First off allow me to say thanks to you and your "bloggers" for their interest and questions. This type of engaged audience demonstrates that there are truly concerned Memphians (as well as Mid-Southerners) whom see the larger issues facing our community and city as a whole. I must admit that I am somewhat behind the times as it relates to the world of blogging so here we go!!!!
What do you think will be the biggest challenge to the next chair?
The next Chairperson of the SCDP will unfortunately have the same challenge as the last several chairs, which is to continually minimize the factions of the party that are unfortunately being drawn closer and closer along racial lines. Although this does not hold true 100% of the time, it most certainly is still too much of an issue that is often the unspoken or hidden agenda of the functions of the executive committee and other arms of the party.
Ok, tell us one thing you regret you did not do as chair, one thing you believe was the highlight of your term, and one thing you would change. Thank you.
I regret taking for granted that this group was mature to the point of being able to work through their differences without being governed or controlled. Often times the issues of our meetings were personality controlled or driven and not examined on the basis and merit of substance and content of the matter. Later in this response I will offer examples. Furthermore, I took for granted that our politics had evolved at this level to a point of honesty and integrity for the common good of the greatest number of voters in Shelby County without regard to our personal feelings and opinions. Often times we were obviously debating issues that the voting population had spoken loud and clear on, but due to personal disdain and long standing feuds within the party pitting one group or individual against another, we were not able to do the job that we were elected to do. I truly wish that the position of Chairman had more authority explicitly stated in the SCDP by-laws to veto and override certain decisions. I would definitely change that aspect of the party and its governance.
Brad Watkins said...
Mr. Norman what were the events that caused the Ballotgate fiasco? It's been four months and no real explanation has ever been given as to how the SCDP ballot included the unauthorized addition of the "VOTE NO ON REFERENDUM" box.
Ballotgate!!!!! - What a nightmare for several reasons!
First and foremost I believe in Keeping the Main Thing the Main Thing! In my humble opinion the election of then candidate and now President Barack Obama, was the most important aspect of the party’s focus as well as my tenure! Long before the issue of the one item of confusion regarding the ballot even surfaced (it was a Johnny come lately item!) I was clear with the party and we agreed that after such a hard fought primary we needed to heal and move on to elect Barack Obama as our next President. At this point the item in question had not even been an item of discussion. I received wind that this discussion was brewing with our County Commission and the democratically elected Commissioners were feuding within the ranks. (Once again evidence of the factions which exist / allow your readers to determine where to place the blame and how the lines were drawn!). I received and read a letter in one of our monthly meetings and it was voted by overwhelming majority to adopt the slogan "just say no" on the whole slate of referendums. This was decided in order to get a ballot together in a reasonable amount of time as well as not cloud the waters and confuse voters which could result in low voter turn out. I was also extremely concerned that the language which is often written by attorneys would not be understood by the voter base that needed motivation to turn out in overwhelming numbers. Although the measure did pass, one must ask the question "how do we consider these items valid when less than 50% of the people whom voted in the overall total turnout did not cast their vote on the referendum(s) issue?”
Secondly, I am appreciative of the opportunity to express my feelings on this matter. Steve Mulroy, the author of the referendum, called me to express his concern that the party had erred on the printing of the ballot and insisted that we retract it immediately. I spoke calmly with Mr. Mulroy as we had up until that point had what I considered to be a very courteous and professional relationship. For readers who may not be aware when Bruce Thompson did not run for re-election, Steve and I met in my office to consider which of us should run for the seat at the request of several Democratic leaders. After requesting of Steve to become well acquainted with the entire district that he would like to represent and facilitating many opportunity’s for him to speak to Pastoral colleagues in the district I agreed to step back for one term so that the vote would not be split and cause another candidate to win. At that point Steve wasn’t even a resident of the district although he eventually moved into the district. All of this aside, I considered Steve a friend. However Steve’s public handling of this matter caused me to question if he considered me likewise. Several issues that he and I agreed to pursue and allow time for investigation and consideration for best remedies for reparation were totally disregarded. So much for a hand shake and good friendship in the political world! (Ha-Ha!) But the turning point for me was when Steve made several assertions regarding the character of the people whom worked hard to elect him and serve on the party’s executive board. He mentioned that he would sue the SCDP (his own party) and that people were intentionally trying to undermine his legislation as an extension of his feud with Sidney Chism. As a Pastor, community advocate and serving on various boards and in other capacities, I have developed pretty thick skin and criticism and personal pot shots rarely phase me. However, when Steve made personal statements about the integrity of several SCDP Executive Committee that he left on record of voice mail via my cell phone as well as offending some of the staff members of the Obama campaigns headquarters causing stress by removing ballots, the main issue was now lost. The final analysis of this issue is we may never know because as usual the issue could not be discussed in a healthy, respectful manner due to sub-text issues dominating the agenda. Until we learn to be respectful and considerate of others, we are headed no where fast! This is not how politics has to be portrayed and presented neither to the public nor in private. People are sick and tired of this form of governance.
Keith wasn't it true that when Obama came to Memphis he didn't even come to the Shelby county party for support. Don't you blame yourself for letting the party get so bad?
Several of your readers asked questions regarding the President’s decision to by-pass Memphis. In order to answer these questions there would be far too much speculation on my part. I can say that on several occasion I was asked to speak to large groups on the campaigns behalf not only in Memphis but throughout the Mid-South. I believe the decision had more to do with previous presidential election patterns and the perception that Tennessee as a whole was not a viable option for winning and expending resources. However, I do remain in touch with several key administration contacts and if am privileged to receive a response to this matter I will pass it on to you at a later time.
Do you support Van Turner or Jay Bailey? What do you think of Desi? Is she a friend?
Because I am a sitting Chairman until (March 28, 2009 @ 12:00:01) it would be improper for me to make a public endorsement of my choice for my successor. I have met with both candidates and expressed to them my concerns as well as well wishes. Of course I opposed Jay in a previous election but that was not a personal matter. I believe that for the time that I was Chair; my style of leadership was of greater benefit than that which was being offered. Jay is a servant at heart. But it was my opinion that we needed leadership that could bring us together for a historic election such as this one! By the way only 2 people were on the band wagon for Obama even prior to his announcement to run….myself and NIKA JACKSON (GO NIKA!!!).
On the other hand Van, my Morehouse brother is a leader for such a time as this! Van has calm intellect, and new ideas that will keep the new wave and spirit of the newly engaged participants fired up and ready to go! This election will reveal the true desires of those involved. Do they want new progress to lead us forward or old problems to continue to keep us bound to our past? My best to both of them and my preference to one of them! A chairman needs a good Executive Committee, one that respects him for listening to and considering all of the best ideas and not just the ideas of one particular group or faction.
Finally, allow me to say just a few words on several concluding matters. First, no man can see the entire journey from the start of the race. During my tenure as Chairman of the Party I made a promise to God, my family and the congregation that I am proud to serve as Senior Servant. My promise was to keep a proper perspective on all matters and to not be consumed with the sweet poison of power that politics “seems to offer”. I have seen many lose themselves as well as their character, integrity, careers and families in the arena of politics. Unfortunately I am watching it occur in the lives of some right now. Those whom have already lost some or all of these things are waving and beckoning for others to join them. While the few whom have remained focused in the endeavor to serve the common good of humanity and the greater nobler cause of our times are saying to “thine own self be true” and know when to step aside. I believe that sincere servants don’t need a strong “personalities “to stand guard over meetings to keep them from becoming shouting matches. If we are there to conduct business, let’s conduct business no matter who is absent or present. For me God was always watching so if we pray to him in sincerity as we often opened our meetings, let’s behave like we believe He is in the room. I spent the 6 absent meetings in causes that were important to my family and I offer no apology. When groups have too many meetings they discourage well qualified people from participating.
Reginald Milton said…
Keith, do you think there is some risk when pastors get involved in politics?
Reginald your question was the best of them all! I will respond by answering this way!
Show me a Pastor truly called by God, and I will show you a person involved in “Risky Business”.
I believe as a part of the manifestation of my calling I must speak truth to power in the arena of politics and social justice. All too often people of my vocation whom the Lord has prepared and gifted are afraid to enter into this arena because of the behaviors of those whom are speaking the loudest. This will never be the case for me. My congregation knows me very well and if I may borrow words from a fellow Morehouse Man, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr., “I rarely pause (to pause would be to divert my attention from the good work Nehemiah 6:3) to answer my critics, because if I did the work of social justice would never get done”.
Finally for clarity and to respond to your readers…..,
I still consider Steve a friend but he is not the only smart guy around!
I think Desi Franklin is a passionate very assertive person whom needs to temper her responses with respect to the feelings and opinions of others. All in all, she is one person.
I think Sidney Chism has some very valid points sometimes, and like all of the rest of us we have some personal thoughts that have nothing to do with anything other than wanting what we want the way we want it! (He still owes me 3 dinners from Denver and Nashville) HA!
Dell Gill, I do not pass judgment on God’s creations!
…and thank you to you Reginald for your service to the community at large and opening this forum for me to tell the people of our community Thank you for allowing me to serve you.
Until March 28th and until next time,