Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Daily Links: Ferguson, Taylor Swift, and the Washington Football Team

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From Wondering Sound: Wondering Sound Editors and Critics on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off”

From Esquire: ON REPORTING

From Kottke: “The Nine Principles of Policing” that served to establish the Metropolitan Police of London in 1829

From The Washington Post: County police report 155 arrests since Michael Brown was killed

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Police and Community Leaders to Discuss Ferguson, Mo. at Town Hall Thursday (UPDATED)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Mt. Zion Baptist Church will host a public town hall meeting Thursday night with police and local political leaders and launch a new initiative to "foster dialogue between police and citizens" in light of recent events in Ferguson, Mo., where the killing of an unarmed black teen by a white police officer has led to protests and a harsh crackdown by police.

Nashville Police Chief Steve Anderson and commanders from all eight precincts will participate, along with state Rep. Harold Love, Jr. and 2015 mayoral candidates David Fox, Jeremy Kane and Megan Barry. Full details below, from the release:

WHAT: Bishop Joseph Walker, senior pastor of Mt. Zion Baptist Church, the largest African-American mega church in Tennessee with 28,000 members, is bringing together Nashville’s chief of police, precinct commanders, and local politicians for a town hall meeting to discuss the recent Ferguson, Mo., riots and launch Nashville Unites, an initiative with the following objectives: 1) foster dialogue between police and citizens; 2) propose a community liaison program between precincts and their communities; 3) develop youth leadership; 4) highlight Mt. Zion’s mentoring program for adult men; and 5) commit to follow-through on all initiatives so as to build trust and ensure a more peaceful city that is a national model for collaboration.

CONFIRMED PARTICIPANTS: Metropolitan Nashville Police Department
- Steve Anderson, Chief of Police

- Police Department Commanders from All Eight Precincts

Local Elected Officials and Candidates
- Tn. State Rep. Harold Love, Jr., District 58

- Councilwoman-At-Large and Mayoral Candidate Megan Barry

- Mayoral Candidates David Fox and Jeremy Kane

WHEN: Thursday, August 21 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Mt. Zion Baptist Church
1112 Jefferson St.
Nashville, TN

(H/T Wesley Lowery.)

Note: We've asked Mayor Karl Dean's office if he'll be in attendance. Will update when we get a response.

Update 6:42 p.m.: Dean spokeswoman Bonna Johnson sends this statement:

"When Bishop Walker approached our office about this event, he asked if Mayor Dean or a representative could attend. Because Mayor Dean had a pre-existing conflict, we asked Chief Anderson to be our representative. Chief Anderson will have a lot to add to this town hall meeting, and we are glad he's able to be a part of it."

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How STRIVE Is Set To Become The New Great Hearts

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Welcome to Great Hearts, Round Two.

The Metro School Board will vote on an appeal by the proposed STRIVE Collegiate Academy Thursday night at a specially called meeting, and if Tuesday's governance committee meeting is any indication, there will be some harsh words for Director of Schools Jesse Register.

STRIVE was one of three schools recommended for rejection by Metro Nashville Public Schools in June, and the board followed suit and voted it down. But after revising its application and addressing concerns about its management and educational plan, the proposed middle school in the McGavock cluster was recommended for approval by an MNPS committee last week.

However, STRIVE falls outside of a board policy which directs new charter schools into the Glencliff and Overton clusters for 2015 due to overcrowding. So why is it being considered?

Register said that he asked STRIVE, which was developed in conjunction with the Nashville-based Tennessee Charter School Center, to delay its application for a year but STRIVE wanted to appeal. If the board rejects STRIVE again, they can appeal to the state board of education under the newly passed charter authorizer law. This would be the first test case.

In 2012, Great Hearts appealed to the state, which ordered the Metro School Board to reconsider its rejection of the Arizona-based charter operator. The board rejected it again, and Gov. Bill Haslam's administration withheld more than $3 million in funding for Nashville schools.

In a tense exchange with board members, Register refused to say whether he was recommending the STRIVE appeal be approved, only that the committee's recommendation be considered.

Will Pinkston: You helped develop a very specific set of language which we then all approved as ground rules by which we were going to operate this year in order to avoid Great Hearts-type situations, which is where we've ended up again. We did it because we thought it was more fiscally sustainable, in terms of strategy. Sure, there's 100 percent overcrowded schools in the McGavock cluster, but there are more acutely overcrowded schools in the Glencliff and Overton clusters, particularly the elementary tiers. So what's your recommendation going forward? If you're going to ignore the language that you helped develop, where does that leave us?

Register: I'm not ignoring it. I considered it. And so the committee made a recommendation. I wasn't on the committee. I didn't vote that. And I will say publicly Thursday the advice I gave them, but I'm not going to block that committee report from coming to the board. It's significant and important and it's a policy decision going forward.

Pinkston: We've got one employee — that's you. What's your recommendation on the school?

Register: My recommendation is for that committee report to come to the board. I'll be glad to have this discussion with you on Thursday evening.

The entire conversation is after the jump.

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#MayoralChatter: Will Howard Gentry Enter The Race?

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 10:58 AM

Everywhere Pith goes these days, we hear the same question: Is Howard Gentry running?

After missing the runoff eight years ago by just half a point, a Gentry candidacy would make sense for a number of reasons. First, as the current criminal court clerk, he's a high-profile, countywide office-holder. Second, he would be an African-American candidate in a lily-white field. And third, he's got deep political roots in the community.

So we picked up the phone and called him and got a pretty nuanced answer: Yes, he's interested, but he's always been interested; yes, he thinks he can win; but he's in a great place personally and professionally and doesn't know yet if he wants to run. In fairness, here's the whole conversation:

There are a lot of people mentioning your name as a mayoral candidate right now. Are you interested in running? Will you run?

Well, I wouldn't have run eight years ago if I wasn't interested in it. Losing a race doesn't cause you to lose interest. But I have not made a decision to run yet.

What goes into making that decision? What factors are you weighing?

You could ask that question of everybody running.

Well, that's what we've been trying to do.

The truth is that … [laughs] I hate to do this because I've never been a "no comment" person, but I'm not even in a "no comment" position. I'm in a place where I haven't decided to run for mayor. Any conversation I have with you about those things would just be answers to your questions and not detail about what would or wouldn't cause me to do it or not do it. Because I'm not sure that I know it. If I did, I'd probably be making a statement right now. What I'm trying to say is that I don't want you to write [that] I'm still thinking about running for mayor. The fact is that it just hasn't happened.

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Three Things to Know From Last Night's Metro Council Meeting

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 8:50 AM

With the One Direction mob clamoring just down the street, the Metro Council convened Tuesday night at the Metro Courthouse. Here are three things to know:

Lonnell Matthews elected speaker pro tempore:

Lonnell Matthews
  • Lonnell Matthews
Councilman Lonnell Matthews was elected speaker pro tempore by one vote over Councilman Phil Claiborne. Council members voted to make Matthews the designated substitute in the event of Vice Mayor Diane Neighbors' absence by a vote of 19-18.

The vote was interesting for a couple reasons. First, it puts Matthews in yet another visible position in the council, ahead of his run for an at-large seat next year. He was also chairman of the council's Budget and Finance Committee the year before last.

Secondly, Claiborne, in remarks before the vote, made it clear that the end of his council term would be the end of his political career. What's interesting is that, having previously spent 31 years as an art teacher, Claiborne said he plans to spend more time on his art work after he leaves the courthouse. Neat.

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If the Tennessee Firearms Association Would Hold a Consistent Position for a Second, We'd all Appreciate It.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 8:00 AM

On Tuesday, the Tennessee Firearms Association sent out this press release. The headline is alarming, even to a good liberal like me—"TN Government Targets Conservative Advocacy Groups: Attempts made to inspect records of political opponents." That sounds really bad.

Except that, when I read the press release, the headline isn't actually true. There's no "groups" mentioned, just a group — the TFA. By their own admission, no attempt has been made to inspect the TFA's records, only that the state government's actions "might also might be a pretext to obtain increased oversight and perhaps even for the basis to claim the authority to inspect the books of organizations critical of Governor Haslam and the state legislature." So, no actual attempt, just circumstances that "might also might be" a way for someone to do this.

According to the press release, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Firearms Association, John Harris believes "this is nothing more than a thinly veiled attempt to muzzle political opposition." Political opposition to the Governor?! There are many things you can say about our governor — he's acts like a big baby, he doesn't seem to like crucial parts of his job, he seems surprised to learn that he's not just the handsome spokesmodel for Tennessee's brand, etc. — but he's not stupid. Why would a man who's running virtually unopposed need to muzzle his political opponents?

The press release goes on: "In a tactic similar to the recent federal IRS attacks on tea party groups the Charitable Solicitations Division arbitrarily set a deadline of August 1 for the TFA to register as a 'charity.' The timing of this is in line with the primary election cycle where the TFA and the affiliated TFA Legislatiive Action Committee played heavily in multiple state legislative elections."

I think all deadlines are, in the end, arbitrarily set. But whatever. Let's take a look at this nefarious Charitable Solicitations Division and see what onerous burdens they're putting on the TFA. It looks like, if you're an organization that takes donations, you have to register with the state.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Daily Links: Ferguson, a Boring Startup, and Print Newspapers

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The Atlantic: Reparations for Ferguson

From The Intercept: A Night in Ferguson: Rubber Bullets, Tear Gas, and a Jail Cell

From Pacific Standard: DIY Diagnosis: How an Extreme Athlete Uncovered Her Genetic Flaw

From Code Switch: In Ferguson, Mo., A City Meets The Spotlight

Continue reading »


Mayor of Nashville Called Out in ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 2:42 PM

You can hear it wafting across the Internet today, the backlash to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

But whatever. If people fighting a disease raise a ton of money and awareness, I'm all for it. Plus, the failure videos are fantastic. Are you not entertained? It's not like we're asking you to put a Twibbon on.

We wondered how long it would take for the mayor to get challenged, and sure enough, the folks over at DVL did just that today in a well-done clip:

No, no. Not that mayor. The real mayor.

Your move, Mr. Mayor.

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Ferguson Has Happened Here

Posted By on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 at 7:00 AM

With all due respect to Bruce, Nashville isn't protected from having something similar to what's happening in Ferguson happen here, even if how Metro Nashville is set up is much different than how the greater St. Louis area is set up.

We're not that much different. Our police force is better about being well-integrated with the community, but it'd be naive to think that we're immune to the same kinds of long-term institutional racism we see on display in Ferguson. Of course people here in Nashville are tired of being treated all the time like they are, just by virtue of their race or ethnicity, some kind of criminal. There are plenty of people here in Nashville who are terrified that their kids don't have the same leeway to be terrible as teenagers and then pull their shit together the way white kids do and that that lack of leeway might cost their kids their lives.

Nashville has erupted into racial violence already a number of times. Descriptions of the '67 North Nashville riot and the resulting police presence are not completely different than what we're hearing now. Much like Michael Brown's parents are afraid his death will never be properly investigated, we've had black kids killed in broad daylight—like in December of 1924, when Samuel Smith was killed by the K.K.K.—and the paper read "No arrests will be made." Really, the main difference between Nashville and Ferguson is that if we pretended like all our racial strife was caused by unruly black people, we'd be laughed off the face of the planet.

Our worst racial violence has been perpetrated by white people — from the person or people who planted a bomb in Z. Alexander Looby's house to try to thwart integration to the people who rioted against the streetcar strikers in 1905 to the people who rioted when free black Nashvillians tried to open a school for their children in 1856, not to mention the Klan or the whole institution of slavery.

I am not the first person to say this — check out Ida Wells-Barnett or James Baldwin — nor will I be the last, but the reason white people around the country are sitting around fretting about whether Ferguson could happen here is that, somewhere in the back of our minds, we are confused about why we have never been met with the same level of violence we have historically meted out on our fellow Americans. We keep expecting and suspecting minorities of being on the verge of seeking catastrophic revenge on us.

We ask "can Ferguson happen here?" but we don't mean "Could our dumbass sons out being dumbasses one sunny day before their grown-up lives start be gunned down in the streets of Nashville by a cop?" Because, for most of us, the answer is "Not even if he were armed." What we mean is "How angry could black people really get and could I be hurt by it?"

I think the second question is silly, but, really, white people, if you want the answer to the second question to be "no," work toward making this a city in which the answer to the first question for everyone in this city is "probably not."


Monday, August 18, 2014

The Daily Links: #Ferguson, 'Black on Black' Crime, and Vacation Time

Posted By on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Every day we read a lot of stuff. If it's interesting, thought provoking, funny or being shared by everyone we know on the Internet, we share some of it with you. Happy reading.

From The Atlantic: Black People Are Not Ignoring 'Black on Black' Crime

From Poynter: How St. Louis’ alt-weekly is covering the chaos in Ferguson

From Vox: Americans are taking fewer vacations than they used to

From The New Yorker: A Movement Grows in Ferguson

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