HEADLINE: Tennessee wine in grocery stores bill fails by one vote
THE RECAP: A bill allowing grocery stores to sell wine failed by one vote in a House committee Tuesday, but a door could open to revive the legislation. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, cast a surprise vote to kill the bill because he didn't feel amendments to the bill were given a fair chance.
DREW'S VIEW: Legislation to allow wine sales in grocery stores was expected to pass, finally, this spring. And for good reason. Wine in grocery stores would create jobs, generate revenue, invite choice and competition and make wine purchases more convenient. As a result, the plan was favored by 78 percent of participants in a Times Free Press online poll this week.
So why would eight lawmakers in the House Local Government Committee vote against a popular idea that brings liberty and common sense to Tennessee's antiquated wine laws? The $364,000 that the liquor wholesalers and package stores donated to state lawmakers over the past two years in an effort to keep the cartel-creating wine laws that benefit them in place probably has a lot to do with it.
HEADLINE: No runoff; Hakeem wins Chattanooga City Council District 9 seat
THE RECAP: Hamilton County election officials decided Wednesday that Yusuf Hakeem won the March 5 election for the District 9 seat over incumbent Peter Murphy after they voted 3-1 to toss out two write-in votes that were marked but left blank. That vote allowed Hakeem to claim 50.024 percent of the votes cast in last week's election and avoid a runoff.
DREW'S VIEW: The Hamilton County Election Commission made an inappropriate and undemocratic decision when they invalidated two protest votes that were marked "write-in" and not filled in with a name.
According to the election commission's logic, if the two voters who were dissatisfied with the candidates had written in ludicrous names like "Baba Booey" and "The Dude" instead of checking the "write-in" box and leaving the adjacent space blank, Hakeem and Murphy would be headed to an April 5 runoff election. Instead the two voters simply don't matter to the election commission. It's as if their votes never happened.
The election commission's decision is eerily similar to the scene in the movie "Election" in which Matthew Broderick's character tosses two ballots in the trash can and pretends they never existed, changing the result of a student council race. The only difference is this is real and the stakes are much higher (and Reese Witherspoon isn't a candidate).
More broadly, Murphy's defeat -- barring an 11th-hour legal challenge -- means that of the five incumbent city council members who were challenged, four have lost. The remaining incumbent, Jack Benson, should be handily defeated by challenger Larry Grohn in the District 4 runoff.
On Election Day, Chattanooga voters made it clear that they weren't happy with the recent direction of the city. As a result of the housecleaning in city hall, seven of the nine members of the Chattanooga City Council will be different when the new council convenes in a month.
HEADLINE: Few seek Hays State Prison jobs
THE RECAP: During a two-day job fair that stretched across two towns in Northwest Georgia, turnout was low for applicants looking to be guards at Hays State Prison. A representative from the Georgia Department of Labor couldn't say why interest was limited for a Hays State position with a salary listed at $26,754 a year, but she said poor advertising may have contributed.
DREW'S VIEW: The representative couldn't figure out why folks weren't interested in working at Hayes State? Geez, could it be the fact that two guards have been violently stabbed, four inmates have been murdered and an elaborate extortion scandal took place at Hays State in just the past three months? Nah, couldn't be. She's probably right. They just needed more ads.
"Drew's views" is a weekly roundup of Free Press opinions about topics that appeared in the Times Free Press over the past week. Follow Drew on Twitter: @Drews_Views.