Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Prayer Request

Please keep Margo's mom in your thoughts and prayers as she has cancer for the second time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Residents of Creepy Hollow Part 2

I wanted to provide some context to the growing situation in Creepy Hollow in the the Nutbush area.
"Nutbush" is "Very loosely speaking" bordered by the CSX railroad to the north; Graham Street to the east; Bayliss Street to the south, and New Highland Street to the west. north of Summer ave. in the Summer/Highland area, and has a distinction of not being so much of a neighborhood in the traditional sense, and more of an idea. A negative connotation that has spread to the working class family neighborhoods of Highland Heights, National Acres, and parts of Berclair,these areas have all become annexed into "Nutbush" in the minds of many.

I was in that neighborhood just the other day, talking to area residents about forming a Neighborhood watch, and hopefully using that as a spring board towards creating a viable,strong, Neighborhood association, that is trained in all the fundamentals of Grassroots Organizing. I spoke to an older gentleman named Fitzpatrick, and he told me that at one time, "Nutbush" was not the name of this area, In fact according the area where he lives is called National Acres. This struck me as odd, as I had lived in "Nutbush" for most of my late teens and early twenties and had never heard of such a name.

He later said that legend had it the name came about when the first black family moved into the neighborhood. This house was soon set ablaze via Molotov cocktails thrown by racists residents. The police on the scene later commented that the neighborhood was "Full of Nuts". Hence the name Nutbush.

Whether the story is true or false the point is clearly made. "Nutbush" is a neighborhood on the edge...maybe over the edge. The worst part is that in a way many of the residents have accepted this as a reality.

"This right here is Westwood for Whitefolks." One local White business owner told me, more than a little amused by my efforts. "You see we got all kinds around here,Homeboys, Rednecks, Mexicans...and even Mexinecks."

Another man, a White resident of forty years said,"This part of town used to be alright, filled with good families, but now...with all these renters and Mexicans, the area's just gone down the toilet, good luck to ya son, but I think you're wasting your time out here." Both men warned me about being there after dark, and both men joked...kinda joked about being more interested in arming themselves and "Blast those wannabe gangsters strait to hell

I then spoke to a Black man who lives on near Macon, about forming a Neighborhood association. Again, while sympathetic to the idea, he responded with a fatalistic attitude that has almost become the trademark of our inner city. "I think it's a good idea,we sure need one but it can't work out here. these whitefolks think everyone is out to get them. shit, thing of it is these fools out here are after everyone. Besides how can you have a neighborhood association when no one trusts their own neighbors?" This man also warned me about hanging out by Creepy Hollow after dark, and also seemed a little too eager to arm himself and "Do what you gotta do."

So....I spoke to some Latino residents, who mostly were suspicious and wary of speaking to me. However, they were also the most positive about getting things done BY ANY MEANS NECESSARY.I used to work in construction with a Nutbush resident, a good guy named Canelo,who hails from Guatemala. One day we were talking after work and he looked at me with confusion when I told him that I did not own a gun. He asked,"What if someone tries to kill you?...if you have no gun, you can't do nothing." I explained that no one wants to kill me, and that I just did not want a gun. He continued to look confused...he then told me that I sounded just as crazy to him as he sounded to me.

The point is that while a great many people in the area are interested in taking action, their neighborhoods have been neglected for so long, that hopelessness and apathy have gained a foothold in this community. As this economy get worse,"things were already getting bad in Nutbush anyway", things in that area could easily spin out of control from a variety of factors.

1.Race- as with any situation in this city it seems that Race is always the eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. The area is a mix of low to middle class Blacks with a population of low to middle class whites, many of whom are Seniors, and a growing latino population. This is a hub for the future of race relations in the city. Racial tensions run high as Latino gangs in particular The locally based Krazy Ass Latinos, or KALs have moved down from Hickory Hill and are now running drugs in the areas, especially the Wells Station area. Gangs are nothing new to Nutbush. The Dirty Dozen, as well as The Gangster Disciples have been active in the area for quite a while. Many Black and White gangs have called that area home over the years.

In fact the criminal element often seeks to prey on Latino residents as there is a perception that Latinos due to the large number of undocumented workers,and a fear based aversion to law enforcement due to conditions within many of their native countries, that Latinos are less likely to call the police.
Predatory lenders also often set up shop in Latino areas preying on the lack of access to traditional financial institutions. This also feeds the local criminal element's in targeting Latinos, as they are more likely to possess large sums of cash.

As a result, as with all other immigrant groups in the history of this country, you see a rise in gang membership and activity. This rise occurs when a marginalized group of people are victimized and yet have little or no confidence or access to the support and protection of existing societal infrastructures. Lately I have been seeing alot of F-13 tags in that area, crossing out KAL tags and vice versa. F-13 arrival should be a chief concern as this Latino gang has been know to target Black civilian populations in their areas without regard to any criminal of gang affiliation. They were robbed by criminals who happened to be black, and so they target blacks, who in many cases were not in anyway involved.

Racial tensions are growing, people are afraid to go out at night,people do not know or trust their neighbors,no organization exists to unite these communities and gun sales are rapidly rising. This is my nightmare scenario,the further balkanization of the area, with race based vigilante justice, becoming a mainstream idea.

2. Lack of viable financial institutions. This could lead to the same situation of predatory lending on the scale of Frayser and Hickory Hill. There are 5 predatory lenders, and 5 pawn shops in the area. There is however only one bank to speak of.

3. Home Foreclosure- This is of course a nation wide issue, however in Nutbush, their are already large numbers of vacant houses in various states of disrepair and on the horizon, large numbers of people in Nutbush and nearby Berclair that are three to six months behind on their mortgages. The next big wave is coming to Nutbush

4. Lack of Community wide organizations. With the exception of Grahamwood, there is no such vehicle to promote positive development, nor is there a vehicle to promote the needs and desire of the community to their elected officials. thus there is a vicious circle of the city ignoring the problems of an area which leads to local political apathy to low voter turnout, to politicians ignoring an area due to low turn out, which leads back to political apathy.

5. Homelessness, this is a problem that should be of concern to all Memphians, but sadly it seems the city only "cares" about the homeless when they are DOWNTOWN.

So, instead of providing housing, and EFFECTIVE drug,alcohol rehab and mental health programs that work, they push the homeless away from downtown to other areas. Nutbush being but one of them. Running a City has to be more than about Downtown. There are no free shelters in Memphis to serve the growing homeless community. Also as Nutbush sits on the border of precincts, problems are often pushed their way from other areas.

The Center City Commission has a private police force downtown, with a six figure budget, just to harass the homeless downtown. Where is Nutbush's private police force to prevent burglary,car theft, robbery, Drug dealing? know...real crimes that the rest of us who do not live Downtown care about.

Now the good news,

1. Small business. Nutbush/Berclair has a high number of Mom and Pop companies, as well as many affordable shopping choices all along Summer ave. The area does not have a major problem with vacant commercial property. These shops stores and garages are the life blood of the area, and a good foundation, for future development

2. Affordable housing. This area has some real gems,well built homes dating back to the postWW2 era for low prices, Nutbush was always affordable, but now prices are falling threw the floor. there is great potential for redevelopment.

3. Race, odd that this should appear on both lists, but I feel that Nutbush's diversity has great potential to be the area where Memphians of all colors can rally around common problems and issues and become a model for not only community activism, but for race relations as well....this will be a long hard road, but I truly believe that.
You see because despite the racial differences between the various residents, they all want the same things. Safe neighborhoods, Good Schools, Economic opportunity.

4. The People. I have been working in this area for a while now, and I have to say that I am encouraged and inspired by the resurgence of civic pride and a desire on the part of local residents, churches, schools and activists to make a stand against the issues that taint their neighborhood. Highland Height Methodist Church, is currently in the works to build an "Urban School' in the area to serve low income youth.There are many area residents in Highland Heights making efforts to create a new neighborhood association. There is also a second group planning the same in the Wells Station area. The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center will be working very hard in the coming year to support and assist the community in all of these endeavours.

I think that "Nutbush" is a diamond in the rough and a community and a neighborhood that can thrive even in these troubling times. Several residents were interested in a name change, and while I normally take a dim view of such things, I think that this is a different case because it's coming from the residents and not some outside force seeking to shape the community according to what they want it to be. Instead I hope that by working with area residents we can make Nutbush...or whatever it ends up being called, into a place that every resident feels proud to call home.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Feel Good Friday-Absurdly Anti-Masculine

You know it's not been alotta fun being a loyal fan of the Oakland Raiders. Al Davis is destroying that team like Godzilla in Tokyo, but I have to stick with them in these lean times. As a Raider fan, I also have a pronounced hatred for the many teams that we count as rivals. I hate the Broncos, I hate the Chiefs, and back when the Seahawks were in the division...I hated them too.

However, I can no longer hate the San Diego Chargers, despite the horrible defeat they dealt to my beloved silver and black.
Why?...because while watching a Chargers game I heard funny, so wonderful, so......incredible, that I found that I could no longer hate a people who have given me so much joy. The following is the CURRENT fight song for the San Diego Chargers.... I kid you not, they play this at their home games. After listening to that, the loss stings alot less.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Residents of Creepy Hollow Part 1

"Brad's Notes"

UPDATE, I have remained in contact with Mr. Winston Gibson and other concerned parties in government,the community and local business owners. Thankfully, Mr Gibson had his judgement from the Health department dismissed, by Judge Potter last week on the grounds that the trash was dumped illegally by trespassers. Mr. Gibson also has erected a new series of poles blocking the entrance to Creepy Hollow and sent men out to clean up the area.I have also placed Mr Gibson in touch with another local business owner who are in the process of installing security cameras, that they are willing to use to extend to the entry area of the woods.

The following is an email that I sent to the admin of the Southern Mudslingers, a group of local ATV riders who often take rides in Creepy Hollow. These guys are not dangerous criminals or bad people. In fact they are just guys looking to ride the trails and have fun, but it's still trespassing and it's still dragging down the neighborhood. Unfortunately closing down that access to the bottoms and trying to drive the criminal element out of that neighborhood means this activity has to stop too. In my next post i'll be introducing you to less benign residents of Creepy Hollow.

Good afternoon,

My name is Brad Watkins and I am the Organizing coordinator for the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

I am writing you today about the service road that leads from the Berclair/Nutbush area into the Covington Pike bottoms at the corner of Wells Station and Chelsea. This location has been a hot spot for criminal trespass activity, as well as car theft, poaching, as well as the sale of illegal drugs. In addition to this, as a result of poaching, several area residents have stray bullets hitting their homes. The Peace and Justice Center, following up on our voter Education campaign Change Memphis, will continue to try and work to help area residents organize and and find nonviolent solutions to these issues. Currently, I am working with area residents , as well as local business owners to try and clear this area of these illegal activities.

It is the intention of the Peace and Justice Center to form a local coalition in order to..

1. Increase Police protection in that area., including the return of patrols in the wooded area with police jeeps. This was effective in curbing such activities in the past.

2. Work with Rick Copeland at OPD and MLGW in clearing of clogged drain water paths. The excess vegetation prevents clear visibility of the Train tracks at the corner of Wells Station and Chelsea, and has served as a "ambush spot" according to two long time neighborhood residents.

3 The creation of a Neighborhood watch program, in attempts to push the criminal effort away from an area with so many elderly residents, residents who now feel largely like prisoners within their own communities. In fact my first call came from a woman, now Eighty Seven years old, who has been robbed three times in the last four months.

We are currently in contact with the owners of said property, G&P Development, Gibson Mechanical, and Comcast, as well as Agent R.A. Pruitt, with the Railroad Police, County Commissioner Mike Carpenter, City Councilman Shea Flinn as well as Steve Henderson with the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. We are working to focus government attention to that area of the bottoms and end the open access from that location.

Mr. Winston Gibson, owner of the property directly east of Wells Station has been repeatedly fined by Code Enforcement and the Health Department for trash, as well as dead animals left on the side of the trail. Today he went to court yet again to deal with this matter. The road in question while on Gibson's property leads to a lot further east owned by the Comcast Corporation. So you see that Mr. Gibson is caught between a rock and a hard place. On one hand he is stuck with this path on his property, that he does not want or need. Yet he has been fined on at least three different occasions about the trash along the trail. In some cases only a short period of time after he has paid to have the area cleaned up. His attempts at erecting a fence resulted in it being torn down.
Worse still he has many of his neighbors reporting him to code enforcement about this.
So I think we can both understand that he is upset about this.
It's simply unfair.

Now,let me say, that I do not think that your organization is involved in any of these activities, but I am aware that a great many ATV riders use this road to enter the trails. I am respectfully asking you to urge your members to immediately cease entering the bottoms from the Wells Station trail. I understand and respect those who have called for the formation of an official organization to help keep the area clean and clear, and have proposed organizing cleaning efforts in that area.I also understand that this proposed organization would try to contact property owners and try to make arrangements to have permission to ride on said property. It is my hope that perhaps the Peace and Justice Center can perhaps help you set up some kind of arrangement in the future, that works to all concerned parties satisfaction.

I am also aware that as members of your club are trespassing on private property,and that from time to time some of your membership may witness any unusual or illegal activity down along the trails, but may be reluctant to report such activities as they would not want to incriminate themselves. I can understand that as well, but I am hoping that if your members do see anything down there that you would please work with us to pass that information along to the proper authorities. If your membership is worried about possible incrimination, they can pass this along to us to contact the police ourselves.

I would like to talk to you more about this situation, and as your group seem to be innocent of serious wrong doing. I hope we can work on this with you as coalition members.

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

Throwing My Hands in the Air

The Fords never cease to amaze me. We defend this woman who won a suspect election, never comes to the Senate, wastes taxpayer money, and is a useless waste of a chair, yet kick Kurita out of the party for a fraction of the reasons AFTER she won the election. We reelect the John Fords and Rickey Peetes, and I've heard plenty of people long for the "good-old-days" of convicted felon Kathyrn Bowers running the party. The local party's steering committee blatantly misuses the party's funds to promote its own agenda, while insulting the intelligence of voters and nothing happens. Did you look at some of the candidates we ran for county-wide office 2 years ago? It sure hurts to have voted Republican in those races, but the candidates we had were jokes.

We deserve to lose. We deserve to have lost the state legislature. We don't deserve to be running much of anything. Locally, my party disgusts me, and I'm done with it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still a progressive and a Democrat. But I have WAY BETTER THINGS to do with my time then lift a finger for this disgusting, incompetent organization.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Return to Creepy Hollow


Thanks for the email and for your work on this. I know Winston and will give him a call to reinforce our need to collaborate to address this problem. In addition, I will contact Code and Rick Copeland at OPD to determine what course of action we can take. Let me know if there are other things you think I can do to be helpful. Happy Thanksgiving.

Mike Carpenter

"Brad's Notes"

My thanks to County Commissioner Mike Carpenter for responding so quickly to my email request. I had the chance to speak to Mr. Winston Gibson who owns said property, and he was clearly disturbed and frustrated by this ongoing issue. On at least three occasions Mr Gibson has been fined by the Shelby County Health Dept. and code enforcement. The problem according to Mr. Gibson is that the dirt road path used by the trespassers is an easement used by the owners of property to the east of Gibson's land. These property owners need the dirt road leading into Creepy Hollow in order to reach their property and a source of income...that source being.....The Billboards overlooking the interstate, Billboards reported owned by
There is another group who also uses this trial thru Mr Gibson's property and that is the Railroad Police, who watch, monitor and secure the Train lines that run along side the Northern border of Mr Gibson's Property.

Mr Gibson has had the area cleaned several times and says that he has no problem with cleaning up his property, but that the Trespassers just add more trash in short order.In fact his iron gate that briefly blocked the Well Station entrance has been on one occasion torn down by the Trespassers and on another cut with somekind of welding torch. So it seems so far that Mr Gibson may be just as much a victim as the local residents. Afterall, on one hand he has a road on his property that he does not want, does not need, and yet cannot block and yet since it is his property he is held responsible for what occurs on it. He personally wants to sale the land, dig a pitt or put up natural barriers to thru traffic but fears that by blocking this trail he may be dragged into Court yet again for violating Comcast's right of way.

.......But keeping people off of that land is problematic, as the Groups of people trespassing on his land are diverse in activity and motivation.

It seems clear that if this is true then it is only right and fair that Comcast and the Railroad Company also share in the responsibility of keeping the area safe, clean and free of Criminal trespassers. I hope that we as a coalition, can bring all those parties to the table along with the Law Enforcement Community and local residents to try and cure this problem. I'll be staying with this growing and complicated issue as things develop.

It Hurts to Agree With You

What's it say when I somewhat agree with Bill Hobbs about my own party?

Chances are, the average voter across Tennessee was more aware of the steady stream of convicted felons, drunks and outright thieves exiting the state legislature in recent years, virtually all of them from the D party, and was equally aware at how Democrat leaders were so reluctant to drop the hammer on their corrupt colleagues, to criticize them in harsh specifics, or to call for and work for their ouster.

Couldn't agree with you more, although the next paragraph is bull.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Legend of Creepy Hollow......

Mr Winston Gibson,

My name is Brad Watkins and I am the Organizing Coordinator with the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. I am writing you today to confirm if your company owns the wooded properties east of the corner of Chelsea and Wells Station, in the Berclair/Nutbush area According to the Shelby County Assessor of Property website,this area is owned by your company, Gibson Mechanical, and G & P Development.

Mr Gibson, via calls from some of our members in the local community, it has come to my attention that the properties in question are routinely used by a wide assortment of individuals who are in fact trespassing on your property. As a result the community at large has been disrupted by the criminal element illegally using your property to commit various act raging from dumping of trash and dead animal carcasses, to trespassing with recreational riding of four wheelers and trucks...i.e. "muddin'" to more dangerous activities such as car theft, the sale of illegal drugs and the discharging of firearms, either in acts of violence to simple recreational target practicing and The ILLEGAL hunting of Deer, within the city limits.

Now I want to be clear, that from my conversations with area residents and local business owners that we believe you have made good faith efforts to keep your property clear of such activities,however we feel that such efforts need a more community wide investment in order to be fully effective. It is the intention of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center in contact and in cooperation along with local residents, businesses, and with the cooperation of Railroad and Municipal police to work in concert with you to alleviate this mutual problem. I would like to have a moment of your time perhaps next week to briefly talk to you about these concerns as we are currently working to host a Community meeting in the coming weeks to build a coalition effort to...

1. Increase Police protection in that area., including the return of patrols in the wooded area with police jeeps. This was effective in curbing such activities in the past.

2. Work with code enforcement and MLGW in clearing of clogged drain water paths. The excess vegetation impares visibility of the Train tracks at the corner of Wells Station and Chelsea, and has served as a "ambush spot" according to two long time neighborhood residents.

3 The creation of a Neighborhood watch program, in attempts to push the criminal effort away from an area with so many elderly residents, residents who now feel largely like prisoners within their own communities.In fact my first call came from a woman, now Eighty Seven years old, who has been robbed three times in the last four months.

I have CC. this email to relevant members of the Memphis City Council,MLGW, and Code Enforcement to keep them informed of this situation. It is our hope that we by working as a united front, can cure this situation to the satisfaction of all concerned.

I have attached maps and pics of the areas in question as well as pictures taken earlier this week for your viewing. Some of these pics showing the bodies of dead animals dumped on the side of the path may be graphic.

Thank you for your time, and we look forward to working with you on this issue of mutual importance.

The Bottoms

Creepy Hollow

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

Credit Where Credit is Due.

Just wanted to take a brief moment to thank some good people for doing good things....

First of all, I want to express, my respect and admiration for my co-worker and friend,Josephine Williams coordinator of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center's GrowMemphis Program. I know for a fact that she works tirelessly for this program, that turns empty lots into Community Gardens, in six neighborhoods in the city, with a goal of adding four more in 2009. Check out this Article in the Commercial Appeal about the GrowMemphis Campaign....while I make myself some eggs. GrowMemphis

Next up I wanted to thank City Council Members Wanda Halbert and BArbara Swearengen Ware for working to restore the Utility Assistance Program. This program was discontinued back in the Summer for a variety of Stupid reasons.
Check out the full article HERE

Please be sure to thank Council members Halbert and Ware for doing the right thing here.

Wanda Halbert
(901) 576-6786

Barbara Swearengen Ware
(901) 458-9406

Lastly, I want to thank Bill Morrison for sponsoring legislation to curb the spread of Predatory Lending locations here within the City Of Memphis. Here is a good article about it. The plan is far from perfect, but is a good step in the right direction. Pay attention on this one. Go Bill

Bill Morrison
(901) 576-6786

Friday, November 21, 2008

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Brilliance in Voting...

Here you can see some of the challenged ballots in MN. I find it fascninating, amusing, and more than a little scary for democracy how bad we are at casting ballots. I'm casting my vote for Lizardman too.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Thank You Democrats!

My deepest thanks to all of my fellow bloggers and to all of you who attended our Democratic Solidarity event last night at the Memphis Pizza Cafe. Events like last night prove that even small groups of loyal democrats can and do make a difference.
It also shows that you do not need anyone's permission to stand up and do the right thing by your party. So I want to echo the advice given by The Blogfather If we do not see REAL Change with the New Exec Comm, that will NOT stop us from working to push progressive ideas forward. Hmmmmm Obama day....

Jackson Baker has an article about this event....check it out.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

It's a Girl!!!

I'm smitten already!!!

And for boys due this year, just know I own two shotguns.

Obama Administration Application

(10.) Writings: Please list and, if readily available, provide a copy of each book, article, column or publication (including but not limited to any posts or comments on blogs or other websites) you have authored, individually or with others.

Anyone else regret snarkily referencing your love of Satan and sex with poodles during flame wars?

Also, we find out what the baby is today!!! Woot!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Democratic Solidarity Event-Tues. Nov 18th

What-Democratic Solidarity Event
When-Tuesday, November 18th
Where-Memphis Pizza Cafe. 2087 Madison ave.
Time- 6:30pm-8:30pm
Suggested donation-All Donations Welcome

First of all I wanted to tip my hat and extend my sincerest thanks to all of you who got out there and worked during this historic election season. From the incredible grassroots efforts of the local Obama campaign, to the campaigns for Steve Cohen, Bob Tuke, Paul Shaffer, and Freda Williams, to the Yes on Five campaign and to all the hard work done by staff,interns and volunteers here at Change Memphis, you and your efforts win or lose did make a difference.

......But before you take a well deserved rest, there is one tiny little piece of bookkeeping that I feel we all as Progressives and as Democrats need to address.

This election was not without it's share of controversy, however as we have seen there has been much discord over the printing and distributing of ballots from the Shelby County Democratic Party brand bearing the now infamous "VOTE NO ON REFERENDUMS" box. This "misprint" misrepresented the official position of the Shelby County Democratic Party executive committee and was an unauthorized addition to the official party ballot. This event cause great confusion and had the potential to mislead the public and tarnish the democratic brand for years to come. Fortunately a loyal democrat stood up and paid money out of his own pocket in order to correct this "mistake". That Democrat was County Commissioner Steve Mulroy.

Despite this generous gesture on his part, and the efforts of other loyal Democrats these bogus ballots were still being distributed all the way to election day. Thankfully these actions were not in vain as the will of the people was clearly demonstrated on election day. Dwayne Thompson, a member of the executive committee proposed a resolution, that the SCDP would reimburse Mulroy for his efforts to correct this "mistake" made by the party. This resolution was blocked by the current leadership and never allowed to reach the floor for a vote.

This is an insult,and it's an insult to each and every one of YOU, who have donated YOUR time,YOUR money and YOUR energy to the cause of helping to elect good democrats and to advance progressive causes. It's an insult because the current leadership of the party has chosen to set itself above and apart from all of those who labor in pursuit of Democratic goals and values. It's an insult because we now have a democratic party, that does not believe in democracy. It's an insult, because it flies in the face of everything we all believe in. This is not about ideology,or personalities. This is not about Faction vs.'s about RIGHT Vs. WRONG.

So, We would like to extend to you an invitation to attend a Democratic Solidarity fundraiser for the purpose of correcting this "mistake". TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 18th,at the Memphis Pizza Cafe, 2087 Madison Ave. 6:30-8:30pm. All funds raised will go to reimbursing Steve Mulroy for the 700.00 dollars that he paid out of pocket to correct the SCDP ballot.

If any additional funds are raised,those donations would go to support the efforts of the Inner City Outreach Center, located in the Foote homes area. this program provides young people in the area a safe place to exercise and play. they also have basketball camps and serve as mentors to boys and young men who have few options in their neighborhood.

We hope to see you all there.


The Progressive Bloggers of Shelby County.

Brad Watkins and David Holt Confessions of a West Tennessee Liberal

Steve Steffens- Leftwing cracker

Derek Haire-the flypaper theory

Steve Ross-Vibinc

Polar Donkey

Rick Maynard-Freedonian

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

To Grandma in Regards to Gay Marriage:

Keith Olberman tends to get on my nerves, but sometimes not:

Friday, November 07, 2008

What I Want From the SCDP:

What I Want From the SCDP:

1. Chairman: I want a Chair who is progressive, active, and experienced. We need someone who knows how to organize, keep people informed, build relationships, and ACTUALLY EFFING SHOW UP!

2. Steering Committee: We need a steering committee that is transparent, keeps the members up to date, and does not run roughshod over the executive committee. Honestly, the steering committee has almost no power, and the executive committee has simply failed to stand up for itself.

3. Internship: We have an army of young, progressive Democrats in high schools and colleges across the city. Use them. For a little college credit and a bit of oversight, we can harness these people’s energy. This also creates lifelong Democratic voters, volunteers, donors, and future leaders. Imagine teams of interns canvassing voters from the party every weekend.

4. Precinct organizations: The ground work for effective neighborhood leadership has started and needs to expand.

5. Neighborhood clubs: These clubs need to be encouraged and expanded.

6. Party Newspaper: For all the bellyaching over costs, the newspaper was a success when we had it. It paid for itself and got our message out there. Bring it back. Also create an online newsletter to reach out to voters, donors, and activists cheaply and easily.

7. Candidate recruitment: We can sweep every county-wide office if we work to ensure we actually have competent candidates run for each office (and not whoever the hell Roderic Ford was.)

8. Fundraising: As hard as it is, Kennedy Day should be yearly not every other year. Also, we need to put SERIOUS efforts into small dollar fundraisers and recurring monthly online contributions.

9. Community outreach: we need to be useful to people. Volunteer to clean up a park or work a soup kitchen as a party. We can host forums on issues to educate voters and debates to let voters see candidates.

10. Register voters: The high schools are full of seniors turning 18. Schools allow registration in the cafeteria. These voters will likely be Democrats. Obama won by expanding the voter rolls and so can we. There are countless neighborhoods in Memphis that are incredibly under-registered.

11. Or we can continue to do nothing because there is absolutely nothing wrong with our party and city that we should work to fix.

It’s not our fault! You suck!

That’s the position of the SCDP and TNDP to any and all criticisms. Are they 100% responsible for our embarrassing showing this week? No. Is it their responsibility to take responsibility, figure out why it happened, and fix it? Hell yes! Instead they just want to stand around and yell “I didn’t do it!”

A Local Disgrace...

Like normal, Keith Norman failed to attend a meeting of the SCDP. The steering committee also refused to address the issue of the ballots that were still being handed out on Election Day or to bring to the floor the motion Dwayne Thompson had sent in to reimburse Steve Mulroy for fixing ballots that were never fixed.

The committee needs to recall their officers at the next meeting. The leadership of the party has become a joke, and those responsible should be removed.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I told you so......

As I said before, to those who sought to keep the voting public blind and unaware of the Charter amendments with the "Vote No" on referendums plot.....YOU LOSE. All TEN BALLOT ITEMS PASSED BY WIDE MARGINS

Here are a few reasons why....

This year, we saw incredible voter turnout here in Shelby County. Voters especially Black American voters showed up to the polls in huge numbers. We came to the polls hoping to vote for a change in Washington. We were also looking for a change right here in Memphis. So, what was your strategy? treat Black voters like children and urge them to place a thoughtless "NO" vote on all the referendums. Surprise, did not work. Imagine that...the very idea that people might be a little offended that you would condescend to TELL them how to vote without any explanation...I have a feeling that it never occurred to you did it? You were either too lazy, or to arrogant to run an open honest campaign presenting your point of view. If you had it could have at least opened the doors to some conversation and debate within the Black community, and that would have been a positive would of at least been honest. Nah, on second thought, you could not run an open campaign, because you would not want to reveal to Black voters in this city, just how little you think of them. Ballot-Gate was not only a failure of local Democratic leadership, it was also a failure of local Black political leadership.
You see what we have is a group of Black political leaders who have set themselves up as the Electoral Gatekeepers of the Black community. Members of this group have now over time become corrupted by the system they sought to reform, and now they have confused what is in their interest with what is in the interest of the Black community. In their growing arrogance they now seek to keep our own people politically ignorant, content to simply take orders to further their own narrow and personal agendas. It's a tragic story, but a common one in the histories of all racial groups in American politics.

In this campaign season Change Memphis had been working tirelessly to reach out to the voting public and provide unbiased information about the TEN City and County Charter amendments. We had been phone banking at least three nights a week since JULY. e hosted four community forums in low income, low voter turn out areas. We had poll workers at more locations than any other campaign in this county during early voting.
We canvassed and went door to door in two shifts EVERY Saturday in October. We worked really hard and gave the people the facts, and they responded by choosing YES on ALL TEN AMENDMENTS.I didn't like all of these amendments myself, but the people have spoken, and I am loving it. So after a failure of this magnitude...I have to ask...was it worth it? Was it worth dragging the Democratic brand threw the mud? Was it worth alienating Democrats with all of the bad press that came from this debacle? Was it worth stealing and misappropriating the party ballot for your own ends? It can't have been.

As I said before, this loss is even made worse by the fact that by having to engage in such dirty tactics to win. You show just how vulnerable and weak you really are....and now everyone knows it. It's one thing to "cheat to win" it's another to cheat, and STILL LOSE.

Think about it....and really consider if your actions were truly in the best interest of the black community ...or was it just about you and your ego? Whatever the case, the genie is out of the bottle, people are really thinking about the politics of their City, County and Country.

The one thing you can't stop them from thinking.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Feel Great Weds?....or....Who's laughing now?

Words are very... unnecessary , they can only do harm...

Monday, November 03, 2008

Feel Good Tuesday or Reverse Messiah Worship

On a personal note.

I am so grateful to have been a part of the Change Memphis program. Over the past five months, I have had the privilege of being the Organizing Coordinator for Change Memphis, a campaign experience like any other, I have been involved with. In this campaign, we target not the most likely voters but the unlikely. We target the precincts that are low turn out, lower income, and all to frequently ignore by campaigns that cannot afford the time to cover those areas where few votes are to be found. I can understand that, winning elections takes votes, and you have to go where the votes are.However, I am still often irritated by the attitudes of a rare few who write off those areas. In fact while working on this campaign I met a person working on another campaign, talk about how people in those type of areas should vote more, then the elected officials will listen to him. Which is basically true. However, I do think that that knife cuts both ways. If politicians want to get more votes in areas then they need to go to these areas sometime and show the people that they give a damn. Now, many politicians DO, Mike Kernell is a good example of that, Harold Ford Sr., like him or hate him, was the master of constituent service....a lesson Junior never learned, there are others as well.

I want to take this time to say that this has been a very rewarding experience, the people in these neighborhoods were for the most part friendly, interested and surprisingly politically insightful. They knew things about this city, that alot of "Really smart experts" have missed. They were not unlikely voters..they were voters who nobody ever asked to vote. We Registered over 1500 new voters , mostly from areas like these. They want to vote, they just need someone to give them a chance.

Lemme tell you a story. I was going door to door, trying to register voters, in the Brown mall section of Vance-Orlenes area. I decided to try and get a feel for the neighborhood. So I went to the stores, stopped by a church fish-fry and yard sale.
At the Yard sale, I went around and passed out some CM lit and spoke to them about the Charter amendments. Most of the people were..older, so my natural impulse was to go to them first.There was also a small trio of young women sitting in the shade of the Church. There was a volunteer for another campaign there,who, rushed right past me handing out buttons, and her instincts also told her to go to the older women first. So she walked right past the trio,and made a b-line to the older women. So, I did not want to crowd the ladies with "Voting stuff" so i decided to talk to the trio. Their anger surprised me, they not only knew why the other volunteer had ignored them, they also knew why. "Yeah, the old folks vote...they don't do nuthin but watch the news, so of course they gonna vote. What she needed to be doing was talkin to us. Were the ones who are gonna win this election. They need to understand and do better!" The tall tomboyish one passionately said. "Shit, we are about to head to the polls in a minute, but she just ...wrote us off, without saying nothing."
Her friend complained. So I spoke with them and let them vent to me for about twenty minutes, and they thanked me for it. I understood not only what this campaign was, but I think for the first time, I truly understood the why. It's about them,those three girls who everyone has written off.No one ever tried to register them before. We don't fund their schools, police do not keep them safe from crime, or drugs. Hell, I have canvassed at least two crack houses, Walked up on a "corner" and did not realize first. Had a religious debate with a woman, drinking a forty with a gun on her hip."A big action hero type gun" So after all this, these young girls are expected to think their vote counts?...and yet despite this........THEY DO WANT TO VOTE! THEY JUST NEED TO BE TREATED WITH SOME RESPECT.

In another neighborhood, I was trying my best to reach out to the Berclair area, with blacks, whites, and Latinos...and growing tensions. I found a Seniors group at the local community center, and spoke at a meeting of over seventy elderly residents.
Later that week, one of the ladies called me at the office. She did not have a question about the Charter amendments, but instead wanted to know about a court case she was involved in. She had evicted a tenant and sued for damages. She had not had any contact with the courts for sometime, and had lost her paperwork, and did not knw what was going on. So, for some reason she decides to call me. So I tried to calm her down, and took her information down , called General Sessions, and got the information for her and explained who to call about these things and gave her all the information I managed to find. It was nothing complicated, or sensitive.She could have done it herself,but she just did not know where to start. This also drove home to me what this campaign is all about. Most people do not know how government works, and local government is a real mystery to most people. They know the names, but not the policies. It's our job as progressives or Democrats to make sure this kind of information is out there. Not trying to convince or con people, but by giving them the tools to make their own choices, and trusting democracy enough to believe that they will make the right ones.

I have had a great's been brutal and hard....and I lost my temper alot.......but really great too. Good Luck tomorrow to you all.

A few words for all of us working the election tonight and tomorrow....From Sci-Fi's greatest Community Organizer.

Saturday, November 01, 2008


Resolution to Reimburse Commissioner Steven Mulroy for correcting the Democratic Ballot

Whereas the Shelby County Democratic Party voted to endorse Democratic Candidates for the November 4, 2008 General election but voted to take a position against only the Charter amendment related to term limits on the ballot and did not take a position on any of the other ordinances or referenda, and

Whereas the official Democratic Party Ballot mistakenly included the language “Vote on Referendum SAY NO TO REFERENDUMS,” and

Whereas the Steering Committee, in a special meeting, passed a resolution to hold a press conference explaining the SCDP’s position on charter amendments and to reprint the ballots with corrections reflecting the Party’s position on the charter amendments; and

Whereas the Steering committee accepted the offer of Commissioner Steven Mulroy to personally pay to have the mistaken language obscured on the Democratic ballot by A1 Printers, a union printer in Memphis, and

Whereas the Executive Committee deems it in the best interest of the SCDP to take economic responsibility for the necessary corrections to the Democratic ballot.

Therefore, be it resolved that the Treasurer of the Shelby County Democratic Executive Committee be instructed to reimburse Commissioner Mulroy for these costs up to $700 upon receiving a receipt from A1 Printers for the above mentioned printing job.

Submitted on October 30, 2008 by Dwayne Thompson, Member from District 96.

"Brad's Notes"

I just wanted to thank SCDP Executive Committeeman Dwayne Thompson, for his leadership on this issue. Steve Mulroy has been treated in an unfair and disrespectful manner. This guy put up his own money to correct the "Vote NO" section of the SCDP ballot and as you can see these efforts were somewhat in vain. There were bogus ballot sightings on an almost daily basis, and there is no excuse for this sort of thing. So thanks again to Committeeman Dwayne Thompson.
I want to ugre any member of the Committee that reads this to please sign on to co sponsor this Resolution.

Friday, October 31, 2008

BallotWatch-Update 10/31

It seems that the Republican ballot fiasco has reached a conclusion. Three Germantown candidates for alderman — including two incumbents — acknowledged today that they mailed a fake Republican endorsement ballot to 7,000 voters.

Checkout the full details Here

Well, these guys could have come clean BEFORE early voting ENDED....but..on the's still a better response than their Democratic counterparts.however it seems to be pretty clear that these rogue democratic ballots will be distributed on election day.[KEEP AN EYE OUT FOR ROGUE BALLOTS AT THE DEMOCRATIC GOTV RALLY THIS SATURDAY, AND TURN THEM IN.] In fact I would not be surprised if there were more than twenty thousand of these ballots out there by the end of election day.The gulf between the various camps and factions within the Shelby County Democratic Party is widening, and given the response to to the Ballot-gate situation ,I doubt that this breach of trust will be healed easily or soon. It's things like this that turns away people who want to make positive contributions to THEIR party. It's also this sort of thing that makes it much harder for the SCDP to raise money for future campaigns. I sincerely pity the next Chairman and Committee, because they will have a heavy task before them to try and fundraise and regain the credibility the party has lost over this issue.

This is tragic and sad, and Commissioner Steve Mulroy is owed a public apology and SHOULD BE FULLY REIMBURSED FOR THE MONEY THAT CAME OUT OF HIS OWN POCKET TO CORRECT THE PARTIES ERROR.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

BallotWatch Update-10/30

Two new reports of false SCDP ballots being distributed as Early Voting draws to a close. Yesterday there was a confirmed report of bogus ballots being handed out by a unspecified group at the DAVE WELLS COMMUNITY CENTER. These individuals are no longer at that location.

Today there has been a confirmed report of false SCDP ballots being handed out at GLENVIEW COMMUNITY CENTER. It seems clear that there has been no effort made by the SCDP's leadership to retrieve these false ballots.The ballots in question were to be rounded up and sent back to the printer's shop so that they might be corrected. The language listed on these ballots contain the phrase. "VOTE ON REFERENDUMS, VOTE NO ON REFERENDUMS". This statement is an unauthorized addtion to the ballot and was never approved by the SCDP executive committee.

So now we have two Shelby County Democratic Parties, maybe we always have. Each with it's own ballot...



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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ballotwatch-Update 10-29

There has just been yet ANOTHER confirmed report of bogus SCDP ballots being distributed. There are two individuals at the GREATER MIDDLE BAPTIST CHURCH at 4982 Knight Arnold today.

My question is what was the point of Steve Mulroy paying to have ballots fixed, if the old ones are still out in circulation. This is a failure of increasingly embarrassing proportions. Somethings gotta give here and if the current Shelby County Democratic Leadership cannot perform a simple task like this then donors to the party should really ask themselves if the SCDP is still a wise investment in the pursuit of Democratic values. WE ENCOURAGE EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON WHAT BALLOTS ARE BEING DISTRIBUTED AND AT WHAT LOCATIONS. PLEASE POST ANY OTHER SIGHTING HERE SO THAT THE SCDP CAN HAVE THE CHANCE TO LOCATE SAID BALLOTS AND "FINALLY" CORRECT THIS "OVERSIGHT"



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White Power Conference to be held right outside Memphis


We have learned that David Duke and other White Power groups are holding a conference near Memphis on November 7-9. The location is the Whispering Woods Conference and Retreat Center, located at the intersection of Hacks Cross and Goodman Roads in Olive Branch, literally just over the state line. Whispering Woods claims that they were tricked into signing a contract to host this White Power Conference, and cannot get out of it without risking a million dollar lawsuit.

Please call Whispering Woods now and let them know that while canceling the contract might result in a lawsuit, that the local business they will lose if they host this despicable group will be even greater. Please call Whispering Woods at 662.895.2941, or email, and ask to speak to their General Manager Travis Murray. Thank you. It is important that we stand up and say that racists and bigots are not welcome in our community.

In Peace,
Jacob Flowers
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center
1000 S. Cooper St.
Memphis, TN 38104
o 901.725.4990
c 901.517.8689

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ballotwatch-Equal Time

Hat Tip to Tom Guleff

It also appears that the Shelby County GOP have something of a growing ballot controversy as well. It appears that sample ballots were mailed out to Germantown residents with endorsements of three Germantown Alderman candidates. These ballots were marked as the "Germantown Republican Ballot" and are being distributed to voters at polling stations.

Check out all the details at Tom Guleff's blog

Monday, October 27, 2008


There have been confirmed reports of Rogue ballots being distributed at DAVE WELLS COMMUNITY CENTER TODAY. There were also confirmed reports of false ballots being distributed at GLENVIEW COMMUNITY CENTER, AND at MISSISSIPPI BLVD. CHURCH, THIS PAST SATURDAY. This is an unacceptable situation. These Charter items are important and require careful consideration, and so, we will be keeping an eye out for other ballot sightings, and ENCOURAGE EVERYONE YOU KNOW TO KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE ON WHAT BALLOTS ARE BEING DISTRIBUTED AND AT WHAT LOCATIONS. PLEASE POST ANY OTHER SIGHTING HERE SO THAT THE SCDP CAN HAVE THE CHANCE TO LOCATE SAID BALLOTS AND "FINALLY" CORRECT THIS "OVERSIGHT"



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It's Now or Never

It’s down to the wire for the election season. If you’re a progressive then this is likely to be the best shot in decades to move the country to the left. Don’t let this chance pass you by.

The Presidential race looks good, but if you want to help hold onto that, Virginia seems to me the most likely pickup to lock us in to 270. Pennsylvania seems the place most important to play defense in (although it could hardly look better.) Give a hand there or in one of the other swing states.

If you want to help give us 60 seats in the Senate (or even better, 61, so that Reid can conduct a daily game of “Stuff Lieberman in the Caucus Toilet”) the seats that would put us over are Georgia (getting revenge on Saxby Chambliss for calling amputee and veteran Max Cleland unpatriotic,) Kentucky (taking down the Republican leader,) or Mississippi (so that Memphis can at least be close to a few Democratic Senators.) If you’re more worried about holding on to the seats we lead in, the closest race is Minnesota (where we can take Paul Wellstone’s seat back.

If you want to solidify our gains in the House, check out here for some ideas.

If you want to take back the state legislature, help us hold onto Wilder’s seat next door.

If you want to work locally, elect a labor-leader in Paul over a GOP chair. Or you can find a referendum to work for or against.

What ever you do, DO SOMETHING!!! This is once in a lifetime people.

The Incompetence Astounds Me...

I’ve had reports from 6 different sources that uncorrected SCDP ballots are still being distributed. Heads need to roll in the local party. Apparently (again from multiple sources), this is now being spun as whites (Brad, people have often confused us. You are one scary cracker.) trying to force through instant run-off voting and “bullying black volunteers not to pass out the old ballot.” That’s a load of BS. I nominally support IRV, but don’t really care. It doesn’t have much chance of passing, and I haven’t lifted a finger for it. I also OPPOSE term limits because if voters want to keep electing these same incompetent morons then that’s their own right. This is a question of whether the local party spends it’s money to support the party’s positions or if people go off and spend the party’s money on their own issues without repercussions. It’s about whether the party addresses its mistakes or continues down the same path of incompetence it is barreling down.

As for race, that's just something the incompetent and corrupt hacks out there throw around to cover their own butts. (oh brother... I said HACKS! People! That's an h... Read before you email. Sigh...)

Sunday, October 26, 2008

BALLOTWATCH-Here We Go Again...

Well it seems that all is well in Demoland as Steve Mulroy, "God knows why" had to pony up somewhere to the tune of six hundred bucks to fix a "mistake" on the Shelby County Democratic Party's sample ballot. That "mistake" for those who still do not know was a statement saying "Vote On Referendums, Vote NO on Referendums." This statement was unauthorized as the SCDP's Executive Committee, never met to consider such a position,nor vote to approve said statement's addition.It has never been fully revealed by party officials the exact details surrounding the alleged "Printer Error". In fact it has been stated that the Print house in question denies any error on their part stating that they only print what is on the customer's disc and that an error like the one claimed by the party would be impossible, on their end. Many eyes cast their suspicion on reported party boss County Commissioner Sidney Chism. These allegationS stem from the fact that Chism openly has endorsed a similar stance urging voters to VOTE NO on all of the prosed referendums for the City and County Charter. This coupled with the fact that SCDP Steering Committee member John Bratcher, "the person tasked with printing the ballots," is a long time Chism ally and like Chism member of one of the Teamster locals increased tensions. Fuel was added to the fire as the Party leadership seemed to take a very long time to react. All the while reports came in about Teamster members handing out these incorrect ballots at a polling location, most likely unaware of the ongoing controversy. This was exacerbated when Chairman Norman called a press conference to discuss the growing controversy, and did not show up.
OK, so after a week long frustratingly slow process, filled with political insider nonsense, Chairman Keith Norman, had a second press conference with County Commissioner Steve Mulroy,a strong proponent for the Instant Runoff Voting Amendment
Norman has claimed that all the ballots have been recalled and are in the process of being fixed.So all is well,right? ...well maybe not.

Today at the DEMOCRATIC COALITION GOTV RALLY at the Whitehaven entertainment center, a push was made by the entire slate of Democratic nominees, to catch the Obama wave and motivate their supporters to get out and vote early. Yet after all this there were several reports of the "Bogus Ballot still being distributed there TODAY! This is ridiculous, and simply beyond logic. This long nightmare could have ended over a week ago if the SCDP leadership had just moved quickly to make sure all the ballots were back in their possession.IF it was just a mistake, They could have called on the Obama campaign and various clubs and campaigns for volunteers who could have corrected the ballots in a few days.

The only thing that gives me pause in my criticism is that this like the original scandal might be going on without their knowledge. Or even worse...what IF there is a "CONSPIRACY" and they have simply printed up more "VOTE NO" ballots? I'll be watching some of the polls this week for any "Rogue Ballots."




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Friday, October 24, 2008

The next cycle is coming...

From Kerry Hayes:

I'm sure you all saw this item earlier this week:

While I'm gratified to know the DGA is already looking ahead to 2010, I was dismayed to see that Tennessee was totally overlooked. It's no secret that Bill Frist is going to run, and Republicans, as they are often wont to do, are already dutifully lining up behind him. I know that Kim McMillan is aggressively trying to get her name out there as the Dem front-runner, but I'm sure she will face opposition from Lincoln Davis and others, and I don't anticipate our path to a consensus candidate necessarily being a smooth one.

I just sent an email to the DGA via their website, and would humbly request that you do the same, and then get everybody you know to do likewise. I asked them to PLEASE consider Tennessee a priority race in 2010. FRIST CAN BE BEAT, but it will take resources and help early in the process.

The DGA submission form is:
I would like to think that conversations are being had by the state party leadership that are making this same case, but I really don't know. I'm probably interfering with business that is above my pay-grade, but I can't stand to think that 2010 will echo DSCC's disappointing failure to support Bob Tuke this year. I say that not as a Tuke acolyte (which I'm not) but it agonizes me to see Senate candidates to immediate south and north of our borders pulling national dollars while we hand another 6 years to Lamar Alexander.

If we want national Democratic leadership to recognize what we have to offer, we're going to have make a grassroots push that they can't ignore. It starts by getting the local party back on track, but in the meantime, they need to hear from us.
Thanks, and please forward this to anybody you think would be willing to take 5 seconds and help push this forward. KJ

Ballot Mess Post 2922

First a note, if you want to call or email me to rant or rave about something I wrote on my blog, you might want to check to see if I wrote it or not. There are several writers on this blog. Literacy is a fairly important skill in this country.

Norman had a press conference yesterday in which he announced that the ballots were being fixed at a cost of $600 paid for by Mulroy. All better? Hardly. This has been going on for over a week. Nearly 20% of registered voters have voted. That's nearly a third of the people who will likely vote. I would expect the party has $600 in the bank and they could have fixed this when it was discovered. If they don't have that much money left then they could have called in the troops to have volunteers sticker over the ballot and had it done well before today for free.

Some of you are angry that I dare to suggest this was purposeful. I don't know if it was or wasn't, and I never said I did. If it wasn't purposeful then the incompetence shown was almost as bad.

I was accused of "not-knowing-the-facts" on this issue. If that's the case then it's still the party's fault. They have an obsession with secrecy.

Norman's initial comment to the press was according to WMC:
Norman declined to say who is responsible for the referendum language on the ballot, and he would not say where he stands on the issue.

He also failed to show at the first press conference he called, and did not keep the executive committee or public informed during this process. I have served on the steering committee for several years, and this isn't an uncommon process. There is a tendency to keep everything within the steering committee and not to let it get out. Even things like the results of public straw polls for mayor are kept secret for no apparent reason other than secrets are fun. I have been through many meetings where the statements of members are "we might disagree in here but outside of here we are in agreement" although in truth people rarely bother to voice disagreement inside the meetings. There is also a desire that information about what is discussed only come through the chair. This is not democratic or open.

Many people also seem to be outraged when they face criticism. If you run for ex-com (and even more so steering committee) you are a public figure. Your meetings should be public. Your positions should be public. And you're subject to public scrutiny. If you don't want that, then don't run.

I'm disappointed in the party for failing to live up to its potential. If I've angered friends in that criticism, I'm sorry. But if you want to help run the party then you need to do so. I won't stop calling out the party when it fails Democrats.

Paying Your Dues (Literally)

We're in the midst of what could be a massive political realignment. A chance like this might not come back around for decades. As such, we have to give everything we've got into building a massive Democratic (and progressive) majority. Steve Cohen, is a great Democrat and remarkably influential for a freshman. He has already won a well-deserved reelection and has plenty of money to spare. He also hasn't paid his dues to the DCCC. Pay up Steve. The party needs you.

And on a more selfish note, the Congressman is unlikely to end up in the Senate or as Governor. But, he could well move up the party ranks which is both good for him and for his district. Paying your dues and helping your fellow members goes a long way towards building that sort of good will. As much as we liberals criticize John Tanner, he does this sort of party building. Here's hoping Cohen will too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Beyond Ballot-Gate.

First of all let me share my continued disappointment at BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES deciding to Endorse or Oppose Ballot items. I personally think it risks reducing serious questions that require scrutiny, and replaces it with a Pavlovian response. MOST OF ALL I am saddened by the mishandling of this SCDP Ballot scandal by Chairman Keith Norman. I learned that the ballot was STILL being passed out as late as Tuesday afternoon, and one was obtained at the Anointed Temple of Praise poll location. Enough already, as this drags on and on and as I put my anger and outrage to the side for just one moment several things were revealed.

One. This is an act of sheer desperation by the Conspiracy.To do the hard work of running an honest campaign, would required reaching out to the voters and treating them like adults. Asking them to think critically and then convince them that your opposition to these items based on the power of your IDEAS.
It would require educating the voters so they knew WHAT they were VOTING AGAINST and WHY. It would require a ballot that THEY would have to PAY for. It would also require that their argument was so strong that they could acquire volunteers to canvass, phonebank, and work the polls.
Now, why would you go to all that trouble, when you can just STEAL the SCDP'S money and the energy and dedication of the Obama supporters?

So it is now of little surprise that this occurred, after all, with the public weary of Career politicians, and the economic woes locally and nationally. It makes sense that a group of clearly terrified and desperate people would try to manipulate, STEAL and con the Voters into simply voting no because a ballot with Obama at the top of it says so. The Charter Amendments by virtue of their very existence represents the one thing this Conspiracy clearly fears the most. An informed and thinking BLACK voter. For if this Conspiracy did not fear such a thing then they would not try to DENY voters..mostly BLACK voters the chance to consider each amendment on it's own merits, using logical arguments. Logic...Thinking...that's the CORE issue here. Any group of people who would attempt fraud on such a level, make their political fortunes not through ideas and plans, but from stoking the flames of intolerance, Fear, Race hatred, and false appeals to emotion. To allow the people an honest choice would reveal to the voters to the power they possess. That's like Krptonite to people like this.The sad part is that these people support Senator Obama, a candidate that claims to be against things EXACTLY like this. So to those responsible for this nightmare Karl Rove would applaud your efforts.

TWO. Many people have asserted that the root political motivations for this action is in opposition to term limits, for the County, and Chiefly for the city. I think this has been overstated. After all if Term Limits was the only issue. The SCDP EXEC COMM DID in fact approve opposing term limits for the County elected offices. Frankly speaking, their might have been the votes for the CITY term limits item. So, we must look beyond the surface and look elsewhere on the ballot, if we are to understand the motives for this crime. Well, let's take a look over at
Referendum Three . This amendment would put the potential sale of our public utility into the hands of the voters as no sale of the utility would be final without a referendum vote by the residents of Memphis. It does not take Adrian Monk to see the potential financial windfall in kickbacks and gifts that would fall from the sky from power companies into the laps of Politicians. Now lets look over at Ethics amendment, Now, personally I have concerns about the issue of lost representation but,it's a no brainer why the conspiracy wanted it gone. Now, there are ALOT of potential shortcoming with this amendment that they could have explained to the public,but ..hey why waste time talking to people? The stealth amendment, the one they want to kill quietly is Referendum six, This ugly duckling, could be a swan of an issue. Consider...just for example, that Mayor Herenton had in fact resigned earlier this year,as it stands now, the Council Chairman will become Acting Mayor, for twenty day and if the Council could not pick a replacement, then the CAO would serve out the rest of the term. For the purpose of this example, that means Keith McGee could have become our Mayor. If Referendum SIX passes, then it would fall to Myron Lowery, the current chair, of the Council to serve as acting Mayor for a maximum of six months if there was an election on the calender. OR 90 days if there was not. This clause could really shake things up if the nigh constant rumors of a Federal indictment against Mayor Herenton are true....of course that indictment rumor like Santa Claus, comes around every year.

So I think there is much more to all this, more than term limits anyway.
I also wanted to mention that since October 15th,Change Memphis has had teams of poll workers handing out information on the ballot, encouraging people to think for themselves. For the past Three weekends we have been Canvassing neighborhoods and leaving sample ballots. Since Oct 2nd, we have been phone banking FOUR nights a week in order to spread the word about these amendments, and I am swarmed with calls to the office made by people who want honest answers to their questions about these items.Our second piece of direct mail just went out. We have distributed over 10,000 sample ballot materials, and I am expecting my next shipment of ten thousand more early in the morn. All your little plot did was give us a head start, a head start that increases as this process rolls on.
So play your little games, destroy the very party you care about, betray the ideals of your own nominee's platform, lie to the faces of your own colleagues....
It does not matter, because your rash show of "power" only reveals your weakness. Your inability to appeal to anything but negativity,divisiveness and discord will taint and overshadow any of the good works that you might have done. This is how great falls often begin. The bitch of it is, that you by your own actions have angered and energized the base supporters of your own opposition. In fact you created your opposition.

No matter how the votes fall,You lose, because you revealed just how small you really are.You have set in motion the deconstruction of the Status Quo, and like the song says,"It may seem a million miles away, but it gets a little closer every day."

You Lose



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Acting Like John McCain

From Keith Norman SCDP Chairman:

I have been in contact with Commissioner Mulroy as of about 9PM on Tuesday night and I have left 1 message for him as of 8 AM Wednesday morning. I have charge of the ballots (i.e., with respect to their location) and I am waiting for his team to set the date for the press conference so that any misleading statements regarding the ACTIONS of members of the Party can be clarified.

However if I have not heard from him by a reasonable hour I will proceed with releasing the ballots as they are with a written statement on our position to the media.

Keith Norman

Erratic, grumpy, and exceeding his legal authority. That's change you can believe in. He wants to release the ballots with no change without an ex-com vote? Every minute this ballot isn't changed increases the odds this was done on purpose. If that's the case, just who do you think could be doing that?

Drinking Liberally

We're still working on getting the email list for DL going again. In the meantime, come by R.P. Billiards on Highland tonight for some drinks and politics.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Besmirching the name...

Apparently, the steering committee spent its time attacking Steve Mulroy for having the gall to angrily call Keith Norman to complain and "besmirch the party's name." Rather than doing anything to fix the problem, they said that he could pay to fix the ballot. This has been going on long enough that the party could have gathered up volunteers to fix this for free. The chair could have made a few phone calls and raised the money to fix the error. Instead, these ballots are still being passed out. I am inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt that it was an error. If so, they should apologize, fix it, and go about their lives. If not, it looks increasingly like something done purposefully. If that's the case then it's misuse of the party's funds and the people to blame (and I include in that list everyone on the steering committee who doesn't act to fix this) for it should resign or be removed if they don't act to fix this situation now. To those of you still on the committee (my wife and I resigned months ago because of the baby on the way) stand up and take some leadership to save this party from the joke it has become.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ballot-Gate UPDATE!!

IT seems that EVEN NOW while the Steering Committee of the Shelby County Democratic Party prepares to discuss the matter of these "Rogue Ballots". That these false ballots are still being DISTRIBUTED!

It has come to my attention that a group of men from the TEAMSTERS UNION, Local unknown are working today at the Polls at Bishop Byrne in Whitehaven and distributing the bogus ballots.There were also a group of men handing out copies of this ballot Saturday at White Station Church of Christ. This has to stop, until the SCDP has decided the fate of these ballots they should NOT be allowed to spread out.

In my mind this is a pretty compelling case of an organized effort to try and circumvent the authority of the Executive Committee and to use the Democratic Brand for a narrow, selfish and personal agenda.

These issues are important, and could potentially change the shape of our Government for decades. There are those who fear change, those who of small minds and petty ambitions feel threatened by anything that does not first serve the needs of their small political agendas. The Democratic Party should be encouraging people to understand these issues and to be responsible stewards of our democracy, but all that is being torn away.




751-7154 (home) 830-0601 (cell)

751-0156 (fax)


Please, Raise Hell

I've been told that:

There is going to be a Steering Committee meeting tonight at 6 at the Whitehaven Library, not the IBEW.

Keith Norman: The Paris Hilton of Party Chairs

Continuing his tradition of no-showing to his own executive committee meetings, never responding to emails or phone calls, and generally being the most ineffective do-nothing imaginable, Keith Norman today seems to have missed his own bloody press conference over the party ballots. Congrats, Mr. Norman. You almost make Bush look competent.

Oh, and a reminder from the Flyer a couple months ago:
And current Shelby County Democratic chairman Keith Norman, a delegate, allowed as how he might be interested in running for mayor in 2011.

For all you Libertarians out there, I recommend him as a guarantee that government will stay off your backs.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Caught between Scylla and Charybdis"


polar donkey said...
It seems as though Mr. Norman has two options. 1) Embrace incompetence. Say it was a horrible mistake/misunderstanding, the ballots will be destroyed, and new ballots will be printed. 2) Shock folks and hold people accountable. Call out the person(s) responsible for this and say it will not be tolerated.

Neither of these makes Norman look good, but I'm pretty sure he will go with option 1 since we're not really into the accountability thing here.

I do have one question. How did the person(s) involved in this ballot conspiracy think this would just fly under the radar and not cause a stink? The scandal broke Thursday and by Monday the chairman of SCDP has to have a press conference. It doesn't seem the conspirator(s) really thought this out.

In that case let me vote for option 2. This issue is too far gone,too volatile, and has the potential to do LONG TERM damage to the SCDP's authority. The SCDP does not have the best reputation that is why Norman must seize the moment to finally stand up and assert some real authority here. You are right PD, Shelby County is not big on accountability. All the more reason for the SCDP to lead by example and...

1. Get down to the bottom of all this.

2. Round up all those ballots, still out there.

3.IF it is found that this was intentional. Publicly rebuke those responsible, call for resignations.

This one is important,If there is a Ballot Conspiracy, "Which I think is transparent." be upfront about it all. There is alot of chatter about these events and alot of eyes watching. Any attempt to brush past or in anyway do anything that resembles a "cover up" and everyone will know it. It will kill any momentum that the local party has worked hard to build. It will further unstabilize the local political sphere and worst of all,IT WILL ONLY EMBOLDEN THOSE RESPONSIBLE,AND ENCOURAGE THEM TO DO OTHER SUCH ACTS IN THE FUTURE.

The stakes are too high, Do the right thing....


Shelby County Democratic Party Chairman Keith Norman will hold a press conference at the IBEW Union Hall at 1870 Madison Avenue At 11:30 AM, Monday October 20th, to publicly address problems with the official Democratic Party ballot. The published Shelby County Democratic Party ballot erroneously opposes all city and county charter amendments.

An image of the front page of the ballot is attached. Please join us for this event.

Derek Haire
Fair Vote Memphis Campaign Director
(901) 371-8468

Friday, October 17, 2008

The plot thickens....

So it seems that the Executive Committee of The Shelby County Democratic Party is
NOT responsible for the "VOTE NO" ballot debacle. In fact from what Auto says, there is possibly something far more sinister and disturbing going on here.

For British Eyes Only

So it seems that most if not all of the Executive Committee and possibly the Chairman himself were unaware of the ballot's "VOTE NO" box and that the addition of said statement was completely unauthorized, and did not in fact represent the feelings of that body.That is a relief...It also begs several questions, of course, like Was this a simple mistake?...I personally doubt it, but it's a question worth asking. Who was in charge of printing these ballots? Who, if anyone approved this addition? Were these the actions of a lone individual or....or, the actions of a group? Has this happened before? Most importantly IF these "rogue ballots" have already been distributed..What now?

I hope the Party leadership really steps up to the plate and does the right thing here, especially as they are victims of this.."Rogue Ballot Conspiracy"
I predict that this will be Chairman Keith Norman's defining moment as Chairman.
...and I sincerely wish him luck.

Do the right thing...and good hunting.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Fall of the Shelby County Democratic Party

Today I saw something that saddens me, and disappoints some of the hopes I had for this November's elections. I had hoped that the residents of Memphis and Shelby county would be engaged in a honest and spirited debate over the Ten amendments to both the City and County Charters. I also hoped that both political parties would stay out of the process. I feel that alot of these issues have been used and twisted for the personal political advantage of a few, and thus lies have been spread, opinions taken out of context, facts have been blurred and unkind motives have been assigned to some innocent. However, for the most part I have been happy with the reactions we get from the public,I've seen some really thought provoking debates and discussions, most of them dominated by normal people who are concerned about THE ISSUES. and while things do not always go smoothly, at the end of the day,people are in good spirits and I know that we are providing a service to this community, in our own way.

What does disappoint me is that the Shelby County Democratic Party's Executive Committee at some point voted to urge voters to vote NO On Every Single Referendum On The Ballot. To take such a stance and agree to such a policy is rash and myopic and reveals a frighting bit of thoughtlessness. It reduces complicated questions about our government into a appeal to sheep thinking and voting no, to perhaps some worthy issues simply because you were told so. The Democratic brand is a strong , noble and enduring. It stands for the values of FDR, for the courage of Kennedy and Johnson. To some it represents Civil Rights and worker's justice. To some it means being a force for human rights. The Democratic brand communicate these ideals to their voters, that is why it is sad to see this brand tarnished with the cynical maneuverings of those involved with this matter. What does surprise me is how did anyone convince the Executive Committee to go for this? Why would the Exec Comm even consider such a broad and unarticulated stance? In fact last time I checked, the Shelby County Democratic Party had only one stance as it applied to the Charter Amendments and that was a resolution to oppose County Term Limits, this was at the September meeting, and that was the only Charter item addressed. Perhaps this happened at the October meeting..I am not sure. But someone....anyone who is on the Exec comm, please, make me understand how this was allowed to be the official position of the Shelby County Democratic Party? Have things really fallen so far, that the Dems found fault with EVERY ONE OF THE AMENDMENTS? If so, then I doubt that such a vote could come from a real, fact based discussion of the issues. Maybe I am wrong, perhaps there is a reasonable explanation for this. Someone explain why the Democratic Party is killing it's own credibility?

Our friend Autoegocrat has an update and a theory about this event. The Executive Committee may not be to blame.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Devil's Advocate-Amendment Four

While Change Memphis is not currently endorsing or opposing any of these amendments, I do feel that it is important to note some of the possible unforeseen consequences that the passage of this amendment could bring about.
On the positive side,Amendment Four could create a healthy element of fear that might compel higher ethical behavior in our elected and appointed officials.Fear is a powerful and effective motivator, and it is clear that the people of this city, black and white are tired of corruption and cronyism.Plus the passage of such amendment would cut the Mayor and City Council "out of the loop" as it pertains to ethics violations, as the suspension would be automatic, not subject to council approval or review.This too could help this city build an atmosphere of lawfulness that will also curb the more blatant acts of corruption we've seen in recent years. It would certainly raise the profile and power of the office of District Attorney General for decades to come, which may result in people taking more of an interest in elections to that office.

However, The instant suspension with pay of any elected or appointed official charged with wrong doing, potentially opens doors to politically motivated witch hunts. Bogus charges can be raised and then dropped to eliminate a possible rival before a particular vote is to be held.
It is also possible that a potential door may be opened that will leave the constituents of said suspended council person with unequal representation. Now I realize that due to our Super District system of government that each person has four city council representatives. However, I also understand that while these Super district council members represent half the city, that that does not mean that they live all across their districts.Thus, this could still leave areas like Frayser,Raleigh,Berclair,Bighampton,and others underrepresented.EXAMPLE- As if Bill Morrison,"just for example" were to be suspended for some charge, then while the people of district one could call their super district members, it would also mean that Frayser, Raleigh and WolfChase would now have less voting power on the council than Midtown.East Memphis,Cordova and other areas. "Again, just for example."
Lastly, the open ended timeframe for how long the suspension last is also potentially troublesome and raises many questions.Afterall, the justice system takes time,some of these suspensions could possibly go on for years.

I think the public could also be served by all of us keeping a vigilant eye on the"NEW"Memphis Ethics Commission just now being appointed by the Mayor and the Council. This action was approved over two years ago, and is just now getting started.
....Hmm, of course this also could work to the advantage of anyone running against said incumbent next election cycle, as guilty or not, that suspended official will have little record to run on and a cloud made of weeks if not months of negative press. At any rate I hope that everyone really takes the time to consider these items calmly and rationally.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Beer and Sleep Deprivation

If you didn't already know that campaigns are ran on beer and sleep deprivation, this documentary about the Kerry campaign will educate you.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Press Release Rehash!!! Help Paul Take Down Kemp!!!

Press Conference 1:15 PM Friday Oct. 10th
Hunt Phelan House 533 Beale @ Danny Thomas

Mayor Wharton and Congressman Cohen
endorse Paul Schaffer for Council

Paul Schaffer will receive a major boost in his bid for the City Council seat left vacant by the resignation of Scott McCormick. The special election will be held on the same day as the presidential election. Schaffer, who has received the endorsement of the local Democratic Party is in a hotly contested race with former Republican Chair Kemp Conrad.

Statement from Congressman Cohen

" I join A.C. Wharton, Mayor of Shelby County, in endorsing Paul Shaffer’s candidacy for the Memphis City Council. I know Paul will put people and neighborhoods first. That’s why I support Paul Shaffer."

Steve Cohen

Election Dynamics Changing with Presidential Contest

Early on, pundits were predicting a win for Republican Kemp Conrad. This major boost from Wharton and Cohen, along with what is predicted to be a huge Memphis turnout for Barrack Obama, has got people taking a second look.

Super District 9 covers the eastern half of the city. Nearly 57 % of its residents voted for John Kerry 4 years ago. Obama is expected to carry the district by over 60% . The local Republican Party is supporting Conrad, who attended the past 2 Republican conventions, a contrast that Schaffer is pointing out at forums all over the city.

Paul Schaffer is the Business Manager for IBEW 474. They have over 400 employees and over 2 million in annual revenues.


David Upton 315 9707

Paul Schaffer 833 1156

Congressman Cohen's Press Contact Rick Maynard 275 - 4467
Mayor Wharton Contact - Bobby White 378 - 1791