Thursday, January 24, 2008

A tale of two legislators

There are two Democratic legislators from large cities, from well-known families, who have had issues of late, and have dealt with them differently.

First, we have Robert Briley, Democratic representative of the 52nd District (East Nashville), whose grandfather was the first mayor of Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County. Last fall, he was arrested for drunk driving in another county, kicked out the back window of the police cruiser, and at one point begged the police to shoot him.

Since then, he has re-entered rehab, resigned as Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and faces primary opposition in August. However, today he went on the floor of the House to issue a formal apology to his colleagues, admitting to them that he is an alcoholic. That takes courage, and he is taking steps to right his life. He may or may not be re-elected, but he is open about his situation.

Next, we have Ophelia Ford, Senator of the 29th District (Northwestern Shelby County) , sister of the first black Congressman from Tennessee and aunt of the second, sister to several other elected officials at the state and local levels. She has had health problems that she has related to anemia, and has shown erratic public behavior.

However, she has NOT been forthcoming about her illness, and why she is still hospitalized in Methodist University Hospital (apparently in stable condition). As I have noted earlier, it is incumbent upon the Senator's physicians or the Senator herself, if she is able, to advise her constituency, as well as her Senate colleagues, of the full status of her condition, and of her long-term prognosis.

While we certainly are hoping and praying for a full recovery, if this illness is going to prevent her from fulfilling her duties for an unlimited period of time, she should inform her constituents of this situation and step aside so that District 29 may receive the representation to which it is entitled. If, however, this is going to be short-term and she will be back soon, we need to know this as well.

Senator Ford, we want you to get well soon, and, if you are able, to return to your Senate seat. However, if this is not going to be possible, you owe it to your constituents and your colleagues to do the right thing.

UPDATE: Senator Kyle has withdrawn his bill regarding the replacement of legislators with severe illness, apparently after being advised that it was unconstitutional.


Unknown said...

Far be it from me to defend a know how I feel about that damned family.

But it occurs to me that Ophelia might simply be afraid to lose her health insurance if she quits, and has no other resources to fall back on. Were I in her shoes, I might do the same things.

Unknown said...

Amend the wording slightly:

Were I in such a predicament, I might feel compelled to act similarly.

From what I hear, she's a very ill lady.

Blinders Off said...

I am one of those unrepresented constituents of Ophelia.

Before she became permanently missing in action...I never could reach her. I felt sorry for her aide who caught the backlash. He tried to hold it down for her, but he was in no position to handle the calls that came into her office. It is not a good feeling needing to reach your representative on an issue and there is no one home.

The one consolation I get for her ghostly representation of my district is...I DID NOT VOTE FOR HER. I also think Bob is right as to why she will not step aside to take care of herself.

Nonetheless, I wish her a speedy recovery.

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