Cry Me A River

Isn't it funny how in politics everyone likes the rules of the game till they lose. I'm talking about the frivolous lawsuits being filed by those former election administrators who have lost their jobs with the change of power in the state legislature. Most of them claim they were fired simply because they were democrats.  But we didn't hear any of them complaining when they got their politically appointed jobs because they were democrats. Does anyone think for a minute that if the shoe were on the other foot the same thing would have happened to the republicans?

A number of former election administrators across the state have come together with an ambulance chasing Nashville law firm to go to court to challenge their terminations. Not only do they want their jobs back but they also want a half million dollars each for their trouble. That in it's self should give a pretty big clue what these lawsuits are really about.

Six or seven or eight ,and I'm sure there will be more in time, have filed suits in local courts and now in federal court in attempt to set things aright in their view. The lawsuits are pretty much boilerplate and essentially say the same thing including the one filed by former Loudon County election administrator, Dana Zehenr.

According to Ms. Zehner's suit, she accuses the majority, republican, members of the election commission of holding a private meeting and secretly deciding to terminate her. Problem is, one of the "majority" members wasn't even certified till the day of the meeting when Zehner was terminated. The other two were certified just a couple of days before the meeting thus leaving little time for secret, covert meetings. But if one wants to talk about secret meetings, maybe we should look into what was discussed at the Cracker Barrel in a meeting of at least two election commission members with a certain democrat state representative and a certain democrat assistant district attorney who were lobbying for a candidate to be appointed as the new election administrator and it wasn't Ms. Zehner. Or maybe the meeting with two of the election commission members with a perspective election administrator who also wasn't Ms. Zehner. I think we have a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Also in her lawsuit, Ms. Zehner charges that she was terminated simply on the "basis of her perceived political party affiliation which differed from the majority party." To be honest, I was at the meeting and I never heard any member of the election commission make any statement that she was being terminated for party affiliation. The fact of the matter is that in Tennessee no voter is registered with any party affiliation. Anyone can vote in any election for any party they choose. Besides, while Ms. Zehner I'm sure would claim to be a democrat, she has in fact voted both republican and democrat in past elections as I'm sure many voters have.

Let's look back just a few years ago when Ms. Zehner was hired. At that time the majority party of the election commission was democrat. Ms. Zehner was offered the job, no public offering was made for the position and no other candidates were interviewed. According to some within the circles, even though Ms. Zehner knew the possibility that her position was at stake, she did not contact anyone from the "majority party" to express her desire to keep her job.

For the hundred years or so that the democrats held the majority of the state legislature which in turn gave them control of the state and local election commissions, no one ever mentioned that appointing only democrats as election administrators was arbitrary and illegal. In fact, I never heard a democrat or a republican even challenge the idea.

Maybe the new election commissioners had other reasons they wanted to replace Ms. Zehner. Maybe they didn't appreciate Ms. Zehner, as the election administrator, being involved in democrat political campaigns such as introducing and promoting a certain democrat state representative candidate at a local community fish fry event. Maybe they they weren't as impressed with the job she had been doing and felt someone else might do a better job. The commission just didn't give any reason for the termination. Ms. Zehner's lawsuit seems to jump to the conclusion that she was fired for her political affiliation giving absolutely no thought that there could be a host of other reasons.

At least from my side, I count Ms. Zehner as a friend. While no two people could be more opposite in political views than she and I, as election administrator she never failed to provide, assist or inform me of any matter I ever asked of her office.  Did she get the short end of the stick? Only if you believe there's no such thing as politics. Both Ms. Zehner and now her replacement both knew/know that the position is political in nature and could end at any time as could the jobs of nearly everyone else. After all Tennessee is an "At Will" work state meaning you can be fired at almost any time for no cause.

I'm sure the lawyers who are hoping to sink their teeth into deep tax payers pockets will keep the process going as long as possible. If they wait long enough they might even get their case before a wise Latino woman who can make better decisions than a white man. Those who seem so interested now to change the rules of the game should be very cautious. The current balance of power in the legislature is tiny on the republican side right now and could easily change next year back in favor of the democrats. Then the new rules would apply to the republicans.

I guess what disappoints me the most is that Ms. Zehner and the others who have signed on to this silly lawsuit were fine with the status quo when they were the quo but now they want to change the rules of the game. And like always the only people who are really going to get soaked are the tax payers who will have to foot the bill for the lawsuits.