Yes kids, that’s right, it’s time for another City Council Meeting. Even though I’m not in Memphis, I’ll be able to follow along with the fun via the intertubes (assuming the connection at this hotel in Jersey isn’t a piece of crap). I’ll be live tweeting the meeting on my twitter acct. Vibinc under the hashtag #memcc0721.
There are a lot of things on the agenda, but the thing that may be the most contentious is at the very top of the list, the approval of the minutes from July 7th.
For those of you not following along, that meeting, which I covered here featured an exchange between the majority of the Council, who sought to declare a vacancy in the Mayor’s office without a letter of resignation or retirement, and a very vocal minority of the Council, led in emotion, if nothing else by Janis Fullilove, who sought to let the Mayor leave before taking any action.
Both courses are sketchy.
I’ll delve further into that “sketchiness” in my next post. (I’m such a tease).;
Today the Shelby County Commission unanimously approved a resolution by Commissioner Ritz to assume control of MSARC. The resolution includes the creation of a Victim’s Services Board, but was soft on funding and other details. Ritz’s resolution was an alternative to the one brought by Commissioner Mike Carpenter, but it is currently not available on the County Commission’s site.
This is a victory for victim’s advocates and the community at large for several reasons. First, it places all victims services under the purview of one governmental agency rather than splitting the duties across two. Hopefully this will not only create efficiencies, but also ensure better continuity of service. Secondly, by creating a “Victim’s Services Board” it ensures that the community is providing direct community oversight to avoid the problems that ultimately lead us to this circumstance. Finally, but perhaps least importantly, it takes a regional service and places it with every other regional service in the area, the County.
There are a lot of people that need to be thanked for their hard work, advocacy, and continued push for a solution to the failures that led to this change including; Mid-South Peace and Justice, Memphis Area Women’s Council, elected officials on the City Council and County Commission who advocated for the shift, and finally, Mayor Herenton and Mayor Wharton. Without their leadership in coming together to find a solution, MSARC may have been caught between a rock and a hard place for some time.
There are still a lot of issues to be resolved. The audit initiated by the city, currently scheduled to be completed in the next 60 to 90 days will, perhaps, shed some light on what led to the initial failure, and hopefully provide some learning on how to avoid this in the future. How MSARC will be integrated into the County is also an issue that is a bit murky, despite the actions of the County Commission tonight. Finally, how the Victim’s Services Board will operate, and who gets appointed to it is, perhaps the biggest unresolved non-operational issues going forward.
The community is watching, and we expect transparency and accountability. As new developments come to light, I’ll report them here. Until then, here’s to hoping that MSARC can regain and maintain its place as a national model, not only in the way it’s organized, but also in the care and quality of services it provides.
Well, it’s been an interesting day, and I missed the best part. As I noted this morning several people dropped out leaving the field at four: Kemp Conrad, The John Willingham Experience™, IBEW BA, Paul Shaffer, and Arnett Montague III.
This is the opportunity we longed for last year in the District 9 Position 3 race, one Democrat against a divided Republican field. The only way this could have been better is if Stephens could have stayed in and only drawn support from Conrad. As it stands right now, the math has shifted dramatically in Shaffer’s favor.
Despite all this “feel good” there’s a good bit of work ahead. Money is going to be a big issue in this campaign. Shaffer will be fighting for name recognition against two well known, well funded opponents. Boots on the ground are going to be critical, both canvassing neighborhoods, and outside the polls. People don’t volunteer for City candidates in the same numbers that they do for State and Federal races, but this one is so close to home and so important for our future. We need to get out there and make it happen.
Congratulations Paul, and thank you to all the people who worked together to thin the field and make this possible. As Holt says over at WTL
Let’s come together and elect a great labor leader to the City Council!
Update 3:10PM: So I go out to run some errands and what happens? Lit and Parkinson get out, as did Ogle. Now it’s a four man race, Kemp Conrad, The John Willingham Experience™, Paul Shaffer, and Arnett Montague III. Memphis Democrats, it’s time to get behind Paul. I hope to have more soon.
Update 9:18am: Just got an email that Mary Wilder has withdrawn from the race. This is very surprising, but considering the mountain of cash she faced, a very good move on her part. The original text of this post follows.
As reported in this morning’s CA, three people have decided to drop out of the City Council District 9 Seat 1 race; Brian Stephens, the second place finisher from District 2, Regina Morrison Newman, and Robert Stringer. This brings the count down to 8, but only 4 or 5 candidates will probably bring anything to the table.
There are rumors flying around that some of these candidates will spend a couple hundred thousand bucks to get elected. In order to stay competitive, the following 5 are either going to have to rob a bank, win the lottery, find that long lost rich uncle, mortgage their homes, tap into the bags of money they’ve been hiding all these years, or run an absolutely brilliant campaign with no mistakes, sleep, food, and probably a bunch of other necessities.
Here’s the list, in order of Money to burn:
1. Kemp Conrad – I’ve heard he’s putting his house up to pay for the campaign. Watch out for shady lenders Kemp! I’m working on something really entertaining to call the former chair of the Shelby County Republican party, but I’m waiting for the censors in DC to clear it. Damnable bureaucracy! In the meantime, here’s his questionnaire from last year’s race, courtesy of The Coalition for a Better Memphis
2. The John Willingham Experience™ – Who loves ya baby? You know he has bags of money, that’s all well and good, but The John Willingham Experience™ has something even better, a true, deep, resentment for Kemp Conrad. Hate may be too strong a word, but you get the distinct feeling that The John Willingham Experience™ would rather not trifle with the likes of Mr. Conrad. Hit him hard and over and over! The John Willingham Experience™ did return a questionnaire in last year’s Mayoral race, so have at it, if you aren’t just following him to watch him beat Conrad bloody.
3. Lester Lit – The other day I said I didn’t know why Lit was in the race. Since then, I’ve come to the conclusion that Lester just really wants to win. He really really wants to win, like, really bad wants to. Looking at his handwritten answers to last years’ questions, he may not be a bad choice. He’d be a helluva lot better than the first two jokers mentioned. I’m sure he’ll join The John Willingham Experience™ in taking some of the shine off Mr. Conrad, and I hope to be in the general vicinity when that happens.
4. Mary Wilder – She may be fourth in the money race, but don’t let that fool ya. The top three guys have A LOT of cash to throw around, I’m not sure Mary does. Money is important in politics but policy is what it’s all about…unless you’re up against a WHOLE LOT OF MONEY, then no one cares what you think. This is the candidate that would have to run that “absolutely brilliant campaign with no mistakes, sleep, food, and probably a bunch of other necessities”.
5. Antonio “2-Shay” Parkinson – I know you’re in Denver, and aren’t going to withdraw, but you should at least think about just sitting this one out, or campaigning with someone who has a chance. I agree that it’s wrong that, between all the frontrunners almost a quarter a million dollars will be blown on a race for a job that pays about $30k, in a city that has declining wages and rampant poverty. I’m with ya on that one. Seriously, it’s beyond criminal. But you have a lot of potential, and you shouldn’t blow it on this one. Here’s your questionnaire from last year. I don’t know what else to say.
6-8. I don’t know about Montague or Ogle. Shaffer doesn’t have piles or money hanging around. I’m withholding any rankings from this point down, because, well, what’s the point? (No offense intended guys). The timeframe for this race is so short that fundraising will be nearly impossible, counting out both money and time for these guys. Ideas are great, but they don’t put food on the table, unless you invent something that’s really cool and have enough money and time to promote it…get where I’m going here? Yeah.
Democrats of Memphis, it’s time to pick your consensus candidate if you want to win. I’m taking nominations at this time. You know what they say, ” a house divided ensures some Republican punk from east Memphis wins”.
For the purposes of this post, we’re going to look at the three candidates that ran in Super Districts last year. These three just did it, and with Election Day just over a year from the last contest they ran, this can be an inside look at their strengths and weaknesses.
To get a more complete picture of support base, I looked at the precinct-by-precinct totals of each contest. These are located here. The precinct-by-precinct totals for Districts 9-2 and 9-3 can be found on pages 561-640. It’s a long and inefficiently laid out document that I had to print to read, but it’s data.
Since I like picking on him so much, we’ll start with Kemp Conrad.
Conrad is strong in all the areas that one would suspect, east Memphis and Cordova. In last year’s election Joe Saino played spoiler. Had Saino stayed out of the race Conrad could have won.
In this year’s race, Conrad has more opposition but it is spread across the spectrum.
Brian Stephens has the potential to take a good deal of Conrad’s support, particularly in Cordova. Further his marginal support by some east Memphis Democrats won’t necessarily hurt a leftist candidate as much as the possibility of losing Cordova.
The John Willingham Experience™ may have only garnered less that .75% of the vote in last year’s mayoral race, but he’s got a bone to pick and plenty of money to pick it with. I suspect he’ll run an “Anybody but Kemp” style race. This will, far and away, be the most entertaining part of the race.
For Conrad, getting hammered from the left and the right is going to make life a little more difficult. He may have his substantial wealth to fund his campaign, but if he gets hit early and often enough he may just get punch drunk enough to screw up. Right now that’s the best strategy to defeat him.
Below is a map detailing the precincts that Conrad carried. He ran strong in many others, but these are the ones he won outright. I know they’re not as pretty as Polar Donkey’s, but it’s all I have right now. If nothing else, it illustrates the areas that Stephens and The John Willingham Experience™ need to target to take him down a notch.
To be honest with you, I’m not sure what Lit expects to accomplish by running. Sure, he has plenty of money, name recognition and friends to mount a campaign, but his last outing left much to be desired. Everyone may like Lester as a person, but I’m not sure if that applies as a candidate.
Last year he placed 4th behind Hedgepeth, Frankin, and Wilder, in that order. His core base of support is concentrated in just 3 precincts, though he drew well from other areas. Lit draws from both sides of the spectrum, so knowing just how steadfast his support is, or where they would fall if he withdrew, will be hard to figure. His withdrawal from the race seems unlikely, but if he did, three precincts with some of the highest voter turnout (3.6% of the total vote but only 2.8% of precincts) would be up for grabs.
Tread lightly on Lester. If he stays in, he might be able to siphon off support from Conrad. If he gets out, he could be an effective advocate for Newman or Wilder.
Mary Wilder’s decision to run again is, on one level surprising. Conversations with some of her more fervent supporters after last year’s election gave the impression that she amassed a good deal of debt to achieve her third place finish in the District 9 Position 3 race. To be honest, I haven’t had the chance to check disclosures, so I can neither confirm nor deny that. If this is true, it could hamper her prospects. As I said the other day, traditional campaigning will not be enough to win this one, lots of money will need to be spent on TV and other media to overcome with the shortened time frame.
From a campaign standpoint, there seemed to be a distinct lack of presence on major corridors throughout the district and at early voting polling stations. 9 is large district, and sticking to traditional support areas just plain isn’t enough. This may be perception versus reality, but while her signs were distinctive, I don’t remember seeing many of them around.
There were some bright spots. Wilder won precincts, as noted on the image below, in and around the Volentine-Evergreen District, as well as several others. Unfortunately, her margin of victory was never more that 45 votes over the second place finish in any one district. Further, these districts accounted for less than 20% of the total vote (18.5%) on this race. Now certainly, this math is a bit fuzzy, but in order for Wilder to win the race, she has to win in her area by a lot more than the 40ish votes she bested Desi Franklin by in her home precinct, as well as pick up some key support throughout the district to push her over the top.
Okay, these are the three people who ran for Super-Districts. Unfortunately, using any data on Stephens in 2 or “2-Shay” in 1 is scientifically flawed. They ran for those districts, not the whole enchilada. Information garnered may show signs of strength, but are not necessarily indicative of how they would draw in all of 9. As for Newman and Shaffer, none of the detail of their races from 2006 is available on the Election Commission site at this time. I’m working on getting that data as well as financial disclosures, but until I return from Seattle, and get to the Election Commission, this is what I’ve got.
Have a Bidenrific weekend!