Apr 30 2011

Campaign Update: Just getting started

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

Let's Do this...somewhere

It’s almost 5 am as I write this and I can honestly say I feel a new day coming.

The birds outside are chirping and I’m beginning to feel a bit of a buzz about my campaign prospects. Of course, there’s still lots of work to be done.

First, I have to find a campaign treasurer. As much as I hate to admit it, this is one of the most critical positions on the team. In addition to handling all the campaign contributions and expenditures, the appointment of a campaign treasurer can have a huge impact on how quickly those campaign contributions roll in. It’s gotta be someone you trust, and who will keep up with the reporting dates in addition to all the other stuff. It helps if its someone with a good foothold in the community because it lends a level of credibility to a campaign. I’ve got some potential candidates in mind. We’ll see how it all shakes out in the coming days.

Second, I’ve got to get some kind of campaign account set up. Really, I could have already done this, but I’m a poor college student, and could only scrape together $35 in change from my change jar, couch, and car. I think most places want to see at least $100 to get started. Maybe a bake sale will help.

Besides finding a way for a blue collar, college student such as myself to fund a campaign, there are several other things that must be done.

I’ll have to go pull and file nominating petitions and get enough signatures from the district to qualify. The signature part is no big deal, I’ve done that before, even though I didn’t file back in 2008. The problem is finding the people to sign 9 petitions. See, a qualified signature must live in the district that its filed in. Since I don’t know what district I’ll be running in, and no one knows for sure what district they’ll find themselves in after redistricting, it can get pretty complicated.

Heck, I’m not even sure the Election Commission will let me pull all 9 petitions, which means that if I start trying now, and get shifted to another district I’ll have to start all over again. No one wants to do that, and having to do so can hurt your credibility with supporters.

So, rather than have people sign a bunch of stuff and then have to do it all over again, I’ve started a “virtual petition” facebook page for people to show their support, and get in line to be one of the names on a history making campaign for some, yet to be determined district.

I’ve also got to get my campaign website up and running with some content. While I understand that a web strategy alone won’t win you a race, its also important to have a place for potential supporters to go so they can see what you have in mind.

I’ll be working on that over the weekend.

Finally, I’m trying to decide if I need to do something to spur the City Council into action, or at least get some information shared publicly. There are many avenues that could be explored, some more adversarial than others, but I’m a peacemaker more than a trouble maker. I think they have a meeting on Tuesday. Maybe I should just go up there and ask them.

Well, it’s just after 5:30 am and I see none of my policy advisors have accepted my page “Like” request yet. I guess I’ll let them sleep since I can’t pay them at this point. It’s going to be a long slog to October. They need their rest. If you’re up, go beat them to the punch and “Like” my Facebook page.

Thanks in advance for your support.


Steve Ross

Apr 29 2011

I Can’t Decide? Can You?

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

One of these lucky Memphis City Council members could have the pleasure of running against me, if only they would reveal their plans for redistricting their seats. Despite pleas from supporters, I can only run against one of them.

Obviously, being that I am but a lowly blogger, I have some preferences. But until they decide who gets the honor, I’m putting the choice up to you. Make that choice, in the comments.

Sorry Councilmen Collins, Ford, Boyd and Morrison. Apparently I live no where near your districts. It’s your loss.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, read this post, then go here, then come back and vote.

Wanda Halbert

Jim Strickland

Barbara Swearengen Ware

Joe Brown

Janis Fullilove

Myron Lowery

Kemp Conrad

Shea Flinn

Reid Hedgepeth

Apr 29 2011

Why Redistricting Is a Real Issue

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

Literally on the border

The image you see to the left is the area of town I live in. The red highlighted area is my precinct. You can see a full map of all the Memphis City Council districts here.

If you click on the image, you can clearly see that my precinct is in Council district 5 and super district 9, but borders Council districts 4 and 7, as well as super district 8. This means, depending on how the population has shifted since the last redistricting ordinance my precinct could end up in any of those three single member districts and either of the two super districts.

As I noted yesterday, Nashville’s redistricting ordinance has been in effect since April 13, or starting 16 days ago. Their municipal election is set to be held on August 4th, with a withdrawal date of July 5th, giving potential candidates plenty of time to organize before the final date to pull out of the race.

Memphis municipal elections are scheduled for October 6th, with a withdrawal date of July 21. While our election is two months later, our withdrawal date is just two weeks after Nashville’s, creating the potential for significant difficulties for candidates who would challenge incumbents.

As of yet, there has been no plan shown to the public, nor any real public comment from the Memphis City Council regarding its plans to redistrict, aside from a deferred ordinance that is on third reading. According to the minutes of the April 19th meeting, that issue will be taken up again on May 17th.

The data for Shelby County was released on March 16th, meaning that should the issue be taken up on May 17th, right in the midst of difficult budget discussions, it will have been two months since the data was released that any information regarding the new lay of the land is made available.

My issue is not the timeframe, but the lack of public information.

Certainly, there are difficult decisions to be made and stringent rules that must be followed. The consent decree that governs the drawing of districts in Memphis has very particular guidelines. From my perspective, these rules are one of the most important reasons there must be public scrutiny of the process, never-mind the whole notion of “open government” itself.

So yeah, I’m serious about this issue.

For me, the issue is less about “why hasn’t this been done” than “why isn’t more information available about this”. Because, aside from an ordinance on third reading, there is nothing. No maps, no information, nothing. And my attempts to find out more about this process have yielded very little concrete information, calling the process into question, which is concerning to a person, like myself, who believes that the public’s trust in government comes not from the officials, but from the easy availability of information.

As I noted yesterday, Nashville’s process was open and transparent, netting several different versions of maps until the final product was unanimously approved. That final product includes specific information that any potential candidate can easily access. While I’m sure many in Memphis are tired of being compared to Nashville, this is something that’s really very simple, and should be put in place.

But for all I know, it might be. I have no idea. I’ve heard all kinds of things from people about how this goes down, and I don’t know whose information is reliable. And that’s an unfortunate consequence of a process that is likely being done the way its always been done in the past, but no one really knows anything about.

Memphis is full of opportunities. I love Memphis. If I didn’t, I would have left years ago. We have many challenges, but we have a lot of potential. To reach that potential, and ultimately address those challenges, we have to do things differently.

I think that there’s little disagreement that what we’ve been doing on a whole host of issues, clearly hasn’t been working. And while this is but a small issue in the grand scheme of things, it is an easily resolved example of part of the problem that cripples us in suspicion and divisions that exist to the advantage of a very few people.

I think everyone can agree that the status quo is unsustainable. But we’ve trapped ourselves in a feedback loop of the same ideas over and over again seeking a different result. That is the definition of insanity.

To break this chain, we have to take steps to change the way we do and think about things. Small steps count in this process of reinvention. Hopefully, opening up this process can be one of those small steps.

Apr 29 2011

Y’all Think I’m Joking Huh?

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

For more information, read this post.

Apr 29 2011

It’s All About the Money

Posted by Steve Ross in State Politics

Tiger Dud

Sometimes I wonder what drives people. Other times I wonder how they have any wheels at all. But most times, that driving force is very apparent through the actions of a person or group, and more often than not, their true motivation shines through.

This morning the Tennessee Democratic Party is hosting a Unity Breakfast in Nashville. Typical fundraising affair, big name speaker, in this case, Vice-President Gore, nice restaurant. I wouldn’t say it’s no big deal, but I also wouldn’t say its something that, if I were the TNGOP, I would attack. Doing so might inadvertently advertise the event.

But that’s exactly what the TNGOP did in this radio ad. I’m sure they used Charlie Sheen’s voice with permission, and I’d be interested to know how much that cost them, or will cost them after Mr. Sheen files suit.

Anyway, my point is, the TNGOP attacking a fundraiser is just endemic of their whole worldview. I’m sure in some room somebody has this complex calculation involving dry beans, Pi, and a few other constants that tells them what they believe is the total amount of campaign dollars in the universe. Subtract the salaries and budgets of all the other organizations out there and it shows just how much campaign cash Tennessee has. Armed with this knowledge, the TNGOP certainly calculated that at $250 a head the TNDP would most certainly gain a competitive advantage, particularly considering the big name Oscar winner on the bill. Considering the dire nature of their flat earth funding philosophy, and the huge potential for these mythically limited funds to move in the wrong direction, the TNGOP had to strike back with a washed up hack.

Because it really is all about the money and nothing else and there’s plenty of evidence to prove it. From the lavish $25,000 a head “shakedown at the Governor’s mansion, to the bill promoting the massive influx of corporate campaign donations, that’s the real focus of the TNGOP, getting the money so no one else can.

Way to go guys, and thanks for the cross promotion. In the mean time, I’ve forwarded the audio of your radio ad to Sheen’s Business Agent.

Happy litigation!