Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fear and Loathing in the County Building

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 12:10 AM

Commissioner Brooks in the process of getting after it
  • Commissioner Brooks in the process of getting after it
There’s literally no predicting where rows will come from on an increasingly contentious Shelby County Commission.

The two barn-burning moments at Monday’s public meeting came from (1) an appropriation for preparedness training by first responders, so routine it was placed on the commission’s consent calendar; and (2) what appeared to be an equally routine request for approval of some rundown surplus property on Lamar Avenue.

Both fracases were precipitated by objections from Commissioner Henri Brooks, who actually represents what is an ethnically mixed area of transitional neighborhoods in central Memphis but increasingly sees herself as the voice of historical African American grievances.

When Brooks speaks of “concern among the community” about something, as she did on Monday and does so often, she is digging in for what comes to seem like a version of Armageddon.

The first occasion came Monday on a consent-calendar measure approving the expenditure of $157,795.06 in federal Homeland Security funds for technical rescue training locally. Simple, straightforward, and uncontroversial. Right?

Wrong, as Brooks saw things. She asked that the resolution be pulled off the consent calendar for discussion — something she frequently does whenever federal funds are involved, to make sure that the Title VI (non-discrimination) provision of the 1964 Civil Rights Act is being honored.

In this case, she wanted to be sure there were “no unreasonable barriers” to persons wanting to receive the training and that there was “cross-cultural” application of it.

Local Office of Preparedness director Bob Nations explained essentially that the training was for first responders engaged in extreme rescue situations and made the mistake of telling Brooks he wasn’t sure what she meant by “cross-cultural” in the context.

Citing the example of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which left thousands of African Americans stranded in miserable and dangerous conditions in New Orleans, Brooks maintained that serious problems arose because of cultural differences and told Nations, “If you don’t understand that, then you need some cross-cultural training!”

Nations responded to the bait. “No ma’am, I don’t need cultural training. I’ve been one of those wading in six feet of water getting people out of trees and off of rooftops, and stuffing body bags with body parts.” He himself, he said, had been carted to the hospital in the course of rescue operations. “We don’t ask a lot of questions about nationality or skin color…We are cross-cultural. We don’t do training based on nationality or skin color or religion.”

He and his agency did not ask people in need of help to “check a box” as to their identity, Nations said.

Brooks had an answer in kind: She had picked cotton, been called the N-word, been maced at lunch counters, been forced to walk past segregated white schools on her way to school, made to drink from colored-only water fountains, been chased by dogs, forced to sit in the back of the bus, and been restricted to zoo visits on Thursdays. “So don’t tell me any of that stuff about checking boxes.”

Did Nations speak Spanish, she wanted to know. Did he understand “the dialect of the core city?” She appreciated his past actions, she said with high irony, but “I’m just questioning what you are doing now with the taxpayer dollar.”

In the end, Nations received pointed commendation from commission chair Joyce Avery and Commissioner George Flinn, and the commission approved the funding request with one abstention, Brooks’.

There had been brief expostulations from other commissioners at Brooks’ in-your-face challenge to Nations, as well as to her responding to entreaties to expedite the discussion from commission chair Joyce Avery. Brooks would favor Avery with rejoinders like “Don’t interrupt me. I am speaking. I am speaking!”



BUT THAT FIRST MATTER was but a tune-up for what was to come when the commission got to agenda item Number 17. This was a resolution “approving the sale of 1.291 acres of improved real property located on the southwest side of Lamar Avenue, immediately east of Kyle Avenue, to Curtis Broome, Sr. for $40,000.00.”

There were, as it developed in an increasingly tangled group discussion, numerous legitimate angles and complications to what seemed on the surface so simple a matter. County Land Bank supervisor Tom Moss had put buildings classified as “surplus property” up for bids, and Broome, who operates an appliance business, had made the only bid for the property.

Thereafter, everything was a matter of opinion. Broome either did or did not aspire to use the property for warehousing, or, alternately, for job training. Moss either had or had not gone by the book. He either had or had not ignored an attempt by a local development group to do something else with the property and to bring their case before the commission. And the aforesaid group, the Annesdale-Rozelle Neighborhood Association, represented by the Pigeon Roost Corporation, either had or had not asked for the property to be donated by the commission.

It was that last matter that particularly angered Brooks, who saw the affair as a parallel to the commission’s award last year of 140 parcels to rental-property developer Harold Buehler, a long-ago done deal that Brooks sees as an affront to the indigenous community and keeps trying to re-open.

She had begun Monday’s discussion on the property-sale issue by wanting to re-open the Lamar Avenue matter as well, but once she got a fix on the two sides as involving a mainly white community development group (though the CDC's actual membership may have been substantially African-American) versus a beleaguered black entrepreneur, she was all for approving the sale rather than submitting to a motion for deferral that would involve renewed consideration of both of the rival plans.

Addressing those on the commission who seemed sympathetic to the Annesdale-Rozelle group, she expostulated, “You’d rather give it away than sell it to a black man? I am incensed!”

Brooks had earlier addressed Stoy Bailey, a lifelong reident of the affected neighborhood and one of the spokespersons for the Annesdale-Rozelle group, this way: “You know, I really appreciate the benevolence of individuals who come from miles around and other countries into our communities, the black community, and want to do something. I can appreciate that. You know, I can remember reading about that when I was two or three years old when you had these benevolent individuals coming over to another continent to civilize the natives….”

Toward the end of the hour-and-a-half-long discussion, which involved matters of zoning and procedures and other complications too arcane to be gone into here, Commissioner Wyatt Bunker was interrogating Broome about his tax history. This infuriated Brooks, who has never forgiven her fellow commissioners for giving the aforesaid Buehler a pass on tax delinquencies. She accused Bunker of “badgering” Broome.

Bunker raised a “point of order.” He said, “If Commissioner Brooks can’t contain herself, maybe she should step outside. We gave her plenty of time to speak. So maybe she needs to keep it quiet…”

Brooks interrupted, “.I don’t need Wyatt Bunker to tell me…”

And was interrupted by Bunker in return, “You need somebody to tell you. You’ve been all over the boards today. You try to interject race into every conversation here.”

It went on that way, and things got so uncomfortable that Broome made what was probably only a rhetorical offer: “If it’s going to be this big a problem, I withdraw my request, because you know, this is ludicrous.”

In the end, the commission approved a deferral of the matter by the narrow margin of 6 to 5, and will presumably take it up in committee on Wednesday, April 7.

Petitioner Broome was certainly right in his final declaration that much of what went on Monday had been "ludicrous." The pecking order of local government and the news media’s sense of priorities being what they are, the Memphis City Council and its sometimes fantastical controversies get the lion’s share of attention.

But, as Monday demonstrated clearly, where absurdity and contention are concerned, the Shelby County Commission can hold its end up.

Commissioner Steve Mulroy, late in the surplus property debate, spoke to “the tone of the debate.” Something had been bothering him for a long time, he said. Extraneous issues of all kinds, including race, but not that alone, had been inserted, along with accusations that this or that person, place, or thing had "subverted" the process."

As he noted about Monday, “On all sides of the debate, people have been getting nasty. I’m going to ask that we just stick to the merits.”

The commissioner is entitled to ask, of course, but he shouldn’t hold his breath waiting for it to happen.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Willie Herenton on the Specter of Voter Crossover

Posted By on Mon, Mar 29, 2010 at 12:42 PM

Ex-mayor Herenton laughs it up Saturday with Chism and Mike Gray
  • JB
  • Ex-mayor Herenton laughs it up Saturday with Chism and Mike Gray
Willie Herenton has the mike and is using it to broadcast his grievances loud and large over the speaker system at his friend Sidney Chism’s Saturday kickoff event in the Plaza Shopping Center mall on south Elvis Presley Boulevard.

“…We got nothing we need to apologize for,” he is concluding. “We didn’t put people in chains and bring them over here against their will.” This and similar remarks make up the peroration of his introduction of county commissioner Chism, who is running for reelection, and when he turns the microphone over, Chism continues in that vein:

“No, we got nothing to apologize for.” But it turns out there is something that requires an apology, or at least an act of atonement.” We got to clean up what you messed up. Yeah, you got to clean up what you sho’ messed up!”

Both men are talking about the same thing — the need, as they see it, hoping that the rest of the city’s African-American population agrees, for a reversion to black occupancy of the 9th District congressional office won by then state Senator Steve Cohen, at least partly with Herenton’s help, in 2006. Herenton, who contends he is defending the principle of equal representation, is now determined to unseat Cohen, whom he has referred to publicly as an "asshole."

It is Chism’s event, and the well-known political broker has enough clout to attract a passel of other candidates and office-holders to his event: interim county mayor Joe Ford, for example, whose mayoral campaign occupies the space next door to Chism’s and who shortly delivers a testimonial to his erstwhile fellow commissioner.

But Herenton is the reigning celebrity here and has already altered the character of the event merely by his presence. And, though his public stemwinder is over with, he hasn’t got everything off his chest.

He heads over my way, and, after a few comments on how his run for Congress is going — “I’m campaigning hard. I’ve been working every goddamned day!” — he begins to dilate on “media bias” against him, citing as the latest instance of it the final paragraph of an “In Brief” item by The Commercial Appeal’s Bartholomew Sullivan in that morning’s paper.

The offending passage comes at the end of some matter-of-fact graphs about Herenton’s having filing his petition for office on the preceding day and a short statement from the former Memphis mayor on his desire to serve in Congress as “a continuation of public service.”

Then Sullivan notes that, on the same day as Herenton’s filing, District Attorney General Bill Gibbons had given up the ghost on his lagging gubernatorial campaign, thereby, Sullivan notes, “potentially freeing some GOP voters to cross party lines and vote in the Democratic primary.”

Well, I comment, the observation seems true enough. Cohen has always enjoyed some Republican crossover (paradoxically, given his simultaneous reputation as the leading liberal light in these parts). And Gibbons’ withdrawal as a favorite-son candidate for governor in the Republican primary would surely facilitate the fact.

“But who’s crossing over?” Herenton demands. I agree that most of the crossover voters, if such there be, will, in fact, be white. At that, the former mayor — who in his middle years as mayor, especially in his 1999 re-election campaign against Joe Ford, could claim a generous share of white and Republican votes himself — looks vindicated.

“If I say it, I’m playing the race card. To me that’s the race card!” he proclaims.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

GADFLY: The Frum Affair and the GOP's "Dummy-Up" Philosophy

Posted By on Sun, Mar 28, 2010 at 11:35 AM

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If the battle over health care “reform” this past year has taught us anything, it's that Republicans are much better at getting their people to toe the “party line” than Democrats are. Democrats are like a bunch of feral cats, wary of any kind of discipline, who aren't as interested in loyalty to their party's principles as they are in preserving their own turf. As result, just like cats, they're hard to herd. Just look at what happened in both the House and Senate with several Democrats telling their party to go fuck itself on healthcare reform. Democrats are a headstrong lot. Will Rogers immortalized that when he famously said he wasn't a member of any organized political party, he was a Democrat.

Republicans, on the other hand are a lot more like sheep; they fall into line behind their leaders, whether that be Rush Limbaugh or John Boehner, and are always dependably “on message” when it comes to spewing the party line. As I listen to the likes of Marsha (“Tennessee Barbie”) Blackburn or Eric (“Stray Bullet”) Cantor, it makes me wonder whether the Republicans have figured out how to transmit subliminal messages to their members, or perhaps have implanted a chip in them that makes them robotically mouth their party's talking points. In any event, their pliability makes them, obviously, much easier to herd than the Democrats.

Republicans have no equivalent to the Democrats' “blue dogs.” With Arlen Specter's recent attempt to seek asylum from the Democrats, the term “moderate Republican” has become an oxymoron. They certainly have no equivalent to someone like Joe Lieberman. The closest anyone's come to Joe's attempted self-immolation by actively campaigning against his party's nominee for the presidency in 2008, is Zell Miller (surprise, surprise—-also a Democrat), the whacko who supported George Bush over John Kerry in 2004. Who can forget when Miller challenged Chris Matthews, the MSNBC blowhard, to a duel, a challenge Matthews probably deserved, but one that Miller's party probably would have preferred not be on national television. Neither Miller nor Lieberman suffered any punishment or retribution from their own party for their arguably treasonous acts. Lieberman even got to keep his committee chairmanship, for chrissakes. Democrats are so nice, aren't they?

If a Republican, on the other hand, strays too far from his party's ideology (and I'm just talking about straying, not freaking out, like by endorsing the opposing party's candidate), one way or another, he feels the party's wrath. Neither Republicans nor their ideological icons brook anything that even remotely resembles criticism. Remember how abjectly several Republicans apologized after they had the temerity to utter critical remarks about their titular leader, Rush Limbaugh? No sir, no Republican can criticize his party, or its idols, and expect to get away with it.

So, what happened to reliably conservative commentator David Frum after the health care bill was signed into law was no surprise. Frum, the former speech writer for Bush II, had the balls to suggest that the Republicans had made a fundamental mistake in their “just say no” approach to health care. He received a lot of media exposure for saying that the Waterloo Republicans hoped health care reform would be for Obama would end up being their own epitaph. Frum's punishment for this seditious act was swift and unequivocal: he was unceremoniously dumped from his position with the right-wing think tank, the American Enterprise Institute.

Now, David Frum has achieved (and deserves) a modicum of sainthood in conservative circles. He did, after all, put words in George Bush's mouth (most notably, the famously inane ones, “axis of evil”), and that was no mean feat, considering how badly Bush mangled many of those words. Telling George Bush what to say must have been like telling Prince Mongo what to wear. Frum was such an iconic conservative, he was even on the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, the fertile crescent of conservatism, and yet, so total was his excommunication as a result of his spasm of disloyalty that even that publication saw fit to call him “the media's go-to basher of fellow Republicans." Republicans are so mean, aren't they? Oh well, I'm sure he can find a sinecure with some liberal media outlet as its token pundit, like David Brooks or Ross Douthat at the New York Times, or Charles Krauthammer at the Washington Post. I mean, after all, look at all the liberal commentators Fox “News” or the Washington Times have, right?

Frum's downfall is a familiar fate for Republicans who don't fall into line. Paul O'Neill, Bush's first treasury secretary, suffered a
similar consequence
by dint of his disloyalty, as did General Eric Shinseki for differing with Bush about the Iraq war. The Republicans still haven't forgiven Florida Governor Charlie Crist for his show of affection for Obama. And now, Tennessee's very own Bob Corker is in danger of suffering the consequences for criticizing his own party's handling of the financial regulatory reform law now working its way through Congress, and indicating he might support it in spite of his party's slavish obedience to the financial services industry. Now, that'd be a corker, wouldn't it?
'
The moral of the story? For Republicans, it's if you have any ideas of your own, dummy up about them,' and for Democrats it's 'you can learn a lot from dummies.'

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Official: Gibbons Bows Out of Governor's Race, Cites Cash Shortage

Posted By on Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 11:01 AM

District Attorney General Bill Gibbons
  • District Attorney General Bill Gibbons
As expected, District Attorney General Bill Gibbons of Memphis announced Friday that he is withdrawing from the governor's race difficulties in fundraising. Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Nashville (one which he intends to repeat in Mermphis later Friday), Gibbons said, k"To the extent we failed, it was my failure."

(Here is the Flyer's Thursday night article, which may not have appeared on some computers, due to an internal glitch.)

Gibbons also released this prepared statement Friday:

Today, I am withdrawing from the race for governor for one reason and one reason only, and that is lack of sufficient campaign funds to go forward.

For over a year, we have had a specific campaign plan which called for a budget of $2.5 million — substantially less than what one other campaign will spend and at least slightly less than what two others will probably spend. Our initial goal was to have at least $1.0 million of that by the end of 2009. We fell significantly short of that goal. We then set a goal of having at least $1 million by April 1 of this year. It is obvious at this point that we will not achieve that. Our balance on hand has gone down rather than up since our last disclosure in early February. We have no reasonable prospect of paying for any media campaign, a necessity for success in this race.

I had hoped to achieve our financial needs by convincing enough people that this campaign was an opportunity to invest in a movement to tackle the big challenges our state faces of reducing our crime rate, improving our schools, and creating a better climate for more good paying jobs. Those are challenges that are especially critical to my home community of Memphis. My primary responsibility was to successfully convince enough people to make that investment. To the extent we failed, it was my failure.

Since State Senator Jim Kyle and I have both withdrawn from the race, we have no candidate from my own community of Memphis and Shelby County or who understands personally its unique needs and opportunities. We have crime driven by gang activity and drug trafficking which cries out for changes in our state sentencing laws. We have one of the largest urban school systems in the nation with the urgent need for reform. The University of Memphis is a unique urban research university which is being overlooked by state government and deserves its own independent governing board. And state government needs to end its neglect of the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences and The MED. I hope the other candidates of both parties will work to learn more about the community I love.

I thank the hundreds of people who did join me in this effort. Many are old friends. Others are new friends I made during the course of the campaign. I will be forever indebted to their support and friendship.

Although raising money has proved most difficult, an extremely heartening aspect of this experience has been the willingness of people across the state who care about its future to give their support and their time to my candidacy. They have reinforced my own faith in the political process.

I commend the campaign staff. I could not have asked for a more talented group of individuals. And I thank my family for their support and tolerance of the many hours I spent on the campaign trail. Frankly, one plus to ending the campaign is that I will be able to spend more time with my wife Julia who has been unable to participate because she is a federal judge.

I’m looking forward to continuing my service as district attorney in Shelby County, our state’s largest jurisdiction. I’m honored to serve with many dedicated public servants. I’ll go to work every day determined to make my community an even better place in which to live. And I will continue to push aggressively for needed changes at the state level in our criminal justice system.

A statewide campaign in Tennessee is not for the faint-hearted. It is both physically and emotionally demanding. I wish the other candidates of both parties well in the coming months. I urge them to focus on the real challenges our state faces and to be bold in proposing ways to meet those challenges.

Jackson Defends Employee Parties; Ford Offers Pay Raise

Posted By on Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Ford (left), Jackson at Germantown Democrats meeting
  • JB
  • Ford (left), Jackson at Germantown Democrats' meeting
Employees of Shelby County government got some stroking this week from interim mayor Joe Ford, who promised that a general raise for employees, amount unspecified, would be included in a budget proposal that would not ask for tax increase.

Speaking to a meeting of the Germantown Democrats at Cordova Library on Wednesday night, Ford said more money would also be made available to the Health Department and to the Med. He said, again without specifying the amount, that Governor Phil Bredesen had assured him of adequate funding for the Med, and Ford estimated the hospital facility would be in line for another $7 million from funding included in the just-passed federal health-care bill.

Scoffing at skepticism on the subject from two other mayoral contenders, fellow Democrat Deidre Malone and Republican Mark Luttrell, Ford declared unequivocally, “We have saved the Med.”

Meanwhile, yet another mayoral candidate, General Sessions Court clerk Otis Jackson, who also spoke at the Germantown Democrats’ meeting, responded to criticism of his spending on employees of his office.

Jackson, who stands accused of prodigal spending on employee lunches and parties by county commissioner Mike Ritz, was unapologetic. As he said Wednesday night, the expenditures — including some $7,000 for holiday banquets in 2008 and 2009 — were compensations for his employees’ hard work, ways to “pat ‘em on the back” at a time when they had helped accomplish dramatic increases in office revenues while going without pay raises.

“Would I do it again? Yes,” Jackson said. Calculating that his employees had accounted for an increase of $3 million in collected fee revenues over the same two-year period as the parties and lunches cited by Ritz, Jackson minimized the expenditures by comparison saying, “That’s an average of $10 a year per employee.”

Ford took advantage of Wednesday night’s opportunity to repeat his opposition to, city/county consolidation and to unloose yet another blast at news media coverage. “As I’ve said before, you can believe about 20 percent of what you see on TV, and nothing of what you read in the newspaper,” he said.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Ready for the Exit? Gibbons Schedules Two Pressers for Friday

Posted By on Thu, Mar 25, 2010 at 8:57 PM

Gibbons speaking to Memphis YRs last week
  • JB
  • Gibbons speaking to Memphis YRs last week
It was a vicious circle. People began saying of Memphis District Attorney General Bill Gibbons, whose credentials to be governor were no doubt as good as anyone’s, that he couldn’t raise money; therefore he was not regarded as a possible winner. And because he wasn’t regarded as a possible winner, he had even more trouble raising money. And because he still couldn’t raise money, he was regarded as an even less credible winner. Which meant….

That he couldn’t catch a break. But Catch-22 caught him. And wouldn’t let go.

It got to this point: Zach Wamp, the Chattanooga congressman who was locked into a real scratching match with Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey for dibs on challenging Knoxville mayor Bill Haslam, was lambasting both those worthies right and left (mainly from the right, of course). But he had nothing but nice things to say about “General Gibbons.”

That’s what the others were doing, too. Unloosing shots at their other GOP rivals but sugarcoating everything they said about the man from Memphis.

That may have been the last signal Gibbons needed. But other prompters were the facts that time for the next financial disclosure period, on March 31, is drawing nigh, as is the withdrawal deadline for gubernatorial candidates, just over a week later, on April 8.

As recently as a week ago, when he addressed a meeting of Young Republicans here in Memphis, Gibbons was defiant about his chances. He likened himself to Winfield Dunn, the Memphis dentist who overcame anonymity and long odds to wrest the Republican nomination for governor from several better known GOP contenders, then wreaked an upset win over Democrat John Hooker to become governor.

Dunn, too, had some money problems to start with, but the lineup against him — Hubert Patty, Bill Jenkins, and Maxey Jarman — weren’t as far ahead of him in fundraising as Haslam, Wamp, and Ramsey are over Gibbons. Nor were their names quite as large in the political pantheon of the time.

So, when word came on Thursday that Gibbons had scheduled two major press conferences on Friday — one for Nashville in the morning, another for Memphis in the afternoon — everyone naturally assumed that the mild-mannered lawman knew when to fold up and was planning to. The time and manner of both scheduled events smacked of “I want to thank my friends who supported me…”

Several of the attendees at Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell’s Racquet Club fundraiser on Thursday night reported having “call-me-back” messages from Gibbons on their voice mails. Most of them had been his donors.

Of course, it’s always possible that Gibbons, who needed a miracle, came upon one — a major endorsement, a run of unsuspected fundraising fortune, a mind-blowing new policy initiative… A miracle, in short, because that’s what he needed. And something like that, a combination of it all, especially, would invalidate all of the foregoing.

But it ain’t likely.

After that YR meeting in Memphis last week, Gibbons was asked what he would say if someone suggested to him he should step aside and get out of the governor’s race.

“It would be a short conversation,” a proud and seemingly resolute man answered.

But at this point Bill Gibbons seems poised to have two somewhat lengthy conversations about the matter on Friday.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Stanton Reported In Line to be U.S. Attorney

Posted By on Tue, Mar 23, 2010 at 4:38 PM

Stanton (center) with father and well-wisher during 2006 congressional campaign
  • JB
  • Stanton (center) with father and well-wisher during 2006 congressional campaign
A national publication which caters to the legal sector has published a report on Tuesday seeming to confirm what has long been expected - that President Obama will shortly name FedEx attorney Ed Stanton III as the next U.S. Attorney for Tennessee's Western District.

Writing in the online publication Main Justice, reporter Andrew Ramonas says this about the prospectively pending appointment: “Edward L. Stanton III, a senior counsel with FedEx's commercial litigation team, is going through a FBI background check….The background check is typically the last step for a U.S. Attorney candidate before nomination.”

Ramonas attributes the information to “an individual with knowledge of the nomination process.” The unidentified source had previously identified Nashville lawyer Jerry Martin, also underdoing a background check, as the likely appointee for U.S. Attorney in Middle Tennessee.

Stanton, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in the 9th District in 2006, has previously offered “no comment” to widespread rumors that he was in line for the appointment.

Members of the Tennessee congressional delegation have so far declined to confirm or deny identities of likely appointees.

A majority of U.S. Attorney’s positions in the nation remain unfilled, more than a year after President Obama took office — a fact contrasting with the relative alacrity with which presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush made their appointments.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Spring Break: Scenes from Saturday on the Campaign Trail

Posted By on Sun, Mar 21, 2010 at 12:26 PM

No matter how the rest of the weekend turned out, Saturday was a gorgeous, bona fide spring day, and politicians took advantage of it across the city. Here county commissioner Steve Mulroy and state Senator Beverly Marrero applaud an Irish dance.

Steve Mulroy, running for reelection to the Shelby County Commission, addressed his crowd at his Knight Arnold headquarters on Saturday, then indulged himself in two trademark limericks.

Jackson_at_HQ.jpg
  • JB

Otis Jackson, seeking an upgrade from General Sessions Court Clerk to Shelby County Mayor, held court at his headquarters on E. Winchester Ave. on Saturday.

Catchings_at_HQ.jpg
  • JB

James Catchings, candidate for county commission, gathers some of his faithful around him during his meet-and-greet at his Southbrook Mall HQ.

Harvey_at_HQ.jpg
  • JB

Incumbent commissioner James Harvey, defending his seat against a challenge by Catchings, toward the end of a four hour meet-and-greet at his headquarters on Elvis Presley Boulevard.

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  • JB

Mayoral candidate Deidre Malone checks in with members of her core group after a moving rally at various sites on Saturday.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Otis Jackson: Del Gill was "Out of Line" to Complain About Format of LWV Mayoral Forum

Posted By on Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 4:01 PM

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Whatever points Democratic activist Del Gill may have scored elsewhere by virtue of his behavior at the close of Monday night’s first county mayoral forum, he apparently ended up losing points with his employer, General Sessions Court Clerk Otis Jackson, a mayoral candidate.

“I had to talk to him about that,” Jackson said. “Del was out of line.”

What Gill had done was approach the debate table as the candidates, having finished the debate, were preparing to vacate it. Then, with the meeting room at Hooks Main Library still teeming with members of what had been a Standing Room Only audience, Gill began complaining in a loud voice about the inclusion in the debate of Sheriff Mark Luttrell, a Republican mayoral candidate, along with Democrats Jackson, Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone, and interim mayor Joe Ford.

“At first I wasn’t sure what he was saying, but when I found out what it was, I had to talk to him,” said Jackson, who pointed out the obvious. “This wasn’t a Democratic Party event. It was sponsored by the League of Women Voters. They invited us [the four participating candidates], and we could either say yes or no, accept or not accept. It was their meeting.”

As for reports that Gill, who worked in Jackson’s successful 2008 campaign for General Sessions Clerk and was subsequently hired to work in the clerk’s office, had been influential in Jackson’s surprise decision to seek the mayoralty this year, Jackson spiked that rumor hard. “The amount of Del’s influence was nil. He had nothing whatsoever to do with my decision to run. He had nothing to do with it. Trust me. He didn’t even find out about it until way later.”

Jackson, a former point guard for several well-regarded University of Memphis basketball teams in the 1980's, also ventured an opinion about the difference between that era of UM teams, one of which reached the NCAA tournament's Final Four, and those shepherded by recently departed coach John Calipari.

"When [coach] Dana Kirk came in, he had a philosophy of 'recruit in before you recruit out,'" meaning to draw first upon local talent before recruiting players from elsewhere in the nation, Jackson explained. "And those teams had real spirit. Calipari did it just the opposite."

One result, Jackson said, was that Memphis-area players like Ole Miss' Terrico White, who starred in his team's 90-81 NIT victory over the Tigers in Oxford on Friday, ended up going elsewhere to play.

Jackson discussed both politics and basetball during a brief break from his well-attended mayoral-campaign kickoff event Saturday at his headquarters on Winchester.

UPDATE- REACTION TO GILL OF SHELBY DEMOCRATIC CHAIRMAN:

Asked later Saturday for his own judgment concerning Del Gill’s protestations at the forum’s conclusion, Shelby County Democratic chairman Van Turner was more restrained than Jackson had been and somewhat more ambivalent.

“I think everybody who knows Del Gill knows he is very vocal about what he thinks, and he isn’t going to change his behavior. I myself think the League of Women Voters presided over a very informative and professionally conducted forum, and I have no complaint about that.”

Turner said, however, that he could understand Gill’s concern that the three Democratic candidates at the forum should have been “marked off” somehow as separate from Republican Luttrell.

“Mark Luttrell is a very attractive candidate who’s been able in the past to appeal to Democratic voters, but I think his party affiliation needs to be made clear, and, personally, I would rather our Democratic candidates did not provide ammunition to the Republicans by their attacks on each other."

Friday, March 19, 2010

Gadfly Contemplating the Busted Tiger (Part Three)

Posted By on Fri, Mar 19, 2010 at 3:37 PM

Gadfly_contemplating_the_bust_of_Tiger.jpg

HE'S B-A-A-A-CK!

You know how bugs are irresistibly attracted to light? I admit: I'm the same way when it comes to Tiger Woods. So, when he turned on his light bulb this week by announcing that he was coming back to the golfing scene, and no less than at that grandiose event, “The Masters” (don't you just love it when one of the many fat old white men who run the event intones that name—-in his finest “Joe-ja” accent—-during the broadcast?), I couldn't help myself—-I had to go towards the light.

Obviously, I'm not alone: every media outlet, from the Wall Street Journal to the Hindustan Times, flogged the story on their online front page. Hey, who cares about stories that have foregone conclusions, like health care “reform” (hint: follow the money), when we can watch the soap opera Tiger Woods has become and wonder about its ending.

Tiger's story, thus far, has been taken from Greek mythology. Is Tiger Dionysus (a/k/a Bacchus, the inventor of orgies), or maybe Oedipus (did you see the way he hugged his mother after his “press conference”)? And, will he return, triumphal, to his throne atop the professional golf world, like Achilles (did I hear someone say “heel”) returning from the Trojan (something else, like discretion, Tiger has no use for) War, or will he, like Icarus, fall to earth having flown too high, a victim of his own hubris (itself, a concept of ancient Greek origin). His subjects await, with baited breath.

Will he stage a successful comeback in Augusta, or will he, like he did at Turnberry, implode yet again? Of course, we now know why he faltered so dramatically at the British Open last year: he had, shall we say, too many irons in the fire (and not enough on the links). It's hard (so to speak) to keep track of getting the ball in the hole on the golf course when you've got who knows how many skanks back at the hotel waiting for you to do something similar with them.

We're about to see whether Tiger's lengthy sojourn at a sex rehab clinic in Hattiesburg (I suspect a few weeks in Hattiesburg will make you swear off of more than just indiscriminate sex) had an effect on anything besides his obsession with cheap women. My bet is, unless Elin has figured out a way of adapting a chastity belt to Tiger's gonads, or convinced him that her clubhead speed has significantly increased since the first time she used one of his “rescue” clubs to rescue him from his delusion that she didn't know about his indiscretions, sooner or later Tiger will prowl again.

I'm intrigued both by the similarities, and the differences, between Tiger and another fallen golfing idol, John Daly. The major difference between them, of the many, is that Daly has both a sense of humor and of irony about himself, and about his rise and fall in the world of professional golf, whereas Tiger, by all outward appearances, has neither. Both of them are, in some ways, tragic characters, but Daley at least realizes it.

It has been said of Daly that he owes his popularity to being perceived as the “every man” of golf, someone whose foibles and excesses endear him to his followers, not because they suffer from the same, or even similar, impairments (though some do), but because they see in him the imperfection and vulnerability we all suffer from. This is something we could never say about Tiger.

Up until recently, the thought that the words “imperfect” or “vulnerable” could be uttered in the same story, much less sentence, about Tiger was unthinkable. And there, of course, is where Tiger's redemption lays (if we're speaking of his peccadilloes) or lies (if we're speaking of golf), in the eyes of his many acolytes. Jesus won't help him (sorry, Brit Hume), and neither will that master of deception he's reportedly hired to help him restore his reputation, Ari Fleischer (which is like someone hiring Jeffrey Dahmer to advise them on their diet). Ari, being who he is, and who he's worked for, obviously played a role in Tiger's decision to lie when he told the world, barely over three weeks ago, that he “just didn't know when that day [returning to golf] would be.”

Of course he knew he was going to play in The Masters when he said that. Can anyone seriously doubt that? Gee, thanks, Ari, for at least being consistent.

So, while playing golf like he used to may go part of the way to restoring his image (and I'm still not discounting the prospect of disquieting—-to Tiger—-albeit soto voce, snickers and catcalls from the Masters galleries), until he makes us believe that he understands he's both imperfect and vulnerable, and stops trying to BS us, like he did with that snickering-up-his-sleeve, born-again, mea-sorta-culpa he tried to run down on us a few weeks ago, he will continue to be seen as damaged goods in the eyes of anyone, including fans and sponsors, who recognizes the difference between contrition and hubris.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On the First Mayoral Forum: Part Two

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 3:03 PM

(Continuing the Flyer's coverage of Monday night's League of Women Voters-sponsored forum involved four candidates for Shelby County mayor. Part One can be accessed here.)

Del Gill
  • Del Gill
An interesting — not to say outlandish — feature of Monday night’s first county mayoral forum, sponsored by the League of Women Voters, was the display put on afterward by Del Gill, a self-proclaimed purist on the issue of Democratic party loyalty and something of a full-time controversialist.

Almost as soon as the meeting at the Hooks Main Library broke up, even as candidates were leaving their seats and members of the Standing-Room-Only crowd began discussing the event in separate conversations, Gill marched up to the panelists’ table and began loudly denouncing a format which had included a Republican candidate, Sheriff Mark Luttrell, along with the three participating Democrats — interim mayor Joe Ford, General Sessions Court clerk Otis Jackson, and Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone.

Gill has taken the lead in recent years on the county’s Democratic executive committee in demanding strict interpretation of exclusivist aspects of party by-laws — most recently in denying space on the May 4 Democratic Party ballot to Mike McCusker and Derek Bennett, prospective candidates for Criminal Court Clerk and Trustee, respectively.

But Gill did not explain how -- or why -- the League of Women Voters should be required to enforce some rigid political dividing line in pursuing the League’s well-known non-partisan mission of expanding public awareness.

As Gill held forth, at his elbow, at least briefly, was local Democratic Party chairman Van Turner. It was hard to tell whether Turner was there to restrain Gill or to indicate solidarity with him or whether Gill had merely approached Turner on his own.

But Turner is almost certainly going to be sounded out in days to come about Gill’s performance and/or his philosophical position. So might candidate Jackson, who employs Gill. (Reportedly Gill was a major force behind the General Sessions clerk’s surprise last-minute entry into the mayor’s race.)



* If future forums for the mayoral candidates draw as well as the first one, larger venues are going to be needed to accommodate audiences. Monday night’s affair completely filled up one of the library’s major meeting rooms, which was separated by an accordion curtain from another meeting in the next room.

That room was hosting an oratorical contest involving area youth, and from time to time the sounds of it bled significantly into the room where the mayoral forum was going on. At times this made things difficult to hear, and LWV officers cautioned the candidates to speak directly into their microphones.

Once in a while applause from the oratorical contest coincided with reaction to a mayoral candidate’s statement, sometimes to ironic effect.



* One of the topics brought up in the mayoral debate was one that was new to such occasions, though it concerned a problem that has been long ongoing in the Memphis area.

This was “wage theft,” a term describing the practice of fly-by-night employers — often construction companies — of hiring laborers to complete a project and then finding ways of avoiding their promise to pay, either by filing to show up on appointed payroll dates or by handing out checks that turn out to be worthless.

(More general applications of the term “wage theft” have been employed for a variety of litigations of late.)

Needless to say, all the candidates expressed concern about the issue and promised to do what they could to suppress instances of wage theft.

Pssst! Go See What They're Spiking the Coffee With These Days!

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 10:23 AM

Go here to read moderator Cheri DelBrocco’s take on the first Memphis Coffee Party, which she moderated at Otherlands Coffee Shop in Midtown last Saturday. And take time out to sameple the video snippet below, which shows a portion of the spirited dialogue that went on at Otherlands. In this one, actrivist Jim Maynard tangles with an interloping Tea Partier while others get into the wrangle. And everybody makes a kind of sense!


Why Bill Gibbons Still Thinks He Can Win

Posted By on Thu, Mar 18, 2010 at 9:06 AM

Bill Gibbons addressing Shelby County YR meeting
  • JB
  • Bill Gibbons addressing Shelby County YR meeting

Though rumblings have been heard from time to time among Memphis-area Republicans that favorite son Bill Gibbons might be wise to follow local Democrat Jim Kyle’s lead and depart the gubernatorial race, Gibbons himself, the Shelby County D.A., claims not to have heard them — cash-poor campaign or no cash-poor campaign.

And if someone did approach him with the idea? “It would be a short conversation,” Gibbons averred Tuesday night just after making a forceful, detailed case for himself as governor to a group of Shelby County Young Republicans at Central Barbecue on Summer Avenue.

In his talk to the YR group, Gibbons was frank about what it would take for him to overcome the comparatively well-funded efforts of GOP rivals Bill Haslam, Ron Ramsey, and Zach Wamp. “I need to win my home county by a landslide. We’ve really got to make this a grass roots effort,” he said.

And he cited an historical precedent in his favor — that of Winfield Dunn, the unheralded Memphis dentist who in 1970, at a time when Gibbons was a young activist serving as president of the College Republicans, came from obscurity to win the Republican nomination and the governorship itself.

“There was a grass roots movement in Shelby County. He was unknown in the rest of state and was outspent by the other candidates.” But he won. “And we hope to do the same thing this year. That’s my strategy.”

From that point on, Gibbons delivered a succinct version of his platform, focusing on three areas — jobs, crime, and education.

His recipe for providing “good-paying jobs” and improving the state’s employment picture, both qualitatively and quantitatively, was to upgrade the state’s infrastructure, its “roads, bridges, and industrial megasites,” and providing tax incentives to industry, particularly in the “growth industries of the future: solar energy, the biomedical industry, and auto manufacturing.” Entertainment and tourism were two other areas for development, the candidate said.

Tennessee’s crime rate, had become the third highest in the nation, Gibbons said. And it wasn’t just a Memphis problem. It extended everywhere. “It’s a Nashville problem, and one from Athens, Chattanooga, Lexington, Dyersburg, and Jackson.” He proposed tougher sentencing laws like those imposed by New York State, which, he said, had significantly lowered that state’s crime state.

“I do not buy the notion that tougher sentences mean we have to have more prisons. They serve as a deterrent. New York’s prison population has actually gone down.” But if new confinement facilities turned out to be needed, “then so be it.” The state constitution’s first clause promised to “provide for the peace and safety of the people.”

In discussing schools, Gibbons revived an old barb he had thrown at Knoxville mayor Haslam a year ago. Without naming Haslam this time, Gibbons chided “another candidate” who purportedly said that Tennessee doesn’t have good schools “because Tennesseans don’t care.”

Contending that Tennesseans did care and did have the will to improve education, Gibbons proposed solutions to “change the status quo” by rewarding good teachers and getting rid of bad ones. (In remarks to reporters afterward, he would praise recent efforts by Governor Phil Bredesen in that regard.) He also suggested increasing the number of charter schools (“we need to get rid of the 90-school cap”), giving the University of Memphis its own governing board and ending what he said was state government’s neglect of the University of Tennessee Center for Health Sciences at Memphis.

On that last score, he would add that the state has been shortsighted in its attitude toward the financially beleaguered Med. “UTCHS can’t function without the Med,” he said. “It’s a training hospital, and it’s the only trauma center within a 200-mile radius.” And the Med had its historical role as a “safety net hospital.” Like other local Republicans, Gibbons proposed revising the state’s current funding formula and distributing federal funds generated by the Med’s uncompensated care services wholly back to the Med.

That was how it was before the creation of TennCare in the 1990s, Gibbons noted, but since then such funds had been sent, not back to the home institution, but to state government, which distributed them throughout the TennCare network.

In his conversation with reporters after his speech proper, Gibbons dilated on his prospects, noting that he had done well in selected polls, including one carried out on behalf of Zach Wamp, and pointing out that his bailiwick of Shelby County would provide fully 20 percent of the GOP primary vote. Middle Tennessee, he said, was “wide open,” and “I hope what gives me an advantage is my message.”

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Why Ron Ramsey Thinks Zach Wamp is Dead Wrong

Posted By on Wed, Mar 17, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Appearing separately, Republicns Ron Ramsey and Bill Gibbons (who lives here) had their say in Shelby County Tuesday, thereby completing a two-day availbility locally of gubernatorial candidates. (Passing through on Monday had been Republicans Bill Haslam, the mayor of Knoxville, and 3rd District congressman Zach Wamp of Chattanooga, as well as Democrat Kim McMillan of Clarksville, the former state House majority leader. Question: So when is Mike McWherter, the other surviving Democrat, coming through again?)

The Flyer had a chance to speak with both Ramsey and Gibbons. This is the first of two reports on those conversations.

RON RAMSEY:

Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey in Memphis Tuesday
  • JB
  • Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey in Memphis Tuesday
Ramsey, Speaker of the state Senate and, ipso facto, lieutenant governor, took time out for an afternoon conversation in the East Memphis office of a supporter during a round of a activities that would culminate with an evening address to a group of Republicans in Collierville.

Before we got started, Ramsey had a déjà vu moment that seemed quasi-spiritual. Noticing the intense way a circular fluorescent ceiling fixture focused light on his head, he said, “You know, this reminds me of that light Wilder had in his office. I noticed it the day I moved in.”

That, of course, was a reference to Ramsey’s surprise victory over the late Democrat John Wilder in the Senate election for Speaker in January 2007.

The first order of business for Ramsey was to debunk a statement rival Wamp had made in Germantown the day before — namely, that the Senate speaker could not complete with him for conservative supporters because Ramsey had “only” a lieutenant governor’s following, which was “not the base of a person who can win our party’s nomination for governor.” Wamp had gone to say, “He [Ramsey] may be the only one who doesn’t realize that so far. But a lot of other people know it, they talk about it everywhere we go."

Ramsey was calmly dismissive. “He’s just flat-out wrong,” he said about Wamp’s statements. .” I do think the conservative base is coming with me.” The Second-Amendment bloc because Ramsey had shepherded pro-gun legislation through the Senate. The Right to Life network “because I defunded Planned Parenthood” among other instances of support for the anti-abortion movement

As for the foes of a state income tax: “I bled on the floor on the issue of the income tax. For a period of about four years I fought that in the legislature, and I think in 2002 we drove a stake in the heart of the income tax forever in Tennessee.”

And then there was the Tea Party movement.

“There’s no way that Zach Wamp can win those voters. He can’t say, ‘I’m from Washington, D.C., and I’m here to help.’ He voted for the $700 billion-dollar ban bail-0out. He voted for the Bridge to Nowhere. He voted for cash-for-clunkers, not once but twice, and I think in the end when his record comes out on spending in Washington, D.C., he won’t win over the Tea Party movement. So I adamantly disagree with him. I think the conservative movement’s on my side.”

As far as campaign finances went “I’ve got a half million dollars more than Zach Wamp.” By the time of the candidates’ January financial disclosure, “I’d raised a bout $2.8 million. He was about $2.7, but he’s spending it a lot faster than I am. And you have to remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint. On the disclosure I had about $2.3 million in the bank; he had about $1.8 million.”

Because of restrictions that went into effect in January and will lift only in mid-May, Ramsey as a sitting legislator cannot raise money for the time being. That gave Wamp a chance to catch up in the meantime. “But he’s spending a lot. And if he doesn’t catch up that’s a real problem for him.” Meanwhile, promised Ramsey, “I’ll have the floodgates ready to open on May 15. I can hit the ground running at that time.”

Ramsey concedes, though, that he would have to remain Number Two in fundraising to GOP rival Bill Haslam, the Knoxville mayor who’s “raised more money than all the rest of us put together” — a total of $5 million on the mayor’s January disclosure.

.”But there’s only so much you can spend. There are about 6.2 million people in the state of Tennessee. Only about 10 percent of those will vote in the Republican primary. That’s your target audience."

And Ramsey didn’t see Haslam hitting that target. “He joined {New York] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg’s ‘Mayors Against Guns.] He raised property taxes his first year n office. As of now, Bill has spent over $2 million.” Ramsey cited a poll conducted at Middle Tennessee State University, concluded after a recent million-dollar blanketing on statewide television by Haslam.

“MTSU did a poll after the commercials, and 74 percent of people couldn’t name one gubernatorial candidate. It was way too early for a media blitz. And, anyhow, name ID and connecting with Republican voters are two different things.”

Concerning his presence in Shelby County, and that of others, Ramsey cited a series of facts: that “the largest block of Republican primary voters resides in Shelby County;” that “one out of six people in Tennessee live in Shelby County;” that Republican destinies could rise and fall according to the local vote, in “the non-Memphis part of Shelby County.”

The county was vital to Democrats, too, Ramsey, who hails from blountville in far East Tennesse, said, noting that “the largest Democratic vote by far comes out of Shelby County.” He seemed to regard the recent pullout from the governor’s race of Memphian Jim Kyle, the Democrats’ state Senate leader, as a puzzle.

“I think Jim Kyle had an excellent chance at winning the primary. He had a base in Shelby County and an ability to raise an adequate amount of money elsewhere. And there’s going to be a huge turnout in Shelby County because of the congressional race here”

But finally Ramsey found Kyle’s decision reassuring. “He talked about encountering ‘hostility.’ That indicates that it’s not a good time to be running as a Democrat. And why put all that work in and not win the general?”

NEXT: Why Bill Gibbons Still Thinks He Can Win

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

On the First Mayoral Forum: Part One

Posted By on Tue, Mar 16, 2010 at 1:53 PM

Mayoral candidates (l to r) Ford, Jackson, Luttrell, Malone
  • JB
  • Mayoral candidates (l to r) Ford, Jackson, Luttrell, Malone

Fielding a question on domestic violence at Monday night’s county mayoral forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters Shelby County Commissioner Deidre Malone opined, “These days, a lot of women have tempers — quite frankly, have issues as well as men.”

Whereupon she would go on to demonstrate a couple of times more what she had already begun to manifest during the hour-and-a-half-long forum at the Hooks Main Library — that she had issues with her major Democratic primary opponent, interim mayor Joe Ford, and that she could conjure up a right impressive show of temper about it.

Although all of the four mayoral hopefuls — who also included General Sessions Court clerk Otis Jackson and Sheriff Mark Luttrell, the only Republican in the mix — had their moments, it was the byplay between Malone and Ford that provided the most sparks, and maybe even the most genuine illumination.

The essence of the argument between the two was their disagreement over whether the Med had achieved a level of financial stability in the face of adverse circumstances (including a state cutdown on TennCare disbursements). Ford said that it had — that, in fact, a $10 million emergency add-on appropriation from county government sources that he had brokered had “saved” the institution.

Malone questioned that, called the $10 million a “bandaid” that had been stripped from the county’s reserve fund, and in that contention she would be seconded by Luttrell, who viewed that as a temporary and essentially unsatisfactory expedient as well.

Luttrell’s solution was much the same as the one advocated by Republican county commissioners George Flinn and Mike Ritz, who eventually prevailed on the commission as a whole to endorse a call for gubernatorial candidates to pledge that all federal revenues generated by the Med through his care of uninsured patients should go to the Med whole. At present, those funds are distributed to hospitals statewide through the TennCare network.

The small flame of disagreement would eventually build up into sizeable conflagration. The two Democratic contenders went through an on again/off again dialogue consisting essentially of Malone’s insistence that “the Med is not saved” and Ford’s rejoinders that “the Med is saved.”

And, as the final candidate to make a closing statement, Malone would get the last word, demanding to know of the $10 million, “Where did those dollars come from?” She said that Ford threw county CAO Jim Huntzicker “under the bus” when Huntzicker supplied the commission, at Ford’s behest, with what turned out to be some very rough estimates indeed of future revenue sources.

Answering her own question, Malone would say, “We don’t now where from. The commission approved [the funds] without knowing. If you like that kind of leadership, then you’ll support the interim mayor as the next mayor of Shelby County. If you want somebody that’s serious about having integrity and bringing integrity to that office, then you’ll support me.”

Meanwhile, Ford had some good moments of his own — perhaps the most surprising coming when LWV moderator Danielle Schonbaum hit him with what she said was the most frequently submitted audience question of the night: Why had he become a declared candidate in the mayor’s race when he had “committed” himself not to seek the job permanently at the time of his accepting an interim appointment from the commission?

“Well, I changed my mind,” began Ford with a response that, in its baldness and simplicity, begat more than a few appreciative guffaws.

Ford then went on to talk about his 24/7 caretakership of the mayor’s office, his visitations in each of the county’s several communities, and, for one of several times, his stewardship in “saving” the Med. He contended that he had literally been besieged with requests that he run for mayor and that “only two people” had asked him not to.

That gave Jackson, in his own closing, his best line of the night. “Mr. Ford, somebody’s telling you a lie, because everybody says they‘re going to vote for me.”

All the candidates had telling moments — Jackson with his contention that he had increased the revenues of General Sessions, Luttrell with his generally serene, knowledgeable manner, and moments like his apparently genuine anguish over the loss of funding for mental health activities, forcing too many prospective patients into the criminal justice system.

But the main show Monday night, in what was an overall quite revealing forum, was the shoot-out between rivals Ford and Malone, one that is sure to continue.

See Part Two of the Flyer's coverage here

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