Madison County Mayoral Candidate AJ Massey: Focusing on Schools and Education Will Help Kill ‘Public School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Madison County Mayoral Candidate AJ Massey: Focusing on Schools and Education Will Help Kill ‘Public School-to-Prison Pipeline’

Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Madison County Republican mayoral candidate AJ Massey on the newsmaker line to discuss his agenda for growth and education.

Leahy: We now welcome to our newsmaker line, Mr. AJ Massey, who is running for mayor of Madison County. Good morning, AJ.

Massey: Good morning, everybody. How are y’all?

Leahy: We’re great. We’re delighted to have you on here. So tell us about yourself. What’s your background, AJ?

Massey: Sure. Yeah. I’m a native of West Tennessee, grew up in West Tennessee and went to college here and had a 17-year career in banking. And that ended in January when I elected to run for a local office. You can’t really chase two rabbits, don’t do well with that. So we chose to run for office. So we’ve been doing that since January.

Leahy: People know Jackson as the place you stop to get gas two hours from Nashville sometimes, to the west, about an hour from Memphis. Good restaurants there.

I stop by and take a break there sometimes. But people don’t know that much about Jackson and Madison County. Tell us a little bit about some of the challenges there that you face in Madison County.

Massey: Sure. Madison County is, you’re exactly right. We’re right down in the middle of everything. We’re called the Hub City. Jackson is called the Hub City for a reason. All the West Tennessee, outside of Memphis, looks to Jackson for commerce and for goods and a lot of well-paying jobs.

And so as far as what challenges are, I think we’re a disproportionately high poverty number in the city of Jackson, and really Madison County as a whole. So that’s a challenge that makes education difficult, that makes law enforcement difficult, and that makes a lot of things difficult.

But there’s so much good happening in West Tennessee that, there’s so much good happening in Madison County but also in West Tennessee, bringing on, we’re getting a great Wolf Lodge in Jackson.

If you don’t know what that is, it’s an indoor water park hotel, and nearly 500 rooms have been built in the city of Jackson. We’ll have, of course, the Megasite in Haywood County where Ford Blue Oval City will be in the next few years.

That’s within about 40 miles of our county border. That’s going to be a big shot to Madison County and West Tennessee. So that’s really what we’re trying to do, is trying to get ahead of these things, be paying attention.

I’ve got a young family, and I want the next 20 years. I want them to be around here. I want my boys to choose to locate in West Tennessee and not be too far from Mom and Dad, and hopefully grandkids someday, so we’re trying to make this place as attractive and as safe and, giving them everything they want, where they don’t feel like they need to go anywhere.

Leahy: Crom Carmichael, our original all-star panelist has a question for you, AJ.

Carmichael: AJ, how close is Jackson to that new Ford facility?

Massey: It’s about 40 miles. Between 40 and 50 miles, depending on how you go, between Madison County and Blue Oval City.

And that’s actually a great opportunity. Ford has a requirement that a certain number of suppliers that are going to help that plan out with different needs are required to be within 50 miles of that facility.

So that really puts East Memphis, that puts some of our north, west counties, and then, of course, Madison County is sitting right there ready to accept a lot of the suppliers. And our infrastructure is ready for that.

Carmichael: So, Jackson is inside that 50-mile radius?

Massey: Yes, sir. Correct.

Carmichael: Okay.

Massey: One of our most, and I don’t know if there was just some foreknowledge there or just some premonition, but the western part of our county nearest to the Megasite has a vast option of industrial sites that are already with wastewater and utilities. And so we’re just waiting for the right businesses to take their claim to those.

Leahy: AJ, what is the main reason why people who live in Madison County should vote for you for mayor of Madison County?

Massey: Absolutely. Well, we’re trying to pay attention. We’re trying to be on our toes. We’ve had similar leadership in Madison County for the last, really, 30 years. And the folks that have chosen to run in this race as well are kind of on the same cloth.

And there are some statistics that came out not long ago that has Madison County ranked 95th out of 95 counties, in nearly every category. And that whole thing is if we do what we’ve always done, we’re going to get what we’ve got.

And I think it’s just time for a change. I think it’s time for somebody with some energy, some renewed focus. I’m not trying to get anybody out of the office. I’m not trying to kick anybody out, but I do think it’s time for people to step aside and allow new leadership with fresh ideas.

As I said, I’ve got an 8-year-old and a 3-year-old boy. And that’s where my focus is, trying to build a community that they can be proud of over the next 20 years.

I’m not looking at the next election cycle. I’m not looking at the next budget cycle. I’m looking at the next few decades to make sure, because I’m going to be here, I’m going to be around, and I’m going to have to give an account to what we did or didn’t do with this opportunity coming to West Tennessee.

Leahy: AJ, what is the most important fresh new idea you have to improve the status of Madison County from, as you say, 95th out of 95 counties in almost every category?

Massey: Sure. I’ve been on the Jackson Madison County school board since 2018. I’m a public school graduate. My wife is a public school graduate. My oldest son is in public school. My youngest hadn’t gotten quite to that level yet.

But it’s schools. Schools really drive everything around here. I’m sure it is with most communities but that’s going to reduce our crime rate.

That’s going to reduce our jail population. That’s a long-term play, though the further down the line we get we have to make sure those children are educated at grade level when they’re first, second, third grade.

That way they kill that public-school-to-prison pipeline that seems to happen, and that obviously helps with crime, helps with commerce, and the ability to supply the workforce for all these great companies. I’m passionate about schools. I think our schools need to be …

Leahy: Let me ask you a question about that. In the four years you’ve served on the Jackson Madison school board, what have you done to improve the status of schools there? Because it looks like everywhere in the state over that four-year period the performance of students has gone down, down, down.

Massey: Sure. Madison County is a unique county. We have four thriving private schools and so there are lots of options here in town for nontraditional public education.

There’s also a district just north of us that’s just done the right things and they’ve attracted a lot of families to move outside of our county to go to that district.

But the way last four years we’ve had tremendous success with our academics in our classroom. We have some very pointed, data-driven curriculum that’s happening in our classroom that’s showing improvement.

Listen to the full interview:

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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.
Photo “AJ Massey” by AJ Massey. Background Photo “Madison County Courthouse” by Www78. CC BY-SA 3.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs Highlights Upcoming Fall Festival at Oakes Farm October 26th and Democratic Infiltration at the Local Level

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs Highlights Upcoming Fall Festival at Oakes Farm October 26th and Democratic Infiltration at the Local Level

 

Live from Music Row Friday 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 Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs to the newsmaker line to talk about its upcoming first annual Fall Festival in Corrington, Tennessee and the infiltration of Clinton backed groups influencing local governments.

Leahy: We joined on our newsmaker line by our favorite retired wrestler, Mayor of Knox County Glenn Jacobs. Good morning, Glenn.

Jacobs: Good morning Michael. How are you, sir?

Leahy: I am great. So you got a fun festival going on in Knox County? I love to have a fun story. Tell us, is this the first annual fall festival, or have you been doing this for a while?

Jacobs: This is the first annual fall festival. It’s going to be October 26 this coming Tuesday at Oaks Farm in Corrington, Tennessee. It’s a beautiful place. There are all sorts of stuff, games, and fun activities for kids of all ages.

And, of course, a pumpkin patch, a corn maze. And we’ll even have live music by Gone Country, which is one of America’s top country cover bands. So we’re really looking forward to it and it’s going to be a lot of fun.

Leahy: That’s great. Now, who’s putting it on? And why do they decide to do this fall?

Jacobs: This is with my campaign. We are putting it on, and we just want to have a good time and get people out. And fall is my favorite season.

The temperatures are dropping. Football is in full swing. I love autumn. We thought what better time than to get folks out to Oakes Farm and just have a good time that evening.

Leahy: It’s interesting you say that fall is your favorite season. You’re a little bit younger than I am. But I remember I had the same exact feeling because as a kid playing in a little small high school in upstate New York, I had visions of NFL glory.

Didn’t make it past freshman football in college. But I always dreamed of being the star on the football field. Fall would come around, football practice would start. I was ready. It was just so much fun. And I sense that a lot of us sort of have that feeling about fall.

Jacobs: Absolutely. Of course, I played football and before that basketball. And basketball you’re ramping up during the fall. So this is a great time of year.

And of course, the harvest is done. And back in the day, there’s big celebrations about that. And to kind of carry it on now, I think it’s wonderful.

Leahy: Now, if I go up there on Tuesday…

Jacobs: You’re going to have a good time if you go up there. Yeah, but I am tempted. I would like to. Tell you what, if it were on a weekend, I would definitely go up. But am I going to have to wear a mask? (Chuckles)

Jacobs: Only a Halloween mask.

Leahy: (Chuckles) That is a lot of fun. In addition to having fun, there are other things going on in Knox County. What are the major issues that you’re facing right now as Mayor of Knox County?

Jacobs: Well, just like everyone else we’re dealing with all the code stuff and the tension between local governments and control at a local level and the edicts coming down from the federal government, of course.

Not only have I spoken out against President Biden’s vaccine mandate, which is having an impact on workers here. We already have folks that are being threatened to be fired, have already been let go and all those sort of things because they feel it’s their choice.

Leahy: Yeah, folks that have been let go from corporations there over their vaccine mandate policies.

Jacobs: Yes. And also being threatened to be let go. At Oak Ridge, which is very close to Knox County, we have the big DOE complex with the Oakes National Lab and some other Department of Energy facilities and the employees there, as well as the federal contractors, this impacts them. We can’t do anything about that.

Leahy: Federal workers are currently under this vaccine mandate, I guess. Is that right?

Jacobs: Right. Yes. And it’s coming down onto the contractors as well.

Leahy: So that’s already having an impact there.

Jacobs: It is. We already have people that have been placed on unpaid leave. There’s a class-action lawsuit going on. People are fighting back against it. But we have that.

We also had a federal judge impose a universal mask mandate on Knox County schools, despite the fact that schools have twice voted down on mask mandates. And there is no end in sight. He did not say the metrics or the numbers under which that mandate would end.

Leahy: Can I just ask you about that one? The status of that?

Jacobs: Sure.

Leahy: This is the lawsuit, the same kind of argument that was brought in two other counties. It was brought in federal district court in Shelby County, in Williamson County, and in Knox County. It turns out the plaintiffs were local parents with kids with some disabilities of some sort.

And the argument was made that not requiring every student to have a mask on violated the Americans with Disability Act. I’ve never figured that out yet. But did you see the group that was representing them? The lawyers you saw the connection there.

Jacobs: Yes. I actually asked some folks to look into this case as far as who is really behind it. And it turns out, as you said, the plaintiffs are local folks. But some of the lawyers in the case, as well as the organization supporting the case, is a group called Democracy Forward.

And they are a Hillary Clinton-backed group. John Podesta is on their board. Of course, John Podesta was Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, and he was Hillary’s 2016 presidential campaign chair.

Mark Elias, who was 2016 general counsel to the Hillary Clinton campaign. So literally, Hillary Clinton’s people are in Knox County influencing policy.

Leahy: This is basically political colonization through litigation. That’s what it looks like to me.

Jacobs: Well, it absolutely is. And I got to hand it to them, they’re really smart strategically because the left has realized that the way you subvert America is through local government.

Not only are they working at the federal level. But they’re also working diligently at the local level. And that should be a click on for all of us should be going off in heads.

Leahy: That is a very important point, Mayor Glenn Jacobs, that you just made and you’ve seen it for decades. With George Soros funding prosecutors and other local elected officials that aren’t enforcing the law. Will you come back and give us a report after the fun of your big fall festival up there on Tuesday?

Jacobs: Sure. Michael, it is going to be a lot of fun that begins on Tuesday, October 26th at Oakes Farm and that’s in Corrington, Tennessee. If it were a little closer, I would be there. But I’m going to come up there and let’s have lunch sometime and we’ll do an exclusive interview with you. That would be great! Maybe one of these years when we do the fall festival, you can do a remote from there.

Leahy: We’ll shoot for that next year. Glenn Jacobs, mayor of Knox County. Thanks so much for joining us. What a great interesting guy to talk to.

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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.
Photo “Glenn Jacobs” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs: ‘The Idea That the President Is Just Making Laws on His Own Should Really Bother Everyone’

Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs: ‘The Idea That the President Is Just Making Laws on His Own Should Really Bother Everyone’

 

Live from Music Row Monday 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 Knox County Mayor Glenn Jacobs to the newsmaker line to discuss his recent letter to President Joe Biden in response to the vaccine mandates that infringe on American’s freedom and liberty.

Leahy: We are joined now by the Mayor of Knox County, our very good friend, Glenn Jacobs, who broke some news on Thursday with us at The Tennessee Star. Headline. Knox County will not Comply with Joe Biden’s COVID-19 Mandate. Welcome to The Tennessee Star Report Mayor Jacobs.

Jacobs: Morning, Michael. Thanks for having me on.

Leahy: We always are glad to have you on here. You are always interesting, entertaining, and a supporter of liberty, which we love here on The Tennessee Star Report. So tell us what you told President Biden and what’s happened since you put that out.

Jacobs: Sure. Well, first of all, it’s ironic because this morning I’m actually on my way to read to an elementary school about the United States Constitution. I’m wondering if President Biden is going to be there because he can certainly use a primer himself. (Leahy laughs)

I understand he’s vacationing at the beach in Delaware, so probably not. But last week I read a letter to President Biden about his vaccine mandate that he was implementing through an emergency rule with OSHA and the Department of Labor.

I feel many other folks do as well that something of this magnitude impacts so many people, this is not just like saying, hey, your toilet can only use so much water or some of the other kind of ludicrous things that the federal government does.

This is a big deal. And it’s going to impact tens of millions of people. And I believe that it requires literally an act of Congress. It should have been a legislative action instead of the President just signing a decree and making it the law of land. And like many other folks, I have a lot of issues with that.

I also have issues with the President saying this is not about freedom. It’s always about freedom in the United States. He took an oath to uphold the Constitution just like I did that is what the Constitution is therefore really. To protect the Liberty of the American people. And it just really bothers me when politicians forget about that.

Leahy: Yes.  And in your letter, you were direct and you said this. You said finally, as an American, I’m appalled President Biden by your statement, ‘this is not about freedom or personal choice.’ On the contrary, you Glenn Jacobs, Mayor of Knox County write, in America, it is always about freedom. I like that line.

Jacobs: Thank you. But, I mean, it is and that’s what separates us from the rest of the world. We’re a nation founded on the idea that individuals have God-given rights. The government’s job is first and foremost to protect those God-given rights, not to trample all over them.

And we have processes in place that are designed to make that happen. The whole idea is that we give up a little bit of our freedom and our liberty in order for the government to have laws that can make society work in civilization work. That’s government’s primary job.

And that’s certainly the federal government’s primary job. It’s not to micromanage our lives. And President Biden might think it’s a good idea and thinks that everybody should get vaccinated.

And this is not about the vaccine either. I think the vaccine, there’s a lot of benefits to it. I really do. This is about the process. This is about the President of the United States usurping congressional power.

Usurping legislative power. If the President does that, if the executive takes on legislative power, he’s no longer President. He’s a King. And we’re not living in a Republic, we’re living in a Kingdom.

Leahy: Yes. And not a good King. A bad King. You close your letter, Glenn Jacobs, to President Biden. You say the following, ‘In Knox County, we know what we stand for. We stand for freedom.

We stand for the rule of law, we stand for the Constitution. And you, Mr. President, can rest assured that we will stand against your blatant and egregious executive overreach.’ What has the President said in response to that letter?

Jacobs: (Laughs) The President hasn’t said anything. I don’t know if he’ll actually read it. We did send him a hard copy. We also sent it to the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs. I’ll share something else with you, Michael.

When President Trump was President, even though the President didn’t speak directly to the counties, there was a lot of communication with the counties. We actually went up to Washington, D.C., and met the folks at the Department of Intergovernmental Affairs.

The day that we were there, the Secretary of Agriculture spoke. This was county executives, staff, and commissioners from three states in the Southeast. And we were all invited to Washington and see kind of how things work up there.

And there were constant updates from the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs specifically to my office. I’ve heard nothing from the Biden administration. I don’t know what other county mayors and county executives are seeing, but President Trump, for all the criticism that he got from a lot of people one of his initiatives was to have communications with the counties, because in the end, the counties and the cities, you know we are the ones on the front lines in many cases.

And President Trump was very good about that. President Biden has done nothing in his administration that I know of up to this point. But he hasn’t said anything. Of course, there’s been a lot of reactions, both positive and negative from other people.

Leahy: Tell me about some of the negative reactions to this letter from other people.

Jacobs: Of course it’s simple partisanship at this point, and that’s the problem overall now, with where this country is going. COVID-19 is a public health crisis, but it’s morphed into a political issue as well. It’s been completely politicized.

And I can literally tell you, based on a comment that someone leaves on social media, I can tell you what their profile is going to look like. I can tell you if they’re Democrats or Republicans. I can tell you if they’re liberal or conservative, and it’s no longer about thinking about ideas.

What’s really scary is no matter where you are in the political spectrum, the idea that the President is just making laws on his own should really bother everyone. I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative.

It doesn’t matter that that’s not how this country works. But it’s all based on partisanship. Joe Biden did this, that’s good. Donald Trump did this, that’s bad. And that’s how people think. And that’s a horrible place for this country to be. But unfortunately, that’s where we’re at.

Leahy: You said something very interesting that the Biden administration is not communicating with your county at all and that the Trump administration was communicating with you frequently.

This is a theme that we’re seeing about the Biden administration. I call it the ‘Biden Bigfooting’ problem. They basically are bigfooting everybody’s counties and state governments that don’t agree with them. Foreign countries like France.

This is very troubling to me and I think this is an indication that the Biden administration doesn’t care and is attempting to exercise absolute power over everyone else. What are your thoughts?

Jacobs: I do not disagree with you. I think for the Biden administration, everything’s political. I think this vaccine mandate was actually designed to get other things off the front page. Look at the debacle in Afghanistan.

We look at the crisis on the border. The FAA just ordered no drone flights over the Southern border in places so that the news can’t get up there and see what’s going on. I absolutely don’t disagree with you at all.

I think that there’s a lot of politics at work, and I think it’s very strong arm, too. I think that it is. And then, of course, we’ve also heard now that it’s becoming harder to get the monoclonal antibody therapy, which I’m not a doctor, but I think that’s a great treatment for COVID-19. And I think that’s something that should be readily available and that’s becoming harder to get.

Leahy: Particularly in red states.

Jacobs: Exactly. It seems to me that there’s a lot of strong-arm politicking going on. If you don’t like what the administration is doing, they shut you down. Of course, we see this on social media as well, not from them, but from the kind of gatekeepers of social media. There’s no free discourse anymore. If they don’t like what you’re saying, they shut you down. But I agree with you on that.

Leahy: You told us you were literally in the car on the way to meet with some elementary school kids to talk about the Constitution?

Jacobs: Yes, sir. Of course last Friday, September 17 is Constitution Day. The constitution and was signed on September 17, 1787. I’m on my way over to talk to some young people about the Constitution.

And I believe that that’s what makes America an exceptional country is the idea that we have a government that’s there to protect our rights as opposed to one that uses us as a resource.

Leahy: Always entertaining, always enlightening. Thanks so much for joining us today. Come back again soon, if you would, please.

Jacobs: Yes, I sure will. Thank you so much.

Listen to the 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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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