Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Wilson Co. (TN) County Commission District 16 Race - Brockman vs. Weathers

A little over four years ago, I ran an article about Jason Brockman, a newcomer to Wilson Co. (TN) politics. At the time, he was running for County Commission in the 16th District hoping to upset the long-time incumbent, Gilbert Graves, who had held the seat for 40 years. Brockman shocked everyone upsetting Graves with 60% of the vote (see the results here). Now, four years later, Graves' daughter, Diane Weathers, is challenging Brockman in his re-election bid. 

Even though he is a first-term commissioner, Brockman has accomplished much during the last four years including :
Jason Brockman
  1. pushing along the Interstate 40 widening project in Wilson Co.,
  2. voting against increasing county property taxes,
  3. voting against increasing the hotel / motel tax, which if passed would've made Wilson Co.'s one of the highest rates in the U.S. likely hurting local hotels,
  4. opposing forced annexation which earned him an endorsement from Tennesseans Against Forced Annexation (TAFA), and
  5. working tirelessly for infrastructure improvements within District 16 and the rest of the county.
He has also been involved in :
  • adding new fire stations,
  • adding an ambulance to the new Mount Juliet fire station,
  • the expansions of three schools, and
  • adding mechanical, plumbing, and framing requirements to Wilson Co. building codes enforcement.
Up until this past Saturday, I had never met Brockman's 2014 opponent, Weathers. I was at early voting holding a sign to support Brockman. Around 9:30 a.m. I saw a woman walking down the sidewalk toward me that I thought might be her based upon pictures I had seen in local newspapers. Weathers passed from my left to my right, went down the sidewalk, lingered for a bit, left a sign, and then headed back in my direction.

I was standing about 10 feet off the sidewalk. When she got to a distance of about 15 yards from me, she looked in my direction, and asked, "Do you live in the district?" I replied, "Yes ma'am." Then, she stepped off the sidewalk and made a bee-line straight to me. At the time, I had no idea what was about to happen. Let's just say that today, I wish I could still say, "I have never met her." Yes, the experience was that bad.

As soon as Weathers got within about arms-length of me, she begin a harsh verbal attack upon me for supporting Brockman. Please remember that the only thing I had said to her up to this point was, "Yes ma'am." I had only treated her with respect, but she still unleashed a disrespectful rant claiming that Brockman was not providing good representation to the district. She waived some handwritten piece of paper in my face repeatedly claiming it showed a lack of attendance at meetings. I asked her if it was "an official county commission document." She never answered the question directly with a "yes" or "no", but instead said she "had researched it all herself" continuing her verbal attack. I guess she just expected me to take her word and handwritten piece of paper as gospel.

Nope. Nope. Nope. Sorry. That ain't happening. I had never met her, didn't know her from Adam, and she had just jumped my a$$ for no reason. So, any credibility she might have had just went to zero. She might be able to jump on some people and get her way, but that dog don't hunt here in Sheepdogland. Never has. Never will.

She had other things to say, too, but I finally had enough. So, I told her that I had not jumped her case and been rude to her when she arrived, and I did not appreciate her doing it to me. I said, "I'm just here to help and support a friend," but that didn't seem to matter to her. As I said, she never answered my question about the document being official but continued the tongue lashing claiming, "We deserve better representation and that's why I am in this race." I grinned, looked her in the eye, and said, "No ma'am. I know better. That's not why you are in this race." She then turned and left. Either she didn't think what I had to say was as important as what she did, or she realized that I was onto her game. I don't think she wanted others hearing my thoughts about her real reasons for running.

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting
English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Personally, I don't think providing better representation has anything to do with why Weathers decided to get in the race. Remember, I shared that Brockman beat her father, the 40-year incumbent, 4 years ago to win the seat. I think "revenge" and the hope of getting the seat "back in the family" are the motivation behind her campaign. I think that's what this is all about.

So, my first, and hopefully only, encounter with Weathers was not a pleasant one. She came across as a bully. She reminded me of some of the ones I had to deal with back in school who wanted to impose their will upon me and other classmates. I didn't like it then, and I don't like it now. If that is the way she treats people she doesn't agree with, then, if she were to win the commission seat, how is she gonna be an effective representative of her constituents? A person will never agree with everyone all the time. Is she gonna jump on her colleagues, like she did me, when she doesn't agree with them? If she does, she won't be able to get anything done and we will have poor representation.

As I look back on it now, there are so many things I wish I had said to her, but at the time I was in shock. I couldn't believe that someone I've never met, but who wants to represent me, would walk over, get in my face, and jump my case like that. I didn't really know what to say.
Since she kept harping on this idea of "lack of representation", I wished I had asked her exactly how she plans to provide better representation? Why? Because if elected, each year she will have to vote on the county budget. Her husband is a School Board Member and the School Board Chair. The schools budget generally makes up approximately 70% of the county's total budget. Here's a question for my fellow voters of District 16 - is this a potential conflict of interest? I think it is. So, if you agree with me, before you vote, think about the following:
  • What is Mrs. Weathers gonna do each budget year?
  • Should she abstain or recuse herself from voting on the county budget?
  • Should she recuse herself from discussions involving the school's portion of the budget? 
  • How can she properly represent her constituents at budget time?
To me it appears there is a problem whether she votes, abstains, or doesn't. The above questions are tough, but yet important, questions, and they should be considered by each one of us in the district before voting. The good news, though, is that Jason Brockman doesn't have any such potential conflicts of interest. Remember that when you go vote. It may make your decision easier.
Jason Brockman with wife, Crystal, and son, Landyn.
Let's get back to Weathers' claims of poor representation, in regards to Brockman. He has voted against increasing property taxes, voted against increasing the hotel / motel tax rate, helped push along the Interstate 40 widening project when it stalled, strongly opposed forced annexation, pushed back against nepotism and conflicts of interest within county government, helped improve public safety, and continues to push for infrastructure improvements. Does that sound like poor representation to you? Of course not. It actually sounds more like Brockman's doing his job. Therefore, in my opinion, Weathers' claims are not credible.

So, why am I sharing all this? I think it's important for voters to know exactly who the folks are that are wanting to represent them. I also think it's important for voters to know not only about a candidate's record and stance on the issues but also the type of people they are. So, I felt it was important to share some of Brockman's record over the last 4 years and, based upon my encounter with Weathers, what voters may be getting if she were to win.

The main reason I am so disgusted with politics today is because of the way I see politicians and candidates from both sides of the aisle treat others, take advantage of their position, and act like they are above the law. Based upon the way Weathers treated me on Saturday, I wouldn't vote for her for anything. My initial impression is that she is not the type of person I want representing me on the county commission or anything else. Remember, I did absolutely nothing to instigate her verbal onslaught, but I got it anyway simply for holding a sign and supporting her opponent.

Therefore, The Sheepdog's officially endorsing Jason Brockman for Wilson Co. Commissioner District 16. For more information about Jason, please visit his website at The election is August 7th and early voting is taking place now. If you're not sure if you're in District 16, this map may help.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Tennessee's Voting Gunowners Deserve Better

In early July, the Tennessee Firearms Association (TFA) released the results of its "2014 Legislative Candidate Survey." I first saw it on the organization's Facebook page on July 1st and then received a copy of the results in my e-mail inbox a few days later on the 4th. The survey's purpose was to identify the pro- and anti-gun members of the Tennessee State House and Senate, as well as their challengers, in advance of the 2014 elections. TFA wanted its members and other voters to be informed in regards to which candidates support their gun rights when they vote this year.

Source - Wikipedia
Current incumbents, challengers, and candidates for open seats were asked 26 questions, including ones about their :
  • support for a constitutional carry bill (carrying a firearm without a permit),
  • support for nullifying federal firearms laws,
  • support for allowing carry on public school grounds (by law-abiding citizens), and
  • support for the elimination of taxes and fees on firearms and ammunition sales.
The 26 questions could be answered :
  • "Y" = yes,
  • "Y+ = yes and willing to sponsor bill, or
  • "N" = no
As I looked over the questions and responses of each legislator (click here to view), my first reaction was one of disappointment, because at first glance, it appears that most of the candidates are anti-gun. But that didn't make sense ... in Tennessee. As I reviewed and thought about the results some more, I went from confused, to bewildered, to ultimately coming to the realization that the survey results are worthless. This is why I have put together the following review of the survey.

Why? Since "N" can represent an answer of "No" or "no response", the results are at best confusing and unclear. Now, in defense of TFA, when the survey was sent out to the candidates, it stated that the failure to return a completed survey "... will be assumed to have answered in the negative..."

I suspect that the "assumed to have answered in the negative" policy was to give an incentive to the candidates to complete the survey and take it seriously. I get that. However, the problem is that of the 230+ candidates listed, 165+ of them have straight "N's" across the board. That's about 72% of them. So, based upon those results, are we, voters and gunowners, expected to assume that :
  1. 72% of the candidates did not return the completed survey?
  2. Or, does it mean that 72% of them, are anti-gun?
Do either of those make any sense to you considering that we're in Tennessee? They don't to me. Consider this - if we go with assumption #2 that about 72% of the candidates, or nearly 3 out of every 4, for state legislative office in Tennessee is anti-gun, then how in the heck can any of us even legally own a gun, let alone carry one? Would we not have some of the strictest gun-control laws in the U.S.?

It's a seriously flawed assumption. The 72% anti-gun result is what I would expect if the survey had been conducted in liberal, anti-gun states like California, Illinois, and New York, not in Tennessee. Therefore, in my opinion, the survey results are seriously flawed and should not be relied upon by voters in Tennessee.

Over the last few years, TFA's rhetoric towards various members of the Tennessee legislature has become more and more intense and, in my opinion, rude on several occasions. Once you start using terms like "crucifying" and directing it at a legislator who doesn't do what you want, I think you've gone way too far. So, I'm wondering if the straight "N" rate of 72% is primarily made up of candidates who chose not to respond.

Now, some might try to make the point that, "They must have something to hide since they didn't respond." Not necessarily. Maybe they decided that, "It doesn't matter how I answer or what I say, TFA ain't gonna be happy. So, why bother?" Maybe there's now even a lack of respect for TFA due to the way some legislators have been treated. If so, who can blame them?

I generally agree with TFA on gun issues, including constitutional carry, lowering taxes on guns and ammo, and prohibiting local governments from passing gun control laws, just to name a few. However, I disagree with the way they have gone about pushing their agenda the last few years. It reminds me too much of the way some unions have pushed people around in order to get their way. I've always heard, "you get more flies with honey than with vinegar." If you're constantly demeaning the people you need to vote the legislation you want into law, what makes you think they will do so? If it were me you were treating that way, my response would be, "Screw you!!"

Shortly after TFA's 2014 survey results were published on their Facebook page on July 1st, I left the following comment / question for John Harris, TFA Executive Director :
Mr. Harris, would it be possible to modify the codes (Y, Y+, N) a little? I think it would be helpful to voters to add one for the ones that did not respond instead of lumping those in with the N's. As is it could be a little misleading to some. Plus, I think most would like to know who responded and who didn't.
To this day, 16 days later, I have not received a response from Mr. Harris. A few other members of the organization left follow-up comments after mine, but nothing from Mr. Harris. I've wondered what that means. I thought I was polite. I was just trying to make a suggestion and provide some constructive input, because I thought the proposed change would be helpful and clearer to voters. Maybe I offended him. If so, that was not my intention. Why would I? Mr. Harris is a smart guy, well-respected within the firearms community, he knows his stuff, and if he's not the best firearms related attorney in Tennessee, he's got to be in the top 2 or 3. Maybe he just didn't agree with me. Or, maybe the survey was designed to get exactly the results I have evaluated above as meaningless. I sure hate to think so, but I guess I'll never know since I never received a reply.

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan.
Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My whole point in sharing this survey and it's results today is to warn you about relying on election information from third parties, even conservative ones. As President Reagan used to say, "trust but verify." Glenn Beck would say, "do your own homework." I try to live by both of these. You should too. Otherwise, at some point you will get burned.

Early voting begins in Tennessee tomorrow, Friday the 18th. Prior to then, do your homework if you haven't already. If you're a gun guy like me, and you were planning on relying on the "2014 TFA Candidate Survey" in making your choices as to whom will represent you, I encourage you rely on something else. However, don't take my word for it either. Check it out yourself. Look at the results. Look at the candidates and incumbents you know to be pro-gun due to their record, including their votes, and see if the survey results match what you already know. In at least some cases, it may not.

In my opinion, the survey results are somewhat misleading at best and deceptive at worst. I'm concerned that TFA may be going the way of the NRA by becoming unreliable. It's one reason I resigned my NRA membership 5 years ago. Let's hope the TFA changes course.

Tennessee's gunowners, and voters, deserve better.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

2014 Tennessee Governors Race

Early voting for Tennessee's August Primaries begins this Friday, July 18. Bill Haslam is up for re-election as governor. I've made no secret that I am no fan of his in previous posts on this blog. A few months ago, I even posted a series of videos from a NewsChannel 5 Investigation into the wheelings, dealings, and crony capitalism within his administration.

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)
Prior to his election in 2010, I said Haslam was not a conservative, despite his claims, but more of a liberal / progressive. He has proven me correct from his dislike of pro-gun legislation, to his disrespect for teachers, to the his latest big government, progressive handout program known as "The Tennessee Promise." Haslam needs to be defeated badly.

The problem is that the crop of candidates challenging him in 2014 is not very formidable, but I want to briefly highlight who they are. Today I'll cover the Republicans and the Democrats who are competing in their respective parties primaries. Later, prior to the general election, I will do a similar list that includes the Independent candidates.  If you'd like to see the entire list of Tennessee gubernatorial candidates, U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and other state office, it is available on the Tennessee Secretary of State's website by clicking here.

  1. The incumbent Bill Haslam - a progressive in conservative clothing a.k.a. a wolf. Sheepdogs don't like wolves. So, I don't like Haslam. Did not vote for him in 2010. Will not vote for him in 2014, either.
  2. Donald Ray McFolin - Ran against Haslam as an Independent in 2010. Is a U.S. Army veteran who served in Vietnam. Worked in graphic arts for 30+ years. Is currently an autism advocate motivated to run for governor in order to help kids with special needs. A commendable motivation, in my opinion.
  3. Basil Marceaux, Sr. - Ran against Haslam in 2010 gubernatorial Republican Primary. Has ran for Tennessee governor on multiple occasions, ran for Tennessee State Senate and the U.S. Senate, too, along with several other offices. Basil is an interesting guy. Visit his website to learn more
  4. Mark "Coonrippy" Brown - Brown's run for governor is due to his love for his pet racooon, Rebekah.
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
    Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
    Rebekah was captured by the TWRA (Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency) over a year ago. Brown has been unsuccessful in his attempts to get his pet back. So, he's running for governor in order to free Rebekah. What's not to like about guy and his raccoon? Heck, I might just have to vote for the guy (read Politico article).
  1. Charles V. "Charlie" Brown - no substantial information available
  2. Kennedy Spellman Johnson - no substantial information available
  3. William H. "John" McKamey - retired school teacher. Served as county commissioner and Mayor of Sullivan County. On his website, it states he supports medical marijuana. An interview published on shows that he supports homosexual marriage.
  4. Ron Noonan - only information found says he wants to decriminalize misdemeanors and move regulation of public education from the federal to the state governments
As I said, the pickings are slim when it comes to alternatives to Haslam. However, none of the Democrats will get my vote for 2 reasons : 1) the little information I was able to find on 2 show that they are way to the Left of me on the issues, and 2) I want to vote against Haslam. So, I'm left with McFolin, "Coonrippy", or Basil. Decisions, decisions. I'm leaning towards McFolin because of his motivation to help special needs kids, but as I said earlier - what's not to like about a guy wanting to free his pet raccoon?

As crazy as politics are today with incumbents being out of touch with every day people, a guy running just to save his pet kinda seems fitting. Maybe Rebekah should have been the one on the ballot. If she won, she could pardon her self.

Only in Tennessee. Wow.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Happy 4th of July!!

As you gather with family and friends today in celebration of another Independence Day, take a moment to remember all the men and women who have fought, and many died, over these last 238 years to protect you, your family, and your freedom. Besides the Lord's blessing, they are the reason we can still celebrate this day.