Glen Casada's career just imploded. Some lessons from the wreckage | Opinion

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 5:00 a.m. CT May 24, 2019

There is much for members of the 111th Tennessee General Assembly to take away from this particular crash site. There is much for us all to learn.

From the smoldering ruins of Glen Casada’s very brief career  as speaker of the Tennessee House, we can try to turn our eyes from the wreckage he has left. But we should not just yet.

We should keep the memory of it in our hearts and minds, so it can inform voters next election cycle, and the one coming after that. Let it remind both office-holders and office-seekers that there is a limit to tolerance of bad behavior even in this angry age.

William Faulkner famously wrote of history, “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” How true, even now, of our Tennessee. History lives. It watches, and it remembers. [READ MORE]

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After the turmoil, chaos and scandal in the Tennessee House, Speaker Glen Casada should apologize then leave.

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 8:00 p.m. CT May 8, 2019

It is an unfortunate truth in some large organizations that there are usually one or two rotten apples somewhere down in the barrel.

But in the vaulted chamber of Tennessee’s House of Representatives, the bad apple hangs from the top. The past week has demonstrated that with great clarity. It is time now for Speaker Glen Casada to go.

When the 2019 legislative session ended in virtual chaos in the House, I could not imagine the scene getting any worse:

  • On the last day, the speaker ordered his sergeants-at-arms to block the chamber exits lest the minority Democrats leave to deprive him of a shaky quorum.

  • Worst of all, his chief of staff Cade Cothren was implicated in a scheme to take away the freedom of a young African-American man who dared to confront Casada in the Capitol on a number of public issues.

  • Casada, a deeply partisan Republican, appointed no Democrats to the key legislative conference committee, then claimed his predecessors had done the same partisan thing. [READ MORE]


TN school vouchers: Bill Lee pokes a sleeping tiger

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Apr. 19, 2019

Tennessee legislators should take a breath and listen more — and most of all to the voices of their own experts at home: teachers and principals.

Thirty-five years ago this month, then-Governor Lamar Alexander sat down with the re-constituted State Board of Education to discuss implementation of the “Comprehensive Education Reform Act of 1984.”

Passing the CERA had required two legislative sessions, battles with the state’s teacher association, and an aggressive public awareness program. After the dust settled, Alexander told the new board members: “I’ve run for governor three times, and the school reform fight was harder than all of them put together.” [READ MORE]

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School board should step down

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 10:15 a.m. CT Mar. 27, 2019

The ouster of MNPS Director Shawn Joseph is an embarrassment and adds to the failures caused by this elected school board. Members must be replaced.

Director of Nashville Public Schools officially told the board he will not seek a contract extension. His speech Tuesday night might be his last. Autumn Allison, Nashville Tennessean.

Of all the stories in Greek mythology, it is the tale of Sisyphus that best captures for me this feeling of chaos and futility that now surrounds our Metro Nashville School Board . [READ MORE]

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Tennessee Speaker of the House Glen Casada must lead

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Mar. 15, 2019

For his first full month in office, February was not kind to Glen Casada, Tennessee’s new speaker of the House of Representatives.

Thanks to persistent news coverage, the dominant on-screen images we have of him so far are of the speaker’s backside - pictures of him evading quizzical reporters through convenient exit doors.

One day he had the aid of a uniformed state trooper, blocking journalists from following him with their inconvenient questions. Not a good look.

That’s a thing about legislature, especially with its new quarters in the renovated Cordell Hull Building; too many passageways for eluding determined news media. One almost wants to congratulate the building’s designers for their skills in the Architecture of Evasion. [READ MORE]

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Our worst enemies are not each other

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Nov. 16, 2018

The rest of us don’t have to like any aspect of what happened here on Nov. 6. But our duty as citizens is to accept it for now.

A good election can teach us a lot — and by “good,” I mean an election with a decent voter turnout as we saw across America on Nov. 6.

This time voters nationally said we need better balance than a monolithic supermajority in Washington, where a president proclaims and a quiescent Congress bows in reverence.

This new House majority is not overwhelming but sets up a disruption that is welcome. American voters said power should be shared now, that checks and balances are good for everybody. [READ MORE]

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Amid pessimism from some voters, big turnout emerges

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Oct. 19, 2018

Two news items caught my eye this week, — each independently on its own but also for the special light the one seemed to cast upon the other.

Item 1: Reporters for The Washington Post wrote about their findings in Clarksville, Tennessee, quoting many voters they interviewed there who say they refrain from participating on elections.

Excuses ranged from disgust with how some campaigns are run these days to deep frustration with how Washington seems broken. Other interviewees voiced some form of “My vote doesn’t matter.” Ouch.

Item 2: In the news that same evening, I read how in Nashville and Knoxville, for instance, the voter turnout on Wednesday — the first day of early voting — was historically huge for a midterm election. [READ MORE]

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How Tennessee chooses its senators has a colorful history

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Oct. 5, 2018

Sixty-seven senators have represented Tennessee — all men. Democrat Jane Eskind was her party’s nominee in 1978, but she lost the general election to the Republican incumbent, Howard Baker Jr.

If Bredesen should defeat Blackburn this November, he will join Sen. Lamar Alexander as one of only two Tennesseans in 222 years to be popularly elected both governor and U.S. senator.  [READ MORE]


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Tennessee State Election: Calling out lies and where they come from

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Sept. 7, 2018

The slimy depths to which our national politics has sunk became grossly clear this past week, right here in Tennessee. The latest episode came from Americans for Prosperity, the Koch funded political action committee legally separate from the U.S. Senate campaign of Republican Marsha Blackburn, though she benefits from it. [READ MORE]


A tight senate race is Upon Us: MarshA Blackburn (R) vs. Phil Bredesen (D)

A tight senate race is Upon Us: MarshA Blackburn (R) vs. Phil Bredesen (D)

Red state, blue state: Consider the 'crossover effect' — it happens

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT Aug. 24, 2018 | Updated 9:09 a.m. CT Aug. 25, 2018

If you are keeping score at home, here’s the key political question in Tennessee’s nationally watched U.S. Senate race, which will end just 10 weeks from Tuesday:

Will enough Republican voters “cross over” this fall and help elect the Democrat, former Gov. Phil Bredesen?

The very idea of this scenario must be Republican Marsha Blackburn’s worst nightmare. But just as this longtime Democratic state turned red over the past half-century, there is in fact much Tennessee tradition for crossover voting. [READ MORE]



How to agree on what a modern city like Nashville costs

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean

Published 12:00 p.m. CT June 29, 2018

So we won’t be paying higher property taxes starting this weekend after all. 

Turns out, it was a real possibility and closer than anyone thought. Councilman Bob Mendes gave it his best effort, arguing that a 50-cent increase was the right thing to do — in a highly unusual budget crunch — to be fair to police officers, firefighters, teachers and the rest.

He came close to winning, too. After a good debate, Metro Council split right down the middle on the tax question. On June 19, they voted 19-19. (It doesn’t get any closer than that in the third-largest city council in America.) The acting vice mayor, Sheri Weiner, then cast the tiebreaker, voting against.

No tax hike. No raises. No way. Not this year. [READ MORE]

A GrowING MODERN CITY COMES AT A COST

A GrowING MODERN CITY COMES AT A COST


Lewis LAvine was a Champion for Transit, And my Trusted Friend.

Lewis LAvine was a Champion for Transit, And my Trusted Friend.

What Nashville must do about transit now

Keel Hunt, Columnist for The Tennessean
Published 12:00 p.m. CT May 11, 2018 | Updated 3:51 p.m. CT May 14, 2018

One of my best friends in the world died last week. Lewis Lavine had been my bud, colleague and confessor since the fall of 1977.

As much as I grieve for him now, I am certain the last thing he would want is for any of us to spend one more minute mourning him when there is important civic work to be done.

For Lewis, in his later years, that work was about modern transit.

It was the last civic project that Lewis poured his skills and talent into, dating from the time he was chairman of Nashville’s Metropolitan Transit Authority. [READ MORE]