Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Making sense of today.

Rosalind Kurita has always had guts, but nobody knew she had a pair like that.

Yes, as I was reminded a while ago, it was her vote that ended John Wilder's 35-year reign as Lt. Governor and Senate Speaker of Tennessee. Chris Jackson has already attacked her at Volunteer Voters, and some of us returned fire.

It's tough for Tennessee Democrats right now to imagine the Goopers in control of the Senate for the first time in 140 years. However, as I noted at Rick's site earlier today, we haven't been in REAL control of the Senate since 1987 and the failed Democratic coup against Wilder. WILDER has controlled the Senate to his liking, whether it was to the liking of the activists of either party or not. He gave committee chairs to Goopers as well as Democrats, thwarting any real progressive agenda.

One of my best friends says that Democratic activists around the state need to TRIPLE their contributions just to make up what the lobbyists are going to throw at Gooper Senators instead of Democratic Senators. OK, fair enough; but maybe we also need to start pushing for public financing of elections.

Hell no, I know the Goopers won't go for that, but after they have whored themselves out enough, the public will realize the truth of elections; either we pay less now with public funding, or we pay MORE later for goodies given to corporations by lobbyists and Gooper legislators.

We also have to be prepared to win at least TWO more Senate seats in order to regain full control of the Senate, and we need to do this by the end of the 2010 elections, so that we can have control over redistricting. NEWS FLASH: We needed to do that ANYWAY. Then, we would be in position to elect a full-blown Democrat and not just someone holding power for power's sake.

Yes, it's going to hurt in the short-term, and it means that the Senate Democratic Caucus is going to have to raise money beyond lobbyists and turn to smaller donors, which means we are going to have to step it up to help them as well.

We start by keeping District 30 Democratic, and you know who I believe gives us the best chance to do that. Then, we have to fight like rabid badgers to win back some Senate seats around the state.

But first, we have to ACCEPT today's results, quit bitching and move forward.

We really don't have any choice in the matter.


Mad Kossack said...

I know a lot of people will be mad at Kurita, but I'm not sorry to see Wilder's long reign brought to an end. With Wilder out of the way, the Democrats can start rebuilding. The Senate was out of our hands anyway.

Good post.

--Mad Kossack

Anonymous said...

Intelligent commentary.

Desi Franklin said...

Excuse me, my friend, but I seem to recall another attitude you voiced just recently of urgent concern that Wilder not lose his post. Didn't you say THIS just a couple of weeks ago?

"Frankly, given the investigations into corruption that are taking place in this town right now, we cannot afford to have Spence be our nominee. The Republicans are DESPERATE to win District 30, as it will enable them to force out John Wilder as our Lt. Governor and replace him with Ron Ramsey, killing ANY Democratic legislative agenda. If something were to blow up about Spence after he had won the primary, the Democrats would be screwed STATEWIDE. That simply cannot be an option."

What you are saying now about Rosalind Kurita having integrity and balls and bully for her ---- this makes NO SENSE.

Now, I am supporting Marrero over Spence because she has been in the legislature, has the relationships and knowledge of how things work that Robert Spence doesn't have. Also, it is hard for me to see how, with a full time law practice in Memphis, he will be able to spend 4 days a week in Nashville for 4-5 months.

But I understood your recent reasoning to be that he wasn't as assured of winning, and we just could not afford that because... well, just read above.

Inconsistent? I'm waiting to understand how today's rationalization is not just that.

I asked on a post at WTL recently if there might not be an inadvertent or unconscious double standard among progressive bloggers in the treatment of black and white candidates. I think this sort of inconsistent logic is just fodder for the resentment African-Americans feel (as expressed vividly on the comments to WTL's post on the coming SCDP EC and chair elections). I am not suggesting that it is intentional on your or anyone else's part, but I am suggesting that we white bloggers (as well as white Memphians) would do well to try on another point of view and see how this illogic looks from that viewpoint.

Plus, weren't you rabidly against Jr. for being a traitor to his party? Now please tell me, what is she?

LeftWingCracker said...


Did YOU expect what happened today to happen? Neither did I, or anyone else for that matter.

We also don't know the reasoning she used, other than her comment that she voted her conscience.

Does this affect the Marrero race? Possibly.

So I am inconsistent because I won't stick a shiv in Rosalind's back? Hardly; besides, she's had one of them stuck in her back before, sometime last spring.

I am concerned, too, about what is going to happen in the State Senate now that Wilder is gone. I would be even more concerned if the Mayor's hand-picked fellow, Spence, were our nominee.

Surely you're not saying that I am reflexively against African-Americans in my district? Del Gill will be happy that you would be joining him in that position.

Not, of course, that you are.

As for Junior, well, let's see.

Did Rosalind go on Fox News and MSNBC and attack her own party for opposing Bush and for taking progressive positions?

No. That was Junior.

Did Rosalind openly support an independent for the District 9 seat, which is usually Democratic?

No. That was Junior.

Did Rosalind try to force out all opposition in the Senate Primary, or have others do it for her?

No. That was Junior.

The two are NOT comparable.

While I am STILL nervous about today, and about the fact that I am one of the few Democrats defending her actions, I am prepared to move on, because we have no choice in the matter.

Peace. Out.

Freedonian said...

So I am inconsistent because I won't stick a shiv in Rosalind's back?

Of course not. You'll be far too busy pulling hers out of your back.

She betrayed you, and she betrayed every other liberal blogger that treated her like she was the second coming because her last name wasn't Ford.

Your rationalization of what she did only holds water if you buy into the notion that the only way to alleviate a stain on the carpet is to burn the house down.

This isn't about Wilder. This is about the fact that she helped give away every chairmanship we have in the TN state senate. If this was some conscientious thing to get rid of Wilder, then she should have made a move to that effect when we actually had a majority. Doing it when we're in the minority is either stupid or mutinous, depending on what you believe about her. And I don't believe she's stupid.

I also don't buy for a moment the notion that this was some sort of payback for the US senate primary. Please. She didn't vote with us that often before. Not that she didn't try to pander to us--- That was the REAL difference between her and Ford. Ford didn't pretend to care what we wanted.

I met some people one night that were trying to talk me up on the Kurita campaign. Goodhearted, well intentioned people. Two of them were a gay couple that were trying to explain to me why she wasn't one of the three to vote against the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, yet told them she supported their rights to marry. "She said she didn't know what she was voting for", one of them told me.

I was taken aback. "Excuse me? Isn't it fairly self-explanatory? Even if you believe that, don't ever say it--- Either she votes without knowing what she's voting on, or she's not levelling with you."

Carpet and drapes did not match on this issue, and it wasn't the only one.

I can understand your loathing of Ford. I can't say his name without throwing up in my mouth a little.

But it led you to a fundamental mistake, my brother--- You assumed that the enemy of your enemy was your friend. And that's just not the case.

Did Rosalind openly support an independent for the District 9 seat, which is usually Democratic?

No. She supported a Republican for Lieutenant Governor. In doing so, she helped give away the committee chairs we held only moments after agreeing during caucus to stand with the party.

We had two Republicrats in that primary. One showed her true colors today.

LeftWingCracker said...

Great piece of writing, even if I don't necessarily agree with all of it.

If this wasn't a payback, then what was it? She faces re-election to District 22 in 2008, was this preparation for switching parties or retirement, or what?

All she has said is that she has voted her conscience, and at some point, she WILL have to elaborate on that.

John Harvey said...

It was time for John Wilder to be replaced, and Ron Ramsey seems like a good guy. After all, there is a Republican majority. Y'all should be happy you were able to keep control as long as you did.

Freedonian said...

Thank you, my friend. I had intended to say the same about your post, and simply forgot.

This wasn't payback--- Unless payback is preemptive. The fundamental difference between her and Harold is that she believes in giving handjobs to the activist wing of the party. She pretends to give a damn what we care about. He doesn't.

The story I gave you--- Do you think she was the one senator in the room that didn't know that a constitutional ban on gay marriage would ban gay marriage? It's preposterous. She voted the conservative agenda, and when she was presented with the prospect of building some support in the gay community, she wanted to find a way to play it off. In other parlance, she was against it before she was for it. When her campaign was sinking and she had the chance to drum up a pocket of support with a demographic that felt betrayed by Harold Ford, she became remarkably more liberal than she was when she cast her vote.

I've heard "voting my conscience" before. Harold used to say it when he broke ranks too. Lieberman is lauded by rightwingers as a "man of conscience" when he votes against his party too. It's become a buzzword now, like "states' rights". It means "The people who brought me to the dance should bend over right about now".

But let's assume the best case scenario regarding this payback thing--- Let's assume you're right, and this is her way of showing that she has some weight to throw around, and that the party better not screw with ehr again.

Does that make it better in some way? In a bit of childish pique, she throws away the few leadership positions we had in the senate? How statesmanlike is that?

Desi Franklin said...

Freedonian said it so well, I can't add anything to that.

Sorry to bitch slap you, LWC. Of course, I am not suggesting and don't mean you are "reflexively against African-Americans in [your] district." Or, certainly, purposefully against them either.

But mindful of the resentments and attitudes expresed by many local African-American Democrats that whites don't support black Democratic candidates (see August elections), I am simply pointing out that perception can matter more than reality sometimes - as I well know from the reaction to my support of certain judges over others last July. I have good reasons - I'm sure you do too, but things such as this keep rifts open and/or widen them.

Let me explain - we have support for Kurita (white) over Ford (black whether he wants people to forget it or not) because he's a traitor to the party. Then we have support for Gallagher (white) over Spence (black) on the basis that we must not lose Wilder (party loyalty). Then Kevin drops out and the support shifts to Marrero (white), same reason. Then, Kurita (white) kills the Wilder vote (traitor to the party) but she's not criticized - she's lauded. And the reason given for not supporting Spence is gone, but it's still Marrero with no new explanation.

What I am saying is the appearance of something, or the perception of it, can be all that matters, regardless of your intent. And it just seems to me that lack of awareness of other such viewpoints by white progressives is a problem.

polar donkey said...

Damn LWC. People are hopping mad and make it seem like you told Kurita to vote for Ramsey. Oh well, Kurita and Jr both suck.

Geting back to the fact race plays in local elections. It seems that Cohen's election has changed the dynamics of races with black and white candidates. Anybody still think Chumney or any other white candidate can be elected mayor this year?

Brassmask said...

Coming from a sort of "outsider" point of view, let me just say that I couldn't pick Wilder out of a line-up but I do know that it can't be a good thing for someone to hold an office for more than 30 years.

On the whole Kurita issue, for myself, I never felt that she was a liberal and my reasoning for talking her up last year was that she appeared honest. I always had it in my mind that she was more conservative than I'd like but my understanding was the she was big on education and that can't be bad.

The other reason I talked her up was because she was so utterly undermined by the DSCC elitists who think they know best. And when that happened to her, she didn't go around whining about it.

As for her vote, I couldn't care less. Someone already confirmed for me that there was little difference between the D's and R's in Nashville so new blood is new blood and that just opens the door a little wider for liberals in TN.

This idea that Kurita is somehow a traitor to liberal bloggers is nonsense. This liberal blogger never thought that Kurita was liberal and I can't remember anyone saying that she was.

What I seem to remember was that most of us said that she was more conservative than we'd like but at least she was honest about her stances and wasn't trying to out-FOX (news) everybody else or appealing to the negative in the right like Jr who I think we all agree is about as worthless as they come.

The LWC consistency issue is kind of a put on, Desi. I would think that you know very well that one set of circumstances doesn't always play the same way in another set. Kurita's vote negates LWC's concerns about District 30.

Brassmask said...

Stating over and over that "race matters" is a surefire way to make sure that it ALWAYS matters, when you know you don't want it to and that it shouldn't.

This race thing is just bullshit. It is smokescreen bullshit. The only way to stop people from going down this bullshit rabbithole is to plug it up.

If someone wants to get support from a group, then god damn it go out and Smith Barney that support. Freaking EARN IT. Demanding support simply on the basis of the letter behind your name is laziness. And demanding it based simply on the color of your skin is extortion.

I couldn't care less if anyone calls me a racist for not supporting Harold Ford Jr. The guy was a crap candidate and had no valid claim on being called a Democrat, let alone on my vote.

As far as I'm concerned, there are only Memphians. If they're black, white, hispanic, asian or whatever is no concern to me. And anyone who can't get to that in the Democratic Party should be ignored.

The race card is for people who can't be bothered to compromise. Crying racism is something that Karl Rove would do.

This is why I am saying that anyone can win the mayoral office in Memphis next year if that person presents a valid plan for meeting the basic needs that all Memphians (read that as human beings who happen to live in Memphis, TN) share. When asked about race, the candidate should state that the only race in Memphis that matters is the Human race.

yellow dog dem said...

In reading the comments in this thread I find it curious that the support of the blogging community seems to not fully appreciate the impact of the last couple of years will have on Shelby County in the State Senate. We have lost some of the most influential representation that body has ever known with the departures of John Ford, Steve Cohen, Roscoe Dixon, Curtis Person and Katherine Bowers. There will be a tremendous leadership vacuum impacting the Senate as well as for the interest of Memphis and Shelby County. These losses could potentially severely damage how state resources are funneled here.

I mention these things because the bases being offered for support of Marrero seem a bit illogical. Robert Spence although never having served in the legislature is one the most respected attorneys in this state. He has twenty (20) years of experience practicing law at all levels in the courts of Tennessee. He has a sterling reputation except in those quarters where individuals have personal axes to grind or hidden agendas to put forward.

Desi talked about the perception of African Americans that whites will not support the Democratic party standard bearer when that person is black. Well let me tell you from a yellow dog Democrat who also happens to be African American the perception is true whether well founded or not. In this current District 30 campaign no focus is being placed on the credentials of the candidates in any of the blogs I am following. Yes, Marrero is in the legislature but how much influence will she wield on behalf of Shelby County and the state. Someone tell me does Marrero have a high school diploma and if so does she have a college degree? Are these things totally irrelevant?

Spence having started his law practice after serving the City long enough to EARN retirement as City Attorney under the policy as constructed at the time, has the experience, education and public policy skills needed to immediately begin representing Memphis as the kind of leader who will have make a significant contribution to the Senate right away. He has given due consideration to how he will manage his law practice while in Nashville. He is currently making arrangements with his law partner, staff associates and family if elected to remotely address any issues that may arise.

In spite of all the progressive liberal rhetoric spouted here there appears to be some closed minds when it comes down to choice. Spence is far and away the most qualified candidate in this race and an unbiased examination of the credentials of both active candidates on the ballot reveals that assessment to be right on target.

LeftWingCracker said...


I agree that the lost of nearly 130 of legislative experience is going to hurt us drastically in the Ledge, and I have mentioned it on this blog.

I have no doubt that Robert Spence has worked hard at his practice, has worked in public service and has achieved academic success as well.

That it hardly the issue. The examination of his record as a City Attorney, with his lack of oversight on the FedExForum Garage issue, combined with the appearance of impropriety in the attainment of the Lottery contract by his newly-founded firm, THAT is what gives me pause about Robert Spence. That, and his closeness to Mayor Herenton, whom I am hoping is replaced this year.

I am certain that I would find him an amiable fellow who is knowledgeable. However, his choices and decisions as a public servant are problematic, and that is how one should judge political candidates.

Marrero, on the other hand, has made no such errors in her time in the Ledge, to my knowledge.

I question not his acheivements, but his decisions as a public servant, and that is my right as a voter in District 30.

Are there African-Americans I would have supported for this District? Of course. They didn't file, Spence did.

LeftWingCracker said...

In addition, YDD, has Mr. spence served on a legislative body in the past? I am not aware of it.

Representative Marrero has; so what was that again about qualifications?

yellow dog dem 2 said...

LWC, believe it or not, Spence is perceived to have been one of the most influential and successful City Attorney's the City of Memphis has ever had. Ask any of the lawyers who worked for him. Ask the City Council members. Ask the CAO at the time Rick Masson. That is exactly what you will hear.

You talk about his judgment relative to the forum issue and his "lack of oversight". Actual facts of that situation do not bear out your allegation. There was involvement by every level of government in the decision making associated with the FedEx Forum. Lawyers from every level of government local, state and federal reviewed all the issues including the garage decision. There have been no credible charges ethical or otherwise directed at Spence. Yes people asked questions, but whatever happened to all the investigations. They all fell flat because there was no substance to the charges in the first place. As it relates to the money forgone by the City Robert had nothing to do with that it was a decision made by the current City Attorney Sara Hall. As far as the lottery business is concerned, there was an open opportunity he pursued it and was awarded the business. Every decision was made in public in a transparent process. Spence is not accused any wrong doing or even a lapse in judgment.

As far as his relationship with the mayor goes, sure he and the mayor are friends. He worked for him a number of years, but Robert is his own man. He has made a successful career for himself by making good choices and doing the right thing of his own volition. Nobody controls Robert but Robert.

You asked if Mr. Spence has served on any legislative bodies, well, you know the answer to that question is he has not. However, he has served as the Director of the Law Division for city government, managing partner of one of the City's largest law firms, on any number of high profile Boards of Directors in the City, i.e. the BioWorks board and the Liberty Bowl board and is now the principle in his own full service law practice. I think those things count for something.

Okay, I've answered your questions; now take the time to answer mine. Do you know if Marrero has a high school diploma, and if so, does she have a college degree. I ask these things because during the campaign for the 9th District Congressional seat there was much made by Congressman Cohen of the fact that Jake Ford did not have the credentials to make him a credible candidate. Now, however, he can throw his support behind a candidate with questionable academic credentials.

BTW, the word is that Marrero only has a GED and some college. Is there any truth to this rumor? LWC or any of the other posters in this thread, please, please reply.

LeftWingCracker said...

Ahem. From the Memphis flyer of July 12:

Robert Spence was city attorney until 2004. Spence suggested that the city could not profit from the garage, but the Grizzlies could. The audit doesn't support that view. Spence also told auditors that David Bennett, the former director of the PBA who is now dead, was responsible for executing an operating agreement for the garage with the federal agency.

But Charles Carpenter, the attorney who succeeded Bennett, said the PBA had no role in garage operations and its job was merely to "build it." Carpenter, who ran Herenton's 1991 mayoral campaign and has earned hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees for city business, assured City Council members last November that the city had "little or no exposure" if money had to be paid back for the parking garage. In June, Carpenter told the council that "for TDOT to say someone duped them" is inaccurate.

An engineer interviewed by auditors said Bennett ordered schematics or rough drawings to be used only at meetings and not for actual construction because they differed from the final drawings. Auditors called this "misrepresentation."

Sara Hall, the current city attorney, told council members last month she could not help them much because the garage was not built on her watch. But last November, Hall told a council committee she had reviewed Bennett's records "in detail."

Here's the link if you don't believe me:


yellow dog dem said...

I happened to have read the Flyer article you posted at the time it was published. So nothing in your reply is new information. It does, however, do more to support my position than yours. There was no wrong doing on the part of Robert Spence, no lapses in judgment and no suggestion has been made that there was.

I am still waiting for the answers to the questions I pose pertaining to Rep. Marrero. Why won't you answer those directly?

Something else I have heard that Congressman Cohen is now backing away from his public support. Have you heard any of this? The word is he's a little concerned for his own well being and has decided to reduce his open involvement with Rep. Marrero.

You and Freedonian have made all these charges against Robert and have voiced such vocal support for Marrero, why can't you supply answers to those questions I pose. Please reply directly. Don't let me down answer the questions.

LeftWingCracker said...

I'm checking on the answer to the questions.

Given, however, that Beverly is a 60-somethng year-old woman who has raised a family, been a successful businesswoman, been involved in MIDTOWN democratic politics for 30 years and has legislative experience Mr. Spence does NOT, I hard;y would see the difference that it would make.

to compare her to Jake Ford, who would have NOTHING were it not for his father, and was trying to run for an office that he would not be able to handle, to an accomplished mother, businesswoman and legislator like Marrero is nothing short of an insult.

You implied that The Garage fiasco, which cost the taxpayers of the City of Memphis $6 MILLION, went down on Sara Hall's watch, when the flyer piece PROVED that Spence oversaw it. That is NOT something to recommend him, and the voters of District 30 will not take kindly to it.

What else ya got?

yellow dog dem said...

You have misunderstood my comment about the garage matter. Yes, the contracts were executed while Spence was City Attorney. What I am saying is that the decision to allow the City to forego the $6 million dollars was made by Sara Hall not Robert Spence. The current City Attorney affectionately known as "Settling Sara" did what she routinely does and refuse to fight but simply settled the matter as usual.

But I digress, I was not comparing Marrero to Jake Ford, who I have little affection for, but I was comparing the circumstance of Marrero's educational background to Robert's which is far superior. Further, I was pointing out the irony in the attack on Jake by Senator Cohen for not having a HS Diploma and his support for Marrero who also is said not to have one.

The fact Robert has never been in a legislative body seems to be the controlling issue for you now that I have debunked all the ethics myths you put forward, and the fact Marrero has little formal education is irrelevant. You seem a little disingenuous in your support for her. Are you sure there is not some other basis you are not admitting? Because you seem to be saying Marrero’s credential as what you say is a “successful businesswoman (What business?), been involved in MIDTOWN democratic politics for 30 years and has legislative experience” makes her the better choice over a man who has served as the Director of the Law Division for city government, managing partner of one of the City's best known law firms, on any number of high profile Boards of Directors in the City, i.e. the BioWorks board and the Liberty Bowl board and is now the principle in his own full service law practice. Can that be your position? Oh yeah now it boils down to what “legislative experience.” LOL

Don’t forget to come here with the answers once you find out. I’ll be watching. I just love progressive people.

LeftWingCracker said...

"Yes, the contracts were executed while Spence was City Attorney."

Thank you, my point exactly. It was his failure to properly oversee them and ensure that it would NOT place the City in the position of losing $6 Million that I question. Sara Hall is not running for the Senate, Mr. Spence IS.

What good is it for Mr. Spence to have had all this experience when it seems as though he has made some major bumbles. Let us hope that he has learned from these mistakes, because the Tennessee Lottery would not be so forgiving.

Also, having worked for THIS Administration doesn't exactly speak well for him. Other that Gale Jones Carson, Bob Brame and Herman Morris at MLGW, there's not been a lot to crow about.

The question is not what has State Government done for you, but what has Robert Spence done for you other than get through college and law school and be friends with the Mayor?

LeftWingCracker said...

also, to clarify, I'm not questioning his ethics, I question his competency.

yellow dog dem said...

You say your are not questioning Robert's ethics, but that is exactly what you have done along with Freedonian. Questioning his ethics is what caused me to go on this crusade in his behalf. Okay, so you have raised questions of competency as well, but basis of your claims are innuendo not fact.

"Major bumbles" why was he not terminated or charged with a crime? Look, I have already mentioned that Robert was not the sole party involved in decisions affecting the construction of FedEx Forum. Each City decision made by a number of parties not Robert alone was overseen by both state and federal authorities. There is no way he should be blamed for what resulted, although I would submit not untoward did result except a decision by Sara to forego the $6 million.

I don't believe you! Now he should never have taken the job as City Attorney. PLEASE! Look I'm going to surrender to you because your arguments are baseless and you are not addressing those issues I raise pertaining to Marrero or providing any substance in your attacks on Robert.

Tell me this you are a good "leftwinger", right? If Robert is the nominee will you work to have him elected? I can say in good conscience, if Marrero wins I will support and donate to her candidacy.

LeftWingCracker said...

Well, I will agree to disagree, and I will confirm that I will endorse and support (and give a check to) the nominee of our Party for District 30.

Should Spence win, it would be the THIRD different Democratic candidate to whom I would have contributed.