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Samuel Corum, The New York Times / The U.S. Capitol is reflected in a wet walkway Friday, the day the House Judiciary Committee voted along party lines for the articles of impeachment of President Donald Trump. Partisanship is rampant in today's politics, but former elected officials like Tennessee's Zach Wamp seek bridges to fix that.

Correction: Fred Decosimo informs us he is still Gov. Bill Lee's statewide treasurer, in that he has agreed to serve on what he is sure will be "another successful campaign." An earlier version of this story stated he was Lee's former statewide treasurer. This story was updated at 6:16 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2020.

Why can't we all get along?

Don't we all long for someone — better yet, a group of someones — who will promote more transparency in political fundraising, lobbying, elections and ethics enforcement?

Wait. Former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp, a Republican from Chattanooga who served the 3rd District of Tennessee for 16 years, was here last week to tell the Rotary Club of Chattanooga that there is such an animal. And he's part of the hair on that dog — along with former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford, a Democrat from Memphis, and another 189 former elected officials.

Wamp and Ford teamed up Thursday to tell Rotary members that this group, known as Issue One, is dedicated to trying to reform Congress, limit the influence of big money in elections and work on finding bipartisan solutions to major problems.

Bipartisan? No, it's not a unicorn, but increasingly it seems to go the way of one.

"In today's culture and airwaves, hate pays," Wamp said of the seemingly limitless "divisive and destructive tribalism that tries to demonize the other side. ... There's not much courage in the Congress today. People get in their camp and hide in the bosom of their party."

Ford, too, mourned the demise of two parties that could look for solutions rather than mocking adjectives.

"We don't have that bipartisanship now," said Ford, who served in the House for a decade before being defeated in 2006 in a U.S. Senate bid against former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker. "If you can't agree with two or three things that your opponent likes and wants, you probably shouldn't be in office."

Wamp acknowledged that today's impeachment divide will likely continue driving our politicians to hide in the bosom of their parties. (Don't you miss Wamp's straight talk?) But he — and Issue One — adds hope: "Everyone knows that post-impeachment and post-election, we can't keep doing this and fighting with each other. We've got to bring the country together to solve problems."

To learn more about Issue One and its research work and reports — such as "Digital Disaster: The failures of Facebook, Google, and Twitter's political ad transparency policies," (November 2019) or "5 Loopholes That Allow Foreign Interference in Our Elections" (September 2019), or "Busted & Broke: Why the FEC Doesn't Work" (April 2019) — visit issueone.org online.

 

Looking for 'pork' in all the wrong places

The Tennessee Beacon Center last week in its annual "Pork Report," skewered the Chattanooga and Tennessee government support for a Japanese automotive paint company factory in East Chattanooga on the former Tubman Homes public housing site.

Under the heading of "Paint the Town Red, Pay the Company Green," the Beacon Center criticized the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and the city of Chattanooga for giving city land and $1.1 million in state taxpayer money to recruit Nippon Paint.

Beacon Center has got to be kidding. Some perspective is in order:

Nippon plans to build a $61 million factory in the low-income community of East Chattanooga and hire 150 workers over the next five to seven years. The site has been vacant for nearly a decade. The last time a manufacturer located and brought jobs to East Chattanooga was 1917. The community within a half-mile radius of the planned plant — easy walking distance — has a median household income of less than $25,000 a year and nearly 30% of its households don't have automobiles.

When it comes to East Chattanooga's paint plant, where Beacon sees "pork" we see good deeds.

We would suggest that the Beacon Center set its sights on some real pork — like Gov. Bill Lee's newly enacted school voucher law that diverts tax dollars to private schools by allowing participating families to receive debit cards worth up to $7,500 in state money each year to spend on the schools they choose.

Oh, but wait. That might be a tad touchy since one of Beacon's board members is Fred Decosimo, the statewide treasurer for Lee's gubernatorial campaign. Whoops.

 

Trump's trouble with Greta

It is a truly sad day when the president of the United States is jealous of a 16-year-old girl for her honor as Person of the Year on the cover of Time magazine.

And if the president being jealous of climate activist Greta Thunberg isn't sad enough for you, he'll make it so by thumbing his disappointment, sarcasm and mockery onto Twitter.

"So ridiculous," Trump tweeted last week. "Greta must work on her anger management problem, then go to a good old fashioned movie with a friend! Chill Greta, Chill!"

Ahh, Mr. President — who needs help with anger management? Are you projecting again?

But Thunberg did chill, and then she one-upped our embarrassing POTUS.

Rather than call him out, she tweaked her biography on Twitter. It now reads: "A teenager working on her anger management problem. Currently chilling and watching a good old fashioned movie with a friend."

Time on Wednesday named Thunberg Person of the Year in a nod to the next generation's surging prominence in worldwide efforts to prevent the worst effects of climate change.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi, President Trump, the Ukraine whistle-blower and the Hong Kong protesters were all on the shortlist for this year's selection.

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