Friday, October 31, 2003

The Back Burner

Discontent simmers on the county commission; plus word from other news fronts.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2003 at 4:00 AM

This 'n' That: Once an insurgent, always an insurgent Although some of the major battles are over, skirmishes continue on the Shelby County Commission.

Instance 1: First-term commissioner Deidre Malone, still displeased that current chairman Marilyn Loeffel opted to name former chairman Walter Bailey, Loeffel's ally, as education committee chair instead of Malone, reluctantly accepted the vice-chairmanship of that committee. Malone was not bashful about noting that she had to function as chairman at a committee meeting last week and to take the lead in disposing of a committee-related issue on Monday, both times because Chairman Bailey was absent. (Monday's issue, concerning whether the county should make a requested $25,000 contribution to the purchase of a library transport vehicle, was resolved when Curtis Kittrell, library finance director, conceded that funds were already on hand to buy the vehicle.)

Instance 2: One of the routine matters disposed of at the commission's regular Monday meeting was the appointment of Chairman Loeffel and Commissioner Michael Hooks to the Center City Commission. Only one commissioner demurred: Bruce Thompson, a rival of Loeffel's for the commission chairmanship and a frequent verbal opponent of hers who was a Center City designee last year but was passed over by Loeffel this year. When Thompson made a point of abstaining on the vote, Loeffel audibly guffawed.

Thompson and Malone each maintain that Loeffel welshed on a commitment to name Malone as education chair (with David Lillard as vice chair). The chairman, who formerly had headed the committee herself, maintained that she was merely prompted by Bailey to follow tradition in yielding her chairmanship to him.

What newcomers Malone, Thompson, and Lillard are about, as they have made reasonably clear, is an outright challenge to tradition and established authority in ways that relate to both procedure and policy (especially fiscal and development policy).

Malone is not only knocking heads with Bailey on the commission, she is an active supporter of Willie Brooks in the District 1 school board runoff against Bailey's son Jay Bailey.

Eastern Exposure Governor Phil Bredesen, speaking from Osaka, Japan, via teleconference Tuesday, took note of renewed controversy about the forthcoming Tennessee lottery by restating his "unqualified support" for lottery director Rebecca Paul, who is under fire from state Republican chairman Beth Harwell and others for the high levels of compensation she and other lottery officials are receiving, as well as for Paul's penchant for hiring fellow Georgians.

"I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to run this thing day by day," Bredesen said. "She's under great pressure to perform, and I'm inclined to cut her some slack."

The governor, on a trade mission to Japan and Korea with some 70 Tennessee business leaders and public officials, noted that he had met with several executives of Japanese corporations, including the officers of the Brother Corporation, which operates a high-tech facility in Bartlett.

The Japanese executives are by and large satisfied with their Tennessee operations, Bredesen said, adding that some "workforce issues" needed to be resolved, including ensuring a supply of qualified employees, the governor said. "This [Japan] is a society with a 95 percent graduate rate in high school and one of 40 percent for college. We're not in the same universe."

You Decide. We Report ... Readers of this space will recall that our election preview bestowed some compliments on city councilman Myron Lowery and (correctly ) predicted a relatively easy victory for him over challenger Isaac Ford. We were subsequently told by the councilman that this homage was a matter of "yesterday" and that he was displeased not to have seen the details of his victory -- which, said he, deserved "at least a sentence" -- reported on. Who are we to disappoint someone so insistent? With the aid of semicolons, here then is a sentence, one of the subject's own: "I had to overcome Harold [Ford]; I had to overcome Harold Jr.; it wasn't easy, but I beat them both!"

Names in the Hat The list of potential candidates for the District 89 state House seat vacated by City Council candidate Carol Chumney expands. Former Republican state Representative Tim Joyce has expressed an interest, as have former county commission candidate Irma Merrill, a Democrat, and Chumney's current campaign manager, Jay Sparks.

Affordable-housing specialist David Upton, a longtime Democratic activist, has decided against a race; Shelby County schools' planning director Maura Black Sullivan and MIFA administrator Mary Wilder, also a Democrat, are mulling it over. Republican Jim Jamison, a Northwest Airlines employee, is a declared candidate.

Too late to classify: David Wolf and Henry Loeb Jr.

E-mail: baker@MemphisFlyer.com

Thursday, October 30, 2003

POLITICS: The Back Burner

Discontent simmers on the county commission; plus word from other news fronts.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 30, 2003 at 4:00 AM

THIS 'N' THAT: Once an insurgent, always an insurgent Although some of the major battles are over, skirmishes continue on the Shelby County Commission.

Instance 1: First-term commissioner Deidre Malone, still displeased that current chairman Marilyn Loeffel opted to name former chairman Walter Bailey, Loeffel's ally, as education committee chair instead of Malone, reluctantly accepted the vice-chairmanship of that committee. Malone was not bashful about noting that she had to function as chairman at a committee meeting last week and to take the lead in disposing of a committee-related issue on Monday, both times because Chairman Bailey was absent. (Monday's issue, concerning whether the county should make a requested $25,000 contribution to the purchase of a library transport vehicle, was resolved when Curtis Kittrell, library finance director, conceded that funds were already on hand to buy the vehicle.)

Instance 2: One of the routine matters disposed of at the commission's regular Monday meeting was the appointment of Chairman Loeffel and Commissioner Michael Hooks to the Center City Commission. Only one commissioner demurred: Bruce Thompson, a rival of Loeffel's for the commission chairmanship and a frequent verbal opponent of hers who was a Center City designee last year but was passed over by Loeffel this year. When Thompson made a point of abstaining on the vote, Loeffel audibly guffawed.

Thompson and Malone each maintain that Loeffel welshed on a commitment to name Malone as education chair (with David Lillard as vice chair). The chairman, who formerly had headed the committee herself, maintained that she was merely prompted by Bailey to follow tradition in yielding her chairmanship to him.

What newcomers Malone, Thompson, and Lillard are about, as they have made reasonably clear, is an outright challenge to tradition and established authority in ways that relate to both procedure and policy (especially fiscal and development policy).

Malone is not only knocking heads with Bailey on the commission, she is an active supporter of Willie Brooks in the District 1 school board runoff against Bailey's son Jay Bailey.

  • Eastern Exposure Governor Phil Bredesen, speaking from Osaka, Japan, via teleconference Tuesday, took note of renewed controversy about the forthcoming Tennessee lottery by restating his "unqualified support" for lottery director Rebecca Paul, who is under fire from state Republican chairman Beth Harwell and others for the high levels of compensation she and other lottery officials are receiving, as well as for Paul's penchant for hiring fellow Georgians.

    "I don't want anyone to think that I'm trying to run this thing day by day," Bredesen said. "She's under great pressure to perform, and I'm inclined to cut her some slack."

    The governor, on a trade mission to Japan and Korea with some 70 Tennessee business leaders and public officials, noted that he had met with several executives of Japanese corporations, including the officers of the Brother Corporation, which operates a high-tech facility in Bartlett.

    The Japanese executives are by and large satisfied with their Tennessee operations, Bredesen said, adding that some "workforce issues" needed to be resolved, including ensuring a supply of qualified employees, the governor said. "This [Japan] is a society with a 95 percent graduate rate in high school and one of 40 percent for college. We're not in the same universe."

  • You Decide. We Report ... Readers of this space will recall that our election preview bestowed some compliments on city councilman Myron Lowery and (correctly ) predicted a relatively easy victory for him over challenger Isaac Ford. We were subsequently told by the councilman that this homage was a matter of "yesterday" and that he was displeased not to have seen the details of his victory -- which, said he, deserved "at least a sentence" -- reported on. Who are we to disappoint someone so insistent? With the aid of semicolons, here then is a sentence, one of the subject's own: "I had to overcome Harold [Ford]; I had to overcome Harold Jr.; it wasn't easy, but I beat them both!"

  • Names in the Hat The list of potential candidates for the District 89 state House seat vacated by City Council candidate Carol Chumney expands. Former Republican state Representative Tim Joyce has expressed an interest, as have former county commission candidate Irma Merrill, a Democrat, and Chumney's current campaign manager, Jay Sparks.

    Affordable-housing specialist David Upton, a longtime Democratic activist, has decided against a race; Shelby County schools' planning director Maura Black Sullivan and MIFA administrator Mary Wilder, also a Democrat, are mulling it over. Republican Jim Jamison, a Northwest Airlines employee, is a declared candidate.

    Too late to classify: David Wolf and Henry Loeb Jr.

    Thursday, October 23, 2003

    POLITICS: Chumney Switches Tracks

    Council hopeful Chumney quits the legislature as her runoff with Flinn continues.

    Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    Democrats Endorse Chumney: The exececutive committee of the Shelby County Democratic Party, in a special meeting held Wednesday night, voted to endorse District 5 city council candidate Carol Chumney in her runoff race against George Flinn. The committee took no action in the other runoff race, for the School Board District #1 position, between J. Bailey and Willie Brooks. AN OPEN SEAT State representative Carol Chumney, matched against George Flinn in a November 13th runoff election for the District 5 city council seat, announced Monday that she is resigning her legislative seat immediately “in order that the people of District #89 will have the opportunity to choose my replacement.” As Chumney noted, state law requires a special election to fill a legislative seat vacated more than a year prior to the next regularly scheduled statewide election. Vacancies created with less than a year to go before such an election would be filled locally by the Shelby County Commission. Had she waited until the conclusion of the runoff, the cutoff date would have passed. “The people of my district would rather choose their own representative than have the Board of Commissioners choose one for them,” Chumney said. Chumney’s announcement follows a good deal of local discussion about the method of choosing her successor -- especially in the ranks of her fellow Democrats, where concern has been expressed that a Republican might be appointed by the commission, which is dominated 7-6 by the GOP. Chumney conceded there was “risk” in offering her resignation now but added that she was confident of success in the runoff election if her supporters remained motivated to cast their votes in what is likely to be a low-turnout affair. The Midtown state representative, who had led in initial balloting by a margin of 4,690 (39 percent) to 3,632 (30 percent) for Flinn, was confident also that she would eventually have the endorsement of lawyer Jim Strickland, who finished third on October 9th with 3215 votes 26 percent). Or so she indicated to supporters at an open house at her Poplar Avenue headquarters last Friday. Chumney, who had initiated two telephone calls with Strickland in the immediate aftermath of the election, said she “very much” wanted Strickland’s endorsement and thought “one more phone call” could win her erstwhile opponent’s support. Strickland himself was keeping his own counsel, though he noted drily, a propos the issue of telephone calls, that two inquiring calls of his to Chumney went unreturned earlier this year after he had declared his candidacy and she was rumored to be considering the race she later made. “Anyhow, I think the important endorsement would be from John Vergos if he chose to make one,” Strickland said. Vergos, the retiring District 5 councilman, had endorsed Strickland before the first balloting. Reactions vary Chumney’s resignation drew a raised eyebrow from runoff opponent Flinn, who referred to it as “tardy” and said, “She is obviously responding to her constituents’ concerns about running for one office while holding another. As a physician and successful businessman, I have learned the importance of keeping my word and doing what is right. I hope her move was for the right reasons and not just to generate publicity.” In an obvious effort to counter the contention of some -- like WREC-AM talk show host Mike Fleming, whose conservative constituency overlaps with Flinn’s -- that Chumney’s move reflected confidence in the outcome of the runoff, Flinn said, “This election is not over. I believe in the power of the people. Our effort doesn’t presume the choice is already made.” And he added, somewhat more astringently, “I believe the voters want citizens who serve them, not politicians looking to the next election.” Kemp Conrad, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, which has endorsed Flinn, was even less charitable. Chumney has “resigned for clearly partisan reasons,” Conrad said in a statement, contending that “Chumney could have resigned before the Oct. 9 election if she truly cared about wanting voters to have a choice, but instead she wanted to wait in order to make sure that she personally had a spot in the run-off election on November 13. She could have also waited until after the run-off election, but instead she has chosen an option that could cost Tennessee taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars just to elect someone to finish her job in Nashville.” Conrad was able to find a silver lining, though, in that Chumney’s resignation providewd “two open seats to fill with ethical and effective Republicans.” Primary contests for the special election would be held on December 14th or December 16th, Chumney had said, citing advice given her by Bob Cooper, Governor Phil Bredesen’s legal adviser. Cooper informed her that the general election would follow on February 10th, Chumney said. Among those known to be considering a race for the vacated seat are Democrat David Upton and Republican Jim Jamieson, a Northwest Airlines employee who promptly issued a statement in the wake of Chumney’s announcement to confirm the fact.of his candidacy. Others, including Chumney friend Mary Wilder, may also throw their hats into the ring. A surprise entry is the likely one of Maura Black Sullivan, director of planning for the Shelby County school system. Sullivan, a longtime friend of veteran activist Upton’s, will be giving birth in mid-Decenber, at roughly the time of the special election. Sights on the Senate Former congressman Bryant eyes 2006 race and sees Gov. Bredesen as likely foe. When Republican Ed Bryant looks into a crystal ball, as he did last week for the Shelby County Young Republicans, the former 7th District congressman sees himself running for the US. Senate in 2006. And he sees “the current governor,” Democrat Phil Bredesen, doing the same thing. Let’s examine that latter thought -- an original one with Bryant, so far as we know -- a little closer. “I have a theory that Bredesen runs nationally,” Bryant elaborated, in his remarks to the YRs last Tuesday night at the Fox & Hound on Poplar. Bryant suggested that 9th District congressman Harold Ford’s well-known Senatorial ambitions would come to naught, that the Democrats would nominate someone from the Nashville area instead, and that it would most likely be Bredesen. If successful, Bredesen might become a running mate for New York Senator Hilllary Clinton, the Democrats’ most likely presidential candidate in 2008, Bryant said. About his own Senatorial ambitions, Bryant, who unsuccessfully opposed Lamar Alexander in the Republican primary in 2002, was explicit. “Those same problems that caused us to run in the first placeÉthose same feelings, those same desires still there. I have a strong intention to run for the Senate. If I had to make a decision today I would definitely run for the SenateÉ.I’m going to make some noise and raise my hand and say that I too am available for that office.” Bryant stressed that his race was dependent on current Senate majority leader Bill Frist’s following through on his pledge not to seek reelection in 2006. For much of his talk, Bryant seemed preoccupied with the specter of Bredesen. “The governor is governing like Van Hilleary,” he said, referring to Bredesen’s Republican opponent in 2002, then the congressman from the state’s 4th District. “But he’s very partisan. He’s acting like a Democrat behind the scenes, working in a very partisan manner.” Bryant said that when Bredesen imposed his across-the-board 9-percent cuts in state government financing earlier this year, “the silence was overwhelming” from Democratic legislators and lobbyists for teachers and state employees, but if Hilleary had done the same thing, “they would have stormed the governor’s mansion.” Besides Bryant and Ford, Zach Wamp, the Republican congressman from the 3rd District has advertised his intentions of becoming a Senate candidate if Frist does not run for reelection. Through a spokesperson, Gov. Bredesen indicated he had "no plan" to run for the Senate and intended to run for reelection as governor in 2006. Bryant had speculated that his congressional successor, 7th District Rep. Marsha Blackburn, might be a candidate in a gubernatorial race, especially if the seat is open. Blackburn is also considered another Senatorial possibility. Bryant, now practicing law in Nashville with the Baker, Donelson law firm, devoted much of his talk to GOP hopes for taking control of the state legislature. As of now, the Republicans trail the Democrats by five seats in the 99-member state House of Representatives and two seats in the 33-member state Senate. “Even though we’re more seats behind in the House, that’s a more doable situation,” Bryant theorized. Getting Some Flak The same issue -- that of capturing seats for the GOP in the legislature -- was very much on the mind of state Republican chairman Beth Halteman Harwell, who was in Memphis over the weekend to attend a meeting the state Federation of Republican Women and to address attendees at the Dutch Treat Luncheon on Saturday at the Piccadilly Restaurant on Mt. Morah. Harwell, a state representative from Nashville, also mentioned capturing Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes for President Bush as a priority for 2004. Though it was clear that both of her aims were supported by most members of the traditionally conservative gathering, Harwell encountered more dissent than she expected, both on matters pertaining to loyal Republican unity and on policies of the Bush administration. Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham, recently defeated in the Memphis mayor’s race, and several supporters repeated their criticism of local party chaief Kemp Conrad. More unexpected were challenges to the president’s $87 billion reconstruction package for Iraq from conservatives Jack Theobald and Mickey White, both of whom questioned the wisdom of the expenditures. Jim Fri, an industrialist and a member of the Republican Party’s moderate wing, added his criticism of Bush’s actions to suspend federal funding for abortion counseling. Harwell defended Bush, while state GOP political director Randy Stamps, who accompanied her, reassured attendees that the state party would lend its offices to mediating the local party dispute. Harwell used the occasion of the luncheon to attack Governor Bredesen’s policies on the new state lottery, criticizing in particular the lavish salary given state Treasurer Steve Adams, who left his conssitutional post to take up one with the lottery program.

    Politics: Chumney Switches Tracks

    Politics

    Posted By on Thu, Oct 23, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    An Open Seat

    Council hopeful Chumney quits the legislature as her runoff with Flinn continues.

    JACKSON BAKER

    State representative Carol Chumney, matched against George Flinn in a November 13th runoff election for the District 5 City Council seat, announced Monday that she is resigning her legislative seat immediately "in order that the people of District 89 will have the opportunity to choose my replacement."

    As Chumney noted, state law requires a special election to fill a legislative seat vacated more than a year prior to the next regularly scheduled statewide election. Vacancies created with less than a year to go before such an election would be filled locally by the Shelby County Commission. Had she waited until the conclusion of the runoff, the cutoff date would have passed. "The people of my district would rather choose their own representative than have the Board of Commissioners choose one for them," Chumney said.

    Chumney's announcement follows a good deal of local discussion about the method of choosing her successor -- especially in the ranks of her fellow Democrats, where concern has been expressed that a Republican might be appointed by the commission, which is dominated 7-6 by the GOP.

    Chumney conceded there was "risk" in offering her resignation now but added that she was confident of success in the runoff election if her supporters remained motivated to cast their votes in what is likely to be a low-turnout affair.

    The Midtown state representative, who led in initial balloting by a margin of 4,690 (39 percent) to 3,632 (30 percent) for Flinn, was confident also that she would eventually have the endorsement of lawyer Jim Strickland, who finished third with 3,215 votes (26 percent).

    Or so she indicated to supporters at an open house at her Poplar Avenue headquarters last Friday. Chumney, who had initiated two telephone calls to Strickland in the immediate aftermath of the election, said she "very much" wanted Strickland's endorsement and thought "one more phone call" could win her erstwhile opponent's support.

    Strickland was keeping his own counsel, though he noted drily, a propos the issue of telephone calls, that two inquiring calls of his to Chumney went unreturned earlier this year after he had declared his candidacy and she was rumored to be considering the race.

    "Anyhow, I think the important endorsement would be from John Vergos if he chose to make one," Strickland said. Vergos, the retiring District 5 councilman, had endorsed Strickland before the first balloting.

    Chumney's resignation drew a raised eyebrow from runoff opponent Flinn, who referred to it as "tardy" and said, "She is obviously responding to her constituents' concerns about running for one office while holding another. As a physician and successful businessman, I have learned the importance of keeping my word and doing what is right. I hope her move was for the right reasons and not just to generate publicity."

    In an obvious effort to counter the contention of some (like WREC-AM talk-show host Mike Fleming, whose conservative constituency overlaps with Flinn's) that Chumney's move reflected confidence in the outcome of the runoff, Flinn said, "This election is not over. I believe in the power of the people. Our effort doesn't presume the choice is already made." And he added, somewhat more astringently, "I believe the voters want citizens who serve them, not politicians looking to the next election."

    Kemp Conrad, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, which has endorsed Flinn, was even less charitable. Chumney has "resigned for clearly partisan reasons," Conrad said in a statement, contending that "Chumney could have resigned before the Oct. 9 election if she truly cared about wanting voters to have a choice, but instead she wanted to wait in order to make sure that she personally had a spot in the run-off election on November 13. She could have also waited until after the run-off election, but instead she has chosen an option that could cost Tennessee taxpayers in the hundreds of thousands of dollars just to elect someone to finish her job in Nashville."

    Conrad was able to find a silver lining, though, in that Chumney's resignation provided "two open seats to fill with ethical and effective Republicans."

    Primary contests for the special election would be held on December 14th or December 16th, Chumney said, citing advice given her by Bob Cooper, Governor Phil Bredesen's legal adviser. Cooper informed Chumney that the general election would follow on February 10th.

    Among those known to be considering a race for the vacated seat are Democrat David Upton and Republican Jim Jamieson, a Northwest Airlines employee who promptly issued a statement to confirm the fact of his candidacy. Others, including Chumney friend Mary Wilder, may also throw their hats into the ring.

    A surprise entry is the likely one of Maura Black Sullivan, director of planning for the Shelby County school system. Sullivan, a longtime friend of veteran activist Upton's, will be giving birth in mid-December, at roughly the time of the special election.


    Sights on the Senate

    Former congressman Bryant eyes 2006 race and sees Governor Bredesen as a likely foe.

    When Republican Ed Bryant looks into a crystal ball, as he did last week for the Shelby County Young Republicans, the former 7th District congressman sees himself running for the U.S. Senate in 2006. And he sees "the current governor," Democrat Phil Bredesen, doing the same thing.

    Let's examine that latter thought -- an original one with Bryant, so far as we know -- a little closer. "I have a theory that Bredesen runs nationally," Bryant elaborated in his remarks to the YRs last Tuesday night at the Fox & Hound on Poplar. Bryant suggested that 9th District congressman Harold Ford's well-known Senatorial ambitions would come to naught, that the Democrats would nominate someone from the Nashville area instead, and that it would most likely be Bredesen.

    If successful, Bredesen might become a running mate for New York senator Hillary Clinton, the Democrats' most likely presidential candidate in 2008, Bryant said. Bryant, who unsuccessfully opposed Lamar Alexander in the Republican primary in 2002, was explicit about his own Senatorial ambitions.

    "Those same problems that caused us to run in the first place those same feelings, those same desires are still there. If I had to make a decision today I would definitely run for the Senate. I'm going to make some noise and raise my hand and say that I too am available for that office."

    Bryant stressed that his race was dependent on current Senate majority leader Bill Frist's following through on his pledge not to seek reelection in 2006.

    For much of his talk, Bryant seemed preoccupied with the specter of Bredesen. "The governor is governing like Van Hilleary," he said, referring to Bredesen's Republican opponent in 2002, then the congressman from the state's 4th District. "But he's very partisan. He's acting like a Democrat behind the scenes, working in a very partisan manner."

    Besides Bryant and Ford, Zach Wamp, the Republican congressman from the 3rd District, has advertised his intentions of becoming a Senate candidate if Frist does not run for reelection.

    Through a spokesperson, Bredesen indicated he had "no plan" to run for the Senate and intended to run for reelection as governor in 2006. Bryant had speculated that his congressional successor, 7th District Rep. Marsha Blackburn, might be a candidate in a gubernatorial race, especially if the seat is open. Blackburn is also considered another Senatorial possibility.

    Bryant, now practicing law in Nashville with the Baker, Donelson law firm, devoted much of his talk to GOP hopes for taking control of the state legislature. As of now, the Republicans trail the Democrats by five seats in the 99-member state House of Representatives and by two seats in the 33-member state Senate.

    "Even though we're more seats behind in the House, that's a more doable situation," Bryant theorized.

    Getting Some Flak

    The same issue -- that of capturing seats for the GOP in the legislature -- was very much on the mind of state Republican chairman Beth Halteman Harwell, who was in Memphis over the weekend to attend a meeting of the state Federation of Republican Women and to address attendees at the Dutch Treat Luncheon on Saturday at the Piccadilly Restaurant on Mt. Moriah.

    Harwell, a state representative from Nashville, also mentioned capturing Tennessee's 11 electoral votes for President Bush as a priority for 2004. Though it was clear that both of her aims were supported by most members of the traditionally conservative gathering, Harwell encountered more dissent than she expected, both on matters pertaining to loyal Republican unity and on policies of the Bush administration.

    Shelby County commissioner John Willingham, recently defeated in the Memphis mayor's race, and several supporters repeated their criticism of local party chief Kemp Conrad. More unexpected were challenges to the president's $87 billion reconstruction package for Iraq from conservatives Jack Theobald and Mickey White, both of whom questioned the wisdom of the expenditures.

    Jim Fri, an industrialist and a member of the Republican Party's moderate wing, added his criticism of Bush's actions to suspend federal funding for abortion counseling.

    Harwell defended Bush, while state GOP political director Randy Stamps, who accompanied her, reassured attendees that the state party would lend its offices to mediating the local party dispute.

    E-mail: baker@memphisflyer.com

    Tuesday, October 21, 2003

    POLITICS: Ed Gets Moving

    Bryant eyes 2006 Senae Run, Sees Bredesen as Likely Foe

    Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    When Republican Ed Bryant looks into a crystal ball, as he did last week for the Shelby County Young Republicans, the former 7th District congressman sees himself running for the US. Senate in 2006. And he sees “the current governor,” Democrat Phil Bredesen, doing the same thing.

    Let’s examine that latter thought -- an original one with Bryant, so far as we know -- a little closer. “I have a theory that Bredesen runs nationally,” Bryant elaborated, in his remarks to the YRs last Tuesday night at the Fox & Hound on Poplar. Bryant suggested that 9th District congressman Harold Ford’s well-known Senatorial ambitions would come to naught, that the Democrats would nominate someone from the Nashville area instead, and that it would most likely be Bredesen.

    If successful, Bredesen might become a running mate for New York Senator Hilllary Clinton, the Democrats’ most likely presidential candidate in 2008, Bryant said.

    About his own Senatorial ambitions, Bryant, who unsuccessfully opposed Lamar Alexander in the Republican primary in 2002, was explicit.

    “Those same problems that caused us to run in the first place, those same feelings, those same desires still there. I have a strong intention to run for the Senate. If I had to make a decision today I would definitely run for the SenateÉ.I’m going to make some noise and raise my hand and say that I too am available for that office.”

    Bryant stressed that his race was dependent on current Senate majority leader Bill Frist’s following through on his pledge not to seek reelection in 2006.

    For much of his talk, Bryant seemed preoccupied with the specter of Bredesen. “The governor is governing like Van Hilleary,” he said, referring to Bredesen’s Republican opponent in 2002, then the congressman from the state’s 4th District. “But he’s very partisan. He’s acting like a Democrat behind the scenes, working in a very partisan manner.”

    Bryant said that when Bredesen imposed his across-the-board 9-percent cuts in state government financing earlier this year, “the silence was overwhelming” from Democratic legislators and lobbyists for teachers and state employees, but if Hilleary had done the same thing, “they would have stormed the governor’s mansion.”

    Besides Bryant and Ford, Zach Wamp, the Republican congressman from the 3rd District has advertised his intentions of becoming a Senate candidate if Frist does not run for reelection.

    Hillary to Skip S.C. Counting In Order to Make Nashville, Memphis StopsThrough a spokesperson, Gov. Bredesen indicated he had "no plan" to run for the Senate and intended to run for reelection as governor in 2006. Bryant had speculated that his congressional successor, 7th District Rep. Marsha Blackburn, might be a candidate in a gubernatorial race, especially if the seat is open. Blackburn is also considered another Senatorial possibility.

    Friday, October 17, 2003

    Done Deal ...

    But the election lingers in two key runoffs.

    Posted By on Fri, Oct 17, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    Summing up: To no one's surprise, Memphis mayor Willie Herenton won a record fourth term last week, garnering almost 70 percent of the vote (72,043) while his closest competitor, Shelby County commissioner John Willingham, finished with 25 percent (25,656).

    Turnout was low for the election (23.4 percent, including two weeks of early voting), both because of the lack of suspense in the mayor's race and most other races and because of rainy weather for the last two hours that the polls were open on Thursday.

    Two races for the District 5 City Council seat and the District 1 school board seat, both open will require runoff elections on November 13th. The council race will be contested between state Rep. Carol Chumney, who had 38 percent of the vote (6,578), and businessman/physician George Flinn, with 31 percent (5,207). A third candidate, lawyer Jim Strickland, came close with 26 percent (4,479) but suffered from relatively meager name recognition despite running a spirited race.

    Both survivors promptly began courting Strickland: Chumney for an endorsement and Flinn for benevolent neutrality. Strickland himself was keeping his own counsel.

    Businessman Scott McCormick, who ran a low-key but well-financed and organized race, got a resounding vote (16,881) in the crowded field of candidates for Super-District 9, Position 1, ousting long-term incumbent Pat Vander Schaaf (10,046), who clearly fell victim to the same voter discontent that saw her ex-husband, Clair VanderSchaaf, deposed from his seat last year.

    In the week that former Juvenile Court clerk Shep Wilbun was indicted, the presence of the squeaky-clean current clerk, Steve Stamson, at the winner's victory party underscored the new-broom aspect of McCormick's victory.

    McCormick, the endorsee of the Shelby County Republican Party, experienced surprisingly little drainage from his vote totals due to campaigning by two other active Republican candidates, Arnold Weiner and Don Murphree, and by an independent candidate, businessman Lester Lit, who evidently had peaked weeks earlier. Third-place finisher Lit (8,656) may have actually garnered votes that ordinarily would have gone to Vander Schaaf, a moderate Republican whose party membership is largely nominal.

    The District 1 school board runoff matches lawyer J. Bailey, son of Shelby County commissioner Walter Bailey (3,340), against FedEx administrator Willie Brooks (3,082), who has support from several public officials. The two are separated by a razor-thin margin, as were incumbent city court clerk Thomas Long (40,049) and his major challenger, former radio talk-show host Janis Fullilove (39,464). The latter race, however, was citywide and thus doesn't qualify for a runoff under judicial rulings which limit runoffs to district elections in which no candidate receives a majority in the first balloting.

    An expected close race for the council in District 1 between incumbent E.C. Jones and challenger Wyatt Bunker failed to develop, with Jones (6,575, 55 percent) winning easily over Bunker (4,238, 35 percent). Bunker was clearly hurt by last-minute reports that he claimed legal residence in a mini-storage facility.

    For Kemp Conrad, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, Thursday's results were something of a vindication. Of six GOP endorsees running for council positions (three of whom, incumbents Tom Marshall and Jack Sammons in Super-District 9 positions and unopposed incumbent Brent Taylor in District 2, were gimmes), only Bunker fell short. And Conrad, who had withstood criticism from Willingham and the commissioner's partisans concerning the chairman's noninvolvement in the mayor's race, might well have taken satisfaction from the mayoral challenger's disappointing showing one which he predicted before, during, and after Willingham's challenge to the incumbent.

    ™ Citizens who attended Monday's meeting of the Shelby County Commission acquired a good deal of revealing information. They learned that FedEx pilot Cletus McDonel, a petitioner on Monday, runs a nine-minute mile. They learned that Commissioner Walter Bailey is a professed fan of Shakespeare. And they learned, perhaps most importantly, that a power struggle exists on the commission between veterans and rookies, or between haves and have-nots, or, as one dissatisfied commissioner evidently would have it, between slaves and their masters.

    McDonel's running statistics figured into proceedings only in that the Windyke resident, there to protest a new cell tower being voted on, measured the distance between his home and the potentially intrusive tower as "well less than a mile." He knew, he said, because it took him only seven minutes to run to the site and nine minutes to do a full mile.

    Although McDonel cited technical procedures that allowed cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to substitute smaller and more numerous relay devices instead of towering structures of the sort proposed Monday by Tower Ventures, he and other complainants failed to sway the commission, which voted to approve the construction in southeast Shelby County of a cell tower whose height will be something over 125 feet.

    The new tower, which was spoken for by representatives of the Nextel and Sprint cellular-phone companies, is designed to fill in an area of weak or spotty reception just now, one which contains the sprawling FedEx complex.

    The only nay vote on the tower matter came from first-term commissioner Joyce Avery, who belonged to a somewhat larger minority on the major point of contention Monday. Ostensibly, the argument was over whether veteran commissioner (and recent commission chairman) Walter Bailey or Deidre Malone, another first-termer, should chair the commission's education committee.

    Although the committee chairmanship itself was something of an issue in that some commissioners, notably David Lillard, yet another first-termer, feared that Bailey might be too active a proponent of city/county school consolidation, the real challenge was to the existing power structure of the commission. After all, Malone, who was slated to be Bailey's vice chairman within the committee structure proposed two weeks ago by Chairman Marilyn Loeffel, is a consolidation proponent too.

    But Malone, a Democrat, has formed a working partnership with fellow freshmen Bruce Thompson and David Lillard, both Republicans and both eager, like her, to challenge the powers-that-be.

    For most of the past year, Thompson had floated a candidacy to become chairman instead of Loeffel, who was chairman pro tem during the chairmanship of Democrat Bailey and was slated to ascend to the chairmanship as a matter of routine. As it turned out, she was elected unanimously last month, but only because Thompson realized he was shy of enough votes to defeat her and withdrew.

    Lillard, for his part, has been a constant goad to the veterans on the commission especially Bailey and longtime budget chairman Cleo Kirk on the issue of revamping the body's established budget procedures.

    It was Lillard who made a motion Monday to amend Loeffel's committee assignments so as to name Malone chairman of the education committee, with himself, an opponent of consolidation, as vice chairman. An offended Bailey, after noting that he was an admirer of the Bard, called the whole thing a matter of "Shakespearean cloak-and-dagger maneuvers" and said the newcomers' "machinations" had put the commission "in a state of perpetual unrest."

    Bailey got some backup, notably from Commissioner Joe Ford, who defended the prerogatives of Chairman Loeffel and called the challenge from Malone et al. "embarrassing." But Malone had her backers, too; besides Lillard and Thompson, they included Avery and Tom Moss, suburbanites who may have been influenced by a desire to have at least one anti-consolidation commissioner represented in the leadership of the education committee.

    On the issue of bucking tradition, Thompson said pointedly that he and the four other first-term commissioners were elected precisely because change was needed and added, of Bailey's remark about newcomers fomenting unrest, "I choose to take that as a compliment."

    Though Malone lost the vote and lost even her own motion to be excused from serving as vice chairman to Bailey on the education committee ("It's slavery," she protested audibly), she along with Thompson and Lillard is likely to be the fount of many a future challenge to seniority and its privileges.

    This fight has just begun.

    ™ "I've just got to keep on running. Folks say the campaign is over. No, it is not. I just have to keep on running. Otherwise, the problems will catch up with me."

    That thrust, delivered tongue-in-cheek by Mayor A C Wharton at Tuesday's meeting of Memphis Rotarians at the Cook Convention Center, is as good an epigram as any for the administrative style of the well-intentioned charmer who presides over the increasingly ragged financial picture of Shelby County. Wharton didn't solve any problems Tuesday. (Who has lately?) But he delivered several forthright judgments. Among them:

    Passage by the County Commission of a rural school bonds issue to build a new high school at Arlington was arguably "one of the smarter things we've ever done," even though it may have "chiseled in stone" a precedent for separating the destinies of city and county systems.

    Overall, the use of TIFs (tax increment fees) and PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to attract industry to Shelby County are "a good deal that ... keep us in the hunt," even though county trustee Bob Patterson reckons the annual tax loss to the county at $34 million.

    The state's appropriation of the lion's share of $50 million in federal funds attracted to Tennessee by programs of The Med is "dead wrong" and must be subject to change.

    The "adequate facilities tax" on new developments Wharton proposed last year remains a good idea, and, of those who oppose it, the mayor said, "It's one-time-money. If somebody's operating on that kind of margin, they've got other problems." ™

    POLITICS: Tag Team

    POLITICS

    Posted By and on Fri, Oct 17, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    TAG TEAM Citizens who attended Monday’s meeting of the Shelby County Commission acquired a good deal of revealing information.. They learned that FedEx pilot Cletus McDonel, a petitioner on Monday, runs a 9-minute mile. They learned that Commissioner Walter Bailey is a professed lover of Shakespeare. And they learned, perhaps most importantly, that a power struggle exists on the commission between veterans and rookies, or between haves and have-nots, or, as one dissatisfied commissioner evidently would have it, between slaves and their masters. McDonel’s running statistics figured into proceedings only in that the Windyke resident, there to protest a new cell tower being voted on , measured the distance between his home and the potentially intrusive tower as “well less than a mile.” He knew, he said, because it took him only seven minutes to run to the site and nine minutes to do a full mile. Although McDonel cited technical procedures that allowed cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to substitute smaller and more numerous relay devices instead of towering structures of the sort proposed Monday by Tower Ventures, he and other complainants failed to sway the commission, which voted to approve the construction in southeast Shelby County of a cell tower whose height will be something over 125 feet. The new tower, which was spoken for by representatives of the Nextel and Sprint cellular-phone companies, is designed to fill in an area of weak or spotty reception just now, one which contains the sprawling FedEx complex. The only Nay vote on the tower matter came from first-term commissioner Joyce Avery, who belonged to a somewhat larger minority on the major point of contention Monday. Ostensibly, the argument was over whether veteran commissioner (and recent commission chairman) Walter Bailey or Deidre Malone, another first-termer, should chair the commission’s education committee. Although the committee chairmanship itself was something of an issue, in that some commissioners, notably David Lillard, yet another first-termer, feared that Bailey might be too active a proponent of city/county school consolidation, the real challenge was to the existing power structure of the commission. After all, Malone, who was slated to be Bailey’s vice chairman within the committee structure proposed two weeks ago by chairman Marilyn Loeffel, is a consolidation proponent, too. But Malone, a Democrat, has formed a working partnership with fellow freshmen Bruce Thompson and David Lillard, both Republicans and both eager, like her, to challenge the powers-that-be. For most of the past year, Thompson had floated a candidacy to become chairman instead of Loeffel, who was chairman pro temp during the chairmanship of Democrat Bailey, a de facto ally, and, under usual procedures, was slated to ascend to the chairmanship as a matter of routine. As it turned out, she was elected unanimously last month, but only because Thompson realized he was shy of enough votes to defeat her and withdrew. Lillard, for his part, has been a constant goad to the veterans on the commission -- especially Bailey and longtime budget chairman Cleo Kirk -- on the issue of revamping the body’s established budget procedures. It was Lillard who made a motion Monday to amend Loeffel’s committee assignments so as to name Malone chairman of the education committee, with himself, an opponent of consolidation, as vice chairman. An offended Bailey, after noting that he was an admirer of the Bard, called the whole thing a matter of “Shakesperean cloak-and-dagger maneuvers” and said the newcomers’ “machinations” had put the commission “in a state of perpetual unrest.” In an argument that ranged across partisan dividing lines, Bailey got some backup, notably from Commissioner Joe Ford, who defended the prerogatives of Chairman Loeffel and called the challenge from Malone et al. “embarrassing.” But Malone had her backers, too; besides Lillard and Thompson, they included Avery and Tom Moss, suburbanites who may have been influenced by a desire to have at least one anti-consolidation commissioner represented in the leadership of the education committee. On the issue of bucking tradition, Thompson said pointedly that he and the four other first-term commissioners were elected precisely because change was needed and added, of Bailey's remark about newcomers fomenting unrest, "I choose to take that as a compliment." Though Malone lost the vote and lost even her own motion to be excused from serving as vice chairman to Bailey on the education committee ("It's slavery," she protested audibly), she Ñ along with Thompson and Lillard Ñ is likely to be the fount of many a future challenge to seniority and its privileges. This fight has just begun.
  • "I've just got to keep on running. Folks say the campaign is over. No, it is not. I just have to keep on running. Otherwise, the problems will catch up with me." That thrust, delivered tongue-in-cheek by Mayor A C Wharton at Tuesday's meeting of Memphis Rotarians at the Cook Convention Center, is as good an epigram as any for the administrative style of the well-intentioned charmer who presides over the increasingly ragged financial picture of Shelby County. Wharton didn't solve any problems Tuesday. (Who has lately?) But he delivered several forthright judgments. Among them: Passage by the County Commission of a rural school bonds issue to build a new high school at Arlington was arguably "one of the smarter things we've ever done," even though it may have "chiseled in stone" a precedent for separating the destinies of city and county systems. Overall, the use of TIFs (tax increment fees) and PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to attract industry to Shelby County are "a good deal that ... keep us in the hunt," even though county trustee Bob Patterson reckons the annual tax loss to the county at $34 million. The state's appropriation of the lion's share of $50 million in federal funds attracted to Tennessee by programs of The Med is "dead wrong" and must be subject to change. The "adequate facilities tax" on new developments Wharton proposed last year remains a good idea, and, of those who oppose it, the mayor said, "It's one-time-money. If somebody's operating on that kind of margin, they've got other problems."

    Wednesday, October 15, 2003

    POLITICS: Tag Teamers

    POLITICS

    Posted By and on Wed, Oct 15, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    TAG TEAM Citizens who attended Monday’s meeting of the Shelby County Commission acquired a good deal of revealing information.. They learned that FedEx pilot Cletus McDonel, a petitioner on Monday, runs a 9-minute mile. They learned that Commissioner Walter Bailey is a professed lover of Shakespeare. And they learned, perhaps most importantly, that a power struggle exists on the commission between veterans and rookies, or between haves and have-nots, or, as one dissatisfied commissioner evidently would have it, between slaves and their masters. McDonel’s running statistics figured into proceedings only in that the Windyke resident, there to protest a new cell tower being voted on , measured the distance between his home and the potentially intrusive tower as “well less than a mile.” He knew, he said, because it took him only seven minutes to run to the site and nine minutes to do a full mile. Although McDonel cited technical procedures that allowed cities like New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to substitute smaller and more numerous relay devices instead of towering structures of the sort proposed Monday by Tower Ventures, he and other complainants failed to sway the commission, which voted to approve the construction in southeast Shelby County of a cell tower whose height will be something over 125 feet. The new tower, which was spoken for by representatives of the Nextel and Sprint cellular-phone companies, is designed to fill in an area of weak or spotty reception just now, one which contains the sprawling FedEx complex. The only Nay vote on the tower matter came from first-term commissioner Joyce Avery, who belonged to a somewhat larger minority on the major point of contention Monday. Ostensibly, the argument was over whether veteran commissioner (and recent commission chairman) Walter Bailey or Deidre Malone, another first-termer, should chair the commission’s education committee. Although the committee chairmanship itself was something of an issue, in that some commissioners, notably David Lillard, yet another first-termer, feared that Bailey might be too active a proponent of city/county school consolidation, the real challenge was to the existing power structure of the commission. After all, Malone, who was slated to be Bailey’s vice chairman within the committee structure proposed two weeks ago by chairman Marilyn Loeffel, is a consolidation proponent, too. But Malone, a Democrat, has formed a working partnership with fellow freshmen Bruce Thompson and David Lillard, both Republicans and both eager, like her, to challenge the powers-that-be. For most of the past year, Thompson had floated a candidacy to become chairman instead of Loeffel, who was chairman pro temp during the chairmanship of Democrat Bailey, a de facto ally, and, under usual procedures, was slated to ascend to the chairmanship as a matter of routine. As it turned out, she was elected unanimously last month, but only because Thompson realized he was shy of enough votes to defeat her and withdrew. Lillard, for his part, has been a constant goad to the veterans on the commission -- especially Bailey and longtime budget chairman Cleo Kirk -- on the issue of revamping the body’s established budget procedures. It was Lillard who made a motion Monday to amend Loeffel’s committee assignments so as to name Malone chairman of the education committee, with himself, an opponent of consolidation, as vice chairman. An offended Bailey, after noting that he was an admirer of the Bard, called the whole thing a matter of “Shakesperean cloak-and-dagger maneuvers” and said the newcomers’ “machinations” had put the commission “in a state of perpetual unrest.” In an argument that ranged across partisan dividing lines, Bailey got some backup, notably from Commissioner Joe Ford, who defended the prerogatives of Chairman Loeffel and called the challenge from Malone et al. “embarrassing.” But Malone had her backers, too; besides Lillard and Thompson, they included Avery and Tom Moss, suburbanites who may have been influenced by a desire to have at least one anti-consolidation commissioner represented in the leadership of the education committee. On the issue of bucking tradition, Thompson said pointedly that he and the four other first-term commissioners were elected precisely because change was needed and added, of Bailey's remark about newcomers fomenting unrest, "I choose to take that as a compliment." Though Malone lost the vote and lost even her own motion to be excused from serving as vice chairman to Bailey on the education committee ("It's slavery," she protested audibly), she -- along with Thompson and Lillard -- is likely to be the fount of many a future challenge to seniority and its privileges. This fight has just begun.
  • "I've just got to keep on running. Folks say the campaign is over. No, it is not. I just have to keep on running. Otherwise, the problems will catch up with me." That thrust, delivered tongue-in-cheek by Mayor A C Wharton at Tuesday's meeting of Memphis Rotarians at the Cook Convention Center, is as good an epigram as any for the administrative style of the well-intentioned charmer who presides over the increasingly ragged financial picture of Shelby County. Wharton didn't solve any problems Tuesday. (Who has lately?) But he delivered several forthright judgments. Among them: Passage by the County Commission of a rural school bonds issue to build a new high school at Arlington was arguably "one of the smarter things we've ever done," even though it may have "chiseled in stone" a precedent for separating the destinies of city and county systems. Overall, the use of TIFs (tax increment fees) and PILOTs (payments in lieu of taxes) to attract industry to Shelby County are "a good deal that ... keep us in the hunt," even though county trustee Bob Patterson reckons the annual tax loss to the county at $34 million. The state's appropriation of the lion's share of $50 million in federal funds attracted to Tennessee by programs of The Med is "dead wrong" and must be subject to change. The "adequate facilities tax" on new developments Wharton proposed last year remains a good idea, and, of those who oppose it, the mayor said, "It's one-time-money. If somebody's operating on that kind of margin, they've got other problems."

    CITY BEAT

    Lots of pending appointments and some new faces will get the mayor's attention.

    Posted By on Wed, Oct 15, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    HERENTON'S NEXT FOUR YEARS The election is almost a week old, so obviously it's high time to chart out the next four years. The fate of Herman Morris and The Pyramid, those frisky Fords, Dr. Carol Johnson, taxes, consolidation, some key staff vacancies, and a gender gap are some of the issues facing Mayor Willie Herenton as he winds up his third term and looks forward to his fourth.
  • MLGW: Remember the big wind storm in July? Some people at MLGW would just as soon you didn't. Two months after the big blow, MLGW still hasn't produced a simple explanation of total costs, overtime, and impact on rates for its customers or a detailed report on its storm response. MLGW instead chose the time-tested option of appointing a committee -- packed with its own employees, no less -- to buy time until the storm is a distant memory. The committee has not yet met. Herenton has the power to extend the expired contract of MLGW CEO Herman Morris. The terms of most board members have also expired, and Herenton must decide whether to reappoint them. In the days following the storm, the mayor seemed a bit distant from Morris, but the longer he holds on, the better his chances.
  • Box out future rivals: Sure, the next city mayoral election is four years away, but that's within the planning timetable of serious politicians. And there are some serious politicians on the City Council or involved in runoffs. Republican George Flinn and Democrat Carol Chumney, vying in District 5, have both already made runs for county mayor and would likely use a council seat as a stepping stone to something bigger. Current members of the council who, based on past behavior, also might harbor mayoral dreams include Myron Lowery, Jack Sammons, and Brent Taylor.
  • Groom a successor: Again, assuming this is his last term, Herenton could give a potential successor a leg up with a key appointment in his administration, favorable treatment on the council, or some kind words and contributions from his well-stocked campaign larder. The mayor's sons Rodney and Duke are successful businessmen. Neither has expressed an interest in politics yet, but it's not as if genes don't matter in Memphis where names like Ford, Hooks, and Bailey show up with regularity.
  • Make appointments: Four city division directors have announced they are leaving: Donnie Mitchell of Public Services, Clint Buchanan of Emergency Management, Chester Anderson at the Fire Department, and Butch Eder at General Services. Others could be asked to leave. Chief administrative officer Keith McGee still has that nagging "interim" attached to his title and has had a hard time following veteran Rick Masson. The CAO is the mayor's liaison with the council. Last week, the council rebuffed McGee on a big Motorola contract, a police firing range, a downtown tax proposal, and a collective bargaining measure. At the Park Commission, Wayne Boyer seems to be popular with the mayor but he has health problems and his job has shrunk due to privatization. Playground and golf-course maintenance, anyone? Look for some action on the long-dormant fairgrounds and for the Skinner Center for the Disabled to move downtown. There is a notable shortage of women in the top ranks of the Herenton administration. Gail Jones Carson is the mayor's spokesman and Sara Hall heads the personnel department. That's it. Herenton is too good a politician to leave it that way.
  • Reach out to new MCS superintendent Carol Johnson. Herenton can't continue to make disparaging cracks about the school board and insist that the only solution is consolidation with Shelby County. On second thought, he can, but the board survived the election pretty much intact and Johnson has to work with them. One giant consolidated school system headed by Johnson and four or five assistant superintendents? Maybe some day, but Johnson has more immediate concerns, and a decade of diplomacy and acrimony between city and county have produced nothing.
  • Big downtown decisions. The City Council voted 12-1 against a plan to create a special tax district for downtown, but the Center City Commission and their friends at the daily newspaper seem to think the proposal should come back. Herenton stayed in the background, in contrast to Shelby County mayor A C Wharton, who wrote a supportive letter that was passed out to the City Council. Council members noticed and voted accordingly. The Pyramid could be starting its final season as home of the U of M Tigers. There will be council resistance to letting the Tigers out of their lease, assuming there is no alternative user. In the crunch, the question could be whether the mayor or council has the power to enforce the contract.

    Sunday, October 12, 2003

    ROUND ONE IS OVER...

    It was a ho-hum election, with a surprise or two. And there's more to come.

    Posted By on Sun, Oct 12, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    To no one’s surprise, Memphis Mayor Willlie Herenton won a record fourth term Tuesday, garnering almost 70 percent of the vote (72,043) while his closest competitor, Shelby County Commissioner John Willingham, finished with 25 percent (25,656). Turnout was low for the election (23.4 percent, including two weeks of early voting), both because of the lack of suspense in the mayor’s race and most other races and because of rainy weather for the last two hours that the polls were open on Thursday. Two races -- for the District 5 city council seat and the District 1 school board seat, both open -- will require runoff elections on November 13th. The council race will be contested between State Rep. Carol Chumney, who had 38 percent of the vote (6,578), and businessman/physician George Flinn, with 31 percent (5,207). A third candidate, lawyer Jim Strickland, came close, with 26 percent (4,479), but suffered from relatively poor name recognition despite running a spirited race. Businessman Scott McCormick, who ran a low-key but well-financed and organized race, got a resounding vote (16,881) in the crowded field of candidates for Super-District 9, Position 1, ousting longterm incumbent Pat VanderSchaaf (10,046), who clearly fell victim to the same voter discontent that saw her ex-husband, Clair VanderSchaaf, deposed form his seat last year. McCormick, the endorsee of the Shelby County Republican Party, experienced surprisingly little drainage from his vote totals due to campaigning by two other active Republican candidates, Arnold Weiner and Don Murphree, and by an independent candidate, businessman Lester Lit, who evidently had peaked weeks earlier. Third-place finisher Lit (8,656) may have actually garnered votes that ordinarily would have gone to VanderSchaaf, a moderate Republican whose party membership is largely nominal. The District 1 school board runoff matches lawyer J. Bailey, son of Shelby County Commissioner Walter Bailey (3,340) , against FedEx administrator Willie Brooks (3,082), who has support from several public officials. The two are separated by a razor-thin margin, as were incumbent city court clerk Thomas Long (40,049) and his major challenger, former radio talk-show host Janis Fullilove (39,464). The latter race, however, was citywide and thus doesn’t qualify for a runoff under judicial rulings which limit run offs to district elections in which no candidate receives a majority in the first balloting. An expected close race for the council in District 1 between incumbent E.C. Jones and challenger Wyatt Bunker failed to develop, with Jones (6,575, 55 percent) winning easily over Bunker (4,238, 35 percent) For Kemp Conrad, chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, Thursday’s results were something of a vindication. Of four GOP endorsees running for council positions (two of whom, incumbents Tom Marshall and Jack Sammons in Super-District 9 positions, were gimmes), only Bunker fell short. And Conrad, who had withstood criticism from Willingham and the commissioner’s partisans concerning the chairman’s non-involvement in the mayor’s race, might well have taken satisfaction from the mayoral challenger’s disappointing showing. (Further details and analysis to follow)

    Scott McCormick, the decisive winner in the Super-District 9, Position 1 city council race, watches with his fam;ily as the race is called for him on TV.

    State Rep. Carol Chumney, who led the vote in city council District 5, meets the press Thursday night and issues a challenge to runoff opponent George Flinn for a series of debates.

    Shelby County GOP chairman Kemp Conrad, who lost only one of the races in which the local party backed a candidate, congratulates District 5 candidate Jim Strickland, who finished a close third behind Republican endorsee Flinn.

    Friday, October 10, 2003

    The "Issues" Issue

    Do we elect people -- or position papers?

    Posted By on Fri, Oct 10, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    Two participants in local politics have importuned me about the issue of "issues" in coverage of this week's city election -- which will be history by the time some of you read this column.

    Both of the two interlopers have a worthy perspective, but they come from opposite directions. One, who follows candidates and campaigns seriously, contends that the Flyer's pre-election review was too heavy on what, in the parlance of the trade, is called "horse-race" coverage and not attentive enough to the substantive issues set forth by the contenders. The other complainant, himself a candidate for a council position, lamented that some of his opponents were able to get too much attention for issues -- two instances of which he characterized as "metaphysical musings" and "five-point baloney."

    This candidate, who disdained accepting any campaign donations, insisted that "the real issues" were those of "independence and common sense," which he professes, no doubt accurately, to own in abundance.

    To deal briefly with both complaints, neither of which is without merit:

    I have been, and continue to be, a defender of -- nay, a proponent of -- horse-race coverage: i.e., that sort which attempts to render how well the candidates in a given race are doing vis-Ö-vis each other by a number of different yardsticks: fund-raising, poll results, direct encounters, etc. Superficially, this might look superficial -- and it invariably does so, for example, to the sort of candidate who goes looking (again, in the parlance of the trade) for "free media" -- the sort one doesn't have to pay for to be broadcast, printed, or delivered door-to-door by the candidate's cadres.

    If one can attract the attention of a columnist or a TV news reporter and reach the public that way, goes the thinking, who needs to raise money or put together a campaign organization?

    And there's the rub. Ours is a representative system of government. Candidates for office are not necessarily the Best and the Brightest -- an instructive allusion to David Halberstam's famous tome by that name, concerning the wizards who got us into Vietnam and kept us there, at the expense of much blood and treasure. The demands of raising money and summoning supporters are much truer tests of a candidate's aptitude for office than whether he or she is bright enough to spend a few days at the computer waxing brilliant on issues that will look good on paper.

    Maybe they are good, in fact, but unless a candidate has the benefit of some sort of obvious consensus, A) that candidate cannot be elected so as to implement these ideas; and B) that candidate cannot function on behalf of them if elected; and C) that is as it should be in a representative system as against -- what? A meritocracy whose members are hand-picked by the press?

    And to look at the value of horse-race coverage another way: We elect people, not position papers. My favorite way of putting this is to imagine: Which person would we have preferred to see in office at the time of the Cuban missile crisis of 1962? JFK, the hero of PT-109? Or Ted Sorenson, the brilliant intellectual who wrote his speeches and policy statements?

    Even more precisely, we elect the people who support the people we elect. And, yes, of course, this latter fact means that some ugly money (and some ugly supporters) may get into the act. And it's also why campaign finance laws continually need to be revamped. But it's a necessary evil of democracy. And it's why claims of "independence" are, at best, two-edged.

    • The question of what to do with The Pyramid was scheduled to be revisited on Wednesday of this week by the Shelby County Commission.

    Commissioner John Willingham, one of Memphis mayor Willie Herenton's opponents, called a meeting of the Public Service and Tourism committee, which he chairs, to consider Mayor Herenton's intentions concerning a Willingham-sponsored resolution, passed by both the commission and the City Council, authorizing Lakes, Inc. of Minnesota to conduct a study of converting The Pyramid into a casino.

    The mayor -- "who has the sole contractual power for the city," said Willingham -- hasn't signed off on the idea, and the commissioner wanted to know why. Was Herenton waiting until after the election? Did he envision a floating-casino proposal instead? And if he did endorse The Pyramid conversion process, did he have special conditions in mind?

    "We think he'll ask for minority participation at a 40 percent level, with a $10 million fee to guarantee it," said Willingham, who said he was looking into the matter because, "there are going to be some people who think that I'm some stupid sap that doesn't understand what's going on."

    Gale Jones Carson, the mayor's spokesperson, said that Herenton had been advised by city attorney Robert Spence to hold off authorizing the contract until some unspecified issues had been clarified and added that she was unaware of any timetable or alternate concept favored by the mayor.

    Thursday, October 9, 2003

    POLITICS: The 'Issues' Issue

    POLITICS

    Posted By and on Thu, Oct 9, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    THE "ISSUES" ISSUE Two participants in local politics have importuned me about the issue of “issues” in coverage of this week’s city election -- which will be history by the time some of you read this column. Both of fhe two interlopers have a worthy perspective, but they come from opposite directions. One, who follows candidates and campaigns seriously, contends that the Flyer‘s pre-election review was too heavy on what, in the parlance of the trade, is called “horse-race” coverage and not attentive enough to the substantive issues set forth by the contenders. The other complainant, himself a candidate for a council position, lamented that some of his opponents were able to get too much attention for issues -- two instances of which he characterized as “metaphysical musings” and “five-point baloney.” This candidate, who disdained accepting any campaign donations, insisted that “the real issues” were those of “independence and common sense,” which he professes, no doubt accurately, to own in abundance. To deal briefly with both complaints, neither of which is without merit: I have been, and continue to be, a defender of -- nay, a proponent of -- horse-race coverage: i.e., that sort which attempts to render how well the candidates in a given race are doing vis-ˆ-vis each other by a number of different yardsticks: fundraising, poll results, direct encounters, etc. Superficially, this might look superficial -- and it invariably does so, for example, to the sort of candidate who goes looking (again, in the parlance of the trade) for “free media” -- the sort one doesn’t have to pay for to be broadcast, printed, or delivered door to door by the candidate’s cadres. If one can attract the attention of a columnist or a TV news reporter and reach the public that way, goes the thinking, who needs to raise money or put together a campaign organization? And there’s the rub. Ours is a representative system of government. Candidates for office are not necessarily The Best and the Brightest -- an instructive allusion to David Halberstam’s famous tome by that name, concerning the wizards who got us into Vietnam and kept us there, at the expense of much blood and treasure. The demands of raising money and summoning supporters are much truer tests of a candidate’s aptitude for office than whether he or she is bright enough to spend a few days at the computer waxing brilliant on issues that will look good on paper. Maybe they are good, in fact, but unless a candidate has the benefit of some sort of obvious consensus, (a) that candidate cannot be elected so as to implement these ideas; and (b) that candidate cannot function on behalf of them if elected; and (c) that is as it should be in a representative system as against -- what? A meritocracy whose members are hand-picked by the press? And, to look at the value of horse-race coverage another way: We elect people, not position papers. My favorite way of putting this is to imagine: which person would we have preferred to see in office at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962? JFK, the hero of PT 109? Or Ted Sorenson, the brilliant intellectual who wrote his speeches and policy statements? Even more precisely, we elect the people who support the people we elect. And, yes, of course, this latter fact, means that some ugly money (and some ugly supporters) get into the act. That’s homo sapiens for you. And it’s also why campaign finance laws continually need to be revamped. But it’s a necessary evil of democracy. And it’s why claims of “independence” are, at best, two-edged.
  • Whether as a sideshow to the city election or as an issue in its own right, the question of what to do with The Pyramid was scheduled to be revisited on Wednesday of this week by the Shelby County Commission. Commissioner John Willingham, one of Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton’s opponents, called a meeting of the Public Service and Tourism committee which he chairs to consider Mayor Herenton’s intentions concerning a Willingham-sponsored resolution, passed by both the commission and the city council, authorizing Lakes, Inc. of Minnesota to conduct a study of converting The Pyramid into a casino. The mayor -- “who has the sole contractual power for the city,” said Willingham -- hasn’t signed off on the idea, and the commissioner wanted to know why. Was Herenton waiting until after the election? Did he envision a floating casino proposal instead? And, if he did endorse the Pyramid conversion process, did he have special conditions in mind? “We think he’ll ask for minority participation at a 40 percent level, with a $10 million fee to guarantee it,” said Willingham, who said he was looking into the matter because, “There are going to be some people who think that I’m some stupid sap that doesn’t understand what’s going on.” Gale Jones Carson, the mayor’s spokesperson, said that Herenton had been advised by city attorney Robert Spence to hold off authorizing the contract until some unspecified issues had been clarified and added that she was unaware of any timetable or alternate concept favored by the mayor.

    CITY BEAT

    Federal investigations of local government overshadow elections.

    Posted By on Thu, Oct 9, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    WAITING FOR THE OTHER SHOE It's election week, but, more importantly, it's investigations month. Criminal investigations of public officials trump elections, even big ones, which this one is not. A little over a year ago, A C Wharton was elected county mayor. Popular, energetic, and with a fresh agenda, Wharton has been preoccupied with various investigations of county officials almost since the day he took office Ñ Tom Jones, county credit cards, travel expenses, moonlighting, nepotism, Medical Examiner Dr. O.C. Smith. It's a long way from over. Jones suggested there was a "culture of entitlement" in which members of the previous county administration helped themselves to benefits and perks. There is now a culture of investigation. Four federal grand juries are meeting this month. The sleeping giant across the mall in the federal building Ñ the United States Attorney's Office Ñ is the most active in political corruption cases since the trial of U.S. Rep. Harold Ford 10 years ago. Grand-jury proceedings are secret, but it's known that one is looking at the Smith case and another has returned indictments against a gang of thieves and drug dealers operating out of the Memphis Police Department's property and evidence room. A federal grand jury, unlike a state grand jury, is a powerful investigative tool well-suited to uncovering layers of corruption or, some say, political vendettas. Another grand jury, along with state auditors, has been investigating the office of the Juvenile Court clerk under former clerk Shep Wilbun. Wilbun's top aide, Darrell Catron, pleaded guilty in January to a federal charge of embezzlement and has been cooperating with prosecutors. His friend Calvin Williams was booted as chief administrator for the County Commission earlier this year and has testified before the grand jury. Indictments are expected, possibly within the next two weeks. Meanwhile, Jones, a top aide to former county mayor Jim Rout, is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to embezzlement in a separate federal case. Prosecutors, presumably, are negotiating his sentence, already postponed once, based on the amount of money misspent and other information Jones might give them. That's a lot of key people and county institutional memory Ñ not to mention a lot of grudges Ñ at the disposal of federal investigators and prosecutors. For current or recently departed county officials with skeletons in their closets, sleep could be fitful for a while. Federal investigations of political corruption often set off a daisy chain of events that can take months or years to play out as former associates turn on one another, sparking more investigations. In a county government narrowly divided along racial and political party lines, there's a "one of ours for one of theirs" mentality as well. Add to that the fact that the Shelby County district attorney, Bill Gibbons, is a former member of the City Council and the County Commission and an active Republican. And the United States attorney, Terrell Harris, is a former colleague of Gibbons in the state prosecutor's office. Add it all up, and there hasn't been this much intrigue and sizzle in the federal building since former U.S. attorney Hickman Ewing Jr. was going after (mostly) Democratic politicians and labor leaders and high-profile businessmen, gamblers, and coaches in the 1980s. Here's a look at the investigations, where they stand, and where they're likely to go:
  • As a public official, Shep Wilbun held three different jobs and twice tried to be city mayor. The transition to private citizen has not been easy. As Juvenile Court clerk from 2000 to 2002, Wilbun is a key figure in the Catron investigation. Wilbun got the job while serving on the County Commission as the result of a backroom deal and lost it by a single percentage point in a venomous election. Wilbun started his political career as a Memphis City Council member. He made an unsuccessful bid to be the consensus black candidate to oppose Dick Hackett for mayor in 1991. In 1994 he was elected to the Shelby County Commission (a career path also taken by Gibbons, Joe Ford, and the late James Ford). He liked to talk about the big picture whether the subject at hand was transportation, housing, downtown development, or poverty. With degrees from Dartmouth and MIT, he often spoke well and provocatively even when his ideas seemed grandiose. He came within a whisker of being a city division director in 1996 when Willie Herenton withdrew an offer to head up the Division of Housing and Community Development. Herenton cited a city-administered housing loan of $950,000 on which Wilbun and his partners were delinquent. Wilbun said his share was only $6,000. There were hard feelings on both sides. Wilbun suggested the mayor had deliberately embarrassed him. In 1999, Wilbun ran for city mayor against Herenton. The campaign made it clear that Herenton had little use for Wilbun. But on election night, there was Wilbun, grinning from Herenton's victory platform. It was a strange moment. The challenger had gotten 3.5 percent of the vote and finished fifth in a 15-candidate field. Long in search of a full-time government job, Wilbun finally got one a year later. But Juvenile Court was far afield from his training in architecture and urban planning, and his sudden passion for juvenile justice and child welfare rang hollow. The complicated horse-trading that got him there involved Democrats and Republicans, notably fellow commissioner Tom Moss. Disgruntled outsiders almost immediately began plotting. Wilbun blamed political enemies for the state and federal investigation of his office that began shortly after he took control. The publicity probably cost him the 2002 election, which he lost, 49 percent to 48 percent, to Republican Steve Stamson. Catron has told prosecutors about county credit card abuse, bogus cash advances, and an unnamed fraudulent contractor with the clerk's office. Williams, who did all sorts of political and personal favors for commissioners in return for his $100,000 salary, has said prosecutors asked him about a $1,500 cash payment he delivered to the family of a female employee in the clerk's office who accused Catron of sexual harassment. Williams would also know how county commissioners spend public money for travel and entertainment.
  • City councilman E.C. Jones, a former policeman, had the best line of the week. Commenting on the help-yourself policy of the Police Department's property room, Jones said, "Police check pawnshops regularly. It looks like they were using the property room as a pawnshop for stolen goods. Why not watch your own pawnshop?" As FBI agents and police parade a growing number of rogues before mug-shot cameras and grand jurors, you have to wonder how this investigation can stop short of the deputy-director level at the least. City employees and council members have to fill out forms open to public scrutiny for legitimate requisitions. Casino employees who handle money are watched by cameras and layers of supervisors. But a gang of thieves had free access to cash and drugs worth millions of dollars in the "pawnshop." So much for Mayor Herenton's "no scandals in my administration."
  • The O.C. Smith case continues to attract national interest. Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner for New York City and host of the HBO series Autopsy, talked to the Flyer last week. Baden said Tennessee has "a long tradition of holding medical examiners in high regard and having very good medical examiners licensed as forensic pathologists." But it is not unusual for medical examiners to get in trouble. "Over the years, medical examiners are like baseball managers. I had my problems 25 years ago with the mayor of New York. Every time we testify we step on someone's toes. What is unusual about the Smith case is the suggestion that the charges might be made up. I've testified in a lot of Mafia cases in New York in 43 years. I have never been physically attacked or verbally attacked by the bad guys," said Baden.
  • While it apparently is not the subject of a grand-jury investigation, nepotism and self-dealing by county commissioners have attracted the attention of auditors and The Commercial Appeal. A zero-tolerance policy would seem to be in line with Mayor Wharton's actions in a little-publicized case a year ago. Last November, Wharton fired Sam McCraw as administrator of support services because he had a stake in a county contract. Should county elected officials be held to a different standard?
  • Finally, federal prosecutors still have the Albert Means case and football coach Lynn Lang to deal with. Lang's sentencing has been postponed twice. Meanwhile, lawyers and University of Alabama partisans Tommy Gallion and Philip Shanks are moving ahead with their counterattack on the NCAA. Alabama plays Tennessee October 25th in Tuscaloosa. Watch for some down-and-dirty before that. branston@memphisflyer.com

    Friday, October 3, 2003

    A Proper Challenger

    Eccentric he may be, but John Willingham, Mayor Herenton's main opponent, is no fool.

    Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    Memphis mayoral candidate John Willingham likes to tell the story of how various people called him up during the week before the filing deadline for this year's city election and asked him about rumors that he intended to run for mayor against Willie Herenton, whom almost everybody regarded as the inevitable winner of another term.

    "Not today," Willingham says he answered. And he kept a tight lip right up until the filing deadline itself, when he showed up with a hastily signed petition bearing the requisite number of names. One of the signees was definitely not Kemp Conrad, the local Republican Party chairman who tried to discourage Willingham, a first-term maverick Shelby County commissioner, from running for mayor -- at least under Republican auspices -- and, for his pains, has emerged as the latest named member of what Willingham considers a "good old boy" network.

    It is a network that, as Willingham sees it, stretches back in time through last year's U.S. Senate election and the two-term administration of former Shelby County mayor Jim Rout and in space to the burgeoning developments of outer Shelby County and the FedExForum that is even now materializing in the nether regions of downtown Memphis.

    Conrad's role in the scheme of things, according to Willingham, was to have brokered Herenton's endorsement of ultimate Senate winner Lamar Alexander, in return for which -- well, it gets sticky right in there, but Rout and his developer friends are allegedly involved, as was the former county mayor's son Rick Rout, the ex-Young Republican chief who failed to back George Flinn for county mayor last year, as is Flinn himself in an indirect sense, in that pressure was supposedly brought on the physician/businessman by Conrad and others to seek a City Council seat instead of challenging Herenton for mayor this year, because, well

    Not that there isn't a certain logic to these speculations, but only Willingham and a few intimates can follow all the turns and convolutions of them. "Conspiracy theorist," sniffs Conrad disdainfully. It is a sentiment that is echoed elsewhere in the bailiwick of conventional Republicanism, one of whose exemplars, fellow Commissioner David Lillard, was provoked to tell Willingham during a committee meeting: "You can't find a snake everywhere, commissioner, even though you're a professional in that field!"

    Lillard's exasperation was over Willingham's questioning of the financing arrangements for construction of the soon-to-be Arlington-area high school. Republican Willingham, a de facto ally of several Democrats on the commission, was leery of the project, which depended on approval of an innovative rural school bonds formula, until its potential costs could be reduced and made more accountable.

    Eventually, all of that got done -- sort of -- and for all his vexing of colleagues and county school advocates, Willingham arguably served the public interest.

    Likewise with Willingham's proposal that the commission look into the retrofitting of The Pyramid as a casino for a future in which the U of M Tigers are likely to abscond for quarters alongside the NBA's Grizzlies in the new FedExForum. The commissioner, who often seems to hear drums that others don't, eventually had a majority of his colleagues moving enough to his beat so as to get a formal study of the idea approved.

    Whether the considerable legal and moral objections to the idea are overcome or not, some movement toward resolving The Pyramid dilemma was the result.

    The commissioner's determined scrutiny of FedExForum arrangements may yet bear fruit also; if nothing else, a committee approved by the commission at Willingham's insistence may force a closer public scrutiny of what he insists was a sweetheart deal in which the county was stampeded into conceding too much control -- of proceeds and of other local facilities' wherewithal -- to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley.

    "The next thing we have to look out for is the riverfront," warns Willingham, who sees a current blueprint for redevelopment of that area, one approved by incumbent Herenton, to be loaded with similar snares. In concerns like these he is joined by another mayoral candidate, Beale Street entrepreneur Randle Catron, who also worries about potential cost overruns at the new arena and other projects favored by the incumbent mayor.

    The two challengers believe -- against the evidence of various polls -- that there is an untapped opposition to the mayor, both in the white community and the now-dominant African-American population of Memphis. Willingham and his supporters never tire of boasting that, in the words of supporter Shirley Herrington, "we've got more yard signs in South Memphis than East Memphis."

    Whether or not this is actually the case, Willingham is consciously directing his appeals -- like his somewhat unpredictable votes on the commission -- to a mixed audience. Lost in some of the confusion over his various charges is the fact that he and Herenton agree on much, including the need for city/county consolidation.

    The commissioner may be an eccentric, but he is no fool. Once an administrator in Richard Nixon's Department of Housing and Urban Development, he is an engineer and inventor with several patents to his credit. And he does more than cry the alarm, having unveiled a grandiose proposal -- still to be pursued before the commission, or, if the unimaginable should happen, with his future mayoral constituents -- for using a precast mold methodology that would simultaneously govern most future countywide construction, give county prisoners useful employment, and hold down the costs of creating new schools.

    It may be pie in the sky, but John Willingham is ready to ladle it out, if and when enough voters pay attention and credit his vision. Depending on the vantage point, that prospect is either breathtaking or one that should not occasion anyone's holding their breath.

    But try to imagine what the current mayoral race -- nay, the current city election -- would look like if Willingham, who once delivered a campaign speech shirtless and doffed his shirt again, John L. Sullivan-style, for the Flyer's cameras, had not launched his somewhat Quixotic bid. It would be a desultory coronation affair, with Herenton's only challenges coming from the likes of the game but outmatched Catron and of also-rans like Walter Payne and Mary Taylor Shelby and the all-too-forgettable Robert "Prince Mongo" Hodges.

    Willingham has at least livened things up, and -- as has been the case with various other initiatives of his -- more may come of his bid than first meets the eye.

    OTHER RACES: (Runoffs are a possibility in multi-candidate races for city council districts 1 through 7; pluralities win in super-districts 8 and 9, the former predominantly black, the latter predominantly white.) CITY COUNCIL (District 1): Eenie, meanie . Perhaps the most difficult race to evaluate of any on the Memphis city ballot is this one for the newly configured District 1, which has expanded eastward from the bailiwick of incumbent E.C. Jones to take in a sprawling mass of new territory in newly annexed Cordova, home base of Jones main challenger, Republican endorsee Wyatt Bunker, who is leaving his county school board seat just as it becomes obsolete. Some would say Jones, an old pro with a constituent-service rep, has worked his new turf well enough to go with an assumed healthy margin in the old Frayser/Raleigh portion. Others say that social-conservative Bunker commands the loyalty of his fellow transplants and is doing useful stealth work in Jones end of the district. Nobody quite knows what to make of W. B. Yates, the only African-American candidate and an unknown whom the Jones people suspect of being a ringer who is there only to drain off some of the incumbent s Democratic vote. Bunker is deluging the district with flyers which attack Jones as Soft on Topless Zoning and stress crime control and education as issues, while Jones is hitting the phone banks and preparing to flaunt his support by such worthies as former Mayor Dick Hackett and GOP State Rep. Joe Kent (Jones former police partner). Both men promise to pinch the public penny. CITY COUNCIL (District 2); Incumbent Brent Taylor is unopposed for this Corvova/East Mememphis seat.. CITY COUNCIL (District 3): Incumbent TaJuan Stout-Mitchell\ is unopposed in this Whitehaven-based district.. CITY COUNCIL (District 4): Just in case that truck comes through Long-term incumbent Janet Hooks, wife of a county commissioner and mother of a school board member, is about as well-ensconced and invulnerable as anybody else now serving in any office anywhere. Her service in the family real-estate-appraising business and her discriminating votes on development issues have made her a swing voter in zoning cases, and, though an under-financed field of unknowns Debra Brooks, Rex Hamilton, and Gregory Mcvay Lawrence are making the old college try, their earnest efforts rate about the same odds of success as if they had bought lottery tickets and were looking to get rich. CITY COUNCIL (District 5): Three-card monte. The only thing certain about this five-fold race is that Kerry White, the fifth wheel and a no-show as far as public campaigning is concerned, will fold. Ditto with under-financed Mark Follis, an arborist and political newcomer who has tried valiantly to make virtue of necessity, boasting that he won t accept money from anybody, neither wicked developer nor John Q. Public. The plucky Follis, however, is short on issues as well as on bucks. The winner will be one of three candidates: State Representative Carol Chumney, who started out with most name recognition and has several endorsements and has campaigned unevenly but tirelessly; physician/businessman George Flinn, who has avoided the negativity that his hired out-of-state handlers saddled him with during his long-odds campaign for county mayor last year; or Jim Strickland, a youthful political veteran and former Democratic Party chairman who has good entrees in moderate Republican circles as well. With her center-to-left base, Chumney was the only candidate who might have won the seat -- an open one vacated by long-term maverick incumbent John Vergos outright. But Flinn has an anchor on the right side of the spectrum, and Strickland, who raised good money early and was endorsed by Vergos and the Commercial Appeal, has been running an effective campaign. Late spending should give Flinn and Strickland more visibility, and one of them will probably vie with Chumney in a runoff. CITY COUNCIL (District 6): How many models are there in this fleet? Funeral director Edmund Ford succeeded brother Joe Ford in this South Memphis seat when the latter (now a county commissioner) made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 1999, and, unless another model Ford comes along to challenge him, should have the lane to himself for years to come.. Opponent Albert Banks III is an unknown with no such dynastic connections, and Perry Steele, though he s been around for a while politically, has yet to get on track. CITY COUNCIL (District 7): The X Factor. Sometime radio talk-show guy Jennings Bernard can give incumbent Barbara Swearengen Holt a bad time if it turns out he has raised some money. That very much remains to be seen, however. Holt fairly easily survived a challenge four years ago from veteran broker/pol Jerry Hall. CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 1): One for a match. Once the protÇgÇ of fellow councilman Rickey Peete, incumbent Joe Brown is a reliable enough champion of such populist issues as Prevailing-Wage labor agreements that he can call in his own IOUs.The efforts if gis challenger, University of Memphis student Beverly Jones Farmer, best be gauged by her politically incorrect (but no doubt economical) use of matchbook to advertise her candidacy. Like most outs running against ins, Farmer condemns the pernicious influence of developers and, somewhat intriguingly, recommends a task force to implement social, spiritual, and economic opportunities for the hopeless. (Question: which of us does that leave out?) CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 2): Fighting fire with fire. As previously noted, challenger James Robinson, once upon a time a spokesman for Memphis Housing Authority residents, has attempted to use incumbent Rickey Peete s past brush with the law (on an extortion conviction) against him, but Robinson has had his own legal problems (misappropriation of funds while on the MHA council). Moreover, Peete s real skills as legislator and conciliator have earned him respect both in the community and among his council peers. Unless Robinson turns up to have raised some significant money late, this is a case of Peete and Re-Peete. CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 3): CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 3): Once again, how many models in this fleet? Sir Isaac Ford (yes, that s his real name) is a member of the well-known local political family and is making his second try for public office. His first real one, actually, since he dropped out of last year s race for Shelby County mayor after a trial run of sorts. Other differences between this year and last year: (1) He has the active support this time around of his legendary forebear, former congressman Harold Ford Sr.; (2) He calls for revitalizing the community and expanding the tax base rather than for the kind of ambitious socialistic-capitalistic platform (including reparations for slavery and other unusual measures) that he set forth in a series of position papers last year. Even so, Ford will be hard put to unseat Lowery, who is about as thoroughly ensconced in his seat as any incumbent this season and, in the course of his three terms, has managed to build solid bridges to most sectors of his far-flung district. Lowery is a champion of city/county consolidation in a district where there is minimal resistance to that idea. CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 1): Too many cooks spoil the purge attept.Yes, it s probably true, as all of incumbent Pat VanderSchaaf s opponents assumed, that she was vulnerable this year because of a relatively recent shoplifting incident; because of name-association with ex-husband Clair, himself cast off the Shelby County commission last year after a D.U.I. conviction and other problems; because of having been around so long as to qualify for any generalized turn-out-the-rascals sentiment that might be simmering. But being an incumbent for 28 years has its advantages, too, and VanderSchaaf has cast her net wide and rallied an influential group of supporters (example: former county mayor Bill Morris, who testifies for her in a widely seen TV commercial). And she is talented enough at mathematics to imagine the distribution and dispersal -- of her potential anti vote amongst the several opponents who will likely cancel each other yet as they claim their separate shares of it. This, like other super-district races, is winner-take-all, no run-off, and VanderSchaaf has a better-than-even chance to get a plurality. That s partly because businessman (and onetime city attorney) Lester Lit has come out of relative anonymity to run an impressive race (getting the Commercial Apepal endorsement certified him as a bona fide contender), which means that fellow businessman Scott McCormick, making his third try for public office, may not find the Republican Party endorsement to be the self-sufficient bonus he once thought it was, especially since Don Murphree will peel away votes in the suburbs and the ever-dogged Arnold Weiner will claim his portion of the GOP vote.. Ex-Marine, ex-school board veteran Jim Brown is deserving but has been forced by limited means to run much too low-profile a race . CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 2): Cart Before the Horse Award to Tiffany Lowe, the previously unknown challenger to incumbent Tom Marshall for running full-out, with a blizzard of signs mainly in public right-of-way areas before she could even assure herself of legal standing to run. Lowe, it turned out famously, is a convicted felon who has not bothered, as other such candidates have in this and other years, to petition for the legal restoration of her rights.. Campaign manager Jerry Hall, ever a would-be broker, displayed his usual energetic flair but might have done some advance checking himself. Considering veteran Marshall s assumed inassailability in a super-district which favors him demographically, one has to wonder why the effort was made at all. CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 3): Brother, can you spare a dime? A nickel? Well-financed veteran council incumbent Jack Sammons has not campaigned much, and he hasn t had to, despite the fact that he has an articulate opponent in energy analyst Henry Nickell, who has been a fixture at the forums Sammons has skipped, discoursing on the sins of special interest and developers and making proposals for public-debt control that are probably worth listening to. Nickell s chances would be better if Sammons didn t own something of a Mr. Clean reputation in his own right. CITY COURT CLERK: Does this man have an elephant s memory? Armed with the endorsement of the Commecial Appeal and the mantle of incumbency, clerk Thomas Long has proved a hard target for his most active opponent, former radio personality Janis Fullilove, whose chances are both boosted and retarded by her former career path as an over-the-top radio talk-show jock; and Betty Boyette, a former administrator in the clerk s office who has been plagued by a dearth of money and by lack of organized support from her fellow Republicans. One reason for the latter circumstance was suggested early on by Fullilove, who appealed to Democrats by accusing Long of Republican loyalties. The incumbent denied that vehemently, but in a recent appearance before the crowd at District Attorney General Bill Gibbons annual fish-fry fundraiser, paid special tribute to early political mentors Gibbons, lawyer John Ryder, and activist Annabel Woodall all card-carying GOPers. MEMPHIS SCHOOL BOARD (District 1): The special-election contest for the seat left vacant by the death of Dr. Lee Brown, the incumbent, was initially expected to follow the outlines of the race for city council in the same, recently enlarged district. In that one, a white Democrat with a history of support in the working-class neighborhoods of Frayser and Raleigh is opposed by a white, socially conservative Republican from newly annexed Cordova. No whites in the school board race at all, however which fact could be a de facto courtesy nod to the across-the-board constituency of the well-liked Brown, an African American. Lawyer Jay Bailey (or J.Bailey, as he signs himself these days) is the odds-on favorite, as the son of powerful Shelby County Commission member Walter Bailey, a Democrat, and as a candidate who can also boast public support also from the likes of Shelby County Trustee Bob Patterson, a Republican. His major opposition is from FedEx administrator Willie Brooks, who has support from such plugged-in types as Commissioner Deidre Malone and veteran lobbyist/pol Calvin Anderson. Also running are college students Reginald Bernard and Stephanie Gatewood and school counselor Anthony Clear.

    ELECTION PREVIEW: A Proper Challenger

    Eccentric he may be, but John Willingham, Mayor HerentonÕs main opponent, is no fool.

    Posted By on Fri, Oct 3, 2003 at 4:00 AM

    A PROPER CHALLENGER Memphis mayoral candidate John Willingham likes to tell the story of how various people called him up during the week before the filing deadline for ths year’s city election and asked him about rumors that he intended to run for mayor against Willie Herenton, the redoubtable figure whom almost everybody regarded as the inevitable winner of another term. “Not today,” Willingham says he answered. And he kept a tight lip right up until the filing deadline itself, when he showed up with a hastily signed petition bearing the requisite number of names. One of the signees was definitely not Kemp Conrad, the local Republican Party chairman, who tried to discourage Willingham, a first-term maverick Shelby County commissioner, from running for mayor -- at least under Republican auspices -- and, for his pains, has emerged as the latest named member of what Willingham considers a “good old boy” network. It is a network that, as Willingham sees it, stretches in time back through last year’s U.S. Senate election and the two-term administration of former Shelby County Mayor Jim Rout and in space to the burgeoning developments of outer Shelby County and the FedEx Forum that is even now materializing in the nether regions of downtown Memphis. Conrad’s role in the scheme of things, according to Willingham, was to have brokered Herenton’s endorsement of ultimate Senate winner Lamar Alexander, in return for which -- well, it gets sticky right in there, but Rout and his developer friends are allegedly involved, as was the former county mayor’s son Rick Rout, the ex-Young Republican chief who failed to back George Flinn for county mayor last year, as is Flinn himself in an indirect sense, in that pressure was supposedly brought on the physician/businessman by Conrad and others to seek a city council seat instead of challenging Herenton for mayor this year, because , wellÉ. Not that there isn’t a certain logic to these speculations, but only Willingham and a few intimates can follow all the turns and convolutions of them. “Conspiracy theorist,” sniffs Conrad disdainfully. It is a sentiment that is echoed elsewhere in the bailiwick of conventional Republicanism, one of whose exemplars, fellow Commissioner David Lillard, was provoked to tell Willingham during a committee meeting, “You can’t find a snake everywhere, commissioner, even though you’re a professional in that field!” Lillard’s exasperation was over Willingham’s questioning of the financing arrangements for construction of the soon-to-be suburban Arlington high school. Republican Willingham, a de facto ally of several Democrats on the commission, was leery of the project, which depended on approval of an innovative rural school bonds formula, until its potential costs could be reduced and made more accountable. Eventually, all that got done -- sort of -- and for all his vexing of colleagues and county school advocates, Willingham arguably served the public interest. Likewise with Willingham’s proposal that the commission look into the retrofitting of The Pyramid as a casino for a future in which the University of Tigers are likely to abscond for quarters alongside the NBA’s Grizzlies in the new FedEx Forum. The commissioner, who often seems to hear drums that others don’t, eventually had a majority of his colleagues moving enough to his beat so as to get a formal study of the idea approved. Whether the considerable legal and moral objections to the idea are overcome or not, some movement toward resolving the Pyramid dilemma was the result. The commissioner’s determined scrutiny of FedEx Forum arrangements may yet bear fruit also; if nothing else, a committee approved by the commission at Willingham’s insistence may force a closer public scrutiny of what he insists was a sweetheart deal in which the county was stampeded into conceding too much control -- of proceeds and of other local facilities’ wherewithal -- to Grizzlies owner Michael Heisley. “The next thing we have to look out for is the riverfront,” warns Willingham, who sees a current blueprint for redevelopment of that area, one approved by incumbent Herenton, to be loaded with similar snares. In concerns like these he is joined by another mayoral candidate, Beale Street entrepreneur Randle Catron, who also worries, like Willingham, about potential costs overruns at the new arena and other projects favored by the incumbent mayor. The two challengerss believe -- against the evidence of various polls -- that there is an untapped opposition to the mayor, both in the white community and the now dominant African American population of Memphis. Willingham and his supporters never tire of boasting that, in the words of supporter Shirley Herrington, “we’ve got more yard signs in South Memphis than East Memphis.” Whether or not this is actually the case, Willingham is consciously directiing his appeals -- like his somewhat unpredictable votes on the commission -- to a mixed audience. Lost in some of the confusion over his various charges is the fact that he and Herenton agree on much -- including the need for city/county consolidation. The commissioner may be an eccentric, but he is no fool. Once an administrator in Richard Nixon’s Department of Housing and Urban Development, he is an engineer and inventor with several patents to his credit. And he does more than cry the alarm, having unveiled a grandiose proposal -- still to be pursued before the commission, or, if the unimagineable should happen, with his future mayoral constituents -- for using a pre-cast mold methodology that would simultaneously govern most future countywide construction, give county prisoners useful employment, and hold down the costs of creating new schools. It may be pie in the sky, but John Willingham is ready to ladle it out, if and when enough voters should pay attention and credit his vision. Depending on the vantage point, that prospect is either breathtaking, or one that should not occasion anyone’s holding their breath. But try to imagine what the current mayoral race -- nay, the current city election -- would look like if Willingham, who once delivered a campaign speech shirtless and doffed his shirt again, John L. Sullivan-style, for the Flyer‘s cameras, had not launched his somewhat Quixotic bid. It would be a desultory coronaton affair, with Herenton’s only challenges coming from the likes of the game but outmatched Catron and of also-rans like Walter Payne and Mary Taylor Shelby and the all-too-forgettable Robert “Prince Mongo” Hodges. Willingham has at least livened things up, and -- as has been the case with various other initiatives of his -- more may come of his bid than first meets the eye. OTHER RACES: (Runoffs are a possibility in multi-candidate races for city council districts 1 through 7; pluralities win in super-districts 8 and 9, the former predominantly black, the latter predominantly white.) CITY COUNCIL (District 1): Eenie, meanieÉ. Perhaps the most difficult race to evaluate of any on the Memphis city ballot is this one for the newly configured District 1, which has expanded eastward from the bailiwick of incumbent E.C. Jones to take in a sprawling mass of new territory in newly annexed Cordova, home base of Jones’ main challenger, Republican endorsee Wyatt Bunker, who is leaving his county school board seat just as it becomes obsolete. Some would say Jones, an old pro with a constituent-service rep, has worked his new turf well enough to go with an assumed healthy margin in the old Frayser/Raleigh portion. Others say that social-conservative Bunker commands the loyalty of his fellow transplants and is doing useful stealth work in Jones’ end of the district. Nobody quite knows what to make of W. B. Yates, the only African-American candidate and an unknown whom the Jones people suspect of being a ringer who is there only to drain off some of the incumbent’s Democratic vote. Bunker is deluging the district with flyers which attack Jones as Soft on Topless Zoning and stress crime control and education as issues, while Jones is hitting the phone banks and preparing to flaunt his support by such worthies as former Mayor Dick Hackett and GOP State Rep. Joe Kent (Jones’ former police partner). Both men promise to pinch the public penny. CITY COUNCIL (District 2); Incumbent Brent Taylor is unopposed for this Corvova/East Mememphis seat.. CITY COUNCIL (District 3): Incumbent TaJuan Stout-Mitchell\ is unopposed in this Whitehaven-based district.. CITY COUNCIL (District 4): Just in case that truck comes throughÉ Long-term incumbent Janet Hooks, wife of a county commissioner and mother of a school board member, is about as well-ensconced and invulnerable as anybody else now serving in any office anywhere. Her service in the family real-estate-appraising business and her discriminating votes on development issues have made her a swing voter in zoning cases, and, though an under-financed field of unknowns -- Debra Brooks, Rex Hamilton, and Gregory Mcvay Lawrence -- are making the old college try, their earnest efforts rate about the same odds of success as if they had bought lottery tickets and were looking to get rich. CITY COUNCIL (District 5): Three-card monte. The only thing certain about this five-fold race is that Kerry White, the fifth wheel and a no-show as far as public campaigning is concerned, will fold. Ditto with under-financed Mark Follis, an arborist and political newcomer who has tried valiantly to make virtue of necessity, boasting that he won’t accept money from anybody, neither wicked developer nor John Q. Public. The plucky Follis, however, is short on issues as well as on bucks. The winner will be one of three candidates: State Representative Carol Chumney, who started out with most name recognition and has several endorsements and has campaigned unevenly but tirelessly; physician/businessman George Flinn, who has avoided the negativity that his hired out-of-state handlers saddled him with during his long-odds campaign for county mayor last year; or Jim Strickland, a youthful political veteran and former Democratic Party chairman who has good entrees in moderate Republican circles as well. With her center-to-left base, Chumney was the only candidate who might have won the seat -- an open one vacated by long-term maverick incumbent John Vergos -- outright. But Flinn has an anchor on the right side of the spectrum, and Strickland, who raised good money early and was endorsed by Vergos and the Commercial Appeal, has been running an effective campaign. Late spending should give Flinn and Strickland more visibility, and one of them will probably vie with Chumney in a runoff. CITY COUNCIL (District 6): How many models are there in this fleet? Funeral director Edmund Ford succeeded brother Joe Ford in this South Memphis seat when the latter (now a county commissioner) made an unsuccessful run for mayor in 1999, and, unless another model Ford comes along to challenge him, should have the lane to himself for years to come.. Opponent Albert Banks III is an unknown with no such dynastic connections, and Perry Steele, though he’s been around for a while politically, has yet to get on track. CITY COUNCIL (District 7): The X Factor. Sometime radio talk-show guy Jennings Bernard can give incumbent Barbara Swearengen Holt a bad time if it turns out he has raised some money. That very much remains to be seen, however. Holt fairly easily survived a challenge four years ago from veteran broker/pol Jerry Hall. CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 1): One for a match. Once the protŽgŽ of fellow councilman Rickey Peete, incumbent Joe Brown is a reliable enough champion of such populist issues as Prevailing-Wage labor agreements that he can call in his own IOUs.The efforts if gis challenger, University of Memphis student Beverly Jones Farmer, best be gauged by her politically incorrect (but no doubt economical) use of matchbook to advertise her candidacy. Like most outs running against ins, Farmer condemns the pernicious influence of developers and, somewhat intriguingly, recommends “a task force to implement social, spiritual, and economic opportunities for the hopeless.” (Question: which of us does that leave out?) CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 2): Fighting fire with fire. As previously noted, challenger James Robinson, once upon a time a spokesman for Memphis Housing Authority residents, has attempted to use incumbent Rickey Peete’s past brush with the law (on an extortion conviction) against him, but Robinson has had his own legal problems (misappropriation of funds while on the MHA council). Moreover, Peete Ôs real skills as legislator and conciliator have earned him respect both in the community and among his council peers. Unless Robinson turns up to have raised some significant money late, this is a case of Peete and Re-Peete. CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 3): CITY COUNCIL (District 8, Position 3): Once again, how many models in this fleet? Sir Isaac Ford (yes, that’s his real name) is a member of the well-known local political family and is making his second try for public office. His first real one, actually, since he dropped out of last year’s race for Shelby County mayor after a trial run of sorts. Other differences between this year and last year: (1) He has the active support this time around of his legendary forebear, former congressman Harold Ford Sr.; (2) He calls for revitalizing the community and expanding the tax base rather than for the kind of ambitious “socialistic-capitalistic platform” (including reparations for slavery and other unusual measures) that he set forth in a series of position papers last year. Even so, Ford will be hard put to unseat Lowery, who is about as thoroughly ensconced in his seat as any incumbent this season and, in the course of his three terms, has managed to build solid bridges to most sectors of his far-flung district. Lowery is a champion of city/county consolidation in a district where there is minimal resistance to that idea. CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 1): Too many cooks spoil the purge attept.Yes, it’s probably true, as all of incumbent Pat VanderSchaaf’s opponents assumed, that she was vulnerable this year -- because of a relatively recent shoplifting incident; because of name-association with ex-husband Clair, himself cast off the Shelby County commission last year after a D.U.I. conviction and other problems; because of having been around so long as to qualify for any generalized turn-out-the-rascals sentiment that might be simmering. But being an incumbent for 28 years has its advantages, too, and VanderSchaaf has cast her net wide and rallied an influential group of supporters (example: former county mayor Bill Morris, who testifies for her in a widely seen TV commercial). And she is talented enough at mathematics to imagine the distribution -- and dispersal -- of her potential “anti” vote amongst the several opponents who will likely cancel each other yet as they claim their separate shares of it. This, like other super-district races, is winner-take-all, no run-off, and VanderSchaaf has a better-than-even chance to get a plurality. That’s partly because businessman (and onetime city attorney) Lester Lit has come out of relative anonymity to run an impressive race (getting the Commercial Apepal endorsement certified him as a bona fide contender), which means that fellow businessman Scott McCormick, making his third try for public office, may not find the Republican Party endorsement to be the self-sufficient bonus he once thought it was, especially since Don Murphree will peel away votes in the suburbs and the ever-dogged Arnold Weiner will claim his portion of the GOP vote.. Ex-Marine, ex-school board veteran Jim Brown is deserving but has been forced by limited means to run much too low-profile a race . CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 2): Cart Before the Horse Award -- to Tiffany Lowe, the previously unknown challenger to incumbent Tom Marshall for running full-out, with a blizzard of signs -- mainly in public right-of-way areas -- before she could even assure herself of legal standing to run. Lowe, it turned out famously, is a convicted felon who has not bothered, as other such candidates have in this and other years, to petition for the legal restoration of her rights.. Campaign manager Jerry Hall, ever a would-be broker, displayed his usual energetic flair but might have done some advance checking himself. Considering veteran Marshall’s assumed inassailability in a super-district which favors him demographically, one has to wonder why the effort was made at all. CITY COUNCIL (District 9, Position 3): Brother, can you spare a dime? A nickel? Well-financed veteran council incumbent Jack Sammons has not campaigned much, and he hasn’t had to, despite the fact that he has an articulate opponent in energy analyst Henry Nickell, who has been a fixture at the forums Sammons has skipped, discoursing on the sins of special interest and developers and making proposals for public-debt control that are probably worth listening to. Nickell’s chances would be better if Sammons didn’t own something of a Mr. Clean reputation in his own right. CITY COURT CLERK: Does this man have an elephant’s memory? Armed with the endorsement of the Commecial Appeal and the mantle of incumbency, clerk Thomas Long has proved a hard target for his most active opponent, former radio personality Janis Fullilove, whose chances are both boosted and retarded by her former career path as an over-the-top radio talk-show jock; and Betty Boyette, a former administrator in the clerk’s office who has been plagued by a dearth of money and by lack of organized support from her fellow Republicans. One reason for the latter circumstance was suggested early on by Fullilove, who appealed to Democrats by accusing Long of Republican loyalties. The incumbent denied that vehemently, but in a recent appearance before the crowd at District Attorney General Bill Gibbons’ annual fish-fry fundraiser, paid special tribute to early political mentors Gibbons, lawyer John Ryder, and activist Annabel Woodall -- all card-carying GOPers. MEMPHIS SCHOOL BOARD (District 1): The special-election contest for the seat left vacant by the death of Dr. Lee Brown, the incumbent, was initially expected to follow the outlines of the race for city council in the same, recently enlarged district. In that one, a white Democrat with a history of support in the working-class neighborhoods of Frayser and Raleigh is opposed by a white, socially conservative Republican from newly annexed Cordova. No whites in the school board race at all, however -- which fact could be a de facto courtesy nod to the across-the-board constituency of the well-liked Brown, an African American. Lawyer Jay Bailey (or “J.Bailey,” as he signs himself these days) is the odds-on favorite, as the son of powerful Shelby County Commission member Walter Bailey, a Democrat, and as a candidate who can also boast public support also from the likes of Shelby County Trustee Bob Patterson, a Republican. His major opposition is from FedEx administrator Willie Brooks, who has support from such plugged-in types as Commissioner Deidre Malone and veteran lobbyist/pol Calvin Anderson. Also running are college students Reginald Bernard and Stephanie Gatewood and school counselor Anthony Clear.
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