Capitol View Commentary: Friday, May 24, 2013

Capitol View Commentary: Friday, May 24, 2013

CREATED May 24, 2013


By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice-president, DVL Public Relations & Advertising

May 24, 2013




Not since the opening of the downtown Library in 1999 have I heard such rave reviews about a new public building in Nashville.

The Music City Center is a big hit with those who've seen it and toured it. Even THE NASHVILLE SCENE wrote a glowing article about its design (when does THE SCENE ever write anything glowing about city government or politics?)

Let's hope the building is just as big a hit in attracting tourists and conventions to town so we can pay for this $585 million palace, the largest such public development in Tennessee history.

In that regard (as I told he would after his comments on INSIDE POLITICS two weeks ago) Mayor Karl Dean was eager to announce, right before cutting the ribbon on the MCC, that the city has made its goal of booking one million room nights before the new center's doors opened.

Now the Mayor wants to book that next million room nights for the MCCC, and keep moving Nashville ahead. In his annual STATE OF METRO ADDRESS, the first speech made inside the MCC, the Mayor outlined the next big things he wants to address while in office. That includes mass transit improvements (more on the AMP project on the INSIDE POLITICS section of this column) as well as continued education advancements and generally continuing to make Nashville a more outreaching and welcoming city to all who come here. That would include everyone from the would-be songwriter to the immigrant from another country as well as the up and coming new business developer.

And for that matter the Mayor wants Nashville to be inclusive even to those few of us who've had the great pleasure and opportunity to grow up and live in this ever more wonderful (if still far from perfect) place we call Nashville.

Mayor Dean is also intensifying and broadening the city's commitment to providing affordable housing through the creation of a housing trust fund named in honor (quite fittingly) of the Reverend Bill Barnes, a longtime local advocate for the poor. The funds will target help for those who make at or below 60% of the medium family income and/or folks who make at or around the minimum wage. The MCC will be generating a lot of service worker jobs, held by folks who might benefit from this new fund. This fund is also the first time the city will some "skin" (money) directly in the affordable housing effort on an ongoing basis and not just rely on federal, state or private funds. The goal is so that as Mayor Dean put it: "no working citizen should be faced with that choice" of paying for their housing versus food on the table for their families or their other living expenses.


Lots of national conservatives and Tea Party leaders are still struggling with the likelihood that Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander is a heavy favorite to win re-election in 2014, and therefore could remain on the Washington scene for maybe up to another seven years.

But what really set them off were comments the Senator made in a recent POLITICO interview where he compared his strategy for re-election to the "shock and awe" campaign of General Colin Powell during the Iraq War where early "overwhelming force" quickly carried the day.

In terms of its quick and overwhelming success (especially in already raising millions in campaign dollars for the Senator) it's hard to disagree with the analogy (although I connect the shock and awe term more with Donald Rumsfeld not General Powell). But there's no doubt, most GOP conservatives just don't like Colin Powell anymore. They see him as a RHINO (Republican in Name Only), and worst that than, an Obama supporter since he endorsed the President in both of his campaigns.

Now this analogy makes them see Senator Alexander the exact same way (frankly many already did) and one of them, Micheal Patrick Leahy, co-founder of a group called BEAT LAMAR says: " If it's war you (Lamar) want, it's war you'll get!"

Brave words, but they ring pretty hollow frankly. They don't have a candidate and they are running out of time to find one (unless someone arises with a built-in positive brand image and/or someone who can self-finance his/her campaign). Already the WWF wrestler Kane (Glenn Jacobs), rumored to be looking to take on Lamar (because he's mad the Senator supports the Marketplace Fairness Act and an on-line sales tax for the states who opt in), now says, thank, but no thanks.

A recent public opinion poll by Vanderbilt University found Senator Alexander with a 53% job approval rating. Not overwhelming , but not bad for someone with a huge bankroll to run with; the image of a political icon in Tennessee after serving two terms in the Senate and two as Governor; and, again, someone with no apparent strong opponent in the August 2014 GOP primary or from the Democrats in the fall of 2014.

In fact, the shock and awe might be if Senator Alexander somehow is not re-elected.


Here are some kudos for a couple of recent good hires in politics.

First, the Joe Carr Congressional campaign for hiring Chip Saltsman as its campaign director.

Chip's been used to working for underdogs without the most money or endorsements from the GOP establishment (Mike Huckabee and Chuck Fleischmann) and coming in very well, thank you. He's one of the most gifted on-the-air political analysts I've ever worked with (and while talking ain't doing and Chip did stub his toe when he ran for National GOP Chairman a few years back), he knows what he's doing and his hiring says to me the Carr campaign is for real and isn't going away (although I want to see a few more quarters of fund raising disclosures before I am absolutely sure of that).

The 4th District race involving incumbent GOP Congressman Dr. Scott DesJarlais and Republican State Senator Jim Tracy furthered heated up in recent days with news that DesJarlais has paid $500 in fines and $1,000 in prosecution costs (and been reprimanded by state medical officials) to settle complaints lodged against him for sleeping with patients. All these matters occurred before he was elected to Congress as a strong pro-life, conservative candidate. The disclosure of the issues came from a release of court records from a divorce case involving Dr. DeJarlais and caused a political and media firestorm during his (still successful) 2012 re-election effort.

Congressman DesJarlais says he admits his mistakes and has agreed to accept the decision by the state Board of Medical Examiner. He says the matter is over now and he is moving on. He may well be relieved. The charges were serious enough to have caused his medical license to be suspended or even revoked. There are already some complaints that perhaps the Congressman got off too easily. So you can be sure that his 2014 opponents are not likely to see this matter as completely done. They‘ll say it's time for voters to hire someone else for the job in Washington.

And getting back to new hires…….

Kudos as well to Governor Bill Haslam for making Jim Henry the permanent Commissioner of the embattled Tennessee Department of Children's Services

From the first day he moved over to temporarily assume the reins of a department that was in complete disarray (and burning to the ground consumed in a media firestorm), Henry has brought his leadership and political skills to slowly stabilize things. Has he solved DCS's problems? No way. But he's brought some renewed structure and confidence that things are moving slowly in the right direction.

Governor Haslam should be grateful Henry is willing to take on the job permanently. In a period when the Governor has had his problems with his Cabinet leadership, this decision to keep Commissioner Henry on the job full time is a real winner and one his administration needs.


Congressman Jim Cooper is my guest this weekend on INSIDE POLITICS.

We have lots to discuss as our representative has been all over the news lately. That includes his comments that he doesn't think a more budget-cutting Washington will approve federal funds for sMayor Karl Dean's bus rapid transit AMP project from White Bridge Road to Five Points. Cooper has also raised some eyebrows about a constitutional amendment he's proposing to safe guard voting rights (and the speech he made with some racial slurs when he first suggested the idea).

We'll also talk about the scandals in Obama's Washington and what impact they will make on getting any kind of deal done in Congress on the budget and deficit, immigration or anything else for that matter.

INSIDE POLITICS can be seen several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 NETWORK. Our air times include 5:00 a.m. Sunday on the main channel, WTVF-TV NEWSCHANNEL5. We are also on NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS at 7:00 p.m. Friday, 5:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m., Saturday, and 5:00 a.m. & 12:30 p.m., Sunday. THE PLUS is on Comcast Cable channel 250, Charter Cable channel 150 and NEWSCHANNEL5's over-the-air digital channel. For those outside Nashville or who don't have cable access, portions of INSIDE POLITICS interviews are later posted on NEWSCHANNEL5.com.


I thought following my attack last June, I had developed a heightened sense of awareness about strokes.

I guess not.

It was only by mistake last week that I learned on line that May is National Stroke Awareness Month. So here it is almost the end of that month and now it hits me.

I guess I have more work to do. So please don't remain clueless like me. If you find yourself slurring your words, you develop a headache or cramps or you have trouble walking or talking, call 9-1-1 and get help.

Do a Google search about stroke awareness to learn more, and be a true friend if you suspect someone around you is showing signs of a stroke. Do something, say something to help. You can save a life, like some friends did for me, or maybe you can save yourself. Don't hesitate. Seconds make all the difference. I know it did for me.

Next week I will be thanking some friends who saved me by taking them out to lunch. It's the least I can do even though it's not really all that much.

My recovery continues. This past week at the Y I even got on a treadmill to do some walking exercises with my trainer. Some of you may remember I tried doing some treadmill work while I was doing out-patient physical therapy last summer and fall at Bill Wilkerson.

I was horrible, like a sack of potatoes. I needed to be strapped to the machine so I didn't hurt myself and I had to have several additional physical therapists hold me up so I wouldn't fall down. I had to be told repeatedly to move my legs and feet. I thought I was trying but they (especially on the left side) wouldn't move very much or very fast. I was actually embarrassed and it was kind of a low point for me during recovery.

I did a lot, lot better than that this past week according to my Y trainer Matthew. I am sure too that would please my Bill Wilkerson therapist, Lisa (affectionately nicknamed my Drill Sargent).It's been her hard work and now Mathew's (since October) that have brought me where I am and I've more work to do. And yes, I am still going to the Y twice a week and following my diet, using my sleep apnea machine, taking my medicines, etc.

I am getting a change to see some old high school friends this weekend. This is the third year in a row we've gathered at Sewanee up on the Monteagle Mountain on Memorial Day weekend for our Last Man Standing Reunion. Little did I know last year when we gathered that I might be the one not standing (or maybe not living) this year. It will just be a blessing to see them and be with them all again (although some of these guys I see here in Nashville from time to time throughout the year). And I do plan to bring some Jack Daniel's Honey for us to sip. It will be sweet.