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

Y’all Think I’m Joking Huh?

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

For more information, read this post.

Apr 28 2011

Nashville’s Done, Where Are We?

Posted by Steve Ross in City of Memphis

Current Memphis City Council Districts

With all that’s been going on in Memphis; ridiculous rains, the Grizzlies, the schools saga, and the impending budget battle, as well as life generally; Easter, the end of a semester, work, multiple projects, not to mention all the shenanigans going on in Nashville, I kidna forgot about the fact that the Memphis City Council must redistrict itself before the elections in October.

Apparently, so have a bunch of other people.

I’ve done a little asking around, to no avail. No one seems to know what the status or even if any discussions are underway on the impending districts shifts that will likely come as a result of the 2010 census on the Memphis City Council districts.

This is strange to me, considering what went down in Nashville. As soon as the census data was released, the city’s planning department set out to redraw districts as the result of a potential court challenge. The redrawing process, as far as I can tell from 200 miles away seemed to be fairly open and resolved unanimously, despite some early questions about how the districts might mess with previously organized campaigns.

Here, so far, nothing. Not a peep. Since this is my first redistricting in Memphis, I decided to take a look at previous efforts. The 1991 Redistricting Ordnance was passed on June 25 of the election year. 1991 may be the best year to compare because the election timeline is identical to 2011.

There have, however, been several other ordinances since then that determine districts. First, there was the post consent decree redistricting that came as a result of a 1996 referendum. That was passed in early April of the election year. The 2002 redistricting ordinance came out a full year before the election, but was followed by 2003 revised districts after annexation in July of the following year.

I’m not suggesting anything untoward is going on. I’m just curious.

Heck, for all I know Jim Strickland is sitting somewhere with a map and a crayon doing it all right now, as he jokingly mentioned doing to determine the countywide districts during the early meetings of the Metro Charter Commission.

Jokes aside, I am curious. See, I live near the border of three districts, 4, currently held by Wanda Halbert, 5 currently held by Jim Strickland, and 7 currently held by Barbara Swearengen Ware. In addition, I’m also right on the border of Super Dist. 8 and 9 meaning all 4 of my City Council members could be completely new people for me this October.

So you can see why I might be interested.

But there’s more to it than that. The general openness of the process in Nashville, and the opportunity for community input is really appealing to me. I believe you get more input when you offer more opportunity for input, and while there are lots of opportunities out there that aren’t necessarily taken advantage of, it takes a while for people who may not have had so many opportunities to speak out to get the confidence to do so. This might be a good step in that direction.

There’s another issue that is pretty important. Tuesday was the first day petitions for the 13 seats on the Memphis City Council were offered. The filing deadline is July 21st. If I don’t know for sure what district I’m going to be in, how am I supposed to pull a petition to run against someone? I mean seriously, that’s just patently unfair.

Here I am, with my paperwork to set up a campaign treasurer ready and waiting, but how the heck am I going to ask people for campaign donations when I can’t even say for sure what district I’m going to be running in, and against whom? Seriously, I have the potential to have 9 opponents! How do I prepare for that? Am I supposed to knock on someone’s door and say, “Hi, my name is Steve Ross and I just might be running in your district to be your next City Council member for district 4, 5, 7, 8 or 9.” I’ve got campaign lit to print, signs to order, radio ads to cut, and babies to kiss. Lord knows I don’t want to be kissing babies outside of my district, people might talk!

If I was more of a conspiracy theorist, I would say this is an incumbency protection program, because God knows all 9 of those incumbents are shaking in their boots at the prospect of having to run against me.

So yeah, I’ve got some questions, but lets start with the easiest one, is this discussion going to start soon, or will this effectively be an incumbency protection program? Because late June is too late. The discussion should have already started, and in public no less. I see that an ordinance to do something on redistricting was held until May 17th, on third and final reading, but I don’t see a map.

That’d be a good start.

In the mean time I’ll be polishing up my “phone time” voice in anticipation of all the campaign donations that I’m sure to collect. Be scared any one of the 9 potential candidates I might face. I may seem rough and tumble here on the blog, but I’m smooth as silk on the phone.

Look, I even have a campaign website just in case you thought I was joking.

I’ll be anxiously awaiting your call.

Aug 13 2009

Maybe It’s a Cry for Attention…

Posted by Steve Ross in Memphis Politics, Shelby County

As much as I enjoy covering local government, as rewarding and annoying as it can be, I’ve been remiss in my coverage of the County. I freely admit this. There are several reasons; 1. There hasn’t been a hot button issue that caught my interest (other than the NDO, which I did cover), and 2. The County Commission while representing a far greater constituency just isn’t as sexy, from a political standpoint. Sorry folks, nothing personal, that’s just been my perspective.

That perspective may have changed after yesterday’s discussion at the County.

County Commissioners Sidney Chism and Joe Ford are pushing a plan to raise the pay of County Commissioners by $10,000. The reason, to attract more talent. That’s funny, I guess they don’t see themselves as talented enough to serve on the Commission.

Seriously though, as the article in the Commercial Appeal notes, County employees have gone without raises, yet these two Commissioners think it’s a good idea to raise their salary by nearly 25%. Classic.

This in the wake of budgetary shortfalls at all levels of government, not to mention the impact on the Memphis City Council, which ties their salaries to the County Commission. Remember, just weeks ago during the budget battle, Jim Strickland on the City government side were calling for a DECREASE in pay for City Council members (ht @laceycrisp)

I don’t know what these guys are thinking. In their district, which covers South Memphis, features zip codes whose HOUSEHOLD income is between $15,000 and $30,000 LESS than the 2007 US median household income. Further, they want to pay themselves nearly $20,000/yr. more as individuals than the household income for 38114, which they represent (Source).

Good luck in 2010 kids.

The second issue that came up yesterday is the ABSOLUTELY ASININE idea that a replacement needs to be seated for disgraced State Sen. Paul Stanley. As of right now, the first special election to replace Stanley (primary) will be held in about 65 days. The general election will likely be held just a few weeks after. There’s little danger of a special session, since the cost would likely break the bank in House and Senate per diem requests alone.

I understand where some of the Commissioners are going with this. The idea that they could put in a Democrat to represent a heavily Republican district is appealing to some, even if that person never served a day in the Legislature, but the rancor that would result is just not worth it for a couple of weeks in office.

Unless you have a REAL GOOD REASON to do this, leave it alone folks, or send me your real good reason via my Contact page.

So, County Commission, despite the valiant efforts of @mikecarpenter1 to inform the public of the County Commission’s goings on, from a seat on the platform no less, I guess I’ll have to start bugging them too, just like I do the City Council. Clearly the County Commission is thirsting for the same kind of attention that the City Council gets, and my mom always said you have to try and treat all the kids fairly and equally.

Now I just have to schedule an extra therapy session or two every month to wipe all the additional stupid I will inevitably hear, out of my brain…