Author

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard

Sam Stockard is a veteran Tennessee reporter and editor, having written for the Daily News Journal in Murfreesboro, where he served as lead editor when the paper won an award for being the state's best Sunday newspaper two years in a row. He has led the Capitol Hill bureau for The Daily Memphian. His awards include Best Single Editorial from the Tennessee Press Association.

COMMENTARY
The State of Tennessee spent $11 million on messaging before firing Dr. Michelle Fiscus for spreading the message approved by Gov. Lee's office. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Fired immunization director never saw letter recommending termination

By: - July 15, 2021

The Department of Health fired its director of the immunization program for several reasons, including failure to consult superiors on the state’s vaccine program, according to a letter placed in her personnel file. But Dr. Michelle Fiscus, who was terminated Monday, says she didn’t know about the letter written by Dr. Tim Jones on July […]

Members of the House and Senate Democratic Caucus, including Sen. Jeff Yarbro, left, and Sen. Raumesh Akbari, next to him, slammed Gov. Bill Lee for the political firing of a leading health official. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Democrats slam governor over firing of immunology chief

By: - July 14, 2021

Two days after Tennessee’s chief immunologist was fired under pressure from anti-vax lawmakers, Democratic leaders blasted the governor for failing to take responsibility for the state’s vaccination policy. “I think it’s an abdication of leadership,” state Sen. Raumesh Akbari said during an online press conference. Democrats expressed shock that the Department of Health and Lee […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Governor’s administration made state medical director scapegoat for anti-vaxxers

By: - July 13, 2021

One of Tennessee’s leading medical experts was fired this week, taking the fall for Gov. Bill Lee, when his administration caved in to ultra-conservative lawmakers upset with the state’s COVID-19 vaccine messaging toward teens. The department fired Dr. Shelley Fiscus, state director for vaccine-preventable and infectious diseases, even though she had been working at the […]

Gov. Bill Lee addressing members of the Tennessee National Guard. (Photo: tn.gov)

After National Guard trip, governor says nation needs new Southern border strategy

By: - July 12, 2021

Shrugging off the notion that the Southern border “crisis” is a political attack, Gov. Bill Lee says the nation should develop a new strategy to stop a surge in illegal crossings and activity from Mexico. After a two-day trip to review 300 Tennessee National Guard soldiers serving on a year-long mission for border patrol support, […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photo: John Partipilo)

Judge blocks restroom sign law aimed at transgender customers

By: - July 9, 2021

Calling it a “brazen” violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge on Friday blocked a new state law requiring businesses to post government-prescribed signs if they allow transgender customers to use restrooms matching their gender identity. The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and ACLU filed a lawsuit in June seeking a preliminary court […]

COMMENTARY
A pickup truck emblazoned with the Jack Daniel's Distillery logo parked in front of the Cordell Hull Legislative Office Building Wednesday. Inside the building, officials with company gave one-fith bottles of Jack to legislators. (Photo: Sam Stockard)

Stockard on the Stump: Jack in the bag sparks new look at gifts

By: - July 9, 2021

Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman didn’t violate any rules on gifts to lawmakers when it handed out bottles of sipping whiskey to lawmakers in February. But the gift bags are causing the Tennessee Ethics Commission to take a new look at the guidelines for giveaways. The Ethics Commission voted recently to have staff review a 2008 […]

Sen. Brenda Gilmore, D-Nashville, is frustrated by the lack of action in moving a bust of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest from the Tennessee Capitol. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Gilmore laments lack of action on Forrest bust removal

By: - July 8, 2021

An order by the Tennessee Historical Commission to relocate the busts of Confederate Lt. Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and two U.S. admirals to the State Museum from the State Capitol is set to take effect Friday. But the Tennessee State Museum still has no plan or time frame to put together a new exhibit with […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

Amid investigation, Hakeem raises questions about state suspension of Baptiste Group license

By: - July 7, 2021

Allegations of sexual abuse at a Baptiste Group home for migrant children gave the state an excuse to suspend the facility’s license as political pressure mounted, a Chattanooga Democrat says. “That’s my perspective,” state Rep. Yusuf Hakeem said Tuesday. “And what concerns me is that supposedly the state would have been doing on-site reviews every […]

A transgender woman hold a transgender pride flag at a rally for LGBTQ rights in New York. (Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.)

ACLU challenges Tennessee transgender bathroom law

By: - June 25, 2021

The American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee and the ACLU filed a lawsuit in federal court Friday challenging a new Tennessee law requiring businesses that offer transgender restrooms to post government-required warnings signs. Filed on behalf of Nashville and Chattanooga business owners who object to the message, the lawsuit claims the law violates the First […]

Franklin High School (Photo: Williamson County Schools)

In affluent Williamson County, an uproar over critical race theory

By: - June 25, 2021

Amid uproar over Williamson County Schools’ curriculum, Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson is questioning the district’s Wit & Wisdom reading program and whether it teaches critical race theory. Johnson, a Franklin Republican whose children attend system schools, said this week he reviewed a large part of the Wit & Wisdom curriculum and found items that […]

Kivon Bennett #95 of the Tennessee Volunteers recovers a fumble by Stetson Bennett #13 of the Georgia Bulldogs for a touchdown during the first half at Sanford Stadium on October 10, 2020 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Stockard on the Stump: High Court sides with Legislature on compensating student-athletes

By: - June 25, 2021

State Rep. Kevin Vaughan is hyped over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision finding that the NCAA is violating antitrust laws.  Vaughan, a Collierville Republican, passed legislation this year enabling student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, a major step forward in the fight for athletes to get their due. In the land of […]

(Photo: Getty Images)

Common Core booklets go to educational scrap heap

By: - June 22, 2021

Less than a decade ago, Tennessee author Bill Carey couldn’t sell his historical booklets to school districts and teachers without a Common Core stamp on them.  Today, he fears his publications are being trashed because of a new state law banning Common Core supplemental materials after they fell out of political favor as the state […]