Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Command Decision has been made!

Since we are in a NEW ERA OF GOOD FEELING with the ascent of Van Turner to the SCDP Chairmanship, I have made a decision: if ANONYMOUS commenting is good enough for Kleinheider and Woods, it's good enough for me.

Anonymous commenting STAYS.

The floor is now open for innuendo and hearsay!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Congratulations to Van Turner, the new chair of the SCDP

And to Desi Franklin as well, as she has been the driving force behind the last three chairs.

The final numbers were 49 for Turner, 32 for Jay Bailey, Committeeman Norma Lester passed, and since Committeeman Nate Jackson was elected in absentia, he was not able to vote. So, even WITH the numbers mandated by the TNDP, Bailey did not have the votes; many of his delegates did not make it to Airways Middle School today to vote for his potential ExecCom members.

However, Bailey was allowed to speak after Turner assumed the gavel, and called for party unity behind Turner's chairmanship. Well done, sir, well done.

The first meeting of the new ExecCom, 83 strong, is Monday, April 6 at 7 PM at the IBEW Hall on Madison. Good luck to the new committee, I will support them to the best of my abilities!

I think this might work! BIG THANKS to Steve Ross for this!

HD Obama votes Obama % Cur. Dist Cur Dist % Prop. Dist Prop. Dist %
83 10230 3.99% 3 4.23% 3 3.61%
84 21556 8.41% 5 7.04% 7 8.43%
85 28913 11.28% 5 7.04% 9 10.84%
86 17652 6.89% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
87 15357 5.99% 5 7.04% 5 6.02%
88 17488 6.82% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
89 11629 4.54% 4 5.63% 4 4.82%
90 17648 6.89% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
91 17989 7.02% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
92 18856 7.36% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
93 13640 5.32% 4 5.63% 4 4.82%
95 12306 4.80% 4 5.63% 4 4.82%
96 12080 4.71% 4 5.63% 4 4.82%
97 10458 4.08% 3 4.23% 3 3.61%
98 19213 7.50% 5 7.04% 6 7.23%
99 11282 4.40% 4 5.63% 4 4.82%
256297 71 83

Friday, March 27, 2009

In Defense of the Mathematical Skills of Del Rodney Gill, Jr.

I emailed Del Gill today to ask him for a comparison of the number ExecCom slots that the current ExecCom wants to use tomorrow, versus the number he came up with for each District based on the ONE MAN, ONE VOTE principle that we are supposed to use.

He provided that, along with the number of votes Obama received in each House district, and the percentage of the total vote that they represented. Based on these numbers, he is absolutely correct in insisting that to go with 71 seats is a disenfranchisement of eight districts, most notably Districts 84 and 85.

I don't give a rat's ass who wins Saturday, but I insist that NO DEMOCRAT be disenfranchised at that time. Based on these numbers, the current ExecCom did NOT meet the standard of One Man, One Vote, as they have insisted.

As Steve Ross at VIBINC has noted, the ExecCom has had multiple opportunities to solve this problem, but refused to even consider compromises. It's on them.

And you know what else? I understand Keith Norman, the absentee Chair, is leaving town and won't even be at the Convention. (if he shows, I will apologize for having said this, but I have really good sources).

If Blogger had a way to run a freaking table, I would show you the numbers. If you want to see them, email me at sjs1959 at gmail dot com, and I will send them to you.

Look, folks, neither Jay Bailey nor Van Turner are the Antichrist, and neither is the savior of the Party. I still want someone else, but I will have to be disappointed yet again. That having been said, electing ANY number of ExecCom seats less than 83 is a disenfranchisement of a large section of the Democratic Party.

And, it will be thrown out by the TNDP, which is their right to do, and they should.

One last thing here. Del Gill has infuriated EVERYONE associated with this Party over the last 20 years, and on that he is an Equal Opportunity Offender. He has disrupted meetings because of his insistence that certain rules be followed, and I have often wanted him to shut the hell up and let things go.

More often than not, however, he has been correct, he's just not good at communicating. However, when you give him complex mathematical formulas, especially ON THIS VERY SUBJECT, he has been spot-on correct every time. I know, because when I was Convention Chair several years ago, I had him do the formula, and it was dead solid perfect. Hell, if I were Governor, I'd turn over statewide reapportionment to him, and he would be correct to an infinitesmal decimal point, that's how much I trust him on this subject.

Del has been arguing this for a quarter of a century now, and only ONCE has he been allowed to do this, and he needs to be trusted now. White people aren't going be run out of the Democratic Party unless they WANT TO BE.

I'm a white Democrat, and NO ONE is running me off; in fact, I want to be the white Del Gill, if Ross doesn't beat me to it! Leave Del alone, he is absolutely correct.

Now then, a note to everyone. Once this is settled, WHOMEVER is Chair, they are going to have to break out the kneepads to bring everyone back together. It is utterly ridiculous how inept this Party has become over the last four years, and we need EVERY ONE OF YOU.

We need attention paid to Eastern Shelby County, because we need to go after Brian Kelsey and Paul Stanley. The Western areas may produce the votes for the Party, but the Eastern Front produces the money that finances those campaigns. If they DO leave, the SCDP is gonna be one broke-ass party, so just remember this and know that if we keep the Republicans on the run, they CAN'T help their friends elsewhere.

Enough said, see you at Airways Middle School.

Ross , you want to do 80s for FGF, so can I!

For another great take on HOT MESS 2009

Go read Vibinc! Here's a taste:

The long hard truth of the matter is that on February 9, 2009 the members of the SCDP Executive Committee were presented an amendment proposal that was one of an infinite possibility of solutions for dealing with the issue of an election with incredibly high turnout. Not only did they choose not fix the problem, no one, to my knowledge, even suggested an alternative that might have better suited the interests of enough people to pass.

And that’s the problem.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


You can't dig a 24-point hole and expect to win. Bye, Tigers.

Somewhere Nolan Richardson is smiling, as 40 Minutes of Hell still works, the way his old assistant Mike Anderson runs it.

Ah, well, let's hope Evans comes back to join the country's best recruits and go deeper next year.

OK, Holt, you got your wish, I'm going all THADDEUS for the next few days.

I try to please my readers, so, have at it. for the next few days, ANONYMOUS POSTING IS ENABLED!!!
We should have a side bet on how many comments it takes for me to get called a racist.....
Let the party begin!!!

More on the hot mess

I have friends on both sides here, and I trust that we will still be friends afterwards.

The Bailey folks claim that, for the last four years, the SCDP has done little or nothing under first Matt Kuhn (helluva nice guy, I like him, but the whole situation engulfed him) and then under Keith Norman (a nice guy, he has done less than nothing except when forced to at gunpoint). Well, actually, they're right. I sat there and watched a bunch of folks who have never been in a campaign before run a hell of an operation at Eastgate Shopping Center last year, with NO HELP from the SCDP or TNDP. Pros, they were not; effective, they were all that and more.

Would it have helped to have had a strong leader? You're damned right it would have.

I understand the Bailey camp's frustration; however, while David Cocke, in hindsight, clearly would have been a better choice four years ago (yes, I know, a helluva lot of good that does NOW) is Jay Bailey the answer now?

If we're going to take the MSDIA coalition to task for producing ineffective leaders for the last four years, and we should, then we have to ask of the Bailey crew: Jay Bailey? Really?

We all do crazy things when we're young, but he has had problem after problem with the Bar Association, something that the Republicans would love to hit Democrats over the head with if Bailey wins.

Does Jay know politics? Well, yes, he's been in it since birth, since his father, Walter served over 30 years on the Shelby County Commission. Is he willing to stand up for Democratic causes? Yes, I believe he would. Is he likely to embarrass the Party with a screw-up down the line? Sadly, I believe the answer to that is yes.

OK, so how about that Van Turner? He's a nice, clean-cut guy, no problem with him, right? RIGHT? Look, we've already discussed that he works for an anti-union law firm, and if we're going to bash Nikki Tinker for that, as we did and should have, we can't let Turner off the hook here, either.

Also, let us remember that Turner also serves as the current parliamentarian for the SCDP, so all this madness over the number of ExecCom seats happened under his watch. One can only presume that if he sat there and allowed this to happen, we can presume one of two things: either he had no clue what was going on, or he knew and let it happen because it was to his benefit. Neither answer speaks well of his potential as Chair of the SCDP.

So, Cracker, you're for Bailey, then, right? RIGHT? As Lee Corso of ESPN would say, not so fast, my friends.

We are at the end of a process that has produced two candidates that I am convinced will do NOTHING to solve the current problems of the Party. I cannot, in good conscience, support either candidate. I propose something that will blow everyone's head off, but bring everything to a head and make the ultimate decision on the direction of the Party.

David vs. Desi for all the marbles. Now, and for ever more, let's REALLY settle the family business once and for all on Saturday afternoon. Let them debate, let them yell, let them throw punches if they want, but have them get this out of their system, and then let everyone vote.

Winner wins and leads, the other shuts up and supports for the next two years. Simple as that.

Who's with me????

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.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Did you know that

It's Cover The Uninsured Week? Thanks to R. Neal at KnoxViews, I do now, and he has an idea or two on what to do about it.

Let's start the week on an inspiring note.

Mack over at the Coyote Chronicles has read a book by the ladies of Thistle Farms, and has written an amazing piece about an amazing group of women who have overcome numerous obstacles.

I urge you to go over there and read about them.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Something different for Feel Good Friday

Antonio Parkinson had this up on Facebook, I had forgotten how wonderful this was, many thanks to him for posting it. Here are two remarkable singers, Rachelle Ferrell, and Will Downing, who is battling back from polymyositis, a crippling disease which can be overcome, as a member of my family is doing just that now. This is from the 1990s, but it's worth a listen; enjoy!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Props to Reg Milton

I know I was rough on him the other day, but he managed to snag exiting SCDP Chair Keith Norman for a Q&A, and he gave Norman the freedom to make himself look like an clueless guy who refused to take responsibility for the debacle that the SCDP has become. All this lacked was Jerome from Morris Day & The Time to hold up a mirror for Norman.

Thanks to Ross for sending me the link via email! Go read it for yourself.

I asked for it, and here it is.

I had asked, in the interest of fairness, that the Van Turner campaign put a piece up here. While they have not officially given permission for me to put this up, since I received this directly from him, I am presuming that it's ok to put up this statement on why he is running.

Once again, this does NOT reflect an endorsement of either candidate, this is about fairness of the process.

Fellow Shelby County Democrats,

As we are only two weeks away from the Biennial Convention which we elect new Executive Members and a new Chairman, the tone of this race and the conversation that we are having has unfortunately become destructive and divisive. However, as I have vowed to do from early on, I will continue to move forward with a positive, reaffirming message. If we are to truly move this Party forward, we must unify, and we must focus on the real issues that are facing this Party and this community as we near several county election races next year.

A Record of Community Involvement

My commitment and involvement in this community has not always been televised. Instead, I have tirelessly worked in this community without fanfare. Since moving home to Memphis, I have worked with the NAACP Legal Redress Committee in every major election since 2002. I have headed such initiatives as voter restoration, voter protection, and voter education drives. I presently serve on the executive board of the Memphis Branch of the NAACP. In fact, as President of the Ben F. Jones Chapter of the National Bar Association, I assisted in organizing a team of attorneys to specifically support a nationwide voter restoration effort. We, in particular, focused on African-American males who were seeking to retain their voting rights in time to vote in this past year's historic Presidential Election. Fortunately, we were successful in assisting hundreds of applicants, who had made past mistakes and paid their debts to society, cast their votes for President Barack Obama.

As an officer of the Memphis Chapter of the Morehouse Alumni Association, we offered approximately twenty (20) students at Hamilton High School a free, six week Princeton Review tutorial workshop to assist them with improving their ACT scores. Several of the young men who attended the workshop actually decided to attend Morehouse College, the only all male Historically Black College in the world. Also, under our leadership, the local Alumni Association has partnered with the historic New Olivet Missionary Baptist Church to present the "Candle on the Bluff" Celebration and Awards to shine the spotlight on many local advocates and pioneers in this community, including this year's awardees, Congressman Steve Cohen, Pastor Keith Norman and Art Gilliam.

As in-house counsel for the Memphis City Schools, I worked with the Memphis Education Association and other concerned citizens in this community to fight for funding for our children when City Council voted to pull funding for this past school year. I advocated for fully funding public education to City Council and to other elected officials in our community. This matter is now on appeal, but this is just an example of how I will stand firm for what I believe and what I know is right when there are strong interests on both sides of an issue.

I have also worked with several state representatives and community activists to assist with issues surrounding the National Civil Rights Museum. Again, this was and still is a debate in which they are strong views and dedicated interests on both sides of the issue. I, again, took a stance for what I felt was right and good for this community. When issues are presented to me as Chair, I will hear everyone, but when my decision is made, I will stand solidly behind that decision.

The Duties of the Chairman

The Shelby County Democratic Party's Bylaws state: "The Chairperson shall preside over the Executive Committee and the Steering Committee. He or she shall be the official representative of the Democratic Party at political functions in the County." The correct question is will the Chair of the Party listen to every concern within the Party and will he support the Democratic candidate for office regardless of whether they are union, management, homosexual, heterosexual, a defense attorney, a plaintiff's attorney, a political veteran or a new face in politics? It is not the Chairperson's role to take-up each and every cause which these candidates support or do not support. My duties as Chair will be to make sure that these candidates are elected to office with the support and backing of the Party.

Furthermore, to be absolutely clear, where I work no more defines me than it does my opponent, who has a practice which touches various areas of the law, including criminal law. My practice areas primarily include Administrative Law, Education Law and Governmental Litigation. Further, in one of the cases referenced, Moore v. Toys-R-Us Delaware, Inc., U.S.D.C., W.D. Tenn., No. 04-2416 BA, I actually represented the Plaintiff. The misinformation that is being spread is a red herring. Again, the conversation that we need to have is who is in a better position to listen to every Democrat and to unify the Party. Butler Show has dedicated countless hours of pro bono work to this community and in fact, represented minority farmers in their organized grassroots efforts for years in litigation against the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As the son of a father and mother who are life-long members of the teacher's union and as the husband of a card-carrying member of the Memphis Education Association, I appreciate and support the labor movement and as Chairman of the Party, will support labor as it seeks to improve the lives of its members by running pro-union candidates for office.

A Unified Party- A Meaningful Voice

As we embark upon these final two weeks of this campaign for Chairmanship of the Party, let us not focus on non-issues and mudslinging. We, as a Democratic Party, have come so far to go backwards now. There is no need to turn to personal attacks on me or my supporters. This is not in the spirit of unifying the Party. The race for Chairmanship of the Shelby County Democratic Committee is not about "control," as far as I am concerned. It is about helping move the Party and the Party's candidates forward. It's about taking back the Tennessee State legislature before matters get worse in Nashville. It's about increased fundraising efforts so that we can adequately support progressive candidates for office. It's about gaining respect for a Party which needs to be a change agent in this community. The Party needs unity and responsible leadership. Leadership that will enable the Party and the Party's members and interests to take meaningful stands on local, state and national political issues. I will deal with Party members and local politicians in a forthright and above-board manner. There will be no backroom deals or cover-ups. The party belongs to its members and the people who support Democratic causes and values. They expect and deserve responsible, effective and dedicated leadership, the kind that I will give as the next Chairman of the Party. Therefore, I ask all of the Delegates returning on March 28th for the Convention to vote for my slate of Executive Committee members who will cast their vote for me as Chair of the Party.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Joint Message from “The Steves”

Over the past several days the two of us (Steve Steffens of LeftWingCracker and Steve Ross of Vibinc) have engaged in a public shouting match over the race for the chair of the SCDP.

After some careful personal reflection, and an outpouring of concern from friends, we both recognize that we agree on more things than we disagree on, and those disagreements are grounded largely on perspective: one, as a long time political observer, activist and volunteer, who wants strong, effective leadership for the SCDP, but is suspicious of “unproven” leaders, the other, as a newer political observer, who also wants strong effective leadership at the SCDP, but who is suspicious of the “legacy factions” that have served to divide the party.

These two perspectives are not necessarily contrary. The truth of the matter is that both Mr. Bailey and Mr. Turner are unproven leaders supported by “legacy factions”. Both men have achieved great things in their lives, but neither has necessarily distinguished themselves as a leader that can unite the party in any way other than within their core groups of supporters.

As President Obama said in his Inaugural Address; “the time has come to set aside childish things.” This rings true in local politics as well. It means that both candidates are going to have to do more than print nice promo material, or pass out stickers to gain the trust of Democrats throughout Shelby County. It is the Democrats of Shelby County that will give the money and the time to the party and it’s candidates over the next 2 years, and it is the Democrats of Shelby County, regardless of whether they serve on the Committee or not, that these two candidates need to be reaching out to and communicating with to ensure that the County Party is more than a monthly exercise in Robert’s Rules of Order.

At this point, neither candidate has been particularly impressive in their outreach. Neither candidate has done much to distinguish from the other. In fact, both candidates’ platforms are strikingly similar. This last point is interesting. If what needs to happen at the County Party level is not in dispute, as a general statement, then why can’t both candidates come together, address the issues jointly, and speak out against the elements of their support base who are more interested in division than unity?

And that’s really where it ends up. Most of the people we’ve talked to, that have voiced objections to Mr. Turner or Mr. Bailey, have cited their supporters as the primary or secondary objection rather than the men or the platforms they are running on. That is madness.

The truth of the matter is that the Democratic Party is at a crossroads in Tennessee. In two years the state legislature will begin the process of redistricting the state. How this plays out will in large part depend on how well the entire Democratic establishment organizes and unifies. As the minority party in both the State House and Senate, we stand at the precipice of losing as many as 3 seats in the US House, not to mention all the state House and Senate seats that can be gerrymandered to serve the interests of the Republicans. The SCDP, as the largest County Democratic organ in the state, has a huge opportunity and responsibility to ensure that we not only defend and expand the seats we have in Shelby County, but also provide support, by coordinating with the various county organizations and the state party, to help regain control of at least one body of the legislature.

We cannot do this as a divided house.

This is a time for unity. This is a time to set aside long held divisions and work together, as Democrats, to ensure victory and to reclaim our place as a leader, not only in Shelby County, but also throughout the state.

In order to do this we have to establish trust in the SCDP, between the incoming 71 Executive Committee members and the factions that make up the body. For this to work, all sides have to abandon their roles as “spoiler” or “kingmaker” and work together for the best interest of the largest and most diverse collection of Democrats in the state.

It’s time for leadership in the SCDP that represents and is committed to work with ALL SHELBY COUNTY DEMOCRATS. We have offered up our blogs to both candidates, and hope they take the opportunity to engage Democrats throughout the county. Turning back on this responsibility now will likely cripple any efforts in the future to unite and effectively lead the party forward, leaving us, once again, with a dysfunctional and divided local party.

Democrats both in Shelby County, and throughout the state can’t afford to let that happen.


Steve Steffens

Steve Ross

Sunday, March 15, 2009

OK, then.

VITO CORLEONE (exhales, bows his head; physically shaken and weakened)

I want -- all inquiries made. I want no acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting, with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.

Well, maybe I did overreact. I'm hardly the white Thaddeus Matthews, but I have been frustrated with the SCDP Chair race.

I am frustrated because I am only hearing one side of this, the Jay Bailey side. I have been hoping to hear from the Van Turner side so they can make their case. I don't claim to speak for Bailey, and I accused Ross of being the spokesman for Turner because he has been quiet, too quiet.

Look, right at this point in time, I'm not comfortable with either one, because I don't know Van Turner and because I do know Jay Bailey. OK, wait, that's not really right or fair, either. I know their SUPPORTERS, and these two men right now are largely defined by their supporters, which, in a way, is the problem.

We are at a very critical time for the Shelby County Democratic Party, who, despite having a demographic dominance due to its urban nature, is extremely disorganized, which hurts not only Shelby County but all of West Tennessee. A strong SCDP can go beyond its borders to shore up parties in our neighboring counties with manpower and money. We aren't even close to that now, we are always one step away from the poorhouse, and it's ridiculous.

If I had to vote right now, it would be for None of the Above, because I have no real confidence in Jay Bailey and I haven't the faintest clue who Van Turner is. THAT'S what I've been screaming like a banshee about, give me a reason to believe.

We cannot afford another two years of aimless drift, because it doesn't just hurt us, it hurts everyone around us. Right now, unless I know more about Turner, I can't recommend him. I have been on the verge of calling for Gale Jones Carson or David Cocke to come back and take the reins and right the ship. I've worked with them, I know them, I TRUST THEM.

Maybe Van Turner's that kind of guy. Maybe he isn't. What I DO know is that the only case his supporters have made on his behalf is that he's not in the pocket of Upton or Chism. Hell, at least they have records you can follow. This is what I mean about being defined by your supporters.

I know there are people who have valid reasons to support Van, but they are not ready to make those reasons public. I understand, and that is perfectly fine. It's not really your
responsibility, anyway, it's HIS.

We need a strong leader right now, someone who can inspire people to go work for this Party and its principles. Please give us a reason to believe that the only two choices that we apparently have are not poor ones.

Make me believe.

What the hell?

No, really, what the hell?

I try to open a dialogue, and provide a place for supporters of both candidates for SCDP Chair, and I get scorn and derision, especially in places I never expected.
Let me remind everyone that I have not as yet chosen sides in this election. I agreed to allow Matt Brown run a piece that questioned how Van Turner could serve as a Party Chair that includes labor while working for a law firm that favors management. I then asked Turner supporters to send me a piece in support of their guy, but I have heard NOTHING, NADA, ZILCH from their side.
Then, I read my pal Ross, who is apparently their new spokesman, which is fine, who attacks Brown's piece and darkly hints that ye olde Cracker has been hijacked. On top of that, here comes Reginald Milton, to whom I link and introduced his blog right here, with this diatribe suggesting that Turner is above all these, well, lowlifes who dare challenge his candidacy.
What the hell?? Look, I don't have a dog in this hunt, I don't even get a vote, but I do, on second reading, think Brown has valid points.
Do either of YOU want to be the one to go to someone like Paul Shaffer of IBEW or Nate Jackson of the Teamsters, (two of the most loyal Democrats ANYWHERE) and ask if we can meet in their hall, even though the new Chair (if Turner wins) works for a firm that is prominently anti-labor? Better you than me, pal.
Some other things I have to get off my chest here. Look, I'm not thrilled that Jay Bailey has had problems in his past with the Bar Association. That troubles me. At least, however, he seems to be willing to put himself on the line for causes, which hasn't happened around here since the days of Gale Jones Carson.
The African-American community is troubled by the fact that Larry Godwin seems to have difficulty hiring people of color. Not only that, I might remind all of you that the citizens of this city passed a freaking referendum that REQUIRES police to reside inside the city limits. Jay Bailey put himself out there, like it or not, to force our city to abide by that.
Van Turner is a nice guy, by all accounts, and there's nothing wrong with that, in and of itself. Is he going to be too afraid, though, to piss people off as SCDP Chair? We've had nice guys for four years, and where the hell has it gotten us? And, Ross, YOU of all people know this, because we've talked about it.
Now then, once again, I invite Turner supporters to come here and provide a post in support of your guy. Convince me WHY he's better, other than just because he's not supported by David Upton and Sidney Chism. While I haven't taken sides, at the very least, the Bailey folks were considerate enough to TRY to convince me, and I appreciate that.
If you and your folks don't have the guts for that, how in the hell are you going to make the SCDP effective?
It's your turn, and I'm waiting.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hey, want to help the Tennessee College Democrats?

We have an ActBlue page for them, and if you donate to them (the U of M CDs are part of the Tennessee College Democrats), the college Democrats Alumni Association will match it up to $250!

Kick in for our College Democrats throughout the state!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Let's Begin the Discussion, Shall We?

While I have yet to make up my mind whom the new ExecCom should select, I have decided to allow supporters of each candidate make their case for their guy. I ask only that it be kept as clean as possible; i.e., don't call your opponent a pig-####er unless you have pictures and documentation to prove it.

With that in mind, I have been asked by SEIU's Matt Brown, a local fellow, to post a piece in support of Jay Bailey. Turner supporters, fear not, you may do the same by emailing me with the piece you want to run. And, we will do the same number for each candidate. With that in mind, I present the writings of Matt Brown:

Jay Bailey seems more likely to "Pick up the Bullhorn" and "Lead the March" for Workers"
Matt Brown, Organizer, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 205, Memphis, Tn.
Full biography below

I want to send a big "Thank You" to the Memphis AFL-CIO Labor Council. As a full time Union Organizer for the Service Employees Union International, I was very happy Tuesday night when the Memphis AFL-CIO declined to endorse Van Turner for Democratic Party Chair. The motion to endorse died for lack of support. Mr. Turner seems to be an intelligent and likable fellow, his willingness to serve is commendable, but he works for what might be the biggest "Union Avoidance", "Pro-Management", law firms in the Mid South, Butler Snow. It was rumored that the endorsement was on the fast track, but the Labor Council decided to let the convention delegates gather more info and make up their own minds. Questions about this affiliation, coupled with Jay Bailey's convincing pitch at a "Labor Leaders" lunch last Thursday at the Marriott Downtown, stopped the endorsement in its tracks.

Ida Leachman, a longtime labor leader and organizer for the United Furniture Workers, said "We don't need anyone from Butler Snow or Baker Donaldson as Chair of the Democratic Party” (Baker Donaldson is the firm of former Republican Senator Howard Baker). Apparently Ms. Leachman’s union has dealt with Butler /Snow in organizing fights. Maybe Ida sounds a little harsh and unyielding, but she has witnessed workers being brutalized by the Bush agenda. Many believe that too many of our party leaders have been too complacent and quiet both nationally and locally. Labor organizers far too often have found ourselves leading a march for workers, only to find our Party leaders in the stands watching the parade. We need them to come out of the stands and

Turner's Supporters say he does not handle "Union Busting" cases. That may be true, but we need a Democratic Chair who will "Lead the March" against unfair practices in our area businesses and local governments. We need party leaders to "Pick up the Bullhorn" and urge politicians to keep their promises.

Butler Snow's Website proudly boasts of having gone up against some of the largest unions in America. Read it for yourself: Click here for Butler Snow -Union Avoidance Section. Mr. Turner is listed as part of the heralded "Labor and Employment Practice Group" (Click Here) . The website advertises aggressively that:

"Our Labor and Employment team is eminently qualified, experienced and poised to meet any union challenge that employers might face. We have represented employers in union organizing campaigns by virtually every union, including, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the Teamsters, United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW), United Steel Workers of America (USWA), Operating Engineers, International Association of Machinists (IAM), the California Nurse Association (CNA) and United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Unfair labor practice charges have been defeated in circumstances ranging from construction union “salting” efforts to allegedly discriminatory layoffs."

They brag about aiding companies against marches and rallies by State Legislators, Presidential Candidates, and Religious leaders:

"In responding to corporate campaigns, we have assisted employers in dealing with events such as marches led by State Legislators, active campaigning on behalf of a union by an activist state Attorney General, campaigning for a union by a U.S. Presidential candidate, and union-friendly public appeals by religious leaders."

On Strikes and Picketing:

“Strikes and picketing. We have experience in assisting employers who are faced with strikes, boycotts, and picketing. Whether the matter involves obtaining a state-court or federal injunction, pursuing unfair labor practice charges against a union, or assisting in developing strike contingency plans, we have many years of experience. Our attorneys have the knowledge and expertise to assist employers with strategies for continuing business operations through the duration of labor disputes.”

In just about every section of this "Practice Group" they list their commitment to "management" and brag about beating employees and unions in specific court cases:

" Blackshear v. Shelby County Healthcare Corporation, United States District Court, Western District of Tennessee. Plaintiff, a former Trauma Nurse and union organizer, alleged retaliatory discharge in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983 based on alleged union organizing activities at this county-owned Level II Trauma Center. At the conclusion of Plaintiff's proof after six days of jury trial, we obtained a directed verdict (Rule 50 Motion) in favor of the employer."

On Workman's Compensation they claim to represent management "Exclusively":

"Our Workers' Compensation group consists of attorneys and paralegals devoted exclusively to the representation of self-insured employers, employer groups and commercial insurance carriers."

It is difficult to believe that Mr. Turner will be able join labor leaders with picket signs at the gate of a factory that his law firm represents. It’s not just difficult, it’s absurd.

If "Religious Leaders,” like the ones who have been so active in our Living Wage Coalition, march against one of the firms clients, or the School Board, am I to believe that Mr. Turner will be able to "pick up the bullhorn and whip up the crowd?”

Several years ago the Tennessee Business Community passed legislation that "gutted" workman's compensation in our State. It was terrible for working people injured on the job. If they try it again, will Mr. Turner be able to lead a press conference in opposition to his firm's client's business interests?

It’s hard for me to imagine it. Can you?

This is not personal, it is just a fact that some individuals have professional ties that might be constraining to the values of the Democratic Party . They can be great people and leaders in our community, but we don't need Democratic Party Chairmen who are muzzled or who might be cautiously diplomatic; we need fighters.

Concerning Butler Snow's marketing of Attorney Van Turner:

Mr. Turner seems to have excellent credentials as a lawyer. Apparently he has worked at the Board of Education until just recently. He could probably work at any firm that he wishes. It is puzzling as to why he chose this firm, which seems to have a very conservative culture. The Butler Snow firm posts several cases on their website that showcase Mr. Turner’s legal expertise. They do so presumably to attract clients, presumably with his consent. Most of the citations seem to tout his effectiveness as a "Management " lawyer. One citation brags that he beat an "Americans with Disabilities Act" case, another brags that he beat a "Civil Rights" complaint. Of course, management deserves good lawyers to defend against unions and employees, and everyone has to work somewhere, but I am not convinced that a "Management Lawyer" is what we need as Chair of the Democratic Party today.

From Butler Snow's Website.
Van Turner Legal Experience
Click here for full citations
Campbell v. Memphis City Schools , Shelby County Circuit Ct., No. 002201-08/Div. 2-Plaintiff alleged several tort claims, including negligence against Memphis City Schools; case was dismissed on motion to dismiss.

Hines v. Memphis City Schools, Shelby County Circuit Ct., No. 002262-08/Div. 8-Plaintiff alleged negligence and damages resulting from bus accident; case was dismissed on motion to dismiss.

Lucas v. Memphis City Schools, Shelby County Chancery Ct., No. 06-0553/Part II – Plaintiff alleged a claim under the American with Disabilities Act; case was dismissed on summary judgment.

Maclin v. Memphis City Schools, U.S.D.C., W.D. Tenn., No. 04-2926 MI An - Plaintiff alleged a civil rights, due process violation claim against Memphis City Schools; case was dismissed on summary judgment.

Some people believe we need a "Business Chairman" who can raise money from "The Business Community." There is something to be said for that; it takes money to win elections. With employees’ pensions being raided and their health benefits being scaled back, I believe we need a Party Chair who will fight hard for workers. Barrack Obama did this in his campaign for President, and he raised more money that anyone in history. If you fight hard for the truth, people will fund your message and your campaigns.

Apparently, Mr. Jay Bailey was allowed to speak at the AFL-CIO executive board meeting and laid out his background representing working people. Jay Bailey tells us that he does not represent "management" but rather is a "plaintiff’s" lawyer; he handles civil rights and employees’ cases against "Management." I have seen him on television taking all types of "Civil Rights" cases and cases for The Rainbow Coalition/Operation Push.

He apparently has a wife who is a Teacher and a Union Representative. His aunt, uncle and sister in law are Union Representatives for the MEA ( The Teachers Union), as well. His mother was a Union Representative for years before she became Principal at Booker T. Washington. In sharp contrast to Mr. Turner's office environment, Bailey could face a mighty chilly Thanksgiving dinner if he doesn't stand up for unions, teachers and workers. He might even be sleeping on the couch.

These are two very able lawyers with strong committed backers running for Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party.
Mr. Turner has a good resume, seems to be involved in the community, and has a lot of great people supporting him. Jay Bailey has an impressive group of elected officials and seasoned activists endorsing him; the kind that know how to win elections. They both brought a lot of new, young people to the convention. Perhaps Van Turner will persuade me to vote for him someday for public office, Democratic Chair or even Judge, but today, for this office, I want a seasoned fighter who will challenge our Democratic Party to stand up stronger and more solidly for lower income working people. For my money, Jay Bailey seems like the one more willing and freely able to "Pick up the Bullhorn and Lead the March".

Matt Brown's Biography

Matt is a 29 year old Memphis native, Organizer for SEIU Local 205 Memphis, Represents over 300 Custodial, &Food Service Support Staff &West Tennessee Factory Employees, ,Memphis University School Graduate (MUS) , Grace St Luke’s, Presbyterian Day School, College of Charleston S.C.,- B.A. in History &Political Science, Graduate Studies in History at The Citadel - Charleston South Carolina, He Spent Summer of 2001 &2002 working with Pastors for Peace in Havana Cuba Humanitarian Mission, At age 19 Matt Brown organized the cafeteria workers of his college for the Operating Engineers, Matt worked in Oakland California for A.C.O.R.N and the Hotel Employees & Restaurant Employees International, He Organized for The Graphic Communications Union International in Covington TN., Worked for 4 yrs as an International Teamsters Organizer, participating in campaigns in 8 States: TN., MS., Fla., Nev., Ny., Ark., Ky., Wisc., Matt spent 1 1/2 years Organizing City Employees in Chattanooga Tn. , He is a Former Board Member of the Mid-south Peace and Justice Center, Matt has worked on numerous national, state, and local campaigns.

I pissed off the liquor lobby but made consumers and grocers happy

with this Op-Ed Piece in the new Memphis Flyer.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

RIP Stephen W. Moody

Mr. Moody, the founder and lead blogger at ElectBlue.Org, was one of the best statewide Democratic bloggers. Sadly, they have announced his passing at the way-too-young age of 59. Our prayers go out to Mr. Moody's family, friends, and readers, of which we were one of many.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Just so you know

I temporarily disconnected the FOLLOWERS section because spammers were following the blog and spamming the hell out of my comments. I'm sorry, and I appreciated that you followed this blog, but I had to do it.

UPDATE: I figured out how to block the spammers, so that will help...

Friday, March 06, 2009

Here's the major reason we're on the road to Dallas

As you read this, the lovely Lauren and I are en route to Dallas for the North Texas Irish Festival. Below is the reformed Clandestine, who we have followed for years, even through their dormant period after the departure of Jen Hamel. Enjoy!

Thanks to the Lawyer and his missus for stayng to watch the animals!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Jon Stewart destroys Santelli and CNBC

and, deservedly so. Hat tip to Bob.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Wow. I wish Obama would give a speech like this

After Lincoln, our greatest President, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, speaks at Madison Square Garden.


They're BAAAACK!

Colbert shows you how Fox News gives you Beer Pong Herpes

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

A brief primer on the Caucus process

I just realized that not all of you who read this are old hacks like me and may not have an understanding of the process, so, here we go.
When you get to Airways Middle School between 9 and 10:45 AM (you HAVE to at least be in line at 10:45, or you can't register), go and find your state House District. You don't know? What the hell? OK, before you go, go HERE to find your precinct, and all of your districts for voting. You want your State House District (83-99, except 94, that's Fayette County) and then go to that table.
There, you will sign a loyalty oath (if you're going to be a Democrat, you have to agree to support the party, right?) and then sign the list BY PRECINCT (which you should have found above, right?) Ok, then, go out into the auditorium and sit with everyone else in your House District. Sometime after 11 AM, there will be a few speeches by elected officials, which gives the Credentials Committee time to get the district packets ready.
Then, about 11:30, you will break off into districts and each district chair will talk to you and break you up by precinct. Each precinct is allowed so many delegates to the Convention on March 28 (hey, we're a big county, it's a two-tier process, ok?) and there will be elections for delegate and alternate, unless there are fewer people than delegate spots in your precinct, at which time YOU'RE ALL ELECTED! W00T!
Hey, wait??? What about the Chair elections??? Silly, that's for the Convention, which you'll have to come back to Airways for on March 28, unless you lose a delegate election or can't come back. At THAT time, the delegates elected Saturday will then vote to elect Executive Committee members for each House District, who will then, in turn, elect a new chair at the end of the Convention.
if you're a delegate, you will be contacted over the following three weeks by the candidates for ExecCom seeking your support. Ask them whom they are supporting for Chair and why. Make them convince you why you should support their Chair candidate and them. Ask them what they plan to do in your House district to build the party and make it more responsive to the people. Make them WORK for it, in short.
Have fun!

The SCDP Chair race tightens

An email was sent to me a while ago originating from Lee Harris, noting that he had decided NOT to seek the Chairmanship of the SCDP. He indicated that he thought it should be a two-person race (Commissioner JW Gibson and Vice-Chair Cherry Davis have also dropped out) and that, while both Jay Bailey and Van Turner would be good candidates, he would back Van Turner.

Both Turner and Bailey and working hard to turn out people for Saturday's Ward & Precinct Caucuses at Airways Middle School. Bailey, who earlier had co-sponsored (with supporter David Upton) a reception for House Speaker Kent Williams, House Democratic Caucus Chair Mike Turner, and House Democratic Floor Leader Gary Odom, is having a meet-and-greet this Thursday at Quetzal Restaurant at 668 Union (just west of Marshall, parking on Marshall) from 5-7 PM. If you have questions for him, go ask him then. I would, but I'll be packing for Dallas.
I am NOT making an endorsement at this time; hell, I'm going to miss the W&P Caucuses AGAIN because they scheduled it opposite the North Texas Irish Festival. However, I want those of you voting for ExecCom members to ask LOTS of questions, not just WHAT but HOW each candidate intends to accomplish their stated missions. It's great to have plans, but we need to know HOW they plan to pull them off.
Be diligent, and, as Brad Watkins likes to say, DEMAND CHANGE.

Jon Stewart on CPAC

Few do it better...

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Red White and Food

I hope that you have heard of these folks, as they want to do something simple for all of us who like wine with our dinner. You will now find them on THE ENDLESS BLOGROLL down and to the right. Simply put, they want nothing more than grocery stores to be able to sell wine. Not hard liquor, just wine. Also, with any luck, they will open things up so liquor stores can sell beer.

The liquor distributors are whining that this will enable minors to buy wine more easily. I'm not buying it for a second; they already ID everyone for beer, what difference is wine going to make? None, of course; what they truly fear is that it will drive down the price of wine. Yes, fans, we may yet see the arrival of Two Buck Chuck here in Tennessee.
Really, though, do any of you think that the Hammonds will have to close Buster's if this passes? 80% of their wine selection can only be found at one or two other stores in this metro market, because it's a high quality wine store; Kroger's, I can assure you, will NOT be selling high-end wine.
Look, let me put it to you as bluntly as I know how. You can go in to a convenience store in TRUMANN, ARKANSAS, a town of 7,000 people, and buy a nice inexpensive bottle of chardonnay, but not Memphis, Tennessee, home to 630,000 people. What the hell? No, really, what the hell?
I urge you to go click on the link up there and sign on for their newsletter. Then, call your state legislators and ask them to get on board. The Knoxville News-Sentinel agrees with Red White & Food, why shouldn't you? This can only lead to more sensible liquor laws for a state that hasn't had them in the thirty-six years I have resided here.
You'll be glad you did.