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A Silent Hero has been Lost

When I was a young girl, my mother used to say to me, “you don’t have to know ‘why’ about everything!”  Having never grown out of it in spite of my mother’s exasperation,  I’m still asking “why.”  Now I’m asking, “why did John Mark Windle lose the this last 2022 election?”

The last 2 years has seen an upheaval in every area of life.  Our social, emotional, physical and spiritual lives have been turned on end, challenged terribly, and events hurl at us like water out of a fire hydrant,  so hard we cannot concentrate on it all and shut down.  And forget.  People must have forgot what this man has done for the people of the counties he represented- Fentress, Morgan and Overton-  in the Tennessee state legislature for the last 28 years.

Or maybe they never knew.  An influx of people into Tennessee might have voted a straight ticket without knowing the long faithful service of one of  Tennessee’s own.  With no knowledge, people jumped into the “Red wave”.

John Mark’s name was familiar to me only from cards sent to my address within his district for almost 10 years. However, as a transplant, and not involved in county or city affairs, I did not develop a point of reference to get to know him.

That changed last February when as a representative of a new political grassroots group I met John Mark in Nashville during the legislative sessions. We needed to voice our concerns on issues he would be voting on so we went looking for this unknown man who represented half of our county.

Our first experience was his laughter. He read literature we handed on our group as an introduction, ignoring our conversation to read it first. When he immediately saw our Opinion piece on “Will Tennessee Turn Blue?” (1)  he howled with laughter, and it opened a door to knowing a delightful  man.

This local country boy grew up in Livingston Tennessee.  His people still populate the various counties nearby.  His roots are deep Democrat.  We got the sense that John Mark identifies with the democrats known as Blue Dog’s from the 1990s which was “ fiscally and socially conservative, representing the center-right in the Democratic Party and themselves as the ‘commonsense’ alternative to political extremism.“ (2)(3)

Last summer, the Democratic party ousted John Mark.  Why? (See, it’s good to ask questions). No one will admit why, even John  Mark.

This author is willing to make a guess– because he voted too conservatively,  contrary to the “political correct”  platform of the new progressive Democratic party.  He mysteriously and abruptly did switch parties in March 2022 to Independent. (4)  And subsequently, for a short time, John Mark was the only Independent in the Tennessee General Assembly.  That’s the ticket he ran on November 8, 2022.

So what did his colleagues at the General Assembly think of him?  He was Chair of the House Ethics Committee. The other legislators trusted him to “judge” them, and punish them for wrongdoing should an occasion arise. Who do you trust to do that in your life?  The safest bet is to pick someone you know who is known to judge fairly, impartially, and justly. 

Trying to find information on John Mark is not easy in the printed records. He is not a man to seek recognition of his deeds. So we decided to talk to local and state leaders who have known him personally in his capacity as representative over the last 28 years.

County Executive Brian Langley of Morgan county knows John Mark well in large part because he worked for the local newspaper as a reporter for many years before his current position.  His biggest impressions are that John Mark is a true “ervant, he goes “above and beyond”  which is well reflected in his concerned for the individual citizens, whom some call “the little guy.”  Byian comments that in general, politicians pay more attention to big projects like highway projects and grants, which are needed. But John Mark was just as concerned that an elderly citizen needed to get her roof fixed.

State representative Kelly Keisling says, “Good men are rare and far between. A good man knows what he stands for, what he ought to do, what he will never do and believes in the principles that he will use to guide his lifw.   In the twelve years that I served in the Tennessee General Assembly with John Mark Windle, this best illustrates the individual that I came to know. A true public servant.”

If you want to judge for yourself, take a look at his record. (5) You can find out how he voted 2006 – 2022.  Take a look and see what you think. And then ask yourself, “what did I base my voting decision on?”

When questioned about his policies John Mark says, “I vote how my constituents want me to vote.”   Would that be the Democrats or the 70% Republican population?   How about the forgotten, salt of the earth, common man?  The one who carries most of the weight of the decisions made in government?  How about the party of “common sense” that seems lost these days.  Perhaps that is who and what John Mark stands for.  And it cost him.  It cost him big time.

We lost a silent hero. One who did not do what is convenient, politically correct or even politically expedient.  We lost a man who stood up for his constituent values, who stood against the tide of partisan popularity, who stood tall in the face of any adversity for his positions, and who stood up for his people of the counties he represented. He will be missed.  

(1) www.tennactiongroup.org

(2)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Dog_Coalition

(3) https://politicaldictionary.com/words/blue-dog-democrats/

 (4) https://tennesseestar.com/2022/04/13/pro-2nd-amendment-state-rep-john-mark-windle-leaves-democrat-party-will-run-for-re-election-as-independent/

(5) https://justfacts.votesmart.org/candidate/key-votes/24429/john-windle

 

Next Meeting

November 17th:  TAG community meeting at Harvest Kitchen *NEW LOCATION*
200 Gaudin Avenue , Jamestown, TN, 6PM. Kelly Keisling will speak, our incumbent state representative for District 38 – Fentress county north of Hwy 52.  Kelly will give some inside stories about his experiences in the legislature. NEW LOCATION: Delicious food  served from 5PM to 6:30PM. Optional donation of $5-$8 per person per meal requested.

What About the 4 Proposed Tenn. Constitutional Amendments?

How much do you know about the four Constitutional Amendments you’ll vote on November 8? (1) The wording can be confusing, so here are some things to consider. First and foremost, if you want your vote on the amendments to count, you must vote for governor. In Tennessee, the vote tally for governor (that is total votes for all candidates) is divided by two to determine the break point. According to Article XI, Section 3 of the Tennessee Constitution, (2)  if the number of yes votes on any amendment exceeds 50 percent +1 of the total votes for candidates for governor, the amendment passes and becomes part of the Constitution. If you do NOT vote for a candidate for governor, your ballot counts as a YES for all proposed amendments even if you mark NO on your ballot, according to Rep. Chris Todd (R).

(see References at end of article for more information on each proposed amendment).

Constitutional Amendment #1

Summary:   This amendment would add a new section to article XI of the Tennessee Constitution to make it illegal for any person, corporation, association, or the State of Tennessee or its political subdivisions to deny or attempt to deny employment to any person because of the person’s membership in, affiliation with, resignation from, or refusal to join or affiliate with any labor union or employee organization.

Right to work is already a part of Tennessee Code Annotated §50-1-201 (3) and this codifies it, makes it law. So why do we need it? House Speaker Sexton says it will, “ingrain this key principle of Tennessee business into our constitution.” (4) Another lawmaker says this proposal preempts any potential challenge by future democratic politicians.  Support is split along party lines with one republican house member voting with democrats against the amendment.

However, several conservative grassroots groups in Tennessee, who act as watchdogs over the supermajority republican legislature, urge caution over the words “employee organization”  included along with “labor unions.”  This phrasing has no court precedent on the meaning.  It could prohibit any kind of activity besides union.  Further, one constitutional attorney points out that activists use the courts to interpret meaning as they want, which is how the courts redefined ‘liberty’ and gave us Roe vs. Wade.

Rep. Chris Todd (R) asserts that  “employee organization” could be defined later by legislation.   If so, then why would the multitude of attorneys who oversee and fine tune legislative documents leave undefined language in the proposal?  Would you feel comfortable signing a contract with undefined terms?

Altering a document as sacred as our Constitution deserves measured consideration. Further, public debate has been limited as few knew of the posting on the proposals until just recently.

A stated by one commentator, “right to work has persisted by state statue now for 75 years because it works.” (5)  It is a safe guess it will continue to work for another 75 years.

Constitutional Amendment # 2

SummaryThis amendment would add to article III, section 12 of the Tennessee Constitution a process for the temporary exercise of the powers and duties of the governor by the Speaker of the Senate—or the Speaker of the House if there is no Speaker of the Senate in office—when the governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office of governor. While a Speaker is temporarily discharging the powers and duties of the governor, the Speaker would not be required to resign as Speaker or to resign as a member of the legislature; but the Speaker would not be able to preside as Speaker or vote as a member of the legislature. A Speaker who is temporarily discharging the powers and duties of the governor would not get the governor’s salary but would get the Speaker’s salary.  The amendment would also exempt a Speaker who is temporarily discharging the powers and duties of the governor from provisions in the Constitution that would otherwise prohibit the Speaker from exercising the powers of the governor and from simultaneously holding more than one state office.

Currently, the Tennessee Constitution provides that the Lt. Governor would serve as governor, “ in the event of the death, resignation, or removal from office through impeachment and conviction of the governor of Tennessee.” (6) This amendment would add to the Constitution a provision for when the governor would be “unable to discharge the powers and dutiesdue to a temporary situation of either physical or mental disability.  This must be done by constitutional provision only, and as of now, Tennessee is the only state that does not provide for a temporary acting governor.

Constitutional attorneys ask several good questions, including: how and when does a temporary Governor’s status and the powers associated with it to be drawn to a close. (7) And, could this particular procedure could be used to oust the Governor such as when an attempt was made using the 25th Amendment against Trump?

Others ask if this amendment actually gives the Tennessee Executive Branch, not the voters,  the power to replace the governor.  The summary reads in part:  “A majority of the commissioners of administrative departments (may submit) written, signed declaration that the Governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the office.”  There are no conditions for this “declaration” by these unelected officials!  (8)  A more restrictive clause would be all commissioners, not just a majority.  The governor appoints his cabinet of department administrators,  but it may be prudent and to the people’s benefit to leave this critical decisions to elected officials who are directly responsible to the people.

Constitutional Amendment # 3

Summary:  This amendment would change the current language in article I, section 33 of the Tennessee Constitution, which says that slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a person who has been duly convicted of crime, are forever prohibited in this State. The amendment would delete this current language and replace it with the following language: “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.”

The new wording, in effect, takes away labor as punishment for a crime, and makes it legal (not lawful) to use inmates for free labor. (9)  Some say CoreCivic— a private prison-owner company which houses 30% of Tennessee prisoners– was involved in writing this amendment. They have a dismal record, which may bring into question the nature of their influence. (10)

Several legislators admit to being unsure of this legislation which was hotly debated on the floor.  While the proposal passed, several lawmakers admit they are unsure how they are going to vote when they go to the polls. (11) Tennessee citizens may question whether the state should pay prisoners to work while also paying for their room and board. Then there is question as what happens with the money.  Should it go to the prisoners, the facility, or to the victims?

Constitutional Amendment # 4

Summary:  This amendment would delete article IX, section 1 of the Tennessee Constitution, which prohibits ministers of the gospel and priests of any denomination from holding a seat in either House of the legislature.

The practice of prohibiting clergy from serving in public office came from English law to prevent “dual office-holding.”  Thirteen states initially banned clergy from serving in public office in the drafting of their constitutions, but only Tennessee and Maryland kept this provision in their constitutions going into the 20th century. (12)

In 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on behalf of a Baptist minister from Chattanooga that this provision violated his First Amendment right by forcing him to choose between exercising his spiritual calling and participating in a public capacity. (13)  Therefore, this provision has already been invalidated, and the change simply aligns the language of the state constitution with current interpretations of the U.S. Constitution.  Rep. Johnny Shaw is a minister and a member of the TN General Assembly.

Many church-goers believe conservative values and morals are demonstrated in priests and ministers and they are therefore ideally positioned to represent a population.(14) However, an oath to the Constitution must be taken upon entering office.  Some may question whether taking this oath conflicts with the oath of office of the ministry.  Christian scripture includes, “do not swear an oath at all.”(15)   Further, a question of “two masters” may inhibit decision-making by creating conflicts of interests.  Pastors, by definition, are those whose duty is to spread the word of God and shepherd followers seeking spiritual guidance. They are to be dedicated to studying and preaching. (16)  Would holding both offices create a potential distraction for either one of the other? Ultimately, any minister, priest or officious religious representative and a congregation must decide how important this really is and where or how loyalties lie.

REFERENCES:

  1. https://sos.tn.gov/announcements/proposed-constitutional-amendments
  2. https://law.justia.com/constitution/tennessee/article-xi/section
  3. https://www.tn.gov/content/dam/tn/workforce/documents/majorpublications/requiredposters/Right-to-Work-Poster.pdf
  4. https://tennesseestar.com/2021/04/30/constitutional-amendment-establishing-right-to-work-regardless-of-union-membership-passed-by-tennessee-general-assembly/
  5. https://tennesseestands.org/commentary/the-yes-on-1-right-to-work-amendment-deserves-a-bit-of-review-before-you-head-to-the-polls-on-november-8th/
  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lieutenant_Governor_of_Tennessee
  7. See #2 above.
  8. https://wethepeoplev50.com/blog/f/corrupt-amendments-to-our-beloved-tennessee-constitution
  9. See #8 above.
  10. https://www.prisonlegalnews.org/news/2019/jul/16/corecivic-prisons-tennessee-have-twice-many-murders-four-times-homicide-rate-state-run-facilities/
  11. This author is witness to these comments.
  12. https://ballotpedia.org/Tennessee_Constitutional_Amendment_4,_Remove_Religious_Minister_Disqualification_Amendment_(2022)
  13. https://www.mtsu.edu/first-amendment/article/738/mcdaniel-v-paty
  14. https://churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/261864-well-church-understand-role-pastor.html
  15. Matthew 5:33-37 NASB
  16. https://work.chron.com/duties-responsibilities-pastors-12586.html

Upcoming Events & Meetings

November 17th:  TAG community meeting at Harvest Kitchen *NEW LOCATION*
200 Gaudin Avenue , Jamestown, TN, 6PM. Kelly Keisling will speak, our incumbent state representative for District 38 – Fentress county north of Hwy 52.  Kelly will give some inside stories about his experiences in the legislature. NEW LOCATION: Delicious food  served from 5PM to 6:30PM. Optional donation of $5-$8 per person per meal requested.

December 15: TAG Community Meeting at Harvest Kitchen *NEW LOCATION*
200 Gaudin Avenue , Jamestown, TN, 6PM
TOPIC: The Convention of States, with speakers presenting different perspectives.

___________________________

October 22th:  Seminar- “Lobbyist” training.    Located in a beautiful venue in Cookeville, Americans for Prosperity will sponsor this event organized by and with TAG.  A state legislature, a lobbyist, a legislative assistant and the AFP state director will speak. This is to help us understand how they operate so we can communicate better and have a greater comfort level when calling or visiting Nashville. Location Del Monaco Winery, in Baster.   Limited seating. More details of this event to follow.

October 27th:  (NOTE MOVED FROM OCTOBER 20) TAG community meeting at the Historic Courthouse. 6pm. Speaker John Mark Windle, candidate for reelection, District 41 State Representative

October 29th:  Tennessee Alliance annual convention, in Lebanon at the Fairgrounds, 9AM – 4:30PM. This was an alliance of all TN Tea Parties at one time.  Two TAG members went last year and they have top rate speakers for grassroots group members.  This is for the true activists to hear the issues of the day.  Last year we heard about the push for paper ballots and why, technically, they were needed from an expert who worked directly with grassroots and legislator to push for the paper ballots.  We also heard A.J. DePriest debut her research with the federal papers on reimbursement for hospitals. This was HOT stuff!  More info later. 

November 5:  TAG “Tent Day” in Jamestown– ‘GET OUT TO VOTE!”  Honor the Constitution!!  We will set up a tent opposite the downtown Historic Courthouse. We’ll have hotdogs, music, and of course, free Constitutions, along with a constitutional “quiz.”  If you fail, you get to live in Cuba! Just kidding. Come by and say “Hi!”

What really happened IN the voting machines in 2020?

Come and see a free documentary at the Community Center on Friday, October 7, at 6 p.m.

We saw what happens outside the voting booth with 2000 Mules, now this documentary takes a look at what happens inside.

This documentary follows the story of a County Clerk in Colorado, who made a backup of her counties server, only to stumble across evidence of manipulation in a recent local city council election, and also the 2020 general election. Her discovery ignites a chain reaction upending her life. And upending the world.

This is a political thriller uncovering a secret so critical to the survival of America it transcends political parties. The documentary plays like a great “who dun it” mystery as we follow her journey of discovery.

FREE DOCUMENTARY MOVIE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2022
6 P.M.
JAMESTOWN COMMUNITY CENTER
629 N Main Street, Jamestown, TN

Monthly Meeting Moved to August 25

Due to illness, the TAG monthly meeting is postponed from August 18th to August 25th. See Events page for more information.

Caution Needed by Fentress County School Board over Electric Buses

by Anne Beckett

This article is in response to the June 22 article in Fentress Times, “Electric Dreams and Harsh Realities.”

The article did a good job of assessing a potential benefit of electric vehicle buses for Fentress County schools. However, new studies bring to light other serious issues to consider. 

Electric vehicles (EVs) are still arriving upon the scene, and the demanding conversion from gas powered vehicles imposed upon us by the current federal administration is questionable as it creates additional demand on our already overburdened, and primarily fossil-fueled, electric grid, among other reasons.

This article will address research that indicates electric vehicles are not better for the environment and have more quality issues than gas-powered ones.

The current administration is in a push to convert the U.S. to electric vehicles.  However, only 20% of our energy needs are “renewable”, such as wind turbine. That means we are currently 80% dependent upon so called “fossil fuels” such as gasoline, coal, natural gas. Therefore, the comparison between electric and gas powered vehicles is really a comparison between burning gasoline or using a mix of coal and natural gas to produce electricity for an electric vehicle.

A study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that EVs are worse for the environment than gas-powered ones.  EVs are not emissions-free:  charging an EV increases electricity demand — which is mostly provided by coal plants.  (Viva la coal!)  If the current administration’s plan is for EVs to reduce reliance on what is termed fossil fuels it is based on false pretenses and is going to fail miserably.

The argument over environment issues cannot be made if coal is the most used source to produce electricity. So where is the benefit? 

However, there are worse and bigger issues against electric vehicles.

J.D. Powers produces an annual “U.S. Initial Quality Study,” and has for the last 36 years. In their most recent study they compared the number of quality issues among electric, hybrids and gas-powered vehicles.  Per 100 vehicles (PP100), electric had 240 quality issues PP100, hybrids had 239 PP100 and gas had 175 PP100 quality issues.  Some of the issues are due to technical complexity which increases the likelihood of problems.  EVs are meant to “transform us in the era of the smart cars,” according to the article. So they are loaded with technologies like Bluetooth, touchscreen, and apps including remote door locks and battery charge. 

While gadget lovers may have fun with new ‘toys,’ most Americans prefer to use traditional gas vehicles because of “charging logistics, driving distance and maintenance costs.”  (Speaking of maintenance, owners of the 2014 Ford Focus will  have inoperable vehicles if and when the battery needs replacement: the cost would be $11,000, but batteries are no longer available.) 

Batteries for electric vehicles continue to be a problem. First, batteries are very expensive and not reusable. When they die, disposal in a landfill is problematic, as lithium batteries aren’t stable. They can cause fires that sometimes smolder for years. Toxic fumes are released, which not only are dangerous to breathe but can contribute to global warming. This defeats the original purpose of the EV.

Electric vehicles also contribute to the “greenhouse” effect they are supposed to be helping. This starts with the mining process. The process of mining the raw materials for the batteries releases CO2 emissions. Then these raw materials must be refined before they can be used in batteries; this causes more emissions.

The batteries for EVs require graphite. And there many problems with that.  China is the biggest producer of lithium-ion batteries and their precursor materials, especially graphite. So in effect, America is supporting an industry dominated and controlled by a hostile foreign power.  The “plan” to convert to EVs will enrich the Chinese Community party at the expense of the environment and U.S. Taxpayers.

A hybrid auto battery uses 22 pounds of graphite;  EVs demand 110 pounds of graphite.   Graphite production produces significant pollution.  China had to shut down production in their city of greatest graphite output.  Graphite dust is toxic whether inhaled or leached into the water supply. Worse, hydrochloric acid is used to process mined graphite into a usable form. Hydrochloric acid is highly corrosive and damaging to ALL forms of life.

In its 2022 report, the U.S. Department of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey reports that in 2021, over 70 percent of the global cobalt production came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The problem, according to United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, is that dust from cobalt mines often contains toxic metals such as uranium, and these mines may contain sulfur minerals that can generate sulfuric acid. When exposed to air or water, sulfuric acid can lead to acid mine drainage, polluting rivers and drinking water for hundreds of years. And, up to 40,000 children are estimated to be working in these mines under slave labor conditions.

Further, reports around the nation about vehicles bursting into flame should bring great concerns.  These are potentially due to the lithium-ion batteries.  More time is needed to determine if this is going to be a regular occurrence.

Electric vehicles may be more a part of a socialistic utopian dream than scientific reality.  Based on current research and experience, it may be a better idea to exercise patience as well as caution before jumping onboard with electric buses.  Further, it is never good to own the first of anything new. Wait until all the bugs are known, and a track record has been established. No matter how good it looks financially for now, even with “free” grant money, the “hidden charges” could bring buyers’ remorse with no recourse.

References for this article:

https://www.wtsp.com/article/news/local/electric-car-battery-replacement-costs-more-than-car/ (This link was used for the quote on American’s preferring gas powered cars. It has since been removed.)

Dr. Beth Meyers Talks About SEL

Dr. Beth Meyers from Tennessee Liberty Network spoke about SEL- Social Emotional Learning on July 21, 2022 at a Town Hall at the Fentress County courthouse. SEL is bringing a new focus on how students feel about their selves and issues and presented data on how this program works, and what impact it is having on education. Sponsored by Tennessee Action Group.

AJ DePriest Speaks on ESSR Federal Funds

AJ DePriest from Tennessee Liberty Network presented her group’s research on  ESSR (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) federal funds on July 21, 2022 at a Town Hall at the Fentress County courthouse. Fentress County schools have received many millions in ESSR funding, some of which is tied to federal compliance standards.

She spoke about how this program works, and what impact it has on education. Sponsored by Tennessee Action Group.

Watch Video of Sheriff Town Hall

Great turnout at the Fentress County Sheriff’s Town Hall July 8 at the courthouse, sponsored by TAG. All four candidates answered questions and shared their backgrounds and qualifications. Pictured left to right are Rodney Insco, Michael “Bigfoot” Reagon, Max Goodpaster and Gary “Goose” Ledbetter. WDEB live-streamed the event. You can watch the video below.

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