Political Notebook: Activists breach 2015 National Pachyderm Convention in Chattanooga

Political Notebook: Activists breach 2015 National Pachyderm Convention in Chattanooga

June 7th, 2015 by Staff Reports in Politics Local

Activists breach GOP event

A group of health-care activists interrupted dinner at the 2015 National Pachyderm Convention in the downtown Marriott on Saturday night.

Two women in evening gowns, carrying an oversized spoon and identifying themselves as a group called "Millionaires for Wealthcare," took the stage and presented Sen. Todd Gardenhire, R-Chattanooga, with the "Silver Spoon Award" for "keeping health care in the hands of those who can afford it."

Gardenhire has been the target of multiple demonstrations by activists since he voted against Gov. Haslam's Insure Tennessee bill, which would have extended health coverage to an estimated 280,000 low income Tennesseans.

Gardenhire didn't respond, but some in attendance shouted catcalls at the intruders, who were quickly escorted out.

Corker, diplomats meetover Iran nuke agreement

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, held a hearing last week with former U.S. diplomats to the Middle East to discuss how a nuclear agreement with Iran would affect U.S. interests in the region.

Negotiators are working to reach a final agreement by June 30 and the committee is preparing for congressional review of a final deal if one is reached.

Corker said some are concerned that the Obama administration "is so focused on reaching an agreement with Iran that some of the U.S. interests and concerns of our regional alliances are not really being looked at or examined."

Former ambassadors James Jeffrey and Martin Indyk both expressed concerns.

Jeffery said he sees "no evidence" for Obama's claim that a deal would make it harder for Iran to attempt regional domination.

Indyk said the U.S. needs a strategy for the region "that is designed to deal with Iran's destabilizing activities."

"... [I]f they are moving to a nuclear weapon what are we going to do about it? And more importantly, what do they think we are going to do about it?"

Alexander opposed to new ozone standard

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, is cosponsoring a bill that would block new ozone standards until at least 85 percent of counties can meet current standards.

"The air is demonstrably cleaner in Tennessee, and we need to give the regulations we have already put in place time to work before we interrupt efforts to improve air quality," Alexander said. "This legislation would delay the EPA from implementing a new ozone standard that would increase more burdensome regulations and push several Tennessee counties out of attainment, which would have an impact on economic development. If counties in Tennessee want to encourage job growth, they've got to have clean air so companies can easily get permits to build new plants."

Bill would preserve James K. Polk home

Alexander also is sponsoring a bill directing the Secretary of the Interior to take the next step in preserving former President James K. Polk's home in Columbia, Tenn. as a "national treasure."

In April, a survey requested by Alexander found the Polk home is nationally significant and could meet the criteria for inclusion in the National Park System. The new bill asks for a study to decide whether placing the home in the park system is suitable and feasible.

Polk, the 11th president is remembered for his help in acquiring 800,000 square miles of territory and extending the nation's border west to the Pacific Ocean, Alexander's office said in a news release.

Polk's last act as president was to sign the bill that created the Department of the Interior, the agency that includes the National Park Service.

"Tennessee is full of history, and the presidency of James K. Polk is one of our state's great contributions to our nation's history," Alexander said.

CALENDAR

Monday

* Bill Taylor will speak at the JFK Club luncheon meeting at noon at the Chattanoogan Hotel, 1201 Broad St. Taylor's topic, "Some Things Never Change," a comparison of the current political environment to that of the late 19th century, when business interests dominated government. There also will be election of officers for the coming year. Free valet parking is available at the rear entrance to the hotel.

* Rhonda Thurman, Hamilton County Board of Education member, will address the Pachyderm Club at noon at Republican headquarters, 1428 Chestnut St., suite E. Parking is available in the Finley Stadium lot.

Thursday

* The Tennessee Transgender Political Coalition will meet at 7 p.m. at the Mercy Junction Peace & Justice Center, 1918 Union Ave. Everyone is invited to raise awareness of the TTPC and to get involved supporting trans rights. See more at www.facebook.com/events/456226714546661/

* The Democrats will hold their annual summer picnic at 6 p.m. at the IBEW, sponsored by the Hamilton County Democratic Party and the Greater Chattanooga Democratic Women's Club. Dinner will feature chicken & pork barbecue, baked beans, coleslaw, drinks, and desserts. A $10 donation is requested and can be given at the door.

June 15

* Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey will speak to the Pachyderm Club at noon at Republican headquarters, 1428 Chestnut St., suite E. Parking is available in the Finley Stadium lot.