Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Poverty Tax...you are already paying it

I read an excellent article in today's Memphis Flyer about the current state of Homelessness in our city. Please take a moment and give it a read right here

Such a sad article, here are a few jokes to lighten the mood.

You know what's funny? I went to a meeting with Pat Morgan, just last month where she claimed that Partners For the Homeless did NOT check vacants,parks or"catholes". In fact Ms. Morgan joked that one would need a SWAT team to go into such places. Isn't that funny?

You know what else is funny?...PFH claims that there are 1800 homeless people in Memphis at any given time, Yet according to MCS Supt. Kriner Cash, there are about 1500 homeless children in the Schools. So unless the homeless population is five to one, something is REALLY wrong with PFH's numbers.Which explains why current services for the homeless are stretched thin. "Wocka Wocka Wocka"

You know what else is funny? Ms. Morgan goes on to say,in response for calls for a free shelter, "You know like in most other large cities.."

If you work all day with a day labor crew and then you get paid and smoke it all up in crack, I'm not paying for your room tonight, thank you very much," Morgan says. "We have to teach the homeless to be responsible and be good stewards of the money that people give us."

That's right, because all of the homeless are crack addicted day laborers?...what about those new ""East Memphis types who've lost it all?". Oh well so much for Morgan's statements ,"We've never had enough housing for families," Morgan says. "We're not serving the ones who need our help the most." or "There's still nowhere to house the medically fragile," Morgan says. "The current emergency shelters can't handle them." Isn't That funny?....no it's not funny at all

Patrician speak aside, it seems to me that Drug addicts, have families, they need help, and the also have associated medical issues.

We can either deal with the root causes of Homelessness effectively or we can continue to pay what Polar Donkey and I call "The Poverty Tax". The Poverty Tax is all of the associated costs to this city as a result of allowing brutal poverty, homelessness,lack of affordable health care,failing schools,insufficient drug treatment services,political corruption and a criminal justice system that makes poverty into a crime.
We pay this tax, every time we are panhandled, or every time we are robbed. We pay it with every closing business, and with every case of police brutality.We pay it with every school shooting and with every vacant house set on fire.We pay it and We have paid it for years...all of us are paying it already.So instead of paying a Tax that does not solve any of our problems, why not instead invest in solving these problems once and for all.
So why not build a free shelter for the homeless, it would cost pennies compared to the nonsense that this city and County spends money on. We could use one of the many vacant retail locations that dot the city., or one of the newly closed schools. The facts are that the Homeless population is way bigger than what the PFH report, and with the foreclosure crisis, that number is only going to grow over the next 12-36 months. Are we ready for that?

I often hear talk about what Memphis needs to do to become a "World Class City". At first it was, "We need to build up Downtown to become a World Class City." Then it became..."The Pyramid will make Memphis into a World Class City",Then when the Pyramid was not enough the chant became "the FED EX forum will make Memphis World Class City." Then later it was "Having the Grizzles in Memphis will make us a World Class City."
And so on....

Now here's the thing, if you go out and buy a lemon of a used car,and sink money into body work, a new paint job, and some nice new seats and a really kickin stereo system.
At the end of the day it looks pretty.... but it's still a Lemon.

If we really want Memphis to become a World Class City, then how's about we invest in a World class educational system?. That would actually attract new residents, as well as companies, and jobs.

If we really want Memphis to become a World Class City then why don't we invest a world class drug/alcohol rehab system.Curbing drug addiction would lower crime, and stem the tide of residents leaving our city. It would also result in lower cost to our court system and prison systems.

We could invest in ending our horrific infant mortality rate, which is on par with countries in the developing world.Or as a community say no forever to our children being poisoned by lead paint in their homes. That would attract new residents and as well.

We could follow Polar Donkey's advice and invest to make Memphis a World Class City for Alternative sources of energy. With our labor force, cheap water, and position as a distribution hub. We could become the Detroit of the 21st century.

Becoming a a World Class City,is not something that can be done with gimmicks and tchotchkes. It requires taking the responsibility that role requires and exploring real solutions to our difficult problems.

We should start by building a World Class service network for the Homeless and include the homeless populations we are trying to "help" in the discussion of what policies would best help them. Most of all we have to stop looking at the homeless as our enemy.

God forbid, but someone reading this post will most likely become homeless or have a friend, relative or loved one who will become homeless in the next three years. Don't wait until that moment to feel ashamed and decide that something should be done. It might be you out there one day.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Douchebag of the Week awards.

I was forwarded a blog post from bourgeois Douche Bag and man about town Paul Ryburn.
Mr Ryburn, on his Blog opined a new slew of elitist drivel that surpasses his past efforts.

However, I’d like to know if the Triangle Noir project will include the redevelopment of Abel and Allen Streets, two run-down streets to the south and east of Third, running from Vance to Butler. These streets are not within housing projects, but they contain a mixture of flophouses and boarded-up low-rent apartments. Many of Downtown’s panhandlers, scammers, and street criminals live there, and it is believed that other panhandlers go there to buy drugs. Two houses on Abel were busted as crack houses a couple years back. I hope Abel and Allen are within the 20-block redevelopment plan. Wiping those two streets entirely off the map of Memphis would do a lot to curtail crime Downtown.



Okay...so moving poor black people, who MR.Ryburn in his expert opinion deems to be "criminals" away from where he lives, and into other neighborhoods, would somehow curb crime in Memphis. Hmmm?
So, it's okay for people in Orange Mound,Nutbush,Beltline, Midtown and practically every other neighborhood in the City to have to deal with the problems of homelessness and blight but not Downtown? Downtown which already has lowest crime rate in the City. Downtown which already has one of the highest median family incomes in the city. Downtown which has consumed large sums of tax dollars and made developers and politicos a fortune even though hardly anyone lives there...Seriously?
So the solution to crime, and homelessness is to simply push out into someone else's community...Really?

BTW Triangle Noir?....the Black Triangle...sound like either a smuggling ring, or a place where city revenue mysteriously disappears.

Check out Polar Donkey's Excellent and informative post about this subject HERE

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Some friendly advice to the Next Executive Committee of the SCDP.

There has been so much talk about the various reasons and merits of City County consolidation in the media and all across the political sphere. Now my purpose today is not to rehash those issues, which have been covered so well elsewhere, but to highlight some potential political ramifications of such an event, IF it occurs.

One thing that needs to be considered carefully by us all is that Consolidation is not simply an issue of governance, but also of personal and ideological political agendas. Consider this,we are currently in a rare "Opening Window" of political opportunity here in Shelby County. Indictments, term limits and retirement have created a vacuum that has and is being filled as elected officials "move up the ladder" of political office, and a slew of newcomers are entering public life. Now, in a consolidation scenario, you have a challenge here. By consolidating government you decrease the number of political offices that current aspirants can advance to.This combined with County and now City Term Limits forces out a number of the old guard without leaving them a spot to move upward too. Mark my words local Democrats, this will be a matter of extreme importance to you in the next two years.

Let me tell you a story, Let's say that you are a City Councilperson who was preparing to run for Mayor. You have it on good authority that the incumbent Mayor was not seeking re-election, and you are a strong candidate for this position.
However, if consolidation were to occur, you would be forced to run against the former County Mayor who is oddly very popular, despite accomplishing next to nothing in his two terms,sadder still is the prospect that you could lose such an election.

Now while you may be personally in favor of consolidation for all the right reasons, it's passed could basically signal the end of the road for you in local politics as an elected official. Now you could keep your seat and hope to remain a viable candidate for eight years, but by then, there will be alot of other potential candidates looking to take their shot as well. So what does this hypothetical elected official do?

Okay here's another story, let's say that this time, you are a Term limited County Commissioner looking to make a move on the county side....as the favorite for Consolidated Mayor is the same person from the earlier example, we are left with the same result. Except in this case, you do not even get to stay put on the Commission due to term limits.

Now imagine if all three hypothetical elected officials were all from the same political party?...Yours.
If the fictitious County Mayor in the story wins, then he becomes not only the Consolidated Mayor, but will permanently consolidate his own political power, and the power of THOSE WHO SUPPORT HIM. He will be the top elected official for Memphis and Shelby County as well as having his potential rivals out of the way possibly forever.
So in 2010 and in 2011, consolidation raises the political stakes, as it truly will be "WIN OR GO HOME" People will have to choose sides.

Marinate on that for a brief moment...My Democratic friends


Now consider that in a Consolidated Government, all the old rules no longer apply, as County/City Term limits,the Ethics amendment and all of the New City and County Charter amendments will be basically null and void.In fact as the County has partisan primaries, then that alone would effectively neuter Instant Runoff Voting from the proverbial "Get Go". So the question is, will these same amendments be added into the new Metro charter, and if so, what would be the procedure for creating this document? Who would be on the inside of that issue, and most importantly, would this be an open process and would the public be allowed to have input?....more likely arguments like this one will be boiled down into, "If your not for this proposed Metro Charter, then you are against consolidation!" The same Either/Or type thinking that the establishment always uses to stifle debate, no matter how reasonable. Don't fall for it Democrats...or Republicans for that matter.

Also, do not be surprised as with consolidation you will hear a rising call from Republicans and some Democrats to remove Partisan primaries from Metro/county politics, as City politics are nonpartisan. "This would save IRV...If it makes the cut and is included into the Metro charter." It would also increase the power of corporate and special interest groups, and further diminish the political influence of local political parties. All that would be left would be the legislator races, which are largely uncompetitive on both sides of the aisle.


You and your next Chair person will be pulled in a variety of directions. So while I support consolidation as I urge everyone to do so as well. I think we should really stop and think about all of the consequences of those choices and to keep an ever vigilant eye out on just HOW this process could begin. Shea Flinn posted something along those lines over at Smart City Memphis right Here, and I applaud him for that.

I also wanted to say that Change Memphis will be keeping a close eye on how this ongoing process effects the amendments that were all passed by overwhelming margins by the voters in Memphis and Shelby County.

The Next Exec Comm and it's Chair will have quite a balancing act on their hands,for in addition to building up the local party, fundraising and the upcoming Governor, and US Senate races...etc. You also will have to resist being pulled into someone else's fight.

Be strong, and hold your ground, or none of the other stuff will matter.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Feel Good Friday-The Wisdom of Crowds

First off, I'd like to thank everyone who came out and braved the cold to attend the Living the Legacy of Nonviolence event celebrating the 27th anniversary of the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center. We had a great time and raised funds that will ensure the continuation of the great programs we have here at the Center. I also wanted to say just how deeply humbling it is to work with such a tremendous group of people, our Staff,Board members, interns and volunteers alike.

I also wanted to take a moment to talk about two of the upcoming programs of the Peace and Justice center that I think everyone should take a look at.

G.O.T. Power, is an eight week crash course in all of the skills and techniques of Grassroots organizing. At these classes, attendants will learn from veteran organizers about Recruitment, Direct Action, Fundraising, Media relations,How to run a productive meeting, and other skills that will help them to run effective campaigns in their communities. The idea is simple, in Shelby County we have a hosts of issues that face us all, in our neighborhoods,schools and on our jobs. Here locally there is a bottleneck of those who are trained to effectively organize and combat these issues, and that's no accident. The fact is that those with those skills often hoard that information and those skills as that ensures their "place" in the political pecking order. So, by increasing the number of people that have those skills, you inject free radicals,"horrible pun, I know", into a stagnant and corrupt system forcing it to reform from within. You have to drown out the voices of the corruption, with new voices. Thus no one needs to buy what the establishment is selling, because all such skills will be common knowledge and open sourced. I have said for years now that the training of new activists and organizers, the creation of new clubs and new organizations is the most direct path for the advancement of progressive reforms and ideas in this County and beyond. That's why I want to invite those of you out there who want to stand up for your communities and neighborhoods to sign up for our GOT Power training program. Our next session begins Thursday January 22th. Oh...Did I mention that this training is a completely FREE of charge, service offered by the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center?
If interested, you should contact our wonderful Education Coordinator Allison Glass at Allison@Midsouthpeace.org and sign up TODAY, while there is still room. If you miss out this time, do not fret, GOT Power is an ongoing program offered by the Center four times a year, so we hope to help usher in the next wave of grassroots community organizers in Memphis. Tell her Brad sent you....

On a related note, I also wanted to take a moment to let you know about a project that I have been working on since the whole Ballotgate affair. Peace and Justice has been working with Howard Dean's Democracy For America to host DFA TRAINING ACADEMY here in Memphis, April 25th and 26th. At this event, attendees will learn all the aspects of Electoral political organizing, from Ward and Precinct building, to lobbying elected officials, to building a successful GOTV operation and much more. We will be bringing in organizers and campaign workers from National campaigns as well as National political organizations, to lead these trainings. This is a perfect companion piece to GOT power, and I am proud to be the local host for such an event. DFM hosted a similar event with DFA back in 2006, and those trained went on to become valuable campaign workers and candidates in the 2006 elections. Check out this wonderful event and sign up today at DFA TRAINING ACADEMY

Also be sure to check this blog for other updates for other trainings as well.


Demand Change



Monday, January 12, 2009

Cindy Sheehan comes to Memphis

Living the Legacy of Nonviolence
27th Anniversary Celebration


You are cordially invited to an evening of art, music,
inspiration and action as our community comes together to celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center.


Please join us on January 15, 2009 as we celebrate
at BRIDGES, 477 N 5th Street
free secure parking at Auction and 4th


Reception • 6:30-7:00pm • South Lobby
Featuring
• light reception and cash bar
• the music of Andy Cohen
• an exhibition of Eyes Wide Open TN


Banquet and Celebration • 7:00pm • High Hall
Featuring
• Keynote Speaker Cindy Sheehan
• a locally grown meal prepared by Chef Erik Waldkirch
• the music of Holly Cole
• an engaging performance from Playback Memphis


Price
$35 per ticket • $270 for a table of eight


Purchasing Tickets
To reserve your place at the table either download this reservation form and return with payment to the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center • 1000 S. Cooper St. • Memphis, TN 38104 or go to Brown Paper Tickets to purchase securely online. Tickets may also be purchased by phone through Brown Paper Tickets by calling 1-800-838-3006.

Purchase Online

Click here to order tickets

A limited number of volunteers are also needed to work the event. Volunteers will receive free admission to the event in exchange for their hard work. Please contact jacob@midsouthpeace.org to reserve your space today.

Seating will be reserved and your tickets will be mailed if payment is received before Jan.10. Remaining tickets will be held in will-call for pick-up at the door.

Sponsorship opportunities are available along with ads for the 27th Anniversary Commemorative booklet. Please contact jacob@midsouthpeace.org for more info or visit www.midsouthpeace.org.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Feel Good Friday




This was the opening to one of the classic Hanna-Barbara saturday morning cartoon show, The Herculoids. Tarzan in space, what could be cooler than that?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

I'm Not Loving it.....

As if I needed a another reason NOT to eat at McDonalds....

Check out this bullshit....The Food sucks too

Be sure to give them some feedback.......