Keeping our eyes on the Volunteer State.

J. Holly McCall | Editor-in-Chief

Good morning, Lookers. 

Call us naive, but seems to us that being compared to a dictator might not bode well for a governor preparing to push a plan to raise revenue for roads. 

The quote of the week goes to Republican Sen. Frank Niceley, who said of Gov. Bill Lee's plan for public-private partnership that could include toll roads:

“Mussolini liked those public-private partnerships. They called it facism back then." 

A couple of notes here. First, it's Frank Niceley, a walking gaffe machine who earlier this year suggested homeless people might look to Adolf Hitler —another fascist — as a good example. 

Second, who wants to be compared to Benito "Il Duce" Mussolini, the Italian dictator who coined the term 'fascism' but was ultimately strung up with his mistress by his own countrymen? 

There's a lot going on in that quote but let's don't get hung up on that. Senior Reporter Sam Stockard takes a deep dive into TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley's Lee's plan to raise money for roadwork and finds Niceley isn't the only lawmaker with reservations. Scroll down for that. 

Hard to top that but:

  • Progress for Dreamers? Ariana Figueroa reports U.S. senators are working on a bipartisan agreement to create a pathway to citizenship through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program — but time is running short. Read more.
  • From the Wamp beat: In the latest from Chattanooga, the Chattanoogan reports that Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp is leasing a county car for the cool cost of "a little more than $1,100" a month.
  • Here we invite you to insert your favorite emoji — we like the expressionless one with no mouth — while you ponder exactly how fancy that Chevy Tahoe is to cost that much and how big of a slap in the face Wamp's choice is to Volkswagen, given there's a big friggin' VW factory in Chattanooga. 

On that note, carry on. 

John Cole's Tennessee: Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson is busy filing bills to regulate public records, transgender kids and drag shows, while remaining mum on children in foster care.

John Cole's Tennessee: Senate Majority Leader Jack Johnson is busy filing bills to regulate public records, transgender kids and drag shows, while remaining mum on children in foster care.

Governor’s transportation proposals draw wide reactions

Gov. Bill Lee's recent transportation proposal, which includes toll roads — referred to as "choice roads"— and public private partnerships, is drawing mixed reactions even among Republicans. As Sam Stockard reports, one GOP senator compares Lee's plans to "fascism." Read more.

As more Tennesseans transition to electric vehicles, Tennessee will need to find a funding source to replace dwindling revenues from the state’s gas tax. A proposal from Gov. Bill Lee includes toll roads and higher fees for electric vehicles.(Photo: Getty Images)


Investigation finds Tennessee domestic violence nonprofit retaliated against employee

 A federal watchdog found the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence retaliated against an employee after she blew the whistle about potential misuses of federal grant funding, a story jointly reported by Anita Wadhwani and Natasha Senjanovic, WPLN News. Read more. 

(Credit: Rachel Iacovone, Nashville Public Radio)


In Case You Missed It

  • Stockard reports on a bill filed by Sen. Jack Johnson, R-Franklin, that would close public records in death investigations. Read more.
  • Two Tennessee civic engagement organizations — one geared to immigrants and one geared toward Black Tennesseans — are working together to expand programs training young political operatives, writes Holly McCall. Read more.
  • Anita Wadhwani reports on the latest in the legal proceedings involving former Tennessee Department of Health vaccine chief Dr. Michelle Fiscus and her former employer: Fiscus is asking for a public “name clearing” hearing.  Get details. 
  • Ellen Glover, director of Drug Policy, Harm Reduction, and Criminal Justice for the nonprofit civic engagement group People’s Action, writes about the need for Congress to pass the Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act, that would remove barriers to obtaining treatment for opioid addiction. Read more. 

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