Sunday, July 29, 2007

Where's the coverage?

Trust the Tennessean not to finish the story. They report in this morning's paper that Sgt. Randy Reed was fired (something the neighborhood had been speculating about for a while). However the newspaper fails, completely and utterly, to even mention the man is currently running for the District 8 council seat currently held by Jason Hart. Don't you think that should at least get a passing mention?

Again, do the folks at that paper talk to one another?

Reed's signs in the neighborhood ask us to "help him fight crime". Yet the elephant in the room has been his status as a police officer since the December 2005 incident when his gun went off and an alleged robber was killed. Well, now that early voting has ended---it's out in the open. Great timing on the part of the Tennessean.

Hart has been AWOL from his council job since cleaning out his desk a month or so ago. It was hardly mentioned in the Tennessean blog for East Nashville that the week after the date to withdraw his name from the ballot Hart decided that he'd leave the area and not run for re-election for the seat he inherited from his father Lawrence Hart. Despite assuring me several times he'd make a formal announcement to the community he has failed to do so. It makes one wonder if, since the house hasn't sold, if he's hoping he'll fall into being reelected on name recognition alone.

And as if that wasn't enough shenanigans for the Inglewood council seat a third candidate, Albert Berry has been profiled twice (here and here) by Channel 4's Larry Brinton regarding he and his wife's political connections, her co-worker's pay raises and his political fundraising.

I'm so glad the Tennessean has redoubled its effort to focus on local news.

Thankfully there are two more candidates from which to choose: Karen Bennett and Rod Boehm.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Campaign clutter

About the time I'm fixin' ta lose it over all the campaign litter illegally placed in right-of-ways in my neighborhood comes this from Buck Dozier. The man knows what he's talking about. This is the second time his literature has provided some comic relief during this intense time.

I don't know who has been doing his literature----but they get my vote.

As will Buck.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How does this get a pass?

Can someone explain to me how this effort on behalf of a candidates doesn't endanger the tax-exempt status of this church? Or are they not a 501(c)(3)?

From the Briley campaign this morning:

...Can we count on you to come by and help out with writing some post cards? It is very simple and I promise that it doesn't hurt. We will be meeting tonight (Wednesday) and tomorrow (Thursday) from 5pm to 8pm at Eastwood Christian Church, 1601 Eastland Avenue. And yes, you did hear the rumor to be true... WE ARE PROVIDING CHILD CARE!!

We had such a great response last night that the media actually got word and wants to swing by tonight postcard writing. Again, underlining the grassroots effort that will push David into the run-off Election. If you can, please try to show up.

I thank you greatly for all that you have done up until this point. If you think you can come tonight or tomorrow, simply hit that little reply button at the top of the email and let me know. Thanks again.

Alex Youn

Field Director

Briley for Mayor

I ask because obviously there are churches in town that are unnecessarily restraining the activities of their members and staff because they lack the knowledge that Eastland Christian has on this touchy issue.

This from the Internal Revenue Service:

Political Campaign Activity

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise tax.

Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including the presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity.

In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not constitute prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner. On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that: (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention. [Emphasis added]

If the press is truly interested in this effort---they might want to broadly publish this loophole so the rest of this "City of Churches" can similarly support candidates.

UPDATE: AC Kleinheider did the legwork (Thanks AC) and discovered:
According to Campaign Manager Emily Passini, the campaign is paying for the space.
I'm glad the matter has been cleared up. I should have made the call myself. The campaign might have indicated they'd rented the space in order to ensure there was no misunderstanding. The Justice Sunday and Stand for the Family kerfluffle of last year that had some left leaning folks demanding the revocation of that church's non-profit status despite the fact the had also rented the space should have taught us to be more careful.

East Precinct dedication

I attended the dedication of the new Police Precinct building for East Nashville last evening. The event was very well attended with politicos, two former chiefs of police, and lots, I mean lots, of neighbors who were obviously happy to see the facility done. The community room was standing room only.

East Precinct officers have been living in very cramped and outdated quarters. They've done an outstanding job nonetheless. Imagine what they can do when they've actually got the room and equipment. None of it looked extravagant or unnecessary.

Here are some shots of the facility you helped pay for. Thank you.

The Roll Call Room

Basic cubicle:

An upgrade:

Rank has it's privileges (and responsibilities) as they say. Here's one of the offices.

And this six feet of cubbies with various forms gave me pause. No job is finished until the paperwork is done to be sure. Police officers certainly aren't exempt from that. But blank drawings of bodies and children to map harm done was an unexpected reality check on a happy day. It all looked so fresh and clean yet it was impossible to ignore the fact that all too soon it would be filled with the gritty realities of a harder side of our neighborhood.

Hopefully, we'll also fill that new community room with people connecting, taking back their neighborhoods and turning around some lives in an effort to prevent visits to the other side of the facility.

Thanks again, Nashville.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Do they not talk to one another?

Am I the only one who reads both the Living and the Business section of the Tennessean? 'Cause it sure looks like their editors don't.

I'm finally getting around to reading this morning's paper and discover that both sections have printed the Margarita Bauza article from the Detroit Free Press. Looks word for word to me, though we're told "Wendy Lee of The Tennessean contributed" to the Living article.

"Living" version
"Business" version

Perhaps they could have used that space for more election coverage instead. Maybe Charlie Tygard will let them reprint his 'getting to know Nashville's candidates for mayor' article in today's campaign mailer from him. At least I learned that Briley and Dozier read the same book (though Dozier mis-identifies the book) and 3 out of 6 call Noshville the best restaurant for breakfast.

See if you can match the car to the candidate:

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Befuddled by Nanny Press

With no offense intended toward Mark Silverman, he fails to make his case regarding the value of his paper's political endorsements. In an editorial titled "Befuddled by Ballot? Here's help" he writes:

"Generally, the [editorial] board has access to more information about the candidates and the issues than do most voters. That's why many newspapers believe endorsement equip readers and Web visitors with additional insight and that is valuable as voters make up their minds."
How is this really equipping voters? Why is it that the newspaper hasn't provided the public with that 'more information'? Isn't that what we're paying them to do? You may not like Fox but "We report, you decide" is a great mission statement. We're adults--let us decide. We're not paying them to keep secrets so that we can 'trust' them to make our decisions for us. If they've got more information than they're sharing---what legitimate 'additional insight' have they really provided?

The City Paper and AC Kleinheider bring up some important points regarding candidate information. (I don't agree with buying someone else's name URL but Ronnie Steine could have prevented it by ensuring his name was owned by him if he had any inkling that he was going to be a public figure again.) The point being: Is it appropriate for others to take drastic measures to get the information out there? If the local paper of record won't go there---what else can be done?

Somewhere along the way we decided that our public debates about candidates would be very controlled and legitimate questions about the conduct of candidates was not going to be publicly discussed. That isn't nice. As if politics is a polite parlor game. But character does count. Conduct counts.

Neighbors whisper about the current councilman who decided after the withdrawal date to not run for reelection and fails to inform the neighborhood of his current status, despite being asked several times to do so. It comes off as his being reluctant to campaign but hoping that he falls into the job much like he did when he inherited his father's council seat four years ago. The employment status of another, who touts his job as a qualifier, is unknown for certain and one television report that aired isn't available online so folks can verify it. Further there are candidates who pressure their Metro co-workers to provide lawn space for their signs but these folks say they have absolutely no intention of voting for the fellow, they're just trying to keep peace in their office. Another has significant financial help from folks across town. What's their real interest in our section of town? Folks who haven't been here long are shocked to hear that a former Vice-Mayor caught shoplifting twice thinks he deserves another chance to get near our tax dollars. The consensus: Forgiveness, yes. Trust again, no.

Finally, if that Tennessean editorial board treats candidates like they treated me---hearing the truth from the candidate but choosing not to print it--their endorsements are of even less value. What they know but don't tell us can make or break a campaign. I suggest that's the goal.

MPASSa goes underground

The MPASSa group, presumably in preparation for their upcoming SSA battle, has gone underground. Their Yahoo group, which used to be public is member only now. Don't guess they'll approve my subscription--but you can try.

They've gotten some blowback from the community after being profiled, again. Community comments are generally in the vein of these:

The standard doesn’t sound too stifling to me, but of course I attended Metro schools at a time when girls could not even wear pants. When would Neade Forsythe’s mom draw the line? Bikini? Strapless ball gown? Tube top? Pajamas? Tennessean


Parents have a right to object to the school dress code; however, to instruct their children not to comply is to enable them to accept the notion that rules do not apply to them. Tennessean


...the message that Ms. Crownover has sent to her daughter is that it is OK to violate a board policy and make her own decision regarding what she should wear.

What about Metro’s zero tolerance policy regarding bringing weapons into our public schools? Is it OK, Ms. Crownover, for your daughter to violate this policy? Tennessean
Recently, MPASSa has been up-in-arms about the hiring of Benjamin Wright. Not sure what that has to do with SSA but lack of focus on the core mission (something MNPS has a problem with) will only weaken the effort. But after reading via their RSS some of the astonishing comments made it was probably best for their cause that their comments were not available for public judgment.

I really like what Martin Kennedy had to say several days ago:
She [a mother of a Meigs Magnet school student] does accept that the state tells her that her child must go to school, where to go to school, at what time, chooses the curriculum, and chooses the teachers. It is just the collared shirts and khaki pants she finds objectionable. I would bet dollars to donuts that this woman is opposed to school vouchers that offer an opportunity for genuine choice.
This is a great point. Government run schools dictate so much of a child's life, and a family's life. Why is what they wear the hill to die on? Why isn't it freedom of school choice? Freedom of curriculum? Freedom of calendar choice? Why clothing? What you wear comes and goes. You may look back on 20 year old pictures and cringe but what can really handicap you is what you did and didn't learn 20 years ago.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Curious photo switch

This morning's CP online article titled "Campaign donations made as convention center vote nears" looked like what Mike Keeny put on his blog and featured Metro Nashville Councilman Mike Jameson's (East Nashville) photo :

Now (3:55 p.m. 7/17/07) it features Metro Nashville Councilman Rip Ryman (Goodlettsville) :

The E-paper, and I assume print, version doesn't have a photo at all. But does highlight Metro Nashville Councilman Mike Jameson's (East Nashville) quote I wrote about below.

Now isn't that special? ;-)

When is a donation not a bribe?

In the light of recent Tennessee Waltz arrests, pleas, and convictions it just seems astonishing to me that Metro Nashville Councilman Mike Jameson (East Nashville) would say the following and expect us to swallow it.

Jameson dismissed the idea the timing of the contributions could create an appearance of a conflict of interest.

“I think you’ve got to take every Council member individually. … I certainly did not do [Gaylord’s] bidding in this past term, although they made a contribution to me in 2003,” Jameson said. “And anybody who thinks any Council member is going to abdicate his responsibility because of a contribution of a couple of hundred bucks I think needs to think seriously about who their Council members are.” (City Paper--it's OK this link is normal.)
"...take every Council member individually..." So who, in the opinion of CM Jameson, isn't as special as he is? And how does he define that special quality of trustworthiness that shouldn't be held accountable to the citizens of this city? And if we define that specialness by merely being reelected (for Jameson this time 'round unopposed) how do we account for Newton, Bowers, Dixon, Ford, and Crutchfield? Those weren't tremendous sums of money either. I was amazed at how cheaply they could be bought.

Fiscal Wake Up Call

This morning's City Paper (when are they going to allow normal linking????) opines this morning about the federal budget.

...David Walker, the U.S. Comptroller General and head of the Government Accountability Office.
“It’s getting worse every second, every minute, every day,” Walker told the crowd plainly.
Put simply, America’s spending is on a trajectory to far outpace its collected governmental revenues. (snip)

What is needed is a cultural reversal in the way our government looks at its own budget and the benefits promised to too many Americans for our actual tax base to sustain.

What we need is a cultural reversal in the way our CITIZENS look at the government budgets. We've got politicians trying to pander to various interest groups---the CP has got that right. When anyone dares to speak the truth about the limits of government and suggest personal responsibility the speaker isn't congratulated for clear, common sense thinking, he is vilified instead. The mob will have their way.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can
only exist until a majority of voters discover that they can vote
themselves largess out of the public treasury."
- Alexander Tytler

Thursday, July 12, 2007

SSA on the Cheap

There's been a lot of hand wringing by advocates of the poor who insist that the poor won't be able to find affordable SSA. Well, let the wringing cease. Ms. Cheap does what she does and provides some practical information for parents as they gear up for the new school year and complying with SSA.

She begins with:

I've heard some grousing from parents about having to pay for new school uniforms and from people predicting that already-strapped nonprofits around town will be called on to fill closets with the prescribed dress code outfits so that disadvantaged children can be dressed properly when school starts.

Well, give me a break — and let me introduce you to the world of thrift shopping, where just about any enterprising parent could put together complying outfits for just a few dollars.
And then she tells you exactly what local thrift stores are doing to meet the demand.

Ms. Cheap says it's 'pretty easy pickin's' and stores have been stockpiling in anticipation. She even shares that the Goodwill outlet will have pieces for 50 cents a piece!

Of course, if you've got a bona fide religious objection to thrift store shopping---this won't help.

MNPS provides a slide show for parents about what is and what is not acceptable SSA. They're also broadcasting it on Channel 3, if you've got cable.

Symbolism over substance

The Pittsburgh public school system has decided that the word public is a problem.

Under the policy, the district simply will call itself the "Pittsburgh Schools." (snip)

By dropping "public" from its name, Randall Taylor said, the district might be able to avoid the negative attitude often associated with public schools. Post-Gazette
I predict this will be a trend. The systems don't really want public input or accountability--they can hardly accept parental input and accountability. They really only want public dollars. It's inconvenient for them to be reminded that the public owns these systems so let's change the name and hope the public forgets who is boss.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Did she mean it or not?

Understandably, MNPS BOE Chair Marsha Warden is a bit peeved with Councilman Eric Crafton over the mailer Crafton sent out recently. Quoting from the City Paper (I HATE their new site. How DO you get a decent URL to link to?)

Warden said she believed the postcard was dishonest.
“… Certainly, to do this without asking, without permission appears to be a violation of honesty and integrity.”
When she thanked him for his commitment to public education did she mean it or not? And if she meant it--why can't he point to her comments as validation of that commitment? It seems she used a stock phrase in routine official correspondence and while I've no doubt Crafton knows she never intended to support his candidacy the question is still: did she mean what she wrote? If he has been a supporter of public education in her opinion, it's not completely out of line for him to point that out.

There may also still be some hurt feelings regarding Crafton's Save Our Students effort which clearly pointed out that MNPS was not doing as well as we were being lead to believe.

Likely, the biggest reason for all the consternation is because his opponent Julie Lamb is Ms Warden's preferred candidate. Ms Lamb, some may know, has been the Chairman of MNPS Director of Schools Dr. Pedro Garcia's Parent Advisory Council. She was the elected chair. She was also voluntary member of the Standard School Attire study committee.
Julie Lamb, PAC president said that she had joined the SSA Study Committee when she realized that the two parents already on the committee were against the suggestion. SSA passes
Anyone considering voting for Ms Lamb should take some time to review her record of effectiveness as leader of the PAC. I believe that speaks directly to how effective she'll be as a councilman. You may want to read through the PAC minutes (there are several gaps, btw) of those meetings and ask her specifically what was accomplished and what assurance she can provide that she'll be able to accomplish anything in a much larger political pond.

Here's the entire letter from Ms Warden:

May 15, 2007

Councilman Eric Crafton
7557 Oakhaven Trace
Nashville, TN 37209

Dear Councilman Crafton:

Thank you for your commitment to the city of Nashville and to public education. As an elected Metro Council Member, you know firsthand the importance of public education. Whether it is an educated work force, an educated voting public, workforce development, or the Arts; economic development is dependent on strong public education. Funding for public education is paramount in achieving academic success.

Your presence yesterday was deeply appreciated. The joined forces of the Metro Council, School Board, the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and others shows a strongly united city. Together, we can truly make a difference for the future of Nashville,

With Deep Appreciation,


Marsha H. Warden



cc: Board of Education Members

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Needing salvation

Al Gore's Save OurSelves worldwide concert has been on my mind these few weeks as a clear contrast to the solemn assembly event called The Call being held in Nashville Saturday. Seemed to me Gore's whole event went off the rails with the assumption we could save ourselves and the Nashville connections seemed interesting to me.

The weekend is likely to be busier than Gore expected though as his son was arrested last evening. He was pulled over for speeding, drugs were found and so he's in the Santa Ana jail for the 4th of July. At least he was driving a Prius.

I didn't know that Al Gore, III was an associate publisher for a magazine called "Good" out of West Hollywood, CA and typical of our black-is-white and up-is-down world much of what is contained isn't really good but it is politically correct which is, apparently, good enough.

I hope Gore, III gets the help he needs and this time it takes. I can't imagine being the third generation male of a political family with such high expectations. That's a lot of baggage. But in situations like this, and some his father is trying to address, we can rarely do these big jobs alone.

Wonder if they ever long for a legitimately simple life in Carthage.

UPDATE: The Tennessean covers the story but despite being the Gore's hometown paper, and his former employer, adds no original content to the story.

City Paper redo over

I came home Sunday evening to discover my dozens of Firefox tabs had been closed. Further it was apparently caused when or because my DSL connection died while I was out. So when I finally got my DSL back on Tuesday about noon I couldn't recover all the City Paper articles I had had open because in the redo of the City Paper website they'd apparently gone bad.

Then to add to the frustration their search feature is less than helpful. The problem is there are no dates and no way to search by date. So searching on keywords like SCHOOL and MNPS brings up dozens of articles but no dates to help me sort through and find the articles I intended to keep and/or blog about. In fact dates seem to be missing from the articles themselves when you do call them up. Further, I noticed when saving the article regarding LEAD Academy (blogged about below) no date was included with that current article either. Seems to me if you want to be a paper of record and a cited source--dates should be required.

And, since I'm apparently in a critical mood, does anyone else have a feeling the e-paper headlines were typed on a manual that needs its ribbon replaced?

I'm a bigger fan of the CP than the Tennessean for sure so these changes are disappointing. I suggest a bit of tweaking before considering this site redo done.

Christian Charity

The School Board approved LEAD’s charter in December, but requests for space from Metro Public Schools fell through in February.

St. Vincent leaders have offered not only space, but the use of the cafeteria and gymnasium as well. City Paper
Fell through is generous. It came off as being as protectionist and as fearful of free enterprise as Pat Buchanan. Too many running the system don't recognize that these ARE MNPS students and still under our watchcare.

If it was really about the children MNPS would have stepped up as fully as St. Vincent de Paul and found room for the LEAD Academy (other than the very same substandard space grudgingly provided to KIPP Academy). Kudos to St. Vincent for doing the right thing by not being constrained by fear of competition but going above and beyond the bare minimum and extending Christian charity to these students.
Dorothy Gupton is excited to be sharing space with the charter school and is encouraged by the team’s enthusiasm. She has been the liaison between the school and LEAD after meeting Kane several months ago.

“We’re looking forward to a wonderful relationship,” she said. “The LEAD Academy program is an excellent program. We can only strengthen each other by working together and we’ve already decided that each of us is an extended family of the other.”
I think they'll both prosper as a result of the partnership. It's to MNPS's shame that they don't have this same attitude.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

NEA Convention coverage

The 4th of July means a lot of things to different people. To the NEA it means convention time. No better coverage available than from our man on site Mike Antonucci of the Education Intelligence Agency.

Day Zero coverage can be found here, and this year, for the first time I can recall, there are pictures!

Here's the NEA's website for the Representative Assembly.

The resolutions, which always contain controversial, non-education specific items, seem to be unavailable online at this moment. I think that's normal as they hash out at the last minute what to actually present to the assembly attendees.

UPDATE: Mike updates the day's activities.

"For 2007-08, 11 state affiliates will receive media money from NEA: Florida, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Tennessee and Texas."

Best Quote: "I also discovered that NEA spent some of its media campaign fund money placing print ads in NASCAR event programs. It would make more sense to sponsor the pace car - ensuring that everyone moves at the same slow speed."