UPDATE: Director of Legislative Administration Connie Ridley tells Post Politics that Graves was not fired or dismissed. A former intern, Graves agreed to stay on as a temporary hourly legislative employee to help out in offices that needed it. Graves indicated to Ridley that he would be leaving the legislature in that capacity to pursue full-time work. Jeff Woods reveals that the Democratic legislative staff member who sent an email making fun of several minority groups has been dismissed by the House Speaker:
According to sources, House Speaker Kent Williams, acting at the request of Democratic leaders, already has dismissed the intern, who has been identified as Blake Graves who was working in the office of Rep. Karen Camper, D-Memphis. "It was offensive to Asians," says our source, just to mention one of the pictures. Democrats think they can claim the upper hand in this little contretemps because their staffer has been fired, unlike the Republican offender, Sherri Goforth, who was merely reprimanded.The graphics contained in the emails are available for viewing here. The firing of Graves comes only days after the revelation that a Republican staffer, Sherri Goforth, had sent out a racially inflammatory email about President Barack Obama. Although Graves has spent his tenure in the legislature working for Democratic legislators Reps. Joe Towns and Barbara Camper, he was honored in a resolution earlier this year recognizing his affiliation with the College Republicans. A legislative intern from January until April of this year, Graves became a "Temporary Legislative Assistant" just last month making him a state employee. Immediately after Graves sent the offending email on Monday (the very same day the Goforth email hit the blogs), he sent a follow up email to the list of both Democratic and Republican staffers the email was sent to. "Everyone, please excuse that e-mail I sent, I totally missed the words used in it. So please accept my apologies for that e-mail. Nonetheless, have a great Monday!" said Graves to his list of recipients. SEE ALSO: Liberadio Braisted Cup Of Joe Left Wing Cracker
Jun 17, 2009 2:41 PM
Roger Abramson talks directly to those that drove the Sherri Goforth story:
We've been here before. Remember Bill Hobbs back in 2006? A big deal was made in the press about that goofy Muslim cartoon he put on the Internet, his employer (Belmont University) was mentioned in the articles (even though Belmont had nothing to do with that cartoon), putting Belmont in a position where it really had no choice but to save face publicly by giving Hobbs the heave-ho. I remember talking to some folks in the local press back then and getting this general reaction: "Well, that's silly. They shouldn't fire him." As though the press accounts somehow had nothing to do with it; as though Belmont was just sitting around and just up and arbitrarily decided to can him. It's like someone shooting a guy in the head and being surprised that they fall over dead. "Well, I'll be damned. He died just like that. Huh. Never saw that coming." The probable outcome of this episode will be the termination (one way or the other) of Sherri Goforth. So, don't act surprised. And don't act like you had nothing to do with it. Own it. Hell, be proud of it, the "greater good" and all of that.
Jun 17, 2009 12:53 PM
At the same time the Sherri Goforth hullabaloo was breaking a Democratic staffer sent an email making fun of Asians, the mentally handicapped and those suffering from dementia. Blue Collar Muse would like the media to cover this the same way the Goforth controversy was covered. UPDATE: From Jim Voorhies:
Blue Collar Muse is correct. This is also wrong. And, having been convinced by ACK that a reprimand may be an acceptable level of punishment, if I knew this staffer’s name, I’d publish it too, and ask they be reprimanded. It’s a matter of respect and courtesy, damn it, for human beings. We’re all different in some way or another.I do know the name -- and I'm not publishing it. But when someone else does. I suppose I'll aggregate that. UPDATE II: The intrepid Grantham is Talking has the legislative office the email originated at. Newscoma doesn't like to name names. UPDATE III: Blue Collar Muse has now named the civilian. UPDATE IV SHOCK HORROR: GIT reports that the employee is not listed as an employee of the state on the state website. UPDATE V: UPDATE TO THE SHOCK HORROR: The staffer is an intern, according to Abramson in the comments.
Jun 17, 2009 10:14 AM
The woman who broke the Sherri Goforth story thinks it's time those up at the legislature start taking seriously their roles in statecraft:
Let’s also take a moment to see what’s beneath the waves of our state’s political ocean. Overlooked in this whirlwind is a budget that needs passing and a legislative session that has been mind-boggling. Our elected officials of both parties, in my opinion, need to show they are leaders on and off the floor of the house and senate. It isn’t a game and they need to stop acting like it is. People across this state are left to deal with the real results of the actions of those sitting in the legislature, those who were elected and those who assist them. It’s not a frivolous party for folks just trying to get from one day to the next. It’s not a game.
Jun 17, 2009 8:33 AM
And she is backed up by those who know:
Connie Ridley, director of legislative administration, said under state policy a first-time violation such as Goforth's is grounds for a reprimand, but a person risks being fired after a second violation. "If the behavior continues, then that places that person in a position for termination," Ridley said.
Jun 17, 2009 7:59 AM
Mary Mancini thinks the Sherri Goforth situation is the perfect opportunity for such things:
We have a deep well of valuable resources in Tennessee who would, I’m sure, be more than happy to make the trek to the Hill when session is over to hold an open discussion or a workshop or a seminar. Or a week of discussions or workshops or seminars. Distinguished Vanderbilt University Professor Rev. Jim Lawson, who helped desegregate Nashville’s lunch counters and organized the Freedom Rides, might be a good choice. Or perhaps Nashville resident Tim Wise, who lectures on the pathology of white privilege. Please urge Senator Black to grab hold of this moment, get creative, and work with other members of the General Assembly to send the message to their staffers that racism - no matter how casual - is not OK.
Jun 17, 2009 7:46 AM
Kat Coble on those denouncing the racist email of Sherri Goforth:
In all of the “Gosh, we’re offended and SHOCKED!” comments at Newscoma’s, one of the folks jokingly “fixed” the email, replacing other presidents with other caricatured photos. Bozo for Reagan, Hillary for Bill Clinton….and Hitler for GWBush. That kind of humour comes from the same place as racist humour in my book. It comes from a place of blind hatred. It comes from a place of not wanting to cooperate or get along or even coexist peacefully.
Jun 16, 2009 8:03 PM
R. Neal on the fate that should await Sherri Goforth:
There have been calls for the termination of Sen. Diane Black's assistant, Sherri Goforth, a twenty year employee, for forwarding the email. I have mixed feelings about that. Perhaps a better response would be a week or two suspension without pay to give her time to reflect, plus some mandatory sensitivity training. In my view, it's a "teaching moment" opportunity to turn someone around v. making them a right-wing martyr.
Jun 16, 2009 7:59 PM