The Reception For Joe Hill

21 04 2008

A reception was held yesterday for Joe Hill. (And here is where it gets confusing. Not author Joe Hill whom I wrote about yesterday but Joe Hill, political guy who was chief of staff for Congressman John Tanner,  also not to be confused with Joe Hill, the laborer who has folks songs written about him.)

Glad I could straighten that up for you.

I‘ll let Ken Whitehouse tell you a bit more about him as he is more eloquent than I am.

While most people in the state have – understandably – never heard of Joe Hill, every Democrat who has had statewide dreams has had him on speed dial since speed dial was invented. For 35 years, he has worked for the 8th Congressional District, first for the late Congressman Ed Jones and now Tanner. If you wanted to know who sneezed in Hornbeak, you called Joe Hill.

Hill is pretty much a legend around here with people who are involved in politics. His reception yesterday was packed and was like seeing the line at the Miley Cyrus movie a few weeks ago. The line went out the door and around the block at the Hampton Inn in Union City.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t stay long and I didn’t wait in line to see Mr. Hill. There were so many people there who wanted to give him their best regards as he moves on that I didn’t want to waste his time.  And it was a bit of northwest Tennessee political who’s who while I wandered about. Jimmy Naifeh, Mark Maddox, Roy Herron and his family and Mike McWherter were there as was, of course, Tanner.

Or at least, that’s who I saw before I left. But yesterday it was more about just average folks stopping by. That’s what struck me about yesterday.

Now, with that said, let me tell you that everyone in west Tennessee has at least six degrees of separation with Hill. He was the go-to guy when you needed something done. Yeah, he was THAT GUY. He was the one, when you needed information on government that you called as Whitehouse wrote above. Hill has an ability to make complicated issues in government easy to understand. That was what a lot of yesterday’s reception was all about because politicians know how government works. Average Joes like me don’t always know because sometimes I think politicians make it more complicated than it has to be.

Here’s the thing, every politician needs a Joe Hill.

Because he was connected with constituents around the area and he would take your phone call in a minute and he was one of those guys that just got things done. He would explain things and didn’t treat me, at least, with disdain when I would call him. He’d take that extra few minutes to break issues down. That’s important. What northwest Tennessee lost when he retired is huge on a grand scale in the vein of when Gov. Ned McWherter left office.

Because, you see, Hill was available. I hear a lot about people not being connected to their elected official which I have no doubt is true.

But we had Hill.

If yesterday was any testament about what he gave to folks, Hill was treated as a rock star. I stood over to the side watching a reception line that moved as slow as molasses where hundreds of individuals wanted just a few moments with him to share how he had helped them throughout the years.

You don’t see that in politics very often.

I’m pretty cynical about government as a whole, but seeing Hill stand there receiving guests honoring him because they had been impacted personally by his actions was kinda, dare I say, pretty inspiring.

I was once told by a boss I had that it is better to be a kingmaker than a king. And we all know that actions speak louder than any one word can. I thought of that yesterday as I watched that line move so slowly with people lined up outside into the parking lot and around the building in the warm spring sun. And they waited a long time. Even Naifeh waited patiently for his turn, which sort of shocked me. It was good seeing folks say thanks. Squirrel Queen, Tanner’s Communication Director Randy Ford and I watched as Hill stood there patiently greeting each person individually.

I honestly don’t think our government listens to us. But Hill did. And for some silly reason this morning, that does give me some hope that there are other Joe Hills out there who will listen.

I know, I’m being a bit sentimental which is out of character. Hush. I’ll be cynical a bit later and gnashing teeth.

Citizen Journalism At Work In Tennessee

20 04 2008

There are several posts over at Aunt B.’s abode that I think need some attention. Actually, they’ve had some attention before and we will get to that, but apparently the issue hasn’t been fixed.

In life, sometimes things don’t get fixed but they do not need to be ignored either. And then it brings up new questions that, in a word, are scary.

It concerns a landfill that has an infamous history located in Dickson.

Aunt B. was extensive in researching the landfill and there is a great deal of information attached in two very well-researched posts here and here.

She went to Eno Road yesterday and took video footage of houses in proximity to the landfill which is extremely eye-opening.

One buzz word on the Internet right now is about Citizen Journalism. I think there is some fine citizen journalism happening at Aunt B.’s right now.

I googled Eno Road as I’m wont to do, and I found several articles about the Holts and the town from a couple of years ago. You can find one of them here.

Egalia also wrote about Eno Road in a post here.

I don’t know why the story lost it’s “buzz” after the original posting but I have to say that showing houses setting on the fence line of the landfill is very disturbing to me. I realize I’m late to the game, but an interesting report on Paula Zahn’s now defunct TV show on CNN has some revealing conversation about Eno Road. An argument ensued about whether the Eno Road issue with The Holts was an issue of classism or racism. Go read it. I’ll wait. It’s about half-way down the page. Apparently there was a video from CNN filed by reporter Rusty Dornin but I couldn’t find it.

There has already been one lawsuit which Dickson County filed against an automobile company which was settled last November  in regards to the dump and the Holts are suing too and have filed a federal lawsuit in a story from March of this year from the Tennessean.

It appears Sheila Holt-Orsted will have a website up soon about her family’s extensive issues about their home, where they have lived for generations.

I wonder if any other communities are having this problem. Makes one wonder.

Bigfoot ‘Heard’ In West Virginia?

15 04 2008

Ahh, our friend Bigfoot has been heard. You read that right. HEARD.

While they didn’t see hide nor hair of the beast itself, 20 people taking part in a four-day search for Bigfoot in West Virginia say they found tracks believed to have been made by the elusive creature.

Members of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization’s 2008 West Virginia expedition also claim to have heard sounds made by Sasquatch.

Bigfoot should be a spy for the U.S. Government. He is an elusive fellow.

Bernanke Says The “R” Word

3 04 2008

Two bloggers this morning are taking on Ben Bernanke.

First out, MissyB. She says:

Was this the kind of leadership we had in mind, way back when in 1776, when we overthrew an out-of-touch government who was not responsive to what wethepeople needed?  Ask yourself that question, if you have time, in between going about the business of fixing your own personal economy.  You know, because that government wethepeople created isn’t helping you to do that, mainly because they don’t know how.

And our beloved Badger, who wrote this with some cartoon art goodness.

This guy must be living in another country, because in my country we be huuuunnngrrryyy.


 You know, the Washington crowd needs to just get out of Washington and talk to some real people.

Open Meetings Law Conversation Out of Kingsport

28 01 2008

From a new blog (or new to me at least) out of Kingsport which is talking about Tennessee’s Open Meetings Act:

You have a right to know what the government is doing at the Federal, State, County, or City level. You have a right to attend meetings and can have access to most records.

Tennessee’s Sunshine law states that any meeting is open to the public except as provided by the Tennessee Constitution, when two or more members of a governing body get together to deliberate toward a decision or a group making recommendations to a governing body. The Open Meetings Act does not prescribe when governing bodies must conduct meetings. Instead, it defines when meetings must be open to the public.

The public can attend the City of Kingsport, TN Work Sessions that are held each 1st and 3rd Monday of each month at 4:30 p.m., City Hall, Small Board Room, 2nd Floor. Regular Business Meetings are held each 1st and 3rd Tuesday of each month at 7:00 p.m., Large Court Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall. The public is invited to attend meetings of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. Also, on Charter cable channel 16, you can watch the Business Meeting live.

Well done with the addition of how the average citizen can be involved in their local government.

Sometimes taking personal action of being a part of things is the best thing to do. Because, my friends, it causes a reaction.

Question Outta Memphis

13 01 2008

Let’s talk about this because Lindsey has a good point.

If my accident record isn’t available to me yet, how in the FRICK did my cell phone and mailing address become available to the FIVE OR SIX different ambulance-chasing doctor/lawyer teams that have contacted me repeatedly in the past two weeks? The first lady who contacted me told me, after I pressed her, they got my info from the public record. She didn’t get any more specific than that.

Is there another public record other than this accident report that I am unaware of that would include my freaking cell phone?

I’m not being sarcastic; I seriously would like to know.

Can someone answer her question? Public records belong to the person who requests them. Go over to TheoGeo and let her know the best way to get the records she needs to move forward.

I understand processing a report. I get that. What I don’t get is what she is rightfully asking. How did other people get her cell phone # when she doesn’t even have the report on hand?

Good questions, Lindsey.

We Are A Global Community

28 12 2007

As I’m suffering through an unreasonable, and very unexpected, bout of insomnia, I’m watching the news as I sometimes do. My bed is currently my enemy and I’ve fought with my sheets for several hours. I imagine I will be asleep very early on a Friday evening.

I wish I was now, but I digress.

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto is dominating CNN, and I’m pleased to say that’s it’s not a Larry King repeat or a rehash of a five-hour old Anderson Cooper broadcast.

It’s actually news as it’s happening.

The network is playing CNN International and it’s been very informative about the life of Bhutto. The entire Bhutto family are like the Kennedys when you think about it, wrought with tragedy from a well off political family where death apparently was always on the horizon, sitting on the sidelines, waiting and watching. Her father was hung, one brother allegedly poisoned, another brother killed by gunfire and then Bhutto’s assassination yesterday. They’ve determined that she was shot in the throat and chest first, then the suicide bombing occurred and you know the rest.

Probably my biggest dilemma as I look toward my schedule later today is meeting with a Verizon manager who gave me a $700 phone bill this holiday season (which I’m not happy about) because some dimwit didn’t transfer my service to a new package (no worries, I have the documentation and it’s nothing more than just a hassle).

“I don’t fear death…I don’t think it can happen unless God wants it to happen because so many people have tried to kill me.”

Times Online quote from Bhutto

And then I have to put into perspective that I don’t have people trying to murder me all the time. In watching the interviews from the former prime minister, I honestly don’t know how Bhutto dealt with constant threats on her life and the deaths of her father and siblings. If you look at her history, she was human. She made mistakes. She was no saint. I mean, who is.

But today, she is the current face of a political martyr.

And, in times when the darkness surrounds me as it does at this moment except for the images on my small television, I wonder what it’s like to live with a mission and to know you will most likely die for your beliefs.

And I sit and wonder about the ramifications that will happen in the long run. None of this bodes well for the Middle East.

Or for the United States. We are a global community.

Actions always have reactions.

Amazing, Utterly Amazing

20 11 2007


The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back.

My granddad lost a great deal of his hearing in WWII after a shell went off near him.

I have no words.

H/T to KnoxViews

An Update over at Aunt B’s from Bob Krumm. It looks like this might be getting fixed. Thank God, ’cause I was pissed about it last night.

Going Local With The Open Meetings Law

20 11 2007

As I have to go chop celery and onions in a few minutes to make sure my minions have dressing for Thanksgiving, I want to talk to you a few minutes about the sunshine law.

At a recent county commission meeting, our chief staff writer extradonaire left a questionnaire for our local guys about changes in the Open Meetings Act.

She told me today she got eight of the anonymous ballots back. Six out of eight that we received said they WANTED changes in the law to go from two to four. We asked for an explanation of why they wanted the changes and, of course, crickets. We are waiting on the results from ten additional elected officials.

They will be asked on the record as well but we wanted to get a feel for their sentiments. Not sure if the numbers will match up. We will see.

Memphis, Knoxville, Middle Tennessee and Rural America, campers, are getting lambasted on this issue. We are too busy talking about things that are distractions.

You have a right to know what your government is doing.

Silence writes this:

If this keeps spreading, you won’t know about it. Also, you won’t know how many tax dollars you are paying to not know about it.

There should be no compromise.

I find this very disheartening, to say the least. I would recommend that more folks watch this.

I go back to that the Open Meetings Law is for citizens, not journalists.  But no one is talking.  We need to be talking about this.

Now. Not later.

Later is always after things change. This time, change is not for the good.

So, I went and talked to a retired alderman about it all that used to always talk, damn the torpedoes. (Incidentally, he’s a GOP guy). He didn’t know what was going on, which states that we (including myself) aren’t shaking the rafters hard enough.

He said this is disgraceful.

I agree.

Sunshine Law Rendered Meaningless?

15 11 2007

Russ McBee breaks down the ramifications of changes in the Sunshine Law just about as good as I’ve seen. I honestly don’t think that people always understand the need for Open Government. It is also my opinion that it is a variety of things, including corporate entities with public ties that fall under the law that want this changed as much as politicians, who want to do what they want to do without intervention.

What Russ says:

The sunshine law prevents the heads of those two camps from meeting in secret to hammer out an agreement between them and thus garnering a majority of the commission by virtue of their leadership positions. By increasing the forbidden number of members meeting in secret to four (as the committee has proposed), the spirit and intent of the sunshine law will be rendered meaningless.

Sunshine has a fatal effect on vampires; I guess it’s no surprise the blood-suckers in our county government want to shield themselves from it.

I go back to it being the government of the people. Not journalists, but people.  The Memphis Daily Journal has the AP story about the possible changes.

There is a battle going on, did you know that? It’s about the right to know. You might think all this stuff is small potatoes or think it doesn’t affect you, but it does.

Four members being able to meet in private is too many. The business of government needs to be out in the open. I’ve been to hundreds of meetings where no one, except a couple of members of the press, never showed up. But they could. Tennesseans had the option.

Then, I’ve been to hot-topic meetings (consolidation of the high schools in the mid-90’s comes to mind) where you couldn’t move due to the sea of outraged citizens. I covered the meeting sitting at a judges desk sharing a chair with a man while holding a microphone (I was in radio then.)

The people decided that particular issue was important. They wanted to know what was going on. This, of course, is just an example but remember this. THE PEOPLE DECIDED they needed to exercise their voice and they did. They decided to use their rights.

They had the option to know.

The whole thing in Knoxville is so transparent that it would be laughable if it wasn’t sickening. Then, this happens. Private-deals get the commission in hot water, so now a legislative committee wants to change the way open meetings are held?  Coincidence, maybe, but folks in control have wanted to change the Sunshine Law for years. It’s inconvenient for them.

Well, good.

Imagine if no one could have gone to that consolidation meeting fifteen years ago. Imagine if there hadn’t been a dialogue about the future of their kids. There was a compromise made which suited no one, but the people’s voice was heard. Mind-boggling.

If these laws are changed, then it will take a generation to get them changed back. And, the laws are really ambiguous enough right now to confuse people who think these laws are just for journalists. Frank Gibson of the Tennessee Coalition for Open Government has been preaching this for years.

This issue is important. And we need to raise our voices to the rooftops.

Don’t give up your rights. They are yours. It’s your government, God knows you are paying for those meetings with your tax dollars.