Friday, June 26, 2015

New Blood Part 3

1 for 93000

1 for 104000

1 for 72000

1 for 63000

1 for 18000

Memphis City Council

Shelby County School Board

Shelby County Commission

Tennessee State Representatives district size in Memphis

Nashville Metro Council district size (unified

Which is more representative of the will of the voters?  Which is easier to break into?

I'm not saying Nashville's way is the better way completely (35 single member plus 5 at large is a lot), but they do allow an easier way to break into politics, forces members to represent their entire district, and allows for a greater range of viewpoints on issues.

Why do we have 7 single member districts and 6 super districts?  Shouldn't it be more of a case of 10 and 3?  You cannot really walk these districts easily and have a full time job outside of the campaign.

It is virtually impossible to run and win locally without being able to raise a lot of money.  Money is the mothers milk of politics here.  We continue to elect the same people because the money game is one that insurgents cannot win.  The first question I always here about a race is not what are your ideas or how will you make things better, but rather, how much money can you raise.

You make it difficult for people to run and represent an area because they have to raise money, which is a virtual full time job during election season, and because of the size of the districts, they do not want to anger the well heeled donors.  Our representatives more and more are becoming people who are either connected to a money class or are the money class.  District size means you have to have a job with a very flexible schedule.

Younger people want to be involved.  They get excited.  They don't have the cynicism that older political operatives have.  They want to run for office and help their community.

Why do we make it so difficult for them?  I agree that you want people who have lived a life of some sort (Stacy Campfield is a prime example) and can bring that experience.  But you also want to bring in people with fresh, new ideas and way of doing things.  The system we have now makes that virtually impossible.

Be more representative.  Not less.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

New Blood Part 2

AC Wharton
Kenneth Whalum, Jr
Michael Williams
Jim Strickland
Harold Collins
These are your candidates for Mayor. Good men all.


You cannot state that the current mayor has done a lot to deserve reelection. Our tax base is shrinking. Six years as Memphis mayor and before that seven as Shelby County Mayor.  So definitely thirteen, maybe as many as seventeen or roughly the same as former Mayor Herenton.

Controversies surround him and his appointees. He has continued many of the same cronyism that his long time predecessor began and did. People move in and out of public service. Unqualified people are appointed to head departments. Promotions based on who you know and not what you know.  People come back and stay long enough to get a higher pension and benefits.  Which reminds me..



The problems we have in this city, and we're talking about pensions?

Not jobs.

Not disastrous PILOTS.

Not crumbling infrastructure.

Not education.

But pensions?


Not cronyism.

Not improving the city.

But pensions.

I am steadfastly on the side of MPD on this issue.  Public sector employees take lower base pay for the promise of a guaranteed amount in retirement.  They have earned every last dime of it.  The differences I have are negiligible.  The real issue I have are double dippers who get there way too easily.


That issue has dominated the news for the last few months.  Distracting us from real discussion of the issues.  Maybe we'll get more once the electoral forums start in earnest in a few weeks.

We cannot continue down the path we have been on for the last 24 years.  There has been some difference between the Herenton and Wharton administrations, but not a large amount.

Change in how we run this city needs to occur.  Ideally, it occurs this year with the election of Whalum (getcha popcorn ready), Strickland, or Williams.

I was not born here in Memphis.  I moved here 20 years ago this August.  But this city is home for me.  I voted for the first time ever here in the 1995 election (Herenton in case you were wondering).

We need new ideas.  New ways of doing things.  Continuing down the path we are on now is not going to grow this city and make it attractive to people to move to and more importantly, for our young people to STAY in.  We don't want to continue to lose people to our exurbs and that city to the east.

More to come.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

New Blood Part 1

What are these? The ages of top candidates for Council District 5 and Super District 8. Last year with Lee Harris, three years ago with Kevin Woods, and five years ago with Justin Ford the new blood has started to arrive that we have long needed for this city and county.

I know he won't believe it, but one thing that Del Gill was correct on in his quest to become party chair was right, young people don't vote and aren't engaged. He was wrong in that we should only focus on older voters though. That disengagement by the young is in large part due to efforts by the old guard to drive people away. Efforts to keep them from power and moving up to become our future are showing in the lack of change in the power structure in the Democratic side especially for the last ten plus years. If you cannot see a future, if you cannot see hope or the chance for improvement, why should you try to make the change happen?

Wait your turn, it't not your time yet. That gets said a lot to younger people entering races or contemplating races. What should be said to them instead include questions like these: Why are you running? What are you going to do to make a change or improve the situation? How are you going to get your agenda passed and implemented?

Too often our local leaders stay in way too long. While that does give you institutional power and control and knowledge, it also leads to stagnation, corruption, and inflexibility. New people have new ways of looking at a situation and explore new ideas. Our older leaders still have a lot to offer, realizing when the time to step aside is difficult.

All of us want to make this city vibrant and strong. Older officials have a lot to offer in advice and counseling. But too often here, political office has become about the job and the power, and not the ideas and the people. We want our city to grow and be attractive to people to move here. One great way is to have young, energetic, dynamic leadership at all levels of government that will both work with the veterans and serve as examples to the future that will replace them as well. Train them up, step aside, and let them go, perhaps before you are willing to let go, but have faith that you did your job right.

Embrace the new. More to come later this week.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

On Charleston and the over-ownership of weapons

So, it's been reported that the terrorist Dylann Roof received a gun for his 21st birthday, which he used to brutally murder 9 people at a historic church in Charleston, SC last night.  One of those who lost their lives in this terrorist attack is the pastor, a State Senator named Clementa Pinckney, who also fought for gun control as well as civil rights or all.

The NRA has fought EVERY attempt to bring about ANY type of restriction for purchasing weapons, and it is time for them to be stopped cold.  I know a thing or two about possessing weapons.  I have owned weapons since the age of 11, when I got a 20-gauge shotgun for my birthday. My late father was a part-time gunsmith in NE Arkansas and was known for his ability to fix people's guns for deer season and duck season. Toward the end of his life, even HE thought the NRA was insane. It's time for licensing for weapon-owners, background checks for ALL those who would purchase weapons and simple, responsible actions for those would own weapons.
You don't get to operate a motor vehicle without doing so, and you should not be able to operate anything else that is potentially lethal to other human beings. Maybe, just maybe we can slow down some of these insane shootings in this country.
I can only hope.