By Pat Nolan, Senior Vice President, DVL Public Relations & Advertising
November 21, 2008
CORKER & CARS; THE SCHOOL BOOK TAKEOVER; THE MAN WHO WOULD BE SPEAKER
I think Congress did the right thing to put off any legislation to bail out the auto industry until they see a business plan on how they propose to spend the money to reinvent their industry. Frankly, it is what many in Congress probably think they should have done with the banks and financial industry when they got their $700 billion bailout earlier this year. And so, we are still waiting for the credit markets to come back to life and Congress has no leverage to hold them (or anybody else) accountable.
But I couldn't believe my ears the other day when I heard Tennessee Senator Bob Corker on WPLN, Nashville Public Radio. He told an interviewer that given the amount of cars sold in this country every year, maybe we didn't need a Big Three auto industry (General Motors, Ford & Chrysler); that maybe we could be OK with just two major car producers or even one, as the marketplace dictates.
I find that shocking given all the jobs and business generated by the GM (formerly Saturn) production plants in Spring Hill and Decherd. Are they not part of the state that Senator Corker represents? Has he no concern about their future? Or is he just still so happy that the Volkswagen plant is coming to his hometown of Chattanooga that he's lost sight of some of the rest of the folks in this state who are dependent on the auto industry for their livelihoods?
Of course, the Big Three auto officials made a mess of their request for help. Who ever heard of someone showing up in D.C. with a tin cup asking for help, after just getting off a luxury charter jet? In accepting his election for another term in the GOP Senate leadership as Conference Chair, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander said the Republicans in the Senate don't need a PR firm to help them figure out what when wrong for them in the recent elections or how to fix it. But it sure does appear the Big Three auto guys could use some public relations advice. And Senator Alexander, the real problem for you and your GOP colleagues is hitching your wagon for way too long to a failed White House administration that exits with the lowest approval ratings in modern history.
Outside of Lamar Alexander's leadership position, it doesn't appear Tennessee will be playing all that major a role in the New Obama-Washington. Both Governor Phil Bredesen and Nashville Congressman Jim Cooper were not selected for Cabinet positions by the President-elect, although Cooper in his role as a leader of the Blue Dog Democrats could play an influential role on key legislation in the House (he already helped oust one long time Democratic Senate committee leader in recent days).
On the Republican side, Congressman Marsha Blackburn has lost an effort at a leadership post among House Republicans and former Senator Fred Thompson has dropped out of a campaign to be the next Republican Party national chairman. That still leaves Nashvillian and former state GOP Party Chair Chip Saltsman in the hunt. He has an interest campaign method. He is literally flying (in his own plane) from small airport to small airport, meeting with members of the GOP National Committee who will select the new chairman in January. I'm inclined to say such an effort doesn't have much of a chance. But then I remember the job Chip did in helping to carry Tennessee for George W. Bush over Al Gore in 2000, and the even more impressive job he did to bring Governor Mike Huckabee from obscurity to a second-place finish in this year's Republican presidential race. So maybe I shouldn't sell him short just yet.
There's been a lot of speculation in recent weeks about the possibility of Mayor Karl Dean taking control of the Metro School system if local schools don't meet ongoing No Child Left Behind standards.
Maybe he's not waiting around for that to happen before starting to step in.
The Mayor has announced a consolidation of the Metro Library system with the library operations in Metro schools. It sure sounds like a good idea. Maybe it's even some thinking that's outside the box which could save money and make a better use of resources for both the city and our students.
But from the way the story came out, it appears there was little or no advance warning or consultation with school officials about the matter before it was announced. I didn't see any school officials making comments at the Mayor's announcement event, only a mention that the Mayor had sent a letter to the acting Director of Schools that the consolidation would begin in January.
Does the School Board need to approve such a consolidation idea before giving up one of its classroom-related functions? What about moving the school's transportation operations (buses) to be under the Metro motor pool? How about joint purchasing efforts for school lunch operations and other purchases? How about combining human resources departments with the city to help with hiring teachers and staff?
All of these may be good ideas or they may not be. But shouldn't there be some dialogue in the community, and approval or consent from the elected public officials who have the legal and fiduciary responsibility to provide public education in our community, before changes like these are just announced?
He's the man who would be Speaker of the Tennessee House.
GOP Representative Jason Mumpower of Bristol is our guest of INSIDE POLITICS this weekend.
At 35 years of age, the soon-to-be former Republican House Minority Leader would be among the youngest to ever hold the job of Speaker. But he is a legislative veteran, just being re-elected to his seventh term.
Mumpower seems to have a confidence about him as he talks about the next session of the General Assembly. He also seems ready to hit the ground running, to make a mark early. That includes a plan to put "Education First" in the legislative budget approval process. How meaningful this action will be as compared to just symbolic remains to be seen. But Speaker-to-be Mumpower also seems ready to move ahead with an number hot-button social issue bills such as Second Amendment rights (bearing arms in bars and on college campuses) and adding right to life protections in the state constitution. These are matters that could never get the time of day in past House sessions of the General Assembly when the Democrats were in control.
Long-time political journalists Joe White of WPLN-Nashville Public Radio and Ken Whitehouse of THE NASHVILLE CITY PAPER/NASHVILLE POST.COM are also my guests discussing many of these same issues. That includes the increasingly dire budget situation the state faces this coming year and how lawmakers and Governor Bredesen will do working together (or not) in confronting these challenges that could include both service cutbacks and layoffs.
Interestingly during my interview with him, Representative Mumpower seem to give his support to the Governor in a couple of key areas. First, he indicated he might go along with a limited use of issuing bonds for road work and repairs in Tennessee rather than sticking with the traditional "pay as you go" format. He also indicated that, while he does not consider the governor's Pre-K education program to be as important as K-12, he would probably not seek to reduce its funding as a part of overall state budget cuts.
Joe White and Ken Whitehouse also spend some time on this week's show speculating on the outcome of this weekend's House Democratic leadership fight between current Democratic leader Nashville Representative Gary Odom and House Finance Chair Craig Fitzhugh from West Tennessee. The battle got additional profile in recent days when Governor Bredesen, through his Press Secretary. expressed his displeasure with Odom ("issues of trust"). Some of this stems from a tax fight between the two during the last term. But frankly they haven't been friends dating back to the days when Bredesen was Nashville mayor and Odom was in the Metro Council.
The Governor's spokesman said her boss was considering using someone other than Odom to sponsor his legislation this session, which could raise some interesting situations if Odom is re-elected as the leader of the House Democrats. Stay tuned.
INSIDE POLITICS airs several times each weekend on the NEWSCHANNEL5 Network.
Friday, November 21............7:00 PM, NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS, COMCAST CHANNEL 50
Saturday, November 22........5:00 AM, NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS
Saturday, November 22.........5:30 PM, NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS
Sunday, November 23............5:00 AM, WTVF-TV, NEWSCHANNEL 5
Sunday, November 23.............5:00 AM, NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS
Sunday, November 23..............12:30 PM, NEWSCHANNEL5 PLUS
Because of the short week this coming week due to the holiday, there will not be a new CAPITOL VIEW column next Friday (November 28). The next column will be out Friday, December 5, although, if events dictate it could be produced earlier.
There WILL be a new INSIDE POLITICS show next weekend (November 28-30). One of my guests will be my DVL colleague Eddie Jones. Eddie headed up the efforts to get voter approval to bring liquor-by-the- drink to Nashville. That was 40 years ago this past summer (1968). With so many surrounding communities now approving similar efforts, I thought it was a good time to look back on how it all started. Eddie has some fascinating stories to tell, so you don't want to miss this show.
My other guest will be Metro Councilman-At-Large Ronnie Steine, who is an avid collector of presidential political buttons and other campaign memorabilia. Needless to say, this past campaign season has been an historic one , and Ronnie has some interesting items and insights to share with us about this hobby of his.
Have a great Thanksgiving, everybody. Despite all the problems we face in this nation and around the world, many of us still have an awful lot to be thankful for this holiday season, especially the love of family and friends.