We reported on the behind-the-scenes manipulations of Caissa Public Strategy back in 2017.
Our identification of the Caissa Seven at the time had predictive value, although we overestimated Kemp Conrad’s Caissa spend at a time when some documents were unavailable at the Election Commission.
We also missed a year-end 2014 contribution of $500 by Caissa Public Strategy to Edmund Ford Jr. We are sorry we missed that, as it would have pointed to his antics around the 2018 referendum. Essentially Ford was another Caissa paeon, voting with the Caissa whip almost all the time especially on public safety issues.
Caissa Roster Changes
The have been a number of roster changes at Caissa for 2019 but their hand can still clearly be seen. As the second quarter returns are mostly filed and many petitions have been pulled, it is time to re-examine the Caissa changes, district by district.
Caissa itself has a roster change. Adrian Bond, 5-year Caissa veteran who did not feature in Caissa’s management list in 2017 has appeared abruptly as the third ownership partner in Caissa, along with Brian Stephens and Paige Walkup, the company founders. Bond shilled for Waste Management in their recent application to modify their Whitehaven trash transfer station, along with Gene Bryan, who also fronted for Memphis Wrecking Co. in their Frayser expansion effort.
Considering the failure of Caissa’s trash related services, we wonder how much longer Caissa will be the hatchet men of choice for dodgy garbage merchants. Although we agree that trash is the right business for them
City Council by the Districts
When we did our first Caissa expose, we were too late for the 2015 election, and, except for Reid Hedgepeth, we found the Caissa clients by looking at the candidates’ expenditures for the Caissa billing. This year we are in plenty of time for the elections, but Caissa have tried to prevent us finding their candidates by having no billing to Caissa. It’s all gone in the campaign finance returns up to June.
Not to worry, it is still easy to spot the Caissa candidates, by their pattern of donations, by their legacy Caissa status from previous elections and by their voting patterns and support during appointments.
We provide a new number, the percentage of contributions that are over $100 requiring itemization. The Caissas have very high percentages of large donations, all were 97% or over. We tag Caissa candidates by the skull and bones symbol. They are Greer (97%), Colvett (97%), Morgan (99.9%), Boyd (100%), Currie (99.5%), Carlisle (99%), Canale(99.6%) and Fletcher(98%). In comparison, big money recipients Robinson scored 72% and Jeff Warren 93% by this measure. We made 97% the cutoff for probable Caissa sponsorship and most of the Caissa picks have additional evidence as quoted in the district analysis.
We also tag candidates who get high itemized deductions from the city’s money men, property speculators and financiers. They get the dollar symbol. These candidates are usually incumbents where we have evidence of some voting against the Caissa whip, generally in the December-January appointment fiasco. We tagged Robinson based on her returns. Even though we don’t have any returns for Swearengen and Ford Sr., we also tagged then as big money recipients based on known factors. Jeff Warren scored 93% on the itemized contributions measure and raised big money, but he has very few property speculators and Caissa-oriented moneymen, and mostly contributions in the low hundreds of dollar range from Midtowners with middle-class budgets.
On 8th June 2019, the People’s Convention 2.0 met to endorse candidates who support the People’s Agenda. We mark these candidates with the People’s Agenda icon. A few late-entering candidates might have done well at the Convention, including John Marek in District 5 and John Emery in District 2, but they both declared late in order to provide opposition for Caissa incumbents.
We will do the Mayor’s election in a separate blog. Jim Strickland is the Caissa candidate there.
The Campaign Finance disclosures mentioned in this article are available on-line.
Candidates: Contact us with updates and corrections.
Summary of Fundraising
We have eight identified Caissa candidates, and three additional big money raisers. Only Super districts 8-2 and 8-3 don’t have either a Caissa or big money candidate.
The most vulnerable Caissas are probably Fletcher who is opposed by a powerful independent, Jeff Warren in 9-3. Greer, because of the controversy surrounding his appointment, might be vulnerable to Rhonda Logan in District 1. Berlin Boyd has credible opposition from Michalyn Easter-Thomas in District 7, but the clutter of other candidates makes Easter-Thomas’ strategy of winning in the general and avoiding a runoff problematic. Boyd raised almost $40K for the 2015 runoff and would have a runoff advantage. Britney Thornton in District 4 has a clear field against Jamita Swearengen and is campaigning well. Worth Morgan is opposed by the well-liked John Marek in District 5. Erika Sugarmon has also a clear field against Carlisle in 9-1.
It will require cooperation among candidates, a lot of campaign volunteering and heavy fund-raising for the insurgent candidates to break the Caissa hold on Council. A minimum of two Caissas must lose, and more if Ford, Robinson and Swearengen win and continue their first term or dynasty politics.
As far as we know, a Caissa candidate has never lost an election, but, in 2015, they were hidden in plain sight and now we know who they are.
Rhonda Logan was the unsuccessful candidate for December appointment to this district and the center of controversy when it led to a Council deadlock caused by Berlin Boyd’s refusal to vote. She is a Raleigh based community organizer. She raised almost $5000 in mostly small contributions in the second quarter and loaned her campaign about $2500. Only 33% of her dollars raised were in larger itemized contributions.
As Sherman Greer was appointed by the Caissa-leaning Council, who went to great lengths not to appoint Rhonda Logan, and as Greer has generally voted with the Caissa majority since his appointment, we’ll count Sherman Greer as a Caissa adherent. He raised over $37,700 all in the second quarter, almost 97% in large contributions. These included 6 donations from Bill Orgel’s retinue, one from the Chamber of Commerce, property speculators like Belz, Boyle and Turley, Brenda Basar of Solomito Land Planning, former Republican official John Ryder, Reid Hedgepeth, Kemp Conrad, a Fedex employee, Harold Ford, candidate Jeff Warren and US Rep. Steve Cohen. Due to the similarities with Berlin Boyd’s contributor profile, we have little hesitation in describing Greer as a Caissa-influenced Manchurian candidate.
One interesting fact about District 1, whose previous incumbent was the Caissa follower Bill Morrison, is that the demographic changes in the district appear to have materialized, in that there likely winner will not be Caucasian. This appears to make it urgent for the Caissa faction to buy a manchurian candidate similar to Boyd. The auction is in progress.
Dawn Bonner has appointed a treasurer but not filed campaign finance disclosures. She wanted to be listed as “Sister Dawn” but was refused the title by the Election Commission. She has a Youtube channel.
At the end of June, only incumbent and Caissa adherent Frank Colvett had pulled a petition in District 2. Colvett is a particularly obnoxious Caissa clone, joining in with Berlin Boyd in lying about your writer from the Council dais, and speaking against Worth Morgan when Morgan argued against the taking of public funds for the incumbents’ pro-referendum campaign. He is plain nasty.
From Left: John Emery, Marvin White and Frank Colvett, . Photos: Campaign, Facebook, City of Memphis.
Colvett had $42K on hand at the end of the first quarter and raised another $48 in the second quarter, with lots of large contributions, Tower Ventures, etc. He paid money to Republican media, Diversity PAC and political consultant Elizabeth Rincon, whom he shares with District 7 candidate Jerred Price. His 2015 expenditures with Caissa Public Strategy is enough to put him firmly in the Caissa camp. Colvett had 97% of his donations in itemized large contributions this year. Colvett was endorsed by the Shelby Co. Republican Party in their 2015 sample ballot.
Into the fray jumped John Emery and Marvin Louis White, neither of whom have filed any campaign finance returns, and, as they had no campaigns operating in the first half of the year, are unlikely to file anything until the pre-general or third quarter numbers are due.
John Emery is an activist in the progressive mold and is frequently seen at events. He is a leader of the Memphis chapter of Democratic Socialists of America and is anti-Trump, anti poverty, anti corruption and pro-human rights including those of the less-documentated.
We don’t know about Marvin White and will update when we find something.
Starting behind the eight-ball as they did, Emery and White will need to ride the blue wave and run inspired campaigns to oust the well-funded Colvett.
From left: Patrice Robinson, Tanya Cooper. Photos: Memphis City, Facebook.
Patrice Robinson, the incumbent had over $45K on hand as of June 30st, considerably more than she raised all of 2015. She raised over $42K in 2019. 77% of Robinson’s donations were large, itemized contributions. She had been scheduled to attend the People’s Convention. She was set up in the voting system although not present, and got 80 votes. (updated to add second quarter CFR information on 7/26/2019).
Among her contributions of concern are five donations from the Tower Ventures / Bill Orgel entourage, a large donation from FedEx PAC, $1,000 from Kemp Conrad’s campaign, $500 from Hedgepeth’s and several from developers and construction businesses. Developer lobbyist Brenda Basar and a business named North Memphis Landfill Inc. also chipped in. She also had donations from Candace Steele of First Tennessee
Robinson’s voting record is, at the very least, spotty. As a former MLGW employee, she has always voted for utility rate increases. She also contributed to, and voted for, the incumbents’ referendum campaign, and spoke in favor of it. In general she has not put much space between herself and the Caissa whip. Her record is, at best, undistinguished, although she did walk out with the opposition during the appointments standoff in December.
The other candidates are: Rhonda Banks and Tanya Cooper. Dawn Bonner filed in District 1 and was not qualified. It’s doubtful if she had time to re-file in this district.
Rhonda Munn Banks is a postal employee who ran for County District Court Clerk as a Democrat in 2014. She filed an exempt disclosure form with no income or expenditures.
Tanya Cooper is a schoolteacher who lost in District 3 in 2015. She promoted the intrusive and corruptly marketed sky cop cameras in 2015. She has raised a total of $890 as of June 30th and spent $607 so she’s exempt from disclosure
The superstar of the District 4 election, and darling of Peoples’ Convention 2.0 is Britney Thornton, an electrifying speaker and Orange Mound activist via her non-profit, JUICE Orange Mound. Thornton supported the successful SaveIRV campaign in 2018 with appearances and video performances and was instrumental in the creation of an artist’s space in Orange Mound and in protesting the closing of the Orange Mound Kroger. Thornton was early off the mark in this election and is campaigning hard. It is easy to see Thornton profiting from the Blue Wave.
Top: Britney Thornton, Jamita Swearengen, Photos: Facebook, Memphis City.
Britney Thornton had almost $8800 by June 30. Only 30% of her donations were in large itemized contributions over $100.
She is pitted against incumbent, Jamita Swearengen, an SCS employee, who has done little to distinguish herself in office. Swearengen was a supporter of the 2018 incumbents’ referendum and is an MPD supporter, chairing the Council Public Safety sub-committee and speaking enthusiastically in favor of the police spy cam system. As ex-officio liaison on the CLERB board, following the resignation of Philip Spinosa, she attended two meetings and now appears to be following Worth Morgan’s program of boycotting CLERB board meetings, severing CLERB’s vital link to Council. CLERB’s first and only request for a subpoena, under the cumbersome system created by Morgan, has been held up since 2018 due to Swearengen’s inactivity.
Swearengen had a healthy $11,400 in hand at year end 2018, including $4000 in loans to her campaign. In 2019 she raised only $3,400, of which 99% was in itemized donations over $100, a surprisingly anemic performance compared to her 2015 total of about $30K.
Her 2015 donors, although they were not in the big money category, had questionable contributions from Memphis Police Association, Rickey Peete and Diversity PAC, the financial vehicle of the 2018 Referendum.
We provisionally awarded Swearengen a “Big Money” tag but withdrew it when the 2019 returns became available. (updated 7/24/2019 when new CFDs became available).
This is like a rotten borough controlled by wealthy insurance broker Worth Morgan, who spent $333K, mostly with Caissa, winning this seat in 2015. Morgan was too right-wing to secure the 2015 Republican party endorsement, which went to Dan Springer.
Morgan blotted his copybook with his Midtown voters when he voted to cede most of the Greensward to the Zoo in March 2016. Later that month, he was heard to advocate the defunding of the Overton Park Conservancy, though he denies saying this and soon stopped. In fact, he chided Berlin Boyd for advocating the same thing in summer of 2016. Morgan reliably voted the Caissa whip and voted for MLGW price increases in 2017. He also supported the incumbents’ referendum debacle in 2018, although he spoke against the Council’s money grab for their campaign in 2018, correctly predicting the backlash that would follow this action.
Morgan is very pro police and will not countenance transparency or reform of the beleaguered MPD. The worst thing he did was the sabotage of CLERB. He replaced CLERB’s subpoena power in 2016 by substituting a cumbersome and almost unworkable process where CLERB requests subpoenas through City Council. As Chair of the Public Safety committee, he was ex-officio on CLERB and he skipped every CLERB meeting after mid-2016, effectively cutting communications between CLERB and council.
John Marek and Worth Morgan. Photos: City of Memphis, City of Memphis
Morgan raised heavily in the first quarter and had about $118K in hand at the end of June, with a lot of maxed-out $1600 contributions from Fred Smith, Turley, Boyle and numerous stockbrokers. Morgan received over 99.9% of his contributions in large, itemized donations over $100. A mere $100 was received in small, unitemized donations out of a total in excess of $110K.
Attorney John Marek has not filed any finance documents, being a late entrant. He ran in the district raising about $37K in smaller contributions in 2015. He is a former CLERB member, criminal justice activist, park protector and Democratic Party organizer and is active in local causes.
Marek supports Tami Sawyer’s platform policy of firing Mike Rallings and replacing him with a police director from outside MPD, who understands and has a track record in community policing. This throws down the gauntlet to Worth Morgan, Jim Strickland and the Caissa clique’s public safety dog whistle. It is entirely consistent with Marek’s long-standing criminal justice reform agenda.
Marek has organized Dignity PAC, to support criminal justice reform-minded candidates in the 2022 D.A. and judicial races in Shelby County, Tennessee. Dignity PAC does not plan to directly manage or contribute to candidates; however, Dignity PAC will run ads (mailers, social media, radio, T.V., and print ads) to support a ticket of candidates. (updated 7/24/2019 with input from candidate).
The contrast between the District 5 candidates could not be more stark. It is a choice between more of the same or a new broom for criminal justice in Memphis and Shelby County. It’s a choice between continued servitude to Memphis Tomorrow, Memphis Shelby Crime Commission; and mass incarceration or a new era of fairness to all and a police force that is acceptable to all our communities.
Formerly represented by the term-limited Edmund Ford Jr., there is a plethora of candidates to replace Geraldine “Gerre” Currie, the appointed incumbent. Currie has pulled a petition for Super District 8.1.
Davin Clemons is a police officer, radio host and publisher who advocates a “well compensated police force”. As of end June, Clemons has raised almost $20K mostly in small donations, except $3,000 from Memphis Police Association. Clemons had 49% of his donations in itemized large contributions over $100.
Edmund Ford Sr., an undertaker, is the father of former incumbent Edmund Ford Sr. He held this seat before term limits were enacted. We would expect a representative of the Ford dynasty to out-raise other candidates, but Ford has not filed campaign returns as of the due date. Edmund Ford Jr. raised about $60K in 2015, with lots of large donations from the City’s big moneymen. As the Ford seat is a family dynasty and as Ford Jr’s contributions qualified, we are provisionally awarding Edmund Ford Sr. a big money tag pending a later CFD.
Theryn Bond was endorsed by People’s Convention 2.0 and has had financial support from the local activist A-list. She could fairly be described as a firebrand, turning up at every notable protest from Graceland to the Martavious Banks demonstration, during which she was arrested. She supports causes like TakeEmDown901, Planned Parenthood, Coalition of Concerned Citizens and was thrown out of City Council Chambers for bringing up uncomfortable truths. She tried to apply for the appointment to this seat after Edmund Ford’s belated resignation but fell short of the signatures required. Bond is also a recent cancer survivor but that does not seem to have slowed her down.
Although 72% of her contributions were itemized, only one of the individual contributions were over $200 and the majority of her itemized contributions were from motivated activist supporters.
Jaques Hamilton is a survivor of poverty who understands that criminal justice reform, the elimination of mass incarceration, better access to health care and proper attention to economic development are all vital to fighting poverty. As of 7/17/2019, he has not filed a second quarter financial disclosure. His first quarter shows total contributions of $1776, and, although his technical percentage of itemized donations is 100%, this misleads as more than half of it was a $900 donation from himself, and the others were in the $100 range.
Clockwise from top left: Michalyn Easter-Thomas, Will Richardson, Jimmy Hassann, Berlin Boyd, Catrina Smith. Photos: Campaign, Facebook, Facebook, City of Memphis, campaign.
District 7 is currently “represented” by the most spectacularly awful public representative in the USA, Berlin Boyd. We’ve frequently blogged his misdeeds and we took over BerlinBoyd.com when he failed to renew his URL. He insulted activist Hunter Demster with his nationally pilloried “Yo Momma” comment, and later disparaged the developmentally disabled.
Boyd is notorious for not replying to communications from his district but is often seen in the company of property speculators like Bill Orgel. We pegged Boyd as a key member of the Caissa contingent at Council, the critical seventh vote which cemented white control of Council. His voting record does not stray far from the Caissa whip. Boyd’s record of spectacular failure includes the Mow to Own program, the Mud Island Dog Park, which received priority of funding over the Frayser library and MATA, and the disastrous marijuana decriminalization effort, which failed because he did not do his homework. His support of the Zoo during the Greensward catastrophe stretched the limits of cognitive dissonance, and his public lying on the record is outrageous. His only success in office is the receipt of a stake worth millions in 1544 Madison, a development by his bosom buddy, property speculator Bill Orgel.
Boyd awkward straddle of the Caissa-group’s white supremacy objectives with the wishes of his District 7 constituents came to a head in December 2018, when, as Council chair, he presided over the fate of District 1, where the Caissa hack Bill Morrison was possibly the last white incumbent, in a district whose racial gerrymander is destined to yield to demographic change. The last stand of the Caissa crew was to put forward Clear Channel employee Lonnie Treadaway against authentic local community organizer Rhonda Logan. Boyd had the casting vote over a weeks long stalemate, where Boyd was damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. He refused to cast a vote either way, which would mean revealing his history of voting with the white power elite or betraying his district’s interests. This dithering resulted in Boyd being dropped as Chair in 2019.
Boyd started the year with $41K in hand, raised an additional $39K in the first half of 2019, 100% of which was in large, itemized donations over $100. He spent very little, ending up with $80K, about what he took in in 2015 up to the General election. Donors included the FedEx Smiths, Carl Weiss of Tower Ventures and Reid Hedgepeth, as well as a host of business people in the property development, realtor and building related trades.
Benjamin Orgel, Bill’s son, is his campaign treasurer.
Boyd has already blotted his campaign finance copybook by not reporting donations in kind from a June 2017 fundraiser. The event produced tens of thousands in contributions, was held in Bill Orgel’s mansion and food and beverages were provided, but there are no contribution-in-kind transactions for the use of the premises and the catering supplied by the hosts. There were also no transactions logged for paid caterers around June 1st. In addition, Caissa Public Strategy organized the RSVPs, presumably for free, as no expenditure is logged to Caissa in his campaign finance disclosures for the period.
Jim Strickland headed up the host committee, which helps tie Strickland to the Caissa mob.
Boyd is employed at FedEx but “forgot” to list FedEx in his statement of financial interests in January 2019 and had to revise it when the CA revealed it.
Michelyn Easter-Thomas was one of the stand-out endorsees of the People’s Convention. This charismatic school teacher is the founder of North Memphis group, Our Grass Our Roots, and active in the Shelby Co Democratic Party, the Tennessee Education Association, VECA and various local causes, as well as being the recipient of awards from the Flyer and 3V Leaders.
Her platform includes action on criminal justice, housing, blight and economic development.
She pulled in $5,200 all in the second quarter and mostly small donations. Only 19% of her donations were itemized large donations over $100.
Catrina Smith is a teacher at Southwest Tenn. Community College, an NAACP and NCRM member and has a Teamster’s endorsement. She has a generic anti-blight, crime reduction and investment securing platform without much detail.
Although Catrina has apparently not filed a disclosure for 2018, she did start fundraising very early, started the year with an unaccounted $4,400, raised $2800 in 2019 and had $243 in hand as of June 30th. Her percentage of large contributions over $100 was 63%, bumped up by a large Union contribution.
Jerred Price is an insurance adjuster and Elton John impersonator based in Victorian Village. Unless racial voting patterns become radically disrupted he may share the same fate as Scott Banbury in 2011, although the enthusiastic volunteer support he gets from the LGBTQ community and the Victory Fund might prove more potent than the support Banbury got from environmentalists. He is active in Victorian Village CDC, City Beautiful Commission and Downtown Neighborhood Association. Appointment by Jim Strickland to the City Beautiful Commission might be a red flag. When he first declared, Price did not seem comfortable outside his home turf near downtown but he has been energetically working the district all year and is active on social media. He uses the talented Liz Rincon as a campaign consultant.
Price has fundraised well, with a total of $15,500 and he appears to be heading towards $30K by the General Election. His percentage of large donations over $100 was 57%. His contributions are not documented correctly in his returns, lacking address and employer, and include amounts under $100, which don’t need to be reported. The report sometimes includes email addresses, which should be redacted on a public document as a matter of netiquette. On the other hand, his list of contributions in kind are extensive and detailed, in contrast to Boyd.
Jerred’s platform is unusually detailed and covers numerous topics from policing to criminal justice, blight to housing, LGBT advocacy, homelessness, education, economic development and others. He panders to police by advocating pay and benefits concessions.
We were unable to write about Thurston Smith when we originally published this post, because Smith had a temporary order of protection against me. This protection order was dismissed in court on July 29th and now we can write about it. See Thurston Smith, Liar, Bully and Worse. (updated 7/30/2019).
Clothier Jimmy Hassann aka Hassan raised $1200 all in small donations in the second quarter.
Businessman Will Richardson had $50 in hand and raised no donations in the second quarter.
Toni Green-Cole appointed a treasure but filed no CFD so far. She had not filed according to the Election Commission list as of 7/21.
Super 8 Districts.
Traditionally, the Super 8 districts have been won by candidates who raised around $30,000, much lower than what the Caissa candidates raised in 2015. With Joe Brown term-limited and Cheyenne Johnson a recent appointee, the only 2015 incumbent seeking re-election in Super 8 is Martavius Jones. Some turnover is certain in Super 8, and the district is gerrymandered to be almost totally African American. Almost all the white voters are crammed in Super 9 together with a sizeable minority of African American voters, to ensure that the white representation in the Super Districts is 50% for a minority who are 25.5% in the demographics. As long as racial voting patterns persist, Super 8 should be a safe bet to produce three African American seats, so we should see some excellent competition about platforms and programs in Super 8. The lower campaign budgets should also allow for insurgent candidates to be competitive in terms of fund raising.
Super District 8-1.
The incumbent, Joe Brown, is term limited, so 8-1 is wide open and well contested. Brown was one of the Councilors who walked out during the December appointment fiasco. He received $5000 from Memphis Police Association in 2015 and he donated to Mike Williams, the MPA president, in his 2015 Mayoral campaign. He is viewed as a public safety advocate who supported the police in all votes, essentially the same voting pattern as the Caissa crew on public safety issues.
Closkwise from top left: JB Smiley, Pearl Walker, Geraldine Currie, Nicole Cleaborn, Darrick Harris. Photos: Campaign, Campaign, City of Memphis, Facebook, Facebook.
Attorney JB Smiley Jr. ran as a Democrat and lost to Mickell Lowrey for County Commission primary last year.
His platform includes generally progressive positions on neighborhoods, blight and gentrification; youth and opportunities, criminal justice reform, fighting crime by reducing poverty, transit, investment in communities, homelessness and veterans’ issues.
We don’t see a second quarter return for Smiley, but he raised $1856 in small donations in the first quarter, including a $500 donation from himself. He raised over $30K in small contributions for his 2018 County District 8 Democratic primary election, and if he can repeat this fundraising performance this year he should be a contender.
Justin Ford also pulled a petition in District 6, has not qualified as a candidate by the final filing date and has not filed a campaign finance disclosure as of 7/20/2019. We’ll update if this changes.
Pearl Eva Walker has been a hair industry professional for 30 plus years, and was the first natural hair stylist in Tennessee to be appointed, by Governor Bredesden (D), to the State Cosmetology Board.
She is the founder of the I Love Whitehaven Neighborhood Association, and the Facebook group “MRYE: Memphis Raise Your Expectations!!!”.
MRYE, although it has a deceptively small membership under four thousand, is lurked by media and politicians and has broken numerous important news items over the years. Pearl was endorsed by the People’s Convention 2.0 and is probably one of the most influential opinion molders in the city.
Pearl has supported numerous neighborhood and progressive causes over the years, including Coalition of Concerned Citizens, criminal justice reform, neighborhood investment and vocational licensing; corruption exposure, energy equity and food desert initiatives.
Pearl raised $6300 in the first half, with only 43% in itemized contributions over $100. Pearl told us that she had taken in an additional $3700 in the first eighteen days of July. This brings her take to about $10K and rising. We have little doubt that Walker can raise well via her social media platforms so she’ll be competitive. (updated 7/24/2019 with input from candidate).
Roderic Ford pulled petitions in all three SD 8 positions and filed in 8-3.
Nicole Cleaborn raised $3000 in the second quarter, mostly in small, family and self-donations. She has a generally progressive agenda with a focus on housing and urban development.
Banker Geraldine “Gerre” Currie was appointed to the District 6
seat in January and switched to 8-1 for this election.
Her contributions are running high. Of her $76K in donations, over 99.5% were in itemized contributions over $100, with prominent bankers and developers, Caissa clones Worth Morgan and Reid Hedgepeth, Orgel and Weiss of Tower Ventures, FedEx PAC, Morgan, Boyle, Belz and Turley and a host of moneymen.
As the voting for her appointment to District 6 took place after the appointment of Sherman Greer in District 1, and as her fundraising outpaced Berlin Boyd’s in the second quarter with a similar profile sightly skewed to banking and finance, we have little hesitation in labeling Currie as a manchurian Caissa-influenced candidate in 2019.
Graceland employee Marinda Latroy Alexandria-Williams ran for Democratic Committeeman for district 33 in 2018 and raised a total of $854. They were opposed in court by the Democratic party when they tried to run against Steve Cohen in the Congressional primary. They were accused of supporting Republican candidates.
Darrick Dee Harris has filed in 8-1 but we see no financial disclosures. He supports Democratic causes and candidates in the “middle of the road” range.
Super District 8-2
Police Sergeant Craig Littles is involved in youth sporting activities. He has not filed campaign finance disclosures. As a policeman his vision for Memphis is skewed in the direction of overpolicing and non-profits.
Frank W. Johnson is endorsed by Memphis People’s Convention 2.0. This South Memphis activist fought the 2018 referendum, is a voter registration organizer, and wants criminal justice reform, a $15 minimum wave, blight reduction and investment in our communities. Here’s a one-minute Youtube from Frank during the SaveIRV campaign.
Frank Johnson raised $1200, all in small donations, in the second quarter, and is campaigning vigorously, with a boost in campaign volunteers after his People’s Convention 2.0 endorsement. (Updated 7/24/2019 with input from candidate and additional CFD.)
Cheyenne Johnson has had no contributions, according to her second quarter return, and has spent all but $250 of her $4250 loan to her campaign. She is the former Shelby assessor, from 2008 to 2018, and was appointed to 8-2 in January to replace the term-limited Janis Fullilove. For her 2014 run for County Assessor, she raised about $30K and she should be able to raise the 2015 average required to win in District 8. Contributors included some property developers in smaller amounts. Of the three 2014 returns which were complete, itemized contributions over $400 were 82%, although these were at the lower end of the range.
She survived allegations of impropriety from far-right Terry Roland in 2015. Considering the source, this is almost an accolade. In her short time in City Council Johnson spoke against Memphis 3.0, saying the plan focused too many resources in the downtown to East Memphis corridor and not enough on less prosperous communities.
During her time as assessor she appropriately steered clear of politics although her tastes seem to be similar to establishment Democrats.
Brian L. Saulsberry is a broker for Memphis-based DSG Capital Group, which owns and has renovated One Commerce Square. Saulsberry is noted for a proposal to develop the Coliseum into a family-oriented leisure center, which would have been a big improvement for nearby Orange Mound. Wiseacre Brewing won that round of bidding but later vacated their option. We’d like to know more about his connections with local realtors, developers and the City’s department of Housing and Development. His policies, such as reducing crime by more investment in youth, MATA funding and energy equity are conventional Democratic Party compatible.
Saulsberry has not filed campaign returns for 2019 but we’d imagine his many contacts would provide excellent fundraising possibilities. An interesting candidate.
Marinda Alexandria-Williams has not filed campaign disclosures for 2019. Her name and address are similar to a person who also filed in 8-1.
Super District 8-3
Cat Allen, Martavius Jones, Pamela Lee. Photos: Facebook, City of Memphis, Facebook
Martavius D. Jones is the only Super 8 incumbent running again. Jones is a stand-out in Council, with some independent votes, including his vote against the awarding of the Greensward to the Zoo in March 2016. He voted for MLGW rate increases in 2017 and 2018 but understands how the energy burden is heavy on his constituents. When asked about his vote, he said that MLGW needed the increases so that they could renew old infrastructure, which Jones said disproportionately affects District 8 causing poor service.
Jones’s worst moments in Council are around his posture on the 2018 referendum, where he was at odds with the electorate and endorsed the $40K the incumbents voted for their campaign from public funds. He said that he needed three terms, twelve years, to learn his job. As Martavius Jones is one of the most intelligent Council members, his claim lacked credibility. Jones may have reclaimed some credibility when he led the walk-out of four African American councilors during the December impasse on appointments to replace three Council members elected to County offices in 2018.
His 2015 contributions totaled $23K with only one very large contribution, $1000 from the Teamsters Union, the only odd pattern being a lot of individual contributions in the low hundreds of dollars from out-of-town individuals. Jones was the incumbent with the smallest budget in 2015.
His 2019 contributions include $5000 from Metro Memphis Hotel and Lodging Assoc. PAC and $500 from Reid Hedgepeth. He has $3700 in hand as of June 30th.
Cat Allen opposed the 2018 referendum, supports the Mid South Peace and Justice Center and criminal justice reform. She has qualified in 8-3 but not filed campaign finance disclosures as of 7/21.
Pamela Lee has appointed a treasurer but not filed any campaign finance returns. Her filing is in process as of July 18th but was filed on time.
Pamela Lee’s claim to fame is a transition from street business to office business courtesy of computer training from the Memphis Urban League. Her main civic concern seems to be public safety, for which she seems to want more of the same as provided by Strickland and his Director of Destroying Transparency and Civil Rights, Mike Rallings.
Super District 9-1
Erika Sugarmon and Chase Carlisle (Photos: Facebook, Facebook)
Schoolteacher Erika Sugarmon is the daughter of Judge Russell Sugarmon. She was selected by People’s Convention 2.0 and is endorsed by Memphis AFL-CIO, ASCFME and Teamsters. She was active in the resistance to the 2018 Referendum. She wants better vocational and literacy programs, clean energy solutions, economic development and blight remediation.
She ran in 8-2 for the Philip Spinosa replacement appointment and did in the 22-23% range against J Ford Canale, who outspent her in a split contest. This time she has no competition except Chaseton Carlisle and might be within striking range of winning, and upsetting the racial gerrymander of the Super 9 district.
She took in $11,080 in the second quarter, 72% of which was in itemized contributions of $100 or more. There was $1500 from the Drive Committee and $1000 from HGD Waste Solutions, who are actually recyclers. The other contributions are mostly from local individuals and not known property speculators or moneymen.
Chaseton “Chase” Carlisle is VP of real estate firm Avison Young and his family owns fast food franchises and developed One Beale. Jackson Baker in the Flyer wrote that Brian Stephens of Caissa Public Strategy is consulting in his campaign.
Carlisle raised $135K in the first half and still has $130K of it on hand as of June 30th. 99% of this sum was in large itemized contributions over $100. Donors include Brian and Janelle Stephens and Adrian Bond of Caissa, and many Carlisle family members. Worth Morgan, Reid Hedgepeth, numerous realtors, financiers, bankers and developers, the Fred Smiths and FedEx PAC, and names like Belz, Loeb, Boyle, the hotel Wilsons, Turley, car salesman Keras, Farnsworth, Carol Coletta and Lauren Robinson, Huey’s owner and Zoo board member.
We have no hesitation in naming Carlisle as a creature of Caissa, and he already has $25K more than J Ford Canale raised for his 2018 special election.
His program: Public Safety, Protect Neighborhoods, Infrastructure.
Super District 9-2
Mauricio Calvo, Deanielle Jones and J Ford Canale. Photos: Facebook, Campaign, City of Memphis
Mauricio Calvo had not filed a petition as of 7/17. He supports the People’s Agenda and spoke at the People’s Convention, although there was a problem in the Convention voting. As there were no opponents in 9-2 he would have won approval if the voting mechanism has worked as intended.
We don’t see any campaign finance returns for Calvo as yet. Calvo is a Latino activist and journalist, and supports immigration and LGBTQ rights, criminal justice reform, economic development and housing.
Deanielle Jones has raised nothing as of June 30th. Deanielle Jones is a licensed insurance examiner and a member and former Membership Chair of the Memphis Urban League Young Professionals. She is a proud single mother and considers this group to be under represented.
Her issues include education, training and workforce development, economic development focused on small businesses in the communities, and infrastructure including MLGW deferred maintenance, potholes and public transit. She also wants juvenile justice reform.
Undertaker and golf coach J. Ford Canale was appointed to the vacancy left by Philip Spinosa and won the seat in the August 2018 special election. He has collected $106K, of which 99.6% was in itemized large contributions over $100. He is a legacy Caissa client from the 2018 election.
Contributors include Kemp Conrad and his employer, Commercial Advisors; Reid Hedgepeth, Jack Sammons; Fedex PAC and Fred Smith; Loeb; Ben and Bill Orgel and Karl Weiss of Tower Ventures; developers; builders and construction, attorneys, medical; restaurant and entertainment including Hueys owner and Zoo board member Lauren Robinson and names like Farnsworth, Boyle, Loeb, Turley and Memphis Firefighters.
Super District 9-3
Jeff Warren, Cody Fletcher, Tyrone Franklin and Charley Burch. Photos: Campaign, campaign, Facebook, campaign.
Jeffery “Jeff” Warren is a doctor with a large general practice. He is a former two-term school board member. His campaign is very bipartisan with Republican Kelly Fish running his campaign and support from Steve Mulroy and many Democrats, as well as prominent activists like Al Lewis of CCC.
As a former school board member he supports educational initiatives like universal Pre-K, after school programs and summer youth employment. He is concerned with the murder rate and economic development in our communities.
His endorsers include Belz, Turley and Orgel and also a host of community and Greensward activists. He casts a wide net and is well liked.
He raised $93,000 in the first half and loaned his campaign $54K, ending up with a balance in hand of $142K on June 30th. His itemized contributions over $100 were 93% of total contributions. There are a few contributions from the likes of Turley, Orgel and Craig Royal of Tower Ventures, but there are only a few maximum $1600 contributions and the majority of donations are in the low hundreds of dollars and from a large cross-section of Midtowners. This is not a Caissa-like profile, although it looks very middle-class. We don’t give Warren a “big money” tag because his donor list has a low proportion of the City’s big money donors.
Cody Fletcher has Caissa’s Brian Stephens as a consultant, cementing his Caissa status. He is competing for Reid Hedgepeth’s old seat. He works for University of Memphis as manager of the University Neighborhoods Development Corp. and the Highlands TIF. He was part of Jim Strickland’s transition team with Brian Stephens and was appointed by the mayor to the Memphis Youth Guidance Commission
His program includes building up MPD and “stronger enforcement” meaning more mass incarceration and the resultant poverty and destruction of our communities. Besides blowing the public safety dog whistle, he has a long list of programs, reminiscent of “brilliant at the basics”. He wants “zero tolerance” for littering as his solution to blight, another dog whistle. He likes non-profits as a solution to the city’s ills. He wants a business-friendly climate with lower taxes for business and, in general, wants to make Memphis great again. He touts development but wants to put all the available budget into MPD and does not explain where new development dollars are coming from, seeing as he wants to reduce taxes.
Fletcher raised $62K in the first half, with 98% in itemized donations over $100. He started in district 9-1 and was advised by Brian Stephens to transfer to 9-3. He transferred $36K to his 9-3 account on the 26th of June. He ended the quarter with $43K in hand. Contributions from Morgan, Boyle, Farnsworth, Turley, Loeb, Orgel, Belz and Crump combine with Skycop vendor Greg Nuckles and State Rep Mark White, plus numerous attorneys and construction related donors for a who’s who of Memphis money.
Democratic supporter Tyrone Romeo Franklin applied for appointment to the 9-2 seat vacated by Philip Spinosa in 2018, and also the special election for that seat. He raised less than $1000 in 2019 and was not required to file a return. He supports police accountability and reform, pothole maintenance, blight mediation and economic development in the community.
Charley Burch works in transportation security at the airport, and is a realtor and a music entrepreneur. He tried briefly to run for State Rep in 2018 and polled at 12.8% versus Kemp Conrat in 9-1 in 2015. He is a former member of Memphis Alcohol Commission and is on the Memphis Music Commission and NARAS. He is pro-police.
The current list of qualified candidates is not complete as yet and we will update the list as confirmations are posted at the Election Commission.