Whitehouse: All-stars, rookies and old-timers

Sunday, February 20, 2011 at 10:05pm

This past weekend was the NBA All-Star Game. It is a time when basketball fans “oooh” and “ahhhh” over 3-point shoot-outs, slam dunk competitions and a myriad of other activities that are ostensibly for “the fans.”

Really, though, the weekend is nothing more than pocket-lining event for league owners. It provides the NBA players with a cash incentive that amounts to cab fare given their inflated salaries.

Some of the more interesting aspects of the weekend, however, are the highlighted “team” contests that include the rookies vs. second-year players game, the old-timers game and, of course, the NBA All-Star Game itself. This had me thinking: It seems we have some of these type games taking place in Nashville, with politicians acting like NBA owners or coaches assembling their rosters.

Lately, the “all-stars” of Mayor Karl Dean and Gov. Bill Haslam have gone on a spree of raiding the political “old-timers” league to bolster their teams, while Speaker of the House Beth Harwell seems to be picking off members of the rookies and second-year players card to add to her roster.

No offense to the “old-timers” mentioned in this article. But when you are on your second or third tour of duty for these purposes, you are an “old-timer,” no matter how much you want to hide your AARP card.

Dean has brought on former Bredesen staffers like Jim Fyke and Tam Gordon and is rumored to be on the verge of adding Gerald Nicely and a few more Bred-Exers. The signing of Fyke and Gordon created a bit of a stir with charges of cronyism, especially when their salaries became public. But Deaniacs have pushed back, saying the new hires are of all-star quality.

In Haslam’s case, he built his team from scratch. While he had plenty of picks, it appears the first place he consulted when putting together his starting team was an old copy of the playbook Lamar Alexander used when he was governor. New hires with old ties — like Dept. Gov. Claude Ramsey and Legislative Director Dale Kelley — aren’t just old cats around the barn. They built the barn.

The core of Haslam’s team, though, doesn’t appear to be built for a lengthy run into the playoffs, but rather some quick wins to bolster the team before setting forth on a youth movement. There are already grumblings that a few of the old-timers have lost their jump shot and could be headed for the bench sooner than would otherwise be expected.

Going the opposite direction, and opting for a youth movement, is Harwell. Although she tapped former state Rep. Joe McCord to serve as her experienced power forward (i.e. chief clerk), Harwell went with a young roster overall — one that knows when the sharp elbows are coming but offers considerably less experience in the paint.

Players like Gregory Gleaves (chief of staff), Kara Watkins (deputy chief and press guru) and Brent Leatherwood (GOP Caucus spinmeister) have been on the court in the past but are now in a position similar to having been traded from the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers to a playoff contender.

What will be interesting over the course of the next year is how these rosters will shape up and deliver.

Dean is really the first of these politicians facing a shot clock. With his re-election bid underway, he already has a pesky defender’s hand in the face under the guise of Metro Councilman Michael Craddock. While Craddock doesn’t appear to have the legs to bring down Dean, he is more than capable of doing some damage that someone else could capitalize on.

The question is whether Dean will use the old-timers to bolster his defense and up his stats before the buzzer sounds on his first term. His weaknesses going into the tournament will come from the handling of the fairgrounds, grumblings over the convention center, the salaries of the old-timers, etc… His big positive will be his handling of the 2010 flood, but expect Craddock to flip that script.

Unlike Dean, Haslam and Harwell could and will combine their teams at times given their similar ideals, agenda and goals. The question that remains, though: Will they play like the Harlem Globetrotters or the Washington Generals?

Contact the writer at ken.whitehouse@nashvillepost.com 

16 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 2/21/11 at 5:38

Interesting would be the promises being made by Mayor
Dean to may other "old timers" in jobs and contracts if
they lend a big hand in helping in his being Re-Elected?

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/11 at 6:30

Good morning

http://farm1.static.flickr.com/230/491375793_7f2fda4f75.jpg

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/11 at 6:30

The line up of impressive talent for the three politicians seems to make a good team. I would expect this of Haslam, Dean and Harwell to choose this high quality of people for the growth of City and State.

By: bfra on 2/21/11 at 8:19

Nemo - Are you including Dean's, Riebeling for non disclosure of unethical business dealings, the hedge fund investigation going on, with a Bush (George's brother) in the mix & Fadi BouSamra, chief investment officer that has been put on leave during an investigation? Doesn't sound like Dean is equipped to select a good team.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/11 at 8:32

Say what you want about Dean bfra, but Fyke, Gordon and Nicely are excellent people.

By: bfra on 2/21/11 at 8:41

Nemo - I agree with you on that, but I don't agree with Dean creating jobs for them and trying to use their good names to feather his own corrupt nest. I say corrupt because of what is coming out about the people he has in major financial positions.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/11 at 8:50

bfra, I don’t know enough to debate it with you. I just know that this three are good people and will do a good job. I think it could be worse, if Craddock or Crafton were Mayor. I get the chills at the thought.

By: Funditto on 2/21/11 at 8:57

Me too Nemo. Never thought we would go back to Boner types but it looks like we may.

By: Captain Nemo on 2/21/11 at 9:14

Fun, it is different time in Nashville and I hope we never see another Bonner type ever. But like so many things in life we have to keep a vigilant eye on what is going on in our community. I hope to get back on the watch soon.

Got to go now. Have a good day.

By: bfra on 2/21/11 at 9:20

Fun - There is a boner type in the mayors office now!

Nemo - I like Emmett Turner and think for the most part others do also. But what does he bring to the table for the Beautification Commission?

By: Funditto on 2/21/11 at 9:47

bfra, really? Who? I know you don't care for Dean but he is no Boner. He isn't engaged to fourth wife while married to his third wife, bragging about his sexual prowess and going on Donahue playing Rocky Top on the harmonica. Let's hope those days are far behind us!

You can't possibly support Crapton. I know you're too smart for that.

On another subject, check this out:

http://www.nytimes.com/imagepages/2011/02/19/opinion/19blowch.html?ref=opinion

By: bfra on 2/21/11 at 10:07

Sure Boner's personal life, made him a laughing stock for the World to see. But, with Dean putting all his crooked cronies in high offices, which are slowly being found out, what does that say about him or anyone that still supports him. I am not a Craddock fan, but I WILL vote for anyone that runs against Dean. They couldn't be any worse.

By: pswindle on 2/21/11 at 11:28

Boner helped Nashville, while Dean is trying to destroy it. A lot of public servants have trouble with thier personal life. I hope that Nashvile and TN will wake up before it is too late. The dirty work that is going on at the local and state level will come out.
But this is waht happens when the GOP cares nothing about the workers only about big business and their pocketbooks. I hope Haslam backs off of the teachers. He is in over his head.

By: Funditto on 2/21/11 at 12:24

You must not have lived here when the Boner went down.

By: bfra on 2/21/11 at 2:13

The only think Boner did, was show Nashville what a BIG mistake they made, electing him. Now they have made another mistake with Dean! Time to get rid of Dean and try to do better,

By: BigPapa on 2/22/11 at 1:50

Dean is going to win and win big.