Tag Archives: Bill Haslam

Privatize The Gains, Socialize The Losses

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, the richest governor in America, has been working to make his family business even richer, and the rest of us poorer, according to The Tennesseean:

After taking office, Gov. Bill Haslam reconstituted an obscure board that enforces environmental rules for the industry that helped make him the richest elected official in America.

Since then, the Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board has taken steps to shift the financial burden of cleaning up toxic spills at gas stations and truck stops from business owners to taxpayers.

The 14-member board, 12 of whom are appointed by the governor, sets rules for the $50 million environmental fund overseen by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, or TDEC. The fund has been paying to clean up spills since 1990. It is financed by a combination of a gas tax paid by consumers at the pump and an annual fee paid by owners of petroleum tanks.

Since the board has been reconfigured, members representing consumers have been eliminated.

The board, which retained its four petroleum industry members, has voted in favor of a resolution to increase the state dollars available to private companies for environmental spills caused by failures or accidents from $1 million to $2 million. That became law in 2015.

This year, a new law gives the board the power to give all gas stations and truck stops a big break — suspending their annual fees to the cleanup fund entirely. Some board members have signaled their support for eliminating those fees this year — despite hearing from the man in charge of the state’s underground storage tank program that a “historically high burden of this funding has shifted onto the public.”

Suspending the industry’s financial contributions would leave taxpayers, who haven’t gotten the same breaks as gas stations and truck stops, bearing full financial responsibility for toxic spills.

Surpriiiise, surpriiise!

This isn’t the first time Gov. Haslam has used his position to enrich his crooked family business. But … blind trusts, yada yada.

And I know my conservative friends are going to say, “But wait, Beale, those costs get handed down to consumers anyway,” after all, isn’t that what they always say? Isn’t that the whole point of “deregulation” and the glorious, unfettered free hand of the market and all that crap? The thing is, the costs don’t get passed down to consumers on a dollar for dollar basis, there is only so much of this “passing on to consumers” that the market can bear.

And this is the difference between Republicans and Democrats. Democrats believe in making industry pay for the damage they cause. If you pollute, you pay. If you make a mess, you clean it up. If your underground storage tanks are leaking, you fix it, and you fix the mess you made. It’s like kindergarten, people. Easy-peasy.

Republicans think that’s so unfair, you guys! Republicans believe that their rich friends should be allowed to do whatever they want, and let the chips fall where they may. Because they think that when they prosper, everyone prospers. It “trickles down,” don’tcha know. They still believe that nonsense!

Meanwhile, the only thing trickling down is polluted ground water and contaminated soil. But what do they care? They live in their gated communities with the private water source and they jet off to Aspen and Europe and all that, where they don’t have to live with the mess they create. They aren’t really affected, are they? It’s not their groundwater, is it? It’s yours! If you want it to be clean, you pay for it! That’s what they believe.

They are truly horrible people.

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Filed under Housekeeping

Let Guns In The State Capitol

I’m serious.

I know that since I’m a good, liberal gun-grabber, my readers might find this hard to believe, but I actually think they should allow guns in the state capitol — practically the only place in Tennessee where they are banned by fiat right now.

Yesterday it came up and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey is all for it. Says Ramsey:

When asked if the move to allow gun owners to carry a weapon inside the Capitol will help ensure safety, Ramsey said, “Absolutely. It’s a proven statistic — indisputable — that if gun carry permit holders are allowed into a facility it is safer, not less safe.

This, actually, is horseshit, but if that’s what Republicans believe, then they should live by what they are inflicting on the rest of us. Sadly, Gov. Bill Hypocrite, er I mean Haslocrite, oops I mean Haslam strongly disagrees:

“We don’t think that people should be able to bring weapons in here,” Haslam said. “This is a secure building. We’ve got metal detectors; we’ve got troopers with guns.”

Aw, what are you so scared of, Governor? You’ve signed guns-in-bars, guns-in-parks, guns-in-cars, guns everywhere except where you work? How is that fair? Safety for you but not the rest of us? If you agree that it’s “indisputable” that more licensed guns make everyone safer — and clearly you do, because you’ve signed all of these pro-gun bills into law — then why wouldn’t you practice what you preach? Why not allow guns in the state capitol?

And don’t give me that crap about there being metal detectors, so we’re fine. If metal detectors protected us, everyone would have them, amiright? Kroger, Regal Cinemas, bars on Lower Broad — shouldn’t they all have metal detectors, then?

And what about those urgent “defensible man-made and natural hazards” that state Sen. Dolores Gresham talks about in her anti-gun-free-zones legislation? I’m talking about the bill that would allow gun permit holders to sue any “gun-free” business if they’re injured or killed by anything that could have been stopped by a gun.

Metal detectors wouldn’t stop a wild boar, now would it? Well, WOULD IT?! Or what about a wolf? What if a pack of wolves escaped from the Nashville Zoo and headed straight for the state capitol. What are you gonna do then, huh? Huh?! Aren’t you so scared of a wolf attack at the state capitol that you think a gun permit holder (“sheepdog”) should be allowed to carry and protect all of us sheep? Clearly Sen. Gresham is worried about it, it’s her bill, after all (Allegedly. I’m sure she thought it up all by her ownself, without any help from gun lobbyists like racist lunatic/ALEC alumnus Larry Pratt who is trying to pass nearly identical laws across the country).

That’s the pro-gun philosophy you endorse every time you kowtow to the gun lobby. So fine, if that’s what you truly believe, don’t be such a limp noodle. Live your gun principles! Let’s see if in five years we really are so much safer!

I’m still a good, liberal gun-grabber. But here’s the thing: if you believe the bullshit lie that guns make us safer and force everyone else to live by that belief, even if we don’t want to, then don’t even try to carve out little exceptions for yourself. Let guns in the capitol and let every fidgety gun humper on the state legislature have their fun in the workplace. Knock yourselves out.

Even gun dealers know y’all think your guns are toys. So go have your fun. Shoot your eyes out, whatever.

I’ll be safe at home, streaming my movies on Netflix, avoiding the shopping mall by shopping on Amazon, Skypeing with my friends instead of going to a bar, getting my restaurant experience via home delivery and my groceries online. I may be isolated but at least I’ll be safe in my gun-free zone until the rest of you idiots come to your senses.

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Filed under Gov. Bill Haslam, gun control, gun violence, Guns, Tennessee

Clueless Bill Haslam Demands Answers About Routine Event In Tennessee

Apparently Gov. Haslam has no clue what is going on in the state of Tennessee.

In a pathetic attempt to appear tough on the Muslim-Usurper-Blackety-Black-Man-In-The-White-House and exploit a national news story, Gov. Haslam has sent what local media are calling an “angry” letter to President Obama demanding answers about 760 immigrant and refugee kids who were sent to families here in Tennessee.

In so doing, he has made an absolute fool out of himself:

The unaccompanied minors have been placed into Tennessee households with approved “sponsors” — typically their own families and relatives — as has been happening for years, said immigrant and refugee advocates.

“They’ve got somewhere to go,” said Eben Cathey, spokesman for the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition. “They’re not getting dropped off. They’re getting placed with their mom, dad, aunt or uncle.”

Haslam’s letter demanded to know such things as how the sponsors were selected, what criteria were used to determine sponsors’ suitability, etc. The Haslam administration is “still waiting” for answers, too. Which I find hilarious. Haslam is demanding to know answers about something which has been going on routinely in this state for over a decade! Perhaps there’s someone right here in Tennessee he can ask? The Tennessee Office of Refugees, perhaps?

It’s hard not to see this for the political maneuvering it so obviously is. I guess Bill Haslam is still harboring dreams of a presidential run some day down the road. Hilarious. No one is fooled, though:

Dan Kesselbrener, National Immigration Project executive director, said the process for minors has been the same since 2002 and has never included a mandate to inform states about placements.

“The only thing that’s new is the volume,” he said. “To me, the only way to make sense of the letter is that he cares now because it’s a bigger deal. It appears to be consistent with someone who is trying to score points against the administration.”

Bingo! Thank you for playing!

You know what else I just love, love, love? Right-wingers are always all like, “let the churches deal with x, y, z problem, let charities handle it.” Catholic Charities does, in fact, carry a tremendous amount of the load when it comes to immigrants and refugees, not just here in Tennessee but everywhere. But they have an especially strong presence here in Tennessee, providing sponsors, placements, English classes, and all sorts of other programs. Tennessee in general is blessed to have a lot of churches and charities which serve the refugee community — we’re the Volunteer State, fer crying out loud. It’s why we’re a go-to place for refugee resettlement, because of the support from the church sector. It’s why we have the largest Kurdish population in the nation. It’s why we have so many refugees from Somalia and Sudan living here. It’s why Nashville is seeing a large number of refugees from Myanmar. So we are, in fact, doing what right-wingers want: churches and charities shouldering the load, embracing refugees from war-torn parts of the world, assimilating immigrants into America, rah rah.

And Bill Haslam wants some answers from the White House about what we’ve been doing for years? Puh-leeze.

Here’s a thought for Gov. Haslam: why don’t you just high-tail it on down to NICE, Catholic Charities, the TIRRC, Conexion Americas, or, heck, just take a little tour down Nolensville Road and talk to some shop owners to get yourself up to speed on immigrants in Nashville. Hell, you can sit in on my ESL class today. We won’t mind. Just keep your yap shut since so much stupid keeps falling out.

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Filed under Gov. Bill Haslam, immigration, Tennessee, Tennessee politics

“She Didn’t Ask”

Tennessee Gov. Haslam, who refuses to expand the state’s Medicaid program, preferring to let the state’s poor get sick and die (I suppose), while also claiming to have some kind of super-secret non-existent Tennessee plan that he’s supposedly “negotiating” (wink wink), and who recently was in the news asking HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “to come up with a proposal that would give Tennessee more flexibility to expand Medicaid coverage,” could have asked Sebelius for an update on said plan today. Because today, Secretary Sebelius was in Nashville urging people to sign up for ObamaCare:

Sebelius was joined by Amy Speace, a 46-year-old singer-songwriter who was able to find insurance on the exchange for $30 a month with a $500 deductible, thanks to a tax credit. Speace said she did not at first think she would be eligible for insurance on the exchange because she already was covered by a high deductible plan through a musicians group. Despite that coverage, she nearly had to declare bankruptcy a few years ago when she developed laryngitis and ended up owing $5,000 in medical bills. She was only saved from bankruptcy by the help of a charity.

So, did Gov. Haslam meet with Sebelius for an update on that counterproposal? What do you think?

The governor told a reporter that he had no plans to meet with Sebelius when she came through Nashville on Thursday.

“She didn’t ask,” Haslam said.

I guess he just doesn’t give a shit.

Every day thousands of Tennesseans who lack health insurance face bankruptcy and worse. Gov. Haslam certainly doesn’t seem unduly concerned about those folks.

Good to know.

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Filed under Gov. Bill Haslam, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville, Obamacare

You Don’t Own That, Gov. Haslam

This deserves to get some national attention:

In a script for Gov. Bill Haslam to read on camera — prepared in 2011 by his Department of Economic and Community Development — a most unusual offer was drafted to try to entice retail giant Sears to relocate its corporate headquarters to Tennessee.

The Sears effort was dubbed “Project Neptune.”

“We’re so committed to making your new home in Tennessee that we are prepared to offer you one of the premiere buildings in Nashville’s thriving downtown,” the script read.

“Our state office building, the Tennessee Tower, can be an instantaneous and immediate home for Project Neptune’s corporate headquarters. This highly visible and historic building offers over 600,000 square feet of prime office space — located conveniently across from Legislative Plaza and a stone’s throw away from my office in the state Capitol.”

The Tennessee Tower is the iconic building that longtime Nashvillians may remember for its annual holiday messages.

“Are they going to give away the Capitol, too?” Cunningham asked.

“They’re going to offer them the Tennessee Tower, one of the major, probably the major, state office building — here you can have it. This is owned by the taxpayers by you and me. This is not owned by Bill Haslam.”

Let me point out: Ben Cunningham is the head of the Nashville Tea Party. When your giveaway to corporate America outrages both Tea Partiers and Democrats you know you’re doing it wrong.

Gov. Haslam’s “business expertise” was supposed to be his big selling point that qualified him to run state government. But you can’t run the government like a business, because government is not a business. And of course Pilot Oil, the family business, is facing its own scandals for engaging in illegal business practices. You’ve really gotta question Haslam’s supposed business acumen.

And then there’s this:

The Project Neptune proposal lays out all the possible incentives available to Sears if it brought 6,100 jobs, including a “super job tax credit,” “franchise tax savings,” a “standard job tax credit,” an “industrial machinery credit,” “sales and use tax credit,” a “headquarters relocation credit,” plus “training incentives” and “infrastructure incentives.”

Total potential value of the state package under a “high scenario” was $588.8 million dollars.

“This is $600 million — that is a very significant part of the annual budget of the state of Tennessee,” Cunningham noted.

We did the math, and that $588 million is almost $100,000 per job. The “low scenario” was $477.6 million, which is $78,000 per job.

Um …. wow. Okay, Tennessee: this is what happens when you elect a “businessman” to run the state. Silly little notions like “public servant” and “owned by the people” are weird concepts that our state CEO has never heard of. A state office building owned by the people of Tennessee? What communisticky-socialisticky notion is this?!

And I’m astonished that Haslam thought spending $100,000 per job was a good bargain. This is the same person who won’t take a free deal to expand Medicaid to the state’s citizens who need healthcare, calling it “a clunker.”

Haslam has one idea: take what belongs to the taxpayers and funnel it to corporations (for another example, see this). Spend on corporations, not people. If you think he stands for anything else, you’re severely wrong. He’d even give a corporation a downtown Nashville office tower owned by the people of Tennessee! This is his idea of a “smart business move.” That tells you everything you need to know about this dim bulb you’ve put in charge.

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Filed under Bill Haslam, Gov. Bill Haslam, Nashville, Tennessee