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The Long Vote Count On Consolidation

The coming consolidation campaign is reaching a very interesting point on several fronts.

I moderated a forum on consolidation this week at Servicemaster for a group of over 100 associates.

The pro and con speakers each had their power point presentations and pitches that have become so familiar everybody involved in the forums knows what the other side is going to say. That is the nature of political campaigns.

The art of campaigning is realizing that those in the audience have probably never heard any of this before. So, the best campaigners know how to give the same pitch for the 40th time as if it is the first time they’ve done it.

Jack Sammons and Jon Crisp and Ron Williams did their jobs well for an audience that was attentive and listening for the details.

I didn’t ask the group how they were going to vote, but I asked how many had already made up their minds how they would vote on the metro charter. There were more undecided voters than I expected.

Meanwhile, we reported the latest wrinkle on this in Friday’s edition of The Daily News.

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit calling for a single countywide vote to decide the issue have now filed for a temporary injunction that would hold up any vote count certification on the consolidation question until the court case is decided. The filing says the defendants in the case don’t have an objection to the injunction.

If U.S. District Judge Thomas Anderson signs off, it means there won’t be a certified vote count on consolidation.

My wires got crossed a bit on this point in the latest edition of Behind The Headlines, our WKNO show. I meant to say the vote wouldn’t be certified but it came out as the votes wouldn’t be counted. The perils of television taped live and wearing make up simultaneously. But let the record be corrected on that point.

All of the defendants in the lawsuit have now been served with a summons notifying them that they are being sued. They have 21 days to respond.

Although the plaintiffs have requested an expedited hearing before Anderson on the matter, expedited is a relative term. If the charter is approved by voters, the new form of government would not take office until Sept. 1, 2014 with election in August 2014. And a transition commission would not start its work on the terms of the switch until 2012.

On the other hand, 2011 is a city of Memphis election year and the fate of the consolidation charter is likely to cast a long political shadow over the tone of the city council and mayoral campaigns as well as who decides to run and who decides to sit out the election.

Early voting is underway through Oct. 28.

And the upcoming edition of The Memphis News that goes online this afternoon includes an election guide featuring a summary of the proposed charter and a look at issues in the race for Tennessee governor.

SBA offering higher loan amounts

The Small Business Administration this month began offering bigger loans.
The larger amounts are possible because of the passage of the Small Business Jobs Act. The maximum amount for some loans has increased from $2 million to $5 million.
The microloan limits have also been increased from $35,000 to $50,000.
For more specific details about the changes visit:
www.sba.gov/idc/groups/public/documents/sba_homepage/news_release_10-59.pdf

Memphis Music Kept Hope Alive

One of the things that kept trapped Chilean miner Edison Pena going while awaiting rescue underground was The King.

Pena, a 34-year-old die-hard Elvis Presley fan, is one of a group of miners trapped underground for weeks who was rescued Wednesday.

It was an American drill operator helping with the rescue operation. But it was a Memphis music icon – and Pena, who led his trapped miners in Elvis sing-alongs underground – that kept spirits up.

Elvis Presley Enterprises and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, after learning about the news, offered Pena an all-expenses-paid trip for two to Memphis to Pena.

News photos showed Pena after the rescue Wednesday hugging his wife while Chilean President Sebastian Pinera and Bolivian President Evo Morales watch. Here’s an image of Pena’s rescue:

(Government of Chile photo)

Collision Course (More on Health Care)

There’s so much I didn’t get to get into in my Monday story about Tenn. Gov. Phil Bredesen’s dismissal of President Obama’s health reform plan as a misguided, costly extension of government.

Here’s the bottom line from Phil himself: the nation’s finances are on a collision course with destiny.

“I’ve always admired what political figures did back in the early days of our nation,” Bredesen said. “You had the Jeffersons and Adams and Washingtons of the world and others who actually themselves had command of issues and wrote intelligently about them. You know what I’m saying?

“When you think about some of the writings at that time, the Federalist Papers, it’s almost impossible to imagine the people in those positions today doing that today. Now, it’s all about sound bites and ghost writing. I wanted to get some alternative thoughts out there, because we need to get some discussion going. We’re on a path that’s not sustainable, and we need to fix it.”

More from Bredesen on Health Care

It’s easy to forget Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen is a Democrat and last year was on the Obama administration’s short list for the job of Health and Human Services Secretary when the governor writes in a new book that 2010’s health care reform was “a stunning disappointment.”

He’s not saying he thinks reform doesn’t go far enough, a view held by some liberals and progressives who would like to expand the social safety net even beyond what the bill passed by Congress does.

Bredesen thinks it was a flat-out misguided bill, flawed from the get-go.

“The problem isn’t that we expanded coverage,” Bredesen writes in his new book “Fresh Medicine,” referring to the millions of uninsured and under-insured people who can now either buy insurance with the help of federal vouchers and the creation of state health exchanges.

“The problem was expanding coverage is about all we did.”

It’s “about all we did,” because Bredesen thinks that expanded entitlement saddles an already burdened federal government drowning in red ink with additional – and expensive – obligations.

The book is actually pretty readable, which might come as a surprise considering the governor has a physics degree from Harvard and tends to get, shall we say, a little wonkish at times.

“That’s sheer sophistry!” he once retorted years ago after hearing about a comment from a political opponent.

(“That’s nuts” would be a polite way I can translate that comment on this blog.)

In his book on health care reform, Bredesen sums up his disappointment with what’s been glibly labeled Obamacare in nine words – “When conditions are good, you do the hard things.”

Meaning, Bredesen thinks Obama and Congress should have used the groundswell of good feeling for the new president to transform the nation’s out-dated health care system from the bottom up. Rather than tacking additions on to it.

“Government loves complexity, rules and red tape, but we may have outdone ourselves this time,” Bredesen writes. “Reform offered a chance to clean up the baroque system we have created over the years, reduce bureaucracy, lower administrative cost and give clarity and focus to a major part of where we spend our taxpayers’ money.

“Instead, we created more complexity, more regulations and the need for more bureaucracy.”

Dansette

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