Friday, October 21, 2016

Fincher Paid to Defeat Flinn in 8th Race, Publication Says

According to the Tennessee Journal, outgoing congressman put $100,000 into late attack ads that may have helped winner Kustoff close the gap and gain the victory in congressional contest.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 2:27 PM

Fincher (l), Flinn - JB
  • JB
  • Fincher (l), Flinn


It will be recalled that Memphis physician/businessman George Flinn, a frequent candidate for political office, was edged out in the August Republican primary for 8th District Congress by fellow Memphian David Kustoff, a former U.S. Attorney.

Kustoff’s margin of victory, 2,689 votes, was earned late in the contest, it is generally acknowledged. Both campaigns were aware of polling that showed Flinn, who out-spent all others in the multi-candidate GOP race, was leading in various private polls until the last week of the campaign.

During that last week, a flurry of print and TV ads appeared in the district alleging that Flinn was on record as having supported a Democratic candidate. The Democrat had been Flinn’s son, Shea Flinn, who ran unsuccessfully for a state House seat some years ago, later was appointed to an interim state Senate seat, and still later won and served two terms on the Memphis City Council.

With election day almost on top of him at that point, candidate Flinn, a longstanding Republican, tried to point out the obvious — that he had merely been supporting his own son — but had little time to get that message circulated. Flinn’s people — and some outside observers as well — blame the last-minute anti-Flinn adds for his defeat.

Now, it develops, according to the Tennessee Journal, that those ads were paid for by the outgoing Republican 8th District congressman, Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump in Crockett County. In its October 21 issue, the Journal notes that $100,000 in late contributions by Fincher to Win for American PAC, which technically placed the anti-Flinn advertising, match up directly with the placement-time and amount of the ads.

Flinn had been among several candidates in 2010 who ran for the 8th District seat, won that year by Fincher, and had, as was the custom by all the candidates in the race, run negative ads against his opponents. But Flinn had supported Fincher during the now congressman’s successful reelection runs in 2012 and 2014.

Whatever may have motivated Fincher, Flinn himself seems to have been no stranger to Realpolitik. Though no evidence links him to the expenditures of another group, a 501-C4 organization called Power of Liberty, that group, which was able legally to conceal the identities of its donors, had launched issue-advocacy ads attacking every candidate but Flinn in the recent congressional race.

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Bill Freeman, Likely Democratic Candidate for Governor, Headed Our Way

Prominent Nashville businessman and party activist/donor will be featured speaker at local Democratic rally on November 3.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 21, 2016 at 1:16 PM

Bill Freeman
  • Bill Freeman

For the first time since the Democratic gubernatorial field melted down in 2010 to a single serious candidate, Mike McWherter of Dresden, the state’s Democrats seem able and determined to up the ante and make a valid run for Governor in 2018 against the now dominant Tennessee Republican Party.

As the Tennessee Journal has reported, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean has been making the rounds statewide as a prelude to a likely run for Governor two years from now.

And the Flyer has learned that Bill Freeman, well-known Nashville businessman and prominent donor and activist in Democratic circles, is seriously intending a gubernatorial race as well.

Freeman, currently serving as co-chair of Hillary of Tennessee and a member of Democratic presidential candidate Clinton’s national finance committee, will be the “special guest” and principal speaker at what is being billed as a “Reception for Sen. Lee Harris & Rally for Our West Tennessee Candidates,” to be held in Memphis at the home of Democrat Linda Sowell on November 3.

The affair, which is co-sponsored by a number of prominent local Democrats, will double as a Clinton for President rally. And Freeman’s role in it is related as well to his quest to develop a local base for a proposed gubernatorial run.

Freeman was previously a candidate in Nashville’s 2015 mayoral race. He outspent all other candidates and barely missed making the runoff in a contest ultimately won by current Mayor Megan Barry.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

C-SPAN's Coming!

Leave your selfie sticks at home. You won't need 'em. The longstanding chronicler of live-as-they-happen events will be on the scene at CBU and Arkansas State next week.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 8:21 PM

The C-SPAN Campaign 2016 Bus — On its Way!
  • The C-SPAN Campaign 2016 Bus — On its Way!


All right, you political junkies, you folks who forever have been the soul and support of the indefatigably televised live and uncensored political coverage that only C-SPAN can provide: it’s time for an early Christmas.

C-SPAN itself is on the way! The long-standing TV service which prides itself on airing un-refereed and unedited public events in their entirety will bring its Campaign 2016 bus to Memphis and Northeast Arkansas next week.

Let’s let the C-SPAN folks themselves tell it:

WASHINGTON (October 20, 2016) – C-SPAN’s award-winning, 45-foot customized Bus will visit Christian Brothers University and Arkansas State University-Memphis on October 28th. The C-SPAN Campaign 2016 Bus visits schools, universities, and political events across the country to engage students, educators, civic leaders, and the community through on-board multimedia technology that showcases C-SPAN's programming and resources dedicated to showing the American political process.

Through interactive exhibits, visitors will learn about the public affairs network’s in-depth coverage of the U.S. Congress, White House, federal courts, and its signature political program, "Road to the White House," which provides access to all of the Campaign 2016 presidential candidates and their events from the campaign trail, all without editing, commentary, or analysis. C-SPAN representatives will also gather visitor responses on this year's election to share via social media as part of its C-SPAN "Voices from the Road." (#cspanvoices)

"In this unprecedented election season, C-SPAN's 'Road to the White House' gives you a front row seat, unlike any other, to Campaign 2016," said Steve Scully, C-SPAN's senior executive producer and political editor. "C-SPAN's footage takes you from the campaign announcements, to the town hall meetings and rallies, as well as the policy speeches, party conventions, and now the upcoming presidential debates — giving viewers the absolute best coverage on what the candidates are saying and how this historic race is unfolding along the campaign trail."

Civics and government educators will also learn about C-SPAN’s free comprehensive online educational resources including C-SPAN.org, C-SPAN Classroom, and C-SPAN’s nationwide documentary contest, StudentCam, open to students in grades 6-12.

StudentCam encourages middle and high school students to think critically about issues that affect our communities and nation. This year, students are being asked to create a 5-7 minute documentary on this year's theme, "Your Message to Washington: What is the most urgent issue for the new President and Congress to address in 2017?"

EVENTS (press invited):
Friday 10/28 9:00AM-10:30AM
Christian Brothers University- 650 E Pkwy S, Memphis, TN 38104
Bus will park in In front of Canale Arena


Friday 10/28 11:00AM-12:30PM
Arkansas State University- Mid South
2000 West Broadway Avenue, West Memphis, AR 72301

Visitors to the Campaign 2016 Bus will experience the following through engagement with
C-SPAN representatives and on-board interactive technology:
• Campaign 2016 App populated with candidate video from the campaign trail
• In-depth public affairs programming and educational resources
• Touch-screen quizzes on C-SPAN and the three branches of government
• Mobile devices demonstrating C-SPAN resources on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, and mobile apps
• HD cameras and production equipment capable of producing public affairs programming aboard the Bus

C-SPAN.org is a searchable, video-rich site that has every C-SPAN program aired since 1987. The public can access this extensive online collection — over 220,000 hours of public affairs programming — for free, and share user-generated video clips by email and social media.

In Memphis, C-SPAN programming is provided by Comcast Cable on channel 6/1125 as a commercial-free public service, with C-SPAN2 on channel 84/104, and C-SPAN3 on channel 217. All funding for C-SPAN operations, including Bus visits, is provided by local TV providers.

“Comcast is proud to partner with C-SPAN to bring the C-SPAN Campaign 2016 Bus to Memphis,” said Evangeline Parker-Guest, External Affairs Manager. “We are dedicated to sharing educational opportunities with our community and value the programming and resources that C-SPAN offers.”

About C-SPAN
Created by the cable TV industry and now in nearly 100 million TV households, C-SPAN programs three public affairs television networks in both SD and HD; C- SPAN Radio, heard in Washington DC at 90.1 FM and available as an App (Android, iPhone, Blackberry); and a video- rich website offering live coverage of government events and access to the vast archive of C-SPAN programming. Visit http://www.c-span.org/. Visithttp://www.c-span.org for coverage and schedules; like us on Facebook/cspan and follow @cspan on Twitter.


Guns to Blast and the Stars and Bars to Fly Again in Bartlett

The "Battle of Bartlett' (sure, you remember that one!) will be commemorated in a reenactment next month, in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of Bartlett's chartering -- for the record, two years after the battle.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 2:01 PM

the 51st Tennessee Infantry, slated to get another crack at them Damyankees (even if a make-believe one)!
  • the 51st Tennessee Infantry, slated to get another crack at them Damyankees (even if a make-believe one)!


Several things you thought might be over aren’t over. The Civil War, for one. At least via reenactment, the guns will flare again in Bartlett on Saturday and Sunday, November 5-6.

And one more notable Déjà vu: the Stars and Bars of the Confederate Battle Flag, tucked away in embarrassment here and there after the horrific 2015 murder of 9 African-American churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. but due to be flying once more on that weekend (in tandem with the Stars and Stripes, to be sure).

Perhaps we should let the press release on the event — from the “Battle of Bartlett Association,” through the medium of Lee Miller, a prominent spokesperson for remembrance of Confederate history — speak for itself:

The Rebs and Yanks will be skirmishing through Bartlett, TN (once called Union Station) in two reenactments of the 1864 battles in Bartlett. This is the 152nd anniversary of the Civil War battles and held in conjunction with the 150th anniversary of the chartering of the town. The two different battles are at 1:00 pm both days on Sat Nov 5 and Sunday Nov 6, and will feature mounted cavalry, cannons, infantry and pyrotechnics.

The reenactments will be held at W. J. Freeman Park, 2629 Bartlett Blvd, in Bartlett, TN 38134, NE suburb of Memphis. There will also be a free (with admission) Grand Civil War Ball with the 52nd Regimental String Band on Saturday night plus a night cannon fire, a period 1860’s church service on Sunday morning, and sutlers, guest speakers, period clothiers and crafts, and food vendors all weekend.
Admission is $5.00 per person each day. Commemorative souvenir booklets will also be on sale.

On Friday Nov 4, the Battle of Bartlett Association will host a Civil War School Day at Freeman Park from 8am to 2pm, which will feature 12 ‘stations’ for the 5th, 8th and 11th grade students to tour. The stations will present various aspects of life in the 1860’s, including a doctor, cannon, women, Black Southerners, farm life, soldiers’ camp, music, and more.

Sponsored by the Battle of Bartlett Assn with support by the city of Bartlett and the Bartlett School District. Contact (901) 550-5772, www.battleofbartlett.org, email battleofbartlett@yahoo.com .


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Corker Says It's "Imperative" that Trump Agree to Accept Election Results

In statement that comes close to being an ultimatum, Tennessee Senator, previously rumored as Trump choice for Secretary of State, demands that candidate reverse his debate position.

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2016 at 1:02 PM

Sen. Bob Corker - JB
  • JB
  • Sen. Bob Corker
Tennessee’s U.S. Senator Bob Corker, who has been rumored to be Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s choice for Secretary of State and was on his short list for vice president, issued what sounded like a veiled ultimatum to Trump after Tuesday night’s third Trump-Clinton debate in Las Vegas.

Trump made headlines in the nationally televised debate by refusing, when asked by moderator Chris Wallace, to say that he would abide by the results of the November 8 election. The New York billionaire, who has made frequent charges that the election is “rigged,” said he would make that decision “at the t ime.”

Pressed by Wallace to be more definite, Trump said, “I’ll just keep you in suspense.”

Trump’s refusal to pledge acceptance in advance to the voters’ verdict, whatever it might be, caused a negative reaction among TV commentators and focus groups, and brought a host of complaints in press statements by representatives from both parties and in tweets and other online entries from voters at large.

Enter Corker, who responded with equal asperity when news of Trump’s lewd remarks in a 2005 video went public. This time Corker, taking to Twitter, said, bluntly and simply, "It is imperative that Donald Trump clearly state that he will accept the results of the election when complete.”

Corker did not signal whether he would follow up with renunciation of his support of Trump or with some other demonstrative action if Trump failed to respond.

In the judgment of many commentators, Trump’s refusal to embrace the results of the presidential election in advance not only threatened to undermine confidence in the American democratic process itself but, in an immediate sense, had spoiled what many had thought was his best performance so far in a debate with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

With Clinton far ahead in most polls, prohibitively so in several, Trump was considered to be in dire need of an unblemished success in the debate, and his evasiveness on accepting the election results, coupled with one or two lesser gaffes, may well have buried that hope.

The candidate’s position on the matter was further dramatized by explicit statements from his running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, his daughter Ivanka, his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway that the election results should be heeded, come what may.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Angry at Misogynist Politics, an Activist Trio Puts Out All-Democrat Ballot Recommendation

Memphians Jones, Wurzburg, and Casey react to what they see as GOP timidity in condemning Trump, Durham.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 17, 2016 at 12:48 AM

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Although the Memphis trio of Happy Jones, Jocelyn Wurzburg, and Paula Casey are in the habit of making — and publishing — ballot recommendations for their network of friends toward the end of all local elections, what these longtime women activists are recommending for November 8 is — for them, at least — unprecedented.

Jones and Wurzburg both were ground-floor participants in the modern Shelby County Republican Party’s surge to influence in the latter part of the 20th Century, and Casey, too, though avowedly non-partisan, has supported her share of Republican candidates.

Though the major efforts of all three, well known in civic circles, have in recent years been more focused on issues relating to women”s rights or racial equality than on anything resembling partisan orthodoxy, their sample-ballot recommendations have usually included a reasonable share of GOP candidates.

That is understandable, given that there are parts of Shelby County — the suburbs, in particular — where elected officials tend to be Republican and Democratic candidates rarely make much of a showing and Democrats sometimes don’t even bother to run in elections.

But for the election of November 8, the trio of Jones, Wurzburg, and Casey are advocating strict party-line voting — for Democrats — in every race on the ballot.

Below, in the sample-ballot email they circulated over the weekend, is how they explain their decision, and it reflects their view that in two celebrated instances — one national, one relating to state government —misogynist attitudes have gotten a free pass from the GOP.


BALLOT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM HAPPY JONES, JOCELYN WURZBURG AND PAULA CASEY

Dear Friends:

When people have asked for our recommendations, we have always prided ourselves on supporting candidates regardless of party, gender, race, or ethnic background. We look for the most qualified candidates to serve the public. We study the issues. This year, we have been appalled that the most unqualified, vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist candidate to ever seek the presidency continues to receive support from local Republicans. We were also appalled that no local Republican state legislators sought to oust the despicable Jeremy Durham before the state attorney general's report revealed the depths of Durham's depravity.


These two sexual predators do not deserve to be in elective office. Thank goodness the GOP finally grew a spine and ousted Mr. Durham. It should have happened much sooner. They only did it when there was a public outcry. Republicans running for state and federal office continue to state their support for the unqualified and embarrassing GOP presidential nominee. Shameful.

We are recommending that you vote for any and all Democrats running for every office. It is the only way to show disgust with what the Republicans have done. We think they deserve to be defeated for their support of two sexual predators. The legislature wouldn't have ousted Mr. Durham if they hadn't had to so he wouldn't receive a legislative pension. Lots of people knew about his antics and turned a blind eye, including local GOP legislators.


For the record, the three women also opined on ballot referenda, recommended passage of a City of Memphis Home Charter Amendment enlarging the city’s share of utility-tax revenues and against a Shelby County Home Rule Charter Amendment granting the County Commission greater say in hirings and firings by the Shelby County Mayor’s Office.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Cohen Warns of 'Violence' from Trump Controversy; Local GOP Figures Point Fingers at Democrats

Congressman is skeptical of Governor Haslam's motives in dissociating himself from GOP nominee; Norris cites Carter statement, while Roland blasts Hillary Clinton and "mainstream media."

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 10:46 AM


Local political figures continue to express themselves on the roiled political situation stemming from accusations of lewd and improper sexual behavior toward women by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

In an interview with WATN, Channel 24, that was recorded Thursday for broadcast Sunday, 9th District congressman Steve Cohen, a Democrat, expressed concern about possible fallout from the situation
Rep. Steve Cohen
  • Rep. Steve Cohen
affecting both the Democratic presidential nominee, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the public at large.

“I can see violence,” said Cohen. “I can see violence directed at Secretary Clinton…After the election, I expect to see him [Trump], with Breitbart [News] and Roger Ailes put together a right-wing reactionary, sexist network like you’ve ever seen in the country and try to make bucks off of it.”

Ailes, the former head of Fox News, was recently deposed from that position after enduring his own storm of accusations of predatory behavior toward women. But Cohen said much of the public continues to act on right-wing propaganda disseminated on Ailes’ former network. “Some people never get away from Fox,” he said. “That’s where they get all their information from.”

Cohen took note of Republican Governor Bill Haslam’s action in publicly dissociating himself from Trump but was skeptical about the Governor’s motives. “Haslam has an agenda,” he said. “He wants to be President or Vice President or Senator. He’s looking beyond this election. He sees Trump being looked at as a figure of derision, and he wants to be on 
State Sen. Mark Norris - JB
  • JB
  • State Sen. Mark Norris
the right side of history.,,,,He has his purposes.”

State Senator Mark Norris, a Republican who is his party’s majority leader in the Senate, looked for parallels to Trump’s attitude among Democrats but was clearly troubled by the accusations against Trump and their possible effect on Republican political fortunes.

"I am reminded of another President, with impeccable Christian credentials, some 40 years ago, being interviewed in a soft-porn magazine, Playboy, confessing that he had ‘lust in his heart.’ That was Jimmy Carter,” Norris said. “Now, it turns out that Trump has lust on his lips. It's disconcerting and an embarrassment, getting a lot of play, by
Commissioner Terry Roland - JB
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  • Commissioner Terry Roland
rights, and it's getting in the way of all that Wikileaks information that Julian Assange is working so hard to get out that otherwise could be so damaging to Hillary. I continue to support the [GOP] ticket, and that includes Trump. I acknowledge that it's a predicament."

Another Republican, Shelby County Commissioner Terry Roland, who is Trump’s West Tennessee campaign chairman, blamed the media for over-emphasizing the case against Trump but found a silver lining.

As he put it: “I have no problem with the mainstream media reporting Trump, but they’re not doing anything with Hillary. She takes all this money from Saudi Arabia, and they’re worse on women than Trump is. I’m still loyal. His character is nowhere near as bad as her character is, with Benghazi and the emails, for example. Heck, she had to take a hammer to her phones! In the long run, all these one-sided disclosures will expose the mainstream media for what they are, and this will help Trump’s campaign."

Dem Leaders on New Health-Care Plan: “Hooey!”

Fitzhugh, Harris make their opposition clear at TNA forum, will try to revive Insure Tennessee.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 14, 2016 at 4:39 AM

With the 2017 legislative session just three months away, Democratic leaders in the General Asembly have made it clear that they are in no mood to accept the healthcare compromise offered up by House Speaker Beth Harwell’s task force on the subject.

That plan, which is sure to be the subject of debate when the legislature convenes, is a much-winnowed-down and highly-conditioned version of Governor Bill Haslam’s ill-fated Insure Tennessee proposal, first introduced during a special session in 2014 and bottled up by a Republican super-majority then
Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), at Wednesday's TNA forum, talks things over with District 96 House candidate Dwayne Thompson (center) and Thompson campaign adviser Bret Thompson. - JB
  • JB
  • Rep. Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley), at Wednesday's TNA forum, talks things over with District 96 House candidate Dwayne Thompson (center) and Thompson campaign adviser Bret Thompson.
and in another try since.

In a forum on state and federal legislation held Thursday night by the Tennessee Nurses Association at Jason's Deli on Poplar, both state Senate Democratic leader Lee Harris of Memphis and House Democratic leader Craig Fitzhugh of Ripley denounced the would-be substitute plan presented by the Harwell task force, which bears the name “3 Star Health Insurance Pilot," in the process renaming it. Their name for it? "Hooey!”

Instead of providing expanded Medicaid coverage for all Tennesseans currently uncovered by health insurance, this plan would, during a two-year trial period, offer coverage to uninsured veterans and people suffering from mental health needs, withholding any larger coverage pending a legislative re-evaluation that would include an opportunity to suspend the plan altogether through a variety of “circuit breakers.”

Harris drew first blood when asked about the task force plan: “Beth Harwell’s proposal sounds like a bunch of hooey to me. On our side of the aisle we are still pushing for expanded Medicaid in the form of Insure Tennessee or a similar alternative.”

Harris described Insure Tennessee as “the best way to take care broadly of a population that’s uninsured and [of] hospitals around our state that are suffering under financial strain and some of which are completely out of business.”

Insure Tennessee never got a fair consideration, Harris said, because “Republican party chairmen from around the state wrote in to Republican legislators and said ‘you better not consider Obamacare.’” Harris said the current “meltdown” in Republican politics caused by the internal party strive over Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy afforded Insure Tennessee a better chance of passage. In any case, “we don’t have to react to a bunch of hooey.”

Those remarks were basically seconded by Fitzhugh, who repeated the epithet: “This 3-start hooey is a bad idea.” Fitzhugh said “the worst part” of the task force proposal is that, instead of the 9 to 1 federal to state match proposed by Insure Tennessee, “in this 3-star plan it is only a 2-to-1 match, and the numbers aren’t going to work out. It’s going to be expensive to the state, and then they’re going to start crowing about what happened when we expanded Medicaid and the state did it on their own and almost sunk our ship.’”

Fitzhugh also drew attention to the fact that the state, under the 3-star plan, could continue to be denied the $1.5 billion in annual federal funding it would draw under Insure Tennessee. “The only upside” of the task force plan is that it would “keep the issue alive,” Fitzhugh said.

Two Democratic candidates for the House — Dwayne Thompson, running against incumbent Republican Steve McManus in District 96, referred to the task force plan as a rudimentary program…Obamacare Very Light” and said “my opponent bottled [Insure Tennessee] up in committee.

Thompson indicated that, if elected, he would attempt to amend the task force plan so as to broaden its coverage if Insure Tennessee itself could not be considered. He was seconded in that respect by Democratic candidate Larry Pivnick, running against incumbent GOP Rep. Mark White in District 83. “If they offer the compromise bill first I’ll move to amend it to include everybody. We have to call the question.”

Mark Lovell, unopposed after defeating incumbent Curry Todd in District 95, and the only Republican in attendance who was running for a state position, commented that he himself was “fortunate to be able to buy my own health insurance,” but said he thought the task force plan would “fix a huge void” and that “we should do whatever we have to do to take care of certain other people. We all need to make sacrifices.”

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Ryder: Trump Held His Own in “Meanest Debate”

Memphis’ RNC general counsel says GOP nominee did well enough in Sunday-night round to still a Republican rebellion and lay basis for challenging Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Posted By on Mon, Oct 10, 2016 at 10:03 AM

John Ryder
  • John Ryder

One of Memphis’ — and the nation’s — ranking Republicans, Republican National Committee general counsel John Ryder, has a more salutary view than most regarding Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s prospects after the second nationally televised Clinton-Trump debate.
Before that debate, in the immediate aftermath of a damaging 11-year-old videotape of Trump’s unguarded, sexually explicit conversation with Access Hollywood principal Billy Bush, Ryder had referred to Trump as a “flawed messenger” but insisted the “message” Trump channeled of unrest and desire for change in national policy was still valid, live, and well.

Ryder had also said, during what appeared to be a weekend rush to the exits by numerous flustered Republicans, some of whom called for Trump to step down as nominee, that, for a variety of reasons, such an urge would pass. Ryder also characterized the technical obstacles to bringing about a change in the ticket as insuperable, especially since early voting had already started in many places.

And, after Sunday night’s second debate with Democrat Hillary Clinton, Ryder felt even surer that Trump’s position had stabilized, even though, as Ryder said, “that was one of the meanest debates I’ve ever seen.”
The RNC counsel thought the meanness worked both ways, though, and while he was hesitant to comment on Trump’s chances of winning the presidency, he was confident that the nominee had managed to “stop the bleeding” in Republican ranks internally and that runaway impulses regarding the GOP’s national ticket had been stilled.

Moreover, said Ryder, any likelihood of the presidential race’s adversely affecting down-ballot races involving other Republicans had been made more remote. Ryder made it clear he thought Trump had, at the very least, held his own in the debate with Clinton and laid the basis for challenging her on several points in the future.

These included remaining unanswered questions concerning deleted messages from her private server, the workings of the Clinton Foundation, the disaster of Bengazi, and other aspects of her service as Secretary of State.

And Ryder thought a Trump gambit that many had thought might be over-the-top and catastrophic for him — his convening a group of alleged victims of former President Bill Clinton’s sexual behavior at a pre-debate press conference — had effectively countered some of the potential consequences of ongoing exposures of Trump’s own past behavior.

The women were seated with members of the Trump family during Sunday night’s debate, which featured early but minimal references to the raging controversy over Trump’s alleged sexual attitudes and behavior.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Election 2016: Of Millennials and Dead Voters

The deceased rise again in a local debate recalling a 2005 special election here and in a new case of an alleged vote-fraud attempt in Virginia.

Posted By on Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 9:53 AM

Debaters Roland and Cocke at East Memphis Rotary - JB
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  • Debaters Roland and Cocke at East Memphis Rotary


**ON MILLENIAL VOTERS: As more and more attention is focused on the matter of whether and how the nation’s millennials will vote for President, local spokespersons for both Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump, vented sorts of concerns with the attitudes of that youngest eligible part of the electorate, regarded by numerous commentators as a potential swing bloc in the election.

Speaking at the opening of the Memphis Hillary-for-President headquarters on Poplar Avenue last Saturday, 9th District congressman Steve Cohen worried out loud that youthful voters might keep their distance from the polls and thereby shirk their duty to the future. “Millennials need to wake up before they drown,” said Cohen, conjuring up a nightmare vision of melted polar ice caps and rising water levels.

Days later, Shelby County Commissioner and Trump campaign West Tennessee chair Terry Roland expressed a fear that voters in that age group lacked a sense of urgency about the specters confronting American in both the domestic and foreign spheres. “I’m more worried about the millennials than I am about China!” is how Roland put it in the course of a Wednesday luncheon debate before the East Memphis Rotary Club at trhe Racquet Club, in which Roland represented Trump and Democrat David Cocke did the honors for Clinton.


**ON FRAUD AT THE POLLS: As election day approaches, and with the courts paying increasing attention to the viability of voting laws, Roland has publicly reactivated the matter of fraud in his losing bid for the state Senate against Democrat Ophelia Ford in 2005.

In his debate with Cocke, Roland recalled the closeness of that special election, brought about when Ford’s brother, the long-serving John Ford, had to vacate his District 29 seat after being indicted in the Tennessee Waltz scandal. “She beat me by 13 votes, but we found 27 dead people that voted,” Roland said. “Mr. Trump is worried about legal elections. Now, if anybody wants to know about a crooked election, meet me after this is over with, and I can talk to you about it.”

In his turn, Cocke, who — as Roland had observed — represented Ophelia Ford in legal challenges stemming from the election outcome, took issue with Roland’s statement. “When we went through that entire process, instead of 27 dead people, they found two. And there were 14 votes in that election, they only found two discrepancies.” Those fraudulent votes were the result of ballot forgery on the party of two election-poll workers, Cocke said.

As it happens, neither debater would seem to be exactly right. Three election workers, not two, were eventually indicted for crimes associated with that election, and the number of purported dead voters listed in the indictment was 2, not 27. The discrepancy in Roland’s account may stem from the fact that the offenses occurred in Precinct 27-1.

A third forged ballot, linked to a voter who had moved out of the county but was still alive, was alleged in the indictment, bringing the total of demonstrably forged votes to 3.

Asked after the Rotary debate about the difference between the 3 fraudulent votes listed in the indictment and the 27 he claimed, Roland insisted that the number he gave was what turned up in a TBI investigation of the election but that only two were reported after the indictment of the poll workers was sealed.

But news reports of the time indicate that, when the indictment was unsealed for trial, then District Attorney General Bill Gibbons mentioned only the three aforementioned forged ballots, though 37 counts of various kinds, most of them felonies related to the intricacies of the attempted deception, were alleged against the indicted election workers.

Senator Ophelia Ford’s victory in that 2005 special election was first voided by the state Senate, but Ford, assisted by Cocke, sued and obtained a federal injunction overturning the Senate’s action and requiring due process through hearings. The Senate dutifully complied, heard testimony, and in April 2006 voted once more to void the election.

In the regular election cycle of 2006, Ford and Roland had a rematch, won easily by Ford.


**At the national level, the issue of “dead voters” is anything but dead, it would seem. Election officials in Harrisonburg, Virginia, and the FBI are investigating the possibility that almost 20 voter applications using the names of dead people have been turned in to the Harrisonburg Registrar.

According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Rockingham County Commonwealth Attorney’s office is investigating a claim by Harrisonburg Registrar Debbie Logan that “from 18 to 20 potentially fraudulent registrations” were turned in by a student member of a voter-registration group called “HarrisonburgVOTES.”

The newspaper quotes Logan as saying the potential scandal came to light when one of her employees noticed and flagged a new registration bearing the name of the late Richard Claybrook Sr., father of a well-known local judge

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Janis Fullilove: Shot at and Downed by a Memphis Policeman in 1968?

That’s what happened to her, the Councilwoman alleges to a shocked audience of local Democrats; it occurred, she says, while she, as a schoolgirl, was marching in honor of Dr. King after his assassination.

Posted By on Thu, Sep 29, 2016 at 6:04 AM



As described
Councilwoman Fullilove addressing local Democrats on Sunday night - JB
  • JB
  • Councilwoman Fullilove addressing local Democrats on Sunday night
 in a companion article, “Shelby Democrats Make Do on GOTV,” the efforts of local supporters of the Democratic presidential nominee included a Sunday night event — styled as an “African-American Rally for Hillary Clinton” — at Christ Missionary Church on South Parkway.

As noted in the article, the major theme of the event was to establish a meaningful connection between the civil rights struggle of half a century ago and the fight to elect Clinton, thereby to maintain and defend the gains from that era.

Virtually every speaker expressed some version of that theme, but no one did it so vividly and even shockingly as City Councilwoman Janis Fullilove, who told a story that most, if not all, the members of her audience had not heard before, and which had apparently never before been related publicly in any form.

The kernel of that tale was Fullilove’s contention that, while a school girl marching in memory of the recently assassinated Martin Luther King in 1968, she was shot at by a Memphis police officer and left to lie helpless in fear on a downtown Memphis pavement.

Here is the story as she told it Sunday night:
“…I don't want to be long, but I think about 1968, and I was a young thing, 18 years old, attending the Booker t. Washington High School of leadership excellence. And when Dr. King came to Memphis, members of the NAACP — Jesse Turner, Maxine and Vasco Smith — they came and they embraced us and said, ‘We want you to be part of this movement because we’re doing this for your tomorrow. And I remember sanding on the stage of Mason Temple on the night that Dr. King had given his Mountaintop speech. And I remember how moved I was at 18 years old to hear that speech from this man, who thought enough of our sanitation workers to come to the city to mobilize us, to get what was done that was right to be done, and showed us how to do it.

“The next day, my grandmother and I had gone to Corondolet. That was like Target, and it was in the North Memphis area, and we were shopping, very quickly, because, she said, ‘Look, Dr. King is going to speak at 6 o’clock. We’ve got to hurry up in order to go home and go hear what he has to say. When it was around 3 o’clock that afternoon, we were shopping, and I went down another aisle, and I heard a white man say, ‘They just shot that nigger, Dr. King!’ It hurt me so bad, I ran to my grandmother, and she saw the look in my eyes and said, ‘What’s wrong?’ And said, ‘They’ve shot Dr. King!’ And she threw everything down that she had in her hands, and we went home, and everything was chaotic.

“When you talk about 'the winds were ranging,' well, the winds were ranging in the city of Memphis, they were raging, the storm was brewing, and it didn’t seem to get any better; we began to march, and we marched and marched, and I was shot at by a Memphis police officer, and I had a ponytail on the top of my head. And the bullet hole went through it. And as I was laying on the corner of Vance St., it was Vance and 4th, because no one would open their doors and let me in, and I didn’t know whether I was shot, I was just frightened out of my head, I just lay there and said, ‘Lord, have mercy! Things have got to change…..”


From there, Fullilove segued into a description of the Memphis she sees a half century later, in which “racism abounds…and people are brewing hatred by talking, ‘Let’s make American great again….”
Go here for more details from her story and the Sunday night pro-Clinton rally.

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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Cohen Calls Presidential Race “Armageddon,” Says Trump in League with Russia

Keynoting a kickoff weekend for Hillary Clinton’s candidacy, congressman addresses local Democrats.

Posted By on Sun, Sep 25, 2016 at 7:53 AM

Congressman Cohen, flanked by Hillary Clinton cutout and local Clinton campaign co-chair David Cambron, fired up the troops at new Hillary headquarters on Poplar Avenue. - JB
  • JB
  • Congressman Cohen, flanked by Hillary Clinton cutout and local Clinton campaign co-chair David Cambron, fired up the troops at new Hillary headquarters on Poplar Avenue.


Shelby County’s Democrats may be —— for the moment, anyhow — lacking a formal local party organization (after the decertification of the Shelby County Democratic Party by state party chair Mary Maninci). But that fact apparently isn’t hindering their Get-Out-the-Vote efforts. 9th District congressman Steve Cohen kicked off several days of party GOTV activity on Saturday with a brief but fiery speech to supporters of Hillary Clinton’s presidential race at their new headquarters on Poplar.

“This is Armageddon,” Cohen told a sizeable crowd crammed into a meeting room at the headquarters. “We have a choice between a lady who wants to carry on Barack Obama’s legacy and …the most Neanderthal candidate we’ve ever had as the nominee of a major political party.”

Clinton’s opponent Donald Trump is “trying to win with lies and hate and misinformation,” and by “dividing people,” Cohen said.

Linking Trump to Russia, Cohen said, “We’re going to find out more and more about his contacts with Russia. We’ve never had a candidate in our history who owes so much, or any amount, for that matter, to a foreign nation. And particularly a foreign nation that is one of our most powerful enemies, or the antithesis of what America is about.”

Cohen said Clinton’s campaign was one of “looking out for America,” while Trump’s was devoted to “self-interest” and involvement with “oligarchs.”

He said that Clinton “will appoint a Supreme Court that will take us in the right direction,” defending the legacy of such landmark Court decisions as Brown vs. Board of Education on desegregation and Baker vs. Carr on one-person-one-vote.

She would further safeguard the environment, “protecting air and water and not making the Koch Brothers first,” developing “new forms of energy — sun, air, and not coal,” and taking action in the sphere of climate change. “Millennials need to wake up before they drown,” said Cohen, conjuring up a nightmare vision of melted polar ice caps and rising water levels.

Scoffing at various public criticisms of Clinton for faults of her own, Cohen said, “The perfect is enemy of the good. And I’m telling you, Hillary Clinton is very, very good.”

The congressman then extolled President Obama, who, he said, “has been spectacular,” making America “more the country it was intended to be than ever before.” Detailing his attendance, the previous day at the formal opening of the new Museum of African-American History in Washington, Cohen even had a kind word for former Republican president George W. Bush, who “did the right thing” in helping get that museum project started."

“And he’s for Hillary, too,” Cohen theorized about Bush, who is known to be among several notable Republicans giving Trump a wide berth in this election. That drew an appreciative laugh from his audience.

Other local events planned by the Hillary Clinton campaign include a Sunday night “African Americans for Hillary Rally” at Christ Missionary Baptist Church at 494 South Parkway East and a debate-watch party Monday night at the Trolley Shop Market, for the televised Clinton-Trump encounter.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

County Commission Renews Power Struggle with Mayor Luttrell

Ordinance to be voted on Monday would impose stringent guidelines on administrative appointments, with new test case brewing on interim County Attorney Pascover.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 21, 2016 at 10:25 PM

Interim County Attorney Kathryn Pasocver's Day in Three Stages: L to r, with County CAO Harvey Kennedy, dealing with Commission questions; shmoozing with potential critic Terry Roland; and chatting up George Chism - JB
  • JB
  • Interim County Attorney Kathryn Pasocver's Day in Three Stages: L to r, with County CAO Harvey Kennedy, dealing with Commission questions; shmoozing with potential critic Terry Roland; and chatting up George Chism


The power struggle between the Shelby County Commission — or a substantial portion of its membership — and the administration of County Mayor Mark Luttrell goes on.

The latest installment, which generated a good deal of fire and fury, took place on Wednesday during a discussion of an ordinance that would subject the administration to new Commission guidelines in making interim appointments to a wide variety of positions.

Co-sponsored by Commissioner Terry Roland, a Republican, and Van Turner, a Democrat, the ordinance makes a point of affirming the Commission’s power to confirm such appointments and would establish a 90-day maximum as the time an interim appointee could serve in office before a vote of confirmation would be mandated.

Or, in the language of the ordinance, “The County Commission hereby deems 90 days as a reasonable time period for an interim to serve in such capacity before a nominee is to be presented to the County Commission for final confirmation….{i]mmediately upon the expiration of the interim division director’s appointment…a nominee to fill the vacancy for the aforementioned position shall be presented to the County Commission for consideration of confirmation to fill the vacancy.”

Said vote to confirm or deny would then require a simple majority of the Commission.

Harvey Kennedy, the Mayor’s CAO, immediately condemned the proposed ordinance as “totally unnecessary…an inappropriate intrusion into the Mayor’s appointive authority” and pronounced the 90-day limit provision “unreasonable,” especially given the time restrictions laid down by outside search committees.

Roland retorted that, as matters stand, the administration can prolong indefinitely the tenure of an interim appointee, especially if Commission confirmation came to seem unlikely, so as to “circumvent” the Commission’s authority. And he quarreled with the administration’s penchant for hiring on the outside. “Why do you have to go somewhere else to find somebody when you’ve got somebody that’s qualified?”

That was a tacit reference to the administration’s announced plan, as of two weeks ago, to engage Memphis lawyer Kathryn Pascover as an interim attorney. Toi the Commission, it seemed clear the administration would eventually propose her as permanent County Attorney —bypassing in the process Marcy Ingram, a longtime assistant County Attorney who, with fellow assistant Kim Koratsky, has been serving on an interim basis. A vacancy arose earlier this year when former County Attorney Ross Dyer was appointed by Governor Bill Haslam to a state appellate judgeship.

Roland suggested that Ingram had run afoul of the administration by preparing, at Commission request, a proposal for a ballot referendum enlarging the scope of the Commission’s advise-and-consent function to include dismissal of appointees as well as confirmation of their appointments. That proposal got a positive vote from the Commission.

The background of the newly proposed ordinance includes several other skirmishes already fought between Commission and administration — notably the matter of the Commission’s continuing desire to have its own counsel. That was something stoutly resisted on the Mayor’s side — although, after a good deal of tugging back and forth, the administration has reluctantly consented to former Commissioner Julian Bolton’s serving the Commission as a “policy advisor.”

Besides the independent-attorney issue per se, there have been numerous other points of contention between Commission and administration, many of them having to do with fiscal control. The professional background of Pascover, most recently associated with the Ford Harrison law firm, is one in which she has represented employers in a variety of labor-management issues.

When the administration tried to have Pasocver’s status placed on the agenda of the most recent public meeting of the Commission, enough Commissioners objected that it was kept off, and there was some subtle bargaining back and forth that resulted in Bolton’s being able to claim, for the first time, at least a modicum of pay for his assistance to the Commission.

In any case, the infighting goes on, and Pascover’s status is the latest test case. During some of the prolonged wrangling on Wednesday, Democratic Commissioner Reginald Milton said with an air of weary reluctance that he would vote for the ordinance but served notice that he was “at the end of my rope” with the “constant battle” between legislative branches.

“Good fences make good neighbors,” said GOP Commissioner Heidi Shafer apropos the need to establish checks and balances between the two branches, and she defended the proposed ordinance as a means to ensure that both branches, as well as the people themselves, were properly served. She argued further that, while the Mayor had the right to name his staff, the County Attorney should not, properly speaking, be regarded as a member of his staff but as a representative of county government as a whole.

Pascover acquitted herself with a fair degree of aplomb and diplomacy when various questions were posed to her from Commissioners — especially when Commissioner Mark Billingsley asked if the proposed ordinance required changes in the charter.

She headed off some brewing objections by saying she was “conflicted out” of answering because her own circumstances were at stake and that the legal staff was seeking outside counsel for advice, with an answer of sorts due on Monday, when the issue goes to the floor for a vote.

Tentatively, the Commissioners present for the committee meeting on Wednesday gave the proposal a 6-2 endorsement, with Commissioners Billingsley and George Chism voting no.




Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Rep. Durham Expelled from State House by 70-2 Vote

Action clears the way for legislature to pursue main purpose of special session, to amend a state law threatening $62 million in federal funding.

Posted By on Wed, Sep 14, 2016 at 8:10 AM

Durham in the dock of the House on Tuesday
  • Durham in the dock of the House on Tuesday

The first of two important objectives of this week’s special session of the General Assembly was achieved in Nashville on Tuesday — the formal expulsion from the legislature of  accused sexual predator Jeremy Durham.

Technically, the action against Durham, achieved by a 70-2 House vote in favor of expulsion, was an add-on to the special session, which had been called by Governor Bill Haslam to amend a new state law that had raised permissible alcohol-level units from youthful drivers and threatened thereby to cause a loss of $62 million in federal funding.

But the Durham matter dominated public attention and was acted on first.

Durham, a Republican from suburban Franklin, had represented House District 65 but had already been overwhelmingly defeated in the August 4 primary election by political newcomer Sam Whitson after widespread publicity about improper behavior toward women working in Legislative Plaza, culminating in a state Attorney General’s report alleging 22 known cases.

That report had followed year-end disclosures in the Nashville Tennessean of untoward activity by Durham, resulting in his forced resignation from a position as GOP legislative whip and later in his ousting from their party caucus by House Republicans, after the House’s minority Democrats and state Democratic Party chair Mary Mancini had begun making Durham something of a negative cause célèbre.

In particular, Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell, under persistent challenge by the Democrats for alleged inaction, assumed an increasingly aggressive posture toward Durham and, after public circulation of the AG’s report, banished Durham from Legislative Plaza except during actual sessions, removed his office to an adjoining building, and prohibited any interactions of his with female staffers without third-person supervision.

Meanwhile, Governor Haslam, state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey, and other leading Republicans joined Harwell in calling for Durham to resign from the legislature.

Not even Durham’s defeat by Whitson quelled the furor, inasmuch as the defeated one-term representative still remained eligible for a modest annual state pension. That fact was the proximate reason for the expulsion action, which GOP state representative Susan Lynn of Mt. Juliet announced that she intended to introduce on the special session’s first day.

Somewhat unexpectedly on that first day, various Democratic House members, including Memphians G.A. Hardaway and Larry Miller, joined Republican Rick Womick in raising objections to the expulsion process, based on various procedural issues and a professed concern for due process.

From the Democrats’ point of view, that was a strategy designed to prolong discussion of the Durham matter — and the consequent embarrassment to Republicans, whom Democrats intended to charge with negligent oversight and early attempts to suppress awareness of Durham’s derelictions. The strategy was amended overnight, however, as public reaction to it seemed clearly averse.

On the second day, key Democrats like caucus chair Mike Stewart of Nashville joined with Republicans in making something of a prosecutorial attack on Durham, who made an effort, for at least the first hour of the Tuesday session, to defend himself, though without specifics and without offering credible reasons why he had failed to offer evidence in his own defense during the Attorney General’s investigation.

State Rep. Johnnie Turner of Memphis provided one of the signal moments of Tuesday’s session — and a turning point of sorts — when she eloquently contrasted the plight of Durham’s female victims with what had been abstract debate about legal niceties and the format of the expulsion process.

Though there were a fair number of absentees from the expulsion vote and several members abstained from voting, Durham in the end had only two votes against his expulsion — Republicans Courtney Rogers of Goodlettsville and Terri Lynn Weaver of Lancaster — and the 70 votes to expel him were four more than the two-thirds figure of 66 needed.

In apparent anticipation of the result, Durham had already departed the chamber and the Capitol building. His chapter of the special session was over — along, it would seem, with his public career.


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Monday, August 29, 2016

County Commission Takes First Step Toward Power-Sharing in Hiring and Firing of County Attorney

Luttrell offers mild protest to measure, which will be imbedded in a referendum, presumably on the November ballot.

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2016 at 4:45 PM



Mayor Luttrell during debate not the power-sharing measure - JB
  • JB
  • Mayor Luttrell during debate not the power-sharing measure
For some time, various members of the Shelby County Commission have been trying to wrest a share of control over various local governmental prerogatives that have hitherto been the exclusive province of the County Mayor. Most of their efforts have concerned expanded  fiscal oversight of this kind or that. But one of them falls directly into Mayor Mark Luttrell's prerogatives of appointment.

This was an ordinance, sponsored by outgoing chairman Terry Roland, amending the Shelby County charter to "require the hiring appointment and dismissal process for the County Attorney to consist of a recommendation from the County Mayor with the concurrence of a resolution of the Board of County Commissioners."

It would fall short of allowing the Commission to hire its own lawyer, a continuing and so far thwarted desire, but it would give the body a share of the process, one which, Roland said during debate, would tend to make the process "independent" and pave the way for further expansion of Commission wherewithal in the future.

In the end, the ordinance, during its third and final reading on Monday,  would gain the required 9 votes from the 13-member body, the number needed in order to qualify as a ballot referendum, presumably in November.

In a brief debate on the matter, Mayor Luttrell had said he would give the ordinance "serious consideration," and did not object to submitting the matter tthe people for a vote, but made it clear he preferred that it not pass. He compared the appointment of a County Attorney to the appointment by the President of the United States of an Attorney General and said he thought the processes should be similar.

Both Reaves, who wondered about the efficacy of submitting the matter to the people via a referendum, asked, "Does this really matter to Joe Blow?", and Chism, who thought the ordinance fell short of actually giving the Commission any power and was therefore somewhat pointless, voted no, as would Steve Basar who merely said he would "agree to disagree" with advocates for the measure.

Commissioner Heidi Shafer, along with Roland a prime supporter of expanding the Commission's piece of the action, made it clear that the ordinance was a direct result of the long-standing quarrel over the Commission's wish to have its own attorney. "If we had our own staff, this would not need to be implemented," she said. And she added,  November would be "a good time to be engaged."

Luttrell reacted, somewhat obliquely, to what Shafer said (and others had implied in previous debates) by saying, "Some comments have been made regarding the Mayor's influence on relations between the County Attorney and the Mayor." He denied siding with the County Attorney's office against the Commission and said he had "taken pains" to avoid that circumstance.

Monday's action comes in the aftermath of the resignation of former County Attorney Ross Dyer, who vacated the position following his appointment to a state appellate court. It was during Dyer's tenure that tension first flared over the Commission's wish to have his own attorney to render independent advice.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Dyer consistently offered opinions that the County Charter made no allowance for the Commission's hiring of its own attorney.

In the interim, ssistant county attorneys Marcy Ingram and Kim Kuratsky are, in effect, alternating in the role of provisional County Attorney.















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