Friday, January 24, 2014

WHALUM! Stirs the pot, enters Democratic race for County Mayor

I wondered what was up a few days ago when the Reverend Kenneth Whalum Jr of the New Olivet Baptist Church announced on Facebook that he had informed presumed Democratic frontrunner Deidre Malone that he could not support her candidacy.   Given that, to that point, her only challenger for the nomination was County Commission Chair James Harvey, who had soiled himself among Democratic activists by giving his votes to the GOP in return for their Chair votes, so things looked rather good for her, primarywise.

I knew that the Reverend was not pleased with Deidre for her support of the Memphis Pre-K Initiative, which Whalum busted his butt to defeat at the polls.  He took the very poor campaign of the Initiative, used free media brilliantly to overcome a heavily-financed campaign.  He is also no stranger to elective office, having served on the MCS Board and arguably had re-election taken from him due to, at the very least, ineptitude of the Shelby County Election Commission.

So, he knows how to run for office, he knows how to marshal support and he knows how to get free media, not even counting his every-Friday-morning appearance on Drake & Zeke on 98.1 The Max.  So, does he have a chance to win?  Yes.  Will he win?  Well, let's see how this plays out.

This battle is going to be fought in a May 6 County Primary, which is traditionally one of the lowest-turnout events that we have in this County.  With that in mind, if you are a candidate, your job is to A) find YOUR voters, B) get them out to vote for you, while C) NOT waking up your opponent(s)' voters so that they go out and vote for THEIR candidate.  Tricky?  Yes.  While I have no doubt Reverend Whalum can pull off A and B, C may be more difficult, as he is not subtle and is good at stirring things up, which is not a bad thing at all, usually.

I do not think Harvey has that much of a chance, as the story of his election to the Chairmanship is made known to the Democratic electorate.  The would-be coronation of Deidre Malone has been put on hold for now, and she has to wonder how this keeps happening.  She was the pre-emptive favorite to win the primary four years ago until Joe Ford stunningly was named interim Mayor of the County.  When Joe decided to run for re-election,  his name still had enough clout in a Democratic Primary to knock off the outgoing Commissioner Malone.

This race just got real interesting real quick. It's time for everyone who supports these candidates to crank it up NOW!

Ladies and Gentlemen, SPEAK TO POWER has returned!

Out of nowhere, Steve Ross and Trace Sharp resurrected SPEAK TO POWER this week, just in time to cover the insanity that is the GOP-controlled Tennessee General Assembly.  It's time to add them back to your RSS feeds and bookmarks, they are rolling harder than ever to document the atrocities taking place in NashVegas!

Welcome back, SPEAK TO POWER!  Hey, I wonder if they need anyone else????  

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looks like I missed an interesting Kennedy Day...

As Jackson Baker noted, there was a good showing for the 2014 Kennedy Day dinner, put on by the SCDP at Bridges on Saturday night, I hate that I missed it.

After a good speech by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA), a panel involving several women with great history within the party was held, including Judge Camille McMullen, former Public Service Commissioner Sara Kyle, former Senator Beverly Marrero, former NAACP head and current Representative Johnnie Turner, and longtime former school board member Sara Lewis.

However, it was a woman not on the panel who made the loudest comments.  Former State Representative and City Councilor Carol Chumney (full disclosure for those newer readers: she has been a friend for over 20 years and I co-managed her County Mayor campaign in 2002) said that in addition to the Democratic and Republican parties, there was a "Republi-Democratic" party filled with Democrats who support Republicans.  She then called out Congressman Steve Cohen for not supporting her during her unsuccessful race for Attorney General in 2012.


Should the Congressman have supported her?  It wouldn't have hurt, but let's be serious here, it wouldn't have helped that much, either.  Her campaign started too late, didn't raise enough money, and I'm not sure that if he had supported her as he supported Assessor Cheyenne Johnson and now-General Sessions Court Clerk Ed Stanton, that she would have won.  One other thing that I have to note:  It never seemed to me that she went after Amy Weirich with the same vigor as she had AC Wharton (twice, in 2002 and 2009) and Dr. Herenton (2007).  I don't get that, either, because Weirich had and still has vulnerabilities with regard to the operation of her office.  Carol never brought those up and I just don't get that.

Carol just is no longer the strong candidate she was during her legislative days.  I hate that, as her days in the state House were terrific for her constituents and the City in general.  It just takes a hell of a lot of time and money to win city or countywide, and you have to start a year in advance.  THAT is how you get Democrats not to support Republicans, by making sure you are in early and by doing pre-emptive strikes on Democratic donors.

 My own rant: Why does no Democrat want to take on and attack Attorney General Amy Weirich, who refuses to discipline her lead prosecutor, Tom Henderson, who was censured by the state last week?  She will be in FOR EIGHT YEARS if we don't beat her this year, and that's not good for anyone.  If you believe it doesn't matter who the AG is, you are deluding yourself, it's arguably the most important office in the county.  Rant over.

For you old timers, remember when, during the 70s and 80s, Mark Flanagan would run against Harold Ford, Sr, in the 9th District primary just so people whom Senior had pissed off for whatever reason could vote against him?  Of course, they would return to the fold for November, because none of them would be caught dead voting GOP.

This is what Ricky Wilkins' candidacy represents to me, the latest in a longline of Flanaganesque campaigns that result in a massive landslide for the incumbent.  This is because our Congressman takes EVERY candidate who runs against him seriously, even Charlotte Bergmann.  It's the same group of people who have been pissed off for years, who pretend as though they have the pulse of the city, only to see their candidate lose like the 1962 New York Mets.

One of the problems that they have with him is that he won't be the boss.  The city's Democrats have been used to a machine at several points in the last century, most notably EH Crump from the Oughts to the late 40s, and the organization of Harold Ford Senior in the 70s, 80s and early 90s.  It's true that Harold Senior had a crack team of people throughout the city, many of them veterans of the civil rights movement to whom organization was second nature.

However, when Senior gave up his seat to Junior in 1996, Junior didn't do that much to maintain that organization, which was being decimated by age and death.  What remained of it through his ill-fated 2006 Senate campaign was maintained by family friends and friendly local legislators, who were also starting to be decimated as well, by age and the Tennessee Waltz scandal.   However, that came to an end.

Congressman Cohen won his first primary in 2006 with a combination of white Midtown liberals, some of the civil-rights veterans remaining along with African-Americans he had served during his 24 years in the State Senate.  He has retained the seat with an epic work ethic and solid constituent service despite campaigns from African-Americans who have implied that he can't truly represent their community.  Of course, as you know, each election, 70-75 percent of the African-American electorate show their disagreement with those campaigns by renominating and then re-electing the Congressman.  So, the Flanaganesque campaigns will continue, and as always, ending in a rout of the challenger.  It would be nice if he had a break, but since Senior never got one, I doubt Steve will, either.

Steve has his organization, to be sure, but it doesn't seem like anyone other than AC Wharton (and his is nonpartisan, not really Democratic in nature) has bothered to build an infrastructure for phone-banking and canvassing.  Van Turner started, and Bryan Carson is trying his damnedest to raise enough money for the August and November elections, hence the two big fundraisers of note.

I think there are those that believe Steve needs to be like Senior and carry the County Party on his back, but I don't think that's really possible any more, because it's not 1992 any more. As  I noted earlier, many of the old hands of the Ford campaigns are gone, and many middle-class African Americans have left the city for Desoto and other counties; go look at the census numbers if you don't believe me.  THAT, as much as anything, is why the old and fallacious belief, that all you need to do is turn now the African-American vote and you are a sure winner, has been an abject failure.  How's that worked so far?

So, what do we do now?  Give me a day to think about it, and I will have more for you, I gotta go to bed.

Stay tuned!

Friday, January 17, 2014

You still have time to get your Kennedy Day tickets, but you need to HURRY.

The Shelby County Democratic Party is having it’s John F. Kennedy Day DinnerSaturday, January 18, 2014.The theme of this event is “The Year of The Woman.” 

Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-California, 13th District) is the confirmed speaker. 

After Rep. Lee’s talk, there will be a panel discussion made up of elected/appointed women primarily discussing the challenges of public office, the grit needed to achieve and maintain those offices and the challenge women face running for/being appointed to public office. 

The 2014 Kennedy Day Dinner will be at BRIDGES, 477 N 5th St, Memphis, TN 38105.

“The Year of the Woman” Panelists

Judge Camille McMullen previously served as a state and federal prosecutor in Memphis, Tennessee. She served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Thirty Judicial District from 1998 to 2001. She then served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District of Tennessee from 2001 to 2008. In 2008, Judge McMullen was appointed by Governor Phil Bredesen to the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. She made history as the first African-American woman to serve on an intermediate appellate court in Tennessee. She has also served as a member of the Memphis, Tennessee, and National Bar Associations; Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women; the National Association of Women Judges; and as a Master with the Leo Bearman Sr., Inn of Court.

Sara Kyle served as a public defender before her election to the Memphis City Court bench in 1991. Ms. Kyle resigned from her City Judge’s position in March of 1994 to run statewide for the Public Service Commission, the predecessor to Tennessee Regulatory Authority. The Public Service Commission was dissolved in 1996 and replaced by the TRA. Ms. Kyle was appointed to the TRA February 29, 1996, becoming one of the first three members, and served as a Director on the regulatory authority until March 2013. Recently, she considered a 2014 run against current Governor Bill Haslem – she changed her mind about running due to the illness of her mother who just passed. Ms. Kyle is married to state Sen. Jim Kyle.

State Rep. Johnnie R. Turner was appointed to complete the term representing House District 85 in January 2010 after her husband, State Rep. Larry Turner’s untimely death. He represented the 85th District for 25 years. She ran for election to the 85th District seat in 2010 and won. At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Rep. Turner served on the Consumer and Human Resources,Government OperationsChildren and Family AffairsConsumer and Employee Affairs committees. She is also the Treasurer of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. A civil rights advocate, Rep. Turner is a former Executive Director of the Memphis Branch NAACP and a retired educator of Memphis City Schools.

Sara Lewis has been a classroom teacher, curriculum developer, grant writer, Title I Project Director, an area specialist, elementary school principal and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction. She retired from the Memphis City Schools to become the Executive Director of Free The Children Inc., a demonstration program that addressed the root causes of poverty in selected census zones in North Memphis. In 1991 Lewis became the first African-American to be elected to an At-Large Position on the Board of Education of the Memphis City Schools. Lewis retired from the Board of Education on December 31, 2006 after completing her fourth term. She was re-elected to the Board of Education, representing District 6, on December 7, 2010. Her term of office ended August 31, 2013.

Beverly Marrero was first elected to the 103rd General Assembly in the Tennessee House of Representatives by-election after Rep. Carol Chumney resigned to become a member of the Memphis City Council. Marrero served in the House of Representatives from 2003 to 2006. In March 2007, Marrero won special election for the Tennessee State Senate seat vacated by then newly elected U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen. She represented the 30th Senate District from 2008 until 2012. Due to redistricting, Shelby County lost one of its six Senate seats which resulted in Marrerro and Sen. Jim Kyle running for the same Senate seat. Marrero also served as delegate for the State of Tennessee in the 1976 Democratic National Convention. She began politics working for the election of John F. Kennedy by going door to door in her neighborhood. She worked in Tennessee, Missouri, Ohio, and New Hampshire for Jimmy Carter's campaign.

Moderator: Deidre Malone served eight years as a Shelby County Commissioner. She became the first African-American woman to serve as chair of the Shelby County Commission and budget committee chairwoman. In 2010, Malone made an unsuccessful bid for Mayor of Shelby County. This year, Malone will again seek the Democratic nomination for Shelby County mayor, hoping to win the right to challenge the incumbent, Republican mayor. She is the Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of The Carter Malone Group, LLC (CMG), a public relations, marketing and advertising firm headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to opening CMG in 2003, Malone served as Vice President of Marketing Development for ALSAC/St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Director of Public Relations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for 10 years. 

Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Rally for LOCKED OUT Kellogg's Workers this Saturday!

Thanks to Representative GA Hardaway for the information:

Memphis A. Philip Randolph Institute and Community Partners Supporting BCTGM Local 252G Workers
WHEN: Saturday January 11, 2014
             3:30 p.m. til 4:30 p.m.
WHERE: Airways at Dunn Avenue, Front Gate of Kellogg Company
"If Not Now WHEN"
This is an attack on all workers. A profitable company wanting to replace middle-income jobs with casual,part-time workers. Injustice to One is Injustice to All. A company that received PILOT for our city and county guarantee middle-income wages and benefits. Ignoring a Master Agreement it has with BCTGM local unions representing cereal workers at four plants: Memphis, TN; Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; and Lancaster, PA.
It has been 78 days since Kellogg Company locked out its Memphis workers. It is time for the community to stand with the members and families of BCTGM Local 252G and demand that Kellogg open the doors and bargain in good faith. Over 200 working men and women no longer can support their families.
Contact Kermit Moore, President Memphis A. Philip Randolph Institute at or 901-351-1973

Thursday, January 02, 2014

Happy New Year, and let's prevent a mistake!

I had heard rumors for a month now that the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market was being wooed by Loeb to move from the parking lot of First Congregational Church at Cooper and Walker to the new parking garage at Overton Square.  Today, Toby Sells of the Flyer has an article about this possibility.

CYCFM is the only year-round Farmer's Market in the city that sources from local growers and vendors; the others in the area are seasonal.  From what I am hearing, the vendors are not agreed as to whether this would be a good move or not, and I tend to think that it will not be as positive as one would suspect.

First, while the bottom floor of the Garage would provide cover for the Market, its' accessibility would be reduced, as well as its visibility from the street.  Second, will food trucks be allowed, or would the local restaurants surrounding the Market raise a stink?  Third, while this is a nice addition to the Square, how knows long Loeb will stay committed to what has always been a COMMUNITY market?  Loeb, for all the great things they have done, is a BUSINESS, and if the Market becomes more of a problem or out grows its space, could get dumped for something more profitable.  CYCFM, you KNOW that won't happen with First Congo.

And lastly, but most importantly, what about the COMMUNITY in the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market?  You serve the whole of Midtown in your great space in the First Congo lot, and it is a COMMUNITY meeting spot for that area.  There is lots of parking surrounding your current location, the irony of moving to the Square Garage is that there might actually be LESS surrounding parking for your customers.

CYCFM, you are one of the city's greatest assets, please consider this carefully before you leave your home at First Congo.  Your intentions, and those of Loeb, may be good, but like my daddy used to say, the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Thanks for reading.