Joe Sweat's 'Tennessee Politics' Column Draws Belly Laughs

A column from the Internet news service "Tennessee Politics" is making the rounds downtown, drawing belly laughs. Written by Joe Sweat, a former executive director of the Tennessee Municipal League (before a Victor Ashe-led initiative forced him from his job there awhile back), the column portrays Ashe as "a rubber-toothed bulldog" whose snapping and snarling has gotten easier to ignore as time passes.

Sweat uses Ashe's most recent cause—a proposal to divert Tennessee Department of Transportation money earmarked for roads to causes like state parks and education—as a jumping-off point for this roundhouse attack on "the Knoxville Bulldog."

He quotes state Sen. Tommy Haun as declaring that "Victor is full of s... (sic)" and vowing not to let Ashe raid TDOT funds. Sweat says that Ashe has been turned down flat by most of the organizations and individuals to whom he has gone for support. The TML board (of which Ashe is a past chair) adopted a policy "directly opposite of what he argued for, i.e. that '...the state should take no legislative action to alter TDOT funding sources or use...'"

Sweat continues the dog metaphors, calling the TDOT proposal "skewed as a dog's hind leg." He catalogs Ashe's political transgressions over a 30-year period (it's a long column).

Ashe says he's not sweating the column, which "...has more untruths than a dog has fleas....

"Joe is still bitter, and correctly so, over the lead effort I took to terminate his employment as executive director as well as his wife and daughter (three family members) from TML...Once he was terminated, I then led the effort to reduce an excessive buyout for his departure which I am glad to say was eventually reduced...Sweat had made TML a family enterprise. Nepotism was rampant.

"I should also add," Ashe says, "that in 1996 Joe Sweat was extremely complimentary of my leadership skills and honesty during a FBI interview done as part of the background check on my nomination by former President Clinton to the Americorps board...his view of me has only undergone a dramatic shift since he was terminated from TML..."

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