Prostitution in Nashville

Metro Council Meeting 10/16: Public Comment Period

Wherein I lay out reasons for Decriminalization of Sex Work by reminding the assembled members of Council that at some point the hypocrisy of deciding who gets to sell what services to whom becomes itself quite ostentatious. If you engage in selling your work by the hour (a wage), or by the year (a salary), or by the job (an invoice) you have entered into an agreement, and while it may be asymmetrical in power (insert references to wage-slavery here) the basic premise is that anyone should be able to shake that moneymaker.

If you wanna shake it, don’t break it, and do so in a manner commensurate to the self-selling model laid out by the City’s leaders. The philosophical corruption required by those who have sold themselves in perpetuity to judge those who have sold themselves in person has to jump through so many mental disconnects that it fact maybe we have solved the Mind/Body problem: if you sell your Mind (with the conjoined ethics and belief systems), you’re a good biznessman; if you sell your Body (often a service requested by the Mind-sellers) you’re publicly unworthy and only privately consumed. But the Mind-sellers claim the high ground and take the day, while the body-sellers take the night. Is it not more appropriate and easier to swallow to sell your body to the night, than to sell your soul to forever?

In sucking on that thought experiment, I came too quickly to a conclusion and learned how hard some of the policy decisions can be. Eager to propose a way forward for Nashville, I looked to our rich history with the first profession, back to the Civil War when a US Army General implemented a policy of decriminalization that not only reduced health issues (basic no-morals-here epidemiological crisis control), but also provided health care to the licensed sex workers. In this case, as it turns out, a stigma was also lifted when it was determined through medical analysis and treatment that soldiers were the primary introducing agent of STDs into Nashville not the other way around. Of course, when military rule was lifted, Nashville City government, enjoying its newborn moment of home rule, quickly acted to re-criminalize, having not fully understood the lesson.

Could our town have a moment of clarity through the haze of moral DTs? Perhaps so, but applying the model of drug decrim, I prematurely opined that incremental steps would be easier for Nashville to swallow. But, Ill be the first to admit that I blew it. I believed in the promise of the Nordic Model wherein the approach maintains current restrictions on (1)buying sex, (2) organizing sex, (3) third-party involvement, and (4) soliciting sex. However, its main contribution, the legalization of selling sex, I believed, empowers the sex worker to report abuse and opens access to healthcare, social safety, and education programs, without the fear of criminal reprisal.

Having made my posts and reached out fellow travelers, I realized there is so much more to the discussion. Essentially through Socially Engaged Research I was better informed of the unintended consequences of this model and of the improper moral high ground often accompanying this model that were not fully aware to me. Contacts with PROUD (a Dutch Sex Worker Union), and SWOP (Sex Workers Outreach Project- in New South Wales, and in the US branches) were informative and engaged in helping to educate me on my misconceptions. Where I thought a partial decriminalization would provide a stepping stone for further increase in basic rights, in this model it often becomes the stopping point. In other words, I learned that not all decriminalization is the same and partial decrim often creates a tiered reality that further complicates the discussion instead of enriching it.

I’m obviously no expert on the subject matter and interested in still learning, but Metro Council opened the door to direct community engagement and I so I walked through it in order to promote a better social approach and in a manner that helps to extend basic rights and expand the ability of our neighbors to work how they want to work and be supported doing it.

Without drawing out the foreplay, here’s the aforementioned speech to Metro Council:

Whats the price for 2 Minutes of public display of agitation.

Whats the price for 2 Minutes of public display of agitation.

I am Sorry I Ran for Mayor

As we start voting in yet another election in Nashville, it seemed only appropriate to put on a little metal and test my mettle by meddling once again in the arena where I have been previously de-legitimized (because I ran on an unusual platform with an unconventional approach). I asked a lot from those listening to the raving rambunctiousness of trying to rouse a little something-something. I can say I was pretty impressed by some members of the electorate and press, and stupefied by those who practice a prodigious productivity (mediocrity of medium need their own medals!) but still felt compelled to intervene. We can do better Nashville and you deserve better. I find it comforting to remember that the mass-man is everywhere on the march, in press and in the pens of social media, but there are others right beside him willing to stand for something.

Until then, we owe it to ourselves to stay clean and troll the power.

Written at request of the local paper, and then ultimately edited down to the bite-size bumper sticker BS more easily consumed with only two swipes of the phone-thumb, here is the original (not-even-that-long) mea culpa:

 

I’m Sorry I Ran for Mayor

An Exercise in Inclusion Invites Examination

That's on me. My bad. I deigned participate in the political process without pedigree or due grooming. Maybe I was suffering an identity crisis or maybe I truly am symptomatic of a deeper concern for the city shared by its’ citizens. As jeff carr frequently pointed out the baker's dozen slate included 10 non-politicians: a pretty solid showing for a demographic rarely involved on the stage (indicating loss of trust in our institutions and who manages them?). I ran a satirical platform with nuanced challenge aimed at highlighting our local problems, with tenets that could theoretically be applied to most governmental arrangements, social contract or no. I ran as the clown, the Joker, utilizing puns and wordplay throughout, peppering my manifesto with references from punk lyrics to the Frankfurt School, SDS to the Situationists, Pet Shop Boys to Air Supply, movies to Hegelian musings, and arguably plenty of hot political air to fluff. But what I didn't do was personally insult or call names, I rarely referenced individual's policies, preferring levity to libel. I asked that my arguments be dismissed on their merits and railed against logical fallacies from people and press. But t’wasn’t to be, and that's OK because it allows reflection.

 

Frequently misclassified, casually dismissed, I did not play the game. I detailed & denied the political theatre by breaking the 4th wall. The goal was not to get votes, it was to raise awareness and push a new style of platform, so I repeated the eponymous rhyming couplet: “Don't be a fool, Don't Vote for Sewell.” To some this indicated my arguments were invalidated. Accused of making “a mockery of Democracy,” firstly I ask, “where is the magical land whence you come and does it have free WiFi?” And secondly, I'm the effect, not the cause; the symptom, not the source. Let's not confuse cause and effect, or alternatively, causation and correlation. I approached my lot honestly: let's face it, I never had a chance; I never started any response with “As your mayor,” because that ain't me and it doesn't reflect reality. I held no fundraisers, no rallies, asked for no money and no volunteers. I ran on wild ideas from drug decriminalization to a maximum wage, converting streets to parks, and artwork as traffic calming measures. As the conduit to expand the political conversation, I even championed untamed dreams of transparency: providing a campaign website that literally included every single response to every submitted questionnaire; I'd dare to say I was one of the most open, honest, and accessible candidates running. To some that honesty was disqualifying.

 

While the reporting sufficed, the analysis suffered. Casually jumping between the two reveals the literary problem with including the reporter in the story. While my approach in style and substance intrigued many, others were repelled or found it repugnant. However, the ethical journalist should “Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.” I challenge the idea that those who analyzed me in the press had the contextual grounding: it's more Jello Biafra, less Basil Marceaux (tho his campaign manager was a frequent consultant); more Abbie Hoffman, less Andy Kaufman (tho we're both actors who've wrestled at the Nashville Fairgrounds as the heel); less Taylor Swift flashiness, and more Jonathan Swift tongue-in-cheekiness.

 

It's fair to say I'm a new breed of candidate. My own modest proposal to enliven debate within the political theatre aimed to embrace, exploit, and expand the political landscape. The paradigm has shifted, so can the praxis. But the theoretical foundations still exist. Unfortunate for that strategy, we often discard theory in political debate in deference to optics and diplomatic pragmatism.

 

After a series of contentious civilly obligated conversations, I observe increase calls for “Inclusion.” However in context of my campaign, I call lip service on trite cliches. I am the unfamiliar and so got ignored, but my experience at every Mayoral Forum belies a greater need to engage. I often carried the room in a major hall, but can't get my foot in the door in the local political cliques: they're open for business not breaking bread. After the last forum at NOAH, my largest appeal was to women and people of color, frequently citing a “refreshing” new take. Even though I'm ironically a white male aged 18-45, I come at the issues with an honesty allowed by my satirical freedom. But I can't get engagement from the local political machine (including those that preach inclusion!), even tho I carry the qualifications: BA in PoliSci, BA in philosophy, MA from Vandy. One can argue I have a deeper contextual background than most of my detractors. “But you're the clown!” - When really they’re saying I'm the unfamiliar approach: informed substance in a satirical style, using self-deprecating attacks meant to reach an end. Inclusion shouldn't be checking demographic boxes: it's not just Ds and Rs in suits. Inclusion, like Plato’s virtue, is not a 'policy’ or name of a Mayor's office, it is a pattern of behavior: taking every argument on its merits, avoiding premature prejudice or misclassification and exploring the diversity of the human experience. So I speak up for the next clown, the next satirist, theorist, weirdo, freak, geek, comic, artist, anarchist, libertarian, socialist, hippie, hip-hop wordsmith, gangster rapper, introvert, outsider, excluded, marginalized, misclassified, edited, censored, poet, punk, philosopher, or dreamer positing big creative outlandish ideas, and who wants to share their vision of more seats at the table and bigger tables. When we impulsively dismiss what we don't understand we are all the clown.

 

Some people didn't like the cut of my jib, while others encouraged the direction I was sailing. Even though you don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows, who are we to tell someone they can't let their freak flag fly. Stay clean Nashville. See you on the other side.

Save the Firsts for Last

An anecdotal meandering through a mayoral candidacy by way of campaign firsts for Nashville

2018. Mayor of Nashville. The election that had so many contenders most of us weren't. But hey, there I was playing the star again, there I was up on the stage. For basic starters, the sheer number of candidates must have set some sort of record and, until I hear otherwise, I'm just gonna assume so without any sort of research or archival digging. I’m taking the same approach with the list below. By the numbers: a baker's dozen of co-applicants, 3 forums in as many weeks, and roughly a 30 day campaigning period between qualifying and election day. A long time period for a short turnaround: overwhelmed by the candidates, most groups submitted basic questionnaires, some extremely long (Central Labor Council’s was 7 pp; SEIU’s 5 pp.; NOAH even had 2 questionnaires laid out over an Excel spreadsheet) and then some news outlets chose coverage based on a criteria not yet known, and some never even reached out. A weird time indeed, and it called for a full on escape. With two young kids crying, pooping, needing to breastfeed, and peeing their carseats, the Redneck Riviera is a short 11 hour trip to help clear the head. Catch up on some sleep? Not likely, but get more sleep having had some beers- indeed. A few bushwhackers deep into the election day reckoning of fear (many voters unfamiliar with their chosen Selection did so because he wasn't the racist lady), I started to reflect: What went wrong, when did it happen, where was I, and why am I doing this. All inquiries unanswerable at the moment but good thoughts for ruminating later. What IS known: there were a lot of firsts, and coming in last (that's what happened right?) helped clarify the murky.

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor to have wrestled professionally.

Fairgrounds. April 2017. Are they tearing it down for an office complex? Is the racetrack going away? Where will people be deafened by mufferless cars while drunk on cheap mass beer when it's gone? Why does the New York Times keep coming to town? And where do all the matching shirts people wear to council meetings go when it's over? Are all more questions we won't touch here but they do have answers, I'm just lazy, and wanted to provide context and move on here. Anywho, By all accounts, it was a pretty good time when Mr. Christmas squared off against “Stoneman.” Pitifully angled, the single can light for the show was blinding most of the cast and crew from Still the King, allowing them only silhouette views of the action. Kevin Farley and his lady-friend were honorary ringside bell-bangers. After all was said and done, I think I ended up losing money tho.

 

  1. The first male candidate not to wear a tie even once.

Not a single time. Look back at very picture of me available. I know for sure, because I didn’t even bust out a tie for Steeplechase.

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor to have a set at a Comedy Club and a Mayoral Forum on the same Night.

Meharry Medical College. Thursday May 10. I was contacted early on by a rep from “Pumps & Politics” about participating in this second of 3 major fora. The most interesting guest was Acting Mayor David Briley because he didn’t even show up. Instead he had the stage all to himself at some Town Hall, instead of basking in the glory of full reveal of platform. The first forum, put on by the Tennessean at Nashville Public Library, I was able to end on a pretty high note introducing the brilliance of the CHIT show: a four-fold platform of Corruption, Hypocrisy Influence, and Taxes. Buuut, at this second forum is where I sprung legalization of weed, decriminalization of all drugs, and decriminalization of prostitution: audible gasps collide with some “hell yeahs” and we are in the swing of things, picking up our pace, and rolling on stage pretty solidly. Questions were not provided beforehand, so it was some sinking and’or swimming and clearly the audience couldn’t tell the difference. An interesting question about restorative practice at Metro schools allowed mt the entree into a wider discussion of these policies as praxis of restorative justice theory, but the woman asking the question was actually shouting over me when i was getting into my stride. Something about not wearing a tie makes people think they're on the same level. Anywho, a solid C+/B- performance on stage, that included some fun backstage joking with ralph Bristol, where his wife offered up her fond affection for my rantings on the Nashville Scene comments section. I had spouted so much blathering recitation of platform on paper I had forgotten the whole comment on Bruce Barry’s article, but it hit home with quite a wide audience. However, after exiting stage left, the forum event handlers tried to corral me back into a front row seat, but I made up some story about needing to find my ‘family,’ some friends who had shown up document the chaotic confusion.

Realizing we had gotten out incredibly early, I took advantage of the quick exit to hit up my old employer, one of the producers and a director from the Still the King, who was texting me pics of him with Kevin Farley, who was on tour and doing a set that night at Zanies. The trap was set, the opportunity was in place, and the subject en route to the scene of the second crime. I had to lie to the wife, who was tending to children, that the forum was running long, so if she asks about that night, just play it cool. The opener has already wrapped up and the night’s MC was on stage doing a decently funny middle of the road self-deprecating routine with a variation on the ‘small dumb hometown’ routine, but it wasn’t unbearable. I set down with Potsy and AMber and ordered a beer knowing full well i was gonna skip out early but he’d be down to cover it, since he probably ripped me off on the show and owed me a few beers anyway. The next act that was a Georgia boy of Korean descent who had been adopted as a child, so only knew backwoods Georgia and played on the asian kid in the rural south routine decently enough. Back to MC, she riffed on a few audience observations, and hyped them for Kevin, who busted out pretty happy to see some old co-workers and able to make a few jokes about pitifully small crowd size (Preds were playing a postseason series-ender that night) before transitioning into the invite for a localboy done good. Introducing me by referencing our behind the scenes antics for a show NO ONE EVER SAW made for some good inside humor and we went straight into interview style question-and-answer, wherein I revealed my identity crisis and did about 3 mins of stand-up, going through the platform and making anatomy based humor on local politicals. (It was my second time on stage at Zanies- first one was with Josh Wolf and Michael Cudlitz, for Josh’s “Fairly Normal” live audience podcast. That time was a group seating on stage (forum style) where I brought my infant daughter on stage for Michael to hold. It went about as expected- the crowd is wondering why there is a baby on stage at a drinking establishment but hey that’s between them and the cops and that’s probably past some sort of statute of lims now.)

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor to raise $0.00

Check the financial disclosures. I’ve gotten several Tweeterers who did and they seemed pretty impressed by it. However, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened before. The operating assumption here is that other past candidates have at least been invested enough to give themselves some money. I dont think Im even worth the time for a dime, though, so when all else fails, do nothing. This could probably use a historical factcheck.

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor to ask citizens NOT to vote for him.

“Actively telling voters to not <what> for him?” read the Reddit post on a pretty in-depth thread that actually had more backstory in it than any article run by any ‘legit’ local news outlet. Yeah, that’s right: the website www.theCHITshow.com landing page even has 3 different poorly executed graphic design versions all saying, “Don’t Be a Fool, Don’t Vote for Sewell.”

 

As succinctly put to the Editorial Board of the Tennessean in their candidate questionnaire:

Because my platform includes a four-fold approach to city management through Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT), I must admit that I envy the political experience of my opponents and find it difficult to compete. Being a political newbie, I am not well acquainted with the hidden power structure that helps funnel massive amounts of money into the political arena for private gain from public resources. I would like to say that in order to ensure steady transfer of political titles to buttress a behind-the-scenes maintenance of continual influence, I cannot provide that safe passage. I have no access to the fountains of dark money to distribute. Don’t be a Fool, Don’t Vote for Sewell as a means to secure a more efficient implementation of CHIT.

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor NOT to graduate from High School.

I dropped out of MBA in 1998, after my junior year and went straight to college under a program where they assume you’re a senior in high school and they allow direct entry into a limited number of classes. As it turns out I just didn’t do the senior year part. A year and a half after matriculating at MTSU, the Registrar’s office called and asked where my diploma was and I had to confess I never got one but then became slightly indignant because Ive actually be enrolled in college. So to comply with their regs I got a GED from Cohn Adult over winter break, only receiving my physical copy on the last day of late registration to start my 4th semester of college. GED officially issued January 27th, 2000.

Similar to the fourth #1 above, I’d like to get a firm grip on who has been attracted to this office. The pertinent distinction may be regarding candidates for Mayor of Metropolitan Nashville & Davidson County, an office that didn’t exist before 1963. Presumably, there may have been a few candidates for an early Nashville that did not graduate high school because the arrival of settlers typical precedes the establishment of schools for them.

 

  1. The first candidate for Mayor to wear the same shirt to every Mayoral Forum

Check the reel. I’m for real. A black polo with white buttons. I even wore it the night of my Defeat Party in Orange Beach on election night - a defeat for me but quite a victory for the CHIT show.

 

  1. The first candidate to offer to promote another candidate.

Thursday May 3. Coalition FOR Nashville Neighborhoods (C4NN) Mayoral Forum at Metro Nashville Education Association offices in Berry Hill. Schedule gets shifted around, but gets back to alphabetical order at end, with Sewell performing directly before Carol Swain. A 10-min series of questions from C4NN for each candidate also in series. Interior. Nighttime. Lobby right inside commercial  storefront main entrance. Players: carol swain and her It guy, Sewell and videographer, (fellow SAG actor Dean Shortland) and a representative for C4NN doing crowd control.

Swain: You were pretty funny at the Tennessean forum.

Sewell: Oh, thanks!

Swain: You’re having a good time doing this, huh?

Sewell: Yeah, it’s exhausting. I don’t know what I’m doing. Look my socks don’t match (Pulls up pant legs to reveal mismatched socks: one black, one white).

Swain: You know, since you’re telling people not to vote for you, you should tell them to vote for me.

[PAUSE]

Sewell: What’s that pay?

 

  1. The first candidate to have a film premiere during his campaign.

This will need a further fact-check, and research can be limited to recent history simply on the history of film alone.

The 1st annual Nashville Independent Film Festival, a 1-day celebratory assemblage of local indie work, opened on a Wednesday afternoon (May 9th) at 2 with a screening of “The Basement: An Unlicensed Mob Surgeon Board Review.” Designed to precede the Nashville Film Fest, they needed content, which surprisingly isn't lacking. Fresh off the second season of Still the King, I threw my hat in the ring alongside one local acting legend, Jeremy Childs, who afterwards went on to a recurring role in AMC’s adaptation of the graphic novel, Preacher. Granted it's a short film and yes the time slot was unfortunate but hey, I heard it kicked off the fest with some good laughs and writers Dean Shortland and Mac Cushing acted as MCs.




 

WSMV: Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Got a fun inquiry from a fan within the 4th estate. Up to this point, most of them have tried to delegitimize me even some going so far as to claim they have the right to tell others not to engage in the democratic process (or the right to be edited out- as a service to their readers). The scariest part about these misguided inclinations? They're from self-appointed defenders of the sacred process! Somehow, the argument goes that the political process is so sacred (yeah, where are they living?), you can't get involved even if you have a legitimate grievance if you have a campaign that does not spoonfeed them your platform. No nuance, no critical thinking, literally blunt steadfast unmoving bashing of bumper sticker slogans. They got a platitude attitude. So, im going Buffet (Jimmy) on them with Changes in Platitudes, Changes in Attitudes, with considerable latitude and CHIT, man, I might even go longitudinally and stick around for a while.

wtvf.PNG

WTVF: Thanks!  Can you answer a dumb question on the record?  Is your campaign a joke? I know, I know - it's journalism man, I have to get two references just to say the sky is blue.

 

Sewell: its very good question. whats the word count you can allow me to answer?

 

WTVF: It just so happens we have a questionnaire -

  1. Biographical details.  Where were you born? Where did you attend school? Do you have a family? What experience do you have serving the public, including government, military, or volunteer work?  What do you do for a living? If you're not from Nashville what brought you here?

  2. What is your vision for Nashville's future?

  3. What is Nashville's most pressing problem and how will you address it?

Answer it however you like, but we are heavily editing the responses. These were mainly for candidates with whom we weren't aware, ballot access being what it is in this state.

 

Sewell: Im watching the kiddos right now, but will answer the questionnaire tonight after I get them to bed, if thats cool.

as an aside, because im curious: where have you seen any campaign coverage? i got the feeling the local press was trying to edit me out of the narrative! its been very discouraging from a faith-in-humanity perspective that so many have come out trying to delegitimize my arguments and saying i shouldnt be running at all. its a real bummer when it comes from people i would normally agree with on other matters.

 

Sewell: hey my man, sorry it took so long. feel free to cut it up as much as you want, even dropping the last little literary flourish, unless you think it helps illuminate. ive found that since the setup for the joke goes over peoples heads (even writers) the punchline lands flat.

WTVF Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

 

Biographical details.  

Where were you born?

Baptist Hospital, Nashville, TN

Where did you attend school?

Montgomery Bell Academy thru junior year (high school dropout). I enrolled immediately into MTSU thru a program where they let you enroll in college during your senior year but I just didnt do the senior year part. Then they caught up with me after I had been there for a year and a half. So, I got my GED thru MNPS at Cohn Adult over on Charlotte Ave. After 2 years at MTSU (including a summer in Spain at the Universidad de Murcia), I transferred to University of Memphis, where I stayed for another 4 years, incl. a year in Spain (Universidad de Murcia again) and a summer in Quebec (Universite’ de Quebec a’ Chicoutimi). I got a BA in Foreign Languages (triple concentration: French, Latin, Spanish), a BA in Philosophy, and a BA in Political Science. Then I got an MA in Latin American Studies at Vanderbilt (where I was also accepted into the PhD program for PoliSci, but did not pursue). I got into Mensa in 2003, while living in Memphis.

 

Do you have a family?

Married with 2 young kids whom I watch regularly as a part-time stay at home dad. My mom is a physician and medical consultant. My father died years ago after fighting degrading symptoms of MS most of my life.

 

What experience do you have serving the public, including government, military, or volunteer work?  

Served on my neighborhood board for years. Regular participant in subcommittees for UBC (the Carpenters Union), when I was a member and now for SAG-Aftra as a current member.  

 

What do you do for a living?  

SAG-Aftra actor, I recently wrapped on a TV show that was filmed here in nashville for two years with Billy Ray Cyrus and Joey Lauren Adams for CMT until they got out of scripted content. I also do design and drafting work for a cabinet and millwork shop in my neighborhood part-time. As well, I own an art-centric commercial property in the Wedgewood-Houston arts district where more than ⅔ of my spaces are rented at below market-rate in order to support the people and arts I believe in.

 

If you're not from Nashville what brought you here?  

If I weren’t from here, I would probably once would have been attracted to the once-vibrant old-school sense of authenticity that people find lacking in California or the East Coast. But then move here in droves, using lingo from the old west like it belongs in the new south, sounding like Yosemite Sam, but thinking Foghorn Leghorn. Then, seeing other people move here in droves, Id try to get in on the action and throw up some fast-casual architecture that’s mostly inauthentic disparate shapes of nonsense but cladding-driven in aesthetic and act like im helping out the dispossessed. But that aint me. Im from here. I was going to punk shows on Church St in the mid 90s when Mary Mancini ran an old all-ages club, getting harassed by rednecks and accidentally paving the way for copycat hipster yuppies to ape our style, and who want to tell us how advanced they are because they’re not from here. Did that sound bitter?


 

What is your vision for Nashville's future?

A more inclusive Nashville. City leadership has been (well, mostly not from here) and laser-focused on getting new people to move here at great social and economic costs for its current residents. We need to take care of our own first. We need to enlarge the proverbial tables: provide more seats, engage more stakeholders, entertain all ideas on their merits, no matter how wild they are. Honestly this town has gotten stale with its tired, pedestrian, uninspired ‘answers.’ They say they have a plan fi we keep them in the pilot’s seat- i think the leaders are lying- Nobody’s driving! They got busted giving away the store at rock-bottom prices and wonder why people are upset? So lets expose and expand the political landscape. Expand the public health system thru these cost-savings from the criminal justice network: legalize weed, decriminalization of drugs, decriminalization of prostitution, housing the homeless (cheaper in longitudinal studies than repeated incarceration). Provide new outlets for creative transportation problem-solving: more painters painting crosswalks, more traffic-calming sculptures in the 4-ways, shut down streets and make them into parks (like Deaderick downtown from Leg Plaza to Public Square), increase the greenways network, provide more intermediate size buses (not one size fits all) to reach outside communities, more park-and-ride mass transit options at the city limit with direct access to hubs downtown, propose wild ideas and have them dismissed on their merits, like CM Sledge’s idea for suspended cable cars! Let’s open our minds to new facts instead of intolerantly acting like we’re all damn know-it-alls. Go big with new and wild ideas and listen to each other. More inclusion requires more transparency in government as well as more accountability.  That means Metro departments should default to providing info instead of concealing it, and that starts with the top brass all the way down. Who are the shadow people with the backroom deals, and where does all the money go? The Mayor’s Office should lead by example instead of withholding info. Metro legal should ask what it really stands for. See the kleptocrats peddling public resources (Corruption) in the name of public service (Hypocrisy) to well-connected financiers (Influence) and then trying to make up the difference thru regressive measures (Taxes). We’ve got front-row seats to the show.




 

What is Nashville's most pressing problem and how will you address it?

The source of Nashville’s most pressing problem right now might be its own self-discouraging attitude honestly. We keep desperately searching for outside forces to move here and help us make it a great city. It already is. If no one else ever moved here we would be fine. Our ‘leaders’ have been so desperate to make new wealthy citizens that they have done so by scorched earth thru poorer neighborhoods; so eager to please developers that they have squandered the largest windfall this city has ever seen and pulled a shortfall out of mutual benefit. Don’t fan the development boom thru incentives but manage thru responsible growth. By wasting the opportunity to encourage responsible growth, we have let some of our most needy neighbors seen property turn a profit for the most-needless without protecting the resources that made the community a shared asset. We’re in a self-wrought fiscal crisis, where we can’t afford the fire sale anymore: if schools are taking a hit, why not hit up the corporations that benefited from that misappropriation? Be a leader and stand up for the citizens- if you’re asking teachers to take it on the chin, why not also go the business community to pay their fair share? Let’s impose a Living Wage to allow people to live and thrive in this town. Let’s be bold and impose a Maximum Wage of 50:1 (exec:median pay). Why just toss out giveaways for those that don’t need it- why not open the general funds to the general public. Monies generated through responsible corporate management (controlling excessive unsustainable compensation) will be reallocated to help the local businesses that actually benefit the most AND result in a better ROI through the multiplier effect. Grow our local small businesses by helping our large businesses be better neighbors.

Aside from the top-down attitude adjustment, We also put our blind faith in leaders. We look to the election of ‘progressive’ mayors and struggle to get past their lack of control. The previous storekeeps were drunk with power and overpromised under the influence of well-connected red-handed ambition. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, but we should focus on creating a climate of good policy, not cults of personality. I think one of the ways forward would be to save this town the charade of the political theatre: no more behind-the-scene deals done with developers for city land, no more kleptocrats masquerading as ethicists, no more shady influence and debts owed to dark money financiers, and no more self-contradictory taxes, where rates are established for the general public but carve-outs created for special interests. It’s a sham and a spectacle and until we can move past the drama, we must embrace it to expose it. The spectacle shines so bright in this town, that it would be a shame for entertainment value if the hitherto dramatically tragic comedy  were to miraculously wither away. For the many supporters of the CHIT show, I say “Dont be a Fool, Dont Vote for Sewell.”

Nashville Business Journal mayoral survey

Wherein, I advocate for Living Wage, Maximum Wage and micro-dosing to executives thru a discussion of deconstructionism, Nietzsche's underworld man, Plato, the cave analogy (yes- a little Phil 101),  the multiplier effect, economic sunken costs, bogus incentive packages, graft, bribery, semiotics and the nature of language. I'm sure it'll be a hit! Know your audience? I dont even know the locutor! Whether or not these thoughts are my own, please dismiss them with argument that wont embarrass us both! See y'all in the local commercial rag...and the dirty campaign trail! Stay Clean, Nashville, you deserve better.

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How would you address Nashville's current financial footing?

Deconstruction. While we require that logic and meaning produce substantive discussion, when it comes to matters of money, there is truth, and then there is statistics. In response to legitimate requests for an accounting, the answer thus far seems to be variations on a theme of 'experts know better'. This is an appeal to authority (logically fallacious) and moreover mathematically deficient: the experts were wrong and the algorithms don't add up. Its literally a world of shadows underground and from a citizen's perspective the shadow money is hard to track. It was self-repeating until it wasn't- a Ponzi scheme built on a fantasy of perpetual monetary motion. Now bills are due, invoices cut, die cast. We're still climbing all over each other to attract new biz here with incentive schemes with a pitiful municipal and societal ROI. If we believe in the shadows, why not embrace the underworld man? The current financial footing is a manifestation of the will to power where truth is subjective, based on political authorship by economic actors, who ultimately know where the money went. Do we jail the bankers to prove a point like Iceland? Im more of a restorative justice type of guy, so I say lets talk it out and have some red hands washed clean. We don't have to be all lady Macbeth about it, but we can at least help each other out first before trying to be the cool guy with the new friends.

 

What would you do next to improve the city's transit system?

Open the discussion. We should embrace new ideas, new agents, even new methods of discussion. The transit debate that so moved this town was a clash of opposing marketing schema and through the haze there are ideas presented by both sides that are valid. Lets not strawman each other, here. I say we open the floor for discussion, but we need a wider arena of debate. Coming up with one option and following it up with a false dilemma branding campaign was unfortunate mostly for those of us who enjoy honest and critical debate. There are answers we can produce as a city- not as top-down heavy-handed brinkmanship. So, they worked on a plan they didn't want to deviate from. I only have a minor in Economics (University of Memphis: 2004) but i think we call that sunk costs. Anywho, the Nays carried the day and we gt a chance to revisit the topic, so lets do it altogether! Let the artists devise traffic-calming measures; let's reclaim some streets for people, walking/biking, not cars (like Deaderick from public square to public plaza); let anyone present an idea with their own backing- no matter how wild, like air trams (telefericos are ubiquitous in South America because they actually work!), intermediate buses (not one size meets all), provide more biking options county-wide, challenge preconceived notions and dismiss arguments on their merit not because of tradition or prejudice. Open the discussion to get buy-in.

 

What, if anything, do you think the city should do to be more business friendly?

My goodness, I feel like this question is a set-up! But I'll bite in the interest of good conversation. If we want to converse, we must define our terms- (I've said this in pretty much everything Ive written during this campaign because its so important.) Im just hearkening back to Plato, to Voltaire and trying (pitifully Im sure) to apply a modern semiotic structuralism. We exist in the interplay of language and in this case, it's important to distinguish types of business. I believe the city is sufficiently friendly to large businesses: they receive incentive packages and plenty of soft subsidies, that often don't even pan out to their promoted Multiplier effect- its a sham. The real bang for the buck should be making it easier for small biz to operate. However, due to the disparate nature of that demographic, the difficulty of a finding an advocating rep compounds the problem (Ill tip my hat to SBA efforts, while wanting better execution). In order to promote small biz initiatives, I would like to propose first a Living Wage- so many small biz emerges from the already employed but envision a new innovative disruptive model- make sure they have enough to live in this town as well as enough to forge their own path. Secondly, Id like to propose a Maximum Wage (of 50:1 - exec:median pay)- yes I said it. In order to fund new programs we need some accountability: disagreement must include explanation of executive compensation (which has skyrocketed to unsustainable levels) and how that executive is more than 50 times the worth of their median employee. Combating negligent income equality thru flagrant exacerbaters, like outlandish exec compensation is one proposal. If we're talking pumping money into the economy, the multiplier effect works best when applied in small applications, not through corporate bribery with checks cut from general funds. So lets try some micro-dosing.

NOAH Forum questionnaire

Id like to tread respectfully with some of these organizations who have put a lot of effort into building some large coalitions and who are actually trying from the grassroots level to take on a system that definitely aint made for them. Good god, where does Sisyphus hang out when he's on break? probably with these folks. Then when the odds weren't daunting enough, he likes to relinquish his seat in the breakroom to Tantalus who probably shares war stories about the victoires he's had that outnumbers theirs. 

I cant imagine what it must feel like to be building a coalition like this, making small victories as you grow, only to have your feast be slaughtered whole hog and sold by promising allies, who showed up to help out. Their dreams have literally been sold down river by the very people who provided them the glue for their vision board. If it weren't such a damn travesty the joke that's been pulled on these people would at least be worth a oneliner at Zanies.

The cynic in me wonders how many 'leaders' in this coalition knew about the selling-out perpetrated by 'leaders' of the city. Somebody somewhere is getting rich. 

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Brief introductory statement.

I am Jon Sewell. I am running for Mayor of Nashville as an awareness campaign for what I perceive as the age-old local political tradition of Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT). Trust has eroded in this town. “Progressives” (hypocrisy) are peddling public resources (corruption) to well-connected financiers (influence) and then trying to make up the difference thru regressive measures (taxes). As a professional actor and member of the local arts community, I am using what I know best and attacking this systemic breakdown to expose it by embracing it via a satirical yet nuanced criticism. Let’s widen the political arena.

 

What are your priorities for the city?

Lets have an honest accounting of how in the world IT city went from windfall to shortfall. This conversation must include a reckoniong on corporate giveaways to the well-heeled. Its easy to cut checks with other people’s money and then end-result has been catastrophic, revealing the city leadership’s approach to the desire for development to be reminiscent of a Ponzi scheme: take money from people living here to pay other people to move here to make more money to pay other people to move here? If we don’t have enough to house our own affordably, how can we afford to pay to house others? Lets have that discussion frankly because obligations to our citizenry have been neglected in order to make new corporate neighbors feel welcomed. What at first seemed like a concerted effort of blue-blood progressives to redistribute public resources for private wealth may end up being exposed as complete mismanagement by those who said they had a sustainable plan as long as they were in control: our leaders were lying, nobody’s driving.

 

What do you expect to accomplish by the end of your term?

By the end of my term, I hope to have created a city where new wild ideas are at least entertained. Let the dispossessed speak for themselves on how to handle redistribution of wealth to include economically marginalized populations. I think for too lone ‘leaders’ have told the people what will be done after engaging in disingenuous “listening” meetings (town halls, community charrettes, etc). Lets allow every idea its moment to be proposed and judged on its own merits. Pilot studies will be funded by the immediate cancellation of incentive packages for corporate relocations. We don't have the cash for those give-aways and the people receiving them don't need the money as much as our less-resourced neighbors. We have to prioritize problem solving. Let’s discuss the unconventional: free transit passes for our less-fortunate neighbors, drug decriminalization, legalization of marijuana, the end of petty crime offenses that disproportionately affect marginalized and already sensitive populations, decriminalization of prostitution, expansion of local healthcare options, housing the homeless. Let these situations be addressed as social and health issues and not retributive criminal justice problems. In doing so, we also remove an enormous discretionary burden off the police force allowing them to focus on domestic violence, property crimes, and traffic control.

 

Why do you believe that you are the best person to carry out the remainder of this mayoral term?

In a word, I dont believe Im the best person. Simply put, I believe I have a valid viewpoint that may also help reduce crime and save money for Metro, but I hesitate to say I’m better qualified than the other candidates. There is new energy in this race and new faces. The old guard is having trouble looking at this town squarely because frankly their programs and packages have failed large sections of the demographic, so new people are stepping up, making themselves vulnerable, in order to provide fresh ideas. That’s where we need to head- direct democracy with new (even wild unconventional and unfamiliar yet proven) ideas. I’m here to satirically embrace the political theatre in order to expose it. In doing so, I hope to expand the political landscape and open up the parameters of debate. I will do so by getting my foot in the door with comedic parody, and then once in the room allow space for the unfamiliar policy decisions that are dramatically improving lives elsewhere.

NOAH Task Force Questions

Are they really gonna print this stuff in their day-of program? 

These are the follow-up questions to their first set. Seems like they have a lot of subcommittees filled with impassioned people who like to ask leading questions, which I ain't mad at, but god bless it takes a paragraph of explanation to get to the question! Because the questions read very left-liberal leaning, I'm very excited to see the responses from the more conservative leaning candidates (not to mention the fake progressives who have been bilking this town!). Do they lie, do they deflect, does the system work for them? 

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NOAH Task Force Questions

 

Affordable Housing: Nashville has an affordable housing crisis, a study commissioned by the Mayor's Office says that 31,000 units of affordable rental units will be needed by 2025. Will you commit to developing and implementing a strategic affordable housing plan with specific and measurable goals, a timeline, and (dedicated) funding?

Yes. “Rent control” is banned at the state level by statute. It’s literally in the TCA, since ‘96. But that doesnt mean at the local level we can’t find innovative ways to include affordable units, say through subsidies for more density for developers, incentives for more inclusionary growth, the voluntary acceptance by developers of Community Benefit Agreements, or through creative use of city-owned land (being the one exception to “rent control” prohibition). It’s a well-known fact that the state government acts condescendingly paternalistic toward municipal governments willing to try new mechanisms to solve problems. In this case, they have taken away the stick, but we still have the carrot. This town is booming and developers want a piece of the action and are quite willing to do whatever it takes to make that profit. Make them earn it. Quantifiable metrics and rubrics should be a part of any promise a politician makes- hold the crooks accountable!. The timeline is gonna be difficult, let’s not kid ourselves, because we are way behind the 8-ball. This city’s leaders have sold this town out in hopes of pursuing their own shortsighted political career trajectories, so we have a lot of catching up to do. For starters, we should probably end paying people to move here, since we are broke. Use that money saved for schools (see below) and instead ask large corporations that are obviously a part of the problem of rent increases to contribute to a fund that would implement the affordable housing initiative. if you're part of the problem, it only seems fair to be part of the solution.

 

Criminal Justice: Do you believe there is a problem with Metro police policing their own conduct and with distrust between the police and community? NOAH has endorsed Community Oversight Now’s proposal for a referendum on a Community Oversight Board.  Do you support this proposal?  What other solutions do you suggest? 

I always find it difficult to swallow when someone asks to govern themselves. We rolled back rules on large financial firms and let the financial system govern themselves and then we got 2008. We let the construction industry be more or less self-governing (by rolling back oversight) and we got an explosion of worker exploitation. We let lawyers govern themselves and the Board fo professional Responsility only pursues egregious cases, opting to slap wrist more than slap fines.

Accountability is a fundamental process of citizen-driven governance. To ask that no one else hold you accountable looks shady as hell because it actually is. It behooves everyone involved to have third-party verification and oversight. The cops can utilize that mechanism to demonstrate they play fairly, just as any citizen can use it to make sure the system works. If you believe the system should apply the rules fairly to all parties, then by definition and by simple logical conclusion it only follows that a Community Oversight Board is a part of an open, transparent governance policy.

 

Economic Equity: Economic Equity starts with a good education, which leads to better paying jobs & greater opportunities for personal and financial growth. Nashville schools are far short of what they need to operate, and many of the people who work within MNPS need second jobs to get by. Developers and investors are making huge profits in Nashville, but our schools still can't get the funding they need to operate on a yearly basis. What is your plan to get our schools the funding they need?

Where’s the money, man? That’s literally what every person in this town should be asking. But then I realized that there a quite a few people at the top that know! Mayor Briley proposed a new budget in March, saying it was gonna be a status quo neutral budget. Then, all of a sudden, were millions short? What the hell happened? You wanna talk about a fleecing- look further than downtown. Enough with the trite explanations about how budgets are made, and how it’s such a complicated process, because they have experts involved. If they’re such experts how do you lose 38 MILLION DOLLARS? Suddenly, they just don’t have it? Whoops? It’s a damn spectacle not afforded to anyone but those at the top that were literally handing out such large sums of money that we went from windfall to shortfall in just a few years.

Funding schools seems like a simple task- don’t pay people to move here and hike up living expenses and instead use the misallocated funds earmarked for corporate relocations for schools. On top of that, Unwind the property tax write-downs that they used as bribes and give our schools the money that is rightfully theirs. It’s easy to cut checks with other people’s money.

Central Labor Council's Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire

Folks... tsk tsk tsk on all of us. We got the power but nowhere to run. We sold ourselves out. We are all complicit in the CHIT storm, so put on your waterproof suits and do some dancing in some muddy puddles. We dont stick up for our own. We got the right misrepresenting Nietzsche- dont out nihilize, anesthetize! We got progressives who think opposing viewpoints are in need of guidance. Good liberal Dems (in the American sense) turned out to be Lib Dems (in the British sense). You dont understand the shortfall from the windfall because you dont understand budgets? Sounds like Im not the only one! Wheres the money man? The progressives gave it to big business? Who made who? Who made you? Aint nobody told you?. Dont act self-righteous because you did something once- stand up and be counted. Actual working families in this town even get stiffed by typically reliable allies and its pitiful. "Well, the numbers dont work out" - give me a break- as they drive off one person in a European SUV that seats 6. Its like the multiplier effect means nothing when you gotta divide the cause. We dont need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. The yuppies are gonna tell us how to take care of them, with a message paid for with old money the new way! Im so turned around, I dont understand who's side is whose, when everyone's clawing through the scrum for the money. See you in the streets, getting CHITty! 

 

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The Central Labor Council of Nashville and Middle Tennessee represents thousands of union members from the industrial, commercial, service, construction, and public sectors.  In recent years, Tennessee led the nation in the rate of union growth, as our economy rebounded and our affiliates organized workers. This critical election year the CLC is committed to registering, getting out the vote, and informing union members and their families like never before.

 

This questionnaire is the first step in our endorsement and member education process.  It will only be shared with affiliated union representatives who participate in our screening process; it will not be shared with other candidates, media, or any group not affiliated with the CLC.  These questions were compiled by a survey of our membership and represent the concerns of affiliates from every industry.

 

Please return a signed copy of this questionnaire to anne@nashvilleclc.org or PO Box 290153, Nashville, TN 37229 no later than Monday, May 7, 2018.

 

We look forward to your responses and to working with you to improve the lives of working families in the great state of Tennessee. If you have additional questions, we can be reached at 865-206-6086.

Candidate Name: __________Jon Sewell________

Office Sought: _______________Mayor_________

Campaign Committee Name: _____n/a_________

Campaign Address: ___________n/a___________

Website Address: ___www.theCHITshow.com_
 

General

What if any direct personal or professional experience do you have with organized labor?

___ I have extensive experience with unions. After graduating from graduate school, I felt I needed to supplement my formal education with a more hands-on skills training.  I joined the Carpenters Union after a few years working for unscrupulous contractors (both large and small) and enrolled in their apprenticeship program. I rose from apprentice to journeyman to eventually general foreman, running an entire department at a local display shop. When a new opportunity arose, I retired my card (in 2015) and acted for several years on a TV show shot here in town that employed hundreds of union members. As an actor, I joined SAG-AFTRA, and continue to be an active member in the local. ___

As a stakeholder in our community, how will you specifically involve organized labor in your policy making process?  Do you support the specific inclusion of an organized labor representation on boards and commissions dealing with issues that affect our members?

___I wholeheartedly support the inclusion of organized labor at the table for important decisions made in this town. As a product of a union apprenticeship program, I understand the value it brings to developing the labor workforce. I also understand the value of including labor representation on board and committee to ensure workers get a fair shake when the odds are typically stacked against them.    _____

Do you believe that public & private employees, contingent/temporary workers, and independent contractors employees have a right to collectively bargain for wages, hours, and working conditions?

_____I believe that ALL workers deserve the right to collectively bargain for working conditions. It is a direct consequence of the attack on unions, that wages have stagnated and health and safety problems continue to plague jobsites. Moreover 1099 misclassification had absolutely wrecked the local jobs market, providing nothing but short term gains for general contractors and the developers they have helped enrich.  _____

What measures will you take to ensure your office is free from sexual and other types of workplace harassment?

_____ Zero Tolerance Policy. As the son of a single mother who suffered discrimination even in the highly educated medical field, I know that sexual and workplace harassment is a real and prevalent problem. Everyone deserves the opportunity to do their job without having to deal with a bunch of extra BS.____

Nashville has grown rapidly over the last four years. Do you believe income inequality in Nashville has narrowed, remained stable, or grown? Explain.

____ Income equality continues to be one of the major obstacles to stable and sustainable growth. Nashville's prosperity has not been shared and all too often the income from a regressive tax system has been funneled to attract new corporations. Tax giveaways were supposed to be the carrot that brought in more money but 10 years on, its turned out to be close to fraud and possibly class war perpetrated by rich decision-makers who stand to personally benefit. Wages are stagnant for lower tiers and housing is driving the working poor out of town. _____

If elected, what are your top three priorities after taking office?

_____ I'm no leader. I'm running a shoestring campaign that on purpose wants to raise no money. I'm not here to take advantage of people or pretend I have all the answers. Im not giving out empty platitudes. I have roughly no chance of being any sort of competition in this race. If anythnig I hope I can raise awareness about what I perceive to be rampant Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT). As a result, I hope to raise the issue in a comedic way by telling people that because I back this platform, and because Im not good at it, not to vote for me. As an actor, I hope to embrace the absurd biz practices of the local “leaders” who have sold us all down river, and thereby expand the political landscape, by exposing the CHIT show.

Public Sector


Do you support Memorandums of Understanding with public safety and general government employees?

_____ Without a doubt, I believe there should be agreements in place to ensure a consistently well treated workforce, where labor can earn enough in 40 hours to provide for a family. _____

Based on the experience of outsourcing various metro services over the past decade, do you support further privatization of any metro services?

_____ Outsourcing is a damn scam. It’s a way to sub work out to friends of those in charge, in a veiled nod to efficiency or cost savings, but is really a way to divert funds back to those who need them the least. As a result, the working poor can’t earn enough as prices are driven down and not invested back into working families. Typically employees for these outsourcing contractors receive little to no benefits package and struggle to make ends meet.   _____

 

Do you support continued full funding of the metro employee pension for all public safety and general government employees?

____  Of course. As a vested member of a defined benefit plan myself, I understand its value. Its a promise made and if Metro is in the biz of shortchanging schools and its own labor in order to make sure its subsidies to relocated corporations are honored, then it’s only right to honor its debt to its own citizen workforce.  _______

 

Do you support the current defined benefit structure of the metro employee pension?  Would you support a hybrid or 401k system?

____ I am part of a pension plan and know that its not at the whim of the stock market and something my family and I can count on were I ever to see retirement age. Proposing hybrid plans and 401k plans are a way of saying its OK if your family is at the whim of an irrational financial system.   _____

Do you believe in creating a dedicated funding stream to support the pay plan’s COLA increases and increments to occur on a consistent basis? If yes, why?

____ If someone says they dont support COLA increases, theyre telling the workers they are OK paying you less in real dollars year after year. Bottom line- inflation reduces purchasing power. If pay does not match inflation, youre getting a pay decrease in effect.   _____

Construction

When considering approval of major construction projects would you support apprenticeship and training participation by the contractor as a factor in its procurement by Metro?  Would you sponsor amendments to apply this to projects before Council?

_____ Without a doubt. I am a product of an apprenticeship program! I understand its social value not just its immediate impact of providing skills training. I find it completely befuddling to hear politicians who have railed against unions (a major source of apprenticeship and training programs) then wonder aloud why they don’t have a properly trained workforce- you cant gut the workforce out of greed and then get bitten in the ass by an unqualified workforce and complain about it. Come on, get real. ______

Recent high-profile Metro projects have relied on temporary employment services as the access point for Davidson County residents to construction jobs. These temp services have well-documented records of wage theft and OSHA violations. What steps will you take to keep known bad actors off of publicly funded jobsites? Will you support direct hire on Metro projects?

____ Its a damn CHIT show- they supported these unscrupulous contractors for a photo op and an anecdote with no real interest in seeing workers improve their stock. These temp services are to the labor force what payday loan sharks are to the checks those men and women got. Its a scam that enriches few at great expense socially and economically for all citizens. I think direct hire would be a great idea. Im not saying I have the answers, but its a fact that union jobsites with properly trained labor result in fewer injuries and more economic impact for working families..   ______

Would you support requiring contractors to hire a standard of local Davidson County workers for publicly funded projects, with transparent reporting available to the public?

_____ Youre damn right- but lets be honest. There is corruption in the system that doesnt want to see a Living Wage. Look, im a running as a comedian, so I might as well propose a Maximum Wage- no more gettin rich trying to shortchange everyone. Transparency is key because it holds people accountable. But Corruption is a quick learner- they will find a way to hide their envelope kickbacks. _______

The next ten years will see billions of dollars in infrastructure upgrades and other projects by Metro Nashville.  How would you support the inclusion of organized building trades and DOL Registered apprenticeship programs in the planning and execution these projects?

______ DOL registered apprenticeship programs and the inclusion or organized building trades ia mechanism to ensure the job is done right. When you get these fast-out training programs like Jimmy Hiller’s “Total Tech” you end up with a farce- youre telling me you can train someone all there is to know about plumbing in 6 weeks? I have seen those crews- its abyssmal.  But big contractors like him get far in this town. They got friends in codes, lets be honest. They are members of the BBB (run by biz interests) and loyal citizens of the biz community. But it takes outreach and unfortunately we are learning from recent news stories that it takes death and serious injury for people to start paying attention to bad oversight in health and safety training, not just skills upgrades._________

Other Sectors

The restaurant and hospitality industries comprise a large portion of Nashville’s workforce, yet these are often low-wage jobs with little to no job security, and vulnerable to harassment and exploitation. In your opinion, what policies could be put in place to improve conditions for working people in these industries?

_______ The restaurant industry si a tough workplace, often employing marginalized members of our community who fear repercussion for speaking out and cant afford to miss a paycheck no matter how small it is. Improving their conditions would have to be something applied industry-wide through comprehensive enforcement of new workplace regs ro wage minimums._______

Economic Development

What will you do, specifically, to increase the affordable housing stock in Davidson County so that our members can afford to continue living here?

___ Im here to say some crazy stuff, yall! Like how about asking our corporate neighbors to pay their fair share instead of taking the lions share? Because we know the large corporations moving here do so because our housing stock has typically been cheaper than elsewhere (until recently at least), ti seems only fair to ask them to pay into a fund to alleviate the housing crisi they have inadvertently created. If you break it, you buy it.______

In many cities, to qualify for tax incentives developers are required to agree to workforce standards to give maximum benefit to the impacted community. Currently Nashville’s Industrial Development Board and the Mayor’s office does not use this tool. Will you support Community Benefit Agreements for large tax incentivized projects?

___I dont think anyone will pretend to be shocked that these boards and the Mayor’s office does not use workforce standards. Im sure they will give you a song and dance about “costs”, but at the end of the day the money saved doesnt go back to Metro, it goes to shameless developers who’ could care less about indirect consequences. Any extra money they can siphon out of a truly honest arrangement is self-serving. Community Benefit Agreements are a great tool. Ive been to too many community meetings where developers promise whatever will appease the residents, only to turn around and say “the numbers didn't work out.” A CBA ensures there's no bait-and-switch. These people arent here to build neighborhoods, they're here to build houses at the highest profit margin possible. Make them earn that profit..  ______

When raising utility rates, taxes, and fees, what measures will you take to ensure that low-income residents are not unfairly burdened?

_____Cost freeze programs are a great option, just as used with property taxes. I would love to learn about other options out there for my own edification.  ______

What are your priorities in developing our mass transit system?

_____ Mass transit needs to serve the masses. Somehow that seemed to be lost in the debate. I understand the fear people had about building new ways for people to get into neighborhoods and get out quickly- and the creation of transit development nodes where developers get to cash in on metro infrastructure projects. My own perception was that the Mayor took these poor communities for granted and pushed a plan for yuppies, designed to appear like it’s for all.  The community stakeholders were not included in a lot of the decision making and so Im not too surprised the house of cards tumbled.______

Signed: _______Jon Sewell__________________________________

Date: ______5/7/2018_____________

SEIU Mayoral Screening Process Questionnaire

What the heck is going on here? Whats this guy doing? Are there more ideas out there just floating in the ether ready to sink some chipped teeth into? In the CHIT show baby, anything goes. Make up your own rules, run your own campaign- Get out the vote, get out the way, the truth train rolling through- or is it?

Go crazy some times, and come out swinging totally distracting your opponent like the little boxer from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!

Propose 'wild' ideas like living wage and even a MAXIMUM WAGE! Do yourself a favor if you oppose that idea: just try to formulate the logic behind why one old white dude should make UP TO 300 TIMES the typical worker. You cant lift 300x more than her. CHIT, man, I bet you cant count 300x faster than her, do 300x more excel spreadsheets, eat 300x more caviar- its a joke masquerading as "free market" when the only thing free is the government kickback baby- now get in there and get you some!

 

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  1. I’m thoroughly opposed to efforts to privatize/outsource city services due to the simple fact that most of those who propose that “cost-saving” initiative stand to win big through city contracts or kickbacks to fellow corporate chums by utilizing low-wage no-benefit companies with typically shady employment practices.

  2. I think employee representatives as well as employer representatives should be given equal weight in decision-making. The best model that actually helps businesses thrive is the european Works Councils shop-floor style arrangements, where labor agreements made at national or even regional levels can be tweaked and adjusted to local circumstances benefitting both employers and employees through cooperative communication channels.

  3. COLA increases should be formalized and automatically included in annual budgets. I would enjoy learning more about a dedicated funding stream, not open to general funds requisitioning.

  4. Of course. I have no problem with a defined pension payment plan. As a result of my years of service in the Carpenters Union (United Brotherhood of Carpenters - Local 223), I am fully vested in my own pension plan that I plan on enjoying if I ever reach retirement age, and sharing with my family.

  5. A defined pay-in plan is tricky mostly due to the whims of the “invisible hand of the marketplace” which upon further inspection is neither invisible nor acting unaided by special interests. Having a retirement plan at the whims of the marketplace does not provide security to working families, because the market is irrational and the house always wins.

  6. An 8-year member of the Carpenters Union, I went through their 4-year apprenticeship program after college, in pursuit of a trade education. Working on the shop floor, I rose from apprentice to journeyman to head of a department and eventually getting general foreman pay. I left the UBC in 2015 and retired my card, to engage in a professional acting career. I was a series regular on a show on CMT called “Still the King” and qualified and join SAG-AFTRA, the union for actors and presenters on TV and radio. I am currently a member of SAG-AFTRA, which has one of its few locals here in Nashville, TN, and regularly participate in committee and outreach work.

  7. Income equality is obviously a problem, nationally and locally: wealth continues to be accumulated in fewer and fewer hands but most people are placated by trinkets, gadgets and the consumption of more goods. My candidacy has a comedic angle so it allows to me to suggest ‘crazy’ ideas such as this one: not only an increase in the minimum wage to a living wage level (which adjusts annually), but I would thoroughly enjoy debating a ‘maximum wage’ and force my opponent to explain to me how any man (typically CEOs are men) should earn up to 300x the typical worker. It’s totally absurd, with most executive compensation packages a reflection of their ability to bring down other (primarily labor) costs and rarely reflective of innovations in management.

  8. I would love to learn more about MOUs with unions, as I think the role of local government should not only be to provide services to citizens, meaningful work to employees, but also help encourage responsible trade-based education for private employment. I find it ironic that companies, who have spent fortunes to destroy labor unions and their apprenticeship programs, are then confused that there is not an abundant well-trained labor pool.

  9. I think the giveaways and incentive packages are completely befuddling in a town which needs to do neither. We have the leverage. (Were supposed to be IT city, right?) yet gave away the largest windfall in a generation in order to cull favor with developers and potential employers. My experience is that often these programs provide enormous amounts of money to companies who quite often fail to perform their promised job-creation. I absolutely agree there should be some mechanism that would hold recipients of state and local giveaways to their promises.

  10. Im a big fan of Community Benefit Agreements. I think the more people at the table from the beginning, the better. I have plenty to learn about CBAs, but completely applaud the fact that developers should be required to meet with relevant stake-holders on any project. The fewer people involved typically the more problematic a project. With more groups exchanging ideas in open communication the better; teh CBA also helps formalize the discussion. I have been to way too many community meetings, where developers essentially give a marketing pitch and pretend they will incorporate participant input, only to stick to a short-sighted plan that makes them the most money the fastest way possible.

League of Women Voters of Nashville election voter guide responses

Heres a little ditty about Jack and Diane sucking on a chili dog outside the Tastee Freeze, or it could be a somewhat legitimate series fo responses to the League of Women Voters candidate questionnaire. 

 

Dear Jon Sewell,

The League of Women Voters of Nashville would like to invite you to participate in our May 2018   election voter guide.

The online voter guide allows voters to compare your positions with those of your fellow candidates and see the information that you supply.

We are using a Web-based system to pose questions to you and other candidates and collect your responses. You can post your replies yourself, in your own words so that voters can gain a clearer impression of who you are and of the platform on which you stand. Your responses are limited to 1000 characters.

We would like your answers to the following questions:

 

  • What qualifies you as the best candidate to be mayor of Nashville?

 

Well, Im running an awareness campaign, fully acknowledging from the outset that Im not the best candidate for my own platform. The platform has a solid 4-fold approach: Corruption, Hypocrisy, Influence, and Taxes (CHIT)- a platform that has a guaranteed success rate. Corruption- its a pay to play program going to the highest bidder. We might as well open the general funds to the general public. Hypocrisy - make promises, break promises, just claim that your ideas have ‘evolved’ for an easy-out. Influence - who are the men behind the mask? Where is the fountain of eternal dark money? Most of our seasoned politicians can point you the way. Taxes - regressive taxes borne by general public to benefit the private few will occur, but favors will be made to special friends and special interests to ease their burden. Implementation is not contingent on my victory. In fact, because I would be so bad at executing the CHIT program, I am asking my supporters to actively support the more seasoned politicos. I’m just a political newbie who doesn’t know the ropes, but still isn't afraid to get in the ring. If it’s all an act, you might as well go with an actor.

 

  • If elected, what will be your three highest priorities?

 

Gor forbid one get elected on a CHIT platform, but we must always be open to new opportunities. Porbably my first question would simply be how in the world did people find out who I was, and then why in the world would one vote for CHIT. It's gonna happen anyway, but the novel approach of exposing the political theatre certainly helps highlight the stagecraft but does not lend itself to easy support. In all honesty Im running to help expand the political landscape: if someone can see my acting a goofball then maybe it will help encourage someone else to get in here and do it better. If by some longshot catastrophe, enough Russian hackers can pull off a coup and I get elected, I would be able to propose some unconventional approaches to urban problems because hey im the goofball:

  1. No more giveaways to our more well-resourced neighbors who dont need the giveaway for starters. This seems like a no-brainer to me, but hey im not well sewn into the political tapestry. This also includes giveaways to incentivize development, which is an astronomically bewildering concept in a town that cant catch its breath from construction dust. Commercial neighbors should pay their fair share. A recent Tennessean report highlighted that 80% of recent property assessment write-downs went to commercial properties, meaning the rest of us are paying too much and subsidizing the balance.I say this as an owner of a commercial property. Along those lines, why are giving all these tax breaks to encourage new companies to move here? Basic estimates alone on Amazon HQ2 would result in an average of 3.3% rent increase in Nashville. Why use municipal resources to benefit only a few when the rest fo have to pay the tab- doesnt seem very neighborly to me.

  2. Free transit passes to our less-fortunate neighbors - easily financed if the balances sheets for Metro income were fairly applied to all residents without specific and shady carve-out for special interests. If youre a billionaire, do you really need to ask the city for free or reduced price land? Pay your fair share and help out your neighbors in the process.

  3. Decriminalization of drugs - hey im the goofball candidate so i get to propose such unconventional methods that actually have a scientific body of research supporting them. Sounds crazy but Portugal did it and guess what the result has been: "HIV infections and drug-related deaths have decreased, while the dramatic rise in use feared by some has failed to materialise. However, such improvements are not solely the result of the decriminalisation policy; Portugal’s shift towards a more health-centred approach to drugs, as well as wider health and social policy changes, are equally, if not more, responsible for the positive changes observed." (https://www.tdpf.org.uk/blog/drug-decriminalisation-portugal-setting-record-straight)

In essence, discontinue trying to legislate personal habits thru a shameful method that ends up targeting the poor and adding a burden to mothers and grandmothers; treat drug use as a health and medical issue, not an issue of criminal justice. It sounds too basic: let a doctor deal with a drug use not a cop.

 

  • What is Nashville's greatest unmet need?

 

Nashville’s greatest unmet need right now might be its own self-discouraging attitude honestly. We keep desperately searching for outside forces to move here and help us make it a great city. It already is. If no one else ever moved here we would be fine. Along that line we are also so desperate to make new wealthy citizens that we have done so by scorched earth thru poorer neighborhoods. We have been so eager to please developers that we have squandered the largest windfall this city has ever seen. This fire behind the development boom does not need to be fanned thru incentives but managed thru responsible growth. By wasting the opportunity to encourage responsible growth, we have let some fo our most need neighbors seen their neighborhoods turn a profit without protecting the assets that made the community what it is. We also put our blind faith in leaders. We look to the great overwhelming joy that accompanied the election of our first female mayor and struggle to get past the lack of control she had with power in office: unilateral decision-making, poorly informed decrees having to deal with public land, and eventually the attempts at whitewashing the crime. I honestly could care less about the adultery: for all I know they were both consenting adults- but the act like nothing wrong was done later transformed into an admission to felony theft. We’re all human, we all make mistakes, but we should focus on creating a climate of good policy, not cults of personality. I think one of the ways forward would be to save this town the charade of the political theatre and get some honest leaders in there: no more behind-the-scene deals done with developers for city land, no more kleptocrats masquerading as ethicists, no more shady influence and debts owed to dark money financiers, and no more self-contradictory taxes, where rates are established for the general public but carve-outs created for special interests. It’s a sham and a spectacle and until we can move past the drama, we must embrace it to expose it.