Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Bush League

The Urban Dictionary defines "bush league" as:
Amateur performance. Behavior that doesn't belong in the major leagues.

Curt Schilling has a running feud with Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez, once calling Alex Rodriguez's swat of a tag in game 6 of the ALCS a "bush league play" on The Jim Rome Show.
In baseball, bush league is a reference to the minor leagues - especially all the development leagues out there that are semi-professional, but where the players have no real major league skill and little hopes of making it to the big leagues. No knock against those players, that's just the reality of the situation.

But the popular usage of "bush league"* describes an action or practice that's unprofessional in a situation where professionalism is expected. Cheating, especially immature cheating, can be considered "bush league." A few weeks ago, the aforementioned Alex Rodriguez called out "I got it" while running from third during a pop-up that caused the third baseman of the opposing team to move away from the ball, letting it drop and Alex to score. That was a very "bush league" move which earned him some deserved scorn. Major leaguers should act professionally and show class in the sport they play.

Lately we've seen "bush league" action from Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons and Adam Jones of the Tennessee Titans (aka He Who Must Not Be Nicknamed - I refuse to sully the memory of a perfectly good video game). Both players have acted unprofessionally off the field and refuse to own up to their actions.

But the most egregious example locally has been the actions of our Knox County Commission. All the locals know what I'm talking about, and for you out-of-towners here's an article in yesterday's News Sentinel:

Day of political dealings detailed

Here's why I call this "bush league"...
Chairman Moore, a former [outgoing Knox County Sheriff Tim] Hutchison employee, had decided before the meeting started there would be no debate, no stump speeches or public airing of candidates’ credentials.

“I believe that’s the rules,” Moore said in his deposition.
Bush League #1: Moore decided arbitrarily that succession to commission seats would be done without meaningful discussion or debate. Which means most of the deals had been made beforehand (in violation of law) and all that remained was seeing who stayed loyal to whom.
One of those would be filled rather uneventfully by Richard Cate, a businessman and former economic development official whose company lost a civil lawsuit to a woman who said Cate sexually harassed her. Cate denied the allegations. Fellow commissioners apparently didn’t know of the matter when they voted.
Bush League #2: With no debate or discussion, Cate's past was not brought up as a possible reason for not appointing him. Guilty or innocent, commission should have been made aware.

Another even more trouble example was Diane Jordan's son, a former drug dealer, was nominated to replace her on commission without his past criminal activity being discussed. Again, guilty, innocent or even reformed, the commission and by extension the public has a right to know the background of the people representing them.
The most hotly contested of the two [remaining seats] was a battle between Scott Davis, a developer who served on commission with [County Mayor Mike] Ragsdale in the 1990s, and Lee Tramel, a Hutchison employee and longtime politico.

The pair shouldn’t have even been in the running, given commission’s gentleman’s agreement on deferring to district wishes. But Commissioner Phil Guthe had refused to publicly name his nominee. District mate John Schmid tapped someone else.
Bush League #3: Gentleman's agreements broken, without regret or remorse. Decisions made unilaterally and without public opinion. Bush.
The Ragsdale and Hutchison factions each saw a chance to seize the West Knoxville seat, several deposed commissioners agreed.
Bush League #4: Factions??? We actually admit to having factions??? That's playground stuff when you get down to it. The two toughest kids on the playground, each with their own hangers-on and admirers. It plays all the way up to the top with Democrats and Republicans, but to see it at its basest, here it is in Knox County. Factions...sheesh.
Commissioner Ivan Harmon recalled in his deposition a meeting with Ragsdale.

“He asked me who I was going to support — Lee Tramel or Scott Davis,” Ivan Harmon recalled. “I said, ‘I’m supporting Lee Tramel.’ The mayor more or less said, ‘Well, if you support Lee Tramel, I can’t support your district.’ Of course, he says he didn’t say that but I had no reason to lie to him about it or anybody, but he just didn’t feel like Lee would be a good team player.”
Bush League #5: More of the same. No mention or debate on whether Tramel would be a good representative of his district - only that he would support Ragsdale's "faction". You see this in Supreme Court nominations all the time.

Special Bonus Bush League #6: I believe I went to high school with Lee Tramel, and knew him slightly if it's the same guy. I graduated with his younger sister. He seemed like a decent enough guy, although rather arrogant. What's bush about this is that he's sullying the name of the great Knoxville Central High School. But I digress...
Harmon said when he asked Jordan to support his nominee, she responded, “Those orange ballot people — referencing the pro-term-limit folks — said some very nasty things about me, so, no, I won’t.”

He repaid her in kind. When it was time to fill her slot, “Commissioner Jordan sort of leaned back in her chair and asked me if I would nominate Josh Jordan, and I leaned back in my chair and said, ‘No, I won’t.’”
Bush League #7: Bush, bush bush. It just goes on and on.

We elect people expecting them to be professional and conduct business with respect and honor. We are often disappointed, reduced to watching grown men and women who have made the big leagues act as if they're back in the minors - pretending to be important and skilled when all along they're just playing around on the schoolyard. It's not just unprofessional, it's childish, immature, irresponsible and unethical.

Read the rest of the article, there are many more examples including a commissioner that was named as a replacement then sworn in to cast his lot with his "faction" - against the agreement that all replacements would be sworn in together.

Bush league. We deserve better.

* Despite the similarity in names and resemblance to possible decisions a certain president may or may not have made, the phrase "bush league" has nothing to do with any current, past or future presidents. No matter how much they try to make it appear so. Your Jokes May Vary.

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