Now that Christmas is over, it's time to look forward to a new year. But before we explore the possibilities of 2013, let's look back at 2012.
It was the year when redistricting changed the face of Tennessee politics possibly for the next decade. The Tennessee General Assembly tried to give a helping hand to Shelby County suburbs trying to form their own school
As well, the University of Memphis Athletic Department said goodbye to Conference USA in favor of what they thought was their "dream conference," The Big East.
What wasn't hard to decipher in January 2012 was the numbers game in Nashville.
Tennessee Republicans dominated the General Assembly with clear majorities in the House and Senate to become one of the "reddest" of the national red states' brigade. When the year began one of the by-products of the Republican stamp was the introduction of the controversial voter photo ID law. It posed the debatable question of whether its true purpose was to establish a fair and equal method of insuring election integrity or an opening partisan ploy aimed at aimed at securing political power through selected voter disenfranchisement?
"Take my picture"
With a national election and a presidency on the line in November, ID supporters claimed the opposition to it would amount to no more than a "tempest in a teapot." veteran civil rights activists saw a far more sinister and regressive strategy in play.
You can't spell "redistricting" without red. Certainly, the cut-throat state-wide redistricting process orchestrated by the Republican legislative majorities had Democrats throughout the state seeing "red." In Nashville, Democrats were sent into self-preservation tizzies over district realignment, setting up political "cage matches" assured to weaken the minority party's dwindling numbers even more.
But, while angered legislators still managed to maintain some stately decorum, trying to carve out a new state-mandated county-wide redistricting plan began with a monumental meltdown of epic proportions among Shelby County commissioners on both sides of the political aisle. Personal attacks led to accusations and a call for censure.
"Ophelia, you're breaking my heart"
Memphis State Senator Ophelia Ford was schoolyard bully. She's more like the Memphis political version of Blanche DuBois. Yet, despite continuing her unremarkable state senate career, when Ford speaks on an issue, if at all, people are compelled to listen. You just know there's a quote of the year coming. This year Sen. Ford's "other worldly" rant came in voicing her opposition to a bill seeking to increase the penalties for assaulting healthcare professionals. Even as a patient, nothing ever gets past, Sen. Ford!
"I would not be in your presence today because of mean hateful nurses," she said. "And the lower on the scale that they are, with the least amount of experience, the worse they are. But, nurses, I tell you to even come before this committee to ask such a thing is ludicrous to me!"
"Mo money means no money"
The adage goes "when it rains it pours." Yet, when it came to the degree of troubles 2012 brought to customers of the tax preparation firm "Mo' Money" it resulted in a disaster of tsunami proportions. Yet even as customers' files were found unceremoniously tossed in an outside dumpster at one of his outlets in February, company CEO Markey Grandberry remained steadfast.
As it turned out the embarrassment of the company's collapse never led to any criminal charges. Grandberry says he looks forward to opening up a new company for the 2013 tax season. Could that be called "Mo' Money ... Maybe?"
While on the subject of making a new start, outgoing University of Memphis Athletic Director, R.C. Johnson, finally delivered. In negotiating a long-sought deal to join the vaunted Big East conference, the often embattled Johnson finally came through to lead the Tigers to the promised land of BCS fame and fortune.
"The Delta Blues"
The impending spring brought more "one step forward .... one step back" for the city's persona. Delta Airlines announced it was suspending non-stop flights from Memphis to Amsterdam in a cost cutting move. Seventeen years of service came to a permanent halt later in the year as Delta continues to make Memphis become a smaller spot on the globe of international travel.
"Jimmy's Last Hurrah"
But, going out with style and grace was the only way to go for 38-year legislator and former legendary Speaker of the Tennessee House, Covington's Jimmy Naifeh. In a goodbye devoid of personal bitterness or partisan acrimony, Naifeh said he would not seek re-election.
The man who vowed "never to take any vote for granted" reminded us all of how government by the people and for the people is suppose to work.
"Regardless of our disagreements over matters of policy, I've always believed that people mattered and their opinions mattered," he said. "They deserved a representative who would listen to their concerns."
With what was to come for the remainder of the year, you had to wonder if anybody was stopping to listen.
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