Get to know them

Some candidates dropped by our June meeting and got up to say a few words about their qualifications.

A representative for Kevin Key talked about his candidacy for Shelby County Criminal Court clerk; Mark Skoda spoke for Charlotte Bergmann, running against Coehn/Herenton for 9th Congressional district; Bobby Carter spoke of his backing from General Bill Gibbons for criminal court judge; Robert Hill mentioned his campaign against Ophelia Ford for State senate seat in district 29; along with Janet Shipman and Claiborne Ferguson. Our own Clay Shelton, running for State Senate district 87, reported that the number of Republicans voting in the primary was narrowing the gap between us and the Democrats, an encouraging sign!

It’s good to meet them in person and spread the word to friends and neighbors.

June Club Meeting

With just 45 days til early voting begins, Congressman Zach Wamp and Sheriff Mark Luttrell stressed to our Midtown Republican Club how vital it is to get the word out on their candidacies for governor and Shelby County Mayor.  Both gave compelling speeches last night, June 1, about their visions for a better Tennessee and better Shelby County.

Congressman Wamp again stated his determination to see that Shelby County does not get ignored by the next governor and legislature in Nashville. He wants to increase Memphis’ role  as distribution center which would help bring jobs and revenue to our state. He pushed again for student testing at a younger age to stem illiteracy and noted that in Tennessee 28,000 students drop out and two-thirds of those end up in prison. “We are waiting too late to make sure students can read,” he said, and corrective action would benchmark problems in kindergarten before kids are advanced without good reading comprehension.

As for the school budgets, Wamp notes that school construction has pushed our debt up and bemoans the continual refinancing that means we are always paying more on our debt, not less.

Having spent 14 years on the Appropriations committe in the House, he notes he understands how to deal with such budgetary problems.

Another interesting point he raised was our health problem. “Only West Virginia is rated less healthy a state than Tennessee and we also lag all but West Virginia in prescription medications.” Wamp said he has signed a pledge to make sure The Med is kept and receives funding.

I was glad to hear him address the problems he sees in Washington.

“Congress is dysfunctional. There is no budget for this year, no appropriates drawn up. In short, it’s chaos under the direction of Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats.”

Wamp will be appearing, he said, on NBC July 11, which has schedule a gubernatorial debate.

Even though election day is August 5, the Congressman notes that half  the state may vote early. So don’t forget to inform your family and neighbors and get the word out.

Zach Wamped ’em

The second speaker at the Lunch Hour Republicans was Tennessee Congressman Zach Wamp.

Since he will be appearing at our Midtown Republican Club meeting June 1st I was interested in hearing what he had to say.

I really came in with no preconceptions.

Congressman Wamp introduced himself and noted he was one of the class of 1994. He has been working in the party since college days. He decided it was time, however, to move from Congress to the Governor’s office, because he feels strongly we need a new direction.

With 57 days left til early voting starts, Wamp has spent a lot of time in Shelby County. He has inaugurated a “Memphis Matters” campaign and promises to put us in the forefront in Nashville. Too often we have been ignored by Nashville, he said. He wants to lead us in a Renaissance comparable to what he helped achieve in Chattanooga. That includes fully funding the Med and emphasizing our distribution center qualities and great business leaders.

Two other problems he wants to discuss that other candidates ignore, he said, are “our state is poor on education and health.” For example, TCAPs are administred at the end of the third grade. “If you can’t read by the third grade, there is a problem. We need to have benchmarks in kindergarten,” he said, noting that if you fail in reading early you fail for the rest of your elementary and high school career.

The Memphis infant mortality rate draws his ire, too, as does the sad fact that half of our state’s 17-24 year olds now wouldn’t qualify for the military.

As for crime, Wamp noted that “having safe communities means keeping repeat offenders off the street,” and he is willing to explore cheaper incarceration vs. letting criminals out.

My favorite issue, however, was his emphasis on state soverignty. “We need a governor with a backbone and a healthy distrust of a big federal government. We can feel freedom lipping through our fingers in this country.”

His was an impressive presentation and it will be interesting to see how he does in debating the other candidates. WKNO has schedule a debate among them for Tuesday night at 7.

A message from Lang

Yesterday I attended the monthly Lunch Hour Republican meeting at Salsa restaurant. Two great speakers were guests and one of them, our Chairman, Lang Wiseman, led off with his thoughts on the coming campaign.

Three things will determine the winning party, he said, “Turnout, turnout and turnout.”

Elaborating, he had graphs to show Republican turnout in the last three elections. In 2006 we got 40% Republican turnout, 8% independents and 3% Dem/African American swing votes. That gave us a 51% win and we had victory by all Republican candidates in County-clerk offices, plus a massive win by Luttrell and Gibbons.

August 2008 garnered only 33% Republican vote, 6% independents and 2% Dem/African American votes. With just 41% of the vote we lost a general sessions court clerk.

May 2010 brought 45% Republican turnout in the primary, which was the highest since 2002.

He concluded also that a candidate in Memphis needs approximately 90,000 to 100,000 votes to win; interstingly McCain garnered 150,000 votes. so the votes are out there.

Chairman Wiseman advised that there are 3 things we must do. Number one: Realize that we have the better candidates. We submitted them all to background checks and they were 100% clean. The Democrats said this was pointless and refused to do it. We must emphasize to citizens that our candidates are superior.

No. 2: Turnout. Apathy and defeatism are often are worst enemies. Statistics show that we can win in Shelby County.

No. 3: Get the swing vote by emphasizing that Republicans are the fiscally responsible party and the most efficient with your tax dollar.

Continuing, Lang said that we don’t have to convert Democrats; we can turnout our base and reach out to independents.

In June we will begin a phone calling campaign with a new computer program called Call fire and then in July we need to start knocking on doors and getting the word out.

As he warned, if we lose this election it could have dire consequences for our country and our county.

Cooking the books, er magazines

I popped into Penzey’s spice store recently and as I was paying I glanced at their cooking magazine, One.

One headline drew my eye: “Recipes for Restorative Justice.” What? Can’t they leave the politics behind? Evidently not, because it has happened before. In fact, I stopped my subscription because social issues seemed to be teamed with recipes and that’s not something I’m looking for in a food magazine. Earlier topics included prisons (complete with a picture of President Bush); immigration; and gay living. Gourmet managed to get into it, too, before it expired, with green emphasis and sly anti war articles. Bon Appetit flirts with the green movement, too, but it hasn’t gone full into that yet. Perhaps that’s why it’s still on the newsstand.

Sheriff Candidate Offers Views

William P. “Bill” Oldham

For the past 7 ½ years, I have served as the Chief Deputy of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.  Prior to that, I served for over 27 years with the Memphis Police Department, where I rose through the ranks from patrolman to Director.  During my tenure at the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office, I have been part of the Command Team that has brought professionalism, effectiveness and National Accreditation to our Jail and the Law Enforcement Divisions of the SCSO.  VISION AND STRATEGIES In terms of reducing crime in our communities, and the optimal role for the Sheriff’s Office in this effort, we must work with our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners as well as neighborhood, civic and faith based leaders to make Shelby County as safe as possible. I support the Operation Safe Communities Initiatives. This is a plan developed by the private and public sectors to make Shelby County one of the safest communities of its size. We worked with the organizers and the Memphis/Shelby County Crime Commission in developing the fifteen strategies of the Operation Safe Community Initiative. We use the Data Smart Policing Model to deploy deputies using strategy based upon sound data and research. We belong to twelve task forces in collaboration with local, state and federal law enforcement partners to attack crime and criminals who know no jurisdictional boundaries. We pursue every opportunity to share information and develop partnerships with all law enforcement agencies in Shelby County and the surrounding area. We support vertical prosecution and additional resources for our DA’s Office. We have developed programs to mentor youths, work with youthful offenders to educate them and turn them around. We support Drug Court and Assist with its funding. Some of these “Best Practices” were brought to our community to assist us in addressing issues of high importance. The SCSO should be a leader and a resource in making our county safer.  When addressing management philosophy, and the best ways of managing a law enforcement agency with several distinct missions, including law enforcement and jail management, I believe that in order to maintain the public trust we must be an organization of integrity and professionalism. We must be responsive, accessible, inclusive and accountable to the citizens we serve. It starts with me. I am accountable to our citizens and our employees.  I believe that the key to the professional, efficient and effective management of a Sheriff’s Office is to clearly articulate the vision and assemble a leadership team of professionals with experience and integrity and assist them in making the vision a reality. As required by A.C.A. and C.A.L.E.A., goals and objectives are established each year and benchmarked with desired results, responsible parties and time lines.  This builds accountability into the process and allows for input and ownership from the executive staff which then fosters team building and inclusion. It will also be my intent to provide opportunities for the staff to receive the best executive training available. We will annually review “Best Practices” from other local and national organizations to identify those that could assist us in our mission, as mentioned above.  When feasible and necessary, we will bring in outside organizations, such as the Police Executive Research Forum, as we did in 2004, to study our operations and make recommendations to enhance our capabilities in the law enforcement area, and organizations such as Carter Goble Lee to work with us on Jail Master Planning, as we did in 2007. I am pleased to have been rated the top candidate for Sheriff by the Coalition for a Better Memphis.  I have also been endorsed by the Commercial Appeal in the upcoming Republican Primary, as well as by numerous current and past law enforcement professionals (please check my website for a complete listing).  Thank you for your consideration, and please vote Bill Oldham, Shelby County Sheriff, in the May 4th Republican Primary.

A Perspective

At the SRLC in New Orleans I had a chance to talk with a couple who had lived in New York. Inevitably, I asked the question I always ponder about New York and that is why is it that the place hit the hardest on 9/11 doesn’t seem to understand the nature of the enemy.

The wife explained to me the horror of the day and how she saw people jumping out of skyscrapers to their deaths. The smell of death was in the air for 3 months. It wasn’t until Christmas Day that it departed.

She and her husband could not understand the indifference to the threat their fellow New Yorkers exhibited. They felt the city would be hit again and moved to Galveston.

I do not think they will ever regret that decision.

Get with the Program

Today marks the beginning of a blog-a-long reading of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. At you can read along with them and the next day read scholars’ opinions on what each article means.

Since my schooling in the 60s-70s seemed to ignore how our government works, I find myself ignorant of much I should know. So I’m off to read Article 1 and see what I’ve been missing.