Tag Archives: Tennessee

Police Oversight Comes to Nashville

Nashville    Visiting with students and professors at Vanderbilt University was interesting and educational.  The questions and concerns about organizing and organization building, both here and abroad, were deeply considered and fascinating.  It was a good room, as they say.

Tennessee did not have a good midterm.  A former Democratic governor tried to right the ship by returning to the contest for the US Senate to block a wildly conservative US representative, Marsha Blackburn, who was looking for a promotion.  Remarkably, Taylor Swift got in the race with a smackdown of Blackburn, boosting voter registration in the state and nationally.  Nonetheless, the state stayed bright red.

Folks in Nashville were hardly dancing in the streets over the Amazon consolidation prize of 5000 operations jobs anymore than many progressives were celebrating New York and metro Washington’s billion-dollar tax giveaways to make the rich richer.  The price tag was lower by a pile of zeros, but money is money.  Both the conservative editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and the more liberal page of the New York Times have roundly panned the tax giveaways to the richest man in the America and one of the richest companies, although the Nashville Tennessean seems silent on this issue thus far from what I could tell.

The bright spot in Nashville was the passage of police oversight board which had been successfully put on the ballot in reaction to a controversial killing by police of a black man in 2017.  A group called Community Oversight Now coordinated much of the drive and the campaign.  The vote was not close.  Voters applauded the oversight with a 18% margin:  59 percent to 41 percent — 134,135 votes to 94,055

The main opposition was the police association which spent $500,000 on the campaign, overwhelming Amendment 1’s supporters to no avail.  Despite being shellacked at the polls, they are still threatening lawsuits and appeals of the vote.  Typically, of these urban/rural splits that play out in state legislature around the country, there are threats by the solidly Republican legislature of void the democratic vote and try to overturn the election, although that seems preposterous.  The cow is out of the barn.   We have seen a number of state legislatures takeaway a city’s future rights, but this one will be harder to overturn.  The mayor, despite having opposed the amendment, has committed to enacting it by executive order if necessary.

Meanwhile, the board is already in the process of being formed with momentum on their side.  Application deadlines for members among citizens have already been set and publicized.   The police opposition was bizarre.  They tried to fabricate a claim of potential future tax increases based on unsubstantiated costs of the oversight.

This hardly a revolutionary move in Nashville.  One hundred cities around the country already have oversight boards of one type or another.  What’s important is that progressives were able to win and do so handily, making Nashville a city to watch.


Signing up for the Taylor Swift Fan Club

Grenoble     I haven’t been a big Taylor Swift fan.  Even when she was country, she was poppy.  Now that she’s all pop, I can’t really keep up.  I know she sells a lot of music, and that she is often mentioned in the same breath as Beyonce, but who can tell from day to day.  Beyonce seemed to have some politics, but Taylor Swift had seemed all bubble gum and whatever.  Now, I may have to re-examine this whole thing given the fact that Swift has jumped into Tennessee – and therefore national — politics with her boots on and is kicking it.

If you were on the moon or just reading the front pages you may have missed this.  Swift came out of nowhere with an announcement that she was going to vote Democratic in the midterm elections.  At first it was just a bit of a blip on the screen coming from the right wing.  For some reason, many in the right-side media had just assumed Swift was a gun-toting, card-carrying “one of them.”  This out of nowhere Demo-thing caught them off guard, though there was no evidence that it was a betrayal, since Swift had never come out from behind the pomp and glitter and declared herself one way or another.

Turned out that was nothing.  She then clearly injected herself into the elections in Tennessee where this Pennsylvania girl now lives as a woman.  She didn’t pull any punches in her endorsement for the Senate seat to replace Bob Corker by opposing far right Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn by saying to her more than 100 million Instagram followers,

“Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me.  She voted against equal pay for women. She voted against the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, which attempts to protect women from domestic violence, stalking and date rape. She believes businesses have a right to refuse service to gay couples. She also believes they should not have the right to marry. These are not MY Tennessee values.”

Then she dropped the microphone and according to Voter.org there was a record surge of more than 166,000 new registrants among young people 16 to 24 in 48 hours after her posting, including 6200 in Tennessee.

`Did she take a risk?  I doubt it.  Swift is smart.  She stood up to a stalker in court in Colorado and won.  She can afford to have a poll.  She kept within the lines by focusing on women’s issues in a time when women are hyper-aware, and given her history confronting stalkers her position on the Violence Against Women Act was something that no one could argue is not an issue where she was an expert.  Even her position on gay rights is solidly within the majoritarian views of Americans.  She wasn’t trying to be Jane Fonda in Vietnam or the Dixie Chicks on Iraq where some Americans could claim she had no business.  She was walking closely on her marks on the stage where she sings and that includes about women’s empowerment.

I’m not knocking her.  I’m just saying she knew what she was doing, and she did the right thing by speaking up and telling her public and the rest of us where she stood.

We need a lot more people like Taylor Swift standing up for what they believe, and not just counting followers, but actually proving they know when and where to lead them.