June 2006


A Vote for Flynn Would be “Ludicrous”

Dear Editor:

As Ethan Flynn runs his campaign for state representative in the 6th District proudly asserting his presidency of the student body at ETSU as his major qualification, I and many others who were a part of ETSU under Flynn’s rule are quite sickened. Sure, Ethan’s a nice guy, but his “qualifications” aren’t so squeaky clean and conservative.

I’m sure there are few (if any) in our area who have forgotten the Ludacris fiasco of last Fall, but few know who was actually behind the student activities fee increase that led to that infamous concert. Although ETSU’s student body had only been paying $4 per semester for a “student activities fee,” Flynn believed that this was not enough to “enhance university life.” The student activities fee increase, from $4 per semester to $20 per semester, was “sold” to the student body by the promise of a concert each semester.

Ethan Flynn, in the March 31, 2005 issue of the East Tennessean said, “ETSU needs the increase to keep up with other schools like Middle Tennessee State University and Appalachian State University, both of which have $20 student activity fees.” Flynn also said, “I think it’s a fair amount; it’s also the price range.” Will Flynn use this same reasoning to raise taxes in Tennessee?

Although the fee increase was voted on by the students, the increase only passed with 413 votes – on a campus of 12,000 students. Most students opposed the increase on the grounds that ETSU is a commuter campus, so the increase, while being another financial burden, benefited only a few.

Again, I wonder if Flynn will use the “leadership abilities” he demonstrated at ETSU if elected to the State House by raising taxes with the reasoning that “we need to increase to keep up with other states” or because it’s a “fair amount” and “the price range.”

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This is from the bio list in the program that was distributed at the debate. The bios were written by the candidates. I just thought I should preface this one…

Ethan Flynn is a Conservative Republican (do you think if he says it enough people will start to believe it?) and lifelong resident of Washington County, TN. He is a graduate of Science Hill High School and East Tennessee State University. While attending ETSU, Ethan served as Student Body President (see the letter to the editor I am posting after this). He is a former member of ETSU’s Alumni Board of Directors and is currently employed as a Sales Representative for Accelerated Mail Service. Ethan attends Grace Fellowship Church and is a member of the Johnson City/Jonesborough/Washington County Chamber of Commerce and serves as a member of the Chamber of Commerce’s Government Relations Committee.

In his opening statement Flynn claimed that all the candidates are conservative (right, and all Democrats love Hillary). He spoke about education, job creation, and family values (interesting for someone who isn’t even married).

This, I must say, was an improvement from when Flynn spoke at the Washington County Young Republicans meeting, where he said that we should vote for him because, he, unlike the older people, understand technology.

Question 1: What one quality will make you the best choice for Representative from the Sixth District?

Flynn talked – again – about his days at ETSU as SGA President. He said that he lost the election the first time that he ran and, through that experience, learned how to fail. When he ran again, he won (gee, and aren’t we all thankful for that). Flynn says that he doesn’t give up, he’s a hard worker, and a listener.

Flynn then moved on to talking about his dad’s business and what he has learned from that.

I found it somewhat amusing that, as the other candidates talked about their own life experiences – businesses they started, families they raised, and organizations in which they have been involved – and all Ethan could come up with was his dad’s business and being SGA President at ETSU.

In his rebuttal, Flynn said that he would focus on the future and try to reconcile with the other party. He says we shouldn’t “burn bridges,” as all those in Nashville are “for Tennessee.”

Question 2: We have been hearing lately about numerous new companies relocating to and/or hiring in Virginia. What can be done to draw companies to Washington County?

Flynn spoke of local issues and repeated Lee Sowers’ statistics (something Flynn did on more than one occasion). He then dropped yet another name, and said that we need to “market the area.” Flynn believes that government can and should bring business to the area. Again Flynn mentioned his SGA presidency and said that we should gear education toward areas that will attract employers. He said that the government should play a “huge” role in a skilled supply of labor.

Flynn then directed a question at Dale Ford…

In his rebuttal Flynn said that he agrees that government should “get out of the way,” but should facilitate growth (how, exactly, can government “get out of the way” when actively working to “draw business” to the area?). Flynn then disputed Sowers’ employment statistics.

Question 3: How do you feel about Gov. Bredesen’s “Cover Tennessee” plan? Do you believe that it will help small businesses?

Flynn says that healthcare is the #1 issue he’s heard about when “knocking on doors.” When referring to Cover Tennessee, he says that we have to have a plan – small businesses are hurting (including his daddy’s business). He says that we should pool insurance for small business and that we should educate our children in the government schools about health. Flynn says we need malpractice insurance reform (a Federal issue, to be clear). Flynn believes that we need incentives to get patients to go to the doctor rather than the ER and the government needs to try and reduce cost and expand ETSU’s College of Nursing.

Should I make a list of those things in Flynn’s answer that are not in the jurisdiction of a State government?

Question 4: What are your thoughts on President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” plan? What can we do to improve education in Washington County?

Flynn says that education is the cornerstone of economic development (if, by “education,” Ethan is referring to government education, I beg to differ. Government education is actually the cornerstone of Communism, whose “economic development” is seriously lacking.)

But, with what Ethan said next, I actually agree. He says that there is no need to spend more money – money does not help a broken system. He also says that the problem in the classroom cannot be solved with smaller classes, but with quality teachers. He believes that No Child Left Behind does not work and that we need to move education back to a local level. He name-dropped again, and says he appreciates home-schooling, which he says should be supported.

In his closing, Ethan talked about the Bible, and how “Jesus chose laborers.” He says he’s a laborer. Flynn says that he has “looked at the issues” and says what he believes. He also says he will “work hard and listen.”

Joshua was born on April 22, 1983 in Johnson City. He is a lifelong resident of Washington County and was raised in the Conkin/New Victory area. Joshua graduated from David Crockett High School in 2001. He went on to attend Milligan College and received a B.A. in History and a Secondary Teacher’s Certificate in May 2005. On June 3, 2005, Joshua married Candice Lee Poore. Joshua is employed as a Mail Services Coordinator at Mountain States Health Alliance. He attends a Free Will Baptist Church and volunteers there as a Children’s Church Volunteer and also volunteers as a Youth Basketball coach.

Strikes 1 and 2 – his wife is a teacher and he works for MSHA. It’s not that I don’t like teachers, but one must be careful of those sympathetic to government schools. MSHA speaks for itself.

As I stated in my initial recap of the debate, Joshua seems like a nice guy. Genuine and almost sweet, he has heart and more passion than the vast majority of 23-year-olds I’ve ever met. His policies need work, but, again, I think he could be a viable candidate in the future.

Question 1: What one quality will make you the best choice for Representative from the Sixth District?

Joshua says that his faith in the foundation of government, which is based on Biblical principles, is the one quality that makes him stand out. He says that if we stay true to the Bible, we can’t go wrong (no argument there!). Joshua believes in freedom and the will of the people (is that the “Star-Spangled Banner” I hear playing in the background?).

Question 2: We have been hearing lately about numerous new companies relocating to and/or hiring in Virginia. What can be done to draw companies to Washington County?

Arrowood says that geography does play a role, but government is not the solution. The government simply needs to stop spending, lower taxes even more, and completely eliminate the idea of an income tax. He also believes that we should be education-driven. In his rebuttal, Arrowood said that we already have many measures in place to bring jobs in, what we need is to push education and to give control of the education system to lower levels of government.

Question 3: How do you feel about Gov. Bredesen’s “Cover Tennessee” plan? Do you believe that it will help small businesses?

Arrowood focused his response on TennCare. He said that Cover Tennessee will not help those dropped from TennCare rolls, and he doesn’t believe that it is a viable plan. Arrowood believes that we should compare our state with other states to come up with a solution (right. because so many other states have solved the health care/insurance issue.) In his rebuttal Arrowood said that we need to encourage good health and prevention in children through the parents (and how is the government going to do this?).

Question 4: What are your thoughts on President Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” plan? What can we do to improve education in Washington County?

Arrowood says that No Child Left Behind is unconstitutional (doesn’t take a genius to see that!) and that any Federal involvement in education is contrary to the Constitution. He says that things will not get better with Federal mandates.

I thought he was on a roll.

But then he said that he doesn’t agree with vouchers (@#*&%* – excuse me). Arrowood says that by diverting money, things will get worse. We should localize education and get parents more involved.

Please hold while I take a tranquilizer. Ok. Now I’m ready. ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? First of all, there is about a snowball’s chance in hell that I’m sending my children to a government indoctrination institution. Second of all, what happened to the “Free Market?” What happened to that sturdy conservative concept of competition making things better??(or my favorite saying, “Anything the government can do, the private sector can do better”). With a bit of competition from private schools and home schools, the public schools may actually have some sort of motivation to improve! As it currently stands, why get better? They still get money for having tiny little butts in the seats whether they’re actually teaching the children anything or not. Give the public schools a taste of free market medicine (by offering both poor and wealthy students the opportunity to seek out the best education available – be it at home, in a private school, or in the local government school) and see how quickly they empty out and actually have some incentive to improve the quality of their product. I think Arrowood and his wife have been brainwashed by the NEA. Geez louise.

Here’s where Joshua needs some work before the next election.

As I said, he’s got heart and the basis for some good ideas, but I think Arrowood needs time, life experience, and some good old-fashioned toughening up before he’ll be ready for Nashville.

My apologies for not blogging as soon as I got home last night…a bunch of hooligans forced me into going out to eat afterwards, so I didn’t get home until 11:30 (way too late for my blood). I’m barely conscious at that hour, so there was no chance I could have written anything coherent.

The debate was a success. I’m especially glad that some of the candidates gave me such fabulous material. That’s the fun part for me, you know…not the candidates with whom I agree 100%, but those who say things so inconsistent and/or ridiculous that it gives me a chance to look smart!

All six candidates showed up, much to our surprise, so it’ll take a couple of days to get everyone covered. But first, my general impressions:

Josh Arrowood is the same age as Ethan Flynn, but acted years older. He seems like such a nice guy, with what can only be described as “good old boy” values (my favorite kind!), but I don’t think he’s ready to go to Nashville. Maybe next time around, but not yet. He seems shy, a little shaky, and in need of some toughening up in the political world. I’ll be the first to admit that it takes time and the thickening of skin to be able to handle how rough the political life is, and I don’t think Josh is up for it yet. But again, I think with the right exposure over the next couple of years, he could be a viable candidate in the next race.

Ethan Flynn. Oh Ethan…
I have so much I could say, but I’ll try to be as nice as possible. Although Ethan has the least experience of any of the candidates (political and otherwise), he was the only one that struck me as a slimy politician. He watched the crowd to gauge what his answers should be and shamelessly name-dropped (if he only knew that those folks with whom he was so proud of talking merely support him because they think he’ll be their puppet). Ethan used biblical anecdotes which actually sounded less-than-genuine. Although Arrowood mentioned his faith as well and seemed quite genuine, it seemed that Ethan’s “Jesus stories” were scripted and blatantly intended to make him look like a “sweet Christian kid.” I’m not saying his faith is not genuine, but it certainly appears that he’s using Jesus for some perceived political gain. I was beyond unimpressed.

Dale Ford (bless his little heart) reminded me of a sweet little grandpa, so it’s hard for me to be too critical of him. But just wait until I reveal his answers. Ford is another candidate that seems like a nice enough guy, but that isn’t right for Nashville. How do I put this delicately? I’m not sure Ford has the “intellectual fortitude” to adequately represent the Sixth District (or any other district for that matter), despite the fact that he seems to have a lot of heart.

Patti Jarrett was the clear winner of the debate (I heard many mumblings to that effect in my conversations following). She was firm, intelligent, thorough, and nothing short of brilliant. She said the things that the others were afraid to say. Jarrett was the only conservative on that stage. Her win in August will show that the Republicans are not the moderates the national party thinks we are, and that we are about more than gay marriage and abortion.

Michael Malone was the “Peggy Barnett” of this debate (if you’ll recall, Barnett was the nice “nurse-lady” who didn’t seem to belong in the political world). Calls himself a “Regan Republican,” but his pet issue is, of course, health care – an arena in which the government has absolutely no business.

Lee Sowers is either a terrible public speaker, or just didn’t want to be there. He read both his opening and closing statements, and passed on nearly all the opportunities for rebuttal. This does not bode well for his ability to “fight it out” in the State House. He did, to give him credit, have some interesting insight into zoning, employment, and the economic health of the area, which shows that he had done his homework.

Stay tuned for each candidate’s answers to each of the four questions!

I’m loving debate season! Tonight at the Jonesborough Visitor’s Center at 6:30 pm is the debate between the candidates for the Sixth District State House seat being vacated by David Davis.

I’ll begin my coverage of this debate when I get home this evening!

Larry was born and raised in Sevier County. He graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.S. degree in Business Administration. Larry then became a principal in the Sevier County School System. In 1978, he was elected as Sevier County Executive. Larry still holds the position of County Mayor.

Larry is past Chairman of the Sevier County United Way campaign (um…an organization that funds abortion. Not good.), East Tennessee Development District, and East Tennessee Human Resource Agency. He is a member of East Tennessee Economic Development Agency, Tennessee County Mayor Association, Tennessee Air Pollution Board, and Sevier County Republican Party.

Larry has been awarded the Special Citation from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boss of the Year Award, and the Pless R. Newman Republican Services Award.

Larry and his wife, Terri have two children, David and Adrienne. Larry attends the First Baptist Church in Gatlinburg.

Problem #1 – he was a public school principle. I know there are some good people who work in the public school system, but it makes me think he will favor public, rather than private and home school measures. Problem #2 – the United Way??? Come on…

Question 1: With a great deal of publicity lately, do you believe the Fair Tax is superior to the present tax code?

Waters says the Fair Tax would be better, but compares it to a sales tax in Tennessee. Clearly doesn’t know a lot about the plan, but says that sales taxes work and that we need tax reform.

Question 2: Should abortion be a Federal or States Rights issue?

Waters says that we need to do everything we can to make abortion as rare as possible until the law is changed via either a Constitutional Amendment or a Supreme Court decision overturning Roe. Waters points out that it is important that we elect pro-life conservatives to high office on the state level, because if Roe is overturned the decision will be left up to the states (very good point).

Question 3: Do you believe it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to bail out individual states after every natural disaster?

Waters believes that cleaning up after a natural disaster is the responsibility of the Feds, the States, and the Local governments. He praises individuals for helping, but places the major responsibility on the government (hello, you big, fat liberal!).

Question 4: Do you believe the Federal Government should play a role and mandate the oil companies on a universal scale, to use the EA85 version of ethanol?

Waters believes that the government should use tax incentives to encourage the use of alternative fuels and should encourage the opening of new refineries. He says that “everything should be done” on the Federal level to “fix” the energy crisis.

This was yet another indication that Waters doesn’t understand and/or support the Fair Tax, which would eliminate “tax incentives.”

Question 5: Why is the health care insurance industry guaranteed a profit by the Federal Government in a free market system?

Waters believes that we need more competition in the health care industry and a return to a free-market system. He mentioned that he offers low-cost health insurance in Sevier County. WHAT?!? I’m sorry, did he just bring up government health care? What happened to the free market? I thought we were at the Republican debate, not the local meeting of Socialists. Geez louise…

Question 6: Title 6 states that “No Person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The Supreme Court has held that undocumented aliens are considered “Persons” under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore the assumption has been applied by the Courts, Congress, and State Governments that undocumented aliens have the same rights to all Federal assistance programs as citizens do. What would you do about amending Title 6 to restrict services to citizens only?

Waters focused his answer on immigration rather than how to deal with Title 6. He says that we should not grant amnesty, but we (the government) have a responsibility to care for illegal children (??). Although illegal aliens should not be entitled to the same services as citizens, Waters feels that they should still receive government handouts. Waters then spoke of the need for border security.

Sigh…for the second time since covering this debate, I’m at a loss.

In his closing statement, Waters said that he has a “vision” for standard Conservative issues (what those issues are, I’m not sure. I certainly didn’t see many of them in his responses.) Waters wants to “bring back infrastructure to the First District.” Where is that in the Congressional job description? Maybe I missed it…hang on, let me grab my copy of the Constitution. Ah, yes…Waters, it is not your job to “bring infrastructure” anywhere!!! Maybe they have a different definition of “conservative” in Sevier County, but Waters certainly doesn’t fit the mold in our area.

David is a graduate of Milligan College with a degree in Organizational Management. He received an AAS degree in Respiratory Therapy from California College and a certification in Respiratory Therapy from East Tennessee State University.

David has been representing the Sixth District for eight years in Nashville. He served on the House Transportation Committee, House Government Operations Committee, House Public Safety and Rural Roads Subcommittee, and Chairman of Commerce, Labor, and Transportation Subcommittee. David is also a delegate for the White House Conference for Small Business.

David is President of the Shared Health Services, Inc. He is very active in the community belonging to several groups including: Washington County Republican Party, Sportsman Legislative Caucus, Northeast Caucus, Tourism Caucus, Coalition for Kids, board member of the Crumley House Head Injury Rehab Center, Science Hill High School-Alternative, Johnson City Rotary Club, etc.

David was the 2005 Legislator of the Year by the Tennessee Podiatric Association. he has received the Healthcare Hero Award, Respiratory Care Provider Award, Home Medical Equipment Supplier of the Year and the John W. Hines Award from the Tennessee Association for Home Care.

David is married to the former Joyce Engle and they have two children, Matthew and Rachel.

To be clear, Davis had to leave the debate early in order to accept an award elsewhere (an event that Davis tried to change in order to attend the debate, but could not.) I emailed the questions to Davis, and he emailed his answers to me today. Here are his responses (my comments are in itallics):

1. With a great deal of publicity lately, do you believe the Fair Tax is superior to the present tax code?

Absolutely. I will vote to enact the provisions of the Fair Tax as presently proposed in Congress. I believe the Fair Tax will eliminate the gross inequity of our current tax system that robs jobs from our workers and is an unfair system of taxation. The Fair Tax bill being promoted as House Resolution 25 and Senate Resolution 25 would abolish the wide range of federal personal, gift, estate, capital gains, alternative minimum, Social Security, Medicare, self-employment, and corporate taxes and replace them all with one simple, visible, federal retail sales tax. Existing state sales tax authorities will collect this consumption tax. This legislation would repeal the 16th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution – that’s the one that provides for the Federal income tax. This proposal provides for the tax to be revenue-neutral and has safeguards to protect those living in poverty. I think it is the best idea to protect the taxpayer from the ravages of the present tax system and its excesses.

Somebody studied!! The first time I spoke with Davis he was not quite as committed to the Fair Tax, although he did praise its merits. He has either read up and decided to commit (a distinct possibility with Timothy Hill working on his campaign, as Hill is a huge Fair Tax supporter), or has felt the pulse of those in this district and decided to jump on board with his constituents.

2. Should abortion be a Federal or States Rights issue?

It should be a State issue, but it has been made a Federal issue by an over-reaching Supreme Court. I am for banning abortion at the Federal and State levels. My endorsement from the Tennessee Right to Life points out my commitment to passing pro-life legislation.

I’m a little unsure about the idea that abortion “should be a state issue.” Although murder is typically dealt with in the Court system on a state level, a state cannot decide to legalize murder, and abortion should be treated in the same way.

It is, however, quite impressive that Davis has been endorsed by the Tennessee Right to Life. This shows that Davis has had the experience to actually merit an endorsement based on his action in office and in the community.

3. Do you believe it is the Federal Government’s responsibility to bail out individual states after every natural disaster?

No, the responsibility lies first with the locality or State. However, I do understand the need for the Federal Government to maintain or rebuild the infrastructure that is part of the federal system – highways, levees, dams, etc.

I think this is a fair assessment, although I would argue that the “federal system” is something that needs to be eliminated in and of itself. We’ve seen how effective the Feds are in maintaining dams and levees, so, being a state-girl through and through, I say forget the federal system and let the states handle everything (although the Feds should lower taxes on the federal level in order to accommodate their lesser role.)

4. Do you believe the Federal Government should play a role and mandate the oil companies on a universal scale, to use the EA85 version of ethanol?

No. I do not like the idea of a mandate by the Federal Government to the oil companies. However, I do think we need free-market thinking and action in the energy sector. I also think that the Federal Government should
remove all subsidies from the multi-national oil and energy companies to allow the free market to work. The government should ease restrictions on drilling for oil and open up the tiny portion of the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) as has been proposed for years. As consumers in the marketplace we need to demand that cheaper and innovative fuels be made available – such as biodiesel and ethanol/methanol fuels.

5. Why is the health care insurance industry guaranteed a profit by the Federal Government in a free market system?

They are guaranteed a profit because apparently a majority of people in the Congress listened to the insurance lobbyists and voted to allow this travesty. The health care insurance industry should be on a free-market,
unsubsidized basis. The health care industry –as a whole- should be on a free-market, unsubsidized basis.

6. Title 6 states that “No Person shall be discriminated against on the basis of race, color, or national origin.” The Supreme Court has held that undocumented aliens are considered “Persons” under the equal protection and due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. Therefore the assumption has been applied by the Courts, Congress, and State Governments that undocumented aliens have the same rights to all Federal assistance programs as citizens do. What would you do about amending Title 6 to restrict services to citizens only?

There is no question that it is absolutely wrong to burden the citizens of the United States with the expense of providing for those who have illegally crossed our border. I will work to amend Title 6 to restrict its application to U. S. citizens.

Again (as I have pointed out with every candidate other than Smith, if memory serves) we cannot limit benefits only to citizens, for this keeps legal immigrants from receiving benefits as well.

It’s no secret that I like Davis, not merely based on his answers to some debate questions, but because of my opportunity to get to know him on a personal level. This has shown me that he is a man of character with a proven track record in government. I do, however, wish that Davis was a bit tougher on some issues. There is nothing wrong with being tough and unapologetic for one’s beliefs, and I hope that Davis can step up to the plate and be a real conservative “tough guy.”

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