Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shelby County Legislators to Hold Community Meeting on December 29 at IBEW

Tennessee State Seal
Shelby County Democratic 
Legislative Caucus

Legislative Plaza | Nashville TN 37243 |  615.741.2134

Contact: Zak Kelley
Shelby County Legislators to Hold Community Meeting
Will focus on increasing citizen engagement
Memphis, TN: The Shelby County Democratic Legislative Caucus announced today that they will hold a Community Information Session on Monday, December 29th 12:00pm at the IBEW building 1870 Madison Avenue.

“This meeting is our attempt to engage people in the legislative process,” said district 86 State Representative Barbara Cooper, chair of the SCDLC. “We have another session starting next month in Nashville. We’ll be working on Medicaid expansion, voting rights and more jobs for our people. Our community needs to be engaged in this process and we’re hopeful this meeting can help us toward that goal.”

The SCDLC is comprised of the Democratic legislators who represent Memphis in the Tennessee General Assembly. They include Sen. Lee Harris, Sen. Sara Kyle & Sen. Reginald Tate, as well as Rep. Barbara Cooper, Rep. Raumesh Akbari, Rep. Karen Camper, Rep. John DeBerry, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, Rep. Larry Miller, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, Rep. Joe Towns & Rep. Johnnie Turner. All are scheduled to be in attendance.

“For us to be effective in Nashville, we need the community rallied behind our goals. This is the first of many meetings and I look forward to seeing our constituents after the holiday,” said Cooper.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Time to show your hand, gentlemen

Well, as we all know now, last week, during the City Council meeting, Mayor Wharton dropped the bomb that he had privately negotiated a settlement to the $57 Million that the City has apparently owed MCS/SCS for maintenance of effort.

As members of the Council, particularly Shea Flinn, had been involved in mediation discussions with SCS that had been under a confidentiality agreement, this did not sit well with the Council at all.  Flinn and Kemp Conrad reminded the Mayor that the Council still had to approve funding for this settlement and indicated that their approval was not likely to occur.

I understand that; they believe that the City has a legitimate counterclaim that would more than offset the $57 million.  However, if I may say so, they have done a poor job of making their case to the public, and this has allowed Wharton, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson and the SCS Board to make them look like pikers who are stealing from the schoolchildren of the County.

When I have asked about this, I am told that this is under a confidentiality agreement and they can't really talk about it.  Gentlemen, it's too late for that now; clearly Hopson and the Board have not held to that agreement in settling directly with the Mayor.  There is now no reason for you to do so either.

In poker terms, Mayor Wharton has just gone all in and he wants to see if you will fade him or fold your cards.  Certainly, you can vote to not fund that settlement.  However, you will be made to look like the "designated a-holes" of the County, as Councilor Flinn put it on Drake & Zeke's WXMX-FM morning show last Wednesday.  You may be happy with that; as someone who believes you may well have a point with your counterclaim, I am not.

It's time to put up or shut up here.  The confidentiality agreement is in tatters and this has gone from a private negotiation to a political matter, and the politics of this situation REQUIRE that you make your case to the citizenry of the City.  This is no longer about business; people are TIRED that this negotiation has drug out for years.  It is time for resolution, and that is why you have to take your case to the public.

Gentlemen, if you refuse to make your case to the public, people are going to come to the conclusion that you really don't have one.  That is not good for any of the parties involved.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Southern Democrats: Down, Not Dead

That's the title of the Viewpoint piece that I wrote for the Flyer this week, which you can find right here.  Thanks to Jackson Baker for allowing me to write this column about where we are and where we need to go from here.