Thursday, May 05, 2005


Kingsport politics

I don't like to get involved too much in local political races because they honestly are rarely worth the trouble. However, I am going to make a rare exception because I hate it when the truth is not exposed to the electorate.

Normally, I couldn't care less who was running for alderman of Kingsport, the city of my birth and workplace of my father. However, a column by Jim Welch, columnist for the Kingsport Times-News, caught my eye and cannot go gently into that good night. In the column, Welch endorses Kingsport attorney Ben Mallicote for an alderman's seat. Like I said, normally I would sit back and let Welch endorse whomever he wants, because anyone who would vote for a person based on a journalist or teacher's recommendation probably won't remember when election day is or where they need to vote. However, I am making an exception here because I was breathless more than I was laughing.

Welch seems to be picking Mallicote because a) he has a business in Kingsport and b) he is young. Welch then goes on to say that Mallicote is an "ardent defender of the Second Amendment" (this is where the laughing comes in) and "academically talented."

Here's the problem - Ben Mallicote and I attended UT Law together for 3 years. Honestly, the first word that comes to my mind in regards to Ben is "egotistical." After that, "academically talented," "abrasive," "rarely attended class," "skilled orator," "inconsiderate," and "politically strained" would follow, with a few "egotistical" references sprinkled in for effect. I'm not saying that he is all of those things, but if I had to play that word association game where you write down ten things about a certain word, those would be my responses to "Ben Mallicote."

I have no idea where Welch got "ardent defender of the Second Amendment." I'm not saying that Mallicote doesn't believe in the Second Amendment as an individual right to own firearms, but the proof is in the pudding. I know several pro-Second Amendment groups and have attended such events as Wild Game Feasts, gun shows, and hunting auctions in the Tri-Cities. I have never seen Ben Mallicote at one. Plus, as a former employee of the NRA, I doubt that anyone in at NRA HQ has ever heard of this "ardent defender of the Second Amendment." Is Ben pro-gun and an NRA member? Probably, but that doesn't make one "ardent." Ben was never present in class when the subject of gun control came up (it rarely does in law school, because most professors not named Glenn Reynolds don't want to touch it with a ten-foot pole). Of course, the point could be made that Ben could have sacrificed for the Second Amendment coming out of law school, but instead he took one of those good-paying jobs with Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, where the pressure to bill hours is intense. Apparently that didn't fit Ben, because he left Baker Donelson less than a year from being licensed to practice law. Now Ben has his own firm. I wonder about Ben's leaving Baker Donelson, only because he doesn't mention that firm on his firm website. That is odd, because Baker Donelson is one of the best law firms in the South, and it makes sense that one would find it advantageous to mention the firm in a website because it brings instant credibility to the new firm. So why not mention it by name? Perhaps to avoid a bad reference? I don't know the answer, but the whole thing seems a bit fishy.

In law school, Ben rubbed a lot of people - students and professors - the wrong way. For the record, I was not one of those people. But, as proof of how he aggravated others, I had a few former classmates write me a few weeks back (when Ben's new firm website became public knowledge) for me to spread the word that they would take cases against Mallicote pro bono just to "put him in his place." Now that is saying something. While I never heard this myself, apparently Ben liked to speak about how he could have attended Stanford instead of UT, which I am sure didn't sit well with his classmates (whether it was true or not). Personally, I found Ben to be egotistical, but that didn't bother me. About the only thing that I couldn't understand about Ben was how he was so politically strained depending on the day of the week. I never knew where he stood. Sure he was the leader of the inactive Federalist Society, but he also was dating the head of the student gay, lesbian, and transgendered association. One day he argued for policies consistent with libertarian views, the next for policies that could only be called socialism. My only complaints about Ben were that he wasn't consistent and he didn't have a penchant for showing up to class. The latter is a real shame, too, because he added a great deal to the classes that he did attend (more than the typical liberal regurgitation offered by others). Besides that, I had no problem with the guy.

Please understand that this is not a Ben Mallicote hatefest. No, this is my version (with all apologies to O'Reilly) of the "no-spin zone." My issues are more with the Welch column than Mallicote's early entry into the political arena. Honestly, I think Ben will win his seat in Kingsport and inject energy into the city government. Along the way, he will probably piss off many in city government and make more enemies than friends. One thing that Welch did get right - Ben Mallicote loves Kingsport. For better or worse, he thinks Kingsport is the cradle of all civilization. That will serve him well, and (if he doesn't make too many enemies) could serve the people of Kingsport well in time.

Do I know you?
Yeah, so Ben is more arrogant than one can imagine . . . but I doubt that he will inject any vibrancy into Kingsport politics.
As a DB graduate in Ben's class, I was in Kingsport long enough to know the city has now future, because of the great "you guys get the river, we get the train" trade with Johnson City. Although, maybe it can serve as a quite little suburb of JC at some point . . .
Anyway, I just thought I'd drop a comment and commend you on the Kingsport as "cradle of civilization" bit. That's funny, because Ben really does believe that. I was going to suggest he read a book on urban planning called "The Rise of the Creative Class" . . . which points out some of the reasons that Kingsport is doomed, but now I wonder if there's a point.
Wait. There is one! To piss Ben off! Cheers!

Charles Michael Fulton
Blonde guy
DB '96
Mr. Fulton -

Thank you for the comments. It is entirely possible that we have met; I graduated from Sullivan East in '94, but I spent a great deal of time on D-B's tennis courts and had several friends at D-B (Jon Dice, Jamie Broach, Jason Hagood).

Kingsport certainly needs to diversify its economy. I shudder to think what would happen if Eastman went under...


Man, that is some funny fucking shit. You need to take that act on the road.

I too went to high school with Ben and considered him a very good friend. Afterwards he and I went our own ways with a couple of rather bizarre, somewhat mean-spirited (on his part) interactions since.

The answer, I believe, to your wondering about his political stance on different issues comes down to this: opportunism. Ultimately though people do not respect an opportunist. I hope Ben can work himself out before that happens.

Oh yeah, and the Second Amendment thing probably comes from a speech he gave to some group somewhere about how he loved the gun his grandfather had given him. A gun, I might add, that he never ever mentioned and that I never ever saw ever at anytime at his house. If you google it you'll find it on a variety of sites. He also once argued that the U.N. should arm minority groups to prevent genocide. I'm still scratching my head over that one.

Dave Reed
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
You must be extremely insecure. What, if anything, have you done for your community? Why do you feel a need to bash someone else to make yourself feel better. You seem to be, and this is just an observation based upon your silly little web site, a very unstable individual with major jealousy issues.
Do you have any beliefs? Morals? Standards? Are you currently involved in or participating in organizations or civic groups that you are not required, through your employer, to participate in? Apparently not. You just seem to be a mean-spirited, miserable, envious individual who has no real sense of self. Pity you...
Normally, However, Normally, However. There seems to be a theme here. Aren't attorneys required to take English courses? And "I'm going to make a rare exception...", and "I hate it when the truth is not exposed to the electorate". Thank you so much for thinking for the apparent idiots of Kpt.
Are you also so small a person that you must discredit the endorsement of a "journalist or teacher"? It's assholes like you who give attorneys a bad name and give credibility to those lawyer jokes.
Do you have a job? I bet not. And you seem to be extremely jealous of the fact that Baker, Donelson, Bearman, blah, blah, blah, didn't recruit your sorry, lack of back-bone self, but went after someone like Mallicote instead. You must resemble Shrek! Totally green, but in your case, caused by envy.
Again I ask...are you gainfully employed? My guess would be that you are nothing more than a mere ambulance chaser/divorce lawyer.
Been in a courtroom lately?
And by the way. I went to UT Law with you and Ben, and if Ben was an asshole, you were a dumbass, friend-less, strange person who had no identity and wished he were more like Ben Mallicote.
You, my former friend (and I'm somewhat ashamed of that fact) are a sad, sad man. Bless your heart!
This is so stupid. Ben is an asshole, but that doesn't matter. His true colors will shine before too long when his business becomes a failure; he couldn't even last for a full year at Baker Donelson, and the alderman career will end once they realize how irresponsible he is – shouldn’t take too long since he’s already missed meetings. Kissing ass can only get you so far.
You are a sad lot. You must be very small, in so many ways, to speak so badly of someone who tries to do so much for others. Do you attend church? Do you believe in God? It seems the answer to both of these questions would be no. Ben Mallicote has not missed any meetings of the Kpt. Board of Mayor and Alderman, and regularly attends DKA meetings, church, etc, etc...
What do you do? Nothing!, is what I hear from Bluff City and Piney Flats. Just sit around and wish you were Ben Mallicote. Again, pity you! And shame on you, you little man.
(Hi Michael Fulton!!) I came across this site during my lunch break at work, a few months late I suppose, but as someone who used to date Ben (and Michael for that matter), it is very easy for me to say that yes, Ben is egotistical (does anyone remember his paper in H.S. "No Fetus Can Beat Us"?) He does believe that Kingsport is the be all end all town of the world and for all the "raising genius hell" he did in college, he really didn't even want to go to law school, he wanted to go to film school...interesting how things change.
Though I have no particular dog in this fight - or Bantam in this banter, I'll deposit my 2 cents worth. As far as any endorsements from Jim Welch; it's like a kiss of death... it's a wacky, wayword world in Welchville whether you're an NRA member, democrat, libertarian or vegitarian. Nevertheless, I'm sure Ben graciously accepts endorsements from an ecclectic mix of characters. As for a former college pal sharing his "insight" by disseminating (via this blog) unflattering aspects of Ben's law school struggles. . . struggles we have all dealt with in one form of another; well, I'm not sure how appropriate this is. We can all use self improvement is some aspect of oour lives. As an NRA member myself and client of Ben's, I can attest that he is, indeed, academically excellent. Ihave no qualms about his brief stint with that Law Firm as he recognized early on, to his credit, that is was simply time to move on. He is a resilliant, tenacious scholar in his feild of endeavor now - that's all that matters to me.
Advisably and logically, I cannot comment substantially while we have further proceedings pending. However, I would simply like to thank you for bringing just a measure of Mr. Ben Mallicote's true nature and character to light.
Your assessment was recently forwarded to me in regards to Kingsport's recent police officer incident. I enjoyed your piece - even chuckled at your erudite trashing of me. Pardon my observation, but first, bloggers are journalists, and second, my years have taught me to never enter debate with a person who believes his/her two cents worth has more value than anyone else's. Two cents worth, after all, is two cents worth. Keep writing & Best wishes..Jim Welch
I do find it interesting that the majority of posts actually bring to light mallicote's actual persona. While he may be academically astute, the recent events show that he fails to get all of the facts before letting his mouth overwhelm his behind. As to his political career, that was spurned ahead at the urging of his father and the local chamber of commerce, of which he was a board member and undoubtly a business member, he has shown publicly his lack of maturity that I feel he will be unable to survive on the political front.I do believe he could actually bring something positive to the table, but his elitist view of the have's and have nots will aid in his ultimate failure if he doesn't change. (I'm skeptical at this point that he can) Kingsport does have a lot to offer, however it is a city that is drawn according to socioeconomical lines with the undertones of racial inequality. mallicote appears to be one of those who will continue to foster that dichotomy that exists there. Anyway, my money is on Mallicote self destructing way before his term expires on the city council. This is a man who is not only accepting the rope to derail his political and professional careers but is actively providing it himself from not admitting the facts. Good luck to Ben in keeping his fast fading political career from extinguishing in record time. I just hope the citizens can see through his lack of emotional self control and realize that he has only his self interests and not the city's at heart
Anonymous (at 8:11 P.M.) -

Perhaps you should write in paragraphs that are concise and well-reasoned before you decide to criticize someone else's writing.

Also, you attempt to gain credence by stating that we were friends at UT Law. I highly doubt that. My friends were few and far between at UT (Ryan Holloway, Jason Grubb, Kourtney Kuypers, Charles Matthews - and that's about it), so I dare say that you were probably one of the Rump Court crowd. If you want to attack me to take the pressure off of Ben, that's fine, but don't misrepresent yourself from a veil of anonymity.

Finally, as for Baker Donelson, I was actually asked by the firm's Johnson City office what I thought of Mr. Mallicote when he was interviewing there. I gave him a strong recommendation, which doesn't seem the action of "Shrek," now does it?


All -

I have deleted two posts in this comment thread due to the requests of one author (her name was mentioned in both threads).


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