Love/Hate Mail, Aug. 7, 2014 

Vote Today for Justice(s)

There is an issue on the ballot this summer that is very important to the integrity of our judicial system. I wanted to make sure that you understand the importance of the vote you will cast on Election Day.

Our appellate judges in Tennessee are selected through a merit selection system.  Merit selection is a process where potential judges apply to a nonpartisan nominating commission that conducts interviews, reviews candidates' records, and sends a list of the most qualified finalists to the governor, who then appoints one of them to the bench.  The nominating process is thorough and designed to ensure that our courts are filled with quality judges of the highest integrity.  After each term, a judge faces a retention election, where voters have the opportunity to vote yes or no on whether to keep him or her for another term. This system ensures fair and impartial appeals courts that are free of partisan politics.  This ballot asks about retention.

Sadly, Tennessee's entire system for appointment and retention of appellate judges is under legislative and political attack.  Retention elections should not be political battlefields. Tennessee judges should be accountable only to the constitution and the laws of the state. They should not be concerned about partisan politics and beholden to groups with political influence and money.  When politicians and special interests use intimidating political tactics to threaten the judges' jobs because they disagree with the result in a specific case, they weaken the courts' ability to be fair and impartial in every case.  In a retention election, voters should be considering whether judges are qualified, not whether they fall in line with a particular interest group.

Tennessee voters will be asked to retain or replace three members of the Tennessee Supreme Court: Justices Gary Wade, Sharon Lee, and Cornelia Clark. It is critical that we as Tennesseans vote to RETAIN these justices in order to maintain fair and impartial courts.

The Judicial Performance Evaluation Commission, which evaluates the performance of appellate judges using surveys, interviews, and other information, recommends retention of all 22 justices and judges seeking retention in the August 2014 election.  Recognizing that Supreme Court Justices Wade, Lee and Clark are well-qualified, the Nashville Bar Association and other bar associations across the State have adopted resolutions urging members to supporting their retention.

Please vote to stop the spread of the hyper-partisan political process into the judiciary and vote to RETAIN the three Tennessee Supreme Court Justices on the ballot this summer.

Election Day is Aug. 7.  The ballot will be long and will include questions for state primary elections and county general elections. The state judicial retention questions will be at the very end of the ballot, so please complete all the pages and vote RETAIN.

Elizabeth A. Alexander
Partner, Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

Take the 'A' Train

RCA Studio A is probably the last of a series of rooms that RCA commissioned around the U.S. as part of its effort to normalize the sound of RCA recordings made around the world. As a keen student of music and curious about where it was recorded, I knew that most of Nashville's most revered records were cut next door in Studio B. Still, the expansiveness of Studio A was thrilling to me. Because so few of my recording experiences up to that point had taken place in rooms specifically made to create music, I found the giant room enchanting.

Why make an effort to keep such a room to record music when most musicians can't afford to work there and when taste and styles don't typically require a big room? The design of Studio A was created for the sole purpose of making music and making it to a high sonic standard. Anything would sound good there. And that's still the case. Is it better to cut a rock-and-roll record in a big studio as opposed to a living room? The experience is entirely up to the producer and musicians. But I can say that in my experience in working in grand rooms like RCA Studio A or British Grove in London, such rooms are what light is to a painter. They inspire hard work, long hours, collaboration and serious fun.

Unlike many other great studios that have been lost over the years, RCA Studio A is not a technical wonder. There's no craftsmanship involved here like one sees at the Frist or The Belcourt. Studio A can, however, continue to live anywhere in Nashville. It would take less effort (and money) to remove its contents and rebuild it elsewhere than it would to build, say, a Harris Teeter. (In fact, why not merge the two?)

As to preserving Music Row, I would like to see my favorite mastering engineers and mixers maintain their world-class facilities in that neighborhood. But they too can do their work anywhere. They will have my business wherever they go. Whatever is happening to Music Row, it's nothing compared to the loss of opportunity and spirit that befell the African-American music community when I-40 was built.

Studio A? Yes, it's grand. I wish it would remain. But it doesn't have to be on Music Row. Why not take everything in Studio A and build another room the same size, and put it all back up and make it affordable to rent? Let's give the next generation of rockers, balladeers, rappers, funksters, hipsters and misunderstood kids a great environment. Let's encourage them to take themselves seriously. Get these youngsters out of the bedroom and into a community of like-minded people who want to help them create, make art, make history and make the world an easier place to live in for three minutes and 40 seconds.

Music Row? You ain't nuthin' but a hound dog.

Now, Music City — that's somewhere I'd like to live.

Paul Burch


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