Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Talks Education and His New Bill Called the Teacher’s Discipline Act

Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Talks Education and His New Bill Called the Teacher’s Discipline Act

 

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 Congressman Scott Cepicky to the studio to discuss his recent bill called the Teacher’s Discipline Act and how it gives teacher’s the ability to remove disruptive students from the classroom that interfere with learning.

Leahy: We are with State Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. Well, now we’re going to talk a little bit about the bills that you are carrying this session. Tell us about the 10 bills you’re carrying.

Cepicky: (Chuckles) Just next week.

Leahy: Just next week. Just tell us to start off with some of the important ones that you are carrying and how that came about.

Cepicky: We have a very, very important bill that will be substituting and conforming that the Senate’s already passed which is the Teacher’s Discipline Act. What it does is it gives our teachers the ability to remove a repetitively, a disruptive student from their classrooms.

Leahy: That’s a great idea. They can’t do that now.

Cepicky: No.

Leahy: Really? Why not?

Cepicky: We don’t have the ability for them to be protected in code. so they can try, but the way the system is set up right now, there are penalties for LEAs, local school systems that if they remove it…

Leahy: LEA is Local Education Authority authority, which is what most school systems are. We have like 141 of them in Tennessee.

Cepicky: 147. I better know the answer because I’m on the education committee.

Leahy: You got me on that one.

Cepicky: We have a problem in Tennesee and you’ve seen the videos where a child just has an episode and it stops the classroom. And what the teacher does is they pull all the other kids out of the classroom into the hallway and they stand there for two hours while the kid just destroys the classroom and tries to calm themselves down. Now, one would argue there’s probably an issue there with that child.

Leahy: I would guess.

Cepicky: We need to get the interventionists in there to find out we have a behavioral or mental health issue and address those issues. But we have to get to a point where that teacher has to have the ability to maintain the discipline in their classroom so those other 29 kids can get their education. We struggle right now in Tennessee with the literacy rate in third grade. Do you know what it is in eighth?

Leahy: Not much better.

Cepicky: 28.

Leahy: Worse.

Cepicky: 28.

Leahy: When you say literacy, reading at grade levels? Is that what you are talking about?

Cepicky: Yeah, it drops in 28 the. Do you believe there’s any magic time that they all automatically just learn how to read after eighth grade when it’s 28 percent? it doesn’t happen.

Leahy: It’s got to happen by K thru three, four, and five right?

Cepicky: The gateways third grade. And so the Teachers Discipline Act we will hopefully we will substitute and conform, have no problems there that will go to the governor staff for signature.

Leahy: And do you anticipate the governor will sign it?

Cepicky: I hope so. I hope he’s listening because I really hope he signs it because it’s another mechanism that we can put in place. A process that not only protects the students that may have a mental health issue or behavioral issue, but it gives the teachers and those other kids in the classroom the opportunity to succeed.

Leahy: Common sense.

Cepicky: Common sense. We have other bills with mental health, helping our teachers get trained not to get in the intervention of mental health with our children, but to look at and maybe identify it.

Leahy: Identify it. And Maybe move them into a situation where they can be treated.

Cepicky: You got it.

Leahy: That makes a lot of sense as well.

Cepicky: We have other bills where we’re looking at the Textbook Commission giving them more authority.

Leahy: The Textbook Commission

Cepicky: Giving them more authority.

Leahy: Controversial to a degree.

Cepicky: It is. But it’s very important on who you put on there. You have to look at the standards we have in Tennessee and look at the textbooks that are being provided by the publishers. And their job is to make sure that they align to our standards 100 percent. We just passed the bill with the special session we had with the governor on literacy.

That one of the problems we have and had and we’ve rectified that with who now approves waivers in Tennessee. But instead of the Commissioner of Education giving waivers for textbooks, it’s now the State Board of Education. And we put in the literacy bill that after January first of 2023, there will be no more waivers for textbooks that do not align to our standards in Tennessee.

Leahy: So I’ll put a self-promoting plug here for The Tennessee Star.

Cepicky: Sure.

Leahy: As you know, we do, the National Constitution be here. We’re doing our fifth year in October. And kids win prizes.  10,000 dollars of educational scholarship to the winner. 5000 for second place, 2 500 third place. We use a book that I was a co-author of Guide to the Constitution and the Bill of Rights for Secondary School students. They like it. We sent it up to the University of Wisconsin Center for the Study of American Constitution to fact-check it. They fact checked it. So you’re a Badger. So we would love to see that as a supplementary text that schools could use. Just bringing that up here.

Cepicky: I hear you. So other bills we’ve had that in line, just what you said. One of the problems we have and you’ve seen this probably come across your desk at times of things that find their way into a classroom.

Leahy: Yes. Things that we would say, how did this get there?

Cepicky: They don’t align to Tennessee standards or values.

Leahy: There you go.

Cepicky: Terry Lynn Weaver and another representative.

Leahy: I know her very well, by the way, the best rendition of the national anthem you can hear from Terri Lynn Weaver.

Cepicky: She’s probably 100 the best voice in the General Assembly

Leahy: By a long shot.

Cepicky: I am not a close second. But she’s running a bill on supplemental material and how it will be used in the classroom and must align to our standards.

Leahy: There you go.

Cepicky: If it doesn’t align to our standards and a local education authority knowingly allows it then the Commissioner of Education has BEP funds taken from them. We’re very serious about this.

Leahy: That’s another good common sense. How do some of these bills come to you?

Cepicky: Well, everybody thinks that lobbyists up there have this big influence, and they do have some. The departments have a big influence, and they have a little bit. Most of the bills that I carry in education, that’s where my main focus is education or other bills in criminal justice. Most of those bills, believe it or not, come from conversations with citizens in my district.

Leahy: So how can a citizen be most effective in presenting their thoughts to a state representative? What’s the most effective way to do that?

Cepicky: And here’s the best answer I can give you. It is my job to make myself available to my district.

Leahy: So you’re available?

Cepicky: I am. We do a thing in Columbia called First Fridays. I will be on the square on First Fridays and just having conversations with people.

Leahy: Where at the square?

Cepicky: Just on the square.

Leahy: You’re standing on the square. Come talk to me.

Cepicky: I’ll park my truck, and I’ll put my campaign signs out so they know its me.

Leahy: So the people that come up and talk to you?

Cepicky: Typically, it could be four or five in a couple of hours, and it’s been as much as probably 30 people. It just depends on what topic is hot right now, and they want to know what their representative is going to do to help or protect Tennessee.

Leahy: Do you ever have anybody who’s just giving you a hard time.

Cepicky: I have my friends from the left. (Leahy laughs) And that’s ok.

Leahy: Are they friendly or are they mean?

Cepicky: Some are friendly and some are… not friendly.

Leahy: Not so friendly. That’s a problem. That’s always been the case. It seems like it’s more the case these days.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

State Rep. Scott Cepicky of Maury County Talks About His Ups and Downs and Background in Professional Football and Baseball

State Rep. Scott Cepicky of Maury County Talks About His Ups and Downs and Background in Professional Football and Baseball

 

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 Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky of Maury County to the studio to discuss his past life in the world of football and professional baseball.

Leahy: In studio state representative Scott Cepicky. I’m learning all these great things about you. I had no idea. Representing Maury County. So there you are at the University of Wisconsin on a football scholarship. Four years as the starting punter. Now did you ever make it to the Rose Bowl or any bowl?

Cepicky: No. There’s going to be something happening in the General Assembly in April. I’m not going to announce that right now. We’re working on something very big with literacy.

Leahy: Okay, good.

Cepicky: But I’m going to tie that literacy thing that’s going to happen on the house floor to something that happened to me back in 1984 in a Hall of Fame bowl.

Leahy: Okay. Oh, you made the Hall of Fame Ball.

Cepicky: We did.

Leahy: That it’s fun to play in a Hall of Fame Ball.

Cepicky: Birmingham, Alabama against Kentucky.

Leahy: So you also played baseball? You are a first baseman?

Cepicky: Yes.

Leahy: And you graduated from the University of Wisconsin and you get drafted by the White Sox. How’s that work?

Cepicky: The year before I was picked up, I was signed as a free agent by the Cincinnati Bengals.

Leahy: Oh, for football.

Cepicky: And I played there for four weeks into pre-season campus as a punter.

Leahy: So you were in the NFL?

Cepicky: For Bengals and the Minnesota Vikings?

Leahy: Really? What was like that?

Cepicky: Pretty intimidating.

Leahy: I can imagine. (Laughs)

Cepicky: But it turned into a business. It’s a business decision to make up there. And as a punter, there’s only one.

Leahy: There’s only one. You either make it or you don’t.

Cepicky: It was very difficult.

Leahy: So what was it like? What is it when they tell you goodbye and good luck? What’s that like?

Cepicky: Real quick story. I’m sitting in our dorm room.

Leahy: Bangels or Vikings?

Cepicky: Bengals. The first time I’ve ever been cut from anything. And we’re sitting there. It’s about four o’clock in the morning and there’s a proverbial knock on the door.

Leahy: Knock on the door.

Cepicky: Well, so I’m sitting there and I wake up. We both wake up, Derek and myself. He was a nose guard from Ohio State. Derek hadn’t played a game had not gotten in one time. And I played every game, and I’m sitting here going, Okay, relax. Help this guy out the first time.

Leahy: It’s probably Derek.

Cepicky: Right. He goes to the door, opens the door, and the coach says, hey, Cepicky, the coach wants to see you. Bring your playbook.

Leahy: When they say bring your playbook…

Cepicky: It means you’re gone.

Leahy: It means you’re gone. So how do you feel at that moment?

Cepicky: You don’t know how to react. It’s something that’s never happened to you in your life. And so Coach Sam White cuts me. That day I put everything together, and I’m going back home from Cincinnati from St. Louis…

Leahy: And so you’re feeling kind of bad.

Cepicky: And so do you remember the old brick phones? My brick phone rang somewhere in Indiana. And it’s my agent saying, hey, by the way, you just got picked up by the Vikings. You’ve got to get to the airport in four hours and get on a plane to Minnesota.

Leahy: That’s weird.

Cepicky: Well, I was about five hours away. (Leahy laughs) I can tell you this. I made it.

Leahy: You made it.

Cepicky: I fly in and I get to Minnesota. I spend another week there, the last week of a preseason camp. And I knew it wasn’t a good situation when they brought four punters in at the same time.

Leahy: The odds are not really looking good.

Cepicky: So I’m getting on a plane after I got cut from Minnesota, waiting to go back to St. Louis.

Leahy: So when they cut you in Minnesota, you’re not really all that upset.

Cepicky: I’m not really attached. I’m sitting at the airport. My brick phone rings and it’s my baseball coach, Steve, from Wisconsin.

Leahy: Are you kidding me?

Cepicky: He said, What are you doing? And I said, Well, I just got cut. I’m going home. He said, well, we’re a week away from school starting and you have another year of school left and we’ll be happy to scholarship you, because I was an all Big 10 baseball player the year before. Come back and finish your last year and finish your degree. So I called my mom and I said, hey, can you and dad come up next week to Wisconsin and bring my stuff? I changed my flight from St. Louis to Madison, went back to school, and then I got drafted by the White Sox.

Leahy: Okay, so how do you hear you are drafted by the White Sox?

Cepicky: So we were playing a baseball game late in the year, and I knew that I was being recruited. Now I’m a 50 or senior. So you’re not going to get the big money. And I get a phone call that the White Sox are going to pick me in the 23rd round.

Leahy: Because they have, like, 30 rounds in baseball, right?

Cepicky: They had 115 back then.

Leahy: They did? Wow. I didn’t even make it to 116.

Cepicky: So I’m 21 years old, 22 years old and I get picked on 23rd round. I’m in rookie ball. And I’m the oldest guy by two years.

Leahy: Isn’t that something? The rookie balls are all so young.

Cepicky: They’re babies.

Leahy: And there are very few college people in rookie ball.

Cepicky: Very few. I ended up going and I played rookie ball very well.

Leahy: So where did you play rookie ball? In Florida or Arizona?

Cepicky: At the time I was in Sarasota, Florida. I did very well and came back next year. Then I went to South Bend, Indiana in low A.

Leahy: We know this from tracking Tim Tebow’s adventures. So you are low A.

Cepicky: Low A in South Bend and went to batting title in there. Next year, I go to the high Florida State League and back to C in Sarasota. Was named MVP of the league there.

Leahy: Okay, so it’s looking good.

Cepicky: I’m on the right trajectory. Next year, go to lead the league in RBI’s in AA.

Leahy: Where? Was it the Birmingham Barons?

Cepicky: Birmingham Barons. That’s when I had my first stent down in Venezuela.

Leahy: Okay, so you played winter ball in Venezuela.

Cepicky: In Venezuela.

Leahy: And as I told you during the break, I’ve been in that stadium in Caracas, Venezuela, or one of the main stadiums when I was a high school kid. I was down there and watched Vick Davalio a Venezuelan play ball.

Cepicky: So I went down to Venezuela and had an incredible year. My nickname down there was El Toro.

Leahy: El Toro the bull!

Cepicky: I worked very hard learning Spanish down there. And by the end of the year, I was giving my interviews in Spanish. Led the league in home runs, led the league in RBI’s, finished third and batting title. And won the league in MVPs.

Leahy: Okay, so let me just say right now, you’re thinking I’m going to the big League.

Cepicky: I’m going to the big leagues. So we get back from Venezuela. I sign a split contract, which means I’m going to be on the big league roster, but I have a contract just in case I go back and forth.

Leahy: Okay, this is good.

Cepicky: We are a week away from reporting the spring training and big league camp. Right now, I’m a projected left field starter for the White Sox.

Leahy: Oh, sure. Your leftfield now.

Cepicky: Leftfield starter.

Leahy: Okay. Not first base, left field.

Cepicky: They got me way far away from the action as they could because I could hit.

Leahy: Okay, so you were a good hit.

Cepicky: Okay.

Leahy: How’s that?

Cepicky: I could field my position.

Leahy: There you go.

Cepicky: And it’s Monday morning. I’m sitting at the breakfast table with my dad getting ready to go to work out. And we’re watching Sports Center, and they announce a blockbuster trade between the Chicago White Sox and the Montreal Expos. Tim Raines is coming to the Chicago White Sox.

Leahy: And who’s going to the Expos?

Cepicky: Well, I’m sitting here to myself and I look at my dad, and I’m like, well, Tim Raines, plays leftfield. (Leahy laughs) Am I gonna go to Montreal? Which to me is even better.

Leahy: More chances to play.

Cepicky: If you go to Montreal, somebody’s gonna pick you up. The phone rings literally, like, a minute after that and it’s the general manager, Jerry Ryan calls me on the phone.

Leahy: The owner calls you? That was nice the owner called you.

Cepicky: And he said, by the way, have you been watching TV today? I said you mean Sports Center? He said, yes. I said, yes sir I have been watching Sports Center. He said, well, I’m sorry you heard had to hear it over Sports Center. So I’m thinking he’s going to say that I’ve been traded to Montreal. He said, well, Montreal wanted you in a straight-up trade for Tim Raines, and we said no. So we sent them six minor leaguers, but we’re going to send you back to AAA. You’re the insurance policy for Tim Raines.

Leahy: So right at that moment, you’re thinking, how did something so potentially good.

Cepicky: One week away…

Leahy: Go so bad?

Cepicky: So I ended up playing that year for the Sounds.

Leahy: So you played for the Nashville Sounds that year.

Cepicky: So I ended up playing or the Sounds that year.

Leahy: That your first time in Nashville. What was it like coming to Nashville? You’ve been all over the country first time in Nashville. You are playing AAA at the old Greer Stadium.

Cepicky: I got plugged into it. I’ll tell you why Nashville so endearing to me. When I was playing for the Nashville Sounds, there was a thing called Jerry House and the House Foundation. I knew Devon O’Day very well.

Leahy: Jerry House right here on iHeart.

Cepicky: I had spent time with Tracy Byrd. I knew him. I knew them all here on Music Row. Spent a lot of time here.

Leahy: You’ve been to Music Row before. This is not your first rodeo on Music Row.

Cepicky: Well, when you’re 24 years old, 25 years old…

Leahy: You’re gonna hang out on Music Row if you are playing for the Nashville Sounds.

Cepicky: And so I did that for a year. Had an okay year. Very discouraged, very tough.

Leahy: But I think a little bit of this is the timing because sometimes people if you’re expecting to go to the bigs and they send you to AAA as much as you love Nashville, you sort of kind of like thinking, what’s going on here?

Cepicky: They optioned me down to AA because that team had a chance to win the championship and they needed to hitter down there. Spent the end of that year in Birmingham, we won the southern championship next year, go back to the White Sox and that’s when a guy named Michael Jordan decides to play baseball. So I’m back in AAA. They have in the locker room it’s me, Michael Jordan, and Brad Commons because they sandwich dust on either side of Michael, because to me, he was just Michael Jordan. Just another baseball player.

Leahy: So you’re playing where at this time?

Cepicky: AAA with the White Sox in spring training.

Leahy: Oh, in spring training. So you’re playing with Michael Jordan?

Cepicky: Yes.

Leahy: Interesting. More with Scott Cepicky when we get back we’ll continue. This is turning into your professional baseball career more than it is your legislative agenda. But we’ll get to the legislative agenda, I promise.

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

Maury County, Tennessee State Rep. Cepicky Reflects Upon the Winding Road to Public Office

Maury County, Tennessee State Rep. Cepicky Reflects Upon the Winding Road to Public Office

 

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 State Rep. Scott Cepicky in studio to talk about his former life as a professional baseball player and how he came into politics.

Leahy: In studio with us State Representative Scott Cepicky. We’re learning a lot of very interesting things about his career in sports as a professional baseball player. So spring training, what 1980 or something?

Cepicky: We are in 1994.

Leahy: Spring training 1994. You’re down with the White Sox?

Cepicky: White Sox organization, spring training, Michael Jordan is playing baseball.

Leahy: You’re left field, he’s centerfield somebody else is right field.

Cepicky: He’s in right field.

Leahy: He’s in right field.

Cepicky: He’s not playing right field. But he’s in right field.

Leahy: And he loves baseball like you do, right?

Cepicky: Well, he does like baseball. He doesn’t love baseball, but he likes it.

Leahy: He likes it. He’s trying it out.

Cepicky: And he made a promise to his father. And I understand that. And when your a White Sox owner and Chicago Bull owner, and winner of three world championships, and you’re the best basketball player, in my opinion, who’s ever lived, you get to do what you want.

Leahy: You get to do what you want. So there he is. He’s playing the right field. So tell us the rest of the story.

Cepicky: We’re just having conversations with him every day, like I’m having a conversation with you, How’s life going? We are just sitting out in the outfield shagging fly balls. And I’m sitting here with Michael Jordan every day in spring training. I ended up getting traded to the Twins. So the Twins optioned me from AAA down to AA. You know, the movie Bull Durham?

Leahy: I sure do.

Cepicky: Well, my role with the Nashville Express was Kevin Coster.

Leahy: Okay.

Cepicky: I was seasoned baseball player. I knew how to play the game. I knew how to play 142 baseball games a year. And I knew in my heart what it took to be a professional.

Leahy: So there was a very brief period in time where a AA team called the Nashville Express was moved up to Nashville.

Cepicky: Larry Schmittou.

Leahy: Larry Schmittou. Great guy. Former Vanderbilt baseball coach and was involved in the Sounds. And then the Express,.

Cepicky: I believe the Express became the Jackson Generals.

Leahy: I think so. But the Express for two or three years.

Cepicky: Three years.

Leahy: Okay. So you’re back now playing for the Express AA, the same league as the Birmingham Barons. Where Michael Jordan…

Cepicky: Where I just played a year before winning the southern league championship.

Leahy: Right.

Cepicky: So there’s a time when Michael comes to town.

Leahy: And I went to those games and let me tell you what my initial reaction was. Man, that guy is tall and skinny. That was my first thought, watching Jordan play baseball because you watch him on the basketball court and he looks muscular compared to the other guys. But on a baseball field, he looks very skinny.

Cepicky: Well, there was a picture that was circling for a while back then. He had just walked because he wasn’t going to get a base hit to get on base. But he walked. And I teased him all the time about it. He walked in one day when I was with the Express and I’m standing there at first base. I was playing first place in his game. And I was 6’4, 240 pounds.

Leahy: And you knew Jordan.

Cepicky: And he got down to the first base and he’s standing there, and he’s talking to me. I’m like, I just want to let you know that is the most awful swing I’ve ever seen in my life. And I said if it wasn’t for you being able to shoot the basketball, you’d never be standing here. That made him laugh. And he said, Well, I got to go because I’m gonna steal the second base here. And he did.

Leahy: He was fast.

Cepicky: He was fast. But in the day game that night, we played. And the next day was the Sunday day game on their getaway day. And we played there. And if you ever come to my office and everybody you I always invited to it. It’s not my office.

Leahy: It’s the rep office.

Cepicky: Well, it’s District 64’s office.

Leahy: There you go.

Cepicky: And so if you come to District 64 is office up in Cordell Hull. You’ll see the newspaper article from The Tennesseean and back then that he signed. And it’s a picture when he first got into town the night before of me and Michael just having a conversation. And so it’s in my office, one of my prize possessions. He was a super good guy.

I finished that year with the Express. Like Bull Durham, they were going to release me at the end of the year. And you know what? As I’ve told your listeners, I’d done everything I could to get to the big leagues. And I called my dad on the phone and I just said, I’m done. I’m going to leave the sport on my terms. I’m not going to hang around forever. I was 28 years old by then.

Leahy: You put six years in. You don’t make the big money in the minors.

Cepicky: You make some.

Leahy: You make some.

Cepicky: You don’t make a lot of money. And so I just decided I was going to move on with my life. And it was the best thing I ever did. I met my wife. We were living in Atlanta, Georgia, and people said, well, how did you get to Tennessee? I said, well, we had a cattle farm in Southeast Missouri, and I’m a cattleman right now driving back and forth from Atlanta to Southeast Missouri every week.

And it got old. My wife was pregnant. And we’re like, look, we’ve got to either live on a farm or we got to move closer. So we happened to be in Nashville when she said that to me. And I said, well, we both like country music. And so we decided to move to Nashville. And I found my way in a couple of different areas. And finally, in 2008 we moved to Maury County. In 2010 I ran for the County Commission.

Leahy: In 2008 you moved to Maury County. And what do you do there for a living?

Cepicky: I’m a banker.

Leahy: Oh, that’s your primary job.

Cepicky: I’m a banker. And in 2010, I was sitting there next to my very good friend and neighbor complaining about the situation of our county, our state, and our county. And he said, I’m tired of you complaining about it. Why don’t you fix it. So I put my name on a ballot in 2010. I was elected to the County Commission and served as their chairman for four years. I served as a chairman for two years. And then I ran for County Mayor in 2014 and I lost by 137 votes in the primary.

Leahy: Close race.

Cepicky: Sheila Butt was the state representative.

Leahy: Well known to us.

Cepicky: She asked me if I would be the chairman of the Republican Party. And so I did that for another four or two years. And then in 2018, I got a phone call from Representative Butt saying she’s going to retire. And I said, That’s a shame. I wish you wouldn’t. She said, Well, it’s okay because I want you to run.

Leahy: There you go.

Cepicky: So I ran in 2018. The people of Murray County decided that they wanted to send me up to Nashville to fight for them and the people of Tennessee. And I’ve been doing it ever since.

Leahy: But you also owned a beef cattle farm.

Cepicky: My wife and I own a cattle farm in Culleoka, Tennessee.

Leahy: In Culleoka. You have a full-time gig as a banker.

Cepicky: I also do a radio show.

Leahy: Where’s your radio show on? Is it the Columbia station?

Cepicky: WKLM.

Leahy: Good station down there.

Cepicky: Every Friday I give a legislative report. Talk about sports. I used to coach little football. I dabble in high school football and a little bit helping out of Columbia Academy, wherever. A

Leahy: Columbia Academy. The Bulldogs down there.

Cepicky: And just do a lot of stuff.

Leahy: Yeah, you’re a busy guy. So what’s interesting about this is you started off, though, at the county commission politically. Now tell us about that job. To me, it looks like an awful lot of work and a lot of responsibility and not a lot of kudos.

Cepicky: It is the purity of politics at its greatest because you walk amongst your citizens, your electors every day of your life. They have direct access to you. Which I tell people all the time, the federal government can hurt you. The state governments can hurt you a little bit more. But the ones that can really affect your lives are your County Commissions and City Councils. They have direct taxation over you.

Leahy: So in Maury County now, I think in Williamson County, where I live, that’s like 25 members of the County Commission. Something like that. How many members of the County Commission in Maury County?

Cepicky: 22.

Leahy: 22. Now, that’s a lot of people to get something done.

Cepicky: It’s tough. It’s tough. You got to be very persuasive in your argument.

Leahy: So this is interesting, though. The big benefit, and it’s very time-consuming from what I can tell.

Cepicky: If you want to serve people correctly, you have to devote your life to it. You have to devote your life to it because they expect you to be well versed in as many things as you possibly can because most people won’t call their neighbor for the answer. They’ll call their elected official for the answer.

Leahy: Yeah, exactly.

Cepicky: You either have to know it or find it.

Leahy: So you represent a district there.

Cepicky: Spring Hill.

Leahy: So you represent Spring Hill and how often do you meet?

Cepicky: You meet once a month. But you have committee meetings, probably three or 4 times a month. Plus, you have other one on 1 meetings with other commissioners.

Leahy: So it’s a big chunk of time. What’s the biggest thing that you learned from that process?

Cepicky: School boards and county commissions don’t like each other.

Leahy: You said something very important there. Very important. Why do they not like each other?

Cepicky: Well, school boards have the job to run the school systems, and they have to manage their school system. You have to figure out how many teachers you need. What buildings you are going to build. Things you are going to purchase. But the people who hold the purse strings are the county commission. And the county commissioners have to make sure that they run the County in a fiscal way, that it’s going to survive. And sometimes those two ideas don’t mesh.

For instance, the school board may say, hey, we need to build a new school. And the county commission says, look, we can’t afford a new school. And the school board says we’ll just raise taxes. And the county commission, depending on who you elect, may say yes or may say no. So there’s an adversarial relationship kind of established in the way it’s all set up. Good county commissions overcome that and figure out what’s best for the people.

Leahy: That’s playing out in 95 counties in Tennessee every day.

Cepicky: It’s very difficult. Tough job.

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