The Tennessee Star’s Top Ten Stories of 2017

It has been a busy year for The Tennessee Star. As an upstart news outlet, we hit the ground running in early February, and we haven’t slowed down since.

After 328 days, 4,102 articles, and millions and millions of visits, visitors, hits, and shares – here are the top ten stories – measured by the number of unique visitors each story received – from 2017.

The Tennessee Star’s Top Ten Stories of 2017:

1. Mayor Megan Barry Says The Constitution Does Not Apply Here in Nashville: ‘I Am Committed to Meeting the Goals of the Paris Agreement . . . Even if the President Is Not’ (June 5)

On Thursday, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry issued a statement criticizing President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement, which, in effect, declared that as mayor she will not be bound by Article 1, Section 10 of the United States Constitution, which prohibits state governments specifically, and metropolitan governments within states by extension, from entering “into any treaty, alliance, or confederation.”

“The United States of America should be a global leader in addressing the dire impact of climate change on our civilization, and it is very disappointing that President Trump does not see that. As a member of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, I am committed to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement by reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and working with corporations and citizens to do the same, even if the President is not. There’s too much at stake for cities not to lead on this issue, and Nashville will,” Barry said in the statement.

2. Nashville Preparing to Become Most Liberal Sanctuary City in the U.S. (June 20)

Two ordinances filed by Metro Councilmen Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge, drafted with the assistance of the TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) and cheered on by Mayor Megan Barry, will make Davidson County and Metro Nashville the most liberal sanctuary city in the U.S.; in fact, even more liberal in its policies than New York City or San Francisco.

The Metro Council may hold the second of the three required readings of one or both bills during its regularly scheduled meeting tonight.

3. Louisville Black Lives Matter Organizer Asks White People To Give Up Homes (August 23)

An organizer for the Louisville chapter of Black Lives Matter has published an expletive-laced list of “10 requests” for white people, which includes asking white people who can afford to downsize to give up their homes.

“White people, if you can afford to downsize, give up the home you own to a black or brown family. Preferably a family from generational poverty,” reads one suggestion from Chanelle Helm, co-founder and core organizer of the Louisville group.

4. Question Posed: How Did Bob Corker Go from ‘Dead Broke’ to $69 Million Net Worth During 11 Years in U.S. Senate? (December 23)

“How do you increase your net worth by 69 million dollars while you’re working full-time as a Senator?” That’s the question Rolling Stone reporter Matt Taibbi asked about Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) on Friday.

Neither Taibbi nor Rolling Stone are fans of Corker (or of President Trump, Republicans, or conservatism in general). And Rolling Stone has had problems of its own, recently, as has Taibbi.

Nonetheless, Taibbi puts a fine point on what many political watchers across the Volunteer State have been asking for years.

5. 63 Members of Tennessee House of Representatives Object to Passage of Nashville’s Proposed Sanctuary City Ordinance (June 26)

Sixty-three members of the 99 member Tennessee House of Representatives, all Republicans, released a statement opposing the passage of a proposed sanctuary city ordinance by Metro Nashville Council.

“With the Second Reading of the Ordinances filed by Metro Councilmen Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge having passed and a vote pending from the Metro Council, we are compelled to make public the intent and purposes of this Ordinance and to make it known that as Representatives of the State of Tennessee, we soundly object to their passage.

6. Report: Chattanooga, Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville Among the Worst-Run Cities in Country (July 14)

Tennessee’s four largest cities all ranked in the bottom third of a list compiled by the online website analyzing how efficiently cities are run.

Called “2017’s Best- and Worst-Run Cities,” the list, published Monday, ranked 150 of the largest cities in the nation.

The study compared the quality of services residents receive against a city’s total budget. Cities were compared across six categories: financial stability, education, health, safety, economy, and infrastructure and pollution.

Nashville ranked 112 on the list in overall rankings, and Knoxville ranked 127. Almost at the bottom were Memphis, at 141, and Chattanooga, falling just below Memphis at 142. No other Tennessee cities were included.

7. Commentary: The Hidden Scandal More Disastrous Than ‘Uranium One’ (November 10)

Our friends at the Center for Security Policy have issued one of their “occasional papers” on a scandal that we think is worse and more threatening to national security than the Uranium One scandal through which Hillary Clinton and Obama transferred 20 percent of America’s uranium to Russia.

What could be worse than giving 20 percent of our uranium to Russia one might ask?

How about giving a 35-year lease to one of America’s largest container ports, located just minutes from the Kennedy Space Center, to a Middle Eastern company with ties to Iran, North Korea, Russia and the evil genius behind Saddam Hussein’s nuclear weapons program?

8. Knoxville Mayor Sides with Anti-Christian Group, Orders Removal of Scripture from Police Department (July 27)

“What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us then who can be against us?”
Romans 8:31

After nearly a half-century – and one complaint – a plaque displaying a single verse of scripture (quoted above) at the Knoxville Police Department employee entrance will be removed, Mayor Madeline Rogero and Police Chief David Rausch announced at a press conference Monday.

9. Dept. of Revenue Confirms Pilot Flying J Will Hold on to Extra Cash from Gas Tax Increase for 20 to 51 Days (February 27)

Last week The Tennessee Star asked State Sen. Paul Bailey, chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and general manager and vice-president of Charles Bailey Trucking Company, about the possible impact Gov. Haslam’s proposed gas tax increase will have on Pilot Flying J’s business operations and whether it would be in the public interest to have a full and open discussion in a committee hearing about this issue.

Pilot Flying J, the fourteenth largest privately held company in the country, owns and operates more than 500 gas and diesel truck stops around the country, approximately 40 of which are in the state of Tennessee.

10. Poll: Senator Bob Corker May Be In Trouble With Tennessee Republican Primary Voters (June 7)

A new poll released by The Tennessee Star conducted of 1,007 likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee by Triton Polling and Research shows that Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) may have trouble winning the nomination of his own party in its August 2018 U.S. Senate primary.

First elected to the United States Senate in 2006, the former mayor of Chattanooga is up for re-election to a third term in 2018. He has not yet said that he will seek re-election, but many political observers would be surprised if he opted not to run again.

When asked “As of now, do you think Bob Corker deserves re-election or is it time to give someone else a chance? ” only 41.1 percent of likely Republican primary voters in Tennessee said he “deserves re-election.”

Honorable Mention:

Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metro Area One of Top 20 Places in U.S. Where Women and Girls at Risk for Female Genital Mutilation (April 14)

Tennessee outlawed female genital mutilation (FGM) in 1996, but 2013 data collated in a Population Reference Bureau (PRB) report, shows that the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin Metropolitan Statistical Area is ranked 20th in the country for the potential risk of FGM being performed on women and girls. Tennessee is number 18 in overall state rankings for risk to women and girls from FGM.

The Population Reference Bureau is a non-profit supported financially by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Girl Scouts of the USA, and the United States Agency for International Development and several other foundations.

Federal Officials Restore Medicare Billing Privileges to Dr. Bryan Merrick in West Tennessee (November 14)

Federal officials have restored Medicare billing privileges to Dr. Bryan Merrick, whose McKenzie Medical Center is located in the small West Tennessee city of McKenzie.

The Tennessee Star led the way in reporting on the story of the well respected West Tennessee family practice doctor whose Medicare billing privileges were revoked in March under an Obama-era regulation over a reported $670 in billing errors.

“Dr. Bryan Merrick has received word from federal officials that they are reversing an earlier decision to block Dr. Merrick from serving Medicare patients,” according to a statement released by the Office of Attorney Roy Herron on Tuesday.

Conservative Presbyterians Elect Progressive Academic Who Bemoans ‘White Privilege’ As Moderator Of Annual Meeting (June 15)

A college professor who promotes progressive theories on race and white privilege was elected moderator Tuesday for this week’s annual meeting of leaders in the conservative Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).

The PCA is the second largest Presbyterian denomination after the liberal mainline Presbyterian Church (USA). Since forming in the early 1970s, the PCA has been known as a conservative evangelical body standing in sharp contrast to the liberal mainline denomination. But in recent years, the PCA has experienced increasing internal division over race, the role of women in the church, and how to respond to cultural pressure to overturn biblical teachings on marriage and sexuality.

Nashville’s ‘Sanctuary’ Ordinance Forces Local Law Enforcement to Violate Federal and State Law (June 22)

The Mendes/Sledge Ordinance BL2017-739  that passed on second reading by twenty-five Metro Nashville Council members on Tuesday will, if passed on a final vote, force Davidson County and Nashville law enforcement personnel to violate federal and state laws.

The sponsors’ other bill, BL2017-743 seeking to terminate a 1996 contract that reimburses the Davidson County jail when it detains criminal aliens for ICE pick-up, has been deferred to the Council’s August 1, 2017 meeting.

Both bills are in line with Nashville Mayor Megan Barry’s left-wing open borders, pro-illegal immigrant political philosophy.


Sponsors of Nashville’s ‘Sanctuary City’ Ordinance To Pull July 6 Vote On Bill (June 27)

Sponsors of Metro Council’s proposed “sanctuary city” ordinance are saying they will not ask their fellow council members to vote on the bill July 6 as originally scheduled.

In an email to their colleagues obtained by The Tennessee Star, council members Bob Mendes and Colby Sledge said they are working on plans to hold a press conference Wednesday with other advocates of the bill to discuss the matter.

The Tuesday afternoon email followed a public statement in the morning by Mayor Megan Barry asking the council to reconsider the ordinance.

Concealed Carry Resolution by Students at UT Martin Sparks Threat from Faculty Member Now on Leave Who Administration Refuses to Identify, Claims It Was ‘A Class Exercise’ (November 3)

Officials at the University of Tennessee at Martin confirmed to The Tennessee Star on Friday that a faculty member has been placed on leave for writing a threatening letter to the student sponsors of a controversial Student Government Association resolution that would allow students to have constitutional concealed carry privileges on campus, pending the passage of enabling state legislation.

“Yes, we have been looking into this since Wednesday afternoon when a student contacted Public Safety,” Scott D. Robbins, Director of Public Safety at U.T. Martin, told The Star Friday morning.

Commentary: ‘We Wuz Robbed, Bless Your Heart (June 12)

Nashville has a lot to be proud of in the wake of the historic Stanley Cup Final run by the Predators:

  • The class and skill of a team on the rise that promises to be back stronger and better next year.
  • City officials who handled incredible crowds with efficiency and flexibility, especially when combined with the crowd control nightmare of CMA Fest colliding with a Stanley Cup Final all in a several block radius.
  • Fans who fully embraced a sport that many were still learning and players they had never heard of when the playoff run began.

Nashville’s reputation as an “it” town was already firmly in place before, but it is more “it” than ever in the view of hockey and sports media types who had never given Nashville more than a passing glance in the past. Terms like “Smashville” and “Prednecks,” and the visuals of catfish on ice, are now a part of NHL lore.

Clarksville NAACP Opposes U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s Visit To Austin Peay (April 8)

The Clarksville NAACP is opposing U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s visit Monday to Austin Peay State University, according to an article in The Leaf-Chronicle.

The group said in a press release sent to The Leaf-Chronicle that Blackburn (R-TN) refuses to host a town hall meeting to address concerns of Montgomery County residents. However, Blackburn was quoted as saying she has offered to meet with the group’s leaders but they have declined.

“This press release misrepresents the willingness we have displayed to sit down and have a conversation,” she said.

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry Asks Metro Council To Reconsider ‘Sanctuary City’ Ordinance (June 27)

Nashville Mayor Megan Barry released a statement Tuesday morning asking the Metro Council to reconsider an ordinance that would restrict local cooperation with federal immigration officials.

The ordinance passed on a second reading last week and is up for a final vote July 6.

Barry was acting in response to a formal legal opinion issued Monday by Metro Law Director Jon Cooper stating that the ordinance could not be applied to the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office.

Mayors of 44 Tennessee Counties Where President Trump Won Overwhelmingly Have Endorsed ‘Never-Trumper’ Randy Boyd for Governor (August 15)

Since launching earlier this year, Randy Boyd’s gubernatorial campaign has sent out numerous press releases announcing the names of county mayors who are supporting him for governor.  To date, 45 county mayors across Tennessee have endorsed Boyd. The state has 95 counties.

In 44 of these 45 counties where Boyd has claimed the mayor’s support, President Trump won the vote overwhelmingly over Hillary Clinton in the November 2016 general election – with anywhere from 56.4 percent to 84.9 percent of the vote. (Shelby County is the lone exception)


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