Democrats don't want real reform in Tennessee politicsEveryone ought to take careful note of the differences between the House and Senate versions of a comprehensive ethics reform package as the special session plugs along in Nashville. The House, led by the Democrats, is stripping the package of critical amendments that would have banned gift-giving by lobbyists, the very sourse of the scandal that caused there to be a special session to begin with.
It seems that many Democrats, especially those from the Memphis area, do not want to entertain the idea of real reform, they merely want to tweak the existing state ethics laws-the same laws that, because of their weakness, contributed to the perceived need for federal intervention last spring. Democrat Ulysses Jones of Memphis doesn't even want to curtail the practice of lobbyists giving gifts to legislators...he would allow up to $50 of gift giving a day. The excuse, of course, is that this would all be reported. Of course it would...the Democrats count on what they assume is the general stupidity of the population. They know that Joe Sixpack is not going to go hunting for the records of who gave what to whom. The Dems instead assume that they can simply tell people "we gave you ethics reform" and the people will believe the Democrats...just because they are nice people!
I agree with Bill Dunn completely here...I also find these latest developments are "disturbing."
It is unfortunate that all wining and dining and such things may have to be banned, as wining and dining is a very traditional way to cement an agreement or a business decision, and thus politics is no different than other kinds of business in this way. However, the problem is that so many of our legislators have demonstrated such a chronic lack of self control and such an inability to make good ethical decisions that the law may have to treat them as children who do not know how to behave.
I will agree with at least one Democrat on one thing: Sen. Rosalind Kurita says she'd like to see legislative proceedings put on streaming video on the internet. I am all for it, and I'll go one step further...In addition to the streaming video, let's have a cable channel devoted to state government and statewide news, kind of like a Tennessee version of C-SPAN, and have that streaming the internet.
My guess is this streaming video idea is all smoke and mirrors...the Dems don't want the General Assembly on TV or the internet...every one of them would be voted out at the next election if legislative proceedings really were placed somewhere for the public to view.