COMMENTARY: Clerk And Master's Job — What I've Heard

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Not a day has gone by recently when I haven't been asked if I know who the next Clerk and Master for Cannon County will be.

Well I don't know, and as far as I know, nobody else does yet either — possibly even the person who will make the decision.

Since I don't have any hard facts, I will pass along what I've heard, given that whatever I hear is likely spread around town before it reaches my ears.

The current Clerk and Master, Harold Patrick, who resigned effective June 30 but agreed to stay on an extra week until his replacement was named, does not know, and is as anxious as anybody in the county to find out.

I know that the deadline for applications was this past Wednesday, July 7.

I've heard there has been a large number of applicants for the position, including many from persons who live outside Cannon County.

I've heard that Chancellor Robert Corlew, who will make the selection, has told people close to him that it is one of the most difficult decisions he has ever had to make, due to the fact he has had a long professional and/or personal relationship with several of the people who have applied.

I've heard the names of several people who have either applied for the job, or expressed an interest, those being in no particular order: Douglas Jennings, Steve Smith, Dana Davenport, Nathan Nichols, Bill Bryson, Andy Bryson and Dale Peterson.

I've received e-mails or had people tell me that first Jennings, and then Smith, are Corlew's choice, but there has been nothing official to confirm those rumors.

I know what Corlew has said are the qualifications and expertise he is looking for in the person he selects:

"Because the Clerk and Master deals with civil legal issues and accountings which are filed in estate matters, particular attention will be given to those candidates who have particular experience in these areas. The demonstrated ability to work well with members of the public is also important."

Patrick has said that the docket for Chancery Court for Monday (July 10) is one of the largest he has ever compiled.

That should make for an interesting Monday morning, since Patrick has also said he has no desire or plans to continue and is anxious to devote his energies to his other role as the Mayor of Woodbury.

Maybe by then I'll be able to report what I know — that Corlew has named someone to the position — rather than what I've heard, none of which has been much of a secret to anyone following the situation.
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Members Opinions:
July 11, 2010 at 10:33am
I have received a few communiques questioning the fairness of the process of selecting the Clerk and Master, and have formed the following thoughts:

Fair? There are many things in life that are not fair, and never will be.

I've expressed to my boss several times in the past year that it is not fair that I have this job. There are many people more talented, more experienced and better educated who he could hire. I am extremely fortunate to have this position.

The process of selecting a Clerk and Master is not set up to be fair. The only way it could be is if it were an elected position.

In a process by which the selection of the person for the job is done by picking from a number of applicants, there is only going to be one person who thinks the process is fair when it is over.

I have also had comments that the same people always seem to be under consideration for positions such as this one. There are many reasons for that:

• There are a number of families within the community that have been around for many decades, if not for over a century. During that time members of those families have established themselves in the local political, business and social scenes — some in all three. That is the case in all communities, but is more apparent and prominent in smaller ones.

• The Good Ole Boys (and Girls) Networks. Notice I included both sexes, and used network in the plural form. All kinds of associations of people exist here, as everywhere. Some have the same objectives, but different ideas on how to reach them. Some come from different social and educational backgrounds and have political views, but work together pretty well. Some are totally opposed to each other.

• Sometimes these networks stay around for a long person of time, sometimes they come and go, never to be heard from again. For example, there are over 50 "networks" of people working to get their candidate elected in the upcoming election, and come August 6 the majority of them will have disbursed.
July 11, 2010 at 1:08pm
Well I would hope that it is not Steve Smith. He is the President of First National Bank in Murfreesboro. How does being President of a bank all your life qualify you to be a Clerk & Master? It is always about the good old boy politics in this town. It is either a Jennings or a Smith that comes out smelling like roses. You named seven people you knew that had applied for the job and two of them were lawyers, one was in law school and the one female of the bunch has worked in the office doing the job for 15 years, but it is always a Smith or Jennings that gets picked. Someone please explain how this process was fair?
July 11, 2010 at 10:49pm
Congratulations to Mr. Patrick on a job well done. Cannon County should be so fortunate to find a replacement for someone that has handled this office is such an efficient and effective manner. Good luck in your future endeavors.
July 12, 2010 at 10:00am
Hat's off to the Cannon Courier for a great article. Just to get the facts exactly right, Steve Smith is NOT the president of First National Bank, he is a Loan Officer and according to their website is not on the Board nor is he listed as a Vice President.
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