State Rep. Scott Cepicky and All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Advocate for Culture Changes Needed in LEA Accountability

State Rep. Scott Cepicky and All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Advocate for Culture Changes Needed in LEA Accountability


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer and State Rep. Scott Cepicky to the studio to discuss the needed changes in the cultures that lead the educational systems.

Leahy: We are having too much fun here with recovering journalists and our all-star panelist, Clint Brewer, and state Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. So, Scott, you were talking a little bit about accountability in the LEA’s, the local education authorities. And you’ve got one down in Shelby County that is performing very poorly. When you talk to those guys, do they acknowledge the people running the show? Do they acknowledge that they’re not performing well? And are they open to fixing it?

Cepicky: Well, the first thing you have to do is you’ve got to reach out and you’ve got to go visit the situation and try to understand the situation.

Leahy: Well, that makes sense. But you’re up here in Nashville. Have you gone down and talked to them?

Cepicky: Yes sir. Myself, Mark White and Debra Moody, all chairman of education.

Leahy: Mark White’s been on the show. A good friend of the show. He represents that area.

Cepicky: Yes, sir. And Debra Moody is just North.

Leahy: That’s right.

Cepicky: And so we thought it would behoove us after what we just did in the special session with the struggles that Memphis City has. Because when you talk about Shelby County remember you have Bartlett and that very high-performing schools. But Memphis is struggling. And we took a visit down there on a Friday, went down, and talked to the Superintendent of schools, Joris Ray.

I wanted to have a frank conversation with him. We want to do what you need to do. We want to help you, but we’ve got to get results because of the disproportionate way that not only Shelby, Memphis, but Nashville City schools disproportionately affect the rest of Tennessee by churning out “their graduates.” And the reception down there, I could say, was cold.

Leahy: Cold,

Cepicky: Cold.

Leahy: Cold. frigid, icy, unfriendly, unfriendly. But you hold it now. Joris Ray, he’s the superintendent of the public school system down there.

Cepicky: Yes.

Leahy: You are legislators that have the power of the purse.

Cepicky: We are concerned citizens that took the time to come down and talk to them that have the ability to help.

Leahy: You have the ability to help. Okay, I’ll take that framing.

Cepicky: Ability to help.

Leahy: So you would think that if you are in the worst-performing…

Cepicky: One of.

Leahy: One of the three worst-performing of the 147 LEA’s in the state of Tennessee, you would think you would be open to help. But Joris Ray was not that open.

Cepicky: No, he was cold towards us. If you know Representative Moody and Chairman White, they’re very kind and gracious.

Leahy: Well, you’re kind and gracious.

Cepicky: To a point I am.

Leahy: Clint, you are going to know where this comes from because Clint is a native Tennesseean. I am a transplant in Yankee, from upstate New York. You’re a Midwesterner from Missouri.

Cepicky: But remember, we chose Tennessee.

Leahy: We chose Tennessee. Let’s just say native Tennesseeans.

Brewer: Born in Memphis.

Leahy: Okay, there you go. But native Tennesseeans have a certain graciousness about them that well, at least upstate New Yorkers don’t always have.

Cepicky: The conversation was very simple. Our vision of what Memphis could be. What Memphis really could be with an outstanding educational system flowing for its citizens. For children that are born in Memphis, to have the opportunity of knowledge. To be able to take that knowledge and use it in their life to make anything out of themselves they want to be.

Leahy: The American dream.

Cepicky: Instead I had the superintendent telling me that I don’t understand the people down there.

Leahy: Is that what he said?

Cepicky: Yes. And it was shocking to hear. And my goal, if anybody asked me, Rep. Cepicky, what’s your goal for education in Tennessee? It’s very simple. I can tell you right now is that every child read, write, and do math by third grade, and everything we do is about being number one in the country in education.

Leahy: Okay. Clint, that sounds like a very common-sense goal. Right? Read and write?

Brewer: It’s a very clear-eyed simple goal to understand. The representative makes a great point but this is the same thing that’s been said to our two largest school districts for the better part of the last 30 years. And this problem has been pervasive. It has not been solved. The answer is simply, you need to see a change in the culture for who leads these systems. And that’s the only thing that will do it. You need the community rising up to say this is not enough. To say this isn’t good enough. And that’s what it will take.

Leahy: That’s a very good point. See, change in the culture. What do you think?

Cepicky: Well, we have to. We have no choice. We had one of the first times that I think ever happened. Tony Parker, the commissioner of corrections, came into the education committee last week and talked to us about the direct correlation between education and lack thereof and incarceration. And they have a program where when the inmates come into the penitentiary system, they screen them for their educational levels. Women read on about a third-grade level in penitentiaries. Men read on a first-grade level.

Leahy: First-grade level.

Cepicky: We all can agree that to get to go to a penitentiary, you have done something that you probably deserve to be in there. But is there some responsibility on us and as its legislators that they got through the system at a first-grade level? and to defend the LEAs and I’ll tell you this, to defend them we have a policy in place that in high school if they do what’s right for a student (i.e. retain a student for a year to get them on grade level).

Leahy: Right. Which makes sense. In other words, if they’re not performing at a level and you want to just get them up to the level where they should be, give them a next year back. That makes common sense right?

Cepicky: So they can succeed and get what we want which is Tennessee and is educated, someone who can make informed decisions for themselves…

Leahy: Self-supporting.

Cepicky: And contribute to society. But we penalize them for doing that at the state level by dinging their report card.

Leahy: And it doesn’t make any sense.

Cepicky: And so I’m carrying a bill next week in committee that we’re going to look in to figure out, how can we fix this? How can we let the school systems do what they need to do, which is best for the students without penalizing to do it?

Brewer: I think in Tennessee, it’s no different than anywhere else. When you get into very inner-city environments and you get into very rural environments, you run into many of the same challenges. the families often, there’s not the support structure for the kids. My wife works in the county school system and I know a lot of times just to the point about Memphis, or you could say there’s about a lot of rural counties that, sometimes those kids the only meal they’re getting is the meal they get at school.

And so there are children and families who are up against a lot to take advantage of what otherwise is an adequate school system. Where I think the work is that needs to be done is outside the power structure. I think that conversations with leadership in large school districts at this point are probably not going to be fruitful. And what leaders in Nashville have to do at the state House is to talk directly to folks in the communities about what their expectations are. Which I can assure you are a lot higher than what they’re being delivered.

Leahy: Representative Cepicky, so Clint said something interesting, that conversations with these failing LEA leaderships are not going to be fruitful. I guess your personal experience, at least with one of these failing LEAs, would confirm that?

Cepicky: That is true. We have spoken with them. And as you make yourself available to the public, you’d be surprised how many people reach out to you from those struggling school systems that are wanting help.

Leahy: What do they say from a struggling school? What did they say to you?

Cepicky: Do whatever we have to do to affect the change needed for their kids.

Brewer: And let me make the point here, too, we’re talking about failing school systems. There are plenty of school systems in the state that are just above failing. They’re not statistically at the red flag level of Davidson and Shelby Counties, but they’re still not doing a super great job for the children in their district.

Leahy: Exactly right. On that, state representative Cepicky what’s your schedule today? Are you going to go off and do some business, or you’re gonna be able to stick with us for the rest of the show, or are you going to want to go off? Because I see you checking your clock, you’re gonna head out?

Cepicky: I’m gonna head out. I’ve got a very, very, big bill on the House floor today.

Leahy: Okay, well, State Representative Scott Cepicky, thanks so much for joining us today. What a wonderful conversation. I’m so happy to get to know you.

Cepicky: I appreciate being here.

Leahy: And come back again if you will and tell all your friends in the General Assembly that this is a place to come to get your message out.

Cepicky: Thank you, Michael.

Listen to the full third hour:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio






All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Talks About the John Kerry No Mask Flight and Elizabeth Warren’s Filibuster Foibles

All Star Panelist Clint Brewer Talks About the John Kerry No Mask Flight and Elizabeth Warren’s Filibuster Foibles


Live from Music Row Thursday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed all-star panelist Clint Brewer to the studio to weigh in on John Kerry’s no mask flight and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s irresponsible and historically inaccurate rhetoric to remove the filibuster.

Leahy: We are talking with all-star panelist and recovering journalists Clint Brewer about our big story at The Tennessee Star with a picture of John Kerry on a commercial flight yesterday not wearing a mask. That story has gone all over the place. It was a lead story at Fox  all yesterday. It was on Brett Beers and Fox News, followed by Tucker Carlson, followed by Sean Hannity, followed by Shannon Bream. All these stories last night. Breitbart has covered it. The Dail Mail has covered. The Daily Caller has covered it. TheBlaze has covered it.

Brewer: They’re crediting you guys appropriately?

Leahy: All of them. Crediting The Tennessee Star.

Brewer: Good.

Leahy: A couple of questions from Breitbart that boil my friends on the editor at Breitbart. John Kerry said to Tweet about the photographic evidence about this clear violation of the Federal Order and American Airlines policy that it was ‘momentary.’ He was not eating or drinking. He does not claim that he was.

If that is okay for John Kerry to do, can anyone else have “momentary slip of the mask?” This was a question to American Airlines. Second, what is an acceptable amount of time for someone to have their mask slip off their nose and mouth for a momentary period? Has John Kerry been disciplined in any way for violation of this health order? Will American Airlines allow John Kerry to continue to fly or ban him from future flights for this violation?

Brewer: Does President Biden have a press briefing today? I kind of think he does.

Leahy: He has like a March 25 press conference. Somebody will ask him about that.

Brewer: As an avowed, dedicated mask-wearing American (Leahy laughs) during this pandemic and as a Republican I wish Czar Kerry would set a better example for the American

Leahy: A pretty bad example. Let me tell you what the consequences of this is. I suppose at the Tennessee Star we will be responsible for more global warming because clearly what John Kerry is going to do now is he’s going to go to the President and say, Mr. President obviously, I cannot fly commercial flights anymore because they’re going to take pictures of me not wearing my mask. I need to use my private plane now.

Brewer: Mike, you’re in talk radio, all the hot air alone is hurting the climate. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: That’s good. Speaking of hot air in Washington, DC, Senator Elizabeth Warren is generating a lot of hot air with her desire to get rid of the filibuster. You just saw this the story come out. Tell us about it, Clint.

Brewer: There’s a story on Axios about her saying that the filibuster is racist because it is used based on what I read, she seems to believe it’s used primarily by Southern politicians to hold back advances and civil rights legislation. Now, I hate to sound like a musty old historian here, but let’s get our facts straight. The filibuster is not something created in the Constitution, but it has existed as a rule of the Senate since 1806.

Leahy: That was before civil rights legislation, I would think, right?

Brewer: Yes.

Leahy: It’s 150 years before.

Brewer: And it was not used until 18 37 but it has been used ever since then. And I’m pretty sure that Democrats have had the majority in the U.S Senate several times since 1837. now, Yes, it is correct that the longest and most famous filibuster was sent by the late Senator Strom Thurmond fighting the federal Civil Rights Act. That is accurate.

But to put it in a modern-day context and say that it only exists for Southern politicians to hold back civil rights, first of all, it’s irresponsible rhetoric. Second of all, it paints a large group of very dedicated public servants from one part of the country with a broad brush that is unfair and inaccurate. And it’s just more of the same from Elizabeth Warren. It just feels like her usual level of attention-seeking and grandstanding.

She couldn’t get nominated president, and she’s not in the cabinet, and it’s just gross and it’s irresponsible. And it’s the kind of partisan hackery we don’t need in this country right now. We’ve got bigger problems to deal with. But this is like the whole talk about packing the court. And this flies all over me as a taxpayer and as a voter with both parties. Just because you’re either out of power or in power, you don’t change the institutional rules of something like the U.S. Senate just to suit your immediate purposes.

Go win some elections. Quit trying to move the goalposts to suit your agenda. Work within the system that has brought this country along successfully for 200 plus years. You don’t just flip the paradigm in an institution like the Senate because right now it suits your purposes. That’s very short-sided. It’s not good for the Republic, and it’s not good for the American people.

Leahy: Isn’t that what the Democratic Party is about right now, though? Will for power? Having power and exercising it with no regard for the institutions of the American country?

Brewer: What you’ve got in the senators is a very thinly, divided Senate with a couple of very moderate Democratic senators who are siding as much with Republicans as they are with Democrats. That’s uncomfortable for progressives like Elizabeth Warren. Now in the House, it’s less struggle because they got more of a majority.

Progressives like Warren in the Senate are feeling the heat because they can’t move the ball for their particular agenda. And so what’s the answer? Well, we’ll just change the rules that have existed since 1806. It’s cheap, I guess, is the best way to say it. It’s a cheap attempt at moving the goalposts. And other than that, it’s also just inaccurate.

Leahy: Yes. But you’re talking Senator Elizabeth Warren, who’s been known for being inaccurate about her own personal heritage and other things. I look at Democrats, and I think they are generally a bunch of insane liars who hate the country. But that’s just my view.

Brewer: Look, I know plenty of good people who are Democrats. I just don’t think Elizabeth Warrens one of them.

Leahy: I’m with you on that.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio








Senator Bill Hagerty Discusses Commission Proposal and the Use of the Pandemic as Lever to Circumvent the Constitution

Senator Bill Hagerty Discusses Commission Proposal and the Use of the Pandemic as Lever to Circumvent the Constitution


Live from Music Row Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. –  host Leahy welcomed TN (R) U.S. Senator Bill Hagerty to the newsmakers line.

During the third hour, Senator Hagerty discussed the importance of the Georgia run-off elections and maintaining a Republican U.S. Senate. He also outlined the motivation behind the 10-day audit commission proposed by himself, Senator Marsha Blackburn, and Senator Ted Cruz.

Leahy: We are joined right now by Senator Bill Hagerty on our newsmaker line. Good morning, Senator Hagerty.

Hagerty: Good morning! Good morning! It’s great to be with you again.

Leahy: Congratulations on being sworn in. What was that moment like when you were sworn in as a United States Senator?

Hagerty: Well, I can tell you Michael what a great honor it is to represent the people of Tennessee. I’m a fourth-generation Tennessean and I tell you it touched me deep to my core to be bestowed this honor by the people of our state to represent them at a very critical time in our nation’s history. What I felt was the gravity of the responsibility ahead. And again, I can’t tell you how much I am honored by the opportunity to serve.

Leahy: And you’re exactly right. A very grave time in our history. Today are the run-off elections in Georgia. What do you think’s going to go on down there? And what are your comments on the Georgia run-off elections today?

Hagerty: You know Michael you have been talking about this. I’ve been talking about this. Really the fate of our nation may hang on the results of today’s election. And I would say this to any of your listeners who may be residents of Georgia. Legal residents of Georgia. Please get out and vote today. It’s absolutely critical. If for any reason we were to lose today the two seats and we don’t hold both of those seats that means that Kamala Harris if she is successful in this effort, could be the deciding vote in terms of the control of the United States Senate. She would put Chuck Schumer in charge of the Senate. And Schumer has made it clear what they’ll do.

They’ll first take Georgia, then they’ll change America. And that means packing the court. Forever changing the Supreme Court and turning it into a super legislative body frankly so they can backdoor their radical liberal policies. They’re talking about making D.C. a state and that’s more senators voting for more liberal policies because they’ll both be Democrats. And they may do the same thing with Puerto Rico.

They want to undo the 2017 Tax Act which was the impetus for turning our economy into the juggernaut of the world. That was really the point that made our GDP growth greater than any other nation in the world. They want to reverse all of that. They want to raise all of our taxes so every Tennessean can pay two to four thousand more in taxes every year and they want to take away our freedoms. We can’t allow that to happen and today is the stand to make certain that the Republicans maintain a controlled Senate.

Leahy: On Saturday you joined Senator Marsha Blackburn, Senator Ted Cruz, and eight other United States senators and issued a statement that said in part ‘we intend to vote on January sixth to reject the electors from disputed states as not  “regularly given” and “lawfully certified” the statutory requisite unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.’ Tell us about how that came about.

Hagerty: Well, I’ve been concerned about this from the days following the election. And I’ve been thinking about the vehicle to address this for weeks. I could not Michael in good conscience vote to accept the results of this election when I have such deep doubts about what happened here. To simply rubber-stamp it would be to passively approve a process that I have very deep concerns about. In my view, we have situations where the Constitution was violated.

The United States Constitution explicitly puts the responsibility for state elections in the hands of state legislators. The elected officials in the state. The legislative body. And what’s happened in a number of states is that those legislative bodies have been usurped by activist judges. By executive branch officials. By unelected bureaucrats. What they’ve done is they’ve gone around the Constitution and they’ve used this pandemic as a lever to do it.

They use the pandemic as an excuse to achieve things they could never do before. And what the result has been that they’ve created so much chaos by flooding us with all of these mail-in ballots that the system has been shaken to its core. And we want to have this reviewed. We want to get to the bottom of it quickly. And we want to put those results back to the state legislatures that are responsible and make certain they act.

Leahy: Walk our listeners through what’s going to happen at the joint session of Congress tomorrow. It’s going to be I guess Vice President Pence who will preside over that joint session. It will be held I guess in the House Chambers. All House members will be there. All Senators will be there. You’ll be there. Is that how it’s going to start?

Hagerty: Absolutely. Michael, you’re the expert on constitutional processes. That is as you described it is exactly how it will take place. And then once the objection is raised and it’s got to be raised by both members of the House and Senate we’ve made clear that we’re going to be part of that process. Once that objection is raised we’re going to each return to our own chambers. That means the House members will stay there and the Senate will move back over to the Senate chambers and will engage in two hours of debate on the topic. There will be a vote.

Leahy: The 12th amendment says that the Vice President shall open the envelopes with the certified electors from each state. Will he begin that process? I guess he starts out alphabetically? Or will be there be some sort of delay that happens prior to his opening of those? Do you have any insights on that?

Hagerty: I’m not privy to any maneuvering that would be different from what the 12th amendment calls for.

Leahy: So in that case then do they start alphabetically with like Alabama?

Hagerty: That’s how I understand it.

Leahy: So when they get to Georgia, I guess alphabetically that would be the first one where they come to make an objection. He starts to open up, Georgia, and they start to count them. What happens at that moment?

Hagerty: It could happen well before Georgia.

Leahy: Oh, that’s breaking news if it could happen before Georgia. That’s very interesting.

Hagerty: I’m not saying that it will, it’s not been decided yet. It’s not certain which state it will be. But when an objection is raised and signed by a member of the House and a member of the Senate that objection will have to be very succinct and precise. It’s not going to be debated at that point. And then both bodies go back to their own separate quarters.

Again, the House will stay in their building and the Senate will move back over to the Senate chambers. That will be the precipitant of the two-hour debate. And at that point that they will be called to an end. We will come to a vote. And we’ll see how that vote goes. But my hope is that we will be able to register loudly and clearly that something has to be done about this.

With the commission that we’re talking about, we’ll get to the bottom of it. And I would think this shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I would think the Democrats, as well as Republicans, would want to stand for election integrity and they would be as concerned as I am about violations of the Constitution and about serious allegations.

Leahy: Will there be a single two-hour debate in the Senate where you look over all of these objections to all the states or we’ll each state to which there’s an objection get a two-hour debate?

Hagerty: Unless there is a procedural change my understanding is it will go state by state by state. So the very first state that is objected to that’s where the arguments will be made. All of the arguments could be, you know could be made at that point, but we could also see our objections raised for further states. Again precipitate the same two-hour process.

Leahy: So it could then in theory be if objections were raised to six states. It could be six separate two-hour debates. Is that your understanding of what the process would be like?

Hagerty: That could be the output. I think it would be a very redundant process at that point but that could be the output.

Leahy: Could possibly be the output. Are you getting a lot of pressure from people? For example, Senator Josh Hawley was the first to say he would not certify the electors. He wasn’t part of your group that will call for the 10-day commission. By the way, I think that’s brilliant to go to the precedent of 1877 when they did have such a commission to look at that. But his house was vandalized in D.C. Is that a concern that you might have that people are going to be violent to you?

Hagerty: I think it’s regrettable that this is what our country has come to. You probably also saw that the homes of speaker Pelosi and leader McConnell were vandalized over the weekend. Again violence has no place in this. We need to have a healthy debate again. I’d like to get to the bottom of this. I think the commission is the best way to do it. I also think that state legislatures are clearly the ones responsible for executing the for setting the rules and for executing those rules in their states.

And I want this commission to make very clear, you know, what their findings are and get those back to state legislators and let them do their job. This is something that I think every state needs to be questioning very carefully and going through the processes to make certain that voter integrity is maintained in every state in the union.

Leahy: Oh, you said something very important there. That the results of the audit will be to provide advice to the state legislators who have the authority in this case. Is that pretty much the plan then?

Hagerty: That is the plan right now which is to go through this process quickly. We’ve got a 10-day limit on it. could be done sooner, Michael. But it’s got to be done quickly. In my view, the questions that are there are the clearest issues having to do with violations of state constitutions of operators other than the state legislatures.

Leahy: Exactly like the Secretary of State and some cases.

Hagerty: Exactly. Or an activist judge.

Leahy: Exactly. Senator Bill Hagerty, congratulations on being sworn in yesterday. Thank you so much for joining us today.

Hagerty: Thank you.

Listen to the full third hour here:

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio