‘Content Of Their Character’

In celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, Smart City Memphis remembers his legacy. LINK

This annual holiday in honor of America’s great nonviolent prophet, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is always a timely occasion to read the inspiring words of a minister who understood that his faith called for him to stand up for those traditionally frozen out of public decision-making and whose fair right to vote and equal opportunity were illusions.

Dr. King understood that change often flows from the civic tension that forces people to confront myths and half-truths and insincere calls for more time before change is made.  Most of all, Dr. King teaches us still that it is important for people of good will to step forward to work for the benefit of people whose interests are often ignored.

Chattanooga’s Joe Lance spotlights redistricting and those who won and those who didn’t. Thank goodness redistricting only happens once a decade. LINK

This time around, I have watched the process with a great deal of interest, because it matters whom one’s state legislators are, and it arguably matters even more whom one’s city council member, county commissioner, school board member, alderman, etc. are. And, yes, there’s congressional redistricting that impacts one’s representation at the U.S. Capitol. For example, Cleveland is now in the Fourth District with Murfreesboro (which itself was formerly in the Sixth).

The Internet has changed the level of scrutiny over redistricting according to Knoxville’s Frank Cagle, who looks back over redistricting over the years. LINK


But that’s history. The Republicans are in control now and they are redrawing House district lines following the 2010 census and they are attempting to secure a filibuster proof majority. I don’t recall a lot of outrage in 1992 about the redistricting. Most observers shrugged it off as the expected result of total Democratic control by a party being led by the master politician Gov. Ned McWherter.

It is likely the Republican plan this time around will face a great deal more scrutiny. Blogs and political websites mean a lot more people are paying attention to “inside baseball” these days than in the olden times of 1992. Redistricting Democrats also involves redrawing districts held by black legislators, bringing in to play the Voting Rights Act and the historical suspicion of Southern legislators discriminating against black voters and officeholders. The Justice Department will likely take a hard look at the plan and you can expect a court challenge.

Is Mississippi replaying a bit of Tennessee history? LINK

An ugly uproar in Mississippi last week – over the surprise pardoning of 200-plus convicts by departing Gov. Haley Barbour – is stirring some deep echoes in Tennessee.

Convicts suddenly set free. Secrecy. Mystery. Outrage.

It should all remind Tennesseans of a dark night in our own history – 33 years ago tonight, in fact – when another governor made national headlines of the worst kind.

On Jan. 15, 1979, Gov. Ray Blanton issued 52 executive clemencies in a late-evening meeting at his State Capitol office. By the next day, news of what he had done had touched off a bonfire of public outrage.


Sen. Roy Herron speaks to his hometown newspaper about priorities in the legislature this session. LINK

Herron has said his top priorities are jobs and education.

“It seems every family has someone or at least several close friends who have lost their jobs,” Herron said. 
“We’ve got to continue to work to create the jobs our citizens need for themselves and their families.”
Herron said work includes continuing to push for progress on the West Tennessee jobs megasite; monitoring developments at the Port of Cates Landing industrial site; finishing U.S. 79 and continuing I-69; and improving education for all citizens.

Will Tennessee ban mountaintop removal this year? Some folks are hopeful. LINK


Will this be the year that Tennessee becomes the first state to ban mountaintop removal mining? Leaders in the state legislature are once again pressing forward with the Scenic Vistas Protection Act, a bill to end mountaintop removal in the state. And they do not stand alone.


Chas Sisk at the Tennesseans writes of the TN Worker Appeal process that Gov. Bill Haslam has proposed for changes. Not everyone is smitten with it. LINK

People on both sides of the argument say the credibility of state government is at stake. Critics say the reforms could pave the way for politicians to use their offices to use the government payroll as a way to reward supporters, the type of cronyism that once fed corruption and powerful political machines. Eventually, qualified public servants will be replaced with political friends and party loyalists, they fear.



 Quick Hits


  • I write at Newscoma about meeting Rep. Jim Cooper, the importance of a message and challenges for rural Tennessee in receiving news regarding Nashville’s legislative process. LINK
  • Sean Braisted has the audio of the meeting withCooper, who met with a few online scribes this weekend. LINK
  • From the Times Free Press, it appears former colleagues and allies will become “foes” with redistricting. LINK 
  • Jon Huntsman will end his bid today for president. LINK

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