Tuesday, June 30, 2009


Been away for a while and have been reading with great interest news stories about the flood of candidates seeking to serve as the next Mayor of Memphis. I have also watched a great deal of enthusiastic activity from folks all over the political spectrum preparing to gear up for the upcoming special mayoral election this October in support for already declared candidates and in efforts to enlist others to join into the race.There is nothing wrong with any of that.

I would however like to caution everyone to take a moment and consider an alternative viewpoint. There is an old saying about Democrats and Republicans that loosely applies here, and that saying goes something like, "Republicans fall in line, Democrats fall in love." The gist of the statement is that the flaw of the Republicans is that they they are so strident in their beliefs that candidate diversity and individuality is repressed, and that the flaw of Democrats is that they end up so personally invested in their candidates that they do not allow anyone to question them, even when they are wrong. Let me be frank, Candidates are NOT your friends. They are not your family,your saviors or your messiahs, they are not perfect beings nor are the perfect extensions of your political beliefs. They are however, people of ambition, talent and skill who are all applying for job.
Why do people support candidates?, well clearly because they have been convinced by either the candidates actions or campaigns that there exists a connection of values and ideals between the candidate and themselves. Sometimes this is factual, but more often it is not. This perceived connection without context will consistently trump other voter concerns like competence, and even platform.
My point is not to demean or question the integrity of those who seek to run for office nor insult those who work on campaigns, far from it, it takes alot of guts to put yourself out there and risk rejection, financial loss, humiliation and the toll a campaign and public life has on the candidate's loved ones.To volunteer on a campaign takes long hours of grueling work, which is normally neither glamorous nor fun. My point is that a campaign's job is to elect a candidate nothing more, nothing less. A candidate's job is to win an election. That is the long and the short of it.

However, I want everyone to consider the rare and golden opportunity that lies before us. So my friendly advice is, do not sell your support on the cheep. This race seems to have a large number of candidates in the running, those candidates and campaigns will need good people,money and will have to move quickly in order to be ready for October. This is going to be a very brief but intense process, and in the flurry I believe that a real conversation on issues will be the first casualty of the oncoming Battle Royale. You have the power to change that.

You can change that if instead of organizing around candidates we instead organize around the ISSUES that will help make Memphis into a better city for all of us. We need to reform our public transportation system so that MATA can better serve this community and get people to work on time. We need reform in Code Enforcement to help eliminate the lead poisoning of our young, deal effectively with blight,curb illegal dumping and tearing down condemned properties that become magnets for crime. We need to augment our workforce development programs and increase job skill training, and we need to make mental health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation a priority in law enforcement. These are but a few of the issues we could shine a light on.

If we can effectively organize around issues then the candidates will come to you. That will tell you who to support and vote for. If all the candidates agree to those specific asks then you can hold them all accountable if they do not follow through on those pledges. Best of all, as the winner of this special election will have to run again in 2011, it would be in his or her best interest to make good on that promise as early as possible.

The time has come for the dog to wag the tail in Memphis politics as opposed to the other way around.

Or don't...it's all up to you.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

County Commission Fails to pull trigger on Rape Crisis Center plan

Today the Shelby County Commission failed to approve a measure supporting the proposed plan to move the Rape Crisis Center under the jurisdiction of County Government. This is a sad turn of events for the victims of this horrible crime. The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center remains firmly committed to adding the voices of the Community to the discussion of this issue.Jackson Baker's article

As you read this we are reactivating our phone banking operation tonight as well as Thursday night from 6-9 pm and Friday night from 6-8pm. We are calling those registered voters in County Commission districts 1,2 and 3. We are calling areas with the highest concentrations of sexual assaults and urging them to support MSARC becoming a function of County Government. We are in the process of planning a new Canvass set for this Saturday June 13th from 10-1pm to hand out new materials about the Rape Crisis Center situation and how those neighbors can contact their County Commissioners to make their voices heard. We also invite all concerned parties to attend the full meeting of the Shelby County Commission this Monday June 15th at 1:30pm to make your voice heard on the issue of the Rape Crisis Center.

If there are any questions or if you'd like to volunteer to phone bank or canvass this weekend please contact Brad Watkins at Brad@midsouthpeace.org

Call your County Commissioners and ask them to support the Rape Crisis Center becoming a function of County Government.
If you do not know your district please click Here
Remember that you are a constituent of all the Commissioners that serve your district.Please call each of them.

County Commission District ONE

Commissioner George Flinn

Commissioner Mike Ritz

County Commission District TWO

Commissioner Henri Brooks

Commissioner J.W. Gibson

Commissioner Deidre Malone

County Commission District Three

Commissioner James Harvey

Commissioner Sidney Chism

Commissioner Joe Ford

Call them and leave a message right now.

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

Monday, June 08, 2009

Our Thanks to Mayors Herenton and Wharton.

Today, Memphis Mayor Willie Herenton and Shelby County Mayor AC Wharton made a stunning announcement concerning the future of the Memphis Rape Crisis Center. It seems that both Mayors have agreed to a plan that would move the Rape Crisis Center away from the the City run Public Services and Neighborhoods, and into the Shelby County Health Department. You can read all about it HERE
On behalf of all the members of the Friends of MSARC campaign I would like to thank both Mayor Herenton and Wharton for seeking reasonable solutions to this crisis. I also want to thank both leaders for focusing the discussion today on the needs of the victims of this horrible crime and their support for the creation of a Victims Services Board.
We will be continuing to observe events as this process unfolds, but today's events are a major step in a positive direction.

Brad Watkins
Organizing Coordinator
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Friends of MSARC Canvass THIS WEEKEND!


The Mid-South Peace and Justice Center is saddened and deeply concerned about the current situation at the Memphis Rape Crisis Center, and we are asking for your help to do something about it. This week volunteers from the Peace and Justice Center have made well over 300 calls into some of the areas within our community with the highest concentrations of rape and sexual assault. These calls were made in support of the Rape Crisis Center joining the Health Department and the Crime Victims Center as a function of County government. The sad fact is that between April 17 and May 28th there were 33 reported cases of rape within our city, 9 of those rapes were committed in City Council District 7. This is a crime that impacts everyone in Shelby County and we want to make sure that the voices of those communities grappling with the problems of crime and sexual assault are heard by their elected officials. This Saturday at 10am till 1pm the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center will be taking our message of support for the Rape Crisis Center to the streets by going door to door in the area around Klondike School at 1225 Vollintine. We will be distributing literature on how area residents can contact their elected officials,registering new voters and inviting members of the community to a PUBLIC ISSUES FORUM titled "Violence Against Women and Girls – Our Community’s Response". This forum will be held on Sunday, June 21st, 3pm at the Benjamin Hooks Library.
We need your help as we will continue to lobby our elected officials to ensure that the needs of the victims of this horrible crime receive the medical, legal and counseling support the need and deserve. Until this situation is resolved we are all responsible.

Canvass and Voter registration drives
Klondike Neighborhood Canvass
Saturday, June 6th
Meetup location-Klondike School-1225 Vollintine ave.

Humes High Area Canvass
Saturday, June 13th
Meetup location-Humes High School -659 N Manassas St

Friends of MSARC- Phonebank

Tuesday june 9th 6-9pm
Weds- june 10th 6-9pm
Thurs- june 11th 6-9pm

Tuesday June 16th 6pm-9pm
Weds-June 17th 6pm-9pm
Thursday-June 18th 6pm-9pm

"Violence Against Women and Girls – Our Community’s Response"
Sunday-June 21st, 3pm
Location-Ben Hooks Library-3030 Poplar

For any questions or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer, please contact Brad Watkins our Organizing Coordinator at Brad@midsouthpeace.org