Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville: Democratic version of congressional maps "not gonna happen." (Photo: John Partipilo)

Editor’s column: Look away from the shiny objects

BY: - May 5, 2021

The Tennessee legislature is wrapping up the first half of the 112th General Assembly, and it’s been one filled with plenty of shiny objects to distract Tennesseans from crucial and life changing matters.  That the Tennessee legislature is obsessed with matters pertaining to the LGBTQ community is nothing new. I first took notice in 2016, […]

Tennessee State Capitol. (Photo: Ray Di Pietro)

Stockard on the Stump: House Democrats keep Windle from defecting

BY: - April 23, 2021

Already battling for numbers, the House Democratic Caucus kept Rep. John Mark Windle from bolting during an hour-long, closed meeting Thursday. When you’ve got only 26 of 99 House members and constantly scratch and claw for the smallest of victories, losing one vote could mean the world, especially when Windle – who is said to […]

Rev. Lawrence Richardson of the Linden Hills United Church of Christ (right), offers comfort to Rev. Jia Starr Brown of First Covenant Church (left) at George Floyd Square. Photo by Ricardo Lopez/Minnesota Reformer.

Editor’s column: With Chauvin’s conviction, the arc bent a little further, but has a long way to go

BY: - April 23, 2021

As America waited Tuesday afternoon for the verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last year, I scrolled through my Twitter feed watching for the first tweet announcing the outcome.  A tweet from a 30-year old caught my eye: “Is this what the OJ trial felt like? […]

Tennessee State Capitol (Photograph: John Partipilo)

Commentary: A Modest Proposal for the General Assembly,

BY: - April 21, 2021

I have a modest proposal to make. Why does Tennessee need 95 counties? Think of the efficiencies to be gained by consolidating them into one county. Why does Tennessee need general sessions courts, circuit courts – civil and criminal at that – chancery courts, appellate courts and a supreme court, not to mention the state […]

Knox County Sheriff's office (Photo: KCSD Facebook)

Commentary: Keep a keen eye on sheriff departments

BY: - April 19, 2021

Sheriff departments are a lot more than law enforcement agencies, especially in Tennessee.  In our counties, the sheriff is an elected position—the chief jailer of our lockup, a major employer, and leader of a political power base.  Several recent events in my home county, Knox, offer good case studies on why careful press and public […]

The Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center, formerly called the Tennessee Prison for Women. (Photo:

Editor’s Column: Criminal justice reform needs to account for women in the system

BY: - April 13, 2021

Gov. Bill Lee held a criminal justice roundtable discussion on Wednesday as part of “Second Chance Month.”  Since 2017, April has been declared “Second Chance Month” to raise awareness about the ongoing consequences of criminal convictions—including the inability to find jobs and housing after release—and to urge the offering of new opportunities to those released […]

KEENESBURG, CO - April 5, 2020: One of the 39 tigers rescued in 2017 from Joe Exotic's G.W. Exotic Animal Park yawns while relaxing at the Wild Animal Sanctuary on April 5, 2020 in Keenesburg, Colorado. Exotic, star of the wildly successful Netflix docu-series Tiger King, is currently in prison for a murder-for-hire plot and surrendered some of his animals to the Wild Animal Sanctuary. The Sanctuary cares for some 550 animals on two expansive reserves in Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)

Commentary: U.S. Senators need to sign on to Big Cat safety act

BY: - April 5, 2021

When historians discuss King Louis XIV, perhaps the best-known ruler in the history of France, they typically associate him with phrases such as “Louis the Great,” the “Sun King,” the age of absolutism, or with his reign of 72 years in the 17th and 18th centuries – the longest of any European monarch in history. […]

Commentary: Am I included in the Movement?

BY: - March 31, 2021

I’ve never quite known if I fit in or have a place in the women’s movement. As a masculine presenting gay woman, there are quite a few spaces where I don’t always feel safe or welcome. And yes, sometimes that includes within the Democratic Party as well as within the women’s movement.  For the record, […]

Members of the Tennessee House of Representatives mill about in House Chambers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Editor’s column: Republicans need to lose the crazy

BY: - March 30, 2021

Thursday, I was speaking to a bipartisan group about the current political environment and giving a recap on all that’s happened since the Nov. 3 Election Day. As the resident progressive, I was joined by a well-known Republican consultant who has carved out a solid career in Tennessee and national politics.  For the last question […]

The Tennessee Senate Chambers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: Legislature should not hide dark money from us

BY: - March 29, 2021

Sometimes legislation bears little hint of its actual effect and significance.  Take the case of House Bill 0159 and its companion Senate Bill 1608 each currently working its way through our state legislature.  The sponsors, Rep. Ryan Williams, R-Cookeville, and Sen. Paul Bailey, R-Sparta, call it the Personal Privacy Protection Act, but a better name […]

Patient Annette Hanna-Campbell, 72, gets the vaccine from Medical Assistant Molly Flores. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy requires out-of-silo thinking

BY: - March 26, 2021

Disappointing but not surprising that the muddled public health messaging from the Lee administration is now playing out in low rates of vaccination in many rural Tennessee counties. Moreover, Tennessee Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa Piercey is warning of signs of another surge and saying the state is conducting market research to figure out a public […]

The Tennessee Senate Chambers. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Commentary: March Madness in Legislatures

BY: - March 22, 2021

March Madness isn’t just the nickname of a basketball tournament.  We’re now smack in the middle of the crazy season on both the U.S. Capitol Hill and in our state legislature—as Tennessee Republicans do battle, not really with Democrats but more with objective reality. Peak lunacy came late last week when Tennessee congressman John Rose […]