Democrats in the Tennessee General Assembly are complaining that they have been completely cut out of negotiations on the teacher collective bargaining proposal. More specifically, former Democratic House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh is complaining that Democrats have been shut out of the negotiating process on the much-vaunted bill which will determine what, if any, collective bargaining privileges that members of the Tennessee Education Association will have in the future.
THIS AMENDMENT WAS A COMPROMISE BETWEEN THE HOUSE REPUBLICANS—MODERATES AND TEA PARTY MEMBERS. WE (HOUSE DEMOCRATS ON EDUCATION GENERAL SUB) WERE NEVER INVITED FOR INPUT.
THIS WAS MERELY AN ATTEMPT TO SATISFY THE MODERATES AND TEA PARTY REPUBLICANS. (all caps Naifeh’s)
The complaint by the former House Speaker-one who was well-known for only including those Republicans in his negotiations on almost every major issue who would kowtow to his desires-is, for the lack of better words, more rich than the Sultan of Brunei. It was not long ago when Democratic numbers in the Tennessee House of Representatives were such that the only way to pass anything was to curry favor with Jimmy Naifeh. Negotiation? Your opinion on an issue didn’t matter if you were a Republican, unless it so happened that Jimmy Naifeh or his inner circle happened to be in agreement with whatever your view was. Republicans were often told what bills were going to say, and if you were a Republican and you weren’t in Naifeh’s good graces (those Republicans who voted for Naifeh often did so because-in the words of former Representative and current House Chief Clerk Joe McCord-it was “the only way to get anything for your district”) you had to use parliamentary maneuvers such as amending Democratic bills with unrelated Republican legislation just so that your issues could be heard in an open way.
Those were the days when Republicans were so few in the Tennessee House so as to be irrelevant. The House Republican Caucus was little more than an East Tennessee social club on Capitol Hill. Well the Lord works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform…
For now the tables have turned and it is the Democrats who find themselves in the position the Republicans were once subjected to in the recent past. The position of being the leadership team that the lobbyists and the public interests go to because they know that these are the people with the votes to pass whatever they decide to put to paper. Representative Naifeh certainly remembers that kind of situation, because he was Speaker of the House during a time when Democrats held that kind of dominant sway in the Tennessee General Assembly.
Let us put it plainly so that Representative Naifeh may clearly understand the reality of the situation in which he and his Democratic Caucus find themselves: Representative Naifeh, you and the Democrats were excluded from the negotiations over the collective bargaining bill because you are completely irrelevant. You don’t have the votes to pass so much as a memorial resolution without Republican support. You cannot pass amendments on your own, and without Republicans any bill you bring is a fruitless waste of our time because you can do precisely nothing with it. Your vote totals are such that you can either play ball with the GOP or you can go to the house.
It is really a simple case of mind over matter. We no longer mind you, Jimmy, because you no longer matter.