Ear to the Ground: Musical Chairs

Musical Chairs

Councilman Joe Hultquist made the city inauguration ceremonies memorable, even though he was not on the ballot this year and not sworn in at the Saturday event.

But he did make a quite an entrance.

Hultquist arrived late and eased into the room while a minister was at the podium delivering a prayer. Spying an empty seat on the stage, Hultquist went up and sat down. When the prayer was finished, the minister returned to his seat—occupied by Hultquist. There was a brief exchange then Hultquist got up. Everyone stood for the color guard, the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem, and then everyone on stage sat down again—except the chair-less Hultquist. He went over to Mayor Bill Haslam, there was an inaudible exchange of words—it could have been something like "where do I sit" and "not up here."

Seems the only seats on the stage were for people participating in the ceremony. Hultquist left the stage and appeared confused. A Haslam staffer came over and escorted him across in front of the audience to join the rest of the council members not being sworn in on Saturday.

License Pulled

The Board of Professional Responsibility issued a list in December of disciplinary actions against attorneys. Local attorneys were surprised to see, under law licenses suspended, the name of Bill Lockett, a candidate for County Law Director. The list also noted Lockett's law license was reinstated.

It was a Rule 21 suspension which includes attorneys who fail to satisfy a requirement for Continuing Legal Education, or who did the course and failed to turn in the results. Once the Board gets proof of the CLE, they reinstate the license.

Such an action is not that unusual, but is embarrassing nonetheless—especially if you are running for public office. Lockett is running in the Republican primary against incumbent Law Director John Owings.

Campaign Insurgency

Former Tennessee Republican Party chairman Chip Saltsman has been national campaign manager of surging surprise candidate and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, but he may have become a victim of his success.

Huckabee, who is leading in the Iowa Caucus polls, has named veteran campaign operative Ed Rollins as his "national campaign chairman" and put him in charge of the race. Saltsman retains the title of campaign manager. Rollins had success in the Reagan campaigns, but has been an outsider since running Ross Perot's insurgency against former President George H.W. Bush. One pundit noted that the day after the National Intelligence Estimate report that Iran has suspended its nuclear weapons program, Huckabee was caught flat-footed by a question—he hadn't heard about it. It was suggested he needed a campaign operative "who reads the newspaper."

Who's Not Running?

Former school board member Chuck James decided not to run in the Republican primary for the County Commission seat in District 6 (Powell/Karns) and will instead run the west end of the county election campaign for his friend Robert Bratton, a Democrat and current school board member. Bratton is running for Trustee.

Temporary County Commissioners, appointed Jan. 31 and removed by the Sunshine lawsuit, who decided not to run for the office includes Sharon Cawood, also in District 6, Frank Leuthold in District 5, Josh Jordan in District 1, and Jack Huddleston in District 8.

Temporary Commissioners running for the office include Lee Tramel and Richard Cate in District 4, Tim Greene in District 9, and Chuck Bolus in District 2.

Just Ask

Chancellor Darryl Fansler refused to direct the County Commission on how to re-appoint Commission seats after eight of their number were removed by a Sunshine lawsuit. His ruling said "the court stands ready to address any other issues properly brought" and would respond "to appropriate motions" asking for guidance.

This week he got it. Three voters from the 2nd, 4th, and 5th districts filed a motion in Fansler's court noting that none of the plaintiffs has asked for directions even though it has been almost three months since the order and no appointments have been made.

Don Daugherty, Christopher Cain, and Judith Mallory filed a motion to intervene, asking Fansler to instruct the County Commission to fill the posts because they are not properly represented on Commission, given the vacancies. The 4th District has no representation; the 2nd and 5th Districts are short one Commissioner.

Thus far, County Commission has voted to wait until late February to fill the posts, following the primary election.