State Representative Scott Cepicky Talks Why He Voted No on Ford $900 Million Deal

State Representative Scott Cepicky Talks Why He Voted No on Ford $900 Million Deal


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 Maury County, Tennessee State Representative Scott Cepicky to the newsmaker line to discuss his concerns with the Ford mega site deal for Haywood County and why he voted no.

Leahy: We are joined on the newsmaker line by a good friend from Maury County State Representative Scott Cepicky. Welcome, Scott.

Cepicky: Good morning, Michael. How are you doing?

Leahy: Well, I’m doing great. Yesterday, you were one of three members of the Tennessee House of Rep. Representatives who voted against this $884 million incentive package for Ford to open up an electric vehicle plant that is purportedly going to employ 5,800 people over a period of 10 years at the Memphis Regional mega site.

The vote was like overwhelming in favor of it. In the state Senate, also overwhelmingly in favor of it in the state House. I, however, have the same view you do. I was very skeptical about this deal. Tell us why you voted no on this bill.

Cepicky: There were two bills. The first bill, 8001 Michael, created this mega site authority that was given unprecedented powers to negotiate, enter into contracts, keep contracts secret, and also have the power of an eminent domain, and bypassing the local county commissions or city authorities.

And then it didn’t have any provisions in there about reporting to the Comptroller, doing audits, or reporting back to government operations in writing. And you know as well as I do, the most important thing to have in that bill is what do the words say?

The good thing about the amendment that we tried to make was that addressed most of those issues when the vote was taken to table that amendment, 24 other of my colleagues agreed with us that there need to be more guard rails and more oversight over this mega site authority.

And then the other bill we had was the appropriations bill of the $884 million. And I spoke very plainly on the floor Michael. In good conscience with what’s happening with all of our teachers, our doctors, our nurses, airline pilots, employees across the state that are losing their jobs because of exercising their liberty and freedom to choose what goes into their bodies in good conscience.

I could not vote to give a Corporation $884 million before we address the pressing needs of those things that are happening right now in Tennessee in regards to COVID. It’s not even getting into about children that are having to wear masks, and RSV which is skyrocketing in our hospitals right now, and then college and university students that are being segregated and discriminated against for being unvaccinated.

It was a stand up principle. I hope that Ford will come to West Tennessee. I hope that Ford will understand what it means to be a Tennesseean, and I hope that all of these jobs come to fruition, and I hope that it transforms West Tennessee into economic opportunities that they’ve never had in their entire existence.

Leahy: I got the impression that there was just a stampede of political support for this. And frankly, my impression was this was a bit of a rubber stamp, A.

B, I don’t think many state legislators looked at the details as you did and should have. I think there are going to be all sorts of problems with this deal as it plays out. Am I reading that right from afar or what’s your take?

Cepicky: (Chuckles) We’re not talking $100 here, Michael. We’re talking almost a billion dollars when you factor in interest. I have been told by members and leadership that the amendment that we had on the House floor, there were certain things that they did like about that, and they want to bring those back up in January.

But they just didn’t think that yesterday was the time to go ahead and add those into the bill. And then Robin Smith, one of my colleagues who blue lighted the bill who voted present not voting along with Justin Lafferty present not voting, Robin had a very good amendment that was also piggybacked on mine was a secret ballot for the organization of labor that would be an option to those individuals out there.

Leahy: So in other words, if you work there, are you going to have to be a Union member? I guess that’s what we’re getting at.

Cepicky: And that’s what we’re looking at right there.

Leahy: We don’t know do we?

Cepicky: We don’t know. We don’t know yet.

Leahy: That sounds like a formula for disaster to me.

Cepicky: Possibly.

Leahy: My view is I’m very much in the minority in analyzing this, and I would not have voted for. I’m not in the state House. You are. I applaud you for your vote on it. Now, the money they gave them $884 million.

There are two elements that look like it’s a direct payment for stuff they ought to be doing, $138 million for infrastructure, demolition of structures, and more that’s being paid to the regional mega site.

But then they get $500 million of incentives. And State Senator Bo Watson says, yeah, we’ll pay them that money as they bill us for expenses. How’s that going to work?

Cepicky: That’s the devil in the details. None of us, as far as I know, no one has seen the contract. No one understands the clawback. No one really has a good understanding of the clawbacks that are in this contract.

No one has a good understanding of exactly what the obligation of Ford was. If you look at most of my colleagues’ talking points, it was all about jobs, jobs and jobs. Now we’re building a TCAP center out there to help provide the educational training and the technical training to go to work in this facility.

One of the things that we wanted Ford to do, as we’ve experienced in Maury County and Williamson County with the General Motors plant, over the last 37 years, we’ve had to build 14 schools that surround that GM plant. Fourteen schools.

Leahy: Who’s paying for that?

Cepicky: That was one of the amendments we had in my bill was that the Ford or whoever the tenants are for Haywood and Fayette Counties would have to pay the assessed value of the property tax on their facilities.

That what percentage was allocated to schools in those two counties to help defray the cost of all of the schools and infrastructure that these two very rural counties are going to have to build.

I think in Haywood County, Brownsville is the only incorporated city in the whole county. If you move like they’re talking upwards of 20,000 people into that area Michael, you’re looking at probably 20 schools.

Leahy: And the local taxpayers are going to have to cover that. Let me just say that what you just told me, confirming that nobody really understands the details of when the $500 million is going to be paid to Ford and what the clawback provisions are.

That is stunning. And I salute you for opposing this. In my view, this bill should not have been passed. Your last comments on this.

Cepicky: I hope that none of that comes to fruition, Michael because there are a billion dollars of taxpayer money on the line. I hope that Governor Leon and I know Governor Lee is a businessman.

I’m sure he will work hard with Commissioner Rolfe to make sure the T’s are crossed and the I’s are dotted. But that’s where we have to bring the Government Operations Committee of the House and Senate in on this state.

Listen to the 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
















Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Weighs in on MLB Gone Woke and the Coming Agenda in the General Assembly

Tennessee State Rep. Scott Cepicky Weighs in on MLB Gone Woke and the Coming Agenda in the General Assembly


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 Congressman Scott Cepicky to the newsmakers line to weigh in on Major League Baseball’s decision to withdrawl from Georgia, cancel culture, and the upcoming agenda in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Leahy: We are joined on our newsmaker line, by our good friend, state Representative Scott Cepicky from Maury County. Scott, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.

Cepicky: Michael, how are you doing today?

Leahy: Well, I’m doing great. You are, of course, our favorite state legislator who is a former professional baseball player. You played for the AA Nashville Express and the AAA Nashville Sounds and almost made it to the bigs had not been for a trade between the Chicago White Sox and the Montreal Expos that brought Tim Raines to Chicago. I just got to ask you, what are they thinking in Major League Baseball to cancel the All-Star Game in Atlanta?

Cepicky: Well, you know, Michael it is very troubling what’s happening in professional sports right now and the hypocrisy of all of these other corporations. So you know as well as I do and your listeners, let’s talk about Delta Airlines. If you’re going to go pick up your ticket at Delta Airlines the first thing they ask you for is your ID. Or if you’re going to go to a Nashville Sounds baseball game and you are going to pick up your tickets at will call the first thing they’re going to ask you for is your ID to prove who you are.

I think Georgia has done just common sense. What people are wanting is, hey, we’re not denying anybody the ability to go vote. Just make sure you bring your ID to prove who you are so you’re able to vote. And I think Major League Baseball is really overstepping the boundaries here. And then you mentioned how they are going to Coors Field in Colorado that has voter ID laws.

Leahy: It doesn’t make any sense to me. And what’s troubling to me, you are a member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and according to the United States Constitution and the Tennessee Constitution, election procedures and election laws are the responsibility of the Tennessee General Assembly for federal elections and for state and local also for the Tennessee General Assembly and the governor. What is it with these Fortune 500 companies that are so woke and they think they are the ones who set the rules about elections? What’s happening with that?

Cepicky: Well, my dad taught me a long time ago, he said, Scott, always understand what role you play and stay in your lane. And you’re right. The General Assembly is the one that affects the laws on elections. And the corporations are the ones that hire people to work in Tennessee. Michael, the last time I checked, we don’t have a problem with corporations or people moving to Tennessee because of the laws we have and the lack of oversight of laws.

We have no state income tax and the loan tax structure here in Tennessee is very attractive for corporations to move here. And for that matter, if you look at Georgia with the environment they have Coca-Cola is there. Delta Airlines is there. CitiBank is there and major corporations are there because of the laws that they all live under, but they’re very quick to bite the hand that provides those opportunities.

Leahy: What is the general attitude among your colleagues in the Tennessee General Assembly when they see a woke ridiculous decision by Major League Baseball, by Delta, and by Coca-Cola, to try and force sovereign states to do things that they think are better for the general population?

Cepicky: Well, I don’t speak for all the members, but I know a great deal of us are concerned about how this whole culture is and this cancel culture. If you disagree with them, they want to shut you down right away. And that’s not the way our country was founded. We were founded on differing opinions and trying to find the middle ground. And now there’s no middle ground either.

If you agree with them, then they give you the thumbs up. If you disagree with them, then they want to cancel you out and they want to call you a racist or a bigot. I think we’ve got to get past that as a country. I mean, do you see the poll just like I do? This is probably the most divided our country has ever been, and we need to start to work together towards making our country as great as it used to be.

Leahy: Yeah, I agree with you completely. If I can turn the corner a little bit on that topic and go to the Tennessee General Assembly. I think the chairman of the Education Committee is doing a great job there. What is going to be happening in the last couple of weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly? What’s on your agenda?

Cepicky: Well, in education we worked very hard to make sure that we just don’t overburden our teachers and administrators with just more things to do. We are laser-focused on K-3 education, trying to make sure that all kids, no matter where they come from, no matter what background they have, all children will be able to read, write, and do math so that they can prosper in the four through 12-grade levels.

We are working on textbooks, making sure that they align with our standards and curriculums are aligned to our standards. And lastly, the supplemental materials that you hear that teachers will inadvertently pull something off the Internet that’s confrontational or questionable, and it gets the LEA in trouble that now supplemental materials will have to align the Tennessee standards and our values.

So a lot of work has been done in education. We had a special session with literacy and going back to summer school and getting kids help with tutoring. We are all in. We are all in with making sure our kids know how to read, write, and do math. And then yesterday on the House floor I thought we did something rather appropriate as we recognized Dolly Parton as the first lady of literacy in Tennessee with all she’s done with the Imagination Library.

I think over 152 million books have been distributed through the Imagination Library and 1.7 million Tennesseeans have had the opportunity to experience Imagination Library, including my two children. So a lot of things happening. We’re probably four weeks away from wrapping up the session.

Leahy: You mentioned Dolly Parton. It’s interesting because Scooter and I were talking a little bit about Dolly Parton. Everybody in America thinks highly of Dolly Parton. She’s done a remarkable job not just for the state of Tennessee, but for the country with her literacy efforts.

Cepicky: Oh, absolutely. I mean, as an elected official, I don’t want to get caught up in your position here. I can talk for two hours on education, but Dolly Parton can come up to a microphone and speak for two minutes which weighs 10 times more heavily on literacy. And so we just wanted to make sure that Dolly knew that we appreciated her efforts in education. She knows how important it is for Tennessee to be able to read, write, and do math. And we just wanted to make sure that she felt appreciated by the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: What other big things do you see happening in the final three or four weeks of the Tennessee General Assembly?

Cepicky: Well, you know, the permitless carry. And I’m going to say its permitless carry has passed the House and Senate. It’s gone on to the governor’s desk. There are other bills. Criminal justice reform. There’s a bill coming through the pipeline.

Leahy: I have one question for you. I saw that the House passed what I think is a very good bill yesterday to provide a formal review process for the constitutionality of executive orders from the president. What’s your take on that?

Cepicky: You read my mind. That was the one I was trying to remember. Government operations, the House passed and we’ll have the ability to look at all the executive orders or, for that matter, any law that’s passed by the federal government to make sure it doesn’t infringe on our Tenth Amendment rights or, for that matter, it’s constitutional. There was another bill that’s making its way that will be filed here shortly on vaccine passports opposing those in the state of Tennessee.

Leahy: I saw the bill to review the constitutionality of executive orders coming out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the office of the President. The bill passed 70 to 23, mainly along party lines. But there were two Democrats who voted for the bill. State Representative Johnny Shaw from Boliver, but also John Mark Windle. What a great guy he is.

Cepicky: He has been there, I think since Abraham Lincoln was born. (Leahy laughs)

Leahy: I will tell him you said that if we get him in here.

Cepicky: He has his principles and he will not be swayed from his principles, which is very admirable to him. And sometimes his principles do not align with this party, and he’s not afraid to stand up and take that vote. And he sits two spaces in front of me on the House floor. He’s very well respected up there, the General Assembly. And obviously, he’s well respected by his constituents because they keep sending them back up there year after year after year.

Leahy: When you sit down next to him today on the House floor, just say tell him, hey, please, come in. Michael Patrick Leahy wants you to come in studio on The Tennessee Star Report. Will you do that for us?

Cepicky: I will do that Michael.

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





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