published Friday, February 15th, 2013

Cook: Fifty-one words of nothing

Fifty-one words.

When asked -- a dozen times -- for U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander's office to produce any substantial explanation why he refused to renominate Dr. Marilyn Brown -- one of the most decorated energy experts in the land -- to the TVA board, we, the people, get little more than scraps from the table.

Fifty-one words of nothing.

"I certainly respect Dr. Brown's academic credentials, but I encouraged the president to send the Senate a different nominee better suited to membership on the board of directors of the nation's largest public utility," Alexander's official statement said.

"The Senate approved four other TVA nominees who in my judgment are well-qualified for board membership."

Menus are longer than this. Mimes? More talkative.

The casual neglect and insulting shortness of this 51-word explanation refuses to recognize that a real answer is indeed expected, justified and part of that social contract that comes with being elected.

How does a woman who won the Nobel Prize for her work on climate change, managed multimillion-dollar budgets at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and has a plan to save the South billions in energy costs not qualify for the TVA board, on which she has already served for two years?

How exactly, senator, is she not suited?

Since January, I've written eight emails and made four phone calls to Alexander's office. At least.

Their response? Haikus say more.

"Sen. Alexander has made his statement on the matter," emailed Jim Jeffries.

(He's the senator's communications director, of all things).

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who also refused to renominate Brown, gave a lengthier statement after nine environmental groups pressed.

"I believe every board member must have an abiding appreciation of TVA's important economic development role and impact on the well-being of Valley residents," Corker said. "Unfortunately, Dr. Brown does not share that point of view."

By silencing the most knowledgeable voice on energy, you reduce the board to something less diverse, more myopic: the only lens an economic one.

"In my discussions with Dr. Brown, she did not seem to share the concern of employers in our state that TVA's power rates are becoming less competitive," Corker said.

Wait a minute.

"I voted every time ... not to raise rates," Brown said Thursday.

Brown won't say much, but for different reasons than Alexander.

"I am still hopeful I will be renominated," she said. "If I am, I look forward to perhaps a more open discussion on these issues."

I'll start. Three words, directed to Sen. Alexander.

Please explain yourself.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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Easy123 said...

JonRoss = ignorance incarnate.

Google: social contract, moron. LMFAO! Unbelievable.

February 15, 2013 at 11:26 a.m.
Easy123 said...

Explain why, JonMoron.

February 15, 2013 at 12:19 p.m.
jesse said...

The very fact that you expected to get a straight answer from a politician tells me you are delusional!

February 16, 2013 at 9:45 a.m.
moon4kat said...

I, too, have tried to get information from the Senate offices of Alexander and Corker -- especially about their vote to delay the appointment of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. When asked how and why they intended to vote, the response last week, delivered by 20-something receptionists, was basically: "The Senator has not made a statement on that." Such "information" is useless and insulting. I was "assured" that my views would be made known to the Senators, but I rather doubt it. My view is that the extremists in the GOP are close to making that party extinct. Their vote against Hagel -- a war hero capable of independent thought -- clinches it for me. Too bad, because I think we need system with at least two viable parties representing the people. We no longer have that.

February 16, 2013 at 10:52 a.m.
Hunter_Bluff said...

Dr. Brown scares Lame-ar Alexander, lil Bobby Corker and the gang of dittoheads because she's an accomplished, independent woman.

February 17, 2013 at 9:25 a.m.
moon4kat said...

Hunter is right, the GOP repeatedly shows that it cannot tolerate independent thought. It seems that everyone in that party must march to the extremists' tune.
Dare we hope that our Senators will demonstrate statesmanship and independence from the rabid pack? Is that too much to ask?

February 17, 2013 at 9:40 a.m.
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