frank_talk (2006-09)

Platform for Change

Somebody’s got to run for governor, so here’s the plan

by Frank Cagle

Since the Republicans can’t seem to find anyone to run against Gov. Phil Bredesen, I guess I’m going to have to do it. I don’t have the money or the time to campaign, so I’ll just put out my platform and let the voters draft me.

My planks:

• The state will not offer any incentives (beyond the usual number of whores and bottles of Jack Daniel whiskey) to entice corporations to locate plants in Tennessee.

• We will opt out of the U.S. Department of Transportation highway program. All gasoline taxes now collected and turned over to the federal government will be retained by the state. We will have a moratorium on constructing any additional interstate highways. We will use the federal and state gasoline taxes to fix the current messes on our interstates and the balance will be spent pushing four-lane highways into rural, backward, ill-educated counties to bring them into the 21st century. We will build the damn roads where we want them, and it will be up to us to decide on speed limits, seat belt laws and signage.

• It shall be illegal for any governmental entity in Tennessee to condemn and take private property unless it is for public use. No property purchased by the eminent-domain process may be sold to another private party. Any state lands that are sold will first be offered for sale to the original property owners or their heirs. If TVA sells any land acquired by eminent domain, the state will not sanction, license or allow any development on that land unless TVA first offers it to the original owners or their heirs.

• The last half-cent increase in the sales tax will be suspended. We will pass a Taxpayers Bill of Rights that requires a vote of the people for any future increase in the sales tax or any attempt to establish a state income tax. In the event of a recession and the amount of tax revenue falling below collections for the previous year, the half-cent may be re-instituted on an emergency basis. Once the recession is over, the half-cent is automatically suspended again.

• We will establish each congressional district as a health insurance zone. Any insurance company that wants to do business in Tennessee will offer policies in these zones. The rates will be established for each zone, based on claims. Everybody who lives in that congressional district will pay the same rate for insurance coverage, whether the rate is paid by an employer or by an individual. TennCare will consist of a program that pays the premium for low-income people to participate in the program. People deemed “uninsurable” because of a pre-existing condition will be assigned in equal numbers across all the insurance companies doing business in Tennessee.

• Every prescription written by a doctor for pain-killing or mood-altering drugs will be reported to a central database maintained by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. The TBI will monitor issuance of these prescriptions and initiate an investigation of any practice that issues an excessive number of such prescriptions.

• Everyone convicted of first-degree murder will automatically be sentenced to life in prison without parole. The death penalty will be abolished except that it can be meted out to anyone who commits a murder while serving a life sentence without parole.

• Under the BEP, the state will exercise its authority to take over the failing Memphis school system. All teachers will be required to re-apply for their jobs and will have to pass a competency test. A voucher program will be installed for use by any parent who wishes to send their child to a private school. The turnaround of this one school system will vault the state into the top third of the states on educational rankings.

• We will push for a law that establishes criminal penalties for any members of a city council, county commission, school board or the legislature should they meet in secret or if they should bar attendance by the public.

But I don’t think I’ll be running after all. Now that I think about it, I don’t have enough cronies to fill all the political appointments available to the governor. I’m not sure I could find 25 registered voters to sign my petition. So I guess I’ll reconsider running. But the platform is finished, so anybody who wants to pick it up and run with it is welcome.

Have at it.

Frank Cagle is a political analyst and the editor of Knoxville Magazine . You can reach him at .