Memphis mayoral candidates continued to campaign as is
their wont over the weekend:
Incumbent mayor Willie Herenton, who is eschewing formal debates with his opponents, spoke briefly to a rally at a Frayser mall Saturday but mainly spent his time there autographing campaign T-shirts and demonstrating his prowess at the "Cupid Shuffle" as a sound system blared out some music.
- Congressman Cohen and erstwhile opponent White see eye to eye on "Hate Crimes Bill"
Opponent Carol Chumney held a well-attended opening at her Poplar Avenue headquarters on Sunday, once again chiding Herenton for being willing to spar with Joe Frazier while ducking debate, but she seemed to broaden her attack to include rival Herman Morris as well as Herenton: "My opponents love to walk you through their humble beginnings, but their actions both in political office and as executives demonstrate that they have long forgotten where they came from."
Morris held at least one major fund-raiser over the weekend, while John Willingham presided over a headquarters open house that spread over Sunday and Monday.
Present at Mt. Olive C.M.E. Church for an all-candidates forum Sunday were Chumney, Morris, and Willingham, but not Herenton. A wide representation of other mayoral candidates also attended, including Laura Davis Aaron -- who cited as two reason for running the fact that "Mayor Herenton reads my mail" and that she needed a job -- and Dewayne A. Jones, Sr., who shouted so loudly as to temporarily short out his microphone.
* (along with U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander) presided
over a ceremony formally changing the name of the Federal Building to the Cliff
Davis/Odell Horton Federal Building, in honor of the late U.S. District Judge
* proposed to President Bush that he appoint
former deputy Attorney General James Comey to succeed the disgraced and
now resigned Alberto Gonzales as U.S. Attorney General. (Comey, along
with the bedridden John Ashcroft, then the attorney general, had resisted as
unconstitutional a Bush wiretapping plan aggressively pushed by Gonzales, then
White House counsel.)
The suggestion, made at a press conference Monday, recalled Cohen's own vigorous interrogation of Gonzales at a congressional hearing earlier this year;
*addressed a Chamber of Commerce-sponsored banquet as the first of its Frontline
Politics speakers this year and took part in a panel on crime sponsored by the
Public Issues Forum.
The congressman's remarks at the Frontline dinner at the Ridgeway Center Hilton struck a new note, in that Cohen, a longtime critic of the Iraq War, acknowledged for the first time that residual U.S. troops might need to remain in the war-torn country for some time to come.
scheduled a meeting, tentatively set for Tuesday of this week, with members of
the Memphis Black Ministerial Association, one of whose leaders, the Rev.
LaSimba Gray, has led an assault on Cohen's support for a congressional
Hate Crimes Bill.
There are several anomalies associated with the ministers' protest - among them that Cohen's predecessor, former congressman Harold Ford Jr., had consistently supported such legislation without drawing criticism from the Association.
Pointing out further inconsistencies this week was an Association member, the Rev. Ralph White, who originally expressed solidarity with the protest but later satisfied himself it was based on misconceptions.
Said White: "I've read the bill, and I'm satisfied that it does not restrain a minister from expressing opposition to homosexual conduct or anything else that might be offensive to his conscience or Christian doctrine. The language of the bill specifically guarantees such freedom of speech."
Turning the attack back on its maker, White said, "What LaSimba Gray has to answer to is whether he is consciously trying to aid the congressional campaign of Nikki Tinker. Nobody seems to be wondering what her attitude toward the Hate Crimes Bill is."
Actually, many people have so wondered, but a Washington, D.C. spokesman for the elusive Tinker, a 2006 Cohen opponent who has already filed to run a reprise of last year's congressional race, has publicly said she will, at least temporarily, distance herself from discussion of such issues - as she did at an equivalent period of last year's race.
For his part, White, who also sought the 9th District seat last year, is holding open his options for another run of his own.
But the senator indicated in Memphis last week that he had been impressed by progress made by the ongoing U.S. troop "surge" in Anbar Province and other points and, pending a scheduled report to Congress next month by General David Petraeus, was keeping an open mind on continued troop commitments in Iraq.
n The 2007 recipient of the Tigrett Award, funded by FedEx founder Fred Smith in honor of the late John Tigrett, will be former U.S. Senator Howard Baker, it was announced last week. The award will be presented by the West Tennessee Healthcare Foundation at a gala ("An Evening in the Imperial Palace") later this year.