April 30, 2006
That’s the Ticket - Thumbs up and thumbs down for county primaries
The mailers arrive in duplicate these days and local websites are plastered with lo-fi GIF ads (some local sites, anyway). The Hamilton County Election Commission is geared up for twelve grueling hours at the open polls. (Think positive thoughts.) Campaign spending keeps getting bigger every cycle. “It’s amazing that this much money gets spent just to get someone a job,” quips a friend. It follows that turnout keeps pace with spending, right? By this point, we should be nearing saturation, no? But, you say, Murfreesboro’s municipal elections (April 18) managed to rouse a staggering 10 percent off their sorry behinds. In New Orleans (April 22), where very important decisions are being made about an entire city’s future: 38 percent. I want a sea of purple thumbs, people.
Here’s something for every candidate to consider: If yours is the most expensive campaign, I’m going to have to trust you a lot to believe that you’ll turn right around and provide the least expensive government.
Okay, that was a lot to chew on, so back to lighter fare: the candidates. Most of you know all of this and could write it from memory, I’m sure. In the spirit of service to the few who have been otherwise occupied by important matters and are just now getting acquainted with the selections for this go-round, please let’s all read through them together. A little refresher won’t hurt any of us.
HAMILTON COUNTY BOARD
No Democrats qualified. Laura Oakley is running in the apparent moderate’s lane against Commissioner Fred Skillern. The Civic Forum endorses Ms. Oakley’s admirable effort to unseat the boss man.
No Democrats qualified. Ken Holloway challenges incumbent Commissioner Casavant. The winner will face independent (Libertarian, unofficially) Joe Dumas in August. In the Republican primary, the choice is Casavant or Holloway, and we’ll go with the one we know: Dr. Casavant.
Commissioner Charlotte Vandergriff is stepping down. Three Republicans qualified to try at replacing her. Terry Conley, Jim Coppinger and Al Smith are their names. If you live in District 3 and are apt to vote in the GOP primary, you should know your choice by now. Ours is Jim Coppinger. No Democrats qualified.
There is no contested primary, but please to be sure to vote for the candidate of your choosing.
Greg Beck was named to this seat after former Commissioner JoAnne Favors won her bid for the Tennessee House of Representatives. Cynthia Coleman is his Democratic opponent. Both are respectable candidates who would serve the community well. Commissioner Beck has stepped into his role so well, that it’s after measured thought he gets the nod here to try for another term. Rev. Bernie Miller is unopposed on the Republican ticket.
Lou Miller was appointed to this seat after her husband, the late Commissioner Ben Miller, Jr., passed away, but she won it outright in a subsequent special election. Her primary opponent is former Democratic Party chair John Allen Brooks. No Republicans qualified. This column endorses the challenger, John Allen Brooks, but mind what we said about the expenses.
Red Burrows decided to take on Commissioner Larry Henry after the latter’s ostensibly reluctant move to help pass the education (and general services) tax increase. Mr. Burrows is passionate, but too personal. Keep Commissioner Henry. No Democrats qualified.
There is no contested primary, but please to be sure to vote for the candidate of your choosing.
No candidates qualified other than the incumbent.
CIRCUIT COURT, DIVISION II
Judge Samuel Payne decided to retire. Two Democrats will vie on May 2: Tom Crutchfield and Steven Grant. Whichever wins will meet the sole Republican, Jeff Hollingsworth, in the August general election. For the record, this column doesn’t sanction partisan judicial elections. It’s therefore difficult to endorse a primary candidate, but Steven W. Grant does seem to be the more energetic choice for this part of the election.
Likewise, it’s wholly uninspiring that the top law enforcement position in the county is sought after by partisan politicians – or, at best, able persons who are forced to wear the trappings of one or the other party. Nevertheless, them’s the rules (for now). Both major parties have some winnowing to do in this one. The Democrats are two veteran officers, Hank DeArman and Billy Long. The Republicans are former chief deputy Andy Derryberry and the incumbent, Sheriff John Cupp. (Independent Dave Alverson will complete the trinity for the general election.) Billy Long, in the Democratic primary, receives the Civic Forum endorsement, though there are several well-qualified contenders among the challengers.
AND THE REST…
Otherwise, the slate contains no more than one name per position per ballot. The remainder of positions you’ll see on May 2 are: Juvenile Court, Chancery Court (2), Criminal Court (3), and three remaining Circuit Court seats; County Mayor; District Attorney and Public Defender; a trio of court clerks (Circuit, Criminal and Juvenile); and Trustee, County Clerk and Register of Deeds. (Bonus question: Why isn’t Assessor of Property included here?) Depending on your primary preference, you may not see names in all of these. Remember that the General Sessions Judges and County Board of Education will join the fray in the August general election. Also don’t forget your municipal elections, including that to replace former Chattanooga City Council member Yusuf Hakeem in District 9.
Most importantly, vote. Local governments make decisions that affect your everyday life. Be involved in those decisions. It’s hard to “hold them accountable” if you yourself are not accountable for how they got there. If it helps, get some ink and stain your thumb.
April 28, 2006
My well-behaved wife?
Kids really do listen to everything that is said within earshot. They then apply the acquired vocabulary in some hilarious ways.
The boy, who has just turned 18 months, walked into the kitchen while we were getting ready for the day. The wife noticed that the pants she had chosen for him were a little long after he pointed to his cuffs and said "hep [help], hep." So, she reached down and rolled them up. The boy then looked up at his mom and, in apparent imitation of my typical response to the dog's post-potty return, chirped "good girl!"
Yes, I informed him that such would only be cute a severely limited number of times.
April 26, 2006
Candidate for State House speaks out on cell phone records bill
I asked for some thoughts from District 52 candidate Jon Davidson after his opponent in the November 7 election, Representative Rob Briley, was among four Democrats on the House Constitutional Protections Committee who refused to second a motion to discuss HB2500.
Mr. Davidson responded to my query with a reminder that the process by which this bill was effectively ignored is a necessary filter for frivolous legislation; but then he went on to state that his cursory view of the bill rendered it worthy of at least a second look.
His full statement:
I would have seconded the motion to take up the bill if I were a voting member of the committee. This question emphasizes the importance of having a Constitutional Protections Committee populated by legislators who have a firm grasp on the frightening capabilities of modern electronics and computer systems in the context of the privacy guaranteed by our Constitution and so treasured by all Americans. It is a proven fact that no computer system is invulnerable to attack, given adequate time and incentive on the part of hackers. But it is irrelevant whether millions of cell phone numbers are harvested by "airwave hacking" or by "human bribery". The end result is the same. Let us remind ourselves that in practice, this invasion of privacy is actually a "white collar" or corporate crime motivated by profits running into tens of millions of dollars in Tennessee alone. If the average Tennessean is annoyed or interrupted in their daily lives by phone sales calls for even ten minutes per week, the aggregate cost in lost time adds up to over one billion dollars per year. I have presented a dollar cost merely to illustrate the power of the forces in play here, since it is obvious that some people have a doubtful grasp on the true value of our Constitutional rights.
Foundation created in memory of 2-year-old cancer victim
I can't effectively write about this, but I did want to make you aware of it.
Thanks to NewsChannel9 for the garden dedication story.
Campaign Staff News and more
Matt White's new "Inside Baseball" column launched the other day at the Tennessee Politics Blog. Every indication is that this will be a must-read whenever it happens, just like everything else on TPB. Among other things, White reported that the Jim Bryson for Governor campaign has hired Gregory Gleaves as its manager. It sounds like the Tennessee Republican Party is treating its gubernatorial primary like the Democrats treated theirs for US Senate. That is, it would seem so from the Mark Albertini/Jim Boyd point of view. Gleaves is from the home office (not currently, but until recently).
In local campaign news, County Commission candidate John Bailes (my next District 8 Commissioner, if our efforts are successful) has switched treasurers. His official campaign started with the staunch help of transportation executive Bill Lusk; but Lusk went on to file and run his own campaign for the Tennessee House of Representatives. The Bailes campaign needs someone who can concentrate on just this one very important race, so I'm glad to see them moving on this. The May 2 primary is important for GOTV numbers, but the real battle starts after the two candidates are formally selected by their parties' (and other) voters.
It's by no means breaking news, but I found last week's KNS story on special-session fundraising to be most enlightening. (Append this item to your memory of the big fundraising parties that were deliberately moved up-calendar to avoid being associated with the eve of an ethics session.) Chattanooga Times cartoonist Bruce Plante apparently thought something of the story, too. Unfortunately, I can't provide you a link to his depiction at this time, but it featured his standard General Assembly caricatures hooting over a bag of loot and saying that it had been a "very special" session indeed. (Nevermind, the site came back up. Here it is.)
Rep. Stacey Campfield, the only state legislator who consistently blogs (whether or not you appreciate his style or his politics, you have to give him that), posted about Rep. Susan Lynn's bill (HB2500: PDF/Summary) that would prevent the private sale of cell phone records, and how that bill fared (or, rather, didn't) in the House Constitutional Protections committee. I asked for and received feedback from one Jon Davidson, an independent candidate who is challenging committee member Rob Briley in District 52. As soon as I can, I will post that response here, so be on the lookout for it. Mr. Davidson is very strong on constitutional protections, from what I can tell. (By the way, today Rep. Campfield alerted us to the fact that Susan Lynn has started her own blog to deal with discussions of suspected autism enabler thimerosal. This is a very important topic for me personally, as the wife and I struggle with the infant vaccination question every time it comes up.)
That's about all I can fit in right now. I know you've already seen the updated State Senate 11th District list, which is down to one candidate now (Bo Watson). I consider Bo one of the good guys, so even though I much prefer for voters to have a choice in any election, I have no doubt that Watson will make a fine State Senator.
April 24, 2006
Getting our Houses (and Senates) in order
Thanks to the reminder from candidate John Farmer, I've been checking in with the latest unofficial candidate lists published by the Tennessee Secretary of State.
(An honest question is, "why not just link to the Sec of State's list instead of building all of this html attached to your blog?" The answer? I feel that by linking to candidate sites, blogs, endorsers, and other information, and by listing facts about the candidates where known, I add value to what is otherwise just the list.)
April 23, 2006
Banned-Aid - Patching up the Michael Weber story
[Author's note: this was written before the 4/23/2006 editorial by CTFP Executive Editor Tom Griscom was published.]
There’s little doubt that Chattanooga Times Free Press editor Tom Griscom feels caught in the middle after one of his investigative reporters was banned from contacting Chattanooga officials. If I were the banned reporter, or any reporter at the paper for that matter, I’d be wishing that my boss would seek a firmer footing on my side of the divide. Sound ethics prevents any of these reporters from commenting on the record, so we can only surmise partial or vague semblances of newsroom reality, but sources have already intimated that there is much dismay over the cautious stance taken by Griscom.
Whatever happens to one specific reporter, the TFP will go on being Chattanooga’s daily print news source. A well-cultivated relationship between local media and local government is a necessary component to an informed citizenry. Realizing this lends perspective to one’s initial gut reaction upon hearing this story. You can see, I am sure, that an executive editor must take seriously any allegations that his staffers are deemed “threatening” to their contacts. That’s the big picture, but it’s still murky. Without many details, it’s hard for one to visualize just what is meant by “threatening.” Having to deal with “pestering” is no fun, but it’s definitely not the same thing. The simple fact is, the latter comes with the territory, like heat with a kitchen. I trust our city officials know what to do in the event they can’t stand the heat.
While we’re searching for the clearest picture, let’s focus on the mayor’s side of things. What’s the atmosphere at City Hall now that the one trouble-making reporter has been given the boot? Are “key staff” breathing sighs of relief? Here’s the thing: they had better think twice before exhaling. What will most certainly happen now – that is, if this little column has anything to do with it – is that dozens of additional professional journalists, citizen journalists, and curious townsfolk will barrage the offices with questions: about the ban, about the stories that were being investigated, and about the relationship between the people’s right to know and the government’s duty to tell them. If Michael Weber is not allowed to ask about lobbyists and contracts, then it is upon the rest of us to make sure the line of questioning continues.
The closest Tom Griscom has come so far to defending necessarily aggressive journalism is calling the ban “draconian.” I couldn’t agree more with that assessment. One just has to wonder what different steps would have been taken by Mayor Littlefield if the reporter in question hadn’t been a transplant from points north. Why has there been a persistence on the part of the mayor to mention Brooklyn while referring to the situation? I hope he wasn’t suggesting that the Scenic City somehow rates below another swell burg by the “My guess is that it really didn’t work for Mr. Weber in Brooklyn and that is why he is here in Chattanooga” remark. What is this, a penal colony for journalists? I’d say Chattanooga, Tennessee stands neck and jaw beside any of the other fine cities out there, but no one’s paying me to say that. (Ahem, but we are paying you to say that, Your Honor.) There’s no need to rekindle ancient geographic rivalries over this. “He’s a northerner who thinks we’re all stupid,” the mayor said. That’s a rather reckless remark to make when industrial parks sit nearly vacant. Let’s try not to broadcast our defensive hostility too far beyond the Mason-Dixon line, lest we scare off what few potential employers there may be looking to relocate.
Furthermore, why was it necessary to issue a press release announcing a ban, and not just have a conversation with the editor? These are some of the questions that also need asking, but let’s make sure that the primary effort goes toward 1) following up on the stories Mr. Weber has been writing, and 2) making sure those currently in charge of the City of Chattanooga know that they will be held accountable to their public in terms of information. Are you with me? They can’t ban all of us.
April 22, 2006
Let's get this party started
Austin Cassidy linked to New York magazine's astoundingly inspiring articles about the very real chance that a pro-security, socially-chill and fiscally pragmatic political party could emerge -- nay, erupt -- and be electorally viable within the next two POTUS election cycles. (And they remind us that Alan Greenspan said so himself.) For this I thank Austin Cassidy.
Go read the entire series. Even though there are flaws in some of the thinking (and some wacky names included for the "Frankencandidate" mix), the bulk of it is right tasty reading. Maybe these choice bits will get your mind salivating.
...a robust new independent party of passionately practical progressives* in the middle.
And that’s because one of the core values will be honesty. Not a preachy, goody-goody, I’ll-never-lie-to-you honesty of the Jimmy Carter type, but a worldly, full-throated and bracing candor. The moderation will often be immoderate in style and substance, rather than tediously middle-of-the-road. [Emphasis mine.]
Sadly, though former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani sounds mostly like an ideal candidate for this kind of party, he's alienating some fans these days.
April 21, 2006
Hallie Unusual Behavior
Let's all get together, hold hands, and hope that none of us ever has to appear before a General Sessions Judge in Hamilton County. Or, at the very least, that none of us will draw Division II on our docket day. (Is that how that works?)
Have you seen the news about the girlfight between judicial candidates Hallie McFadden and Mary Sullivan Moore? I take that back: it's not news. I started reading the Chattanoogan article, and found myself asking, "what is this 's---'?" (I have it narrowed down to 'soap' or 'snot'.)
The main thing I know about the Division II incumbent is that he owns (or owned) shopping mall hair salons. He was appointed last October after former judge Mike Carter resigned. All three of the candidates are necessarily licensed to practice law, and some of them do so with a vengeance, apparently.
The challengers are these two who sound more like high school students than candidates for a sober office.
I won't pick on Mary S. Moore's pathetic "know this, bitch" tone, nor on her downright paranoid assertion that her phone is being tapped by one or the other of her two opponents. (How precise.) I will come right out and say that she spelled the incumbent's name wrong. It's "Bales," not "Bailes." (Bailes is a candidate's name, but he's running for County Commission, to unseat Curtis Adams.) Misspellings do tend to hurt a candidate's standings, in my estimation. (Uh-oh.)
Also: I don't know Bob Moon, but he performed a wedding for a couple of dear friends. I stood in as a groomsman in that wedding. I got close enough to Judge Bob Moon to get a strong sense that he wouldn't have had anything to do with a silly post on Nooga.com. I could always be wrong.
Sometimes I love the small-town aspects of this rather large city (metro of half a million). Sometimes I don't.
TN Green candidates on Ballot Access News
The title just about says it all, and here's the link.
Furthermore, Jon Davidson, a candidate for the Tennessee House of Representatives in Nashville's District 52, has ties to the Green Party but I don't know for sure whether the party counts his candidacy as "one of theirs."
Who knows of others? Do tell.
The Chattanooga Times editorial page blasts Littlefield's "defamatory" comments
I'm assuming that this is by Harry Austin, but it doesn't matter. The opinion page on the left just comes right out and says what many of us were likely thinking when we heard or read Mayor Ron Littlefield's disparaging remarks about TFP reporter Michael Weber.
Here's what I wrote last week:
I'm starting to become really uncomfortable with the mayor's tone and his barely submerged verbal signals.
And here is the far more direct approach preferred by the Times opinion writer:
[I]t is not a reporter’s, or this newspaper’s, pursuit of facts that is unprofessional. Rather, it is Mayor Littlefield’s defamatory public statements and his egregious reference to Mr. Weber’s work "in Brooklyn" (Mr. Weber worked once at Newsday in New York) that are wholly unprofessional and contemptible. That slur can be read both as anti-Yankee and anti-Semitic, since attacks on the Jewish community in New York traditionally referred to the acts of people "in Brooklyn."
Mayor Littlefield’s action managed, in a single stroke, to offend all responsible journalists here, to draw coverage to the anti-democratic attitude and thin skin of Chattanooga’s mayor, and to demonstrate his bias against northerners and Jews.
There's more to this story, as of today. A commenter (#4 on this article) on the Pulse website suggests that Tom Griscom really failed to stand up for his journalists in the face of these attacks, and that he even did some "research" on the person with whom he was corresponding.
Tom Griscom's claim that he is just seeking the facts in Mayor Littlefield's despotic action is belied by a reply to an email I sent Griscom the day after this story broke. In his reply he rose to Mayor Littlefield's defense, asserting that the Mayor never said Michael Weber was "from Brooklyn" but had said that he was "a northerner." [...] I challenged his assertion, citing press reports from Chattanooga, and received another reply that noted that since I was teaching in Columbus (never mentioned in my email) I lacked access to all relevant information.
So at the same time Griscom was "collecting the facts," he was researching the backgrounds of those who challenged him and inaccurately defending the Mayor to critics via the Internet. No wonder the TFP staff is demoralized by his dithering.
This thing ain't over, y'all.
How did you get here? Wait, where are you going?
Friends, I need help with something. How can I make this site easier to use?
I occasionally (okay, more often than is recommended by the FDA) check my StatCounter to see what causes visitors to land on TennesseeTicket.com. The good news: more and more, lately, it's searches like 'election candidates in hamilton county tennessee' or 'tennessee state house candidates'. Candidate names are also big.
The bad news? Way too many times, the visitor lands on the front page and doesn't click through to the page that would answer the query. What does this mean?
I don't mean to brag, but I've done my own searches, and I can't find many better places to peruse 'election candidates in hamilton county tennessee' or 'tennessee state house candidates'. The lack of comprehensive collections like this was the primary impetus for my seeking out a way to publish such a thing.
I know there are other repositories, and we all choose to package data in different ways; but is there something about the layout here that either confuses or repels seekers of electoral knowledge?
It's a volunteer effort, so you get what you pay for; but on the other hand, if the effort is not resulting in the delivery of quality information, something needs to change. Please tell me what that is, and I'll do my best to fix it.
April 20, 2006
Never have I ever drunk a Pepsi..
Some interesting affinities and antipathies culled from the blog-o-sphere in recent days:
"I have NEVER voted in a democrat race, ever." -- Brian Hornback
"I have never, not once in my life, voted for a Democrat, never." -- Glen Dean
"It's entirely possible, and I suggest probable, that powerful elements within the [Democratic] party are in fact [Republican] saboteurs. What better weapon could you have in your aresenal [sic] than a go-to consultant who your enemy depends on for strategy[?]" -- "Jeff"
"Partisanship needs to be [reduced], definitely." -- A.C. Kleinheider
"Be It Resolved, The Democratic Party of Shelby County commits to adopt a rule for the 2007 Biennial Convention that will EXCLUDE any participating voter who shall have voted in a Republican Primary between August 1, 2006 and the conclusion of our 2007 County Convention." -- Del R. Gill
"Don’t be fickle with elections, obviously, but if the opportunity and need arises, try primary voting for a party you may not usually support. It feels a little naughty, in the good way....When the public pays for primaries, we have every right and duty to participate in them, regardless of whether we consider ourselves die-hard members of the organizations in question. See you at the polls." -- yours truly
"Excuse me, I am a Democrat, and I have been all my life, but I vote in the Republican primaries for a simple reason, I like getting their push poll and mailer information." -- Memphis Blue
"Do the terms liberal/conservative, Democrat/Republican, Red/Blue really capture the political viewpoints held by most Americans? The Pew Research Center doesn't think so, and has released another interesting poll on political typology in the U.S. that shows why." -- Chris Kromm
April 19, 2006
Skip to my Lou
Both are County Commissioners.
The Lou on the left, Lou Miller, is a Democrat. Mary Lou Horner, on the right, is a Republican.
Lou Miller is running for re-election in Hamilton County. Mary Lou Horner has decided to call it quits as a Knox County institution.
We Know You're In There (Kinda)
April 18, 2006
SEIU, Major Littlefield Donor, Praises Healy Ouster
NewsChannel9 has the goods. I'm sure other outlets will carry additional coverage.
Why Vote in Primary Elections? - Because we pay for them either way
Democrats and Republicans have intra-party elections to determine which candidates will represent their policy platforms when the general public goes to the polls. Yeah, you say, and so do the Constitution, Green, Libertarian and still other parties. There is a difference, however: the two large parties use the same public-funded electoral devices availed to the general elections – elections that actually decide who sits in office – while the rest make do without such infrastructure, and hold plain, old-fashioned nominating conventions that they fund and run themselves.
On May 2, the Hamilton County Election Commission will organize, supervise and administer these elections to decide the elect-able. In fact, it’s apparently not enough that the public funds one election day for these private organizations, as early voting has started already – in January, maybe, or right after Christmas. (I kid; early voting for the May 2 election starts April 12 and continues through April 27, excluding Sundays. And Friday, April 14. And Saturday, April 15. Confused? Just vote with me on May 2.) Poll workers will check ID’s and cross-reference them with rolls, ballot machines will quietly suck electricity, and officials will be on tap to count everything when it’s all over. There are costs associated with the printing of the ballots, and much more. All of it is happening whether you care or not, and all of it on your (and my) dime.
The major political parties would like to think that they enjoy year-round support (nay, devotion) from all who place their votes with one or the other’s candidates every two or four years. Perhaps using that overestimation as Abramoff-style collateral (think casino boat financing), and because they do more or less evenly split nearly 100 percent of the power, they have written the rules so that their party nominations occur as a public act. I say we jump in and play the game, since we’re footing the bill. Instead of sitting out and letting “the faithful” have the reins, we should inform ourselves about these candidates and show up on primary day to register our say about them. Tennessee has what are called open primaries and surprisingly clean rules on voter registration. A person registers to vote, not as a member of a party. Likewise, when you go to the polls on primary day, you can ask for either ballot. Don’t be fickle with elections, obviously, but if the opportunity and need arises, try primary voting for a party you may not usually support. It feels a little naughty, in the good way.
Some will have little choice other than to switch-hit in the upcoming primary. District 1, for example, has no Democratic candidate for County Commission on the ballot. Should Democrats from Browntown to Sale Creek sit at home? Of course not. First of all, they have choices to make for other offices (just two: Circuit Court Judge Div. II, between Tom Crutchfield and Steven Grant; and Sheriff, between Hank DeArman and Billy Long). If they are less concerned about the outcome of those races than about whether Fred Skillern or Laura Oakley will automatically become the general election winner, though, they may consider asking for a Republican ballot. Similar scenarios abound across the county.
There are additional reasons to vote on May 2, of course, if you happen to live in Chattanooga or in one of several small municipalities around the area. Chattanooga City Judge Sherry Paty appears poised to easily win re-election over her once and future rival, Assistant District Attorney Gerald Webb. We’ll talk more about this race a couple of weeks from now in the all-judge edition, but whether you’re inclined to help Judge Paty cruise or to boost Mr. Webb to a surprise victory, you’ll want to be out and voting. This election is not the primary; it’s the real deal. Judgeships are also at stake in Red Bank, Signal Mountain, Collegedale and Soddy-Daisy. Chattanooga’s 9th District will elect a replacement for Yusuf Hakeem. But the unincorporated, the independent, and the minor-party members will simply be helping to narrow the field down to one each, each position, for the Democrats and Republicans.
Perhaps the parts of party primaries that seem primarily unnecessary are the SEC elections. No, I’m not talking about baseball; these are for the respective State Executive Committees of each major party. It took me a while to figure out why there were “extra” names on ballots when the people named, whether or not I voted for them, never showed up in any government office. Okay, so their function is of significant importance in the parties – why do the rest of us care? These positions do not seem to belong on public ballots, even if I can be convinced that the parties’ candidate selection processes should be public. While I have no qualms whatsoever about encouraging primary-crashing when it comes to real candidates, I would advise leaving these alone if you’re not a party member. The SEC elections aren’t until August, anyway, so the election nearest at hand should be approached with full freedom, and the knowledge to back that freedom.
Send a message this May 2 (or earlier, if you’ll be unavailable on that day) to the controlling organizations. Flood their primaries with votes. The message is, “if you truly want this to be an internal affair, you’ll organize and fund it without public underwriting.” When the public pays for primaries, we have every right and duty to participate in them, regardless of whether we consider ourselves die-hard members of the organizations in question. See you at the polls.
April 15, 2006
Going through withdrawals
A wave of candidates turned in qualifying petitions last week, and like most waves, it receded. The "try harder next time" prize goes to some who failed to procure enough valid signatures. Others saw the lineup and got scared, or were talked out of the venture by sane relatives; either way, these formally withdrew their names before the deadline (in most state and nonpartisan local races, April 13 at noon). Then there's James Hart — knowledge of whose August 3 ballot status remains elusive to me.
I'm trying to keep up, but there's a beachful of remnants to pick through. It follows, then, that you'll send me any corrections having to do with your particular concern, or leave a comment here, and I'll do updates in the order that they're received.
The same goes for sections of the site that haven't yet been updated with the slate of candidates.
Thanks for reading, helping, and being an active participant in your government.
Chattanooga Mayor Littlefield Bans Reporter
No doubt you've heard.
I don't know how many of you have met Mr. Weber, or paid attention to his writing. I started looking forward to his work after a Sunday cover story on lobbyists and campaign contributions really woke me up. I wish I knew the date on that article.
So, "key staff" felt accused and abraded by an investigative reporter. Huh. I'll be.
I admit that I've never had Mike Weber hunting me down for a story, but in my encounters with him, in person and in print, he has come across as nothing but professional. Passionate, yes; tenacious? Probably. Those come with the job, you'd hope.
And what's this about Brooklyn, Mayor Littlefield? I hope you weren't suggesting that the Scenic City somehow rates below another swell burg by your "[m]y guess is that it really didn’t work for Mr. Weber in Brooklyn and that is why he is here in Chattanooga" remark. What are we, a journalist penal colony? I'd say Chattanooga, Tennessee stands neck and jaw beside any of the other fine cities out there, but no one's paying me to say that. (Ahem. Your Honor.)
UPDATE 1: 10,000 monkeys typed out a few good lines about this, and there's a very interesting parallel linked in the post. The mayor of Jackson, MS has recently banned several news personnel, including former TFP writer Kathleen Baydala.
UPDATE 2: The mayor was on WGOW this morning, and had this to say about Michael Weber: "He's a northerner who thinks we're all stupid." Is it just me, or does this make Littlefield seem uncomfortably like caricatures of small-town government in the South, as found in, say, My Cousin Vinny? I'm starting to become really uncomfortable with the mayor's tone and his barely submerged verbal signals.
Furthermore, back on the "it's part of your job to promote the city" front, it's not generally wise to make obliquely negative implications about other regions like that. You really don't want to discourage potential job-creators from relocating here by causing them to perceive an hostile environment. But wait -- I remember now, all the jobs are coming from China and Korea, so we can talk trash to them uppity Yankees if we want to. Right?
UPDATE 3: I found a pretty good piece on this story in Editor & Publisher yesterday, then moments later discovered that the Pulse bloggers (and alice) had scooped me on it. The credited author, senior editor Joe Strupp, recalls a targeted ban enacted by Maryland Governor Robert Ehrlich against two Baltimore Sun employees, but does not mention the recent Clarion-Ledger incident or other noteworthy events in Jackson, Miss. I sent Mr. Strupp an e-mail thanking him for bringing attention to the Weber story in his outlet.
UPDATE 4: The Pulse has an online exclusive by city editor Aaron Mesh. Next week's regular edition will no doubt contain further coverage and commentary. I guess I can speak for the Civic Forum column, which will definitely weigh in.
April 13, 2006
Salvia Breath, Senator
Found on Chattanoogan.com: "We have enough problems with illegal drugs as it is without people promoting getting high from some glorified weed that’s been brought up from Mexico. The only people I’ve heard from who are opposed to making [Salvia divinorum] illegal are those who are getting stoned on it." -- Tennessee State Senator Tim Burchett
Well, Senator Burchett, now you've heard from someone who has never touched the stuff, and wouldn't recognize it on sight, who opposes making it illegal.
First, you've got the hypocrisy: Tobacco kills unholy numbers of people every year, and it's legal. (For the record, I strongly oppose any effort to make it otherwise.)
Then, you've got basic freedoms: the plants that people choose to ingest are not the government's arena of operations. "You're out of your element," as Walter would say.
"But, but -- what if someone chooses to ingest a plant that is known to harm people?"
See point #1.
Thirdly: Tim. Dude, it's a freakin' mint. Like oregano, or basil. Or catnip. Yes, that's right -- felines everywhere are getting all hopped up on salvia's relative.
Indigenous Americans have been using salvia for centuries. It's part of a rite. They might be able to handle their doses, or they may just munch a little bit -- I don't know. What I do know is that the best way to keep people from trying to get their hands on a whole pile of something and get zonked on it is NOT by making it illegal. Prohibition simply entices; it does not deter.
Just take part of your own statement, for example. "We have enough problems with illegal drugs as it is." Do you not realize that if you create more illegal drugs, you create more of those problems?
Here's some "sage" advice, Senator Burchett: drop this invasive legislation and don't look back. We'll try to forget it ever happened.
Kurita's Withdrawal: Another Hackett Job?
A couple of Memphis bloggers are progressively angrier with each post about State Senator Rosalind Kurita's withdrawal from the US Senate race.
autoegocrat: "For the record, my position on Ford stands: I will not vote for an Uncle Tom Democrat, and the day I let some party apparatchik from New York tell me who to vote for is the day I stop being an American. Uncle Junior's got Chuck Schumer's help, so he clearly doesn't need mine."
LeftWingCracker: "[F___] you, Schumer."
In contrast: Daniel, who ran the unofficial Kurita campaign blog, expresses staunch support for Congressman Harold Ford, Jr.
Meanwhile: Kleinheider, ably operating the VolVo, asks why some former Kurita supporters are going Blue Dog instead of Green.
April 12, 2006
Some things do get better with age
Roger Abramson's "Nashville Eye" column on the ills of partisan judicial elections was written a couple of years ago. I would add (and I infer concurrence from "judgeships and the like") that sheriffs, district attorneys, public defenders, and other courthouse positions also need not to have people waving party banners in order to convince voters of their qualifications. Primaries would be less expensive (if the public needs to pay for them at all — see today's Civic Forum in the Pulse), and these ostensibly neutral positions might much less often be populated with those rewarded for party loyalty.
Go read Abramson's reposado piece, as it seems to me to have mellowed nicely.
The Ticket: Hamilton County, May 2006
At thirty sixty-four minutes into early voting, it's time to start making endorsements.
Y'all know that on the Ballot Preview pages I try to list the candidates fairly and without bias; but here on the blog, I'm entitled to state my recommendations.
So here's "The Ticket" for the May 2, 2006 Hamilton County and Chattanooga Municipal elections:
Chattanooga City Council, District 9: Debbie Gaines
Chattanooga City Judge, Division I: Sherry Paty
Chattanooga City Judge, Division II: Russell Bean
Hamilton County Commission, District 4: Warren Mackey
Hamilton County Commission, District 5: Greg Beck
Hamilton County Commission, District 6: John Allen Brooks
Hamilton County Commission, District 8: John Bailes
Hamilton County Chancery Court, Part II: Howell Peoples
11th District Circuit Court, Division I: Jackie Shulten
11th District Circuit Court, Division II: Steven Grant
11th District Criminal Court, Division I: Rodney Strong
11th District Criminal Court, Division III: Don Poole
Hamilton County Circuit Court Clerk: Paula Thompson
Hamilton County Criminal Court Clerk: Gwen Tidwell
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Clerk: Ron Swafford
Hamilton County Sheriff: Billy Long
11th District Public Defender: Ardena Garth
Hamilton County Clerk: Bill Knowles
Hamilton County Commission, District 1: Laura Oakley
Hamilton County Commission, District 2: Richard Casavant
Hamilton County Commission, District 3: Jim Coppinger
Hamilton County Commission, District 4: Brian Caldwell
Hamilton County Commission, District 5: Bernie Miller
Hamilton County Commission, District 7: Larry Henry
Hamilton County Chancery Court, Part I: W. Frank Brown
11th District Circuit Court, Division III: L. Marie Williams
11th District Circuit Court, Division IV: W. Neil Thomas
11th District Criminal Court, Division II: Rebecca Stern
Hamilton County Juvenile Court Judge: Suzanne Bailey
Hamilton County Mayor: Claude Ramsey
Hamilton County Trustee: Carl Levi
Hamilton County Register of Deeds: Pam Hurst
April 11, 2006
I received one report, but haven't yet noticed it echoed elsewhere, that Rep. Joe Fowlkes (D-Pulaski) is stepping down. "He said he was tired of raising money," says an anonymous source.
The e-mail also goes on to suggest that this will send the Democratic Party into a mild panic, since Fowlkes eked out a victory in 2004 and the district, like many rural Tennessee districts, trends Republican where it once elected Democrats.
UPDATE: Rep. Stacey Campfield has more.
Local Campaign Finance
If you're interested in following the money in Hamilton County elections, the Chattanoogan has the rundown.
April 10, 2006
Low on Fuel
I'm too tired to blog. This isn't blogging; it's just a facsimile.
It's not as bad as it sounds.
A big helping of fatigue is a direct result of all the tasty candidate data being fed to me by [you all know who you are]. The Battle for the General Assembly 2006 pages are coming along, but by no means finished. The information is stabilizing, and soon I'll just have some of the least urban counties to chase down. (What did we do before RSS/XML feeds?)
I won't bore myself by listing all the other things making me tired.
April 9, 2006
Your Papers, Please - Then kindly get back to work, thanks
A decree went forth, and it said, “The big, flag-waving issue of the 2006 midterm elections shall be immigration.” Whence this decree? We don’t know. The effects are evident, though their cause is not. Might as well settle in and figure it out, though, since that’s what the plan is. With March Madness returned to April Acumen, or so one hopes, we may possess just enough calm to get through a few discussions.
“Illegal aliens.” “Undocumented workers.” “Amnesty.” The war of words over the illegal immigration problem has certainly seen an escalation in volume. Emotion-packed salvos rip across the airwaves and through the silicon mazes, and that’s just over which words we’re supposed to use. The feelings brought up by some of the actual dilemmas inherent in this whole thing run deeper and lead to even louder shouting matches. Who wins a shouting match?
The Congressional posturing (that surely is due to the aforementioned decree) simply adds to the noise. We can see right through it, folks. I know that there are some earnest actors sprinkled among the lot, and they deserve to be heard. The rest are just knee-jerking to the media’s rubber mallet. That hammer swings hard, too. Remember the Dubai ports scandal, and how many unfortunately placed or deliberately misleading phrases made their way to our ears? It would take an army of full-time analysts to keep up with all of the misdirection that’s spouting from the TV heads this time around. (That’s what bloggers tell me their jobs are, but most don’t get paid for doing them.)
Hey, but can we blame the media? If it were my aim to distract the populace, I’d choose fear and confusion as my number one and two six-guns. If we peel back these messy, noisy layers and get to a few sober questions, we might make progress toward resolving some of our internal conflicts.
Why do people take such risks to come here? This answer’s easy. It’s trade. People are here to barter skills – manual, in most cases – for dollars. They make a good offer: hard work for not a whole lot of pay. That’s nearly impossible to beat. Where do they find someone willing to overlook their lack of proper paperwork? With a deal like theirs in hand, they needn’t look far. And I challenge any one of you “native-born” readers to imagine not at least considering leaping after an opportunity to come to the United States, where such work is available, if you had been born somewhere else.
Why does the Federal immigration service seem so out of touch with the reality on the ground? Oops, you caught me leading with an assumption there, but let’s walk it down a little further, and we’ll let it go if we need to. Many, many people want to come here and work, pay taxes, raise families and pursue the ever-fabled American Dream. We have a process for making that happen. Why aren’t we processing people? We don’t have to be rude and call someone a felon; it should simply work more like the polite security guards at a corporate office. You can get into the building. You’re supposed to go in a certain way and get documented – but say you don’t. When you try to walk down a certain hallway, a person appears and says “excuse me, you forgot this one part” and sidesteps to block your path. Needless to say, this person is armed and is highly trained in the use of deadly force, but this expertise is not broadcast. Instead, the security guard gets you processed, and now you’re in the building as a legitimate guest. If you cause trouble, then there are the necessary remedial steps – and they know who you are and have you close at hand.
The oversimplification in the above should give away the fact that it’s not a proposal. It’s a “straw dog” to get us thinking. Thinking will help so much more than protests (not that there’s anything wrong with that) or Vogon choruses of “learn English!” (learn Spanish, cracker) ever will. The recent immigrants (I say “recent” because, you know the drill, aren’t we all?) are here. There are frankly too many to process out if indeed that is our will. But I submit that mass deportation is neither what we want nor what we need.
We need to check our anxiety, accept facts and deal with the future in a well-thought-out manner. If you ask me (and several people have), the reaction upon discovering an undocumented worker should be to get him or her documented. Employers should work with the government to ensure this step is being taken or, yes, face penalties. This is not to say that we should look the other way when people are crossing the borders outside the system. We need secure borders. But if we adjust the process so that it draws would-be stand-up society members through it, as opposed to forcing them around it, there is hope that the guard’s job will get a little easier, and will be able to focus on the criminal element.
The necessary steps toward a workable solution are not easy ones. I don’t pretend to have the answers. Woe to the politicians who do pretend to, just to boost their re-election numbers. Shrill cries in the street are good for raising awareness; but now that we’re alerted, let’s take a deep breath, look our new neighbors squarely in the eye and sit down to talk.
[Cross-posted from the Pulse.]
April 6, 2006
House of Blue..or Red: How Will the Battle Go?
In a rather loosely coordinated maneuver, I have unveiled the newest look for the TN House of Representatives Ballot Preview page (now called Battle for the General Assembly 2006 - House of Representatives), and Adam Groves has announced this change on his increasingly essential Tennessee Politics Blog.
We continue to work on the State Senate page, and will announce major updates there as they happen.
In the meantime, yes, I realize that in many districts I have a standard "no declared candidates" item listed, with the incumbent listed as a potential. Since today is the qualifying deadline, it will be much clearer now which incumbents have challengers, which ones don't, and which ones (besides any we already know about) are stepping down.
As I mentioned previously, I'm very honored to be collaborating with Adam Groves, whose Daily Dose is always full of needed information. He'll likely take care of most of the writing about these General Assembly elections, and I'll maintain the distilled data repository.
So, now there are two ways to get to these pages. If you start on TN Politics Blog, click on "Battle for the General Assembly 2006" in his right column, then click whichever map (House or Senate) you wish in the popup. Or, if you start here at TennesseeTicket.com, you can click the TN House or TN Senate items in the top navigation bar.
Visit often, as changes are frequent; and make sure to thank Adam for his major role in this initiative.
Jim Bryson for Governor? That's old news. How about Jim Boyd for Governor?
Boyd, who is also running for the State House seat in District 58 (incumbent: Mary Pruitt), sent a press release to the effect that he will jump into the GOP gubernatorial primary along with Bryson, Carl "Twofeathers" Whitaker, and Mark Albertini. A copy of the release is in the extended portion of this entry.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, April 6, 2006 - 5:28 AM REPUBLICAN GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE JIM BOYD SETS TIME, LOCATION FOR OFFICIAL ANNOUNCEMENT - PUBLIC IS INVITED Nashville, Tennessee - Retiring Army National Guardsman and amateur writer Jim Boyd announced this morning where he plans to begin his bid to win the Governor's seat and a seat in the Tennessee State House of Representatives. "This spot has special significance for me" Boyd said about the announcement location. It isn't as glamorous as the Governor's Press Briefing Room, nor as swanky as the Hermitage Hotel in Downtown Nashville, but it is in a nice area... a nice community... and will do just fine." The location Boyd selected is in the public thoroughfare at the intersection of Franklin Pike (8th Avenue South) and Melpark Drive on the West side of Franklin Pike. The intersection is in Berry Hill, a city in Davidson County. Boyd plans to arrive on Friday afternoon, April 7, 2006. "I plan to arrive at approximately 4:30-4:40 PM, make my announcement, answer a few questions before my limousine takes me away to my next appointment." The extended weather forecast for the time of Boyd's announcement is for isolated thunderstorms in the morning, becoming more widespread and strong in the afternoon. Storms may produce large hail and strong winds. Highs are predicted to be in the upper 70s, with a 70 percent chance of rain. "The announcement will go on, rain or shine" Boyd stated. "In the Army, there is an old cliché... 'If it ain't raining, it ain't training!' And the momentum of this campaign... the size of this message... the message of the 'None of the Above' plank will carry us through any storm." Jim Boyd's 'None of the Above' option is an innovative concept in voter control of politicians and political races. "In our Democracy, our elected leaders serve at the consent of the people... right?" Boyd asked. "For that consent to be legitimate, the public must have the right to WITHHOLD their consent! 'NOTA' gives the public that power of consent over our elected leaders!" When asked about his campaign schedule, Boyd was vague. "I could show up anywhere in Tennessee at any time. I'd, of course, give the courtesy of a twenty four hour notice to the communities I plan to visit during my campaign stops. And I'll ask permission of any restaurants where I have breakfast so not to inconvenience the small business owner running the establishment. But I plan to be the 'Pop-up Candidate.' I feel that is the best way to get a true feeling about what real Tennesseans want from me as our next Governor. That is the best way to 'check the public's temperature' so to speak. What's that old TV show? I'll paraphrase if memory serves me... 'You never know... Sometime, somewhere, someone could step up to you and say: Smile! I'm Jim Boyd, and I want to be your next Governor!'"Boyd, a retiring Army broadcast journalist had this advice for the media: "Keep the friction locks, the pan, dolly and zoom locks on your tripods loose, because we're moving!!" Boyd joked about his campaign's lack of funds. "Sure, I am not a rich man. I work for a living! And it is a badge of honor to be so low on campaign cash if that means I won't take PAC money!" Boyd's campaign has promised not to take PAC nor special interest money, a common staple of his opponents campaigns. "We may be poor, but we are proud!" Boyd laughed. More information about Gubernatorial Candidate Jim Boyd, his platform and NOTA can be found on his campaign website at www.cooljim.com. "Today is a very exciting day for Freedom and Liberty... Not just for the 58th District, not just for just the State of Tennessee, but the entire Nation!"
April 5, 2006
April 6, at noon, is the deadline for completed petitions for most offices in the 2006 elections (county elections for partisan seats had their cutoff in February).
As updates are published across the state, I'll be adding and moving candidates on all the ballot preview pages -- as I have time. This is always a busy time of year on several fronts, not the least of which is all the brass music that's needed for the Christian spring holidays. That's one of the most fun ways to be busy I can think of, though. I said, "one of."
If you have info or questions, please do send them along, or leave them in a comment here.
The City Judge election and County primary are less than a month away (May 2). Just days after that, Tennesseans will begin learning more about Bob Corker for Senate. The season is really upon us now.
Help a TennesseeTicket Reader in Davidson County
I'm hoping that the good, civic-minded folks in Nashville will help get me some info about the candidates for the District 59 seat that's currently held by Sherry Jones.
A reader e-mailed me to ask when an update was coming for that district, and since I'm so behind on so many of them, I've decided to tackle one with active interest first.
So, here are my questions:
Is Rep. Jones running for the State House seat and the Criminal Court Clerk position, or just one, or just the other?
What other candidates have qualified for the District 59 seat?
What potential candidates have pulled petitions, but have not qualified?
Thanks, and I'm sure the reader thanks you as well. Oh, and before you simply direct me to the Davidson County Election Commission, note that I have trouble getting to their data online, for some reason.
April 4, 2006
Fun New Category: Anti-Politician Blogs
As part of my hopeless quest to properly catalog everything, I've separated my Bloglines-driven blogroll into categories for some time now. I even call it a "feedroll" because some of the feeds represented there aren't from blogs. (By the way, in case you ever wondered, the sorting is by Most Recent Update, so it's a rolling 'roll.)
Now that I have discovered a third fourth blog of a certain type, I think it's time to put them all together, and hopefully find and add more.
So, we already have the "2006 Campaign Supporters" category. That's where you'll find Blogging for Bryant, Conservatives for Corker, Forward with Ford, etc. (I think there's an alliteration requirement. Kudos for Kurita, anyone?) Bryson for Governor got added there as soon as VolunteerVoters pointed out its existence.
But what to do with its quickly assembled counterpart, "The Real Jim Bryson"?
It became apparent that I needed a new category when I realized that I have already rolled an anti-[Rep.] Matthew Hill blog (and there's another I'm grabbing right after posting this -- this Hill guy stirs up some strong feelings!), and an anti-[Chattanooga Mayor] Ron Littlefield blog. (WorstMayorEver is one of my favorites, not because I'm anti-Littlefield, but because its satire is so good.)
Ergo, without further ado, I present the Detractors as the newest category in TennesseeTicket.com's feedroll. If you know of a blog for which there is a sole purpose, and that purpose is to present a less-than-admirable viewpoint of a Tennessee official or candidate (federal, state, or local), please let me know about it and I will add its feed to the category. Although some of these will surely be crackpots whining about nothing, others will undoubtedly present valuable counterpoint that will help us all make the best decisions on election days.
April 2, 2006
Searching for that Lost Hour -- It's Needed for Important TennesseeTicket Upgrades
I hate "Spring Forward Sunday." The day is always half over before it starts.
I'll have some exciting new site changes to announce soon, but for now, I'm trying to figure out how to get around some kind of limitation that's truncating the last several lines in the House of Representatives page when I save it on MT. Ninety-nine districts' worth of candidates and info makes for many lines of html.
To be fair, I have built these ballot preview pages using Movable Type index templates, so I haven't necessarily used the right tool for the job. Someday I'll move everything over to my own privately hosted site, or do some kind of hybrid where the blog itself remains on Chattablogs/Terrablogs, and the auxiliary pages live over there (probably GoDaddy, which is where I've parked the domain name).
For now, I'm staying put, and I'll just have to get rid of the table with the district numbers. "But how will I click down to the district I want to review?" you ask.
Ah, but that's the exciting part. "Maps. We have maps." Soon, very soon, there will be a district-specific click-able map of the great State of Tennessee on both the TN House and TN Senate ballot preview pages. It's something I have wanted from the beginning, but didn't know how to do myself; fortunately, someone has generously offered to collaborate with me so that the 2006 General Assembly elections are properly covered in the blogosphere. This joint effort will result in an election-data resource that is unprecedented (to my knowledge).
The fact that Adam's a solid Republican and I'm generally regarded as a lefty, despite my generous libertarian streak, probably lends credibility to our work. We aren't colluding on a politically biased agenda; we're promoting the idea that an informed electorate makes the best decisions.
Stay tuned for these imminent changes, y mucho mas. Now I'm going back to working on them.