Rex in the City: Briley backlash

Monday, September 24, 2007 at 12:25am

Recent events would suggest to the casual political observer that the storied Briley family name might be meeting its political end in Nashville. According to some Nashville chatter class insiders, those hovering over the carcass of State Rep. Rob Briley’s political career may be a little premature — and to their own detriment.

Briley according to all accounts is betting on treatment at an area alcohol rehabilitation center following an arrest in Wilson County on DUI and other charges after a high-speed chase with police there.

After the arrest, press reports about Briley’s life — including some in this newspaper — revealed more recent run-ins with police and an attorney/client relationship with one powerful state lobbyist some are calling inappropriate.

Briley may be embattled but not done politically. Friends are said to be encouraging Briley for his own health and his family’s sake to leave public office and focus on his personal life. And that has had some overly anxious would-be members of the General Assembly on the phone perhaps a little too soon.

At least one very high-placed Nashville politico said some political types with ties to Metro politics have been making calls about getting themselves appointed to Briley’s House post — even before he has resigned.

“There’s an old saying,” the source said. “You can court the widow woman, but wait until the mister’s body is cold.”

Briley and his political family still have friends and clout in Nashville, despite brother and former Metro At-Large Councilman David Briley’s poor showing in the mayoral run-off race. Ill will is said to have been stirred up by such phone calls, and Briley may not be forced to resign after all given the typical forgivingness of Nashville voters.

Another Dean hire?

Longtime Capitol Hill radioman Sherman Novoson wants to make the transition from a reporter to a lobbyist.

The stocky, gruff Novoson, who has covered the state Capitol for 31 years, recently sent his resume to the Karl Dean camp wanting the job of lobbying on behalf of the newly elected mayor and Metro at the state Capitol.

“Nobody has the contacts that I have,” Novoson wrote in his resume. “I have the private e-mail of Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey. Very few people do. I know all of the GOP members of the state Senate that they control as well as the GOP in the House and Democrats.”

As references, Novoson lists, in this order, Ramsey, Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris, Rep. Beth Harwell, Byron Trauger, “many lawmakers in the General Assembly,” “President of the Tennessee Broadcasters Association Whit Admanson” (sic), Gov. Phil Bredesen and former Democratic Party Chairman Bob Tuke.

If the lobbying position is filled, Novoson leaves the door open to working in Dean’s press shop, handling radio and television reporters.

A little post-election CYA

Longtime Nashville businessman Bobby Joslin hosted a reception for new Mayor Karl Dean last Wednesday at his Joslin and Son Signs headquarters on Murfreesboro Pike. About 75-100 people showed for what one source called the “unification event with folks from different [mayoral] camps rallying behind Karl.”

Joslin supported former at-large Councilman Buck Dozier for mayor before Dozier bowed out of the race after the general election in August.

Rex heard the party included former Metro Councilman Roy Dale, former at-large Councilman Adam Dread and his wife Kasey, lobbyist and public relations man Joe Hall, developer Bill Hostettler, restaurateur Mike Kelly, insurance executive Jack Spann. Waller Lansden attorney James Weaver, former Metro Councilman and Vice Mayor Jay West, land use litigation attorney Tom White and both Pete Dickson and Bobby Pitts of Associated Builders & Contractors were there.

Another source told Rex that “a few checks” were collected at the reception. When asked to comment, Dean-for-Mayor campaign manager Jim Hester told Rex the money will be used only to pay some outstanding campaign bills picked up late in the race, not to repay any of $350,000 Dean provided his campaign via a personal loan.

“Karl Dean is firm in his commitment to not ever have a fundraiser to pay himself back,” Hester said.

“We had people from every camp that were here in support of the new mayor,” Joslin said. “It was a broad-based support of folks in this city that care about this city.”

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By: idgaf on 12/31/69 at 6:00

It is a sad state of affairs when our government at all levals are run by lobbiests rather then on the premise of what is good/best for the people they are supposed to be working for.

By: global_citizen on 12/31/69 at 6:00

We lost sight of how our government was supposed to be before the ink dried on the Constitution and nothing has shown us any reason to believe we'll revert to the way it was.

By: tennliberal on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Democrats need to quit defending the indefensible. If we want to keep control of the legislature and avoid a permanent minority status in this state, we need to demand (for instance) that drunken adulterers who list their mistresses as next of kin on their arrest record resign. It's not as though his district will elect a Repub. Briley, the Fords, Cooper, all the Tenn Waltz crooks -- it's hard to keep supporting my party when it just doesn't "get it" on these things. If the Repubs weren't so hellbent on screwing us, I wouldn't even bother.

By: exportlaw on 12/31/69 at 6:00

If Karl Dean isn't going to raise funds in order to pay his "loans" to his campaign, just how will the campaign pay off those loans. Bribes and kickbacks? Skimming the Metro budget? Perhaps he means that he won't have to host fundraisers because the funds have already been promised but not paid, and therefore never disclosed during the campaign when it would have been inconvenient and embarrassing.

By: shinestx on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Tennliberal, you are typical of those who blindly hate what they don't even understand. You actually buy the complete Democrat line that the Republicans have it out for you. I too used to be a liberal, and then I actually started to think. So the Republicans are trying to screw you? I can't think of anything more contradictory of plain (everyday) evidence unless of course, you are a trial lawyer or a union thug or illegal alien or violent and/or sex offender or socialist. I would think the last one would apply to you, but it sounds like you might actually have an ounce of shame. Oh, and BTW, you forgot to mention the eco-hippocrite Al Gore (not to mention his shameful son) and the Red Chinese bundlers for the Clintons. Oh, I can't wait till '08!