Friday, January 27, 2012

Judicial selection is not a sexy subject but ...

Governor Haslam weighed in this week on an issue only lawyers and nerds watch, joining top GOP leaders on the side of democracy instead of politics.  Tennessee's merit-based appellate judicial selection process is up for review and is set to sunset on June 30, 2012. It has been recognized for bringing qualified, diverse people to the high court bench - people not required to raise money and campaign, who run on an issue or simply win a ballot based on name recognition. He supports an amendment to our state constitution that will allow voters to ratify our current practice as our standard, that is if the amendment is approved on a popular vote.

Some legislators question if this is just a back door way to bring on popular election of judges . Let's hope not. It's not hard to imagine a PAC-funded advertising campaign that targets voters who don't care much or know the issue, trying to sway them with inflammatory, manipulative messages. That is becoming common practice these days. I am hopeful that with leadership and education we can put this issue to rest this way. Crafting policy with sunset provisions can be good and bad.  

Opportunities for general public education are out there, and I'm attending one next week to learn more. Now comes the press release:  The League of Women Voters of Nashville is hosting Guilford (“Gif”) F. Thornton, Jr., a Nashville-based attorney with Adams and Reese, as guest speaker for its February First Friday luncheon on Friday, February 3 from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm, on Tennessee’s judicial selection practices. First Friday luncheons are held to provide information about League priorities in public policy.

Thornton is legislative counsel to businesses, trade associations, and governmental entities with interests before the Tennessee General Assembly and serves on the board of the Tennessee Business Roundtable. He will discuss recent and pending legislative developments in this area and why preserving merit-based selection is important to ensuring a fair, competent, and impartial judicial system in Tennessee.

The program is open to the public and held at Second Harvest Martin Distribution Center in Metro Center. Second Harvest’s Friday Lunch Buffet is $12 per person or you can bring your own lunch. People do. Reservations to are advised but not required. For additional information, contact Vickie Ziegler at or call 297-7134.  Y'all come.

The League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization, encourages the informed and active participation in government, works to increase understanding of major public policy issues, and influences public policy through education and advocacy. Membership in the League is open to men and women of all ages. With more than 90 years of experience and 850 local and state affiliates, the League is one of America’s most trusted grassroots organizations.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Advocates for Betty mobilize for our friend

This blog is about grassroots advocacy and usually I write about issues, strategies and news I hope readers will use. This is no exception. I hope some of you will act on this. I want to help my hairdresser take time off to treat new cancer without the worry of losing that income for her family. She is self-employed and also insured.

Betty is pretty uncomfortable with this, I admit. Last time I was in her chair she told me what she was facing and how she hoped for the best. I asked then if she had clients who were famous - thinking how to arrange a benefit if her tests had sad results. While she was quick to deflect the question, I know a lot of people know Betty Eskew. She owned Hairvoyant on White Bridge Road for about a decade & now styles hair at The Ritz in Stanford Square for the past few years. I'm thinking a lot of people who are clients, worked with her or know her want to help.

A lot of people know her husband, Jim Eskew, too. In recent years he was the voice of Traffic & Weather on many radio stations and before then was a local radio rock jock. We worked together at WLAC in the 80's before I discovered his wife and her talents. Now retired, he and Betty have raised their family and are raising some grandchildren. I've known Betty & Jim Eskew for close to 30 years I'm amazed to say. She knew me when I wore an asymmetrical cut & shoulder pads.

I always say Betty is on my Team - people who I go to for advice and support when I'm spiritually stuggling or contemplating change.  For years Betty told me what color and hairdo was best for campaigning, corporate climbing and for bridging from carpool to Metro Council. She tells me when I look weary or Hot. (I hear my kids groan here. OK. Moms don't look Hot.)

We all need a friend like Betty.
Live-tweeting my haircut during short hair season, I showed Betty the basics of social media.
Betty can mobilize one of the greatest grassroots networks ever when she wants to, too.  Hairdressers have the ear of the city, and while they clip, they quip. They talk about current events, what she likes and doesn't like. She is a major grassroots Influencer.  But that's not what makes her special. What makes her special is the way she makes everyone around her feel special. She takes care of all her clients, her family (extended all ways) and countless others, too.

Now we'd like to help take care of Betty.  If you want to help, or spread the word, please do.  If people donate the cost of one cut or color, that will give Betty a chance to stay off her feet and recover. The prognosis is good. Now in her throat and neck, the cancer's origin still must be found & a treatment must begin.  While doctors do their part, this grassroots network wants to kick in too. We're advocating for Betty during this holiday season. You can too by sending a contribution to:
Betty Eskew at 1714 Saxony Court, Murfreesboro, TN 37129

or depositing a gift to her SunTrust account. Email me for account number if necessary.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Mobilización Nacional Día del Llamado Nacional Jueves
13 de octubre 2011

¡Únase a nosotros el próximo jueves 13 de octubre 2011, el día donde usted al igual que los partidarios de los Centros de Salud de todo el país podrán unirse al llamar con una sola voz al Congreso y a la Casa Blanca para proteger a nuestros Centros de Salud Comunitarios, así como a los pacientes que atienden!

¡Necesitamos que TODOS los defensores de los Centros de Salud Comunitarios actúen! El Presidente y los líderes del Congreso están considerando EN ESTE MOMENTO propuestas para dirigir los recursos federales, algunas de las cuales podrían literalmente dejar en cero los financiamientos para los Programas de los Centros de Salud o podrían eliminar drásticamente programas que son críticos como por ejemplo Medicaid. ¡Por favor participe y anime a otros a participar el jueves 13 de octubre, para asegurarnos de que el Congreso y la Casa Blanca reciban un mensaje que no podrán ignorar!

Instrucciones para el jueves 13 de octubre, Día del Llamado Nacional:

1.     Llame a los miembros de su Congreso: Utilice el número gratuito para llamar a defensores al 1-866-456-3949 y dígale a su representante y a AMBOS SENADORES: “No le den poca importancia al programa de los Centros de Salud Comunitaria mientras negocian los cambios a Medicaid y los recortes al presupuesto federal. La salud y las vidas de nuestras familias y de sus vecinos no se pueden negociar. Estoy contando con su apoyo para que apoye a mi Centro de Salud.”

a.          Sólo necesita llamar ese número de apoyo UNA VEZ - manténgase conectado a la línea después de cada conversación para ser conectado automáticamente a su legislador más cercano.

2.     Llame a la Casa Blanca, a través de la línea gratuita: 1-202-456-1111 y deje un mensaje para el Presidente que diga: “No le den poca importancia al programa de los Centros de Salud Comunitaria mientras negocian los cambios a Medicaid y los recortes al presupuesto federal. La salud y las vidas de nuestras familias y de sus vecinos no se pueden negociar. Estoy contando con su apoyo para que apoye a mi Centro de Salud.”

a.     Al llamar a la línea gratuita de la Casa Blanca, puede que dure algunos momentos para que se conecte a un OPERADOR REAL, pero SI LO VAN A CONECTAR, y podrá dejar un mensaje con una persona REAL. Asegúrese de llamar la Casa Blanca ANTES de que cierre la línea gratuita a las 5:00 p.m. horario del este de los Estados Unidos.

Precaución: Cuando llame las oficinas de su Congreso y a la Casa Blanca la línea podrá estar ocupada, debido a que TANTOS defensores de los Centros de Salud están llamando al mismo tiempo. ¡NO SE RINDA, siga llamando hasta que logre conectarse!

Únase al Equipo de Defensores Móbiles
Para obtener recordatorios e información actualizada de los defensores de los Centros de Salud, mande un mensaje de texto con la palabra ADVOCATE al número 69866.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Metro Council needs neighborhood advocates

You've seen my neighborhood.  You know I'm an advocate. When I served on the Metro Council, my district downzoned more area than any other district in the city. Residents who normally don't organize asked for the action, organized petition drives & met my request to show that 80% of affected property owners were in support of it.

That process worked. Some efforts took longer than others, and the process changed when I moved into a second term and new Councilmembers objected. Overall, the process worked - not just to restrict construction of "attached homes" where large-scale residential construction was allowed in primarily single-family neighborhoods. It also drove the Council to come to a new definition that solved the need to re-zone property to protect property owner's interests.

Base zoning in the area allowed construction of  "duplexes", homes built at the time to look like one home, usually ranch-style. I was an owner-occupant of one before I married. It was built in 1950. New "duplexes" became two stand-alone homes with 10-foot connecting wall during the booming '80's and beyond. They often pushed the limits of design to do this. Sometimes they worked. Often they didn't.

After I left the Council, the debate rolled on. It adopted a new definition of "duplex," defining two-stand alone homes on one lot as a "duplex" when they meet all set-back requirements and stand 10-feet apart just like they would if they had a wall.  That compromise satisfied everyone, except us language purists and I did not object. The issue died down. Community standards won.

Today endorsements for neighborhood-friendly candidates now in a run-off election for Metro Council were announced. Solutions can emerge from collaboration and consensus.
When partisan interests are tempered with thoughtful, impressive advocacy progress can happen.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Nashville Community Education has an AmeriCorps Vista position open

This would be a good short-term position for someone interested in public service. Please pass along the job description.  The position is open until filled.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The one where my home life resembles national politics

I knew when I bought my home 26 years ago, it would be a good investment. A quiet street where people stroll. Within walking distance of a great neighborhood public school. About fifty years ago, several dozen ranch-style homes were built on my circle/street here, on land where Geddes-Douglas Nursery grew trees. Today it is a demolition zone, where the land for my home outweighs the value of its shelter.

It is distracting & depressing to work from my idyllic home-office when nearby homes start coming down. Dust covers my property, porta-johns go up and privacy goes away. In this I have no choice. In the past ten years, gentle growth that accompanies upgrades and remodeling was pushed out with violent surges. Showcase homes with crews of landscapers, pool cleaners, carpenters, long-haul deliverers and even sight-seers laid claim to the benefits our sweet neighborhood historically shared.

Homes have gone from being 2500 to 7000 square feet big on our half-acre lots in the last ten years, so it's not editorializing to say the character of the neighborhood has changed. Instead of feeling pride and welcome, I can't help but see visitors now as possible property investors, not possible neighbors. Today I am sad and sorry to see another home go. We enjoyed a simple, satisfying way of life here for so many years. We live abundantly, amidst prosperity. When we bought this home we knew it was going to be a good investment anyway. So why do I feel invisible & marginalized today? Is my community at-risk or getting stronger? It's all in the definitions you use, I'm sure.

Monday, August 8, 2011

White House proclaims this National Health Center Week

Across the US, municipalities, states & even the White House are recognizing this week as National Health Center Week. Last year, President Obama recognized community health centers with this proclamation. I was honored to be among those who received one.

 I especially love the gold seal and the official signature. I don't care if a magic pen was used to sign it.
It's official and it's on my wall in my office.

This is a week to raise awareness of the need for and value of community health centers in America. Happy National Health Center Week!