Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give it a rest, it's just a ride

The latest stink in the "State is wasting money" department comes from those angry over the fact that former Governors and other former high ranking State officials have the privilege of being offered rides in unmarked cars from the Tennessee Highway Patrol. The sitting Governor, the Lieutenant Governor/Speaker of the Senate, and Speaker of the House are given a car and driver and can request a ride at any time. The Highway Patrol also offers this service to their predecessors on request.

Here's a shocker for you: I don't have a problem with this in the least.

Perhaps my biases are coming through here. I live with a disability every day, and I frequently have to find transportation whenever I am asked to attend a political function, fundraiser for a candidate, or a public event. Nicole and I keep different schedules and I can't always expect that she will be available to ferry me some place that I need to be, and I don't expect that of her (bless her-whenever she is free to do it, she always does). Just this past week I had to tell a candidate that I could not attend their fundraiser. This was not because I didn't have the time or the wherewithal to attend, I had scheduled it on to my calendar to be there. The reason was solely due to the lack of ability to arrange a timely ride. Oftentimes I can arrange a ride to important political or other events where my wife can't be present, but sometimes it proves logistically impossible. It happens frequently enough to be both a personal pain-in-the-rear as well as a political headache, and I haven't been elected to anything yet!

A former Governor's political life doesn't end when he leaves office. He is still expected to be seen at fundraisers, party functions, official dinners, and lots of events in or around his hometown or home county. In case we've all forgotten, some of these ole boys are getting up there in years and they may need a little assistance.

We have enough respect for the Presidency to give former Presidents secret service protection and an official car. Is our respect as Tennesseans for the office of Governor so low that we can't even muster a ride for our former Governors to the doctor, out to dinner, or to Nashville? Former Presidents get the royal treatment, but all our former Governors have asked for is a ride.

Winfield Dunn, Ned Ray McWherter, and Don Sundquist didn't always make the wisest decisions while in office, but I certainly don't question the devotion of any of those three men to the well-being of Tennessee. McWherter and Sundquist each served the State for two terms. We aren't talking about $3.86 million for an underground party bunker, we're talking about a ride when one is needed for people who put many years into the service of our State. Not secret service protection, not millions upon millions of dollars-just a ride.

Dunn, McWherter, Alexander, Sundquist and (yes) Bredesen all deserve that small courtesy for their years of public service. It isn't a lot to ask.



At Thursday, November 22, 2007 11:56:00 AM, Blogger Bill said...

As you well know, Dave, I deal with some of the same transportation issue you do. Until I read this, I hadn't thought about it in this light. I agree with you wholeheartedly.


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