Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Money, influence, Will Pinkston, and Metro Public Schools

Want to see something interesting? Take a look at a spreadsheet that a source put together to help me illuminate some interesting things about the donors of District 7 school board candidate Will Pinkston, who was also one of former Governor Phil Bredesen's hired goons. For my part, I would draw several things out as voters go to the polls tomorrow:
  • Bredesen and the Bredesenistas have dumped nearly $10,000 into the campaign of a school board candidate (of all things) in what appears to me to be a naked attempt to prop up the former governor's influence across Nashville's power structures
  • 96% of Pinkston's obscene total amount of campaign donations ($52,750) came from outside of District 7, further reinforcing my opinion that the District 7 race is more of a power grab from the outside than a good faith effort to improve our kids' education
  • The teachers union and Michelle Rhee's PAC essentially cancel out each other's influence by each giving Pinkston $3,000. The history of union organizing is replete with ironies big and small, so there is no reason to overthink the self-defeating moves of the local teachers union except to point out that they put themselves in the same Pinkston boat with Michelle Rhee, who is consumed with eliminating teachers unions from the education equation 
  • The Nashville Chamber of Commerce, which is pro-charter schools and pro-privatization, is going all in on the Pinkston poker game, their PAC splurging with $7,100 and various CofC principals parlaying $3,000. If money is power, then the Nashville Chamber is the power broker here
  • An astroturf group with connections to Mayor Karl Dean is also linked to this donors list. Neighbors for Progress, a group designed to aid the Mayor's bid to flip the State Fairgrounds to private developers and to demolish its public facilities, donated $100 to Mr. Pinkston (who also worked for the Dean for Mayor re-election effort). NFP once provided an in-kind donation of over $3,000 on behalf of the council campaign of Bredesen pick Sarah Lodge Talley, for whom Mr. Pinkston provided black ops. Pinkston himself was an adviser to NFP and he donated $1,000 to them. Ms. Talley and her campaign treasurer have donated to Mr. Pinkston. The attorney representing NFP has also donated to Will Pinkston's campaign. Is all of this feeling a bit incestuous yet?
  • While Moving Nashville Forward, another astroturf group with Dean connections, has not donated to Will Pinkston's campaign, the lawyer who set them up has donated. MNF received $26,000 from Karl Dean to grease the wheels toward passage of his latest budget
  • Prominent state Democratic Party leaders put themselves knee-deep in the muck by donating to this hit man in a race in which they have no obvious investment. For instance, why should a Democrat running for Chattanooga Mayor care to try and help out a Nashville school board candidate?

There are enough lawyers and lobbyists donating to Will Pinkston to make my skin crawl; but much worse is the probability that the political connections of influence across this donors report reflect a concern not so much with the future of our kids as with the consolidation by the powers-that-be.

Anyway, that's my part. Go read the donors list yourself and let me know what you think. District 7 voters go to the polls tomorrow.


  1. Spend any time talking to Mr Pinkston? I share many of the same concerns you have with education reform. I've also spent a great deal deal of time talking with Mr Pinkston about the rising influence of TFA and Children First., the increase in Charter Schools and the need to protect our public schools. I have been very pleasantly surprised at his willingness to discuss these subjects for extended periods of time. We don't see eye to 100% of the time but I find his positions to be well thought out and flexible. He's also returned every single phone call and email that I've sent him in a very prompt manner. In essence he's shown every trait one would want in a school board rep. I think you are right in raising concerns about the amount of money in this years race. It is obscene. However to make assumptions about someone based on your own prejudice is also obscene. I think if you look at any candidate running for any office out of this district you will that the majority of their contributions come from outside. Its just a reality of the demographics. I also take Pinkston's experience with Bredesen as a plus. At a time when the public school system is under a withering attack having people that understand the corridors of power is essential.

  2. really I think they are all full of crap and have their own agenda and even if they have their own they will get in there and follow the one that NEEDS TO BE FOLLOWED. The thing with politics that kills me is that is when people sell the most dreams spill the most lies and scurry to do what they should have done in the first to make it seem they are about what they said they would to get elected in the first place our lives and what the people need as a whole doesnt mean anything to any of them anymore it is and has become a game and competition amongst the FINE folks trying to be the number one player..the alpha dog.