Monday, December 14, 2015

Well, THAT was great while it lasted.

Jackson Baker and Bill Dries, looks like it's all on you again.

Kyle Veazey, who upon becoming political editor of the Commercial Appeal, coordinated with Ryan Poe and Linda Moore to revitalize political and governmental coverage there in a way not seen since Terry Keeter was alive, stunned everyone today with his announcement that he was resigning to work in the communications office of new Mayor Jim Strickland.

He made the CA readable again for something besides sports coverage and David Waters, and his FIRST WORD column was a must read for everyone who cares about politics and government not just in the city, but the region as well.  I am certain it was a good offer for him to leave, but it's hard not to think that the recent acquisition of the CA (and Knoxville News-Sentinel) by Gannett had some part in his decision.

Gannett, who does for journalism what D-Con does for cockroaches, made all of the staff at the TENNESSEAN re-apply for their jobs in creating the "NEWSROOM OF THE FUTURE", which, in my opinion, has made the paper unreadable, Joey Garrison excepted.  Transforming what had become a good paper under Journal News Group, after years of neglect from Scripps, into USA TODAY - Memphis edition, is nothing short of disheartening for those of us who love real journalism.  I really feel for Ryan Poe and Linda Moore, who have done great work on the city and county beats, and hope that the incoming Gannetteers will allow them to do their jobs as they have done them.

Kyle, congratulations, but damn, I am going to miss FIRST WORD.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

OK, It's December 1, let's start the Holiday season properly.

More about the new Strickland administration later, it's time for the only Christmas song that makes me FEEL like Christmas:

I'm STILL NOT LISTENING to WRVR until after December 26.


Friday, November 06, 2015

Early Voting in the Satellites Starts TODAY for the runoffs, GO VOTE!!!!

First, here are the locations, not as many as in the general election:

Abundant Grace 1574 Shelby Drive, 38116
Agri-Center International 7777 Walnut Grove Rd., 38120
Anointed Temple of Praise 3939 Riverdale Rd., 38141
Berclair Church of Christ 4536 Summer Ave., 28122
Dave Wells Community Center 915 Chelsea Ave., 38107
Glenview Community Center 1141 S. Barksdale St. 38114
Greater Middle Baptist Church 4982 Knight Arnold Rd. 38118
 White Station Church of Christ 1106 Colonial Rd., 38117

 Beginning Friday, November 6, 2015 and ending Saturday, November 14, 2015
Weekdays 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturdays, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM
Closed Wednesday, November 11, 2015 in observance of Veteran’s Day

I am supporting Dan Springer in the District 5 runoff because I believe he has the actual governmental experience to make a positive difference for our district.  Having gotten to know him, I know he has the work ethic and the know-how to do the right thing, and he will represent EVERY area of District 5.  I hope that if you live in 5, you will vote for him.  He is also supported by erstwhile candidate Mary Wilder as well.

I attended a gathering for him this evening in Midtown, and Dan took questions and made a great speech about what he sees for the future of the city.  He was patient and listened and gave solid answers to the crowd gathered at the home of Sutton and Kerry Hayes.  Kerry is the one who introduced me to Dan.  Again, we have a short period of time to make a big difference, and I ask for your vote for Dan Springer for District 5!

Now to the other races.......

If you live in 2, Rachel Knox would be a great choice for Cordova and the far eastern parts of the city.  Nothing against Frank Colvett, he is a nice guy, but I believe Rachel has the fire needed for the changes that must be made in the city.

District 3, I lean toward Keith Williams because I believe labor needs a spot at the table, but Patrice Jordan Robinson is a pretty good candidate and is a former MCS Board member.

District 4, if I had a vote, it would go to Jamita Swearengen.

District 7, I have no recommendation, it's your call.

The Council races are important because they will be working with the Mayor-elect Jim Strickland to attack the problems that this city faces.  Please go check out these candidates,get off your butt and VOTE!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Dan Springer for District 5

Well, as I am fond of saying, he might not have been my first choice, but he is far from the worst choice for District 5.

I supported John Marek for this seat, and was disappointed that he didn't make the runoff, I think he would have, and will be when he chooses to run for another office, an outstanding public servant.

This leaves us with 28-year-old Worth Morgan, and 32-year-old Dan Springer.  After meeting with Dan this past week, I have decided to support him in the runoff for City Council.  Yes, he has more GOP ties than I am normally comfortable with, but I figure Mayor Luttrell and DAG Amy Weirich can't get EVERYTHING wrong!

Dan has governmental experience, having worked for Senator Bob Corker and Shelby County Government.  Unlike many of his GOP brethren, Dan believes in making government WORK and FUNCTION, and he understands that poverty is one of the city's biggest issues.  He understands that we have to make sure that our police and firefighters receive what they need to keep our neighborhoods safe.  Frankly, he didn't sound like the crazies you see on Fox News, and that's why I am supporting him for District 5.  I am sure Morgan is a nice young man, but he needs to go out and get more experience.

Springer, however, is not too old for the job either, as it will take a lot of energy working on the issues that this city and region face.  As you have noticed if you have read this blog this year, Jon and I have supported younger people for these offices, and we need fresh eyes and new energy.

For me, of the two remaining candidates, Dan Springer is the person who is most likely to represent this district as it needs to be represented.  Mary Wilder has also asked that you consider Dan, and I hope that you will as well.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

From Commissioner Norma Lester, your EV Sites for runoffs in Districts 2,3,4,5 and 7

Shelby County Election Commission
( Family, Friends & Constituents)

Election Commissioner Norma Lester

Early Voting for November 19th Run Off will be as follows:

Downtown Office October 30th thru November 14 from 10-4PM 

Satellite Offices from November 6th thru November 14 10-7PM weekdays and 10-4 PMSaturday.  Offices will be closed November 11th in Observance of Veteran's Day

Location of Satellite Offices:

Abundant Grace..........1574 Shelby Dr

Agri-Center.........7777 Walnut Grove

Anointed Temple of Praise....3939 Riverdale Rd

Berclair Curch of Christ...4536 Summer Ave

Dave Wells Community Ctr....915 Chelsea

Glenview Community Center....1141 S. Barksdale

Greater Middle Baptist Church...4982 Knight Arnold

White Station Church of Christ...1106 Colonial

In order to comply with time frame for Ballot Approval, Certification of October 8th election was rescheduled from Oct 26 to this Friday Oct 23 @ noonPlease note changes for anyone planning to attend. As always I welcome and encourage attendance!

Your Election Commissioner
Norma Lester

Monday, October 12, 2015

I got yer Debate Watch Parties RIGHT HERE

Welcome all of you coming over from FIRST WORD.  Many thanks to Kyle Veazey for the link love!

First, for all you BERNIE SANDERS supporters (YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!), we have this missive from Laura Coleman Noeth:
Hey folks, be sure to join us Tuesday at 6:30 Democratic debate-watching party. It will be upstairs at Local in Overton Square. There will be fun things happening during the commercials and stimulating conversation and information throughout. Oh yea, it's sponsored by your local Bernie Sanders supporters. $5 admission goes toward local campaign expenses.
For those of you supporting what's-her-name that used to be a Senator, (just kidding! nudge-nudge-wink-wink), the Rincon Strategy Firm in Overton Square COOPER YOUNG is the place for you:

Debate Watch Party
RSF Office
902 S. Cooper (Lounge)
Oct 13th
Starts at 6:30 – Debate at 8:00

Join us for Bar B Q and Beverages
Hillary for America - Official Event
                         Call 901-830-3283 for info

Undecided AND a Millennial?  Then London Lamar has just the place for you, which also serves to raise support for the runoff campaign of our favorite District 2 candidate, Rachel Knox:

October 13 7-9 pm 

Bluefin Restaurant
135 S Main St, Memphis, Tennessee 38103

Join Millennials from across Memphis who are gathering to watch the first Democratic Presidential Debate by CNN in support of Rachel Knox. Rachel is a millennial who made it to the Memphis Municipal Run-off Election 2015; still giving us an opportunity to elect a millennial to Memphis City Council. 

I encourage everyone to come by to watch the debate and meet Rachel. 

There is no cost to attend but we are asking for donation to Rachel's Campaign. 

Hope to see you all there!

OK Then, pick one.  Or sit home and watch it.  Or watch the Cubs finish off the Cardinals in the NLDS!  BWAHAHAHAHA!

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Mayor Elect Jim Strickland



Just WOW!!!

Several months ago, I said it was time for a change and I was correct.

He and his campaign staff ran a tremendous campaign,

I disagree with him on his crime policy to a large extent.

However, I supported him for two main reasons.

He is not afraid to enact change on the status quo AND he is willing to change.

We have been under the decaying ruins of the Herenton regime for the last 16 years.  If Herenton had left in 1999 or even in 2003, there would have been opportunities to keep the cronyism down.

Too often in the last 12 years, especially in the last 6, Mayor Wharton had opportunities to set a different path as County and then City Mayor and he did not.  This is what helped bring him down.  When people that used to be your base vote for someone else (Harold Collins and Mike WIlliams and, yes, Strickland) because they have lost faith in your ability to help them, then it is over for you.

Jim has a lot of work to do.  He has priorities beyond crime and blight.

First, we need a better education policy.  Prepare our students to get better paying jobs and be qualified for good, high paying jobs, not the $9 or $10 jobs.  Outsourcing to private education and charters is not working.  The i-Zone isn't great, but it is better.  Local control of local schools.  Finally, have your crime policy towards youth offenders make it easy for expungement and options other than fines and fees.  Many of the people caught up in this cannot pay this and this will continue the cycle of poverty.

Second, you must reform the Memphis Animal Shelter.  Appoint a new director of the shelter and a new director above them.  Get someone new and young who will think outside of the box on ways to change it.  Stay away from the cronyism that has run rampant there.

Third, enact CLERB and ensure that it is strong.  We want all of our public servants to be held accountable.

Fourth, engage your opponents.  Remember, you have a mandate, but it is fragile one.

All said, CONGRATS!!!!!!  Enjoy tonight, for tomorrow you begin the transition.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The best move the SCDP can make RIGHT NOW.

At least, until they can rebuild.  


Memphis, TN, September 22, 2015– The Shelby County Democratic Party wishes to reiterate that it has not and will not endorse candidates in the upcoming local elections.
There are several groups and individuals that distribute ballots and or publish ballots in exchange for financial consideration by candidates. They imply endorsement by the Shelby County Democratic Party. Absolutely none of these legitimately speak for the Shelby County Democratic Party.
Note: Early Voting is going on now.
·         Early Voting ends October 3rd.
·         Election Day is October 8th.
Recommendations of the Shelby County Democratic Party:
·         Vote early at any of the Early Voting Locations listed at This is important because your voting location may have changed and problems can be resolved more easily during early voting
·         If you cannot vote early, please visit and use the Precinct Locator to make sure of your voting location for Election Day.

TNDP: DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz to be Keynote Speaker for Jackson Day on Friday, October 23

Nashville, Tenn. (September 21, 2015) – The Tennessee Democratic Party is pleased to announce that Democratic National Committee Chair and Florida Congresswoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Jackson Day Dinner.
“Tennessee Democrats are so pleased to welcome Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz to Nashville,” said Mary Mancini, Chair of the TNDP. “Tennessee will be an important state for Democrats in the upcoming year and we are excited to hear her plans to help turn Tennessee blue again and for her to see how energized and determined we are to move our party forward.”
“I’m thrilled to join Democrats in the Volunteer State to celebrate their hard work and to chart a path forward for Democrats not only in Tennessee, but across the South and across the country” said DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz.  “While Democrats are talking about strengthening the middle class and their plans to move the country forward, Republicans are promising to take us backward to the failed, trickle down policies of the past. Our candidates in Tennessee will continue to make that contrast clear.”
The Jackson Day Dinner, the TNDP’s largest fundraiser, will take place at 7:00 p.m., Friday, October 23, at OZ Arts Nashville, 6172 Cockrill Bend Circle, Nashville, TN 37209.
Wasserman Schultz, who has been Chair of the Democratic Party since 2011, is a strong leader in the House and an effective chairwoman for the Democratic Party. She was elected to Congress in 2004 and represents Florida’s 23rd Congressional District.
OZ Arts Nashville is the former CAO Cigars headquarters transformed by the Ozgener Family into a contemporary performance & installation space and event center.
To purchase tickets to Jackson Day, visit

Monday, September 21, 2015

Strickland for Mayor-Concerns I have

I have serious and severe issues with the Jim Strickland 2015 campaign and his focus on youth crime. I think its reactionary. I think it plays to a group of voters who know nothing about youth outreach and how to improve the plight of back youth. I almost decided to vote for Mike Williams as a result. HOWEVER, Mayor A C Wharton has done little for the last 6 years he has held the Memphis Mayorship and little in the 7 years before that holding the Shelby County job to combat these either. He has continued the failing policies in all areas of Wharton. The same cronies are still there (Jack Sammons and the former CAO still being on the payroll). Jim at least would be open to changing his policies and his mind if and when they prove to not be working and would lead us in a new direction. Memphis deserves better than continuing the status quo. That is why I am not voting for Jim Strickland, that is why I VOTED for Jim Strickland.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

I am in the Flyer this week!

I tweaked this post about the refusal of Memphians and Shelby Countians to elect women to executive positions, and with some excellent editing from my mentor, Jackson Baker, this is the result.

Also, if you see a copy of Lexie Carter's SHELBY DEMOCRAT on your newsstand, pick it up as well, as it has a copy of the original post, thanks to Lexie for that!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

EARLY VOTE starts FRIDAY at ALL EV locations

Memphis Municipal Early Voting

Voters may vote at ANY Early Voting Location

September 18, 2015 through October 3, 2015
Weekdays 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM
Saturdays 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM

Memphis Early Voting Sites

LOCATION                                                              ADDRESS
Abundant Grace Church                               1574 Shelby Dr., 38116
Agri-Center International                             7777 Walnut Grove Rd., 38120
Anointed Temple of Praise                           3939 Riverdale Rd., 38115
Bellevue Baptist Church                                 2000 Appling Road, 38016
Berclair Church of Chris                                 4536 Summer Avenue, 38122
Dave Wells Community Center                        915 Chelsea Ave., 38107
Glenview Community Center                     1141 S. Barksdale St., 38114
Greater Lewis Street Baptist Church     152 East Parkway N, 38104
Greater Middle Baptist Church                        4982 Knight Arnold Rd., 38118
Mississippi Blvd. Christian Church       70 N. Bellevue Blvd., 38104
Mount Zion Baptist Church                         60 South Parkway E, 38106
Raleigh United Methodist Church         3295 Powers Rd., 38128
Riverside Baptist Church                                3560 S. Third St., 38109
Shelby County Office Building                     157 Poplar Ave., 38103
Shiloh Baptist Church                                        3121 Range Line Rd. 38127
White Station Church of Christ                       1106 Colonial Rd., 38117

Election Day:
Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015     Memphis Municipal- October 8 , 2015 (1st Thursday  in October)
New Voter Registration Deadline – Tuesday, September 8 , 2015
Early Voting – Friday, September 18, 2015 – Saturday October 3, 2015

Run Off
Thursday, November 19, 2015 Memphis Municipal Run-off Nov. 19, 2015 –
( Single Member Council Districts Only )

Monday, September 14, 2015

Commissioner Jones, we are watching.

There will be two Republicans seeking the office of Chair of the Shelby County Commission this afternoon, when it should already have been settled weeks ago.

It was supposed to have been Steve Basar, a moderate Republican (a rarety these days) who has aligned more with the Democrats since Justin Ford became Chair last year, versus Terry Roland of Millington, who isn't moderate about ANYTHING.

The initial vote went to Basar, and things appeared to be settled.  However, later that day, after Roland had taken Commissioner Eddie Jones into another room for "discussion", then Jones, who had voted on the prevailing side, used that parliamentary position to move for reconsideration of that vote, which than passed, reversing the Chair vote.

Terry Roland may well represent the views of his Commission District (which doesn't speak well of it, frankly) but he sure as hell doesn't represent the views of the majority of this County.  In short, Commissioner Jones, WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU THINKING?

Today, while newly elected Vice Chair Van Turner presides,  the vote will be held again.  Commissioner Jones, we will be watching you to see if you vote for your district by supporting Steve Basar, or for personal reason and Terry Roland.

You will notice, Commissioner Jones, that there will be a crowd full of people wearing blue shirts to remind you how you should vote in the interests of your district and the Party under whose banner you were elected.  We will all be paying attention to you and your decision.

And we will remember it.

UPDATE 3:28 PM: Commissioner Jones nominated Roland, who won on the second ballot, 7 votes to 6 and was joined by that other "Democrat", Justin Ford.  

Do we have recall for County Commissioners?

Friday, September 11, 2015

Observations and whatnot.

Nashville took my advice and voted heavily yesterday, doing what Knoxville did four years ago and Memphis and Shelby County have so far refused to do and elected a female Mayor for the first time.  And, no, I don't see this as leading to a groundswell for Sharon Webb, either.

Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Barry, who was also the first sitting Metro Councilor to be elected Mayor.  She beat David Fox, who seemed to be doing well until he started campaigning like a Tea Partier, which turned off the city in short order.  Congrats as well to Colby Sledge, who won his runoff in District 17.

So then, why hasn't this happened here?  The largest voting bloc in the City of Memphis, and Shelby County for that matter, is African-American women.  These women have gladly supported their sisters of ALL colors for legislative position, giving us great fighters like the late Lois DeBerry and Kathryn Bowers, as well as current leaders like Karen Camper, Raumesh Akbari, Barbara Cooper, and Senator Sara Kyle.

However, when it comes to electing women to Executive positions such as Mayor or County Mayor, not so much.  While it is easy to see how Carol Chumney's 2002 loss to AC Wharton in the Democratic County Mayor primary can be attributed to the excitement that Wharton would be the first African-American elected to that office,  she didn't get much help from African-American women when she challenged W.W. Herenton in his final run for City Mayor in 2007.

And if you wish to suggest that race was a factor in those elections, then what of Deidre Malone, who lost a Democratic primary to Joe Ford for County Mayor in 2010, and who lost the general election for that office to Republican incumbent Mark Luttrell in 2014?   Why can't a woman be elected Mayor in this town or county?

I am going to suggest that our African-American sisters, who vote in larger numbers, refuse to vote for women for executive positions for religious reasons.   There are black churches in this town, LOTS of them, that are to the right of Bellevue Baptist on social issues, and these godly women are simply unwilling to elect a woman to an office that they believe should remain only in the hands of a man.

Yes, I know it's 2015, and I can't go with that, but I'm not a member of those faiths.  It does suggest to me, however, why it is so difficult for a woman to achieve that office in this city or county.  Our suburban neighbors, Germantown (Sharon Goldsworthy) and Collierville (Linda Kerley) have done so, but those are mostly white, affluent cities with more liberal churches.

No, because I am NOT a major media outlet with the resources to run a poll and use that as a question (coughCAcough), I have no data to substantiate or disprove my theory, but it's the best one I have at the moment.

If you think I am full of crap, tell me so in the comments, but you have to tell me WHY.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Hey Nashville, get off your arse and go vote

Today is the runoff in Nashville/Davidson County.  No, I don't live there but I have lots of friends who do.

I ask that if you are there and have not yet done so, please vote for Megan Barry for Mayor, she will do a great job and won't turn the city over to hedge-funders like George Fox, brother of her opponent David Fox.

Also, if you live in Metro Council District 17, you should vote for Colby Sledge, a good guy who will represent you well on the Council.

NOW GO VOTE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, September 07, 2015

And now, for the rest of the Council races

I have NO VOTE in any of these races, and your mileage may vary, but I want you to know whom I would vote for in these districts.

Remember, chances are I would NOT vote for someone supported by the Chamber of Commerce,except in one interesting and delightful situation that we will address later.

DISTRICT 1 - Bill Morrison has been very disappointing to all who supported him initially,but I know little or nothing about Wayne Roberts.  I got nothin' here, your call.

DISTRICT 2 - This s the seat being vacated by longtimer Bill Boyd, and the one that they tried to screw Rachel Knox out of by redistricting at the last minute until enough hell was raised to stop it. The gentleman for whom Boyd tried to gift-wrap the District 2 seat is Frank Colvett, Jr., the owner of GreenScape Inc., who has also served as Chair of the Shelby County Board of Adjustment.  A look at his website on the issues indicates the standard boilerplate conservative WE HAVE TO CUT EVERYWHERE mantra, except that, as one could expect given his line of work, he does want to offer green solutions regarding development.

That said, I believe Rachel Knox offers a better vision for the city, especially Cordova. She won me over with this from her platform:
Pension-The city has a debt problem, not a pension problem. However, it is important to note that the current plan treats all divisions of its city employees as one unit without regard to those employees that work in self-funded sectors of the city. I propose that we evaluate each division of the city’s budget. By doing so, we will adequately assess and implement plans that best fit employees as separate groups. In this way, both the city and its employees can benefit and Memphis would once again become an attractive location to recruit and retain new city employees.
Go look at the rest of her issues and believe you will agree she is the best choice for Cordova and the city in general.

DISTRICT 3 - There are several well-known names here, like Tanya Cooper, Sherman Perkins Kilimanjaro and Rhonda Banks, but the three candidates fighting it out and most likely to make a runoff are former candidate for Register Coleman Thompson (Full disclosure: we served as Co-managers for Carol Chumney's 2002 County Mayor campaign), and the two people who split the anti-Justin Ford votes in last summer;s Commission race in Whitehaven, former MCS Board member Patrice Robinson and former President (and now Executive Director) of the Memphis Education Association, Keith O. Williams.   My heart is with my friend Coleman Thompson, but my head says we need another voice for Labor at the table, so either Thompson or Williams would be good for the city.

DISTRICT 4 - The most surprising thing about this race is that former Steve Cohen congressional staffer Randy Wade pulled a petition for District 4 but did NOT file.  Had he done so, his name recognition would have put him firmly in position to win.  However, he never filed, which opened the field dramatically.

Among the well-known names in this race are Donnell Cobbins, John Cornes (who has a lot of signs up),  Doris Deberry-Bradshaw and Jamita Swearengen.  However, my choice is the up-and-coming creator of the Humans of Memphis site, Kirstin Cheers.  At 24, she is young, but if you have been paying attention to this blog this year, you will not be surprised that we support younger candidates here.   A lifelong resident of the Glenview community, she has the spark and the vision and the energy to represent this district.    We have an opportunity for change here; just as we have in our support for John Marek, Rachel Knox, Zachary Ferguson and Robin Spielberger, we believe it's time to toss out the old guard and move the city FORWARD and Kirstin Cheers will be a big part of that movement.

DISTRICT 6 -  Edmond Ford, Jr.  is someone that I believe should be Mayor of Memphis someday, so it should not be surprising that I support his re-election, the ONLY District Councilor whose re-election I support,.  Quiet, studied, never abrasive but always thoughtful, he is a rock on the Council and deserves our support, now and in the future.

DISTRICT 7 - Interim (for the 2nd time) District 7 Councilor Berlin Boyd lost any chance of support from me when he refused to name the party who requested the moratorium on development for the Pinch District, which is part of 7.  I do not believe he has the vision for the city and the District that it needs.  Though Thurston Smith is not the youngest candidate in the race, I do believe that his governmental experience and his determination to make the district a better place to live make him the best choice in District 7.  He was the SCDP's Parliamentarian and he was always impeccable and impressive with his knowledge of the position.  Eric Dunn is an up and comer, but I would vote for Thurston Smith if I lived in that District.

SUPERDISTRICT 8, POSITION 1 - I have to admit that Joe Brown (not to be confused with the former judge) is not my favorite person, but he is beloved by the voters in the SuperDistrict, he is opposed by George Thompson and Victoria Young.  I expect Councilor Brown to win handily, I have no recommendation here.

SUPERDISTRICT 8, POSITION 2 - Janis Fullilove may be misunderstood by those who do not live in SD 8, people may think whatever they want, but Janis Fullilove is absolutely in touch with her voters and will not be defeated.  Though she is one of the most pro-labor votes on the Council, the Chamber of Commerce realized the futility of supporting one of her opponents, and endorsed her re-election, and I do as well.  Her heart is always in the right place, which any of her radio listeners could have told you for the last 40 years.   She took a risk in the African-American community by not only supporting the Non-Discrimination Ordinance, but SPONSORING IT as well.  Janis is opposed by J.Eason and Isaac Wright, but they have no chance.

SUPERDISTRICT 8, POSITION 3 -  The epic SD 8 battle is here, with Mickell Lowery, son of Myron, battling former MCS Board Member Martavius Jones.  I like them BOTH.  Mickell meets every criteria we have here at LWC regarding youth and fire and desire, and would be a perfect fit.  However, even though he ran against FRIEND OF THE BLOG Reginald Milton last year and I had to work against him, I admire Jones for having the guts to do what had to be done in surrendering the MCS Charter, which saved our funding sources.

They are both excellent choices and I do not know what I would do if I had to push a button.  This is one race where, whomever wins, the SuperDistrict does as well.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Cohen endorses the Mayor for re-election

I have heard that my friend and Congressman, Steve Cohen, has chosen to endorse AC Wharton for re-election.  He has endorsed Mayor Wharton each time he has run for County or City Mayor, which is his right to do so.

Funny thing, though.  I can't EVER remember Mayor Wharton returning the favor when the Congressman has sought re-nomination and re-election.  Mayor Wharton seems to be afraid of offending people, people who have never done as much for the Mayor as the Congressman has done for him.

I don't understand it, I am not joining him in that effort, but I respect his right to do so and will continue to support my friend and Congressman.

It would just be nice, next year, if the Mayor does manage to win re-election, if he would remember the man that helped put him there.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

The City Court Clerk race and the cloud hanging over it

There are five major candidates for City Court Clerk, and all bring something to the table.

You have Justin Ford, Chair of the County Commission, Wanda Halbert, City Councilor from District 4 and a former MCS Board member, former County Commissioner and Juvenile Court Clerk Shep Wilbun, Thomas Long II, the son of outgoing City Court Clerk Thomas Long (who tried to not have to have the II listed on the ballot, the better to fool people into thinking they were voting for his father), and former City Court judge, prosecutor, and 23-year Circuit Court Judge Kay Robilio.

While I am disgusted with the younger Long's attempts to profit from his father's name with no apparent reason to vote for him otherwise, he is not necessarily the problem here.  While Kay Robilio was presumed to have a good career, everyone seems to have forgotten how it ended two years ago, a year earlier than her term as Circuit Court judge would have ended.  As the linked story notes, Judge Robilio resigned as a condition of her agreement with the Court of the Judiciary in regards to an ethics complaint filed in May 2013.  According to the CA story, she was accused of violating the judicial rules of impartiality in the handling of a post-divorce child custody issue.  Through her attorney, she claimed that she had done what she had done with the approval of all parties and had done nothing wrong.

If that is the case, why did she resign?  To this point, the local media, besieged by the Mayoral and Council races, have not had the time to ask that question.  It needs to be asked, because there is a very real chance, given the racial demographics of the City of Memphis, that the former judge could well be elected in October; There is NOT a runoff in this race, she is the only Caucasian candidate, and she has as much name recognition as the other major candidates.

I have no personal malice toward Judge Robilio, nor do I have any reason to have any.  I have never appeared in her courtroom (nor any others, for that matter, except on traffic tickets), and I have heard nothing but nice things about her and her family on a personal level.  However, if there is a real possibility that she is going to be elected to office, she needs to give a full as explanation as possible without violating her agreement with the Court of the Judiciary.

Because I am raising this issue, in order to avoid hurting any of the other candidates, I will NOT offer any endorsements in this race, because I do not want anyone to think I am doing this on behalf of anyone other than the average voter of the City of Memphis.  Judge Robilio, as a re-established public figure, needs to explain why this action had to be taken so that there can be no misunderstandings if she is elected City Court Clerk.

Monday, August 24, 2015

On the subject of Hillary

No, she's not my first choice; Bernie Sanders is.  Second, she is far from the worst choice, Jim Webb is.  Third, of course I am going to vote for Hillary if she is the Democratic nominee; have you noticed the GOP candidates?

My differences with the former Secretary of State, US Senator and First Lady have to do with her too-conservative for my tastes stances on issues.  I want someone who is going to give us RED MEAT, as Sanders is, and as even DONALD TRUMP is doing by attacking Wall Street.  (That strategy, by the way, is brilliant for handling populist Dixiecrats who want to share the wealth with other white people only, such as themselves).

I don't attack Hillary, but I DO get pissed whenever anyone suggests my opposition to her candidacy is rooted in misogyny.  I would have supported Elizabeth Warren had she chosen to run for the White House; unlike, when she said no, I accepted that decision and went to Bernie Sanders.  That, my Bernie-following friends, is the BEST way to shut that conversation down in a heartbeat.

So, some of you may ask, why not Jill Stein?  Call me when they can elect a majority of Congress or even a state legislature.  Most of them are too national-policy centered to ever care about local races, which is how you get to majority status, from the bottom up.  I WOULD like to see the Greens get more electorally sound, because I find that I like most of their policies; they just don't seem to know how to get their folks elected.

I look forward to having my rest-of-the-Council and City Court Clerk post up soon; deeply torn in the Clerk's race between two people I respect and admire.  Plus, I will ask why no media is covering why one of the other candidates in that race had to leave her prior office EARLY.

More later.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Quick overview of the debate

1) Kyle Veazey did a fantastic job of keeping it moving and asking great questions, some of which were provided by the audience.  I liked the format much better than the WMC fiasco at the CRM.  More from him here at First Word, if you didn't see it, you can watch it here.

Daily News,

Jackson Baker's take on the debate is here..

2) Mike Williams came on strong but slipped over the course of the evening when he never could seem to tell us HOW he would change things.  My wife observed, correctly, IMO, that he seemed to be a one-trick-pony.  Very confident, but you need to tell HOW you will do things.

3) Wharton put up a fierce defense of his record, but one couldn't escape the fact that he was trying to re-sell us a used car, one on which the wheels are falling off.  He is a good debater and is not afraid of anything or anyone.

4) My man Strickland started off slow but built up steam and was really cranked up and passionate by the end.  He needs to get cranked up sooner, IMO. While I think he may have hung on to his message a little TOO tightly at times, he reaffirmed my decision to support him.

5) If there was a winner, it was Harold Collins. Had I been undecided going in, I doubt I would be now.  It's too bad there was a time limit at times, because he got cut off on more than one occasion when I wanted to hear more of him.

6) The fact that no one asked a MATA question until late in the debate is very upsetting.  You can't help people get jobs that they have no way to access.  Public Transportation can no longer be thought of as just a way for domestics to get from North and South Memphis to East Memphis any more.  if you think you are too good to ride MATA, you are part of the problem.  (One point I will give to the Mayor: he did find good leadership to replace Will Hudson, who ran it into the ground.)

7)  Here's a question that should be asked for the next debate: to the MAYOR: This has been one of the most contentious terms EVER between your Administration and the Council.  What steps can YOU take, if re-elected, to have a better relationship with your next Council?  To Collins and Strickland:  Having been on the other side of that battle, what steps can YOU take to have a good relationship between your Administration and the next Council.

8) There is another debate tonight at Central High School from 6-8, sponsored by the Evergreen Historic District Association.  Go, if you can, I wish I could, but life intervenes.

UPDATE: From Brad Watkins, this powerful observation on Facebook, which is shown here with his permission:

After watching the Mayoral debate I am even more resigned to the fact that I have no candidate in this race..but that's okay, it does not really matter.
One of three men on that stage tonight will be our Mayor for the next four years...and no matter who it is..on a CERTAIN LEVEL does not matter.
I heard virtually nothing last night about homelessness, about MATA, about police accountability or CLERB or housing. Nothing about accessibility for people with disabilities or MLGW....nothing about confronting systemic racism..or sexism.. or homophobia or transphobia...almost nothing about domestic violence and nothing about rape, and only one real mention of POVERTY..among myriad other issues.
So, whoever this next Mayor will be... they will have us to relentlessly contend with. Many of us have no we have to ORGANIZE to push this next Mayor to be the Mayor this city really needs, one who is unapologetic about these issues and one who openly acknowledges inequality in our city...not just a paycheck issue..but how it permeates our entire lives.
It's not about falling in's about hiring someone for a job.

Your thoughts?

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Let's talk about the City Council races

Jerome Wright wrote in the CA on Sunday (sorry, behind a paywall) about the upcoming Council races, which I believe are AS important as the Mayor's race, if not more so:

Voters should listen closely to what the council candidates are saying. Do they have solid ideas on how to move the city and council districts forward? Have the incumbents done more than complain or bluster? Are they more than one-issue candidates? 
Have they done a good job managing their own finances? It’s an important point to consider for people who want to determine how to spend millions of your tax dollars. 
Do they have any thoughts about privatizing some city services or providing those services on a sliding-fee scale based on usage? 
Also, listen carefully to what they have to say about city’s debt situation. The city still has to bring its pension fund into solvency by 2020, according to state law, but has not been putting enough into the fund to accomplish that goal. 
That has raised concerns in some circles that a big property tax increase may be coming next summer or in the summer of 2017. The council has the final say on whether that happens.

To a great degree, he is spot on, especially when he talks about privatization of city services, which I believe is a disaster in the making.  Why, you ask?  First, any savings you as a taxpayer MIGHT receive will more than likely be turned into profits for an OUT-OF-TOWN concern.  Secondly, this is also an attempt to KILL public-sector unions, which allow our city employees to have middle-class incomes and be able to buy homes and cars and have disposable income.

You know, like YOU might have if YOU had a PRIVATE-SECTOR union to join.

You should ask EVERY Council candidate (and remember, you have FOUR to choose, one District and THREE SuperDistrict positions) how they feel about privatization, about what THEY intend to do about the debt and pension situation.  And yes, there WILL be a property tax hike in 2017, otherwise the State of Tennessee will attempt a takeover and imposition of Greek-style austerity on this city and its citizens, whom they despise.  (Why do you think I want Strickland for Mayor?  Because he knows how to deal with those schmucks without selling us out, that's why.)

So, I am going to start out (there will be more than one post on this) with the races in which I have a vote.

SUPERDISTRICT 9, POSITION 1 - Kemp Conrad is the incumbent, a man who came to office eight years ago when Mary Wilder and Desi Franklin split the progressive vote and he won (UPDATE: I was wrong about this, that was Reid Hedgepeth that they ran against, thanks to Caroline Todd for the heads-up!), giving us eight years of attempts to privatize most areas of government, even the SANITATION WORKERS.  You know, the very organization that Dr. Martin Luther King was assisting when he was assassinated here on April 4, 1968.  I'm not saying they have sacred posts, but it's pretty damned close, in my opinion.  He is a former GOP chair here (Note, so is interim City Councilman Alan Crone, who is not seeking re-election.  However, Crone has been nothing short of terrific since he joined the Council, to the point that I am sad he is not running. FULL DISCLOSURE: My wife used to work with an associated law firm.

Conrad's opponents are Charley Burch and my neighbor in Humes Heights, Robin Spielberger.  It is Robin for whom I will cast my vote.  No, I don't agree with her on everything, but she does support a Citizens Law Enforcement Review Board and has interesting ideas on using tiny homes to help solve the homelessness issue, which I found interesting, and I think you will as well.  Please consider her if you live in SD 9, unless you like the idea of privatization.  Of course, if you DID, I doubt you would be reading this blog.

SUPERDISTRICT 9, POSITION 2  - This is the seat vacated by Shea Flinn and currently held by the aforementioned Alan Crone.  This is the largest field of these three slots, with several interesting candidates, from former MCS Board members Rev. Kenneth Whalum and Stephanie Gatewood (for whom I would vote if my choice were not running),  Lynn Moss,  Philip Spinosa, an Inside Sales manager for FedEx Services (Flinn's personal choice to succeed him), and MY choice for this position, Paul Shaffer.

Paul is the business manager for IBEW Local 474, a longtime supporter of progressive causes, and a former candidate who lost to Kemp Conrad in 9-1 four years ago.  Now, more than ever, we need Labor to have a seat at the table on the City Council.  Paul is smart and has great experience working with the Council on negotiations, and would be a solid force against the privatization of city government.

Spinosa has more signs and is the candidate of the big business community (drive down Walnut Grove and you will see what I mean).  He may well be a good guy, but I fully believe Paul Shaffer is the best candidate in the race.

SUPERDISTRICT 9, POSITION 3 -  The incumbent is first-termer Reid Hedgepeth who won a lot of people over when he voted for the Non-Discrimination Ordinance to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination by city government or contractors with city government.  As he was elected with a lot of conservative votes, that took guts and I applaud him for doing so.

That said, the rest of his voting record has been pro-developer and anti-union.  This is why I do NOT support his re-election.  In the race to unseat him are former County Register candidate Stephen Christian, with whom I served on the SCDP Executive Committee this past year, and my choice, local activist Zachary Ferguson.  Ferguson is one of two openly gay candidates for Council, and faces an uphill battle, as it's always tough to unseat an incumbent.

However, he has been very active in civic organizations as well as his church, St. John's United Methodist. He is currently President of the Board of Directors for the Workforce Interfaith Network.  He shares our progressive values, not just socially but ECONOMICALLY as well, and I urge you to vote for him in this race.

DISTRICT 5 -  This is the tough one for me.   There are seven people in the race; however, I confess that I have no clue who Jimmie Franklin or Jennifer James Williams are, couldn't pick them out of a lineup.  Of course, I haven't gotten mail from them or had them knock on my door yet, either.

There WILL be a runoff in this race (SuperDistricts and Citywide races are not allowed runoffs due to a quarter-century old consent decree), because the remaining five candidates are, for all intents and purposes, running for two spots in that runoff.

28-year old Jonathan Worth Morgan, who uses his middle name as his first name n the ballot and on his signs, is the son of Morgan-Keegan Financial founder Allen Morgan.  He raised a good bit of money to start, and was seen as a favorite to make the runoff.  However, Dan Springer, a veteran of Mark Luttrell campaigns who does have the occasional progressive supporting him, may well take a lot of that vote.  Springer has a good website with a good video promoting the good things about the city,on which we all can agree.  However, there is not much in the way of specifics on how he might vote on say, the Pension issue.

Fighting for what might be the liberal spot in the runoff are three people I like a lot, of whom only one can receive my vote.  (insert Chicago joke here.)  Mary Wilder is a community activist well-known in the Vollintine-Evergreen Community Association, and sat in Carol Chumney's vacated House 89 seat in the early Oughts after Chumney resigned to take a City Council seat (this one, as it were).   She has a base of the older Midtown Democratic stalwarts who cut their teeth on Steve Cohen campaigns.

Next is the person whom I originally intended to support,  Charles (Chooch) Pickard.  He is an architect who has lived in Memphis for twenty years and has a keen eye for how the city SHOULD be developed, rather than how it HAS BEEN developed.  He is a first-time candidate but he is very calm with a good head on his shoulders with a good vision.  If he won, he would be a great voice, and he is the other openly gay candidate for Council this year.

I can easily support Mary or Chooch if they get in the runoff against Springer or Morgan.

However, at the soiree Mr. Carroll and I throw each year, Bratfest, our friend John Marek showed up with a petition for this race, catching me off guard.  I signed his petition, and began to re-think my position.

For those who don't know John, he has been Congressman Cohen's campaign manager the last two elections, and has been associated with the campaigns since 2006.  He is an attorney and would be the ONLY attorney on the Council if elected, as Alan Crone is not running.  (How do you NOT have an attorney on the Council?  Allan Wade can't do EVERYTHING, no matter what he may think!)

John has an incredible passion to serve.  He sits on the CLERB and supports its strengthening.  His work led to the MPD agreeing to have body cams for all uniformed policemen, which will take effect this fall.  He is also the local president of NORML, which has a following among people of ALL political stripes.

You want to know what he wants to do?? You can read it here.   John also has the endorsement of his mentor, Congressman Cohen:

John has the energy to move this community forward RIGHT NOW, because he is already doing it.  Let's give him that chance, I URGE you to vote for John Marek for District 5.

More on the other races in the next day or so.

Friday, August 07, 2015

Poor People get the Shaft part eleventy billion

So let's say you live in a small town in the South.  Most everyone with the means has left for the city.  Those that have stayed have let's say, a severe dislike of government and taxes.  But court fees, they may hate em, but only people who break the law have to pay them and that's usually out of town speeders or "those people".

See, a little known fact is that most of these towns raise almost all their operating budgets from fines, usually speeding tickets.  Go through any small town in the south and you'll discover this.  Ferguson was a classic case of this as the city incentivized officers to bring in as much as possible.  You think fines here are high, try close to 200 for going as little as 8 over.

So, lets say you live in one of these small towns.  You get a couple tickets, you now owe over $1000 in fees and costs.  You don't have the money so the court sends you to the PRIVATE probation company that handles this for them.  This company has offices throughout the state and has bought this right from the city and charges the city nothing, with one cavaet.  Head over here for more information.  I'll break it down for you here though.

That company forces you to meet with them every week about your case and charges you to do so, usually $35-$45 every time.  So lets say the person who owes the fine pays $50, this company takes its fee off the top, stringing out what you owe even longer, making them more money.  You can't pay, you likely will go to jail.  Who controls the jails and prisons in a large part of this country?  Another private company, like CCA.

We complain about predatory lenders in the check cashing industry, title loans, and the used car industry.  Thanks to Elizabeth Warren and Obama we have the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to help with this and activists in many states are fighting these groups,  The ACA is a great first step in helping lower the chances of medical debt bankruptcies.

But who is fighting to stop the privatization of the prison and corrections industry?  Do we really want to go back to the days of debtor's prisons?  Do you trust your local leaders to prevent these companies from getting their claws into Memphis in the name of "efficiency" and "private business does it more effectively"?  Transparency and the betterment of everyone.



Strickland??? Yes, Jim Strickland for Mayor.

Now, I KNOW what you're going to say before you say it.

Jim Strickland is for cutting pension benefits, yada yada yada.  I am certainly not for that, because we made a promise to our workers and it should be kept, even at the risk of a property tax increase.  (Remind your friends who may be Republican that if we had a STATE INCOME TAX we wouldn't be so damned dependent upon property taxes!).  I don't agree with Jim Strickland on every issue.  That's why I want a whole new City Council; however, to paraphrase Alton Brown, that's another post, coming in the next day or so.

So, you say, look at all the companies that have expanded or built plants in Memphis under AC Wharton!  True enough, until you see the tax incentives they have received and you realize that YOU, the taxpayer, are paying for most of the jobs brought by Electrolux, IKEA, Bass Pro Shops and the rest, and not these companies.

But wait, you say, didn't Strickland vote for some of these things?  He may have, but he also called for oversight, and besides, that's why we need a whole new Council, one that is NOT beholden to developers or the Chamber of Commerce.  Again, that's coming later, hold your horses!

For my disagreements with Jim Strickland, I can tell you this much about him.  When he disagrees with you on an issue, he will look you in the eye and tell you why.  He allows you to make your argument and will listen to it, and discuss it with you.  He may even change his mind, or he may not.  JIM STRICKLAND WILL NEVER PLACATE YOU.  For my differences with him, there are also agreements.

Jim Strickland is also going to clean up and clean out City Hall, which has been necessary for a long, long time.  Robert Lipscomb needs to be getting his resume in order, I suspect.   (No, Jim hasn't said that to me, but I would hardly be surprised if it happens).  No more running amok from the Retired Directors Club, er, the Riverfront Development Corporation.

At the end of the day, there is absolutely ZERO bullshit in this man's body.  He will be straight forward and honest with you, even if it pisses you off.  Memphis city government needs a cleaning, Jim Strickland will be our cleaner.  That is why his sign is in my front yard.

And, as good government should provide checks and balances, he needs to have a City Council that works with him and checks him as needed.'

That, however, is another post, which is coming later.

UPDATE:  I was just thinking about this, and I realized that I have been voting in Memphis mayoral elections since 1979, that I can remember.  Not counting the vote for the Zambodian fellow in 1991, this will only be the THIRD time in all these years that I have voted for a white candidate for Mayor.

The list:  1979 - Otis Higgs, 1982 - Mike Cody, then JO Patterson, 1983 - John Ford (yes, John Ford), 1987 - Minerva Johnican, 1991 - Mongo, 1995, WW. Herenton, 1999 - Shep Wilbun, 2003 - WW Herenton (albeit reluctantly), 2007 - Carol Chumney, 2009 - Myron Lowery, 2011 - AC Wharton, 2015 - Jim Strickland.