Tuesday, January 09, 2007

It's time to shed some blood

Talked to Cracker today and he encouraged me to post this. It is something that I have been calling for with him for four years and something that is near and dear to my heart.

The SCDP needs a major change. The SCDP has a decided lack of people in the target demographic of 25-39. Don't believe me. Go to a Exec. Com. meeting and also to a convention. You'll see my point.

The same people are there year after year after year. This is not good. Give it up to the Republicans, they actively recruit young and/or new people with every election. When was the last time that we actively tried to interest young people to get involved at the local level.

I know about Ford and what he did. That doesn't count because for the most part you don't see these same people working for City Council, County Commission, and school board races in a concentrated, coordinated effort.

This past election we had a candidate for office who was elected because he galvanized young people and bloggers to help out on his campaign both on line and on the street. When he won, he thanked them and helped them out, many of them went on to help out in other elections later in the year. Most of them went to help out on one race in particular.

The reaction from the staff was favorable, enjoying their help and crediting them with helping to win. The candidate's reaction was different, essentially acting as though the election was a predetermined win and that the staff both old and new did nothing spectacular. EVEN though this candidate's win is considered by many to be a turning point election in Memphis politics.

Memphis politics is at the crossroads. The old machines are starting to fall apart. The Ford machine is virtually dead. Herenton has no real coattails and never really has. With the City Council going through what can be calmly called upheaval, at least 3 new members will be elected this fall, we face a key turning point in the future of the SCDP.

WTL hypothesized on who might run for SCDP chair. I want Steffens. This is not because I consider him a close friend who is my son's godfather. I want him because we share a lot of beliefs in what the chair should be.

Keys should be fundraising ability, consensus building, connection with the youth, and the possession of a set of brass balls. One big complaint that I have and have heard expressed is a lack of faith in current chair Matt Kuhn. No one fears him. Witness what happened last year with the failed coup attempt.

I know part of that was the last gasp of the old power brokers, but it makes a point. We need a strong chair who can tell people to keep their mouth shut and stop backbiting and unify. On top of that this candidate needs to connect with the 15-39 year olds in Memphis.

The current group of activists in the local party are, with the exception of the bloggers, predominately in their late forties and up. There is almost no one my age or younger involved and we need to stop this. I hate to say this, but the older activists need to take a step back or at least a step over and try like hell to get good younger people involved.

This is not a black or white issue, or a young and old fight, this is an issue of fighting for the continued survival of the local party. Ask yourself, what was the biggest complaints about the 9th District primary? That a lot of these candidates were too young, too inexperienced, and had not paid their dues by working their way up. Has it been considered that this was the only real opportunity they had what with every other local and county election being full of the same old hacks year after year? Comments welcome.

Friday, January 05, 2007

LIberty Bowl Memorial Parking Lot

Steve asked me to write this when I gave him my reasons why the mayor's ideas should be followed.

Five plus years ago when the Grizz were planning to come to town I was against it. Unlike almost everyone else, I was not for it because of the new arena being built. Well, I was against the new arena but for a different reason altogether. I was against it not for the tax payer expense but for a reason you won't expect.

Namely, a new arena for the Grizzlies would mean that the Liberty Bowl would not get replaced. I felt then and still do today that the stadium is antiquated and is a shithole outside of the playing surface. The bathrooms got updated recently but the concession stands menus look to be the only part of the whole concourse built post Rex Dockery.

In 2001, I had heard about the ADA lawsuits coming to a head. The city was going to have to pay to upgrade the stadium to meet the accessibility guidelines. Mostly in ramps and bathrooms, it would require extensive reworkings that would essentially remove the post 1987 upgrades that rose capacity to 66,000 and bring it back down to around 52 to 55 thousand.

At that time, Louisville had just opened three years earlier Papa Johns Stadium. A not state of the art but a very, very good stadium that could be easily upgraded and came equipped with things that they had been lacking. Luxury boxes for the boosters who donated the money that built the stadium, a press box for an up and coming football team that could accommodate more and better angles and broadcasters and interviews, and also a set of locker rooms and training rooms that were new, and not the closet sized one that was there before.

This cost them around 70 million. I had done a paper for a class that evaluated the impact of stadiums and financing on the cities and universities that conducted them. It was for both pro and collegiate and looked at the total impact. The overwhelming decision was that for pros it was a zero sum game. No real benefit was lost or gained. College though in new arenas built specifically for them received big increases to the athletic and general funds. It also produced an effect typically within around five years for these schools. Witness Rutgers, Pitt, UCF, Louisville, Maryland (basketball), Tigers (Pyramid and Forum), and several other schools.

Now, we can't build a new stadium for 70 million here. Louisville didn't have the demolition costs we are going to have with the Coliseum and the Liberty Bowl. However, we as a city need to give up the NFL dream. We lost it in 1992 when the NFL gave a team to Jacksonville because they promised to completely rebuild the Gator Bowl and make it virtually new and we were just going to renovate LBMS. I know there were other issues, but you can't lie to me and tell me that this didn't play a big factor, Hound Dogs Jesus Christ.

We aren't getting into the SEC either. We are in C-USA. We might end up in another conference because of basketball but unless the Tigers win consistently for the next ten years plus the SEC ain't bringing us in.

We need to embrace who we are as a University and as a city. You could build a very good stadium similar to PJ Stadium here with total costs of between 100 and 120 million. You put in extra locker rooms for the Classic and the Bowl game. You build extra suites. Remember, a lot of businesses are relocating here and it will be easier to get a box here then in Starkville or Oxford. You contact the right people, look at the Forum, on time and on budget.

The city is going to have to spend 50 million to upgrade the Stadium and Coliseum. Take that 50, and say to UofM, I'm sorry University of Memphis, I don't want to piss of any fans of Michigan or Montana, Ole Miss can go to hell, oh wait, you already have, here is half the cost that we were going to have to spend anyway, you raise the rest, you go over that in your find drive, we donate the money to the University's general scholarship fund, and not to this construction.

This way, you get the stadium done right, the only down I see is that you might have to sell the naming rights, Autozone I'm looking at you, so you lose Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, but you keep Rex Dockery Field by god. This will help make Memphis better as a football team, recruiting anyone, I've said it a hundred times, 35000 people looks half full when capacity is 66000, it looks pretty damn good when capacity is 55000. The Classic should receive a spike and the Liberty Bowl Game might not have to rely on corporate sponsors to buy all the tickets at a discount, they could sell more at full price. Only one game will be affected, Memphis vs the other UT, but hey, if this forces more people to buy season tickets and makes things harder on the Orange Goblins to get tickets, GO MEMPHIS.

Friday, November 24, 2006

The Memphis Clippers

Head on over here first.

We are in danger of having the Griz turn into the Clip. Davis wants to raise the average ticket price 10 bucks and slash payroll. While I agree that cutting payroll (bye, Eddie Jones, Jake Suckilidas, and Chucky Atkins) is a good decision, they are going about it the wrong way. They believe that they can win with a payroll under the cap with young, cheap players while raising ticket prices.

I agree that they might have more knowledge about basketball then me, but I also know that the only way to contend is to spend money to a degree, that's why the NBA has cap exceptions and cap minimums. We are in danger of having the old Clippers here. A team of good young players that we trade or let go in free agency. There will be little to no loyalty by the players and even less reason for them to want to come here if the owners won't spend money because it doesn't fit their plan for the team.

I am worried that the prospective majority owner is selling ownership shares in order
to raise the money to by Heisley's over priced shares. Attendance is down and will remain that way until next year when the Griz will be reloaded with Pau back and a likely high draft pick that we could turn into Noah, McRoberts, or possibley Oden. It's kind of funny that at the start of the season ESPN and SI said that we would be players in the hunt for Rashard Lewis when he is a free agent this summer.

Enjoy these last three years of Grizzlies. If Brian Davis and company buy the team, this town is doomed to be the new Clippers, Warriors, Wizards, or Hawks. As a Duke apologist on a level just below Dick Vitale, this is going to be painful to watch.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Vote by Mail-My Two Cents

I am opposed to vote by mail for several reasons. I think it is a good idea for Tennessee, but at this point in time I think it is unworkable for Tennessee especially Memphis and will disenfranchise a lot of minority voters.

One is that the ballots are mailed to the voters address of record. A lot of Memphians move around a lot and don't bother to update their voting records. To my understanding, these voters will have no way to post a provisional ballot or vote on election day at an actual polling station.

The second and primary reason surrounds us here in Memphis and also around Davidson County. I am talking about the White Flight areas of Lakeland, Atoka, Tipton, Fayette, Desoto, and Crittendon locfally. Thousands of former Memphians have fled here to go there.

The voter rolls in Memphis need to be purged after each election. Match them up with tax records. Send these registered letters that are the same as the ballots to the houses on record. If they get no response or find they have moved, purge them. Purge the dead as well for Ophelia's sake.

If they wish to retain their right to vote in the elections, let them produce tax records, utility bills, rental agreements, or cable bills in their names at these addresses. Give them until the day before election to cast provisional ballots and verify their address. Partner with the aforementioned counties and this information so that they can add them to their rolls.

Purge the rolls and give people who have moved or otherwise failed to vote during an early voting style format and you will have a lot more workable way to process vote by mail.,

Sunday, August 20, 2006

My thoughts on Health Care

You want to know why I support universal health care. It's sitting, well crawling, on the bed next to me right now trying desperetly to grab the cat's tail. My son, Jon Jr. or Jack as we prefer to call him.

Another reason is the pain in my left hand. I have a non-cancerous glomus tumour in my pinkie finger I am having removed in about a month. I had one in my middle right finger for five years before having it removed in January. These are not fun things. You cannot put pressure on your finger tip and they like the cold as much as Bush likes the truth. I could do nothing about them as I had no health insurance.

The surgery to remove them cost me a total of $150 dollars, all of which were my doctor's fees. I paid nothing for the surgery bcause the company I work for, Sprint, has a good health care plan. If I had had to pay it out of pocket, I would have been out around four grand. My wife and I could not have afforded that.

We were six months pregnant before I got coverage. We paid around 1500 dollars for doctor's visits (at the health clinic over by Melrose), lab fees, and an ultrasound before this. Afterwards, we paid 400 dollars for everything including his five day stay (slight jaundice), her c-section, and other assorted crap. My point?

Having insurance makes up for a lot of things. My son's well baby visits, birth control, my insurance, doctor's fees, and prescription drugs have all been covered by my employer's health care plan. I am one of the lucky ones. Mr. Holt is as well. He thankfully can rely on his wefe's coverage. Steffens has his job. But what about the rest of us. Pesky, Auto, Winter, the Maynard brothers (yes I know you're not) and Brassmask I don't know well enough. But I know that it is something that goes through the head of a lot of people.

I wonder how many people in Alabama, West Virginia, Georgia, hell, pick a state pray every day that they don't get sick, their children don't get sick, or someone close to them doesn't get sick. I wonder how many of them get mad at their job for not offering helath care. I bet many of them believe that the US has the best health care on Earth (it does if you got some insurance). I wonder if they think that the federal government can pick up the majority if not all of the cost like France, Sweden, the UK, and Japan. I wonder how many of them would think that Nixon proposed a single payer government run health care plan that was his big policy intiative for his second term.

Finally, I wonder if they would get mad if you told them that it would only cost them at most around 20-30 bucks a week, and the only thing preventing it from going into effect is the work of private insurance companies who scream that the government is more inefficient (its not), would raise prices (actually lower dramatically), and reduce quality of care (actually raise it). Remember, a good part of Memphis has Third World infant mortality rates. How many of these children would be saved if their mothers could afford the care to get what they need. Medicaid does a good bit, but it does no where near enough. And don't forget about the rest of us, those who don't qualify for assistance, but still don't make a lot. Society is a group contract, we are judged by how we treat the least fortunate among us.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

It's been a long time

Three weeks off when I had been posting nearly every day there. Work intruding again. No free time, hell no time at all. I will admit that what little time I had was devoted to NCAA College Football 2007, I am a gamer geek, I admit it.

Stevie Ray Cohen won..YEAHH! Bob Corker won..BOOO!! Harold Ford Jr won...eh.

Lieberman is a tool and a sellout who apparantly forgot the lesson on losing gracefully.

The Isreal-Lebanon story had burned out because no one cares anymore hardly.

50% of people believe that Iraq had WMDs. This wouldn't be so sad if last year, it was at 36%.

These are truly the dog days of summer, little news on all fronts. I can't wait for the fall when the news is coming fast and furious.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Clinton v. Bush and a thought

Bush said that he understood the struggle of blacks in America. Yeah, but understanding from reading it out of books and having Condi telling you how it was growing up in the shadow of Bull Connor while you grew up in Connecticut and Texas at a prep school surrounded by white kids of privilege is one thing. Growing up dirt poor in the South in Arkansas with blacks is another.

Bush doesn't get it, he can't get it, Pesky can, Condi could at one point, Mike Kernell can, Steve Cohen can, John Kennedy couldn't, Bobby Kennedy could, Bill can, Hillary can't, I can, Evan Bayh can't, John Edwards can, Harold Ford Jr., much like everything, can go both ways. The struggle of blacks and Hispanics in this country is something that only a small number of us that aren't can understand and take to heart.

You either have to live in it for years, or be born with an understanding and empathy of people that transcends all. Bush insults everyone when he says he can understand it. Yes, on one level you can, but unless you have ever lived hand to mouth, not running the heater or air conditioner to save money to pay the rent, made a wish sandwich, held a women's hand while her husband died of untreated cancer at home because there was no money to treat it, gone to work every day at a job you hate for low pay and then gone to another just to pay the bills, cried yourself yourself to sleep because you are scared your children are going to end up in the situation you are in, you cannot begin to understand the struggles that poor people of any race deal with on a daily basis.

We must all work to overcome the class divisions that seperate us in this city. There are plenty of white and black people in this community that are working to build the bridges of community. There are just as many white and black people working to make their struggle their own, excluding those who they see as different, saying that they don't understand their struggle and cannot begin to undestand it.

In some ways they are right. But in many, many more, they are wrong. I may be a hite, heterosexual male, but because of my life experiences I can understand at a deep level the struggles of blacks, hispanics, gays, and women to find equality and a future in this country. You could argue that I can understand, but I cannot know the environment. That might be partially true, but until you get to know me and my background, you would be wrong.

Women attained the rigt to vote when men decided that it was unfair for them to be suppresed in such a way working with them to overcome millenia of oppresion in their struggle fr equal status. Civil rights for blacks and latinos came about when whites relaized that we are all one brotherhood and oppresion and suppression was wrong.

Gays are beginnng to receive this in more and more areas, but are fighting against the same forces that worked against the previous groups. The Bible was used to justify segregation and the suppression of women. What is the difference between forbidding a white and black person from marrying and forbidding two men from marrying? The struggle for rights for homosexuals is not the exact same as the struggle for black civil rights. However, the struggle for blacks was not the exact same as the struggle by women. They are tied together though. The end of rights for one means that the government can remove the rights for others. Ask yourself, who will be there to speak out for you?