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Mark Green, the former military flight surgeon and arch-conservative Tennessee state Senator from Clarksville, has withdrawn as President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Army, becoming the President’s second pick for that position to be eliminated, in effect, by adverse public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
screenshot_2017-05-04_at_8.48.48_pm.png
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
s:

Kustof
f: “I voted for the American Health Care Act because our current health care system is failing T
screenshot_2017-05-04_at_8.53.53_pm.png
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.

MTK

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

scdp_logo.jpg

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:


SHELBY COUNTY DEMOCRATIC PARTY ANNOUNCES PATH TO REINSTATEMENT

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:

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

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

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

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


Background:
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 shelbydem.org for important announcements, follow real-time updates at Facebook.com/ShelbyDem, and email any questions to info@shelbydem.org.


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


early_voting.jpg
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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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:

district_95_notice.jpg

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
  • JB





trump_letters.jpg



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.
img_0299.jpg
ening.
JB
  • 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.
img_0274.jpg

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.

gerrmans_at_stalingrad.jpg



[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.....

mae_beavers.jpg


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!"
spicey_2.jpg


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.
image1_1_.jpeg





:
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...


HERE'S DONALD!...

TO BE CONTINUED: WHAT DID TRUMP SAY, AND WHY DID HE SAY IT? WE'LL TRY TO ANSWER THOSE AND OTHER QUESTIONS OF NO SMALL IMPORTANCE.

JB
  • JB

Friday, March 10, 2017

John DeBerry: An Outlier on Vouchers

The Memphis state representative and supporter of the Kelsey bill foresees a close vote when push comes to shove.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 10:50 AM

State Rep. John DeBerry
  • State Rep. John DeBerry

Interviewed by WATN-TV, Local 24, in Memphis on Thursday for a segment to be broadcast on Sunday, State Rep. John DeBerry (D-Memphis) predicted that the forthcoming House vote on school vouchers will be “close” because of exaggerated criticism from opponents, including many of his Democratic colleagues, forecasting ill consequences: “...apocalypse, the zombies are coming, everything is going to fall apart, and so forth.”

The long-serving DeBerry, a businessman and minister whose sprawling, ethnically mixed District 90 takes in much of Midtown, along with large expanses of North and South Memphis,  has long endorsed the voucher concept, whereby public funds can be set aside in selected cases as tuition support at private educational institutions. That sets him apart from most other Democrats and African Americans in the legislature.

DeBerry characterized himself as an early advocate of a vouchers system: “Myself and a few others, we were talking about vouchers before it was cool.” He suggested that a vouchers approach to education was “just another tool in the toolbox, just another innovation” at a time when the state has been “involved in educational innovation for at least 10 years.”

As he put it, “We created this [public education] system, and we have a right to re-create it for today.” Downplaying the potential shock effect of vouchers on public school systems, DeBerry said, “The number of parents who would use vouchers has shrunk because of [the superfluity] of choices.”

The Memphis legislator argued that the main vouchers bill, sponsored by state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown) and defined so as to be a de facto pilot program in Memphis, is limited to 5000 students, eligible for stipends of no more than $7000 each. Acknowleding that such a sum would be insufficient to cover tuition at numerous private institutions, he noted that the bill stipulates that “private schools participating have to accept students at the amount of money allocated for the student.”

The program would depend on “parent initiative,” DeBerry said. “The state’s not going to put somebody in a school. The parent will.”


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Thursday, March 9, 2017

Voucher and De-Annexation Issues Both Headed for Showdowns

The political futures of individuals, parties, and even local governmental institutions are all at serious risk.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 9, 2017 at 12:42 PM

County Commissioners Steve Basar and Terry Roland during deliberations on Wednesday. - JB
  • JB
  • County Commissioners Steve Basar and Terry Roland during deliberations on Wednesday.


Two matters of significant importance to Memphis and Shelby County (considered both separately and as a single geographic unit) are hanging fire as of this week.

One involves the question of school vouchers, which is sure to come to a head in the state General Assembly before it adjourns in April. The other has to do with de-annexation legislation directly affecting Memphis and its suburbs, and this matter, too, is likely to have a reckoning in Nashville before session’s end.

VOUCHERS: Until this week, it seemed reasonably certain that the Shelby County Commission was prepared, on a tight deadline, to establish the machinery for appointing an interim state Representative to fill the state House vacancy created by the resignation last month of Rep. Mark Lovell in District 95 (Germantown, Collierville).

A schedule had already been prepared, calling for applications for the interim position to be made available between March 21st and March 27th, with applicants to be interviewed by the commission on March 29th and an appointment to be made during the Commission's regular public meeting of April 3rd.

Given that the legislature has plans to adjourn sometime in April, that left little time for an interim Representative to serve. (Governor Bill Haslam had meanwhile issued a writ establishing a schedule for a special election, to be completed in a general election in June — well after the end of the current legislative session.)
The momentum for the Commission’s determination to appoint an interim successor to Lovell was the likelihood that at least one voucher bill, sponsored by state Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), and possibly another, sponsored by state Rep. Bill Dunn (R-Knoxville), would be among the late measures still requiring a definitive vote in the waning days of the General Assembly.

The Commission had voted unanimously on February 20 to oppose voucher legislation pending in the General Assembly. The Commission’s seven Democrats, all African Americans from Memphis districts, and six Republicans, whites with constituencies in East Memphis and the suburbs, were firm on the issue.

They all saw voucher legislation, which would enable public funding for tuition at private schools, as being a threat to the financial and logistical underpinning of both the Memphis-based Shelby County Schools district and the six independent municipal districts in the suburbs.

But a complication arose over the weekend in the form of a concerted effort among various Shelby County Democrats to persuade the seven Commission Democrats to vote as a bloc to appoint prominent Germantown Democrat Adrienne Pakis-Gillon as the interim appointee from District 95.

Inasmuch as District 95 is, by some reckonings, the most dyed-in-the-wool Republican House district in the state, the GOP members of the Commission expressed concern at this possible breach of what they considered a long-standing gentlemen’s’ agreement that governmental vacancies should be filled by members of the same parties that had occupied the seats previously.

Though that tradition had been flouted once before, in the case of a vacant Commission seat, it never had been in determining interim appointees to the legislature.

Consequently, in Monday’s meeting of the Commission’s general government committee, there came a motion from Republican Commissioner Terry Roland of Millington to abandon the idea of appointing an interim successor to Lovell, leaving the District 95 seat vacant until the 2018 legislative session, come what might on vouchers in 2017.

Roland’s motion failed on a vote of 4 ayes, 4 noes, and one abstention among the committee members present, but, ominously for opponents of the voucher bills, one who supported Roland was GOP Commissioner David Reaves of Bartlett, a former School Board member who had been arguably the most determined opponent of vouchers on the Commission and who had spearheaded the unanimous anti-voucher vote of February 20.

As late as Tuesday morning, Reaves was insisting that, as he told the Flyer, “"We need to appoint somebody to represent the district.” But on Wednesday, with partisanship threatening to supplant vouchers as the issue, Reaves had begun to backtrack on the need for an interim appointee.

He had assumed, along with other Commissioners, that the gentlemen’s’ agreement would hold, and that some moderate Republican (Reaves himself suggested former School Board colleague David Pickler) would fill the void in Nashville long enough to express the will of the Commission on the voucher issue.

Now everything was in doubt, with Democrats and Republicans beginning to eye each other across the partisan divide and a showdown scheduled for Monday, March 20, when the Commission will meet again, with one last chance to begin trying to get someone up to Nashville on behalf of District 95 before legislative adjournment.

Much depends on whether, as of March 20, there is anything resembling bloc unity among the Commission’s seven Democrats on the matter of an interim appointment for Pakis-Gillon or any other Democrat.

An informal survey of the Democratic contingent by the Flyer indicates that such is not the case, that as many as three Democratic members have yet to decide on the matter, and one or two have strong doubts about the propriety of risking long-term bipartisan comity for the sake of a transitory and perhaps Pyrrhic symbolic victory.

Especially for its effect on what looms as a forthcoming extra-tight House vote on vouchers.



DE-ANNEXATION
: On Thursday, the day after the inconclusive Commission vote on District 95, the aforesaid Terry Roland was on his way to Nashville, in tandem with a group of suburbanites from the South Cordova and Southwind-Windyke areas desiring to de-annex themselves from Memphis.

The point, as Commissioner Roland explained it, was to force more or less immediate action on a de-annexation measure in the face of what appears to be a dilatory attitude by the Memphis City Council toward acting on a home-grown de-annexation alternative offered up recently by a joint city-county task force.

“They don’t want to wait around until 2020 or 2021 when the Council might or might not have got something done on the task force plan,” Roland said, referring to a “rightsizing” initiative prepared to the City Council last month by Caissa Public Strategies on behalf of the Strategic Footprint Review Task Force, the ad hoc city/county body created to explore formulas for potential voluntary de-annexations.

That report cited six areas considered suitable for de-annexation via City Council action. Several of the areas were large but thinly inhabited land masses where the cost of providing essential city infrastructure was judged to outweigh returns to the city via sales and property tax revenues. But included also and key to the proposal were the South Cordova and Southwind-Windyke areas, both annexed by Memphis relatively recently, both sources of significant revenue for the city, and both hotbeds of de-annexation sentiment.

Some residents of both those areas, while pleased at being included in the “right-sizing” plan, professed themselves at subsequent public meetings to be dissatisfied by the plan’s proposed scheduling, which put off final implementation of their de-annexation until 2020 or 2021.

These residents’ restlessness has been increased further by the apparent disinclination of the Council for a definitive vote on the right-sizing plan before the legislature’s planned adjournment in April, and further yet by a growing consensus on the Council to arrange instead for referenda down the line in the affected city areas.

Hence the decision by the Roland group to exert direct pressure on the legislature to act on its own during the current session. “I’d be fine with having the Council act on it, but it doesn’t look like they’re going to,” declared the Millington Commissioner and declared candidate for County Mayor in 2018.

If the legislature should act on its own, it could well favor a reprise of the 2016 measure proposed by two Hamilton County suburbanites, state Rep. Mike Carter (R-Oooltewah) and state Senator Bo Watson (R-Hixson), whose original measure enabled easy referenda on de-annexation by any community annexed by a city since 1998.

The Carter-Watson measure, considered Draconian by Memphis and other affected cities, passed the House last year and was tabled in a Senate committee only by dint of monumental last-ditch exertions against it by officials of Memphis and other urban areas and by the Greater Memphis Area Chamber of Commerce.

One word of caution for the politically ambitious Roland from a Council source: “Curry Todd (R-Collierville) and [Steve] McManus (R-Cordova) got a message last year” — the idea being that former state Representatives Todd and McManus may have lost their reelection battles last year at least partly due to their zeal for the Carter-Watson bill and the resultant disaffection of influential donors in commercial and financial circles.





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Thursday, March 2, 2017

Haslam Clears Way for District 95 Special Election

Posted By on Thu, Mar 2, 2017 at 12:51 PM

See full-size district map in PDF below.
  • See full-size district map in PDF below.


On Thursday, March 2, Gov. Bill Haslam issued a writ ordering the special election to decide who will replace Mark Lovell as state representative for District 95 in the Tennessee General Assembly.

The Governor’s writ specifies that the primary election for District 95 will be held on Thursday, April 27, with the general election to be held on Thursday, June 15.

In the meantime, as of the Governor’s announcement, the Shelby County Commission is empowered to meet and set dates for advertising the position, interviewing candidates for it, and finally selecting an interim state representative for District 95.

On February 14, it will be recalled, Lovell resigned under pressure from the House Republican leadership following allegations of sexual misconduct with a female staff member. He had only begun to serve the term he was elected to after defeating incumbent State Representative Curry Todd in the Republican primary last August and then winning the general election unopposed.

According to Shelby County election administrator Linda Phillips, “There will probably be one early voting location in Germantown and one in Collierville, but ultimately that decision is up to the [SCEC] commissioners.”

The five-members of the Election Commission will make that and other relevant decisions about the election at the next SCEC meeting on March 21 at 4 p.m. at the Operations Center at 980 Nixon Dive.

Would-be candidates for the seat may pick up a candidate nominating petition at either of the two offices of the Election Commission, at Nixon Drive or downtown. Phillips advises that the petitions must be accompanied by the signatures of 25 voters who are registered to vote in the 95th district and that the qualifying deadline for submitting a petition is Thursday, March 16, at noon, with the withdrawal deadline set for Monday, March 20 at noon.

Further information is available below in the press release containing the Governor’s announcement.
special_election_95.jpg



Go here to see the press release as a PDF:

Go here to see the map of District 95 as a PDF:



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