Sometimes I wonder why I contemplate running for the Legislature...It is during weeks like this one up at the Legislative Plaza that my faith is shaken in the basic goodness of the people who are up there. In saying that, I still believe that most folks who go to Nashville to do the people's business go there with that intent-I am just not certain that they keep to that for very long.
The House Agriculture Committee voted to pass a bill that contained amendments that they weren't even sure about, in fact they didn't even know what was in the final bill. It is inaccurate to say that they passed the bill-House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh passed the bill, not only because he came in to the Committee and voted, but because it was conveniently arranged to swear in Beverly Marrero's replacement in the House early and put her on the Ag Committee to insure this bill got through. To top it all off, Naifeh insisted on getting Ag Committee Chairman Stratton Bone to ignore two different points of order and take the vote on the question. Under Robert's Rules of Order, which is the standard under which most legislative bodies in the United States are run-and the standard used in the Tennessee General Assembly, the only thing that supercedes a seconded call for the Question is a Point of Order or a Parliamentary Inquiry. Jimmy Naifeh chose to ignore those inquiries and insist that Chairman Bone call the question despite the fact that members from both parties were unsure exactly what they were voting on.
Some Democrats have told me that I am just being partisan when I criticize Speaker Naifeh. I daresay there are many Democrats on the Hill who think that Naifeh behaves like a complete and total SOB, but they are not free to do anything about it-if they try and fail, after all, the implications would be too terrible for their constituents. I don't criticize Naifeh because he is a Democrat-I criticize him because he conducts himself like a total horse's arse with no regard for anyone other than himself and his own power. After having met Naifeh, I can say with honesty that he strikes me as a man who can exchange pleasantries very well, but he has a snotty air about him that says "I shall speak one thing to your face and do you badly behind your back." That isn't a Democrat problem-I met many Democrats on the Hill who struck me as kind and genuine sorts who would make for a much fairer presiding officer than the current occupant.
I will say this much for Jason Mumpower: Yes, I strongly supported his opponent in the Leadership race. Mumpower, however, does not acquit himself as a jackass. I believe if he were Speaker that things would be different. He would not pull the shenanigans that Speaker Naifeh pulled the other day. He might do some things that people disagree with, but he wouldn't merely do things for his own benefit-that kind of reckless behavior strikes me as being completely beneath Jason Mumpower, just as it is completely beneath his predecessor.
Meanwhile, over in the Senate, as an illegal immigration bill is being debated, former Lt. Governor John Wilder rose to declare Rule 13, and confesses that he "couldn't run his cotton gin without Mexican help." He talked about what "good family people" and "good Christian people" his "help" were. I'd love to know what wage Governor Wilder pays his clearly undocumented (otherwise he would not have needed to declare Rule 13 on this bill) alien help. One of the reasons that employers do not document illegal aliens, aside from the obvious, is because they do not have to pay them the minimum wage. Now, I have admitted here in the past that I have great admiration for Wilder. My admiration would be lessened by some significant degree were we to learn that not only does Wilder knowingly hire illegal aliens to work his cotton gin, but that they work 12-hour days, seven days a week (as he admits) at an illegally substandard wage. If anyone should find that there is truth to this, my Catholic conscience tells me that isn't a very nice way to treat "good Christian people."
That our Lt. Governor of nearly 36 years might violate the law in this way is a disgusting commentary on corruption.
If you wonder why we are just now dealing with this issue seriously on the State level, perhaps Governor Wilder has part of the answer in his cotton gin.
Labels: Tennessee politics