Thursday, February 23, 2012

Is Haslam Dissing Bredesen's Wife? Governor Flags Bill to Name Sidewalk After Former First Lady

Posted By on Thu, Feb 23, 2012 at 9:02 AM

There's the Rachel Jackson state office building and the Martha Sundquist state forest. But if Gov. Bill Haslam has his way, we won't name a stretch of sidewalk at Bicentennial Mall after Andrea Conte. The governor is objecting to the bill to name the pathway after Phil Bredesen's wife. Why? Because the signs would cost $6,000. Are we supposed to believe that's the reason?

The bill's sponsor, House Speaker Emeritus Jimmy Naifeh, isn't casting any stones on this one. He dismisses the possibility that Haslam's behaving petulantly here. Instead, Naifeh is about to start trying to raise the $6,000 privately to pay for the signs. Hint: A certain someone close to Conte probably would be willing to contribute.

It's appropriate to name a sidewalk after Conte because she was big on walking—even if her husband wasn't. Bredesen once took his Lincoln Town Car across the street to the Bicentennial Mall for a media event with his wife to urge state employees to exercise more often. It's something less than a quarter-mile from the governor's office to the mall. But Bredesen hopped in his sleek Town Car for the short ride on the cold, winter day.

He arrived all toasty warm. Roughly 100 bundled-up state employees were there waiting for him, stamping their feet to fend off frostbite. "Did you walk over today, governor?" we asked Bredesen. "No," he admitted sheepishly, "I took the car over here today because I got through with a meeting very late. But I'm fully on board with the notion of trying to use lunch hours and the like to do walks, and I'm certainly encouraging state employees to do this."

"I did walk over here today," the first lady interjected.

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