Thursday, March 26, 2009
Yes, we do have a hot mess in Shelby County.
In case you haven't been following the situation, the SCDP is headed for thermonuclear destruction yet again with the Convention, to be held Saturday at noon at Airways Middle School.
Brad Watkins of West Tennessee Liberal posted a piece by Dwayne Thompson, a Turner supporter (full disclosure, a friend of mine for over 30 years, I walked precincts for him in 1978) regarding the issue of just how many ExecCom positions are to be elected Saturday. The contention is that there is a cap on the number of seats per district at five. I don't remember a cap, but I've been gone 6 years from the ExecCom.
The argument by Jay Bailey supporters is that it violates Baker V. Carr, the landmark Supreme Court decision on One Man, One Vote. They note that it disenfranchises state House Districts, from which ExecCom members are elected, that had record turnouts in 2008, to the effect that districts that turned out 14,000 voters (the threshold for 5 seats) would have the same number of seats as those that turned out 29, 000 (using the new-seat-per-3000-voter standard, this would be 10 seats).
After frustration with the current SCDP ExecCom's inability to deal with the situation, Eddie Jones took his argument to the TNDP's County Development Committee, on which Jay Bailey sits, but Bailey recused himself at the final vote, which directed the local ExecCom to conform to the state rule, and which upheld the higher numbers. This increased the total number of seats from 71 to 83.
I'm going to be blunt with you: I wouldn't vote for either candidate because I have reservations about Turner's experience and Bailey's ability to follow up and get the things done he says he will do if elected.
However, after reviewing the facts of the situation, regardless of who you would support, there is only one conclusion: on the procedural issue, the Bailey camp is correct. If the SCDP ignores the TNDP, they will have the results of this Saturday's election tossed out, and they could either have a complete re-do of the Caucuses and Convention (too expensive, and neither party has the funds to pull that off right now) or order the delegates from the affected House Districts to come back and elect additional members, tossing out the Chair election with only 71 seats.
Process is process, and, like it or not, the SCDP has to do what the TNDP tells it to do, since the SCDP voted during the 2001-2003 term to abandon its charter and to align its bylaws with the state's bylaws (again, full disclosure - I was on the committee at that time and I voted to do this).
This should have been hashed out back in December, once the numbers were crunched from the 2008 election. It wasn't, and Armageddon is at hand yet again.
This is NOT about Bailey vs. Turner; I don't think either can lead us out of the wilderness. This is about following the bylaws and the rules, and Bailey's position is the procedurally correct one.