Memo to Metro Police officers: If you must issue preposterous citations to citizens who commit such breaches as having ”mutilated driver’s licenses,“ be sure those citizens aren’t members of the state Senate.
Because if they are, you might just find state money intended to supplement your pay raises withheld. Such an effort is underway in the Tennessee Senate, where one very peeved lawmaker from a district southeast of Nashville has filed legislation seeking retribution for what happened to him one sultry day last summerthe day the General Assembly’s 1999 legislative session ended.
Stopped in heavy traffic by two Metro Police officers on Murfreesboro Road for failing to yield to an ambulance, Sen. Jerry Cooper was asked to show them his driver’s license. The officers eventually gave Coopera member of the Senate Transportation and Safety Committeea citation for failure to yield, which Cooper says was a ”judgment call.“ But it was the second citation that has elicited his wrath these months laterthe one for having a ”mutilated driver’s license.“
To retaliate, Cooper filed legislation to block the Metro Police Department from receiving state money. In a recent letter to a Fraternal Order of Police official who phoned Cooper’s office to protest, Cooper says the second citation was ”in my mind a little ridiculous since I had just used my driver’s license that week to cash a check at Dillard’s department store.“
He explained in the letter to the FOP official that the incident was made worse by the fact that the police officers seemed particularly to enjoy giving him the second ticket.
”The real story came out when I signed the ticket, pulled in a driveway, and turned around,“ Cooper wrote. ”Both officers were in their Metro police car laughing. You see, my vehicle has one of those state Senate license plates. Needless to say, I was upset; however, I did pay the ticket the next day.“
Looking back on it now, Cooper says, ”What they were doing is they were having a big time.“ He says he stewed all summer and fall and then filed Senate Bill 2706.
”It was to get their attention,“ Cooper says of his legislation, which no one expects to pass. ”They got my attention in not a very nice way.“
Apparently, it has occurred to Cooper that, by using his Senate membership to get back at the police, perhaps he’s guilty of the same kind of power-tripping as Metro Police officers.
”Two wrongs don’t make a right,“ he admits. ”But maybe it’ll make them stop and think before they treat John Q. Citizen that way. Unfortunately, citizens don’t really have any recourse.“
Sucking on the Metro tit
Back in the days before Mayor Phil Bredesen, the Metro police and fire union leaders received full pay, but didn’t actually have to arrest drunken drivers or fight fires. They were allowed to work full-time at their union jobs.
But when Bredesen took office, that pro-union policy came to an end, and the union bosses went back to earning their pay. Things could change again, however. The police and fire unions have asked Mayor Bill Purcell for a return to the old ways, and despite an upcoming budget year that may see draconian operational cuts in Metro, Purcell has said he’ll consider the request.
”He told them during the campaign that he would take a look at it and if he could work it out, he would support it,“ says Purcell’s chief of staff Bill Phillips. ”But he hasn’t decided yet.“
After just five months on the job as press secretary to Purcell, Dana Coleman has announced she will leave sometime around March to return to the private sector.
Responsive and likable, Coleman also worked several months for Purcell the candidate and had perhaps the most difficult job of his summerlong campaign. As his press secretary, she often has to speak for Purcell. A man whose sentences sometimes contain many words and very little substance, Purcell prefers speaking for himself, although he makes himself less accessible than any mayor in recent history. That poses a very delicate and difficult situation for a Purcell press secretary.
The advertisement for Coleman’s replacement might go something like this: Mayor’s office ISO friendly, courteous, hard worker who can communicate supervisor’s sometimes vague vision. Must own waders. Mind-reading abilities helpful.
To reach Liz, call her at 244-7989, ext. 406, or e-mail email@example.com.
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