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Backroads and Backstories with Paul Bailey
75 minutes | Aug 27, 2021
A Conversation with Jim Henry
Bio: Throughout his career, Jim Henry has worn many hats, including a Vietnam veteran, a state representative, a cabinet member, a Deputy Governor, a candidate for governor, a city councilman, a city mayor, and, now, you’re the state director for U.S. Senator Bill Haggerty.
62 minutes | May 19, 2021
A Journey Through the History of Tennessee Politics with Chris Bundgaard
Some of the highlights of the show include: Discussion of experiences with being a reporter on fresh disaster scenes and the importance of being sensitive to those who have lost everything. Mr. Bundgaard’s father was a college coach and his mother was an English teacher and briefly a reporter. She was formative in how he looks at things as a journalist. The important questions: “Why do you do this, why do you want this?” - the questions he would ask politicians and how he would get authentic answers. He came to Nashville to work for WKRN as a producer, later moving on to covering more political matters. Discussions of Tennessee politics in the 90’s and early 00’s - transition from democrat to republican control. Goes into the Tennessee Protests- highlights Marsha Blackburn’s role. Discusses the era of sales tax vs income tax - how it changed the political climate in Tennessee. Mr. Bundgaard then recounts the protests on Capitol Hill. Moves on to discuss the differences between the protests back then vs. those that recently took place at the US Capitol. Mr. Bundgaard discusses the person he found most interesting and his experience of speaking with him. He goes on to discuss who he believed to be the most rogue politician. Discusses how he is adjusting to retired life and what he plans on doing in the future. The final question: Mr. Bundgaard explains his experience with Muhammad Ali back in the 80’s and then later covering his funeral in Louisville.
42 minutes | Apr 7, 2021
Jobs for Tennesseans: The Important Role of TN’s Department of Economic & Community Development
Show Notes Guest Bob Rolfe, Tennessee’s Economic and Community Development Commissioner, graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in marketing and ended up working in the finance industry. After working in several different positions over the years, Comm’r Rolfe was asked by Bill Haslam to work for the state. Comm’r Rolfe worked under Randy Boyd and was tasked with keeping programs in rural communities successful. Comm’r Rolfe discusses the difference between working in the public sector and the private sector. Senator Bailey asks Bob about his job as commissioner. Comm’r Rolfe answers the questions with tasks such as recruiting companies to Tennessee and making sure they thrive. If the first two go well, he i s to make sure Tennessee remains in the running for the location of future expansion. Another side to the job, is making sure there are programs available in rural communities to ensure they thrive as well. Comm’r Rolfe describes a recent win for Tennessee in the company NTT. This is a global brand that will be headquartered in TN, recruiting graduates from universities all over the state. Comm’r Rolfe explains Tennessee as being attractive to these large businesses due to our General Assembly being fiscally conservative. Comm’r Rolfe explains how California is one of the most unfriendly places to do business due to high-taxes and high regulation. The economic growth of the Upper Cumberland had been stagnant until Academy Sports announced they were going to build their distribution center in Cookeville.That put a spotlight on that area and now there have been numerous companies locating there. Sen. Bailey asks how the pandemic affected the recruitment of industry. Comm’r Rolfe advised there being an initial pause, but after some time they were able to retain some of the Foriegn Direct Investment projects. Comm’r Rolfe states they try to treat companies that already call Tennessee home the same way they treat a new prospective company, they continue to provide support and make sure those companies continue to thrive, that way they will want to keep the next phases of their company in Tennessee. They discuss the improvement in electric cars and the interest in getting the companies that manufacture the car batteries into Tennessee. They discuss Georgia being our major competitor. Comm’r Rolfe sees the ECD’s efforts continuing in the next 5 years. They will continue to focus on the Foriegn Direct Investments and headquarter relocations. The person who has made the biggest impact on Comm’r Rolfe is Allen Borden, who has travelled with him on 30+ international trips. Comm’r Rolfe describes some of the most interesting CEO’s he’s met on the job and some interesting interactions he’s had. .
50 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Journalism in the Age of Social Media
Some of the highlights of the show include: Natalie Allison was raised in North Carolina and knew she wanted to be in journalism from a young age. She’s covered a range of topics from breaking news to now politics. Her historical inspiration is Dorothy Thompson who covered the rise of fascism and nazism in the 1930’s. Her current inspirations are drawn from many streams of media. Erik Schelzig went to high school in the Philippines and college in DC where he was working on his Ph. D. in political science, then got a job at The Washington Post and loved it. He dropped his Ph. D. and got a Master's and went into Journalism and ended up with the Associated Press. He started in Miami, then to West Virginia, followed by Tennessee where he now works at The Tennessee Journal, a weekly publication. Mr. Schelzig drew inspiration from Tom Humphrey from Knoxville, Tn, and Richard Locker from Memphis, Tn. Senator Bailey asks, how, as an editor and a journalist, have you adapted to the change in news media now that social media and other platforms are in the picture? Erik references his blog as a way to adapt, but the other part is that he reminds himself that not everyone is going to see each and every frenzy that goes on in social media. People will miss things and he still has a responsibility to report on important events to make sure they are not forgotten or to tell people about it for the first time, those that may not be on social media. Natalie answers the same question. She highlights that she has been a reporter for 8 years and she has always had the expectation of using social media or websites and making sure it gets out on all necessary platforms. She adds, there’s always been a time-sensitive element. Sen. Bailey asks her if these changes are good for the consumers of media, the media, or both? Natalie answers there are pluses and minuses Erik highlights that there are fewer reporters out in the field due to budget cuts, people expect free news now and don’t see the value in paying for news subscriptions. Natalie explains how with fewer reporters, fewer stories can be covered, spreading those who are reporting very thin. Natalie believes important subjects that aren’t being talked about or covered can be highlighted through news media coverage and create change. Erik states there is not an invisible hand that’s guiding what the media should cover or not cover. What is covered boils down to what is interesting. The three discuss competition between journalists. Sen. Bailey asks what they think about the phrase “fake news”. Erik’s most memorable story is the election of Kent Williams as Speaker in the House, in 2009, which caused a huge uproar. Natalie’s most memorable moment in 2019 at her first session, the coucher vote day on the House floor. Links: The Tennessean USA Today Network: https://www.tennessean.com/network/ The Tennessee Journal: https://www.tnjournal.net/ TNJ: On the Hill: https://onthehill.tnjournal.net/on-the-hill/
40 minutes | Mar 3, 2021
Lt. Gov. Randy McNally Shares His Experience As a Legislative Leader
Linkshttps://www.capitol.tn.gov/senate/members/s5.htmlSome of the highlights of the show include: Lt. Gov. Randy McNally was born in Boston, Massachusetts. He and his family moved to Oak Ridge, TN, when McNally in 1948 when his dad accepted a job at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. McNally graduated from Oak Ridge High School and went on to study pharmacy. He met his wife during a game of Bridge while a student in pharmacy school and working at Cardinal Health. Jan worked at the same hospital at the time, Covenant. McNally’s pharmacy career includes both retail and hospital pharmacy. Lt. Gov. McNally is a big lacrosse fan and player. Most recently, he participated in a 24-hour game in Kennesaw, GA that raised over $10,000 for Wounded Warriors. McNally and his wife, Jan, have a fondness for Golden Retrievers. They have rescued four over their 50+ year marriage, including their current pup, Shadow. Growing up, McNally did not see himself getting into politics. Initially, he was interested in history but ended up studying biology and chemistry. McNally first got involved in politics while in college when he volunteered on Winfield Dunn’s election for governor in 1970. McNally first ran for elected office in 1978. Today, he is the longest-serving member in the Tennessee Legislature. According to the Lt. Governor, a lot has changed in the legislature during his tenure. He says there is a lot more professionalism now, of which he believes social media has played a part in. McNally played a key part in Operation Rocky Top, which focused on breaking up illegal Bingo Operations known as the Cornbread Mafia in the state. The operation led to about 80 people being indicted and all but one were convicted for crimes ranging from income tax fraud to kidnapping and assault. McNally was elected Speaker of the Senate in 2017, which also holds the title of Lieutenant Governor of Tennessee. He describes the day as being very special for him and his family. After McNally stepped into the role of Speaker of the Senate, he helped Senator Paul Bailey join the Transportation Committee and then later the Chair of the Commerce Committee. McNally says staying grounded and not letting the public recognition get to his head has been his biggest challenge since getting elected to office. He reminds himself that he is a public servant.
24 minutes | Feb 20, 2021
A Conversation with Speaker of the House, Cameron Sexton
Some of the highlights of the show include: Cameron Sexton is an eighth generation Tennessean. While his family roots are from Scott County and Oneida, Tennessee, Sexton grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Speaker Sexton moved to Cumberland County in the late ‘90s when he began working for Van Hilleary, a congressman at the time. The Speaker of the House attended the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and studied political science with a concentration in public administration. Upon graduation from college in 1994, Sexton went to work for now-lieutenant governor and Speaker of the Senate, Randy McNally for his state Senate race campaign at the time. 1994 marked a pivotal point in Speaker Sexton’s career and Republican politics in Tennessee with the election of Sundquist, Bill Frist, and Fred Thompson. Speaker Sexton helped Paul Bailey on his first race for state Senate. Along with scenic views and nice weather, Sexton’s favorite parts of living in the Upper Cumberland are the wide range of outdoor activities you can enjoy, including kayaking, golfing, and hiking. Sexton was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2010 and became the whip during his second term. With all of its challenges, Speaker Sexton is proud of what the state of Tennessee was able to accomplish in 2020. Speaker Sexton says his office has been cooperating and working with the FBI during their probe into some members of the Tennessee House of Representatives. When it comes to the most challenging issues this legislative session, Sexton named Education at the top of his list as Tennessee continues to work toward improving its educational ranking and student achievements. Sexton and Bailey agree that the combined governing and budgeting efforts from Governor Haslam and Governor Lee are what helped Tennessee manage 2020 as well as it did.\ Linkshttp://www.capitol.tn.gov/house/speaker.html
32 minutes | Jan 7, 2021
TN Comptroller of the Treasury Justin P. Wilson Shares His Knowledge of the State’s History
Some of the highlights of the show include: Justin P. Wilson was born in California, but moved to Nashville when he was 4 months old. He has lived in Nashville for 75 years. After finishing law school at Vanderbilt, Wilson took his first job at the Donovan, Leisure, Newton & Irvine law firm. Wilson has been in and out the political world for years. In 1996, he became Commissioner of Environment for the state of Tennessee, and then for the Sundquist administration where he was later deputy governor for policy. Wilson’s father was finance chair for the state party as well as for the RNC. He was the national finance chair, and he came in right after Watergate. The treasurer is chosen every two years when the General Assembly reconvenes a new legislative session, but the secretary of state’s on a four-year term. The comptroller of the state has a lot of responsibilities including keeping the financial integrity of the state. Part of Wilson’s responsibilities as comptroller include auditing all the counties and all the cities they are responsible for. They also have to review budgets and make sure debts are being paid. “Our mission is to make government work better. And local government is a major—of course, is a key to the state of Tennessee.” - Justin P. Wilson According to US News and World Report, Tennessee is number one among the states for financial stability. Wilson says the person who influenced him the most in his political career is Bill Brock, who was a senator from 1970 to 1976. There is a trail named after Wilson that runs through Bledsoe County and Cumberland County. Wilson loves to travel and has been to about 100 different countries. Wilson says he has a couple of dogs, about two grand-dogs, a cat, and a parrot. He and the parrot have coffee together every morning. “Remember three things these days: wash your hands, make government work better, and keep your sense of humor.” - Justin P. Wilson
44 minutes | Dec 11, 2020
TN Secretary of State Tre Hargett Talks About How Voting Works in the State of TN
Some of the highlights of the show include: Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, grew up in Ripley, TN. He served 10 years in the House of Representatives, and was first elected in 1996, then re-elected four more times. “Republicans being in control feels like it has made a big difference in how our state has been governed.” -Sec. Hargett Hargett is running for reelection in January. Hargett’s father was the Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard. “I have such respect for the men and women in our families who do serve the National Guard and all branches of our government.” -Sec. Hargett Hargett views politics and government as a vehicle to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Part of Hargett’s job is to work with all 95 county Election Commissions to try and make sure that Tennessee runs elections that meet the highest test of integrity. There are two types of mail-in ballots. There is an absentee by mail ballot, in which case, a voter makes a proactive decision. And there is a way to do that by email, fax, or by traditional mail. Voter list maintenance is a constant effort on behalf of election officials around the state. Two counties in the state of Tennessee: Hamilton County and Williamson County have Dominion Voting Systems. Paper ballot counties have to have some type of audit done in TN. Mark Goins said his team and all 95 county election commissions around the state did a great job of upholding the integrity of Tennessee's elections. Hargett serves on about 15 different boards and commissions, but also the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. “We are a very well-managed state due to good leadership at the governor level, but also for a legislature that has been very fiscally conservative.” Sec. Hargett TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Sen. Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. Today's guest is Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. Welcome, Mr. Secretary, glad you joined us.Sec. Hargett: Thank you, Senator. I appreciate the invitation.Sen. Bailey: Yes, sir. We're always happy to have our friends here in the state government join us for our podcast so that our listeners can always learn more about state government. So, before we get started, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school? Tell us a little bit of your family.Sec. Hargett: Well, thank you for asking. I grew up in Ripley, Tennessee, which is all the way on the western part of the state, about an hour north of Memphis. Graduated Ripley High School, and then, later on, went and got my bachelor's degree in accounting from Memphis State University. That tells you how long ago that was. And then got my master's degree in business administration from the University of Memphis, whatever it changed names, about a year and a half later. So, that's where I'm from. I lived down in the Bartlett area until 2007, at which time I moved over to East Tennessee after leaving the House of Representatives, and my wife and two sons now live in Hendersonville, Tennessee. So, the 17-years-old and 13-year-old boys.Sen. Bailey: So, you mentioned that you were a state representative. How many years were you a state representative?Sec. Hargett: I served 10 years in the House of Representatives, so first elected 1996, and re-elected four more times, and retired voluntarily in 2006 after 10 years. I was one of those people that said I was going to serve 10 years in the State House of Representatives, no more than that. And so, I kept my word and didn't run for reelection that year.Sen. Bailey: Now, I also understand you were a Minority Leader during that time.Sec. Hargett: There's a interesting story about that. When I became the Republican Leader in 2002, I told people, we were going to quit calling it ‘Minority Leader,’ we would call ‘republican’ because ‘minority’ was temporary and ‘republican’ wasn’t.Sen. Bailey: Oh, okay.Sec. Hargett: And so I told them we need to start thinking about not being in the minority anymore and begin developing our plans to build up to the majority. So, we call it ‘Republican Leader’ back then.Sen. Bailey: And how many years were you Republican Leader?Sec. Hargett: Twice elected as Republican Leader.Sen. Bailey: Okay. So, you basically served four years, then, as Republican Leader.Sec. Hargett: Well, and actually, my last year I didn't serve as Republican Leader. I had accepted a job within my company. It required a lot of travel, and I was going back and forth between Memphis and Knoxville every other week, and just would not have been able to do it. And knew I was retiring, so it was better to go and pass baton to somebody, and let somebody else lead and also get ready for the upcoming reelections for those people.Sen. Bailey: So, tell me what you see is the differences between your time as a state representative and the Republican Leader and today.Sec. Hargett: Wow, a lot of differences. And one of the big ones, though, is—be pretty obvious is that Republicans being in control feels like has made a big difference in how our state has been governed. One of our friends and I—Ron Ramsey, we used to talk a lot about when we were both in the minority, we talked about how it matters who governs and the decisions we get to make as we lead. So, when I was in the House of Representatives, I was in the minority for five terms, and I knew that anytime I had an idea, or one of our members had an idea on the House floor, I had to appeal to at least five other people on the other side of the aisle to get them to come over to our side to be able to pass any amendment or any bill that we wanted to do. And now of course, with Republican supermajorities, it's much different to be able to take an idea that we see and be able to go ahead and pass those things after they pass the smell test and the committee process. And so, we're able to govern is the real big difference. And as you know, you and your colleagues have given me the opportunity to serve as secretary of state, I'm elected every four years by members of the House of Representatives and the Senate coming together in a joint convention. And now you've given me the opportunity, with some autonomy, to be able to go and run a department of over 300 people and show that Tennessee government can, in fact, work with a lot of business-like principals.Sen. Bailey: So, when the General Assembly convenes in January, will this be your time for reelection?Sec. Hargett: I'll be asking for your vote for reelection this January. Yes, sir. Sen. Bailey: So, with you asking me for my vote, that's basically giving me an indication that you are seeking reelection.Sec. Hargett: I am seeking reelection. In fact, have I had somebody else ask me the day, and I've enjoyed the opportunity to try and make a difference, and I appreciate the trust and privilege has been placed in me by the Tennessee General Assembly to try and make government work better.Sen. Bailey: Before we talk a little bit more about the duties of the secretary of state, I did find something interesting is that your father was the Adjutant General of the Tennessee National Guard.Sec. Hargett: That's exactly right. He actually was appointed as the Assistant Adjutant General under Sundquist, and Governor Sundquist, in his last year of office, elevated him to the Adjutant General. And then he served seven years under Governor Bredesen. Bredesen kept him over. And so he had the opportunity to do that. And then his last year, he retired; the Assistant Adjutant General Max Haston, over in McMinnville originally, then became the Adjutant General. My dad went on to become the National Guard Association United States—of the United States—President.Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow. So, did you serve in the National Guard?Sec. Hargett: I didn't. And I look back at my life, and I wonder if that was really a missed opportunity. I have such respect for the men and women in our families who do serve the National Guard and all branches of our government.Sen. Bailey: Well, that's a similar story to mine. I went to that recruiting office; I wanted to be in the Navy, I have family members that had served our country in the Navy, and so I kind of had that thought at one time that I would serve in the armed forces, and especially in the Navy. But I just never did quite follow through. And if I had a regret in life, it's probably that I didn't at least go spend four years there. So, knowing that your father was the Adjutant General, Tennessee National Guard, did that affect your outlook on politics? I mean, obviously, he was appointed under a Republican Administration, and then served seven years under a Democratic Administration. Military is usually supposed to be non-partisan, but obviously, your father serving the military, how did that shape your—Sec. Hargett: You know, honestly, I think probably a lot of my growing up, even when he wasn't active duty in the military—he went back active duty in the National Guard back when I was in sixth grade. And I'd already developed an interest in politics and government by that point. Certainly, I look at the sacrifice and the service of the men and women in the armed forces, which it should be a great inspiration for all of us, and we should give them all our appreciation and respect. But for me, I looked at people growing up, historical figures at the national level, some elected, some not, and it saw how they made their mark. And that was what really interests me in politics. I view politics and government as a vehicle to make a positive impact on the lives of others. And that's really what has always struck my interest.Sen. Bailey: So, who would you say has been the biggest influence in your life as far as your political career is concerned?Sec. Hargett: Well, outside of present company—Sen. Bailey: [laugh]. Yeah, I appreciate that.Sec. Hargett: So, certainly, I think as a Republican, we all during this generation, look at the wisdom and the discipline of Ronald Reagan is someone we look at. Here more at the state level, I grew up in the age of Lamar Alexander, where Lamar Alexander walked in the office, and later I had the opportunity when Lamar Alexander walked out of office as governor, I was the student council president at Ripley High School and had the opportunity to introduce him before the student body in the community. So, a really cool moment. So, him, I look at Lamar Alexander, I look at a guy like Bill Gibbons, who's the former district attorney in Shelby County, who took me under his wing and taught me how to campaign and go door-to-door. There are so many different people, though, who have intersected with, and names that you would recognize and names that you wouldn’t, of their philosophies and their work ethic that are woven into how I have approached my job, politically and professionally.Sen. Bailey: You brought up Lamar Alexander, and it's been very interesting over the last several weeks that several news articles have been written about his political career, and it's hard to realize that when he ran for governor that he basically said he walked 1000 miles across the state of Tennessee, and each afternoon, he would mark an X, and then he would start his journey again at that X the next day, just to make sure that he didn't leave any, any stone unturned if you will. And also that he basically would go and spend the night in just ordinary Tennesseans’ homes, go to the ball games and go to their different community events, go to church with them. And so I think that was one way that he connected with Tennesseans during that time and what made him successful as a politician. So, certainly having him as a mentor, I can understand that, and we certainly appreciate his service to our state.Sec. Hargett: Well, I’ll tell you what I think about several ways. Number one is he's just always prepared. If you ever see Senator Alexander, hear Senator Alexander speak somewhere, it's not off the cuff. I mean, he is thoughtful about what he's going to say, and anything he says is well researched. And also, he said something very impactful to me when I was in the legislature one evening, and he would probably not remember he said it to me, but he said—and as soon as I became Republican Leader, he said, “The role of both parties should be to make the other party better.” He said, “It should be about the competition for ideas and not the competition of personalities. And when Democrats have an idea, Republicans should try and figure out how to come up with a better idea. And when Republicans come with the better idea, the Democrats should try and come up with a better idea about that.” And frankly, I think that's what we've lost a lot of is the competition for ideas, and instead, we look for personalities.Sen. Bailey: Exactly. I think that he was also quoted just in the last few days, and I may or may not get this exactly right, but I certainly understood the meaning. He said, “From time-to-time, he would make a statement that would be controversial, and his point was always that he wanted people to think beyond what his statement was or what the situation was, and always hoped that that could bring a solution.” And he said many times, he may have been criticized because they thought that he was—in conservative circles, wasn't conservative enough, but he said he was always trying to stimulate thought for people to come up with a good solution and a good answer. So, I—Sec. Hargett: Very true.Sen. Bailey: I think that's a statesman. It's certainly something that politicians and those that serve their state should always strive to be, is trying to help stimulate thought and come up with that. But didn't mean to get off on Lamar, but the fact is that I think he's influenced both of our lives. One of the books that I received as a high school senior was his first book right after he’d left office that he had written about his time as governor. That’s something that inspired me. So, let's get back and talk a little bit more about the secretary of state and the duties and responsibilities that cover many aspects of state government. So, just give us an overview of your duties and responsibilities as well as the Department of Secretary of State.Sec. Hargett: Well, and I'll forewarn you, feel free to cut me off because I was at a deposition one day and a lawyer asked me this question and 45 minutes later, I was still talking. And they finally said, “Okay, we get it. Okay, let's move on to something else.” So, feel free to interject, obviously. We have 30-plus employees in the secretary of state's office and we probably—for those of you who are my age or older, you will remember a Life cereal, where you had a little boy named Mikey and I think they now reinvented those commercials where it's a little girl, goes by Mikey, where, “Give it to Mikey. He'll eat anything.” And so anytime that there is something that doesn't seem to fit somewhere else, maybe, as neatly in some other corner of state government, we become the Mikey of state government; we wind up with it. We have wound up with fantasy sports oversight that way; we wound up with Charitable Solicitations and Gaming oversight, we have a division of business services that every Limited Liability Corporation—Limited Liability Partnership and Corporation in the state comes through us, in its infancy, to form, and files an annual report with us. We even have a role in international adoptions. Where someone will—Sen. Bailey: Really?Sec. Hargett: Yeah. So, we'll either place a certification authentication on a document of what's called an apostille, which allows a foreign government to recognize a notary here in the United States. And when I say apostille, that sounds different; it's spelled different, it's not like Matthew, Mark, Luke, and john. But we play a role in those international adoptions. And so we have a lot of different ways like that, that when we do our job well, people probably don't notice. But when we don't do our job well, it can be the difference between a business being able to form properly, it can be the difference between family being able to come together from around the world, somebody being able to continue their education overseas, a non-profit organization who might not be doing the right things and be trying to take advantage of Tennesseans’ generous demeanor, and giving hearts. We have investigators who go out and investigate non-profit organizations or those who claim to be non-profit organizations and those who are violating the Charitable Solicitations and Gaming laws. Those are a few examples. And as you know—you and your colleagues—also helped fund the new state library archive building that will be going around the Bicentennial Mall in the spring. Got delayed because of the tornadoes earlier this year, which I know impacted your communities. And that's going to be a real treasure for our state so we can continue to preserve the history of our state, but also make it more accessible to Tennesseans to be able to come and enjoy. And we have nine regional libraries throughout the state, one of them in Cookeville, where we provide the training, technological support, and materials to rural and suburban libraries around the state, helping build strong libraries. So, those are a few of the things. And the one that gets the most attention nowadays is elections. Sen. Bailey: [laugh]. Right.Sec. Hargett: And believe it or not, over 300 employees, and only about 10 of them are in the world of elections, where we work with all 95 county Election Commissions to try and make sure that Tennessee runs elections that meet the highest test of integrity. And you'll notice I didn't say Republican elections, I didn’t say Democrat elections. We just want to make sure that every vote is counted once, no more, no less; that every eligible Tennessean that wants to participate in the process has the opportunity to do so. And things went very well here overall, during the last year. It was a tough year. Been the toughest year I've had election-wise, in 2020. But things went well, and I think that's a credit to the legislature and all the thought that was put into the things that we have in place to protect the integrity of our elections.Sen. Bailey: Well, as you know, I did a tweet not long ago, that was certainly controversial to some. Not to—Sec. Hargett: Not everybody.Sen. Bailey: Not to everyone. And I think that you actually followed up and said, “Hey, you're exactly right.” And the gist of the tweet was that Tennessee is doing the right things as far as their elections are concerned. And we're not experiencing a lot of—and I used the term, ‘BS’ in the tweet that other states are going through right now. So, with what's going on in our nation today, with the controversy in Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, talk a little bit about Tennessee, the fact that we have photo ID, we don't have same-day registration, we have the ability for you to request a ballot. So, speak to that just a little bit because there is a misconception between a mail-in ballot and an absentee ballot.Sec. Hargett: Oh, absolutely. People use those interchangeably, and I have—I’ll start there. There are really two types of mail-in ballots. There is an absentee by mail ballot, in which case, a voter makes a proactive decision, “I want to vote absentee, I’m eligible to vote absentee,” and they will let the Election Commission know that they want to receive a ballot. And there is a way to do that by email, fax, or by traditional mail. And in Tennessee, during a typical presidential election, only two and a half percent of the people typically vote absentee by mail. Now, that's in contrast with the fact that there are 14 different reasons someone can vote absentee by mail in Tennessee, and close to a third of Tennessee voters are eligible to vote absentee by mail, but only 2.5 percent do. So, that tells you Tennessee really is accustomed to voting in person, they want to vote in person. And then, think about it: A lot of people in, especially, today's age, we think about this—fought long and hard for the right to vote, and had the opportunity to do that. And they want a physical act of being able to go to the polls and push that button, fill out a paper ballot, whatever it is. So, those are absentee by mail ballots, then there are what's called universal by mail ballots. Those are what you see in Washington, and California, Colorado, some—you know, Utah, a few other states like that. And they proactively mail a ballot to every voter.Sen. Bailey: Let me ask—Sec. Hargett: Go ahead.Sen. Bailey: —because this is something that has come up in the last several weeks is the fact that—how often do we purge our voter rolls in the state of Tennessee? Because that has been a controversy in some of the states that they're mailing ballots to individuals that are deceased; they're mailing ballots to individuals that have not lived at an address for 12 months or longer. So, how does Tennessee go about purging its voter rolls to make sure that we are allowing that person that is duly registered that lives at that address to come in and vote and we try to mitigate any kind of voter fraud?Sec. Hargett: Great question. So, first, you cannot make any changes to your voter rolls, you cannot remove anybody from the voter rolls within 90 days of a federal election. So, anything I'm saying to you does not apply during that window, okay? So, you can't remove somebody—I mean, if you know somebody is deceased, I mean, you can, but I mean, you can't do anything else in regards to that. So, that's the first thing. But list maintenance is a constant effort on behalf of election officials around the state. And so, they're always looking at the obituaries. We're working to get information from the United States government, and get from vital records and look at death records to see if people need to be removed. And then what will happen is local election officials mail out to people, or contact next of kin and be able to verify whether or not somebody did in fact pass. Or if they have a reason to believe somebody moved, they reach out and check those things. And local Election Commissions are always sending—I say ‘always.’ They’re mailing out to the voter list, and if they have a reason to believe somebody’s moved, they go back and they check based on that first-class mailing: did it bounce back? And they go back to try and figure out what happened with that voter. And so, list maintenance is not something that happens once in a while. It happens on a continual basis on behalf of the Election Commissions in their respective counties. And they know those counties best. There's one congressman who likes to put out on Twitter that we're constantly purging people on the voter rolls. It's something that even if we believe that you may have moved, you still—you will go into an inactive status for a period in which you can still come to the polls and we will work to verify whether or not you are still a registered voter in that area. So, those are all things that stay in place to make sure that the voter rolls are pure in Tennessee. One of the things I encountered when I first came into state government—or I say in state government. In the secretary of state's office, in my first year in office, we found about 13,000 deceased people on the voter rolls—Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Sec. Hargett: —that shouldn't have been on the voter rolls. And so we moved to get those deceased people off the voter rolls. Now, I don’t want people to believe that was like an episode of The Walking Dead when you went to vote in the elections, but the bottom line is, especially under the old law, before photo ID law, that would have created an opportunity for fraud, and for somebody else to show up with a utility bill or whatever, and try and vote in the name of that deceased person. So, those are all the kind of things that we do to make sure the voter rolls are accurate in the state of Tennessee.Sen. Bailey: And again, I go back and reiterate one of my comments that I made earlier, I'm proud of Tennessee and the fact that we want every legal person to be able to cast their vote and cast at one time, but at the same time, we try to make sure that there is integrity in place for those individuals, Tennesseans, going to vote, that there's a photo ID so that when you walk in, you're having to present a credential showing that you are who you say you are to be able to vote. Because again, to me, this is one of the most sacred things as a Tennessee citizen as well as a United States citizen that we can do, is vote. Men and women have fought and died for my right and for all others to be able to choose their government, choose their leaders, and we want to make sure that it's fair. And so, with that, again, pointing back to some of these states that are having controversies, and thinking about Tennessee, election laws are determined by state legislatures. Sec. Hargett: That's right. Sen. Bailey: And so you, as secretary of state, or secretary of state of another state—and I'll just use Georgia because, obviously, during this podcast, all eyes are focused on Georgia. And basically, there's been a lot of criticism of the current secretary of state in Georgia in the way that he has handled some of the controversies there. Some of it could be a founded criticism, some of it not so founded criticism. You also had the Governor of Arizona, Ducey, come out yesterday and basically said, “Look, I'm following the state's law and certifying this election. There is a process that you want to contest that, but as far as the Governor and following the state law, I'm having to do this. But there is a process for you to do that.” I said a lot of that to come back and say you, or a secretary of state, become the lightning rod when there is a controversy regarding elections, especially if there is a presumption of voter fraud. And you have to follow what the legislature has said that state’s voter laws are.Sec. Hargett: Well, that's right, Senator. And one of the things we came under fire, that we were hit with a lot of different lawsuits during this year, during this pandemic, about people who tried to either weaken our election laws or just change our election laws through the courts. In one case, the judge screamed, “Shame on you—” I say scream. Said, “Shame on you,” and told us, “I didn't tell you to do it that way.” And then she turned back around and change the forum in a way where she told us not to do it. And so that was an interesting process, but what we have to do is we run elections based on the laws as they're given to us. In the past, we've suggested changes from time-to-time. We're not real quick to do that. I was a supporter of the photo ID law; I was a supporter of trying to make sure that people who were trying to register to vote can be able to know that their voter registration gets turned in a timely fashion. Those are few things we have supported. But our job is to administer the law. And I don't get to just go make it up and say, “Well, I know that's the law, but I like to go do it differently.” And one of the real keys here is that if the wrong person in this office had that opportunity to make it up as they went along, they'd be more powerful than the entire legislature and the governor to be able to change the rules in mid-game. So, we made a very conscious decision back in mi-March that any plans we made, we were going to do that based on what Tennessee law said and not any individual opinions we might have had, any fleeting thoughts we might have had: we had to uphold the law. And that was painful at times; it was questioned a lot, but in the end, I think it proved to be the right decisions when you look at how we conducted our elections in August and November.Sen. Bailey: Yeah. I'm assuming that there is a secretary of state association that you're a part of, and obviously, you know a lot of the secretary of states. But I guess my question is, do you think there have been some in other states—other secretary of states—that have not followed what the current law is? Can you speak to that, or are you just mostly focused on Tennessee? That's not intended to be a gotcha question, but obviously, there's been some discussion that some secretaries of state have gone beyond what the state law says that their legislators have passed for election laws and basically done their own interpretation of that, and extended that. And obviously, that's where some of these lawsuits that have been found against those states are coming from is that, again, state legislature sets the law. The secretary of state is supposed to implement what the legislature has passed, but now some states, they're saying that the secretary of state has done their own interpretation and it's primarily they're using the excuse of COVID pandemic to do that reinterpretation.Sec. Hargett: Sure, no question about that. In my opinion—and I'm not an expert on other state’s laws—Sen. Bailey: Right.Sec. Hargett: —and you said this earlier. I've been focused on Tennessee. I watch the news, I read the news like other people, and I don't believe everything I read, I don't believe everything I see, but what you can have happen is, in some states, if a secretary of state doesn't really support the law that's in place and an attorney general doesn't really support the law that in place, and let's say those could be different parties between the legislature and the secretary of state, and then they get sued. And in our case, we got sued and we didn't necessarily agree with the interpretation that we were sued over, so we stood our ground, and we went to court. In other states, what there might be the predisposition to do is if you don't agree with the law but somebody sues you and you agree with the base of the lawsuit, you just kind of hold your hands up and say, “Okay, you got me. Yeah, we'll enter into consent decree. We’ll do what you want us to do.” And it allows a circumvention, potentially, of that state's law by an attorney general and/or a secretary of state. So, that very well could have happened.Sen. Bailey: One other controversy surrounding the various states is the Dominion Voting Systems. Does Tennessee have Dominion Voting Systems?Sec. Hargett: We have two counties in the state of Tennessee: Hamilton County and Williamson County have Dominion Voting Systems. And so let me kind of give people an understanding of how a voting system comes to be used in the state of Tennessee. And we have multiple election machine vendors in Tennessee, there's one that's Election Systems and Software, There's another one that’s Dominion, another one, it's called MicroVote, and another one that’s Hart, another one's that’s [00:27:46 Harp], and every one of those machines is certified by the Election Assistance Commission. Okay? And then, after that happens, a vendor will come to Tennessee and say, “We want to be on your list to be eligible for purchase.” And at that point, the State Election Commission, usually at least one Republican and one Democrat—you want to have bipartisan support there, they will go and view that machine under what's called ‘duress.’ And I say that—they'll go view it in some other state to be—watch it—at least two candidates have to be involved in a race. It can't just be a bunch of unopposed automatic race or city council races or what have you. And they'll go watch that machine be opened at the polls; they'll watch it throughout the day, and they'll watch them close the polls with it and they'll look for different areas where they see might be weaknesses, technologically or just system-wise, and so all those machines come through that process. And then, let's take an example of Williamson County—and I don't know all of Williamson County's purchasing requirements—they will put out a RFP and they'll say anybody that wants to do business with us, bid. And Dominion was the winning bid in Williamson County, and so that's who their vendor is. Just like in multiple other counties around the state, like I said, there's only two that have Dominion. There's 93 other counties that have another vendor out there that was selected through their election commission process, and later by the county commission.Sen. Bailey: Well, of course, a lot of controversy came about during the Bush-Gore years. And that's when a lot of states started looking at their election laws; they also started looking at their voting machines, and there was legislation that was brought forth in regards to that. And of course, I remember, as someone on the fringes of wanting to be in politics, my county was using the punch cards, same as what they were using in Florida that was the hanging chad story. And one of the gentlemen that was on the local election commission, he basically talked about how that he thought that was a fair system. Yes, he could see how they could basically try to stack the deck and punch out more holes, but he said you had a physical card. And the machines that the county ultimately went to was more of a computer system where you went in you just punched the person, but there was no hard copy as far as a paper. Interestingly enough, the county is now going to a hard paper system that scans it in, and so you now have a hard copy. And I'm saying all that to say that when you have just a system that does not have a paper trail to follow—so to speak—his argument was always it could be manipulated. It's a computer system, it could be manipulated, and obviously, that's what they're saying about the Dominion systems.Sec. Hargett: But ironically enough on Dominion systems, those are paper ballots.Sen. Bailey: Oh, okay. Sec. Hargett: And so, you have the physical ballot there that you can go back and recount. And both in Hamilton, Williamson County, by law—as you remember, that y’all put into place—those paper ballot counties have to have some type of audit done. And depending on the size of the county, that's what determines the size of the audit. And both in Hamilton County and Williamson County the day after the election, they did an audit of those ballots, and with no irregularities, and. They did the ultimate audit in Georgia where they hand-counted every ballot afterwards. So, a lot of those things get mixed up, and so I think it's important for people to understand that. And I'm not trying to defend any other state—Sen. Bailey: Oh, I know that.Sec. Hargett: —and I know you know that. But in Georgia, they re-han-counted those ballots. Now, what they're really talking about now in Georgia is signature verification, what processes were in place to verify those signatures and then, once those are counted, ultimately, you separate the ballot envelope from the ballot because that protects the privacy of the vote. Once you start going back to a recount, all of those ballots are commingled together. So, that's really—once you get to a recount, you can't go back and really re-verify signatures. Sen. Bailey: Oh, okay.Sec. Hargett: And so I think that's part of what the dispute is in Georgia.Sen. Bailey: I got you, I got you. So, what can Tennessee do to ensure that we never end up in a mess like we're seeing in these other states? Sec. Hargett: You know, Mark Goins and I have talked about this a lot, and you don't want to you want to brag, but Mark Goins said his team and all 95 county election commissions around the state did a great job of upholding the integrity of Tennessee's elections. And what I think the election shows is our laws worked. I mean, the safeguards that we put into place in Tennessee worked. And I had a few phone calls with Shelby County yesterday where people were talking about concerns over a congressional race down there. And I asked every one of them, I said, “Tell me what you want me to look at. Just give me one nugget and tell me what irregularity you saw? What might have been fraud?” And every one of those people said, “Well, I don't know. I just feel like somebody ought to look at it.” And so I think, unfortunately, what we are an age of right now, Senator, is for the last four years, we watched the people who were supporters of Hillary Clinton believe there's no way Donald Trump actually won. And for four years, they cried foul over the legitimacy of the election and they have worked to delegitimize the current president. And somebody had asked me that day on phone call said, “How long does this go on? I mean, what does this happen?” I said, “Four more years.”Sen. Bailey: Exactly. Exactly.Sec. Hargett: I mean so now, the shoe is, frankly, on the other foot, where they are 70-plus million voters of Trump—and not all those are going to feel this way, but there's a large number of people out there who feel like this election was not done right, and are going to believe that Joe Biden if he's ultimately elected by the Electoral College, is going to not be legitimate. And that's where we are as a society, how polarized things are. And also, people have the ability for confirmation bias. If you feel a certain way, you watch a certain network, and they'll tell you back, really, kind of what you want to hear, depending on which side of the aisle you’re on. And so you really have to work hard to recognize that, okay, just because all my friends on Facebook are saying something, that's not necessarily how something is. As both parties, we've got to do better at that.Sen. Bailey: Well, and again, one of the reasons that I wanted you to be on our show is to simply let Tennesseans have a comfort level that when they go to vote, that their vote is going to be counted, it's going to be counted once, and that Tennessee has fair elections, and that you're following what the state legislature has set out in state law regarding our elections. And so, again, I can't say this enough: I'm so proud of our state. And the controversy was, again about my little tweet as, “Well, not all the votes are counted.” Well, I think you confirmed with me the next day that basically 98 to 99 percent of the votes had been counted. [laugh]. And so, those that had won were basically, they had actually won. It wasn't a situation where we had 49 percent of the votes had actually been counted and we were still waiting on 51 percent. We were at nearly 100 percent, at 99 percent. And so there wasn't going to be a change, especially in the presidential or congressional races, that those were very decisively decided. And so we just want to make sure, and again, so proud of Tennessee and what we've done. So, in regards to that, you think that our current laws that we have, nothing needs to be tweaked, nothing needs to be changed. As you know, legislature reconvenes in January, January the 12th. Nothing needs to be changed.Sec. Hargett: You know, we're going to visit with you and other members of the legislature to see what your thoughts are, and what you're hearing. We're going to visit with other election officials, and frankly, we'll probably look at some other states and see about maybe some of the problems they had, and try and figure out, do we have a loophole somewhere that we need to go in and close off, in order to make sure we protect the integrity of Tennessee elections, at the same time ensuring that every eligible Tennessean and has the opportunity to participate.Sen. Bailey: Gotcha. Well, let's segue into, basically, a final question as we move to the end, and you're part of a panel that decides which statues remain inside the state capitol, and obviously, over the last several years, there's been some controversy over the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue or bust that's there on the second floor. Kind of give me your thoughts behind that, kind of educate our listeners to the whole controversy surrounding the Nathan Bedford Forrest bust and give us your take on that.Sec. Hargett: Well, sure. Now, first, obviously, that bust was placed there by resolution of the democratically controlled General Assembly, over 40 years ago. Then, a few years back, as a result of some things that happened in other parts of the state, the legislature passed a Preservation Act that laid out a process by which anything could be changed, you know, when you move any type of monument from a state property. So, Governor Lee put forth a proposal to the Capital Commission, which I serve on, as well as some other citizen members, members of the Cabinet, other constitutional officers, and put together a proposal—which was ultimately amended to include also two other busts that sit on the second floor of the state capitol—to be moved to another part of a state facility, be it the State Museum, or a different type of exhibit. Or for a Hall of Heroes somewhere else inside state government. You know, we have a military museum in state government that most people know about. So, that ultimately passed, and then it’s now headed on to the Historical Commission. Now, those speakers raised a question recently, hey, not so fast. It looks like the State Building Commission also might need to weigh in on that. And I think their words aren't ‘might.’ That will need to weigh in. Of course, right now, it's a subject of litigation. There's a group that has sued the Capitol Commission, the state of Tennessee, saying that its actions weren't legitimate. And so we'll see how that litigation turns out. I know the Historical Commission has voted to, I believe, take up the issue, which also starts up a long legal process of public hearings for them to ultimately listen to the input of Tennessee, and make the decision about what they do. So, the system is not built for speed—Sen. Bailey: Gotcha.Sec. Hargett: —is what I would say, and I think the legislature is very intentional about they didn't want anybody just to be able 50 and 17 votes to be able to walk up and pull something off the walls, anywhere. And they wanted to build up a process, like I said, that wasn't built for speed. And so, that's where we are right now.Sen. Bailey: Very good. As Secretary of State, you serve on many boards and commissions. Could you basically expound on that just a little bit for our listeners? Again, your department is very vast, it touches nearly every Tennessean in many different ways, but beyond just being secretary of state, and that department, you sit on these boards and commissions. Would you.Sec. Hargett: Great question, Senator. As you know, I serve on about 15 different boards and commissions ranging to a few that we mentioned earlier, but also the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, which I know Tennessee Tech in your district’s near and dear to your heart, and that's one of those that we have the opportunity to oversee the THEC. But the one that comes to my mind, in most recent news is State Funding Board in which we play a role in projecting revenue estimates for the year, which you base your budget on as the legislature, and also we present to credit ratings agencies every year.Sen. Bailey: And you mentioned that you usually go with the governor, comptroller, treasurer—Sec. Hargett: Yeah. The governor, commissioner of finance administration, treasurer, comptroller, and myself. And we present to the creditworthiness of the state. And we have the highest credit ratings possible because of how you and your colleagues had managed the state. And so even during this pandemic, we had been very thoughtful, very deliberate, and I say we: as a state, there's a lot to be proud of in how we managed our money that we have been more prepared than, potentially, some other states have been during this pandemic. And so, that's allowed us as a state to be very fiscally conservatively managed, to be one of the least indebted states in the country, to be one of the least taxed states in the country. And that doesn't just happen by accident; that happens because the legislature's made a very deliberate decision about how we want Tennessee to be run. And the final thing I would say is, when I say it doesn't just magically happen: I had a lady who called me one day a while back and was just wearing me out over different things that our state doesn't do. And I said, “Ma’am, where are you from? And she said, I just moved from Oregon.”Sen. Bailey: Right, yeah.Sec. Hargett: And I said, “Well, ma'am,” I said, “With all due respect,” I said, “Why’d you move here?” She said, “Well, I couldn't afford to live there anymore.”Sen. Bailey: Exactly.Sec. Hargett: And I said, “The reason you couldn't afford to live there anymore is because they were taxing you for all those things.” And so, we are a very well-managed state due to good leadership at the governor level, but also for a legislature that has been very fiscally conservative. And I applaud you and your colleagues for that.Sen. Bailey: Well, thank you. And it's just an honor to be able to serve in a state that has been so fiscally managed in a conservative manner, but yet, at the same time, deliver services to its constituents above and beyond, be basically a debt-free state, that it's just when you go to these conferences, and you hear from other state legislators that they are running huge deficits, and they're borrowing money, they can't pay their lottery tickets because they've taken all their lottery money, Tennessee has so many things to be thankful for. And I think that that's a reason why, when you talk to Commissioner Rolfe at ECD, so many companies are looking to move to Tennessee. They're wanting to find a place that they can operate their business without being just taxed to no end. And I think that's a tribute to you. You came before me as a legislator, now as the secretary of state. So, thank you.Sec. Hargett: Well, it's a predictable environment, and they know here in Tennessee, it's going to be a light rule and regulatory burden. Unlike some other states like California, Illinois, and others that are going to move the goalposts on them in the middle of the game, and change the rules on them. They know in Tennessee, they get a fair shake, and they get to keep more of what they earn.Sen. Bailey: Yeah, absolutely. You've been listening to Backroads and Backstories with Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Senator Paul Bailey. Any final thoughts?Sec. Hargett: We've covered a lot of ground, Senator. I would like to thank you for how you've supported our department and held our feet to the fire. Because of you and your colleagues, we have taken a department that, when I came into office, was 445 funded employees, and now we’re at 363 funded employees. And I've yet to have anybody in state government or anywhere around the state says, “Tre, gosh, I just wish you had more people.” And we took a budget that, if you take out the effects of inflation, is really well below where it was when I first took office. And that's a credit to how you have expected me to run my office and represent you. And so I thank you for your leadership and that of your colleagues, as well.Sen. Bailey: Well, thank you for taking the time out today to visit with us, and visit with our listeners. Thank you for listening to Backroads and Backstories. We’ll see you next time.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
59 minutes | Oct 26, 2020
Grand Ole Opry Member, Musician Jamie Dailey Shares His Passion for Music
Some of the highlights of the show include: Jamie Dailey is from Gainesboro, Tennessee. He grew up around music because his father was a local singer and a musician. “I think that's very important to not forget where you came from...I love the people in Jackson County and the Upper Cumberland.” -Jamie Dailey COVID has forced musicians to be innovative with how they are holding concerts and performing. Jamie is hosting an outdoor socially distanced concert at his own property. Next year, Dailey & Vincent are hosting the first ever Cumberland Riverfest. Jamie is raising money to build a performing art center for the community in the Cumberlands. Dailey & Vincent have their own TV show on the Circle Network. The network just signed a deal with Dish. Soon, the Grand Ole Opry will start to ease audiences back into the country music venue. Jamie was the first to surprise musician Jake Hoot and invite him to play at the Grand Ole Opry. The Upper Cumberland has a long history of musicians. Jamie says that music is in their blood. “My point is, you have to do, and play, and sing music first because you love it. If you truly have a passion for it, and you truly love it, the rest will come.” -Jamie Dailey Jamie played music with Doyle Lawson for 9 years. They won vocal group of the year for seven years and had six Grammy nominations together. They wrote 34 songs together total. Last June, Jamie had issues with his vocal chords and had to see a specialist. His voice came back after 4 months of working with specialists. In Dec. 2016, Dailey & Vincent got to celebrate their 100th show with a 30-minute music segment. Jamie says as Americans we just have to fight the good fight. Links: Dailey & Vincent: https://www.daileyandvincent.com/ Dailey & Vincent TV Show: https://www.circleallaccess.com/show/daily-and-vincent/ Transcript:Announcer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Sen. Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today's episode, we have Grand Ole Opry member Jamie Dailey, from the bluegrass and country music duo Dailey & Vincent. Welcome to the podcast.Mr. Dailey: Thank you, Senator, good to see you again.Sen. Bailey: Well, we're so happy that you joined us today. And you and I became friends a few years ago through, really some legislative processes, as well as my assistant, Miss Brandy. And so, became very good friends, especially knowing that you came from Jackson County. So, I'd like for our listeners to learn a little bit more about you and about you growing up in the Upper Cumberland in Jackson County and just kind of introduce yourself to our audience.Mr. Dailey: Well, I'm Jamie Dailey from Gainesboro, Tennessee. And Gainesboro is a beautiful little town nestled in the hills, north of Cookeville, about 20 minutes south of Celina, if you will, near Dale Hollow Lake and on the Cordell Hull Lake. I grew up above the Cumberland River and the Roaring River Park, right there is where I grew up. And my dad is a musician and a singer, locally of course. He's 74 now, but when I was growing up, I was around music a lot. And I remember standing above the river up there, singing to the top of my lungs, working “9 to 5,” Dolly Parton’s song. And a few years ago, Dolly had us come to her office, she was singing on our Christmas record and we were singing on three or four of her records, to, and I told her that story about growing up in Gainesboro and singing “9 to 5” and she says, “Well, what did you use for a microphone?” And I said, “A stick.”Sen. Bailey: Right.Mr. Dailey: And that's how we grew up. And of course, she thought that was funny. But growing up in Gainesboro was a huge blessing for many reasons. The way we grew up there, we didn't have a whole lot. We didn't know that we didn't have a whole lot, but everyone knew everyone. It was fun. When you were in town, sometimes you would hear the church bells ringing. I wrote a song about that called “Back to Jackson County.” We rode horses on the riverbanks and through the river bottoms, picnics on the riverside, we did that a lot. It was just a great American way of life. And when I go back there, I still have a great sense of that same life. It’s like you almost step back in time a little bit.Sen. Bailey: Well, one thing that you alluded to was the song that you've written about Jackson County, and that's something that has really impressed me about you and about your success is that you've not forgotten your roots. You've not forgotten where you come from. And also, where you and I first connected was the fact that you have a heart for Jackson County, Gainesboro, as well as the Upper Cumberland, and you have been working very hard to try to bring economic relief, economic recovery, health care relief, to the Upper Cumberland and especially to Jackson County. And I just think that that speaks volume about who you are as a person in that, as someone that has become a member of the Grand Ole Opry, you still come home: I think you're spending your weekend in Jackson County this weekend, and I just think that's admirable, and I appreciate that very much and your hard work for the people in Jackson County.Mr. Dailey: I appreciate that. And I appreciate how you've always been there every time we've called. And it doesn't matter if I call you—we have a good team of people in Gainesboro that's trying hard, from our county Mayor all the way down to the people working on the city. And a young man named Jordan Hunter down there that's helping very hard. And every time we've called you, you've never not answered, and you've always called us back and you've taken time for us. So, I commend you for that, and Upper Cumberland is very lucky to have you in their corner and helping. And as you know, we are living in a most unprecedented time, as I said recently in a graduation commencement speech to socially distanced graduates in Jackson County. Two of the things that I talked about was we are living in an unprecedented time, and it is important for those students, I believe, to not forget where they came from, no matter how successful they are. We can all come back and try and help the community and give back when we can. And I think that's very important to not forget where you came from. But I love the people in Jackson County and the Upper Cumberland. And you know, Senator, I played all over the Upper Cumberland. As a kid, I had a mattress in the back of my Blazer, my old Chevy Blazer that I bought bagging groceries. And, you know, you could get out of town in it, you couldn't get back in town with it [00:05:09 crosstalk]. [laughs]. But I played all over and stayed in the back of my blazer, and played contests and festivals, and Lester Flatt day and all over the place. And so these people mean a great deal to me; the Upper Cumberland means a great deal to me. And I think you would agree that these folks in the Upper Cumberland are some of the finest among us Americans, and we truly do appreciate and love them.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely. And you know, Lester Flatt Days is coming up on October the 10th in Sparta. I don't know if you're part of the lineup this year, as far as the bluegrass musicians; I know you keep a very busy schedule, but—Mr. Dailey: Well, I would like to talk about that right there, actually.Sen. Bailey: Well, okay. Well, let’s get—Mr. Dailey: I didn’t realize that they were having that day. But since COVID hit, as you're well aware, everyone has—in music, of course—has had to become innovative. We've had to figure out what are we going to do? How are we going to combat an economic crisis within the music industry through COVID? And one of the things that I decided to do is, I have close to 100 acres in Gainesboro, so I said, why can't I use my property to host an outdoor, socially distanced concert?Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Mr. Dailey: So, put that on sale and thought I'll go for it and see what we do here. And after we measured, I talked to the Tennessee State Health Commissioner and made sure I had their clearance. I talked to the County Mayor, made sure I had his clearance. The Jackson County Health Department, and we said, “Okay. We want to encourage everyone to come but to be safe, socially distance, we're going to check your temperature at the gate.” But it's sold out.Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Mr. Dailey: And it's sold out in six minutes. And so we added a second show, a matinee show, and now it has sold out, so I'm having that in Gainesboro the same day as Sparta. But don't worry, we're sold out and can't take any more. But it's very interesting, Senator; we're having people come from Arizona, Utah, Iowa, Maine, Manhattan, Florida, South Carolina, Virginia, Ohio, Missouri, Texas. It's not really locally-driven for some reason, but all of the people from out of here both tickets up. So, when we talk about economic relief, one of the things that we've noticed, which is good for Jackson County, the Wildwood Resort in Grantsville has called and said, “We're getting booked up by all of your fans to stay here for the weekend. We're going to run a little street fair, and The Bull & Thistle, and The Stolen Coin and all the businesses there are getting reservations made already. They're starting to fill up.” Which is great. So, I'm looking very forward to that, and very forward to having people come and visit not only Gainesboro but the Upper Cumberland from all over America.Sen. Bailey: Well, and that’s—back to where we talked about you've been promoting Jackson County and the Upper Cumberland, that's kind of been your vision is to have an amphitheater, if you will, there in the Jackson County area. You've said many times that you could sell those seats out in an amphitheater not only with you and with Dailey & Vincent but as well as having other country music stars come in and that would certainly—Mr. Dailey: Bluegrass stars, gospel stars, yeah.Sen. Bailey: —just—so there's a multitude there, and so you're kind of proving your point.Mr. Dailey: I am. And there is also a place that I thought I might be wrong, too. And so we have to look at where we can improve in our thought process about this. So, I will basically say that we are going to do, for the first time, with a lot of help and support, we're doing our very first Cumberland Riverfest, brought to you by Dailey & Vincent, at the airport because we don't have a venue. But at the Jackson County Airport next year. We got the Oak Ridge Boys coming.Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Mr. Dailey: We got Jake Hoot coming, Dailey & Vincent, and several more, and I hope you will come and get on stage and we’ll let you do the Lee Greenwood song with us. That would be fun. God bless the USA. But anyway, we are probably going to have a lot of people at that, and so with that being said, another thing we have to worry about with the amphitheater that I didn't think of upfront is weather can play a big part. So, I've been talking to some folks about helping me raise money to build an actual pretty good-sized performing art center. So, one of the things that would do is provide a few jobs, but also bring a pride to a community. And be able to bring in great acts, which I can help train and help get that done. Because you can have seasonal concerts, plays, or whatever, and it can be done and it can be successful. It has been for many rural towns across America because I play them and I know what they're about and what can happen.Sen. Bailey: Well, again, it's amazing to me, you listed a lot of states that people are coming to the concert that you're going to have on October the 10th at your farm. So, you have been able to reach a wide audience, not only because of your appearances on the Grand Ole Opry, but you actually have your own TV show. And so, and that airs on…?Mr. Dailey: Circle Network. And that is we're on four days a week with—and Circle just signed with Dish, so we're going into 71 million new homes on top of the 60 million we already have.Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Mr. Dailey: And also, it's on Roku, and it's getting ready to be on a few more networks—or a few more things coming up, where a lot of people will be able to get it that hadn't been able to get it. It's now the home of the Grand Ole Opry, our television show, many others. And then I just signed on and shot 26 episodes as the new Western Movie Nights host that will start October 11 that they're announcing today. So, we're very excited. And on top of that, the Grand Ole Opry has announced that we're going to start trying to ease some small audiences back into the Grand Ole Opry House to help celebrate 95 years of Grand Ole Opry, and of course, the First Family of country music.Sen. Bailey: Well, that's awesome. And course, again, we go back to the economic piece and, as we know, a tide raises all boats. And the economic piece for those local businesses definitely benefit from those coming from out of town, from out of state. They're filling up the hotels, they're eating in our restaurants. And so you're bringing that economic piece to the area that you and I've talked about many times. Now, back to the Grand Ole Opry. I've been your guest there several times backstage. It's an awesome experience. And it's really a humbling experience to walk through those hallways, especially to see the photos hanging on the wall there. But one thing that I've found, it doesn't matter how big of a superstar you are, they're still very approachable, they're someone that'll just meet you in the hallway and say, “Hey, how are you doing tonight? What's your name?” I mean, you guys are a family there. And that's just what I was just awestruck by that, just how really down-to-earth some of those superstars treat you whenever you're there.Mr. Dailey: It is like coming home. It's what we call our musical home, and all of the other stuff that sometimes you hear about is checked at the door when you come through the door of the Grand Ole Opry because we are a family. And we want to make sure everyone that's there is treated like a good friend that’s stopping by. And Roy Acuff has a rule and it still stays in place, though he's gone now, is dressing room number one, when you have dressing room number one, sometimes we have it, or number two, or number three, you always keep the door open and you don't close it because you want your neighbors to stop in and say hello and feel welcome. And so that is a very big deal to us, and that is a tradition that we will uphold with honor.Sen. Bailey: And again, being there and being able to be in your dressing rooms. It's also a gathering place for your family, your friends, those that are just wandering the halls, such as myself, and everyone—I mean, you just stop by the doorway and someone will turn around say, “Hey, come on in here.” And, I mean you may be looking at Luke Bryan, or you may be looking at someone that you're like, “Oh man, I just never thought I'd have the opportunity to—”Mr. Dailey: That old Aaron Tippin guy—Sen. Bailey: Yeah, [laughs]—that Aaron Tippin guy. Yeah, you never thought you'd have the opportunity to really interact with someone like that. And then just some of the great musicians. There's a lot of musicians that are there and their names may not be known to people, but they have been the backbone of the Grand Ole Opry and a lot of these superstars and country music stars by just being able to play all the various instruments. So, I just appreciate the opportunity for—to be able to experience that and—Mr. Dailey: And you know, you're always welcome. You're always welcomed. And I would like to tell a story that was—if we got time—Sen. Bailey: Oh, sure. Absolutely.Mr. Dailey: To tell a story that was touching. The Grand Ole Opry called me last year and said, “We need you to go to Cookeville, Tennessee, and go to 94.7 FM and hideout in Philip Gibbons’ office.” I said “Okay.” [laughs]. And they said, “Jake Hoot—” I had talked to them about getting Jake on the Opry because that was one of his biggest dreams. And when I called them, “They said we're already one step ahead of you. We're getting ready to do this but we want you, since you’re a member, to go, and surprise him, and invite him on the radio.” And so, there's video of all this, and I drove to Cookeville, hid out in the office. Jake doesn't know I'm there, and I walk in. He looks kind of surprised: “Why are you here in the middle of my radio interview?” And I asked him, I said, “One of the most important and most elite institutions in country music and clubs is the Grand Ole Opry. And we've heard you say many times you'd like to play on the Grand Ole Opry. So, as a member of the First Family of country music and on behalf of all of us in the family, we'd like to invite you to come and play the Grand Ole Opry.” This big old boy just started squalling, right there in 94.7 FM. So, he came, and he walks in, we have cameras, and we're staying to the side and let him walk down the hallway and watching him, just, oh, and all over it. And then he gets out to the stage and he starts to walk the circle. He said, “Come on, go with me.” And Darrin and—Vincent and I said, “No. This is your moment. This is your time to enjoy the circle on your own.” And so he goes out and he's just crying. And it was so wonderful to watch this fine human being who is an outstanding singer and talent, stand on that circle and enjoy the moment by himself without an audience. Then, later on, he went out and he sang three songs, and just tore the audience all the pieces because the Upper Cumberland was a family. They showed up.Sen. Bailey: They did.Mr. Dailey: When he came off stage we said, “Hey, we're going to give up one of our songs and why don’t you come out sing another one? And while you're out there, just sing another one with us when you get done.” [laughs]. It was fun to share the love and be there with our Opry family and are very proud and outstanding Upper Cumberland family as well.Sen. Bailey: Well, if you remember I was your guest that night as well—Mr. Dailey: You were.Sen. Bailey: —and that was an—you know, as you have described, just an awesome experience to see Jake Hoot from Cookeville, Tennessee, winner of The Voice, have another dream come true by stepping out onto that Grand Ole Opry stage, and, you know he was just—Mr. Dailey: Oh, he got tickled because I looked at him before he went out there, I said, “Whatever you do, let's make Jackson and Putnam County very proud tonight.”Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: And of course he just laughed. He said, “Count on it.” We gave each other a high five. [laughs].Sen. Bailey: Well, and you described that he wanted you guys to kind of go out there with him, and I remember just, I was kind of back in the shadows. I remember him kind of looking around and kind of saying that to you guys.Mr. Dailey: Yeah, like, “Come on. Let's—” [laughs].Sen. Bailey: “Come on, let's go.” And, “No, man. This is your time to shine.”Mr. Dailey: Yeah, that’s right.Sen. Bailey: So, that's awesome. And—Mr. Dailey: But isn't it wonderful for the Upper Cumberland to have all this music heritage?Sen. Bailey: Oh, absolutely.Mr. Dailey: I mean, look around: it’s Lester Flatt. Now, Jake Hoot. All these wonderful—Uncle Jimmy Thompson.Sen. Bailey: Right.Mr. Dailey: One of the first Opry me—well, the first Opry member from over in the Granville area. Did you know that?Sen. Bailey: Yes.Mr. Dailey: That's a big deal.Sen. Bailey: Granville there is Jackson County.Mr. Dailey: Yes, it is.Sen. Bailey: Jackson County. So, what is it about this area that you think that causes the inspiration for bluegrass music, country music? What is it about this area that has produced some very well known bluegrass, and country music stars?Mr. Dailey: I think it's in our blood. I think it's in your blood. It's in—I've heard you sing. I can hear it. It's what you love. It's what we all love. It's just in our blood. It's who we are. And one of our songs called “I'll Leave My Heart in Tennessee—”Sen. Bailey: Which I love, by the way.Mr. Dailey: Oh, thank you.Sen. Bailey: Yeah, I do. I mean, that's one of my favorites.Mr. Dailey: Thank you very much. And it has the line in it: “It's in my blood. It's in my marrow.” It just is. And so, you look at how most of us grew up. We grew up in the hills, and on the farms, and riding horses, and it's just who we are.Sen. Bailey: So, who have been your biggest influences as far as your music career? I know. You mentioned your dad—Mr. Dailey: My dad. Yeah, JB. He's got a brand new CD out that I produced on him, and got on that Pinecastle Record label, his first record deal at 74 years old. [laughs]. And he's got Parkinson's. And the CD went number one on Amazon and stayed there for 13 weeks, I think it was, on bluegrass Amazon. And I said, “Daddy, you're ahead of Alison Krauss, and several others on there. This is a really big deal.” He said, “Well.” [laughs]. And he had four songs made the top 10 charts and so he's been a humongous impression on me and on my music. But when we get over into who did I listen to and who were my favorites, The Statler Brothers, who are dear, dear, dear friends of mine were my biggest—Sen. Bailey: Really?Mr. Dailey: —influences. And they are my heroes. And we sang for them as they went into the Country Music Hall of Fame. We surprised them by coming out singing one of their songs. We sing their old song, “Do You Know You're My Sunshine?” The one they wrote, not the old one that you might think of. And Reba McEntire came out and sang “Flowers On the Wall” for them. And so, they have been my biggest inspiration, and I might tell you, going back and tying this all in, we talked about the Upper Cumberland music growing up here, as a nine-year-old kid I was running around the yard singing that “9 to 5” song of Dolly’s, but my dad had bought me a boombox and set it on the retaining wall, plugged it in and put a cassette tape in. And I'm running around the yard, and I hear for the first time this voice, [singing] “Oh, Elizabeth,” and I stopped—which was very hard for me to do because I had ADD—and I ran over and I got down on the grass, and I looked at the radio and just listened. And I heard this beautiful four-part country quartet harmony. I’d heard gospel quartet, but not country quartet. “Dad who is that?” “Son, that's The Statler Brothers.” And then I heard this awesome kickoff on a guitar. And I heard the song, [singing] “I'll Go to My Grave Loving You,” it’s like, “Oh my gosh, this is the best thing I've ever heard.” I said, “Dad, I want to do this when I grow up.” And I never dreamed that I would meet these fellas. But here's where it ties in. We all had a good cry—us and The Statler’s—2010, we asked them for their blessing to do a tribute album to The Statlers. And we picked their greatest hits and I said the one we have to cut is “Elizabeth” because it’s the first one that made me fall in love with country music. I’ll be doggone if we didn't cut that thing and I'm sitting at home one night enjoying a good bowl of ice cream, like us Upper Cumberland people love to do. And I received a phone call from the Grammy office. “Mr. Dailey, we would like to inform you that, Dailey & Vincent, you're nominated for your very first country music mainstream Grammy nomination.” I was like, “We've had bluegrass and gospels, before but country?” And he's like—I said, “Who are we nominated with?” They said, “Lady Antebellum, Little Big Town, Zac Brown Band—” and I'm like, “You are kidding me. For what?” And they said, “For the song ‘Elizabeth.’” I started crying, you know? I was like, “This—I cannot believe this.” And so I knew it was over before it started because that's when Lady Antebellum had “Need You Now” out, I thought, “That's going to win everything.” I called Darrin; we cried. I called the Statlers—got them all on the phone—I said, “You guys had a number one hit in ’83 with this song. You won award after award.” That song went gold and platinum for them. I said, “Thirty years later, we have a country music Grammy nomination on the song.” They were touched. They were crying on the phone. We're like a big bunch of babies. But we went on to the Grammys and enjoyed the award show. Lady Antebellum did win, and on the way out the back door, we slit their bus tires. [laughs].Sen. Bailey: [laughs]. Did you now? [laughs]. Well, [laughs]—Mr. Dailey: [laughs]. Being the nice guys we are, [laughs], you know.Sen. Bailey: Well, that is an awesome story.Mr. Dailey: So, that's how it all tied in full circle. It was really cool.Sen. Bailey: Yeah. Well, very good. So, The Statler Brothers were a huge inspiration—Mr. Dailey: Yes.Sen. Bailey: —their song “Elizabeth—”Mr. Dailey: Yeah. And then, later on, a few years later, my dad put another tape in, and I heard this bluegrass and bluegrass gospel group sing, and I’d never heard anything like it, either called Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.Sen. Bailey: Oh, yeah.Mr. Dailey: “And they—so they're in Tompkinsville, Kentucky this weekend, son, let's go see them.” And we went, and I sat, and my—I was—oh, my mouth dropped. And I was like, “Wow.” So, I kept watching Doyle and never really got to know him, and a gentleman in Alabama, when I was 21 years old saw Doyle. And Doyle was having band changes, and he said—Rick Jarman was his name—said, “There's a kid up in Gainesboro, Tennessee, that sings really high, and he knows every one of your songs. And he would fit you.” And Doyle said, “Okay. I'll call him.” I didn't know that.Sen. Bailey: I gotcha.Mr. Dailey: So, at this time, I'm working at Fleetguard here in Cookeville, and at the—you know, building filters, and saving money to go to college. The phone rings, and I go over after work. I'm at home and I—“Hello?” “This is Doyle Lawson. Is Jamie Dailey there?” Well, I thought it was friends playing a trick on me, and I said, “Yeah, right. And I'm Bill Clinton.” And he says, “No, this is Doyle Lawson.” And I thought, “No.” And he said, “Son, do you have an [00:24:20 ID collar]?” And we had that big old box ID collar and it said, ‘Kingsport, Tennessee.’ And I was like, “Oh, my—” and I get back on the phone and said, “Sir, I'm an idiot. I'm moving to another country.”Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: He didn't even [laughs].Sen. Bailey: Oh, okay. [laughs].Mr. Dailey: So, he said, “Come and try out.” And there was 13, I think, of us that tried out, and I got the job. But here's what I want to say about that to aspiring musicians. This is really important: if you're wanting to do this for a living, if you're wanting to sing and play for a living, this is really true. When I went to try out for Doyle and got on his bus, he told the band to leave after we sang and he said, “Son, I want to say something.” He said, “I think I can get this out of you.” He said, “You've got a lot of bad vocal habits. You got a lot of—” He said, “You're going to have to work harder than you ever worked in your life if you want to be in this band.” I said, “Yes, sir. I do.” And he said, “Well, here’s the deal. I'm going to hire you. Be back here in two weeks.” I was so excited I ran off the bus, got in my car, was going across the parking lot, and he waves me down, runs out, waves, “Whoa, whoa, stop, stop.” And I rolled the window down. He said, “Would you like to know what kind of money you're going to be making?”Sen. Bailey: [laughs]. It didn't matter, at that.Mr. Dailey: It didn't matter. And my point is, you have to do, and play, and sing music first because you love it. If you truly have a passion for it, and you truly love it, the rest will come.Sen. Bailey: Right. I think that's true about a lot of things. You've got to love your profession to be really good at it, and then the other part comes. That is an awesome story. And how long were you—how long did you stay with Doyle?Mr. Dailey: I was with Doyle nine years, and we had a good run. We won vocal group of the year for seven years. We won songs and albums of the year. We had six Grammy nominations together, wrote 34 songs together. Yeah.Sen. Bailey: And he remains one of your very good friends today.Mr. Dailey: Very much so. So, much so that I had him on our television show last week, he and Quicksilver. They came down and shot an episode with us and I've had him back at the Grand Ole Opry. He had not played the Opry in 10 years since I had been there, and I was talking to him one day, he said, “Son, I never get to play the Opry anymore.” I said, “We’ll change that.” And heading back on the Opry, and it was so fun to watch my old boss go out there and enjoy the Opry and play it again. It was fun.Sen. Bailey: I just want to touch on this for just a second. He told you you had some bad vocal ha—Mr. Dailey: Habits. And instrument habits, playing my instruments.Sen. Bailey: Okay. So, how did he work with you to overcome that? Did he work with you personally?Mr. Dailey: Yes.Sen. Bailey: Did he get a vocal coach for you?Mr. Dailey: No.Sen. Bailey: I mean, how did h—Mr. Dailey: No, he's hands-on. And he was very tough. And people from the past will tell you—especially from the past; he's mellowed a lot these days, but from the past, they will tell you it was like going to a military music school.Sen. Bailey: I got you. Mm-hm.Mr. Dailey: “Here's how you sing that note.” “You're using too much air.” “You’re using not enough air.” “You're singing flat.” “You're singing sharp on this one note.” “Son, you're not singing the right part.” “Pronounce your words like this when you sing.” Or, “Pronounce your words like that when you sing.” And, “You're playing the wrong note.” “Cut the bass notes off when you're playing—” because I was playing upright bass at the time. “Cut those notes off” “Don't let them sustain.” It was so many things. And then when I started playing rhythm guitar for him, it was a whole different new training ground that I had to go through. But for the first two years, he was really hard on me, but I'm glad he was. It paid off.Sen. Bailey: So, today in your career, do you still use vocal coaches to as—Mr. Dailey: I do. I had vocal issues last June. We had been running 100 miles an hour, and we had been—praise the Lord, we'd been selling out show after show and we were getting where we were doing two shows a day, and we were pulling up 1000 to 2500 people and afterwards trying to go out and meet and greet, and those were going for two and three hours, autograph sessions after a show. And I'm like, “Whoa.” And I came home one day—we had a day off—and had rehearsal the second day. The guys came to the house, got their instruments out, we started to rehearse, and I started to sing and nothing came out. I couldn't make it do anything. And I literally panicked. And so they all left, and I was at home for three days. I said, “I can't do this, and what is going on?” And the phone rang, and it was Alison Krauss. And she says, “Jamie, I've heard what's going on with your voice.” She had paralyzed—which you can read about on Google. You can Google it—she had paralyzed her vocal cord in 2013. She had gone out to an arena, she said it was packed, and she said, “The band kicked off the song.” She said, “I sang three notes and it just went dead. I couldn't do anything.” And so she went to a vocal coach named Ron Browning in Nashville. And she said, “Long story short, I'm setting you up with my vocal coach, and you're going to go see Dr. Catherine Garrett at Vanderbilt, and you're going to get checked out.” “Yes, ma'am.” [laughs]. So, I went to Vanderbilt, they ran the scope down my throat, over a month's time three times they ran it down. And they said, “Nothing is damaged. You're not paralyzed. Nothing. We can't figure out what's going on here.” So, then I went to a therapist there, they sent me to therapy. And they found out that the back of my upper back and neck, the muscles were locked up from just stress and overtalking and just, you know. So, they gave me things to minimize the damages on that, and to try to correct it, get it better. And then I started going to the vocal coach and he had me doing some of the weirdest things you've ever heard in your life with my voice. I mean, he worked with Whitney Houston, he worked with—he works with Amy Grant, Alison Krauss, Wynonna Judd, all these people he's worked with. He's bonafide. And so I went to him for three months, could not sing. It started coming back after about four months. I was scared to death. So, I took a whole month off, July, and just relaxed and didn't hardly do anything. But praise the Lord, it came back, and thank you, Alison, for setting all that up for me. [laughs].Sen. Bailey: That's a true friend.Mr. Dailey: It's a true friend.Sen. Bailey: It goes back to that, being a family friend.Mr. Dailey: She’s an Opry member and a family, you know.Sen. Bailey: A family friend. So, tell us a little bit about how you ended up a member of the Grand Ole Opry because, I mean, that is a huge honor in the country music industry, and there's a lot of folks that aspire to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry and sometimes they're not always asked to be a member. So—Mr. Dailey: There's only 230—I guess it’s 42—242 members ever. And there's only, now, 89 of us living.Sen. Bailey: Wow, really?Mr. Dailey: A lot of people don't know that.Sen. Bailey: I did not know that.Mr. Dailey: And if you notice, over the last couple years, they’ve been adding more you know. [laughs]. So, when we started Dailey & Vincent on January 31 of 2007, one of our very first goals is—and as you well know, and I will say this to all the aspiring musicians, if you're going to do this, you need to have a plan, you need to have a team, and you need to execute the plan. And you need to think in terms of five, ten, fifteen years down the road. Build strong foundations, and be able to build on those foundations. So, one of the plans, when we got our team together, we hired our manager, we hired a publicist—we couldn't afford all this—hired an attorney, got a good record label, and when we all sat down at a conference table like we are today, I said, “One of our dreams is, we want to play the Grand Ole Opry. We want that to be our first date we ever play.” Now, I had played it with Doyle & Quicksilver; Darrin Vincent had played it every week with Ricky Skaggs who was a member, and we said, “We want that to be our first tour date.” And everybody's like, “Oh, geez, man, that’s—I don't think we can pull this off.” I said, “We've got to try; give it everything we got.” Long story short, our first manager, Don Light, who had managed Jimmy Buffett and the Oak Ridge Boys and the Happy Goodman Family, he had a lot of gut. And he went to the Opry executives, and met with them for four months, just banging them over the head. “We got to make this happen. We got to make this happen.” They finally said yes. So, we hired a video team, which you can see, it’s on YouTube, and our first night at the Grand Ole Opry was December 29th of 2007. And it was being held at the old Ryman Auditorium, which was fantastic. And we walked out on stage with just one microphone, and a guitar, and a mandolin and we sang a song “By the Mark” that was our first hit. Then we brought our band out for the second song. I was so nervous, Paul, I couldn't even—my knees were knocking. I couldn't have found the back door if he told me to. But it went off great. So, much so that they kept asking us back, and back, and back. Fast forward ten years. Ten years later, they call—the Opry calls and says, “Hey guys, we're going to give you a 30-minute segment at the Grand Ole Opry of just yours to celebrate your hundredth show, and 10 years on the Grand Ole Opry.” I said, “You're kidding me. Nobody gets 30 minutes on the Opry.”Sen. Bailey: Now, this is 2017?Mr. Dailey: I'm sorry, it was December 2016.Sen. Bailey: Okay.Mr. Dailey: ’16. And it's 10 years on the day. You know, [00:33:33 unintelligible], “Wow. And it was being held at the Ryman again because that's what they do; in December they move it to the Ryman. “Well, thank you so much.” And they said, “Call anybody you want to be on that stage with you to sing on the Grand Ole Opry.” Well, my dad had never played the Grand Ole Opry and always wanted to—it was his dream. I called, “Daddy. You want to go play the Opry Saturday night?” “Why, son, I ain’t stepping out on that stage.” And, “I don't need to be out there.” It’s like, “Yeah, you're going to.” It’s like, “Oh my gosh.” You know. So, I called my mother. But let's back up a little bit. My mother and dad and Darrin’s family had been sworn to secrecy about something that Darrin Vincent and I knew nothing about. They had been sworn to secrecy for two months.Sen. Bailey: Two months. That's a pretty big—[laughs].Mr. Dailey: And so, I didn't know that. So, I called Mother and I said, “Mom, we're going—’’ to she said, “Oh, hon, I can't come.” She said, “I’m busy that night.” I'm like, “Wow.” That's not like Mom. And Darrin told his wife Julie and she said, “Oh, honey, I'm going to New York to shop with my mother. We can't be there.” It's like, “What in the world? This is a big night to celebrate 10 years. 100—” and none of our family said they could come, so we—other than dad and Darrin's mom: they were going to get on stage. We called several—we called Dolly; she was going to be on tour. We called Dierks Bentley; he was going to be on tour. So, I called Johnny Cash’s son, John Carter. I said, “Come sing with us.” “Hey, we're in town. Okay.” I called Marty Stuart. “Yeah, I'm in town. Okay, I'll come sing.” Like, “Okay.” So, we can get out there and we see this big box backstage, Paul, and this big cake—it looked like a big cake. I said, “Darrin, I bet you that's a 10-year-anniversary cake. They're going to bring it out, get some applause. We'll take a picture, sing a last song while [00:35:12 unintelligible]. How cool?” “Yeah, I bet it is, too.” So, we get out there and the Ryman’s packed; they bring us on. We sing songs with everybody. We bring Marty Stewart out and we get around that old microphone and we sing an old bluegrass gospel song called “Rank Stranger.” It was so fun. And when we finished—I knew we were live on the radio, so I did what you're supposed to do. “That was Marty Stewart right here on the Grand Ole Opry WSM 650 AM.” The crowd’s applauding, you know, and Marty said, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, wait, wait, wait.” I'm like, “Uh oh, what’d I say wrong?” He said, “Boys, we got a little business to finish here.” And I was like, “Business?” Then I thought, “Oh, the cake.” I thought I had it all figured out. And he said, “You know, gentlemen—” and I'm paraphrasing some here. So, you can watch this on YouTube. It's on there. But he said, “You know, gentlemen, the most important and the most elite institution in country music is that of the Grand Ole Opry. And if you're going to be in country music, and you're going to be in bluegrass, it’s the most important institution you can be a part of.” And said, “By the way, did you know—I think you've got a lot of family in the audience tonight.” We said, “Oh, no, we actually don’t.”Sen. Bailey: Two people.Mr. Dailey: He said, “Hit the house lights.” And up in the balcony was all of our family, our mother—you know, brothers, sisters, cousins, like, “What in the world?” Darrin's wife, you know. It’s like, “What is going on?” And he said, “You know, gentlemen, country music loves you. Country music needs you. The Grand Ole Opry loves you. The Grand Ole Opry needs you. And the Grand Ole Opry welcomes you.”Sen. Bailey: Oh, wow.Mr. Dailey: We—just like I’m doing now, start crying.Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: Well, you know, Darrin fell to his knees, started praying. I thought I was going to have a heart attack, needed some new underwear. So, they brought the cake out, and they invited us to become members—Marty did, and then you fast forward to March of 2017 was the induction date and the big party backstage. But that night, they had a big party for us afterwards, after the invite, and Darrin and I sent our bus on with our band to Indianapolis, downtown Indianapolis because we had to show the next night. And so Darrin and I had to drive our cars. So, I couldn't sleep anyway. So, I drove all night up through there. And Darrin drove his car and we started getting calls. And it was amazing. All these big stars we had never even heard from or talked to, would call and say, “Hey, we just heard the news. We wanted to welcome you to our family.” And, of course, I'm just crying all up the road.Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: And then the induction night, Old Crow Medicine Show and Grand Ole Opry star Jeannie Seely inducted us. And to stay true to my roots and who I appreciate and love, we sang the first song, again, that we ever sang on the Opry, that was our hit that started our career “By the Mark.” And then also talked about our parents and then I sang “I'll Go to My Grave Loving You” for The Statlers. And—Sen. Bailey: There you go.Mr. Dailey: And Jeannie Seely, we were walking out to doing the induction, 4500 people—say Upper Cumberland showed up again big time that night. Thank you all—she looks at me and she says, “Now look—” and you got to know Jeannie Seely. One of the longest members of the Opry, she said, “Look, I'm wearing my false eyelashes tonight, so don’t you get me to crying because they'll fall off.” [laughs].Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: So, I'm laughing as we're walking out. We get out there. They do this wonderful induction. And as I turn to walk off, I'm crying and squalling, and she's holding on to my arm and she says, “Well, I'm glad you're not wearing your false eyelashes.” [laughs].Sen. Bailey: [laughs].Mr. Dailey: So, it was a great night, and all the family was there, and a lot of Opry members came, the Oaks, everybody, to join our party. And it was a night I will never, ever forget.Sen. Bailey: Oh, absolutely. I—Mr. Dailey: I feel like I've talked too much, but that’s the stories.Sen. Bailey: No, I mean, this is something that our listeners want to hear. They—especially I want to hear those stories because it’s, again, it's real. It's who you are, and we're able to share in a huge milestone in your career, and in your life and it makes us feel like that we're part of your family.Mr. Dailey: And you are. If you think about it, Paul, my grandparents, Daisy Dailey and John Dailey, they were old farmers, and they didn't have a lot, but they sat every Friday and Saturday night, and they listened to the radio, the Grand Ole Opry. So, I thought about them. It’s like, man, what if they were back in Gainesboro right now, listening that radio popping and crisping, and heard their grandson sing on the Opry and become a member? I thought about them.Sen. Bailey: Right. Right. Absolutely.Mr. Dailey: And it's part of who we are here. It's part of all of us in the Upper Cumberland, country music, bluegrass, gospel, and the Grand Ole Opry.Sen. Bailey: Right. It all goes hand-in-hand.Mr. Dailey: It does.Sen. Bailey: It all goes hand-in-hand.Sen. Bailey: You're listening to Backroads and Backstories with Jamie Dailey as my guest today, from the bluegrass and country music duo Dailey & Vincent. Let's segue over to just a couple more questions for you. And 2020 has been a interesting year for all of us, and especially for country music tours. So, how have you adapted? How has the Grand Ole Opry adapted, but in particular, it's had to affect your concerts that you had scheduled and so forth. And, of course, you're able to still do your TV program, which reaches millions of people. But being on tour, tell us how that has changed this year. Do you see it opening back up? Do you already have new dates established? Just, kind of, update the audience on where we are as far as your tours in the future.Mr. Dailey: March 13, we were getting ready to do two shows in South Carolina. And a friend of mine who works at the White House, Catherine O'Neill called, and she says, “Just giving you a heads up, we're getting ready to get some pretty bad news.” And she said, “I think it’s going to affect—” you know, we're really close. She said, “In other words, I want you to get home.” So, like, “Okay.” And then we started seeing more breaking news about the virus and how bad it was supposedly getting. And after she called, we were just getting ready to walk out on stage and my manager called and he said, “As soon as you finish this date, fire the bus up. You're not going on to Virginia and on to DC—” because we had dates up through there. And I said, “Oh. Is this really as bad as Catherine and everybody saying it is?” “Yes.” And says, “By the way, all your dates are falling. They're canceling right and left.” It’s like, “Wow.” And he said—and rumor had gotten around, too, that the state was going to—the state of Tennessee was possibly going to shut down. That was the rumors flying around. Whether it was true or not, we didn't know what to believe. And so, I didn't want to call you and bug you know, and you hang up on me. So—Sen. Bailey: No, no.Mr. Dailey: Yeah. But anyway, we finished the show, got on the bus, started heading home. And we're getting calls from our manager constantly. The promoters are saying, “This is falling, this is going.” And it wasn't too long, the Grand Ole Opry saying, “We're suspending for now.” And it's like, “Holy cow.” So, we knew we were going to be hurt because we just—at that night, we lost about 78 more dates for the year. That's a lot of revenue. And not only that, the upcoming television shows that we were supposed to shoot, all those episodes, put on hold, suspe—it's like, “Whoa.” So, we get home, and it took us a month to shut the business down. There were so many loose ends, it took us a month to get it shut down. And my property in Gainesboro is called Flagler Point—named after a dear, dear friend of mine in Palm Beach—but I went there and I stayed there for a month and a half and didn't move. I was scared to death. Because we didn't know what we didn't know.Sen. Bailey: Right. Exactly.Mr. Dailey: I mean, it could be bad, it could be not bad. We just didn't know. So, I thought, “I’m going to play safe.” And I stayed in the woods by myself. And saw nobody and cooked every meal there—other than my dad. And while I was there, I started thinking, “Okay. How are we going to innovate through this? Because people were saying we're going to be up and running again, by April, May, June. I've read enough books on pandemics, EMP attacks, government strategies, that I thought, “This is not going to bounce back anytime soon in our industry. We'll be the first shut down; we'll be the last back to work. Period.Sen. Bailey: Right.Mr. Dailey: Because, I mean, common sense tells you people scared, they're not going to come out and see you. Rightfully so. So, I started thinking, “How are we going to innovate through this?” And man, for the second month I'm there, I couldn't come up with anything. And I'm watching what other people are doing. Then we started thinking about—as other artists had thought about; I'm not the one to come up with this, but I thought about, well, drive-in theaters. Maybe that's an option. We need to start thinking about outdoor fairgrounds where we can space everybody out. We need to be thinking about outdoor festivals, are they going to run? Are they not going to run? Luckily for us, our fanbase is so loyal—the Dailey & Vincent fanbase is so loyal, they were giving us just tons of moral support online, and we could feel they were with us. They were behind us. “We're praying for you. We're here for you.” And so I thought—that made me feel better. The Grand Ole Opry called and said, “We're going to start doing TV and we want you to come host it with Ricky Skaggs. But it's going to be no audience there.” Wow. Paul, we get to the Opry—this was in, I think, by this time it's May. And we walk in backstage of the Opry; nobody in the hallway. They put Ricky in one dressing room, me in one dressing room, Darrin in one dressing room, and each band member in a dressing room by themselves. And we come in with gloves on and masks, and we rehearse in a big old circle in a huge room, far away from each other. And by this time, we’d not sang in two and a half months, Ricky hadn’t either. And we're all trying to learn his stuff, and he was trying to learn our stuff. And we go out to do this on TV to 4500 seater that's empty, and cameras looking at you and—Sen. Bailey: Now, is this live?Mr. Dailey: This is live.Sen. Bailey: Okay. [laughs].Mr. Dailey: And I'm thinking, “Boy, this is going to be different, for me anyway.” So, they spread us out on stage—and you can watch some of this online, too, and on Circle TV, but we go out there, and we start doing our songs. And I thought, “You know what? Have a good time. You're blessed to be able to be here because other musicians are sitting at home.” And I just smiled and had a big time, and loved every note we sang. And it was so odd because you didn't have any applause or audience. But I left there thinking, “Boy, this has changed the music world. This has changed it.” So, after that is when I came up with the idea to do the show at my property to try to start cranking the business again and try to figure out how to build models where you can have the space to socially distance people in order to keep them safe. And so, one of the things we've done, we've ordered boxes and boxes of hand sanitizer for our guests that come. We encourage masks, we will—you know, we can't enforce that, but we encourage it. We have temperature guns to check people's temperatures before they come through the gate. Ah, we're doing everything—[00:46:57 Sammy Carr] is coming from the state of Tennessee, [00:46:60 unintelligible], he's coming. I'd love for you to come if you’d come.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely.Mr. Dailey: Because we want to build this model to try to do this across the US. So, in other words, we can call a venue in Texas, say, “Hey, we know how to do this, now. We had them sold out. We had them spaced out.” And hopefully, if it goes well, we can say it went well. Would you want to try this outdoor your venue instead of in the venues? We think in essence, it will probably save us—out of 78 to 115 dates next year, it'll probably save us 30 good-paying, maybe 40 good-paying dates to get this model up and running. That's what we're doing.Sen. Bailey: Well, good. Well, you got to be innovative.Mr. Dailey: You have to, and it's really hard with this because, Paul, we really don't know if—maybe you guys do. I don't know if we're going to have a round two. And if we do, what does that look like? Will states put more band dates that will keep business like us from moving forward, even with new innovations? So, will we have to innovate again? There’s a lot of questions.Sen. Bailey: Well, you know, visiting with some friends of mine from the Cumberland County Playhouse, and they have really, really struggled over the last several months not being able to have their plays. And so they're just afraid to pack everyone into those theaters. I'm on an equine association, we're about to have a huge—an event in Fort Worth, Texas. We've basically had to cut the crowd down to one-third of the size, we have to do social distancing, we have to do, they're—actually, the facility is requiring us to have everyone to wear a mask. So, it takes innovation, though, to be able to continue to have your events and to be able to get people to adhere to the guidelines that the event set out. And one thing that I found—this equine association that I'm part of, National Reined Cow Horse Association, we've held events in Las Vegas, we were actually, just last month—at the South Point Casino & Hotel, we held the first major event back in Las Vegas when it started opening up.Mr. Dailey: Really?Sen. Bailey: And the mayor of Las Vegas came, their director of Public Health came from Las Vegas, and our members who come from all across the United States there to the horse show, they adhered to all the guidelines at South Point, Nevada, and Las Vegas had put out for us. And in fact, the mayor and the public health officials were like, “Okay. We can start opening other venues and events up and start having things.” Because people recognize that if they're going to be able to have events, they have to adhere to guidelines. Now, that doesn't mean that they're going to continue to wear that mask once they leave that venue, but if they're wanting to participate in a concert, like what you're having, or a horse show, or a play at Cumberland County Playhouse, people are willing to adhere to those guidelines to be able to get the entertainment that they're after. And so, I'm just saying—Mr. Dailey: I encourage it. I don't know that I can—would enforce it, but I highly encourage it at our concerts because, look, even if the mask has a 10 percent chance of helping me not give it to someone, or vice versa, I'll take that chance, if it will help save a life.Sen. Bailey: Oh, absolutely, absolutely. And just so the audience knows, you're sitting in my conference room at our trucking company, and we have over 100 employees and knock on wood, we've not had a single employee test positive.Mr. Dailey: Praise the Lord. That’s great.Sen. Bailey: And my drivers are going all across the country from Washington, California, to Maine, to Massachusetts, to Florida, Texas, and all points in between. And we've been very blessed, but we gave our drivers guidelines early on, and we asked them to adhere to it. And so—and a lot of our customers are doing the same thing. It's become kind of a cliche word, a touchless society, if you will, as far as whenever you arrive at places. But—Mr. Dailey: Yeah. For sure.Sen. Bailey: But, again, back to the innovation. You've got to come up with innovative ideas, and people are wanting to get out, they’re wanting to be entertained, they're wanting to support Dailey & Vincent—Mr. Dailey: And they want to feel some normalcy.Sen. Bailey: They want to feel normal. I think that's one of the biggest—Mr. Dailey: I do.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely. I think that's one of the biggest things that people just want to have some normalcy to come back. But I also know that there is a spirit of patriotism in America today, people want to do what's in the best interest of their country because they love the United States. And I think you have a very dear friend that I consider to be one of our greatest patriots as far as the country music industry is concerned, and that's Mr. Lee Greenwood.Mr. Dailey: Lee is a dear friend and I love Lee. He came to the Ryman—to our Ryman show, was it last—July before last, and sang “God Bless the USA,” come out there, and I had to sing tenor on that thing. Man, that thing gets high toward the end. I was having to pull my pants up to hit that one. But yeah, he is a good fella, and we've cruised together and gone out to eat, and all of us, as Americans can have fundamental differences on any certain issues, but at the end of the day, we have to come together; we have to set our differences aside and love one another. And I'm very proud of America and what we can accomplish together. And when we sit down and talk, and just talk and try to understand one another. And that makes me very proud. I wrote a song, Paul, years ago, called “American Pride” with Whispering Bill Anderson wrote this song, and it talks about the flag. And basically, it talks about, it waves for me and you, that line. It waves for me and you. It's not just this group or that group. At the end of the day, if you're an American citizen, it waves for all of us. And it's a beacon to the whole world of freedom. And that's what we all are proud of is freedom.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely. When you talk about our American flag, it gets very emotional for me. A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to be in France, and visit several of our cemeteries of our World War One soldiers. Number one, the United States government keeps those in immaculate condition in honor of those men and women that died for America. But I was also able to participate at several of those cemeteries, the lowering of the flag in the afternoon and the playing of taps. And that is just an emotional—Mr. Dailey: If you don't feel something on that, there's something wrong.Sen. Bailey: Yeah. There's nothing more beautiful than the red, white, and blue. And to see the honor and the respect that those men and women that are lowering that flag at the end of the day, show to the flag and to America, it's just awe-inspiring for me. And to know that that flag has flown over many a conflict, but yet it stands for freedom, it stands for liberty, and it stands for a way of life that no other nation in the world has, that we have here in America.Mr. Dailey: It does. From every creed and color [laughs] and every—and I love that about America.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely.Mr. Dailey: It waves for me and you absolutely.Sen. Bailey: Absolutely.Mr. Dailey: Several years ago, we were invited to come to DC and sing for the 25th year commemoration of The Wall. It's a cold November day. And veterans sit out in the grass with their families, you know, with blankets and coats, and Jimmy Fortune and Darrin and I went and stood on that stage, and we were flanked by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all decked out in their gear, in a semi—it's like, “Holy cow.” We sang the song “More Than a Name on a Wall.” And as we hit the chorus, it wasn't planned, but Marine One flew over, and I think it had W onboard, from what we understand. And as it flew over—it wasn't planned, he was just coming in from somewhere, they saluted, and it was right as we hit the chorus of the song. And on C-SPAN, this was all over C-SPAN, I broke down squalling, and I couldn't even get through the chorus. I cried through the whole song, I could—I was so embarrassed because I just couldn't hold my emotions. You felt the mighty power of the United States of America. And it was a feeling I will never forget, as long as I live.Sen. Bailey: I know I've been to The Wall, and taken and rubbed my hand and my fingers across those names, and been to the Korean Memorial and, I mean, it's just—people need to go there, and experience that, and understand what the cost of freedom has been so that—Mr. Dailey: And truly means.Sen. Bailey: —and truly means—that allows you and I to both enjoy the careers that we have. You entertaining and bringing hope, bringing encouragement, bringing inspiration to millions of people all across America and around the world. People just need to really, really understand what it means to be a patriot. And I want to thank you for your songs of patriotism, and for inspiring people to love America. So, thank you for that.Mr. Dailey: Thank you back. We really truly appreciate it.Sen. Bailey: As we close out our episode, I’d just like to ask if there's any final thoughts that you would have for us?Mr. Dailey: 1 Timothy 6:12, I think it is—you can check me on that, but I'll paraphrase. I can't remember the exact wordings of it because I know people get upset if you don't word it exactly, but it talks about fighting the good fight. And I think that's what we all have to do—all Americans. We have to fight the good fight. And that's what I try to live by.Sen. Bailey: And that is certainly a scripture to live by. Well, thank you, Jamie Dailey.Mr. Dailey: Thank you, Senator. I think a lot of you, and I'm proud of you and keep doing what you're doing.Sen. Bailey: Well, thank you.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. We’ll see you next time.
59 minutes | Sep 23, 2020
Get to Know Tennessee 6th District Congressman John Rose
Some of the highlights of the show include: Congressman John Rose grew up in Cookeville. His dad worked for Farm Credit so he spent a lot of his time out on the farm. John developed a passion for agriculture and farming. That is when his goal in life became to take over the family farm. John is the eighth generation of his family to farm on the same farm ground in Smith County and DeKalb County, and his son, Guy, would be the ninth generation. Later, John got a BS degree in Agribusiness Economics at Tennessee Tech. He continued his education by attending Vanderbilt Law School. A fellow law student and John started a business in 1992 that aimed at training information technology professionals. He ended up selling his business in November of 2000 and John came home to be a farmer. Later, he became Commissioner of Agriculture. His position as the Commissioner of Agriculture helped him learn more about the government and informed his views and perspectives. The episode was recording on the 19th anniversary of September 11. Paul Bailey and John Rose recall where they were on Sept. 11, 2001. John says that the threat of terrorism still exists today. He believes America needs to constantly put up a strong defense. An effective congressman needs to be present and show up for the counties they present. John’s constituents ask him about the federal response to the coronavirus the most out of any other topic. “We cannot stop the spread of coronavirus until we have a vaccine, an effective vaccine.” - Congressman John Rose “On the case of President Trump, we have a person who is unapologetically pro-American: believes in this country, believes in the American ideal, and wants to see that grow and continue in advance, and wants to see that passed onto future generations of Americans.” -Congressman John Rose “I represent you all, so even if you feel differently about issues of the day, don't hesitate to reach out and let me know. And it's not hard to find us: you can go to johnrose.house.gov, and it has all of our contact information.” -Congressman John Rose TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. Joining us in today's episode is Tennessee 6th District Congressman John Rose. Welcome, Congressman. Glad to have you with us today.Congressman Rose: Thank you, Senator Bailey. It's my privilege to be here.Senator Bailey: Well, as we get started, I'd like for you to tell us just a little bit about yourself and what it was like growing up here in the Upper Cumberland.Congressman Rose: Sure. So, I was born here in Cookeville, in 1965; Cookeville Hospital over here, the youngest of four in my family. My dad worked for the Farm Credit System, then Production Credit Association and my family moved here the year before in 1964 from our family farm, which is on the DeKalb-Smith county line, down around the Lancaster, Temperance Hall area. And so my dad worked for Farm Credit—so growing up, I grew up in Cookeville but he continued to farm, and so that meant afternoons and weekends and summers we spent a lot of time on the farm. So, I kind of got a little bit of small-town life and a little bit of farm life as a kid growing up. And really the farm part really sunk in for me, and I developed a real interest in passion in agriculture and farming, and then later in elementary school and high school, was in 4-H, and then FFA, and developed projects on the farm. And that became my goal in life was to move to the family farm and take over the farm at some point, hopefully. I am the youngest of four, so that was never a certain thing. But it was a great life growing up, and I grew up in a good time, I feel like, and made a lot of impressions on me about rural life in this area. And so it was always my goal, then, to live right here in the Upper Cumberland and hopefully continue the legacy on our family farm.Senator Bailey: Well, you and I are similar in age, and I have an 18-year-old son as well as two older children, and although we live on a small farm, I still don't think that he's had the full experience of being on the farm like I had. During my time of growing up, obviously, we milked cows, I had bottle calves that I had to take care of, chickens that I had to take care of. And my children didn't necessarily have all of those chores that they had to do on a daily basis. So, I think that our children today are missing out on just a little bit of what you and I went through back then.Congressman Rose: A lot of them are, sadly, and I've told Chelsea if we don’t—our son Guy, he'll be three here in about three weeks, and I've told her—we moved to Cookeville three years ago, and I said we've got to get back because if he doesn't grow up with that is an everyday part of his life, he won't have the same passion and interest in it. And I'm the eighth generation of our family to farm there on the same farm ground in Smith County and DeKalb County, and Guy would be the ninth generation. I’m certainly hopeful that he will decide—there's no pressure. A 230-year legacy, now. But I hope that he decides to continue it.Senator Bailey: I totally understand and there's one thing—of course, you're in Washington and spend a lot of time there in Congress. I’m State Senator, and so usually in Nashville on a full-time basis, January through April. One thing that I really enjoy, especially in the spring, is getting on my tractor and mowing hay, and feeding the cattle, and so forth. So, I know that is therapy for me. I usually call it tractor therapy. So, I'm sure you understand that.Congressman Rose: Absolutely. Being able to complete what I would call ‘real work’ on a farm, there's a therapeutic nature to it to be sure, and a sense of accomplishment that it's hard to get doing the things that we do as legislators.Senator Bailey: So, then you attended Tennessee Tech?Congressman Rose: That's right. After I graduated from Cookeville High School in 1983, I worked on a bachelor's degree and ultimately got a BS degree in Agribusiness Economics at Tennessee Tech, and had a great experience there. Great school, great professors, just a wonderful experience. And then went on to graduate school at Purdue in Indiana, and studied Agricultural Economics there. I realized while I was there, that really had not been, necessarily, the best preparation to help me achieve my life goal, which was to come back and take over the family farm. So while I was there, I was kind of thinking, what could I do that would allow me to choose where I lived to live in the rural Upper Cumberland and make enough money to buy my siblings out of the farm? And so I decided law school was the answer, that I could become a country lawyer. And so that took me to law school in 1990 and graduated in ’93 from Vanderbilt Law School, and then—not through the plan that I had, but through another plan, and it's strange how God lays out our path for us—but I ultimately got to achieve that goal, and I moved back to Middle Tennessee and into our family farm in 1994. And lived there until three years ago, and our plan is to build a new home there on the farm in the not too distant future and move back there.Senator Bailey: Oh. Well, that's awesome. And so, I know you went to law school at Vanderbilt. So, tell me just a little bit about—I know because you actually entered the business world, did you ever actually practice law or did you move more into the business world and you practiced business law? Tell me a little bit about that.Congressman Rose: Well, so strange, again, how circumstances guide your life. So, while I was at Vanderbilt Law School, a fellow law school student and I started a business. It was his idea, really, I don't claim that it was my idea. But he had a business idea and came to me and said, “Hey, do you want to be part of this?” And I said, “Well, sure, why not?” And so we started a business in 1992 that aimed at training information technology professionals. At that time, Microsoft had just come out with a professional certification program, and it was a pretty simple business idea, which was to help individuals who wanted those certifications to prepare for them. So, we developed the first practice exams, if you will, for the Microsoft certification. That first product came out in 1993, and I graduated from law school, the business wasn't doing well enough to support both of us at that time, so I actually did move down to Chattanooga, with the idea that I was going to get some experience at a big law firm. And so I got an opportunity to go down there and I practiced law for about a year and a half. And then my grandmother passed away in June of 1994, and my dad went by order of age—which meant he got to me last—offering my siblings and then me a chance to move there. And he said, “If you'll move and live on the farm, I'll give you her house—” which is built in 1874, so this is not a lavish house. This is a simple country farmhouse. He said, “I’ll give you her house and 20 acres if you move there and live there.” And they all turned him down and I jumped on it and said, “Yes, I'll do that.” And then started talking to my business partner, and we decided that the business was doing well enough that it could support us both, so I came back to Middle Tennessee and got involved in that business full time. So, about a year and a half of experience practicing law.Senator Bailey: And then also, you became Commissioner of Agriculture.Congressman Rose: Sure. So, we were very blessed in our business and ended up selling it in November of 2000, and I came home to be a farmer. That was my plan at that point. And then in July of 2002, the then serving Commissioner of Agriculture, a man named Dan Wheeler, Commissioner Dan Wheeler, who's from Cumberland County originally, he had been commissioner and he was leaving to take on a new role prior to the end of the administration. And so he called me one day and he said, “John, would you ever have any interest in being Commissioner of Agriculture?” And I knew enough about the timing to know this was going to be a temporary thing. You know, just a few months—it ended up being about six and a half months—and I said, “Well, no. I'd really never thought about it, but that's an interesting opportunity.” And so, long story short, I got the opportunity to serve the end of the Sundquist administration as Commissioner of Agriculture.Senator Bailey: That's a rewarding experience. Especially to me, being Commissioner of Ag. You've had a passion for agriculture your entire life, and so for you to become the commissioner and be able to travel across the state. Because farming is totally different in East Tennessee as compared to West Tennessee, and so for me when I've been able to go across the state and meet the farmers and how diverse we are in our crops and the way that they prepare, and so forth, so you got to see that firsthand as Commissioner plus, I'm sure there were several programs that you were able to see through to fruition during your time as commissioner as well.Congressman Rose: That's right. It was a tremendous opportunity to learn about agriculture and be more involved directly in agriculture. Of course, I had spent, then, several years in the IT space, and so with agriculture is a passion of mine. It was a real opportunity and a great learning opportunity about government, both the good and bad, and the limitations of government, which really then helped to inform my views and perspectives going forward about what government can do and what, maybe, government shouldn't try to do. And so it was a great learning experience, and you’ll appreciate this. I got there in—arrived and was sworn in as Commissioner in late July of 2002 after the legislature had gone home. That was the year that the income tax issue was disposed of, thankfully, and so I got there after that fight had ended, and then I left, of course, on Inauguration Day, 2003. And so I used to say to everyone, I got to town after the legislature left, and I left town before they got back.Senator Bailey: [laughs]. Well, that's probably a good thing.Congressman Rose: [laughs].Senator Bailey: So, let's touch just a little bit, you mentioned Chelsea and Guy. And so, you're finally referred to, many times when you're being introduced, as Chelsea’s husband, not always as Congressman John Rose, but you're fondly introduced as Chelsea's husband. So, I had the opportunity to work with Chelsea when she was an intern at the Tennessee legislature. And she is a really bright star and she was very well thought of and, of course, she was able to move on and work for the electric co-ops at the time as well. So, tell us just a little bit about Chelsea and Guy.Congressman Rose: Well, Chelsea is a great life partner, a great wife, and mother to our son, Guy, and she has impressed me from the first moment I met her. I won't go into that story real deeply, but, uh, because everyone, I think, knows I'm quite a bit older. And so I met her when—first became aware of her when she was an FFA member and then a few years later, we started dating. But she's very talented, very capable. In fact, when I started thinking about running for Congress, I tried to talk her into doing it. And she knew we were planning to start a family, and so she thought those two things wouldn't mix well, and probably was right about that. But she's very talented in her own right.Senator Bailey: Well, that's awesome. You guys are a great couple and I see some of my wife Amy and Chelsea being very similar. They're very strong, and also helping you and I, as legislators. There are days that we can sometimes have a little discouragement and I know both of them are—I know Amy's lifting me up in the background, and I know Chelsea's doing the same for you. Congressman Rose: Sure. And the, I guess, only downside to that, and I'm sure have this thought from time to time, is I'm not always sure I can fully trust what she tells me about how I did because she knows when my ego might be bruised a little, and she provides the right comfort to encourage me. But great partner. Couldn't ask for a better wife and spouse, and mother for our child.Senator Bailey: That's awesome. Well, today is the 19th anniversary of September 11th. That was the day that changed American—I believe, the world forever. I remember very vividly where I was that day. I'm assuming you can remember exactly where you were when you first heard about or saw those planes flying into the Twin Towers.Congressman Rose: Absolutely. Yeah, so I was on the farm that day and like most days at that time, I didn't necessarily turn on the TV in the morning so I wasn't even watching when the first plane flew in and the events began to unfold. And then a friend of mine from Nashville called and said, “Have you seen what's happening?” And I was like, “No, sir.” And so I turned on the TV immediately and saw the second plane crash into that building. And watched that for a good bit. I had a number of chores I had to do that day, so I kind of had to go about my business. And I traveled over to Carthage and then over to Woodbury that day. And so as I was going to the newspaper offices in the two towns, the Carthage Courier office, and then over to the Cannon Courier’s office. And so when I walked in both places, they had their TV's on, and so I kind of caught up on events. But a day that we'll never forget, I think anyone living at that time—I had heard my parents through the years talk about events like the assassination of John F. Kennedy, I think was one that really stuck in their minds, and so certainly a day that we would not wish upon the country, or anyone, or any nation for that matter. And I think there's a silver lining there, and that is that it brought our country together and it awakened us and for a season, I think, really brought us together. And unfortunately, we've let that slip away a little, I’m sad to say. But I think that it was a moment that really crystallized that we are not as safe as we had, I guess, decided we were prior to 911 happening.Senator Bailey: It was. I remember that day as being an absolutely beautiful day. I remember being up that morning, I had gone to the barn and had fed, come back, and turned on the television just right after the first plane had hit the first tower. At first, they didn't know if it was just a small plane or if it had just been an accident that a plane had flown into it. But then immediately, I was there when the second plane hit and so it was a surreal feeling. I remember getting into the trucking office that morning, and everything just basically just went very silent, if you will. Because in a trucking office, the phones are constantly ringing, and that day the phones quit ringing. And it was just as if America stood still in that time. And so, it was like things were in slow motion for me all day long. And then it was just an unbelievable, unbelievable event that we were witnessing. But I believe that it brought America—as you mentioned—I believe it brought America back to its founding principles, which that's God, and I believe then for a season that we were a nation reaching out and seeking His wisdom and His guidance. And I'm hoping that we do not have to go through another event like that to see America do that again. But do you believe that the threat of terrorism is greater today or less compared to what it was 19 years ago?Congressman Rose: Well, that's a good question. I think I've kind of got a mixed view of that. I think the threat is still very real; there are no doubt people around the world that would like to harm this country. And indeed, folks right here domestically that would like to harm the country, sadly. So, that threat is still there. I do think that, thankfully, we sent a very strong message to al Qaeda and to terrorists, I think, of all stripes around the world that this country will respond. And so hopefully, that message is not lost on them even these 19 years later that this country will respond, I think it it's incumbent upon us, particularly—well, all Americans, but leaders of the government, in particular, to make sure that we maintain the capacity as a nation to provide an overwhelming response to anyone who would seek to harm us. And our forebears have said it well, and in any number of ways—reminded of a Reagan quote, and then thinking back to the founding fathers, the framers of the Constitution, “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.” And that's true about defending this country. We can't rest on our laurels. We have to put up a strong defense constantly. And in my current role as a US representative, I believe it's far and away the number one obligation and responsibility of the federal government to protect this country. And it stands clearly and distinctly above anything else the federal government does. And we have to be vigilant about that. And I think Teddy Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick.” I think this country does carry a big stick, and we do typically Speak softly as a nation and have through the years, and I think that's the right tenor to have. But we have to remind the world, too. We have to remind them that this country—what we stand for and that we will defend our, our way of life and our rights, and that when called upon to do so in the right circumstances will help our allies around the world to stand up for those same principles.Senator Bailey: At that time, did you ever think that you would be a member of Congress?Congressman Rose: I really hadn't thought about it. I was active politically as my capacity as a business person and my personal financial capacity had developed as I got older, I got involved in supporting candidates and being active politically. And so I was tuned into that world, but really not thinking about doing that myself at that point. I fancied myself to enjoy being a gentleman farmer—and I probably shouldn't use that term—but I had succeeded in taking over the family farm and really was digging in and thinking about that in 2001. And so I wasn't thinking much about other pursuits at that point.Senator Bailey: But what inspired you to run for Congress?Congressman Rose: Well, so in 2016, as Chelsea and I were watching the presidential election unfold, it started to become clear to me that the country was kind of at a crossroads, I felt like, and that we had a good person in Donald Trump that had come out of the business world and seen that there was a need to refocus America and get us back on track and make America great again, and it was clear to me he needed help if he was going to succeed, and I saw it as maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to have a president like that who was so focused on making sure that America was great, and was not ashamed of talking about that very bluntly and directly. And so, along about that same time, I became aware that then-Representative Diane Black was thinking about running for governor and so it just kind of got in my mind, and as I told folks—Chelsea and I both were talking about that as that presidential election unfolded, and one day, she said, “Well, I either want you to shut up about this, or you got to do something about it.” And of course, I thought, “Well, I am doing something. I'm supporting good people to be in these roles.” And she said, “Well, I don't think that's enough. You need to be more actively involved.” And so, that's really what prompted me to get interested in start thinking about it. And really, kind of, the idea being we were—she was expecting at that time, and we were thinking—or, well, a little after that. We were talking about starting a family and I was thinking about the future of the country, and that always throughout American history, each generation has passed the country along in better condition than the preceding one. And I fear that our generation is at risk of losing that unbroken streak of passing the country on in better condition. And I think we can still do that, but I think we've got to work hard to make sure that the country that we pass on to Guy and to everyone else's children and grandchildren, that it's a better country.Senator Bailey: I agree. So, knowing now what you do about how Congress works, if you had it to do over, would you still run?Congressman Rose: That's maybe the hardest question you’ve asked me this morning. And I think the answer is yes. But I must say that I pause a moment in thinking about that before saying yes. You know, it's an honor and privilege to represent the people in elected office, and would never say anything different, but it does take a toll on you as an individual, and on your family, and the folks around you, and so no one should ever enter into it lightly, and certainly no one should ever enter into it with the notion that it's a perk, if you will, because the demands that these offices put on you and your family, they're very real and there is a toll that you pay.Senator Bailey: How many counties are in your 6th district?Congressman Rose: So, we represent all or part of 19: all of 17 counties and part of two, stretching from Robertson county on the western end, little piece of Cheatham right below that, and then all the way across to Pickett county on the eastern edge along the Tennessee line, and then the next tiers of counties down, and then we have a little peninsula that sticks down to Cannon and Coffee in the south. Tullahoma is the most southern town in the district.Senator Bailey: And the reason that I bring that point up, I represent six counties in the Upper Cumberland, and you touched on it in your answer in regards to running and continuing to be a congressman. The sacrifice that you make and that your family makes, I don't believe people understand a lot of times that when you place yourself in the public's eye, when you're elected to public office that, my constituents, they want to see me at public events, they want to be able to talk with me, they want to be able to share their concerns with me, and so—and I'm just saying I have 6 counties, you have basically 19 counties. So, I can only imagine that representing that 19 counties is really a tough job to try to be somewhere every day of every week when you're not having to be in Washington.Congressman Rose: Well, that's very true. And one of the things I learned from watching successful legislators and office-holders through the years was that the key is showing up. And the—I guess it's not that different, really, from being successful in life. In work and—if you don't show up, you're not going to get the job done. And that's true of being an effective congressman is that you need to be present. People want to see you and they want to share their concerns with you, and while we run to represent a certain party, we represent all of the people in the 6th district, the 2010 census says 713,928, and if you hear me talk, I say that often. And I kind of say it, kind of like we would say the pledge of allegiance, just to remind ourselves of what the values are that we adhere to, but to remind me, there's a lot of people that I'm charged with representing. And obviously, I can't adopt any one person's complete view or perspective; my job is to try to get a sense for what the vast majority of the folks in the 6th district want to see happen. And there's no substitute for seeing them and being around them to continue to have that. And I think it's one of the reasons why, perhaps, legislators—and I think the founding fathers wanted a citizen legislature. And so I think folks should serve for a season and then go home because I think inevitably, the longer you're in office, the farther you tend to drift from having that real sense. And so, I come home every weekend, I think, with the exception of two or three, since I've been in office. I come home and try to do things on the weekends and the days that we're not in session in Washington, just so I can stay in touch with what people are thinking.Senator Bailey: Right. So, what's been the biggest surprise about being in Congress or being a congressman?Congressman Rose: Sure. Well, the pace and the schedule is—we've already been kind of talking about that—is really exacting, but I think if I was thinking about actually being a legislator, probably just gaining a keener awareness and understanding of how the US House of Representatives and the Congress as a whole operates today has been really eye-opening. It's a majority rule place, particularly on the House side. Unfortunately, when I was sworn in on January 3rd, 2019, the democrats had in the 2018 elections won a majority in the House, and so the speaker is Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic Party holds a majority in the House, and that means they set the agenda, they decide what bills get heard, they decide the terms and conditions upon which we hear legislation, and that's really been kind of eye-opening. It's very different from the Tennessee General Assembly where, by and large, at least every bill that gets introduced, will get a hearing in a committee. And then bills that make it to the floor of the Senate or the House, they get debated on. But in the US Congress, it's very different. The House of Representatives, every matter comes to the floor under a rule that sets the terms for debate: limits whether it can be amended or not and which amendments will be heard. And so far too often, what that means for members of Congress is that with any particular bill, or issue and sometimes these bills, as probably everyone is aware, have a myriad of different issues that are being addressed, and sometimes they're completely unrelated, which again is different from the Tennessee General Assembly, and you get a yes or no vote on those. At most you may get to speak about it on the House floor, but your speech is not going to really change the day or the outcome because of the way the rules are set up. So, you get a binary choice over and over again of the package or the bill that's before you no matter what's in it. And so, very often it's just a balancing act of is there more here that I like than I don’t. Can I take the stuff I don't like—how do I think the folks back home are going to perceive this? So, it's a difficult conundrum that I find myself in every time I vote of, what's in this bill? And almost always they package these things together where it's a mix of good and bad, and that's frustrating. I wish that Congress could change the rules under which it operates to help avoid that.Senator Bailey: What issues do your constituents ask you about most?Congressman Rose: Well, I think obviously, that's evolved a little with the events of 2020, so in this these last many months, obviously, I get lots of questions about Coronavirus, and about the federal response to Coronavirus; lots of folks trying to navigate the government imposed shutdowns and the assistance that the federal government has brought to bear to try to help keep businesses alive and keep folks functioning through these shutdowns. So, that, for the last many months, those issues have certainly dominated. But I think in the bigger picture, people are very concerned about the national debt. They're very concerned about the direction of the country. Obviously, again, maybe more topical for the time, they're very concerned about safety and security, both domestically and as it relates to international threats to the country. And then certainly from conservatives and Republicans, I hear a great deal of concern about the rule of law in this country and about how this President has been treated by the justice system, and the national security apparatus, and how the other party has sought to stand in his way, and that's a very real concern to me. We've been through a really difficult three, three and a half year period where the Democrats, and particularly the leaders in the Congress have sought to deter the President, and they have used all manner of tools of the government to do that. And in many cases, misused those. And we've seen some of the deep state bureaucrats using their power to try to foil the vision of this president about how to lead the country, and that's very disturbing. So, I hear a lot about that. People want to see that, they want to see that the facts come to light and they want to see people held accountable that have misused their power.Senator Bailey: I'll have to say that is one concern that I have, and as we get into the final part of our discussion today, I'm going to ask about the presidential election, but I'm going to make this statement and I've got a couple more follow up questions before we get to there. But my concern is, is that if Donald Trump is not reelected as our president, all of the progress that the Department of Justice has finally been able to make under Attorney General Barr could be lost and it could be lost forever. As far as a lot of the corruption that he's been able to get in, work on, uncover, and basically trying to get it brought to light. And that is one concern that I have. And maybe I'm naive in thinking that it would disappear if in fact President Trump's not reelected. But that is a true concern because if we're not able to continue to shed light on a lot of the deep state and the corruption that has been going on for the last many years under the previous administration, and what they had tried to do to President Trump's administration, that's a real concern to me.Congressman Rose: Well, and I think it's a well-founded concern. I think we have to reflect back on the last three and a half years and remember that the President asserted even before he was sworn in that his campaign had been spied on and wiretapped. And the press, unfortunately, and I'm very disappointed in our press in this country because they pooh-poohed that, and ignored it, and derided the President for making those claims that they said were debunked and unsubstantiated. And what we know now is, in fact, exactly that happened. And one of the hallmarks of the history of this country has been the peaceful transition of power. We go to the ballot box and we vote, and when we elect a new leader as a nation, we expect the departing leader to accede to the will of the people, and hand over the reins of power peacefully and cooperatively. And that didn't happen. And you can characterize that however you wish, but the reality is the outgoing Obama administration, and I think it's now clear that President Obama and Vice President Biden were both aware of the efforts to attempt to deter the handover of power or to detract from the way in which that happened, and they had sanctioned if not authorized, and perhaps even directed the early stages of the attempts to investigate the President or to undercut the President's team as they were coming into the White House. And they actively discussed not sharing important national security information with the incoming administration, and those things are all just wrong, and we ought to demand and expect better. And I think regardless of your political persuasion, you should be concerned about the fact that this happened, and that we saw our national security apparatus politicized in a way that it shouldn't be. I maybe would stop short of saying that had never happened before, but certainly not in the way—in the organized way that it happened here. And then the justice system manipulated, in a way. And we've seen the first, now, guilty plea come out of the current investigations into that with an acknowledgment that the initial warrant application that was the precursor of everything that has happened was falsified by a FBI attorney who literally altered a document so as to provide the basis for this investigation. And we also know that, even before that, the predicate for the surveillance of the Trump campaign was based on a dossier that the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign had paid for, millions of dollars that they paid to have, essentially, a fraudulent dossier that was attempting to connect the President to the Russians. And they paid for this, and it was well known that it was not reliable or accurate information, and yet the Justice Department, the FBI, perpetrated this kind of fraud upon the American people. And so there are several people that should be held accountable for this and haven't yet, and for anyone who thinks that this is just kind of a partisan view by me, consider if you'd be comfortable if the current administration was deploying exactly the same tactics against the, perhaps, next democrat administration that might come to office, whether that be this fall, this next year, or sometime in the future. Would you be comfortable if the FBI and the national security apparatus were being used to spy on the Biden campaign? Would you be comfortable with that? Would you feel like that was a responsible and correct or legal use of those facilities? That happened. We know that happened, and it should not be tolerated and people should be held accountable for that.Senator Bailey: You're listening to backroads and backstories with Senator Paul Bailey and our guest, Congressman John Rose. So, we're talking just a little bit about what's going on in Washington. Let's ask about how the administration has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. In my opinion, I think that President Trump and his administration has done a very good job in responding to the pandemic. What's your perspective on that as far as being a member of Congress and being there and getting briefed on what's taking place in America?Congressman Rose: Sure, and I share the view. I think the President and the administration has done a remarkable job, I would say, under the circumstances. And I think we have to go back and look at where we were earlier this year. So, as awareness and information about the virus from Wuhan, China, that we call Coronavirus, and the resulting disease called COVID-19, is that information was starting to become into focus in January of this year. We know that the Chinese were withholding information and delaying the release of information to the rest of the world. And sadly because they stalled on that for about a month, it really amplified the harm that was done to the rest of the world, including the United States. And I think we have to hold China accountable for that, ultimately. Still some questions that haven't been answered about exactly where this virus came from, and under what circumstances that got out, and I trust that our national security folks will get to the bottom of that, ultimately. But as I think about what the President’s done and the administration have done, and for that matter, the federal government has done in response. It's not perfect, but we couldn't have expected it to be perfect. We have to remember, first pandemic of this scale and magnitude and virulence that we've seen in 100 years, and so we also have to keep in mind that in January, I will tell you because I was there and seeing it firsthand, the US House of Representatives and for that matter, the Congress—so one-third of government was entirely focused on something else, and that was impeaching the President. And so, in the midst of all that, the President, of course, he has to walk and chew gum at the same time, so he had to not only be worried about defending himself against impeachment charges in the Senate but he also still had to lead the country. And so, I think as it began to come into focus what was going on in China, the President took bold action and stop travel first from China, and later from Europe and other places, and was derided, soundly derided by the press, and by the leaders on the Democrat side, he was called names, and xenophobic, and those types of things. And they were, by no means embracing this. And we have to remember that Nancy Pelosi was out in the streets of San Francisco, just trying to dispel the notion that there was anything to worry about. Inviting people to Chinatown in San Francisco and saying it's wonderful, [00:40:10 unintelligible] come out and enjoy the festivities. So, it's in that context then that the President was responding. And I think, correctly so. And I guess if you were handicapping it, you would say, “Well, you should have stopped travel earlier.” But we were getting—we had to remember what information he had and when he had it, and that even when he did it, he was derided by many in the press and experts and other leaders in Washington. And so I applaud the President for doing that. I think it was exactly the right thing to do. There's been much ado this week about comments he's made in interviews about the tenor of his remarks at the time. And I think we have to remember that he was publicly at the time saying this is serious, but we don't want to panic. And of course, that's the kind of stable, reasoned leadership we want from the leader of the free world. And so I don't think there's anything to see there. I think this President was hopeful. We want our President to be helpful, we want him to be addressing the issues and the challenges that come before our country without panicking people. So, then we also have to remember what the experts told us and how that has unfolded. The experts that were briefing the Congress and the President at the time told us, this is a novel virus. We don't have an effective vaccine for it, and we won't for some time, and we aren't exactly sure how to treat the patients who get this, and so at the end of the day, we can't stop the spread. And I want to emphasize that because they said that then and that's still true right now. We cannot stop the spread of coronavirus until we have a vaccine, an effective vaccine. And so, what the experts said is that we need to flatten the curve. Everyone remembers that term: ‘flatten curve’ but when they would draw diagrams of this, they would say the same number of people are ultimately going to get Coronavirus, we just need them to get it slower. And so that was the call to shut down the economy and limit contact, was to buy time. And the reason we needed to buy time was really twofold: one, we needed to make sure there wasn't a surge in the patients with COVID-19 that would overwhelm our healthcare system, and then secondly, we wanted to buy time for healthcare professionals to develop effective therapies and responses to patients with COVID-19. And we did that, and at a very high price, I must say. So, the President ultimately, and I think hesitantly and reluctantly, but he ultimately worked to shut down the economy, shut down the country. And governors of course across the country did that in their own way, and state by state, which of course is one of the beauties of federalism is that states get to pursue their own paths. That's part of what makes this country great. That means we saw a variety of different approaches around the country. And then we can learn from that, so-called laboratories for democracy. And so, the way that Tennessee approached it is not exactly the same as the way New York approached it. And we've seen the outcome now, and so we can, kind of, judge. So, what we know is that in Tennessee, we never overtaxed our health care system. In Tennessee, we did not see the huge casualties in the skilled nursing facilities and nursing homes that we saw in New York, which went a different way. And so, as I look at that total response, I think we did—the President, under his leadership, the administration has done a great job. FAnd so where are we today? We flattened the curve, we extended the period over which the virus spread, and then the President initiated what is called Operation Warp Speed, which is an initiative really led by the private sector and harnessing the ingenuity and innovative ideas of the American free enterprise system to come up with vaccines. And so, in record time it appears, perhaps yet before the end of the year, maybe even before the end of October, we may have a vaccine. Which everyone needs to keep in perspective. That compares to years that it has taken in the past to develop vaccines, in some cases as long as a decade to develop an effective vaccine against a new disease like this. And so, if that happens, it will be nothing short of remarkable. And then what have we learned in the meantime? The health care professionals have developed effective therapies; the survival rate has gone up dramatically; they've really, I wouldn't say mastered, but they've gotten very good at treating the individuals who get coronavirus and who get COVID-19. And so I think we've seen a real success. Now, we've learned some important lessons. Number one, we can't shut down the economy the way that we did. So, for the next pandemic, which may come tomorrow, or it may come 100 years from now, or sometime in the future, we can't approach it the way we did this one because the price that we've paid financially as a country, but in terms of health, the unintended consequences of closing down the economy, the other health consequences that people all across the country have suffered, we've learned that that approach is probably too draconian, and the next time we'll have to do it a little bit different way. And so as I think about the—I segue a little bit to politics is I think about the commitment that you heard from Vice President Biden, recently when he said if the experts say shut it down, I would shut down the American economy again. And I can confidently say that's not the right answer. Now, we might—might we need to implement stringent protocols, and social distancing and things like that to try to stem the tide? Yes, but we can't shut down the [coughs]—this country cannot afford it. No other country was able to afford the extent of shut down that we did in this country for the time that we did, and so we can't do that again. But I think the President's done a remarkable job under difficult circumstances. And I would say it's hard to imagine that he could do a better job. And then I just want to say, I think Tennessee has done a fantastic job, and I want to congratulate our legislature for passing liability reform that was so badly needed. I wish that could happen at the national level because I think it would help us get back to work, and back to school more quickly. But I think Tennessee is ahead of the game, and at the end of the day, as a Tennessean, I like to see Tennessee get a leg up, and I think this is a real leg up for our state. And I think people will take note of that, not just now, but in the years to come, when they think about where to live and where to locate their businesses, they're going to know Tennessee is a leader in getting things done and in responding to the crises that come along. And so I would just say to you, Senator Bailey, and the Tennessee General Assembly, a job well done.Senator Bailey: Well, thank you for that compliment. I know that even during this difficult time, the past six months from the pandemic, we have continued to see businesses relocate to Tennessee from other states, and we have—being in the trucking business, I’ve said this multiple times in talking with groups that trucking industry is an economic indicator. We're usually the first to see an economic slowdown. We're also one of the first to see when things are booming, and I can say that transportation logistics is booming in this nation right now. And I think that our manufacturers are opening back up, they're trying to produce products, they're trying to get the American worker back to work. Because the President shut this country down in the most robust economic boom that we'd ever seen. And so, I mean, he took a chance whenever he actually shut us down to do the safer at home, but as Americans and as Tennesseans, we have seen ourselves come out of that. And you mentioned Tennessee: we have really tried to be very proactive during these last few months to minimize the impact to our small businesses and our state. And also that came with help and assistance from the federal government, so we appreciate that. Well, we've talked about the President, and so I guess I'm going to kind of close out with this final question, and that is, what is your perspective on the Presidential election? Where are we, and where will we be in November?Congressman Rose: Well, I think the President probably said it best in his nomination acceptance speech a couple of weeks ago which, thank you to the people of the 6th district for the privilege and honor of representing you and in turn affording me the chance to get to be there and see that historic moment on the South Lawn of the White House. But the President said something to the effect—and I'm paraphrasing—that this could not be a clear choice. And I think that's true. And I'm not sure that's necessarily a good thing, but I think it is just an absolute truth that probably not in my lifetime, and perhaps not in the history of the country, have we had a clearer choice between the two leading presidential candidates of where they will take this country. On the case of President Trump, we have a person who is unapologetically pro-American: believes in this country, believes in the American ideal, and wants to see that grow and continue in advance, and wants to see that passed onto future generations of Americans. And on the other side of the coin, we have Vice President Biden and Kamala Harris—Senator Harris—who represent a dramatic change in where America will go. And they're ashamed of our history, and want to fundamentally change this country, and move us toward socialism, which has failed everywhere it's been tried in the history of humankind, and we have stark examples of that around the world right now to look at. And so, I think it's just a very clear choice. Vice President Biden tells us he's going to dramatically raise our taxes, and he's going to limit our freedoms, and he's going to expand the federal government, take on more power at the federal level, all things which I think are diametrically opposite of what we should be doing. Right here in Tennessee, we have stark example of that. And we can look around the rest of the country and see how that pays off. So, our conservative government here in Tennessee—frankly, through the years led by both Democrats and Republicans—have been financially responsible. They have celebrated what makes this country great: free enterprise and, and freedoms, and personal liberties. And we need to continue down that path, and we see that Tennessee has prospered as other states have failed and faltered. We see that by and large here in Tennessee, we have safe and secure communities. We don't see the kind of social disorder that has set up around the world. We have to remember that this experiment in democracy that began with our Republic's establishment 231 years ago, that we've continually been working to improve this country and there's still work to be done. It's a work in progress, obviously. It's not perfect, it hasn't been perfect, we've made mistakes; we're flawed; we're humans. But it's the best government and the best form of government, and it has afforded us the most substantial best standard of living in the history of humankind. And so to me, it's a clear choice. And so I think that we need to reelect President Trump. He's not perfect; nobody would claim he is. He wouldn't claim that he's perfect unless he was joking. And sometimes people don't get his sense of humor, but I think that we need to reelect President Trump, and frankly, I think we need to send back a majority to the United States Senate, and I hope that we can reclaim a majority in the US House of Representatives. I've witnessed firsthand how the democrats led by Speaker Pelosi, and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, and Maxine Waters have squandered the last year and a half in the 116th Congress. They could have gotten lots of things done. And when I was running for Congress, two years ago for the first time, lots of people said, “Hey, I want to see I want to see folks in Washington compromise, and find solutions, and get things done.” But I will tell you that I've had no opportunity to do that because the Democrats in the House have chosen to go one direction, and that is to go far left with socialist proposals and ideologically extreme solutions that had no chance of becoming law. And they've shown no willingness to sit down and negotiate. So, just like we see right now with discussions about perhaps some additional need of aid to the businesses and individuals who've been affected by the shutdowns around the country, Speaker Pelosi has indicated forthrightly, she doesn't think she has to negotiate. That she doesn't want to negotiate. It's kind of her way or the highway. And what we see with her, sadly, and what we so often see with ideologues that want to go that far, is that they think they live under a different set of rules than you and I live under, and so they would espouse shutting down everything, and reducing your access to commerce, and to essential services, but then we find that behind the scenes, they continue to avail themselves of the things they want. And I think people are keen to see that hypocrisy—and I hope that the country makes the right choice. The country is deeply divided, and so I don't think that's by any means certain. I think for folks here in Tennessee, we need to make sure we get out and vote. We need to give the President an overwhelming victory. We need to run up the score here in Tennessee so that we can offset the poor decisions that maybe some of our fellow citizens might make in other states.Senator Bailey: Wow, that's exactly right. Well, just before we do a final closeout, is there anything that you would like the people at the 6th district to know about Congressman John Rose or Washington? I know we've covered a lot and you've done an extraordinary job of answering our questions and, and basically just speaking the truth. And so, any last thoughts?Congressman Rose: Well, sure. Thank you, Senator Bailey, first off for the opportunity to be with you today. And thank you to the people of the 6th district of Tennessee for the opportunity to represent you in the US House. It's the opportunity of lifetime, and something I will always cherish and so, every day I get to be there and represent you is a real honor and a privilege. I would just want everyone to know that, as I think about the things that are important in my life, first of all, my relationship with my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ comes first. And then my relationship with my wife and son and our family, that’s second. And then a distant third, sadly, comes my work for you in the US House of Representatives—and I hope you appreciate that perspective that I have—but that comes third. And it's very important to me and I promise that I'll continue to work hard and try to understand the wishes and perspectives of the people of the 6th district, and make sure that your voice is heard and that your views and perspective are well-represented in Washington; we work hard every day to do that. I do have a great staff here in the district and in Washington to help me do that, and so feel free to reach out to our offices, both here in Cookeville and Gallatin. If you have an issue dealing with the federal government, or you just have a perspective or a viewpoint that you want to share. And remember, I represent you all, so even if you feel differently about issues of the day, don't hesitate to reach out and let me know. And it's not hard to find us: you can go to johnrose.house.gov, and it has all of our contact information. Or you can call information and ask for our office, and they'll get you to the right place. So, it's a privilege to represent Tennessee and it's interesting times. As the challenges are great, I would just say, founding fathers gave us a wonderful, democratically representative republic that has, I think, served us remarkably well. And I keep the Constitution in my top pocket all the time to remind me of the system that they set up. And so I have great confidence that if we all stay active and involved and educated about the issues of our day, that this government can serve us well, and will fix the problems that we have if we all work together. Sometimes it will be messy. As Winston Churchill once said, “The one thing you can count on from the Americans is that they'll eventually do the right thing after they try everything else.” And he was poking fun at us, but I think he understood the remarkable system of government that had risen up here in America, in the United States. And so we're so blessed to be here, and no one should lose sight of that, no matter what your background is. If you've been lucky enough to get to this country and be a citizen in this country, how blessed we all are. Thank you.Senator Bailey: Absolutely. Well, thank you again for being with us. We'll see you next time.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
47 minutes | May 14, 2020
Meet US Senate Candidate Dr. Manny Sethi
Some of the highlights of the show include: Dr. Manny Sethi’s parents grew up in India in the 1940s. They moved to Cleaveland, Ohio in the 1970s after waiting seven years to come to America. @2:52 Dr. Sethi’s family moved to Hillsboro, TN in the 80s. His father was a doctor to many farmers there. @4:26 Becoming a trauma surgeon was not easy, but Dr. Sethi felt like it was what he was called to do. @7:23 For his trauma fellowship, Dr. Manny Sethi went to Vanderbilt Medical Center. He has been on staff there for 10 years now. @9:27 Dr. Sethi met his wife Maya when they were 16. They are now married with two children. @10:17 “I just believe that our faith as Christians is to just reach out in times of need and help people.” -Dr. Manny Sethi @12:00 10 years ago, Dr. Sethi and his wife started Healthy Tennessee, a preventative health organization that focuses on the health of rural Tennesseans. @13:33 “I just deeply in my heart feel it's an opportunity to ensure that the American dream in Tennessee stays alive for the next generation.” -Dr. Sethi on why he is running for Senate @17:54 Dr. Sethi believes opening up TN and America is the best decision because the mortality rate would be less than 2 percent, but our economic gains would be so much higher. @20:16 Dr. Sethi advises everyone to wash their hands and to wear a mask at the grocery store if it is crowded. He also says to try and keep high risk family members away from stores and crowded areas. @24:54 Vanderbilt Medical Center had some COVID patients. It was an anxiety-inducing environment for Dr. Seth, but overall, it made him closer with his co-workers there. @28:16 “We've got to cut our spending; our discretionary spending continues to be out of control.” -Dr. Sethi @36:24 As a US Senator, Dr. Sethi wants to repeal and replace Obamacare. He also wants to tackle the opioid crisis. @ “I'm asking you to take a chance on me and send me to the United States Senate and let's fight together to solve some of the greatest issues of our time.” - Dr. Sethi @44:49 TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I'm your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today's episode, we have Dr. Manny Sethi, a trauma surgeon here in Nashville that works at Vanderbilt Medical Center. We're going to talk to him today about why he's running for the US Senate and to give his take on the current events in Washington DC. But before we get started, I would like to invite Manny to tell us a little bit about himself and what it was like growing up in Tennessee. Welcome to the program. Dr. Sethi.Dr. Sethi: Well, Senator Bailey, it's an honor to have you, thanks for having me on. And before I go forward, I just want to say, you get to know people in different walks of life, in different ways and one of the substantial conversations I will always remember about you is when the tornadoes Cookeville, and you just we're all-in, helping folks, and were so selfless. And that is what I aspire to be as someone who wants to pursue public service. So, thank you for that.Senator Bailey: Well, thank you for those kind words. And, as you know, as someone that serves the public as well, that when you are a public servant, and you have a true servant's heart, the main mission is always about the people and meeting their needs. But again, thank you for those kind comments. And so, tell me a little bit about your backstory. I'd like to know about where you grew up here in Tennessee, and tell us a little bit about why you became a trauma surgeon. So, tell us a little bit about your family. The thing of it is the podcasts can go anywhere because, certainly, everyone has access to it, but a lot of people in the Upper Cumberland area in the 15th Senate District that I represent, listen to these podcasts. And this is an opportunity for you to really introduce yourself because we're in unprecedented times as far as campaigning right now. It's very tough. Obviously, we can't have Reagan day dinners, and it's hard to be at those Farm Bureau breakfasts, and so we're having to redo our campaigns basically, to reach people. So, I felt like this would be another way for you to reach the people of the Upper Cumberland, and tell them about Manny Sethi. Dr. Sethi: Sure. Well, thanks. Well, my story, Senator, all starts with my parents, as for all of us, and my parents grew up in India in the 1940s. And they had nothing when they were little children. Their homes were burned to the ground by Muslim radicals. And they both, by the grace of God, pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps to become doctors. My mother would be a nanny, and she'd go to these villages in India without electricity, without running water, see patients. My father would sleep in the back of his car at night, and do odd jobs, and see patients during the day. But they both get through medical school, they both become physicians and they look around. And they realize that India is not going to be the place for their unborn kids. And they're looking at what's happening with their nephews and nieces, and so they go to the US Embassy, they stand in line and wait their turn, and it took about seven years. And in the 1970s, they came to Cleveland, Ohio—and that's where I was born—and retrained in the medical system, here in America. And then, at the age of four years old, I can still remember it, I got on this semi-truck, and we rolled on down to Coffee County, Tennessee; Hillsboro, Tennessee. And for those of you who don't know in the Upper Cumberland, Coffee County, Hillsboro, Tennessee is mostly a farming town. Back then, there were absolutely no doctors there. And so, my parents were among the first physicians, and they were doctors to farmers. And Hillsboro, Tennessee, people didn't have a lot, but they sure had each other, and they invested in me and my brother—go ahead.Senator Bailey: My question is, in what year was that? Dr. Sethi: That was 1982 Senator Bailey: 1982. So, the early 80s?Dr. Sethi: Yeah.Senator Bailey: Okay.Dr. Sethi: So, in the early 80s, they were here in a farming town, and folks really poured their love into me and my brother, and I went to this school, which was a really, really small school, Hillsboro Elementary School, and really went to the school with the kids of all these farmers. And I just remember, they really struggled, but you just never known it. And I'd make all these house calls with my dad. We only had one ambulance in our town, so we had this blue Delta 88 Oldsmobile, and we'd make these house calls on the backroads, and I very specifically remember this one night, we picked up this farmer in Altamont in Grundy County. And he was having chest pain and shortness of breath, and I'm in the backseat of this car, and my dad's rushing to the hospital, this rural hospital he helped develop, and my dad runs him inside and comes out, and he's comforting the family. And I watch his family tries to give my dad money, but he wouldn't take it. So, he gets back in the car, I get in the front seat. And we're riding home and I said, “Well, Dad, why don't you take this guy's money? Why don't you take this family's money?” and he says to me, “You know, Son, doesn't matter what's in your bank account, but what matters is the difference that you make.” And for me, that was a real important moment in my life, and something I always remember. Doesn't matter what's in your bank account, but what matters is the difference that you make. And that was Hillsboro, Tennessee, and that's how I was raised and watching them doctor to people mostly, again, farmers, and then when I was in my early 20s, I lost my dad to liver cancer. And so, for me, that was a real seminal moment in my life. I struggled hard. I just couldn't find my way. It was like being in quicksand. But that's when I found Christ. That's when I was saved. And that's when I realized that, like three generations of people: my family, I was going to become a doctor, too. So, I went off and trained and became a trauma surgeon. So, trauma surgery is not exactly the thing that people line up to do. And it’s, sort of, what a lot of people don't want to do. The lifestyle is hard. The risks are high. The financial reward is not as high, but I was always just drawn to the patients and I could not for the life of me understand why. And then, over time, as I've practiced it's come to me and I've realized that it's because these folks, my patients, remind me of the people I grew up with. Good God-fearing people who just were in harm's way, at the wrong place at the wrong time, or in a car accident, and they need someone to help them, and so I've just been very blessed and very fortunate to be a part of a lot of people's lives in a time when they need someone.Senator Bailey: Well, that's great. I want to back up just a little bit. So, you went to Hillsboro Elementary School. Then did you attend Coffee County High School?Dr. Sethi: Well, I went to Hillsboro elementary school and then I went to high school and Bell Buckle, Tennessee—Senator Bailey: Oh, Bell Buckle, okay. Dr. Sethi: —Bible-based school called the Webb School.Senator Bailey: Oh, yeah, I love Webb School. Yes.Dr. Sethi: Yeah, that's where I spent seven years of my life, in Bell Buckle. Now, if anybody listening to this wants to go to the best restaurant in America, it's the Bell Buckle Cafe—Senator Bailey: Absolutely.Dr. Sethi: —and ask for the fried cornbread. It's really good. Senator Bailey: So, well. I've just learned something. So, you attended the Webb School, and then I assume you went on to Vanderbilt from there? So, just tell me a little bit about—Dr. Sethi: Sure. Oh, sure. From there, I went on to go to school at Brown University up in the northeast. And then, after that, I really was trying to figure out what my way was in life and what I was going to do. So, I did something called a Fulbright scholarship where I went to North Africa, and I helped little kids with Muscular Dystrophy for a year. There was a specific type of neurological disease that affects muscle in kids. And no one could figure out what was going on, so I went on a project with the US government. And we collected muscle samples and built the first DNA database for the entire country of this disease.Senator Bailey: Of Africa?Dr. Sethi: Yeah, for North Africa, for Tunisia. And that was an amazing experience for me and it really showed the power of American medicine, and the power, as a Christian, that you could have in just helping others. And for me, that was a very formative time. And then came back home, went to Harvard Medical School.Senator Bailey: Oh, Harvard. Oh, okay. Wow.Dr. Sethi: [laughs]. Yeah.Senator Bailey: The Vanderbilt connection, obviously, is because you're a trauma surgeon there. But again, these are things that I associate you with Vanderbilt just thinking of obviously attending medical school there. And now. Yeah, you're enlightening me, and I think the audience will definitely be interested in that.Dr. Sethi: So, I went to Harvard Med School, stayed up there for my residency at Mass General Hospital, and like [00:09:36 unintelligible] did, and then came back and did my trauma fellowship at Vanderbilt. And trauma fellowship is just this crazy time in your life where for one year, you essentially just live in a hospital. So, it's a year where you're pretty much independent, but you're still learning a little bit and you work really hard. And Vanderbilt has probably one of the top five trauma programs in the country. I mean, it's just an incredible place. We're the third busiest level one center in America. So, you learn a lot. And so, did my trauma fellowship and then been on staff for about 10 years now.Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Wow. And so, somewhere along the line, you got married?Dr. Sethi: Yeah. So, I met my wife, Maya when I was 16 years old, at a summer program, and she's my first and only girlfriend and then became my wife. And we have two kids, a six-year-old and a four-year-old, and she's just such a blessing to me. She's just an amazing woman. Senator Bailey: Now she's an attorney. Dr. Sethi: She's an attorney and she works for charter schools. She used to do healthcare work—well she started out as a criminal defense attorney, then moved over into healthcare. And you know, Senator, I make no secret about it, we talked about this a lot because it helps people, and people don't talk about this enough. When we were trying to have kids, we just couldn't have kids. It was not happening. And so, I remember we went to visit this OB-GYN doctor and he said, “I give y'all about an under 30 percent shot for this to happen. So, you need to consider adoption and other things.” And I remember my wife, only later on, she told me she prayed to the Lord and she said, if you give me a child, I promise I will devote my entire life and do whatever, is in your name, and you think I should do. And so she, once we had our first child, she really felt called to be an education, and gave it all up and joined the charter school.Senator Bailey: Oh, yeah. So, you've, you've mentioned this several times, and so obviously, your Christian faith is very important to you, and it's what shapes you, it's what made you into the person that you are today. So, I think that that's Tennessee, and that's who we are.Dr. Sethi: Well, I think it's funny my pastor at my church—I go to McKendree Methodist Church downtown—what he always says about me, he goes you're the kind of guy who's less talk, more action. And I believe that. I believe as Christians we're called to help each other. We're called to help others. I love the Gospel of Matthew, and specifically, Matthew 9, which teaches the harvest is plenty, but the workers are few. And I just believe that our faith as Christians is to just reach out in times of need and help people. And for me, there was always no greater calling to do that than as a doctor, and that's how I've lived my faith, and through our nonprofit which I'm sure we'll talk about, Healthy Tennessee. I just feel that we have been able to help and make a difference in the lives of so many and I believe that's what Jesus calls us to do.Senator Bailey: Right. Well, you know, Jesus was a healer. And obviously, you’re in a profession of being a physician, a doctor, you're in the business of helping heal. And so, I think that's good. And you just mentioned something about your nonprofit, Healthy Tennessee, which I think is an extension of, again, you trying to help individuals. So, tell us a little bit about Healthy Tennessee?Dr. Sethi: Yeah. So, about nine, ten years ago, I was just getting very frustrated watching some of these things happen when—especially on the TennCare side, where we were investing so much money in treating disease but not promoting wellness. So, we're spending $10 on the back end to treat diabetes, but we won't spend $1 on the front end for education. So, I just started talking to folks, and I felt like no one was really listening. And one day I volunteered at one of those leadership—I think it was in Wilson County—it was Leadership Wilson County at a health fair. And I went out there with my wife, Maya, and I'm seeing patients and we were driving home, and she looks at me and she said, “what if we did one of these in every county across Tennessee, and really focused on education?” And out of that came Healthy Tennessee. Our first health fair was in Manchester, Tennessee, where I grew up in Coffee County, and we started seeing patients, focusing on getting on the front end of their health. I conned all my trauma nurses and folks to come out there and volunteer. But pretty soon we were going places and we had about 100 healthcare providers coming out of the woodwork to help people. Just people helping people, communities helping communities. We then segued, and we turned it into more of a policy organization at the same time where we brought together almost every community health organization in Tennessee under one roof, created the first of its kind statewide Listserv so that everybody could communicate. We came up with shared goals. Then about two years ago, we did the same thing in the opioid space. And we brought together all of these opioid interests across the state under one roof at one time to talk about this crisis. We've traveled the entire state doing it. We gave Governor Lee a white paper. But at our core, we are a preventative health organization that focuses on the health of rural Tennesseeans. But we've developed this policy arm, and what was incredible about it was President Trump heard about this, and he invited me to the White House—Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Dr. Sethi: —yeah, to talk about it. And so, I met with him, and he loved Healthy Tennessee. He really loved it. And what he loved most about it was that he asked me, I'll never forget, he said, “How much do you think you're spending per patient.” I said, “Less than $5.” And he was just amazed by that. And he couldn't remember Manny, so he nicknamed me Tennessee. And ultimately, then he wanted me to speak at one of his presidential rallies, which I did. And I'm just a big fan. He's a really good man.Senator Bailey: And since you brought up President Trump, don't you find him, when you're one on one with him, to be a very genuine and sincere person?Dr. Sethi: Oh, yeah. Oh, and really funny too. He's just a really—and he's smart like a fox. He knows a lot more than he lets on. And I noticed this, I remember because he started asking these questions about Kentucky Medicaid. When I was with him, he was like, “Explain to me how Kentucky expanded their Medicaid program, and yet Tennessee didn't and your outcomes are about the same, if not better?” which revealed to me that he knows a lot more about what's going on then he wants to let on. Senator Bailey: Yeah, I usually find that to be true. Just this past weekend, he did his town hall with Fox News, and it's just really amazing to see him interact with those reporters as well as those individuals that were able to call into the town hall, and especially one, in particular, question was about why is he so abrasive a lot of times, I guess, is the word that I would choose, towards the media and in his response is because they're just constantly out to get him, and he can't catch a break anywhere, and so he just—but I have had the opportunity to meet him a couple of times in Tennessee, and especially during the when he visited Cookeville right after the tornadoes, and he was just so genuine and sincere to those that were truly hurting there in the Cookeville area. So, what inspired you to run for the US Senate?Dr. Sethi: You know, this is something I've really thought a lot about. And, as I mentioned to you, my parents came to this country in search of the American dream for their unborn kids, and they left everything they knew behind. And, my dad would never see his dad again the night after he left. My mom left her entire family and when you meet her, she's so shy, I cannot even imagine doing what she did. So, they came here, took that risk. And because of that, I got to live the American dream in Tennessee. I truly have. And in my own life, I look and I say, well, what have I done for society? What have I done for Tennessee? And now, I feel like I've made a difference through helping people as a doctor, through Healthy Tennessee, but with this open US Senate Seat, Senator, I feel that it is a generational opportunity to make a difference, but a different kind of difference. And I just deeply in my heart feel it's an opportunity to ensure that the American dream in Tennessee stays alive for the next generation, and that's why I'm running.Senator Bailey: Well, it's certainly a huge challenge running for the US Senate and having to get your message out to all Tennesseeans, and let them know your sincerity level and know that you have a heart for the people of Tennessee and that you truly want to help them. So, let's pivot just a little bit and talk about Washington today. And obviously, our country has been forced into a nationwide shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. And it's called several things, and first and foremost, our federal government, our Congress, our president has basically spent trillions of dollars now in stimulus packages to help all Americans. But my first question to you is, with your experience in the medical field, how do you think the administration has handled the COVID-19 pandemic?Dr. Sethi: Well, I think the President has done—I applaud him and what he's done. I mean, things are coming at him a mile a minute. And he's making the best decisions he can make. You know, as a trauma surgeon, this is something I frequently have to do. You show up; no case is the same. You're making decisions on the fly. You have no idea what's going to come next. All you can do is make the best decision you can in the moment, and that's what he's been doing, and so I think he's done a great job. But what I do believe is that we have been on—and like the President's been saying—we have been on the defense with this Coronavirus and that we've created a, what I call a horizontal containment strategy where we shut everything down, because to protect those who are at risk. But the issue is, and what our campaign has called for—we put out a white paper about a month ago—is something called a vertical containment strategy. And that is, let's protect those people who are at risk, those people who could get really sick with this virus and then open up the rest of the economy. And in fact, just, I believe, yesterday, there was a paper that was written out of MIT, a bunch of MIT economists, who said that exactly what we're saying, what our campaign said four weeks ago, is that by just opening up the economy, and doing a vertical containment strategy, the mortality rate would be less than 2 percent, but our economic gains would be so much higher, and so we have to open up Tennessee and America.Senator Bailey: Oh, I totally agree. I totally agree. We have seen our nation's greatest economy within about a six week period. Just totally come to a screeching halt. And so, we have to get America moving again and get it back up. And I think you're exactly right. I think those that are most vulnerable to the COVID virus, every precaution needs to be taken to ensure that those individuals are not infected with the virus. But at the same time, we have to get the nation moving again, and especially Tennessee. One thing that, when I speak to constituents, and this is based on several of my medical friends and discussions with them, it's like a 98 to 99 percent recovery rate if you're a healthy individual, and you actually are infected by the COVID virus, so it's just that small percentage of individuals that have underlying health issues or they're at an age that it's just going to be very hard on them. So—Dr. Sethi: Can I just add to that and say one thing?Senator Bailey: Sure, yeah. Absolutely.Dr. Sethi: I mean, think about this for a minute. So, we've definitely saved lives with our strategy, no doubt. This horizontal containment, shutting everything down and keeping people at home. Absolutely. But think about on the back end of this. What about when they shut down the hospitals and people didn't get their colonoscopy, or they didn't get their mammogram and a year from now they're going to find out that they had colon cancer, breast cancer that could have been stopped? Or what about the people who lost their jobs and turn to opioid addiction? Or what about the people who lost their jobs and tried to commit suicide? You know, suicide hotlines are up 1000 times in terms of the volume of their phone calls. So, I believe that everything is a risk-benefit analysis, but doing what we did also lead to losing lives. And so, it's a very tricky decision. Senator Bailey: Absolutely. And I think you bring up a very good point, that there's going to be other consequences to the health of Americans and Tennesseans not just because of the COVID virus, but because of us closing down hospitals to elective surgeries and tests that you referred to, as far as colonoscopies, mammograms, and other tests that individuals. Now, some may have lost their job, which could ultimately mean they've lost their insurance. And so, they may not have the money to come and have those tests performed. So, there’s other underlying health consequences to the fact. So, what advice would you have for Tennesseans that are worried about this pandemic?Dr. Sethi: Well, I'd say first of all, if you're healthy, as you just said earlier, Senator, the likelihood of you getting very sick from this is very low, but the higher likelihood is that you give it to people if you had it without knowing it. And I think the best thing you can do is to wash your hands a lot. Lots of people are asking me these questions about masks. Well, what do you think about masks? And I would tell you, look, if you're in a grocery store and it's crowded, I don’t know, maybe if you got one in your wallet, or your pocket, or your purse, pull it out and use it. I mean, I don't think you really need it in rural areas where the numbers are low. I would say, just do everything you can to stay healthy right now. Take vitamin C, get a lot of sleep, those things are really good for your immune system. But as best you can, I think you need to carry forward with your life. Now, if you do have elderly parents, grandparents, try to keep them away from grocery stores. Try to help them out a little bit. Make sure they're getting what they're what they need. If you can, just call someone that is living by themselves. Just check in on them. That one phone call, even 10 minutes of engagement with somebody, it just can really change their entire day, and it improves their health. And so, there's a lot of things that we could all do as citizens of Tennessee. I mean, look, I'm just telling you right now, the thing I learned from Healthy Tennessee is we are different in this state than other places. This is truly the volunteer state and people care about people, and I have seen this, Saturday, after Saturday, after Saturday, running around the state having health fairs.Senator Bailey: Exactly. And you know, [laughs], so funny living in a rural area, if you've driven by Lowe's, Home Depot, Kroger, Walmart, any of those big box stores, the parking lots are packed, the stores are packed. My comment is man, that people are elbow to elbow in those places. That should have been the petri dish for the virus, and obviously we haven't seen a huge outbreak, in rural areas especially, even though there's lots and lots of people that are going to these stores, especially on the weekends. One of the big box store managers in my district told me that their largest sales day had been Black Friday, until just a couple of weeks ago, right after the shutdown took place in the first real pretty Saturday, they were up $100,000 over their largest day ever. And they just were running out of product because people were coming in to do all those little at-home projects that people were confined to do. Let me ask you a question, now. You're a trauma surgeon at Vanderbilt. And what role have you played here recently as far as COVID, have you been on the front line treating patients that have come into Vanderbilt and can you just elaborate just a little bit about what role you've played just recently at Vanderbilt because I know that that you've had had to extend the amount of time that you spend at the hospital? So, tell us a little bit about that.Dr. Sethi: Well, we went from doing five to six events every day across Tennessee to suddenly I was called and just asked, “Can you come back to the hospital?” because what was happening was a lot of these hospitals were closed down because they didn't have the PPE: the gowns, the gloves, the masks because a lot of the stuff is made in China. Well, maybe we can cross back over to that in a little bit, so all these patients started coming to Vanderbilt and the trauma volume picked up. Now, some of these patients had the Coronavirus, and you got to take care of them, and I was in the Coronavirus units. And, in the beginning, it's pretty anxiety-provoking because, look, I lost a friend of mine in New York. Went to med school with him. He was a buddy of mine. He was on the front lines of this. Another one of my buddies, another doctor was admitted here for five or six days, almost on a ventilator. And so, I had to have this talk with my wife about, “Look, here's the will, this is where this is where that is if something were to happen to me.” And that was almost surreal, that we were having to have this conversation. And, you're in these units, and patients can't have their family around because no family can be around, so they're all alone. And the only interaction they can have is by FaceTiming with their relatives if they can, or talking on the phone. And you've got to wear this hazmat kind of gear to see them, and so there's no contact, and it's just so rough on the patients. And you come out of these units, and then you got to take off all this stuff and you're worried, “Am I going to pick it up?” And so, it was really anxiety-provoking in the beginning. But over time, I think we've gotten into our stride with this thing. We're learning more about the disease, about how it presents. There's some more treatment therapies now, but I will tell you that, in me, it really reminded me of the incredible privilege it is to be a doctor and to help people in their hour of need. And I almost think it was almost like a reminiscent of World War II call to service of, if you have two arms, two legs, and a stethoscope, you know where you need to be right now. And it didn't come to that in Tennessee like it did in places like in New York, but it was one of the most intense things I've ever gone through. But it also developed so much camaraderie amongst people at Vanderbilt, I've never gotten to know in over 10 years, now I’ve got to know them. The patient transporter, or nurses that I had never met, or just people in the cafeteria, people, you know, we all just kind of came together as this big army. And that that was very neat to be a part of.Senator Bailey: Yeah you get to know people that you've seen their name for 10 years, as you mentioned, but you didn't really know them. So, now you've had an opportunity to get to know them and to know that they have a desire to help people, too. This is Backroads and Backstories, we're interviewing Dr. Manny Sethi, a candidate for the US Senate. Manny, how do you think that this pandemic is going to influence the future of our medical field?Dr. Sethi: Oh, I think it’s going to vastly change the way we think about medicine in America. Now, the first thing is something I mentioned earlier. I think it shows our over-reliance on the Communist Chinese government, when the vast majority of our personal protective gear, and I mean gowns, gloves, when 20 of our medications are made by China that we can't get it here, and you saw all these hospitals across Tennessee running out of supplies. And that's because corporate America, we sold out all this stuff for a few dollars in the 90s, and in last decade. And so, I believe what you're going to see is a lot of that supply chain come back to the United States. And I think that we have to make that a priority, and I think it will become a priority because it's a national security issue. The second thing, I think how it has changed American medicine is the very rapid evolution of telemedicine. Now, telemedicine has been around for a long time, I've been using it for 10 years. I mean, I got patients in Gibson County, or Giles County, or wherever they're at, and they can't come in because they frankly don't have the money for the gas money. So, I just FaceTime him, and I say, “How you doing? Can I see your wound?” And they show me their wound on FaceTime. And we actually wrote a paper about it a long time ago. Now, but the problem though, is that the federal government has made this so difficult, because of the regulations, and within 10 minutes they just removed all those regulations, all that red tape gone. And so, now, a doctor in Tennessee can talk to a patient in Alabama or a patient in Alabama can talk to a physician in Washington State. So, we've rapidly created the regulatory climate where telemedicine can grow, and we're learning so much about how to do it. And so, 30 percent of my clinic visits a week ago were telemedicine. That had been unheard of. And so, I think those are the two major ways. And a third, though, I think you're going to be able to see competing hospital systems come together in very unique ways. In times of national crisis. Like these hospital systems in New York, they're all competitors, they all banded together. Same deal in Nashville, all these hospital systems came together, across Tennessee: Ballad Health, Vanderbilt, everybody got together—the UT System. And so, I think there will be a lot that we have learned.Senator Bailey: You touched on something, and I want to bring up two points. Number one is because of our relationship with China, and because so much of corporate America has sold out to China in regards to manufacturing products, but also our now national debt that we continue to accumulate, and especially during this pandemic. I think the last—during our last great recession, that it was like $1.2 or $1.3 trillion that we added, but just, basically, in about six weeks, we have accumulated over $3 trillion in national debt. So, you brought up national security in regards to medical supplies, and other products that's critical to the medical field, but this is also a national security issue for our entire country. Dr. Sethi: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: With the fact that China is actually buying most of our national debt. Dr. Sethi: That's right. Senator Bailey: So, tell me just a little bit about your thoughts as a US Senator. Let's just transition from Dr. Manny Sethi the trauma surgeon to now, Manny Sethi who has been elected as the US Senator. Tell me a little bit about your thoughts on our national debt and our relationship with China and how you believe that that has become a national security issue.Dr. Sethi: So, let me talk about the debt first. And then, we can talk about our foreign policy with China. So, you're exactly right. Now, I've seen figures of almost $4.3 trillion, which is where it's going to come to over the next year. And that's a huge problem. I mean, we're going to be passing this debt on to our kids, our grandkids, our great-grandkids. And it's absolutely a national security problem when we've got this debt, and who's buying it? China. And one day, they're going to come calling. Now, I want to just tell you this story. So, as you mentioned, I'm a doctor, and I'm not an economist, but it just would have seemed to me that we're just throwing cash out of helicopters right now hoping that it lands in the right place. So, I talked to a nationally known economist last week. I emailed. I said, “Hey, I'd like to get an educational session with you.” And we're talking and I said, “Well, here's the thing. There's a drug, it's called gentamicin, all right? You give gentamicin in an IV, it’s really bad for you because it goes all over the body; systemically is what we call it, but if you give it locally in a high dose, it's very effective. Okay. So, locally, you give it: great drug. You give it through the body: bad drug; can kill you.” So, I said to this guy, I said, “Okay, we're throwing this money out of helicopters here. How do we know that these trillion-dollar stimulus packages are getting to the right place? How do we know that it's helping small businesses like in Tennessee? Can you explain to me the feedback mechanism, because as a Senator, I'd like to know.” So, he kind of explains to me about the FDIC, and the Fed Reserve, and all this stuff. And then, I just keep coming back. I said, “Okay, I get all that. Can you tell me, how do you know that this money is getting the right place? Like, what's the feedback?” He's like, “There is none.” And that's our problem, right there. That is our problem. We, instead of being strategic and surgical about this, are just tossing money out of helicopters, hoping that it's going to get to the right place. And meanwhile—so who's gaining from this? Wall Street, big banks, big corporations, but when the small business guy in Crossville, it's not helping him, well it might, if the community banks are doing whatever they can do, and I applaud all those community banks, but the bottom line is, I believe that we're raising our deficit without getting this money strategically into the right hands. So, the things that we have to do are, if we are going to do any more stimulus packages, it's got to be more surgical. We got to know that it's going to help people. We've got to cut our spending; our discretionary spending continues to be out of control. I mean, we've got programs like in the Department of Education, they are spending millions and millions of dollars on things like cultural competency education for children, and I don't understand that. We're spending billions of dollars on healthcare in our country, trying to treat disease instead of promote wellness, and the example that I'll point to you is our Medicaid systems across our country which are broken. And I believe what we should do is we should give more responsibility, more authority back to the states. Let states like Tennessee design what plans you want. I believe it will save money, will cover so many more lives. And so, I believe that's how we're going to be able to tackle our debt in the future, but it's got to be—we have to control our spending, but we are not going to be able to withstand these kinds of stimulus packages. And my feeling is that we have to be more targeted. And the second part of your question regarding China. Look, our interrelationship with a communist entity is very concerning to me. Now, if I were to tell you, “Hey Senator, our entire oil reserve is dependent on a communist government.” You'd probably say, “That's a real problem right there, Manny.” And I'd say, “Yes, it is.” Because, just like the oil, our medications, our gowns, our gloves, we are way too dependent on the Chinese for our supply chains. And that is because, again, years and years of corporate America, and career politicians selling us down the road. And so, we have to bring a lot of this back to the United States. We have to reduce our dependence both financially and industrially from the Chinese. And if I'm your next US Senator, we're going to be talking a lot about that.Senator Bailey: Very good. I know that those are certainly things that weigh heavy on my mind as our national debt, that we continue to increase, and especially just here in the past few weeks, which ultimately, again, rolls over to national security for our country. So, tell me just a little bit about some of the other policies that are near and dear to Manny Sethi, and what you would really like to work on as a US Senator?Dr. Sethi: Sure, thanks. I think there are three big issues that I want to tackle as a US senator. The first is Obamacare. I think the time has come where we really need to repeal and replace this. All these establishment Republicans have claimed that they'll do it. No one's gotten it done. I have a free market base plan that focuses on pricing transparency, on an individual insurance market, on paying for prevention, and we can finally do that. The second issue, and we don't talk about it enough, is this opioid crisis that is killing a generation of our youth across the state. I have been focused on this issue for the last two years. Traveling the state, talking to local mayors, local sheriffs, recovering addicts, faith-based recovery folks, drug recovery courts. And the problem is the federal government has a one size fits all solution to this problem; it's not going to get it done. We need to empower local mayors, local sheriffs, the people who know what's going on in their communities. That's the way we solve this problem, and I believe that we can do that with more local control because let's face it, these local mayors and sheriffs have more knowledge about this issue in their pinky than federal legislators do in their entire body and I recognize that. And finally, is immigration. Now look, I'm the child of two immigrants. That's no secret, and I was born here. But look, my parents stood in line. They waited their turn, and that's the American way, and I’ll just be very frank with you. And if I'm in the US Senate, we're going to get rid of this chain-based migration stuff. We're going to end birthright citizenship for illegal immigrants, and I will push for a pause on all legal immigration until we get our unemployment rates down and get America back to work. There is no reason right now that we should have competition from foreign labor. There's just not.Senator Bailey: [laughs]. Well, those are three great policy issues that definitely need to be tackled, and glad to hear that those are near and dear to your heart. Just a quick observation. Just this past week, San Diego, California is now asking the federal government to come and make sure that the border is closed. To keep—Dr. Sethi: [laughs]. Wow, times have changed.Senator Bailey: [laughs]. You know, exactly. It was open border, open border, and now with this pandemic, they're asking the federal government to come to make sure that no one is crossing into California now. So, it's funny how just one little virus can certainly change a course of a state. And so, that was very interesting. Just before we close out, I guess, my final question to you today—and thank you very much for being here, and being a part of our podcast, and I know the people of the Upper Cumberland and Tennessee will find this very informative—but if there's one thing that you would like Tennesseans to know about Dr. Manny Sethi, what would it be?Dr. Sethi: It’s a great question. You know, Senator, I think it would be that my faith in Jesus Christ has driven my life to serve, whether that's as a doctor, or through my nonprofit work, and if the people in the Upper Cumberland are looking for a conservative outsider, someone who doesn't owe anyone anything, and wants to just help the people of Tennessee, and make a difference, and fight for you, then I would encourage you to go to drmannyforsenate.com to join us, to join our movement. And 40 years ago, folks in places like Cumberland County gave these two immigrants from India a chance. You opened your doors, and look what happened next. I became a doctor. My brother became a doctor. I've lived the American dream in Tennessee, and 40 years later, the child of those two immigrants, this kid from Coffee County, I'm asking you to take a chance on me and send me to the United States Senate and let's fight together to solve some of the greatest issues of our time.Senator Bailey: Very good, very good. And again, thank you for joining us.Dr. Sethi: Thank you.Senator Bailey: This is Senator Paul Bailey with Backroads and Backstories, thanking our guest Dr. Manny Sethi for joining us today; candidate for the US Senate. As of today and the recording of this podcast, we have extended an invitation to Ambassador Bill Haggerty to also join us on Backroads and Backstories to meet the people of the Upper Cumberland and Tennessee, as well. Thank you for joining.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
39 minutes | Apr 29, 2020
Telephone Town Hall With Senator Paul Bailey
Some of the highlights of the show include: Governor Bill Lee announced that restaurants can begin opening on April 27 with 50% capacity, and then on April 29, retail businesses will be able to begin opening. TN unemployment benefits are being processed for sole proprietors and 1099 workers. The state is working on guidelines to give to salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, etc. so they can safely reopen. The federal government deferred student loan payments until September. If someone is making more, even working part-time, than they’re set up to draw for unemployment, then they wouldn't be eligible for the benefits. Businesses should continue to follow CDC guidelines including having employees wash their hands and sanitize all surfaces. Graduation for White County schools is postponed and might be held at a later date in the summer. The schools are working with the Tennessee Department of Education and local LEAs to set up a plan to help catch students up when school starts back. School sports activities might not open back up until the middle of July. The reopening of elective surgeries across the state is going to depend upon what part of the state that you live in, and the PPE equipment that's available to those various surgery centers. Use the Upper Cumberland Development District as a resource to ensure that you're not being scammed by loan programs that aren’t federally funded and mandated. “A lot of Tennesseans are hurting out there. We hear you. We know that you're in need. We're working just as hard and as fast as we can.” -Senator Paul Bailey Links: Upper Cumberland Development: http://ucdd.org/ Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency: https://www.uchra.com/ SBA: https://www.sba.gov/ Tennessee Small Business Development Center: https://www.tsbdc.org/ TSBDC Twitter: https://twitter.com/tsbdc TSBDC Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tsbdc TSBDC LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/tsbdc/ Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance: https://www.tn.gov/commerce.html White House: whitehouse.gov CDC: cdc.org Tenn Higher Education Commission: https://www.tn.gov/thec.html Tenn Dept. of Education: https://www.tn.gov/education.html Paul Bailey’s email: mailto:email@example.com TranscriptAnnouncer: On this special episode of Backroads and Backstories, we invite you to listen to a recording of a recent telephone town hall hosted by Senator Paul Bailey. During the town hall, Senator Bailey, along with special guests: Commissioner Jeff McCord and Assistant Commissioner Rusty Felts of the TN Department of Labor & Workforce Development; Mark Farley, Executive Director of the Upper Cumberland Development District; Tyler Asher: Director of Small Business Development Center; And Kurt Dronebarger, Director White County Schools, discuss important current issues for the Upper Cumberland, including unemployment, help for small businesses, and public education. The town hall was moderated by Ryan Burrell of Spry Strategies.Host Ryan: We got a poll question tonight friends, and we just simply want to know whether you are more concerned with the economic impact of COVID-19 or the health impact of COVID-19. But first, we got a question from Donnie in Putnam County. And Donnie's got a question we all have on our hearts. And that's the governor had said to reopen the state, and just what is the latest information concerning that, guys?Senator Bailey: Well, thank you, again, this is Senator Bailey, Ryan for that question. So, the governor announced late this afternoon that restaurants can begin opening on April the 27th with 50 percent capacity, and then on April 29, retail businesses will be able to begin opening their businesses. Tomorrow he will be announcing further guidelines relative to other businesses and how they will be able to open safely.Host Ryan: Excellent. Just want to throw out another question from Tina in Monterey. And Tina wants to know how long it's going to take to get the latest SBA loans from the federal government.Senator Bailey: I'm going to throw that question over to Tyler Asher. Tyler, if you don't mind, you can jump in and answer that question.Dir. Asher: Thank you. Senator Bailey, I’d be happy to answer that. We are fully expecting—the House did pass the bill this afternoon—they fully expect the president to sign off on it tomorrow. We were told to be expecting funding the first part of next week, that they would start allowing the Payroll Protection Loans to start being processed again. And then, of course, the Economic Injury Disaster Loans would begin to get processed again.Host Ryan: Okay, we've got another question from Danny, and Danny would like to know where the best local state resources are concerning all of the topics tonight, SBA loans and Paycheck Protection Program.Senator Bailey: Mark, you or Tyler could jump in again and answer that question.Exec. Dir. Farley: I'm going to jump in first and then I'll turn it over to Tyler. Obviously, there is a lot of programs being pushed down from the federal level that'll be flowing through state government. Some of those have already hit and come on board. But we still expect many, many more programs to be established over the next coming weeks. So, obviously, your regional agencies, the Upper Cumberland Development District, the Upper Cumberland Human Resource Agency will have access to a lot of that information. We may or may not actually administer those, but we can certainly point you in the direction of where the newest and latest programs are at. As far as SBA, you're probably going to see just a continuation of the two main programs. Tyler, do you have anything to add on that?Dir. Asher: You will find a lot of information on the SBA's main webpage, also the Tennessee Small Business Development Center webpage or any of their social media outlets. And then, if you have really specialized questions, feel free to reach out to me directly and we will get you an answer.Host Ryan: Okay, great, we’ve got—Senator Bailey: [00:03:22 crosstalk]Host Ryan: —questions lining up here. Sorry, Senator?Senator Bailey: No, I'm just saying I just want to make sure that everyone understands that Mark and Tyler are at the Upper Cumberland Development District in Cookeville, so they're definitely local to be able to help our local businesses.Host Ryan: Outstanding. We're going to go to Bill Barnhill. Bill, you're on live.Bill Barnhill: Yes. Hi, Bill Barnhill here. Just curious when all of the applications for the unemployment program are going to be processed. I know my daughter, I'm speaking for her, she applied up in Cookeville about four weeks ago and she's still not heard back.Senator Bailey: Commissioner, would you like to jump in there on that one?Commr. McCord: Yeah, let me do this first and then I'll kick it to Rusty for any other. So, the program for our traditional unemployment insurance that has been traditionally functioning is the same as it's been, with the addition of a $600 adder from the federal government.And then the other major one is the unemployment insurance that's been expanded to sole proprietors and 1099 employees, and so I'm not sure which one of those she's with, but let me answer a question for both of them, then I'll kick it to Rusty. The first one is, so far this week there’ve been 225,000 people that have received payments on their claims and without knowing her specific situation and the nuances of that I can't speak to her specifically, but there is a lot of people being paid or receiving benefits from the traditional claims. The other one for the 1099 employees and the sole proprietors—it's called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance—those claims, we had to build the system to make sure those claims could get processed. And those claims will start to be processed and distributed for benefits starting tomorrow. And so, I'm not sure if that gets your question completely, but let me take it to Rusty to finish out that answer.Asst. Commr. Felts: Yes, so that's a good question. Normally, the federal government—our funding body requires that we pay people that are eligible for benefits within a 21-day timeliness period. And I never like having to use the word that depends, but Commissioner McCord is exactly right. It depends on which program, that specific scenario falls under.If it was regular covered wages, it could just be due to volume, or an answer back from the employer perhaps, that caused us to have to re-look at the claim. There's so many different scenarios, it's hard to speak to specifics. If it falls under the 1099 self-employed, in the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Those have taken us a little longer, for obvious reasons, because it's a program that's never been administered before through unemployment. And I was just reading a document that said there's been 22 million claims filed in this country since March 14. So, again, it could be to volume, but we are getting that program stood up, and expect to be paying those over the weekend for the first time.Host Ryan: That's great. We're going to go to Sarah Rector today. She's a Pikeville salon owner. Sarah, welcome to the town hall.Sarah Rector: Hi. Yes, my name is Sarah Rector—Senator Bailey: Hi Sarah, how can we—Sarah Rector: Yeah, I own a salon, actually, in Crossville and I live in Pikeville, but I was wondering, do they classify salons with retail when he's talking about reopening with phasing in? Because we haven't heard anything about salons. They just keep saying retail and restaurants.Senator Bailey: Yes, ma'am. So, under the Department of Commerce and Insurance is where cosmetology, barbershops are licensed, and they are currently working on some guidelines to be able to give to salons, barbers, tattoo parlors, and so forth, for you to be able to reopen.Obviously, you're working directly with a customer, you're touching that customer, you're totally in their personal space if you will. So, with that being said, the department is working very hard to try to bring those guidelines to give to you so that you can get open as quickly as possible. Everyone knows that has seen me, they realize I need a haircut too.Host Ryan: [laughs]. All right, we're going to go to Natasha Langford. Natasha got a question about student loans. Natasha, you’re live.Natasha Langford: Yes. Um, I have student loans from Tennessee Tech. And I was wondering when those will restart—you can restart paying in those. Or are they—I’ve heard they're all still September. Is that true, or is it just one payment?Senator Bailey: This is Senator Bailey, and Natasha, what my understanding is, is those payments have been deferred until September, so you'll not have to make any of those until September and that was deferred by the federal government.Host Ryan: That's great. Thank you so much. And we're going to go to Brian [Paret]. He’s got a question about unemployment benefits. Brian, you're on live, sir.Brian Paret: Hey, guys, can you hear me?Host Ryan: Yes, sir.Senator Bailey: Yes, sir.Brian Paret: Okay. My question was, A lot of folks around the Cookeville areas, pay has been reduced, depending on which manufacturing company that they work for, by a certain percentage. And I was just wondering if any of those unemployment benefits could be attained due to that, or do you have to be fully unemployed to gather any of those benefits?Commr. McCord: So, this is Jeff McCord, I'm going to kick that to Rusty, too, because I know he'll have a very succinct answer for you.Asst. Commr. Felts: Okay, so that's an excellent question. We get asked that a lot because there's a lot of confusion about the program. And the way it works is this: if your hours have been reduced, you could possibly be eligible for benefits. And under this new CARES act, if you are eligible for $1 of unemployment in a week, then you also get the additional $600 that goes with it. However, the rules of unemployment still dictate that. So, for instance, if you are having your hours cut, but you're still making more than you would draw on unemployment, then you're not eligible for unemployment, or the additional $600. So, the best thing to do, the answer is, if you've had your hours cut, and you file an unemployment claim, you'll get what's called a monetary determination. And that monetary determination will tell you exactly what you're set up to draw. If you're making more, even working part-time, than you're set up to draw for unemployment, then you wouldn't be eligible for the benefits. But that is an excellent question.Host Ryan: Okay, we're going to move on and go to Mr. [Hodge]. Mr. Hodge, you're on live, sir.Mr. Hodge: Yes, I'd love to know about the people who draws unemployment. Were the social security, whether they’re going to need it or not?Senator Bailey: Mr. Hodge, what's your specific question there again? Are you saying that if you draw Social Security, are you eligible for unemployment? If that's your question?Host Ryan: Yeah. He went back to the queue. That’s what he was asking, sir.Asst. Commr. Felts: Okay, so that's another good question. Anytime you file for unemployment, one of the standard questions is, are you drawing any sort of additional income, and the department will look at that income and make a decision on whether you're eligible or not. And while that seems like a very wide-range answer, it's because we have to address pensions, whether they were paid by [unintelligible] employer or not, and all the different factors of that particular situation. So, if you file for unemployment, just make sure and answer that question that you are drawing Social Security, and we will make a determination.Host Ryan: Guys, we’re going to Pearl Jackson, Pearl, you're on live.Pearl Jackson: Hi, I just got a question. My husband and I, we're on Medicare, and we don't have to do taxes, so are we going to be entitled to the stimulus checks also?Senator Bailey: Yes ma'am, you are.Pearl Jackson: Now, do they just deposit it into our accounts, just like our Medicare checks go in automatic deposit?Senator Bailey: Yes, ma'am, that is my understanding. Of course, we're talking more on the state level, and I know many of you have questions in regards to the stimulus money that's coming down from the federal government and I certainly don't want to put any of the other members of the call on the spot, but my understanding is, is that that would be directly deposited into your account if you're currently receiving benefits from the federal government into a bank.Host Ryan: Thanks so much Pearl, and also you can find great information on whitehouse.gov, and if you have a question about the health aspect of Coronavirus, the cdc.org has the most up to date information. Um, okay, we're going to go to Betty Smith.Betty Smith: Hello.Host Ryan: Hi Betty. What's your question, ma'am?Betty Smith: Well, I was asked which situation I would be the most interested in, whether it would be the financial situation or the medical situation of this opening the businesses, and I’m sympathetic to the people that might suffer from the medical situation. We’re a strong country, and we help people out, and I think that people are scared right now, they’ve never endured this before, but we’ll get along, and it’ll get worked out. But if you get the medical situation and you don’t survive, that is a terrible thing that cannot be worked out. And—[audio cut off]Host Ryan: So, thank you so much for that uplifting answer and again, if you're having medical questions, then go to the cdc.org. One thing that I think, from her question, should be asked is what they're going to be doing concerning state employment requirements to keep healthy. Do we have anybody that can answer that question?Senator Bailey: Well, I think that we need to follow the CDC guidelines, we need to continue to wash your hands, we need to make sure that we sanitize any surfaces that we come in contact with, and I think we need to encourage all of our businesses to do the same thing.Host Ryan: That's great. We're going to go with [Harlan] from—excuse me, sorry, did you have another follow-up?Senator Bailey: Well, one question that's come across and, Ryan, I just wanted to bring Mr. Dronebarger in from the school aspect of it, regarding end-of-school-year. Many parents out there are concerned about what, especially if they have a senior, whether they're going to have a senior prom, if there's going to be graduation, what sports going to be like in the summer, and then how we will restart our next school year. So, I'd like to bring Mr. Dronebarger, and if we could, and let him address that.Dir. Dronebarger: Yes, thank you, Senator. I met recently with all the directors from the Upper Cumberland region, and we discussed those very things. I can't speak specifically for every district, I do have some data here, but in a nutshell most of the directors felt like prom was just an unnecessary risk at this point, just the unknown of where this is going, moving into the summer. You’ll want to check with your individual school system, but most districts in the Upper Cumberland were shying away from the school prom, as we are here in White County.As far as graduation goes, we desperately want to have an in-person ceremony, and most are planning for such, even if it's not on a traditional date. It may be later in the summer, but most schools are planning for that. But they have a plan B or plan C in place which would look something like a drive-through or drive-up celebration to award diplomas. So, we certainly want to recognize those folks, and trying everything we can to make that happen. As far as school starting next year, over the summer—we are still working, by the way—schools are not open for schoolwork, but we are still working.We are serving meals every day in all of our school systems. We're still providing work online and in paper form. So, our schools are doing a great job across the Upper Cumberland and working together and serving families. This summer, you'll still see summer feeding programs, summer reading programs, more supplemental material, we need parents to stay involved, like never before, with their children's education. And then, going back to school in the fall, there'll be probably some remediation involved.There’ll definitely be some schedule changes in order to accommodate more make-up or remediation for time missed. It's looking like about a two year plan of catch-up for all the last time of learning. We can't expect to make this all up in one fell swoop, so we'll continue to work with the Tennessee Department of Education and our local LEAs to set up a plan to make that time up, but it looks like it's going to be a lengthy procedure.And then, finally, you spoke to sporting events. We expect more guidance from the TSSAA and even tomorrow, we expect a little more guidance because the latest announcement from that camp was that spring sports are canceled in their entirety. And that takes us through the end of the school year, which for most folks is the end of May, and even into the early June, some of the championships. Then they enter into the dead period, so-called dead period, in June.And so, spring—excuse me, fall sports are not set to start, in some cases, practices until the middle of July. So, we don't have anything definite right now, but I know a lot of folks are thinking about tryouts and things that normally happen this time of year. Right now, we don't have an answer to that other than we're just following safety and health guidelines, which is to say, we have to stay apart. So, those tryouts and those early spring practices are off right now until we get further guidance, but we expect that very soon from the TSSAA.Host Ryan: That's great. We're going to go to Harlan Robinson—and please hang on, folks. We’ve got seven or eight people in the queue for questions, and I'm going to get to as many as possible. Harlan, you’re live, sir. Harlan?Harlan Robinson: Yes,Host Ryan: You're live. What's your question?Harlan Robinson: Oh, I was wanting to know if people on social security, like myself, still going to give a stimulus check of $1200, or if that money's been spent out already, like some of the other money.Senator Bailey: All right, thanks—Host Ryan: Thank you, Harlan.Senator Bailey: Thanks, Harlan, for calling in and asking that question. And my understanding is no, that fund was not limited. Anyone that was eligible to receive the $1200 will be receiving that directly from the federal government.Host Ryan: We're going to go to Barbara. Barbara, what's your question?Barbara: Yes, I actually have two different questions. And one of those is, many college students are having issues with balancing online classes along with homeschooling children, and other personal issues.Currently if you do not maintain continuous enrollment in Reconnect, HOPE, and Promise, you cannot continue utilizing the program. With those who may need a break to recoup costs, or if a second wave happens in the fall and need childcare to adequately take online college classes, will any legislative bills be considered for those who are in those programs or even those that have a scholarship, can any bill be utilized to make sure that if they need that break, they can go ahead and go back instead of being kicked out?Senator Bailey: That's your first question?Barbara: Yes. Do I need to go ahead and do my second? [laughs].Senator Bailey: Well, let's just touch on that one first. Obviously, we're in uncharted territory in regards to the Coronavirus and the effects that it's had, not only on our economy but also on our education system. So, I can say to you that the legislature would be open for suggestions, and obviously we'll be working with Tennessee Higher Education Commission, as well as Department of Education, for suggestions on any top programs that would help those students that have been in those programs and had to basically stay at home to take care of their children, how we can continue to keep them reconnected. So, what's your second question?Barbara: Okay, so secondly, right now students are charged for online and alternative fees for online classes at Tennessee Tech, which averages about 129 per credit. And with those, sometimes there's not even an alternative on-site class that's offered, and they have to have it for their degree, so they're stuck with this online and all alternative fee. Well, now everybody has went online. And so, those that had to take it as a first are stuck with this bill.Is there any kind of legislative bill that could be considered to pay that back since everybody's online? And then, also, for the future, can legislation be considered for that if you're going to be charged for this online free, that there actually does have to be an alternative on-site class so that they're not stuck with paying the fee?And I'll give you an example. My daughter actually ended up having to take two for her teaching program and was charged an extra $600 that we had to end up paying out of pocket that we weren't expecting. And that was above and beyond her scholarships that she had. My son also had to, instead of taking the class because the on-site class was full, he just had to wait another semester until he could take it which, kind of, delays things and stuff like that.Senator Bailey: And, sorry, I just wanted to, and again, thank you very much. And listen, as I stated earlier, we're in a lot of uncharted territory with the effects of this virus. And I know that our education system has been really turned upside down. And I think there's going to be a lot of new policies that come out over the next legislative session that will help address a lot of the concerns that you have brought to us tonight.We've certainly been hearing those same concerns from other students. So, I think next year, being 2021, when we go back into legislative session, you'll start seeing a lot of the concerns of students today being brought forward in the form of legislation and/or changes by the Department of Education.Host Ryan: Okay, we got a great question, looks like, from Sharon in Fairfield Glade. Sharon, you're live.Sharon: Thank you for doing this, first of all.Senator Bailey: Yes, ma’am.Sharon: My question and my concern is Fairfield Glade is considered a resort. When they do these big golf tournaments, and in addition, they have timeshares, and it's considered someplace to really go. People come from many other states. My concern is what is being done to look at somehow controlling that opening. Um, we just don't know who's going to be bringing in what from where. And my concern is that nobody might be concerned about that, or looking at it carefully.Senator Bailey: Sharon, and thank you for that question, and as you know, that Fairfield Glade is governed by a board. And I'm sure that many residents there in the Fairfield Glade area are bringing those very same concerns to that board. And I'm sure that Mr. Weber will be addressing that and making sure that those resorts, when they open, that people that come into those resorts are properly screened, and also make sure that the residents in Fairfield Glade are kept safe.Host Ryan: Um, we're going to go to Jim Kennedy.Jim Kennedy: Yeah, thanks for taking our calls. I got two questions. The first question is the $600 kicker for unemployment from the federal government, is that a one-time payout, or is it weekly?Commr. McCord: No—so this is Jeff McCord. No, sir, that is weekly.Jim Kennedy: Okay. Yeah, we're getting some misinformation on it, and I've got a small manufacturing business here, and we're considered essential. And one of the challenges we're having, as people that are employed with us are ill, we've asked them to stay at home. We've had to get some temporary help, and some of the temporary help, they'll come in and work one day and then realize you're making $875 a week, why come to work? So, we've got a challenge there in the workforce. My second question, and it actually is coming from my wife who is sitting here next to me. When will elective surgeries resume across the state?Senator Bailey: Wow. That is a good question, and I've been reading various and certainly if any of the other guests that are on here can jump in on that. It's going to depend upon what part of the state that you live in, and the PPE equipment that's available to those various surgery centers. So, I think it's going to be dependent, again, on what part of the State of Tennessee, that you're in. Commissioner or anyone else want to elaborate any more on that, or is that, answered that pretty much the—Commr. McCord: Senator, Jeff McCord here. I think you answered it exactly right. I think we’ll begin to find out more tomorrow, at the governor's press conference, as well.Senator Bailey: Great.Host Ryan: Okay, we've got several more questions that we're going to queue up, folks, and I know that we got one from Jimmy in Crossville, and he wanted to know if you can get SBA loan and unemployment assistance.Senator Bailey: Tyler, do you want to jump on that one?Dir. Asher: I can answer that question. You cannot get the unemployment and the Payroll Protection Program both. You have to pick one or the other.Host Ryan: All right, we're going to go to Elizabeth [Dalese]. Elizabeth, what's your question?Elizabeth Dalese: Well, I have two questions actually.Host Ryan: Okay.Elizabeth Dalese: One is about the education. My son is a junior here in Crossville, Tennessee, at CCHS. And why do we have any online schooling for them? That's the number one question. And my second question is I've also had two lung surgeries, and I did not have to leave work, but I did because we were concerned about my condition, because if I caught this, I could die. And the unemployment system is just awful, and it just keeps saying processing, and I can't call anybody. And there's just nothing that you can do. Oh, you know, I just keep laughing about it. I mean, it's like, I understand that it's overwhelmed, but what's going on for somebody like me? Am I able to—even though I can work now my job is still open. And I can work, but—Senator Bailey: So, Elizabeth, you're saying that you had taken off simply because of your health condition, and you've been trying to get your unemployment. Commissioner, do you want to just touch on that and I'm going to kick it over to Mr. Dronebarger and let him see if he answers this question.Commr. McCord: Let me take that first, Elizabeth. So, you're right, we are stretched very thin in systems and in ability to take phone calls. We have put in, as of tomorrow, built and put in the system that you may fall under, even if you don't fall under the traditional uninsurance—insurance system, and that system is starting to pay and process claims now. As that happens, and as we improve the system, which is also happening, our phone call volume will drop, because those are the main questions that we're having. It sounds like from your situation that you may actually qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. There's a variety of factors there that may qualify you if you don't qualify for traditional unemployment insurance. And with that, I'll let Rusty finish this answer off.Asst. Commr. Felts: Okay, so that's a good question, but I really don't have anything to add. The Commissioner answered that perfectly. In normal circumstances where that might not be an approvable claim, under the CARES act, it very well could be, it will just have to go through the adjudication process. And it actually brings up a really good point about the program that I think everybody needs to hear. The one thing that's not advertised is we typically, in these situations, you have to go through the process to see if you qualify for Tennessee unemployment, regular state benefits before you ever know if you qualify for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, and sometimes that can add some additional time to it. So, it was a really good question.Host Ryan: Folks, and we got our poll results tonight. And we have 68.5 percent of you were more concerned about the economic impact. And we're going to go with a question or two more, and then Senator Bailey's going to give us some closing remarks. Let's go with Laura. Laura, you're live.Laura: Okay. I own a day spa and Cookeville where we do mostly therapeutic massage. So, I'm wondering, one, where do we fall at—are we under the salon, and will they have guidelines set up for us?Senator Bailey: Hey, Laura, I believe I know you.Laura: Yes because I've got several—I’ve got several clients that are just dying. So, I've got to figure out what we've got to do.Senator Bailey: Okay, well, listen, we're hoping that the governor’s ERG group will have guidelines out for you, either tomorrow or at the latest, first of next week so that you can get your clients back in there and start helping them out. Obviously, kind of falls under the barber, cosmetology guidelines. You're working directly with that patient, you're touching that patient, that client. And so, they're looking for best practices for you to be able to reopen and we hear you. We've been hearing you. And so, we want to get you open just as soon as possible.Laura: Okay. Thank you.Host Ryan: We're going to go with Henry. Last question of the evening. Henry, thanks for waiting so long. What's your question?Henry: Really just clarification that the SBA won't solicit customers. We have to go to them, just so we don't fall into a scam. Is that correct?Dir. Asher: Yes, that is correct. SBA wants you to come directly to them if you apply for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, that is directly through the SBA.Senator Bailey: Those of you that are interested in these SBA loans, I certainly want you to know that you have a resource in the Upper Cumberland Development District. It's a local resource. They're somebody that you can trust, that you can go to. Ask them questions, make sure that any of the SBA programs that are being offered are good for you, and make sure that anything that's been offered to you is not a scam. So, definitely use the Upper Cumberland Development District as a resource to ensure that you're not being scammed.Host Ryan: All right, let’s go with Bobby. Bobby, this is a great question. You're on live, sir.Bobby: Hello, Senator—this is for Senator Bailey. I was just wondering if the state opens a little too early and we have a setback, or a reinsurgence of this disease, or pandemic, or whatever we want to call it. What is the state doing to be a little better prepared for the next go around?Senator Bailey: Well, one thing we need to realize is that once we began opening up the state, that there could be a possible reemergence of COVID-19. And one thing that the state has realized, as well as the federal government, is how to prepare for that. We also know that the numbers that we were given early on, we did not get to those numbers. We did not need the required number of hospital beds and ventilators that were originally predicted, but the good news is we have those in place today. Our medical system is in place today to deal with any type of an outbreak that could reemerge with the opening of Tennessee.Host Ryan: All right, thanks so much. We're going to do one more here. We got Brandon, Brandon you’re live.Brandon: Hello, and I appreciate y'all doing this call. First and foremost, I was on unemployment previously to this pandemic coming through, and my benefit had exhausted right before everything got shut down. I was starting to get interviews and everything like that, but obviously everything's been, kind of, put on hold. I have read some on the Tennessee websites about possibly getting an extension on my benefits until things open back up. But I haven't really seen anywhere where I can reapply, and I've had issues getting the phone system, of course, because you guys have been just slammed with phone calls. One, I was wondering if you guys know how I can reapply for that extension, and two, if I'm actually eligible for that extension.Senator Bailey: Rusty, you want to take that one?Asst. Commr. Felts: Yes, sir. Absolutely. That's another good question, sort of in two parts. Whether or not you're eligible, that's going to depend on some different factors, so we don't ever just make a broad assumption that yes, these are, and yes, these aren't. But the best thing to do is file the claim, which leads to your second question. If you're inside of a benefit year and exhausted your benefits, you're in a rare circumstance, in that the system probably will not let you file a new claim because it sees you in that benefit year and with no options. So, the best thing to do is file a ticket with the department. And we will get to that ticket as fast as we can. We've got extra resources working all kinds of overtime, and we will get to that ticket, get it into the system for you, and determine your eligibility.Host Ryan: Folks, we've had over 7000 people on this call tonight at various times, and Senator, why don’t you close us out with some closing remarks.Senator Bailey: Sure. Well, first and foremost, I'd like to say that the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, constituents can certainly reach my legislative office at 615-741-3978. A lot of Tennesseans are hurting out there. We hear you. We know that you're in need. We're working just as hard and as fast as we can. But I can say that we have hope in Tennessee. We're going to reopen our state. We're going to get our economy back, and this is going to be the best news that anyone can have. And again, thank you very much, and thanks to all for joining us this evening. This is Paul Bailey.
57 minutes | Apr 6, 2020
Everyday Heroes in the Wake of Disaster
Guests Sheriff Eddie Farris of Putnam County Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter EMT Worker, Darrell Jennings Show NotesSome of the highlights of the show include: Sheriff Farris of Putnam County has been in law enforcement for over 32 years. @1:35 Putnam County Mayor Porter was EMS director for many years before becoming County Mayor. @3:28 “There’s a time and a season that we live in, and God prepares us for those times.” - Senator Paul Bailey @6:08 Darrell Jennings grew up in Putnam County his whole life. He has experience as a firefighter and an EMT. @11:26 Jennings and his wife turned their home into a triage shelter during the Cookeville tornado before help arrived. He became the Emergency Operations Command Center on scene. @12:25 “For full disclosure, I think the reason that Putnam County experienced the most loss of life was because a lot of people were like me. They had watched it until Smith County and they assumed that it was going to just be a storm.” - Senator Bailey @16:24 After the storm hit, Highway 70 was impassable. The telephones lines and electrical lines were down. Debris was on the roads. @23:58 19 people died and 92 were injured because of the tornado. @25:22 After the tornado hit, the community came together to rebuild and recover. @30:21 Jennings saw the storm rip the roof off of a building near him, so told his family to get in the hallway and brace for the tornado. Shards of glass burst through his daughter’s room. @36:09 As soon as the tornado passed, Jennings went outside to help his neighbors. @44:06 The Jennings home became a triage shelter for those injured. People were going there seeking help. They had to move it to a church because so many people came for help. @48:10 “All over the region all over the Upper Cumberland, volunteer firemen, you had EMS workers. I mean, it was just unbelievable, the response that we witnessed here in the Upper Cumberland and here in Putnam County.” @50:27 As of today, 1.5 million has been donated to the Cookeville Putnam County Tornado Relief Fund. 100% of the funds go to survivors. @51:06 TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I’m your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today’s episode, we have invited Sheriff Eddie Farris of Putnam County, Putnam County Mayor Randy Porter, Darrell Jennings, an EMT worker as well as a firefighter who, along with his wife, turned his home into a triage shelter during the Cookeville tornado before help arrived. These men are here today to talk about the effects of the tornado, and how they were able to help people in the wake of the disaster. But before we get into our major topic today, I’d like for Sheriff Eddie Ferris to tell us a little bit about his backstory. Welcome, Sheriff.Sheriff Farris: Yeah, welcome, Senator, always glad to be with you.Senator Bailey: Well, great. So, you’re a native Putnam Countyean?Sheriff Farris: Yes, long, lifetime native here of Putnam County. Glad to be able to say that. It’s been great to live here all my years. I did go away for college for a short time but back here working. Senator Bailey: That was at ETSU?Sheriff Farris: I went to ETSU, yep.Senator Bailey: And played baseball.Sheriff Farris: And played baseball.Senator Bailey: And, see, I think of you as being more of a football player than I do a—Sheriff Farris: Well, I’ve gained a little weight out since I got out of college [laughing], so please don’t hold that against me. Yeah, no, actually, I played center field and could actually run a little bit, back in the day. But yes, always glad to be here. I’m working on 32 years of law enforcement and—Senator Bailey: Well thank you.Sheriff Farris: Started the latter part of 1989 as a deputy here at Putnam County Sheriff with Sheriff Jerry Abston, and then in 1995, I moved to the Tennessee highway patrol, in the Criminal Investigation Division and in 2000, was assigned over to the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force out of the Memphis division, and spent some time there. And 2004 was promoted to the Assistant Special Agent In Charge there at Tennessee Highway Patrol. And 2006 Governor Bredesen transferred us over to the TBI, Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. So spent, from 2006 until 2014, there, and as you know, in September ’14, I was elected and became Sheriff of Putnam County and glad to be here.Senator Bailey: Yeah, I think your victory in 2014 was, pretty much, overwhelming, wasn’t it? Mayor Porter: What victory? He didn’t have an opponent.[laughing] Sheriff Farris: Yeah.Senator Bailey: Well, I said it was overwhelming.Sheriff Farris: I think we’ve been blessed at this table right here. No, I appreciate the citizens greatly, they’ve shown huge support, not just to me, but all the men and women at the sheriff’s office since I’ve been there. So, very grateful.Senator Bailey: Well, and we appreciate your service. And one thing that I can say about the Putnam County Sheriff’s Department, it sure has a professionalism about it. And we appreciate your leadership there—Sheriff Farris: Thank you.Senator Bailey: —and so, I know that you love this area, this is home to you and after attending college and then, of course, going through your law enforcement career, you’ve spent most of your time here raising your family in the Putnam County area. We’re going to turn down to County Mayor Randy Porter.Mayor Porter: Good morning.Senator Bailey: Randy, welcome. Thank you for being with us. Mayor Porter: Thank you for having us, Paul. Senator Bailey: And so, just tell us a little bit about yourself, about your background and coming to Putnam County and your years of service with EMS. Mayor Porter: Right.Senator Bailey: And I think you were the EMS director for many years before becoming County Mayor—Mayor Porter: Correct.Senator Bailey: —in Putnam County. So, I think as we end up talking about our topic today, in regards to the tornado that came through, those years of service in the EMS prepared you for the days that came after the tornado. But if you would, just tell us a little bit about yourself.Mayor Porter: Absolutely. Originally born in Macon County on a big farm. Came to Tennessee Tech to go to college and never left. Great community, just never been anywhere else in my life that I loved any more than Cookeville, Putnam County. I started with the Putnam County EMS back in 1980, became the director in ’83 and served over 30 years as the director of not only EMS, but 911, technology, and several other departments inside of emergency services for the county. I then ran for County Mayor in 2014. Same time Sheriff Farris did. We were blessed to be elected, and been serving County Mayor now for about five and a half years. When I look back over my years of service in emergency services, we plan for these kinds of things, like tornadoes, we plan, we drill, but you never think it’s going to happen in your community. Saw a lot of disasters over the years in my time at EMS and 911. Ice storm back in 2015. I look back at that ice storm, and as bad as it was, we didn’t have any loss of life with it, it was all damage. I think that helped prepare myself, and I think all the rest of us sitting here this morning will say it helped prepare all of us, for this disaster—Sheriff Farris: It almost seemed like a warm-up, didn’t it, Mayor? Mayor Porter: It absolutely did, Sheriff. We learned a lot of things back then that maybe we didn’t do as good as we could have, or things we should have done faster. I have to say to this tornado response, the best response I was ever involved in, in any disaster in Putnam County or any of the surrounding counties that we responded to, but I think the good Lord knew what he was doing, and he prepared us well for it with the 2015 ice storm, and so we had a good response. Devastating to our county, sorrowful, but—and it’s hurt because a lot of the folks that we lost in that were either close friends or people we knew, but that’s my backstory. All my years of EMS, and then being County Mayor now.Senator Bailey: Yeah, I think you touched on something that a good friend of ours told me a few days ago, that God had prepared you for that day when the tornadoes came through and you rose to the occasion. And I think the same for Darrell and also Sheriff Farris. So, there’s a time and a season that we live in, and God prepares us for those times. And so…Mayor Porter: I think he puts us where he needs us. Sometimes we don’t realize that at the time, but I think as you look back over your life, he puts us where he needs us, and I think he had us all in place for this, and I think it’s a reason that we had the great response that we did to this disaster.Senator Bailey: And let me just say this before I move to Darrell and Darrell introduces hisself to our audience. You know, 2015, that was our first year, all of us, as far as being elected officials, County Mayor, Sheriff, and I, as the state Senator at that time, and comparing just a few weeks ago’s response to 2015. It, to me, there was—Mayor Porter: Night and day.Senator Bailey: —night and day difference in the state response and the local response. And so, but again, we were all newly elected at that time, and although y’all, being the three of you, had more experience in natural disasters, but I still don’t think that you are fully prepared until you go through a natural disaster and you are the leader having to conduct and especially county services and so forth and make sure that you do search and rescue. Mayor Porter: You think about it Paul, our first year in office, we were elected, went into the September, February, we had the ice storm, then that summer, we had a tornado, and we had a flood, all in the first year of all of us going into office, and—Sheriff Farris: And one thing noted is that we were all trying to rebuild our respective offices and divisions the way we wanted them to run, and the way we felt like they should run, with professionalism, with the employees, and all of the above, so we were still trying to get up to speed ourself in the office itself. And I think the last few years when this tragic happened, I think it certainly showed right off the front end that not only are we squared away in our offices, but we’re working together as a team, and I know we talk about that a lot, but we all have things that we have to do, and a point to be made, and responsibilities, and seemed like we all knew what to do, and how to do it, and did it well, and communicated which is always the key.Senator Bailey: Yeah. And, you know, representing six counties as a state Senator, not all of my counties work well together, as far as the various departments, and I tell the story of Putnam County and Cookeville, about how that everyone works together, and that’s what makes you so unique, and it also helps when times of disaster strikes your area, that you’re able to come together and work for the good of the citizens. Let’s bring in Darrell, Darrell Jennings, welcome. Mr. Jennings: Thank you. Senator Bailey: I know that you’re an EMT and a firefighter at heart, and you make a little salsa on the side, and—Mayor Porter: It’s really good salsa. [laughing] Senator Bailey: And he’s also a construction worker. So, you wear a lot of hats.Mr. Jennings: I do.Senator Bailey: Tell us a little bit about your background, and we’ll talk more about the role you played there on March the 3rd, in the early morning hours, and because your home was basically at ground zero, it was were, just a few hundred yards to the west of your home was where the tornado originally touched down, but let’s give our audience just a little bit of background about yourself and what prepared you for being able to meet the challenge of that morning. Mr. Jennings: Well, I think Randy said it best, every experience in life prepares us and educates us in one way or the other, and I firmly believe that even more now after the storm. But I’m from Cookeville, Putnam County I’ve lived here my entire life, now all 50 years of it, and love it. I’ve not experienced any other communities, I wouldn’t want to. This is the place I want to call home forever. So, my background; I grew up in construction. My dad was a contractor, and so I just kind of naturally fell into line with that. But the show in the ‘70s, Emergency! of course, hit a chord with me as a kid, and I said, “I want to be a firefighter when I grew up.” And so I followed through with that at 18. And I’ve been a firefighter with Putnam County for 32 years, now. So, a great experience, a great group of guys, a brotherhood, and we've done a lot of good training over the years, which I really feel has been what prepared me to act without thinking that morning. And several years ago, I went through EMT school just to further that education and feel like I could professionally help someone if I needed to, if that need arose medically. But my day job is still construction. I’m a licensed contractor here in the state, and have done every facet of the building process from ground up, and still love to do that as well. And yes, my retirement plan is the salsa you speak of, and we’re currently looking for a property to build a—Senator Bailey: You know, we would have given you an opportunity to brought us a jar of salsa.[crosstalk]Sheriff Farris: It’s morning, but it’s not that morning.Mr. Jennings: Most people like, “You got that in your truck?” And so, we joke about it. Used to be we did, there was always a cooler in the truck. And, when people ask, I was able to do that. So, we’re looking for land to further expand that business, and definitely get it to the retirement stage, where we can enjoy that. But, I think everything that I’ve been through, prepared me in one way or the other, and I take absolutely no credit for anything that we did that morning. And again, Randy said it best, God prepared us.Mayor Porter: That wouldn’t be right, Paul. He’s got to take some credit. He became the Emergency Operations Command Center on scene.Senator Bailey: Yeah he did.Mayor Porter: And I know he—in EMS, emergency services, law enforcement, nobody—we don’t want to take credit, we don’t brag or anything, but now I got to brag on Darrell. He brought his little subdivision, which was almost totally destroyed. Senator Bailey: Destroyed, yeah.Mayor Porter: And thankfully his house became the command center that all these people went to, and we were in contact with him, as he was helping those people to know what they needed down there. So, I just want to interject and say, the definition of heroes in our community has changed. Senator Bailey: Right. Mayor Porter: And Darrell is now one of those.Senator Bailey: Right. Well, let’s go back just a little bit. And so, it’s the evening of March the 2nd. I’m in downtown Nashville, because the legislature is in session, and knew that we were supposed to have thunderstorms coming through, and knew that there was a possibility of severe thunderstorms. So, I had gone to my apartment, which is in downtown Nashville. And I remember just turning on the news and then all of a sudden hearing about the rotation in the clouds. And then, all of a sudden, I’m watching Channel Five news, they go off the air for a couple of three minutes and then they come back on and they’re saying, “We’ve taken a direct hit.” And so, I had been looking out the window, which the window of my bedroom looks to the east, and I was looking at the apartment building beside me, and I could see the shrubbery and all of the pool furniture was just blowing around and at the time, I thought it was more of a straight-line wind, until Channel Five came back on and said, “We’ve taken a direct hit.” Well, at that point, I started watching the news all the way up until they said that the tornado had lifted outside of Gordonsville in Smith County, and it was somewhere between around 1:30 in the morning, 1… you know, somewhere in there. I said, “Okay.” Usually, when it hits the plateau, it dissipates and we don’t have anything to worry about. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case that night, but I had gone to bed around 1:30 thinking that everything’s good and the plateau, not realizing the damage that we would see the next morning from Nashville all the way into Putnam County. So, around 5:30, I received a phone call from Commissioner of Commerce and Insurance and he said, “Senator, have you seen the news reports of the damage that’s coming in?” And I said, “Well, I saw last night on television.” He said, “I’m talking about Putnam County.” He said, “There was major devastation in Putnam County.” And I said, “No, I did not realize that.” So, then, Commissioner of Safety started calling, Commissioner of TDOT started calling, and they were wanting to know where the command center was going to be, because they wanted to get their employees mobilized to be here to work on the response from the state and I know, probably just a little before 6:00, I started calling Mayor Porter and Sheriff Farris, and saying, “Okay, tell me about it.” And of course, Randy, his—I’ll never forget this, when Randy answers the phone, and he just says, “Oh, Paul, it’s bad. It’s really bad.” And so, those words will be forever etched in my mind, whenever he said that to me. And said, “Randy, I had no idea.” So, from there, we found out where we needed to mobilize. And so, I worked with the State Department so that they could get here. But, let me turn to you, Randy. And I’m going to ask you and the sheriff to share just a little bit about your experience. And at what point in time you realized, and you started getting your people mobilized in the areas, to start doing search and rescue. But were you awake Mayor Porter at that time, or had you gone to bed? And for full disclosure, I think that’s the reason that Putnam County experienced the most loss of life because maybe a lot of people were like me. They had watched it until Smith County and they assumed that it was going to just be a storm. They didn’t realize that it was going to be even a bigger storm and a stronger tornado when it hit Putnam County. But where were you, and what was your posture at that time? Mayor Porter: Well, same as you. We thought that it lifted and then everything was good. So, we’d gone to bed, and actually I’d fell asleep, and, of course, my phone started blowing up with all the tornado warnings and everything, and as I picked my phone up and was flipping through those tornado warnings, Tyler Smith, our Emergency Management Director was calling me, and he said, “Randy, we’ve been hit with a direct hit. And I said, “Tyler, how bad is it?” And he said, “Well, we think it’s really bad.” He said, “Are you in your basement?” And I said, “No.” He said, “You need to go because it looks like if it doesn’t pick up, it’s headed right towards you.” I said, “Okay.” So, grabbed the family went in the basement, waited for the storm to pass, and then called him back and we were having a hard time communicating because it knocked so many cell towers down, and knock things out. So, Tyler answered, finally, and he said, “Randy, it’s really bad.” And I said, “Okay,” I said, “Where did it hit?” And he was telling me about the western side of Putnam County. I just, throw my clothes on, and headed in. Got into the Emergency Operations Center, and I’ll never forget, you know, they always talk about that eerie quiet. So, I go out to my car, it’s that eerie quiet. There’s just nothing, no rain, no anything. And I drive in the Emergency Operations Center. And it’s that way the whole time. I get out there and go in, and, of course, all of the folks besides me Tyler, and 911 dispatchers are on the scene. And it was just an eerie feeling. And as we started getting reports back, we knew it was going to be bad. We just didn’t realize how bad it was going to be with the loss of life. That was probably the most devastating thing that we went through. And that was not something that happened to me immediately. We would get reports of one, or two, three, and then as the day went on, it slowly increased even into the next day. And so, we have a great response team when it comes to EMS, fire rescue, law enforcement, and everything. The one thing I kept hearing from folks as I talked to people on the scene, talked to one gentleman, he was in his bed and the next thing he knows he’s out in his yard. He said, “Randy, by the time I got to myself, and realized what had happened, I already, we heard the sirens in the background coming to us.” We had an amazing group of responders, that I know Sheriff will say the same thing, we didn’t have to call people and tell them to come in—Senator Bailey: Yeah, they just showed up. They just showed up. I mean, we had every ambulance we had manned within a matter of a few minutes because once everybody heard, they were coming in. So, it was an eerie night. I’ll never forget, as you said, the words, I’ll never forget that feeling. And the quiet that there was in it, but knowing that we had took a devastating hit to our county.Senator Bailey: So, Sheriff, I remember talking with you on the phone and you saying the same thing. You just said, “Senator, it’s bad.” And your comment to me was is we could have 15 to 20 deaths out of this. And that was hard for me to comprehend at that time, that 15 to 20 deaths could actually take place in Putnam County, in an area that I represent. And so, really it was just incomprehensible for me to understand that. But tell us a little bit about how you get mobilized. Your people were, and—I say your deputies, your officer— obviously there they’re just right in the middle of it.Sheriff Farris: Absolutely. So, for me I was, like both of you, I’d watched the news up till about 11:30 p.m. And usually we keep our deputies on standby if we got bad weather coming in, but we didn’t really—didn’t seem like it was a whole lot of stuff going on there so—but just short of two o’clock, right after the tornado hit, my daughter called me, and woke me up, and, of course, I’m looking at the phone and, you know, when the dad’s daughter’s calling at 1:45 or 1:50 morning it’s not good. And so, I answered it with a little apprehension, and she said, “Dad, are you up?” And I said, “No, I’m not. What’s going on.” She said, “There’s been a tornado, you need to get going.” About that time my dispatch started calling, so I immediately got up, went into dispatch, had the dispatchers use our [Ready Up] system which we use countywide, and use quite a bit statewide, to page everybody over the computer, over their phones and get them up and going and, as you noted, we did do that. But most of them, as soon as they started knowing something was wrong, they were in the car and coming. And so, for us at that point, it was a matter of, I went to our dispatch, and I was communicating with the mayor on the phone, but I needed to go to my dispatch and started getting our command center going and all of our equipment going. I headed that way. And so, we’d done that. We had a couple of different command centers down there, although we were all working together in Cookeville City and other law enforcement was working right beside Darrell and that group, and Tyler Smith and all that. And so, it was working good but took just a few minutes. In 1974, we had one, a tornado come through, called Black Wednesday. I was 10 years old, and it came right beside my house, and my dad and some of my family was part of rescuing and all that, and it killed, I think, 22 from Putnam County to the edge of Kentucky, so it was bad, and I knew—and so, once I got out of dispatch and actually got down to the scene, it was just amazing. I kept telling my dad that if I had blindfolded you and took you down there, and [inaudible 00:23:12], you would have no idea where you were at, it was that bad.Senator Bailey: Well, let me ask this question, and Darrell, because I want to talk about your story. But I’m assuming Highway 70 was impassable. So, probably EMS workers, your volunteer firemen, deputies are calling and saying we’ve got to get Highway 70 cleared to be able to get into those areas, and then you’re looking for alternative roads to get to those areas. So, I’m assuming that’s the first thing that came in—Sheriff Farris: Oh yeah.Senator Bailey: —is Highway 70 is impassable right now. You had telephone lines down, you had electrical lines down, you had debris on the roads. And so, that was probably a major hurdle in trying to reroute emergency traffic into those areas to start doing—Sheriff Farris: Absolutely. We had people on already at that time, not just deputies and officers but volunteers already calling and showing up during that time. And that’s where we were sending them down there at that time, to get the debris off the road. We wasn’t so much worried about the side roads. We knew we would get there, we were going there on foot. But we had to get the main road open. And so, that was the key right there. And I know we talked about power lines and a lot of stuff, and although it wasn’t a danger, it was a real hindrance there because all the debris and everything, we actually had to send our maintenance down there to start changing tires the deputies, EMS, and everybody—Senator Bailey: I heard about that. Sheriff Farris: —kept continuing to have flats, and it was just debris and nails and just sharp objects everywhere, so it was real hindrance. And so, we were trying to clean that off and work, too and, of course, obviously the first—well, we were finding victims 12 hours later, which was sad enough, but we were in emergency mode then to try to find—the victims is one issue, but who else is trapped that needs help? And so, we were trying so hard to find those folks. And we were trying to take it grid by grid, and working with law enforcement and EMAS and rescue guys. And so, it was a real process, but it wasn’t fun. But, I have to say at the end of the day, I don’t know how we could have done much better. I think it worked really well.Senator Bailey: I agree.Mayor Porter: And you have to remember, too, Paul, we talked about the 19 deceased, which is terrible. There was 92 people that were injured, that was for EMS and our hospital to take care of that many people, [crosstalk 00:25:39] most of them. There was about three or four that went to the trauma centers, but we’ve got an amazing Regional Medical Center here to be able to take care of 92 injured. So, it all had to work good to be able to—for all that to happen, and for things to come together like they did.Senator Bailey: Before I turn to you, Darrell, and hear more about your story, and especially I want my audience to hear about your story—so, that morning, the governor’s office contacts me and Representative Williams and said the governor’s going to Putnam County. We’re going to fly over the entire path of the tornado, but we’re going to Putnam County. He wanted us to come along with him. And it’s emotional to me today. I did not realize the devastation that had taken place until we got to Mount Juliet. And I think I shared with you that morning, Randy when we were here on the ground, that how devastating it was to see those huge warehouses and distribution centers there in the Mount Juliet, Wilson County area, some were gone. I mean, you’re talking hundred thousand square feet buildings, just blown away and gone, some just severely damaged. And then we started finding the homes. But, it really hit me hard—and I’ve said this about the governor—the governor was sitting immediately to my left on the helicopter, and General Holmes with the National Guard was on right, and Maria Lee, the first lady, she was sitting right across from us, and we were all looking out. And it took an emotional toll on all of us on that helicopter ride in, that morning. And the governor didn’t really say anything to us once we started seeing the devastation as we flew in, and really even on the way back to Nashville that day, there was just a lot of silence on the helicopter. I just don’t think that any of us were prepared to see what we saw. So, Darrell, I’m going to segue to you now, and for you to tell your story. That was Tuesday March 3, when we were actually here, and the morning after the tornado came through. Then that Saturday, Sheriff Farris provided a deputy and a side-by-side for Representative Williams, and we spent six hours on the ground. And we started out at Prosperity Point, actually where the tornado originally came in at, and your home was one of the stops that we made there that day. And Dawson Hassler, who’s my intern, who’s running the sound for us today, he was actually one of the volunteers in your yard. And so, but from there, we immediately stopped. We saw you, and I saw Dawson there, but I’ll never forget this, as I walked up your driveway. I mean, man, you grabbed me and you just hugged me, and—because we didn’t want to hinder anyone as we went through, we just wanted to bring encouragement and hope to people. But one thing that I found is that people encouraged me and brought hope to me. But we wanted to be there and make sure that that people’s needs were getting met, but you grabbed me and you gave me a big hug and then you started telling Ryan Williams and I your story. So, I want the audience to hear your story of what you told me that day.Mr. Jennings: Well, it’s pretty amazing to just be working in your front yard and turn around and see both of your elected representatives walking up your driveway. It’s a shock, but it definitely, to me, said these guys care. They came to the area that was hit the most and are looking in on their people. And that meant the world to me. And I saw a lot of faces over that time, really over the last three weeks, and it just really encourages the entire community. And that’s the word: Community. And that’s, with Cookeville, Putnam County has really shown that. You know, you think you live in a good place and then something like this happens and you’re blown away. Senator Bailey: You’re overwhelmed. Mr. Jennings: It is, it is. It’s incredible. And that’s why I said, I don’t ever want to move away. This is home. You know, and neighbors are not neighbors anymore, they’re all family. We don’t see each other without hugging, even in the midst of what we’re in the middle of right now, we still hug and show appreciation and we’d love—before we walk away, it’s man, I love you, you know? I haven’t said that to as many people as I have in the last four weeks in my entire life. Okay, to, I guess, start the timeline. You know, being a responder for 32 years, I’m that guy stays up, I storm chase, I’ve been in the middle of them for years. Everything that’s happened in 32 years firefighting, I’ve been involved with on the storm side, and I’ve gone to other areas as well when they’ve been hit. And this one, by far, is the worst thing I’ve ever seen. So, that night I don’t really go to sleep. I lay down, but I’ve got a laptop, my iPad with radar on it, I’m a geek I guess, but I’m always watching that. My family is—they’re the, “Hey, turn that weather radio off. I’m trying to sleep.” And I’m the guy with my radio on and things, just watching because I’m always concerned about that. And yes, we’re normally blessed. When it hits Buffalo Valley, most of the time it dissipates and normally goes around us and we’re okay. This one had other plans. And so, I didn’t really see a whole lot going on, there wasn’t a definitive forecast that we were going to get severe, severe weather. But then I started hearing Nashville’s been hit. And so, I thought, wow, I want to look at that, and I started trying to get information. And that should have been my first clue, I guess because I couldn’t. I couldn’t find anything, even the internet and all the connections were either slow or not working at all at that point, so I couldn’t get anything. And then, we get the NOAA weather warning. And that was probably 15 minutes, maybe 20, prior to the touchdown. And again, it’s kind of like the story crying wolf, you hear that so many times, you get a little, “Eh, it’s not going to be anything this time.” So, I didn’t really take it seriously. And at that point my wife said, “Can you turn that off, or down?” And I adjusted it as low as it would go. She—I’m going to throw her under the bus here a little bit, but I don’t think she’ll mind. She said—well, it could get bad, and she’s said, “Look, if it’s my time to go, I’m going to go.” And so, definitely true words and truer than we actually thought at that point. But anyway, I’m sitting there just listening, and I got the severe thunderstorm watch, and then the warning, and then tornado watch possible, and then the tornado warning. And I, again, I’ve got about 20 apps on my phone, and normally all of them are going crazy. Two. Two is all I got reports from, out of all those sources. And then, I got the Verizon alert, the one that, you know, wakes everybody up, and I could hear the phones in the house all getting that same alert. That was seven minutes prior to the tornado hitting. And we evidently, after talking to neighbors, we got a whole lot more warning than they did. Most of them said I got it either a minute before or as the storm was hitting our house. And so, and I know that’s a timing thing, with the systems and getting that out to every phone and every geographical location, but. So, I got up, I was sitting in my chair at that point, kind of, listening and things, and I got up and just casually walked down the hallway to my back window, back door in my laundry room and I could see behind the house, Plunk Whitson. I’ve got a pretty clear view of that, even as low as we sit. And I looked out and, you know, it’s pitch black typically out there. Well, it was gray and yellow, and it wasn’t lightning striking that was giving me an occasional glimpse. It was like there was light. And I started looking and I could see the house straight in front of me on the other side of Plunk Whitson, the roof was being ripped off of it.Senator Bailey: Oh wow.Mr. Jennings: And I looked just to the left. And I noticed a house being completely destroyed in the storm. And it hit me at that point, oh my gosh, it’s on the ground and it's doing damage. And about that time—I was leaning against my door—I felt my door push back against me. And the wind started whistling around the weather stripping. That screeching, eerie sound and I didn’t think, I didn’t say I’ve got to do something, I jumped ten feet into my hallway, threw my daughter’s door open, and I was screaming the whole time at the top of my lungs, “Get up, get in the hallway.” That’s all I remember saying and I remember screaming it, but I could barely hear myself screaming it. That’s how loud it was.Senator Bailey: Now people say that it sounds like a train coming through, is that—Mr. Jennings: You know, they’ve said that. The whistle I got in the weatherstripping was similar to that but that’s not the sound when it was hitting. It was like there were—and my dad explained it best, and he lives 20 feet from me in a little apartment building and he said it sounded like there were about seven or eight military helicopters sitting on top of his building, and that was the sound. And that’s what we got, too, until the debris started hitting. And so, I got my daughter up, and we were headed—came around the doorway, and my wife was coming out, getting our two boys up, getting them in the hallway about the time I started hearing, glass breaking, and two seconds is all my daughter had to get out of bed. Two seconds longer in my time to get to her, she wouldn’t be here because a truss piece from one of the houses came through her window and just obliterated her room with glass and debris. The bed she was laying in is absolutely covered in huge shards of glass. And so, there’s no question, you know—Senator Bailey: And that was debris from a home that was in your—Mr. Jennings: In the neighborhood. Yeah.Senator Bailey: In the neighborhood. Okay.Mr. Jennings: Yeah. And so, the kids got to the floor. I never even got down to the floor. I was still standing as it came over our house and was hitting our house and my wife was the same way, she had knelt down, and all we could hear was just debris hitting. Windows breaking. We could hear the vehicles’ glass breaking in those and just the roof being battered by everything imaginable out there. And you don’t even really think in that time. There’s not really enough time to go, this could be it, and I was still in a little bit of shock that it was hitting us. And as quickly as it came in, it was gone.Senator Bailey: Right.Mr. Jennings: And so—Senator Bailey: So, it’s not a prolonged—Mr. Jennings: It was not a prolonged. Senator Bailey: So, you know, it’s 15, 20 seconds. Mr. Jennings: Exactly. Senator Bailey: It’s there and gone.Mr. Jennings: And time seems to do odd things when you’re in the midst of that. And, I’ll talk about that in a minute as far as our house, and triage but immediately, I had—and for some reason, I went, got my phone, called 911. It was inundated. My call couldn’t even go through. So, it locked my phone up. And I had my radio on my side already, Fire Department radio, and I walked out the front door, and my kids, they tell me this afterwards. They said, “Oh no, it must be bad. Dad said a cuss word.”[laughing] Because they don’t hear that a lot from me there. And it was just, it was the most shocking thing I think I’ve ever seen. I walked out expecting debris in the front yard, I knew windows had been broken out. But an oak tree that was three foot through had fallen from my front yard to taking the lines down, and had blocked the road. My dad’s huge storage building had been blown in the middle of my driveway, and there was just all kinds of housing debris. And I looked to my right, I heard screaming, and I looked to my right and, you know, thought, “Well, I better check on the Groom’s,” and their house wasn’t there. And it’s literally 15 feet from the side of my house. Senator Bailey: Yeah. Mr. Jennings: And it wasn’t there at all. And I could see through where their house would be. And the Johnsons’ house was completely gone as well. And then I just looked out and more toward the left, up toward Mockingbird Hill and a flash of lightning hit, and the only thing I could see was a tree with the main limbs on it. No small limbs, no leaves, no nothing else. It’s something you see from, really, a scary movie. That’s all I could see in the distance. All of those homes that have been there for fifty-plus years were completely wiped out. And that’s when I said, “Oh my god, it’s, everything is gone.” And I immediately got on my fire department radio and identified myself, and said, I need you to send me everything you can. Everything we’ve got, because everything around me is completely destroyed.Senator Bailey: Let me jump in there, and just ask—and back to you for just a minute, Randy. You being with EMS for so long, did our 911 system, did it get overwhelmed? Or was it able to—because I’m assuming so many people started calling 911, probably the issue would have downed power lines, downed telephone lines, downed cell phone towers, and so, that could be an issue, but was 911 inundated with just tremendous amounts of phone calls?Mayor Porter: Oh, yeah. We got a lot of calls. The problem was is—I think they got, like, ten in the first minute. And you say, well, that’s not very many. In 60 seconds, it is. You know, it takes sometimes people a few minutes to figure out, okay, what’s happened, where am I, that kind of stuff. But yeah, we got a lot of calls, but the system continued to work, we didn’t have any issues. The only thing was the cell towers being down. So, if these folks—all of a sudden the light poles and telephone poles have been taken down, so the telephone lines were not working down there, the landlines, and then the cell towers got knocked out. So, that did hurt the number of calls that we got, but we still got plenty and thankfully we had dispatchers, extra dispatchers came in quickly and helped us answer all those.Senator Bailey: Now so, Darrell, back to you then. You had gone out, and this was part of the story that you told me that day in your driveway, you realized that your neighbor’s homes were gone, you’d looked around and noticed that a lot of the homes in your neighborhood were totally gone. You heard people screaming, and at what point in time did your neighbor start bringing people to your home? Mr. Jennings: Immediately. Senator Bailey: Immediately. Mr. Jennings: Yeah. Senator Bailey: And they knew that because—Mr. Jennings: I don’t know. You know, I think divine intervention would be the answer. I would give that, because, again, it was pitch black at that point, and that silence that Randy described earlier, that’s—when I walked outside, in under a minute after it hit, there was no sound whatsoever. I couldn’t hear the tornado going on toward Cookeville, I heard nothing but dead silence. And it was like someone turned a switch on, and the screams started. And I’ll never forget that sound. And my wife had walked out on the front porch at that point, and we both had flashlights, and when we heard the screams, we just started shining a lot toward our neighbor’s house. You know, we couldn’t see anybody. And I watched them walk down their front steps, because the only thing left, the only thing left was their floor. It was like nobody ever built walls on the house. And they walked—Senator Bailey: And that floor had been twisted off of the original foundation. Mr. Jennings: It had.Mr. Jennings: Yeah, you could see where it had started peeling it away. In the Johnson’s house, which is next door to them, the floor system was already gone. It took it during the tornado. Of course, they were a little closer to the center of the storm. But, in the section that was being peeled away, that you’re talking about was the section that the family was on. They were in the middle of that section of floor on a piece of carpet in the closet. And, and so we started flashing lights and they started—they said can we come to your house? And I’m like, “Of course, yes. Come in.” And so they walked over, and then the Johnsons saw us flashing light. They did the same thing, they came in, and then it just started. I was in my front yard talking to dispatch, kind of giving a size up of what I was seeing outside and this huge wide truck rolls up and gets to where the tree is down and he realizes he can’t go anywhere. And people are screaming inside that truck and they started jumping out, “Please God, can you help me?” And so, I’m 15, 20 feet away and I walk down to the ditch and that’s when we started getting our patients I will say the neighbors from Hensley Drive, Luke Carty, who was driving the truck, had gotten his truck loose from a trailer that had been flipped over and just started, he and his wife started picking up people that were wandering out of their rubble, and people were handing their babies to them, handing their babies because they couldn’t get out, and they couldn’t go anywhere, and they felt like he was going to be able to get them to the hospital to get care. And when they got in front of my house, the people that were with him started coming out, and saying we need help. And then I just kind of—again, it wasn’t a decision I made, it just came naturally to start triaging, if you will, looking to see what the injuries were, what the level were. And the first person I saw was Hattie. And I, of course, I checked for a pulse, I checked for breathing, you know, sternal rub, just trying to get any response and there was nothing.Senator Bailey: And the gentleman had brought her to you, and he had just bought this pickup like a week—Mr. Jennings: Saturday.Senator Bailey: Saturday—Mr. Jennings: Saturday. Four days before the storm. Senator Bailey: —in his brand new pickup and it basically destroyed—because he was trying to bring people to you for you to be able to administer CPR. He tried to get out of the neighborhood andMr. Jennings: He tried to get out of the neighborhood, and there was a house in the middle of the road where he couldn’t drive through. And so, he turned around, and drove through his yard, across the fence, across trees, another house of debris, he drove over to get to, I think it was, Hensley Court, had to drive through debris, through there to get out and came around. And he said, “I was headed to the hospital.” I don’t care what I encountered. I was going to the hospital that morning, and he got as far as he could and stopped. And so, everybody started getting out of his vehicle. And we had Harper was the next one that I saw. She’s still in ICU in Knoxville, praise God, she is getting good reports every day. But she had a severe head injury and was not responsive at all. And I think it was Harper’s little brother was next. A little lethargic, I think, shocked. And so, we just told him I said, “Go, my wife’s on the front porch, go up to her, and we’ll get you inside.” And we had another family that had been trapped and got out. She had severe leg and hip injuries, and they stayed in the vehicle because he was going to try to get them to an ambulance. And we didn’t even know at that point where that was going to be.Senator Bailey: So, and I think you told the story that you ultimately moved to the church. The church wasn’t—it had some damage, but it was still usable. Mr. Jennings: It was okay, yeah. Senator Bailey: It was okay. So, because so many people were coming to your home, you needed to have another location. So, you moved there to the church. And so, how much time passed before EMTs started arriving there, and being able to administer medical help to these people? How much time from when you set up your triage center from your house, then moved it to the church, that you were—Mr. Jennings: That’s that relative time I was talking about earlier. Because it seems like—that, to my wife and I, we felt like it was 15, 20 minutes. And it turns out that before we cleared our home, it was an hour and 24 minutes, I think, which really shocked me. I really thought that that had happened a lot quicker. But we had started moving them a little before that. The babies and things and for me, that’s the amazing part of what happened. You know you have kids, you think the world of your kids, and I’ve spent a decent amount of time kind of complaining about children these days and just being focused on their electronics, and not being relative to the things going on in life and I’ll never say that again because I watched my children go from my daughter nearly being taken from me and going through a direct hit, to caring for these children. They held these babies in their arms, helped cut clothes off of them, to dry them off, to get them warm, to calm them down, to get them to where they weren’t screaming and upset, to when we got the triage open, my kids on their own, took these babies in their arms and walked them nearly, it’s just under a quarter-mile to the church, through all of the debris, past things that thank God they didn’t see, and took those babies and handed them off to the medics that were at the church, and came back. And, that to me, that stood out. For them to step up to the plate and do that just amazes me. I don’t question our youth in any way anymore. And I’m not down on them. They just hadn’t taken initiative Before that. And these are the same kids who went to their closets, pulled out every pair of shoes they had, they pulled out their sweatshirts, and they gave them to the people that came in. We had twenty-f—Senator Bailey: Right because a lot of people probably just had their pajamas on, didn’t have any clothes on. Mr. Jennings: Yeah. Yeah.Senator Bailey: And so, they—and everything’s—there’s nothing there for them to put on. There’s no shoes, there’s no clothes and I don’t think people realize that is that you’re literally in bed. And so, unless you have your pajamas on, you have nothing, so. Sheriff, you obviously, were responding, your deputies were responding, you’re hearing a lot of what Darrell’s talking about, trying to get your personnel into those areas. And it’s frustrating.Sheriff Farris: It is a little frustrating. You know, we’re dealing with the downed power lines and trying to keep people from—the individuals that’s sort of in shock walking around, we’re trying to get them staying put, and rendering first aid, or get them to a place like Darrell’s or someone that we can get first aid until the ambulance gets there or whatever, and then trying to search and rescue and secure the area as well. A tornado is bad enough, we certainly didn’t need anything on top of that. So, that was our priority, to try to get things calmed down, and the area secured. And that was hard to do when it was hard to have any boundaries there. So yes, it was a little frustrating for sure.Senator Bailey: It was also unbelievable the amount of volunteers, we talked about that earlier, that had mobilized in such a short period of time, from all over the region. All over the region all over the Upper Cumberland, volunteer firemen, you had EMS workers. I mean, it was just unbelievable, the response that we witnessed here in the Upper Cumberland and here in Putnam County. There was a fund set up. Mayor Porter, is that fund still operational? Or has it been closed down? Can you just—Mayor Porter: No, still operational. That’s Cookeville Putnam County Tornado Relief Fund. We set it up at the Bank of Putnam County. Simply the fact that we already had a disaster recovery fund from the ice storm. So, we use that same account. Bank of Putnam County has 18, 19 locations, so we thought that’d be the easiest. As of today, we’ve got about 1.5 million has been donated to the fund, which is unbelievable, Senator. Money coming from all different places. We had Food City in East Tennessee, brought us a check for $391,000.Senator Bailey: That is unbelievable.Mayor Porter: And that’s just where they allowed their customers to add a dollar or two or ten or whatever, to the grocery bill in all their 110 or 20 stores. So, the fund is still there. We set up a special committee. Dr. Bob Bell is chairman of that committee with a lot of good folks from our community. They’re working to start next week, trying to get that money out to folks. So, hopefully, things will work fast and 100 percent of the fund goes to those survivors, not a penny of it goes to the city or county or anyplace else, it’s all going to go to the survivors and the victims of the tornado. Senator Bailey: And if someone wants to make a donation, how did they do that today?Mayor Porter: They can go to our website at putnamcountytn.gov. When you hit the main page of our website, you’ll see it right in front of you, then click on it. They can use your credit card, they can do PayPal, there’s several different ways they can do it. Or they can take a check or cash by any of the Bank of Putnam County locations, and they’ll take it for them.Senator Bailey: Great. Well, gentlemen, before we close out, is there any last thoughts or comments that you’d like to make to our listening audience in regards to what you experienced that day and…Sheriff Farris: I’d just like to make one comment. We were talking about all the volunteer help. Now normally on a scene like this, and certainly that’s what we call it is a scene, especially the first 24 hours, it is a scene that needs to be secured. And we tried to do that but based on the terrain and all the debris, and all that that was going on, plus, we knew we still had victims out there. So, based on all that, the mayor and I decided that we needed volunteer help, because even though our law enforcement and rescue and fire we’re used to seeing death, but, most of the time, that’s one or two at a time. And here we saw 18 in just a matter of just a few hours, but it was critical that we get people out there, even though we knew there might be some trauma involved, to help us search for those victims or potential victims that we might could save. So, that was the key right there.Mayor Porter: I knew we lived in a great community before this. It’s the reason that Darrell, and Eddie, and all of us, we made this our home. But after seeing the outpouring of love and support, and volunteerism, and financial, I mean, the whole thing—we had over 6000 people just from Putnam County that came out and volunteered to help—it made me realize what an awesome community we live in. Our community is just unbelievable and as tragic as this was, the outpouring of love and support is just unbelievable and they are just not words to express my appreciation to the citizens of our county for everything they done. It was a terrible event, but we all came together, and we survived it, we’ll recover, and we will rebuild. Senator Bailey: Absolutely, I’ve been saying that we are Tennessee, we are the volunteer state, we will overcome, and we’ll build back bigger and better than what we were. Darrell, any last parting thoughts? Mr. Jennings: As I’ve said several times, to folks, I’m very used to being on the other side of disasters like this. I’m in with all the other rescuers and going to people and it was very odd, very different being on the affected side and not being able to get away really and help other people. You know, I spent all of Tuesday searching rubble and helping to pull folks out, so I got to do that a little bit, but from the survivor, from the affected side, the thing I will say is how well everybody came together. You probably will have people who were not happy with one thing or the other, but for the folks I’ve talked to, everybody was well impressed with the response, with how things, kind of, coordinated and the volunteers that came in to help out. And just, again, what the community did and how they pulled together to help and support those of us who were affected.Senator Bailey: Well, gentlemen, we’ve got a lot of heroes in our community. And we are who we are. And that’s Tennesseans, Putnam Countyeans Cookevilleans. And so, and we’re also the Upper Cumberland. Thank you, Sheriff Ferris. Thank you, Darrell Jennings, and thank you, Mayor Porter, for being with us today. This is state Senator Paul Bailey with Backroads and Backstories Thank you for listening. Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
50 minutes | Mar 25, 2020
From Upper Cumberland to the Voice Stage, Jake Hoot Shares His Journey to Victory
Some of the highlights of the show include: Jake Hoot’s parents are missionaries. The family lived in the Dominican Republic for over 10 years.Hoot left the Dominican Republic to play football at Tennessee Tech. @1:25 Hoot’s dad wanted him to lead praise and worship for the church, so he taught himself guitar. @4:22 He plays guitar by ear. His music is inspired by Southern gospel hymns and the music in the Dominican Republic he heard growing up. @5:24 “Cookeville’s just been incredible, and I can’t thank everybody enough for all the love and support they’ve given me throughout the years” -Jake Hoot @7:27 The Voice producers reached out to Jake Hoot to audition for the show. @10:00 Over 40,000 people auditioned for Season 17 of the Voice. @13:07 For the blind auditions, Hoot sang “When it Rains, it Pours,” by Luke Combs. Kelly Clarkson turned her chair and became his coach for the season. @19:02 Hoot says that he learned a lot from the Voice experience and it helped him gain more confidence in himself. @24:57 When the tornado hit Cookeville, a lot of people from the Voice reached out to Hoot to check on him and his family. @28:08 “I think I had just gotten in a space in my head to where I was just like God's been good to me, too, at this point. I can’t complain, I’ve gone way further than I ever thought, and so I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it.” - Jake Hoot @33:52 Winning season 17 of the Voice was a surreal and amazing experience for Hoot. @36:57 Hoot left his job at Zimmer Broadcasting to focus on independently working on his record. @41:29 Hoot is releasing a song he wrote with Jimmy Fortune called, “Tennessee Strong.” All proceeds will go to the Tornado Relief Fund. @44:27 TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. Senator Bailey: Welcome back to the podcast. I’m your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today’s episode, we have invited the winner of season 17 of The Voice, Cookeville resident Jake Hoot to talk about his experience on the show and to get to know him a little better. Welcome, Jake. Jake Hoot: Hey, thank you for having me. Senator Bailey: Glad that you’re here. And we’re just so excited that you’re part of our podcast, and our podcast is called Backroads and Backstories, and most of the time folks want to hear the backstory to exactly how you got to be on The Voice, telling us a little bit about yourself and your history because folks always want to be able to relate to someone that’s a big superstar like you are today. Jake Hoot: [laughing]. Senator Bailey: So, we’re going to jump right in. And Jake, just tell us a little bit about yourself and where you’re originally from, and I think your family, basically were missionaries— Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: —and you guys lived in the Dominican Republic. So, I’m just going to step back for just a moment and let you tell us a little bit about yourself. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. No, yeah. So, I’m one of nine kids, I’m the second oldest of nine. Senator Bailey: Nine kids. Oh wow. Jake Hoot: Nine kids, six boys, three girls. And Mom and Dad, I think it was shortly after I was born, Mom and Dad got really involved in church, and Dad felt called to be a pastor, and then he felt called to be a missionary. And so, we moved all over the place when we were kids. And then we ended up, we’re originally from Corpus Christi, Texas, so way down south, and then we ended up moving to Haiti, when—I think it was back in ’97 or something like that—and lived there about a month or two, and my sister is a type one diabetic and so couldn’t get her medical help, and so we moved over to the Dominican side, right across the border for a short while. And Dad just felt like that’s where God was calling us. And so we ended up living there, well my parents lived there 14 years, I lived there about 11 years before I moved back to the US and came to Tennessee Tech to play football, and— Senator Bailey: Okay, so you came from the Dominican Republic to Tennessee Tech? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: So, did you play football in the Dominican Republic? Jake Hoot: I did not. I did not. I always wanted to play—of course, we played backyard football, you know us boys, there was enough of us to play, and we’d get kids from down there to play but I’d always wanted to play and I was bound and determined to play somewhere. And so, I think my size helped, being 6’6”. You walk in, say you want to play, Coach Brown and Coach Sam over there were very patient with me and gave me a shot. Senator Bailey: So you were a walk-on? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Okay, so you’re a walk-on at Tennessee Tech? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And I’m assuming they were able to offer you a scholarship then to be able to play or did you—Jake Hoot: I had to earn it. Yes, sir. It took me a little while, but I ended up earning a partial scholarship, and that was incredible, the fact that they let me play, much less, were essentially paying me to play. But—not pay me to play, but giving me money for school and whatnot. But no, it was an incredible experience. I loved every second of it. Love everybody from that organization. You’re still a family. I saw Coach Brown a couple months back at the welcome home concert, and I love that man and respect him. Senator Bailey: Yeah, well cool. Well, so you basically came to Tennessee Tech and your family still lives in Texas? Or they’re in Dominican Republic, or— Jake Hoot: Well, they moved up here. Senator Bailey: Oh, so your entire family’s here now.Jake Hoot: Yes, sir, they live down the road in Smith County in the Carthage area. Yeah, we had moved up here before we moved to Haiti, and joined Cornerstone Baptist Church right out in Carthage. And that was our sending church the entire time, and then when they all moved back, they just they moved out there, so they live about 45 minutes away. Senator Bailey: So tell me just a little bit, were you inspired by living there in the Dominican Republic to lead praise and worship? Is that where your musical inspiration began? Jake Hoot: And, in certain essence, yeah. I think rather than being inspired, I think Dad kind of forced me to get into it. And I’m glad he did, it kind of made me get out of my shell. And I liked— Senator Bailey: You’re not saying that you were shy. Jake Hoot: Oh, incredibly shy. And I still am to an extent. I play it off well, but no, Dad kind of, he said that he wanted me to lead praise and worship, and I always joke and say I’m so sorry to all the people who had to listen to me sing way back when, because it was rough, but… and of course, growing up on a Caribbean island, the rhythm of the music is different, the feel of it, and so I definitely—there’s a lot of influences there. When I write my own music, it’s got like an island feel sometimes. But it was a great way to grow up, and like I said, I’m grateful that dad got me out of my shell to get out there and that snowballed it. And taught myself to play guitar so I could lead, and then I ended up moving back and teaching a couple music schools. Senator Bailey: So you’re self-taught on the— Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: —on the guitar? And so did you have anyone help you along the way as far as whenever you began learning to play the guitar, or did you just basically pick it up and start learning to play by ear? Or did you learn to read music? How did that work? Jake Hoot: When it comes to playing guitar, I play by ear. And I think, along the way, there’s so many different influences I have, just from where I would play with somebody and I would see them do something and I’d be like, “Hey, what are you doing there?” And they’d show me. But, I’ve been very blessed to have a lot of patient people around me, and so, I play by ear. And then when—I taught Christian music schools for about five years, and I learned how to read music to sing to it, but not play guitar to it, and so that was a great time in my life. And I, obviously there’s a lot of influences from singing southern gospel, hymns and songs like that, that just kind of influenced your harmonies and everything else. Senator Bailey: So tell me a little bit about what you love about Cookeville and the Upper Cumberland? Jake Hoot: Oh, man, I don’t even know, you know where to stop or end with that one. You know, moving back, you kind of feel like you’re on an island— Senator Bailey: So, let me just ask this question. Had you ever been to Cookeville, Tennessee, prior to coming to Tennessee Tech? Jake Hoot: No, sir. Senator Bailey: So your first foray into Cookeville, Tennessee was to visit Tennessee Tech? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And so when you came to Tennessee Tech, you came as a freshman? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Okay. And at that point, you actually visited the football program and did the walk on, and that’s the first time you’d ever been to Tennessee, period? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And so you came ultimately because of Tennessee Tech and to be able to play football? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And so from there, you have fallen in love with Cookeville in the Upper Cumberland? Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: And so, obviously, there’s a lot of things going on in your life today that— prior to you coming to Cookeville, so do you see yourself staying or always kind of having a home or residence in Cookeville? Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Yeah, and that’s the one thing that’s beautiful about it is you become family out here. And the way that everybody kind of took me in, I can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. I know with music, it’s going to pull me in a lot of different directions and stuff, but like you said, I would always love to think that I’m always going to have a home here, and I’ll always have a place that I can come back here, and escape everything. But Cookeville’s just been incredible, and I can’t thank everybody enough for all the love and support they’ve given me throughout the years, even before the whole Voice thing and everything else, back when I was playing football and just some college student, people around here just took me in, and so I’m very grateful for it. Senator Bailey: Well, one thing that I will say that social media, your friends, that you and I have shared together, your humbleness, your approachability, I think that that’s one of the things that has really allowed you to garner so much support from the Upper Cumberland and you have just such a good heart about you, and so people see that and people see the genuineness and basically you’re caring, and so I think that that’s one of the reasons that Cookeville has embraced you. And also, in the fact that as we start talking a little bit about your time that you spent on The Voice, I think people in America saw that, and they saw that humbleness, they saw that genuineness and one thing that people look for, I think, in an artist, especially someone that’s a musical artist, is they want to be able to relate to that person, and that person has a story to tell in their music. And so anytime that you can sing that from your heart, I think that definitely resonates with individuals. So, let’s segue into a little bit about The Voice because I think people always are interested in knowing the backstory. And they want to know the behind the scenes of what took place. So, what made you want to even enter the competition of The Voice? Jake Hoot: To be honest— Senator Bailey: And I didn’t mean to necessarily interrupt— Jake Hoot: You’re alright. Senator Bailey: —but tell me, how do you go about being able to—is it an application process? How do you get to be a contestant on The Voice? Tell us a little bit— Jake Hoot: I think there’s a lot of different ways you can do it. And to be honest with you, I’ve had people ask me, “What made you want to do it?” And to be honest, I didn’t want to do it at first. I was working in radio at the time, I was making good money, good living. I was playing music on the weekends, was having a great time, and then they actually reached out to me. I was posting stuff on Instagram, called Bath Tunes. And they reached out to me and asked if I’d come out and audition. Senator Bailey: Okay, so you’re saying The Voice, the producers of The Voice, actually reached out to you and said, “Hey, would you be interested in a contestant?” Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Wow. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Something I had not heard. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir, and I was very fortunate because I didn’t really like the idea of going and standing in line for hours and hours with thousands of people. Senator Bailey: Kind of kind of like the American Idol. Jake Hoot: Exactly. Senator Bailey: with that’s the process there. Okay. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. And I had done the American Idol thing years and years ago, and it was such a horrible experience. Not that it was their fault, but I just didn’t like it. And so they reached out and had they not reached out I wouldn’t have done it. And even with him reaching out, I was just like, I don’t know, but then I thought you know what’s there to lose? Let’s just see what happens. So, I actually went to Nashville and auditioned, and— Senator Bailey: And so they came to Nashville? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And I’m assuming that they had basically sent out a call—a cast call, if you will, for different individuals to come and basically audition to be on the show. So, how many people in Nashville actually showed up for— Jake Hoot: Oh, gosh, see, so it’s different rounds that you have to go through. It is a casting call, but it’s different rounds. So, the first round is your open call, which is where everybody, you see thousands of people lined up. If you make it past that, then they invite you back the next day. And it’s a much smaller group, I would say it’s probably, I would say it’s a couple hundred people, maybe. Senator Bailey: Alright, so let me just make sure that I understand. So, whenever you’re saying there’s 1000 people there, basically for the first casting call, they have reached out to you, so obviously they’re interested in you. They want you to come and audition, and so you come, and I’m assuming that they basically have music professionals that you audition to, because obviously you’re not going to be auditioning to Blake Shelton or Kelly Clarkson at that time so you’re probably just auditioning in front of professionals? Jake Hoot: Yes sir. No, it’s—you’ve got so many like producers and stuff and casting producers that are there. And I think I sang to three of them. Senator Bailey: Now, at individual times, or were they all together? Jake Hoot: All together. Senator Bailey: Okay. So, you’re basically sitting there and they like basically—Okay. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. And so it worked out, but luckily I was able to bypass the first day, which is the open call, and I was able to go to this much smaller day and audition. And then if you make it past that round, then you’re invited out to LA to do the next round, which you’re out there for a couple days that time, and you sing in front of another panel of casting producers and whatnot. But I think overall, I think it was over 40,000 people auditioned for season 17. Senator Bailey: 40,000? Jake Hoot: 40,000. Senator Bailey: 40,000. So, they basically went all over the US looking for individuals? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And so, out of 40,000 how many people ultimately make it to Los Angeles then? Jake Hoot: So, for the first round in Los Angeles, when you’re out there for a couple days, I think it was, I would say, maybe 1000 or something like that, but they bring them in at different times. And so I wasn’t there with everybody, but to do the blind—so the first episode anybody sees you—there was a little over 100 people at that time. So, they just continue to narrow it down and narrow it down, narrow it down. And then when you’re out there for the blind, you’re out there for about a month at that point getting ready and everything. Senator Bailey: Okay, so once you make it to the final round or the, let’s just say, the blind audition round, then that’s whenever you ultimately commit a month of your time— Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: —to be there, getting prepared and I’m assuming at that point, they start providing you with voice coaches? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And they start working with you to basically improve your ability to be able to sing? And then I’m assuming what happens then on the blind auditions that those are probably pre-recorded. And then there’s only so many contestants that they ultimately show on television— Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: —then whenever they air the episode. Is that the way that works? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. And they wouldn’t let us know until the day before it aired. So, I remember when I had posted something on social media saying I auditioned, man, I wanted to tell everybody, “Hey, watch every episode every week to see, but they didn’t even tell us when we were going to be on until the day before. So, you narrow it way, way down, and I th-, and out of—so you start at 40,000, only 48 people make a team at some point, because each coach has 12. So, it’s a huge drop, and just to make it to the blinds is an incredible thing, and then get a chair turn is also just, incredibly special. So… Senator Bailey: Okay, so and each judge—is that—and— Jake Hoot: Coach. They call [crosstalk] Jake Hoot: I called them judges, and I got in trouble all the time, I—[laughing]. Senator Bailey: So, and there’s four coaches, correct? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Yeah, and so each one of those coaches ultimately ended up with 12— Jake Hoot: 12 people. Senator Bailey: 12 people, so— Jake Hoot: Well 12 acts, I mean there was a couple duets and stuff like that. Senator Bailey: Right. Okay, so you’re looking at roughly 48 total individuals. So, they go from basically it’s 50 percent down, then. So, this is a question that I’ve always been wanting to ask and know the answer to, but you had to spend a month there in LA preparing, and you weren’t assured at that point in time that you would ever make it onto an episode of The Voice. My question is, is that at your expense, or did they give you a stipend for it? How does that work? Jake Hoot: Yeah, well, they pay for your airfare out there, they pay for you to stay out there. Like, we all stayed in a hotel. And then, I’m pretty sure for the blinds they did pay us like a daily stipend or something like that. It’s not a ton, but it’s enough. And luckily for me, my job back here, I work at Zimmer Broadcasting, they were very accommodating, and they helped me and I was still working. I tell people, I actually woke up the day of the blinds, I had to be up and out of the hotel by three o’clock in the morning because it’s a full day of production. And I was sending emails for commercials back here at 2:30 that morning to get it done. So, luckily, I was able to do it fairly comfortably without having to stretch my dollars too much. But yeah, they definitely—I will say one thing about the show, they definitely took care of us, and they made sure we were taken care of and we had everything we need. So, I’m very grateful for that. Senator Bailey: Now, at what time of this process that you’ve been describing to us did you actually start to get to work with the coaches? Had they seen you or any of the other contestants prior to hearing you on stage for the blind audition? Jake Hoot: No, we had not met them. Senator Bailey: So again, so they are not aware of you, they’ve not seen you, they’ve not heard you, and so when you actually step out on stage and you make it to that blind audition, and you’re wanting one of them to turn around, they don’t have any idea as to who you are, they’ve not interacted with you at all, then?Jake Hoot: No, sir. I mean, not not to my knowledge. It’s truly a blind audition. And then, of course, after you make it through the blind, you make it on a team, you almost immediately fly back home. It’s like, I literally walked offstage, got in a van, went and did an interview, and then went to a hotel, stayed the night about an hour away, and then flew home the very next day. Senator Bailey: And that was because they wanted you to do that? Jake Hoot: They do. I mean, they’re—like, it’s just a process and everything that goes on. Senator Bailey: Okay, so take me back just a little bit to like, what month did you spend or, what time of the year did you spend in LA, and then when was the first time that the show, the blind auditions actually aired? What’s that time span from— Jake Hoot: Sure. I think—okay, so I think I was out there for the month, I think it was June, and I think the first episode started airing maybe in September, I think? But you have other things that you do before that. So you fly home, I think, we flew home for a month, and then we go back out for battles, and then knockouts. And if you don’t make it through battles, obviously you get sent home but if you do make it through, then you just stay out there for knockouts, and I think that was another month, month and a half process to do all that, as well. Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. So, you’re doing the blind audition, you’re on stage. And now, what song was that you were singing that night? Jake Hoot: “When it Rains, it Pours,” by Luke Combs. Senator Bailey: Okay, so you’re singing, and Kelly Clarkson turns her chair around. And if I’m—and correct me if I’m wrong, was she the only judge at that time that turned their chair around immediately? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: So, and then obviously, now that you’ve won The Voice, I’m sure the other three coaches are like, dang, man, why didn’t I just—especially Blake Shelton. because you’re kind of in his wheelhouse there. You’re kind of doing the songs, type of songs, that Blake Shelton does. You got that country genre going for you. Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: And, of course, I know you do others as well. But was it kind of immediately whenever Kelly turned her chair around, I mean, at what point—and is it distracting to you when she turns that chair around? Jake Hoot: So, she waited till probably three-quarters of the song, before she actually turned, but— Senator Bailey: And what’s going through your mind at that time? Jake Hoot: Well, a lot of different things. First off, I told everybody, just to be on that stage I’ve done more than I thought I could, but in the back of your mind when you’re up there singing you’re thinking, “My goodness, please somebody just turn, that’d be awesome.” But when she turned, it kind of caught me off guard a little bit, but I was just so caught up in the moment that I just—I kind of blacked out, and don’t really remember finishing the song, but after watching it, I sang it, so that’s good. But it’s definitely a very surreal moment because you’re so nervous up there. It’s just dead quiet when you start singing. But yeah, to have her turn, and like you said about Blake, Kelly told me almost every week that Blake was kicking himself about not turning. And I love Blake Shelton, but I don’t think it could have worked out any better because Kelly does have some country ties but to be on a team that wasn’t known for country and just to go through it all was pretty special. Senator Bailey: Wow. So, do you currently have an ongoing communication relationship with Kelly Clarkson? Do the two of you still communicate? Is that kind of waned off now just a little bit? Tell me just a little bit—and how did that process work? So, she turns her chair around, she’s the only one. So, you’re now guaranteed to be on Kelly Clarkson’s team. Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: So, you’re going to be one of her 12? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: You’re going to be one of her 12. So you know that you’ve made it, at this point. So, obviously, that was an overwhelming feeling. And then from there, you said you basically immediately flew home. They send you home for a month— Jake Hoot: A month, yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And then you—obviously they have you to come back and you have to start doing the battle rounds. So, for one month, you're basically just trying to get some normalcy back to your life, but at the same time, you’re going to have this show coming back up. You’ve made it. You’re going to be on national television. So, at what point in time does Kelly Clarkson start working with you, and communicating with you? Is it once you go back out there after that? Does she call you up during this month off and says, “Hey, Hoot, I’m glad that you’re part of my team. We’re excited. We’re going to start working with you.” I mean, just give me a little bit of that. Jake Hoot: Yeah. So, I think the further you get in, the more contact and the more relationship building you get with the coaches. So, up until the live rounds, everything, whether you make it to the next round or not, is all based on the coaches. So, I think they try to limit their contact with you. They try to limit their conversations and stuff with you, because they don’t want to show favoritism and they don’t want to, they don’t want to do anything— Senator Bailey: Okay, because of their other team members in there?Jake Hoot: Exactly. So, I mean, up until the live rounds, you know, so for battles and knockouts, it’s all based on who your coach wants to pass through. And so I feel like if they’re taking time to talk to you a lot, it could show favoritism and issues, and so— Senator Bailey: Okay, well, see, I didn’t know that, so. Jake Hoot: Yeah, exactly. So, once the lives start, then it’s all based on America’s voting, and that’s when I really saw Kelly kind of start talking to me a whole lot more and taking that personal attention and stuff. And her husband, too, Brandon Blackstock, and with Starstruck, and I currently work with them— Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Jake Hoot: —but, they’ve both been incredible and I could probably text her a whole lot more and reach out to her a whole lot more than I do. But I also know how busy she is. And just the last thing— Senator Bailey: And she’s got a syndicated television show—Jake Hoot: And she’s still doing The Voice, and she’s got a tour c-, well, it’s postponed a little bit, but she’s got a tour coming up, and she’s a mom, and so the last thing I want to do is add anything on her plate. But anytime I have reached out to her or Brandon, they've responded back pretty quick, and they’ve tried to help me here and there, and so it’s really special. But yeah, you don’t get as much exposure and as much contact with your coaches what you would hope for. Senator Bailey: But when you say that, obviously they work with you. Jake Hoot: Absolutely.Senator Bailey: But at the same time, there are coaches that are there on the show, music coaches that are working with you every day that you’re there, helping you choose the right song, helping you expand your vocals, helping you, even though you play the guitar by ear, I’m assuming they’re giving you tips on, “Man if you just do this, if you do that, that”—and it’s kind of forcing you outside of your comfort zone, I’m assuming even in your range, like your voice range—Jake Hoot: Oh, absolutely. Yeah, I think that’s one of the big things that, you know, a lot of people who’ve been to my shows here for the past few years, they all say, “Man, you get in so much, better at singing, your range has opened up.” And that’s one really cool thing about The Voice is, I tell everybody, I would do it again just for what you learn when you’re there because you do get to work with your coach, but your vocal coach, your choreographer, your band, everything, they all take time to sit here and go, “Okay, yeah, let’s get this song sound good. But we also want to teach you things that you can carry on later on in life that will help you, and that’ll help your performance and stuff like that.” And so I learned so much and it really helped my confidence, too, because I’ve always kind of struggled with that. Like I was saying, I’ve been kind of shy, and so to hear people in the industry, give you pointers and say, “Hey, you can do this,” it really does help and so, I learned a ton and I learned a ton from Kelly, I learned—our vocal coach was the same across the board, her name was Trelawny. And it just is something incredible people to work with. Senator Bailey: Wow. So, what was your favorite part about competing on the entire show? Jake Hoot: Oh, man, I think if you pinpoint it to one certain time, there’s a couple, where I got to share the stage with Kelly, we got to do a duet. I got to share the stage with Little Big Town, which is really special. I got to perform a song that I had written, on the show. But I think overall, just the family that you develop there, the friendships and everything else, because you’re stuck in a hotel. you’re sequestered in this hotel for, up to a month, month and a half in there for the lives, I mean, it was over two months. Senator Bailey: So, when you say you’re sequestered, I’m assuming that they pick you up at the hotel to the studio. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And they shuttle you back to the hotel. Are you only allowed to eat in the restaurants inside the hotel? I’m assuming they’re trying to keep you away from any media— Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: —anyone that’s basically trying to get some backstage— Jake Hoot: Knowledge, inside—yes, sir. Well, at first it was like that. And then of course, as you go on, and the group gets smaller and smaller, they give you a little bit more freedom. But even then we only had a certain couple places that we could go to, and then we’d have to sign out and then sign back in every time we came back. But yeah, they just, and they do it for your protection and stuff like that because they don’t want people hounding you and whatnot. But, while you’re sitting there, I’ve got so many videos of just different jam sessions that we would have, and to see everybody's different styles and personalities come out in their music when you’re just sitting around having a good time in the hotel, it was really special. Senator Bailey: So did some of you just like maybe even get together in each other’s room and— Jake Hoot: Oh, all the time. Senator Bailey: —together and just kinda, and—okay. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. All the time. And, like you said, everybody’s out there for the same goal, and it is a singing competition. But, none of us looked at it like it was a singing competition. We all looked at it like, hey, we’re all musicians. We’re all trying out to better ourselves in some form, in some way. And we all just became so close, and it was just a great experience. Senator Bailey: And I’m assuming some of those you’re still in contact with today? Jake Hoot: Every day. Yeah, and everybody will check in on—I know when the tornado hit, I can’t count how many people from the show, not only contestants but producers and cast behind the scenes, people just reaching out, going, “Hey, are you okay? Hey, is everybody doing okay? We’re praying for you.” And that’s special to think that you’re just part of something, in the grand scheme of life, It’s just a short amount of time, but the fact that there’s such an impact, and it’s long-lasting relationships and friendships, and the fact that they took time to reach out and say, “Hey, we’re praying for that area,” and stuff is really special. Senator Bailey: Cool. So, let’s basically bring it up to the final [inaudible]. And it’s live television? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: So—and just right before I get to this question… so, you’re making it to the final rounds. Are you flying back and forth every week? Or are you just out there for the— Jake Hoot: You’re out there. Senator Bailey: Okay, so you’re there, so you’re not actually flying back and forth. You’re there? Jake Hoot: You’re there. Senator Bailey: Okay. And so, obviously, in the final rounds that are live television, so we know that you’re there for those, but are some of the episodes that are pre-recorded, I’m assuming those are the times that you’ve come back home, and you’re back and forth, or do they record those episodes in sequence? In other words, did they record like on a Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, like three episodes all together or those to— Jake Hoot: And you’re talking about the battles and knockouts, or? Senator Bailey: Yes, yes. Jake Hoot: Yeah, well they had, I think for blinds, they had two or three days that they did it in a row. For battles and knockouts, I think they split it up over two or three days apiece that they were filling all that. And then of course lives, it’s every Monday and Tuesday you go in there live and just do it. But yeah, it was an interesting— Senator Bailey: Something that’s always, of course, when you watch it on television, and they’re taking the commercial breaks, and you’ve got those two or three minute breaks in there, especially during live television. it’s a hustle for you to get on stage or get off stage, for the band to get reset and be ready to go from one contestant to the other, and obviously, the coaches, too, if they have to take a break and then come right back. So you’re under a time crunch and they want you right back on that stage because it’s live television. You can’t stop it, you’ve got to go. Jake Hoot: Absolutely. And we would do dress rehearsals earlier that day. So, every Monday and Tuesday we were at the studios, running through the entire show and getting all those hiccups out. And that’s one really cool thing about that show is, like you’re saying, the band has to reset, the stage has to be completely changed up. I mean, every different stage is so vastly different. Senator Bailey: So is there multiple stages there? Jake Hoot: Just one. Senator Bailey: There’s j-, okay, that’s one stage. Jake Hoot: Yeah, there’s just one stage, but the guys who do all that are incredible, and they move so quick. And so, we do our dress rehearsal and then just kind of stay there, and then do the live show that night. Now, given we wouldn’t know any of the results, everybody's like, “Oh, you knew that,” and I’m like, “No, we didn’t liter-, had no idea anything that was going on as far as results.” But you get your timing down, you get your feel for when you’re going to go and your order of when you’re singing and stuff. But, just a really different experience that was that you learn a lot from. Senator Bailey: So you’re competing on the show. Obviously, when you do the pre-recorded sessions, and then you’ve gone back and, I’m sure, watched several of those episodes, if not all of those episodes. Jake Hoot: I actually haven’t. Senator Bailey: Oh really?Jake Hoot: I watched each one time just to critique myself, but I haven’t gone back and watched any of them. Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: But I guess my question is on the pre recorded shows, and then whenever you go back and you’ve watched those one time, at least, the order that you were actually seeing on the show and then once the show is edited and aired, the pre-recorded shows, your performance, was it at a different time then you actually performed on the pre-recorded show? Jake Hoot: Yeah, I believe so. I think the blinds, it was pretty close, I when I actually performed, but yeah, I think, I mean yeah, they change all that up just so it’ll flow easier, and you’ve got we sang, in ballad rounds, Stephen and I sang “You Were Always on my Mind,” and I think somebody after snag another ballad and so they’ll mix it up to put a ballad and then something quick and, you know. But yeah, it was interesting to see, and when you’re there and going through it, obviously you know everybody’s order, but there’s so many different moving parts, you really don’t remember who went when, when you even went, you just remember going out there and singing. But yeah, they definitely had to change some things up in production to make it flow a little better. Senator Bailey: Final night, I mentioned this a few minutes ago and then got sidetracked because I just get so excited because I want to hear exactly how all of the logistics worked on stage, and because you’re watching the show, and you’re trying to—I’m just always looking for those little intricacies in the background. But final night, you’re performing. Obviously, I’m sure the adrenaline’s flowing. How do you control your nerves? Do they coach you on controlling your nerves and the adrenaline that’s flowing and how to overcome the fact that you’re on live national television, and you could be the winner of The Voice? Jake Hoot: Yeah, that’s a tough one. I was incredibly nervous almost every time I walked out on that stage. And I think when I sang “Desperado,” which was the semi-finals or whatever, that was the first time I wasn’t nervous at all. And, I think I had just gotten in a space in my head to where I was just like God's been good to me, too, at this point. I can’t complain, I’ve gone way further than I ever thought, and so I’m just going to go out there and enjoy it, and not worry about all the little technical things that I’ve been worrying about. And they coach you to an extent. Obviously, how much can you actually coach nerves? But, they coach you to an extent and I think we had been on that stage so many times and been through the wringer so many times at that point, it just became second nature. And so, going out there and singing the songs that we did, you’re nervous and stuff, and obviously staying there to find out the results, you’re terrified, but we were all so close, the Final Four of us, me, Katie, Ricky and Rose, that we were all rooting for each other to win the thing, we just enjoyed being up there, and, it was an honor just to be on that stage, much less to be in the Final Four, so we all had a great time doing it. Senator Bailey: So I’m assuming once it’s announced that you’re the winner, is it one of those surreal moments that you’re just standing there, and you’re thinking, is this really happening to me? How did you, when you were announced that you were the winner—just, as you know, I’ve run in political races and, of course, I’m able to watch the results all through the evening as they come in, and but yet the first time that I won the state senate race, for the next two days, I’m like, Did I really win? Did I really win this? And it was just kind of a surreal moment for me, so tell me your thoughts, what you were feeling at that point in time. And how long did you stay in LA after you won, or did they basically say, “Okay, you’re going back home?” Jake Hoot: Yeah, you’re done, yeah. No, I think I still wake up and ask if I actually won the show. Just because there’s been so many things that have happened and so many different, really cool things I’ve been able to be a part of since then. But when you’re standing there, and they called my name out, I didn’t believe it at first, and I almost passed out, I think, because the wind got knocked out of me. But just a very surreal thing, and it’s so quick moving afterwards, the confetti came down, and Kelly came up and, the family came up and we took pictures and everything, and then we rushed out and went to press conferences. And so it was really special. But then, I ended up staying there probably a week afterwards because there was a bunch of different interviews and TV interviews, radio interviews, and all these other different things that we had to go do. And normally they fly people to New York to do that. But luckily, everything was in LA and so we were able to just stay out there and get everything done, and then I was back, a couple days before Christmas. Senator Bailey: Okay. So, the finale was on December the— Jake Hoot: 17th. Senator Bailey: 17th, so you are ultimately there a week after winning because you’re basically having to do all of the interviews, the morning shows, the all the various, and then, of course, those shows that you probably did a performance on most of them. Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: Okay. Wow. So, how have things changed back here in Cookeville, Tennessee, in the Upper Cumberland, since winning/ Jake Hoot: I don’t know that there’s hardly anything that’s the same. I feel like everything’s been twisted up a little bit, you know, and in a good way, everything’s just kind of been fast-tracked and fast pace. Senator Bailey: Let me ask this question. Did you always want to be someone that was going to be a music star, someone that was, in other words, there are people that that end up becoming country music stars, pop stars that love music, but they have such a gift and a talent, that they just love playing and singing, and ultimately, fate deals them a hand that they’re a superstar, but yet they just love singing and playing. Did you, in your mind, ever think that you would be where you are today, or were you comfortable in being someone that loves to sing and play? Jake Hoot: Yeah, I don’t think I ever envisioned making it to this point. I do know that I’ve always loved to play and sing, and my dream was always to just make people feel things when you play music, whether it’s bringing back good memories, whether it’s them remembering something from when they were in high school or at their prom, and they heard that song, that was always the thing that I loved about music is because music is timeless. But to be where I’m at now and to have people, almost everywhere I go, recognize me and want to get a picture and want to get an autograph, to me, it’s incredibly humbling, because it’s just, I never thought in a million years, and the fact that God has put me here—it’s also terrifying, because you get all the eyes on you now, and you got a lot of people that look up to you, and you don’t ever want to let anybody down. You want to be the best example that God wants you to be. But I’m very grateful for it. And, like I said, since the show, I’ve had so many really cool experiences and so many cool people that I’ve gotten to meet. And one of the cool things that I’ve realized is how many Christians there are in the industry that are out there doing what they’re supposed to do and to be able to meet with them and kind of develop relationships and stuff, and make really good music is really special, but never would have thought in a million years. But I’m incredibly grateful that I am here, and I’m just enjoying every second of it. Senator Bailey: You mentioned Zimmer Broadcasting earlier. Now, I’m assuming that you’re still working with Zimmer, or has your career taken on some— Jake Hoot: Yeah, so— Senator Bailey: —and so, a record deal, record label deal, so Zimmer to record label deal. So, and then tell me about this song that you and Jimmy Fortune and where we’re going with that? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. So, when you sign on with the show, they sign you to a record deal with The Voice. And— Senator Bailey: Okay, so you just opened another door for me to ask a question because I’m— Jake Hoot: Yes, sir, let’s go. Senator Bailey: —and that question is, I’m assuming you get a record deal if you win The Voice like you just mentioned. They sign you for a record deal. And then, I’m assuming that you’re committed, they get a royalty off of your record deal for how long? Jake Hoot: It depends. It could be a year, it could be a couple years. But I was very fortunate to be able to get out of all the deals that they had. Senator Bailey: Wow. Jake Hoot: And it just came down to working with really good people, and having a good team around me. And that’s ultimately what I wanted to do, just because I wanted to be able to have freedom, when I first got off the show, to kind of put out what I wanted to do and work in the circles that I wanted. That’s not to say that I don’t want a record deal. I absolutely want one, but working independently for a little while is going to be nice, so I can just get all my ducks in a row. But yeah, it’s been incredible, and I’m working towards getting those record deals, and as far as with the radio station, they were incredibly patient with me throughout the whole process. And it had—unfortunately my it’s come to that point where I’m going to have to step away. And as bad as I hate to do that, I always tell people, it goes back to what God said about being a good steward of what he gives us. And, I felt like I couldn’t be in both places at one time. And if I was going to do this music thing, then I had to go all in, and so that’s a pretty recent development as far as me kind of stepping away. But— Senator Bailey: You know the ladies here at the [trucking] company are going to be very disappointed, [crosstalk] [laughing].Jake Hoot: I told them a little bit earlier, and they were just like, what, and I said, “I’m sorry, it doesn’t mean I’m not going to be around, I’m still going to be around.” And with a radio station, we’ve talked about some different ideas of where I can come back and kind of do some things here and there. But it’s a blessing to have two things going really, really well, and you have to pick between the two, and so I’m praying and I’m hoping that we make the best run of this that we can. And then as far as the song you’re talking about, that tornado hit and it devastated a lot of things for a lot of people. And, being part of the community that came together to kind of push me through the whole show, I’ve been trying to find ways that I could give back and do things and try to help these people out. And so, I was on my way to a missions trip in Nicaragua, and I was sitting on the plane and I thought, I got on— Senator Bailey: You say you’re on a mission trip to Nicaragua? Jake Hoot: Yes, sir. Senator Bailey: And this was…? Jake Hoot: Two weeks ago, maybe? A week and a half ago. Senator Bailey: Okay. So, basically right after— Jake Hoot: The day after. So it hit Tuesday, and Wednesday I left for Nicaragua. Senator Bailey: Oh, wow, okay. Jake Hoot: And I had got on Instagram, and I saw all these different posts about Putnam Strong, Cookeville Strong, Nashville Strong, Lebanon Strong, Mount Juliet Strong. And I thought that’s special. I said, “But why aren’t we all just a unified front?” And so, literally, in 20 minutes, I wrote a song called Tennessee Strong, and I had sent it to Jimmy Fortune, who was with the Statler Brothers who’s just an incredible writer, singer. I mean, just— Senator Bailey: Absolutely, yeah. Jake Hoot: And even better than that, he’s an incredible Christian guy. And so, I sent it to him and I said, Hey, can you write the melody for me because I didn’t have a guitar with me or anything. And so, when I got back, he had written some stuff, but I went and met with him. And he said, “I could tell by the lyrics that you poured your heart into this song,” and he goes, “and I couldn’t bring myself to writing a melody without you being here. And so we wrote it, and we’re pretty happy, but we’re going to get it recorded this week, and then all the proceeds from the sales or anything that has to do with this song, we’re donating it to that tornado relief fund. We had somebody come out and shoot like a video of some of the debris and the wreckage and stuff. And we’re also going to be using some different things, other footage and whatnot to kind of put together a video for it, but it’s just a little way to try to bring some kind of peace to these people that are hurting right now. And if that’s all it does, if the song, all it does is one person that was affected, if it just kind of helps them cope with it because I know a lot of people are struggling mentally right now with what’s going on, and the nightmares and the people I’ve talked to they’re still having nightmares, and so, if this song can at least just touch somebody, then it’s done way more than I could ever hope. So, that’ll be released before too long, hopefully in the next week or so, and we’ll get that out and see what, see where it goes from there Senator Bailey: Well, that’s awesome. And, of course, what we saw immediately following the tornado and how Tennessee turned out to help the Cookeville, Putnam County area, it was unbelievable. Those are the same people that helped you on The Voice— Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Senator Bailey: —and it just goes to show what a great community that we have, and that we live in. So, you and I share some good friends, Dailey & Vincent, and especially with Jamie Dailey, and I had the opportunity to be at the Opry the night that Jamie Dailey had invited you to come and sing at the Grand Ole Opry. What a great experience— Jake Hoot: Oh my goodness. Senator Bailey: —and I was so happy to be able to share that with you that night, and my family. So, I think that was an awesome experience. And again I just— Jake Hoot: Oh yeah, and I’m incredibly grateful that I got to do that, and the fact that y’all came out. You know, and Jamie, he and Darren kind of made that happen. And the fact that he didn’t even know me from the next guy and the fact that he went all out to help me and get me lined up was really special. So, I’m very grateful for that. Senator Bailey: Two of the greatest guys, Jamie Dailey, and Darren Vincent. And just, so much like you’re saying, just very humble gentlemen that have made it in the bluegrass world. And obviously, they appreciate and always are trying to promote the Upper Cumberland, and so, we’re so happy. And then, of course, I had you come down to the Tennessee State Senate. And it was—many of our members, many of our Senate members talked about how you were a blessing to them that day and singing Amazing Grace on the floor of the Senate and, of course, our national anthem. And they so appreciated that, and so that— Jake Hoot: Oh, appreciate you having me down. That was really special. Senator Bailey: Yeah. So, we were very happy to have you that day. And thank you for doing that. Just a couple more questions and I promise we’ll close out. Jake Hoot: You’re fine. Senator Bailey: This has just— Jake Hoot: I’m having a blast. Senator Bailey: —has just been great. So who is your biggest musical inspiration? Jake Hoot: Oh, I would say probably, I have to go with the Eagles. Senator Bailey: Oh, yeah, okay. Jake Hoot: I love that style of music. I love their harmonies. I love their in-, I mean, they were the complete package. Senator Bailey: And they’ve been a little timeless, too. Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Yeah, oh, I don’t know how many different places I’ve played to college students and everybody’s requesting Eagles tunes. And so, yeah I just love the writing, I mean, everything about that band was just, to me, it was incredible. And so yeah, I think they’re probably my biggest musical influence. Senator Bailey: Wow, that’s awesome. A lot of artists always point and go to the Eagles, and obviously, as someone that is working their way, working their way up, sing a lot of the Eagles songs, so I think that’s just awesome. Well, before we close out, obviously you’ve told us about your song that you and Jimmy Fortune have written and basically allowing all those proceeds from that song to go to the relief fund here in Putnam County and Cookeville. Is there anything else that you’d like to share with our audience before we close out? Jake Hoot: Absolutely. Obviously from The Voice standpoint and from where my music is taking me, I just want to say thank you to everybody who showed up big, and showed so much love and spread the word, but more than that, coming back to the tornado and stuff, I just want to let everybody know that it’s incredible to see the help and the way everybody came together for that. And just know that I love you and I’m praying for you, and, obviously, if there’s anything I can do, just let me know. But, I’m just incredibly grateful to be part of Tennessee, and so. And thank you so much for having me on the show and for everything you’ve done, and— Senator Bailey: Oh, well, hey— Jake Hoot: —I’m looking forward to the future. Senator Bailey: Hey, I appreciate you taking out some time to be with us today because I know you’re very, very busy. And so I really appreciate that and congratulations again on being the winner of The Voice, of the 17th season of The Voice, and I just think that Tennessee in the Upper Cumberland is so proud of you for doing that. This is state Senator Paul Bailey, you’re listening to Backroads and Backstories. Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
32 minutes | Mar 13, 2020
The Effects of COVID-19 & the Government’s Response in Tennessee
Guests Senator Briggs Senator Hensley Show NotesSome of the highlights of the show include: The first infections of the coronavirus were linked back to a live animal market that was selling meat in Wuhan, China. The coronavirus is spread by person-to-person contact. The virus is contagious and the symptoms are flu-like. It seems like those that have become the most ill from the virus are the elderly or those that have some pre-existing medical conditions, such as, maybe, COPD or heart trouble or diabetes. An outer coat is around the coronavirus. It is an enveloped virus making it sensitive to alcohol, lysol, and most sanitizers. There was a fourth case of coronavirus diagnosed in the state of Tennessee. “Governor Lee has been very proactive, just in my opinion, same as President Trump and the CDC and going ahead and starting to educate the public.” - Senator Bailey If you think that you have flu-like symptoms, stay at home, and then contact your physician and establish an appointment that you can go into where they can see you at that time. The coronavirus has a long incubation period, 10 to 14 days, so people can spread the virus even if they’re not sick. With the flu, somebody has to have symptoms within a day or two, certainly not 14 days. So usually if people don’t have symptoms, then they’re not contagious with the flu. Even if a vaccine is created, it still may take a year for it to be released to the public. It has to be tested first. TranscriptAnnouncer: For the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Hello, this is State Senator Paul Bailey, with your podcast, Backroads and Backstories. Today we’re joined by State Senator Richard Briggs from Knoxville, who is a cardiac surgeon, as well as State Senator and Doctor, Joey Hensley of Hohenwald, Tennessee. Senator Bailey: In today’s podcast, we’re going to be discussing the Coronavirus and the effect that it’s having, not only here in Tennessee, but around the world. But before we began talking about the Coronavirus, Dr. Briggs, I’d like for you to introduce yourself to the audience and tell a little bit about your military service and also about the fact that you are a cardiac surgeon and you’re still practicing today. Senator Bailey: And I know that you go to some Indian reservations, if I’m not mistaken, and you do some, is it... charity work there?Senator Briggs: No, they pay me for it. Senator Bailey: Oh, well, of course, I forgot you’re a doctor. [laughing]. So Dr. Briggs, sometimes you have many titles. I don’t know whether to call you Doctor, Senator, Colonel, or friend, but for the most part, thank you and welcome to today’s show. And so, tell us a little bit about yourself.Senator Briggs: Well, first of all, thank you for having us on here. And I’m State Senator Richard Briggs from Knoxville, Tennessee. I have a, really, a very long career doing a lot of different things. My actual profession when I’m not in Nashville being a State Senator is that I do heart surgery and some lung surgery in Knoxville, Tennessee. I also was in the army for 38 years, I retired as a full Colonel. I did two tours in Iraq during the most recent war. I was in Somalia back in 1993. I was in Afghanistan in 2004. And even in Korea, back in the 1980s. I know I had a lady asked me one time was I in Korea during the war? And I wasn’t even born when the war started, and that would make me close to 90 years old. I know I haven’t weathered too well, but I wasn’t there during the war.Senator Bailey: Well, I understand, and so how many tours did you do during the Gulf War era?Senator Briggs: Well, if you go back to Desert Storm, I was in a MASH hospital, and that was actually my first trip to Iraq. And then I was in Afghanistan. By this time, I was the senior trauma surgeon at a combat support hospital. And then about a year and a half after that, I was in Baghdad, Iraq, where I was the senior officer at the, actually, the busiest and the largest hospital in Baghdad.Senator Bailey: And although your cardiac surgeon I think you told me at one point in time when you were there running the MASH hospital, that you did multiple surgeries. It just wasn’t limited to cardiac surgery.Senator Briggs: No, actually, the training for a cardiac surgeon means that you have to have at least five years in board certification in general surgery, and your general surgeons are the ones that are going to be doing gall bladders, appendixes, they’re going to be doing the general trauma surgery, including some orthopedics and some neurosurgery, whatever comes along, but when I was in Afghanistan, we were still in tents. And we had just two orthopedic surgeons and two general surgeons, so whatever came through the door, we either did it or it didn’t get done.Senator Bailey: Oh, wow, that’s awesome. Now your public service as far as on the political side, you served as a county commissioner in Knox County, and now serving on your second term as a state senator. You and I came in as freshmen together in 2014, and developed a friendship and certainly appreciate you, Dr. Briggs, and so, tell us just a brief summary of your political career.Senator Briggs: Well, it really goes back to 2007 and 2008 in Knox County. I ran for the county commission and was sworn in as a county commissioner in February of 2008. And I served on the county commission for seven years until I was elected to the state Senate. And I think you were probably sworn in just a couple of minutes before I was because your name was B-A and mine is B-R. [laughing] Senator Bailey: That’s right I—Senator Briggs: And so you got a little bit of seniority with me there. But I’ve been in the state Senate now, just as you have, since November of 2014. And we’ve served together since then.Senator Bailey: Yes. And Senator Briggs, you, certainly because of your medical background, I know that you carry a lot of bills relative to health care in the Senate, which, chairing the Commerce Committee, from time to time there are health-related bills that move through that committee and so we have the opportunity to work with you on those bills, and then you serve on finance as well as the Health Committee?Senator Briggs: No, actually, I went off the Health Committee two years ago and I’m on the Finance Committee, and also the Transportation Committee, and I was—Senator Bailey: That’s right, you and I served together there.Senator Briggs: Yes. And then I am the chairman of the Ethics Committee, and we don’t have to meet unless someone’s getting in trouble, and we’ve been meeting a little bit more often than maybe we should, up here. But that’s just a job that when some issue comes up, it gets referred to our committee.Senator Bailey: Very good. Doctor Hensley. Again, you have multiple titles. We call you Doctor, we call you Senator, we call you friend. From time to time, when, when I’m in your committee, I call you Chairman. So you hail all the way from Hohenwald, Tennessee.Senator Hensley: Hohenwald, Tennessee. Paul, it’s good to be here with you, first of all, and it’s a privilege to know you and to be your friend and, and Dr. Briggs, and I came in the Senate in 2012, so I have a couple years on y’all, but I served 10 years in the house before that. So, but going back, yes, I’m from Hohenwald, which is this small town, that’s my hometown. I went to school at community college, Columbia State, and went to Memphis state, and then UT Memphis to get my medical degree, and then came back to Hohenwald where I grew up, and I’ve been practicing there 34 years and—Senator Bailey: Wow, 34 years, I didn’t realize that.Senator Hensley: One of these days, I’m going to get it right and stop practicing but I’m still practicing at it, so… But I—Senator Bailey: And you run a family practice.Senator Hensley: I have a solo family practice. I have a nurse practitioner, works with me, but like I said, I’ve been there 34 years, and so I see everything from infants, babies to elderly people, everything in between. I see patients in the nursing home. I don’t deliver babies, even though I did when I first started practicing, I delivered babies, but I don’t do that anymore. And actually, my county doesn’t have a hospital—Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Senator Hensley: —and hasn’t had a hospital for the last 25 years. So our closest hospitals about 35 miles away.Senator Bailey: Is that is that in Columbia? Senator Hensley: In Columbia, Tennessee, right. Murray county has a big hospital. So that’s our closest hospital, so—but I’ve had the privilege to practice medicine and take care of people that I grew up with and friends and over the years of acquaintances, people that I go to church with, and see in town, I see at Walmart and I have the privilege to take care of them. But I served on the school board there in Hohenwald for 12 years.Senator Bailey: Now, that’s a question that I was going to ask you because I usually tell folks that—I’m in Tennessee history because I was a county commissioner, a state representative and elected a state Senator all in one year, but you hold Tennessee history as being a school board member, a county commissioner and a state representative all at the same time. Is that correct? Senator Hensley: That’s correct. Yes. I did that two years because I actually ran for the county commission before I really determined I was going to run for state representative. So I had to get my name on the ballot for the state representative by doing a write-in vote, and I already had my name on the ballot as county commissioner. So I got elected to the county commission in August and got my name on the ballot for state representative at the same time, and then got elected to be state representative in November of 2002. So, I went ahead and served out those terms. I was chairman of the school board at that time. So I had two more years on the school board and just so happened In Lewis County, my school board district, ran at odd years from the county commission district. That was the only way I was able to do that. So I got elected to the county commission and state representative and finish my term on the school board for two more years, and serve my four years on the county commission and then didn’t run again. But, I continued to serve. But Lewis county is a small county. The school board meets one time a month and the county commission meets one time a month so it’s not like Dr. Briggs, serving on the Knox County Commission which—Senator Bailey: Meets a little more frequently.Senator Hensley: Meets more frequently than just one time a month. So I was able to serve out those terms, but it’s a privilege to be in the legislature and I’ve still been able to practice and I live close enough, about 75 miles from Nashville, so I go home at night and I’m still able to see patients sometimes.Senator Bailey: And I commend you for that, because that’s—I’m about 90 miles away, and it’s a little tough to try to go home.Senator Hensley: It is. Senator Bailey: And both of you understand this, when when you chair a committee, you have a lot more obligations, obviously, you’re trying to meet with the members that have bills as well as the committee members, meeting with lobbyists, constituents in regards to those bills. So many times, as a senator, we don’t make it to the receptions, or I don’t, simply because we’re still working to try to get committee work completed. And so you serve on the Finance Committee, you’re also the chair of the—Senator Hensley: Revenue Subcommittee, which is the Subcommittee of Finance that hears all of the tax bills. So I chair it, and I serve on the Health Committee and the Education Committee as well.Senator Bailey: And, well, thank both of you for being here, and we appreciate the fact that you’ve—are going to spend just a little bit of time. And the purpose of today’s podcast is obviously the Coronavirus. And as we all know, the Coronavirus was detected in Wuhan, China. And the first infections were linked back to a live animal market that was selling meat in Wuhan, China. And obviously, the virus has continued to spread all across China, and around the world. And it’s basically spread by person-to-person contact. And so today, one of the things that we want to discuss with both of you as physicians, is what should we do, what should Tennesseans be doing and in regards to the Coronavirus? Dr. Briggs, you want to jump in on that one? Senator Briggs: Yeah, I guess I’ll jump in on this. And I don’t know a whole lot more, probably, than what a lot of other folks do if they’re reading about it in the paper or hearing about it on the news. There seems to be some good news and some bad news with it. And I’ll go through the bad news first. And that is, it appears to be very contagious. It seems like those that have become the most ill are the elderly or those that have some pre-existing medical conditions, such as, maybe, COPD or heart trouble or diabetes. It does seem to have symptoms that are similar to the flu. And some of the people with it obviously get very, very ill. And it appears that the mortality from this is higher than the flu. However, and this may be some of the good news, is that we probably aren’t diagnosing all the people that have been infected with the virus, because some people have very mild symptoms. And then some it starts off as a very severe flu-like illness and then just goes downhill. I think part of the other, I guess you would call it the good news with it, is spread as, as Paul said by person-to-person contact. And then there’s things that we can do. One thing I think we ought to probably think about stopping doing is shaking hands with everybody or getting too close—Senator Bailey: Yeah, but we can do that as politicians. Everyone— [laughing]Senator Hensley: We have to shake hands, that—Senator Briggs: Everybody wants to shake our hands.Senator Bailey: Exactly.[laughing] Senator Briggs: That may not be a good idea. The part of it is that the virus is what they call an enveloped virus, which means it has an outer coat on it. That also makes it more sensitive to things like alcohol, and Lysol, and some of the sanitizers, is that it is sensitive to being killed by some of those.Senator Bailey: Okay, so that’s exactly what I wanted you to say. When you say it’s killed—when it’s sensitive. It means that is—Senator Briggs: It can be killed.Senator Bailey: —killed by alcohol, okay.Senator Briggs: Or the hand sanitizers that you rub on your hands?Senator Bailey: That’s good to know. Senator Briggs: That’s good to know. And it also appears that if it’s left on a surface someplace, it doesn’t have a real long life. It is fairly sensitive to that. But it can be sanitized, either by using some of the cleaners that are either bleach-based, like some sort of dilute form of Clorox, and there’s some of those that you can buy that are safe to put on your skin, and to put on surfaces you can use these alcohol-based products and then things like Lysol. They have some that are weaker than just the kind of Lysol, maybe, they’d be cleaning the bathroom with, but it is sensitive to all of those. But I think that even though—and by the way, I don’t know if you saw today, Senator Bailey, we had a fourth case diagnosed in Tennessee. Senator Bailey: No, I did—and where was it located in Tennessee?Senator Briggs: I believe—it just said Middle Tennessee was the only information that the health department released. I believe that was the fourth case that we have. There’s one in Memphis and three now in Middle Tennessee. But I think it’s important to start the precautions now.Senator Bailey: I think so, and so Governor Lee has been very proactive, just in my opinion, same as President Trump and the CDC and going ahead and starting to educate the public. And that’s one of the things that we want to do with this podcast, is we want to educate the public, and I think from the CDC, one of their messages is, don’t panic, just be smart, and just be on top of what you’re doing. Wash your hands regularly, use hand sanitizer, keep hand sanitizer with you. Obviously, if you think that you have flu-like symptoms, stay at home, and then contact your physician and establish an appointment that you can go into where they can see you at that time, especially if you think you have been in contact with someone that has been traveling abroad or maybe have been in an affected area. Dr. Hensley, would you like to chime in, please?Senator Hensley: Yes, and it certainly, as Dr. Briggs said, it does have a long incubation period, 10 to 14 days, so people can spread the virus even if they’re not sick. So, and many people, 80% of people have a mild case similar to the flu and most of the cases where they have had a fatality has been, as Dr. Briggs said, has been older people, people that have compromised immune systems, they have COPD, they have diabetes, they have heart disease, they’re in a nursing home and many of the deaths were people that were in the nursing home where they obviously had other medical problems. Because most people getting this are not going to die from it. Most of them don’t even have to be treated. They just stay at home and just treat it like a flu with symptomatic treatment and they’re going to get over it. So—Senator Bailey: Which brings me to a question. Is the Coronavirus, I believe it’s Coronavirus-19. COVOID-19. So is it responding to antibiotics?Senator Hensley: No, it’s a virus and viruses don’t respond to antibiotics and that’s why most of the flu cases even just regular flu, that there is some antiviral medicine for the flu. But—Senator Bailey: Now, Dr. Hensley, help me because, obviously I’m not a doctor, so when you say antiviral, Senator Hensley: Antiviral.Senator Bailey: So what is an antiviral medication?Senator Hensley: Antiviral medication is like Tamiflu, that’s one most people may have heard of, that treats the flu, and that’s like an antibiotic. Antibiotics are for treating bacteria. Antiviral medicines are for treating viruses. But even the flu medicine really just shortens the course of the flu, it really doesn’t kill the virus per se, but it does help shorten the course and kill some of the virus, but people still generally have flu symptoms for a few days. But the sooner they get started treating with antiviral, it generally shortens the course until they get better quicker. But there’s really not a antiviral medicine that I know of, for this virus, and people do get over it without any special treatment. It’s just if they develop complications, they get respiratory symptoms, they get pneumonia or they get something else with the virus that’s generally where the people die from the virus. Senator Bailey: So Dr. Briggs, can you tell me if there’s a lot of differences between normal flu and the Coronavirus? Senator Briggs: It sounds like the initial symptoms in the more severe cases, because anyone that’s had the flu knows, you get pretty sick with it, you have a fever, you have the aches and pains, you may have a cough and you just generally feel pretty awful. And I think in the more severe cases of the Coronavirus infections, those are the sort of symptoms that you would have, very flu-like. And just as Dr. Hensley mentioned, there’s a lot of people who will get the Coronavirus and the symptoms are extremely mild, or maybe they don’t have any symptoms at all, but yet they can still be carriers. And that’s what part of the difficulty is, is identifying those people that could spread it so we can isolate them, and not spread it to someone else.Senator Bailey: Okay, so that brings in a question that I have because what I have heard is that the incubation period is about 14 days for the Coronavirus. What is the incubation period for the normal flu? Can either of you speak to that? I’m sure that I know there’s different strains of the flu, so is there a standard, like it’s a 3-day, 4-day, 7-day, and is this was what makes the Coronavirus so unique in the fact that it’s a 14-day incubation period? Senator Hensley: It does make it unique because the flu is typically—somebody has to have symptoms are within a day or two, certainly not 14 days. So usually if people don’t have symptoms, then they’re not contagious with the flu.Senator Bailey: So is it true that if you—I’ve always been told, look, if you have a fever and you’ve got flu-like symptoms, don’t be around other people, stay out of work, stay out of school. But in this case, with a Coronavirus, you may actually have the virus, be the carrier is Dr. Briggs said, not know it, and you could be in contact with other people, and you could—Senator Hensley: Spread it, yeah.Senator Bailey: —and you could be spreading that germ. Now, I’m assuming that after the 14-day incubation period, then you could always ultimately come down with those symptoms, but you could have affected many family members, co-workers, people in school, public places. Is that—am I reading that correctly?Senator Briggs: I think so, but there’s some people who may be infected with it, that really don’t have very many symptoms.Senator Bailey: Okay, so you’re saying that you could be a carrier of the Coronavirus, but you never, you never come down with the symptoms of the Coronavirus.Senator Briggs: Or the symptoms could be very, very mild, where you really don’t give them much thought.Senator Bailey: Okay, well, now that’s something new that I haven’t heard, I assumed that there was an incubation period of 14 days, then you would come down and you would actually experience the symptoms, but the two of you are basically agreeing that you could actually be the carrier, you could have mild symptoms, just cold-like symptoms, nothing like the flu symptoms, and actually have the virus then. Is that right? Senator Briggs: That’s correct. Senator Hensley: That’s correct. And so, that’s why this is different than the flu and the long incubation period. And certainly, everybody that is exposed wouldn’t have 14 days, but I think that’s just the longest it could be. And a lot of people, probably even shorter than that.Senator Bailey: Oh, wow. Dr. Briggs, did you have something to add?Senator Briggs: Well, I tell you what I was going to add to this because I think a question that many of the listeners may have is, what is the Tennessee government doing about this? Senator Bailey: Right, yes. Senator Briggs: And something very important is that Governor Lee, and I was very glad to see him do this, appointed to task force, a Coronavirus Task Force, and he’s appointed members to that task force, and I have to say they were a very qualified group of people to look at this. There’s public health officials from some of the counties, we have infectious disease specialists from Vanderbilt. We have epidemiologists from Vanderbilt and the CDC who were put on this. So it is a task force for those of us in Tennessee, that when I looked at that, it gave me a lot of comfort to know that we have some of the best and most experienced people in the state that’s monitoring this and will give us advice that we may need as we’re going through the whole progress of this epidemic.Senator Hensley: And hopefully we can get rapid test for this, because the flu test, most people know there’s a rapid flu test where you can tell within 10 minutes or so whether someone has the flu, and I think these tests now have to be sent to the CDC or sent somewhere to tell whether somebody is positive, it certainly takes several hours. So if we could get a test that was more rapid that would help.Senator Bailey: And another question that I have is if you had the flu shot this year, would it have helped with Coronavirus?Senator Hensley: No, because it’s just for certain flu virus and it doesn’t even always help against all the flu viruses, but it certainly wouldn’t help against this virus.Senator Bailey: You know, Tennessee and especially the federal government has been criticized in regards to what the response has been to the Coronavirus. But in my opinion, I really feel like that both the federal government and, Dr. Briggs, as you mentioned, Tennessee, we’ve jumped out, and we’re being proactive about the Coronavirus and trying to educate the citizens, especially the federal government. \But at the same time, there’s been some to criticize. But when you look around the world, and as of today, there’s over 110,000 reported cases worldwide, but the United States only has 550 of those cases. So, in my opinion, I think that we have really tried to be ahead of this and tried to be proactive in letting the citizens know what they need to do in regards to the Coronavirus. Do you generally— Senator Hensley: I agree with that, totally. And I think the federal government and the state government is trying to educate people because that is the main thing; educating people. And people in this country are smart enough to know what to do if they’re told what to do. And I think people are starting to understand, stay out of crowds, make sure they wash their hands, make sure that they don’t expose other people if they don’t have to, if they have symptoms, stay home. So I think over the next few weeks, we’re going to see this die down if people do that.Senator Briggs: The other thing I think is valuable, because it’s not progressed as far in the United States as it has in some of the other countries, and it gives us to look at what best practices have been in places like China, Korea, Italy, where they’ve had major outbreaks, and we can learn what works and doesn’t work. Some of the measures had been very draconian in both Wuhan, China, and in northern Italy, they just literally put an entire quarantine over the northern part of the country.Senator Bailey: I saw that just as we came in, that Italy is basically totally quarantined their entire country, now.Senator Briggs: Yeah, they’ve stopped, I think they’ve stopped movement from one part of the country to the other to try to contain it. Another fact that is, is the longer we can put off us having a major problem here, they are also—by they, I mean the federal government—is also working on developing a vaccine for this. And that’s not going to come quick. It may very well take a year, for this to happen, because you have to come up with a vaccine, and the vaccine has to be tested both for its efficacy—in other words, how well it works, how much protection it gives an individual— and also whether there’s any—Senator Hensley: If it has any side effects.Senator Briggs: —side effects from it, is there any problems with it. And that can take a year to a year and a half, and that is really working rapidly to try to do that. But if we can hold off a major epidemic in the United States, maybe with summer coming we don’t have people—Senator Bailey: Well, that was one of my next questions that I was basically going to ask Dr. Hensley, and that is, do you think with the fact that we’re entering spring and then summer, that the virus will be, for a better word, slowed down, or will it be stopped, in regards to spring and summer? Or do you think because of the warm weather that it could increase? So what do you think about that, Dr. Hensley?Senator Hensley: Well, typically flu gets better in the warm months, people are not cooped up inside together all the time, school is out during the summer so kids are not exposed to a whole classroom every day like they are during school. So I think when summer comes, spring and summer, it will get better just because of weather conditions, people being outside, not exposed to people as much, not being cooped up in buildings.Senator Bailey: Wow. Again, just getting back to some statistics, and today being March 9, for those that are listening to the podcast, obviously, when it actually airs, there could be some changes to these numbers. But again, we go back and we talk about worldwide—now this is worldwide numbers 3,900 people have died around the world. But yet the United States has seen 22 deaths. And obviously, one death is one too many. But again, when you look at how our population is free to move about the world and be able to go anywhere that they want, and then obviously there’s so many countries and populations that come and move throughout the United States. When you think about 3,900 worldwide deaths, but you see that the United States is, as of March 9th, only has 22 deaths, that’s still a relative—very small number, and obviously, Dr. Briggs, you mentioned earlier that there were four cases now confirmed in Tennessee. And those cases are in—there’s one case in Williamson County, there’s one case in Shelby County, but there’s two cases now reported in Davidson County as of March the 9th. So well, gentlemen, it has been an absolute pleasure having you on the Backroads and Backstories with me today, and your vast knowledge of—your number of years of experience of being physicians, and being a doctor, a family doctor and caring for individuals, we appreciate you and we appreciate your knowledge. Do either of you have anything before we close out today’s show? Senator Hensley: It’s been a pleasure being here, and with you, and I certainly appreciate your friendship and your leadership in the General Assembly. You are a very well respected chairman of the Commerce Committee, and we just appreciate you having us on here, and we just like to encourage people out there to just stay wary of the situation and we will get over this. Senator Bailey: Thank you. Dr. Briggs.Senator Briggs: I’d like to thank you also for your friendship, and I’ll tell you, Senator Bailey is a pretty modest guy. He didn’t mention that, in addition to being a chairman, now, of the Commerce Committee, he’s a former chairman of the Transportation Committee, and the governor has placed him on one of the Healthcare Task Force, looking to some of the long term healthcare solutions that we need in the state. So, we’re very proud of what you’ve done, and the good job you’ve done, and I think part of the reason that you’ve been put on some of these committees is because of your effectiveness as a leader, and I think all of us in Tennessee should appreciate that.Senator Bailey: Well, thank you both. I’m assuming you have bills up in Commerce over the next couple of weeks, and—Senator Hensley: [laughing], We do, Mr. Chairman.Senator Briggs: That’s right, your honor, Your Highness, or whatever. [laughing]Senator Bailey: Ladies and gentlemen, we certainly appreciate Dr. Briggs and Dr. Hensley being with us today, and we appreciate you listening to Backroads and Backstories. This is Paul Bailey. And until next time, stay blessed.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
39 minutes | Feb 26, 2020
Legislative Round Table on Governor Bill Lee’s State of the State Address
Guests Senator Frank Niceley of District 8 Senator Rusty Crowe of District 3 Senator Shane Reeves of District 14 Show NotesSome of the highlights of the show include: “I enjoy politics, I enjoy helping people, and we’ve got a great state. And I’d like to think that in some small way, I was part of that.” - Senator Frank Nicely Farming today is harder than ever before because of regulations on farmers. We are way ahead on revenue collections based on what our projections were last year. Rural counties face different issues. “If you want to know how to vote on things, look around, find senators in the room that you respect, and follow their lead.” -Senator Reeves The Governor is putting money into fiber optics which is a big deal for rural areas. An important issue for the state is trying to figure out how to save our farms. Although the governor proposes a 4 percent pay increase for teachers, some of those school districts are not able to fully pass that increase to teachers. Senator Nicely says you can cut taxes and still have more money and the proof is in the state of Tennessee. TranscriptAnnouncer: From the politics of Nashville, to the history of the Upper Cumberland, this is the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey.Senator Bailey: Welcome to the podcast. I’m your host, Senator Paul Bailey. In today’s episode, we have invited state Senator Frank Niceley of District 8, and Senator Rusty Crowe of District 3, and my good friend, Senator Shane Reeves of District 14. The focus of our discussion today will be on our reactions to Governor Bill Lee’s recent State of the State Address, and other legislative priorities this session. Before we get started, I would like to invite each guest to us a little about themselves and give us their backstory. Senator Niceley?Senator Niceley: Yes sir.Senator Bailey: Tell us just a little bit about yourself and the good folks up in your district.Senator Niceley: Well, I was born and raised in East Tennessee in 1988, I’d been farming for a long time and I needed to get off the farm and do something different, so I ran for office. And I served four years, and I wasn’t very popular with the Democrats back then, and I got beat and was out 12 years. Came back in ‘04 and I’ve spent 12 years in the state House, and eight years now in the state Senate, and I’m about as East Tennessee as you can get. I’ve got eight great-granddaddies that’s fought in the American Revolution, buried in East Tennessee, most of them in my district. My wife says that this proves that my family hasn’t gone very far.[laughing] But I enjoy politics, I enjoy helping people, and we’ve got a great state. And I’d like to think that in some small way, I was part of that. Senator Bailey: I think you have been. So, tell us just a little bit about the difference between the House and the Senate.Senator Niceley: Well, I said one time that when you go to the House, it’s like going back to high school. But when you get in the Senate, it’s like going to an old folks’ home.[laughing] I have to wake them up and tell them a joke [inaudible 00:02:11]. The House was a lot more fun, but I’m getting a little bit more done in the Senate. You call a Commissioner; they call you back a little quicker. Senator Bailey: So, you think you have more respect being a Senator?Senator Niceley: A little.Senator Bailey: A little more respect?Senator Niceley: A little more respect.Senator Bailey: We also call you the Senate historian. Senator Niceley: I am. I call myself the unofficial historian. McNally calls me the official historian, but I have not seen that on paper anywhere.Senator Bailey: Maybe we need to do a resolution calling for you to be named the official Senate historian.Senator Bailey: Well I ran into Sergeant At Arms the other morning, he said, “Senator Niceley, can I just say good morning and shake your hand without getting a history lesson?”[laughing] So, I thought maybe I’d better ease on the history a little bit. I do enjoy history though.Senator Bailey: So, Senator Niceley, you basically farm for a living, is that correct?Senator Niceley: Right. I do. Farming is kind of rough right now. They always said farmers go into a depression first and come out last, so I don’t know what’s—farming right now—is farm dead, farm suicides, commodity prices down. It’s hard right now. And that’s why I try to help the farmers down here, and I try to take off regulations, I try to open doors, let them do more things. Just like this year, one of my main bills this year will be letting the state take back over state meat inspection, take it away from the Feds. We gave it to the Feds back in the seventies. I don’t know why we gave it to the Feds, but Commissioner Hatcher agrees with me, it’s time to take it back. Every state to the south of us, they inspect their own produce and their own meat. So, that’s going to be one of my major pushes this year.Senator Bailey: Prior to me coming to the legislature—and of course I remember reading articles about Frank Niceley from many years ago—you’ve always been fighting for the farmer and basically fighting to roll back regulations on farmers. And so, before I ever had the opportunity to meet you, I already had formed an opinion about you. And it was a good one, so—Senator Niceley: And it changed, didn’t it?[laughing]Well a good example of what you just talked about was billboards. You can put billboards on land that’s zoned commercial or industrial, but you can’t put it on lands zoned agricultural. Why is that? I think if someone took that to the Supreme Court, I’d say that’s discrimination. You got one businessman who happens to be working on land that’s zoned commercial or industrial, that’s fine, but you got another businessman, he happens to be working on land that’s zoned agriculture, why can’t he put a billboard on his side? These billboards are big business. They can pay off the mortgage, keep a kid in school, helps in retirement. Billboards are big business, but farmers can’t—and they own all the land along the interstate. But you can’t put a billboard on lands zoned agriculture. So, that’s another push. I’ve got a lot of pushes.Senator Bailey: You do push, and especially always looking out for the farmers, so we appreciate—Senator Niceley: I’m looking out for people that don’t donate to me, and don’t know who I am, and can’t help me in any way.Senator Bailey: Well, that’s the way we all should be. Senator Crowe—Senator Crowe: Yeah.Senator Bailey: Welcome.Senator Crowe: Thank you. Proud to be here with one of the world champion equestrian people.Senator Bailey: Well, thank you. I appreciate that.Senator Crowe: My daughter is a brand-new veterinarian in Knoxville, and a horse lady, and she’s awful proud of you.Senator Bailey: Well great. Well, so tell us just a little bit about the time that you’ve served here in Nashville and the state Legislature.Senator Crowe: I guess McNally is probably the senior, our speaker, and I’m the second senior and I guess, Frank, you’ve got 20 years now in the legislature. Your House and your Senate together is 20. Senator Niceley: Well I was here before you got here.Senator Crowe: That’s right.Senator Niceley: You came the year I left, I think.Senator Crowe: I came in ‘90. ‘89, ‘90.Senator Niceley: Okay, I came in ‘88. We served two years together back then. Yeah that’s right, I remember now.Senator Crowe: Yeah, and then you came back.Senator Niceley: Yeah, Art Swann’s been here. He got here in ‘84. McNally got here in ‘78. But they talk about needing term limits, we don’t need term limits. In the last 10 years, we’ve had 86 new House members and 26 new Senate members.Senator Crowe: Well, it’s a whole lot different. We’re a citizen legislature. And so—Senator Niceley: Well they starve us to death. They don’t pay us anything.[laughing] Senator Crowe: Yeah, that’s right. They don’t pay us anything. We don’t do it for the money, that’s for sure. You do it because you love to help people. But I’ve had kind of a strange beginning. I decided to run for office and the fella that was going to run and win this Senate seat didn’t file his papers properly, so we had people that had filed on the Republican side, but nobody had filed on the Democrat side. My dad’s an old bomber pilot—Bob Dornan, Howard Baker were friends—bomber pilot is a Republican, my mom is one of the old county farm Democrats, kind of like Jack Kennedy Democrats. Not like the ones you see up there now, that are trying to change our country into something our founders didn’t intend. But the kind of Democrat that Doug Henry was, that would work with us and get things done. So, when I decided to run, I had to run—I was too late. I got in after the filing deadline, and so I had to run on the Democrat side. And I couldn’t file, so I had to run a write-in campaign. And back then if you got 5 percent of the votes cast for Governor in the Primary, you could then get on the ballot in November. So, I got on the Democrat ballot and won that race first time since the civil war that a Democrat—we had won, up in Northeast Tennessee like that. And been there 30 years now.Senator Bailey: And your home is?Senator Crowe: Johnson CitySenator Bailey: Johnson City, Tennessee.Senator Crowe: Got Jonesborough, the oldest town. And Erwin, and Elizabethton up that way.Senator Bailey: Now Senator Crowe, one of the things we know about you is one of the most pivotal votes that you ever made in the state Senate, was what?Senator Crowe: Income tax.Senator Bailey: Income tax.Senator Crowe: And actually, it wasn’t a vote. What happened was Marsha Blackburn got with Phil Valentine and had everybody running around the Capitol demonstrating, saying we don’t need an income tax. Well, what happened was, the House—were you in the House back then, Frank?Senator Niceley: No. I was in the Senate.Senator Crowe: Well the House held the board open for how long?Senator Niceley: Hour and a half.Senator Crowe: Hour and a half, and got their 50 votes. So, Sundquist then came to the Senate. Sundquist calls me and says, “I want to meet up in Johnson City in one of the restaurants, talk about income tax.” So, my secretary, Wilma, who’s deceased now, Wilma said, “He wants to meet with you for two hours at the House of Ribs.” I said, “Wilma, two hours, what are we going to do at lunch for two hours?” She said, “He wants to talk about the income tax.” So, we got in there, and I said, “Don, I can’t vote for any income tax.” I said, “It’s not constitutional in Tennessee. When we work for someone, we have a right to be paid. We only tax privileges, and the only income tax that is specified in the constitution was the Hall Tax, which we’re doing away with right now, thank goodness. We’ll have that thing gone pretty soon. And so, he kept going on and on and on, and I had been literally threatened that if I didn’t pass the income tax, they would let me go. How I’d worked with the University for, I guess, 23 years. And so, I looked at him finally, after almost an hour and a half, I looked at him. I said, “Governor, when you served with George Bush, like I serve with you now, and George Bush said, ‘Read my lips’ and then did the opposite, you didn’t do what you’re asking me to do. You stuck with your people and did what was right.” And that was the end of it, and when I did that the income tax didn’t go forward. And so, thank goodness, we had that situation. So, we don’t have that now. But I’ll tell you what’s interesting. We’ve done away with more taxes now. Everything from the inheritance tax, the gift tax, of course the income tax, almost all the professional tax, the hall tax, we’ve taken 30 percent off the food tax. But the more we’ve taken off—and Paul, as Chairman of Commerce, I’ve heard you say this many times—the more we’ve taken off, the more we’ve ended up like Ronald Reagan said, trickling down to our communities and our businesses. And tell them where we are on taxes right now. Tell them where we are on revenue.Senator Bailey: Well, we are way ahead on revenue collections based on what our projections were last year.Senator Crowe: Exactly.Senator Bailey: So, it’s unbelievable.Senator Crowe: So, it’s been a good thing.Senator Bailey: So, Senator Crowe, it’s certainly good to have you here, and one more thing before we go to—Senator Crowe: We’d better make sure they know I’ve changed parties, though.Senator Bailey: Senator Reeves—yes, I going to make a—Senator Crowe: I’m not still a Democrat. [laughing] Senator Bailey: So, two things. We want to make sure that everyone knows that you did changes parties, from Democrat to Republican. And Senator Niceley is wanting to weigh in on something.Senator Niceley: I just wanted to finish the story and say that Rusty stuck. He didn’t vote for the income tax, and the Governor did fire him after 23 years. And so Rusty had to take up another line of work. And we need to appreciate what Rusty did. I mean that’s—Senator Crowe: And Marsha. Senator Bailey: And of course, since this is a new podcast, we’re trying to inform our audience, and this is part of the backstories that we’re wanting people to understand. The backstories behind the story. And for you to be able to explain to people the story about the income tax, and especially the—Senator Crowe: There’s some strange history with all these guys and gals in the Senate. When I changed parties, I went from being the Vice-Chairman of the Democratic caucus in the same month I became the Vice-Chairman of the Republican caucus. That is pretty weird. [laughing]. But, we’re not like Washington DC, we’re so different. We get along with everybody. Of course, we only have five Democrats in the Senate now, but we get along with them, and we help them if we can, and they help us if they can.Senator Bailey: Well, if we have a little time, we’ll come back, and I believe you’re venturing into a new race, the congressional race? How—Senator Crowe: Yeah, I’m going to throw my hat in there and run for the 1st congressional race, up in Northeast Tennessee.Senator Bailey: So, it’s the House District 1 there, and the US Congressional District 1, and currently held by Congressman Phil Roe. Senator Crowe: And he’s retiring.Senator Bailey: He’s retiring, and so—Senator Crowe: So, as the front-runner, I’ll look like a beat-up punching bag in about six months. They’ll be after me.Senator Bailey: Well there’s one thing about it, Donald Trump, all the abuse he’s taken in the last few months, he looks very good. I hope you look the same.Senator Crowe: If he can take it, by gosh I can.Senator Bailey: That’s exactly right. Well we’re going to turn now to Senator Shane Reeves, who’s from Murfreesboro. And Senator Reeves, obviously we have been talking with some of our senior members of the Senate. But this is actually your second year in the State Senate, so tell the folks just a little bit about yourself, where you’re from, and your thoughts on being in the Tennessee State Senate.Senator Reeves: Thanks Senator Bailey, I could have sat right here and listened to my wise colleagues in Senate all day and not said a word, to be right honest with you, but I’m glad to be part of this. So, I’m from Murfreesboro. I’ve got the 14th District with is Rutherford, Bedford, Marshall, Moore and Lincoln County. And, I’ve spent my entire life in Rutherford County, but one of the things I’ve enjoyed more about being a Senator than just about anything else is I’ve gotten to really, really know rural Tennessee. And love my rural counties. I just love my rural counties; they’ve got very different issues in those rural counties than we’ve got in North County Murfreesboro. It’s exploding. Rutherford County is projecting to be the third largest county in the whole state by 2050, passing Knox and Hamilton. So, it’s just growing like crazy. We’re building a school a year, and infrastructure issues. But those rural counties have got such different issues. And such, such good people. Just such good people. I’m a son of Rutherford County. I’m a son of Tennessee. My family has lived in Rutherford County for 240 years. Do you know that Senator Niceley? I don’t know if I’ve told you that.Senator Crowe: It’s pretty good, Frank.Senator Reeves: Two hundred forty years. I’m a seventh generation Tennessean. My children are eighth generation Tennessean. My family’s been practicing pharmacy in Murfreesboro since 1900. One hundred twenty years.Senator Bailey: Yeah, so speak about that a little bit, because you have a family pharmacy, I guess, that was on the square there in Murfreesboro.Senator Reeves: That’s right.Senator Bailey: And so, is it still there today?Senator Reeves: No, not the same one. I had a great-great-uncle that started a pharmacy in the square in 1900. Pharmacies change a lot in 120 years. It was all cash back then, and you worked with the doctors, and you mixed everything. You didn’t have all the big pharmaceutical companies either back then, you just made it all. And he got his son into it in the 1930s on the square, who got my dad, his nephew, into it in the 1960s, and then my dad kind of branched out on his own, who got me into it in the 1990s. And then around the 1990s we started having [ABMs 00:15:05] and pharmacy companies. My dad used to tell me in the 1960s, he said, “You know, son,” in the 1980s, he said, “A hundred percent of my business was cash. A hundred percent was cash.” And he said, “Every single drug that was on the shelf in the pharmacy,” he said, “you’d just leave it up there until it literally crumbled and fell off on the floor. Because you didn’t have quite all the same regulations that we’ve got nowadays. So, the most recent iteration of our business really was one that I started, which was just a retail pharmacy business called Reeves-Sain Drug store, in the ‘80s. And me and my former business partner, Senator Bailey, we did everything you can imagine in pharmacy [inaudible 00:15:43]. We did medical equipment and oxygen, IV’s and enteral nutrition. Made some money, lost some money. Had some good ideas, had some lousy ideas. Hired some good people, hired some not so good people. Senator Bailey: We’ve all been down that road.Senator Niceley: Yeah but you helped a lot of people.Senator Reeves: That’s right. It’s a good crucible, it’s a good classroom for training for this public service job I’ve had. And I wouldn’t be sitting here—I don’t know if I’ve told you guys this—I wouldn’t be sitting here except in November of 2017, the former senator in this seat was Jim Tracy. You all worked with Tracy, who’s now a USDA Federal Commissioner of Agriculture.Senator Crowe: Trump appointee.Senator Niceley: He’s over there at the Rural Development which is a half of USDA in Tennessee.Senator Reeves: That’s right. He came to see me, literally, in late October 2017 and said, “I want to talk to you about doing something.” He said, “I’m going to take this job with the Trump administration, and I want you to consider running for my state Senate seat.” And I said, “Tracy, I can’t do that. I’ve got this business I’m doing; I’ve got three kids at home; I’ve got all this stuff happening.” And he said, “Well, it’s a special election. You’re never going to have an easier election in your life than a special election. If you want to do it,” he said, “how hard could it be?” [laughing] So, I talked to my wife about it, and we prayed about it, and I talked to my business partners about it, and I said, “Tracy, how much time do I have to make a decision?” He said, “You’ve got three days.” He said, “I’m announcing Friday.” He came to see me on Tuesday. So, I jumped into this thing, and that was November of ‘17 and it was just wide open. I had a primary in January of ‘18, I got elected in the general of March of ‘18, I haven’t even been here two years. And by the time I got here in March of ‘18 and met you guys and found the bathrooms and the break rooms and the committee rooms, we were done. And got back home. McNally told me this, though, when I got here in March or April ‘18. I said, “Any advice that you can give me?” He said, “Two things in a special election.” He said, “Number one, keep your head down, keep your mouth shut early on. Just listen, don’t motion, don’t vote, just—He said, “If you want to know how to vote on things, look around, find senators in the room that you respect, and follow their lead.”Senator Niceley: Well he sat you beside me, and that—Senator Reeves: He sat me right next to Niceley.Senator Niceley: and that helped a lot[laughing]Senator Reeves: I questioned that. I questioned next to Bailey. And the second thing he said was, “Find an area that you can become an expert in. And really, really focus on that,” he said, “because that will ultimately determine bills that come your way.” My friends, that has been the case. Because last year—healthcare is my background—so last year I carried some healthcare bills. I have had so many healthcare bills come my way this year, I’m swimming for my life. To try to slow it down.Senator Crowe: And as Chairman of the Committee, I can tell you, it’s funny how, you talk about the pharmaceutical-type bills, the opioid crisis and all that, and all this is coming to us right now. One of the things that the Governor’s speech dealt with last night is the dollars we’re going to be spending on behavioral health and things like that, for these kids. The new generation coming from the opioid families and the drug addicted families, we’re going to have to spend—it’s kind of like the old Fram commercial, Senator Reeves and I were talking, it used to be, you had that commercial to buy a filter for your car. If you don’t—pay me now or pay me later. Same thing, we’ve got to put all these dollars—fewer dollars, it’s an investment to our future. We’d have to spend so much more when they’re older, when they get off track. But it goes together, doesn’t it, Shane? The pharmaceutical bills you carried, all that stuff, we’ve got to get that under control. We’ve tried real hard to get the drug situation under control. We’ve done a good job. I’ll tell you what’s interesting. The prescription drug abuse is down, and so from a Health Committee perspective, that you and I serve on, we’ve got that under control. But the overdoses and the deaths are up, because it’s now shifted to the Judiciary Committee, where we now see people getting Heroin, and Fentanyl, and Meth, and Cocaine off the street, because we’ve slowed down the other. And so, it’s shifted from my Committee over to Senator Bell’s Committee.Senator Bailey: Right, Judiciary.Senator Crowe: Judiciary, where the enforcement is going to have to take place. It’s a really interesting scenario.Senator Bailey: Senator Reeves, back to you real quick. So, have you enjoyed your time?Senator Reeves: I have. I’ve learned that there’s two words in public service. There’s a service side and there’s a public side. And both of those can be fun at times and both of those can be challenging at times. But overall, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it, and I feel like I’ve been able to make a difference in some areas as a senator I never could have made as a pharmacist. At least once a week, you’re really able to move the dial in some area with some agency, and really make a difference in someone’s life. And for that, that’s been really nice.Senator Crowe: The service we give will long outlive the seat we occupy. That’s a great—I can’t remember who said that, but it really says a lot. The service we give will long outlive the seat we occupy, because when we leave, someone is going to be sitting in that seat and take it over, but the service you give is what people is going to remember.Senator Bailey: Well, Senator Reeves, being a freshman senator, we can certainly say that you’re a rising star in the state Senate, and I’ve certainly enjoyed my friendship with you, and certainly with Senator Niceley and Senator Crowe here. They were mentors to me, and certainly they can be mentors to you. Senator Reeves: Thank you.Senator Bailey: Gentleman, one of the topics today that we’re going to cover is the State of the State. The Governor proposed his budget and the number one reason that we’re all meeting—the legislature meeting in Nashville from January through the end of April—is to pass the budget, and our constitution says that it must be balanced. So, I’m going to basically ask you gentleman to jump right in as we discuss what you thought about the Governor’s State of the State, and his proposal, and from there we’ll just have a general discussion, and then we’ll just wrap it with a lightning round, if you will, at the very end. So, Senator Niceley, what was your take on Governor Lee’s State of the State Address this past Monday night? I know you were listening very intently and taking notes.Senator Niceley: Well, I was in the back row, I couldn’t hear too good [laughing], but everybody jumping up and down. I just sat there listening. I came with a couple of things. He’s putting $25 million more in broadband, now that’s a big deal out in the country.Senator Bailey: It is. It is, especially—Senator Niceley: Everybody talking about broadband, and they don’t want 5G, because that fries your brains. [laughing] They want fiber optics. And out in the country, where I live, the Governor is putting money in fiber optics. And once you get fiber optics, you don’t need anything else. 5G is just a step towards fiber optics.Senator Reeves: It’s just hard for rural communities. My public utility came to see me last week, which is Duck Electric, and to do fiber optics for the huge district they’ve got is $450 million. But $25 million gets it started, but that’s such a big check, to make that work.Senator Niceley: In my district, I have Appalachian Electric and Holston Electric, and they’re both on their way towards running fiber optics over a huge part—every subscriber is going to have it, and they’re doing a great job. The other thing that I noticed, he’s putting $7 million more into the Ag Enhancement Program, which would get it up to about, I think it was 7; 6 or 7, it gets it up to $27 or 8 million. Senator Bailey: And that’s been a huge benefit to our farmers over the last—Senator Niceley: It has, yeah.Senator Bailey: and actually, that was one of the initiatives of Governor Bredesen. And that he originally started that, but I think that Governor Haslam, during the Haslam years definitely improved the program. But that has really, really helped our farmers all across the state of Tennessee.Senator Niceley: Governor Bredesen had actually cut it from $21 million down to 13, and the first thing Haslam did, put it back to 21. And this puts it up to about 28. And at first, I was against it, but we put so much money in these foreign corporations, like Volkswagen, and Hemlock, and Electrolux all across the state, hundreds of millions of dollars, and they’d up and leave. These farmers aren’t leaving.Senator Bailey: No, they’re here.Senator Niceley: We invest that money and farmers are here to stay.Senator Crowe: We better figure out how to keep our farms going, and I think one of the things he’s done as well, I didn’t see it in this budget but I know last year, he put money in there for our 4H kids, and he put money in there to try to figure out how to save our farms, and that’s important. Franks right, we’ve got to—think about it, if we don’t have our dairies—Frank talk about, if you don’t mind, Paul, that scares me. Our situation with milk and dairies is really scary.Senator Niceley: Well, at one time, Tennessee had 10,000 dairies. We’re down to about 200 now, lose them every week. And Dean Foods went bankrupt. Borden Dairies went bankrupt. I really don’t know what—I talked to Commissioner Hatcher, it’s a bad situation, I don’t know what’s going to happen.Senator Reeves: We had 35 in Marshall County 15 years ago, we’re down to 3. We’re down to three.Senator Crowe: I think we’re all seeing that in our rural counties.Senator Niceley: The only ones that are going to make it are the ones that are bottling their own milk, now. You have a few dairies across the state that are bottling their own milk, and they’re making money. The federal government got involved in milk program years ago and destroyed it. I trust the free market better than I trust the federal government.Senator Bailey: So, Senator Reeves, what was your thoughts about the Governor’s budget presentation on Monday night?Senator Reeves: Well, first thing is, it must be nice to be Governor when you’ve got an extra billion dollars of cash. [laughing] It must be a nice problem to have. Senator Bailey: Absolutely, to be honest with you I’m just sitting there and hearing all of the proposals, and especially the new limits of spending that he’s proposing, and I’m just really blown away. And of course, that’s really just—the good news is we have continued to cut taxes. We have cut taxes nearly a billion dollars over the past eight years. And yet we’re still seeing surpluses and even the Governor is proposing another tax cut on the professional privilege tax this year. But we’re still seeing record revenue growth in the state of Tennessee. And I think, especially to those of you, Senator Nicely and Senator Crowe, who have been here in the legislature for a number of years, that you’ve been fiscally responsible, and you have allowed us to see this growth, which is allowing us to be able to fund programs that have needed to be funded in a long time.Senator Crowe: It’s a catch-up thing in some instances, yeah.Senator Bailey: But back to you Senator Reeves, in regards to the budget, any more thoughts, on—Senator Reeves: Well sure, that was first thought is, and the second thing is, $600 million in public education. I know a lot of public education teachers at my backdoor, I’ve already heard positive words from the last few days. They appreciate the cap for the $40,000 for young teachers coming in. MTSU, which is in my backdoor, is a big producer of teachers, big producer, and it’s down. They’re trying desperately to get new young people to go into that program, so maybe that moves the dial in the right direction. That was a big part of it. Again, I think mental health is a big issue in the state, in all 95 counties. The teachers I’m talking to nowadays are talking about behavioral issues, we got behavior issues in jails, so I think putting money to mental health is a big deal. But we need to save a little bit, too, guys. along the way, too, when we got a surplus, we need to save a little bit to make sure we’ve got it down the road.Senator Bailey: Of course, the governor, he’s proposing $50 million into the rainy-day fund, and the good news is Tennessee has got a Triple-A bond rating from all of the rating agencies out of New York City. We’re one of the, well if not the best financially managed states in the nation—there’s just so much to be thankful for, for living in Tennessee, but he also is proposing putting $50 million in the rainy-day fund. And back to the rating agencies, they’re actually saying, “We would like to see you have 8 percent of your total state budget in a rainy-day fund.” And so, obviously they’re looking at, sometime there may be a downturn in the economy. Obviously, with the way the stock market has been going the last few days, it doesn’t appear that there’s any end in sight.Senator Reeves: 8 percent would be $3.2 billion.Senator Bailey: It would be today.Senator Reeves: We’ve got $1.1 billion. Okay.Senator Bailey: We’ve got one point one, so we’ve got to grow that just a little bit. But you mentioned something, Senator Reeves, that I really want to go back and touch on. The governor made a commitment of $600 million for K-12 education, and basically moving the pay increase for our teachers from $36 to $40,000, which is huge, and obviously they need that. But here’s one little issue that we see in rural counties, and all four of us represent rural counties, there are those what I call certified positions in the BEP program and then there’s the non-certified positions in the BEP program. So, although the governor proposes and the state legislature approves a 4 percent pay increase for teachers, some of those school districts are not able to fully pass that 4 percent increase along to our teachers, simply because those, what I call non-certified positions, are not actually being funded through the BEP program, and the locals are actually having to make that up. So, sometimes it’s misleading to the public out here, whenever they hear that we’re giving our teachers a 4 percent raise.Senator Crowe: It’s probably just best to put in terms of 117 million bucks for our teachers. But I think that what you said is the great news, to try to move that beginning salary from 36 to 40. That’s really good.Senator Reeves: Well that’s right. And I would also say it’s not simply a rural issue. Rutherford County is growing so fast that if my school superintendent were sitting here, he would tell you, “I’d love to give my teachers all these raises, but I’ve got such capital needs, and other operating expenses in my backdoor, I’ve got to put some of that, too.” But—Senator Bailey: And you said your school system is building one new school per year?Senator Reeves: Absolutely. I mean—Senator Bailey: Because of the exploding growth, which is a huge capital expenditure for your county.Senator Reeves: That’s right.Senator Bailey: And although you’re having a lot of growth in your county, obviously the county is experiencing those growing pains, and they’re having to expend a lot of money to basically keep up with that growth as well.Senator Reeves: That’s right, so it puts a lot of pressure on the property taxes in my community, which is a sore subject in my hometown right now. But that’s absolutely the case.Senator Crowe: Well, the reason we’re in such great shape, seriously, is because—and we got our ACU ratings the other day. Our American Conservative Union ratings. We now—and this is a scoop guys—we now have the number one conservative Senate in the nation. That’s pretty good. And the reason we’re in good shape is because we’ve concentrated on heavily on lower taxes; less intrusive government regulations; personal responsibility, we’d rather teach them to fish than give them fish; and faith; and family. And it’s almost exactly what Trump said last night in his speech. He said it in different terms, but same kind of thing, Frank, isn’t it?Senator Niceley: Well it is, it’s something we need to always remember, and I say this out when I give my little stump speeches, when the Republicans took over from the Democrats, we were in pretty fair shape. The Democrats did a pretty fair job of running this state, back in the old days when Rusty was a Democrat, [laughing] in the old days. But now then—Senator Crowe: Didn’t take me long.Senator Niceley: Most of those old Democrats, if they were alive today, they’d be Republicans today. So, the Democrats I served with back in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, if they were alive today, they’d be Republicans. They would have loved Trump’s speech last night. And there’s a whole new generation of Democrats out here that I worry about.Senator Crowe: Well, you think about it, we’re number one in fiscal responsibility, we have the lowest taxes per capita personal income, we—probably one of the best rainy-day funds in the country, as you said. And that was Doug Henry, and McNally, and myself back then passing legislation to make sure we put 10 percent of our money into savings, years ago. And then, you mentioned the balanced budget every year. The last two years, we’ve balanced budget with no new debt. First time in recorded history.Senator Bailey: But no new debt, and we are not borrowing money to do any of the expenditures. We’re paying cash. And I mentioned at some point in time during my intro into the podcast, or during this interview process, that growing up in the country, we have common sense, or we’re taught common sense. I sometimes think you’re born with common sense, but the common sense is, is that you pay as you go, and that is what Tennessee is doing.Senator Crowe: When you were transportation commissioner, you made sure that we didn’t borrow money for roads, we paid as we go. And we’ve done that, yeah.Senator Reeves: On the trail, going back to what you said, Senator Crowe, more and more people, they say, “Senator Reeves, I’m thrilled that the state’s growing. It’s super that we have all this economic development. But if folks are going to move in here from California, and Vermont, and New York, and all over, let’s just make sure we don’t lose the culture.” You mentioned the faith, the family, the traditions, the soul of the state, let’s not lose that.Senator Niceley: It’s like my wife said, she’d rather pay a few taxes than have all these Yankees come down here.[laughing] She’s from Texas you know, and they have a low tolerance for Yankees there, not me.Senator Bailey: Well, gentlemen, we’re just about ready to close out on our discussion. In regards to the topic of today, we were talking about the governor’s State of the State and his budget proposal. Do any of you have any last-minute comments in regards to the budget, or his State of the State?Senator Crowe: I guess most of us walked out of there thinking, “Man, that was probably the most spending we’ve seen in a long time, but I think what we have to understand is, we haven’t been able to fund some of these programs in a long time, and I think doing it through the regular budget is probably better than doing it through pork barrel methods, like in the old days we did a lot of. If we can fund our budget and help with those things that we need to help with through the normal budget process, we’re better off.Senator Bailey: Senator Niceley?Senator Niceley: Well, I’m not smart enough to figure out how to explain it simple enough, to explain to my liberal friends how you can cut taxes and have more money. [laughing]Senator Crowe: But it works.Senator Niceley: I’m just not smart enough, but it works. We’ve proven it here in Tennessee. That’s what Trump’s trying to do in Washington. And we’ve proven it, that you can cut taxes and end up with more money. And Chairman Watson, the other day, asked me, “So, what do we do, if we need more taxes, if we need more money?” I said, “Well we just cut taxes again.” It works every time. But that’s a hard thing to explain to people, how you can cut taxes and end up with more money. I’m still working on how to explain that.Senator Reeves: Art Laffer. Laffer Curve. That’s exactly what it is.Senator Niceley: Art does a pretty good job, but I’m not sure he explains it to my liberal friends. But I do have a number of liberal friends, by the way, a few of them. Not many. A few. [laughing] Senator Bailey: Senator ReevesSenator Reeves: So, if my colleagues, who have been down here for a while, that have been here during challenging times, like ‘07, ‘08, back when we were having to cut people off the TennCare rolls a number of years ago, it was challenging times, and so I just want to make sure—it’s important to me that we continue to take a conservative approach to this. Being a businessman for a number of years, I can tell you right now, it’s a whole lot easier to have a little money left over at the end of the month as opposed to having a lot of month left over at the end of your money.Senator Bailey: And I’ve been there. I’ve been there.Senator Reeves: And it’s no fun. And we don’t need to do that as a state, so let’s just make sure we’re being conservative, and thoughtful, and saving some of it, because it’s going to rain someday, and we need to be ready for it.Senator Bailey: None of us ever want to see a slowdown in the economy, but we have seen record growth for many years now, and so at some point in time, there may be a slowdown. So, we’ve got to be prepared for that, but at the same time, we’ve got to take care of Tennesseans.Well gentleman, thank you. Senator Niceley, Senator Crowe, Senator Reeves, for joining—Senator Crowe: Oh, let me say how nice it is. We always enjoy coming to your office, because it’s like, and just to describe it to people, it’s like a tack room.[laughing] You come in, you’ve got horses on the wall, and looks—you’ve got the cowboy furniture, and it’s just a friendly place to be. And you see Ronald Reagan on a horse, and I love what Frank said about Reagan. They said, how’d he keep so young.Senator Niceley: Well, they asked him how he kept looking so young, and he said, “Well, I just keep riding older horses.”[laughing] Senator Crowe: But that’s what you get when you’re in Paul Bailey’s office.Senator Bailey: Well, my goal as far as, and this is the people’s office, but my goal was when I was elected senator, I wanted a warm, friendly, inviting atmosphere when they came into my office. And then, of course, I’ve just added a little country flair to it, a little western flair to it. But again, Senator Nicely, Senator Crowe, Senator Reeves, thank you so much for joining us on the Backroads and Backstories podcast. This is Senator Paul Bailey.Announcer: Thank you for listening to the Backroads and Backstories podcast, with Senator Paul Bailey. You can keep up with the latest on the podcast at backroadsandbackstories.com. And subscribe, rate, and review the show on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or wherever fine podcasts are distributed. Thanks again for listening, and we’ll see you next time, on the Backroads and Backstories podcast.
3 minutes | Feb 19, 2020
Intro to Backroads and Backstories
In the premiere episode of Backroads and Backstories, host Senator Paul Bailey shares his own personal story and how he became involved in politics. Take a listen to learn more about what inspired Senator Paul Bailey to create this show.
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