January 31, 2006
Diamond in the Rough
Y'all know I'm always all about Tennessee, and so I trust you'll indulge this brief look northward. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has government troubles, too. Theirs came most recently in the form of a pay raise for the legislature and all the state judges, but I suspect that the raise was the proverbial "last straw" in a series of misdeeds.
This post isn't about the bad news, though. Happily, a group of "ordinary" citizens is mounting a most inspiring challenge to the entire incumbent lot in Harrisburg. They call themselves PACleanSweep and have so far recruited scores of candidates. The group is chaired by Russ Diamond, who says that the current Pennsylvania General Assembly members have "tarnished the reputation" of the institution.
The non-partisan nature of Operation Clean Sweep is particularly attractive. I'm so reluctant to encourage Tennessee Republicans in their efforts to win a majority, even if the outcome may have the positive side effect of removing a corrupt incumbent or seven, because this year's election does not need to be about majority control. Let those chips fall where they may; just let the ax fall on the shady, the pompous, the corrupt. This is what the citizens of Tennessee deserve and demand.
January 30, 2006
Monday Night Clippings
The US Senate race: Pensieri has begun a 5-part series of, well, pensieri on the GOP primary. It should be an interesting read. Jeff Moder got an endorsement. A very good national elections blogger discusses the meaning of the latest Rasmussen numbers. Finally, TeamGOP accuses B4B of spamming their comments. Careful, Teamsters, to make sure you have all the facts before jumping to conclusions. Has it gotten this bad already?
It can't be good news when the story title starts "Here's how lobbyists shaped ethics bill..." I've written a little bit more about this for this week's Pulse column. I could write a lot more, but at this point it seems that such would merely waste energy. Thanks go to Trent Seibert, though, for going through the exercise for the rest of us. There's more from Bluenecks, and Bob Krumm says that the Tennessee Legislature doesn't even measure up to the quality of a Microsoft Office product. And he wants to be elected to it! Actually, I think he'll make a welcome, refreshing addition.
"'[R]uthless self-reflection.'" I like the sound of that. Independence, or whatever simulacrum thereof is active in this delusion, is the key to making forward strides in the political journey. Sadly, members at all levels of government allow partisan thoughtlessness to control their speech and actions. Memo to Congress: focus on what you're going to do for the republic, not on how you're going to knock (or keep) the other guys out of power. To clarify, I'm not arbitrarily against all political parties, especially while a certain bull moose has been seen afoot. Parties have a function, but I suspect it's more than just providing a framework for an endless, mindless screaming match.
I'll be on the radio a week from tomorrow. Stuart James, host of the Tuesday local a.m. hour on the Air America station, has graciously invited me to talk about this little blog here, and I'm sure other civic-minded topics will surface. More details to come.
January 28, 2006
Let’s Be Judge-Mental: A high-level roll call of robes
Cross-posted from The Pulse, January 11, 2006
So many judges are up for re-election this year that it’s easy to become confused. Add to their number the pack of attorneys that scavenges one prematurely emptied bench after another, and it’s a veritable circus. Several judgeships are eight-year terms, so that’s why it may seem, given that the average attention span is approaching seven minutes (not years) that there are more than ever. I’ll see if I can walk you through at a high level, as they say.
There are two Chattanooga City Court Judge positions being decided in 2006. Russell Bean is the Division II incumbent. He is currently unopposed, unless someone knows something I don’t. Sherry Paty won a 2004 election to the Division I seat. Her close rival in that election, ADA Gerald Webb, hopes to win a rematch.
Chances are you know more about Chancery Court than do I, but there are two (aren’t they called Chancellors?) facing re-election this year. They are W. Frank Brown and Howell Peoples.
General Sessions Court, you recall, handles civil and criminal cases. Smaller stuff, though, with just the judge, no jury. There are five judges. Division I: Christy Mahn Sell challenges Richard Holcomb. Division II: Recent appointee David Bales will square off with Hallie McFadden. Division III: Clarence Shattuck; anybody? Division IV: Ron Durby [crickets]. Division V: Bob Moon.
Sadness struck the three-member Criminal Court (the one with jury trials) when Steve Bevil passed away last year. While those whom he encountered know he can’t be replaced, the position, itself, must be filled; and it will be by governor’s appointment. That appointee will then be an incumbent in the 2006 election. A handful of potential candidates is considering the subsequent race. In Division II, Rebecca Stern is seeking re-election, but Division I Judge Doug Meyer is not. The second in command at the DA’s office, Barry Steelman, is running for Meyer’s open seat.
More judges? Yes – have you forgotten the Circuit Court Judges? There are four of them in this, the 11th Judicial District. Circuit Court is where you’ll see your million-dollar lawsuits. One of these judges, too, has decided to retire. Jeff Hollingsworth will try for outgoing Judge Samuel Payne’s seat. Jackie Schulten, L. Marie Williams and W. Neil Thomas (Divisions I, III and IV, respectively) are as yet unopposed.
Finally, don’t forget the children. Juvenile Court Judge Suzanne Bailey has stated her intent to stay on, and if the voters don’t have any reason or opponent to direct them otherwise, it seems that she will.
The challenge presented by judicial elections isn’t limited to simply remembering how many and which ones there are. How many of us know what kind of job each of these elected officials does? Or whether, even if one is doing a fine job, one of the opposing candidates might offer even better solutions? We’ll have to go through these again before August, because I don’t want to think that anyone would have to resort to treating this section of the ballot like a standardized test. You know who you are. In the meantime, save this Pulse – you may need a study guide. Better yet, find yourself a good, comprehensive website that gets regularly updated with explanations and analyses of this stuff, and bookmark it…
Breathing Life Into A Drowned Soul - How do we resuscitate an addict's free will?
Reprinted from The Pulse, January 25, 2006
Leroy is 22 years old. Just days ago, he was released from a local men’s correctional facility, where he served his second sentence in as many years on drug-related convictions. He was arrested a mere week after his first release. Parole violations were de rigueur added to the charges, and in he went again. But he’s out now, and now is when we pick up Leroy’s story. He’s free. He’s homeless, jobless and alone. And he’s high.
Leroy is an addict. Some chemical compound – we don’t know whether from crack or meth – has twisted his desires and has taken control of his willpower. Oh, no, I’m not saying it wasn’t without his explicit invitation. Choices were made at some point, though their exact timing and distinct import are impossible to guess. Don’t try asking Leroy about choices and stuff just now. He gets really edgy. Really.
Chattanooga has thousands that are homeless. You’re just thinking of the visible few, but I’m referring to a paper the city published in 2003 that put the figure at 4,000. This document freely admitted officials they don’t have a way to know the actual number. National studies mark the number of homeless that suffer from mental illness between 15 and 35 percent. Some don’t, but if you consider substance addiction a form of mental illness, that percentage climbs much higher, notably in the single adult segment. There are arguably hundreds of Leroys and Lisas among us.
How addiction gets classified for the medical library is a problem for a different day. It has its unique qualities either way. Friends and family have often been let down, lied to, stolen from and worse by their own. The rest of us all of a sudden have to rub elbows with this raw pepper of a fellow who has teed off the only people who cared about him. That puts a little too much spice into the social mix. Addiction is severely sensitive, too: a recovering addict can suffer a relapse just from making eye contact with the wrong people. And those wrong people always come around.
Where is Leroy supposed to sleep at night? He has options, however limited, but he eschews them for the company of his “friends” who help get him a fix. Halfway houses exist, but they offer zilch in the way of treatment. Rehab centers often have celebrity price tags; regardless, there are too few beds for all the addicts. How soon will Leroy’s bunk again be behind bars? Worse, it’s certain that drugs are available in the workhouse, or else he wouldn’t have had the cravings so badly the day he got out.
Leroy sits there, twitching slightly, huffing long drags of a bummed cigarette; and we stand here, awkwardly silent, quizzing our collective selves as to what we can do. As a community, we have historical data to tell us that it’s only a matter of time before Leroy’s petty theft and frequent lies give way to highly more problematic crimes and misbehaviors. A revolving prison door just doesn’t seem to be an effective solution for this particular problem.
Not one of us can straighten this out by ourselves, but each one of us bears the minimal responsibility to consider Leroy when we vote for District Attorney, Public Defender, and the slew of judges and legislators whose responsibility includes just treatment of the homeless addict. (Once in office, what will Candidate X do about Leroy?) By being aware, by working with public officials, we can build a strong network. Our goal should prioritize health over punitive concerns; we want to resuscitate the addict’s free will, rather than to further diminish his ability to make independent decisions. Exactly how that’s done is a matter for much discussion, but let’s continue to have that discussion.
Author’s note: the persons and biographical events depicted in this article are fictional, and are not intended to resemble any actual person or event.
January 27, 2006
Travelblog: Medium Siena
February 27, 2004 : "Il Campo," Siena, Tuscany
Milder weather than on some days. Long bus ride (traffic accident delay). Ate pizza at the very cusp of siesta - the cook took pity. Didn't even have to play the pregnant wife card. What a gorgeous place. The cathedral is dizzying. We didn't get to climb the city tower.
January 26, 2006
Developing Story in State House District 27 Election?
A recent Chattanoogan.com article reported Red Bank Mayor Pat Brown's interest in the seat now being vacated by Rep. Chris Clem, but I just got a phone call from someone asking about the possibility that School Board Member Chip Baker is considering a run. I hadn't heard that.
I was also confused by the fact that former City Councilman John Lively decided to go for County Commission 6 instead of State House 27, since he has run for this House seat before (in the 2002 primary against incumbent Clem), but now it's an open one.
If I find out more about Chip Baker's plans, I'll be sure to post it here.
January 25, 2006
We're Not Alone
It seems like I remember a big to-do about the prospect of retiring Superintendent Dr. Jesse Register staying on as a consultant after he steps down.
I'm not saying either is right or wrong, but it seems that Jackson's school system is entertaining a similar thought, with not one but two of their soon-to-be-former administrators.
Hmm. Is it really any big deal, after all?
January 24, 2006
Uh, yeah; that strange figure in the title stands for something. It's the quotient that results when the number of entries on this blog (436) is divided by the number of days in a year (I used 365.25).
It's all just to say that this blog began one year ago today: January 24, 2005.
Wow, a year ago we had a colicky 3-month-old and got NO sleep. Now we get a little more sleep, the boy toddles like a champ, and Ann Coulter is just a memory. (Not really; I hear she's with a hotshot urban planning firm, but her mayoral aspirations are a memory.)
I can only hope that the coming year results in the site's providing this community and state with valuable, interesting information and commentary.
Thanks to all of you who check in regularly, and to the occasional passer-by as well.
January 23, 2006
Chris Clem Will Not Seek Re-election
Chris Clem's campaign in 2000 was a major factor in my gaining a greater interest in state and local politics, so I have to thank him for that. That year, I voted in a Republican primary for the first time in my life so that I could vote against Clem. (Obviously I was unsuccessful.)
I've opposed him politically from then onward, but I wish him all the best as he pursues more time with his family.
Now, the big question: who's going to run for this open seat?
The Republicans Are Multiplying
Former U.S. Representative and current U.S. Senate candidate Van Hilleary and his wife are expecting.
Co-bloggers Nathan and Sarah Moore have a new baby girl.
Congratulations to all.
The Least Recognized, the Most Qualified
There's a new post on the lately silent Rosalind Kurita blog, and there's another, stronger argument from pro-Kurita (or just anti-Ford) blogger autoegocrat at The Flypaper Theory. Both have some words on the recent SurveyUSA U.S. Senate poll's identification of Kurita's uphill battle with regard to name recognition.
The same poll illustrated that Bob Corker also has some significant name recognition to build. In contrast to Kurita's primary standing, Corker's funding advantage will be most helpful along those lines. Once people figure out who Bob Corker is, I feel that they'll be attracted to his strong personality and that his message will resonate with the majority of them.
I listened to NPR's coverage of the Canadian parliamentary elections this morning. One comment stood out: that Canada's voters were intent on throwing out the stagnant, corrupt Liberal government, but were hoping that the Conservative alternative would have "the best hands" in which to now place their government -- meaning, that the Conservatives wouldn't come charging in with a radical social agenda and go messing with people's private lives.
This comment made me think similarly about two aspects of the 2006 elections. One, Tennessee's state government has a parallel stagnant, corrupt party in power that needs replacing (for the most part); but I (for one) won't be happy at all if the replacement comes charging in with a radical social-conservative agenda (easy there, Mr. Dunn).
Two, in terms of the U.S. Senate seat, I truly am looking for "the best hands" in which to place Tennessee's interests and, among the slate of candidates across parties and ideologies, I cannot locate a better pair than those belonging to Bob Corker.
Harwell for Governor?
Last week, national election tracking site Politics1.com moved Tennessee's 2006 gubernatorial election from "leans Democrat" to "safe Democrat" after State Representative Beth Harwell (R-Davidson) announced her intent to focus on the General Assembly session at hand.
However, the lack of a flat-out "no, I won't announce a campaign" in Harwell's statement prompted many, including the Knox News-Sentinel's Tom Humphrey, to question whether the press release was a weather balloon of sorts, and thus whether a different announcement may be in the preparation phase.
Currently there are three declared Republicans in the race. Chattanoogans Mark Albertini and Basil Marceaux and Sevierville's Carl Twofeathers Whitaker are set to appear on the August 3 primary ballot.
Unless something else happens, one of these men will be the GOP nominee to face Governor Bredesen in November.
The filing deadline is April 6.
January 19, 2006
It's Only A Flesh Wound
I always somewhat less enjoy reading those blog entries that say nothing but "I'm going away" or "I'm away" or "I'm coming back," but being on this side of the conversation is different. Ergo, let it be recorded that I am recovering from a relapse and that I am coming back.
In the meantime, here's some advice I think you'll find useful.
If you're well, stay away from sick people.
If you're sick, stay away from well people.
January 15, 2006
If it's close to 70 one day and freezing by the next night, it must be January in Chattanooga. Some kind of bug did the dance with me through the wild thermometer swings and got through an exposed weakness in my defenses, so "I been laid up" for the past few days. Even now I don't have the energy to write much, or link much.
I'm going to send you to one post, though, because it articulates a position I share on the Bowers/Crutchfield ethics session question.
UPDATE: I'm just making sure you're up to speed on the Tennessee School Board Association story, too.
January 12, 2006
Bowers and Crutchfield Will Sit
I don't subscribe, but this NashvillePost headline is all I need:
January 11, 2006
From Decatur to Ducktown
The special election to replace former Rep. Chris Newton is here. I found a strongly worded opinion in favor of Republican Eric Watson in the Bradley News Weekly. Appointed interim representative Sally Love is Watson's opponent.
Adam Groves mentioned yesterday that Love had called for Watson to return some of his campaign money. No, not to Jack Abramoff; this was money apparently donated by pharmaceutical CEO John Gregory. I'm really tired of all this spinning about contributions, but I'm also tired of being taken for a ride by people eager to corrupt the system. That's the new, improved Adam Groves, by the way, at the new Tennessee Politics Blog.
I hope that alt-weekly editor is dead wrong about one thing. I hope people will recognize that, if they don't show up and vote, they are closing off the opportunity for things to change. We all say that we want more accountability from our political figures, and rightly so. But accountability can't be left out of the process that gets them there, either, and that accountability is to each other.
January 10, 2006
A Couple of Decent Steps, But the Dance Isn't Over
Jeff Miller news and commentary are appearing faster than I can link. Most Republican bloggers that I've read are expelling a lungful of pent-up breath at this story. You know they didn't want that scene unfolding, as it was promising to do if nothing changed.
Heck, it's been bad enough without the missing grand. Miller essentially drove the "bay garriage man" amendment or whatever it's called, while his personal life, about which we know an unfortunate amount, seemed to contain some rather pointed contradictions to the purported spirit of the bill.
Then, after his hometown alt-weekly highlighted some of his previous behavior, he must have decided that the only way to beat that rap was to one-up himself, so he wrote a threatening letter and distributed it to the paper's advertisers. In case you're not familiar with the area, these business owners are, um, his constituents. Then there's the whole thing about the FBI sting money and Miller's sponsorship of the legislation that would have benefited the fake company.
So, good: I don't have to make the case here for the people of Senate District 9 to get to work at replacing this guy. One challenge was issued before it was known that Senator Miller would not seek re-election. Lindsay Hathcock just got a huge boost in his bid to be the GOP’s 2006 nominee. Today’s news may bring him some healthy competition.
[I]f he is smart, [Miller] is cooperating with the Feds, and is fingering colleagues who were also involved in the Tennessee Waltz E-cycle scandal. I don't care if the investigation leads back to more Republicans or more Democrats. Any Legislator who violated the public trust by taking a bribe to pass legislation needs to be hauled before the courts. -- Bob Krumm
January 09, 2006
Raga of Truths
I want to know who's lying. I want to know, and I want it now. Either some Democrats got money from "super-lobbyist" Jack Abramoff, or they didn't. (What, are our political/news figures actually action heroes now?)
Furthermore, I want to know which contributions matter, as opposed to those that don't. Which politicians were brazen enough to influence policy because of income? I want them politically hanged, but I want all of the ones who merely took money without strings attached to be left alone.
Wait. What's that you say? A fine line? Oh, if the money came from a tainted office but not from the tainter-individual himself, it's okay. What?
Please, people. As usual, I see at least both sides of this. You over there, stop making such a huge deal about money that may have flowed through similar organizations to some firms whose employees may have had lunch with some other people; and you, over there, stop acting like you aren't connected at all to "the biggest scandal since the Teapot Dome," when the analysis clearly indicates your accounts.
That's all I'll say, because I usually try to avoid commentating on the big national stories. This one, however, carries some regional import.
January 08, 2006
How To Run A Campaign, Democrat Style
The Hamilton County Democratic Party held a campaign seminar Saturday at the Ironworkers Local 704. Energetic partisans are so fun on a Saturday morning that I couldn't think of not going, so I went.
The crowd chatted over coffee and doughnuts before Party Chair Stuart James started the proceedings. I was surprised at the number of non-candidates in attendance. I never know where to sit at things like this, so fortunately I saw someone I knew and grabbed a chair across the table right when things started.
Mr. James introduced the candidates in attendance, and talked about, you know, Democrats winning elections. County Sheriff candidate Billy Long was there, as were John Bailes, Warren Mackey, JoAnne Favors, Ardena Garth, Terry Stulce, Hallie McFadden, and others.
The first speaker at the event was UTC Political Science professor Dr. Robert Swansbrough. He presented a well-organized talk on campaigning basics. He emphasized the need for money, but presented some ways to avoid overspending. He talked about the rapid increase of early voting, and admonished candidates to make sure that they've planned for that.
Trust will be a major issue in this election.
Next up was Election Commission Administrator Bud Knowles. I enjoyed his brief section the most, primarily due to his carriage and demeanor. Mr. Knowles is a country gentleman, I tell you what. He reiterated something I've known to be true, namely that candidates with less experience can rely on the Election Commission staff for expert guidance through the filing process. Well-peopled though the Commission office may be, the need for election day poll workers is great. (I'll be writing more about the types of things one can sign up to do on election days.)
Mr. Knowles guaranteed that any touch-screen voting machines purchased under his administration will provide a "paper trail." And finally, on moving offices to the new Amnicola location:
If I'm still with the Election Commission, I'm gon' kin'ly show out [with a big public reception].
The 2004 Democratic candidates for State House 29 and 30, Rep. JoAnne Favors and School Board Member Debbie Colburn, each took turns at the mic relating experiences, tips, and even some Favors family photos. My favorite piece of advice for candidates came from Rep. Favors as well:
Don't walk around like you're constipated.
Party Executive Director Terry Lee and Chairman James shared some final thoughts before the session ended. I appreciate the Hamilton County Democrats for putting together this informative session. Even though it was obviously of, for, and by the Democratic Party, I hope to see other parties and organizations facilitating similar civic exercises. Our neighbors and "everyday citizens" need to realize that running for office (especially local office) isn't an activity that's limited to "politicians."
January 06, 2006
Friday Night Ideos
Whoa. Bob is talking.
Jay Bush is blogging against Hilleary about the money.
Four scary words to set the mood for those movies you'll no doubt watch later: "Rex dispenses legal advice."
Russian Christmas Overtures
I think it might be humorous if Bill Young built a hotel at the corner of Renaissance Park and still named it “The Coolidge.”
State elections kick off today! Watch for news on who picks up papers. I won't waste time copying news here that you can get earlier elsewhere, but I'll be compiling data on the ballot preview pages and jabbering on about different races here on the front page.
Joe, what are these "papers" that get "picked up" and what is happening now? Would-be candidates must qualify by finding at least 25 people (for State House seats; it may vary by position) to sign a petition. There are also financial filing forms and other materials. If someone asks you to sign his or her qualifying petition, here are a couple of things to remember.
1) Signing the petition does not equal a vote for that person. You don't have to have your mind made up; all you need to choose is greater (or less) choice.
2) Be reasonably sure that you are a qualified registered voter in the district being sought. They really do check. Weeding through names that don't actually help wastes time and money.
Somewhere marginally close to 100% of the time, candidates have no problem meeting the signature minimum, because they gather signatures at a political party function. For all I know, all the candidates sign each other's forms. I'm an independent sort, so when I dipped a toe into the electoral waters two cycles ago, I knocked on doors, met a cross-section of people, and asked for their approval to run. Either method works in the end.
News of the Tennessee Highway Patrol continues its disappointing trend.
Phil’s Special Session - What’s so special about it, anyway?
[Cross-posted from the Pulse.]
Tuesday, January 10, at noon local time, the General Assembly gavel falls on a special session called by Governor Bredesen. The Governor set up the Citizens Advisory Group on Ethics after several prominent elected officials were indicted last spring. This panel’s purpose was to collect reform proposals from experts and from citizens (not that those should be different) and to submit a list of proposed reforms. (Never mind that the laws broken in the “Waltz” were, oh yeah, existing statutes.) They accomplished that. (This is a different outcome than when a special ethics committee created by the new governor almost three years ago apparently never once met, according to recent revelations.) The Joint Legislative Committee on Ethics – mind, this is a different group, it’s hard to keep them straight, but stay with me – took the Citizens Advisory Group’s proposals and drafted them into a bill.
The bill will be discussed in the special session, and as soon as a measure is finalized and put to a vote, the lawmakers can wrap up the special session and get right into the regular session. Yes, where, according to the most powerful member of the State Senate in an interview with the AP, nothing ever gets done for the first six weeks anyway. Frustrated yet? Okay, here’s more: the special session will cost $19,800 a day, and the same most powerful member anticipates that it will last for weeks. (Wait. Doesn’t that mean that every year we pay for six weeks of nothing at almost 20K a day?) The public – meaning, y’all – is unlikely to be as engaged with this special session as with the last one. (You remember. The income tax.) This one doesn’t have the star power, and why should it? (Do we want “more better” ethics? Aye. Next?)
Fortunately, there are some highlights on the side stages, like they have in those big hippie music festivals. We have the memory of losing a co-chair from the Joint Ethics Committee after she admitted to taking gambling money from undercover FBI agents. We have the ongoing saga of a Senate Caucus Leader and a pesky little bunch of reporters who just keep pointing out certain inconsistencies in his public behavior. By the way, he took a thousand dollars from Charles Love, and yes, that money was from the FBI too, but it was a campaign contribution. He’s on the Joint Ethics Committee, but he has missed key votes. He’ll be a fun one to watch during the special session.
Another sideshow will actually be over in the executive branch, where the Governor will do his best to publicly shepherd this good ethics legislation through while doing his best to hide his own staff and administration from public view. It’s an act you can’t miss. 2005 was a boon year for “-gate” pundits, just in our own state. Sexual Harassment. Paper-shredding. Tennessee Waltz. Tennessee Highway Patrol. 2006 harbors a blustery production by the whole government of a “We’ve Got Ethics” act, and the only way to start to remedy things for real will be to give most of this cast their final curtain call in the August and November elections.
January 05, 2006
I think the biggest news around here today is the absolutely huge real estate deal between longtime Chattanoogan Bob Corker and relative newcomer Henry Luken. Since I buy most of the groceries at an Osborne-leased supermarket, I guess this change really does affect me, albeit in an invisible way.
From a campaign standpoint, this is a doubly smart move by Corker. First, he gets way out in front of any ethics-related questions about his holdings; and by complying with a law before it applies to him, he scores even more points in public perception. Second, this is yet another action that quietly but boldly operates on the assumption that Corker will be victorious -- this time, not only in the primary, but in the general election. After all, the only potential problem that could come from owning real estate with federal leases on it wouldn't materialize until/unless the owner were sworn in as Senator.
Don't forget the debate tomorrow morning between District 22 special election candidates Sally Love and Eric Watson. A kind individual sent me a link to Eric Watson's website; if anyone knows whether Ms. Love maintains one as well, please drop a comment below. The election is next Thursday (1/12/2006).
Another e-mail came from blogger and (we hope) State Senate candidate Bob Krumm, who tipped me to a candidate next door in the 23rd House district. The Ballot Preview page for the State House has been updated with these links.
So far, I mainly know of only Democrats' and Republicans' campaigns. Others' campaign plans may be still underway, and I hope to hear from independents and "third" parties soon. I bring this up because Texas will see 187 Libertarians running for office this year (not counting any county races).
Finally, I agree with Adam Groves' assessment: "State Senator Rosalind Kurita is sounding more and more like a State Senator, even though she hasn't yet withdrawn.."
January 04, 2006
A Tale of Three Magi (strates)
I can't tell whether the Hamilton County Jail is reminiscent of a lawless Wild West, or if local media and officials are blowing things out of proportion. Any sense among you local readers for where this really stands?
I'm talking about the County Magistrate flap, where one side screams "scrap!" and the other, well, more like "nap." From one perspective, there does seem to be an opportunity for accountability improvements. But one County Commissioner explosively demanded the program's cessation altogether. (It might just be due to my bias, but I see a "baby with the bath water" pattern at work in Commissioner Adams' approaches to problems. Think Jesse Register/school funding; certain individual Democrats' issue positions/party switch; now this one.)
Of course, an abrupt termination of the magistrates would not be without cost. They would be "bought out," i.e., taxpayer-supplied money would continue to flow to them for services they would no longer be rendering the paying public. In what I see as a shrewd move, Adams' election opponent (John Bailes) seized on this aspect in his latest campaign statement.
I prefer a rational, dialogue-driven solution.
In the latest news on the subject, former magistrate Charles Rucker's contract has been bought out -- not for the full remaining amount, but for $27,762.
The Abramoff Story Hits Home Again
As found in the online Jackson Sun (and, I'm sure, other Gannett outlets), a Center for Responsive Politics project lists Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's VOLPAC as the recipient of $2,000 from the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe. The donor was one of Jack Abramoff's now-infamous clients.
Three questions: 1) Didn't we know this already, and isn't someone just recycling the story because of yesterday's guilty plea?
2) What do the current candidates for Frist's Senate seat have to say about these potential connections (in particular, Van Hilleary, who's also named in the study as a donee, with $500 from the Abramoffs directly)?
January 03, 2006
The odd-numbered State Senate seats are up this year, so, at least seventeen articles between now and August. (Not too bad, but it's the House that daunts me.)
Senate District 33 has suffered doubly. You all know this, but I'll repeat it again. At the end of 2004, former Senator Roscoe Dixon resigned to take a job in Shelby County Government. A special election was held, and former District 87 Representative Kathryn Bowers won. In early 2005, Dixon and Bowers were indicted as a result of the Tennessee Waltz investigation.
Later that year, Sen. Bowers caused questions by taking lengthy trips with taxpayer funds. She also had invited lobbyists to a failed fundraiser for her legal challenges. She stepped down as head of the local DP.
Bowers says that she will participate in the upcoming special legislative session on Ethics. That such is within her rights is without question, so long as the Senate avoids the expulsion route and she avoids any proven or admitted guilt; but I wouldn't like it if my Senator were taking the same stance.
Oh, right. He is taking the same stance.
Mark Senate District 33 as one to refurbish.
January 02, 2006
..and in the Right corner:
Main Street Journal debuted as a blog today.
District 22 Endorsements
While a special election's shortened length is attractive for many reasons, I suppose the reality I deal with now is that if all elections had similar spans, they'd be over before I finished this website.
Anyway, the voters in District 22 learned of some endorsements over the weekend.
Democrat and interim Representative Sally Love, an attorney, received the nod from the Tennessee Education Association. Ms. Love is a former high school teacher.
Republican nominee Eric Watson, an officer in the Bradley County Sheriff's Department, picked up endorsements from the NRA and Tennessee Right to Life.
There are ten days remaining before the election on Thursday, January 12.
[Source: Chattanooga Times Free Press, Sunday, January 1, 2006: B2]
January 01, 2006
Welcome to TennesseeTicket.com
It seemed fitting to time the name change with the calendar turnover. The name "Chattanooga-Hamilton Civic Forum" is officially retired. Bookmark http://tennesseeticket.com/ (I have it forwarded to the old URL for now).
I'm looking forward to a busy and enjoyable year. The blog and its supplemental pages will grow -- and so, hopefully, will the measure of informed citizens.
Farmer Pulls Up Roots for More Fertile Ground
Congressional candidate John Farmer, a Republican, has withdrawn from the 9th District race. He's still running for Congress, though, next door in the 8th, which is currently represented by Democrat John Tanner. (I'm assuming that Tanner will run for re-election, but have no confirmation as yet. If someone will provide it, I'll gladly update the ballot preview page.) I'd say Farmer's candidacy marks a major improvement over the 8th's GOP nominee in 2004. Remember him?
I hope, for John Farmer's sake and for yours, that if you vote for Mr. Farmer in 2006, it is because he best represents your civic values. Here's some advice for all voters in 2006: look past the brand name, and read the ingredients.
So, they may have them a race there in District 8? Possibly, but the gerrymander has a big 'D' on it. Additionally, it seems that a lot of self-classified conservatives are attracted by Tanner's Blue Dog credentials. I have to say I agree with Farmer's campaign advisors in stepping out of the 9th, though. Terry Roland notwithstanding, the seat currently held by Harold Ford, Jr. will remain Democratic. (More on that interesting primary later.)
Happy New Year to everyone.