravagant spending,
  • Friends being taken on trips on the state's dime,
  • Bar tabs on the state's dime,
  • Limousine rentals on the state's dime,
  • Blanton's family's company getting a paving contract at a state park, and 
  • selling surplus state-owned cars to political cronies.
However, these were not the worst of it. State officials were bribed for pardons of convicted criminals. Some state officials were arrested, but not before Blanton issued over 50 pardons and was planning more. 

Blanton wasn't charged in regards to the pardons, but was later accused of selling liquor licenses. He was eventually indicted for mail fraud, extortion, and conspiracy, convicted, and served nearly 2 years in prison after being run out of the governor's office. It is my opinion, based upon NewsChannel5's investigation, the Haslam Administration could eventually make the Blanton Administration look like Boy Scouts. Oh - by the way - did you hear about the latest Haslam Administration investigation? The Feds may even get involved. It appears Haslam may have attempted to influence the union vote at the Chattanooga Volkswagon plant. Oops.

The real problem I'm having with the whole thing, though, is the lack of outcry. Yes, you can chalk up the outcry from the Democrats contained within these videos to politics if you like. However, wrong is wrong no matter who is doing it. It doesn't matter whether you're talking about Republicans or Democrats. Well, at least it shouldn't. However, in Tennessee, it appears it does. In this one-hour series, the only Republican who is shown being critical of the Haslam Administration is Rep. Mark Pody from Lebanon. I'm not the biggest fan of Pody, but he is right in this case.

The question I have for other Republican members of the state legislature is this - Republicans supposedly are conservative. Part of being a conservative is following and enforcing the rules, no matter what. So, why has Haslam gotten a pass on all these no-bid contracts, appearances of conflicts of interest, not disclosing campaign payments, etc.? I'm sure if Haslam was a Democrat the GOP would have been all over him. I imagine they might even want him removed from office. The people of Tennessee deserve better. The GOP is in power. They should be holding the Haslam Administration accountable, but they are not. They are turning a blind eye and letting this administration do whatever it pleases. In fact, the State Legislature hasn't even done an investigation! They've been too busy legalizing hemp, making sure Tennesseans can buy wine in grocery stores, and telling the Federal government it can't enforce Federal gun laws in Tennessee. Stupid, useless laws. While the GOP is busy with all that crap, the Haslam Administration is running wild. One can make an argument that the GOP controlled legislature is derelict in its duty.

Tennessee State Seal
Tennessee State Seal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The good news for Tennesseans is that Haslam is up for re-election this year. I so wish that every Tennessean would see this investigative report prior to voting this year. If you have friends and family who may not have had an opportunity to see this report and learn about all these shenangians, please forward these videos to them or refer them to my blog or NewsChannel5's website, so they can. The information is vitally important to everyone being an informed voter. I've heard rumors that Haslam has his eyes set on one of Tennessee's two seats in the U.S. Senate after his days as governor are over. Do we really won't him having even more power in Washington D.C.? The answer is no, so he must be defeated now.

Haslam has a bunch of opponents, too, including primary opponents. They are listed here on the Secretary of State's website. Look this list over, do your own homework on Haslam's opponents, and vote him out. Later in the year, prior to the August primaries, I plan to profile all of them. I'm looking forward to voting against him twice this year - once in the GOP primary, and then again in the general election, if he wins the primary. It will be hard to beat him. He has the money to buy the office again just like he did in 2010. However, if conservatives will get together and support one candidate, I think it's possible to oust him. However, if the vote is split between multiple candidates, Haslam will win re-election in a landslide.

Tennessee is in a dangerous position. The Republicans control the governor's office, the State House, and the State Senate. No party should ever be given that much power, because when it happens, that party runs wild like the GOP has for the last few years. As hard as this is to say, if Haslam wins re-election, then the next best alternative is for Tennessee voters to give one of the two chambers of the legislature back to the Democrats.

Yes, I know some of you are now thinking I'm off my rocker, but Haslam has to be kept in check somehow, even if it means giving some power back to the Donkey Party. What we've got now ain't working. As the title of this series has asked - The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? - in my opinion, it's cronyism with a capital C, and it has to stop. It's wong.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 6 of 7

Today, we're into the stretch run of the video series detailing the questionable dealings of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam's Administration. Part 6 is about five-and-a-half minutes long and can be summarized with one simple question - "What's the big secret?"

I plan to wrap the series up on Friday. So, don't miss it. Segment 6 is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here. | Nashville News, Weather
Source - investigative report titled "Questions of Influence".
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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 4 of 7

Today's video segment is Part 4 of NewsChannel5's investigative report, "Questions of Influence", about the questionable wheelings and dealings of Bill Haslam's Adminstration. I plan to run Part 5 later in the week and wrap the series up next week.

The interesting thing about this segment is that, like in Part 3, I find myself once again agreeing with someone, Steve Gill, that I'm not a fan of. When he says that if a Democrat was in the governor's office with this sort of stuff going on, the Republicans would "be pitching a hissy fit," he's absolutely right. They would. So why are they not pitching one now? Do the rules only apply to the Democrats?

Video number 4 is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here. | Nashville News, Weather
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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Haslam Administration - Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 3 of 7

Today is Part 3 of the video series on the "dealings" of the administration of Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, and the series starts picking up some steam. The segment shared today is just under six minutes and will likely get your blood pressure up a bit.

Normally, there is very little that I agree with Democratic Tennessee State Representatives Sherry Jones and Mike Turner about. However, this is one of those times. Rep. Jones nailed it on the head when she referred to these real estate dealings as "conflicts of interest."

Part 3's video is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here. | Nashville News, Weather
Source - investigative report titled "Questions of Influence".
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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Haslam Administration : Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 2 of 7

When I started sharing this video series about the dealings of The Haslam Adminstration back on Tuesday, my plan was to share 1 of the video segments each week until it was completed. Doing so would mean the series would run for more than 6 weeks. I've changed my mind, because I believe the information contained within these videos is too important to spread it out over so long. I'd rather keep the flow and the momentum going, because the information gets "spicier" as we get further into it.

So today, on Freedom Friday, I'm sharing part 2 of this 7 part series. The video is about six-and-a-half minutes long and is embedded below or can be watched by clicking here.

Y'all come back for Part 3 now ... ya here. "Well doggies." | Nashville News, Weather

Source - investigative report titled "Questions of Influence"
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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Haslam Administration : Cronyism Or Just "Good Business"? You Decide - Part 1 of 7

I've made no secret of my lack of fondness for current Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam. I didn't vote for him in 2010 and have no intention of doing so this year when he's up for re-election. I had reservations about his "conservative" credentials, and so far, he's proven me correct.

English: Knoxville mayor and Tennessee GOP gub...
English: Knoxville mayor and Tennessee GOP gubernatorial candidate Bill Haslam addressing supporters before the Highlands Town Hall Debate at Tennessee Tech University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
A few months ago, NewChannel5 in Nashville ran a one-hour investigative special on Haslam and his administration titled NC5 Investigates : Questions of Influence. The dealings brought out in the show were shocking. When it concluded, I wondered, "why haven't other news media outlets in Tennessee brought his out?"

I feel it is important that all Tennesseans, not just those within the NewsChannel5 viewing area, see this investigative report. So, over the next several weeks I will share it here on The Second Chance Sheepdog in video segments ranging from 5-8 minutes in length. Be sure to watch them all.

I'm sure many of my died-in-the-wool Republican friends, even family members, will be unhappy with me for running this series. However, it must be ran, because, as I said, all Tennesseans need to see this. As I run this series, I encourage Republicans and others to put partisanship aside and ask two questions :
  1. If Haslam was a Democrat with a GOP-controlled legislature, as we have now, would this be allowed to happen?
  2. In light of this report, is he fit to be governor?
Without further delay, Part 1 is embedded below, or can be watched by clicking here. | Nashville News, Weather
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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wilson Co. (TN) Needs A New Sheriff

We've all heard the phrase "speed kills" in regards to car accidents. Over the years, studies have been done by different organizations on how vehicle speed contributes to the number of, and severity of, motor vehicle wrecks. Without debating which of those studies is the most accurate, common sense tells us that as vehicle speed increases :
  1. stopping distance increases, and 
  2. crash severity increases.
A typical speed limit sign in the United State...
This is NOT the speed limit on my street, people!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My wife and I moved into our house in Wilson Co. (TN) nine years ago. Since our street was completed, we have had continuous problems with motorists speeding through our neighborhood. The speed limit is 25 MPH, but I continuously see cars, pickup trucks, vans, delivery trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and even school buses speed by in front of my house. I would estimate their high speeds are close to double the legal limit. And yes - I said even school buses. So, at double the legal limit, these drivers are doing 40-50 MPH in a 25 zone on a residential street that is both windy and hilly. It's producing extremely unsafe conditions and a recipe for disaster.

While we've lived here, I have placed multiple calls to the Wilson Co. Sheriff's Office (WCSO) asking, pleading, and begging for them to do some speed enforcement on our street to help mitigate the problem, since it is the main traffic artery through our subdivision. We've received no help from those calls. I have talked to various WCSO's Deputies when I've ran into them at the local convenient mart, local fast food joint, and other places, and requested their assistance. We've received no help from those conversations, either. In fact, on multiple occasions, I've had those same deputies tell me stuff along the lines of, "I don't even have a radar gun in my car."

After hearing that for about the third time, I checked into it with another local law enforcement official, and was told that, indeed, most Wilson Co. Deputies do not have radar guns in their cruisers. That official also told me that the WCSO has a policy that they do not write speeding tickets unless a motorist is doing at least 20 MPH over the speed limit. So, in my subdivision, a motorist would have to be doing 45, in a 25, before they would get written up. In my opinion, that's ridiculous as it does not deter speeding the least iota.

Finally, back last fall, we did get a little speed enforcement help. A friend of mine, who's a deputy, came out for a few hours a day for several days when he had time and wrote some tickets. I told him how grateful we were, but that we needed some regular help, because when he wasn't there, the problem returned. He suggested I call the actual Sheriff, Robert Bryan. So, on September 26, 2013, I did. I had to leave a message for him with his administrative assistant. I explained to her why I was calling, and she said she would have him call me back. He was in a meeting at the time. I think her name was Vicky. That was over 6 months ago. I'm yet to hear back from Sheriff Bryan, and since I left that message, the little bit of speed enforcement we were getting has completely dried up.

Speeding's probably not a big deal to most people. However, it's a big safety concern on our street. Kids are out playing, riding bikes and skateboards. If one of them was to suddenly bolt out in the street, a driver going 45-50 has no time to slow down or stop. One obeying the 25 MPH speed limit does. Plus, if a driver going 45 strikes a child, the chances of serious injury to the child and even death are much greater than if the vehicle is only going 25. Once again, it's just common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply nowadays.

Additionally, our speeding problem is dangerous for other drivers. For example, backing out of my driveway, I have hills a short distance to both my left and my right. There have been multiple instances where I have looked both ways and with traffic clear I've backed out of the driveway. I then get going on my way, when suddenly there's a speeding vehicle on top of me, because it was flying low when it came over the hill. Frequently, the few of us that obey the speed limit are passed by speeding drivers on our residential street. It's happened to me multiple times. Reckless, speeding drivers are making the street dangerous for everybody, and WCSO is doing nothing about it despite numerous requests for assistance. It's getting ridiculously dangerous.

On the WCSO website, there is a page set aside for "Traffic Enforcement." There it states:
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Departments duties also include the safety of the citizens of Wilson County while traveling the many miles of roadways within the county. For every ones safety the Traffic Division patrols the many miles of roadway in Wilson County making sure motorists are complying with state traffic laws. They also assist the Patrol Division in answering the many calls received from citizens of Wilson County.
My nine years as a Wilson Co. (TN) resident have not seen the WCSO perform the above duty. The speeding problem in our subdivision existed during the Terry Ashe Administration, and it has continued under the Bryan Administration. Sheriff Bryan is now responsible for it just like Obama is responsible for problems that started during the Bush Administration. In both cases, the successors could have fixed the problems, but they have chosen not to. In my subdivision, it has led to unsafe streets, and I suspect there are other subdivisions within the county where the same problem exists.

As a taxpaying citizen of this county, I should not have to beg and plead with the Sheriff's office to do it's job. I feel like I am not getting my dollar's worth out of the taxes I pay. Sheriff Bryan is up for re-election this year (2014), and I am so fed up with the inaction of his office in this matter, that I would consider running against him if I met the qualifications. I'm hoping someone will and win. If you're interested in doing so, you can find the filing deadline at this link and the minimum qualifications for Wilson Co. Sheriff at this link. You may have to scroll down the page a bit.

It is my opinion that by ignoring repeated requests for assistance and not even having the professional courtesy to return my phone call, the speeding, and resulting safety issue, in my subdivision are not important to Sheriff Bryan and his office. It appears that he is not concerned about public safety. Therefore, it is time for him to go.

My fear is that if the WCSO continues to ignore this problem, it is only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured, killed, or maimed on my street by a speeding, reckless motorist. The question I have for Sheriff Bryan is, what if that someone is an innocent child who's out playing? How are you gonna explain your office's inaction to their parents?

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