If you have a sibling, you can probably think of a time or two when Bro or Sis did something to make you cringe. Politicians have had to cope with fraternal embarrassments in a few well-known instances within recent memory — think Bill Clinton's coke-dealing brother Roger, or Jimmy Carter's beer-swilling freelance diplomat brother Billy.
For one Nashville businessman, though, it's the other way around: His little brother the politician has rendered the family name notorious. The unfortunate hermano is Robert R. Blagojevich.
Perhaps you have heard that surname lately.
Rob Blagojevich is a former senior executive with First American Trust Co. who now manages real estate investments in four states from his Nashville office. He's a man of sufficiently sterling reputation to have been tapped as commencement speaker by his alma mater, the University of Tampa, last May.
But now, a Google search for “Rob Blagojevich” turns up some 12,600 hits — virtually all of them on misspelled news coverage of last week’s arrest of his brother, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich, on some of the most breathtaking political corruption charges of modern times.
Nashvillians are an understanding folk, and many among us have a kinsman who has pulled a Blagojevich or two, on at least some small scale, at some point in the past. Big brother Rob has our empathy.
’You've got a lot of nerve talking to me like that, Griswold’
Rex spotted Mayor Karl Dean and Councilman Eric Crafton carrying on a civil conversation at the birthday party for the Emperor of Japan recently.
On polar opposite ends of the English Only issue, Dean and Crafton were able to bury the hatchet and glad-hand for a few minutes.
Crafton told Rex, “Me and Dean are alright,” even though he has accused the mayor of being anti-democracy because of his vocal objections to the English Only charter referendum.
And the room was dripping with irony, to see the bilingual Crafton and Dean gabbing at an event that demonstrates the very social diversity that is alive and well in Nashville.
’Can I refill your eggnog for you? Get you something to eat? Drive you out to the middle of nowhere and leave you for dead?’
It’s becoming clear to Rex that Nashville watchers of politics can be divided into two groups: Those who clearly understand Mayor Dean’s full intentions for Metro schools, and those who do not.
Some members of the school board apparently fall into the latter group. Board members discussed in a public meeting the need for an open meeting with Dean, highlighting among other things a desire to speak with Dean about his thoughts on district governance and the director search.
But by the time everyone gets around to meeting, the director search may be a moot point. There is already a meeting between the mayor and the school board scheduled for Jan. 15, and City Paper reporters are hearing that the Mayor’s Office isn’t interested in scheduling something sooner, citing Dean’s schedule.
School board members regularly meet with the mayor at one-on-one sessions. Hopefully those sessions will be productive enough that no one is in the dark. Reporters have no way of gauging the effectiveness of such meetings, however, other than talking with the parties involved after the fact, as the meetings are not open to the public.
As for the Nashvillians who seem to fully understand Dean’s position on education, Rex would point to politically savvy leaders in the business community as examples of folks Dean has managed to fully communicate his message to. There seems to be no anxiety in these groups about what Dean may or may not be doing.
From what Rex can tell, Dean has essentially been saying the same things about education for the last year.
‘Surprised to see us, Clark?’
Super media and government relations executive Joe Hall is a fixture in Nashville. What most folks here don’t always realize is Hall’s deep reach into our sister city of Memphis.
Hall got his start as a reporter for the Commercial Appeal in Memphis, and maintains deep business and political ties there. So, it was not entirely a surprise to see Hall ushering Shelby County District Attorney Bill Gibbons around Nashville last week.
Gibbons, a Republican, was in town for a series of meetings with media and other players on his exploration of a gubernatorial bid in 2010. Hall and Gibbons made their way to the City Paper / Nashville Post newsroom for a sit down with our political scribes.
Could Hall play a role in a statewide gubernatorial campaign should U.S. Sen. Bill Frist step aside a clear the way for a GOP field that include Gibbons? We’ll find out next year.
Rex Noseworthy appears Mondays in The City Paper. He can reached at firstname.lastname@example.org