frank_talk (2005-43)

Seemed Like A Good Idea

Sometimes you need to think things through before you act…

by Frank Cagle

What were these people thinking?

• A Nashville television reporter did a story about police stings and prostitutes. He Googled

Turns out the Googled item from the Internet was a satirical piece from the Nashville Scene , a column called (hint) The Fabricator. The WSMV reporter has resigned.

• State Reps. Johnny Shaw and Stacey Campfield had a conversation last spring in which Campfield was asking questions about the Black Caucus. Last month, Shaw (or whoever put him up to it) thought it would be a good idea to bait Campfield by bringing up the conversation again and making it public. It worked like a charm when Campfield compared the Black Caucus membership policy to the KKK.

But now the Black Caucus is being audited, a series of newspaper stories have documented poor paperwork and lack of legal filings and embarrassing questions have been posed about how some of the organization’s money has been spent. The bigger issue that’s been revealed is that some organizations that employ lobbyists give money to the Black Caucus and it isn’t reported anywhere. Given the current state of the ethics issue and the Legislature, it would appear that whoever thought going after Campfield was a good idea needs to have his head examined.

• The Tennessee Center for Policy Research has issued a report revealing that 57 lobbyists have been appointed to fill 72 seats on 47 state boards and commissions during the last three years. The report reveals that if you are a lobbyist you are 221 times more likely to be asked to serve on a state board than the average citizen. Better than one out of 12 lobbyists are serving on the boards and commissions setting policy that can affect legislation they are paid to support during the legislative session, according to Drew Johnson, executive director of the non-partisan nonprofit organization. The appointments were by Gov. Phil Bredesen, Senate and House speakers, and by cabinet members.

(Visit www.tennesseepolicy.org/files/pdfs , click on PR05_02.pdf)The report was released a couple of days after Bredesen named lobbyist Spruell Driver Jr. to the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

• The Senate Ethics committee hired outside counsel, investigated former state Sen. John Ford and prepared to oust him from office for having contracts with TennCare providers. The FBI sting that led to his indictment and resignation made the issue moot.

The Senate Ethics committee has not hired outside counsel, has not investigated state Sen. Jerry Cooper, D-McMinnville, and has declined to even question him under oath. Ford is arrogant. Cooper is a good ole boy. Ford is black. Cooper is white. Ford did his deal with outsiders. Cooper got mixed up in a land deal involving state grants and a federally guaranteed loan that got the other principals indicted. He is an un-indicted co-conspirator. But Cooper got Lt. Gov. John Wilder mixed up in his business.

• Matt Kisber, Economic and Community Development Commissioner, and other state officials had a celebration and a ribbon-cutting for the opening of the Carrier Corp. plant expansion in West Tennessee back in August. The expansion added 300 jobs.

Meanwhile, Carrier was in the process of closing a plant in Middle Tennessee and firing 800 workers. That brings the number of layoffs by Carrier in Tennessee over the last three years to 3,500.

But Carrier still got training grants and other state assistance with its expansion in Collierville. The department told The Tennessean that Carrier closed a “commercial air conditioning” plant, while the expansion was a plant making “residential units.” Oh.

• Last year a conservative Republican congressman ran against U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., in the primary. President Bush and Karl Rove pulled out all the stops to help Specter win the primary and Specter went on to win the general election.

As chair of the Judiciary committee, Specter has said Bush Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers needs a crash course in constitutional law, rejected her questionnaire as incomplete, and told conservatives she told him she supports the Griswold decision that granted a right to privacy that bolstered Roe v. Wade. Miers has denied the assertion. Specter said earlier in the week he doesn’t think there are enough votes to confirm Miers.    

Frank Cagle is a political analyst and the editor of Knoxville Magazine . You can reach him at frank@frankcagle.com .

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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