April 27, 2009
Berke declines to run for higher office
Senator Andy Berke, whose 10th District covers Marion and part of Hamilton Counties, today announced that he is not running for Governor of Tennessee, nor for the 3rd District U.S. House seat in Congress, in 2010. Earlier speculation had entertained the notion that Berke was aiming for either of those two offices.
The real story about this "rising star" is not that he won't try to replace Gov. Phil Bredesen or U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp in January 2011. No, that's just the teaser. The story runs along a slightly more sophisticated plot line, and goes something like this:
Because the seed was planted earlier that Sen. Berke might be considering a run for the governor's mansion, and there was a smattering of press to that end, today's announcement is the flourish that says "but he could have." The foothold is thus gained amongst a fair proportion of the interested public, and there are doubtless many Democratic (and other) souls whose response to the demure declination was "well, Andy Berke, I'm let down that you won't be running; but you say the word, dear fellow, in a couple or a handful of years, and I'll be your guy/gal."
This is, of course, nothing new. Politicians have used this tactical move for millennia, I'd suppose. But what makes it at least a little noteworthy in this case is just how easy Andy Berke makes it look.
A secondary thread involves leadership in the Senate. Don't forget that the seat Berke now occupies was long held, until recently, by a mightily powerful majority leader (never mind the abrupt fall from grace). While I won't guess as to the timing or goals in this direction either, I feel fairly confident in saying that Berke won't stop at being Secretary-Treasurer for his caucus.
On the gubernatorial race itself:
Without an anomalous Berke in the mix, the Democratic primary seems to be shaping up as expected, with a few big names from West Tennessee (Herron, McMillan, McWherter) and a lone, well-funded Middle Tennessee contender (Cammack), and just about nobody from the East. Geography also plays a part in the GOP primary, which has three East Tennessee heavyweights (Haslam, Ramsey, Wamp) against Memphis' District Attorney (Gibbons).
And lastly, to the election for the seat now held by Congressman Wamp:
Will it be a match between Brent Benedict and Tim Gobble? Early "buzz" seems to suggest something like that, but there's no point in getting too attached to any idea just yet. We'll know by Christmas who's blessed and who's banished.
April 24, 2009
Mike McWherter to enter Tennessee governor race
See Andy Sher's report at the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
See also: The Nashville Post
April 23, 2009
BREAKING: Police use pepper spray on UTC students
An impromptu gathering (or "flash rave") tonight by UTC students to celebrate the end of the school year was broken up by police using
tear gas canisters pepper spray.
According to initial reports on Twitter, no verbal warning was issued to the crowd before police fired the deterrent spray.
It is unclear at this time whether the police units who responded were UTC campus police or officers of the City of Chattanooga, or both.
UPDATE 00:21 @stratparrott says "a friend that was at [UTC] informed me they actually had permission for their 'flash rave.'"
UPDATE 00:29 a Chattanooga police officer says that a bottle was thrown at police by a "rioting" student.
UPDATE 00:35 TFP story (now with eyewitness video), via @tropicalwonder
UPDATE 09:06 Full statement by UTC after the jump:
From: Chuck Cantrell
To: SCRAPPY@RAVEN.UTC.EDU Date: Fri, 24 Apr 2009 01:23:42 -0400 Subject: [UTC-MEMO] Incident on campus UTC Police and Chattanooga City Police responded to a call Thursday evening about 11 p.m. of a large, disorderly crowd at the Lupton Library. Upon arrival, police found a crowd of about 1,000 students congregating outside the library. The crowd began storming the library doors, chanting "Let us in!" "Take the library!" and other statements as they attempted to enter the library. UTC Police told the crowd to disperse. Instead members of the crowd began to climb up on the library and jump into the crowd. Some threw items at the police officers on site. Police sprayed mace above the heads of students to disperse the crowd. The Library was closed for a a little over an hour to allow the crowd to disperse and police regained control of the site. Chattanooga City Police made five arrests and issued one misdemeanor citation. According to reports to the UTC Police, the event was an event planned by students using text messages and social networks telling students to be at the UTC Lupton Library at 11 p.m. for a party. Other campuses have reported such incidents. "I know that some of the students believe this was a harmless gathering, but when you try to force your way into a building and jumping off buildings, then you've gone beyond harmless fun. We are the middle of exam week, and there were students inside the library trying to study and conduct research, and this crowd disrupted the operation of the library. We greatly appreciate the assistance of the Chattanooga Police and the restraint demonstrated by all of the law enforcement officials who responded," said Chuck Cantrell, assistant vice chancellor for university relations. An investigation by UTC Police and the Office of Student Development into the situation is ongoing.
April 17, 2009
I'm sorry, but I don't think I can eat a critter that has hands
However, I would consider attending the annual "Coon Supper" held by longtime former state House speaker Jimmy Naifeh (even though I'm not his biggest fan, by any means), just to witness the goings-on.
Fortunately, several friends in the 'sphere were there. I'll direct your attention to Newscoma, who has posted a comprehensive roundup, complete with photos.
April 16, 2009
Post (tea)-partisan thoughts
Wednesday's "tea party" events had respectable participation throughout the country, including right here in Chattanooga, Tennessee. While many are rightfully trying to make much of the turnout, and still others are wishing the crowing would stop, my largely disinterested view is that, overall, a Good Thing happened, even if the sum of accomplishments directly attributable to the protests was typically minor.
Yes, you had your usual suspects co-opting an honest expression of outrage at a too-large government and using it as handy cover for an array of other, decidedly less than noble sentiments. I know people who are angry that the United States elected a black president, and yet I in no way infer that the Tax Day Tea Party organizers share that feeling just because the former happened to show up. Likewise, the Democratic Party, easy enough to demonize (just look at the first four letters), shouldn't have been (and in many cases wasn't) the target of an irate mob, even if some folks waved signs that suggested it was.
No, from accounts I have read, pictures I have viewed, and conversations I've had with participants, these events were resplendent with patriotic pride, attended by people from varied backgrounds, and they made a statement that needs to be made. It's actually not good for everyone to think exactly the same way. The metaphors you've seen so many times: pendulum, tug-of-war, ocean tides--these are apt descriptions. They remind us that when too much weight (or force) is lumped onto one side of the see-saw, the ride stops, and someone's left hanging in midair. (OK, I had to throw another one in there.)
If, say, you're one of those who promotes increased spending in a recession, it will do you good to listen to and analyze opinions that say otherwise. Challenging one's sacredly held positions is exactly what makes them sacred. It can get tense at times, but even that tension is usually followed with a contrasting relief. (I recommend conversing with one's ideological "foes" over a meal, or heading to a good watering hole after a healthy debate.)
So what happens next? Will the tea partiers conclude that they "got it out of their system," and simply settle back into life as we know it? Is a larger movement underway, and this recent series of events just the harbinger? I don't have the answer, but I suspect that we haven't heard the last of this. If it were my bandwagon, I'd be buoyed by the number of people who jumped on it. (UPDATE: via Instapundit, some thoughts from National Review Online)
I only ask that, from whatever angle any of us engages with this, we keep an open dialogue going and welcome each other into a truly constructive critique of our current government (and, inasmuch as it matters now, what came before), as well as an equally meaningful discussion about the merits of the critique itself.
And most of all, I urge that we inform ourselves about candidates and vote. Very little of the rest matters if we don't do that.
April 14, 2009
Runoff vote today
Chattanoogans in three city council districts will go to the polls today to decide between runoff contenders.
Chattarati reported that early voting was extremely light in this election. Though it is not expected that today will see a huge change in that, perhaps if people hear it enough times, they will get out and vote.
The polling places are open from 8:00 a.m. until 7:00 p.m. Check the Election Commission's Web site for the locations.
The new City Council will be sworn in on Monday, April 20, and will meet in its first session at the regular time on Tuesday, April 21, at 6:00 p.m. in the City Council Building at 1000 Lindsay St. New officers will be chosen as part of that first session.
April 12, 2009
Going to any tea parties?
Towns across Tennessee are preparing for protesters on April 15, the day federal tax returns are due to be mailed. Here's an introduction to events being held at Chattanooga's Tea Party:
During the protest, we'll be doing a bunch of things while keeping the main theme of bringing awareness about current Big Government ploys to enslave taxpayers for generations to come and letting the Government know that we're not pleased with out of control spending.
Look for some of the following at the Chattanooga Tax Day Tea Party:
- Pledge of Allegiance
- Interesting Speakers
- Audience Participation (this should be fun)
- Petition Signing
- Information About How You Can Get Involved
I'd like to read some good discussion on this topic, so don't let me down.
Do you plan to attend a "tea party"? Why or why not?
Is the level of engagement this year simply spurred by conservatives' reactions to a Democratic White House and Congress, or have actions during the past several years, including a years-long war in Iraq and last fall's financial-system bailouts, contributed to the growing concern?
I'm all for fighting against big government. My only question is: why just now? With a few exceptions, where have you guys been?
April 8, 2009
A new Democratic candidate for governor
The Nashville Post is reporting that Sen. Roy Herron, a Democrat from the northwest part of the state, has indicated that he will enter the gubernatorial race.
We know a good blogger who lives in Herron's district, and she will be providing further updates as they become available.
The elections for this office will take place in August (primary) and November (general) of 2010. Governor Phil Bredesen is prevented by law from seeking a third term.
Here's a sketch of how the candidate lists are lining up. I'll be filling out this information with links to campaign sites, social media pages, contributions, issue positions, and lots more. Stay tuned.
Sen. Andy Berke?
Sen. Roy Herron
Mayor Bill Haslam
Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey
U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp
Independent/Third Party candidates
April 6, 2009
Three days, three districts: Chattanooga election almost over
Early voting for the Chattanooga City Council runoff elections continues at the Hamilton County Election Commission through Wednesday, and district precincts are open next Tuesday, April 14.
If you're just tuning in, the candidates are as follows:
Linda Bennett, incumbent
Deborah Scott, challenger
Andrae McGary, challenger
Leamon Pierce, incumbent
District Nine (open seat)
All three of these could be close, and if voter turnout is anywhere near as abysmally low as it was for the March election (and something tells me it may be even worse), then it takes only a razor-thin margin for one candidate to best the other.
If you live in one of these districts, please do your part and vote. I'm probably "preachin' to the choir" here, but just in case I'm not, I want to invite participation.
*(I keep double-checking, but this is not the lead singer of Bauhaus.)
April 4, 2009
Local television stations carry rivalry into social media
Even though some TV journalists, such as NBC's David Gregory, have been posting brief updates on the popular site Twitter for some time, Chattanooga's news outlets are more recent arrivals to the party.
Since I get about 80 percent of my news from Twitter, it's good to see these stations coming aboard (as well as the Chattanooga Times Free Press and other Tennessee newspapers). But I'm afraid that at least a couple of folks in the newsrooms just don't get it yet.
It seems that a user behind the WRCB account has been spending less time building relationships with the viewing public than "blocking" members of rival WTVC from being "followers" of the Channel 3 account. It works like this: say you have a Twitter account, and I choose to add your updates to my stream. For whatever reason, you don't want me to (say, if I'm one of those "free laptop" spammers), so you block me, and I am no longer listed among the Twitter users that follow your updates.
As several people have pointed out, unless users make their updates private, anyone can see all of them, whether they are a "follower" or not. Therefore the action taken by WRCB is literally pointless, in addition to being petty and silly.
One of the apple cart-upsetting things about Twitter is that a "regular person" can break news and post pictures of breaking news before any "real journalist" can possibly get to the location where said news is happening. All it takes is a moderately dressed cell phone and a free Twitter account--and the ability to use it. So this whole thing about "you saw/heard/read it here first" just doesn't carry as much weight as it once did. (NewsChannel9, I'm looking at you, too.) (UPDATE: After some conversation, WTVC assures me that by "first reported" they simply mean to point to a previous broadcast edition of the story, and not to claim exclusivity.)
I'm hoping that the current squabble ends quickly, and that more of our news crews start using Twitter to actually connect with the rest of us. (I have to say that Dan Lehr and his boss do a fairly good job already.)
Lastly, here are some Twitter tips for news outlets from former Nashville blogger Brittney Gilbert, who now runs a Bay Area meta-blog (if you will) for a CBS station in San Francisco: http://urlzen.com/aka.