Writing a column like this means talking to people. A lot of people. The more people the better because what they’re wondering about is probably going to be what they want to read about.

This is not a difficult concept.

And what they’re talking about this week (when they can tear themselves away from the travails of Trump) is the bizarre and long-running story about county Mayor Tim Burchett’s ex-wife, who is considering an unusual plea deal in a case that involves charges that she cyber-stalked her rich boyfriend’s cancer-stricken, estranged wife, who has been embroiled in a long-running and exceedingly ugly divorce battle with her estranged husband.

The details of the charges have been aired in enticingly disgusting detail as trial date after trial date rolled around and got pushed back. Most recently, the defendant has been offered a choice of plea deals: cop to six misdemeanors and accept four years of probation with the possibility of emerging with a clean record, or plead guilty to four felonies with four years of probation. Not surprisingly, the victim does not approve of this deal.

Smart money says the defendant will go for the misdemeanors. Smart lawyers say this is not a case they’d want to take to a jury (post-mastectomy photos of a cancer patient probably wouldn’t endear a defendant to anybody but Hannibal Lecter, and if there are women on the jury, fuhgeddaboudit).

Anyhow, “Did she do it?” is not the question I’m hearing.

What I’m hearing is “Why the heck is she still using Tim Burchett’s name?”

Let’s face it. Burchett is not Smith or Jones, so anybody hereabouts who sees that name is likely to connect it to the county mayor, who has held public office for a long time and enjoys considerable popularity. That makes the name thing an interesting side issue, since provision number three in the September 28, 2012, divorce decree signed by Chancellor Telford Forgety said, “The wife shall be restored to her maiden name of Allison LeeAnne Beaver.”

Not “may,” but “shall,” which means that she instructed her attorney that she intended to go back to Beaver.

Additionally, she has been very public in displaying her disdain for her ex in the years since the divorce, so it’s perplexing that she continues to use his name. Most 21st Century women emerging from childless marriages of short duration take back their birth names, which involves being vetted by the clerk and master (if the case is in Chancery Court as this one is) and then making the necessary changes on legal documents like driver’s licenses and voter’s registration forms.

However, apparently, none of this matters much. Experts in the field say that people can pretty much call themselves whatever name they choose (There are a couple of City Council candidates whose mamas probably didn’t name them Jack Knoxville and Lincoln Lincoln, for example) if there is no intent to defraud or impersonate. One local official who shall remain nameless said, “She can call herself Turd Sandwich McDooDoo if that’s what she wants.”

This means that Tim Burchett has no legal standing to demand that his former wife (or the reporters writing and talking about her) stop using his name to connect him by inference to the tawdry allegations against his former wife. He declined to comment on the situation.

But it’s not difficult to imagine that the happily-remarried county mayor, whose term in office will be over next year, and who is openly contemplating his next political move (perhaps a run for governor or Congress), is not amused by stories about someone named Burchett being arrested and charged with gas lighting a woman who is fighting breast cancer.

Note: I made no effort to go to the source for an answer because I wouldn’t get one. Her Nashville lawyers (the same firm that represents Jimmy Haslam in the Pilot Flying J case) would drop her like a bad habit if she talked to the media about this mess, so all we can infer is that she’d rather be a Burchett than a Beaver.

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Written by Betty Bean