Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 former state representative Sheila Butt in studio to discuss her background and first Tennessee win in 2010. Butt is an independent candidate for Maury County Mayor.
Leahy: We are delighted to welcome to our microphones in-studio, a good friend for a long time, former State Representative Sheila Butt from Maury County. Good morning, Sheila.
Butt: Good morning. How are you?
Leahy: Well, I am awake and now the studio has been brightened up by your presence.
Butt: Oh, thanks so much. Thank you.
Leahy: We have known each other for a long time. Tell us a little bit about your background. When did you get involved in politics down there in Maury County?
And when did you first get elected to the Tennessee House of Representatives? How did that all happen and how long did you serve, and what were your biggest accomplishments?
Butt: I really began getting into politics … 14 years ago there was a Tea Party which began in Maury County. And I suspect that many of us conservatives started as Tea Party members.
Leahy: So that would put us back 2008, 2009.
Butt: Okay. We started way back there. And many of my friends are just freedom-loving Americans.
Leahy: I’m guessing now Trish Stickle was part of that.
Butt: Trish was part of that. Part of that. Almost the entire executive committee of our current GOP were part of it.
Leahy: They were early Tea Party folks. People talk about the Tea Party as something that started on the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and constitutionally limited government.
Leahy: And say, well, what did it accomplish? It accomplished a significant amount in some arenas.
Butt: I think so.
Leahy: Being involved in the creation, if you will, of a Republican party that’s active in Maury County.
Butt: Absolutely. And a Republican Party that is individualistic. We are an individualistic group. And so we looked around and we saw that our Republican Party had people in it who were really old-school people that just thought everything is about a party.
And we thought, you know, we want people to be in office. We want people to be able to represent us who are like us. So we virtually started running for offices in the Republican Party and basically became the Republican Party of Maury County.
Leahy: That’s a good success story. And, Sheila, when did you first decide that you wanted to run for public office?
Butt: That would have been in probably 2009, November, December 2010. We started campaigning and working hard. And let me say this about our Republican Party. We have grown that party. In our monthly meetings. We have about 200 people on a regular basis.
Leahy: Every month.
Butt: Every month.
Leahy: And when you started …
Butt: We probably had 15 to 20 people.
Leahy: There’s a lot of energy around … my friend Stephen K. Bannon, whose WarRoom calls it “participatory populism,” right?
Butt: Yes, absolutely.
Leahy: I think that’s a good description of it, with a focus on the Constitution.
Butt: With the Constitution. That’s exactly right. And we all do know that local politics is very important. In our state politics, if you know the doctrine of the lesser magistrate, you understand that a state can protect itself from so many things. And a mayor and a county can protect themselves from so many things.
Leahy: So you first decided to run for state rep in the November 2010 election?
Leahy: That was an uphill battle at the time, wasn’t it?
Butt: It was absolutely an uphill battle. We had a very likable incumbent Democrat and people would say, oh, Sheila, you are just wasting your time.
They say, you know, you might have to get in one and lose one to win one. And I said, “I have never gotten in a race to lose one. No, we’ll win this race.”
Leahy: How did you win in 2010?
Butt: Because as I mentioned before, I’m a people person and I had the same people that are right in the Republican Party right now there in Maury County working with me. We knocked on every door in the county two times.
Leahy: You knocked on every door in the county two times?
Butt: Every door in our district. There was a little part of that county that was not our district, but we knocked on every door in that county twice during that election. We just knew that if we worked hard enough and people saw our faces and knew what we stood for that we would win.
Leahy: November 2010, you’re there waiting for the election results. When did you know you won – how much did you win by?
Butt: Here’s a fascinating story. I’m at the gas station. I’m standing in Spring Hill, I get a call that I have won early voting and I’m not in Columbia, I’m in Spring Hill.
When I get the call that I have won early voting, I know that I’ve won the election. In Maury County if you win early voting, you win the election.
Leahy: And so how much did you win by?
Butt: I’d say significantly.
Leahy: Ten points.
Butt: Ten points.
Leahy: And you got elected easily every time since.
Live from Music Row Wednesday 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 Maury County, Tennessee State Representative Scott Cepicky to the newsmaker line to discuss the recent guidelines released by the Tennessee Department of Health’s Commissioner Lisa Piercy and urged Governor Lee to circumvent the federal government so Tennesseans could receive the treatment.
Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line by my very good friend, State Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. Welcome, Scott. Thanks so much for joining us on such short notice.
Cepicky: My pleasure, Michael. Good morning, everybody.
Leahy: Can you help us unravel this statement yesterday from Lisa Piercy who is the department of health commissioner that was talking about the guidelines for monoclonal antibody treatments?
This is a very effective treatment for those who test positive for COVID-19. She said that for people who test positive, you have to test positive to get the treatment. Then she said the new thing is the National Institute of Health criteria.
Even if you test positive for COVID-19, but you’re vaccinated, you don’t get it. (i.e. the monoclonal antibiotic treatment.) Now, what on earth did she say? Does it make any sense? Can you help unravel that for us, Scott?
Cepicky: I don’t know if I can help unravel something that’s impossible to understand. I think you have to look at the beginnings of all this.
Ever since coronavirus hit the continental United States, most of our leaders, the CDC, have been wrong in their diagnosis, including our own department of health who has been very misguided in their programs to help control the spread of a virus that’s really uncontrollable.
It’s going to go where it’s going to go. But now we get this thing with the Biden administration, and this is where it all started Michael. When the Biden administration came out with an order that we’re going to start the rash in the monoclonal antibodies.
And instead of sending them to the state that we’re using them the most to treat patients to help them get over COVID, they wanted to treat all the states the same, even states that really weren’t using them that much and giving them all the same allotment of the monoclonal antibodies. So we’re now in certain states, these are sitting on the shelves, not helping anybody.
Leahy: That’s crazy.
Cepicky: To where we could be using them here in Tennessee. And like you said, I represent Maury County. Maury Regional Hospital.
Well, on average, was treating about 70 patients a day with the monoclonal antibodies, treating them, and then sending them home and they were fine and getting over COVID. That numbers down to around 19 because they just don’t have the monoclonal antibodies to give out anymore.
And so people are coming in who are sick and right now are being turned away because they don’t have the antibodies to give them.
Leahy: So here’s my question to you. Why can’t Maury County hospital go directly to Regeneron or Eli Lilly to make this stuff and buy it and just circumvent the federal government? Why can’t Governor Lee do that? What are your thoughts on that?
Cepicky: That is 100 percent accurate. That is one of the things that we’ve been talking about in the halls of Cordell Hall up in Nashville, encouraging Governor Lee to talk about that and go ahead and bypass the federal government contract directly and get these monoclonal antibodies from the manufacturer so we can make sure the people of Tennessee have the best medical care available to them.
And that’s one thing we’re going to encourage immensely with our governor and with the Department of Health. They have the money to bypass the federal government and do what’s right for Tennessee.
Leahy: Has the governor responded to that request? What do you think? What has he told you?
Cepicky: From what I understand through the back channels is that that’s being looked at right now, trying to bypass the Biden administration. And let’s make one thing clear here.
This is the Biden administration who’s targeting Tennessee. They are targeting red states right now. He made a statement the other day and a singled Tennessee out for the way our governor is responding to his executive orders.
Tennessee is being targeted by the federal government. They’re trying to make life as difficult as possible for us, and we are not going to stand for that. We are going to defend Tennessee to the best of our ability.
Leahy: Why does it take the governor more than 24 hours to make this decision? If he’s got the money, why doesn’t he place the order with Regeneron or Eli Lilly like today?
Cepicky: Unfortunately, Michael, I don’t hold the title of governor. I’m just a representative up there, but we are encouraging our governor and our leadership to reach out right now.
And, most importantly, this is something that Dr. Piercy should be taking the lead on right now. Her job is to protect Tennessee in health crisises.
One could argue we’re in a health crisis here with these monoclonal antibodies. She should be doing everything she can to secure the necessary medicine for our citizens.
Leahy: But she doesn’t seem to be doing anything except saying, “If you’re vaccinated, you don’t get the monoclonal antibodies now.” That’s what she said. Apparently, according to this Epoch Times article.
Cepicky: We call that medicine rationing, and we don’t do that in Tennessee because we have the means to not do that.
Leahy: Apparently, Lisa Piercy, the commissioner of health thinks we do.
Cepicky: Sometimes we have to disagree with the commissioner, and, you know, I’ve done that on a couple of occasions where we’ve called them out on their policies and procedures.
Maybe they need to take another look at this and before the General Assembly has to chime in and just make this right and fix it as quickly as possible.
Leahy: What are the odds of that happening?
Cepicky:(Chuckles) I wish we were in session right now because we have a little bit more authority to wield. But I know that government operations will probably be addressing this next month.
I know Chairman Reagan on Gov. Ops and Chairman Roberts are very concerned about this. And I would not be surprised if this is not rectified very quickly, that by the time we get to the government Operations Committee next month I’m sure this will be front and center.
Leahy: Crom Carmichael has a question for you, Scott.
Carmichael: A quick question on special sessions. Do special sessions have to be called for a particular reason? Or if you call a special session and then something like this comes up, can it be addressed in that special session?
Cepicky: So it depends on who calls it. If the governor calls the special session, he has the ability and the authority to limit the call to precisely what the governor wants to address.
If the General Assembly calls the special session, it is open to any bill that we want to consider. It’s basically like we’re coming back into a normal session and we’re going back to work.
Leahy: So have you asked Governor Lee to call for a special session? And what did he say to you?
Cepicky: Well, I haven’t talked to him directly on that. Speaker Sexton sent that letter with the 72 Republican representatives from the House calling for a special session by the governor.
I would much prefer to have the latitude to address the COVID issues and the liability issues with our businesses and the mask mandates.
School issues and this monoclonal antibody issue. I would much prefer that the General Assembly calls itself back into session so that we can take up a multitude of issues and address them all at one time.
Leahy: According to the Tennessee Constitution there are two ways for a special session, the governor can call it. Or if two thirds of the members of the House and two-thirds of the members of the state Senate say we want a special session, then they can call such a special session.
The lieutenant governor, the speaker, the Senate, and the speaker of the house send a letter to the governor saying, two-thirds on both houses. We’re calling a special session.
I know Speaker Cameron Sexton wants to do it, and every member of the Republican talks wants to do it. But in the Senate, it’s a different story.
Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally, who’s also the Speaker of the Senate, doesn’t want one. Any luck with the state senators calling special session now?
Cepicky: I think every day when you add this monoclonal antibody issue on top of it, of all the other issues that we’re facing in Tennessee right now, I think the pressure continues to mount on our Senate colleagues to get us back into session.
And, Michael, the thing that’s really perplexing is you saw that letter from Speaker Sexton, who represents the entire House of Representatives.
He’s the Speaker of the House. It’s very perplexing to me that not one Democrat signed on to at least coming into session and having these discussions on our schools and on mask mandates, etcetera, etcetera.
That’s the most perplexing thing is we can’t even get the other side of the aisle to step up to the plate and say, hey, let’s at least come in and have these discussions.
They don’t have to vote for the legislation I if they don’t want to, but at least come in and have the discussion that the people of Tennessee want.
And in the Senate, I hope we can continue to apply as polite of pressure as we can to begin with. But there comes a point in time when you got to do what’s right.
And I think it’s time for us to get back into session through the General Assembly so that we can talk about the issues that we need to talk about and then get legislation going to continue to move Tennessee forward.
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 Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles in the studio to weigh in on the uncertainty of the mature minor doctrine by the Tennessee Health Department and the right of parental consent with administering the COVID vaccine to minor children.
Leahy: Well, we’re enjoying some good coffee. It’s just, we’re enjoying this good coffee. And, of course, what I’m afraid of, Andy – No, I’m not afraid of – I know this is coming. Round two of lockdowns from the authoritarian Democrats establishment media. It’s coming.
You can see it. It’s like a Big Mac truck coming down the highway right at you. That’s what I see. I think you are involved in a little bit of pushback. The Freedom Matters Tour is coming to Tellico Village tomorrow night. Tell us about that.
Ogles: Yes. We launched The Freedom Matters Tour. Tennessee Stands is helping coordinate it. You can go to Freedommatterstour.com. You can see our dates.
Ogles: That’s right. Gary is doing a great job. A lot of the lawsuits that have been filed against Williamson County, Davidson County, against the governor on freedom and liberty as it pertains to COVID, his group, either directly or indirectly, has been involved with.
And so really kind of tip of the spear as far as trying to get this adjudicated, through court. And one of the things they’ve been fighting is the whole issue of standing and the AG dodging the question. But oddly enough, there was actually legislation passed by the Tennessee legislature as introduced by Casada.
Leahy: Glen Casada.
Ogles: And Harwell was the Speaker at the time, which says, and I’m going to abbreviate here and summarize that any Tennessee citizen has the right to challenge the action of their government in court. So they by default have standing.
Leahy: Standing is that excuse that courts use when they don’t want to deal with a difficult issue. People who are lawyers spend their lives finding out about who has standing and who doesn’t?
And often as a nonlawyer, I’ll look at a case where it looks like, obviously, this plaintiff has standing, and the courts will say, no, you don’t have standing. And I try to figure out, how do they determine that? It defies logic to me sometimes. What’s the prospect of that particular law being passed.
Ogles: So the law is actually already passed.
Leahy: The law is passed and has been signed into law.
Ogles: Correct. This goes back to when Beth Harwell was Speaker and Glen Casada. And I forget who the Senate sponsor was? And forgive me for that. Mike Carter recently passed away of cancer – was co-sponsor.
He was an attorney by trade. The court ruled there was an issue of standing. So they have since appealed, and they’ve gone back to the General Assembly’s actual recordings. They’ve hired a stenographer and created an official transcript.
And my understanding is they have documentation from Glen, Representative Casada himself explaining the intent that would give any citizen to sue the actions of the governor or, say, a County Mayor for doing some of these mandates as it pertains to COVID.
Leahy: We’re going to go back to this so-called mature minor doctrine. What a mess that’s been. Go ahead.
Ogles: It epitomizes government overreach and this idea that suddenly you’re going to have health care professionals and the government talking to your child without your permission, giving them a vaccine – 14-year-olds a vaccine. But when you go back to the original actual facts of the case, it was a unique decision.
Leahy: Here’s what’s interesting about what happened about this. I’m gonna tell you something new. Something new about the mature minor doctrine.
It’s a legal doctrine that was codified in the 1987 Tennessee Supreme Court decision. It was called Caldwell v. Bechtel. It had to do with a 17-year, 7-month-year-old girl.
Ogles: She was almost an adult.
Leahy: Almost an adult who presented herself as an adult to an osteopath, the chiropractor who treated her. And there was some negative consequences. They sued.
And the Tennessee Supreme Court said that although we’re a common law state, in this particular instance, the presumption is there’s a standard in other states called the rule of seven.
In essence, it said, for anybody age 14 to 18, there’s a rebuttable presumption that they are mature, asterisk. But they applied it to that case and they said, well, a 17-year-old and 7-month-old woman/girl who presents herself as an adult, the doctor could expect her to be mature.
It’s very different to apply that legal doctrine – not upstate policy – but legal doctrine to a situation where you’ve got a 14-year-old who is clearly not capable of analyzing the risk associated with taking the COVID-19 vaccine.
How it became ‘state policy,’ interesting, the mature minor doctrine. We did some research on this, Andy. And it did not appear on any Tennessee Department health website until May 21st of this year. How about that?
And Janice Bowling in testimony when the Commissioner of Health appeared, said, look, you’re making a mistake about this doctrine. It’s not a policy of the state. This is simply a legal doctrine to be applied by judges in the case of litigation. Totally different.
Ogles: That’s right. Again, you have a situation where you have a young woman, who’s literally three months away from her 18th birthday, who is seeking medical treatment for excruciating pain.
And again, that’s oversimplifying the facts. Now you’re going to have a state agency going out and hocking a vaccine to 14, 15-year-olds without their parents’ consent.
Leahy: Not just hocking it, administering it.
Ogles: That’s right.
Leahy: Without parents’ consent. And by the way, last week, Governor Lee made a kind of loosey-goosey statement in which he implied that the state government of Tennessee would not be delivering vaccines to kids age 14 without parental consent. The very next day, the commissioner of health said, yes, we are. Does he know who’s running the show?
Ogles: (Chuckles) I think it’s part of a pattern with this administration. They try to be on both sides of an issue. If they do something, they only do enough so that he can campaign on it, but not enough to actually affect change.
That’s why we still have universities in the state of Tennessee that can allow men to compete as women in college sports. Whereas in Florida, Ron DeSantis said enough was enough.
And so in Tennessee, we haven’t figured out that a dude in a dress is still a dude. (Leahy laughs) So here we are on both sides of an issue.
Leahy: So true.
Ogles: Where there’s a clear definition. If you’re a guy and you’re wearing a dress it’s your business right? But then don’t show up and try to go to the women’s restroom. Don’t try to enroll yourself into women’s sports right? You’re a guy.
Go be a guy. All right? You just happen to be a guy in a dress. That is plain and simple. And now you have this vaccine issue, the mature minor doctrine. And the governor is trying to be on both sides of this issue when clearly this is up to parents and parents alone. The government should not be trying to dictate my child’s health care.
Leahy: But see, what I think happened here is that the left-wing bureaucrats in the Department of Health, because they’re looking at this 38 percent vaccine adoption rate in Tennessee.
And they’re thinking, how do we get that up? And they say, oh, well, look at all these 14-year-old, 15-year old, and 16-year-olds. Look at all these teenagers.
We can force them to take this vaccine. How can we legally force them to take this vaccine without parental consent? Well, they can’t legally do it, actually.
But they have used this idea. They found this 1987 decision, they’ve misinterpreted it, and they’ve cast it as a state policy. And they’re using that as an excuse to administer the vaccine to 14-year-olds without parental consent.
Ogles: What everyone needs to understand is that the Tennessee Department of Health was created by the General Assembly. It’s not a constitutional department, and they work at the will of the people.
Leahy: And when you say that like the attorney general, that’s a constitutional office.
Ogles: That’s right.
Leahy: But the Tennessee Department of Health is not a constitutional office.
Ogles: These folks have gone off script and I would say today they should all be fired, period. But this governor doesn’t have the courage to do it.
And the General Assembly should call a special session and protect our children instead of sitting on the sidelines the way they have through most of COVID.
Leahy: Well, they have. And part of it has to do that they were very busy in their first session. But I think it would be a really good idea to have a special session to really figure out what the state policy is.
Is it what the governor says it is or is it what the commissioner of health says? Hmm, inquiring minds want to know.
Leahy: We just brewed some fresh coffee for Mayor Andy Ogles. How did we do? How did the coffee do?
Ogles: It’s fantastic.
Leahy: Is it good?
Ogles: It’s good coffee.
Leahy: It’s good coffee.
Ogles: It’s hot off the press. It’s got a bite to it. It’s a good, rich, dark cup of coffee. And it’s not two days old and stale. I nuked it.
Leahy: My status has moved up in your eyes, Andy?
Ogles: That’s it. Last week I was actually concerned we do get food poisoning from the coffee. I don’t even know if that’s possible, but if it had been possible, it would have been last week.
Leahy: So when Grant Henry comes in at seven o’clock, we’re going to try. What I did is I went with, I’m sorry to say, the very low-rated on the 2nd Vote website, one point seven, meaning almost as lunatic liberal as you can possibly get, Starbucks.
I went with the standard Starbucks house blend, mostly because that’s what I typically drink. And so I think I did a decent job on it. It seems to me to be a little bit weak. But then again, I like strong coffee.
Ogles: Well, I’m looking forward to the Tri-State blend.
Leahy: There we go. I think that’s what we’ll do next. When Grant comes in at seven, I’ll make him some Tri-State blend. It’s called Tri-State.
It’s made by BROASTTN out of Cookville. And the Tri-State blend is a salute to the three areas of Tennessee, three regions of Tennessee, west, middle, and east. I think it’s Guatemala, Brazil, and Ethiopia that are the three countries.
Ogles: That’s right. I just read the package.
Leahy: Very good. So we’ll try that. Grant, as you come in, you’re going to have the Tristate Trio from Tennessee. And by the way, if you’re out there listening and if you are a coffee roaster here in Tennessee or anywhere in the United States, call us! 615-737-9522.
And we will test out your coffee on the air. And if it’s great, we’ll say it. And if it’s not great, we won’t say anything. How about that?
Ogles: We won’t criticize.
Leahy: We won’t criticize.
Ogles: We’ll lift up the ones that are great.
Leahy: We will lift up because we are positive people here.
Ogles: In the age of COVID we need some positivity. And I just shake my head before the break. We’re talking about Andrew Cuomo and some of the things he’s doing. It’s insane that we’ve gotten to this point where COVID is now weaponized.
Leahy: It totally is. Let me read this and get your reaction to this. This is from the Breitbart story about Governor Andrew Cuomo and his totalitarian authoritarian statement. He’s going to force people to take the vaccine. Go to their houses, put them in cars, and put that jab needle in their arm.
Hmmm. Here’s from the story. Recent surveys suggest unvaccinated Americans remain firm in their decisions not to get a Coronavirus vaccine. Many of them cite concerns related to vaccine development.
As Breitbart reported, 81 percent of Americans who have not received the vaccine yet say they will probably or definitely not get the shot. President Biden has also floated knocking on doors to pressure Americans to get the jab. Your reaction, Andy?
Ogles: Let’s put all this in context. The tale of two states. You have New York versus Florida. It was Cuomo who ordered nursing home patients back to nursing homes with a fatality rate that was off the charts.
Leahy: As if to illustrate how crazy the Biden maladministration is, earlier this week, the news broke of the highly partisan Department of Justice announced they will not continue the investigation into those terrible policies in four blue states run by Democratic governors who did exactly that. New York, Michigan, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
Ogles: And so now what you have – the media has totally erased this error. Again, we knew from the beginning that it was serious. I mean, let’s be honest. You have those out there, they get it. They get ill. And in some cases, right now, I think the 30-day case death rate is about point six-tenths of a percent.
But so there is some risk there. If you are high risk, go talk to your doctor. If you want the vaccine, it’s a free choice. And that’s key. But now you have over at CNN, the liberal news network. Don Lemon, the news anchor.
Leahy: Let’s be clear, as Tucker Carlson says, Don Lemon.
Ogles: (Laughter) Lemon. And again, I’m quoting from the news, the unvaccinated should not be allowed in supermarkets or ball games. They should not be allowed to work. Now, wait a minute.
We now have two classes. We have two economies, two sets of people within a society. We’re going backward, folks, not forwards.
Leahy: Also, the issue of unvaccinated. I mean, you get into a lot of these details. Because I’m 66 years old and that’s in the high-risk category just by my age. I looked at the downside, and I looked at the upside, and I concluded for me, I’m getting the vaccine. But that was me.
Ogles: That’s right. The people – if you for instance, if you’re 66 and you’ve had COVID and you have the antibodies, there are some reports that say you may be at greater risk if you get the vaccine than if you don’t.
So somebody who’s had COVID, just because they’re not vaccinated doesn’t mean that they’re at higher risk of getting it if they’ve already had it.
Ogles: I have people in my immediate family who’ve gotten vaccinated. And who I encouraged because they were in high-risk categories, right. Their health history, their medical conditions, their preexisting, their age, or whatever the circumstances are, it made sense for them. I choose not to.
And so when I’m in a crowd, I social distance. I use lots of hand sanitizer. I take those precautions for myself and for others because it makes sense for me. And that’s a personal choice not to get it. But at the end of the day, this is about freedom and liberty.
And we have too many politicians who have abused their authority. They declare people essential or non-essential. They shut down businesses, they limit access to worship. And now we have politicians thinking that they’re doctors, giving us medical advice, telling us to – and not to – do things.
You know what? If you have a question, go talk to your doctor. It’s between you and your doctor. And the politicians need to go run their state, run their counties, and quit trying to give medical advice.
Leahy: But they want the power. It’s all about power. They want the power. They want to tell people what to do. You can see the argument that the higher percentage of vaccinated, the less likely it is that there will be a spread of COVID. And you can see that argument asterisk.
There’s a lot about this that we don’t know. A lot about COVID we don’t know. I think Tennessee is among the states, the vaccination rate when I last saw was low.
Ogles: 38 percent.
Leahy: All other states are like 50 percent. And I think there are some arguments that there’s the recent uptick in COVID cases is related to the percentage of vaccinated. In other words, the lower the percentage of vaccines, the more upticks. I think I’ve seen something on that.
Ogles: I think the counterargument that is at least one of the vaccines is only 38-39 percent effective against the Delta variant.
Leahy: Exactly. I think I read that about the Pfizer vaccine.
Ogles: That’s right.
Leahy: And what’s concerning is the spread of the Delta variant and how that happened. My theory is it’s a million illegal aliens who have been tested for COVID, who may have it, who have been transported around the country by the Biden maladministration. My theory is that may have had a lot to do with the rise of the Delta variant.
Ogles: This is just us speculating, right? When you look at the rise of the Delta variant out of India, I do believe that you’ve had across the United States and elsewhere, quite frankly, who would represent the greatest number of outsiders?
Outsiders being from outside the United States in this last period of time, three months, six months, or whatever. It’s clearly going to be our southern border.
Leahy: Illegal aliens.
Ogles: We don’t have a wave of people from India or Europe or such traveling into the United States because of all the travel restrictions.
Ogles: Except the Southern border.
Leahy: No travel restriction if you’re untested for coronavirus and you illegally enter the country south of the border. And in fact, the official policy of the Biden maladministration is to allow you to become a vector to spread whatever you have.
Ogles: And to put a fine point on it, it is documented now that if you’re coming across the Southern border and you’re being transported by the U.S. government, they are not testing people for COVID.
Leahy: They’re not testing them. Hmmm, what could possibly go wrong?
Leahy: We are joined in studio by the mayor of Maury County, that bastion of economic freedom, the turbocharged engine of economic growth. The mayor, Andy Ogles. Good morning, Andy.
Ogles: Good morning. How are you today?
Leahy: Well, I am delighted to have you in studio here. And, you know, we kind of joke about that little tagline we have for Maury County, except it’s no joke.
It’s actually true. It is the bastion of freedom and the turbocharged engine of economic growth. And I think you have some proof of that to share with us today.
Ogles: Obviously, all you have to do is drive around Spring Hill, Columbia, or even on the Southside down in Mount Pleasant and see the growth.
The Chamber gave an update yesterday at our commission meeting. And when you look at population growth in the state of Tennessee, our growth rate, of course, that’s a per capita number, we’re number one in the state of Tennessee.
We’re also the number one creator of manufacturing jobs in the state of Tennessee. So it’s a crazy time to be mayor of such a growth in the county because that comes with a lot of challenges.
And that’s one of the things that we’re working through now as we pass our budget and get ready for the next school year deciding, do we build a school this year or next year.
Because there’s a borrowing that’s associated with it. But it’s crazy. So it truly is not only a bastion of freedom, but we’re turbocharged. And again, it’s a cool community.
Leahy: One thing I really like about what you just said is you’re a source of new manufacturing jobs. Now, that’s interesting.
In the city of Nashville itself, there has been job growth because companies, tech companies from California come in, and they bring all the people that are associated with tech companies in California. And then financial services companies from New York come in and they bring all the people that work for financial services companies. They don’t always necessarily have the same kind of Tennessee values, right?
Ogles: That’s right.
Leahy: Sometimes. I don’t know when one of the financial services companies came in before they got a bunch of money from the state of Tennessee before they even opened up, they were trying to tell Tennesseeans and what they should do about various social issues. It kind of rubbed me the wrong way that they did that.
Ogles: Well, at the same time, obviously, the state of Tennessee landed a big operation of Facebook here in Middle Tennessee. And so at the same time that Facebook is censoring former President Trump, the state is giving Facebook tens of millions of dollars and incentives. So not necessarily the right fit for our state.
Leahy:Facebook. The guys that are like the big tech oligarchs, the guys that are suppressing the First Amendment. The state of Tennessee is giving them money? Really?
Ogles: Tens of millions of dollars. I saw Marjorie Taylor-Green, the representative out of Georgia. She was just suspended on Twitter for 12 hours or something, but she quoted factual data about COVID and who is at risk.
Leahy: You can’t do that. (Laughs)
Ogles: And she was censored because of it. And I granted it was for 12 hours. But again, it just shows the authority and the power that these tech companies have or have assumed.
And we the people and the government have allowed them to do that. And it’s really this situation now where you have social media companies dictating health care policy, and that’s a scary place.
Leahy: Because nothing says healthcare knowledge like a 24-year tech geek in a basement in Palo Alto, California.
Ogles: Right. You go back to Brave New World or 1984, those books that were science fiction back way back when I read them in school.
And it’s all coming to fruition. So we’re in an interesting place. But going back, Maury County is known for its automotive base.
Leahy: General Motors and Saturn way back when in 1990, I guess Saturn moved to Maury County.
Ogles: In the mid-late 80s that plan came to fruition, was announced. And of course, they had to implement it, but also automotive related.
And a lot of people don’t realize this. And so LG Chem, which is a South Korean company, partnered with General Motors. They’ve created a battery brand that will be a supplier to most of the other car manufacturers.
So again, you have General Motors, who will be one of the drivers of battery technology as you go into the future because they have such a large market share.
And this battery plant that we built in Maury County, it’s sized to be built, currently has more capacity than all the other battery manufacturers in North America.
And that puts the EV or electric vehicle technology – the center of that universe is in Middle Tennessee, specifically Maury County. So now we have this – General Motors expanding.
We have this new $2.3 billion plant with the LG Chem. And with that will come technology and RND and all that sort of stuff to Middle Tennessee.
So it’s exciting. And you’re seeing a shift in that space not only for Tennessee but for Maury County.
Leahy: And the other thing about – that is I found out that apparently, if you have sort of a supply chain, shall we say, for automotive parts and automotive assembly, which is what we have here in Middle Tennessee, there are other industries that use those same skills like firearm manufacturers, from what I hear.
Ogles: Because as you’re building out your infrastructure and supply chain, which that’s an important part of that and distribution capabilities, any industry that needs those types of services like trucking, et cetera, they can piggyback off of one another.
And so with that again, Maury County, known for its automotive and manufacturing jobs, are now creating a new layer of distribution for Middle Tennessee.
Leahy: This means more economic growth in Maury County and Middle Tennessee.