In response to the extended absences of Memphis' controversial state senator Ophelia Ford, fellow Memphis senator Jim Kyle has introduced legislation that would allow Ford to step aside and appoint a temporary replacement.
Kyle, who has not spoken with Senator Ford, and who doesn't know if she will cooperate, has repeatedly stressed the difficult situation she has created for Tennessee Democrats at a time when the Senate is divided 16-16 with one D-leaning independent.
"Senator Ford isn't the first legislator to be absent for a long period of time," Kyle told the Flyer. "We have had other vacancies, and this is something we need to address."
Kyle's bill is based on a similar measure adopted by the Idaho state legislature.
"If [Senator Ford] refuses to cooperate a member of the Senate has to propose a resolution to have her replaced involuntarily," Kyle says.
There has been no official response from Ford. A call placed to the number listed on Ford's official legislative website as "District Address" yielded the following response: "This isn't her office, it's the funeral home -- we can't tell you how to get in touch with anybody."
The person who answered the phone at Ford's Nashville address claimed to be a temp who was just "cleaning up."
"I don't think anybody even knows I'm here," she said.
Previously Ford's absences and her erratic behavior in committee meetings have been attributed to illness and anemia.
-- Chris Davis