Monday, May 22, 2017

Luttrell Praises Press, Hints at Picking Successor

Posted By on Mon, May 22, 2017 at 6:01 AM


In remarks to a luncheon of the Rotary Club of Memphis on Tuesday, Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell made a strong statement in defense of the media’s role vis-à-vis the government, and the term-limited official, who is destined to leave office at the end of his current four-year term, indicated that he intends to intervene directly in next year’s Republican primary to determine his successor.

On the first score, the former Sheriff recounted for the Rotarians a recent case in which a formerly admired and respected sheriff in California had been convicted for instances of corruption uncovered by the media and said, to loud applause from the Rotarians, “That’s what our society should be about – the media holding public officials accountable.”

Luttrell touted the “healthy relationship” whereby “we rely on the media to get out message out, and they depend on us….to keep the community informed.” He took note of the ongoing shrinkage of media staff and coverage and said, “We should mourn, we should genuinely mourn for the status of The Commercial Appeal.”

On the subject of partisanship in politics, Luttrell appealed for a situation “where Ds and Rs are secondary and declared, “We used to see it in Washington, we used to see it in Nashville,” but that things had become “so partisan and so divided that it’s increasingly difficult to deal with issues that need to get addressed.”
Asked if we had misgivings about the conduct of “the current Republican leadership in Washington,” Luttrell answer, “Yes…I am disturbed about it —the shrillness of thee rhetoric. I have seen a lack of civil discourse that is very disturbing.”

Asked about the forthcoming 2018 race to succeed him, Luttrell said, “Every incumbent wants to leave a legacy….I am not opposed to endorsing in the primary. I’ll do it if I can find a candidate embracing the same general values and principles that this administration has.”

Luttrell did not name names, but the Republican primary for County Mayor in 2018 is expected to be between County Trustee David Lenoir and County Commissioner Terry Roland, with whom the current mayor has been involved in an off-and-on power struggle. (Luttrell had praised Democratic Commissioner Van Turner, who had introduced him to the Rotariqans and encouraged Turner to run but he said afterward than he would probably restrict any endorsement he gave to the GOP primary.)

On other matters, Luttrell:

*Said he “never felt comfortable” with the erstwhile slogan of “every child college bound” and made a point of endorsing the revival of interest in vo-tech offerings;

*Praised the creative instincts and construction projects of “millennials” and said Memphis’ progress in educational innovations had made it a “Teachertown.”

*Declared that the proposed city “rightsizing” formula for de-annexation posed no threat to county government but said massive de-annexation would create a burden county law enforcement.

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

State Senate Teases Memphis (Literally) by Updating its De-Annexation bill

The new version, introduced out of nowhere as the legislature headed to closure, seemed originally to contain terms consistent with Mempbhis' proposed "right-sizing" measure, but an overnight update presented the city with a stricter timeline.

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 8:20 PM

Watson on the Senate floor Tuesday - JB
  • JB
  • Watson on the Senate floor Tuesday
It’s a fairly gentle nudge (certainly as compared to the somewhat brutal shove of a year ago), but the General Assembly has sent another prompt to Memphis on the matter of urban de-annexation.

This was Senate Bill 641, which was dusted off on Tuesday by its original sponsor, state Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and taken on a quick run-through of two committees before landing on the Senate floor for renewed action (billed with mock theatricality  as “long-awaited and much-anticipated” by its sponsor) as the legislature raced through final measures preparatory to adjournment.

The latest version of the bill — the House counterpart of which, HB 943 by Watson’s fellow Hamilton Countian Mike Carter (R-Ooltewah), remains in committee limbo, making passage this year a moot point — bears a couple of amendments that would soften the blow for the state’s large municipalities.

One is that, while a referendum on de-annexation can, as in the first version, be called via a petition signed by 20 percent of the eligible voters in an area annexed since 1998, the resulting referendum would now have to be submitted to the voters of the entire affected municipality.

That’s a stiffer test.

The other major change would take any municipality off the hook that should, by January 1, 2018,  pass its own version of a de-annexation measure (in Memphis’ case, that would be the still-pending “right-sizing” measure, presented to the City Council by a local task force early this year and now being appraised in forums held around town).

The amendment specifies only that the municipality’s alternative de-annexation ordinance must be enacted by the January 1, 2018, but sets no mandatory  terminal date for the actual fulfilment of the de-annexation process. That means that the 2020 deadline for completion specified by the Memphis/Shelby County task force would be acceptable. [But see changed language in UPDATE below.]

During floor discussion, a question about  the key amendment strengthening the prerogatives  of municipalities  revealed inadvertently that the source of the amending language came originally from Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), though state Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston) was listed as the amendment sponsor.

When state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) queried Yager about the thrust of the amendment, Yager deferred to Norris for an answer.

Effectively maintaining a certain measure of suspense, senators agreed by mutual consent to postpone voting on the bill  until a final planned Senate session on Wednesday morning.

UPDATE: Kelsey's question resulted in a major -- and, from the point of view of Memphis, perhaps harsher -- turn on the bill.

After overnight discussions between Kelsey, Yager, Watson, and Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland, the following change was made in the language of the relevant Yager amendment:

Whereas the original version read as follows:

"The comoprehensive deannexation plan ordinance may call for referenda to approve or disapprove of particular territories identified in the comprehensive deannexation plan.,"

the revised version now reads:

"The comprehensive deannexation plan ordinance may call for referenda to approve or disapprove the deannexation of particular territories identified in the comprehensive deannexation plan provided that any referendum called for in the ordinance must be held before January 1, 2019."[Our italics]

When the Senate reconvened on Wednesday, Norris read the new language aloud.

Kelsey expressed his gratitude to Norris for "clarifying the issue," and the new, more stringent language was adopted, 29-1.

The newly revised version of the completed bill itself passed the Senate 29-3, with the dissenters being Sens. Lee Harris and Sara Kyle (both D-Memphis) and Sen. Jeff Yarbro (D-Nashville).

Cohen Reacts to Comey Firing

Says "our democracy is in danger," calls for immediate creation of independent commission to investigate Trump-Russia connection.

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 6:15 PM

Cohen’s Statement on the Firing of FBI Director James Comey   [WASHINGTON, D.C.] —
fired by President Trump, 5-9-17
  • fired by President Trump, 5-9-17

Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Con
stitution and Civil Justice, today released the following statement after President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey:   “I have said to my colleagues and to the public for over four months that FBI Director James Comey would do the right thing in the Trump-Russia investigation. I also believed President Trump wouldn’t fire him unless he felt that Director Comey threatened his presidency. This is sadly reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre, when President Nixon fired Justice Department officials that threatened his presidency. Two days ago, I tweeted that I hoped Director Comey would be next year’s recipient of the Profiles in Courage Award because of the Trump-Russia investigation, but President Trump has effectively vetoed that award. I call on Speaker Paul Ryan to immediately appoint a bipartisan, non-classified, public, and transparent commission to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship. Our democracy is in danger.”   ###

Friday, May 5, 2017

Mark Green Out as Choice for Army Head

Can Trump’s loss become a gain for the right wing of the Tennessee GOP?

Posted By on Fri, May 5, 2017 at 5:16 PM

Mark Green, the former military flight surgeon and arch-conservative Tennessee state Senator from Clarksville, has withdrawn as President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, becoming the President’s second pick for that position to be eliminated, in effect, by adverse public and political reaction.

The reason in Green’s case, according to multiple news reports, was his record of
State Senator Mark Green
  • State Senator Mark Green
 provocative positions on a host of social issues. Or, as Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) put it, the critics of Green’s nomination would include “those who were personally vilified by his disparaging comments toward the LGBTQ community, Muslim community, Latino community and more.”

Trump’s previous nominee for Army Secretary, financier Vincent Viola, was forced to withdraw because of conflict-of-interest allegations stemming from his Wall Street career. Green, by contrast, was hoist on the petard of his remarks and actions as a Tennessee legislator.

One recent case in point was the Clarksville Republican senator’s sponsorship, in the current legislative session, of a measure that would expressly shield from legal retribution Tennessee businesses that took action against their employees based on their sexual orientation.

It was Green’s arch-conservative position on LGBTQ issues (transgender ones in particular), abortion, and other social issues, as well as support from Tea Party activists, that had given him a sizeable right-wing constituency and a platform from which to make a run for Governor in 2018. He had been considered a leading potential candidate for the GOP gubernatorial nomination next year but had essentially taken himself out of the running after Trump tapped the former Special Ops officer to head up the Army

Ironically, the storm of criticism from Democrats and some Republicans that forced Green to withdraw as a potential Secretary of the Army may give him a boost toward returning to the governor’s race, which is expected to draw several name candidates into the 2018 GOP primary.

Green dismissed the reaction of his critics as having been based on “false and misleading accusations,” but the tide of reaction to his nomination by Trump had grown to include , besides outright condemnation from Democrats and human rights organizations, public doubts from key Republicans like Arizona Senator John McCain, who made a point of noting the “controversy” surrounding Green.

The selfsame controversy would presumably follow Green into a hypothetical resumption of his gubernatorial candidacy, but it might also give him a proprietary claim on his party’s ultra-conservative wing, and that, in a multi-candidate race, could benefit him.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Cohen, Kustoff Go Opposite Ways on ‘Trumpcare’

The bill, intended to “repeal and replace” the ACA, passes the House 217-213.

Posted By on Thu, May 4, 2017 at 9:05 PM

As the U.S. House of Representatives prepared Thursday for a two-week recess, the two Congressmen who directly serve portions of Memphis and Shelby County were on opposite sites of a crucial vote on the health-care legislation backed by President Trump. The bill, the second try by the GOP leadershiip to fulfill Trump’s “repeal and replace” policy toward the Affordable Care Act, passed by the ultra-narrow margin of 217-213.

Democrat Steve Cohen of the 9th District was a No vote:

Cohen:“I voted against Trumpcare today because it is harmful to the average American and will result in people dying because they don’t have access to quality, affordable health insurance,” said Congressman
Cohen. “This poorly-thought-out legislation, that has a mere 17% approval rating, allows states to discriminate against patients with pre-existing conditions and to opt out of offering essential health benefits such as maternity care, mental health services, pediatric services, preventative care services, drug abuse treatment and physical rehabilitation services.

“Trumpcare will also force lower and middle-income Americans to pay more for less coverage while the wealthiest Americans receive huge tax breaks. As many as 24 million more Americans would be uninsured and those 50-64 years of age would pay significantly higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. It will significantly reduce federal funding for Medicaid, shorten the life of the Medicare Trust Fund and waive annual and lifetime caps now prohibited by the ACA. But without an updated CBO score or time to analyze the flurry of last-minute changes, we don’t yet know the full extent of the catastrophic impacts that this bill could have on our health care system.

“Trumpcare is a wealth care bill, not a health care bill. It puts politics over improving our health care system. This bill is an excuse to give the wealthiest Americans huge tax breaks and proceed towards more tax cuts for the rich in the future. It should be called the ‘Ebenezer Scrooge Act’ because it enriches the wealthiest individuals and harms the less fortunate both fiscally and physically.”

Republican David Kustoff of the 8th District voted Ye

f: “I voted for the American Health Care Act because our current health care system is failing T
ennesseans. We promised the American people we would repeal and replace Obamacare, and today, the House voted to keep our word and provide relief.

“In Tennessee, every single insurance provider has pulled out of the individual market in 16 counties, affecting more than 1.1 million people.

“Health care premiums have gone up  by double digits in 31 states just this year with premiums in Tennessee rising an average of 63 percent. In some counties, premiums have risen as much as 116 percent with no ceiling in sight.

“This bill will protect and ensure access to care for those with pre-existing conditions, and moreover, it will make health care more attainable with lower premiums.

“The American Health Care Act is a first step in a three-pronged process that will give the power back to the states and the American people where it belongs.”

Friday, April 28, 2017

Two Bites from the Thursday Night Smorgasbord

Posted By on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 12:09 PM

Thursday night was chock-full of politically relevant events in Memphis and Shelby County. Among them were two fundraisers — one at Wiseacre Brewery for the non-profit group Protect Our Aquifer and another at Sweet Grass for SCS board candidate Liz Rincon.

(l) Ward Archer of Protect Our Aquifer displays some of the sand particles which,  at several deep layers (this sample from 400 feet down) filter the near-pristine drinking water enjoyed by Memphis and Shelby County; (r) Jenna Stonecypher and Linda Archer sell a T-shirt to the Sierra Club's Dennis Lynch. The shirt, bearing the non-profit group's logo, says, "Save Water/Drink Beer." - JB
  • JB
  • (l) Ward Archer of Protect Our Aquifer displays some of the sand particles which, at several deep layers (this sample from 400 feet down) filter the near-pristine drinking water enjoyed by Memphis and Shelby County; (r) Jenna Stonecypher and Linda Archer sell a T-shirt to the Sierra Club's Dennis Lynch. The shirt, bearing the non-profit group's logo, says, "Save Water/Drink Beer."

Getting an early start for the 2018 Shelby County Schools board race is Liz Rincon, candidate for Position 1. Here she speaks with two well-wishers — state Senator Brian Kelsey (l) and Fire Fighters Union official Joe Norman — at her Thursday night fundraiser at Sweet Grass. - JB
  • JB
  • Getting an early start for the 2018 Shelby County Schools board race is Liz Rincon, candidate for Position 1. Here she speaks with two well-wishers — state Senator Brian Kelsey (l) and Fire Fighters Union official Joe Norman — at her Thursday night fundraiser at Sweet Grass.

Field Is Set for June 15 General Election in House District 95

Collierville School Board member Kevin Vaughan wins 7-person GOP primary, will go against Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth and independents Robert Schutt and Jim Tomasik.

Posted on Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 12:55 AM

L to r: Vaughan, Ashworth, Schutt, Tomasik
  • L to r: Vaughan, Ashworth, Schutt, Tomasik

After the tabulation on Thursday of the vote in the special Republican primary for state House District 95, the field is now set for the special general election of June 15.

Kevin Vaughan, an engineer, real estate broker and Collierville School Board member, narrowly edged former Germantown alderman Frank Uhlhorn to win the seven-candidate GOP primary.

Vaughan will vie in the general with trial lawyer Julia Byrd Ashworth, the Democratic nominee, and two independents, student Robert Schutt and Libertarian activist JimTomasik.

With all 18 precincts counted in the district which includes portions of Colliervile, Germantown, and Eads, Vaughan ended with 1,066 votes to Uhlhorn’s 1,017. The rest of the GOP field finished in this order: Billy Patton, 751 votes; Missy Marshall, 682; Gail Horner, 247; Curtis Loynachan, 134; and Joseph Crone, 58.

Ashworth, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, had 363 votes. There were two write-in votes in her primary, and two also in the Republican primary.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Vouchers Bill Dead for 2017 Legislative Session

Rep. Brooks, Kelsey's co-sponsor, takes if off notice until next year.

Posted By on Wed, Apr 26, 2017 at 5:36 PM

Rep. Harry Brooks
  • Rep. Harry Brooks
For yet another year, the attempt to pass school-voucher legislation has proved unsuccessful. This year's version — by state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) was taken off notice for the year in the state House Finance Ways and Means Committee.

Kelsey's House co-sponsor, Rep Harry Brooks (R-Knoxville) said he was pulling the bill to examine "particular wording," but did not elaborate. He said he thought the bill would be back next year, though. (Voucher legislation has beeen a fixture of General Assembly sessions for at least a decade, and versions of it have — briefly — enjoyed at least the nominal blessing of Governor Bill Haslam, but no voucher bill has yet run the gauntle of legislative resistance.)

The Kelsey bill would have instituted a "pilot program" restricted to Shelby County Schools, with 5000 vouchers of a maximum of $7000 made available to students from low-performing public schools in the SCS system.

With near unanimity, Shelby County legislators, both Republican and Democratic, opposed the measure and questioned its constitutionality.


Monday, April 24, 2017

Schedule for Local Democrats' Reorganization Efforts

Local party, decertified last August, will begin its reorganization via a series of "community forums," the first of which will take place this weekend.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 24, 2017 at 11:26 AM


Remember the Shelby County Democratic Party? it ceased to be, formally, when Tennessee party chair Mary Mancini and the state party's executive committee acted, in August 2016, to decertify it after what Mancini called "many years of dysfunction."

But it's on the verge of being reformed. Here's a reminder, in the form of a communication from the state party,  of how that process will operate, Note that the first "community forum" in a series of several will occur this coming weekend:


Beginning on April 29, the Shelby County Democratic Party Reorganization Ad Hoc Committee will host a series of community forums to encourage feedback from Democrats throughout Memphis and the surrounding Shelby County suburbs as the body works to reinstate the area’s largest political body.

Meeting Dates & Times:

Saturday, April 29, 12 p.m.
Black Market Strategies
5146 Stage Rd #102, Memphis, TN 38128
Hosted by State Representative Antonio Parkinson

Wednesday, May 3, 6:
0 0 p.m.
Gallery At Madison Square
1819 Madison Ave, 38104
Hosted by Shelby County Young Democrats & College Democrats

Tuesday, May 9, 6:00 p.m.
Pickering Center
7771 Poplar Pike, Germantown, TN 38138
Hosted by Germantown Democrats

Monday, May 15, 6:
0 0 p.m.
Abyssinian Baptist Church
3890 Millbranch Rd, Memphis, TN 38116
Hosted by Democratic Women Of Shelby County

On August 19, 2016, local leaders of the Tennessee Democratic Party voted to temporarily halt Shelby County Democratic Party operations, recruit new leaders from within the community, and create a framework for winning elections in 2018 and beyond. With support from the TN Democratic Party, local leaders established a Reorganization Ad Hoc Committee – a diverse group of thirteen local Democrats who were unanimously appointed by local party representatives.

Current Status:
The ad hoc committee is headed by local attorney and former Shelby County executive committee member Carlissa Shaw and David Cocke, an attorney whose party involvement dates back to the 1970s. The two will lead the creation of a framework for reorganization that:

· considers past challenges and success,
· is welcoming to local Democrats,
· prioritizes efficiency and innovation to mobilize voters,
· and ultimately helps strong Democrats win elections.

Other committee members include Cardell Orrin, Corey Strong (Community Meetings Chair), Danielle Inez (PR Chair), Dave Cambron, Deborah Reed, Emma Meskovic, George Monger, Jeannie Johnson, Jolie Grace Wareham (Secretary), Keith Norman, and Van Turner.

Together, committee members outlined a framework for developing the Shelby County Democratic Party’s new bylaws and orchestrating the 2017 Summer Convention, where new Shelby County Democratic Party leaders will be elected.

Going Forward:
The Democratic Party has a long-standing reputation of supporting the diverse interests of its constituents. As a result, the ad hoc committee is committed to open communication in various forms – via social media discussions, online surveys, and at several forums across the city.

Members of the community are encouraged to register on for important announcements, follow real-time updates at, and email any questions to

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Low Early Voting Totals for District 95

Most of the voting is in the contested Republican special primary.

Posted By on Sat, Apr 22, 2017 at 10:40 PM

With one day to go before the end of the early voting period on Saturday for the District 95 special state House primaries, voter turnout remains sluggish — but one-sidedly Republican

Totals released on Friday by the Shelby County Election Commission show that 1799 total votes, representing 3.5 percent of those eligible to vote in the district,  have been cast at the several early voting locations. That breaks down to 1639 votes in the GOP primary, which has 7 contestants overalll, and 160 votes in the Democratic primary, where the only contestant is Julie Byrd Ashworth.

Ashworth is assured of a place on the  June 15 general election ballot, along with independents Robert Schutt and Jim Tomasik. The seven Republicans competing for the right to appear on the general election ballot are (alphabetically) Joseph Aaron Crone; Gail W. Horner; Curtis D. Loynachan; Missy Marshall; Billy Patton; Frank Uhlhorn; and Kevin Vaughan.

Purpose of the special election process is to replace former state Rep. Mark Lovell, who resigned his seat in February.

Regular primary voting will conclude on Thursday, April 27.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Gubernatorial Hopeful Boyd, an East Tennessean, Has Roots in These Parts

Connects with Shelby County Mayor Luttrell on their collaborative past and common Crockett County ancestry, and stresses local control as against "people in Nashville think[ing] they know best."

Posted By on Fri, Apr 7, 2017 at 2:05 PM

GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in the Mayor's office this week - JB
  • JB
  • GOP gubernatorial candidate Randy Boyd with Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell in the Mayor's office this week

Former state Commissioner of Economic Development Randy Boyd of Knoxville, an early-bird candidate for Governor in 2018, was making the rounds of West Tennessee this past week to show the flag — and in the process to divulge some local roots.

Some of them were even more local — and more personal — than he knew, as he discovered from a stop at the Vasco Smith Shelby County administrative building on Wednesday morning. Boyd had a dual purpose there, to sit down for an interview with the Flyer in the11th floor conference room of County Mayor Mark Luttrell and to overlap that with a courtesy call on the Mayor.

In the Flyer interview, Boyd, the founder of Radio Systems, Inc., which manufactures and distributes a line of electronic pet-related products ("Invisible Fence" being one well-known example) had disclosed the fact that he had been the first member of his family line to be born and raised in East Tennessee and that seven generations of his immediate forebears had resided in the West Tennessee counties of Madison, Obion, and Crockett.

"You're from Fruitvale?"

In fact, said Boyd, he had made a point of paying homage to his family connections by including as a stop on his announcement tour last month the Crockett County hamlet of Fruitvale (population 64), where he spoke from the stoop of J.O. Boyd's General Store, which had belonged to one of his relations.

"I believe I set a record for the smallest place to make an announcement from," Boyd said.

Later, when Luttrell, having disposed of some pre-scheduled mayoral business elsewhere, entered the conference room and joined the conversation, he, too, was apprised of Boyd's West Tennessee pedigree.

"You're from Fruitvale?" exclaimed the delighted Luttrell, who went on to explain that he himself had spent some growing-up time in nearby Bells, (population 2,437), also in Crockett County. "Bells is a city, compared to Fruitvale!"

Some reminiscences were swapped back and forth, until it got to the point that both men were fondly recalling individuals from the area that they jointly knew. At one point Luttrell mentioned a lady named Myrtle Rose Emerson. "Aunt Myrtle!" Boyd responded.

All of that may have been a revelation of sorts, but Boyd and Luttrell could already claim a longstanding relationship in their official capacities. As Boyd had noted to the Flyer, he had worked with both Luttrell and the current Mayor's predecessor, A C Wharton, in developing a program of community-college tuition aid called "Shelby Achieves," which, along with "Knox Achieves," in Boyd's home environs, had been the precursors of the statewide Tennessee Promise program that Governor Bill Haslam has credited Boyd with developing.

For "High Quality Jobs" and "More Local Control"

As Economic Development Commissioner, Boyd had a hand in several of Haslam's better-known major programs, including Drive to 55 and  Tennessee Reconnect, and he made it clear in the interview that, as Governor, his intent would be to keep on keeping on with such initiatives.

Indeed, in discussing the era of technological and economic progress that he would like to oversee as Governor, Boyd's very manner of speaking, a rapid-fire but highly focused and by no means off-putting stream-of-consciousness style bespoke an obvious intensity of purpose transcending ambition.

Boyd said that, upon entering government at Haslam's invitation "my goal was to create a mission for the state. He struck an almost Trump-like note when, in speaking of entrepreneurs, he praised "people who would be disrupters, coming in with new ideas." His three "key goals" he enumerated as completing the Drive to 55 program (the number representing an ideal minimum of Tennesseans with college degrees or certificates), bringing in "high quality jobs," and creating a "rural task force [to] take care of people left behind."

"The state cannot reach its goals unless Memphis reaches its," said Boyd, who extrapolated a bright future for this area from the fact that Memphis was "Number One in the country" last year in FAFSA filings (applications for federal student aid to attend college).

Boyd sounded one note that would surely be of comfort to Memphians who see state government, at least the legislative part of it, as having increasingly overriden the prerogatives of local government. "I prefer having more local control," he said, conferring his disapproval of "occasions when people in Nashville think they know better."

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Serendipity and Synchronicity: Simultaneous Homages to Racial Harmony, 3-30-17

George Wallace's daughter and former Mayor Herenton both gave voice to triumphs in racial relations.

Posted By on Mon, Apr 3, 2017 at 9:30 AM

  • JB

“We must embody the character and teachings of Dr. King and demonstrate that no one has a corner on the market of the principles of patriotism, compassion, and equality. There are times in our lives that we cannot change the direction of the wind, but there are always opportunities to adjust ourselves for a more just America. And let us pray that we can proclaim that it is through the peace that comes with understanding that we should, we must, and we shall overcome.”

Peggy Wallace Kennedy, daughter of the late Governor George Wallace of Alabama, speaking to the Academy of Professional Family Mediators National Conference at the downtown Doubletree Hotel, Thursday, March 30. (Kennedy, center, is pictured here with Paula Casey (left) and Jocelyn Wurzburg, hostess for the event.)

Kennedy, a teen at the time of her father's ill-fated 1962 pronouncement of "Segregation Today, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever" from a doorway of the University of Alabama, disagreed intensely with her father's position, but, as she said in an interview with the Flyer, "I had no power to speak in my family." She speaks now, frequently and powerfully, on the theme of racial equality, and has  joined U.S. Representative John Lewis, a hero of the 1965 Selma march, in a symbolic re-enactment of the crossing of the Edmund Pettus bridge there.

She believes that her father, who, late in life, after being wounded by an assassin, began trying to make amends, came to sincerely regret actions that he took, she said, not for reasons of the heart but for reasons of political expediency.,

  • JB

“It was in this particular Clayborn Temple, I was speaking on the Martin Luther King Celebration on this stage [in 1991], and Congressman Harold Ford walked in from this entrance here and what the audience was talking about was, they wanted Mayor Hackett out, and they wanted a black mayor. I really didn’t want to be the Mayor. Harold Ford walked in and I said…”Harold, you heard the people. Take leadership!”….That was the genesis of the People’s Convention. I did not seek the Mayor’s office…They said, “Dr. Herenton, we want you to be the Mayor. That would give it credibility.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to be the Mayor.’ I was selected on the first round, 70-something percent, and all of a sudden, I said, I’ve got to run!”

Willie Herenton, former five-times-elected Mayor of Memphis, speaking simultaneously in historic Clayborn Temple in Memphis on Thursday, March 30, on how he came to be a candidate and became the first black mayor of Memphis in 1991. (The occasion was the unveiling of Otis Sanford’s book, From Boss Crump to King Willie: How Race Changed Memphis Politics.)

Sanford (right, below), was interviewed on stage at Clayborn by Susan Thorp. The author, former managing editor of The Commercial Appeal and current holder of the Hardin Chair of Excellence in Economic/Managerial Journalism at the University of Memphis, was scheduled to appear also at Square Books in Oxford, MS, at 5 p.m., Monday, 4-3-17.

  • JB

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Monday, March 20, 2017

Mae Beavers for Governor?

Posted By on Mon, Mar 20, 2017 at 5:01 PM

State Senator Mae Beavers
  • State Senator Mae Beavers
OK, Flyer readers, you will — repeat, will — have Mae Beavers to, er kick around (or to celebrate, chacun a son gout) , depending on your politics, for much of the next two years.

The ever-controversial iron maiden of the Tennessee state Senate is reliably said to be considering a run for Governor in 2018.

A hat tip to Steve Steffens, the LeftWingCracker blogger, who called our attention to an item in the Nashville Scene that quotes Beavers as responding to the prospect of a withdrawal fro the declared candidate list of her Senate colleague, Mark Green (R-Clarksville), who may be offered the position of Secretary of the Army.

Quoth Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), according to the Scene
: "After the announcement of Senator Green possibly being secretary of the Army, I had calls for a couple of days, and we decided to explore the possibility.”

Beaver is well known as a strict social conservative and an advocate, among other things, for severe curbs on immigrants as well as for the “bathroom bill” that would restrict transgender Tennesseans to the rest room corresponding to the gender indicated on their birth certificates.

More about this anon.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

An Even 10 Candidates to Seek District 95 House Seat

Seven Republicans, two independents, and one Democrat qualify for special election race at filing deadline.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 16, 2017 at 11:03 PM

As of noon Thursday, filing deadline for candidates seeking to replace ex-state Representative Mark Lovell in House District 95 (Germantown, Collierville), a total of 10 candidates qualified: 7 Republicans; 1 Democrat; and 2 independents.

The Republicans are: Joseph Aaron Crone, Gail Williams Horner, Curtis D. Loynachan, Missy Marshall, Billy Patton, Frank Uhlhorn and Kevin Vaughan.

The Democrat is Julie Byrd Ashworth.

Ashworth will compete in the June 15 special general election with the winner of the special Republican primary, which takes place on April 27

Two independent candidates, Robert Schutt and Jim Tomasik, will also compete in the June 15 general election..

The District 95 state House seat became open when Lovell resigned it last month amid allegations of sexual impropriety.

Other information relevant to the District 95 election contest may be obtained from the Shelby County election Commission press release below:


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Another Tale of Two Cities: How to Deal With Donald Trump: PART ONE

Posted By on Wed, Mar 15, 2017 at 2:01 PM

  • JB


Even as some Tennesseans continued to organize their resistance to Donald Trump — (top) like these Memphians at Caritas Center last Saturday, the group in the foreground writing postcards to the President with some salty and none too fond advice, the group in the background getting a forum on tactics and goals from an ACLU representative, others (bottom) , like this early-morning lineup of first comers outside Nashville's Municipal Auditorium on Wednesday morning, waited around in 25-degree weather to hear The Donald make his case iat a rally at 6:30 that evening. They, too, had mjessages to send.
  • JB

The Flyer is on hand in Nashville to report on how things work out in the capital city for the President. Who knows? He may decide to leak another couple of 1040 cover filings. We'll let you know what happens. Stay tuned. We'll update.

Inside the Nashville Municipal Arena, where Trump will speak this evening. it's not long after 4 o'clock; Trump has only just landed and is at The Hermitage visiting the ghost of Andrew Jackson (to whom, astonishingly, Jon Meacham compared him this morning and whom he would dearly love to be compared to).

Back here in downtown Nashville, I regret I don't have pics of the line snaking around several city blocks hoping to get in — a mile and a half long and containing upwards of 10,000 people (easily).

I know this will be taken wrong by some readers, but I was reminded of those old newsreels of German soldiers, an endless line of them, trudging off to captivity at Stalingrad.


[Updated postscript: Apparently, this bleak analogy was more on target than I realized. As the succeeding paragraph indicates,an enormous number of those who alternately stood and shuffled their slow way forward on that sub-freezing late-winter day would be denied the door, but not for the reason stated below; the slowness of security screening would be blamed for that by everybody from Trump on down.]

But of course these shivering throngs are pilgrims, whose surrender is hopeful and voluntary. Not all of them will find the glory they're seeking today. The arena only holds 9,000.

ON STAGE: One of the warmup speakers, Mae Beavers, the Tennessee state Senator famous for her multi-front war against vice, is "proud to be on the kill list" with Bannon, Miller, et al.....


IN AN AISLE: Happily smiling and posing for pictures with passerby is a short stocky man. Who is that, I ask. "Spicey!" Someone answers. Sean Spicer looks around and says, "You see, people like me!"

FROM THE CROWD: Two chants have so far broken the restless wait: "Lock Her Up!" and "Build That Wall!" (It might as well be 2016 again!)

[Both chants would anticipate the remarks to the crowd by Trump, who would directly incite another prolonged chorus of the "Lock Her Up" chant against Hillary and look on smugly as it reverberated around the floor.

THE STALL IS ON: It gets to be six-thirty and beyond. Late in the series of warm-up acts, which have included various pols, the Gatlin Brothers live and various rock-era Golden Oldies canned, Senator Bob Corker comes out, begins some more obligatory rah-rah,, then says, "I'll tell you what I'm really doing. I'm killing time until he comes out. A lot of people want to get in, and we're trying to get 'em in." Eerily and inexplicably, there are rows and rows of empty seats. Trump is backstage somewherfe here, long since, but you know he doesn't want to appear in front of empty seats.

Enter Lee Greenwood. And he does his usual, one more time. Proud to be an American, at least he knows he's free.He gets done, and then, suddenly, at last...



  • JB


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