Gov. Phil Bredesen signed his first budget on Monday, ending an amazingly tranquil process in which he delivered on his inaugural pledge to make the state live within its means.
The signing was a bit of an anticlimax, considering that he managed to make it through a difficult budget year with a minimum of hand-wringing after four years of turmoil under his Republican predecessor, Don Sundquist.
In the two previous years, the General Assembly didn’t pass budgets until well past the beginning of the fiscal year they were supposed to regulate. A year ago, lawmakers couldn’t get out of town until they extracted $900 million in new taxes to close a budget deficit.
Of course, Bredesen might be more motivated on the budget. Normally, he likes to go fishing at the end of June.
Hillary Rodham Clinton’s book, Living History, seems to be working out just fine as a commercial venture in a society that values notoriety above all else, especially when it’s accompanied by sex.
Of course, the book may be a little disappointing to Nashville readers at least those with an interest in anything Clinton might have to say about policy matters.
While it’s true that Clinton was probably more policy-focused than any previous first lady exceptperhapsEleanor Roosevelt, she really only led on one major policy initiative, the ill-fated health care reform plan that ultimately helped provoke a Republican renaissance.
Of particular local interest would be what she might have to say about Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper, who early in the game tried to offer a less ambitious version of her health care plan and who has been blamed by many reform supporters as having undercut the Clinton initiative during a sensitive part of the process. So did Clinton have some choice words for Cooper, who represented the sprawling rural 4th District at the time and returned to Congress last year representing Nashville after eight years on the political sidelines? Well, no. He didn’t get so much as a mention.
Apparently, though, that sort of stuff isn’t really a focus of the book and, let’s face it, the owlish Cooper lacks the charisma to compete with Monica Lewinsky.
The book also doesn’t mention West Tennessee’s John Tanner, whose unfortunate political footnote is to have been cited in the Starr Report on presidential shenanigans as the congressman Bill Clinton was probably speaking on the phone with while Clinton was enjoying his first Oval Office encounter with Lewinsky.
Where are their nest eggs?
News outlets this week have been reporting about the fattest wallets in Congress, after House and Senate members filed their annual financial disclosure statements. Predictably, heart surgeon Sen. Bill Frist and Congressman Jim Cooper, a former investment banker, are among Tennessee’s wealthiest.
But perhaps more stunning are the members who appear to have very little to their names. Case in point: Memphis Congressman Harold Ford Jr. reported only one assetan account worth between $1,000 and $15,000. And Congressman Zach Wamp, who’s no spring chicken, mind you, reported as his major asset a stock account worth between $15,000 and $50,000. Early retirement doesn’t appear likely for these guys.
Becoming a star, on the cheap
After about 20 years of agitating and whining, Murfreesboro is finally getting its name up in lights.
That was one of the lesser-noticed aspects of recent federal changes to the current definitions of metropolitan statistical areas, the standard way that the government designates local regions for statistical purposes. MSAs are the most useful way to define regions now that many central cities represent only small fractions of their surrounding areas.
In the latest redesignation, what used to be called the Nashville MSA will now be known as the Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro MSA, indicating that Murfreesboro has succeeded in being recognized by the federal government as a more-or-less comparable urban center. (This should make Congressman Bart Gordon happy.)
The same redesignation process added five not very metropolitan countiesHickman, Smith, Macon, Trousdale and Cannonto the eight that are already considered part of the MSA, raising the regional population to more than 1.3 million.
Does Murfreesboro’s new status matter to Nashville? Probably not much in the grand scheme of things, although it should be noted that one of the justifications for Nashville’s $300 million NFL deal was that it would bring greater visibility to the city. Murfreesboro’s getting a boost for a lot less money.
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