Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Gary Humble of Tennessee Stands to the newsmaker line to discuss the controversial appointment of Pfizer’s National Vice President Josh Brown to District Four’s Williamson County School Board in place of Brad Fiscus until November’s election.
Leahy: We welcome to our newsmaker line. Our good friend Gary Humble with Tennessee stands Gary, good morning.
Humble: Hey, good morning to you. Tell us about what’s going on in Williamson County. I saw this report and I started to scratch my head (Humble chuckles) and I said, really? Tell us the details.
Humble: In District Four, Williamson County School Board Brad Fiscus, who, by the way, was the husband of Michelle Fiscus with the whole mature minor doctrine in the Health Department, resigned of course. And now that seat is open.
And it’s incumbent upon our county commission to appoint an interim replacement until next year’s general election. So that is currently what they are doing.
We had the public put forward some nominations, some names of people who are interested so that these county commissioners can make a nomination.
The vote is supposed to be tonight. And last week press release was put out that they nominated Josh Brown, vice president of Pfizer.
Leahy: When you say they, you’re talking about, there are 24 members of the Williamson County Commission.
Humble: That’s right.
Leahy: There are two members for each district, twelve districts. And Brad Fiscus represented District Four on the school board. So the two county commissioners from District Four are recommending to the rest of the commission that they appoint…
Humble: That’s exactly right.
Leahy: Josh Brown? I don’t know. It struck me, Gary. I saw this, and I thought there are 10 candidates. By the way at The Tennessee Star, we talked to five of them, not Josh Brown. He wouldn’t talk to us. But we talked to five of them.
Carmichael: You offered to talk to him, though?
Leahy: We offered to talk to everybody Crom. And so we asked them about mask mandates. We asked them for a CRT. All five we talked to opposed mask mandates, and they opposed CRT.
We haven’t heard from Josh, but what struck me as a bizarre and potential conflict of interest, Gary, and you’ve pointed this out is I mean, Pfizer. He’s a lobbyist for Pfizer.
They’re going to go before the school board at some point and try to ask for mandatory vaccines for kids five through 12. It looks like. That seems bizarre to me.
Humble: Massive conflict. And, you know, it’s one thing. He’s not just a pharmaceutical rep or just a lobbyist. He is the national vice president of state government relations, which means Josh Brown is at the center of the conversation that Pfizer is having in every state legislature across the country.
And his job, of course, is to grease the skids to put in policies that are favorable to Pfizer. And he does this across the country. It’s literally in the belly of the beast.
And this is the guy that is supposed to be nominated to our school board here at Williamson County. So, yes, conflict of interest is an understatement.
Leahy: He’s been nominated by two of the 24 commissioners. A majority vote will be held tonight to select whoever they want to put into that position to fill to the end of the full term, which I think ends in 2022. But the question is, will this be open to the public? Will you be there?
Humble: Yes and yes. And this can go a couple of ways. We had a petition going on since Friday to delay the vote. That petition, as of this morning, has right around 1,500 signatures from folks in Williamson County that’s going to get delivered to the County Commission.
I’ve been told that it is highly plausible that possibly this morning, we see a statement from the mayor’s office that they will be pulling this resolution and delaying the vote, then delaying the nomination until November. That is a possibility.
Leahy: The mayor of Williamson County?
Humble: That’s right. The mayor’s office.
Leahy: Roger Anderson?
Humble: That’s right. That’s right. It would be an official statement from the mayor’s office.
Leahy: So when would we see that? This is breaking news?
Humble: We’re hoping this morning we were waiting for confirmation. But I was told that from our district for county commissioners directly that they had decided that they were going to pull this resolution. And we’re waiting on an official statement.
Leahy: Hold it. There’s some more news. Did you talk to the District Four commissioners directly?
Leahy: When did you talk to them? Because they had said they were recommending Josh Brown, the Pfizer lobbyist.
Humble: That’s right. That was before we released our commentary on the situation. And before we ran a petition that got a thousand signatures in less than 16 hours. And when did you talk to those District Four commissioners?
Humble: Over the weekend.
Leahy: What was that conversation like, Gary?
Humble: It was like, hey, we realize there’s some unrest in the county. We realize that people want to have a voice. We understand that people want to be more a part of this process. And we want to do that.
Leahy: Are they withdrawing their nomination of Josh Brown?
Humble: The story goes they are going to delay the nomination. And when the nominations are made that there will be more than one nomination made.
Leahy: By the two District Four commissioners?
Humble: That’s right.
Leahy: Do they like talking to you, Gary? Is this a friendly phone call or is this like a very tightly controlled phone call?
Humble: No, I think it’s friendly right now. (Leahy laughs) One of them, Greg, I know very well. And so we’re working through it. I see why you would ask that question.
Leahy: Crom has a question for you.
Carmichael: Let me say here’s what I think is happening. Josh Brown is the gentleman for Pfizer. You don’t have the position that he has without being a very good executive. You really don’t.
Humble: Absolutely right.
Carmichael: And so he’s not only effective, he probably is quite thoughtful. But in this particular case under these particular circumstances, I don’t even think it would be good for Josh Brown.
Humble: No, not in the job that he has. He’s supposed to be able to be. I mean, he’s not independent. People know what his position is.
Carmichael: But to have gotten himself enmeshed in a bunch of political controversy by having to vote yay or nay on a mandate, that just doesn’t seem helpful.
Leahy: Gary, let me ask you this when you talked to your friend, the commissioner in District Four, Greg, did you pose a question something like this? What were you thinking? (Laughter)
Humble: Kind of. You’re going to get me in a lot of political trouble here in Williamson County? The truth is that there are more political powers at play in order to get Josh Brown appointed to this board than just our county commission. And I’ll leave it at that.
Leahy: I think I know where you’re headed with that, Gary.
Humble: I will just say it ought not be.
Leahy: Gary, you are a wise man for the way you’re handling this. I think you’ve done a really good job getting into this point. Will you come back tomorrow and tell us what happened at the meeting?
Humble: Sure. I hope that there’s some big news today.
Leahy: Gary Humble with Tennessee Stands. Thanks so much for that excellent report. And we’ll talk to you again tomorrow to see what happened.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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