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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

FORD AND MORE

Yes, Senator Ford is not going to run for reelection, supposedly due to his “indiscretions.” Constituents continue to ask me about the new ethics law that passed. They have hope that the new law will change things, but they aren't sure. They keep asking me “things will change, won't they?” They ask “is this just an isolated incident?”

Let me say that I don't think this is an isolated incident, but many times a lot of questionable activities aren't technically illegal-so business as usual continues and most turn a blind eye, pretending nothing is going on.

Many fear reprisals or lawsuits if they start to talk. Others feel they might hurt their friends.

Let me point out that Senator Ford brought in somewhere around a million dollars last year alone from questionable sources. No one said anything or talked about it until the news story broke. Suddenly, stories have appeared left and right.

But what about the last 30 years? Is this a problem that has its origins in 2005? If he has slipped by the system for this long, how much more is out there and how long would it have continued had the news not broke the story?

The only reason it was noticed was because of a private child support lawsuit. I have heard rumors of shady deals and how Ford was making money off of TennCare. These rumors circulated long before the media ever broke a story. Now proof substantiates what were once rumors and everyone connected is dodging, hiding, rolling over-in order to save their own skins or appear innocent.

Allow me to say that rumors did not only mention Senator Ford. But the regretful part is that because of the power of incumbency, most legislators would be re-elected if truths were revealed-Ford probably would too if he ran again. This may be good for the legislator, but horrible for public trust.

The law that was passed was a start. But honestly, it is closer to giving a person who needs $50,000 a five dollar bill. Yes, the person in need will probably take the $5, but will it really help?

Any bill that passes 97-0 on this issue probably doesn't have enough teeth in it. Many legislators have put forward some good bills to try to change this, but are getting the run-around. These bills are getting killed in state and local subcommittees where votes are not recorded, filmed, or taped. These subcommittees are the easy kill zones (see my previous posts on this.)

[Good idea for activists: volunteer army needed to tape subcommittee meetings for 2006 until state relents and provides proper accountability to citizens]

When good ethics bills die, you have to ask yourself why, or for whom did they die?

7 comments:

  1. Representative Campfield, As to the bills being killed in subcommittes, why isn't the media doing more coverage of these subcommitte meetings as they are certainly newsworthy. I'd love to volunteer as I'm sure a lot of others would, however, making a living prevents that from happening. Come on Tennessean, you did a great job of bringing Ford's shenanigans to the public, why not get invlolved more in the committee meetings where there seems to be a killing field of needed legislation?

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  3. All committee meetings as well as sessions are taped and people can watch them via the internet. I belive they stay posted for three days. To my knowledge the ayes and nayes are recorded on votes, atleast for session. I believe you may be able to get them through the clerks office.

    Here is a link:

    http://www.legislature.state.tn.us/house/video.htm

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  5. Sub committee (the killing zone) votes or audio is not recorded nor are voice votes

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  6. While it is true that voice votes are not recorded but even in subcommitees a roll call vote is recorded. The process for learning how a particular member voted may be cumbersome, but it is possible.

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  7. Now that Ford has been outed don't stop there. Linked to this incident is the ECDC where millions of dollars in grants mysteriously became permanent items in the budget and there was no accountability. Just another case of the legislature being asleep at the wheel of the taxpayers moneyhauler.

    Like you said, no telling how long this and other needless funding have been going on. I would suggest the legislature request the state comptroller's office begin a thorough audit of all grants, entitlements and other "development" type of budget items to prune them from the money tree.

    I would think Bredesen would be on board with that since his embarrassment over a $400k website favor.

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