Guest Host Ben Cunningham and AFP’s Grant Henry Impressed With Tennessee Legislature, Encourage Citizens to Reach Out and Get Involved

Guest Host Ben Cunningham and AFP’s Grant Henry Impressed With Tennessee Legislature, Encourage Citizens to Reach Out and Get Involved

 

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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Grassroots Engagement Director of Americans for Prosperity-Tennessee Grant Henry in studio to discuss the proficiency of the Tennessee legislature, getting involved, and grassroots training offered by AMF.

(Andrew Cuomo clip plays)

Cunningham: That was the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, trying to save his political career and life. Whether or not he will be able to is questionable at this point after the AG report came out yesterday. They didn’t charge him with anything. She’s leaving that up to the DAs.

I think there is one DA in Albany that is investigating, but the charges of sexual harassment or any criminal activity have not been brought yet. That was just a report which was pretty damning. And it’ll be really interesting to see how that plays out. He is trying to hold on.

I don’t know whether he will be able to at this point. There was some talk yesterday about impeachment proceedings. So real interesting, interesting political drama playing out there in New York and all among Democrats. (Chuckles) This is a Democrat state, and they will be hashing that out in the coming days.

It’ll be fascinating just as political bystanders to see what happens there. I think yesterday even the president said, yes, he ought to resign. So we’ll see what happens with that. We’ve got a little political drama playing out in Nashville.

Cameron Sexton, the speaker of the House, was on yesterday with us talking about the news conference that he and the governor and Jack Johnson and the commissioner of education had basically said to school systems, you guys got to get your act together and get kids back in school. There is a report that I guess it’s Speaker McNally.

Henry: That’s right.

Cunningham: In the Senate, it’s basically saying, hold on here. Let’s not rush into this. And that’s been fairly typical of the dynamic down at the legislature. Speaker McNally tends to be a little bit more of a slow walk on these kinds of issues and doesn’t join in sometimes.

But I think the governor is the one who calls a special session. So if he wants to call a special session, if these schools persist in masking up and staying remote. And the Democrats are really pushing back hard yesterday in Davidson County and Shelby County in saying we’re not going to go along with this, especially with the Delta variant.

So they were pushing back. It’s going to be really interesting to see how all that plays out at the legislature. The legislature is an interesting place. (Henry laughs) You’re down there a lot more than I am.

I used to be down there a lot, but I’m not. But you’ve got 132 people that you’ve got to kind of get going in one direction if you want to get something done. And, boy, it’s difficult to do sometimes.

Henry: Yeah, it absolutely is. And I will say out of the 132 people, I would say the overwhelming majority, if not every single one of them, that I’ve had the pleasure of interacting with wants nothing but the best for the state of Tennessee. And I say that sincerely Ben, honestly.

I’ve lived and done politics in several other states. Kentucky and Virginia. I’ve been around a little bit doing the political thing and I will say wholeheartedly those folks that have a true servant mentality in Tennessee are unlike any others. They really want the best for their constituents, for their state, and they want to lead the nation in liberty principles.

I truly do believe that. It is somewhat perplexing that these two men are not necessarily on the same page when it comes to how to approach this particular problem. But what do I know? I’m some random guy in radio and these guys are actually up there doing the job.

So I don’t know. We read the headlines and we see what they are. But like you said, I think ultimately it’s up to the governor as to whether or not to call a special session if need be. And we’ll see how that happens.

Cunningham: And they do react to the citizens and to the pressure of citizens. And you can call their office anytime. They’re not in session now. But if you feel strongly about this, you can call or go to the legislative website.

We do have a really good legislative website, and it’s fairly easy to find legislation to research. And you can go to the Tennessee legislature. Just go to Google and type in Tennessee legislature, and you’ll go right to it.

But they’ve got a good search where you can do searches on past legislation, on the code, on just about anything you want to. I think Tennessee legislative website has won several awards and they deserve it. It’s just a good, fairly easy-to-use website.

And their cold hard reality is not very many people ever interact with elected officials. That’s the cold hard reality. And if you do choose to interact with them, you’ll have an influence because you’ll be one of a very few people that ever do that.

Henry: Statistically speaking, that’s accurate as well. I said it yesterday, and it bears repeating today. The adage goes, we don’t have a democracy. We have a democracy of those that participate. Now, I get it. We have a constitutional republic. But you understand what I’m saying?

Cunningham: Absolutely.

Henry: Unfortunately, Tennessee has the second-lowest voter turnout of any state in the nation behind, I believe, Louisiana. Thank goodness for Louisiana. But it goes to your point statistically.

If you are involved, if you call your legislators, if you send them an email, if you go up there and meet with them personally, if you set meetings with them out of session, your voice is thereby amplified that much more than it would be in any other state because so few people are involved in the political process in this state.

Cunningham: And it is even more so at the local level. You go to most county commission meetings and you’ll see. Unless there’s some hot button issue like a dump area. Or a tax issue or something like that. Or zoning. Typically, there are very, very few people sitting there in the audience.

And, boy, I mean, it just makes a huge difference. If you go to these meetings, and you go up to the county commissioners afterward, you talk to them. You can have an extraordinary amount of influence.

And if you want to run for office, the county commission area, or the school board for $3,000 or $4,000, you can win some of these local races if you’re very strategic about choosing races.

Because people peel off of these bodies fairly regularly at the local level. I don’t know the statistics. I would guess, though, the turnover at these local bodies is more than it is at the state and the federal level.

Cunningham: And if you want to run for county commission, three or four grand and some shoe leather will get you elected – and going door to door.

Henry: (Chuckles) Shoe leather. Which is no small thing. I met with a guy, had done some politics out in California, and he was telling me in the county that they came from just a city council race alone, you’re talking six figures at a minimum.

A minimum of six figures to run for the city council race out there. So a couple of grand here, plus hitting the pavement, knocking some doors, I mean, hey, you can be a major influence in your area.

Cunningham: And speaking of grassroots, the young man is sitting across from me, Mr. Grant Henry with Americans for Prosperity is the grassroots director of Americans for Prosperity. It’s a statewide group that advocates and lobbies for free-market principles and have done some really great things in this state.

And you guys are always at the legislature every year. We want to talk more in this segment and the next segment about what you’re doing. But just kind of tell us, what are you working on and how you are looking forward to the legislative session that will be coming up in January of next year?

Henry: So we have two main things, I think, prior to getting to the legislative year next year. Two main things we’re focusing on right now, one of which we covered extensively yesterday, the – stop infrastructure spending, both the $1.2 trillion and oncoming $3.5 trillion infrastructure package.

We really want to do as much as we can to stop that. And again, big thanks to Senator Blackburn and Senator Hagerty for standing strong here. If you want to thank them personally: 202-410-2685. That number is a switchboard that takes you directly to them.

And just say, hey, look, I appreciate you guys for standing strong, and stand strong even more in this upcoming reconciliation bill. We’re really trying to get the word out. Tag those folks on social media too.

Let them know that you’re there and that you’re supporting them. They like to see that. And they do check that stuff. I promise you. And another thing that we’re setting up over the upcoming months here, Ben, is some grassroots training. And it’s exactly like it sounds.

We can tailor this training to what your specific group needs or we have a baseline, what we call Grassroots Leadership Academy training. There’s a couple of different things I’m trying to set up across Middle Tennessee, some of the southern parts, Middle Tennessee, maybe even up in Davidson County, if we can get enough people there.

But it kind of trains you to do what I do for a living. Figure out how to break down governmental barriers, figure out how to create a cause, figure out how to find organic social change entrepreneurs, and move that up to the legislature.

If you want to figure out how to do that in your area, here’s my personal cell phone number: 615-330-4569. Give me a call or just shoot me an email. It’s Ghenry@afphq.org. Trying to set up those grassroots training seminars.

Cunningham: It’s a great way to get people kind of over the hump.

Henry: It’s free of charge, too. No charge to ya’ll.

Cunningham: A little bit of nudging to get people to that comfort level. And that’s what AFP does such a great job on. They can do anything they want to once you train them. You’re not trying to corral them into something.

Henry: We just want them to take part in the process.

Cunningham: Yeah, absolutely.

Listen to the full first 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Star News Network’s Neil McCabe Weighs in on Washington’s Spending Snowball

The Star News Network’s Neil McCabe Weighs in on Washington’s Spending Snowball

 

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. – guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed The Tennessee Star National Correspondent Neil McCabe to the newsmaker line to outline the $5 trillion dollar infrastructure spending and the anti-Trump senators who continue their hostility toward Donald Trump.

Cunningham: Gosh, things are going on so quickly in Washington this week, and it’s just depressing if you care about any kind of fiscal responsibility.

Neil McCabe is on the line with us. Neil is the national political correspondent for The Tennessee Star and is the most connected man in Washington, D.C. Neil, tell us, is there any way that this big snowball can be stopped? This $5 trillion spending snowball, or are we doomed to just watch it roll through?

McCabe: First of all, yes, we are doomed to just watch it roll through. But it’s the confluence of a number of events. And I think the critical one for people of our ilk, Ben, is that Mitch McConnell has made the decision that he’s going to stick it to Donald Trump.

And sort of this cattery of anti-Trump Republican senators is going to get together and give Joe Biden a bipartisan win. And it’s just because of the different cultures of the House and the Senate. The Senate has always been culturally hostile to President Trump.

And I’m talking about Senate Republicans, whereas House Republican congressmen are overwhelming, not only do they like Trump, they support Trump, and they feel a kinship with Trump. Whereas Republican senators see him as an interloper, as this stranger from another planet who has just basically messed up all of their plans.

Mike Lee had this great line where he says everybody talks about wouldn’t it be great if Republicans and Democrats could learn to work together again? And Lee always says the problem in Washington is, when Republicans and Democrats work together, it’s to raise spending and to raise taxes.

And that’s exactly what this bill is going to do. And McConnell has now decided that this thing was dead and he’s brought it back and he’s going to do it to stick it to Trump.

Cunningham: They do. They treat Trump and the supporters of Trump like an embarrassment basically. They are just embarrassed, but they will go the distance. And the House Republican leadership is not doing much at this point, are they?

McCabe: What you’re seeing, thanks to the leadership of Jim Banks, who I have (Inaudible talk) Granted it’s in baby steps. But he is returning the Republican Study Committee to its roots. The Republican Study Committee was founded in 1973 as part of that effort to bring some services and back into the Republican Party.

It was that same movement, that same period of time, that created the Heritage Foundation and the Committee for a Free Congress. And the American Conservative Union was all part of that movement. And so the Republican Study Committee has been integrated under Boehner and then under Paul Ryan. And then McCarthy is part of leadership because instead of being the rebels, they became part of the empire structure.

Banks is waging a war against this infrastructure bill. And he’s doing it by actually reading the bill. And he and his people are reading the bill and they’re pulling stuff out of it. And guys in the Senate and conservatives are trying to delay it.

And that just gives people more time to read it. But really, it doesn’t matter what’s in the bill. McConnell wants to stick it to Trump and so do a lot of Republican senators.

Cunningham: That’s pretty depressing that that is the dynamic. How much can they delay it? There are two bills. And I certainly don’t understand it as well as I should because things move so quickly. There’s a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill.

And then there’s the $3.5 trillion, which supposedly will pass with reconciliation. There’s so much stuff in that $3.5 trillion. Is the parliamentarian actually going to say yes, all of this stuff is qualified as budget, and we’re going to pass it with reconciliation. Is that going to happen?

McCabe: They’re going to work over the parliamentarian. Basically, that $3.5 trillion bill has been written almost in coordination with the parliamentarian, basically working as the referee. And so everything that Democrats can’t pass on their own is going in the $1.5 billion. So you now have the factor of 10, 15, maybe 20 Republican senators who are moving heaven and earth to give the Democrats everything they can’t get in the reconciliation bill.

And the test vote of that was the filibuster. And the Republicans joined the Democrats to break the filibuster. And so now when that comes to the floor, it’s just a simple majority vote.

Cunningham: That is so depressing. And obviously, Lindsey and Mitch McConnell obviously believe they can do this without incurring any penalty back home.

McCabe: Well, you know, McConnell and Lindsey Graham, they just won reelection. Portman, who’s one of the guys leading the effort, was the budget director under George W. Bush. He loathes Trump and loathes conservatives. He’s retiring.

That’s why J.D. Vance is in that race. And you have Pat Toomey, who was once the darling of the conservative movement. He was president of the Club for Growth, and he’s retiring. So he’s part of it. Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, she’s got a tough primary fight.

She’s underwater in some polls that I’ve seen. And so the senators who are on their way out are walking around like zombie senators. And their only goal right now is to set themselves up for their retirement and private life and also set up 20 or 30 of their aides with lobbying jobs as beltway bandits.

And all of those sorts of cookies, treats, donuts, and ornaments are going to be stuck into that bill to help out these senators and their staffers when they return to private life.

Henry: Neil, Grant Henry here with Americans for Prosperity.

McCabe: Hi Grant.

Henry: Pertaining specifically to this $3.5 trillion plan, one would hope that through that bird rule amendment process you could theoretically cut out some of this nonsensical trash. The Pro Act stuff, the Green New Deal stuff, and increased healthcare spending.

But if that doesn’t happen, it will come across as a fairly transparent con in my mind against the American people. It’s exactly what you just said a second ago, Neil. This is just a grab bag, a kitchen sink way to pass all the legislation.

In the last minute we have here, let me ask: if that happens what are the ramifications for the midterm elections? Does it do anything towards that at the last minute here?

McCabe: I think, Grant, you know more than anybody else that this is going to dull the knife of Senate Republicans as they try to retake the chamber. What you’re seeing in House conservatives, they are mounting a serious campaign against this bill, and that’s going to drive up their chances of retaking the lower chamber. Of course, Kevin McCarthy is nowhere to be seen.

Cunningham: Neil, we are coming up on a break. Can you stay over with us?

McCabe: Sure.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County Chapter Outlines ‘Wit and Wisdom’ Indoctrination

Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County Chapter Outlines ‘Wit and Wisdom’ Indoctrination

 

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. – guest host Cunningham welcomed Robin Steeman of Moms for Liberty-Williamson County to the newsmaker line to outline the indoctrinating curriculum of Wit and Wisdom and its efforts to push back against the school board and superintendent.

Cunningham: Robin Steeman is with Moms for Liberty in Williamson County. Robin, good morning.

Steeman: Good morning, Ben.

Cunningham: Thank you so much for taking the time to join us this morning. We just wanted to get an update on what’s going on. The last I heard, you guys were attending school board meetings.

Your thrust has been to highlight and expose Critical Race Theory in schools and other issues that are going on. Give us an update on what is going on right now with you guys.

Steeman: Sure thing, Ben. As you know, we started our journey taking on Critical Race Theory in Williamson County. And it really started with the hiring of the diversity equity inclusion consultancy in which – that we anticipate they’ll identify systemic racism in the county.

And then we’re off to the races with CRT-type policy. In that journey, we became aware of students ashamed of their skin color and students feeling like a victim because of their skin color.

So we really turned to look at where CRT already existed in the system. And, of course, our first suspicion was the curriculum. So we’ve done a deep dive into the Wit and Wisdom curriculum, and there are pockets of CRT.

But the problem with Wit and Wisdom is it’s really social-emotional learning from K through fifth grade. It’s extremely dark, extremely graphic. Emotions run high, but they’re all negative emotions and just a lot of age-inappropriate material.

And that’s where our battle is right now is Wit and Wisdom. And as the school year starts, literally next week, parents’ emotions are running high. For some parents, there are some stress levels out there.

Cunningham: And it just sounds so Orwellian. All of these terms just sound really, really strange and Orwellian as if we all need to be forced into equity and inclusion. And as if there’s some great moral rule out there that we’re not attuned to that – parents must be educated about the great moral issues of the day.

This is just ridiculous. Parents should be in charge of what goes on in schools and schools should prioritize teaching reading, and writing, and arithmetic first before they get into the social-emotional and all these other issues. How did we drift so far away from the basics of education?

Steeman: I wish I knew that. (Chuckles) I’m new on the scene. I think it’s a slide and we’ve been going down a slope for a while and parents have been busy, and we’ve been living our lives.

And we’ve put a lot of faith and a lot of trust in the school district and in those that run the school district and assume that they’re on the same page with us and at least the same side with us. And then COVID happens, and parents get to sit in on what their kids are being taught and low and behold what’s going on.

Cunningham: It’s been a huge revelation, I think, to parents and grandparents and everybody. And thankfully, I don’t know, it may be a mixed blessing of COVID that we are getting some insights into exactly what is going on and beginning to hold them accountable. What do you see for Moms for Liberty as your role over the school year that is about to start?

Steeman: We’ve put in well over 1,200 hours by now of research into Wit and Wisdom by over 20 parents to really get to the bottom of it because each module, each lesson also has a teacher’s manual and that teacher’s manual must be looked at thoroughly.

And I’ll give you an example real quick because we just found something new. There’s a book in the kindergarten grade, module one, and it’s called Bojangles. And I bought the book and read it, and I have no problems with it. I would let my daughter read it.

She’s about to go into first grade. But it talks about Bojangles and how he danced and how that was a positive thing in the world. And there’s this one page where he’s dancing past open and closed doors. And two of the doors are closed.

And then a couple of the doors are open and the people are waving. But there’s this one door that’s closed. It looks like a man is turned the other way. It was kind of an angry expression. And what is his skin color? Well, it’s white.

I mean, is that historically accurate? I’m sure. But I have no problem with that for a child. My child would see that and would probably focus on the waving happy people and would focus on the pictures of Bojangles dancing.

But then you look at the teacher’s manual and it’s striking because it says, okay, kids, let’s focus on the angry white man. Look at his expression.

Cunningham: You are kidding me? Does it literally say that?

Steeman: Well, it doesn’t say the white man, but it’s the angry man. It wants them to focus on that. And, of course, the skin color is very evident. But then it goes on to say that Bojangles, that these doors were closed to him because of his skin color.

And it says it multiple times. I mean, a child would have never picked up on that in just the reading of the book. But the teacher’s manual will not allow them an innocent reading of the book. It will not permit their children’s innocence.

It has to force a kindergartener, a five or six-year-old, to look at this story through a racial lens, to say, oh, Bojangles is racially oppressed. And this man behind the door and the angered expression has something to do with that.

And then further, it goes into the Harlem Renaissance for kindergarteners. I would submit that the kindergartener has no idea what the regular old Renaissance is. So it’s just not age-appropriate. The book itself is fine.

But the teacher’s manual is where it just goes off the rails. And the teacher’s manual even puts a note in there for the teachers like this word is too advanced. The word is closed for module one and the kindergarteners because of the blended sounds. But due to the narrative of the story, because that’s more important, then we’re going to use it anyway.

So put it up on the word wall, but the students don’t need to read it. Those are just out of whack priorities. This is English language arts. You’re teaching a child to read and write for the first time and you’re choosing words that are too advanced because they hit the narrative that’s being presented.

So once you read that teacher’s note, it’s really all you need to know about the priorities of this particular lesson. The teacher’s manuals are really crucial. There are many examples of a book that may be okay or maybe not that bad.

And then you match it up with the teacher’s manual and it’s incredibly stilted in ideology, especially in the third grade. We’re digging up more stuff about Story Messenger, which is a book about Galileo, which normally would be a great thing.

But the teacher’s manual, instead of focusing on his scientific advancements, this new way of thinking, and how he changed the world, it absolutely focuses on how he was persecuted by the Church. The Church and its traditions are bad.

Cunningham: It’s indoctrinating kids into a particular worldview. I don’t think there’s any question about that.

Steeman: No, there’s not. So what we’ve done is we’ve raised our objections with our school board and with our superintendent. We submitted letters requesting a forum back in June that we could present our findings, but our superintendent would really have nothing to do with that.

We had a forum anyway, and three school board members and a handful of our local elected officials attended. But instead, now we’re wrapped up in this 4.403 process, which is a board policy title request for reconsideration of instructional materials.

Which really was geared for a parent filing a complaint about a single book, whereas we’re following it complaining about the whole curriculum. But now we’re in a 4.403 process. It’s a pretty loose timeline.

They’re not giving us a lot of specifics. There are five members on the committee that we don’t necessarily agree with. We weren’t given a seat at the table even though we’re a legitimate parent organization.

And the policy allows for the parent organization to be at the table. So school starts imminently and parents are getting nervous. Some have pulled out altogether. And then for those that are keeping their child in because not every parent can withdraw their child …

Cunningham: We are coming up on a break. Can you stay over the break for us? I apologize for interrupting you there. I’d love to ask you some more questions.

Steeman: I sure can.

Listen to the second 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Davidson County GOP Chair Jim Garrett Weighs in on Metro Nashville Public Schools Mask Mandate Pushback and 2022 Election Year

Davidson County GOP Chair Jim Garrett Weighs in on Metro Nashville Public Schools Mask Mandate Pushback and 2022 Election Year

 

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. –  guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed GOP chair for Davidson County Jim Garrett to the newsmaker line to discuss why they are pushing back now on Metro Nashville Public Schools’ attempt to mask mandate students again and how 2022 will be an interesting election year for the Fifth Congressional District of Davidson County.

Cunningham: Jim Garrett is the chair of the Davidson County Republican Party. Jim is on the line with us this morning. Jim, good morning.

Garrett: Good morning. Good morning, Ben. Good morning, Andy, and good morning, Grant. How are you?

Cunningham: We are doing great. Thanks so much for calling in this early. I’m telling you, it puts a new perspective on the world when you get up at 4:00 am in the morning. Actually, I got up at 3:15, so that really was a new perspective.

But thanks so much for calling in this morning, Jim. You guys have just sent a letter to the Metropolitan Nashville School system as the Republican Party of Davidson County. What did you say?

Garrett: We felt it was time that we stand up against this rhetoric that we hear coming from the left. Basically, we outlined that we were against masks and we would encourage the school system not to enforce a mask mandate. And we gave them five or six factual reasons to support our argument there.

I think the left that uses emotion, we like to use fact. And we use factual reasons and studies. And there are so many conflicting studies, you don’t know who to believe. And I think that’s by design on their part to keep us all confused so that their rhetoric seems to be dominant. And it should not be.

Cunningham: Why now? Why at the end of July, first of August – of course, school is about to start. But what motivated you to do this?

Garrett: We had heard several of our members had seen a petition that went out by a group. And I won’t say a left party. But it went out by a group associated with them calling for the schools to reinstitute the mask mandates.

And because of that petition, and they’re advertising in The Tennessean, and they had 1,800 signatures. Because of that, we felt it was important for us to say something.

Henry: Jim, Grant, Henry, here with Americans for Prosperity. Have ya’ll received any kind of response yet? Good, bad, or otherwise to this letter you sent out?

Garrett: I am not aware of any response yet. The people who are monitoring this with us, our communications people told me that there’s not been any feedback. And I personally have not received any. Although I did, again, a call last week from a lady who was a school teacher.

And she kept talking about the Republican Party was so vile in her school by her students and how she didn’t introduce politics to the school. But yet she only let them listen and watch PBS and CNN television shows.

Cunningham: (Laughs) Oh, boy, that’s objectivity. Isn’t it? I’m telling you, it’s crazy. Well, thank you so much for stepping out. And even in a blue county like Davidson County, the Republican votes represent 40 percent plus of the electorate. So they should listen and they should respond, and they should give you some kind of feedback back on this thing.

Garrett: I think the Republicans, our members feel like if we don’t stay in that often, we probably don’t. Conservatives tend to be individualists. We let the individual make the decision like we think parents should be making the decision about masking in schools and not the school board. But they think we don’t say enough. And our executive committee felt it was time on this subject to stand up and shout out our opposition to it.

Henry: Jim, let me ask here as well. Yesterday, Speaker Cameron Sexton was quoted saying the following: “And I sure hope that a school system in this state after this data is released does not shut their schools. If they do, I’m going to ask the governor for legislation to allow these parents in those school districts to take their money through school choice and go to wherever they deem they need to go.”

Is that kind of message resonating with any of the state Republicans in Davidson County?

Garrett: I believe it is. Yes. We believe in the voucher system. It’s been battered back and forth in the General Assembly. I hear it from our members who – some who would like that and some who wouldn’t.

But I do hear it. And so I think we’re supporting that stance. I heard that yesterday and was surprised that he came out with a statement about what he did.

Cunningham: Jim, on another topic, just politics that we’re interested in and I’m sure the audience is interested in is you’re keeping up very closely with the redistricting process. Every 10 years when they do a new census, they have to come out and redraw the political districts.

And, of course, a lot of people are very interested in Davidson County, in the Fifth Congressional District, and what’s going to happen there and how the districts might be drawn. Give us just a quick timeline of how one of the major decision points in the future for that. And when will we know what the new districts will look like?

Garrett: We have talked with Senator Jack Johnson. We’ve talked with Representative Lambert. Members of our group have talked with them about that same question. They tell us now is the time to get involved.

We have a meeting next week with Speaker Sexton to discuss redistricting specifically. And there’ll be another subject in their meeting with Speaker Sexton. But primarily the meeting is about redistricting. We are working on a map of where the Republican voters are in Davidson County, and we’ll have some ideas about what we would like to see.

We don’t need a major change. We just like to have some districts tweaked a little bit to pick up five or six points. And if we get a fair chance, I think we can pick up seats. But we don’t need a slam dunk in say a half a dozen districts or so. But we need some help here in Davidson County.

Cunningham: It is the enclave of Democrats that stay there year after year. I don’t know how long Jim Cooper has been there. Of course, Jim’s got a challenger from the left also this time, a pretty strong challenge. I think AOC has endorsed his challenger. So lots of things going on.

He’s got to worry about the challenger from the left first. But hopefully, we can have a competitive district where Republicans can have a shot. At least running a good, solid campaign and presenting a great alternative.

Garrett: I think Cooper’s been there – I’ve heard – 32 years, and he’s run basically unopposed for most of those, unfortunately. But yes, this year he seems to have a good shot at it. I would actually like to see Kelly win the primary for Starbuck because I think she would be a better opponent to run against than Cooper is.

She is so socialist and so much to the left, I think she would make a good opposite candidate. 2022 is going to be an interesting year. We have got two or three candidates right now that have announced running for that seat. There are going to be more that show up.

I’m sure that there’s one or two more. I’ve talked with them and they’re still in the decision process. So I think 2022 is going to be an interesting year for the U.S. Congress seat here in Davidson County.

Cunningham: And how do people get in touch with the Davidson County Republican Party?

Garrett: They can always get us through the gopnashville.org website. And there are buttons here for volunteering for contributing. But if you go to the volunteer button and put your name in, there is a place where you can ask questions. We get questions through there all the time.

Listen to the full second 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Speaker Cameron Sexton Weighs In on Parent Centered News Conference Monday with Lee and Schwinn

Speaker Cameron Sexton Weighs In on Parent Centered News Conference Monday with Lee and Schwinn

 

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. –  guest host Ben Cunningham welcomed Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton to the newsmaker line to further illustrate his position from Monday’s press conference where he, Governor Lee, and Penny Schwinn stood firm on getting children back to class with parents at the wheel.

Cunningham: My name is Ben Cunningham and I’m sitting in for Michael Patrick Leahy at the big Tennessee Star microphone this morning while Michael is away. He is expanding an ever-expanding media empire and getting more and more outlets for us conservatives.

And we have this morning we have an extraordinarily special guest on the line this morning. Tennessee House Speaker Cameron Sexton is with us this morning. Speaker, good morning.

Sexton: Good morning. Thanks for having me.

Cunningham: Yes, thanks so much for joining us. You had a pretty amazing press conference yesterday and kind of threw down the gauntlet on behalf of students and parents in Tennessee.

And it was really an amazing assertion of let’s get back to school. Let’s get kids in school. Let’s get them in the classroom and let’s teach them in the classroom. Please tell us how that all came down yesterday.

Sexton: Yes. Yesterday the governor and Commissioner Schwinn were announcing the TCAP results which was not good. Basically, we’ve lost a lot of the ground. We’re back to around where we were in 2015 and 2016 on proficiency. It’s all across the board. All subjects. All grades.

It was not a good day on TCAP. And the interesting thing is, there were individuals in the session who is trying to tell us, oh, learning loss is not an issue.

Well, it really is. And when you don’t have kids in school and you have them doing remote work or you have them do virtual education or you just close down the schools as some did, you see what the results are.

And now they’re trying to use COVID as a reason why they maybe need to close down schools, require mask mandates, maybe segregate kids on who’s vaccinated and who’s unvaccinated. And the data doesn’t point that that needs to happen with the children and that they actually need to be in class. It needs to be in person. I think the majority of teachers agree with that as well. And so basically what I said, you know what? Schools if you want to shut down, if you want to require a mask, if you want to segregate kids based on who’s vaccinated or not, I’m going to ask the governor for a special session. And we’re going to go in and we’re going to make some changes, and that may be going in a direction called school choice. And let parents decide where they want to send their kids if the school system there is not doing what’s needed to get done to get their child educated.

Cunningham: Well, Mr. Speaker, on behalf of myself personally and all the folks that I talk with around Tennessee, this is an amazing measure and press conference. I think many people in Tennessee would like to have the option to choose their school if the school that they’re going to is not performing. Can you tell us what would be the next step? What would trigger your action at this point?

Sexton: If the school system shut down, if the school system moved all their kids to remote learning or gave them hybrid remote learning, or if they started requiring kids to wear masks, I mean, all those things or segregated kids in the classroom. Those things would get me to ask the governor for a special session. And we’ll come back in and take a look at it. There are schools right now debating whether or not our kids will wear masks and the data doesn’t point to that direction where that should happen. All data says is that children are less likely than anybody else to have severe COVID or to be hospitalized. And the survival rate for anyone below the age of 20 who gets COVID even with the new Delta variant is 99.99 percent. And so let’s just talk about the facts. Let’s talk about the data, and then let’s have that conversation. But kids need to be in class, and we can’t accept the second year of TCAP numbers to go down.

Cunningham: And that’s got to be music to the years of parents across Tennessee. And you were at the press conference. The governor was there. Senator Johnson, our education secretary. All those folks were there. And you guys are showing a very unified front.

Sexton: Yeah. I mean, I think we’re all on the same page. We want what’s best for the children. And the data doesn’t lie. I know there’s a lot of people out there who think that kids need to wear masks eight hours a day, every single day down to the age of two. I mean, I have a hard time figuring out why they’re so angry about allowing parents to make the choice. You have people out there who are so mad when you say what the parents should make the choice. If they want their kids to wear a mask, let them wear a mask. If they don’t want to, then they shouldn’t have to wear one. And there are people losing their minds out there because you’re saying the parents have a right to decide what’s best for their kids. It tells you where the left is in our world today.

Cunningham: It does. And I noticed several questions at the news conference to the governor or about that. Why don’t you listen to this group of experts? Why don’t you listen to this group of experts? The state government is there to serve the citizens and the parents initially, most of all. And thank goodness you guys are putting the citizens at the top of the priority list. I for one – thank you for doing that. The news conference was really amazing yesterday, and I think it puts educators and everybody else on notice that parents have got to be the major decision-makers in this process.

Sexton: It’s their children. They know what’s best. They’re going to do what’s best for them and their kids. And people who think otherwise, I just don’t understand that capability. And the other thing is they’re wanting to make examples of people being hospitalized. Well, the people who are hospitalized in Tennessee, I’ve talked to hospitals all across the state and 96 percent of the people in the hospital are unvaccinated people, and they’re the age brackets of 35 to 50. And what I say is, stop listening to the CDC. Stop listening to the national media people and just go have a conversation with your physician, your pediatrician, and your pharmacist and ask them what’s best for you and your family if you’re unsure. But talk to the experts who know about your health and have a conversation. Quit listening to the Washington bureaucrats and the state bureaucrats and the school systems. Have a conversation with the people who know about your health. And then you all make a decision that’s best for you and your family. It’s pretty easy.

Cunningham: Yeah. Absolutely. And so many people have tried to politicize this issue and have a political agenda behind all the press releases that come out. The scare tactics and everything. But I, for one, want to thank you very much for coming out. That was pretty extraordinary. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a press conference like that where you had unity of the legislative and the executive branch. And everybody was saying parents should be the ones who are making these decisions. That’s an extraordinary statement in this day and time.

Sexton: It is. It really is. And I’m glad to be a part of it. I look forward to continuing to work with Governor Lee and Commissioner Schwinn and members of the General Assembly, the House and Senate, and listening to the people in our district. And overwhelmingly the people in the district and people across the state of Tennessee believe kids should be back in school. That should be in person. They shouldn’t be doing remote learning. They shouldn’t be doing virtual, and schools should not be shut down. You shouldn’t be requiring a mask. That’s what the people in Tennessee want. But you have people out there, as you said, trying to scare people into believing something that the data does not support.

Cunningham: What is the next step in your decision? What would trigger you to call a special session and what are you monitoring at this point?

Sexton: We’re watching Shelby County looking at requiring mask mandates. I think Williamson County has something coming up where they’re looking at it. So we’re watching that. Davison County’s looking at it. Wilson County had a meeting last night. So we’re just watching. We made our statement. We put it out on record of what we expect, and we’ll see what happens. If people start going in different directions then we’ll go back here and I’m going to ask the governor for a special session. And hopefully, we’ll be able to get that done. And it might be three to four weeks later because by the time you get it organized and set. But I’m curious. If we need to go in, it’s a big enough issue for us to go on a special session to solve this really quickly.

Cunningham: And you can act within 30 days. 45 days. That certainly is a reasonable time frame. Is that correct?

Sexton: It is. You could act within seven days, but the problem is you would have members who might not be in town. People have work. And so you try to give enough time for them to clear their schedule and to be able to have a special session. But yes, you can call a special session within 30 days if you need to pretty easily.

Cunningham: Speaker Sexton, thanks so much for joining us this morning. I know you’re busy as a switch engine this morning with all the press and everything. But that was an amazing news conference there yesterday. And I personally cannot thank you enough for coming out and asserting this parent-centered agenda. I think that’s what so many people in the state want. And thank you so much for being bold and coming out yesterday and very positively asserting that agenda around parents and students.

Sexton: Well, thank you. You’re very kind. And I hope you have a wonderful day. I hope to see you soon.

Cunningham: Great. Thanks so much.

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