The best indication that Maria Salas is more than qualified for continued service on the Metro Human Relations Commission is the fact that those who have said she's not can't agree as to exactly why.
Metro Council member Michael Kerstetter, who started this spat over Salas' reappointment, based his opposition on her alleged "rudeness" to him at one time in the past. Others seemed to have a problem with Salas' sexual orientation. (As everyoneprobably including Osama bin Ladenknows by now, Salas is a lesbian.) The irrepressible Jerry Flowers of the conservative grassroots group CommonGoode.org believes that Salas was improperly targeted; in his view, all of the commission members whose terms were up for renewal two weeks agoSalas, Mark Lopez and Sonnye Dixonshould have been rejected for various ethical reasons. But none of those things really seemed to stick, and sources say that Salas had the votes she needed last week as Kerstetter's bandwagon started breaking down.
So Kerstetter decided on yet another strategy, joining with fellow council member Jason Alexander to attack her board membership on the pro-gay rights Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Kerstetter alleged that Salas improperly used her position on the commission to raise funds for an HRC dinner that also happened to honor Lopez. Or something like that. Let's face it: It all starts to run together after a while. In any case, this allegation seemed to resurrect doubts, as Salas' reappointment was again up in the air at press time. Whatever the outcome, the imbroglio has made the politicos of Memphiswhere just a few months ago the mayor challenged a council member to a fistfightlook almost sane by comparison. No, we can't believe we just wrote that either.
In response to the right...
While we're on this topic, CommonGoode.org has defended itself from criticism that it hasn't revealed the identities of the group's members (other than Flowers). Flowers says that groups on the other side of the social dividesuch as the HRCare just as guarded. To put this allegation to the test, Political Notes submitted a request to an HRC representative for a record of local HRC board members, and obtained the following list: publisher and author Bryan Curtis, Realtor Keith Merrill, activist Barb Neligan, ubiquitous attorney/activist Abby Rubenfeld, businessman David Taylor and, as noted above, Maria Salas.
Total time spent obtaining this information: about five minutes.
...and the left
Last week, Political Notes observed that, given the state's $380 million budget surplus, "whatever your view of the state's tax structure, it's difficult to argue with the fact that state government coffers seem to be making it just fine without a state income tax." One prominent income tax proponent complained that this remark disregarded the 1-cent sales tax increase passed in 2002. Well, OK, point taken, but it remains worth noting that the budget estimates for this year factored in that increase and yet revenues still came in well above the line. So, let's try it this way: From a purely political standpoint, the state-government-cannot-function-without-an-income-tax argument becomes a tougher sell by the day, since, from the point of view of the average voter, the state continues to do quite wellwith no income tax. Good enough?
The election is only two weeks away and, at this point, there are really only two state legislative primary races worth following. The first is South Nashville's House District 53, where incumbent Janis Baird Sontany is facing a stronger than expected challenge from former Metro Council member Tony Derryberry. "Signs don't vote," goes the adage, but they are a pretty useful gauge of a candidate's relative strength, and giant yellow Derryberry signs have popped up in yards across District 53, especially in the Priest Lake area. The other race is North and West Nashville's House District 50, where challenger Gary Moore beat 20-year veteran Tim Garrett for The Tennessean's endorsement last weekend. Word is that Moore also has more cash to burn than the average upstart challenger.
How can it be that a rising star from a prominent political family who has been talked about as an integral part of the future of the Democratic Party is not listed among the speakers at the Dem's convention in Boston next week? No, we're not talking about Sen. Hillary Clinton. We're talking about Tennessee's own Congressman Harold Ford Jr., who doesn't appear to be on the speakers' docket for the 2004 convention, even though he was among John Kerry's earliest supporters and delivered a well-received keynote address at the 2000 convention in Los Angeles.
No pigtails Pink, just pig.
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