Monday, March 25, 2013

It's been an interesting weekend...

As you may know, political folks like to make announcements that they don't want people to talk about on Friday, because people are getting ready for the weekend and overlook them.

So, I get a call from Steve Ross on Friday saying that George Monger had NOT been reappointed to the Shelby County Election Commission by the Democrats in the Shelby County Democratic legislative delegation.  Norma Lester, fortunately, was reappointed; in Monger's place was named Anthony Tate, a nice guy as far as I know; however, I knew the technological expertise George Monger had provided the SCEC, as well as being a watchdog that pissed off the Republicans.

Now, campers, that pissed me off, so I sent the following email to my list, after having received one from Joe Weinberg:

First, I from Joe:
I just learned that the Democratic Legislative caucus has not recommended George Monger for reappointment to the Shelby County Election Commission. From my point of view of closely watching the SCEC in action for the last few months, I think this is a terribly unwise decision. The SCEC is dealing with a number of complex issues now, not the least of which is new registration software and new voting machines. George is the only one on the commission who has technology and computer expertise. He has been an invaluable watchdog for Democratic Party interests- indeed for the interests of all voters. I don’t know his successor, but his learning curve will be great and occurring during the transfer going on right now of the information technology function from the SCEC to the County IT Department. So the timing for this change could not be worse. Richard Holden will be unchecked by anyone who can be a  technical authority and Mr. Holden clearly is way out of his level of competence when it comes to technology. John Halbert, the head of IT, is an appointee of Mayor Lutrell. I don’t know if he is a neutral technocrat or a partisan advocate. Now we will have no one to challenge his decisions. 

Now from ME: Are you serious?  What the hell are our folks thinking?  Unless George Monger asked NOT to be reappointed, I cannot imagine why he was not.  He is very technologically savvy, and if he was a PITA to the GOP on the SCEC, so much the better, they have been nothing but incompetent boobs, and that's assuming POSITIVE intent!  
Our Democratic legislators are on this list, and if anyone can explain this action to me and would like me to forward to the list, I will be happy to do so.  It better be good.
Ok then.  I got a call from Rep. Hardaway on Saturday morning, which I appreciated, to give me background on the matter and to make a REALLY good suggestion, which I intend to promote: There will soon be a West Tennessee opening on the STATE Election Commission, as Greg Duckett has decided not to continue, and wouldn't George Monger be a terrific person to have in that slot?  Now, I am aware that Van Turner has considered that appointment, and he would be terrific, if this is what he wants to do.

However, who would be a better watchdog for the voter than Monger, who has the time, knowledge, energy and ability to keep the GOP on their toes?  If you agree, and I hope that you do, let your Democratic legislators know how you feel:

Senate Democratic Leader, Senator Jim Kyle, 615-741-4167, (30)
Senator Ophelia Ford, 615-741-1767, (29)
Senator Reginald Tate. 615-741-2509, (33)

Representative Joe Towns, Jr., 615-741-2189, (84)
Representative Johnnie Turner, 615-741-6954, (85)
Representative Barbara Cooper, 615-741-4295, (86)
Representative Karen Camper, 615-741-1898, (87)
Representative Larry Miller, 615-741-4453, (88)
Representative John Deberry 615-741-2239, (90)
Speaker Pro Tem Emeritus, Representative Lois Deberry, 615-741-3830, (91)
Representative G.A. Hardaway, 615-741-5625, (93)
Representative Antonio Parkinson, 615-741-4575, (98)

Make the call and email to your legislator, and if you're a Democrat with GOP legislators, let ALL of them know how you feel.

You will be glad you did.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

So now they want to INCREASE the size of the ExecCom

Heh.  So the plan all along was to INCREASE the size of the ExecCom?  Suuuure it was.

In any event, it had the desired effect of shaking the TNDP ExecCom up and making everyone think about how things are going over there, so it WORKED.  So, what's the NEW plan, you ask?  here you go:

  • No changes are being made to the 66 members of the Executive Committee that are elected as one man and one woman from each state senate district; 
  • The amendment states that the House Democratic Leader shall appoint six members to the Executive Committee, two from each of Tennessee's grand divisions, for a term of two years;
  • The amendment states that the Senate Democratic Leader shall appoint six members to the Executive Committee, two from each of Tennessee's grand divisions, for a term of two years; 
  • The amendment says each U.S. Congressman, if a Democrat, shall serve on the Executive Committee or appoint a member to the Executive Committee;
  • The amendment says each U.S. Senator, if a Democrat, shall serve on the Executive Committee or appoint a member to the Executive Committee; 
  • The amendment says Tennessee's governor, if a Democrat, shall serve on the Executive Committee or appoint a member to the Executive Committee; 
  • The amendment states that the Executive Committee may create ex-officio voting positions, provided that the number of such positions shall not exceed nine members. 
Figuring in 12 appointed by the Caucuses, one each from Steve Cohen and Jim Cooper (with more to be added if we take Congressional seats back) and ex-officio seats from College Dems, YDs and TDFW and we are now up to 83 members of the ExecCom.

That could be unwieldy, but if you get some of the older folks out and replace them with younger folks, it might just work, as long as they DO work.

More here from Ross and R. Neal.

Monday, March 18, 2013

If this is true, this is ridiculous

Steve Ross sent me a link yesterday to a Randy Neal post about a plan by Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Lowe Finney of Jackson and Rep. Jason Powell to completely overhaul the Tennessee Democratic Party Executive Committee.  Take a minute and go read it if you have not done so. Go on, I'll wait.

Aren't you glad they believe in the "democratic" process? It would designate the current House delegation as the ExecCom and let the Democrats in the House and Senate appoint five other members each from around the state.

Given that it was a Democratic-controlled TNGA that put the current system in place, where a male and a female each elected from every state Senate district, you may well think this is the right thing to do.  There are points to the legislators objections, as these seats rarely turn over (unless you live in Memphis!); as Ross notes in the comments of the Neal post, only NINE of the 66 seats were contested in 2010.

I also have a complaint that the system of electing these members in August of the gubernatorial election year does not hold the state ExecCom accountable for picking bad chairs or for non-performance (again, we only seem to do that in Memphis).  One could argue that we should have these elections (albeit paid for by the parties) in March following a November general election so that we can hold these people accountable for the elections in their Senate districts.

However, even with all that, the reputed Finney/Powell plan is like trying to kill a gnat with a light anti-tank weapon.  Ladies and gentlemen Democrats of the TNGA, if you want change, then, by heavens, why don't YOU find people to run for these seats and get behind them??   Get off YOUR butts and help rebuild the party and if you don't believe your ExecCom reps are performing to your standards, go find new ones, and then effect the changes you want from your ExecCom, it's that simple.

It's also the DEMOCRATIC way of doing things, both small and large D Democratic.

Now, ExecCom reps, I'm not done with you yet, either.  Not all of the legislators' complaints are without merit, people.  In the rural areas, there are county parties that are non-existent and some of you have sat there and watched it happen and done little or nothing to stop it..  What have YOU done about this?  Why SHOULD you be retained?  Why haven't you taken more action to prevent this from occurring?  Do you really need another term if you're just looking for a title?

There needs to be a serious sit-down with the Caucuses and the State ExecCom members and the County Chairs, a retreat, if you will, to have serious discussions.  Any one who fails to show up for any reason other than illness or work should be noted, and possibly replaced.  Were I still Christian, I would call it a Come to Jesus meeting for all concerned parties.

Senator Finney, Chair Herron, the ball's in your court.

Monday, March 11, 2013

It's time for the SCDP Caucuses and Convention

The Shelby County Democratic Party will be hosting its Biennial Convention on the following dates, times and location:
The Ward and Precinct Delegate Selection Caucus Meeting
  • All Shelby County Democrats can attend and participate
  • You must be a registered voter in Shelby Co., TN
Airways Middle School
2601 Ketchum
Memphis, TN 38114-6277
Saturday, March 16, 2013
Doors Open at 9:00 a.m.
Cut-off time for Registration is 10:30 a.m.
The Convention to Select Executive Committee Members and Chair
  • Only individuals selected as Ward and Precinct Delegates can participate
Airways Middle School
2601 Ketchum
Memphis, TN 38114-6277
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Doors Open at 11:00 a.m.
Cut-off time for Registration is 12:00 noon
Before arriving to the caucuses, please look up and bring your precinct number and State Representative district number. You can find this information at  Or, just bring your recent voter registration card.
Get Involved

While you're at it, friend us on Facebook.

Become a continuing member of the Shelby County Democratic Party by contributing here.

Want to do more? Sign up to volunteer on our website.

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Minerva Johnican, pioneer and trailblazer, leaves us far too soon at 74.

Minerva Johnican, one of the most fearless human beings I have ever known, passed from this earth last night after a long illness at the age of 74.

She served on the County Commission from 1975 until she was beaten in 1982 by Julian Bolton, a payback fro, Harold Ford Sr. for challenging him in the Democratic primary in 1980.  She never backed down from anything, and she jumped right back in by getting elected to an at-large position on the City Council in 1983, beating David Hill with Republican backing.  The SCDP did nothing to her, and should not have done anything; she proved her bona fides years earlier.

I got to know her working in her campaign for city Mayor in 1987, when she finished well behind Dick Hackett and John Ford.  However, she bounced back again by being the first female elected county-wide when she won the Criminal Court Clerk race in 1990.  She made great change that streamlined the processes and made things work smoother.

However, in 1994 the GOP decided to have a partisan slate for every county race and defeated her.

She was courageous and tough, and mentored countless numbers of women who wanted a career in public service.  Without her service on the County Commission, we might not have the Regional Medical Center at Memphis.  She fought for women, minorities and the poor and would work with anyone, but would not tolerate bullshit, either.

To say that she will be missed is an understatement.  We could use more like her, but she was really one of a kind.

Rest in peace, Minerva.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

The question no one seems willing to ask Judge Mays

For all of the hoo-haw regarding the selection of Rick Masson as Special Master over the school merger (1 - if you're going to have such a thing, he's the one to have, because he can facilitate damn near anything, 2- $250/hour is a hell of a nice compensation), something seems to be overlooked.

Why, after all this time, has Judge Samuel H. "Hardy" Mays avoided making a ruling on the County Commission's suit that says the MSDs amount to de facto re-segregation of our school system?  He keeps having status conferences, he names a Special Master, but at some point, he HAS to rule on the motion.

It's as if he keeps looking to the TN General Assembly to get him out of this mess, but it is not going to happen.  Could it be because he KNOWS that he has to agree with them, killing MSDs in Big Shelby permanently?  At the heart of the suit, the numbers are there to prove the Commission's point, that this is nothing more than an attempt to put back the wall that was torn down with the surrender of the MCS Charter.

Oh, and media folks?  Why the hell aren't you asking what's taking so long?

Every day he waits, Judge Mays prolongs the problems of the merger.  End this madness now, your honor, and make the ruling that you know in your heart you have to make.  If Robert McRae could do it 40 years ago, so can you.

UPDATE:  I have been advised by our friend and Councilor Shea Flinn that trial has not been held yet for that part of the motion.  My mistake.  However, then the question is changed to this: Why have we not had the trial for that port of the motion?