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Jay Greeson

Gang, Arlene Hughes has left the building.

Strike that. Arlene Hughes has left her building.

No, the Hamilton County Courthouse is not named for Hughes, who walked away after more than 40 years of serving in the county mayor's office. But for any of us who walked in there with a question or a complaint for county executives named Dalton Roberts or mayors named Claude Ramsey and now Jim Coppinger, Miss Arlene was the person we sought.

It's part of the professional food chain. Those who help run offices or make all of the subtle trains run on time always exceed expectations. Their true value — and importance — is not often fully understood until they walk away.

Just ask Coppinger, who has relied on Hughes for his seven-and-a-half years in office. Coppinger ranks somewhere between a 1950s high school football coach and a riverboat card player when it comes to sharing his emotions publicly.

"She will be deeply missed," he said before calling her an "iconic figure in county government."

That was before smiling and quickly adding, "We wanted to do something for her, but she would not allow it. If you write about her, make sure she knows it was not my idea."

Does this count as progress?

It's pretty easy to get confused about the White House invites to sports champions these days.

There were the Philadelphia Eagles, who accepted an invite to celebrate their first Super Bowl win, then conspired to send about a fifth of their roster and the mascot, only to have President Donald Trump rescind the invite.

There were the Cavs and the Warriors this week, each saying they would not attend if they won the NBA Finals. Trump said Friday neither was invited anyway.

Still, as some of us wonder if the posturing and positioning are more important to each side than finding common ground, Trump offered a communication line to the athletes who have protested during the national anthem.

"I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people who were unfairly treated," Trump told reporters Friday at the White House, referring to the athletes who have taken a knee during the national anthem to protest, among other things, racism and police brutality.

"You have a lot of people in the NFL in particular, but in sports leagues, they're not proud enough to stand for our national anthem. I don't like that," Trump continued. "What I'm going to do is, I'm going to say to them instead of talk I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me — because that's what they're protesting — people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that."

"I think we'll have the Caps, we'll see," Trump said, referring to the Washington Capitals, which clinched the National Hockey League title Thursday night. It was Washington's first Stanley Cup, and considering how many Russians are on that roster, here's betting Trump is quite comfortable with them in the White House.

Still, the president's view of those who do and do not want to attend the White House seems pretty understandable.

"My attitude, if they want to be here, it's the greatest place on Earth, I'm here," Trump said. "If they don't want to be here, I don't want them."

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com and 423-757-6343.

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