Makin' a List 

It's time to remember who's been naughty and who's been nice

It's time to remember who's been naughty and who's been nice

Who says we can’t play Santa Claus? Taking a look at the various players in state and local politics, we’ve decided to make a few gift suggestions based on how people behaved this year.

Nice—While Tennessee’s Democratic camp, led by Al Gore, was earnestly trying to be a populist voice attracting new voters during this presidential election year, at least one Nashville Republican made no apologies for his affluent and patrician background. After senior gubernatorial aide Justin Wilson mistakenly was billed by the University of California at Berkeley for a semester of courses, he wrote UC a letter saying that his acceptance couldn’t have been based on his “demonstrated concern for social justice, since I have spent over 25 years as an attorney representing large, faceless corporations involved in such bourgeois activities as capital formation and predatory takeovers.”

Acknowledging that California law now abolishes quotas, Wilson wrote that he could still contribute to the diversity of the campus. “I am a white protestant male coming from a conservative, middle-class suburban family in which my parents were married to each other until death. My mother stayed home to tend to her children.” He requested to be housed with either “worn-out, has-been hippies, old fuddy duddies, discredited public officials, or (and I realize this may be asking too much) Republicans.” The eccentric Wilson gets points for poking fun at his blue-blood background. Suggested stocking stuffer: a mortgage statement, just to see how the other half lives.

Naughty—When Gov. Don Sundquist was introduced at the Wildhorse Saloon on election night as part of Republican Bill Frist’s U.S. Senate reelection victory, the Republican crowd sounded less like a group of ebullient supporters and more like the British Parliament reacting to an opposition-party prime minister. The booing, presumably inspired because of Sundquist’s support for a state income tax, was classless. Suggested stocking stuffer for each of the offending noisemakers: an audit notice from the IRS.

Nice—Earlier this year, Mayor Bill Purcell selflessly dismissed the possible political trouble it would cause him and endorsed Council golden-boy Chris Ferrell for the 2002 Fifth District congressional race, assuming the incumbent congressman does not run. The at-large Council member plans to run for the seat if its current holder, Congressman Bob Clement, runs for governor in 2002. But there are other Council members looking at the seat too—which is how Purcell, at least theoretically, could wind up facing some kind of retribution when seeking approval from the local legislative body for mayoral initiatives. On this one, at least, Purcell stuck by his friend no matter the cost, offering a reminiscent view of the man who, given the right moment, can come off like a modern-day Jimmy Stewart. Suggested stocking stuffer: a DVD of a colorized It’s a Wonderful Life.

Naughty—Nobody came out looking good during this year’s heated debate in the Cherokee Park neighborhood over a controversial proposal for conservation zoning there. (That’s an understatement.) But even the sometimes abrasive Council member for the area, John Summers, didn’t hold a candle to the acidic opponents of the relatively tempered zoning designation for the neighborhood. The uproar caused by just a handful of the zoning opponents in the otherwise friendly enclave revolved around a single anti-government theme. To hear them talk about the oppressive hand of government, you’d have thought it was Waco. They lost, by the way. Suggested stocking stuffer: blank ammo for their firearms.

Nice and Naughty—Appearing in an interview on PBS’ investigative Frontline broadcast that profiled the two major presidential candidates, former Al Gore staffer Mike Kopp didn’t exactly sugarcoat Gore’s weaknesses. An acknowledged Gore voter, Kopp nevertheless told the interviewer that if the vice president were sitting with the Frontline journalist, he would want to say that he too produced hour-long, investigative television broadcasts. Suggested stocking stuffer: a DVD of Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar.

Naughty—At-large Metro Council member Carolyn Baldwin Tucker, whom the Scene endorsed in last year’s election, has displayed a consistent willingness to be the Council’s lone dissenting vote on various issues, often for petty political reasons. Tucker—remember, she was the “singing candidate” who showed up at polling places and belted it out as a means of attracting voters—seemed thoughtful enough when she was running for an at-large seat on the 40-member Council. But at least so far, she’s been aggressive and heavy-handed. Suggested stocking stuffer: an autographed copy of Miss Manners Rescues Civilization ($16, plus shipping and handling, from Amazon.com).

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