November 06, 2005
This Story Just Gets Wilder
Thanks to Andy Sher of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, today we learn more about some ethically-challenged legislation pursued by Lt. Governor John Wilder (D-Mason). Sher's front-page story bears the headline "Wilder key player in law on collections." What's notable about that is that Wilder has claimed not to have been involved in a bill that expanded out-of-state firms' opportunities to collect delinquent taxes. "'I wasn't active in it, and I doubt I even knew when it passed,'" he's quoted as saying. I think that quote was from an earlier piece, because today's article also quotes him as saying on Friday: "'I didn't remember whether I did or did not. I did not remember that.'"
Either this long-time legislator plays a lot of games, or his memory is truly fading. (That's not a personal jab, but a mere observation.) Whichever is the case, his reign as Speaker of the Senate should probably come to as graceful an end as can be had before things get worse. Lt. Gov. Wilder therefore garners a special entry into the category I've set up for highlighting positions that are in sore need of turnover in 2006, for even though his District 26 seat is not up for re-election until 2008, the Speaker position is a two-year term. I figure eighteen of those terms in a row is just about enough.
Let's put the events about the tax colletion bill into a timeline. Ben Cunningham of Tennessee Tax Revolt asked for someone to follow the "chain of events," and I'm happy to oblige.
Sources: Andy Sher's (with Mike Weber) published news accounts; Tennessee General Assembly Archives; Tennessee Secretary of State Public Acts. Please let me know of any gaps or of any clarifications needed.
Finally, Lt. Gov. Wilder is apparently none too happy with all the inquiry. He snapped to reporter Sher, "'this story has but one purpose and that is to make Wilder look bad.'" I submit that the purpose of the story is to inform readers of the truth. Wilder has a history of dropping in on or setting up meetings wherein he supposedly doesn't remember speaking or claims not to have influenced the proceedings. Tennesseans deserve to know whether or not their second-most powerful official is acting ethically on their behalf. I, for one, feel that too many questions have been raised (and I'm still not over his paranoid, delusional prayer/speech given the day of the Tennessee Waltz arrests). I hope that the State Senate chooses wisely when the time comes to select a new Speaker, and, looking ahead to 2008, the voters in District 24 26 [- thanks Bob] have a viable choice to make a replacement that's long overdue.
State Senate ~ You ain't 'enate | By joe lance | 10:46 AM