Who's your choice for Mayor in 2015?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Yeah, Hillary's running. And she'll probably win. That's not nearly enough, people

So, I see everyone is delirious over Hillary Clinton's announcement yesterday that she is running for president.  Meh.  I will vote for her if she is the nominee for the reason Jonathan Chait at NEW YORK Magazine noted yesterday:
The argument for Clinton in 2016 is that she is the candidate of the only major American political party not run by lunatics. 

However, we have to understand that NOTHING is really going to change in this country until we regain control of A) The US Senate, B) The US House, and most importantly of all, C) STATE LEGISLATURES.  We have to rebuild from the ground up, and that is difficult in the aftermath of the CITIZENS UNITED ruling by the Supreme Court.  Most legislatures are like Tennessee's wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Koch Brothers and the misnamed Americans For Prosperity, which is like being called Chickens for Colonel Sanders.

 The President can do many things, but Kings they are not.  We need DEMOCRATS at every level of the legislative process, and that begins here.  We need help at the local level (the SCDP link is here) and at the state level (Here is the TNDP link) in order to get this state back in the correct direction.  UPDATE: Thanks to DWSC President Virgie Banks for providing the link to their Website at the top of the blogroll!

We need to be able to elect Democrats in rural areas that reflect our values and not those of the .001%.  Be excited for Hillary all you want (or not, in the primary stage) but keep your eyes on the prize:

Until we regain control of the legislative process, it will be difficult to do ANYTHING to stop this horrific turn to the ultra-right.

And that starts NOW.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

And now, a word from our State Chair, Mary Mancini

Tennessee Democratic Party Logo

Dear Steven, 
For Tennessee’s Republican legislators, it’s business as usual on Capitol Hill. Instead of tending to the people's business, they're serving only themselves and their radical beliefs without a care for the destruction they heap upon children, families, and communities. Here's what they've done  in just one month...

  • Rep. Sheila Butt (R-Columbia), the Republican floor leader in the Tennessee House of Representatives, posted on Facebook that it was time for an “NAAWP.” Read more...
  • Rep. Andy Holt (R-Dresden), Republican chairman of an agriculture committee, is under investigation by both the Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for code violations and operating his hog farm without a permit. Read more… 
  • Sen. Joey Hensley (R- Hohenwald), who was served an order of protection after his wife said he hit her with his car, and Rep. David Hawk (R-Greeneville), who was convicted of reckless endangerment in 2013 after an angry run-in with his ex-wife, have filed legislation “dealing with distribution of property during divorce proceedings." Hensley admitted the bill was based on his divorce. Read more….
  • Seven Republican senators, including Sen. Todd Gardenhire of Chattanooga, made the decision to shut the door to critical healthcare for over a quarter of a million hard working Tennesseans by voting NO to Insure Tennessee. Their vote NO is a direct result of the failure of leadership by Republican leaders Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey and Speaker Beth Harwell who caved to right-wing extremists instead of standing up for 250,000 working Tennesseans who can't go to the doctor when they're sick. Readmore....
  • Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R-Blountville) have shown an absolute lack of leadership in refusing to hold any of these members accountable and/or strip them of their leadership positions. Read more...
It's clear that Tennessee Republicans are unfit to hold any elected office. It's clear that once given power, they use it to serve themselves and live as though the laws of Tennessee don’t apply to them.
But it’s not enough for Democrats to point fingers and laugh at how “crazy” these folks are. It’s not enough for us to shake our heads and ask, “How in the heck do these people get elected?”

In Nashville, the state capitol has been overrun by self-serving Republican legislators and special interests so now is the time to let everyone know exactly who these Republicans are and what they stand for. And now is the time to make sure every voter knows who WE are and what WE stand for...

  • Tennessee Democrats fight for equal pay, because we know that women make up 51% of the population and still make less than men.
  • Tennessee Democrats fight for equality and opportunity for all because we know that racism and inequality in any form is unacceptable.
  • Tennessee Democrats fight for equal justice because we know that no one is above the law.
  • Tennessee Democrats believe in smart government and effective leadership.
  • Tennessee Democrats believe it’s time our state legislators served the interests of all Tennesseans - not just themselves and their cronies. 
  • Tennessee Democrats believe in a good day's pay for a hard day’s work.
  • Tennessee Democrats believe that if someone is injured on the job, they should be able to feed their family.
  • Tennessee Democrats believe that all Tennesseans should be able to take themselves or their kids to the doctor when they’re sick.
  • Tennessee Democrats believe in investing in our future (our kids, our schools, our roads and bridges.)
  • Tennessee Democrats believe in strong families and communities.
  • Tennessee Democrats are the party of opportunity for ALL - THEY are the party of opportunism.
Now is the time to start working to take back our state from these radical, self-serving Republicans...so spread the news...DON'T KEEP WHO WE ARE AND WHAT WE STAND FOR TO YOURSELVES!
Thank you for all you do,
Mary Mancini
Chair, Tennessee Democratic Party

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Drinking Liberally Memphis is under new leadership, and I am happy about it!

Drinking Liberally Memphis faded away for a while because the hosts, of which I was one, got tired of doing it and couldn't attract younger, newer people, so we gave it up.

Fortunately,  Liz Rincon, Allan Creasy and Trenton Woodley have revived DL, which now meets at Celtic Crossing at Cooper & Oliver on the 2nd & 4th Mondays of very month beginning at 5 PM.

In addition, Mondays at Celtic are Pint Night, and the 5 PM time coincides with Happy Hour!

In addition, Allan, who is also a bartender at Celtic, donates tips received during that time to a local nonprofit so that they can give back to our community, which is a win-win for everyone.

For more information, the DL-Memphis Facebook page can be found at


The next DL gathering is Monday, March 9 at 5 PM at Celtic Crossing at Cooper & Oliver in the heart of Cooper-Young, come on out!

That's Me In The Flyer!

That's me in the Viewpoint, losing my political inhibitions! *

*with apologies to REM.  :)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

DWSC Political Forum This Sunday!

DWSC logo text

Political Forum
Featuring candidates running for

Chairman of the Shelby County Democratic Party

Guest moderator:  Les Smith, FOX 13 Reporter

Sunday, March 1
4-6 p.m.
IBEW Union Hall
1870 Madison Ave.

Everyone is invited.

Candidates must e-mail: veebanks at yahoo.com
to get your name on the program.
www.dwosc.org   Join us on FB

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A sad day ends as it had to end.

As you are now aware, Bryan Carson resigned as Chair of the Shelby County Democratic Party in yesterday's specially called meeting of the Executive Committee.

This had been building for some time, as the EC (on which I serve from House 90)  could not get timely written treasurer's reports from the Chair.  At the February regular meeting (which I could not attend due to recovery from my surgery), the EC voted to have an audit of the Party's books, and requested Diane Cambron and Dick Klenz to conduct that audit.   This was also in light of the fact that the Chair had not filed timely disclosures with the state Registry of Election Finance, which has caused the Party to incur fines.

Unbeknownst to the EC, the results of the audit had triggered a private meeting of the Steering Committee last Sunday, at which time the Chair was asked to provide documentation for over 60 cash withdrawals from an ATM card from the Party's bank account.  These took place in a period from September 1 through February 2.  He was given until Wednesday of this past week to produce them, when the Steering Committee would meet again, in an undisclosed location.  The EC was told that this meeting would occur, but that any comments would have to wait until after the meeting.

Personal note: I understand why this was closed, and then 1st Vice Chair, now Chair Dave Cambron said that they were advised by the TNDP to close those meetings, as well as the meeting yesterday.  I still do not agree with that decision, we are a public body and we have to let the chips fall where they may.  I digress.

After the Wednesday Steering Committee meeting, the EC was notified by Rose Ann Bradley, our peerless secretary, that the SC had given Chair Carson a VOTE OF NO CONFIDENCE, and it was UNANIMOUS.  As only the EC can vote to remove a member or an officer, that was as much as could be done at that time. What none of us on the EC knew was WHY.

What we learned from the audit was the aforementioned cash withdrawals, that Jonathan Lewis, whom we had approved to serve as the Party Treasurer months earlier, had reviewed the books and refused to accept the position.  Worse, Bryan had, without informing the EC, served as his own treasurer, which is not in accordance with campaign finance laws.

I have worked in politics since 1978.  EVERY donation or expenditure by a campaign or a party must be documented beyond a certain level.  If at all possible, you avoid paying any bills in cash.  If your vendor insists on receiving cash, you have to demand an detailed invoice as to what services were received for this transaction.  Without any documentation, Carson had no way to support his claims that all of these withdrawals from the Party account were to pay for Party business.

Because he couldn't provide documentation, he couldn't fill out disclosures, and the downward spiral escalated at warp speed.

I don't know what happened, and neither do you.  We can all speculate at the end of the day, but we don't know.  When your actions raise questions that cannot be answered, you cannot remain in your position.

When Carson asked for a show of hands to see who wanted him to resign, there was a backlash from many of the members.  Nate Jackson, who serves on the Steering Committee, and who has known Bryan since Bryan was a child, nearly broke down as he explained to the EC (in particular, members who inexplicably didn't seem to be disturbed by these findings) that the story was in the bank statements, and implored Bryan to resign.  Nate pointed out that had Bryan resigned at the Steering Committee meeting the prior Wednesday, the Saturday meeting would not have had to take place.

Personal note: I have worked on Party matters with Nate Jackson for over 20 years.  I trust him implicitly, he cuts through bullshit like a knife through soft butter.  I could not have been prouder of him for saying what he said.

Next, Virgie Banks (also President of the Democratic Women of Shelby County) spoke and told Bryan that any decision was up to HIM, not the committee.  She told him that he knew in his heart what he needed to do, and he should do it.  She told him to man up at one point.

Terrance Turnage, while a newcomer to the EC, has been around for a while, agreed that Bryan had to make the decision, while chastising other members of the EC (with justification, I will add) that some of them had done little or nothing for the Party while suddenly becoming interested when this situation happened.

While Carson wanted to turn over operational control of the Party to Dave Cambron, including the March 5 meeting and the two re-organizational meetings on March 14 and 28,  he did not want to resign his position.  Presumably, he apparently believed that would allow him viability for a proposed race for City Council District 7 this fall.

Then, my friend, my County Commissioner, and fellow EC member Reginald Milton spoke and disabused him of that notion.  He was forceful yet gentle, and got to the point.

After that, Carson said he had heard enough and said, simply, "I resign".

To be blunt, because of the requirements of the removal process, it would have required 46 votes to remove him and there weren't 46 members there, sadly, so he could not have been removed if he had refused to resign.  However, if he had said he would not resign, I would have made a motion that the Steering Committee take the information to the DAG office to press charges.  I would have cried while doing it, but I was prepared to do so.

UPDATE with CORRECTION: I received the following message from Rose Bradley which I want to share:  As verified with the State, our present number is 56 (we cannot count vacancies in a vote) so a quorum of two-thirds would be 37 which we surpassed at the meeting.  After the calling of the roll several members continued to come in making the 46 that Del keeps thinking that we needed (and we don’t count non-voting members such as ex-officio like he thinks).  The total necessary voting members were there prior to the vote that we didn’t have to have. 

Thankfully, Bryan did the right thing and resigned.  If he had been allowed to walk out of that meeting as Chair, even nominally, it would have sent a message to the public that the Shelby County Democratic Party had no institutional self-control and could not regain it.  No current or future donor would even think about contributing to a party that could not guarantee that their donations would be used as intended.  Bryan saved us from that by resigning, but, to be truthful, he could have done it sooner.

I am sad about this situation, as I like Bryan personally, but this is not personal, it's business.  I feel for his mother, my friend, and force of nature, Gale Jones Carson, who served as Chair from 2001-2003.  I served under her on the EC and she would never have tolerated this.  While we didn't see eye to eye, when it came to finances, she dotted every I and crossed every T and was always on time with disclosures.  This has to hurt and I feel for their family.

Bryan has said he will make full restitution, but the investigation by the Party continues.

It is clear from this situation that we need new people to get involved.  There are good veterans who should continue, but we need new people.  This is why I am going to ask you to come to First Baptist Church-Broad on Saturday, March 14 and join us for our Ward & Precinct Caucuses.  Registration is from 9 Am-10:30 AM, at which time the doors will be locked.  We need you if you are a Democrat, we need all hands on deck, no matter where you live, Arlington or Westwood, Collierville or Lucy, and all points in between.  You won't be sorry you did.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

An update, and a remembrance.

First, for those who thought I may have dropped off the face of the earth, I tore my left quadriceps tendon in my left knee when leaving the SCDP meeting on January 7, thanks again to all my SCDP brothers and sisters who stayed with me in the single-digit weather until the ambulance came.

Even with all of this, I did not stay any nights in the hospital, had outpatient surgery done almost two weeks ago, and, if all goes according to plan, will go back to work this Tuesday.  It has been difficult for me to get to the computer, so I haven't written or emailed.  I thought I would send this update to let you know I am down, but not out.

Last night, on Facebook, I was stunned to learn of the passing of one of the finest human beings I ever knew, Wanda Wilson, former owner of the legendary P&H Cafe, and it was she who made it that way.  For a generation of young Midtowners, she was a voice of encouragement and love, with a dose of straight talk when she thought you needed it, which we usually did.  I hadn't seen her since she sold the P&H, so I was caught by surprise to learn of her passing.

Please remember her and her vast legions of friends in your thoughts and prayers today, as she was truly unlike any one else, and she leaves a massive void in the hearts of all who were fortunate enough to know Wanda.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Shelby County Legislators to Hold Community Meeting on December 29 at IBEW

Tennessee State Seal
Shelby County Democratic 
Legislative Caucus

Legislative Plaza | Nashville TN 37243 |  615.741.2134

Contact: Zak Kelley
Shelby County Legislators to Hold Community Meeting
Will focus on increasing citizen engagement
Memphis, TN: The Shelby County Democratic Legislative Caucus announced today that they will hold a Community Information Session on Monday, December 29th 12:00pm at the IBEW building 1870 Madison Avenue.

“This meeting is our attempt to engage people in the legislative process,” said district 86 State Representative Barbara Cooper, chair of the SCDLC. “We have another session starting next month in Nashville. We’ll be working on Medicaid expansion, voting rights and more jobs for our people. Our community needs to be engaged in this process and we’re hopeful this meeting can help us toward that goal.”

The SCDLC is comprised of the Democratic legislators who represent Memphis in the Tennessee General Assembly. They include Sen. Lee Harris, Sen. Sara Kyle & Sen. Reginald Tate, as well as Rep. Barbara Cooper, Rep. Raumesh Akbari, Rep. Karen Camper, Rep. John DeBerry, Rep. G.A. Hardaway, Rep. Larry Miller, Rep. Antonio Parkinson, Rep. Joe Towns & Rep. Johnnie Turner. All are scheduled to be in attendance.

“For us to be effective in Nashville, we need the community rallied behind our goals. This is the first of many meetings and I look forward to seeing our constituents after the holiday,” said Cooper.