October 31, 2007
It's Not Dark Yet
Which bunch of idiots had the "bright" idea to extend Daylight Savings Time past Halloween?
Oh. That's right.
(Note: for those looking for the Bob Dylan song with the same title, it's one of my favorites, too.)
October 30, 2007
With apologies to Leonardo, here are some pics of our 2007 pumpkin (carved via a template):
I was operating the camera, with which I'm not that familiar, in the dark so who knows what buttons I was pushing? I will try to get some better photos tomorrow evening.
UPDATE: We have the DaVinci Gourd; Tennessee Jed has the Godfather of Soul.
Free, accessible concerti grossi
Got a message that informed me of an upcoming concert 'Noogans may be interested in.
The Chamber Orchestra of Tennessee will be performing Antonio Vivaldi's Le quattro stagioni (The Four Seasons) at Christ Church Episcopal, on Sunday, November 11 at 4pm. Admission is free.
Christ Church is located at the corner of Douglas St and McCallie Ave in downtown Chattanooga (across McCallie from 1st Presbyterian).
I have known one of the violin soloists for many years (so many I won't give a number), and I can vouch for this musician's excellence. I haven't heard this group perform, but the one person I know would not be in it if it wasn't a quality outfit.
Those of you who, like me (in years past), are wont to scoff at the fare the Four Seasons are up there among the most often-played works in all of literature should do yourselves a favor and give an old nag another run. Listen with fresh ears, and you'll hear exactly why so many people love this music. Vivaldi really captured something, whether or not we music snobs want to admit it.
Commissioner seeks new road through protected forest, tells rare flower to grow elsewhere
I've been searching local news sites, but it seems that the Chattanoogan.com is beating everyone else at covering an important story, through a breaking news item as well as a string of opinion letters.
The story revolves around the new Signal Mountain High School, and access to it by road. It seems that the latest location of the school will, in fact, present traffic problems on the lone road that reaches it; and District 2 County Commissioner Richard Casavant has a plan to remedy that.
Trouble is, his plan calls for cutting a new road through a piece of the Prentice-Cooper State Forest. Dr. Casavant says that he is "getting a lot of push back" from state forestry officials on the idea.
Well, duh. I would wager that any time someone proposed a road through a designated national or state forest, those in charge of maintaining protection for that area would put up a fight.
I certainly don't have the answers right now for what to do about the potential for traffic problems. I have been of the opinion in the past that Signal Mountain didn't really need its own high school; but I'm not trying to dig up that fight now that it's a done deal. It's time to deal reasonably with the problems at hand, and if the public would best be served by a shortcut road through state forest land, then so be it. But if not, then let's not do that, please.
I encourage the community to become aware of this issue, because, even if you don't live in the affected area, the principle can apply in many ways to where you do live. I'm interested in hearing more arguments on both sides of the issue.
October 29, 2007
Chattanooga political blogs, speak up
I was asked today to provide a list of Chattanooga political blogs. I quickly realized that there aren't many that very precisely fit the description.
I had to caveat several of the above, for a variety of reasons. While a few others occasionally post on political/cultural topics (such as Grub Street Plumber), I have a hard time coming up with more that qualify as "Chattanooga political blogs."
But maybe I'm just behind the times and don't know about your Chattanooga political blog. Tell me what I missed.
October 26, 2007
No, I'm not handing over the keys to a guest blogger; I'm too much of a control freak for that. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
I was invited to speak to a mass communications class at Chattanooga State Technical Community College today on blogs, blogging, online media, citizen journalism you know, what it is I do here, whatever you want to call it.
I think it went pretty well, even though I wasn't the most organized. At the very least, the 50 minutes didn't just drag by, and I think only one student went to sleep and even he woke up and asked a question. There were several good queries, and one guy came up afterward to offer a suggestion for this blog. (What? Did you think I would demo yours?)
One thing that surprised me was how few students in this class have their own blogs. The answer? Zewo. I asked how many had uploaded an original video to YouTube (or a similar site), and about three hands went up.
So, even though there are currently more blogs in existence than we'll ever need, the saturation point has clearly not been reached.
I thank the professor for allowing me to introduce this topic to her group, and hope that I helped advance the general topic in some meaningful way.
October 25, 2007
New statewide liberal group blog launches
Via Russ McBee:
TennViews is a virtual town hall for talking about politics, culture, and life in the great state of Tennessee, with emphasis on state and national politics and a view towards netroots activism among Tennessee liberals.
It looks very much like KnoxViews, but it will probably change over time.
Now, will conservatives un-fragment themselves and do something similar? What about libertarians?
District 10 candidates on your mp3 player
The Chattanooga Times Free Press editorial board recently sat down with each of the candidates running to replace former Sen. Ward Crutchfield in the state Senate's 10th District.
I have placed links to the resulting audio files below each candidate's entry on the Tennessee Ticket Special Election page. So far I've only listened to the Oscar Brock interview, because of a question posed at Volunteer Voters, but I plan on listening to Andy Berke's next.
Make sure you educate yourselves as to the candidates' stands on the issues, and make sure you VOTE (if you live in District 10, and have gotten off your butt and registered). Don't vote if you're not informed; don't skip the vote if you are. This is one area wherein I don't mind at all sounding preachy. Deal with it.
October 24, 2007
Mayor Littlefield blasts council for "vindictive" treatment of Rutherford
A couple of kind souls who realize that I may not be in Richard Beeland's address book forwarded me a hot press release by Mayor Ron Littlefield in which the City Council is taken to task for, among other things, pretending not to know of Marti Rutherford's residency situation prior to the citizen complaint lodged earlier this year.
The Chattanoogan's take is that Littlefield is saying that he won't now hire Marti Rutherford for the three additional days. Is that what you make of it? My quick read of his letter only gave me the impression that he won't hire an attorney to support his action, but there is no direct mention (unless I'm reading too fast) of his backing down from the decision.
UPDATE: Now the Chattanoogan article's title has been changed. It did say that the mayor was backing off his decision. To John Wilson: I knew one of us was right! :-)
You can read the whole of Littlefield's response after the jump.
Re: Response to question of hiring outside legal counsel to defend issues involving Councilwoman Rutherford
Date: October 24, 2007
I draw the line at the spending of potentially large amounts of
taxpayer's dollars on expensive outside attorneys - and I certainly hope
that the City Council has not contracted for more than a single hour of
their lawyer's $250 per hour consultation fee.
As this issue began to unfold a few weeks ago, there were a number of
individuals - myself included - who attempted to work between the
various interests to try and resolve things with a minimum of
confrontation. Unfortunately, when the Council acted preemptively,
matters accelerated and the desire to minimize conflict and confusion
became more problematic.
The issue of legal residence is rather common in jurisdictional
elections and court decisions have been mixed. We have seen it come up
from time to time here locally. A very similar situation involving the
recent election of a new Mayor in Birmingham, Alabama is currently
working its way through the system. I have always maintained that I was
fully aware of Ms. Rutherford's claim of a voting address for purposes
of her council service and assumed since she had adequate legal advice
on the matter that it met the necessary tests. Although I respect our
city attorney's recent opinion regarding the characteristics of Ms.
Rutherford's situation, the fact remains that the courts might still
have ruled in her favor. In any event, the deciding of the issue would
have involved a protracted and expensive legal battle which would have
been at best a diversion from what we were elected to do. Court costs
would quickly exceed any cost of employee benefits for Ms. Rutherford.
For this reason (and perhaps ill-advisedly for my personal well-being) I
injected myself into the fray and attempted to find a compromise to
settle the matter so that we could move on.
Most importantly, Ms. Rutherford's legal residence has been open public
knowledge since before the last election. It has been the subject of
conversations both serious and not so serious throughout the term of
this administration. It was well known by members of the City Council,
the city attorney, some representatives of the media and (I can say with
particular knowledge since I live in District 6) by a wide swath of her
constituents. Ms. Rutherford even had a Christmas party at her Hemphill
address last year and everyone was invited - so the evidence is clear.
I can understand that it may not have been a matter of particular
interest in other parts of the city, but to claim that Ms. Rutherford's
residential arrangement was in any way a secret is simply not true.
Again, it was open public knowledge.
Perhaps more significantly, the legality or illegality of Ms.
Rutherford's voting residence situation has never been determined -
although almost everyone has an opinion.
The point is that for the Council to react with mock horror at this
stage and pretend to have just discovered the issue is a bit
disingenuous, to put it kindly. For the Council to reject all
compromise solutions and act in a preemptive fashion to strip Ms.
Rutherford of a common retirement benefit three days short of an
important anniversary is, at best, spiteful, small and mean. At worst,
it is personal and vindictive.
Once again, let me state that I have often clashed with Ms. Rutherford,
but fair is fair. She has been a very busy member of the council and -
like her or not - no one should say that she didn't work hard and
attempt to represent her district. Her attendance record at committee
meetings and council meetings (better than many of her critics) bears
witness to her serious intent to serve. She is also constantly meeting
with neighborhood groups and special interests within the Brainerd
community. With apologies to pet lovers and to Ms. Rutherford, I
confess that I have sometimes used the term "pit bull" to describe her
approach to the job - and not in a totally complimentary fashion.
Having attempted to resolve the Council's family feud in a less
confrontational manner, I have been pummeled in the process. Political
life imitates real life. So be it. Even though I do not believe that
the Council's action to isolate a single individual and withhold
benefits that have been earned by ten years of service - except for
three days - would pass legal muster, I will not hire expensive outside
legal council to defend the issue.
Marti Rutherford to resign more than a month after she, uh, resigned (updated)
Good grief. I am becoming numb to the absurdity, but in case you're not yet, here's some virtual Novocaine.
The missing letter that should have accompanied former Council member Marti Rutherford's "immediate" resignation on October 1, 2007 has surfaced (PDF found at the Chattanooga Times Free Press).
It is dated October 16, 2007, and says that Rutherford's resignation is effective November 4, 2007. (Her 62nd birthday is November 3. Employment through that date is meant to ensure her certain retiree medical benefits, which are subsidized by taxpayers. (Aside: I should have known, being one myself, that we were dealing with a Scorpio.))
However, as Kevin West ably points out, a member of the Chattanooga City Council does not, in fact, report to the mayor (even in a "strong mayor" charter configuration).
Problem: the mayor doesn't employee Marti. He didn't put her into office, she doesn't work for the mayor's office and she doesn't answer to him. No one on the city council does. She works directly for the voters who put her into office, not the mayor.
All right: when will this ever end? The city's taxpayers are now paying a private attorney to represent the Council, and Mayor Littlefield didn't exactly rule out the possibility of his office hiring one as well. (UPDATE: now he has, and has indicated his displeasure for city funds being spent in this manner. More on that later.) (City Attorney Randy Nelson is obviously conflicted in this matter, and is wisely staying out of it, at least in public.) So, we're stuck paying lawyers (or, as the update indicates, at least one) to argue whether we should pay part of Marti Rutherford's medical premiums. It sounds like we, the citizens, lose this one either way.
One more thing, and then I think the numbness reaches the drooling point: if the mayor gets his way, and Ms. Rutherford is allowed to work for the city for those three days, you can bet someone will be watching to see just what, exactly, she'll be doing.
Brainerd Unity Group highlight reel
Hamilton County attorney votes for less open government (updated)
Jessica Fender of the Tennessean delivers the breakdown of a recent vote taken by the Open Meetings Subcommittee that has formed to study the state's current sunshine laws.
I was aware of the panel's existence, but hadn't learned of its membership until this vote was published. Hamilton County is represented in the group by County Attorney Rheubin Taylor. He voted with the majority, in the reporter's words, "to allow more elected officials up to just shy of a quorum - to gather behind closed doors to deliberate on public business."
I've stayed somewhat quiet on this issue, because some comments I've read have confused me into wanting to avoid opening my mouth too early. The primary opponents of closing more government doors are, naturally, the media newspapers in particular. (There is therefore little chance that a story on this in a newspaper will be free of bias.) That's not to say that there aren't citizen activists very animated on this issue.
However, some local government representatives have made a halfway convincing case that the proposed changes in the law are merely to protect sensitive information, such as the mental health of a public employee, or the identity of an undercover agent.
So, for now, I am content to link to the voting record itself, and let readers decide how they feel about that vote.
UPDATE: then again, here's a take on it from Smart City Consulting. Memphis lawmaker Ulysses Jones was also among those voting for the change.
October 23, 2007
While the mayor's away, the council will prey..
In the words of Dr. John, I was in the right place, but it must have been the wrong time. I attended the Brainerd Unity Group (BUG)'s first meeting, which was held at the Brainerd Complex. Where I might have wanted to be instead, on this rare Tuesday night "off," is 1000 Lindsay Street, where things apparently got pretty interesting. (HT: 10K)
A principal subject of the city council's discussion tonight, Mayor Ron Littlefield, was actually at the BUG meeting. He made a few encouraging remarks regarding community groups and their importance in building a strong city. He shook hands with everyone, and was obviously much more comfortable in those surroundings, where he, as a longtime Brainerd resident himself, knew many of the community stalwarts who had gathered, than he might have been had he made an appearance in the Council chambers tonight. (I shot some video, which I'm now editing, but it does not include the mayor's remarks.)
I wouldn't suggest that there was anything less than accidental about the timing; it just worked out that way. Invitations had gone out to several elected officials, and some others came too, like Rep. JoAnne Favors and Judge Russell Bean. It was an honor to meet the Mayor, and I'm glad he was there.
I'll have more on the BUG meeting, which also included short self-introductions by several of those seeking the empty District 6 seat that is at the center of all this controversy, later tonight or sometime on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Alice has a great round-up of the ongoing Marti saga here.
Final District 10 debate set
Candidates Andy Berke (D-Chattanooga) and Oscar Brock (R-Lookout Mountain) will face off for the last time before early voting begins this Friday in the special election to fill the District 10 seat in the state Senate.
The debate will be held at Rock Point Books in downtown Chattanooga. The location is at the corner of 4th and
Market Broad Streets. A wine and cheese reception will begin at 5:30, along with a chance to submit questions for the candidates. The debate will begin at 6:00pm. This is a similar format to that used in the debate held in Brainerd a couple of weeks ago. Does anyone know who the moderator will be for this one? (I had my turn.)
This event is being sponsored by SETPAC.
Early voting is from October 26 through November 10 at the usual locations.
Election Day is Thursday, November 15, when all District 10 precincts will be open.
Just who are Littlefield's community?
Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield, in defense of his decision to place former District 6 Council member Marti Rutherford on city payroll for three days so that she could qualify for retiree medical benefits, said this to Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Michael Davis:
"[W]e're trying to resolve an issue so the community can move forward."
Memo to Mayor Littlefield: the community was already trying to move forward after Ms. Rutherford resigned on October 1, following over two years of illegitimate (no matter how impassioned, or, many felt, effective) representation.
The issue was (mostly) resolved when she called a a press conference announcing her resignation and cleaned out her office. The City Council has taken steps toward naming a caretaker for the position, although they (wisely in my view) are holding off until the candidate qualifying period ends for the upcoming special election, so that they screen intended candidates from getting a jump on the process.
In the meantime, a question was raised about Ms. Rutherford's actual resignation date, since she apparently never submitted a formal letter. This question had to do, it was stated, with the former official's upcoming 62nd birthday, and whether or not she would qualify for the retiree medical plan. It was determined last week that Ms. Rutherford was no longer on the city payroll.
All of that seems like "moving forward," to me. Now Mayor Littlefield, by taking this latest action, is moving us all backward into division and rancor. The community didn't have an issue to be resolved. The remark quoted above, in light of all of this, suggests that by "the community" Littlefield really means a close circle of acquaintances and "connected" individuals, even if some of them have been former opponents.
There is a Brainerd Unity Group meeting planned for this evening, October 23rd. (Y'all come, if you're in the area: it's at the Brainerd Rec Center, 6pm.) One would have hoped that the Marti issue was securely behind us, and that no matter how each of us felt about her or her struggles, we could come together and build a strong community. Now I'm doubtful that Rutherford supporters will darken the doorway, since the unity group's founders were largely in the "oust Marti" camp. I hope I'm wrong, and that everyone shrugs off this mess and shows up; but, at any rate, we really didn't need this additional obstacle.
October 22, 2007
Another "Worst Mayor"
We've heard before of Frank Melton, the now-legendary mayor of Jackson, Mississippi. His relationship with the Clarion-Ledger was the topic then. (Aside: the reporter he banned, Kathleen Baydala, moved to that paper from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.)
Now there's an article in Reason that delves a little deeper into this colorful official's past and mentions his current legal troubles. (HT: Agitator) The piece is penned by alt-weekly editor Donna Ladd, who helms the Jackson Free Press. The JFP maintains a full-on blog about Mayor Melton.
We here in the Scenic City have access to a blog about our own mayor. It's not maintained by an alt-weekly, but rather by a pseudonymous, seeming insider. "Worst Mayor Ever: Ron Littlefield" has chronicled many of the mayoral missteps made since April 2005. (During this writing, I happened to notice a new, rather infuriating post that broke the news (to me) about Littlefield adding Marti Rutherford back to the payroll for three days, so that the former Council member can qualify for group health benefits which clearly violates the rules.)
But, even with this latest, it surely feels that Jackson's chief executive takes the prize, if one is to be handed out. Ron Littlefield has a strong grip on the silver, though.
Honorable mention as a "Worst Mayor" also goes to Fort Oglethorpe, GA mayor Judd Burkhart.
[Post edited for accuracy and layout.]
October 20, 2007
Rites of passage
My son now has a drum set. It's one of those toy kits (the boy will be 3 on Friday, his party was today), but I am somewhat impressed with it so far. The single cymbal is fitted with rivets so that it "sizzles" a little. The two toms are surprisingly sonorous, too. The sticks have rubberized tips so as to avoid an accidental puncture (or eardrum rupture). There is no snare, nor is there a hi-hat.
The kick drum pedal-apparatus is atrocious, but I can't ask for too much in a three-year-old's set. A sister-in-law was the kind giver.
I set up the kit, and went and got the acoustic guitar. We immediately launched into fun sounds. Dude was all over the skins, and while his rhythm's on the immature side, he made up for it in enthusiasm. And it was his first time. And he's still technically two. I swear, there were a couple of moments that sounded at least as good as anything by Ginger Baker. (I'm hearkening back to an old joke; I do like Cream).
Now he's taken to singing (in his way) and playing drums at the same time. Yeah, we've got ourselves a little Phil Collins (or name your favorite though if you say "Don Henley" we'll no longer be friends).
The question is: does the "rite of passage" refer to his first instrument, or does that phrase really mean his parents' having to put up with a drum kit in the house?
Ulysses S. Grant, ethnic cleanser
Years ago, I was a History major. A long story would tell you how I ended up with a minor instead; but I'll skip all that and say that the what ultimately made the difference was a Civil War course in which a large research project was due, and in which a floppy disk failure (this was 1990-91) played a key role in a "major" letdown. I keep toying with the idea that I will someday finish that project, if only for my own private edification.
The topic I had chosen was grim: the long-ranging social impacts of crowded, disease-ridden encampments on the Mississippi River where former slaves were forced to live in squalor after being rounded up from Deep South plantations. The orders that led to such inhuman treatment came straight from the top i.e., from General Ulysses S. Grant.
Now we learn that African-Americans weren't the only ethnic group toward which Grant directed sweeping, insensitive (to say the least) policy. From a website named Secrecy News (with thanks to Radley Balko):
In a remarkable episode from the Civil War that is not as widely known as it might be, General Ulysses S. Grant issued Order No. 11 on December 17, 1862 expelling all Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, where his forces had taken the field.
The point of the linked post is that President Abraham Lincoln quickly rescinded Grant's order, according to a newly available 1909 book, Abraham Lincoln and the Jews.
The despicable legacy of slavery is by no means the only stain on this nation's history. The process of preserving the union has employed many less-than-noble personnel and has brought about abhorrent public acts. These instances are important to remember even in our most patriotic moments. (Readers will not infer that I "hate America" or some such nonsense. Naturally I feel that our principles of liberty and equality make us the best nation on Earth; but, as applied by human beings, they represent ideals toward which we continue to strive, with relative success.)
See also: Andrew Jackson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt; your examples?
October 18, 2007
Time for an '08 update
Besides money, Brownback's support for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants hurt him in Iowa, an early-voting state that has struggled to provide education, medical care and other services as the number of immigrants has more than doubled since 1990.
U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo (R-CO) just marked a point in his scorecard -- not that it matters.
UPDATE: I somehow don't think these people helped Brownback's cause. Then again, Tancredo has his own fans. (At least one of these websites is surely a hoax; but for now, my money says the first one is real. Take a gander about and decide for yourself.)
Meanwhile, Political Insider speculates that former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee could surprise many with strong showings in Iowa and South Carolina.
Speaking of the Palmetto State: could Bob Jones III's endorsement of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney actually work in favor of someone like Huckabee? Self-described evangelical Adrienne Royer is not pleased at all with this development. (HT: ACK)
Even within evangelical circles, [Bob Jones University] is divisive. There are many more prominent Evangelical leaders who better represent conservative Christians. Why Bob Jones?
This also doesnt help keep the right cohesive. Why would Bob III endorse a candidate who miraculously became a right-wing conservative in time for the 2008 election? Why not support someone with a long-standing conservative background? Huckabee is a Baptist preacher, and they went with Romney?
And I haven't said anything regarding Stephen Colbert's announcement that he will run as both a Democrat and a Republican, but only in South Carolina; yet I do want some of that search engine love, so there you go. More to come on that story as it develops.
October 16, 2007
California governor "terminates" IRV
From Ballot Access News:
On October 14, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed AB 1294, the bill to let all cities and counties use Instant-Runoff Voting for elections for their own officers.
On October 9, the voters of Cary, North Carolina used Instant-Runoff Voting for the first time, to elect city officers.
Is Instant Runoff Voting the cure for all electoral ills? Hardly. But towns and cities, if their people will it, should be able to try it out, at least.
The flip side of the coin (so to speak), as pointed in the article linked in the second post, is the apparent cost that governments must undertake to educate voters on the system. Perhaps Gov. Schwarzenegger had that in mind when he vetoed the bill. People, can we just learn about this thing on our own?
IRV sez: "I'll be back."
Campaign finance reform without limiting "speech"
Marc Ambinder issued a correction to an earlier estimate that had Democratic frontrunner Sen. Hillary Clinton edging ahead in the number of new donors, when, really, Sen. Barack Obama continues to lead in this count.
The latest? "92.5% of all 550,000 donations Obama recieved [sic] have been for less than $250.00."
This is the pure, golden intent of campaign finance reform. Special interests, wealthy individuals, and corporate lobbyists shouldn't have their freedoms curtailed; it's just that their contributions should be diluted to the proper strength. That can't happen without an organic (more or less) outpouring of support from everyday Americans. Means of forcing this dilution tend to run afoul of the principles of liberty.
Each one of those over half-million donors very likely represents one vote, maybe two (if one half of a couple wrote the check). Every single vote is critically important, but a single vote by itself doesn't pack much leverage in terms of directing how policy is made. But turn that around: a person or organization that contributes a zillion dollars is likely expecting to wield a zillion dollars' worth of influence over that official after the contribution pays off in the form of a successful election. Small donors are guided by hope; large donors and bundlers are guided, chiefly, by expectations.
The very best candidates flat-out refuse special interest money. (Obama says he has done that, and criticizes rival Hillary Clinton for accepting these donations.) Under the current system, this makes it nigh impossible for such a candidate to win. Compromise is therefore a necessity; but the ones who hold themselves closest to this ideal deserve notice and commendation.
October 15, 2007
Is District 4 (TN Senate) a lock for reclamation by the GOP?
[Update: It occurred to me that the original post title may have led one to believe that I'm speculating about Tennessee's 4th Congressional district, currently held by U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Pall Mall. In fact, the post is about the 4th District of the Tennessee State Senate. If you knew that, carry on...]
State Senator Mike Williams, District 4, departed the GOP and declared himself independent in March of this year. It would be wrong to say that he "formally" left the Republican Party, because Tennessee has no registration by party. Candidates, however, do file for the ballot as either Democratic, Republican, or Independent. As Williams is planning to run for re-electiion which, incidentally, naturally makes him a prime target in a part of the state that has elected Republicans essentially since there have been Republicans he stands to be the first independent elected to the Tennessee legislature since 1982, according to Ballot Access News. ("Independent" can mean any number of things here, as ballot access hurdles prevent other parties from being able to list candidates, but Williams is not affiliated with a minor party.)
Enter Church Hill, TN attorney Mike Faulk, whose family (of Republicans, one would assume) has lived in the district for nearly a dozen generations. Never mind this candidate's qualifications (which, to be clear, are not being disputed here). The state party is rolling out the red carpet for him with spectacular vigor. They held a fundraiser last week in Nashville where dignitaries such as former Gov. Winfield Dunn and current Congressman Marsha Blackburn (her preference is not to be called "Congresswoman") helped raise money for the challenger.
Meanwhile, blogger David Oatney wonders if the incumbent even realizes that these forces are lining up so strongly toward defeating him.
Stay tuned for more on this race. The power of incumbency is nothing to be taken lightly, yet Republicans across the state are vowing to overcome it. Perhaps they should consult with Senator Lowe Finney.
Governing by committee
This NCSL post highlights a recent article on state legislative committees, and what role they play in the process of making law. It's interesting to see how much variation there is among the states in terms of committee autonomy. It was also no real surprise to learn that Tennessee ranks very high in this category (the highest, in fact, among House committees).
Now I admit that this is some of the wonkiest of wonk-stuff. In fact, though I myself was curious, I refrained from asking the District 10 Senate candidates the other night which committees each was looking forward to joining (and why), because I suspected that the resulting discussion would bore the audience too much. People didn't come out to hear about that, and not one of the questions submitted by audience members addressed it.
But the findings referred to above demonstrate that committee makeup is an important component of a citizen's awareness, and almost nowhere more so than in the Volunteer State. House of Representatives Speaker James Naifeh is said to control the fate of many a bill via strategic committee referrals and don't forget the committee assignments.
The current flap over Rep. Rob Briley's erstwhile chairmanship of the House Judiciary Committee, while he allegedly carried out an affair with a lobbyist whose client would be very interested in legislation passing through that committee, is but one sliver of the entire picture. We would do well to pay attention to who's on each committee, and how each handles the power that comes with the job.
October 13, 2007
Brainerd residents seek answers from District 10 candidates
As a follow-up to Thursday night's post, here are some more details from the Brainerd debate.
The audience wrote questions on index cards, and though I had a small stack of those to start with, quite a few more were handed to me throughout. The first one I read, which resulted in the candidates' stark disagreement over the current state of area schools, cited former Sen. Ward Crutchfield's apparent inability, despite his long tenure and leadership positions, to do anything about the fact that Hamilton County was dead last in state education funding until the recent BEP changes. The questioner pointedly asked how, as an incoming freshmen, either of these candidates could do any better.
Brock led off with his remark that the schools are miserable, not just in Hamilton County, but across the state. He cited top-heavy education department administrations as partially responsible for the fact that not enough dollars get into the classroom. Berke of course saw the state of schools differently (he is a heavily involved parent at a successful magnet school), but agreed that funds should be funneled to the classrooms better than they are currently.
[much more to be inserted here as I have time to write]
Some of the most powerful and surprising testimony came after I announced that the attendees had overwhelmingly identified crime reduction and an increased police presence as the number one issue facing Brainerd, and asked each candidate to address residents' concerns.
Berke postulated that by giving people a sense of hope and opportunity, the government can help alleviate the conditions that lead to criminal behaviors.
Brock's take on crime was a bit different. He cited drugs as the number one contributor, and said that by controlling illicit drug sales, authorities are able to limit the effectiveness of gangs. He also imparted his view that illegal immigrants contribute heavily to an increase in crime wherever they live, and feels that by cracking down on undocumented migrants and requiring English to be the sole language of government, this would help stem the crime problem.
By the way, the plan was for me to record the entire event, and thus not only have the full audio for recollection's sake, but to be able to edit it down into a nice happy podcast. Alas, not one, but two purchases aimed at making that a reality turned out to be mistakes. Remind me to tell you sometime about how certain uniformed assistants with "squad" in their company name were not able to perform a simple Google search (and yes, I admit that I should have done so before going to the store, but they should have been able to provide an answer to a relatively simple question).
October 12, 2007
District 10 straw poll results
I don't have exact numbers, but I'm told that Andy Berke won roughly 2/3 of the votes in a straw poll that was taken at the Brainerd Forum after last night's debate.
About 60 Brainerd residents were present, with about 20 additional people either associated with a campaign or otherwise from outside the area. Non-residents were discouraged from voting in the straw poll, but I'm not sure how one would go about policing that; and these things aren't exactly scientific, anyway. (Don't you just love the phrase "not exactly scientific"?)
A spokesman with the Brock campaign told me that, overall, the senate district comprises about a 55-45 split, with Democrats in the majority. By my recollection, the handful of precincts that make up Brainerd trend more Democratic than that.
The Republicans have their work cut out for them in a district so long represented by power-wielding (and thus pork-laden) Ward Crutchfield, but they are cheerfully devoting themselves to the task at hand. On the other side, the Berke camp isn't taking anything for granted, as special elections (in particular) can have surprising outcomes.
I'd say the race is off to a good start, even with some media outlets already engaging in a little dirt-digging. The candidates themselves, and those close to them, are cordial to and respectful of their opponents; and, from what I can tell, they aren't just playing nice while directing others to sling mud on their behalf.
I hope (however foolishly) that the political parties and muckrakers will lay off and let this campaign be about which candidate offers the best solutions rather than about petty personal attacks. That said, if there are true problems that need to be exposed, you can bet I'll be helping to illuminate them with whatever candlepower this li'l blog can bring.
Gore shares peace prize with UN group
"[Al Gore] is probably the single individual who has done most to create greater worldwide understanding of the measures that need to be adopted," the Nobel citation said.
Mr. Gore said he would donate the proceeds from his award to the environmental cause.
"My wife, Tipper, and I will donate 100 percent of the proceeds of the award to the Alliance for Climate Protection, a bipartisan non-profit organization that is devoted to changing public opinion in the U.S. and around the world about the urgency of solving the climate crisis."
October 11, 2007
District 10 candidates square off in first post-primary debate
The Friendship Community Church played host tonight to the Brainerd Forum, which featured an hour-long debate between the two general election candidates in next month's special election to fill the 10th District Senate seat. The event was organized by BUG, or Brainerd Unity Group, which is a new organization seeking to promote community among the various neighborhoods that line Brainerd Road.
It was a night of firsts: this is the first bid for public office by Andy Berke and Oscar Brock; it was their first appearance together after last week's primary elections nominated them; this was the first public meeting held by the Brainerd Unity Group; and it was my first time moderating a political debate. The folks at BUG were kind enough to invite me to do so, and I can only say that I come away enriched (and watch out somewhat emboldened) by the experience.
Turnout was great, for a school night, and no doubt because the promoters worked hard to get the word out through every media outlet possible. It was thrilling to see so many Brainerd residents there. There were donated refreshments, a voter registration table, and a chance for community members to indicate which local issues are most important to them by voting with colored dots on flip chart paper.
All right, then, what did the candidates say? I have to be honest: I am still trying to recall, absorb, and distill their comments. I was so focused on organizing the questions (almost all of which were submitted by attendees) and remembering whom to ask the next one that I could not really focus, with a reporter's (or, for that matter, a voter's) mindset on what was being said in response to each one. I'll try to pull together some highlights, though, and I will also link to media reports as they arrive online. (At least three television crews were there, and I recognized a Times Free Press reporter as well.)
In addition to thanking the Brainerd Unity Group for asking me to moderate, I would like to extend great appreciation to the candidates for making the task a real pleasure. I didn't use a stopwatch, but wouldn't have needed to, as each man kept his response within a reasonable time amount (a couple minutes or so), and the whole affair was kept very civil, despite some expected disagreements on policy.
I hope citizens in other parts of District 10 will take advantage of any opportunity to go hear these two good candidates state their reasons why they should serve in this seat (er, thanks for your understanding, Lookout Valley). Most importantly, I hope we all go vote after informing ourselves as best we can.
October 10, 2007
Why is Miller Park closed, really?
Chuck Crowder must have been reading my mind. Either that, or the question "why is Miller Park closed?" is on more minds than I had thought. No one at all has brought it up in conversation with me, but I sure have wondered.
Whatever the case, I found Chuck's column on the subject all too affirmative of my suspicions. Just a week or two ago, I had been searching the web for clues about the park's closing, and only had found a Times Free Press article from last month that cited the official line about maintenance and repairs, and said that officials were waiting until the UT marching band played its annual concert there to re-open it.
The park was closed in mid-May for repairs and a major modernization, but what was to have been a two-month project has taken more than twice that long.
Renovation is behind schedule because of delays in receiving park benches and because the August heat wave temporarily halted work to put sod and plants in the 1-acre park[.]
Problem is, I am often just across the street, at similarly named Miller Plaza, and I have not once witnessed any maintenance occurring. To be clear, I'm not talking about evenings and weekends, but the middle of the day on weekdays. Maybe I'm just unfamiliar with Parks and Recreation's work schedule; or maybe Mr. Crowder is onto something.
Rumor has it that in an effort to bolster need for the needless homeless shelter at the old Farmers Market property, Littlefield has closed the one place where the homeless take shelter. Why? Because he can.
And this story from NewsChannel9.com reiterates the notion that volunteer groups who follow their faith-based inclinations to feed the hungry were what really led to the park's closing.
[May 31, 2007] Last week Chattanooga city officials told a group of people who help feed the homeless at Miller Park to go away unless they get a permit.
But Thursday they went right back to Miller Park and made sure that the city's homeless and poor had something to eat - only to find another barrier.
City workers closed Miller Park and placed barriers and yellow tape all around the block on Market Street.
If the landscaping project is really what it was all about, then so be it. But there are several outstanding questions that, until answered, will cause some of us to remain in doubt.
Lewis Black tells us what not to think about
"I'm not comfortable with any issue that can't be expressed through men's jewelry."
I hope I captured that correctly. I was laughing pretty hard through Lewis Black's whole segment on the Daily Show.
Black lambasted the U.S. Congress and the national pundits for continuing will we ever get a reprieve? to waste time on petty nothingness like Barack Obama's lapel pins and Rush Limbaugh's jingoistic entertainment and poorly aimed newspaper ads that feature bad puns.
I laugh, and yet I cringe, because the crusty comedian is dead right. Why does it take Comedy Central icons to remind us of what is important? Don't get me wrong, as I'm glad they do; but what is wrong with the media and our elected representatives?
Look, I know some of us are conservatives, and some of us are liberals, and yet others are, well, other. But I don't think that fact has to reduce our discourse to absurdity. I think we can act upon our suppositions of how to fix things, even while those differ, and get to work on them; and, perhaps most importantly, leave alone what isn't broken.
UPDATE: Stephen Colbert revealed his flag nipple ring. That way, even if he takes his jacket or shirt off, he's still showing his patriotism. I think we should elect him.
UPDATE 2: This thought just struck me: irreverence is the new capital.
October 9, 2007
You'll have to be really high to see the colors
Oh, calm down. I'm referring, of course, to local TV weatherman Brian Smith's post today on where one can see autumn colors, and how much:
Here is the latest from the USDA Forest Service:
IN TENNESSEE and NORTH CAROLINA
Below 2,000 feet elevation; less than 10%
Between 2,000 and 4,000 feet elevation; 5% (spotty at lower elevations)
Above 4,000 feet elevation; 75%
Good Viewing Routes:
(SOUTH CHEROKEE NF)
Cherohala Skyway: The Skyway travels along U.S. Highway 165 from Tellico Plains, TN to Robbinsville, NC. This route offers spectacular views all along the way. The elevation of the highway reaches 5,000 feet in several locations.
(NORTH CHEROKEE NF)
TN. Hwy 107 from Cocke County to Unicoi County.
Houston Valley Area
Paint Creek to Hot Springs, N.C.
TN. Hwy 107 from Del Rio to Round Mtn. and to I-40
The area's deciduous tree population is undoubtedly on strike, to some degree, due to the extreme drought conditions.
Tennessee bloggers on District 10 candidates
Hopefully we'll see more of this as the weeks go by, but today there was good news in my RSS reader, in that several of Nashville's leading bloggers posted critical arguments over the merits possessed by senate District 10 candidates Andy Berke (D) and Oscar Brock (R).
Bill Hobbs, a Republican who'll soon be reporting for duty as the state GOP's PR person, started it off with two posts: one asking for support for Brock, and the other decrying Berke's profession as a trial lawyer.
Soon enough, eminent Democratic activist and award-winning blogger Sean Braisted rejoined with a suggestion that Hobbs cannot seriously take issue with Berke's legal experience while being an avid supporter of lobbyist and lawyer Fred Thompson.
WKRN's political blog, Volunteer Voters, picked up the Braisted question; and finally, there is a new post from Hobbs that predicts what Berke's stance will be on the question of medical malpractice reform.
All of this is good, regardless of your set-in-stone political leanings; even more if, like me, you've yet to decide on a general election candidate. We're underway on the topics of healthcare and jobs (tangentially); next, how about education?
The votes are in; I'm not.
Last week I asked readers to vote in an online poll that asked what I should do about the open District 6 council seat.
Twenty votes were cast (suggesting that "turnout" was typically light, given the estimated number eligible), and here are the results:
Submit an application for appointment as caretaker in the seat until the Feb 5 special election 55% (11 votes)
Do not run for the seat, but keep readers informed 20% (4 votes)
Run in the March, 2009 citywide election 15% (3 votes)
Run in the Feb 5, 2008 special election 10% (2 votes)
Stay out of the race altogether; don't even write about it 0% (0 votes)
The majority spoke, but I did not apply for the caretaker position. (Read about the nine who did here.) A significant contributor to my decision is a lack of time/logistics: the wife is in night school, including on Tuesday evenings, and unless the other council members wouldn't mind me toting along the boy to each session (uh, I'm sure there are rules about that), it just isn't possible to attend -- let alone the neighborhood meetings and other venues at which my presence would be expected.
Another determining factor was the advice that has come from those who have chosen to speak, publicly or privately, which largely cautioned against becoming a politician. I have lately started sensing that I can add value in my current role as a "non-objective citizen journalist," and I hope to expand on my ability to contribute meaningfully in that regard. It could be that serving as a representative in government would detract (or distract) from my media-related goals.
Then again, 80% of the votes cast were in favor of some variation of my seeking a seat on the council, so there's that. (Truth serum time: only one of them was cast by me.)
Thanks to all who participated, in whatever way. Now let's see who gets the temporary appointment, and then focus just as keenly on the upcoming elections.
October 8, 2007
A dozen or so Marti Rutherfords
That's what they've got up there in Knox County, it would seem.
It's very unbecoming.
Mayor Ron Littlefield diagnosed with prostate cancer
The Chattanoogan.com story says that the cancer was detected early, and that the prognosis is very good.
I have a fairly personal beef with prostate cancer, as it killed my father three and a half years ago. (And yes, that means prostate cancer is my "six-fingered man," and that, if ever given the chance, I will go all "Inigo Montoya" on it.)
However, the good news is that, in the decade-plus since Dad's cancer was first detected, incredible strides have been made in terms of discovery, treatment, and a guy's chances of making it. He may have had to suffer the debilitating and, let's face it, downright embarrassing effects of now-passι surgical tactics; but others are helped by the implementation of study findings from those earlier days.
I criticize Mayor Ron Littlefield's administration from time to time, and will continue to do so as needed; but this serves as a rather sobering reminder that he, too, is a human being who needs healing from time to time.
I wish His Honor, the Mayor of Chattanooga, and all others afflicted with this wretched disease, the speediest of recoveries.
In addition, I join him in asking men everywhere to talk to their doctors about both prevention and detection.
Attention, Nashville readers: help a good couple have a nice time in your town
Really, this request goes out not just to Nashvillians, but to anyone who can offer suggestions. I received an e-mail recently that queries, in part:
As part of my upcoming trip to Chattanooga, my wife and I have decided to tack on a weekend in Nashville. She has not spent much time in TN and I have only seen Chattanooga, so we thought we would explore a little; in addition, some good friends from Iowa will also be in Nashville that weekend. She and I are flying into Nashville on Friday, 10/12, and we will spend the weekend there.
So we are looking for suggestions on what to do and see, in and around Nashville. We would like to take in some sights and get some local flavor as well. Ideas for music/dance venues, clubs, and restaurants would be particularly appreciated. We are hardy travelers so we enjoy getting away from the regular tourist spots, but we can also put on our tourist hats and enjoy traveling with the crowd.
Any suggestions are welcome. Thanks.
I have to admit that I don't know Nashville all that well. I have rarely spent more than a few hours there at a time, especially outside of some pre-arranged event, like a conference. I've been to the Parthenon once, many years ago, and thought that was something to see. I have made the guitarist's requisite pilgrimage to Gruhn's, but this couple are not guitarists.
Also, full disclosure: the person writing the e-mail happens to be my boss. He's coming to Chattanooga immediately after his weekend in Nashville, so let's try make sure he has a great time. We wouldn't want the boss in a bad mood (not that he's the type given to such displays -- he's easily the most even-keeled person I've ever worked for).
Thanks in advance.
October 7, 2007
Ron Paul descends on Nashville
Presidential candidate and Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul stopped in Nashville this weekend, drawing supporters and onlookers from far and wide.
A.C. Kleinheider was there, and provides a roundup
Chris Wage offers a very read-worthy take on the day
2008 must be over already?
Cuz we're talking about the 2010 race for Governor of Tennessee. The TFP's DC reporter, Herman Wang, puts to rest any further speculation on whether U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis will seek his party's nomination to run for the state's top elected post.
As the article points out, this move puts Davis on a direct collision course with his friend and former delegation member, Harold Ford, Jr. Meanwhile, recently departed Nashville mayor Bill Purcell is thinking about following in his predecessor's footsteps.
Both major parties' primaries should be interesting, as former U.S Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and our own no-longer-self-term-limited Congressman Zach Wamp are said to be among those thinking about running on the Republican side.
But let's get through the 2008 (and, in Chattanooga, 2009) election cycles first, shall we?
P.S. - One correction for Herman and the paper: the article says that Lincoln Davis faced no opposition in his 2006 reelection bid. Perhaps they left out a word, such as "serious" or "viable"; but TennesseeTicket's archives say that Kenneth Martin beat out fellow GOP contenders Alan Pedigo and Don Strong to face Davis; and that two Democrats, Norma Cartwright and Harvey Howard, also ran against Davis in the primary that year.
P.P.S - Gotta run: President Hillary's calling. ;-)
October 6, 2007
Oppo-tunity knocks, opens door on candidate's past
And, here we go. One day after the primary firmly established Andy Berke and Oscar Brock as the nominees in the 10th Senate District special election, a news item was written and appeared in print this morning about a two-decades-old misdeed by one of the candidates.
I'd say we can chalk this one up as "global strategy, local tactic." If, ahem, you know what I mean. No doubt both campaigns have hired firms to do opposition research ("oppo" in political jargon), but Berke's quarter-million-plus in campaign receipts likely gives him the upper hand in terms of airing the dirty laundry.
The paper gave its article all due appearances of balance by mentioning Berke's record as well, but three parking tickets all paid, mind you are all that they could flush out.
Is Brock's dismissed (UPDATE: and expunged) DUI in 1987 a relevant story in 2007? In general terms, I suppose it's good for us to be aware of things like this, if they're still on record, in case the crime were even more serious. Of course DUI is a serious and dangerous offense, but the General Assembly is not immune, as unfortunate as this fact may be, to sitting members being charged with it: former Senator Kathryn Bowers and current members Sen. Jerry Cooper and Rep. Rob Briley come immediately to mind, and I'm sure there have been others. I'm not excusing anyone, but trying to put perspective on a youthful mistake in light of more current problems.
By the way, what's with local GOP chair Connie Weathers' statement that the tale is "troublesome," and the implication that Brock should not have run for the seat? With well-known Republican donors (like, for instance, CBL executives) on the books for Berke, it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that additional Republicans are crossing over. Perhaps I do speculate too much, and the fact is that the local party has elected Brock to several consecutive terms on the State Executive Committee; but it can't hurt to ask questions. For whatever reasons, Democratic chair John Bailes had less to say about this story than did Weathers.
Though it may be painful for the candidate and/or his family,
there's nothing wrong with a story like this coming to light (I wrote that sentence before realizing that the expunge attempt had been successful). However, even though I am admittedly adding to the coverage by pointing to it here, I only bring it up to stress that what I want to focus on in the coming weeks is how each candidate will serve the district more so, as erstwhile primary contender Travis Layne pointed out to me, the entire state and not on dated personal histories that figure very little, if at all, into how each will go about helping to solve our present-day issues.
October 5, 2007
Don't forget the sisters
Obviously I'm not there right now, and I don't know how much I'll be able to see, because of work and other responsibilities, but the Three Sisters bluegrass festival, an inaugural FREE event on the downtown Chattanooga waterfront, began this evening and continues tomorrow.
It is going to be awesome. Let's compare notes afterward.
Out here in the weeds
So, I took one of those "candidate calculator" quizzes online, and promptly reaffirmed my status on the fringe of American politics. (So why am I a centrism-seeking Unity08 supporter? Beats me.)
The candidate who comes in first, in terms of matching my responses, is "the peace candidate," U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH). Right behind him is the arguably wacky former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel (D-AK).
But third, ahead of any other Democrat, is U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), whose views are said to match mine at around 74%. That's pretty high, considering that a candidate I really like, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), hovers just above the halfway mark. The rest of the Democrats are similar, with the notable exception of U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, who comes in last before the list switches to Republicans, being the only Democratic candidate to match my views at less than 50%.
One reassuring(?) fact is that my list isn't that dissimilar from the year 2000, when I started taking these online surveys, and my top two candidates were Ralph Nader (Green, that year) and Harry Browne (Libertarian). (Technically, the quiz I took then was about parties more than about candidates: Browne, specifically, didn't match me as much as Nader did, but the two parties were about equal.) When I take the "world's smallest political quiz" (a libertarian device, to be sure), I am there, too identified as a "Liberal Libertarian" who sits atop the fence dividing those two camps.
This time around, I don't know whether to vote in the Democratic primary, and support Kucinich; or in the GOP primary, and support Paul; or in the Democratic primary, and support Obama, because he stands the best chance of knocking out Clinton, whose presidency (even with the prospect of genial Bill out there trying to mend relations) I cannot support.
What is it that pulls Paul so high in my list, and puts Kucinich and Gravel on top? I have no doubt that it is this useless boondoggle of a war in Iraq, although other issues are the War on Drugs and sensible adult freedoms (such as gay marriage, for whomever wants it).
Interestingly, the "composite candidate," according to the current survey status, is Democratic Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, whose views match the highest number of participants'. I think the highest-scoring "non-wacko" for me was Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM). There's an idea, too.
October 4, 2007
Berke, Brock win primaries
The results are in, and the funding leaders also came out the vote winners. The Democrat and Republican who will face each other in the November 15 special election are Andy Berke and Oscar Brock, respectively. I look forward to learning more about these candidates' means of representing this district.
Congratulations are due the other candidates as well, as all ran good races without resorting to much negativity. (Unfortunately, the same can't be said for a few vocal supporters.)
Republican Mark Albertini conceded to the winner tonight, stating that he is grateful for those who voted for him in the primary. I count it an honor that those of you who chose me to lead you and represent you in the affairs of our State government, showed your support by voting for me. To those of you who contributed to my campaign, I am grateful. I will now support Mr. Brock in his efforts to win the District 10 Senate seat in any way I can.
Tennessee Politics Blog offers this coverage.
Report from the Brainerd precinct
Turnout was sad today, at least in our precinct. The poll workers described themselves as "bored." They were glad to see us come in. I was glad to see a family from our neighborhood going in as we exited, and disappointed that I didn't see many more.
Is it just me, or does it have to rain on every election day here, even when it almost never rains here anymore? It's an election day tradition. We get out the umbrella, then go eat lunch at Ankar's Hoagies (Brainerd location), then go vote. (I have a saying: it's never a good idea to vote on an empty stomach.) The poll workers, most of whom are at least retirement age, get a kick out of the boy, who will be three years old later this month. (OMG moment)
Incidentally, I recognized the name on one of their tags: Barbara Kelley, who is one of several applicants for the "caretaker" spot on the City Council, validated my signature. The fact that she willingly signs up for the relatively thankless (and boring) job of helping exercise the franchise, plus that I hear through the grapevine that she has no designs on a permanent position, causes me to consider her a very appealing candidate for this interim solution.
October 3, 2007
I heard today that Chattanooga Times cartoonist Bruce Plante is headed out of town soon. I've enjoyed Bruce's work on the left side of the editorial page for a long time. His focus on the loonier aspects of local government was a real treat, and his signature depiction of a Tennessee General Assembly member is downright classic.
Word "on the street" is that Plante is taking a job in Tulsa. Let's all wish him well.
Farr beyond reason
While my understanding is that the paper version will start hitting the streets on Thursdays, instead of Wednesdays, this week's Pulse is online today. In it, I opine briefly on the "crack tax" appeal and the cigarette border patrols. Tennessee Commissioner of Revenue Reagan Farr is undergoing deserved (in my view) criticism for pushing both of these efforts, and I imagine that it wouldn't feel so nice to be under such scrutiny. It might make one resentful of the media.
But one blogger who also happens to be a Tennessee House of Representatives member got Farr's attention in a very direct way. Rep. Stacey Campfield, a Republican legislator from Knoxville, got a phone call from an irate Reagan Farr.
I was out working this morning when at 9:01 (Nashville time) I received a call. It was Farr. I will try to recite this as best I can. Farr, to be kind, was not happy about my latest post He was practically yelling over the phone, demanding that I take it down immediately.
Not a good tactic to take with me. I seldom, if ever, take down a post. If there is an error I will try to correct it or admit a mistake, but I don't like to take things down. Farr wanted me to go home and take it down any way.
Governor Phil Bredesen, says Nashville's City Paper, spoke out in support of his revenue commissioner today. Our state stance on tobacco is very mixed right now. The Governor and his administration want the tax money from cigarette sales, yet a ban on smoking in most public buildings went into effect this week. We want to reduce the healthcare costs associated with smoking, yet we depend on the taxes for other state programs. (Links via Volunteer Voters)
October 4 is election day
In Senate District 10, which comprises parts of Hamilton County and all of Marion County, the primary election in the race to replace former Sen. Ward Crutchfield is taking place. All polling places in the district are open from 8AM-8PM (someone check me on Marion times, as they are in the Central time zone).
Memphis also undergoes a big election tomorrow, as voters there choose a mayor and council. The mayoral race there is between incumbent Willie Herenton and challenger Carol Chumney.
Also, the city of Knoxville will name its mayoral choice tomorrow, where incumbent Mayor Haslam is expected to win by a wide margin. Oops. I'm slightly behind. Haslam did win. I had a memory lapse. Thanks, Adam! (See comments)
If you are a registered voter in one of these fine places in the state of Tennessee, please be sure to exercise your right, your privilege, and your duty, and VOTE!
District 10 voters, if you haven't yet checked out the primary candidates, they are all listed here, with links to their websites and to conversations with TennesseeTicket.com, where available.
Help Joe decide: take a poll
Call me crazy, but I have given the recently vacated District 6 City Council seat some thought. I pretty much have my ideas in place (no solid decision, just an outline), but I wanted to test your thoughts against what I feel. Please vote in the poll below. You may select multiple responses; or, if none matches your opinion, enter your answer in the "Other" field.
Feel free to leave additional comments explaining your choice.
P.S. - I have lived in the district for slightly over 5 years, in case you were wondering. :-)
October 2, 2007
Quote of the day
Some say there's a quagmire in Iraq. I'd say it's in Washington, D.C.
Court Knox down county commission secret appointments
I've been following the case brought by the Knox News-Sentinel against the Knox County Commission from a distance, but with interest all the same. Many blog posts have hit the net over the past couple of weeks on this topic, and there's no way for me to get them all linked here. Just go visit these five sites (1 2 3 4 5), start scrolling or searching, and you'll find all that you need.
Today the jury found for the plaintiff (the newspaper) and thus ruled that the Commission violated the Open Meetings Act in a closed-door session wherein they appointed replacements for themselves. A majority, I believe, of the commissioners were earlier term-limited, yet they fought that law all the way to the state Supreme Court; then, when the high court ruled that they could not serve additional terms, they hand-picked successors without public input.
It's an unfortunate fact, but it sounds like something one of our own local governments would do. Especially, that is, if we're not watching them closely enough.
An interesting dynamic in this case was a daily newspaper monopoly (we're familiar with that) seeming to bring its own agenda into the fray, according to several of the bloggers above. I really can't weigh in on that; but I can say that our own paper tends to treat many potential abuses of public office with kid gloves, and so it follows that if they really went after something one day, it might indeed be for their own political purposes. All of this is pure speculation, just to be clear; but you know what I mean, right?
Oh, and of course the other interesting thing about this trial was that the newspaper asked the aforementioned independent bloggers to cover it, which they did very well.
State Senate 10th District general election debate set
Chattanooga, TN With the District 10 State Senate primary set for Thursday, October 4, the Brainerd Unity Group (BUG) announces a District 10 senate forum slated for Thursday, October 11, 5:30-7:30 p.m.
We in Brainerd want our future elected state senator to know who we are and what we care about. We organized this forum to give residents a chance to get to know the candidates and for the candidates to hear first hand from voters what is important in this Chattanooga neighborhood, said Candy Corneliussen, BUG co-founder.
The event will be moderated by Joe Lance, Pulse political columnist and founder of the nonpartisan, comprehensive political website TennesseeTicket.com.
Here are the details:
Thursday, October 11 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m.
Friendship Community Church
Corner of Brainerd Road and Tuxedo Avenue
Voter Registration Drive & Refreshments
October 1, 2007
Not sure if I like the sound of a Marti "party"
Yes, of course, the big local news today is that Councilwoman Marti Rutherford has resigned her seat.
She did the right thing, but was it for the right reasons? The community is buzzing tonight with stories involving sightings of Rutherford stalking Brainerd streets, flipping papers in her hand as she drives by slowly multiple times. She is, apparently, checking addresses, perhaps of those who signed the citizen complaint that launched the formal residency investigation.
This comes after Rutherford reportedly told her detractors, in a public statement, to "watch out."
Maybe Ms. Rutherford was obtaining addresses in order to send invitations to party with her. I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, a District 6 couple told me just today that, even though they felt that Marti was in the wrong, and are glad that she resigned, they would have her over for tea anytime.