At the time I am filing this column, Tennessee House Speaker Glen Casada, a resident of Williamson County, remains in his position despite calls from local leaders from both parties to step down.
Casada has come under fire after text messages were revealed from his now former chief of staff, Cade Cothren, that included sexually explicit and racially derogatory language. Some of the text exchanges included Casada. Cothren also admitted using cocaine in state legislative offices.
U.S. Senator Marsha Blackburn stopped short of joining those calling for Casada’s resignation, saying it is ultimately a decision for the House Republican Caucus, according to a story in the Home Page last Thursday that followed a conference call with her.
Until last Thursday evening when he spoke with reporters, Governor Bill Lee had remained largely silent on Casada’s status, a matter for which he drew criticism in an editorial in The Tennessean online edition that ran earlier the same day.
Whether that had anything to do with what Lee later said is unknown, but the governor, when asked if he would ask Casada to resign if he were part of his administration, replied that he would. He went on to address the importance of “integrity, honesty and transparency, values and principles that are consistent with Tennesseans.”
Time will tell how this will play out. Casada has apologized and acknowledged the error of his ways, but has thus far stood firm in his intentions to remain as House Speaker. He seems to be losing support, however, among his base.
And in another editorial Friday, David Plazas, director of opinion and engagement for the USA TODAY NETWORK Tennessee, said Casada “no longer deserves the job” and called on all “all legislative leaders to stand up for what’s right and move in another direction.”
Even so, recent history could be on Casada’s side. Colleagues have withstood similar firestorms, and some much higher-profile (to say the least – think at least one former president and a current one) folks have been able to carry on just fine after embarrassing antics and/or language were revealed.
So it’s anybody’s guess where this goes from here. Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally said, if it had been him, he would “probably be packing my bags.”
Right now Glen Casada still appears comfortably, if a bit nervously, unpacked.
Congratulations to new city officials
On a lighter and much more pleasant note, congratulations to the four Brentwood residents who were elected to the City Commission last week.
A while back I made reference to this race and speculated that it might get a little more heated than usual, given the nine candidates for four seats. As is so often the case when I decide to prognosticate, I could not have been more incorrect, and I should have known better.
It was a very civil affair as the candidates gathered and pontificated at a handful of local forums. During early voting at the library, they mingled and interacted with each other in the parking lot as they held up their signs. Voter turnout was, sadly, as light as usual, with 12.8 percent of registered Brentwood voters taking part.
Incumbents Ken Travis and Anne Dunn will continue on the seven-member commission, while newcomers Susannah McMillan and Nelson Andrews will soon join them and the other sitting commissioners. McMillan received the most votes of any candidate in the race.
I wish them all well and thank them for their willingness to serve.
And finally, a fond farewell to Williamson County Superintendent of Schools Mike Looney, who will be moving to Atlanta to be in the same position for the Fulton County School District.
The Williamson County position has understandably become a stepping stone to larger school districts that pay more, but Looney was here about ten years, which is a pretty good stint when compared to some of his predecessors.
Like anyone in a public position, he had his fans and his detractors. With my last child having graduated from Brentwood High School in 2011, my observations of his tenure have been mostly from a distance. But from what I have read and witnessed, I would give him a thumbs-up and wish him well in his next job.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.