Friday, January 06, 2006

Foxes minding the hen house

Governor Phil Bredesen will address the General Assembly at noon Tuesday, an hour after the State legislature convenes for the special session Bredesen called for the purpose of dealing with ethics reform.

Both houses of the General Assembly will take up a series of legislative proposals supposedly designed to reform Tennessee's ethics laws in the wake of last year's Tennessee Waltz scandal, including a 93-page proposal drafted by a joint House-Senate committee before the end of last year's session.

Bredesen calling a special session and Jimmy Naifeh presiding over votes on ethics reform smack of foxes guarding a hen house. Even though Bredesen was never implicated in the Waltz, there have been plenty of ethical issues within executive departments during Bredesen's term. Some of these things were happening before Bredesen took office, to be fair, but the fact that he stood by and continued to allow the behavior to go on is indictment enough that while he has the physical authority to demand the legislature engage in a series of politically pleasing exercises, he has little moral authority to fancy himself the champion of ethical purity in Tennessee politics. Oh, and Highway Patrol officers promoted after having given contributions to Bredesen’s campaign looks awfully suspicious to…well, to most people with a brain.

If Tennesseans want ethical reform in their government, it seems to me that the only way to insure that the government has a mandate to act is to overhaul the government at the ballot box. If you swallow lethal poison, you need to have your stomach pumped to be free not only of the toxins, but of any toxic residue. The current government is toxic residue, and Nashville needs to have its stomach pumped.


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