Tennessee Ticket http://tennesseeticket.com Voter Information and Political Commentary Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:25:58 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Voter Guides update http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/04/voter-guides-update/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/08/04/voter-guides-update/#comments Mon, 04 Aug 2014 10:25:58 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8217 ]]> I’m taking down the candidate pages due to inaccuracies that can’t possibly be remedied in time. Plus, they’re not very helpful.

You can find lists of candidates at the Secretary of State’s website, which is also where you can find contact information for your county election commission.

Many news outlets across the state are providing online voter guides. Here are some examples:

Know of others? Kindly leave a link in the comments.

I hope to have MyTicket online soon. Bear with me.

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Announcing a new feature: “MyDistricts” http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/28/announcing-a-new-feature-mydistricts/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/28/announcing-a-new-feature-mydistricts/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:43:53 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8213 ]]> Hi, reader. A long list of valid reasons has detained me from updating this site and writing political columns, but with the August election so near, I wanted to share with you the latest and get your feedback on current state and future plans for MyTicket, a new app that will help voters with their choices at election time.

This is no ordinary project. Were it a startup aimed at making a profit, the relatively low number of people who clicked to sign up would have killed it. But it’s not a startup.

And I’ve done research to make sure I wasn’t just “reinventing the wheel,” and haven’t found a tool that provides the same services as promised by our vision for MyTicket.

So let’s catch up.

If you’ll remember, some months ago I published a prototype that conceptually lays out how MyTicket would work.

Since then, I have been building a database that will hold all of the potential elections, contests, offices, districts, candidates, and candidate details; and I have populated that database with much of the basic information, thanks to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office providing the data.

While I still don’t have all the hooks built to fetch the info from the database, I reached an important milestone this weekend. As you know, in order to personalize the experience to show just your ballot information, the app needs to know your district IDs. Many people aren’t able to supply these, and therefore many online voter guides fall short of being the most helpful. Using the Google Civic Info API that’s powered by the Voting Information Project, I can now obtain all federal, state, and local districts—down to your town council—with the simple input of a residential address.

I invite you to try it out. Enter an address like “123 Main St, Anywhere, TN” (without the quotes and using a real address, of course).

OK, so this doesn’t get us very far. Several sites already do this lookup, but they only bring back current officeholders, not candidates who are contesting the seats. And they don’t go down to local elections. But this service can be used as a first step before using a voter guide like the Chattanooga Times Free Press’s or even the sample ballots published by your local election commission. It’s not the end product, but it’s a start.

What I’m working on next:

Instead of just showing your districts on the page, they will be used in the background to locate the offices and candidates that belong to them (along with ballot questions, such as judicial retention and referenda). That will be the next milestone: just showing the static election data that belong to you, without any further interactivity.

Future plans include the ability to save your preferences; to remove candidates you’re sure you don’t want to vote for and just leave those you’re deciding among; and, somewhere out there, the ability for voters and campaigns to enter and select details about themselves so that a “match.com”-style compatibility check could be done. But first things first.

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Good, let’s debate http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/17/good-lets-debate/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/07/17/good-lets-debate/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 14:43:30 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8201 ]]> The 25th Senate District seat has an atypically high number of higher-profile contenders for its GOP primary election. Rep. Joshua G. Evans, former Sen. Kerry Roberts, Sen. Jim Summerville, and Wayne White want to be the nominee. These candidates will participate in a debate Thursday evening at 5937 Smiley Hollow Rd in Goodlettsville at 5:30 p.m.

Rep. Evans has four Republicans and a lone Democrat vying to replace him in the House (District 66). The GOP candidates are Brock Brewer, Matt Burnett, Sabi (Doc) Kumar, and Chris Orndorff. They also will debate at tonight’s event.

Michael Lotfi, Tennessee Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director, and Sen. Mae Beavers will moderate the debates.

(Aside: I don’t know if I’ve seen a better description for a gaggle of politicians on the stump than “Smiley Hollow.” Heh.)

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There’s not a new sheriff in town http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/05/07/theres-not-a-new-sheriff-in-town/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/05/07/theres-not-a-new-sheriff-in-town/#comments Wed, 07 May 2014 11:22:12 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8193
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County primaries: Use them or lose them http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/05/05/county-primaries-use-them-or-lose-them/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/05/05/county-primaries-use-them-or-lose-them/#comments Mon, 05 May 2014 18:11:19 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8191 I’ve gotten some energetic feedback about my latest Nooga.com column. One person called it a “disgrace.” Judge for yourself.

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Early voting begins Wednesday in some counties http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/15/early-voting-begins-wednesday-in-some-counties/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/15/early-voting-begins-wednesday-in-some-counties/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:22:37 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8187 ]]> Not all Tennessee counties hold primary elections, and some only have a primary for a single party. I have checked a few election commission websites, and it looks like tomorrow (Wednesday, April 16) marks the start of early voting in most places that are holding primaries. Figuring out which locations are open on which days during early voting can be a little trickier.

For example, in Maury County, the election commission office in Columbia is open every day during the period except for Good Friday. The Spring Hill site is only open on the last three days of early voting. And in Shelby County, the downtown location is available throughout the early voting period, while satellite locations open on the 25th. Some counties’ Saturday hours are shorter than others. And so on.

If you are not sure where to vote, or whether your county/party is holding a primary, contact your county election commission. The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office publishes a directory online.

If you don’t really belong to a party, you might consider voting in the primary election anyway; else you might miss a random general election, for example the Chattanooga City Court Judge positions here locally. Both judges are running unopposed, but still. Election Day for the primaries is Tuesday, May 6; on election days you vote at your precinct’s assigned polling place, and NOT at an early voting location.

The general election for every county will be held on the same day as the state primary elections: Tuesday, August 7. You definitely won’t want to miss that one, as it offers you more levers on your government than any ballot in the past eight years. And (fingers crossed) you’ll have a brand-new tool to help you prepare for it.

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My, you look Marvel-ous http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/14/my-you-look-marvel-ous/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/14/my-you-look-marvel-ous/#comments Mon, 14 Apr 2014 11:47:23 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8176 ]]> I have been drafting some screens to see how the voter helper app might look. Thanks to some pretty cool technology that didn’t exist years ago when I first had the idea, you can see these sketches as they’d appear on an iPhone, and actually move through them. It’s a bit of a bold step for me to reveal these in this rough a state, but just know that I know how much work there is to do.

Only a few of the “buttons” have been fitted with clickable “hotspots” that take you to another screen. It’s just to get the idea across. If you click somewhere outside of a hotspot, they very faintly light up to show you where they are. The jump from the Candidate Detail page to the State Primary page is not logical; it’s just there to let you see the last two screens. Let me know what you think!

I’m also toying with moving the project to InVision, since there visitors can leave comments and those comments create an instant designer/developer to-do list. But Marvel makes it easier to sync updated images. (Neither supports .sketch files, which would be best for me.)

Enough tech talk. Give me feedback on the concept, the screens, and the flow.

P.S. To those of you who signed up for the sneak preview, this isn’t it. That is still a ways off, and it will be a version of the real thing, not just click-able images. Thanks for your patience, and hopefully this helps give you an idea of what’s coming.

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Vote with confidence and style http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/02/vote-with-confidence-and-style/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/02/vote-with-confidence-and-style/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 18:23:24 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8171 ]]> Hi there. Do you struggle with overwhelming ballot choices, especially in these years when the eight-year terms come up in addition to all the four-year and two-year offices—not to mention the legalese often found in local ordinance or state constitution changes? Do you just skip a lot of them out of confusion or frustration?

Help is on the way. Unlike published voter guides that bear the bias of a special interest group, editorial page, or political party, a new tool is under development that will let you be in charge of determining the choices that are right for you (just you, nobody else but you).

In order for this to best help you, I need your help too. Early adopters will help shape and refine the finished product for the broader public’s benefit. You want to be an influencer, right? Sign up today to be on the invitation list to try it out first!

I mean, you could just ignore this and let the political gadflies get alarmingly close to seats of power via their bizarre performance art. You could just roll over, go back to sleep, and let the power-structure fat cats smirk through another round.

Or you could literally put control of the future in the palm of your hand and exercise the amazing power of a well-informed voter. It’s up to you.

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Editorial questions Gov. Haslam’s priorities after teacher pay reversal http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/01/editorial-questions-gov-haslams-priorities-after-teacher-pay-reversal/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/04/01/editorial-questions-gov-haslams-priorities-after-teacher-pay-reversal/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 00:08:53 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8168 ]]> J.C. Bowman, executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee, on Tuesday penned a response to Gov. Bill Haslam’s decision to delay a promised increase in teacher salaries. With the disclaimer that matters related to teacher pay have a direct impact on my household, I hereby present Bowman’s piece in its entirety without further comment.

THE GOVERNOR, THE BUDGET AND MAKING TEACHER SALARIES A PRIORITY
JC Bowman
By now Governor Haslam is aware of the disappointment by educators in his decision to remove increases in teacher salaries. In reneging on this promise, making Tennessee the fastest improving state in the nation when it comes to teacher salaries, it is clear his priorities have shifted. This pay raise was promoted with great fanfare.

In October 2013, Professional Educators of Tennessee applauded Governor Haslam’s decision to make Tennessee the fastest growing state for teacher salaries. We must be equally concerned about the abandonment of this pledge and reneging on this statement within such a short period of time.

Public school teachers do incredible work across the state of Tennessee and the nation. They are often not recognized for their tireless dedication to a very demanding job, in which most educators identify as a calling. It has been fashionable to lay all the ills of society at the feet of teachers, but it is not fair. Every intelligent debate on student achievement would be wise to consider factors beyond the control of most teachers and schools.

No generation of educators in the history of the world has been asked to do what we now demand of our public schools. The challenge and responsibility has grown, yet public schools gladly commit to teach all children who enter their classrooms.

Everyday teachers are challenged by a wide-ranging mixture of social, psychological, and physical problems that impede the improvement of so many students entrusted into their care. You cannot reduce salaries or fail to reward Tennessee Educators and hope to attract and retain the best teachers to prepare students for the jobs of the future. This must be a legislative priority.

We need to take a very close look at teacher attrition. It is difficult to create a stable and world class education with a highly unstable teaching workforce. You cannot continue to make teachers, or state employees for that matter, a non-priority. When legislative priorities are more focused on the results of a test given at the end of a school the year, rather than those educating children then we have lost our focus as a state. We have made textbook companies and test publishers prosperous while we engage in a rigorous debate over a 2% raise for a teacher. People deserve a higher priority.

I understand Governor Haslam’s conundrum; business tax revenues are roughly $200 million less than projections. However, educators cannot understand how the Haslam Administration could have changed course so quickly and made educators bear the brunt of his decision making. In a political environment rampant with ideological conflict and tainted by partisanship, surely no policymaker of either party can be satisfied by the decision to abandon minor raises for teachers and state workers.

Policymakers understand that state policies and budget decisions affect the lives of Tennesseans. Any budget proposed must decisively connect tax dollars to state priorities. When teacher salaries are cut from the state budget you may well be creating another unfunded state mandate on LEA’s due to the state mandated differentiated pay plan. We encourage policymakers to discuss this directly with LEA’s in their community.

Like many policymakers, we feel disconnected when we hear of decisions impacting public education through the media, and not from the governor or his staff directly. Stakeholders should have a chance to weigh in on the cumulative effects of a policy change. This is poor leadership and lacks transparency. We would maintain that when confronting a calamity of this nature, government needs to be transparent about the situation, the people, and the decisions which must be made. Transparency breeds accountability, accountability leads to trust, and trust will allow Tennesseans to know their tax dollars are used wisely.

Research clearly and consistently demonstrates that the quality of the classroom teacher is the number one school based factor in student learning. This is not what is reflected in Governor Haslam’s budget. It is up to policymakers and constituents to ask the Governor why teacher salaries are not a priority.

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Supreme vote of confidence, or a game of chance(ry) http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/03/31/supreme-vote-of-confidence-or-a-game-of-chancery/ http://tennesseeticket.com/2014/03/31/supreme-vote-of-confidence-or-a-game-of-chancery/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 19:37:49 +0000 http://tennesseeticket.com/?p=8157 ]]> One of the most important local elections almost no one ever talks about is the Chancellor post. As an attorney friend (oxymoron? heh!) recently put it, the person who serves as chancellor becomes extremely important to you the instant your family has to determine conservatorship for an ailing loved one.

There are many other types of cases that go to Chancery Court as well, of course. From the Hamilton County Courts website:

The Chancery Court handles cases involving domestic relations, worker’s compensation, estates, trusts, contracts, review of administrative action of governmental agencies and boards, collection of delinquent taxes, guardianships, and conservatorships, dissolution of partnerships and corporations, enforcement of liens, boundary lines, breach of contract, fraud, election contests, and other matters of a civil nature.

Almost none of that sounds fun. Or, if you’re a real contract law nerd, all of it sounds fun.

Chancellor Jeff Atherton is running unopposed for re-election. But in the other division, an open seat is being contested by attorneys Pam Fleenor and Joe Manuel.

Fleenor recently nabbed an endorsement by former Tennessee Supreme Court Chief Justice Mickey Barker, which further cements the theory that she enjoys a lot of support in the established legal community.

Manuel, however, is a former chair of the (very active) Pachyderm Club, and thus likely will hope to count on a heavy Republican activist turnout to boost his chances.

This is one race I’ll be watching closely from here on in. I trust you will too.

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