Pam's Points: Tennessee gets new AG and the NFL prints money

Pam's Points: Tennessee gets new AG and the NFL prints money

September 16th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Politicking for justice

Who saw this curve ball coming?

The Tennessee Supreme Court -- slammed by Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and other conservative opponents in the August election campaigns -- retains its three Democrat justices and its Democratic court majority, but then the justices dump the Democratic attorney general.

On Monday, Supreme Court justices -- who appoint the state's attorney general -- named Republican Gov. Bill Haslam's legal counsel, Herbert Slatery, as Tennessee's next attorney general. In making the decision, the justices rejected Democratic Attorney General Bob Cooper's bid for a second eight-year appointment.

Slatery, 62, becomes Tennessee's first Republican attorney general since at least post-Civil War Reconstruction days.

The justices declined to take reporters' questions at the conclusion of their announcement.

Tennessee is the only state in the nation where its Supreme Court chooses the state's top lawyer, and the main reason Ramsey and GOP hardliners sought to oust the Democrat judges in their judicial retention elections was to get Cooper, a Chattanooga native, out of the AG's office. Their campaign cry against the Democrat justices was "Get politics out of our courts." Cooper's great sin, to hear the GOP tell it, was his refusal to participate in legal challenges to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act. Many Republican attorneys generals had filed suit. Never mind that the suits went nowhere.

It would be easy to complain that Gov. Haslam's legal counsel suddenly becoming the state attorney general would be a "conflict of interest." And it probably is. But fairness insists we point out that Cooper had been Democrat Gov. Phil Bredesen's legal counsel before he was appointed AG by the then-Tennessee Supreme Court justices.

It's safe to say it's politics as usual in our courts.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks on the field before an NFL football game in Seattle.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell walks on the field...

Photo by Associated Press /Times Free Press.

Look again at the NFL

Who doesn't love football? It's un-American not to love football. But with Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Roger Goodell, the National Football League is getting a bit more scrutiny these days. But not nearly enough.

The realities of the NFL's rich, fast and famous are reminding us that life is not all glitz, and we all must toe the line of society's laws and what is considered acceptable behavior.

But where the NFL isn't getting attention is on the subject of money.

The NFL is run as a nonprofit organization. It brings in $9.7 billion in annual revenue, and paid Commissioner Goodell $44 million in 2013. If the NFL were a real company, Goodell would be among the country's highest-paid chief executive officers.

As a nonprofit, the NFL is exempt from federal taxes. As Forbes pointed out in January, the NFL "earns more than the Y, the Red Cross, Goodwill, the Salvation Army or Catholic Charities -- yet it stands as one of the greatest profit-generating commercial advertising, entertainment and media enterprises ever created."

It's our fault. Last fall, 34 of the 35 most-watched programs on TV were NFL games, and that doesn't include Super Bowl XLVIII, which set a U.S. viewership record of 111.5 million.

Meanwhile, some of the 32 ball clubs which the NFL represents as a nonprofit trade association can't even find it financially sensible to pay their cheerleaders minimum wage. In all, 13 current and former NFL cheerleaders in five cities have filed pay cases. In every one, the cheerleaders are claiming that teams violated minimum wage laws.

Think about it, and register a protest. Instead of watching the rest of the season's NFL games, turn on your public broadcasting station.

The NFL may not pay much attention to our disgust with its athletes' treatment of women and children and even each other. But Goodell and Co. do listen to the jingle of money.