Friday, January 10, 2020

What's new is old again

Ed Stanton is retiring as General Sessions Court Clerk. An important position here in the land of the Grit n' Grind. 

Reginald Milton (the likely winner) will run for the seat against a crew of fellow challengers that represent the problem here in Memphis. One is John Ford who delusionally thinks that he can run as a convicted felon whose rights have not been restored and also, really? Fellow commissioner Eddie Jones is also running. There's also Thomas Long, the former Clerk and perennial loser, Dell Gill. Dell is up there in the why are you running when no one will listen or take you seriously lane with Boudini Brown wannabe, Latroy Williams.

I want to stress this, I think Reginald will do an excellent job. I think he is the most qualified and up there on the list of qualified people that I know. That aside, my problem with the candidates we have is that they never seem to change. We have council people jump to the commission and vice versa due to term limits. Once they exhaust that, they run for clerk positions in the city or county. The state Representative and Senate seats turn over less often a car with a dead battery.

Combine the lack of open positions with lack of sheer opportunities due to lack of positions and you see the problem. We have too few positions that are too large in both the city and county. The commission could be twice as big honestly, the council-eliminate the super districts, and the Education Board- double it. 

Why? Because the seats being so large means they don't represent their areas properly. It costs too much to run, leaving candidates beholden to lobbyists and special interests. It makes districts unwalkable. 

Further, too many of the elected officials we have try and pass on their seats to their son or daughter or hire family members to work in their offices, giving them a leg up when that seat comes open. We don't need this. We need fresh people in there running. 

Hell, the Republicans do it. Why can't we? You know how they took so many seats from us throughout the South in the 70s through the 2000's? Replacing their members frequently. Notice how very few of them transitioned laterally or down? No, it was always up or out. Nepotism was cut way back until the Trumps with the exception of the Bush's. 

We'll never progress unless we start making the new the new.

Wednesday, January 01, 2020

THIS IS 2020

However, I am not Barbara Walters, as you know.

After receiving encouragement from my co-blogger and semi-adopted son, Jon Carroll, who will also be writing here again (as you have noticed), and from my friend and legendary reporter, Jackson Baker, I have decided to come back for this year.

As Jon has already noted,  we know who we are and what we are called to do, we need to do it.  ALL of us.    We have a great deal of work to do to register voters and get them to the polls. NON-VOTERS, more than the Russians, more than the Jill Stein voters, more than any other sector of society, are the reason we have Donald Trump today.

Millennials and Gen Z are saddled with heinous debt and lack of real opportunity and are naturally pessimistic with the state of things, and with good reason.  Boomers who fell for Reagan's schtick in the 80s have turned into the Trumpites of the teens.  (NOTE: WE ARE IN THE FINAL YEAR OF THE TEENS.  ENOUGH SAID.) 

However, no matter how much you complain, I can only say this to you:  NO ONE WILL GIVE A DAMN UNTIL YOU SHOW UP TO VOTE.  PERIOD.   Frankly, this starts NOW.  (Yes, I know a lot of millennials and Zs who have been doing that, but it is only a start). 

You have a lot more to worry about that I did when I was becoming of legal age to vote.  My predecessors fought for 18-year-olds to have the right to vote so we could elect people that would get the US out of Vietnam.  It worked!   You are not alone, and those who are active can help you get active, because you need to do so for no other reason than self-preservation as individuals and as a society.

We saw some signs of this in 2018 around the country, not as much in local and state elections in 2019.  Here is another thing: THE MORE LOCAL YOUR ELECTION, THE MORE LIKELY IT IS TO AFFECT HOW YOU LIVE.  (I can hear it now: Cracker, I notice that you didn't mention this when we went into city elections a year ago, why not?  BECAUSE YOU SHOULD ALREADY KNOW THIS.)

Another thing that I will NOT tolerate in this, possibly the most important year in the history of this republic, is whining about POLITICS.   Politics is defined, literally, as "THE ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES".   The market CANNOT DO THIS EQUITABLY, IT IS NOT SET UP THAT WAY.  Markets are set up for people to exploit for profit, not help anyone, and we need to understand this.

People who complain about politics are too lazy to do the very things they need to do to survive and thrive.  What people say when they complain about politics and say that "politics" cost them something they wanted are really saying they were not willing to work with other people to get what they needed. 

I get that people who are introverted (as I once was myself), will get steamed because it is difficult for them to get involved in what is going on around them.  However, if you don't, you will not get what you and your community needs in this day and age.  Stand up, and others will stand with you because you are showing courage.  I have already seen that in the Presidential Primary campaigns, and I think it is a great sign.  We need to keep seeing this wherever you are.

This is called leadership, and as the Artist Formerly Known as Newscoma, our beloved Trace Sharp, is fond of saying, LEADERS JUST LEAD.  As more people stand with you, you will understand the joy of common purpose.  We need leaders who can bring people together for a common purpose, which is what GOVERNMENT IS SUPPOSED TO DO.

Private entities can only do so much due to limited resources, GOVERNMENTS CAN ALWAYS DO MORE BECAUSE OF THE POWER TO TAX.  The first person to say TAXATION IS THEFT means that they want YOU to pay THEIR fair share of governance, so the hell with them.  You don't like how your government is spending your money?? GET INVOLVED.

AS Democrats (which I presume most of you who are reading this happen to be, or even further to the left), this year is critical because the GOP is Trump and Trump is the GOP.  Republicans will NOT revert back to being kindly old curmudgeons who will suddenly care about governance once Trump is out of office.  Neither Howard Baker or Fred Thompson are walking through that door, people.  Even if they were alive and in their prime, neither could win a primary because they would be called LIBERALS.  Think about that, Joe Biden, OK??

We need to win at EVERY LEVEL of government, not just the White House.  That will not happen unless people who either have never voted or quit voting return to the practice.  You don't know about state House and Senate races and who is running?  LEARN. Your very lives may depend on it.

I am not going to say a lot about the upcoming Presidential primary except that, at the moment, I am voting for Elizabeth Warren.  I agree more with Bernie Sanders but I am skeptical of his ability to get done what he wants.  I could vote for him in the general, though.

Toward this end, Jon and I are in the process of developing a podcast, which you will hear more about in the coming days.  I am grateful to Jon and Jackson for getting me up and running again.  I have to remember what Jon said in the prior post, because it applies to our elected officials, as well as to each of us:

DO YOUR JOB.


Happy New Year, and let's get to work.



Do your job

It's a mantra that I have always stressed. It's stolen from the greatest NFL coach of all time, Bill Belichek.

Belichek is not warm and fuzzy. He is if anything, the exact opposite in public and with the media. With his players he tends to be different, more warm (to a point), joking, and caring. But always with the belief and desire to do his job and have you do yours.

That is what we want our representatives to do. The job we elected them to do. Be it a city councilman, a court clerk, or a county commissioner or someone who works directly for them. No matter what, we want them do their job. 

Congress has ultra low approval numbers, but individual congresspeople have high ones. Trump has sky high approval for Republicans, dumpster fire low with Democrats. 

Why? Because they are seen as doing their job by the people who elected them. We think Jim Jordan is a fast talking obstructionist carrying Trump's water. They see Jim Jordan as a fast talking truth finder defending the president. 

Guess what? He's doing his job as the people who vote for him see it. 

We change this by changing the people who vote for him/her. We change this by registering voters in districts. We change this by electing representatives who will change the district's maps. 

We do this through the grind. Future901 for example is not concerned with just 2020, they are concerned with all the elections leading up to 2030 as well. They y want to change the narrative here. We need to work on this state wide. Look at Virginia for an example for us. Look at North Carolina in 2010 for them. The grind went in to change the people voted in. 

We do our job of the grind. We do our job of changing the people. We do our job of changing the people's lives.  

Monday, December 30, 2019

Respect The Grind

Memphis, the Grind City.

It is what we are, it is who we are. Grit n' Grind was the Grizzlies, our beloved NBA team for many years. Mark Jones called us that in the Cotton Bowl this past week.

It is what we want our representatives to do. Grind out the work needed for their constituents. Make their lives better. Do it over a period of time that shows your commitment.

We respect and honor those who make it to the top by putting in the work and earning their way to success. We don't like flash, we love substance. We love people who earn the love.

Memphis has two favorite sons. Jerry Lawler, the wrestling King of Memphis. He did the grind to take the torch from his mentor, Sputnik Monroe. Penny Hardaway would be the second, he took the torch from the previous basketball god of Memphis, Larry Finch. Hardaway has come home to continue the grind. A lot of fans wish Penny had continued to be a viable player when the Grizzle came from Vancouver.

We are due for a torch passing of sorts within the next 4 or so years in two major areas. Jim Strickland, a man who has grinded out working on making the city better, has four more years in public service. Steve Cohen, a Memphis icon who will never get the respect and honor he deserves in this state and this city, has fewer years left ahead of him in office than behind.

There will be a rush to fill their voids. Who will get your vote? My only recommendation. Respect the grind.

Friday, October 04, 2019

It has been a while, and I have a lot to say.

I am very happy that my friend and Mayor, Jim Strickland was overwhelmingly re elected with 62.1 percent of the vote.

Why, some of you will ask, didn't you vote for a real progressive?  And then referred me to the third-place finisher, the County Commissioner who could not even wait to finish ONE YEAR in office before she ran for City Mayor.  I would have written in Pamela Moses before I would ever vote for Tami Sawyer, now or in the future.

I have lived in Memphis, Tennessee since June 17, 1972.  I have lived under Wyeth Chandler, J, O, Patterson, Wallace Madewell, Dick Hackett, Willie Herenton, Myron Lowery, AC Wharton, and the gentleman who will now serve us through 2023, Jim Strickland.

ONLY ONE MAYOR has used the term Black Lives Matter in the way it was meant to be used, for real and unironically.  ONLY ONE MAYOR has attended Pride in Memphis and marched in the parade and hired a LGBTQIA Liaison (by the way, that Liaison does a damn fine job!).  ONLY ONE WHITE MAYOR has ever, to my knowledge, been a life member of the NAACP.   ONLY ONE MAYOR has, to my knowledge, served as the Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party.

And that is the fellow who got 62.1% of the vote of the city tonight: JIM STRICKLAND.  Do I agree with him on everything?  Of course not.  When I have disagreed with him in the past (and I used to call him up when he was my Councilman), he would hear me out and then explain why he disagreed.  He would not placate me, which is one of the reasons he won four years ago.

Tami Sawyer is still butthurt that she didn't get credit for the statues coming down.  I think the voters of the city, if they had ANY question about that, settled that this evening.  He had started working on that while he was on the Council, about the time you were bragging about outing one of your teachers at St. Mary's.   I don't think you had many LGBTQIA voters left by the time your 6,666 voters were counted.  (No, I am not making that up.)  That adds up to 6.9%, single digits, as I had forecast some weeks ago.

You know who understands that we still have a long way to go when it comes to income inequality? JIM STRICKLAND.  Everything that you claim to want, Commissioner, they have been working on since he took office in 2016.  Just what do you think would have happened if you had gotten elected and attempted to do what you said you would do?  Look at whom we have in the General Assembly from outside Shelby and Davidson Counties, do you really think they would let you do that?  They would be salivating to crush a Mayor who is a woman of color, and by the time you won in the courts your term would be up and people here would be tired of the drama.

You have slandered our Mayor for the last three years, and the voters told you tonight what they think about that.  Your base is not North or South Memphis, Frayser or Raleigh, Whitehaven or Hickory Hill.  It is the western end of the Poplar Corridor, it's made up of cranky old Midtowners.  You got mad about Jackson Baker mentioning that in the Memphis Magazine story, but it is the TRUTH.  It is time to pay attention to the people of Commission District 7,  Commissioner.  Whoever talked you into running against a popular Mayor did you no favors.

Most of all, if you had stuck to your plan of getting elected and then re-elected to the Commission and THEN running for Mayor in 2023, you would have been in a better position to establish yourself legislatively, raise the funding necessary to get elected, and, in all seriousness, had time to clean up your social media.  After tonight, who knows?  Sure, you say you are going to keep doing what you have been doing, but if only 7% are listening...............

Enough, it is time to address the media coverage, in particular, the Commercial Appeal, who especially on Election Day had Daniel Connolly and Sarah Macaraeg talking to every voter who apparently had decided THAT VERY DAY to vote for the Commissioner.  Well, CA, way to play to 7% of the voting populace!  That should help with subscriptions!  Oy.  Jackson Baker GOT IT RIGHT.  Otis Sanford GOT IT RIGHT.  Bill Dries GOT IT RIGHT.  And to be fair, Ryan Poe GOT IT RIGHT in Election Day's 901 column.

I also understand that, especially with the CA, they wanted to portray the race as being closer than it ever really was, in order to get clicks and subscriptions.  (NOTE: Until someone local owns the CA, I am not subscribing.  I feel bad for the good people who write there, but I cannot subsidize what Gannett and their new partner is doing to the paper and the website, which is, and has been, hideous).

It will be fascinating to see how the Mayor is covered by the CA from this point forward, considering that the Millennials could not be bothered to show up to vote.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.  Meanwhile, old farts like me will always vote every election!!  I am going to soak all this in and enjoy every moment of this overwhelming victory.  By the way, if you still don’t understand why Jim won, go read Poe’s 901 from today (Friday).  If that doesn’t explain it, I can’t help you!  Enjoy your weekend, I sure will.




Friday, January 11, 2019

There's a TNDP Chair election tomorrow

As noted earlier, I am supporting Mary Mancini, although I have no vote.

Her opponents are Williamson County Chair Holly McCall and former Lincoln Davis staffer Christopher Hale.  I support Mary because she had the guts to shutdown the ineffective SCDP and pave the way for its rebirth, which led to last year's sweep of the County elections.  We owe Mary for that.

Having said that, should she not win, I would prefer Holly McCall to Mr. Hale, as the Blue Dog days are dead forever, and despite what people from those days would tell you, that is NOT the only way for the Democrats to prosper in this state.

I note that Ms. McCall has proclaimed endorsements from the AFL-CIO, the House Democratic Caucus, as well as a couple of other groups.  I am not sure if the AFL-CIO or Labor still has a vote on the Executive Committee (they SHOULD), but each Caucus, the Tennessee Young Democrats, and the Tennessee Fderation of Democratic Women, each have ONE VOTE tomorrow.

If I remember correct, the number of voters will be 72, which means that the winner needs 37 at a minimum.  66 of these voters were elected by their State Senate Districts to the Executive Committee in last August's primary elections.  So, even if you got each of those groups to give you their vote, you would still need 32 members of the Executive Committee to vote for you.

These endorsements imply that there is a groundswell to replace Mary; however, it's the individual relationships between Mary and each elected member that will determine her fate.  Each of those groups could rise up as one to say we need change; if the Exec Com backs her tomorrow, it will have all been for nought.

I think Mary has done her best, and sure, there are things that could be better.  That said, when you can't have dialogue in rural areas because folks have been poisoned by right-wing media, what would YOU do differently?

Well, time to sit back and see what happens.  I will congratulate the winner and console whomever loses and remind them the fight continues to beat the GOP.

UPDATE:  WHAT STEVE ROSS SAYS.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Happy 2019, here is what I am thinking about

First, it is too damned early, unless you are an operative looking for work, to care about 2020, there is too much happening now to worry about that.  I don't really want a Democratic nominee over 70, if possible.  They will not increase turnout next year.  I will support whomever we nominate, because we can't even be sure who the GOP nominee will be.  Whomever the nominee is, can we NOT turn them into a Messianic figure, please?  THE PURPOSE OF ELECTING PEOPLE TO OFFICE IS SO THEY WILL ENACT THE POLICIES WE WANT.  PERIOD.

Thank you.

Moving right along, I believe we will soon see a return to the blogosphere of one Trace Sharp of Nashville, TN, at tracesharp.com.  Put her on your RSS feed.  It won't be a return to NEWSCOMA, because that is done.  What you will get will, as always, be WELL worth your time.

Next, it appears that on January 12, Mary Mancini will seek a third term as TNDP Chair.  I don't blame her for Bredesen's loss, you can put that on Bredesen himself, who sucked all the air (and money) out of every other campaign in the state.  Phil Bredesen has never gotten anyone elected to office that was not named Phil Bredesen.  He needs to go retire and never darken our doors again.  It sure isn't 2006 anymore.

Back to this Chair race, which features Mary, Wiilliamson County Chair and longtime operative Holly McCall, and someone named Christopher Hale.  Mary has a record, and has flaws like any other living, breathing human, but I have a question for the other candidates:  What would YOU do differently?  HOW would you do it?  HOW do you fight the rampant right-wing media poisoning happening in rural Tennessee (and the US, for that matter) that precludes any type of true dialogue with folks?   IF you can make a reasonable case for how to do it (and if you CAN, you ought to be running for DNC Chair, not just TNDP), then I will listen.

I don't have a vote, but if I did, I would vote for Mary.  I would do so at the very least for her closure of the inept SCDP and faciliting its rebirth which led to an August sweep last year.  We owe her that much in Shelby County.

There are City elections this year, and I tend to believe that the Mayor will be re-elected, barring something unforeseen.  (NOTE: time to invoke the Hunter Demster Memorial Disclosure, in which I remind the 8-12 of you who do NOT know that my wife works in the Mayor's Office.  Take what ever caveats you need from that.)  No, Hunter Demster is not dead, it's just good for people to remember he is there, watching over us all.  :)

The Council elections will be a doozy, I am just going to sit back and wait for those.  I expect that there are incumbents who MAY not be re-elected, we will just have to wait and see what develops.  It should be a booming year for the local popcorn industry, I am just saying.

Speaking of breaking out the popcorn, the Council will once again attempt to fill three seats (that could have been filled in the November general election) next Tuesday, and we will see if they can get 7 votes for anyone in any of these seats.  Then they will elect a Chair for 2019; as long as it's not the person in the seat now, I am good.  Just saying, and note that these opinions are mine and mine alone, as they have been since 2004.

That's enough for now; the coming return of Ms. Sharp to the interwebs and the continued writing of Mr. Ross at Vibinc has inspired me to start again, I think it's time.  See you back here, and sooner than you think!


Monday, October 15, 2018

These recommendations are solidly on point, and I agree with all of them

Every election year, I am fortunate to receive a list of endorsements from my friends Paula Casey and Jocie Wurzburg, along with Dottie Jones, daughter of their late great friend Happy Jones.

Usually, there are a couple of endorsements that I don't agree with, but not this year.  I received this earlier, and I found them to be so on point that I asked if I may post them, as I concur with every bit of this, and ask that you consider these before you go vote.  By the way, Early Voting starts at ALL SITES this coming Wednesday.  Without further ado:

Dear Friends:

Early voting for this important election begins on Wednesday, Oct. 17. The first thing you need to do is make sure you are registered. It takes 30 seconds with this link:

https://www.vote.org/am-i-registered-to-vote/

Do this before you go to the polls. If you're not shown as registered and you know you are, call the Election Commission at 222-1200 and ask where is your registration. Be sure to take a photo ID to the polls. PLEASE VOTE EARLY. Early voting locations are at https://www.shelbyvote.com/sites/default/files/documents/elections/2018/11.06%20State%20General/Early%20Voting%20Locations%20for%20Web%20November%202018.pdf

Also, we are recommending you vote NO on all the ballot referenda which appear at the end of the ballot. Our buddy, Dan Conaway, explains it beautifully in his Daily Memphian column: https://www.dailymemphian.com/section/opiniondan-conaway/article/607/Conaway-Not-No-But-Hell-No

We recommend the following:

Governor - Karl Dean is the obvious choice. Medicaid expansion is his top priority and pre-school education. We need someone in the governor's office with governing experience. We need Karl because he understands how to govern. He also believes in separation of church and state unlike his opponent.

U.S. Senator - Phil Bredesen. He is far superior to his GOP opponent who opposes everything we believe in. Phil's opponent believes in snatching small terrified children from their panicking parents., many of whom were seeking asylum. Who believes in that? We don't. Vote for Phil Bredesen.

U.S. House -District 8 - Erika Stotts Pearson. We need to change the House and Erika is a much better candidate than the incumbent.

U.S. House District 9 - Steve Cohen, of course. He always makes us proud. 

Following are recommendations for the state legislature. Too many of our current legislators have been supportive of ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) far-right model legislation. We don't want our legislators joining ALEC; we want ALEC's legislative agenda opposed. 

TN Senate District 29 - Raumesh Akbari. Raumesh is a star.
TN Senate District 31 - Gabby Salinas. Gabby's healthcare background will be an asset.
TN Senate District 33 - Katrina Robinson. Vote for Katrina and thank her for running since she defeated an anti-choice ALEC-supporting incumbent Democrat. 
TN House District 83 - Danielle Schonbaum. She can take Craig Fitzhugh's place as the financial guru in the legislature.
TN House District 84 - Joe Towns, Jr.
TN House District 85 - Jesse Chism
TN House District 86 - Barbara Cooper
TN House District 87 - Karen Camper
TN House District 88 - Larry Miller
TN House District 90 - John DeBerry, Jr. He is unopposed, but we hope his constituents will let him know they are displeased with his conservative votes.
TN House District 91 - London P. Lamar
TN House District 93 - G.A. Hardaway, Jr.
TN House District 95 - Sanjeev Memula
TN House District 96 - Dwayne Thompson - He has done a great job and has been supportive of healthcare expansion. 
TN House District 97 - Allan Creasy - We can't say enough about this bright, committed Democratic candidate who would bring youth and energy to the legislature. 
TN House District 98 - Antonio Parkinson
TN House District 99 - David Cambron - We love Dave Cambron and everything he has done for progressive causes. 

Your vote is critically important. It is not hyperbolic to say we are saving our democracy. Please share this ballot with your friends and family. Encourage everyone you know to vote. - 

Jocelyn D. Wurzburg, Paula F. Casey, Dottie Jones