Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I think the 9th District race ended yesterday, for all intents and purposes

Those supporters of Ricky Wilkins had to KNOW that it would be an uphill battle to unseat a very popular incumbent in Steve Cohen, if they were paying attention and if they were honest with themselves.  

Until yesterday, I thought that Wilkins' campaign was superior to those of the prior campaigns run to oust the Congressman, as they had avoided mistakes made by their predecessors.  Then, Ricky Wilkins stood OUTSIDE the doors if AFSCME Local 1733, claiming an endorsement that had yet to be awarded, according to the President of the local, who advised the press that the membership had yet to vote.  In doing so, he looked foolish and desperate.

Part of this, it appears falls on the Union local itself.  Someone in their leadership had apparently told Congressman Cohen that HE would be the recipient of their endorsement, and he announced that in an earlier press release, which Wilkins then disputed.

If AFSCME is no better organized than that, I feel for their workers.  The Congressman has been around long enough to know when he is getting good information, and correctly called the union leadership upon hearing of Wilkins' comments.  

At this point, regardless of whom they endorse, you have to wonder how much it will be worth, given how this process has been botched.  This would never have happened when James Smith was around, believe that.  I suspect our Congressman, once this is over, will make his feelings known about the situation to the union's national leadership, which won't bode well for the Memphis organization.

As for Wilkins, if it is true, as has been suggested to me, that he is now listening to advice from that noted media personality Thaddeus Matthews, it is now possible to suggest that perhaps the Congressman's fight for renomination is done.  He could head for the coast and rest before the November election and still win handily.  Also, if Wilkins is really listening to Matthews, he won't even be our NEXT Congressman when Cohen decides to retire.  I really hope for Wilkins' sake that this is not true; the only people who listen to Matthews are the unlikeliest voters of all.

Now, to another matter.  As you know, 999 times out of 1000, if my Congressman, Steve Cohen, asks me to do something, I want to do it, because I agree with him at about that rate.  He actually did something this week with which I will take issue,  regarding a local State Executive Committee race.

In Senate District 31, which stretches east from my Humes Heights neighborhood to Cordova and Germantown, two of my longtime friends, Dwayne Thompson and David Upton, are battling it out.  Upton, who has taken a more active role in the Congressman's campaign this year, was endorsed for the seat by Congressman Cohen over Thompson, who won four years ago, unseating Joe Weinberg.

David Upton sat on that body from Senate 30 until four years ago, when he was surprisingly voted out by Democrats for Kevin Gallagher, who never really campaigned.  Upton has been involved at the state level for a while, and I get that he wants back on the state committee.

Meanwhile, Dwayne voted for Roy Herron for TNDP Chair, which I didn't agree with but I understood his logic and reasoning for doing so.  Fortunately, Roy had the good sense to hire Alan Secrest as Executive Director, which stabilized the state party.  Full disclosure: I was recruited by Chip Forrester to run for this office; since Dwayne is one of my oldest friends, I declined to do so.

So, you may ask, why do I care, since both are my friends and both are qualified to sit on that committee?

Dwayne has lived in that district for almost 20 years and has a good understanding of the politics of that area.  David, to my knowledge, has not lived outside the Parkways; while I would seek his opinion on anything Midtown or Downtown, I think Dwayne knows our area better.  Dwayne, I must add, is also running for State Representative in District 96 (Cordova), and his victory there this fall would be a flaming spear in the heart of Republicanland.  I want him to have both titles.

Look, I get that my friend and Congressman wants to stand with those who stand with him; while Dwayne has always supported the Congressman, Upton has taken on a bigger role this year.  I believe, however, that Dwayne has earned re-election to this post and I am asking you District 31 voters to stay with him with your vote.

If David were running in the district in which he lives, I would undoubtedly ask you to vote for him.  He is not, and I am not.

One final humorous and ironic note here: because of the same law that allowed John Ford to represent Senate 29 in Western Shelby County but live in Collierville, what David is doing IS legal, believe it or not.  You all know that the laws regarding residency for County Commission are as unclear in their own way as the state laws, which is why Commissioner Henri Brooks is fighting to stay in her seat until the end of the term.

Looking to provide a process with clarity to deal with such situations, Commissioner Steve Mulroy has led the fight to create such a process and further define residential eligibility, for which he is to be lauded.  He has also decided to help the manager of his County Mayor's campaign by recording robocalls that declare Mulroy's support for his friend.

That campaign manager and friend?  David Upton, the guy who doesn't live in the district.

Gotta love it.

Monday, July 21, 2014

There is a 8th District Congressional Primary in Shelby County, too.

One of the candidates is Lawrence Pivnick, who wanted a chance to tell you about himself:

Lawrence “Larry” Pivnick  is running for the office of U.S. Congressman for Tennessee’s Eighth District in the August 7 Democratic Party primary. Pivnick defines himself as a social progressive, who believes in  traditional Tennessee values,  the U.S. Constitution, and a strong national government that defends our nation, secures liberty and justice for all, and provides for the general well being of all Americans. Pivnick also believes in fiscally responsible government under a balanced budget, and opposes deficit spending, government debt, and government waste. Pivnick supports reducing individual income taxes on 95% of Americans and lowering taxes on businesses to promote new investments and good jobs with fair living wages. Pivnick believes in a Congress that is  proactive, productive, and collaborative, irrespective of party.

            For the past 40 years, Pivnick has served as a Professor of Law at the University of Memphis, and was the founder and director of the University of Memphis Legal Clinic, providing free legal services for thousands of West Tennesseans who could not afford representation. He has also served as Faculty Senate President and as the UM faculty mediator. Pivnick is the author of several highly relied upon legal books on Tennessee procedure.

            Pivnick has been married for 32 years to Dr. Eniko Pivnick, a pediatric geneticist and professor at UT Health Sciences Center, and they have 2 daughters, Hajnal and Lilla. Pivnick is a member and regularly attends services at Temple Israel.

            For more information, see and

Reason #8500 I am voting for Deidre Malone for County Mayor

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

From Joe Brown, Shelby County District Attorney Candidate - Statement of Apology to and Action on Behalf of LGBT Community

I have received the following statement from the Judge Joe Brown campaign:

Statement of Apology to and Action on Behalf of LGBT Community

A lot has been said lately about some off-cuff and misconstrued remarks that I made about my opponent. I want to start by apologizing once again to the gay community for making sexual orientation an issue on the campaign trail where its only place should be how we plan to protect this disenfranchised community. My comments have allowed my opponent to circumvent any responsibility that she has in protecting this class of citizens. I'm going to do, concisely, what I should have done from the start. I'm going to draw the distinctions between my opponent and myself on this issue. While my opponent identifies with and proudly belongs to a party that vehemently stands in the way of the gay community's right to equal protection in the workplace and everywhere else, I plan to ensure their protection in the streets. As District Attorney, I will effectively utilize sentencing enhancement factors on hate crimes perpetrated as a result of sexual orientation or GENDER IDENTITY. I, unlike those on the far-right, do NOT believe "every crime is a hate crime". And neither does the Federal Government. I would fight tooth and nail, bench and gavel, to see to it that we use not only the tools we have at our disposal, but that we advocate vigorously for new tools; such as adding gender identity to the State Hate Crimes Sentencing Act. Too many citizens turn a blind eye to violence against our constituents and I'll be damned if I sit idly aside while the state does too. This is someones mother, father, sister, brother, or loved one in Shelby County and we need to be fighting for every one of our citizens. Now while the issue of judicial involvement in our schools, with regards to bullying, is a tricky subject, as the last thing we want to be doing is exacerbating the school-to-prison-pipeline, as my opponent is doing, there should be absolutely no contention as to whether the District Attorney's office should be a part of the conversation and solution when it comes to bullying in our schools. Nor should there be any question as to whether we should use the resources we have to protect the LGBT student when we find out that they're being abused or neglected at home because they didn't turn out the way mom and dad wanted them to. That's gotta stop now. These children deserve better than the cold and dangerous streets of Memphis. Finally, we're failing to effectively define domestic violence among this community. While less than 2% of domestic violence cases occur among same-sex couples, that's still an increase of nearly 50% since 2008. The application of the law, when it comes to protecting its citizens from violence must be blind and non-discriminatory. My opponent is a tactician. She's a politician. Detraction from real issues is what she specializes in. But if she were really serious about her job, she'd be talking about the issues that the LGBT community are actually facing instead of being appalled when she's vicariously accused of being one. Being accused of being gay should never be something that offends a person. That speaks volumes about my opponents character...since we've been talking about character and all.

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Blog Supports Reginald Milton! Come to my house and let's raise some money for him!

I knew that when Reggie Milton decided to run for County Commission, District 10, that I would help him, especially when I realized that I was moving into the district.  He is an outstanding servant of the people now with his non-profit South Memphis Alliance, and I can't wait for him to bring leadership to a County Commission that needs it so desperately.

So, why don't you come to my house Thursday night, and bring a check to help him WIN on August 7?

My lovely co-hosts Susan Sutton Steffens and Jon Carroll (in his own way, I guess)  are joining me in inviting you.  If you are on Facebook, go here.  If not, here are the particulars:

WHEN: Thursday, July 17 from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM  CDT

WHERE:  2766 Natchez Lane, 38111 (we're the ones with all the signs in the yard)

HOW MUCH?  Suggested donation is $50, but we will take all amounts from $10 up to the maximum of $1500!  We have to charge to get in because this IS a fundraiser!

SO, WHAT DO I GET FOR THAT?  Food, soft drinks, and wine, plus the immense satisfaction that your money is going to aid a great person in getting elected to the County Commission.

There will be comments from Reggie, as well as from me.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Friday, July 11, 2014


(Editor's note - this post is written by one of my colleagues on the SCDP Executive Committee, Corey Strong of HD 91.  I have been impressed with his abilities for some time, and support his candidacy for State Executive Committee, District 33.  This is in reference to an attempt on Wednesday night to reopen and reconsider three of the judicial endorsements.  He voted to do so, I voted against.  I include this because I thought he made excellent points here.)

When I got to my first ship a decade ago, my Captain told me a story about an important lesson he learned as a junior officer. He was given a very large assignment that involved a great many sailors moving equipment onto a ship. He made a mistake that led to the equipment being loaded in the wrong way. That mistake would require a great deal more man hours and rework and some weekend working days just before a major deployment for the ship. When he discovered his error, he informed his Captain of his mistake and how he would correct it. His Captain was not happy about the error but appreciated that he discovered, owned, reported, and CORRECTED his error. Had he not done this, the ship would have deployed unprepared which is an unacceptable outcome. The lesson to me was that you will make mistakes but the pain of correcting is far worse than the pain of not.

I could not help but think of this at Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the County Party. We were presented with at least a few potential mistakes that were made during our judicial selection process. I am not here to absolve the candidates that did not receive the nominations because they certainly could have done more to ensure they received the nomination. Nor am I here to argue whether or not we should have endorsed candidates at all.  What I am here to say is that the SCDP has an obligation to correct mistakes if and when they are made regardless of how painful that correction may be.  We have promised to promote qualified and worthy DEMOCRATIC candidates. If we are unsure of the worthiness or qualification of a candidate, then we should avoid promoting them or remove an endorsement when one of those things comes into question.  When you correct a mistake, the short term pain will always be small compared to the long term injury that comes from not correcting it.

It was clear that there are many people on the Executive Committee who are too concerned with the short term consequences to do the right thing and correct a potential mistake. Many people commented that we would look like little kids if we did not stand by our decision. I argue that we look like little kids if we are unwilling to correct a mistake. If you broke something when you were a child, you hid it. If you something went missing, you lied about it. If you got in trouble at school, you blamed your classmates. But most of us got older, and left those habits behind because we understood that there was a greater duty in life than avoiding uncomfortable situations.  Some of us are still content looking at a mess or ignoring it because they don’t want to deal with the scolding.

Every day, major companies like GM ignore mistakes that cost people lives and cause them injuries. We are appalled when that mistake is allowed to persist. What if my Captain was afraid of a scolding by his superior and never corrected his mistake? He would have put lives in danger and he could not live with that. We are seeing in our city government what happens when you stick with a bad decision and it comes back to haunt you later. Here, members of the Executive Committee are afraid of a scolding by the media if we change our minds. (SIDE NOTE: This is the same media that is clearly owned by and generally catering to Republicans which makes all attempts at satisfying  it fools’ errands. They are in it to sell papers and air time. Therefore, we should NEVER make decisions to avoid bad press because the SCDP is ALWAYS going to get bad press. ) Meanwhile, we are ignoring the real possibility that we may support a candidate that is unqualified or unworthy. That decision would bring 8 YEARS of discredit to the bench, undermine the judicial process for our citizens, and dilute the value of our SCDP nominations in the future. I can deal with a few CA and Channel 3 stories this July of 2014 if it avoids many potential stories and injuries in the years to come.

I understand that this process has been long and tedious and realize that taking ownership of our mistakes is a hard lesson that most of us struggle with all the time. But as a county party, we cannot waiver from that responsibility. We have to do the right thing when that is called for as it is always our name that is at stake.  

Friday, July 04, 2014

Happy Independence Day, America!

Because, after all, what says America more than Steve & Eydie singing the best of Soundgarden?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Bryan Carson's statement on the Joe Brown comments

Inline image 1

I am out of town for a family funeral, therefore, I am submitting a written statement regarding my support, and the Shelby County Democratic Party’s support of the LGBT community.

“First, let me make it clear that no Democratic candidates speak on behalf of the Shelby County Democratic Party. Also, the SCDP does NOT condone any of its Democratic nominees personally attacking anyone regard​less​
of Party or sexual orientation. We want our candidates to conduct nothing but clean campaigns.

"As publicly stated on numerous occasions, the Democratic Party is a “big tent” party made up, of and accepts, all races and religions including members of the LGBT community. We do NOT discriminate based on sexual orientation, religion or race. We believe in fairness and equality for all people regardless of their race, religion, or gender. I am not only speaking for the Shelby County Democratic Party, I personally believe in fairness and equality for all people.”

Bryan Carson, Chairman
Shelby County Democratic Party

And now, a personal note from me: Bryan has been busting his ass trying to juggle everything that has gone on and keep our candidates focused on the task at hand.  He deserves a lot better than what he's gotten.