Nothing is simple with TVA

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

Nothing is ever as simple as it seems when it comes to TVA and its management. What is clear is that three TVA board members whose terms expired in May 2016 were not confirmed by the U.S. Senate and, therefore, they go off the board on Jan. 3, 2017. They are the current chair Joe Ritch, along with Mike McWherter and Peter Mahurin.

The bylaws do not provide for a vice chair or someone to fill in for a vacant chair position immediately, which will occur in one week. The chair of the audit committee, who is Lynn Evans, will preside at a called meeting and likely would be chosen to be chair, but she is not chair until elected. The bylaws further provide that the board should decide within 30 days of the vacancy who the next chair is.

A board meeting is scheduled to be held Feb. 17, 2017, in Chattanooga. But wait, the board might have a notational vote without a meeting. So who knows? There are only six board members left out of nine starting a week from today. There are also two committees of the board without chairs next week.

It is hard to see the board rejecting Lynn Evans, who is well liked and able, from becoming the chair given the historic firsts it will achieve, but her term will expire in five months in May 2017. She can continue until the end of 2017 if not replaced or reappointed. Of the remaining six members, it is divided evenly between men and women, which is also a first in TVA Board history. Also of the remaining six members, four are from Tennessee but zero from East Tennessee.

President Donald Trump will nominate five new board members in 2017. Hopefully, at least one of these five will be from East Tennessee, where TVA is headquartered. Senators Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander will play a role in determining who they are.

Meanwhile, citizens all over the Valley are lining up to win one of the five open seats on the board. Former Virginia state Sen. Bill Wampler, 58, of Bristol, Va., has indicated interest. He was a Virginia legislator from 1988 to 2011. His father was longtime U.S. Rep. Bill Wampler, and his mother was Sen. Howard Baker’s sister.

■  State Sen. Becky Massey turns 62 next Monday, Jan. 2, and she is the youngest of the three Knox County senators.

■  State Rep. Harry Brooks, 70, who was just re-elected to his eighth term, may make this his last term. He will have served 16 years at the end of this term with education as a focus of his endeavors. While he has not formally announced his retirement, he is telling friends this may be his last term.

■  Knoxville attorney Jeff Hagood is being widely mentioned as the next U.S. attorney, to be appointed by Trump. Hagood is a close friend of both U.S. Reps. Jimmy Duncan and Chuck Fleischmann from Chattanooga. Duncan was an early Trump supporter. Hagood is also a close friend of retired UT football coach Phil Fulmer. The process of vetting, nominating and confirming a U.S. attorney and U.S. marshal will easily run into summer before actual confirmation occurs. The vetting process is rigorous.

■  Former Sheriff Tim Hutchison is soliciting letters of recommendation from area law enforcement leaders to be nominated by Trump to be U.S. marshal. The Senate must confirm this appointment, too. Vetting could take a while.

Overbey: Another person has joined those Republicans actively seeking the nomination for governor in two years. State Sen. Doug Overbey, who represents Blount and Sevier counties, has served on the Blount County Commission and as state representative. He is in his third term as senator and is considered hard-working, well-informed and well-prepared.

He is in the stage of strong consideration. He would be the third senator to join the contest. He sponsored Gov. Haslam’s Insure Tennessee plan when Senate Majority leader Mark Norris declined to handle it.

In addition to Overbey, others actively considering a run include Knoxvillian Randy Boyd, current Economic and Community Development commissioner; U.S. Rep. Diane Blackburn, state Sens. Mark Norris and Mark Green, and Bill Lee from Williamson County. House Speaker Beth Harwell had been considered a potential candidate but is not mentioned as much lately because of a divided House caucus, where she won renomination as speaker 40-30 last month over state Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Loudon County. She has fence mending to do there before embarking on a successful statewide race.

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