Wednesday, April 29, 2009

JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS Update-Thank you Commissioner Matt Kuhn

I had the pleasure of speaking with Shelby County Commissioner Matt Kuhn about the reforms to our local criminal justice system supported by the JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS campaign. Commissioner Kuhn was well aware of these activities, and cut me off mid pitch to let me know that he was completely supportive of these programs and the efforts made to promote them. We had a brief conversation about the growing need for more in the way of services for the mentally ill and our homeless residents.

We also want to welcome activist Novella Smith Arnold to this campaign. Novella is a well know Prison activist and stalwart supporter of victims rights and we welcome her expertise and energy to our efforts.

It is the position of JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS, that mental illness and drug addiction are root causes for a variety of our local issues. If a community does not provide adequate services and programs to address the needs of the mentally ill,or sufficient programs for drug rehabilitation then those issues spread to other areas. Thus a mental health issue feeds into other issues such as Crime and Homelessness. "See Poverty Tax"
Bottom line, we as a community are going to pay a financial and moral price for having a segment of the population that suffers from mental illness and drug addiction.That's just all there is to it.
So we can continue to INDIVIDUALLY pay a price that includes higher crime, and lowered quality of lifestyle,"being panhandled, being robbed,car break in's, etc" or...or, we as a COMMUNITY can invest in programs that address the needs of a community struggling with the challenges of poverty,drug addiction,mental health,lack of affordable health care and housing.
The choice is clear, and we need to take action now.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Last Night on Frontline, there was an excellent piece called The Released

In it's own words....

A rare and intimate look into the lives of mentally ill offenders struggling to make it on the outside. This year alone, hundreds of thousands of prisoners with serious mental illnesses will be released into communities across America. Within 18 months, nearly two-thirds will be re-arrested

Watch the entire show here.

Health Care Town Hall meeting this Saturday! Tanner, Corker,Alexander!

Call Represenative Tanner,Senators Alexander and Corker and share your Health Care concerns, toll free at 1-888-436-8427

Town Hall Meeting with Legislators Jackson, TN - May 2nd

We have a health care crisis on our hands...with 50 Million uninsured, 700,000 Americans filing for personal bankruptcy because of medical debt, 22,000 Americans dying every year because they don't have health insurance. BUT we also have the opportunity of a life time to fix America's health care system!

May 2nd, join us for a Town Hall Meeting with Legislators to figure out how we can fix health care in 2009.

US Senators Corker and Alexander and US Representative John Tanner have been invited.

Please join us for this important community meeting and bring your friends and family!

Date: Saturday, May 2, 2009
Time: 11:00am - 12:30pm
Location: Union University - Harvey Hall (in the Student Union)
Street: 1050 Union University Drive.
City: Jackson, TN

(Harvey Hall is in the Student Union Bldg. Enter through the main entrance of the University on Pleasant Planes Road)

contact: emily at
or at 901-590-4873

Sponsored by:
Tennessee Health Care Campaign (THCC)
and THCC's Specific Action Groups:

J.U.S.T. Health Care Reform (Jackson Univ. Students Together)
Faith and Health Care Justice
Small Business Coalition for Health Care Security
Health Reform and People of Color

Health Care for America Now (HCAN)
Tennessee Citizen Action
Change That Works
and others...


Hats off to local ADAPT Organizer,disability rights activist and all around swell fella Randy Alexander for standing up and holding elected officials accountable. Randy is part of a large contingent of over 400 disabled activists who are now in Washington D.C. for a series of meetings with members of the Obama administration. These meetings center around aquiring support for the Community Choice Act as a part of the President's Health Care reform package.
CCA would allow older and or disabled Americans to use federal funding for community based attendant services. ADAPT leadership's meetings with the administration were described as "Very disappointing" especially considering the President's strong support for CCA during the 08 campaign and in his time in the Senate. Thus ADAPT members including Randy Alexander handcuffed themselves to the gates of the White House to show that their voices would not and will not be ignored. Hats off to Randy and all of the members of ADAPT, by pressing the issue, and allowing their concerns to be swept under the rug, the administration and congress has been put on notice. Now the ball is in their court.
Check out the article right Here

Randy was one of sixty protesters arrested yesterday. All were released and given citations...and today they all returned to be once again handcuff themselves to the White House gates.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DFA Training Academy wrap up

On behalf of the MID-SOUTH PEACE AND JUSTICE CENTER,I would like to say thank you to everyone who helped make the Memphis DFA Training Academy a success. First of all I want to thank the incredible trainers. Michael Cook
Selene Hofer-Shall,Matt Arnold,and Tony Cani. These trainers are veterans of some pretty major local,state and national campaigns and I want to share my appreciation to them for bringing this event here to Memphis and for sharing their valuable skills and advice. I would like to especially thank DFA Deputy Training Director Bryan Hageny for all of his hard work, his Patience and commitment to such a wonderful program. In addition I want to give my thanks to the great folks over at Southwest Tennessee Community College, who allowed us to host this event on their campus. So my deepest thanks to Steve Haley, Ronald Parr, LaShonna Harris and Phoenix Worthy for their help and flexibility. Last but not least
I'd like to thank everyone who made the commitment to attend, I know it was not easy to give up sixteen hours of your weekend,but I hope everyone feels that it was worth the time, and from the reactions and evaluations from the attendees I think it was.

Friday, April 24, 2009

DFA Training Academy-MEMPHIS..THIS WEEKEND!!!!

you can preregister at

Pre-Registration is $60 or $30 for students and low income attendees.
At the Door Registration is $75 or $45 for students and low income attendees.
Which includes lunch for both days.

Be sure to click on the link, the training begins at 9 am tomorrow at the Macon Campus of Southwest Tennessee Community College,with registration at 8:30am the Nabors Gym. With break out classes to be held in the Fulton Building rooms 111A,400 and 112 on Saturday. Sunday classes will be held at Nabors Gym and Fulton rooms 111A,400,111,115,118 and 212.

My thanks to the Memphis Flyer for printing an article about this wonderful event which you can read right here

If you have any questions please be sure to call me at


Brad Watkins

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Don't fall for the same ol trick

I don't want to spend alot of time on this...

As of late this afternoon I have been flooded with emails about Mayor Herenton's statements implying a future run for Congress in 2010. PAY IT NO ATTENTION. Have you not noticed that every time the Mayor gets in a bit of a sticky situation, he makes some outlandish or fantastic statement, which gets the media and everyone else buzzing with analysis and speculation, completely distracting everyone from what is right in front of them?... Namely his broken budget, the Bass Pro deal,The Fairgrounds,The Liberty Bell, Crime,......

Let's move on.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The National Museum of Pro Wrestling? Part 1

You know all this talk about the departure of COGIC and Memphis attracting new conventions reminded me of a conversation I had with some friends sometime ago. As you may or may not know, Memphis is a historical mecca in the world of Professional Wrestling and at one time had well attended events every Monday night at the Mid-South Coliseum.
People from all over the Tri-State area came into town to watch such greats as Buddy Landel, Austin Idol, Bill Dundee, and "Wildfire"Tommy Rich fight with and against Jerry "the King" Lawler. Back in those days wrestling was run by regional wrestling territories and from those territories other performers would also come to work in the Memphis area for a time, from Randy "Macho man" Savage and Hulk Hogan, to Ric Flair and Bret"The Hitman"Hart, all roads led to Memphis. Even movie star Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson had some of his earliest matches here in Memphis,under the name Flex Cavana before achieving super stardom. Former Gov. Jesse "The Body" Ventura also wrestled here for a time as well.
I remember as a boy going to these shows with my uncle and my cousins, and watching in horror as villains Austin Idol and Tommy Rich brutally attacked Jerry Lawler in a hair vs hair cage match that nearly caused a riot. In fact I believe that was the last time the Mid-South Coliseum had a sellout crowd.

In fact even to this day there exists a cultural connection between Memphis and pro-wrestling. Even current WWE superstar Triple H, made an on camera reference to the Mid South Coliseum in a worked segment where Triple H told Jerry Lawler, "I've seen the tapes Lawler! I watched Bill Dundee kick your butt all over the Mid-South Coliseum!"
Or who could forget the hilarious Lawler vs The Fords brawl back in 2004, when Joe,John,Issac, and Jake Ford all attacked Lawler in the ring, after Lawler taunted the Fords, blaming them for his unsuccessful campaign for Mayor.
In fact back during Thaddeus Matthews Recall campaign against Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton, political activist Del Gill used the alias of "Bill Dundee".
As I've said before Memphis politics is alot like Memphis wrestling

So we thought, why not make Memphis the site of a Museum of the history of Professional Wrestling.

It could showcase the birth and evolution of Pro Wrestling going back to the days of "Catch" wrestling starting in the 1800's,"Lincoln was a wrestler" to the Carnival attractions/sideshow aspects of the early 20th century,"the days of Frank Gotch to Strangler Lewis" and into the modern era. The museum could focus on the Pro wrestling cultural phenomenon globally, highlighting the rich traditions of Canadian, Australian, Japanese wrestling, and It also could appeal to Memphis' growing Mexican born Latino population by showcasing the exciting and acrobatic Lucha libre style of pro wrestling popular in Mexico,"It's really fun to watch". Primarily it would highlight the rich history of Memphis wrestling.

Why bother?

Well Consider this...,The 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania "Pro Wrestling's biggest annual event" had a larger attendance than this year's Superbowl. The top two Wrestling promotions,"WWE and TNA" produce over 8 hours of original Prime time television programming every week. This does not include, local wrestling promotions,online interview shows, podcasts, or recap programming. Pro-Wrestling consistently has higher ratings than Major League Baseball. WWF's "RAW is WAR" has been rated the most-watched program on cable with more than six million households tuning in. WWE is the number one entertainment website for males under 34. What's more, over a third of the pro wrestling audience is under 14 years old.

The fact is this could be a wonderful regional draw with deep roots into a distinctive Memphis tradition. With the economy on the downside, most people will stick closer to home for their vacation plans and this could draw more Wrestling related conventions, events, and Pay-per view shows to our area.

Instead of Memphis trying to shoehorn and rip off the gimmicks of other cities, we should instead embrace and promote the cultural history that is unique to our community... and that's the bottom line...cause Stone Cold said so!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Public Issues Forum-The future of Memphis City Schools-April 26th 3pm

The Public Issue Forum presents

A Dialog with Dr. Irving Hamer, Deputy Superintendent, Memphis City Schools
Improving the Education of the Students in the Memphis City Schools
"Helping Our Children Reach Their Potential"
Moderated by Otis Sanford, Editor/ Commercial Appeal

The school system and its problems
What changes have been made
Where it is going ... the future goals for MCS

3pm Sunday, April 26 at the Benjamin Hooks Public Library, 3030 Poplar, Memphis

This meeting is open to the public-everyone's invited-discussion encouraged.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Today I had the opportunity to meet with Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell to talk about the JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS campaign in support of the reforms to criminal justice system proposed by the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council. Sheriff Luttrell thanked us for our support and shared his mutual commitment to the securing of adequate funding for expansion of The Jericho Initiative, The General Session Drug Court, as well as efficiency reforms like expanding the capacity of Pre-Trial Diversion services, and Vertical Prosecution. I shared with the Sheriff our intentions to not only aggressively campaign for these reforms, but to also look to the future for additional positive,moral and fiscally sound criminal justice policies. Sheriff Luttrell felt largely the same way and for his part will send out a letter to all of the major parties in our Criminal justice system. This includes the Judges and administrators, the DA and Public defender offices, as well as other concerned bodies, and asking them to submit recommendations on how to move our system forward. The Sheriff will then present these ideas to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, for the purpose of reviewing these proposals and creating a strategic plan to implement them. We then spoke briefly about the need for reform within our juvenile justice system, and my concerns about some of the less than ethical non-profits that operate in that sphere. He passionately expressed his desire to see the positive effective juvenile programs thrive, and eliminate the growing number of young people incarcerated in adult facilities. He expressed that the state has largely cut funding to juvenile detention services, and if the state cannot be made to renew that support, then local innovative action would be needed to create programs that could better serve the needs of our juvenile population. Sheriff Luttrell pledged his support and has agreed to attend our Community Forums in May and speak about these issues with the public.He urged us to remain vigilant in our lobbying and organizing efforts.
I would like to thank Sheriff Luttrell for his support and for his leadership on these important programs.

I would also like to take a moment to thank some new members of our campaign for their efforts.

Linda Warren Seely is an attorney with Memphis Legal services and serves as the Peace with Justice Advocate for the United Methodist Church, Memphis Conference. Linda has done some volunteer work as a mediator in Juvenile Court and am a member of the 'Lawyers as Peacemakers, Lawyers as Problemsolvers' committee. She is working to help this campaign reach out to others in the faith based and legal communities, and we are grateful for her support.

Jillian Ray is with the Rivendale Community of the Episcopal church, and is also committed to the fight for social justice. Welcome aboard, and my deepest thanks to you.

I also want to thank SCDP executive committeeman Howard Cohn, for agreeing to sponsor a resolution in support of this campaign at the May meeting of the Shelby County Democratic party. I am currently awaiting response from a few potential co sponsors.


I will be meeting with new SCDP Chairman Van Turner to discuss the goals of the JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS campaign.
On Monday we will meet with Judge Tim Dwyer and his staff with the General Session Drug Court to also discuss the needs of this program.

Please feel free to contact me at anytime with any questions concerns, or comments. We would love to have your support on this campaign.

Demand Change

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A Conversation with the Chairman-Part 1

Earlier today I had the chance to speak with Shelby County Republican Party Chair Lang Wiseman about the JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS campaign launched by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. This advocacy and lobbying campaign is aggressively working to secure funding and community support for four of the recommendations of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, including expansion of the Jericho Initiative, the General Sessions Drug Court, as well as Pre-Trial Diversion Services and Vertical prosecution.

I want to thank Mr Wiseman for taking time out of his schedule to speak with me about these issues. The conversation was very relaxed and pleasant, and Chairman Wiseman, was open, honest, friendly and reasonably cautious and measured. He was very interested in learning more about these programs and seemed very intrigued by them , especially the Jericho initiative. He already has some familiarity with the Drug Court and is a distant relative of Drug Court Judge Tim Dwyer.

I expressed my intentions to see if both the Shelby County Republican and Democratic Parties would in a bi-partisan effort endorse these reforms, which provide treatment alternatives to incarceration for the Mentally ill as well as treatment alternatives for nonviolent drug offenders. These reforms also increase efficiency within our criminal Justice system,reducing the time between arrest and trial and could save Shelby County 4.1 million dollars. More importantly these reforms have been very effective at reducing criminal recidivism in participants. With the Drug Court having a overall 67% success rate.In fact our SCDC was recognized by the National Drug Court Association as "Mentor Court" in 2003, Of the 1200 Drug Courts in the nation, only 100 Courts share this distinction.

Wiseman prudently wanted to see more information before he could pledge his full support but promised to keep an open mind, and was eager to see more information on these issues which I will provide to him. He plans to speak with other members of the Republican party about this issue including JUSTPEACE allies, Sheriff Mark Luttrell and County Commissioner Mike Carpenter, to hear why they are supporting these reforms. He also stated that he is an independent thinker who reviews issues on their own merits, and is excited to continue these conversations over the next few weeks.
I want to thank Chairman Wiseman for his time,warmth and candor and look forward to working with him in the future to promote these issues to Republicans and Democrats alike.

I look forward to speaking with SCDP Chairman Van Turner about these issues in hopes that the Democratic Party will also choose to endorse these reforms as well.

If you and your congregations and or organization would be interested in joining this campaign and to endorse these reforms. Please feel free to contact me at anytime with any questions concerns, or comments. We would love to have your support on this campaign.

Demand Change

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Take Action to save the Living Wage

For more information contact the Workers Interfaith Network at WIN'S website

Take Action: Save the Living Wage from Repeal

The TN House Employee Affairs subcommittee is scheduled to vote on House Bill 311 Tuesday, April 14th.

Call or email ALL the State Representatives who sit on the Employee Affairs Subcommittee
and urge them to vote NO on House Bill 311, which takes away local governments right to set wages
appropriate to their own communities, and which repeals the living wage ordinances Memphis and Shelby County
have already passed.

Members of the House Employee Affairs Sub-Committee:
Mike McDonald (Dis. 44- Portland) 615-741-1980
Stacey Campfield (Dis. 18 - Knoxville) 615-741-2287
Mike Bell (Dis. 23 - Riceville) (615) 741-1946
Brian Kelsey (Dis. 83-Germantown)(615) 741-4415
Sherry Jones (Dis. 59-Nashville)(615) 741-2035
Gary Moore (Dis. 50 - Joelton) (615) 741-4317

Sample Email for Members of the Employee Affairs Subcommittee
I urge you to vote NO on House Bill 311 when it comes before the Employee Affairs sub-committee on April 14th.
This legislation takes away the right of local governments to set wages that are appropriate to their own communities.
Living wage ordinances are local issues which concern local government's contracts. There is no reason for the state
to be interfering in municipalities' affairs in this way. This bill will actually overturn local living wage ordinances
that the City of Memphis and Shelby County have already passed. Finally, while opponents of living wage ordinances
claim that they cause unemployment, academic studies of living wage ordinances in Baltimore, Boston, and Los Angeles,
found no significant job loss because of these ordinances, and in San Francisco, employment
actually rose 15 percent in jobs covered by the living wage ordinance.

Your name and your address

House Bill 311 and Senate Bill 83 forbid local governments from setting wages higher than the federal minimum wage.
Senate Bill 83 has already been passed by the Tennessee Senate, but there is still time to stop House Bill 311 from passing.
This legislation will overturn the living wage ordinances the members of Workers Interfaith Network worked so
hard to get passed in the Memphis City Council and the Shelby County Commission, and it will keep other
communities across the state from passing living wage ordinances. It will also overturn the prevailing wage
ordinance for construction workers passed by the Memphis City Council. This will mean lower wages for
thousands of workers in a time when so many families are already in crisis. It is also an
interference into local government affairs by our state legislature that violates the conservative principle of home rule.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS-Thank you Commissioners Chism and Harvey

Today I had the opportunity to speak with County Commissioners James Harvey and Sidney Chism. We spoke about the issues underscoring the vital need for Commission approval for the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council's Jail master plan proposals. These including additional funding for the Jericho Project,General Sessions Drug Court, as well as Pre Trial/Diversion Services.

Commissioner Sidney Chism pledged his support and agreed that these programs are urgently needed in this community, especially the Drug Court. He also spoke to the need for greater reforms and oversight within the adult and juvenile criminal justice system. He also was curious and supportive of the Peace and Justice Center's efforts to engage at-risk youth in community service projects within their own communities via our GrowMemphis program and we hope to continue that conversation in the future.

Later,I had the chance to speak with Commissioner James Harvey, about these same reforms. He was attentive,informed and asked many insightful questions. He pledged his support for these reforms as well especially the Jericho Project. We later spoke about the general local political scene. He expressed optimism about Van Turner's efforts as the newly elected Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party.He also expressed a desire and a hope that the party will not only reach out to the new voters activated by the Obama campaign, but also hopes that the factional divides can be reduced and that efforts can be more solution driven as opposed to personality based.

Next week we will be meeting with County Commissioners Henri Brooks,Joyce Avery,and Matt Kuhn. To ask their support as well.

I will also be meeting with Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell, and I would like to thank him for his support for these reforms as well as this campaign.We will discuss how the Sheriff's office and the Peace and Justice Center can best work in concert to secure unanimous County Commission support for these programs.

If anyone has any questions concerns or if you wish to become a part of this campaign please feel free to contact me at anytime about this important issue at


Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

DFA Training Academy-MEMPHIS Apr 25-26th

DFA Campaign Academy Agenda

Memphis, TN April 25th - 26th, 2009

You must register via the link to attend this event.

Schedule of Events-

8:00 – 9:00 Setup/Volunteers

8:30 – 9:00 Registration

9:00 – 9:15 Kickoff- Jim Dean, Chairman, Democracy For America

9:15 – 9:30 Training Overview & Homework Assignment-Bryan Hageny

9:30 – 11:30-Your Field Plan: Vote Goals, Targeting, and Field Strategy-Bryan Hageny & Matt Arnold

11:30 – 11:40-Break

11:40 – 12:30-Building Your Activist Base-Bryan Hageny

12:30 – 1:25-Lunch, provided for all attendees

1:30 – 5:45pm Rotating Sessions: Trainees divide into 3 groups and go to assigned rooms. Trainers rotate and do small sessions with each group. Room assignments on back

1:30 – 2:25pm Developing a Campaign’s Message-Michael Cook

2:30 – 3:25pm Fundraising Strategy-Selene Hofer-Shall


3:50 – 4:45pm Voter Contact: Tactical overview-Matt Arnold

4:50 – 5:45pm Campaign & Event Planning-Bryan Hageny

5:45 - 6:00 Wrap up Bryan Hageny


9am - 10:05am Sunday Kickoff & Homework Review Bryan Hageny

Sunday Morning Elective Sessions: Trainees choose which sessions to attend. Room assignments on back

10:05am - 11:05am/
11:10am – 12:10pm

- Fundraising: Events, Call Time, & Mail-Selene Hofer-Shall
- Citizen Lobbying-Matt Aronld
- Volunteer Canvassing & Phonebanking-Bryan Hageny
- Working with the Media-Michael Cook

12:10pm– 1:05pm-Lunch, Provided for all attendees

1:10pm – 2:05pm- Get Out the Vote (GOTV)-Matt Arnold

2:05pm – 2:15pm-Break

Sunday Afternoon Elective Sessions: Trainees choose which sessions to attend. Room assignments on back

2:15pm - 3:10pm/
3:15pm - 4:10p
4:15pm – 5:10p
- Neighbor to Neighbor Precinct Organizing-Bryan Hageny
- Working with a Voter File-TBA
- Volunteer Management and Leadership Development-Bryan Hageny
- Running Canvasses & Phonebanks-Matt Arnold
- Strategic Communications-Michael Cook
- Budgeting & Finance-Selene Hofer-Shall

5:15pm – 5:30pm Evaluations and Wrap up.-Bryan Hageny

5:30 onward
Change Your Country-Trained Activists/Training Presenter
Bryan Hageny – Planning & Volunteer Management

Trainer bios

Bryan grew up in the fiercely contested swing state of Wisconsin, and is proud of its progressive tradition. While attending the University of Wisconsin he worked for Howard Dean, John Kerry, and Tammy Baldwin. Following graduation he served in a number of political and activist roles. To this end Bryan worked as an Assistant Director of a large canvassing office in Boston, then as an Organizer of Power Shift 2007 (the first ever student global warming conference at the University of Maryland), and most recently as a Community Organizer in Pennsylvania. Bryan was recently hired as DFA's Deputy Training Director.

Selene Hofer-Shall - Finance & Fundraising

A former crisis counselor, Selene joined the Dean for America Operations Team in 2003, helping to compile the largest FEC reports in Presidential Campaign History. She was one of the 12 original staffers of Democracy for America, working as Operations Director and assistant to the Finance Director. Since leaving DFA, Selene has worked on numerous successful campaigns from city councils to United States Congress. As the Finance Director for Peter Welch in his successful 2006 race for Congress, she broke all previous fundraising records for the district. Following the 2006 election, she worked in San Antonio, TX as the Finance Director for Ciro Rodriguez in the TX-23 run-off election, raising over $600,000 in less than three weeks to successfully oust a 7-term Republican incumbent. Selene returned to work for Congressman Welch as the Political and Finance Director on his first re-election campaign, as part of a team that successfully warded off all Republican opposition and secured not only the Democratic but also the Republican nomination. Selene is a political consultant in Burlington, VT specializing in political outreach, fundraising and event planning.

Michael Cook- Field, Finance

Michael Cook is a veteran of more than 25 political campaigns at the local, state and federal level. During his tenure as Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Arkansas he helped revitalize and re-organize the state party. His work there earned him recognition by the National Journal's "Hotline" as one of Arkansas' Rising Stars in 2003, and the Arkansas Times proclaimed him the "Wizard of Voter Turnout" during the hotly contested 2004 campaign season. He is the only Arkansas Executive Director who has simultaneously served as Coordinated Campaign Director, overseeing the Democrats' most intensive field operation ever in a presidential election year. He was a member of then-Governor Clinton's campaign staff during the 1992 presidential race, serving both in New Hampshire and at the fabled Little Rock headquarters. Michael previously served as consultant with Southern Strategy Group, a political and governmental consulting firm in Little Rock. In 2006, he managed the first winning Democratic campaign for Arkansas Lt. Governor in sixteen years. Michael is a veteran of the United States Army Reserves and holds a bachelor's degree in History from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. He currently serves as the Chief of Staff for Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter.

Matt Arnold - Field

Matthew “Mudcat” Arnold has developed sophisticated voter contact and volunteer engagement programs for Democratic candidates and progressive advocacy groups from coast to coast. In 2008 he designed and implemented the field program for Darcy Burner’s congressional campaign that made over half a million voter-contact attempts. Prior to the Burner campaign he worked with the election team to design the organization’s 2008 GOTV plan and innovative persuasion modeling program. He is currently a member of the core team at the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a PAC that is recruiting and preparing progressive candidates to run for Congress.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS Update-Thank you Commissioners Malone,Mulroy and Carpenter

The JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS would like to thank County Commission Chairwoman Deidre Malone as well as Commissioner Steve Mulroy and Commissioner Mike Carpenter for their support for the diversion and treatment programs of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council's Jail Master Plan. In the coming weeks the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center's JUSTPEACE MEMPHIS campaign will be meeting with all of the members of the Shelby County Commission as well as local political, activist and religious leaders to raise awareness and aggressively seek to secure adequate funding for these effective progressive and fiscally responsible reforms to our local criminal justice system. True Story Pictures created a short documentary focusing on one of these programs called VOICES OF JERICHO. This film presents an overview of the Jericho Project, pioneered by then Public defender and now Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton and supported and promoted by Shelby County Sheriff Mark Luttrell.

Please take a moment to view this film by clinking on the link VOICES OF JERICHO

If anyone has any questions concerns or if you wish to become a part of this campaign please feel free to contact me at anytime about this important issue at


Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.