West: New Year's almost here

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By the time you read this, Christmas has come and gone and we're hot on the heels of New Years Day.

I will be glad when 2016 is history.

In many ways it was a rough year, particularly for Cannon County. Why? That isn't an easy question to answer especially since the economy of most of Tennessee is booming. In some cases, nearby Rutherford County for example, the economy is absolutely exploding in a positive way.

Why not here?

First of all, it is tough to compare Cannon with it's "sister county" of Rutherford. Yes, both counties have strong ties. State Representative (the late) Jim Cummings used to say something to the effect that any Cannon County resident with $250 in the bank is likely to move to Murfreesboro.

While Mr. Jim intended the quip to be a joke, it was true in the sense more opportunity was available in Murfreesboro then, as well as now.

Cummings was a powerful member of the Tennessee House of Representatives and served for a number of years as Speaker of the House. In the days before redistricting, Mr. Jim represented both Cannon and Rutherford Counties in the legislature and achieved much despite the Memphis-based political machine of Edward Hull Crump (not Trump).

Cummings countered Crump's urban agenda by forming a strong rural voting bloc in alliance with W.D. Haynes of Winchester and I.D. Beasley of Carthage.

Cummings' rural block outlasted Crump and continued through the early 1970s. Called the "Dean of the Legislature," Mr. Jim was also referred to as "The Last of the $4 a Day Men,"due to his service at a time when Tennessee state legislators were allowed no salary at all and were paid only $4 a day in expense money.

Of course, those days are dead and gone, but much can still be learned from them.

Unity for the good of Cannon County could still achieve much, particularly in light of the current budgetary woes. But (a very big but), we have County Commissioners who won't even speak to each other, much less work together to resolve the financial issues. It's been a fumbling fight to the end and the infighting has the public so very confused. Adding to the problem is the clumsy attempt by some political wannabes to "gain power." They are fooling a few people, mainly themselves.

Cannon County isn't broke, but it will have to end the repeated pattern of overspending its budget and establish a firm funding surplus to be used in case of emergency ... only. That is what the State Comptroller is trying to convince Cannon County and some other counties to do.

It's not an easy process but it is one that can be achieved in a couple of years and once a surplus is established hold onto it for a truly rainy day. And remember, new fiscally conservative policies will soon be on their way. Call it a return to sanity.

So what am I trying to say?

Quit your bellyaching and trickery and do what's right for the sake of the people you were elected to represent. Work together and make 2017 a great year for the people of Cannon County.

It is possible, dadgumit.

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Mike West column
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