Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Battleship Weaver

Posted By on Wed, Jun 11, 2008 at 4:08 PM

Recently, Gov. Phil Bredesen's office proposed ending a state business tax exemption, the upshot of which would have meant some rich families would have had to pay $15 million collectively. Tom Lee, an alleged Democrat and lobbyist for Waller Lansden, served as one of the waterboys for the incredibly wealthy and helped defeat the governor's micro budget initiative. Lee's colleague at Waller, our good friend James Weaver, also worked on behalf of the rich folks and against the governor. Thanks, in part, to the lobbying of Lee and Weaver, state lawmakers decided to make up the $15 million that would have come from closing a loophole for the well-heeled by siphoning funds that go to protect fragile wetlands. This is how our state government works. Anyhow, around the time Waller's dynamic duo was in the midst of gutting the gov's proposal, Weaver sent Will Pinkston, a Bredesen senior aide, the above video attachment. It's not entirely clear what the lobbyist's point was, but he appears to be gloating about his minor victory. You see, the video depicts the arrogant captain of a powerful battleship ordering a smaller sea craft in its way to move or else face dire consequences. What the captain doesn't realize is that the weaker ship refusing to adjust its course is actually a lighthouse into which he is about to crash. The moral of this heavy-handed vignette? Just because you're bigger doesn't mean you're right. But Weaver says he didn't send the video to send a message to the USS Bredesen. That's not his style. He meant it to be humorous. Everyone's a comedian. “Funny vid. A little laughter is good for the soul,” he explained to Pith in an email. Only Pinkston doesn't see it that way. After all, Weaver isn't in Pinkston's five. He never sent jokey emails before. Why now? In fact, Pinkston seems a little irritated at Waller these days. First, he believed that Tom Lee was trying to blackmail him, albeit in a clumsy, ineffectual manner. And here he thinks that Weaver was trying to crow about his little victory. “I think this was his ham-handed way of trying to puff his chest a little," Pinkston says. "The ridiculous thing is that he's talking about $15 million, which is just a rounding error in a $27 billion budget. If that's his idea of a big victory, it's pretty clear he hasn't played many big games in his life. What was troubling about the whole scenario is that rather than the money coming from a wealthy corporate tax loophole it came from a conservation fund. They ought to be ashamed by that.” Interestingly, Pinkston forgot about Weaver's email until we wrote about the lobbyist's spat with Metro Council member Mike Jameson. There does appear to be a pattern here. At any rate, we once again would like to offer Waller and Weaver a little advice: Be a little more discreet with your emails. You seem to be irritating a lot of people, and that's probably not good for business. I'm sure we'll talk more about this soon. All the best.

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